When She Loved Me
There is a reason why elves do not often bind themselves to the Children of the Sun.
It is not because the Eldar find them lacking in some way, either in appearance or intellect. Just the opposite: there is much about a daughter or son of Man that can draw the eye and heart of an elf. To one accustomed to the languid pallor of the Firstborn, brandy-brown eyes and golden skin and ruddy highlights in dark hair can be breathtaking. To one accustomed to the lengthy and cerebral rituals of elven courtship, the eager and passionate advances of a mortal can be irresistible.
So had it proven to be for Orophin of the Golden Wood.
It had not taken long for him to allow her into his heart; she had been incredibly talented at wriggling her way in. A bright smile here had awoken him to her beauty; a shy glance there alerted him that she was keen on him. And the tiny gasps emitted by her small, rosebud mouth when he touched her-- ah, the passion revealed in those minute sounds had entranced him. When she was sad, he had dried her tears; when she was lonely, he was there to comfort her; and he knew that she loved him.
Her eyes were the colour of the clear, rich brown of the brandywine liquor her people favoured. Orophin had never drunk it, himself, but if its taste was anywhere near as enthralling as the sight of those eyes sparkling up at him then he could well understand the willingness of Man to imbibe. For had he not immersed himself in her brandy-eyes often, gazing deeply until his head was light? Aye, he had, and so like a Man who’d drunk too much and woke up the next morn with a vile head, he had no one to blame but himself.
They had only a half-year together, Orophin and his mortal love. They had met in late spring, and by early winter she had flitted away from him as quickly and easily as a fallen mallorn leaf in a wind. A thing of beauty, transitory like the seasons, and as durable.
“You are fine to me, Orophin,” she had told him, “but I am no elf, and do not belong here. I would seek my fortune in Gondor; will you not come with me?”
He would not; he could not. His duty was to his Lord and Lady, and it was not possible for him to leave them. Not whilst the Ring was yet intact, and orcs threatened their eastern and southern borders. Long hours he had spent trying to explain to her why he was bound to Lórien; she would not listen. Many times he had attempted to describe the risks that awaited her if she travelled closer to Mordor, as was her intent; she refused to believe him.
His fear for her made his words strident, his tone discordant; she grew upset, and then angry, and one day she was gone.
And so the years went by, and his love remained the same. It was not hard for Orophin to keep abreast of her actions; he learned that she had duly gone to Minas Tirith, and became a seamstress there. Barely a year after she had left him, he heard of her marriage to a smith. She was now someone’s wife, and he was left alone. And still he would stand on his flet and watch the sun rise over the Anduin, and wait for the day when she would return to him and say, “I will always love you.”
Had not his brothers warned him? Aye, they had, many times. But he could not heed them, not once his heart was lost to her. And lost it was, as if he’d removed it and laid it down somewhere, then forgotten where he’d placed it. Even now, long and desolate years afterwards, his chest felt as if there were a hollow within it, dark and filled with echoes. In Orophin’s more fanciful moments, he thought he could almost hear the reverberation of a phantom heart beat within himself. But that could not be possible, for he had given her his heart almost the moment they had met, and it had been in her possession ever since, and now he was empty.
Lonely and forgotten, Orophin had receded more and more into himself, refusing contact with all but his brothers, doing little beside his watch-duty on the southern borders of Lórien. And watching, always watching, for when she would return to him, as every hour they’d spent together lived within that dark void in his chest. He had separated his life into two distinct phases: when she had loved him, and when she had not, and the pain he felt at the knowledge that her love for him was done was nearly unbearable.
And then she came back. She came back, and told him a sad tale of how she was ailing and near her end. She had smiled at him, and held him like she used to do, as if she loved him. Orophin held her tightly as she died, and when her body was cold he buried her between two trees.
Impulsive, variable, inconstant, changeable; he’d called her these in his kinder moments. Fickle, and frivolous, and faithless, in his harsher ones. Orophin was none of those, and as he laid himself atop the mounded dirt covering her grave, he marveled still that she had returned to him at the end. “Are you happy now, beloved?” he asked her. “For if you are happy, so am I. And now I know that you loved me.”
Orophin died there, following her into the darkness, and then into the light. “Ever has it been,” Galadriel was heard to say when they found him. “Ever shall it be; a match between elf and Man cannot succeed.”
Even now, they are not together, for she has received the Gift of Man, and has traveled far beyond the Halls where Orophin’s fëa resides. And still he waits for the day when she will come back to him, and say, “I will always love you.”
inspiration taken from Sarah MacLachlan’s song of the same name