“You’re doing it again.”
Her head came up sharply, her eyes meeting his with the fire he remembered of old flaring again through the banked embers. “I…. it’s not like that.”
He felt an answering pull in himself, a kind of emotion and anger he hadn’t felt this side of Mandos, save in memory. “Celeveren! After everything that happened how could you?” It surged, hot and sick, through paths ill prepared to manage it, paths that flared with sensation as her eyes met his. She was terrible as the waves crashing at her back, a blizzard of a thousand glittering sparks of ice with fire glimmering beneath. He remembered what it was like to be burned by her chill, and longed for it with an unexpected pull.
“It isn’t like that!” Her voice was hurt, strong and implacable. “Not that you ever let me explain. It’s simple for you, isn’t it, natural and unnatural with a gaping chasm between. How very convenient that in your version of the world, mining and metalwork falls on the side of nature.” Phantom breezes blew damp robes away from her in a nimbus under the waxing moon. Her hair needed but a tug….
Annoyed with the thought, he persisted, “Mortals die, Meren. That is what they do. You must stop trying to correct Eru. Eru makes no mistakes.”
“None? Not a one? How can you say that – you who have seen the pain and desolation of Arda! What possible evidence can you offer to support such a view? Or have the Valar had time to re-pattern your mind into directions pleasing to them?”
Heat flared again, hot like a forge to his veins, and he felt alive. Alive as he hadn’t been in an age and more. It was distracting when he most needed his wits. “All your apologies, then. All your fading and sorrow… that was no lie. I will not insult us both by saying it was when I know it was not. Your grudge against the Valar has nothing to do with the matter at hand, and you know it! You just can’t help yourself. You have to break the world to see how it works when you could but ask and they would show you.”
“And that worked so well for Feanor and his folk that they left for freedom.” She tossed her head and the pile of braids loosened further. It would melt under his hands like ice before the forge. Distracting woman.
“Let us not bring Feanor into this. Why must you always bring Feanor into this?”
“Because Feanor is always relevant!”
“Feanor is not as relevant as you think he is!”
“How would you know?”
He said quirking his lips in just the way he knew would irk her, “I do live here. Must I remind you how and why?”
She flinched, and he felt the pain of it immediately. But he let her have it. It was hers. She needed it, and he couldn’t keep protecting her from melting and breaking. They stood, both breathing hard with the passion of the moment, in time to each other and near enough to have the illusion of touch.
“Someone is making Gurliarin still.”
He blinked, feeling his expression register shock, and seeing her own face show a brittle smugness.
“I’d have told you if you’d have bothered to listen. But no. You had to save me from myself again, or Arda from my terrible power. Really, Borasvar, if the world worked according to your standards I would have my own tower by now.”
He said, shaken, “White alabaster, lit from within. High and terrible in a land of merciless compassion.”
She relaxed a little, just another elf woman, white on white sand under a white moon. “Alabaster breaks too easily, and towers are sacked as soon as they’re built. I might as well add a banner that proclaims ‘Come destroy something beautiful, Arda! You might derive monetary gain.'”
He dared touch her now, or the idea of her. A memory of touch, smooth cloth woven to shed blood and fluid over soft limbs. “I don’t think so little of you Meren. You want only to do good. But you forget how little the rest of the world cares that good come of knowledge.”
She met his eyes with that spark, not of heat, but of energy. Like lightening to a copper coil or the spark from rubbed fur; his lady was life without anything to soften it. He had forgotten what it was like to rise to her presence. Heady. Aware. She said with words animated now with that merciless passion, “Someone else has already interfered. They use it to enslave the will, promising strength and energy at the cost of life and freedom. I only offer to put it right. The choice is theirs, not mine.”
“But Gurliarin was eradicated! I have heard of the cullings. Finlos of Edhellond created the aphid…”
“They preserved the ichor somehow. I think with iodide passed off as ‘ink’, if you please, with any number of other nasty additives. She – the patient – has been drinking tar-derivatives to mimic the structure, if you please! It is a mess wrapped in disaster. I shall have to repair her fea’s housings, restore the blood’s ability to function without Gurliarin, and then purge the tissue of dwarf-made toxins before her tissue develops tumors – or worse! All without killing her in the process, assuming her fea consents to return to such substandard accomodations.”
He felt his smile tip toward fondness. “You hadn’t a chance. It is like dangling a bit of dried fish at a hungry cat, putting such a case before you.” His hand slipped to pull a pin. She let him, and he pulled another. The wind began to tug braids into a living wind of hair. Silver crackled to the shape of the air and sparked where the seeds of lightening hid. It made he wonder how it might be captured, that he might have it always.
She spoke as if he weren’t taking a lover’s liberties, “I’ve sworn them to secrecy. I will explain the risks. The host is a volunteer.” Her eyes pleaded for his approval, his acceptance, now that he wasn’t fighting her blindly.
His voice was hoarse as he said, “And when their children discover themselves collapsing dead when eating the wrong nut, or ill from a simple grain, or constantly chased by bears in a mating frenzy?”
She breathed uncertainly, close enough that he couldn’t tell if the wind or her fea touched his lips, “At least there will be children. I will show them the making of antidotes, and they way of avoidance. Is it not better to live weak, than never to live at all?”
He said faintly as the sky lightened, fading her stark pale brightness into the growing shimmer of the horizon, “And who will heal you, Meren? When someone finds out, when some descendant shares what he knows and another uses it to make yet another Gurliarin to plague the world, who will comfort you? Will you pay by making a new crack in Arda’s creation?”
“Who will notice another crack?” She faded from his embrace, leaving only broken words in her wake.
Alone on the shores of Valinor, Borasvar cried more salt into the ocean as his hands comforted the glittering flakes of warming white sands.