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50
Hathol


Dear Sam,

Now I know why it took Lyrien such a long time to finish the Anemone-doll—she made it wearing a bridal-gown!

Raven returned my three dolls when she received the two new ones, and set the little family on the table beside her bed. But she did look at me questioningly and made a little sign, and Anemone said to me, “She wants to know why there is no Guilin-doll.” And Raven nodded with a little embarrassed smile, then lowered her eyelids. I said Lyrien had not finished it yet, and I would bring it by when she did, hoping I sounded convincing. I think I did. Well, it will be a lot of work for my little poppet-maker, but still--there really should be a Guilin-doll!

Gandalf and Dûndeloth came by later on to see Ríannor and the rest of us, and when Guilin was distracted by them, Lord Elrond took me aside and drew me into a room a good ways down the corridor.

“What is it?” I asked him. The room, I saw, was his private study, which led into the library. He closed the door behind us.

“Frodo,” he said, “has Guilin ever told you of Hathol?”

“Hathol? No, never. What of him?”

“I would not be telling you,” he said, “but I asked him if I might speak to you of Hathol, and he said I might.”

“I may have heard the name, or read it,” I said, “but not from him.”

“It seems Guilin has another self,” Elrond lowered his voice. “He told me he has sometimes had periods in which he could remember nothing. That more than once, he awoke at the home of his friend Nithron with no recollection of how he came to be there, and Nithron told him he had claimed to be someone named Hathol, and had acted a total stranger. But Guilin could remember none of it. He said he thought he might have been stupefied by drink, but Nithron said no, he had not drunk to excess, and he did not awaken hung-over. This Hathol seemed an entirely different person from Guilin. Not that he was violent or demented, merely different in a way that was very hard to describe. Guilin thought at first that Nithron was playing some ridiculous joke on him, but his friend thought exactly the same of him, except that ‘Hathol’ was just a little too convincing, and after a while he was terrified, fearing that Guilin was mad. He never spoke of this other personality to you?”

“Never,” I said, shuddering. “So he really is mad?”

“Well…perhaps we should not use that word,” Lord Elrond smiled just a little. “I have heard of such things in Men, but never of Elves. I think the burden of memory was so heavy that he unconsciously became someone else in an attempt to escape it. He told me that was why he finally agreed to let you take his sister. He was afraid of what he might end up doing to her. Nithron told him he had been at his house for three days, and the only reason he didn’t throw Hathol out was because he was worried about Raven. The poor girl was, of course, worried to death when he did not come home. There is a kind lady who lives in the flat next to theirs, who goes to check on her sometimes, and Raven stayed with her for a while. She sent a search party out to look for him, but no one could tell them where he was. Guilin told me he came close to putting Raven into the orphan’s home after that, but she was so upset and terrified, and he himself so hated the thought of being separated from her, he never could bring himself to follow through. He said he has become Hathol about four times since then, at least twice when Raven was there. She was frightened not because he did her harm, but merely because he was not himself. But he is terribly afraid that there might be someone more dangerous inside of him waiting to come out also, and so he finally agreed to the adoption.”

“Poor Guilin,” I said shivering all over. “At least he did the right thing by her then, and high time. But I have told him he might visit her and take her into the City. I suppose I cannot allow it now, not until he is fully recovered. No, he cannot have harmed her, or she would be afraid of him now. But you and he are right. There may be something more evil inside of him, and I am afraid to allow him alone with her at all. He should have told me this. I wonder why he did not.”

“No, she is not afraid of him,” Elrond said thoughtfully, looking down at his fingers at the ruby ring he still wore on one of them. “I hoped they would do each other good here. Last week, she was often in tears, and when he was with her, I saw him lift her up in his arms and carry her about, nowhere in particular, just up and down the corridors, as though she were a babe with the colic, or out into the garden, sometimes talking softly or singing to her, sometimes saying nothing at all, just ambling along. Sometimes he would sit down in a room with her and hold her on his lap and sing to her until she was quiet. It was a sight that reduced Celebrían to tears, yet I thought they would do each other good.”

“It seems they have,” I said. “He seemed in better spirits today, and he said Raven had been crying far less this week.”

I wondered if I should speak of Daeleth. It would be betraying his confidence, but perhaps I should betray it a little for her sake. Yet could I break his trust in me now, when I had so newly gained it? Would it not undo the good that had been wrought in him? I suppose I should speak to him of it himself…

“Yes, I have seen him showing interest in one of the maid-servants,” Elrond said, and I started. Well. I suppose I hadn’t made my thoughts private enough. “And you may lay any anxiety to rest—I will warn her off, and I will never tell him you spoke of it to me. Which, of course, you did not. I can see he is starting to regard you as a friend. And I think he is expecting his healing to happen overnight, but that will not be.”

“He has said nothing of erasure to me since he has been here,” I said, realizing that my hands were clenched so tightly together, my fingers were turning purple.

“Neither has he spoken of it to me. I hope that he has put it out of his mind. I think he realizes now that he and his sister need each other. But Frodo, he has seen people tortured, hacked to pieces, and women…and you know what happened to him. He loves his sister more than anything in the world, and I think now he will do anything for her, whatever it may cost him.”

Later in the evening, Anemone went to Guilin, holding out her Evenstar to him.

“I would have you wear this during your stay,” she told him. “Please wear it beneath your shirt where Lord Elrond cannot see it. It once belonged to his daughter, whom he will never see again. You need not keep it a secret from him, simply refrain from dangling it in plain sight. She gave it to Iorhael before he left, saying it would bring him aid in a time of darkness, and it has done so. And it saved my life once, have I told anyone?”

“It what?” That was a new one, even to me.

She lowered her voice almost to a whisper. “One of Darkfin’s minions threw a spear at me, and it struck me here…” She touched a hand to her bosom. “It hit the pendant, and the spear fell away useless. My attackers fled in consternation at such an unexpected turn. I did not speak of it before because I feared Northlight would be incensed, and go out and do something foolish. He can be quite impetuous. So please do never speak of it to him.”

I think Guilin and I were both gawking at this point. She took his hand and laid the jewel in it, then closed his fingers around it.

“I think it may help you too, if you will allow it,” she said raising the violet eyes to him in all seriousness.

“Thank you, my lady,” he said, taking it and looking at it in wonder, then to his sister, who was standing with Northlight outside in the garden, looking at the stars that were just starting to appear in the brilliant early-spring sky. “But…”

“She has the glass, and the little dolls, which have athelas leaves inside of them,” I said. “The pendant has some of the same properties as the glass, being of the same light. I used to hold it in my hands, when I was receptive to it, I would sometimes hear a soft singing. It was the voice of Arwen Evenstar herself.

Drink the nectar of all beauty
let it stain your clothes
until you are all aglow
staggering, intoxicated
with the magic of your being.
Fill your throat with singing
whirl upon the sky
soar above the ether
in spirals ever growing
until you reach the summit
where all things do embrace.
Fear not to lift your eyes
to the bright unseeable;
mortal love, however great
sometimes is not enough
comes a time when some of us
must look to the Divine.*

This is not merely a beautiful stone; it is infused with divinity. Listen to it, and it will lead you where you need to go. Just as it did me.”

~*~*

We stayed at the Palace overnight, as usual, and later after I was in bed, I slipped out to visit the privy, then on an impulse I took my light and padded over to Guilin's room, and saw that he was asleep, lying on his side, clutching the pendant. His face looked calm--not peaceful exactly, but quiet, and I looked at him with tenderness for a long moment before I turned back for my room. That was when I noticed my phial was full again! How could that be?

~*~*~

Guess what Lyrien brought to me this morning? And I had not even spoken of the Guilin-doll to her yet!

Just five days, five more days.....

****

*from "White Gem"



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