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B2MeM 2012 stories
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The gardeners

B2MeM Challenge:B10: Femslash: Melian and her descendants; First Lines: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (by the skin of my teeth!)
Format: short story
Genre: drama
Rating: K+
Warnings: predictability?
Characters: Míriel, OFC
Pairings: Míriel/OFC
Summary: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… and Elarien made a garden.


The gardeners

They had grown up together, Elarien and Míriel. As girls, they had learned the secret tongue of flowers, as they called it: elanor, nimloth, mallos, uilos.

Eglerio Yavanna!

So they said, and mouthed the words when the King’s Men passed by. Secrecy, concealment, these things they learned with their lessons – it served them well, behind closed doors.

“Tell me you love me,” Míriel commands, touches her lips. “Tell me right here.” And Elarien leans in to breathe the words into her mouth, and the kiss lasts longer than that last syllable…

Then the world changes. Tar-Palantír mounts the throne, and Elarien sees her beautiful Míriel held in such honor as makes her wish to weep for joy. Sometimes she does, lying in her bed on a summer’s eve.

“That we should live to see such darkness pass,” she often says, and Míriel will smile, though as years pass, that smile has an edge to it, and her eyes grow distant.

And one day, Míriel presents her with a letter – a royal writ, a grant of land… in Middle-earth.

“What is this?” Elarien asks.

“Investment,” her lover, her queen as yet uncrowned, answers. “I need you in Pelargir, for our people.”


“Because,” she says, and her eyes are dark, “I have seen a darkness rise. And we must be ready.” Then taking Elarien’s hands, she pressed cheek to cheek, to murmur: “My love, you must do this. You must be my eyes and ears in that place, and upbuild our people there – make them a stronghold! A place where our children need never learn the secret tongue of flowers ever again!”

And so Elarien had gone – how could she not, faithful servant, who loved her lady? She had entered the councils of the Lords of Pelargir, and she argued and she bargained, and conspired that those who shared not her sympathies should find themselves cut off – or else should move south.

And she wrote to Míriel – long letters describing Middle-earth, and in that cipher her report, and more.

I love you, I shall always love you – when shall you come to greet your servant here and see your garden?

Not yet, is ever the answer, and one day, there is a new name at the bottom: Zimraphel. The news comes but an hour later off the same ship: Ar-Inziladûn is dead. Ar-Pharazon reigns, with Ar-Zimraphel at his side. The king is dead, long live the king.

The bells ring out, and Elarien is glad to weep, and bitterly.

They still write – Elarien is faithful to her mission, and her Míriel is grateful.

I look for your letters and their word for some relief! You give me hope – hold fast, one day I shall come and walk the ways that you have made.

And for a time, it seemed perhaps there was more in that than Míriel would ever say, even to her, for there were ships from Andúnië – Elendil and his sons, who spoke for Lord Amandil of provisions, of maps and who sought her advice in the ordering of lands in Middle-earth. Who honored the King? Who felt misgiving over his marriage? Who was restless? Who could be moved?

“Is the Queen well?” Elarien would ask them. “Has she a child?”

“She is well,” they assure her. “It happens she has not conceived. And she thanks you for the flower seeds you send.”

So it has worked, then – it was not only girlish games that made Sindarin the tongue of flowers, but Elarien loves them. And since one never knows what may be useful, she has taken care to learn of the flowers of Middle-earth, including the seeds she sends to Míriel, for her private use and garden. Pennyroyal would have been too obvious – and useless, since it is known in Númenor.

The years pass, and the letters, and couriers. Things worsen – Anárion comes to stay a season, sent by his father, for Isildur lies wounded.

“We must not have all of us so ready to hand,” he tells her, and then: “Have hope. There are plans afoot.”

Hope is hard to hold onto, but she does, even after he has gone. She still sends letters, looks for them to return, and meantime sees to her duties, among which one year is repair of the harbors, for the waters flooded forth that year, all along the coasts and up the rivers.

It is weeks ere she realizes something is wrong, more than a month ere she learns its name. Dread is her familiar by the time the word comes finally with Isildur, shipwrecked south of Pelargir after weeks lost on the high seas. He brings her a letter, stained with water, bound with one of Míriel’s ribbons, and bows low:

“From the Queen, Tar-Míriel,” he tells her.

“What has happened?”

“Númenor is destroyed – the land is sunk beneath the waves. This is our home now.”


Isildur looks her square in the face: “She should have come with us. But…”

Elarien hears a great rushing wind, as knees unlock, and amid the roar and dizziness his words fall like a hammer:

“The Queen is dead – there is no other.”


Author's note: I really wanted to write someone other than Míriel for this challenge, against the chance that I got Adunaphel the quiet as a prompt later, but this was all I had for the many nameless, storyless female descendants of Melian, and I couldn't see my way to writing more tree-sex with Maiar, alas.


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