A curt knock sounded at the door, and Alyanissë turned from her place beside the anvil with an expectant look toward the entrance of the forge.
"Will you get the door, Lothelian? 'Tis Makanárë, without a doubt." Lothelian hurriedly wiped her hands on her apron, and straightened the braid which hung crookedly over one shoulder. The door-knob rattled a bit, and the door itself opened before Lothelian could reach it. She watched, slightly mortified, as Makanárë strode in, a rather unusual smile on her face.
"Makanárë! Do come in." Lothelian's mother got up and walked toward the doorway, arms outstretched. "It has been too long since we had a proper chat over a forge and anvil." Without paying much heed to Makanárë's reaction, Alyanissë embraced her former mentor fondly.
Lothelian watched wide-eyed as Makanárë, her current smithing master, the elleth of steel-eyed gazes and grim moods, warmly returned her mother's embrace. It was odd seeing her teacher so at ease, so happy and unguarded. Though she had to say that such moments of ease were more frequent, especially whenever Master Annúngil visited the forge.
"Alyanissë, talkative as always. How is your forge?" Makanárë's voice was sharp, but not unpleasant. She cast an assessing gaze around the shop. Tools and hammers hung in orderly fashion along the walls, and some rested upon stoutly made wooden shelves with elegant decorations, the work of Alyanissë's husband Lendir.
"In good order, though the same cannot be said of my household. Soon Luthelian will be leaving for a journey west with the Arrow Lord, and now my Lothelian talks to me of travelling east over the mountains. I did not know you were leaving so soon, Makanárë." Alyanissë smiled, baring her teeth. Lothelian was not sure whether to be reassured or frightened. Her mother's moods were often unpredictable.
"Is that so? I assure you that Luthelian is well able to fend for herself, as I have taught her a trick or two with blades." Makanárë winked conspiratorially at Alyanissë. "And as for your other daughter, she is more than welcome to continue her studies in forge-craft with me in the Golden Wood."
"I suppose my fledglings will fly the nest sooner or later," Alyanisse said, walking over to ruffle Lothelian's hair. "And I know Lothelian will be in good hands. I know of no one better to teach her the way of the forge than the one who once taught me. Ah, do you remember? Those days in Eregion?"
"How could I forget the nosy young smith who continually pestered me about taking her on as an apprentice? Especially after I had said 'no' several times." Makanárë snorted. "In the end, you got your wish, stubborn girl." She smiled, expression distant.
"I do not think it was only a one-ended bargain, though." Alyanissë smiled, grey eyes glinting. She laid one hand gently on Makanárë's shoulder. The two smiths remained like that for a few long moments, standing shoulder to shoulder as if they were mother and daughter. Lothelian fumbled with her thick leather gloves, awkwardly standing to the side. She had no idea her mother and her current mentor had been this close in the past.
Makanárë was the one to break the embrace, looking up at her former apprentice fondly. Alyanissë's frame was tall and broad-shouldered, taller by a bit than Makanárë, who was shorter and slighter. But Lothelian saw something common in the way their steel eyes flickered, in the way their hands sought the hammer and anvil like it was second nature. It must be the legacy of Ost-in-Edhil, she thought. The forges of the Noldor in Eregion where two so different and yet alike met and formed bonds stronger than that of blood. And now, she was part of that bond, somehow. The metallic clatter of a tool sliding to the ground dragged her from her thoughts. Lothelian scrambled to retrieve it, earning a stern look from her mother.
"I hope you will not make any trouble for Makanárë when you two are in Lórien, my dear." Alyanissë's smile was warm yet stern. She turned to Makanárë. "Do try and tell me in advance so I may be there for the wedding, when it happens." Her gaze flickered to the ring hanging on a chain from Makanárë's neck.
"Oh, we shall send word. Though it will be a good while longer before that happens, I think. Artakáno and I have some business with the orcs and other filth east of the Anduin, you understand." Makanárë smiled, baring her teeth in a way that sent shivers up Lothelian's spine. "But as you and your daughters are the closest to family I have upon these shores, you are of course invited." She gave Alyanissë a hearty slap on the back.
"Now, Alyanissë, I hope Lothelian will have her things ready when we depart in a few days hence. I am leaving all the tools and other things in my forge to you, as I will not be taking an anvil over the Hithaeglir. And, Lothelian ..." She turned to face the young elleth, who was quietly tidying her own workbench.
"Yes, Makanárë?" Lothelian spoke up hesitantly, the lack of honorific feeling odd on her tongue. Makanárë had always told her not to call her by any other title, but sometimes she forgot.
"If you must bring other clothes besides that which you will travel in, do limit your packing to one dress. I know you are fond of them, but there will be no need for many." She winked at the young elleth. "I will see to it that you get new ones in Lórien, even prettier than the ones you left behind."
Lothelian gaped at her mentor. Makanárë was not one for dresses, at all - though it was rumoured she had attended the past Yule ball in a splendid dress of crimson and gold, on the arm of her now-betrothed. Perhaps there was a hidden side to her steely-eyed mentor, Lothelian mused. She wondered if she would get to see more of this smiling and uncharacteristically relaxed Makanárë in Lórien. Well, one could hope.
"Y-yes, thank you. I will be sure to finish packing." Lothelian smiled, a blush coloring her cheeks, and inclined her head respectfully to Makanárë and her mother. She nearly jumped when she heard Makanárë's steel-toed boots heading her way, and felt a gauntleted hand on her shoulder.
"Come along then, little daughter," Makanárë said with amusement. "Have you a warm cloak and mantle for the journey? I have a spare one that might fit you." Makanárë looked over her shoulder at Alyanissë as she steered Lothelian toward the door. "Farewell, Alyanissë, dearer to me than a daughter. I will take care of your own little one well. But I know our paths shall meet again."
Alyanissë merely smiled and returned to hammering away at the anvil. Over the sound of hammer hitting steel, she called out, "I will hold you to that promise, Makanárë! "