42.The lighthouse

S.A 2052

As the days meandered by, Orneth and Manyamë became regular companions, taking strolls along the breathtaking coastline and wandering down the winding roads around the lighthouse. In the company of one another, their conversations blossomed and Manyamë began to reveal more of herself with each passing day. Orneth couldn't help but notice how the mere act of smiling made Manyamë look youthful and vibrant, filling her own heart with happiness to see her friend alive and content once more. It was a welcome surprise when Manyamë promised to reconsider her reluctance to see her family, a decision spurred by her departure from Middle-Earth and her desire to contemplate her past and life.

During their walks, Manyamë was filled with curiosity and often questioned Orneth about her family. To appease her friend's worries, Orneth and Giril sent word to Forlond and Mithlond to reassure everyone of their safety. Nevertheless, the true purpose of their travels remained shrouded in secrecy, with most assuming that it was simply to conduct the ceremony for Haldanáre, Falchon's late best friend.

However, rumors of a towering horseman, surveilling the nearby woodland and pathways, soon reached Oldaer. Fearing for her safety, Manyamë took refuge within her dwelling while Naerchanar joined forces with Oldaer to embark on an expedition to unveil the mysterious rider's true identity.

As the sun began to peek over the rolling hills one morning, Orneth found herself lost in thought, surrounded by lush fields and listening to the gentle rustling of leaves and distant birdcalls. Suddenly, her tranquil reverie was disrupted by the sight of a dark figure striding towards her from the direction of the lighthouse. A sense of apprehension washed over her as she instinctively began to retreat, but as the figure drew nearer, she could discern the tall, broad-shouldered frame of none other than Falchon. Her heart swelled with relief and joy as she recognized her old friend's familiar figure.

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As Orneth dashed towards Falchon, his impressive form came into view, his broad shoulders and toned physique causing her heart to skip a beat. In one swift motion, she threw herself into his welcoming arms, feeling the strength of his embrace lifting her up with ease before gently setting her back down on the ground.

"Orneth!" he exclaimed with delight, his eyes twinkling with joy at the sight of her. Her heart was full, and she couldn't help but smile widely as she gazed up at him, admiring his regal appearance.

"What brings you to this land of wilderness?" she asked. "I heard from Lady Siryawen of Giril's ceremony in honor of Haldanáre and felt compelled to come home," Falchon replied, his deep voice resonating with a sense of duty and purpose. Orneth felt a twinge of unease at the mention of Lady Siryawen, but his casual tone reassured her that Siryawen was just an acquaintance.

As they chatted, Orneth couldn't help but admire Falchon's captivating beauty. He looked resplendent in his fine robe, his long, braided black hair flowing down his back. She felt a tingle of excitement as he expressed his interest in joining the ceremony, and her heart swelled with emotion as she gazed up at him.

"It's wonderful to see you again," Orneth beamed, feeling her eyes sparkle with delight. "Did you know that your mother still lives here?" Falchon's expression softened at the mention of his mother.

"That's one of the reasons I came," he confessed, his gaze intense. "I need to find some answers." Orneth felt her heart race at the thought of helping him. Falchon then flashed her a mischievous grin, causing her cheeks to flush with warmth. "But, of course, there was a third reason as well."

With his voice low and smooth, Falchon asked Orneth if she was still scared of him. Though a mix of nervousness and excitement filled her, she couldn't help but laugh and admit that she was. Together, they stepped inside the old concrete door of the lighthouse, where a winding staircase led to the administration room for the signals. Orneth's and Giril's rooms were located in the corner underneath the stairs, and as Falchon peered into the cramped space, his eyes widened in surprise.

"What? There's no space here at all!" he exclaimed, looking a little confused. "It's a room for a mouse!" Orneth laughed, shaking her head. "Well, it has a bed, at least." Climbing into the small bed, she invited Falchon to join her. Though he rolled his eyes and muttered about losing his pride, he squeezed into the tiny space with her.

As they sat there, wrapped in each other's arms, Orneth sensed an electric tension in the air. She gazed up at Falchon, and in his eyes, she saw a special glimmer that quickened her heart rate. Did he feel it too, this unspoken attraction between them?

For a moment, they remained entwined, lost in the heat of the moment. Orneth knew that nothing else mattered except for this moment, this feeling of being so close to him. Then, a flurry of actions unfolded, each one catching Orneth completely off guard. It was a whirlwind of love and devotion, two souls in desperate need of each other.

As they finally pulled apart, they were left breathless and bewildered. Hours had passed, and they looked at each other in confusion, not quite understanding what had just happened or the sweet moment they had shared.

As the evening light gradually waned, threatening to immerse them in darkness, Orneth lit a solitary candle on the table. Nestled in Falchon's sturdy embrace, she looked up at him with a heart full of emotions. He tenderly stroked her hair, gazing at her with an intensity that suggested he never wanted to look away. It brought a smile to her lips.

Taking in Falchon's features, Orneth was overwhelmed by a sense of yearning and sorrow that coursed through her veins. Her heart thumped wildly in her chest, and she felt an inexplicable rush of energy coursing through her body. She knew then that she had deep feelings for him - he was the only one who made her feel truly alive.

Finally mustering up the courage to speak, Orneth said, "Falchon, I have some questions for you." He chuckled softly, "Why am I not surprised?" Pausing, his eyes still locked on hers, he asked, "So, what are your questions?" Orneth grinned, biting her lip, "I never heard anything from you all these years. The only reason I knew you were alive was through Giril, who received messages from Haldanáre." Falchon drew her closer, "I know. While others wrote letters to keep their spirits high, I avoided it." Curiosity etched on Orneth's face, "Why?" He replied, "It's difficult to find something to write about when there aren't many happy stories out there." Orneth shook her head, "You don't need to write much. It's just a simple way to let those who love you know that you're alive and well."

Orneth gracefully raised herself up with one arm, her melodious laughter ringing through the air. "I challenge you," she exclaimed with a mischievous glint in her eye, "Next time, you must simply write me a note that says, 'I am fine!' That's all I require. Just three words!" Falchon chuckled softly at her request, his eyes sparkling with amusement. "Only three words? You truly don't ask for much," he teased her gently. Orneth's smile softened into a sweet and gentle expression as she spoke. "It's better than nothing, Falchon. You have new friends now, and Lord Mannamo cares for you deeply. We all worry when we don't hear from you." Falchon's tender gaze lingered on Orneth as he pulled her closer, playfully tickling her. Her laughter filled the room, making it feel alive with joy and merriment. "Well, if you insist, but only three words. If you ask for more, that's stretching it a little," he joked. He let out a contented sigh, his gaze wandering to the diary lying on the table. "You do like to write, don't you?" Orneth nodded and picked up her diary, opening it to a page she had been writing in earlier. "I also write down all my dreams about you," she admitted with a soft grin. Falchon raised an eyebrow in surprise, his expression turning more serious. "Is that so?" Orneth nodded eagerly, "Yes, I remember you asking me if I dreamt of you. Why did you ask?" He smiled warmly at her, his eyes filled with affection. "Well, I could tell you sometimes had nightmares in the barracks, but sometimes I also heard my name being whispered in the middle of the night." Orneth blushed and playfully pulled the blanket over her head, "Oh no... Do I really talk in my sleep?" Falchon playfully grabbed her, "Let me read your other dreams."

As he turned the pages of Orneth's diary, his countenance changed suddenly, his expression clouding with sadness. His eyes fell upon a quick drawing of Orneth's mother and words that spoke of her tragic death during the kinslaying in Sirion. The once-lively atmosphere shifted into a somber silence, and Orneth's painful past came flooding back to her. In a soft and fragile voice, she uttered, "It's a little private."

Without a word, Falchon handed back her diary and drew her closer, his lips gently brushing against the top of her head in a comforting gesture. The depth of their love and understanding for each other made the moment even more beautiful and poignant.

As the warm glow of the candle slowly faded, the room was cast into an alluring darkness. In the stillness, their hands found each other...