The Heart of a Lady

“You doubt his love for you?” Parnard asked of me.

“No Parnard, I do not,” I replied without even thinking. Why should I doubt that? Estarfin merely said he wanted an apprentice. Am I wrong in not welcoming Ruineth?

Seating himself more comfortably on the grass, my wood-elf friend took up his flagon of wine, and had a few sips. “With all the talk of bringing that maiden here?”

I shook my head. “If he loved her, he would be with her. Not planning betrothal with me. I do not doubt him.”

“True, true,” Parnard nodded, “You say you do not doubt him, yet you speak but little with him. You must not like what Estarfin has suggested?”

I lowered my head. It was difficult to explain. 

“We are Eldar, not some lower creatures to play games with each other’s heart, to switch emotions on a whim. We are not as Men. And I do love him. I just..find some of his words and deeds a challenge. It seems to me he gives no thought as to how his wishes will affect Ruineth. She loved him, maybe she still does?" 

"Ah, cousin, cousin, cousin….Estarfin friend does not know much of the workings of the heart - in particular, the heart of a Lady.” Parnard said with a knowing look. 

I smiled faintly. Something struck a nerve. I liked not to hear Estarfin spoken of so. I knew he was trying to understand me. I thought he would have tried to understand Ruineth. 

“Perhaps it is because of the long years training for battle, then in the field, followed by years and years of unhappy solitude.” Parnard looked sideways at me. 

I nodded as I considered his words. “When he took me to the village he spent almost all the Second Age in, I swore to myself he would never be alone again, unless he wished.”

Parnard nodded and shifted his gaze far away, where the mellow autumn sunlight shone through the trees.  

And there was that second ‘strike.’ Had I not long known he was damaged by his past? Had I not known I could not heal him, but rather give him my support and unconditional acceptance?

“I fear he understands Ruineth poorly,” I stated again my issue, knowing Parnard already understood. “I know not what his most recent words to her were, nor is it my business, but I saw her look when he took me to Imlad Gelir. She hates me cousin. And that can only be because she still loves him, no?”

“That one is like one of the Flame-eyed in temper,” he seemed to be recalling.

“I do not think her heart is healed yet. I think he would cause her much pain to ask her to be his apprentice again, and that is cruel.”

“I must be wary in Imladris,” Parnard said. “I shall not go near the forge.”

“And so to my second point. She likes neither of us. To ask her here, even if she would come, will destroy the peace and harmony we have. Those of us here have no hatred to contend with. I believe she would alter that.”

“What is there not to like about me?” Parnard asked.” I do not understand the origin of her ire?”

“You are Estarfin’s friend, and mine.”

I was thinking hard. I could not forbid Estarfin from bringing Ruineth to Numenstaya if that truly was his wish, though I would be on constant guard for myself and Parnard’s well being. Yet I hoped it had somehow been merely a jest, an idle comment of his. 

Whatever it was, I did neither of us any favours by maintaining a distance. I decided then to go and speak with him, and in a more understanding manner than the past two days.