Wonder and Curses
Disclaimer: I own naught, see prior chapters.
A/N: Happy Thanksgiving? I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this chapter, but I DO hope to finish this story before the new year. By "this story" I mean Tiriel
, not the entire saga of Faith-in-ME. This story was always intended as sort of a warm-up that explained the hows, wheres, and whyfores of Faith's formative years with Gandy.=====
Faith screamed, muffling the noise into the fluffy pillows that adorned the bed. They'd originally been set up in what she was sure must have been an aesthetically pleasing pattern but her mini-freak out was mucking that up something awful. Her limbs were twitching and spasming and her hands were clenched, white-knuckled, in the thick blankets. Her legs kicked and jerked while she tried to force all her pent-up emotions out of her chest, up her throat and into the bed.
It wasn't until it became hard to breathe through the steadily-dampening material that she even realized that she was crying, and then it was as if someone had nuked a dam. Her back arched up off the bed and she hunched onto her side, sobbing and hiccupping so wildly that she felt her stomach start to roll.
She heard a knock on the door and flinched, unable to stop the tears and small cries that were forcing their way up her throat. The door-latch was lifting…. shit. She leapt off the bed and shoved a chair in front of it before her brain could register more than a microsecond of distress. Shit!
no. There was no way she was letting anyone see her like this. Ever. She didn't do this – this crying, weak-assed shit and – and she realized that she was getting hysterical and gave herself a mental slap.
"Tiriel?" That was Gandy, definitely.
"Y-yes?" her voice was shaking and the tears weren't stopping, but at least her answer was somewhat intelligible. She backed away from the door, looking for another escape route, any
escape route, in case he tried to press his luck and come in.
"Are you well?"
There was silence for a moment, then – gently: "May I come in?"
Shit. She knew that tone. She remembered it from her ma's sober(er) days. It was parental disapproval and I'm-not-putting-up-with-your-shit-young-lady and it usually meant a whupping or a skipped meal but this was Gandalf and he hadn't been anything but nice and motherfucking hell!
She was still
crying, damnit, and she didn't want Gandalf to see!
Faith heard him trying to open the door and his startled exclamation as he met the resistance of the chair. There were no other doors or windows in this place and the bed sat too close to the ground for even her newly-slimmed (and shortened) body to fit underneath. She grabbed the blanket off the bed and swaddled herself head-to-toe, leaving not a single patch of skin outside its comfortingly fuzzy embrace. Stumbling a bit in the blanket's confines, she managed to settle herself on the edge of the bed before Gandalf got the door open.
She heard his confusion and then his amusement at seeing her thus "dressed".
"Are you well?"
Faith tried to nod but she didn't think he got the gesture through the blanket, well, that and she was still shaking and crying a little. Please don't notice, please don't notice, just
get out already! Please don't notice…
She felt a weight dip the bed as he sat beside her and a constriction about her middle when his arms wrapped around her, gathering her up and setting her down again, this time in his lap. Her brain froze for a full minute as she tried to process this completely unprecedented action. Gandy was cool and all, but he wasn't really the huggy type – not so's she'd noticed, anyways. Plus, she didn't have too many good memories involving fathery-figures and cuddling – a flash of a grin and a balding head danced across her mind, a picnic wrecked by an expressionless woman wearing a Grim Reaper's cloak
– so this was pretty new territory for her.
Gandalf was patting her back – more her shoulder, really – comfortingly and humming something under his breath. Some small part of her took the time to note that it was probably a good thing he wasn't trying to breach the whole language-barrier thing they still had going on, as that would have been awkward at best and detrimental to the situation at worst.
Faith found herself relaxing slowly, her hiccups subsiding into quiet tears that didn't wrack her small body with shudders. She was still sniffling occasionally when she felt his hand reach up, trying to find the spot where she clutched at the seams of the blanket. She didn't fight him off, but she didn't help him either, part of her wanting to throw herself away and the rest of her – which wasn't much more than her morbid curiosity, really – wanting to know what he would do if he actually managed to rid of her hidey-blanket.
After a few minutes of awkward fumbling, his face came into view. Faith was shocked by the look on his weathered features: she'd expected pity, maybe some sympathy if she was lucky, but he looked… sad. He settled the blanket around her shoulders and turned her a little so that she was twisted around and facing him a bit easier, and then he did something that broke her down and built her up all at once: he started to dry her tears.=====
Contrary to what most doubtless believed, Gandalf was not entirely a stranger to the ways of children. He quite liked them, really. He found them by turns mischievous, wise, silly, sweet, and on the whole one of the Valar's better ideas. After leaving Faith in her room he had stuck close by, assuming that if she were to make a break for the relative "safety" of the known in the woods, now rather than later would be the most likely time.
At first he had thought that the sounds emanating from her room were sounds of delight, he did not know how much prior experience the feral child had had with beds and other such civilized accouterments. Gradually, though, he realized that what he had first thought to be laughter was sounding now far more like tears.
"Tiriel?" he called, hoping for a chirpy response. Not that Tiriel struck him as the "chirpy" or "giggly" sort of child; she was altogether a rather sober youngling. A fact that struck him as charming and saddening by turns because while her outlook and general attitude was unique, he was left wondering what sort of childhood it had sprung from.
Her response was slow in coming, "Y-yes?"
"Are you well?"
Gandalf sighed at her obvious lie, but stifled any impatience, "May I come in?"
He pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers and placed the other hand on the doorknob. "Tiriel," he repeated, this time more as a command. He was still hoping, though now he was hoping that she would open the door and possibly try to communicate what, exactly, was wrong now
. She was a temperamental, stubborn little thing, and Erurainon had been disturbingly accurate in his naming.
Gandalf tried the door again and was startled to discover something in the way. Worry started to rise in the wizard and thus the door ended up opening with a bit more force than the wood was likely used to. "Tiriel?" He saw a blanket-wrapped figure sitting and shaking at the edge of the bed, "Faythe? Are you well?"
There was no response beyond the continuous muffled cries coming from beneath the gray cloth.
The wizard moved slowly to the bed and sat down; despite her covered eyes he somehow doubted that Tiriel would appreciate sudden, unexpected gestures, especially because she was so distraught. Slowly he slipped an arm around her and gathered her against his chest, settling her on his lap so that he could hold her. He felt her stiffen against him and found himself wondering: had anyone ever held this child? Comforted her? Logic told him that she must have had someone who cared enough to look after her, that she could not have wandered those woods her entire life up to now…
But feeling her shake in his arms he felt a deep sorrow well up in his heart and a certainty, terrible in its strength, that this youngling – Faythe of the fierce eyes and wary soul – had never been held as a child should be: with love and wonder at the gift that she truly was. And while Gandalf felt this thought held true for any child, somehow it was even more so with elf-kind. After all, their children were so few and far between… Tiriel was the only youngling that he had seen in near forty years.
Gandalf felt her start to relax and gradually worked his hand up from her shoulder so that he could attempt to uncover her face. She didn't help him, but she didn't struggle either, so the wizard counted her lack of resistance as permission and gently removed the blanket from her face. Her eyes, when he caught them, sent a stab through his heart. They were so uncertain, as if she didn't know what to expect from an adult faced with her tears.
He wondered how often her little warrior's soul had allowed her to cry.
He cursed those who had caused her to do so.=====
A/N2: Like, love, loathe? Lemme know! Seriously, I'm kind of waffling with where I wanna take these next bits. I have the generals, but not the specifics and the devil is running WILD with the details!