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“Father!”

Lúthien ran to him with all the speed her short legs could give her. She had missed him, while he was away hunting.

He smiled at her, and bent down to catch his daughter in his arms, lifting her up. “Hello, my little flower,” he said, leaving a kiss to her cheek.

Lúthien wrapped her arms around his neck, while music wrapped all around her. Her father’s music, and it was happy, and Lúthien felt happy too.

“I made a drawing, father,” she said, waving the piece of paper she held.

“May I take a look at it?”

She nodded, and showed it to her father. “It’s the big tree in the garden, see?”

She was quite proud of how she had made it. It had been a bit of a struggle to find a green and a brown that sounded the same as the real tree, because colors always sounded different on paper. She thought maybe it was because drawings were not alive, and trees were. But she had found the right colors at last, and they didn’t look exactly like the leaves and bark of the tree but they sounded right.

“Is it?” her father said, and there was a strange note in his music now, on that Lúthien didn’t like as much. Not happy. Confused.

“Yes! Listen!”

She started humming, trying to follow the sound of the colors.

“She worked a lot on it,” said her mother’s voice, and Lúthien turned to see that she had walked up to them. She was soundless, as always, nothing but the soft hum of her colors accompanied her.

Father looked at her, and it seemed to Lúthien that they were talking in that way they did, without words. “I see. It’s a very good drawing, Lúthien.”

But his music still wasn’t as happy as before. Lúthien didn’t understand why. Didn’t he like her drawing? But Lúthien had made it well.

Sometimes it seemed to her that her father’s ears could not work the right way.

 

***

 

How do I sound?” Lúthien asked.

M elian’s fingers parted her daughter’s hair, smoothing out various strands to braid. “What do you mean, my dear?”

“What is my music like?”

“Do you not hear the colors of your skin, and of your hair, the way you do with everything else?”

“Yes, but I do not hear myself.”

The only person Lúthien knew who did not have a music of her own was Lúthien’s mother, but she was also a Maia. She understood Lúthien better than any Elf, in some ways, but sometimes Lúthien did not understand Melian. If she had a music, other than the one her colors made, Lúthien did not hear.

Perhaps Lúthien had taken from her mother in that.

“I do not understand. When you look at your father, for example, what is his music made of?”

Lúthien sighed. “I hear the silver of his hair, the grey of his eyes, the paleness of his skin. I hear the color of the robes he wears. But I also hear his feelings, and the sound of his being.”

“...you had never told me of this. I thought colors were all that you could hear.”

Lúthien turned a little, trying to see her mother. Melian was frowning. “I assumed you heard them too. Was I wrong?”

The way they heard music was different, after all. Lúthien only heard glimpses of it, mostly in the colors of the world. Melian was attuned to every note of the Music that composed the world.

“Tell me, do you hear everyone’s feelings in the way you hear your father’s?”

“Most everyone, yes, so long as they are Elves. I do not hear yours.”

Melian took a deep breath. “Lúthien, I do not hear what you say you do. I can look in someone’s mind, but not simply listen to their heart.”

“But then why can I-”

“I think,” Melian said, “that it is because you are yourself a Child of Ilúvatar. We Ainur cannot hear them as part of the music, because they are made by one more powerful than us, and were not part of the Song we sang. But you… You also have your father’s blood, and perhaps that gives you an insight I do not posses.”

 

***

 

“So what do you think?”

Lúthien smiled kindly at his friend. “It was beautiful.”

Daeron grinned. “That much is a given, my lady.”

“Then what did you wonder, most humble of bards?”

Daeron’s music – not the one he made, but the one he was made of – always carried the tune of his silver hair and the warm brown of his skin. The melody was now made richer by the sound of his excitement at showing Lúthien his latest creations.

“Minstrel, if you will, and do you believe I captured the right feelings?”

Lúthien’s smile almost fell. There was no doubt that Daeron was an incredibly skilled musician. The words of his song, as always, were true poetry. They talked of the love between two who had met each other while running from a summer thunderstorm, and even Lúthien, who of love knew little still, was moved by them.

The tune, however. The tune was wrong.

It wasn’t Daeron’s fault. He did his best with what he could, but he could not hear the way she did. He did not how a thunderstorm sounded like, and tried to convey in music the power and the wind of it. To Lúthien, however, the true music of one was in the greys and blacks and whites of the clouds, the flashes of white and red as lightning lit up the sky.

And many times she had heard the sound of a couple looking at each other with love, and she did not find it in this song.

As a child, she used to complain about songs not sounding right. Later, Melian had explained to her that others did not hear what she did. And so now she did not tell Daeron his music had not captured what he wished, because he seemed so proud of his creation, and Lúthien knew that the music she would have made in his place would have only made sense to herself.

“You did. I cannot wait to hear the final version.”

“And you shall be the first person I will go to when I finish!” Daeron said. Lúthien heard his happiness and confidence, and wished she hadn’t had to lie to him to make him feel those emotions.

 

***

 

A disk of fire lit up the sky.

Melian took a look at it, and whispered, “Arien.”

Thingol saw it, and thought the Noldor must be in some way connected to its appearance, and later he wasn’t proven wrong but he wasn’t proved right either.

It rose, and suddenly the stars disappeared behind its light, and all the sky was blue.

Lúthien fell to her knees, hands clasped over her ears as they were assaulted by a cacophony of sounds. The greens and browns of the forest changed, not even the flowers looked the same way. The white of her clothes was deafening, and she closed her eyes shut, trying to defend herself from the onslaught of color and sound.

Later, when people got past their initial surprise, they were quick to accept the sun as a positive thing. It chased all sorts of evil beings away, and its light made it easier to see things than the stars did. Everyone’s eyes ached, at first, and many sought refuge in the depths of Menegroth, away from it, but once they got used to all that light they all started saying it was a gift from the Valar.

Part of Lúthien always resented the sun. At night, everything was as it once was, but during the day, it looked different. It sounded different, so much that for the first weeks she would stumble every time she went outside. Every color was changed in the light, and she did not recognize the music she heard. It was not the same that had been her company for her whole life.

At least, when she went in the deepest parts of Doriath, where the canopy of trees blocked most of the light, the music was a familiar one again. There she could listen, and dance to the song only she would ever hear.

 

***

 

Her two eldest cousins were arguing. Lúthien had not meant to interrupt them, but they were the ones who had decided to discuss right in the middle of the hallway. Finrod seemed to be scolding Angrod about something. Lúthien did not find it surprising, Angrod was impulsive and easy to anger and more than once had gotten in an argument at court that Finrod had to fix afterwards.

She could guess this had been the case as well. Angrod sounded irritated and Finrod frustrated. Lúthien did not speak their strange language, but she didn’t really need to.

Finrod caught sight of her, and stopped lecturing his brother.

“Your Highness,” Finrod said, with a little bow.

Lúthien raised a hand. “No need for such titles, we are family, after all.”

Finrod smiled, an easy, charming gesture. Angrod’s smile was more forced, likely embarrassed at having been caught.

Their fëar sounded strange, different from most Sindar. Lúthien had noticed this since she had first met them, a few weeks prior. Their emotions, however, were much the same tunes.

And right now, they sounded uneasy.

They always did, around her, and Lúthien understood why. She was one of a kind, she had been told. No other children existed born of Maiar and Elves, in that far away land where they all coexisted together. Strange, Lúthien thought.

The people of Doriath had long since grown used to her, but these foreigners still had those nervous notes in their music whenever they saw her. Was it the knowledge of what she was? Was it that for all that she resembled an Elf she always looked a little different from them?

All she knew was that her cousins did not feel at ease around her.

“We apologize for that scene,” Finrod said.

“We did not mean to disturb,” Angrod added, his accent thicker than Finrod’s. They both still struggled a little with Sindarin, their words stilted and slow.

Lúthien shook her head. “Do not worry. I was on my way, anyways.”

She walked away from her strange relatives, with their almost fear of her, and their bizarre language and ways, and the dark guilt she could at time hear in them. Of something she was sure, and it was that the Noldor were hiding something horrible from them, and that something was eating away at them.

 

***

 

“Let go, Lúthien of Doriath. He is gone.”

Lúthien stared up in the eyes of Námo, her own dried of all tears. “No.”

She had not come all this way for nothing. She had not rebelled from her father, been kidnapped, fought Sauron and Morgoth alike, just to lose Beren as soon as she had had him. She would not accept this.

Námo sighed. “Why do you argue with me? Has your mother not told you who I am?”

“She has. Judge of the Valar, keeper of the dead, who has never been brought to compassion and never will.”

“Then why do you not understand I will not give you your husband back?”

Lúthien stared at him, great and powerful, and did not feel scared. Many evil things she had met, and she had won. She would not back down in front of this being, not after she had already brought Morgoth down to his knees.

There was no music coming from him. No doubt, he did not hear music from her.

But she heard, now. When her bond with Beren had been forged, when she had reached inside of him and joined their souls together, she had heard it. Her own soul, her own music, reflected back at her through her husband’s. It had near overwhelmed her, to hear herself in Beren.

Now, now Beren was no longer there, a void ripped inside her chest. Lúthien, however, she had heard once, and she still heard now. It still rang into her ears, it echoed in that hole that had been left there, the sound of her own pain.

She was no Vala, but she had something no one else knew, no one else had ever heard, filling her ears and her mind. She knew what the true sound of heartbreak was.

She opened her mouth, and sang her music.