"Selkie: (Proper noun): A selkie is a mythical creature who lives primarily as a seal, but can assume human form by removing its seal skin. Many stories and ballads about the creatures can be found in Ireland and Scotland, and the myth seems to have originated in the Orkney Islands." - WiseGEEK.
Spell of the Selkie
"Tall and proud and wondrous fair,
The people of the dark and air,
Hold high the iron that they fear!
When the Fair Folk call- don't let them near."
- Judith Hayman, Fair Folk.
"I am so tired, Boromir. Please?"
The Steward's son grinned. It wasn't a malicious smile, not at all, it was one of youth and vigour and child-like mischief. The moon shone brightly and the stars were strewn about the night sky like salt spilled about the blackest of tablecloths. The village of Réalaúin cast it's elegant shadow on the ocean, making the waves appear darker and more mysterious than it was in daylight. "I know you too well, Selkie. If I give you back your skin you will take it and leave me forever."
It saddened the Selkie that he was right. He had been the nicer than the stories said. Tales of Selkie maidens becoming prisoners to fishermen when their skin was stolen and having to look at the tide every day, having to look upon their kin dancing and singing on the golden sand, wild and free. "Please," She repeated, "I am tired. Let me go."
He moved the grey seal skin further behind his back and leaned on the window frame. "You know," He spoke softly, "I could lock you in a house and love you whenever I wished it."
"You are too kind of heart for that." She said, hopefully.
He smiled. "Maybe, but I have a very well-deserved reputation and I am not at all tired."
Before she could think, he leaned over the window frame and kissed the selkie on her pale lips. He couldn't help but grin even wider through the kiss. She was cold, yes, but she so, so sweet. Like a deliciously sun-deprived sea breeze that playfully ran it's fingers through his hair. His hand rose to cup her cheek and she shyly kissed him back. She placed her silvery hands on his face. His stubble was new to her; the selkie lad's did not grow hair on their faces. She traced his cheek with a slim, graceful finger.
They parted breathless. His skin was flushed and his eyes were bright, gleaming under the moonlight. She looked down, embarrassed, but smiling. Her long dark hair, matted with kelp, was mussed. "Oh." She said, "Perhaps I could stay. Only for a few minutes."
Valmari stayed with the Steward's son for seven years. It was something she never planned and something that he had only dreamed of. You can imagine Boromir's father's surprise when he came home from Réalaúin with a dark-haired girl with eyes as deep as the sea. He was meant to marry a girl from Rohan, but here he was with this girl barely into womanhood. They laughed together in a way that made him miss his wife and resent this girl more than any other lady of his son's. But, aside from the Steward, none could hate Valmari. She was as gentle and humble as the low tide and was, although peculiar, kind of heart.
Boromir and Valmari could not be together often enough. They kissed at every opportunity and made love whenever the right time presented itself. She told him he tasted of fresh mint that grew just inland of Réalaúin. He told her she tasted of sea-salt and the sweetest of dreams. He taught her how to grow herbs in neat rows and how to use them in healing remedies. She taught him how to catch fish in the small rivers that flowed outside of Minas Tirith. He cooked his on the fire. She ate hers raw.
He grew up, from boy to man. A warrior, not a youth who squandered time playing with his brother. Years passed. She never aged nor grew less ethereal in her beauty. People began to talk. After seven years and seven days, she knew it was time.
One evening, she sat next to him and clasped his hand in her own. "My love, I beg of you, please give me back my skin."
He chuckled, pulling her into his arms and placing a tender kiss on her forehead. "You know I cannot and I have become rather found of your seal skin."
"No." She said, keeping her voice gentle, "No, I am not playing. If you loved me, you would return it to me."
He frowned, sensing that their previous banter about her seal skin was different to this. "Why?" He whispered, "Are you not happy?"
"You know I am!" She cried, "I have felt happier than I ever did under the waves!"
"Then why? Why do you want to leave me so badly?"
"No amount of wishing will make me a woman. I am Selkie. You have to understand that I don't want to go, but the sea calls to me. I miss the crash and swell of the dark waves in a storm and I miss the salt and the sand and the feeling of water rushing past me as a seal. The instinct to leave is so powerful, much more so than the wanting for the sea. I am always thirsty no matter how much I drink and my skin is always dry."
Tears were glittering in his eyes. Rage, sorrow and fear all welling up inside him until he could bear it no longer. A single tear spilled hot over his face and it took him a moment to realize he was crying. He was horrified; he should not be shedding tears. It was something a child did when he couldn't get a particular toy off his brother. "No," He said, "I won't give it to you."
She tried again, "I have not attempted to search for my skin in seven years. Please let me go back to the sea."
No words were spoken for a while. None were needed. He held her, tracing the contours of her face. She licked his tears from his face, not mentioning that they tasted of the sea. At last he murmured against her neck, "I am going back to Réalaúin in a week. Come with me and I will give it back where we first met. Let me say goodbye."
She nodded, wanting to stay with him until he grew old and until she turned to dust with anguish. But she couldn't. She had a spirit as wild as the ocean and a face just as beautiful and all of her soul wanted to be within those crashing tides.
Another week passed and she grew restless. On the third night, they lay in bed together and she was drawing blind patterns on his chest. He asked, "Do Selkies live forever? Are you immortal?"
"In a sense." She answered. "In our seal form, we can live forever, yes. In our human form, we do not age but we grow weary in spirit. Living on the land becomes too much for us and, eventually, we become ash and dust."
She pressed an ear against his neck, listening to his pulse. "Do you have a selkie boy waiting for you?" He asked, not changing his tone. He drew her closer.
"No," She said, "I could have, though none caught my attention. We love in a different way. We love in such a manner that cannot be conceived of by mortals, even by Elves. It is a dark constant flame to their brief spluttering light."
Réalaúin was precisely as she recalled it. They travelled on horseback, talking and laughing as if they were only visiting and would return exactly the same as they had been before. Except she was not coming back and that thought made her giddy and sad all at the same time. Her skin was so dry. To look at, it was smooth and clear and as fair as the moon. To touch, it was rough and scaly. She thought it might repulse him when he brushed her arm but it didn't. The urge to leave was so strong, it almost overpowered her.
At last, they arrived at the beach where they met. The sands were golden and the air was full of the cries of seagulls and the tang of sea air.
Their first meeting was a stroke of serendipity. She had been dancing, as so many Selkies do, to the music of pipes that mortals cannot hear. She was naked of seal skin and garb, peaks and hollows bare, and her long kelp-matted hair covered her body like a waterfall, rippling in the ending night.
He was enchanted. A grey mottled skin was lying, discarded, on a rock near to the water. He picked it up and she noticed him. She stopped the dancing and strode purposely towards him. He couldn't believe his luck. He smiled, delighted, and decided, at the young age of twenty five, that she would be his wife. "Give it back to me." She said, holding a hand out.
"Why?" His voice was low, full of implications and promises.
"Because you shouldn't take what is not yours."
"Follow me." He requested.
She refused at first. He started walking towards the little village and she realized that she had to, or else she would never get her skin back. He walked back to the house he had rented for the night while doing business with the people of the village, his father insisted on him going to politely ask for trade; fish for wheat. Oh, how glad he was that it was he and not Faramir who had come.
She drew the line at following him into the little house. He closed the door and he heard her sigh before knocking on the window. He grinned and opened the shutter. Before she could open her mouth, he said, "What is your name?"
"I am Valmari and I would like my skin back so I can return home."
"My name is Boromir. Won't you stay and rest for a while?"
"My kin are waiting for me and I am tired. I must go." He stroked his chin, pretending to ponder what had just been said to him. She spoke again, pleading, "I am so tired, Boromir. Please?"
Now, as they walked hand in hand back along the sands where she was dancing, her heart was filled with grief. She hated that her soul was elated at the sight of the sea. Her skin was healthier than he had ever seen it. They stopped. His eyes held a thousand stories and sorrows that she would never know. "It is time." She said, hushed.
"I know." He said. He didn't cry now. He reached inside his shirt and pulled out the seal skin and when she took it from him, he resisted only a little. The skin was warm from lying next to his own. She was no longer tired. She gazed at him for a few seconds, then kissed him. There was never a kiss they had shared that wasn't as perfect as the last. Their lips parted, foreheads pressed together.
Already, he missed her. He wanted to be with her and he ached to touch her. He wanted to feel her against him. He wanted to remember the taste of her skin and the smell of her tangled hair. He wanted to make her laugh. He wanted to sit and listen to her talk about the sea until day turned to night and back again. But all of these things he could not want because they were things he could not have and wanting what you could not have led to misery and to madness.
"Close your eyes." She whispered. He did so and clung to her for a moment before letting go. He felt her slip away and heard the slow murmur of each wave as it met the shore. He listened the slow, deliberate steps she took, getting fainter and fainter. Eventually, she was gone completely and he opened his eyes.
She had left.
What did you think? This is my first short fanfiction, so any constructive criticism will be appreciated. Check out my other fic's for LOTR, 'The Xylophone of Gondor' and the now complete, 'Lord of the Rings: Awkward Moments'. Don't forget to REVIEW! Hope you enjoyed. This was based on the story, "Eshkol" that is on S. J. Tucker's album, 'For the Girl in the Garden'.