Natural Magic

by Lothithil
For Tom and Goldberry

It was a bright green morning, and the sun was singing so loudly that Tom could not ignore the music, and he went out of his house, leaving the door open and hurried along the path. Birds and insects were giving symphonic support to the aria of daybreak and the trees conducted themselves with slow dignity, dipping a bough for a beat, rustling leaves for ambiance.

Tom did not slow his run, but he noted every movement and sound. His booted feet were loud as he raced along the path. The first day of Spring was here, and the winter had passed with easy forgiveness. No ice remain on the edges of the rill that flowed down the steps from his house, and all the land was green and ready to burst with colour.

Down to the river Tom raced, as if he were late for some appointment, though indeed, he had no engagements whatever. All alone he lived in his land, but for the trees and birds and insect and animal. Even Fatty Lumpkin rarely bespoke him, prefering to graze in the heather or roll in the dust in pony-practices. But something was happening down the river; Tom could hear and feel it in the air.

The rill grew into a brook, and then into a stream. It deepened and broadened into a creek and then a river, joined by other limbs of water trickling through the roots of the ancient willows and oaks. The ground rippled like a great green woolen scarf, folded and woven with leaves, twigs and bramble. With his great yellow boots he tramped through it all, stepping over and leaping over, his face open and eager to learn what new thing had come to his land; something strange and wonderful.

Through the valley of Willow he went, and tipped his hat to Old Man as he went by, though the gnarled tree did not return his greeting, being still asleep in his winter aspect. The path was thickly padded with old yellow leaves from Falls of years before. Idly Tom thought that it was high-time for a spring cleaning. The Forest was getting rather old and shabby-looking.

Now the river coursed strongly beside his stumping feet, and he watched that other man running beside him, reflected in a blue field that was scattered with clouds. Both images were laughing.

The Withywindle broadened to a flat slow bend, and the path became marshy and soft. Pools of water lay sparkling in the morning sun, and early waterplants were already breathing and floating on the surfaces, white waterlilies lay like stars amid a firmament of green. So thickly they covered the pool that the water was hidden, and Tom espied a great pile of leaves and lilies that was oddly shaped, lying in his path. The music that had called him grew louder, and he looked about for the source. He had hear that voice singing before. Where had it been? How long ago and who?

The mound of lilies moved, and Tom exclaimed, startled. He knelt and peeled back the leaves, revealing a face white and fair as the flowers that first bloom. Framed by locks of hair golden as sunlight and clad in a gown of rushes, a lady lay in the shallow water. Her lips were faintly pink and smiling, and her skin was flawless and fair. Lashes and brows were drawn fine, and looked dark against her pale flesh.

Tom could hear the beating of her heart clearly, and he gently touched her silken cheek with his great rough hand. Her eyes opened then and were the colour of the laughing brook, like a deep pool dappled through the leaves of an oak; full of sparkle and running with thought.

She took his hand and rose to her feet. He knelt and looked up at her beauty, his heart touched by love as he had never known, and yet seemed familiar. Images came to him like memory of a fair maid dancing, dancing upon the earth, and the sound of his own laugher echoing through the primal morning.

"Lady, I am Tom. I am your servant." He bowed, unable to release the fair flower of her hand.

She looked at him and spokem, and her voice was like the flowing of water. "I am the Daugher of the Riverwoman. I heard you singing."

"Not I, Lady! I heard singing and came here and found you. But now I shall sing every day and every night, for your loveliness must be proclaimed to every leaf and star, from the top of every hill and whispered to every stone and tree. I am so happy to see you, that I shall never cease laughing with joy."

And Tom led Goldberry, as he named her, to his house Over and Under the Hill, and there they lived together as seasons cycled around the wheel of the year, and they grew in love as might have been guessed that they would, and all the winds and rivers were glad.