Bliss in Valinor - Chapter 2 - Le aran nín

Disclaimer It may not be Middle Earth, but it is still JRRT's!!

LE ARAN NÍN - You are my king

Warm golden light spilled out through the tall windows of the Halls of Finarfin. Groups of laughing, chattering Elves made their way up the steps into the entrance hall and were ushered in the direction of the great Feast Hall.

Nîndorien accompanied her parents and her uncle to Finarfin's Halls. She wore a blue gown, delicately sewn with silver gems, which shimmered with every graceful step. Her hair was unbraided and flowed in a thick black cascade down her back. She walked alongside her mother, who also wore her hair unbound, and the similarity between mother and daughter was striking. Nîndorien looked at her uncle, who walked a few paces ahead alongside her father, and he smiled back at her. There could be no mistaking that the three Elves were close kin. While a servant took her cloak, she looked around the entrance hall with interest. It was much larger than the hall of Turgon's palace and was teeming with Elves, but the House of the Gondolindrim seemed more vibrant somehow. The history and emotion of the people of Turgon the Wise abounded in his house; their memories gave life to its very walls. Smiling, she realised Turgon's House was home for her; it was the dwelling place of her kin after all. Her blood was steeped in that heritage, and although her heart abided with Gil-galad, the sense of belonging among the Gondolindrim was undeniable. Emerging from her reverie with a slight shake of her head, she heard her uncle speaking.

"Proceed to the Feast Hall without me. I must wait for the King Turgon."

As they moved away, Nîndorien asked her father why Ecthelion remained.

"He is one of Turgon's standard bearers. It is a great honour to be chosen to bear the standard of one's liege-lord."

"Do all of the Lords of Valinor have standard-bearers?"

"Most certainly and, unless I am very much mistaken, your husband carries his father's banner."

Nîndorien was amused at the thought of her husband playing such a ceremonial role. Unless the time spent in Mandos' Halls had wrought some dramatic change in the personality of Ereinion Gil-galad, it had been commonly known in Middle Earth that he detested excessive displays of pageantry. She smiled at the prospect of teasing him about it and realised with no small amount of pleasure that the former Lord of Imladris would probably have a jest or two prepared for Gil-galad.

As she entered the Feast Hall, her gaze was immediately drawn to a far corner where a beautiful silver-haired Elf-lady was speaking with a dark-haired Elf-lord, her hand on his arm and laughter in her eyes.

"Celebrían!" cried Nîndorien. She turned to her parents. "It seems that all my friends of old are here!"

Elemmakil laughed. "Then greet them, my daughter! This is the time for reunions." He planted a soft kiss on Nîndorien's brow and stood at his wife's side, watching their daughter renew old friendships.

Celebrían looked in the direction of the door of the Feast Hall and gasped with surprise when she saw Nîndorien enter. She immediately released her hold on Elrond's arm and moved towards the other Elf-lady. They met in the centre of the hall and embraced warmly, before studying each other's faces closely. Nîndorien was delighted to see that Celebrían was far less worn and weary than the last time Nîndorien had beheld her; indeed she looked positively youthful again, but there was a fresh wound of sorrow in the silver-haired lady's eyes. Celebrían softly touched Nîndorien's forehead with her own and whispered.

"Thank you. Elrond told me all you have done for my children."

Nîndorien smiled sadly. "I wish you could have seen her on her wedding day, my friend. She was so happy...ah, it was more than mere happiness; the bliss of love was in her eyes."

"You will have to describe it to me, dear friend, so that I may feel as though I was there," Celebrían replied. Nîndorien nodded, a slight lump rising in her throat, but they did not speak more on the matter that evening. They embraced again and stood hand in hand as Elrond approached. He kissed Nîndorien's cheek in greeting

"I saw you arrive with your parents, my lady. Glorfindel spoke the truth when he said that you are the very image of your mother."

"I shall introduce you to her later, for she well remembers the days in Sirion when you were but an infant," replied Nîndorien.

Elrond smiled before enquiring, "Is Ereinion not with you?" He longed to speak with Gil-galad again; he had seen him briefly at the harbour the previous day but had been too engrossed in his reunion with his beloved wife to do more than raise a hand in greeting.

"No, dear one." Nîndorien suddenly smiled mischievously. "He omitted to inform me that he is his father's standard-bearer so he will be arriving in great ceremony in due course."

Elrond's eyes widened before he laughed out loud. In between gasps of air and snorts of laughter, he managed to splutter a few words. "Ereinion... a...a herald? He h-hated it... as a k-king! The Valar alone know...h-how he l-likes it the other....w-way round!" Nîndorien and Celebrían glanced at each other and immediately dissolved in helpless giggles. The Half-Elf's laughter was infectious and rang clearly through the air. The three merry Elves drew surprised looks from others nearby; even in the blissful atmosphere of Aman, such wholehearted hilarity was seldom heard; it was the joyful laughter of dear friends reunited after a long separation. A golden-haired Elf who had been passing stopped and watched the display with detached amusement. Celebrían was the first to regain her composure, but a hiccup of laughter still escaped her as she addressed the Elf-lord.

"Greetings, Lord Calimehtar. Allow me to introduce my dear friend, the Lady Nîndorien, lately arrived from Middle Earth."

"Welcome to Valinor, my Lady," said Calimehtar gravely as he kissed Nîndorien's extended hand. He could see great sorrow in her eyes, a scar of those who have lived long in Arda Marred. "I hope that you may find healing here."

The sincerity in his soft tones touched Nîndorien and she smiled warmly at him. His name stirred some memory within her, however, and she furrowed her brow in an effort to recall where she had heard the name before.

"And this is my husband, the Lord Elrond," Celebrían's eyes shone as she introduced her husband who had recovered his dignity admirably and was now the very image of nobility as he bowed in acknowledgment.

"It is truly an honour to meet you, my Lord," smiled Calimehtar, "for many tales of your great deeds in Middle Earth have reached us over the years."

Elrond inclined his head in modest acknowledgment. "I simply fulfilled the task appointed to me."

Nîndorien laughed. "My dear Lord Elrond, you are too self-deprecating! There are few who could have carried the burdens you willingly took upon yourself." She turned to Calimehtar. "It is only right that the tale of Lord Elrond Peredhil is told by others, for it seems that he is too modest to speak of his deeds."

"Modesty is a fine quality, so I am told." Calimehtar sighed dramatically, although his eyes danced with laughter. "I fear that I have never been accused of that particular virtue."

Celebrían smiled. "No doubt you have other qualities, my lord. According to my grandfather, you are one of the finest warriors in all of Aman."

"I daresay that he is somewhat biased in the matter, since he himself trained me," remarked Calimehtar but Celebrían was not to be dissuaded and addressed her next comments to Nîndorien.

"The Lord Calimehtar has lived in great honour in my grandfather's halls since the War of Wrath when he acquitted himself splendidly on the battlefield. Unfortunately, the incident left him with a less than favourable impression of Middle Earth."

"One rarely sees the best of a land in the midst of battle," commented Elrond mildly, as Calimehtar's nostrils flared slightly and he became tense.

"It is not a reflection on those who choose to dwell there, you must understand. It is simply that I have never seen the need to depart this blessed land. I witnessed the Flight of the Noldor, although I was but a child at the time. The events left me with nothing but distaste for my mother's kindred. My father, a Vanyarin Elf, only consented to remain in Finarfin's Halls after the first kinslaying because the High King had played no role in that atrocity."

"Neither did many of the Elves of Beleriand by whose side you fought, at the end of the First Age," said Elrond, his tone suggesting that he was warming to the prospect of a debate. "They cannot be held responsible for the deeds of their forebears."

"Indeed not," began Calimehtar, "but now some of the kinslayers themselves have returned from Mandos, unsettling many Elves of Valinor. It drove my father to remove to Taniquetil with my mother and sister."

"Yet you chose to remain," remarked Elrond astutely, narrowing his eyes slightly.

"I have nothing but the greatest respect for Finarfin. I marched with pride at his side in the War of Wrath. I also have no doubt that no one has returned before their time." Calimehtar rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "But I do not understand his treatment of the former high kings of Middle Earth."

"Indeed?" asked Elrond, in a pleasant tone of voice, deliberately misinterpreting Calimehtar's words. This unassuming innocence had always been a favourite tactic of Gil-galad and it tended to throw opponents off balance. "I was under the impression that he treats them with the highest regard."

"That is precisely what I mean," retorted Calimehtar, his eyes flashing. "It is one thing to treat them with respect; that is the least they deserve, for all their flaws, but to grant them each a household! It seems that Finarfin is weakening his own position. His own authority is now open to challenges. If the three former high kings were to choose to oppose him in some matter of politics, it would be most difficult for him to resist their demands."

"Somehow, I do not believe that a rebellion is imminent, Lord Calimehtar," smiled Elrond, observing that the golden-haired Elf certainly had most strategic mind; the sign of a true soldier. "But you must bear in mind that these Elves all ruled their own kingdoms in Middle Earth. They are used to reigning; they were born to it."

Calimehtar sighed. "I concede the point that they are used to it, Lord Elrond. They are, after all, of the House of Finwë but..."

He was cut off by the sounding of trumpets at the doorway. The four Elves looked to see the arrival of the Lord Turgon of Valinor. Nîndorien smiled with delight at the sight of her uncle proudly bearing the banner of Gondolin. The Lord of the Fountains wore the blue tunic of Turgon's house, but over his shoulders was cast a fine silver robe, on the back of which was emblazoned the symbol of his own house.

"The family resemblance is quite striking," whispered Celebrían into Nîndorien's ear.

Having conducted Turgon to the high table, Ecthelion and Tuor placed the banner at the end of one of the long tables in the hall.

"That is the table for the people of Turgon," explained Celebrían. "I can see your parents taking their seat near the head of the table. Tuor will sit at the high table, of course, as will your uncle."

"Are you allied to the House of Turgon, my lady?" enquired Calimehtar.

Nîndorien shook her head. "No, my lord. I must confess that I do not know where my loyalties lie!" Elrond smiled at Calimehtar's confused expression. No doubt the blonde Elf-lord was wondering exactly how he had become ensnared in this particular conversation; they had passed from uncontrolled hilarity to contentious debate to enigmatic comment in a matter of minutes. Nîndorien noticed the expression too and attempted to explain. "My lord, while it is true that my parents dwell in the House of Turgon, and I was indeed born in Gondolin ere its fall, my husband dwells in the Halls of Fingon so I consider my loyalties to lie there."

"Did he travel with you from Middle Earth?"

Nîndorien saw Celebrían and Elrond glance in her direction. It occurred to all three simultaneously that Calimehtar had no idea as to the identity of Nîndorien's husband. Suppressing a smile, she replied politely, "No, my lord. He fell in the Last Alliance." She could not prevent a shadow passing across her face but she smiled quickly and wholeheartedly. "But now we have been re-united and my allegiance lies with him."

"It is most confusing for those of us who lived during the reign of Gil-galad," added Elrond, smirking slightly and steadfastly avoiding Nîndorien's gaze lest he give anything away. "For my wife is descended from Finarfin, I from Turgon, yet my allegiance lies naturally with Gil-galad who has no lordship here."

Calimehtar frowned slightly. "Gil-galad? Oh, Ereinion, of course; I had forgotten that you were his herald." It suddenly struck Nîndorien where she had heard Calimehtar's name before; according to her uncle, he was responsible for Gil-galad's newest epithet of `boy king'. Calimehtar continued, "I cannot bring myself to address him as Gil-galad; for I doubt that anyone other than the Blessed Mariner himself is worthy of such an epessë."

Elrond smiled and said fondly, "I believe that my father would have no objection to the bestowing of such a title upon one who cared so well for his children. In any case, the name was entirely deserved, for the coming of Gil-galad into battle with shining armour and shield lit a spark of hope in those who witnessed it." He glanced at Nîndorien, who nodded her agreement with a smile as she recalled her first sight of her beloved.

Calimehtar bowed in acknowledgment. "You know him better than I and I have no doubt that in Middle Earth he was worthy of great praise, but here in Aman," he grinned wickedly, "Ereinion Gil-galad will be known for many a long year as the boy king of the House of Finwë."

Elrond's eyes flew open at the description and his lips started to twitch as he attempted to contain his laughter. He emitted a number of rather alarming snorts as he tried to imagine the noble Ereinion Gil-galad as a boy king. Fortunately, the trumpets sounded again, drowning out Elrond's badly concealed mirth. Somewhat less fortunately, the doors swung open to reveal Gil-galad himself. The four Elves viewed his arrival with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Nîndorien felt a familiar wonderful warmth flow through her when she saw his face and she became very still, savouring his presence, knowing that he felt the same warmth.

Celebrían smiled happily, for she had spent much time with Gil-galad since his rebirth; she had told him a great deal about the Third Age in Middle Earth and had supported him during the dark times when the memories of his past life threatened to overwhelm him. He, in his turn, had aided the final stages of her own healing with his reassuring counsels, his inherent affability and, not least, his memories of Elrond in the Second Age.

Elrond positively beamed at the sight of his old friend; his king no less, bearing Fingon's standard. Unsurprisingly, Gil-galad carried off the role with a certain degree of style and grace but Elrond had no intention of letting the subject pass by without comment.

Calimehtar briefly closed his eyes in resignation. A recent defeat to Ereinion in a public debate still stung the proud Elf. He readily admitted that he had been fairly beaten but that knowledge did not lessen his disappointment. Of all the high kings, he found Ereinion the most mystifying. He appeared so young, for not a hundred years had passed since his rebirth and he appeared to have no cares of which to speak, yet he spoke with an infuriating amount of self-confidence, bordering on presumptive arrogance. Although Fingon, Turgon and even Fingolfin did not look much older than Ereinion, Calimehtar could remember them in the First Age and an air of ancient nobility hung about them. The youngest high king had lived and died in Middle Earth; he was an Elf of Arda, marred by birth and by character, and an Elf of Aman by rebirth alone.

"The boy king himself," he muttered, intending that no one should hear him but Elrond's eyebrows shot up with amusement and this time the Half-Elf simply could contain his laughter. Nîndorien and Celebrían had been watching Gil-galad and turned around to see Elrond doubled up with laughter while Calimehtar stood by looking hopelessly perplexed. His stomach dropped when he heard a familiar voice ringing out through the crowd.

"Come now, Peredhil, you will only encourage him. If you do not desist, he will consider it his duty to devise new and even more humorous nicknames." Gil-galad started to address Elrond from the far side of the hall and did not heed the curious looks he was receiving as he approached the laughing Half-Elf. He kissed the ladies' hands gallantly, lingering slightly in his attentions to his wife and earning a warm smile in return, before he resumed the flow of his speech. "Peredhil! If you do not desist, I shall forcibly remove you from this Hall. You are making quite a scene!" Indeed, many Elves had gathered around to watch the scene with amusement. In truth, Gil-galad's presence drew their interest as much as Elrond's fits of laughter; a reputation as a quick-witted and charming orator preceded the son of Fingon and it was a reputation he delighted in living up to.

"A-as you command, b-b-boy king!" managed Elrond and before he had straightened up he found himself enveloped in a hug of prodigious dimensions.

"Mellon-iaur, it is wonderful to see you again!" cried Gil-galad, slipping into Sindarin, even though high occasions such as this were almost entirely conducted in the High Speech. "You have grown old, my friend!" he joked.

"And you, hir-nín, have grown younger!" retorted Elrond looking closely at his friend. He suddenly fell silent and his brow creased with distress as, unbidden and unwished for, an image of Gil-galad during the Dagor Dagorlad sprang into his mind.

The High King's armour was stained with dust and blood, although its radiance still shone through. His face was grimy and sweat poured from under his helmet. A great burning heat was approaching; they could all feel it. He winced slightly as he gripped Aiglos firmly. His hand was injured but he would not let it hinder him; he had simply ordered that the wound be bound tight. He lifted his silver shield and rose to his feet. He looked at Elrond, their eyes meeting for the last time. The High King's dark blue eyes glinted with defiance and resolve; fear and doubt did not seem to trouble their depths. Elrond's grey eyes were briefly filled with concern which was rapidly replaced by determination and that fell fire that burns within every warrior born. He could not shake the foreboding that had crossed his heart, however, and he knew that Gil-galad had felt it too.

He had seen Gil-galad fall.

He had seen how the High King had leapt forward in the defence of Elendil, scything his way through a phalanx of Orcs, Aiglos flashing like a star in the shadow cast by Sauron.

He had seen Sauron's hand closing around Gil-galad and had known that weapons were useless.

He had seen the Dark Lord throw the High King's body to one side. He had seen it landing on hard cruel rocks and he had known, without a shadow of a doubt that Gil-galad's star had fallen into darkness.

When the battle was over, Elrond had approached Gil-galad's body, every step heavy with grief. He had looked with sorrow on the High King's face as he knelt beside him. Dimly aware of Círdan standing behind him with one hand on his shoulder, Elrond had wept.

The memory of Gil-galad's sightless eyes reflecting the stars overhead haunted him for years.

"Elrond! Elrond!" Celebrían's anxious voice carried towards him as though from a great distance. Elrond shook his head slightly and looked around dazedly. Many of the Elves who had gathered around had politely moved away, although some remained out of concern. The Half-Elf's eyes fell on Gil-galad and he whispered hoarsely. "You fell, Ereinion."

Gil-galad stepped forward, placing his hands on Elrond's shoulders and spoke to him quietly.

"1Dannen ne môr, no; dan hi ad cuion. Im na hîdh, im gwain," he whispered reassuringly. "Boe lastach nin, boe nestach."

Elrond looked at him accusingly. "2Dan firnich! Nallannen allen."

"3Nuitho nallol, mellon vell, han adel." Gil-galad's soft tones and his strong hands on Elrond's shoulders seemed to convince the Half-Elf that the last High King was indisputably alive. He looked into Gil-galad's eyes; no longer flat and lifeless but filled with light and concern. Elrond placed his hand over his heart and bowed his head, whispering softly. "4Aphadathon le ne môr a galad. Le aran nín."

Gil-galad looked visibly surprised at Elrond's words, but he also bowed his head before embracing his former vice-regent.

Le aran nín. Although those words had been spoken quietly, they were heard by many. Some distance away, two high kings of old paused in their conversation.

"What has happened, my brother?" asked Fingon the Valiant, looking in the direction of his son.

"I believe that the High King Gil-galad has made himself known to the Elves of Valinor," replied Turgon the Wise as he watched the scene between his nephew and his great-grandson. Gil-galad seemed to suddenly shine with radiance and the Elves around him looked on him with awe. The slump of weariness left Elrond's shoulders and he straightened up; his appearance no less regal, for he too emitted great power and wisdom.

Le aran nín. Calimehtar stood by, a sorrowful expression on his face. Frequently, Ereinion was addressed as a king but until this moment, Calimehtar had never truly understood the sacrifice he had made, nor the esteem and love in which he had been held.

The blonde Elf's gaze was drawn towards the Lady Nîndorien and he was shocked to see a tear trickle down her face. Celebrían whispered something to Gil-galad who glanced at the tall black-haired lady. He gave Elrond's shoulders a final squeeze and Celebrían moved to her husband's side. She kissed his forehead gently and a small smile flickered to his face, her comforting presence reminding him of light and love and joyful times.

Le aran nín. Meanwhile, Gil-galad had approached Nîndorien and was gently wiping his wife's tearstained cheek with a thumb. He clasped her hands gently and kissed them. [Im na hîdh, im gwain a im mîl le, loth nín] At last she smiled and placed a hand on his cheek, [Le aran nín a im mîl le] before taking his arm. Gil-galad turned to face Calimehtar.

"I believe you have been introduced to my wife, Lord Calimehtar?" He spoke cheerfully and his eyes sparkled as if filled with living starlight, and Calimehtar could not help smiling in response, despite feeling rather foolish.

"Indeed... Lord Gil-galad." If Gil-galad noticed that Calimehtar used his epessë for the first time, he gave no indication and simply listened to the noble Elf's rueful confession. "I am afraid that I made rather a bad impression, for I was not aware of her connection with you."

"Come now, my friend, let us not dwell on initial impressions; they rarely reflect the truth," Gil-galad said, offering his hand to Calimehtar.

Calimehtar laughed and accepted the proffered hand, shaking it heartily. "Perhaps not, my lord." This action drew surprised whispers from the surrounding Elves. Of all that had already passed that evening, perhaps this apparent truce between Calimehtar and Gil-galad was the most surprising.

Gil-galad smiled before addressing Elrond and Calimehtar conspiratorially. "Now my friends, I believe the time has come for feasting, but I have no doubt that we will indulge in a little postprandial discussion later on in the evening? I do believe I heard the Lord Finrod claim that the most skilled musicians among the Noldor are to be found in the House of Finarfin and I would beg to differ!"

Nîndorien raised her eyes skyward and murmured to Celebrían. "In other words, the wider public had better be wary, for Ereinion Gil-galad is of an argumentative disposition this evening," here she groaned slightly, "and he appears to have found two like-minded allies." Celebrían laughed as they watched the three Elf-lords, heads close together in counsel.

"I do believe that it is going to be a long night for anyone foolish enough to become entangled in a war of words with that particular trio of Elf-lords!" she said quietly in return, a smile lingering on her face as Elrond scanned the room for a likely victim.

"Ay, and it will be a long night for those of us who were foolish enough to become entangled with our respective husbands millennia ago. The sun will have risen by the time we can pry Elrond and Gil-galad away!"


After the feast, which lasted late into the night, the guests of Finarfin moved into his great Hall of Welcome. It was an immense chamber with vaulted ceilings and slender pillars that ran the length of the room. Tall windows lined the walls, from floor to ceiling, and curtains of a delicate translucent material moved softly in the night breeze. A number of double doors opened out onto balconies and Nîndorien decided to escape the environment of heated debate in which she found herself. She stepped outside onto one of the balconies, believing it to be deserted and walked to the low stone wall at the balcony edge. Flinging her arms out wide, she threw her head back and looked at the stars of Elbereth that shone down so brightly. "Ah, Elbereth Gilthoniel!" she whispered before jumping at the sound of her uncle's voice.

"It is a beautiful night for star-gazing, dear niece," he said, laughing softly. He was sitting in the corner of the balcony, evidently seeking solitude. There was a small golden harp in his hand and he plucked at the strings absentmindedly, eliciting an improvised tune that carried sweetly through the night air.

"Oh, uncle! I did not mean to disturb you!" cried Nîndorien blushing slightly.

"Nay, you did not disturb me," smiled Ecthelion. "I, like you, wished to look upon the stars of Varda for a time. There is a great deal of merriment inside," he waved his hand towards the hall from where the sound of laughter and song drifted out, "I would have thought you be spending every minute at your husband's side."

Nîndorien laughed. "Believe me, my uncle, when Ereinion Gil-galad and Elrond Peredhil become embroiled in a debate, it matters not who is by their side. Celebrían deserted quite some time ago to speak with her cousin, Vorondaquen, son of Finrod, but I only escaped this minute."

"Well, Muinalot, now we are here, what say you to a song? We have not sung together since you warbled as an Elfling by fountain sides in Gondolin."

"Warbled?" cried Nîndorien feigning insult, and Ecthelion smiled reassuringly and patted her hand.

"Do not vex yourself, my dear, it was very tuneful warbling."

She could not help but laugh before enquiring as to what song he wished to sing.

"Do you know the lay, "I Dreamed of Gondolin?" he asked thoughtfully. "It is a rather melancholic air but it has been playing through my mind incessantly this evening."

She nodded, "Ay, I know it, although it surprises me to learn that it is known in the Blessed Realm. I had thought that its origin was in Middle Earth."

"Nay, Muinalot, it was first sung here in Tirion," he paused and looked at her. "Might I enquire as to who taught you the song?"

She thought for a moment, "Why, I believe it was the Lord Glorfindel."

Ecthelion smiled and nodded his head. "As I suspected; it is unsurprising, for he composed it."

"Ai, of course! How could I not have noticed? His touch is in every note, his spirit is in every word," marvelled Nîndorien. Ecthelion nodded in agreement before running his fingers lightly over the harp strings.

"Well, my niece, shall we sing?"

"With pleasure, my uncle!" she replied. Ecthelion began to play softly on his harp and after a few sweet notes, their voices rose together in pleasant mournful harmony, drifting up towards the starlit skies. Neither was aware that, as the song continued, a hush had fallen within the hall and all ears strained to catch the melody that floated in from the balcony.

"I dreamed of Gondolin of old,
Her hidden vales and mountains,
Her spires of silver, halls of gold,
Her ever-singing fountains.

I dreamed of Gondolin the fair,
Her secret long well-kept,
I dreamed I once more breathed her air
And through her streets I crept.

I dreamed of Gondolin the great,
Her proud and mighty lords,
Standing firm at every gate,
With shields and shining swords.

I dreamed of Gondolin the proud,
Her people strong and true,
I heard their voices cry aloud
In hymns of bliss anew

I dreamed of Gondolin the bright,
Her trees and hidden flowers,
I dreamed of night and soft starlight
Above her gleaming towers.

I dreamed of Gondolin's last morn,
Which dawned with fear and strife
But I stood firm, a promise sworn
To guard her with my life.

I dreamed of Gondolin the doomed
And heard her final call,
In shadow and flame she was consumed
And grievous was her fall.

I dream of Gondolin with grief
And in my dreams I weep.
I've mourned for years without relief
In waking or in sleep.

I dream of Gondolin the pure,
My tears fall swift and clear,
But ever shall her name endure
In those who held her dear."

The last pure notes of the harp trailed off before Nîndorien realised that her eyes were closed. In the last few lines, she had heard Glorfindel's voice in her mind, adding his inimitable dulcet tones to the melody, and her heart ached. She glanced at her uncle and saw that he too had shut his eyes to the outside world; perhaps his mind once more walked through Gondolin with the Lord of the House of the Golden Flower. He opened his eyes slowly, and a great sadness was visible in their depths but he smiled warmly. "Your warbling has improved beyond measure, my niece! You are a most accomplished singer." His glance flickered to a point behind his niece's head. "And I think your husband agrees."

"He most certainly does," came the unexpected voice of Gil-galad from behind. Nîndorien spun around to see her husband leaning against the doorframe, his arms folded as he watched his wife. He did not take her eyes off her as she walked over to him and kissed his cheek. "That was magnificent, loth nín" he murmured into her ear before taking her hand and kissing it. "And, my Lord Ecthelion, I believe that you and your beautiful niece have just settled an argument."

Ecthelion raised an eyebrow with interest. "Indeed?"

At this point, Finrod Felagund stepped onto the balcony, his hair shining golden in the starlight. "Yes, Lord Ecthelion. The Lord Ereinion and I were immersed in a heated debate regarding musical proficiency among the houses of the Noldor when your voices carried into the hall and rather put an end to the argument." He smiled. "I believe this is the first occasion on which Ereinion has lost a debate!"

Gil-galad laughed good-naturedly. "My dear Lord Finrod, I did not lose. I simply did not have the victory on this occasion."

Finrod waved his hand dismissively. "A mere detail, my friend!" He turned to Nîndorien. "It seems that your husband and I failed both to take into account the Lord of the Fountains and his kin. Forgivable in my case I should think, but an unpardonable oversight on the part of Ereinion!"

Gil-galad had the grace to blush slightly before he cleared his throat. "I do believe it is getting rather late..."

"Ah, diversionary tactics, Ereinion! The last refuge of a beaten competitor!" joked Ecthelion, his melancholia temporarily forgotten. Gil-galad grinned in return. "It was oft said of me in Middle Earth that I did not know when I was beaten, Lord Ecthelion, and I doubt that has changed much!"

"I shall grant you a draw," Finrod said gallantly in a pre-emptive bid to prevent further argument. "For I see that your lady wife is swaying on her feet and the night has indeed grown late."

Nîndorien smiled gratefully at Finrod. "Indeed, I am rather weary." She poked her husband in the ribs. "I believe it is high time for us to return home."

Gil-galad glanced at his wife with a smile. [Home?] Having paid their respects to Finarfin and the few Elves who still remained, Nîndorien and Gil-galad departed, walking through the silent silver-lit streets of Tirion, bathed in the light of Ithil. Their thoughts drifted towards each other in the clear moonlight as they made their way slowly to the Halls of Fingon.

[Is my father's house already home to you?]

[Wherever you dwell, there also abides my heart] A mischievous smile crossed Nîndorien's face. "Although, I am so tired that anywhere with a soft bed would be home enough! It has been a long day, aran nín." [And I would wish for nothing more than to fall asleep in your arms and to wake up alongside you in the morning]

"It will be an early start in the morning," commented Gil-galad offhandedly.

She looked at him closely with a hint of suspicion. "Why? What have you planned, aran nín? I recognise that all-too innocent tone!"

He chuckled. "You will have to wait and see, but I am not acting alone." She raised a questioning eyebrow and he continued. "Indeed, I have an accomplice." He paused for effect. "The Lady Celebrían, but..." he raised a hand to prevent further enquiries. "You will have to wait until morning to learn what we have planned for you and Elrond."

"Elrond?" asked Nîndorien. "I presume he is as ignorant in this as I?"

Gil-galad nodded with satisfaction. "Trust me, my lady; it is a pleasant surprise!"

[I always trust you, aran nín, I just don't trust that gleam in your eyes.]

Gil-galad chuckled before bending his head to kiss her in the deserted street. Silver moonlight streamed over them, casting the two stationary Elves into sharp relief, like two pale statues erected in a lasting tribute to an immortal love.

TRANSLATIONS (All Sindarin):

Gil-galad and Elrond's conversation:

1 I fell in darkness, yes; but now I live again. I am at peace; I am new. It is necessary you hear me, it is necessary you heal.

2 But you died! I cried for you.

3 Cease crying, dear friend, it is behind.

4 "I will follow you in darkness and light. You are my king."

Also: Mellon-iaur - Old friend
Hir-nín - My lord
Loth nín - My flower
Aran nín - My King
Im mîl le - I love you

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