Lily of Gondolin - Chapter Twenty-Eight: Changes
A/N: I am sorry for once again being ridiculously behind. Finishing up school and summer inactivity can be partially blamed, I suppose. Anyway, I don't own much in this chapter; only the story that Taurion tells. (Which I wrote, oddly enough, while in South Carolina for a cousin's baseball tournament.) I have Lanthriel's permission to use her name in it, and I'd like this chapter to be a get-well-soon card of sorts.
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Changes
Say not the struggle nought availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been, things remain.
--Arthur Hugh Clough
The meeting hall was packed.
It was really just a rather large house, all one room, that all the residents of the Havens could fit in fairly comfortably. Now, though, with all the Doriath refugees, it was more than a bit crowded. It was raining again; otherwise we would have been outside, and much more comfortable.
I was squeezed in between my brother and Mothwen. There was a tall Elf in front of me, but leaning to one side I could see around him, a little bit.
Earendil stood at the front of the hall with the lady Elwing. She took a step forward to speak. "Firstly, I will never be able to say how grateful I am to you for welcoming my people and myself. I know I speak for all of us when I say that you have been kinder than we even imagined." She took a deep breath, and continued.
"It is known by all of you that Doriath has fallen. The sons of Feanor attacked, attempting to take the Silmaril won by my father's father, Beren Erchamion, and by Luthien Tinuviel, for her dowry." She went on, telling the story simply. How Elwe Singollo had been slain; the gem stolen, then recovered, once again by Beren; how it was brought to Doriath upon his death; her father, Dior, taking up rule there, of the kingdom's growing frailty, and then, in winter, the attack. And how the land was ravaged and her family slain. She was weeping as she spoke.
At last, softly, she told of the journey, flight, which had now ended. That the sons of Feanor had not found that which they sought. Her eyes were dry, now, and she finished, once again speaking of her gratitude.
Earendil stepped forward with a slight bow. "My lady, there is no need for such thanks. We are all glad to give what aid we can." A quiet murmur of agreement ran through the crowd.
I think Elwing's people would have been welcomed in any case, but with their home destroyed by the Feanorians...our kin, there was no question at all.
It was decided that we would all work to build houses, soon. There was plenty of space, though most tend to like their homes all a bit apart, and we had all that we needed to build with. But until then, the Doriath Elves would continue to shelter with us.
It was interesting, seeing the Sindar and the Noldor mingle as we left the hall. Part of it was just necessity, of course, but it also seemed that everyone wanted to bridge the old rifts. For all of us, the Havens were home, now.
So even if, with a few individuals a few differences were not about to be repaired, there was tolerance at the very least.
I glanced back at Earendil, who was politely helping Lady Elwing down from the slightly raised dais. There was a mixture of respect and admiration in his eyes. I suppressed a smile. Yes, there definitely would be quite a bit of mingling.
The Sun came out the next day. I went with Mothwen around the Havens, pointing things out and greeting familiar faces. We introduced each other to our respective circles. She was much, much more outgoing then her brother. But underneath all her cheerfulness, her ability to smile and to chatter, was a very determined resiliency.
When we got back to the house, Eleniel was outside, talking to another Doriath Elf. She gave us a quick smile.
Linedhel was just getting ready to start making dinner when Mothwen determinedly took over. He gave me a glance of slightly consternated amusement as he gave in and was pushed to the side. I grinned, and convinced her to let me help.
"Can you really cook at all?" Mothwen asked.
I shrugged. "I try."
She rolled her eyes and laughed. "Noldor. I'll never understand you."
"Why?" I took a loaf of bread from the hearth, managing to scorch my hand and restrain from saying something exceedingly impolite.
Mothwen shook her head. "Never mind."
Dinner did, in the end, turn out fairly well. The bread wasn't burned, and the fish was only as blackened as it was supposed to be.
The weather remained clear; I took a walk on the beach with Taurion again. It was a comfortable habit, quietly settled into.
Things had been arranged so that I was now in Linedhel's room, and Mothwen and Eleniel in mine. It was interesting, having that many people in the house.
Time passed, with the speed that it often does when one is happy, and before long the new houses where built.
That autumn, I felt a bit restless. With the leaves falling and the wind blowing towards the Sea, everything felt like it was changing. Tasare and I had little to do, now. We spent a great deal of time talking, telling stories, and drinking tea. Mothwen or Eleniel would come, sometimes, and we'd have a pleasant, quiet afternoon in the room of hanging herbs and folded bandages.
Tasare had become a very good friend, almost like an aunt, after I'd come to the Havens those many years ago. There was something about her - a calmness - that did nearly as much to heal as anything else.
The seasons passed; tides came and went, leaves grew, fell, and then trees blossomed again. No one was surprised when Elwing and Earendil announced their betrothal. The love growing between them had been apparent for some time.
It is odd, about those years. They were some of the happiest of my long life, and I could describe clear or hazy sunsets, bright days, evenings spent before the fire of with friends or underneath the stars - but, in truth, there is little to tell. I was happy, and that is all.
The Lord and Lady married, and had children, twins. I helped look after them, sometimes. And oh, heavens, they could make things quite hectic indeed.
"Indil, why is the water blue?"
We were on the shore, Elrond and Elros and I. I had just convinced Elrond that the crab hiding in a clump of seaweed really, truly did not want to be played with. Now his twin was frowning in thought, gazing out at the Sea. He continued. "If it's blue, then why not the rest of the water? Like streams. Or baths."
"Are you sure the crab is all right?" Elrond added. "He looks lonely."
"I'm sure she's fine."
Now Elrond frowned. "She?"
Anything to keep him away from it, I thought, and said, "Yes. It looks like a maid-crab to me."
"Oh," Elrond replied. "I'm sure it was fine anyway." He wandered to the edge of the sand, darting away from each wave before it reached him. Then Elros pulled on my sleeve. "Why is the Sea blue?"
I dropped down to sit on the sand. "The Sea is blue because it reflects the sky." He opened his mouth, and I forestalled the next question. "The sky is blue because Eru that way. And," I finished swiftly, "to find out why the one made it that way you would have to ask Sulimo."
"Or Elbereth," he pointed out.
I nodded. "Or Elbereth."
Seemingly satisfied, he meandered over to join his brother. I leaned back on my hands, glad for a respite but still keeping an eye on them.
I'd barely realized that someone was behind me, a few moment later, when Taurion sat down next to me. I smiled, inwardly shaking my head. I should have stopped being surprised by his quiet appearances a long time ago.
"Something amusing?" he asked.
Not feeling like answering, I nodded toward the twins. "They're enough to entertain anyone, I promise."
Elrond got tired of playing tag with the waves, and retreated. Though just a little damp, he situated himself firmly in my lap. Elros followed, and wriggled into the space between myself and Taurion. Once settled, they both turned pleading eyes on me. "Indil," Elrond said, "will you tell us a story?"
I leaned over Elros' head, and asked Taurion, "Do you know any stories? I've told most of mine twice by now."
He smiled. "I do, actually. Have you heard the tale of Arion and Lanthiriel?"
I shook my head. "No."
Elrond twisted in my lap so that he could look up at us. "What?"
I smiled. "Taurion's going to tell a story. You've heard all of mine."
"All right," Elros said. They both looked expectantly at Taurion.
"Once, long ago," he began, "The Moon and Sun had never appeared in the sky. It was always twilight, lit by the stars set to guide the Elves when they awakened at Cuivienen.
"Aldarion, the Forester, heard their songs in the darkness. He brought tidings to the other Valar, and took the leaders of the Elves to behold the light of Aman. They came back, and told their people of the Trees, and the great journey was begun.
"Some did not wish to leave, happy beneath the shadowed branches of the Outer Lands. For the journey was long and hard, and the Elves were beleaguered by the remnants of the Dark One's forces. Others, persuaded by tidings of light, followed Aldarion through the forests and over mountains.
"But as was told, the path was long and the sky was dark. Many were lost along the way, bewildered in the strange lands, others lured away by Morgoth's creatures. And our tale is of Arion and Lanthiriel, who were among those lost.
"For the march began far, far to the East, and in the crossing of high mountains, leagues upon leagues away, they were separated from their people. It was cold, deep winter, snow falling from the dark sky, and the stars hidden by many clouds."
I held Elrond closer, enjoying the tale. I was so often the storyteller that to hear one told was quite different, and I savored it. Taurion went on.
"They found shelter in the mouth of a deep cavern, and stayed there while the wind blew. But in the fury of the storm, the overhang of stone and ice began to crumble. And so they ran the only way they could, back into the cave, and its many twisting, turning passages that wove into the hidden, shadowed heart of the mountain. They wandered on, hand in hand so as not to lose each other in the darkness.
"But at last, in the far distance, Lanthiriel heard water running. They ran towards it, for a river always reaches the surface somewhere.
"Their hope was returning as the sound grew closer, but before they reached it something seized Arion, and his hand was wrenched from Lanthiriel's. She cried out, not knowing what was in the darkness. Then, trembling, she began to sing.
"For song has always been a power of the Eldar, perhaps our strongest, to stave off the night, to call to one another, and I believe it always shall be. And so she sang:
A, Elentari, a Gilthoniel
Lle tiro o i menel
A tiro nin...
A tiro nin...
"And then, miraculous and impossible, there was light beneath the mountain: starlight like that seen by the first Elves as they looked up to the sky. And with the sound of water falling over stone, the darkest, farthest cave was for a moment an echo of the Bay of Awakening.
"Suddenly, as the light spread, Arion's voice answered:
A tiro nin...
"He stumbled forward, and they caught and held each other tight. For the creature that had seized him, a lost, lurking vassal of Morgoth, had fled before the might of Elentari.
"The starlight faded, but once again, hand in hand, they followed the stream, singing softly to Elbereth as they went. And at last it led them back to the sky, where it flowed out from the roots of the mountain. After the utter blackness the winds and trees and star-lit clouds were like rain after draught that dried all the land. And they dwelt there together ever after, content in the wide lands and open sky and quiet dusk."
It was quiet for a moment after Taurion finished. Then Elrond shifted in my lap, and yawned. "That was a good story."
I smiled. "It was. Thank you, Taurion. And now - " I moved the suddenly-tired Elf-child from my lap, and stood up, " - it's time to take you two back to your Ada and Naneth."
"I was going to tell you that the patrol is going out again, the day after the morrow, before things were sidetracked," Taurion said, after we'd returned the twins to their parents.
I glanced at him. "Oh. It's a beautiful tale, though."
He smiled. "Yes. My mother told it to me and Mothwen when we were very small; her mother told it to her. I don't know whether it is true, or just a story told to comfort sleepy young ones, but it's a good one all the same."
I nodded, and then tilted my head back to gaze at the sky. The sun was just at the horizon, staining the clouds and roofs alike golden.
Please do review! Reviews inspire me. Oh, and the translation of Lanthiriel's song (cobbled together and probably obscenely incorrect grammatically is:
Oh, Starqueen, Starkindler,
You watch from the heavens
Look to me...
Look to me...