Story Downloaded from Open Scrolls Archive (http://www.openscrolls.net)

Title: Crossroads of Time (#1229)
Author: ellie
Chapters: 24

Archive: Tolkien
Category: Alternate Universe (AU)
Description: A pupil of Elrond's from another world and time is faced with the opportunity and plenty of incentive to change Arda's past, but finds herself becoming a part of it instead. Glorfindel figures prominently in this.Takes place in Gondolin. NOT a Mary Sue. ---2006 MPA Nominee--- STORY NOW COMPLETE!
Published: 30 Aug 2004
Updated: 07 Oct 2006
Warnings: violence; suggestive situations
Type: Romance
Characters: Glorfindel;Idril;Ecthelion;Turgon;Maeglin;Elrond;


Chapter 1 - Crossroads of Time

Title: Crossroads of Time
Author: Ellie
Betas: Fianna, Julie, and my husband who doesn’t have a screen name yet
Chapter: 1/?
Rating: PG for now
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs
Summary: A woman not of Arda but in the position of being able to change Arda’s past, finds herself becoming a part of it instead. Not a Mary Sue.
Feedback: Please let me know what you think. This is my first fan fic and the longest story I've ever written.

Chapter 1

The flash of brilliant white light dissipated, leaving Ariella dizzy and confused. She fell hard onto her hands and knees, bowing her head with her eyes squeezed tightly shut. She slowly took one deep shaky breath and then another, waiting for the wave of nausea to subside. After a few more breaths, she felt a little bit better. With another deep encouraging breath, she opened her eyes and gradually focused.
“Grass,” she whispered aloud. “Dirt…Rocks…I made it. I made it! I’m here! Here…hurts.”

She shifted into a sitting position, squinting a bit in the bright sunlight, and examined the “heres” that hurt. Her palms were dirty and bloody, imprinted with tiny pebble marks. She painfully sat up and pulled up her dress to reveal two scraped and bloody knees. She sighed shakily, “Gotta focus, Ariella. You’ll never make it through the next four hours like this.”

She closed her eyes again, took a deep breath and felt all of the pain wash away. Opening her eyes, she looked critically at her right palm. Passing her left hand over it, she watched the little wounds close up and the imprints vanish. Passing her left hand back over it again, she watched the wet blood disappear. She examined her left hand and healed it with her right. With a satisfied smirk, Ariella brushed her hands together in a vain attempt at clearing away the dirt. Passing her hands over her knees, she healed both knees at the same time.

“Ha,” she gloated, “even Mother couldn’t do that at my age. She’d be impressed if she could see me now.” She thought about it a moment longer. “Of course, if Mother knew I was here, she’d be so mad at me that she probably wouldn’t even notice my advanced healing abilities. But she sure seems to notice everything else in my life.”

Though it was customary for single people, even those well into adulthood like Ariella was, to live with their parents until they wed, Ariella sometimes felt it to be quite repressive. Even at breakfast this morning her parents had been at it.

“What will you be doing today, Ariella?” her father had asked.

“I’m helping Arzus with something at the Academy,” she had replied in a slightly bored voice. It was usually safest to sound vague and unenthused where her brilliant older brother was concerned.

“Does it have anything to do with the subject you teach or is it a subject of his choosing?” her mother had inquired.

“A little bit of both. It is really just some new gadget he’s been working on in his spare time. He said it’d take a few hours to show me all it can do,” Ariella answered trying to sound like she was doing her brother a huge favor in going to see his latest “gadget”. “I probably won’t be home for lunch.”

“You usually spend your weekends in Imladris. Elrond has commented more than once that he is impressed with your progress in studies of languages and lore. I’m surprised you’re being so generous with your time,” her father had observed suspiciously.

The man could see right through her! She hated having a telepathic father! “I owe Arzus a favor,” she had lied, trying to block the rest of her thoughts about the day ahead. “Besides I’ll probably go to Imladris later this afternoon or this evening anyway. I don’t want to miss any of the stories or songs in the Hall of Fire.”

Her mother and father gave her that “concerned parent look” that only seasoned parents can muster from the depths of too many “experiences” with too many of their children.
Her mother finally looked down at her food, but her father continued to stare at her critically. She felt his mind brush hers, but her block must have been at least partially successful because her father finally sighed and said, “Well, stay out of trouble, Child.”

Ariella could have sworn she had caught an added thought from her father to the effect of and we’ll sort out the mess when you get back.

*~*

Eager to get underway with her task, Ariella stood up and tried unsuccessfully to brush the stains and dirt from her dress, noting the small tears at the knees. “Oh well, Arzus can just get me a new traveling dress,” she muttered, straightening up.

She raised her right wrist, passed her left hand over it thinking about the time, and glanced at the timepiece that had appeared. Three hours and forty-five minutes to go. “I can’t believe it took fifteen whole minutes to get acclimated!” She exclaimed. “Arzus sure misjudged that one. No one else took fifteen minutes to get settled after they arrived. Of course I’ve gone further than any of the other volunteers did. Well, time to get to work.” She passed her hand back over the timepiece on her wrist thinking about it being gone and it vanished.

Finally taking in her surroundings, Ariella realized she was standing in a gully. The local terrain was dry, with scrubby vegetation and incredibly rocky like an old riverbed that had slept with one too many stones in its day. “If the rocks in its bed give a stream its song, this bard must have sung epics,” she said to herself as she scanned the area. There were mountains close at hand to the east. She could not see much else, so she carefully picked her way through the rocks and clambered up the western side of the gully. A river flowed off in the distance and a forest loomed further behind that. The flora near the river was more lush and interesting that what she had seen in the gully. The river would be her destination.

She dug her left hand into the brown leather travel pack that was slung diagonally across her chest, groping for the specimen container and measuring device. She rummaged around past a leaf-wrapped pack of lembas bread, a skin of water, and a sheathed dagger before pulling out an old wooden hairbrush.

She passed her hand over the back of the hairbrush thinking about the air measuring device and an instrument panel displayed on the back of the brush. All of the readouts were blank. She waved the brush in the air over her head a few times, then brought it back down to read it. The air temperature, gaseous content of the air, and various other measurements flickered on the display.

“Hmph, it is hot outside today,” she said. Ariella thought of the information being saved and the panel reset for scanning dirt. The brush’s panel blinked a couple of times, and then the screen went blank. She squatted down and ran the brush’s bristles through the dirt until all of the appropriate measurements appeared once more on the display. She thought of the information being saved again, arose, and set off toward the river. As she passed various plants, she touched the brush bristles to the leaves and recorded information about them. She also plucked some of the leaves and put them in her pack.

She finally reached the strong flow of the river. She closed her eyes for a moment basking in the sounds of the crashing water. She loved the music of water. Sighing, she opened her eyes and made her way to the edge of the river. She sat on the bank and trailed her hand in the water for a couple of minutes, savoring the cold wetness. Finally, feeling the burden of uncompleted tasks and diminishing time, Ariella swished the brush in the water until she saw the readout flicker. She saved the information, closed the panel, and put the brush away. Noticing the lengthening shadows of the day, she realized it would be dark soon. She checked her time device and saw that she still had about an hour and a half left before she returned. Excellent!

Everything was going according to plan. She desperately hoped she would get to see the stars before she left. Her brother needed measurements of them to figure out where she was. All she really cared about was seeing if they really were brighter in this age. Or, maybe the old elves were just being nostalgic when it came to the stars. Not that an elf would ever be nostalgic! She snickered at the thought. She glanced at the sun beginning its spectacular descent below the horizon. “The sunsets in this Age sure are nice,” she sighed.

Well, one task left to go. Find a tissue sample from a living organism to see what the trip back would do to it and to the leaves she had collected. She briefly considered trying to catch a fish, but realized it would not only be dead from lack of water, but it would also probably start stinking by the time she returned. So that wouldn’t work. She rose to her feet and looked around for any likely candidates.

There were birds in the trees, but that was about it. “Well,” she figured, “animals have to drink, so I’ll just sit back by the bushes and wait for something to come along. I only need a bit of hair and some skin cells.”

Ariella drew a small metal scraping device from her pack, then moved to sit beside the bushes. She pulled up her hood to hide her long bright hair and tucked the folds of her cloak around her to hide her body. She stilled, letting the river’s song pull her into reverie. She hated waiting.

*~*

She thought about her brother’s amusement and exasperation at how quickly she had devised her plans for the trip. He had asked her to lunch a few weeks before to tell her about his success with his new creation. Of course the conversation hadn’t started that way. First he had asked her, between mouthfuls of food, where and when she would most like to go if she could go to any point in time on any planet. Her answer had been predictable enough.

“First Age. Middle Earth. Arda,” she had replied.

“Why then and there,” he had humored her knowing the answer already.

“Because I think it was the greatest time in elvish history on Middle Earth, with so many impressive and powerful elves newly come from Valinor. And none of the elves were weary of Middle Earth like they are now. Besides, I want to know if the stars really were brighter back then than they are now, like Celeborn and some of the others say.”

Her brother laughed. He placed his elbows on the table, clasped his hands and leaned forward with his index fingers pressed to his lips. His food seemingly forgotten, he said in a low voice, “what if I told you that you really could go to that time and place? That my latest invention moves people through time AND space, and that I’ve already successfully sent nine volunteers to various places in the both past and the future?”

Ariella leaned forward. “Are you serious?” she whispered excitedly.

“Yes,” he replied smugly, quite pleased by her excitement.

She thought about it for a moment, then fairly bubbled, “When do I leave?”

He sat back for a moment and looked at her, his demeanor now quite serious. “There are a few things you need to understand. You can’t interact with anyone there. No one. Nobody. Zero people interaction. We run the risk of it changing history if you do. However, in case you do run into someone, you will need to look and act like you belong there until your time is up and you are transported back.”

Ariella’s smile faded, her mood subduing a bit.

“How long would I be there?”

“Four hours.”

She pondered the requirements. “I am fluent in Sindarin and Quenyan,” she said slowly. “I could wear my favorite traveling dress, which is similar to the Sindarin style. My cloak was made by the Galadhrim, so I should be able to hide from people as long as I don’t end up in a city somewhere.”

“Avoiding cities would be good,” Arzus observed.

“My hair is golden,” she continued, ignoring him as the excitement grew inside her again. “And I’m tall so I could pass as one of Hador’s people if I had to. My eyes are violet instead of blue, but I think I’ll be forgiven on that one if I run into any of those people. They do speak Sindarin, so I’ll be all right there, even if I can’t speak any mannish languages. When do I leave?”

Arzus sighed. “It’ll take some time for me to make the calculations for the jump, let alone trying to figure out the coordinates for a place that’s now underwater. A couple of months maybe?”

She gave him a disappointed look.

“Look,” he said in exasperation, “I built this thing in my spare time, okay? I have six little kids and a lovely elven wife who need my attention, as well as a full time job.”

Her disappointed look degenerated to a pitiful one.

“Don’t look at me like that. Please don’t,” he pleaded, then with an exaggerated sigh conceded. “How about the weekend after your birthday? That’ll be five weeks. Deal?”

“Deal!” she’d agreed and she held him to it.

*~*

So far, so good. She’d done her job and would soon be rewarded with her stars, AFTER she got her tissue sample, she hoped. Her patience was rewarded a few minutes later when a large ten point stag came up to the water to drink. She rose and cautiously approached it with her hands outspread. The deer raised its head as she spoke soothingly to it in Sindarin. She slowly reached out her right hand to pat the stag on the neck and head. It nuzzled her hand. She smiled as she caressed the soft brown fur and slipped her left arm around its neck in a light hug. She shifted the scraping device in her hand to a better position to get a good quick sample.

She registered the whooshing sounds and the sharp impacts at the same time.

The stag leaped from her grasp then fell, knocking her to the ground. Her left shoulder exploded in agony and her chest was crushed as the animal writhed, then stilled trapping her beneath it. Tears ran freely down her face as she gasped for air trying desperately to understand what had happened.

The pain was unbearable, paralyzing her entire left side with a stabbing liquid fire. She struggled feebly with her right arm trying to move the dead deer, but it was incredibly heavy. And, she realized, something was keeping it pinned to her. She grew frantic, confused by the terrible pain. She gasped for air, trying to calm down. What had happened?

She heard voices. Coming closer. Male voices, swearing in Quenyan!

“Did you see anything before we loosed our arrows?”

“No,” another voice replied. “Just a shadow in front of the stag. You?”

“I just saw the shadow too. I had no idea it was a person,” came the response.

Ariella squirmed painfully trying to see the owners of the voices, but the deer’s head obscured her vision. They must be Noldorin, she thought. I must keep that in mind.

Suddenly she felt something grip her shoulders pressing them down. The animal carcass shifted and began to lift from her. She stared, transfixed in nauseated horror as excruciating pain lanced through her and the fletching of two arrows came out of her shoulder and chest. The agonized scream she had been biting back finally escaped her lips.

Near her head, a rich melodic voice laced with guilt half shouted at her in Sindarin, “I am sorry! It was the only way to get the arrows out.”

She gasped small swallows of air, half blinded by tears and pain, and saw a beautiful face framed with long dark hair. Concern and horror shone in the piercing grey eyes that looked down into hers. By the brightness of his eyes, she knew he had seen the light of the Two Trees.

The one lifting the deer easily tossed it aside, the elf’s lustrous golden hair swinging across his back with the motion. He swiftly knelt beside her in a whirl of green cloak and deftly began to check her wounds. He was almost as handsome as the first elf, and had equally piercing grey eyes; he too must have seen the Trees. She struggled to breathe as he bent over her, the golden armor that encased his shoulders and chest glittering in the sunlight.

He glanced at her face, his eyes briefly meeting hers. Her thought and expression begged the question that she could not voice: Why did you do this to me?

He bowed his head and looked back to her wounds. His melodic voice was filled with sorrow as he apologized in Sindarin. “Sweet Elbereth. We did not see you there or we would not have loosed our arrows. We are so very sorry.”

She blinked as fresh tears ran down her cheeks when he exposed the wounds. She was unable to tear her gaze from his face. She had seen him before somewhere. She felt fingers gently brushing away the tears. Soothing words and apologies whispered above her from the dark-haired one. The pain was unbearable. Her mind grew numb as she slowly succumbed. Her parents’ wedding album…that was it…the golden one had been at her parents’ wedding. Then everything went dark.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Notes:

Quenyan and Sindarin – The primary languages of the elves. Quenyan was the language of the Noldor and was banned by King Thingol of Doriath after he learned of the Noldor’s crime of slaying his kin in Alqualonde in Aman. After the ban, the Noldor took Sindarin for daily use, but the lords of the Noldor spoke Quenyan among themselves. Both languages were spoken in Noldorin realms such as Gondolin.

Hador – The leader of one of the three kindreds of humans who first encountered the elves. His people were tall and, for the most part, golden haired and blue eyed. Hador was extremely tall and intelligent and was considered to be a peer of elven lords. His people were loyal to Fingolfin and his kin. Hador is the forefather of Hurin father of Turin slayer of Glaurung the dragon and of Huor who was the father of Tuor who in turn was the father of Earendil.


Chapter 2 - Chapter 2

Title: Crossroads of Time
Author: Ellie
Betas: Fianna, Julie, and my husband who doesn’t have a screen name yet
Chapter: 2/?
Rating: PG for now
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs
Summary: A woman not of Arda but in the position of being able to change Arda’s past, finds herself becoming a part of it instead. Not a Mary Sue.
Feedback: Please let me know what you think. This is my first fan fic and the longest story I've ever written.


Chapter 2

Ariella stood in a room bathed with the new light of dawn. Beautiful voices raised in an ancient song of wondrous welcome lilted in on the warm breeze from the window. She wore a flowing lavender dress that she knew accented her eyes perfectly. A gorgeous golden-haired elf stood before her dressed in a green tunic with matching green leggings and a light green shirt with golden flowers embroidered at the collar and cuffs. His grey eyes twinkled mischievously as he told her how lovely she was. She blushed and looked away from his enchanting smile.

“Oh, you are shy!” he delighted as he reached out and brushed his fingers against her cheek. Her blush deepened as she leaned into the caress.

She awoke with a start, looking into the shocked guilty face of the same golden haired elf. With lightning reflexes, he snatched his hand from her face. He was sitting in a chair beside her bed, wearing the same green clothes. Outside, the voices in ethereal chorus were still singing their welcome to the dawn.

He took a deep breath and smoothly erased the shock from his face with a smile. “Welcome to Gondolin,” he said.

It was her turn to look shocked. Gondolin! Tirion on Middle Earth. The mountain city of seven names. The hidden kingdom resplendent with singing fountains. The kingdom ruled by King Turgon of the Noldor …who never took kindly to visitors. That was bad. That was very bad. She closed her eyes for a moment then opened them again. The elf was still there. She closed her eyes for a longer time and opened them again. He persisted in being there and, unfortunately, so did she.

“I am not going to go away,” he commented wryly. “You are saddled with me for the present.”

Time. Why hadn’t she returned to her time? Why was she still on Arda? Why was she still here?

She smiled at him cautiously. “Who are you?”

The golden haired elf leaned forward, his grey eyes lit with amusement. “Courtesy dictates that you should name yourself first since you are the stranger here. However, since it is my fault that you are here, I shall answer first. My name is Lord Glorfindel, Chief of the House of the Golden Flower.”

She was stunned. This was so not good. Her parents knew him. Or at least they would know him. She took a steadying breath before replying. “My name is Ariella,” she said in a small voice. “It is … nice to meet you Lord Glorfindel.”

His expression grew serious. “I deeply apologize for the circumstances of our meeting.” He paused for a moment, then nodded. “But it is nice to meet you as well.”

She gave him a small smile and shifted a little in the bed. Wincing at the sudden pain, she looked toward the source and saw that her left shoulder was heavily bandaged.

He stood and hurriedly adjusted her pillows. “You should lie still for now. It is almost time to change your bandages again. Are you in pain other than when you move like that?”

She thought about it a moment. “Yes. A little. What exactly happened to me?” She looked at him in confusion. “I remember I was…” she paused, searching for a plausible explanation that didn’t have to do with tissue sampling, “petting a beautiful deer that I saw by the river when… I think I was shot!”

He sat back in his chair and looked down at his hands for a moment. Taking a deep breath, he looked up. “Yes,” he said hesitantly. “You were shot. My friend Ecthelion, Chief of the House of the Fountain, and I were out on an errand for our king. On our return journey, we thought we would do some hunting. We knew there were no orcs in the area and the wild game was quite plentiful. We saw a likely looking stag by the river. The stag was far enough away to be a challenge, so we decided to shoot at the same time to see who would bring it down. The winner would get the prize. Just before we loosed, a shadow passed in front of the stag, but we thought nothing of it. Unfortunately, the shadow was you.” He looked back down at his hands.

“So you were the loser and ended up with me?” she asked.

He looked up, aghast, then realized she was smiling. He relaxed and smiled back, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. “No. I think I won the better prize.” He reached out and very gently took her left hand in his right. “Unfortunately, I also won the consequences. King Turgon does not appreciate visitors in his realm. He never has done so, and especially not since the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.”

“The entire city is out celebrating for today is the festival of the Gates of Summer, but I am trapped here under house arrest. And here I must remain until either you die from your injuries and he passes judgment on me, or you recover and he passes judgment on both of us. Your injuries are quite severe. Your survival thus far is almost totally of your own merit for my healing abilities are minimal as are Ecthelion’s. You should have been under the care of a skilled healer, but Turgon denied me one hoping that you would die and the problem would go away, except for punishing me of course.” He sighed and looked down again, absently running his thumb over the back of her left hand.

She puzzled over what he had said. She had never read about any turmoil between Glorfindel and Turgon. In fact, Glorfindel was reputed to have been the most beloved elf in Gondolin, except perhaps for Ecthelion, but who would want to choose? In her opinion, they were both wonderful and they didn’t let her die when they should have. They both had her vote for most beloved.

“Why does the king not like you?” she asked, curiosity getting the best of her.

Glorfindel stiffened and looked up surprised. He stopped caressing her hand. “It is not that Turgon does not like me.” He explained looking affronted. “He is upset that I have put him in a difficult situation. I am his kinsman. My father and his mother are siblings. I am also, by right, one of his lords. My father is Chief of the Golden Flower in Tirion and served King Finwe. Father did not join the rebellion, but I, purely out of loyalty to my beloved cousin, did. So, I am the chief of our house here. I have done my best to serve Turgon faithfully and loyally. I even commanded his army at the Nirnaeth alongside Ecthelion fifteen years ago. However,” he cast down his proud gaze, his voice turning somber. “In bringing you here, I have overstepped my bounds.”

“I have seen and done enough killing, so it seems that one more death should not have bothered me. But you were innocent of any wrongdoing. I simply could not justify to myself letting you die because of our carelessness.” He met her eyes again. “Ecthelion agreed with me and also shared in the guilt over what we did to you. We discussed how we should go about bringing you back and how to take the punishment. I pointed out to him that because he has a wife and children, whereas I do not, I should take the punishment. Besides, I am the king’s cousin, so maybe Turgon would be inclined to be more merciful toward me. Ecthelion, however, was not going to give in, but,” he paused with a glint in his eyes, “I beat him to the guards at the First Gate, and gave them my version of the story before he could say anything. So…I am taking the punishment, and Ecthelion faces no dishonor. He, too, is furious with me at the moment.”

She briefly pondered his words. If the Nirnaeth was fifteen years ago, then this is the year 487, and Gondolin will fall twenty-three years from now. At least now she knew when she was.

Glorfindel sat back in his chair, releasing her hand and crossing his arms in front of his chest. “So…considering what I am enduring on your behalf, would you care to tell me what you were doing out there?”

He had a very commanding presence, and she found she could not long endure the piercing gaze he leveled at her. She looked away from him as a wave of guilt washed over her. Erecting the strongest mental block she could muster, she considered her response. Telling him that she was an alien from another world and had been taking part in an experiment in time travel was out of the question. She decided that some version of the truth might be best though, as he was probably good at mind reading as were most elves.

“Well…” She stared at her right hand and began fingering the bed sheet. “My family served the Princess Artanis, Galadriel as she calls herself now, and Prince Celeborn of Doriath.” Not a lie, just not the whole truth. “I am all that remains of my family. I lost them some time ago.” She paused. “It seems like ages have past since I last saw them. I was wandering when you found me.” And she desperately hoped that she would be going home any moment now.

She looked back up at him.

“I am sorry to hear about your family.” He bowed his head for a moment before continuing. “You must have wandered for a long time judging from the condition of your dress and your lack of supplies. All we found in your bag were a dagger, a hair brush, a water skin, and some lembas.”

She nodded.

“This may sound callous,” he continued, his tone serious. “But it is probably for the best that you have no family to return to. You cannot leave Gondolin now by any door other than death. It is the King’s law.”

She turned her head away from him again and didn’t respond. He considered her for a few moments before uncrossing his arms and leaning forward to take her left hand in both of his.

“How did you lose your family?” he asked quietly.

She was hoping he wouldn’t ask that. She desperately tried to think of a plausible explanation. What was she going to say? “Most would probably fault my brother for his carelessness.”

What was she saying? What a typical little sister?! Blame your big brother to keep yourself out of trouble. Well, everyone would blame him for whatever happened to her anyway. Don’t smile. Don’t laugh. It is not funny. She could die for this and so could Glorfindel.

“And …, when they all meet again in the Great Halls to which we may pass, I hope they are not too hard on him. I do not hold him entirely responsible, for his decisions seemed valid at the time.” The more she tried not to laugh, the funnier it became to her. She pressed her lips together tightly for a moment as tears came to her eyes. Hold it in. Hold it in. She took a shaky breath and continued. “I mean, who knew they would bring about the horrible events that ensued? These are dangerous times after all and... and many have been lost due to decisions that we all have come to regret. Things unexpectedly turned bad where they were, apparently.” Tears started down her cheeks as she further suppressed the giggles. “And I guess he lost control of the situation. I was the only one able to get away, and … now I’m here alone and my family is gone.” Her voice rose as the last few words came out in a rush. She pulled the sheet up to hide her face, trembling with the effort to control her emotions. Holding in the laughter was hurting her injuries horribly. Now tears of pain streamed from her eyes too.

This was so bad. This just could not be real. Here she was trapped in Gondolin trying not to die with someone who will be one of my parents’ best friends thousands of years from now…before he returns to Valinor that is. She had probably totally screwed up history and the future and she was laughing about it! She was going to die. The world was going to end and it was all her fault. And she was going to kill her brother if she ever saw him again… If he was ever born that was... If she was ever born…. But, she was still here, so maybe she hadn’t totally messed things up yet. She needed to calm down. Take a few deep breaths. She began one and was rudely interrupted by searing pain flashing through her chest. Her face contorted with the agony.

Suddenly she felt the sheet being pulled away from her face and a hand gently caressing her tear-stained cheek.

“I am sorry I upset you,” Glorfindel said softly, leaning over her. “But I had to know. Turgon will want to know as well. For the time being, you have a home here in my house. At least until we find out what Turgon decides to do with us.”

Good he hadn’t read her mind, but the laughter died in her as guilt flooded back in. What had she done? This was all so unfair to Glorfindel.

He sat down. Pulling the sheet back from her left shoulder, he began trying to loosen the bandages. “I need to check your wounds and change the bandages now.”

She looked down and gasped when she realized she was naked under the sheet. “ Where are my clothes?”

“Your dress was ruined by the arrows and blood. I had a new one made for you in case you survived.” He paused and bowed his head as a flush crept up his cheeks. “That did not sound right. I hoped you would survive so I had one made for you.” He paused again. “Was that better?”

She smiled. “Yes, a bit. I appreciate the thought.”

“Good.” He sounded relieved. “But, you cannot wear it yet as you are likely to bleed all over it. A couple of my female servants and I have tried to figure out how we could get you into a sleeping garment of some kind and still have access to your injuries. Unfortunately, we could not come up with anything suitable. One of them is usually in here with me when I change your bandages, but my servants are at the festival right now. Are you comfortable with me changing the bandages by myself?”

Realizing he had probably already seen all of her there was to see, and more than once, she sighed self-consciously. “I guess I am all right with you changing the bandages yourself.”

“Good.”

He got up and walked over to a table across the room. The sunlight from the window above the table caught his hair in a radiant glory. His back was turned and she couldn’t see what he was doing. As she tore her gaze away from him, she realized dawn had finally given way to day. The singing had died down to a low hum. Her room was spacious and white. The arched brown door in the wall to her right was ornately carved with leaves and flowers. The wall to her left was bare except for a window where a light breeze tickled the wispy curtains.

Glorfindel returned momentarily with a tray bearing a cup of water, some bread, a knife, some herbs, and bandages. Setting the tray on a small table beside the bed, he bent over and helped her to sit up a little so she could drink the water. She paled and trembled as renewed waves of pain washed over her, but complied.

“I think we had better hold off on the food until I have changed your bandages,” he observed.

“How long was I asleep,” she panted wearily after he settled her back on the pillows. He sat down and reached for the knife.

“Four and a half days.”

She gasped in horror. That couldn’t possibly be! Why hadn’t she returned? What went wrong? She felt herself pale even more.

“It is all right.” He quickly tried to reassure her, misunderstanding her reaction. “I will not hurt you. I just need to cut away the old bandages.”

She gulped shallow breaths as she panicked. This could not be happening to her. She needed to go home! She was supposed to go home!’

He set the knife down on the bed and stood up. He walked around to the other side of her bed and took her right hand in both of his. He gracefully knelt down, leaning close to her and giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “You are very weary right now.” He reassured tenderly. “After I change the bandages, you can rest some more. I will try to hurry as best I can.”

She blinked at the tears forming in her eyes. She couldn’t panic. She needed to calm down. It would all be over soon and she would be home again.

She looked at him and nodded, finally believing. She would go to sleep soon, wake up, and be home again. This would all just be a really weird memory. Her breathing slowly returned to normal.

He smiled releasing her hand with a last quick squeeze. He stood and made his way back to her other side where he sat down, taking the knife in his right hand.

“Try to be still. I don’t want to cut you,” he cautioned.

She stared at the white ceiling as he slipped the knife under part of the bandages and began cutting them away. Her pain gradually increased as he worked. After he exposed the wounds to her shoulder and upper chest above her left breast, she cocked her head to look. Her wounds looked raw and oozed fresh blood from where the poultice had stuck to them. She lay back a moment and closed her eyes, searching inside of herself to read the extent of her injuries.

“Those arrows barely missed my heart in two places. Some of my ribs are broken and the rest are bruised,” she observed matter-of-factly.

He looked at her in surprise. “You are correct.” He placed the knife on the tray and started making a poultice from the herbs.

“I am a healer in my own right,” she proudly explained through the pain. “Oh. You probably will not need that.” She nodded toward the poultice. “I am going to finish the healing myself.”

He set the poultice on the tray and sat back in the chair crossing his arms in front of his chest. He looked at her doubtfully. “I will believe that when I see it.”

"All right.” She closed her eyes again, took a deep breath and felt all of the pain wash away. She placed her right hand over the wound on her chest. She stared at the damaged area concentrating hard. It began to heal from the inside out. After a few minutes the entry and exit wounds from the arrow were gone. She moved her hand away and looked approvingly at the smooth soft skin. She moved her hand to the other arrow wound and healed it in a little less time. She closed her eyes, panting hard from the exertion. When she finally caught her breath again, she opened her eyes as she raised and flexed her left arm. She glanced over at Glorfindel who was staring at her, mouth open, shocked wonder written all over his fair face.

She grinned sheepishly. “I told you I am a healer.”

“I have seen many healers ply their craft upon many a wounded elf,” he shook his head in disbelief. “But never have I seen a healing like that.”

“Well…” She paused. She couldn’t tell him her people are genetically engineered to heal quickly in that manner. “I do not heal the same way that most do,” she explained choosing her words carefully. “I am a little bit different in that regard and my training was different from that of most healers. Some things are done in different ways in different places.”

She sighed to herself in relief as she thought about finally going back home so she wouldn’t have to explain any more difficult things to Glorfindel.

He stared at her curiously. “I guess some things are done differently in Doriath.” He shrugged. “After all Melian is there. And I do not know the customs, as I have never been there. That is very interesting!”

Doriath?!

Oh yes. She had told him her family served Galadriel and Celeborn. It was time to talk about something else. Anything else.

“Please remove the bandages so I can feel my ribs. Broken bones are harder to mend and I am tired. It is easier for me to heal in direct contact with skin.”

He did as she asked and tried to avert his gaze from what he had uncovered. “You can watch my hands, if you like,” she offered. “But nothing else.”

He swallowed hard and nodded, pressing his lips together. For a few minutes she concentrated on the bones mending, but the effort soon exhausted her.

She looked over at him to see him watching her paling face. “Please help me,” she whispered. “I am not strong enough to complete my healing. Would you please lend me some of your strength?”

“How could I do that?” he asked curiously, leaning toward her.

“Place one hand on my forehead and one on my chest below my neck.” She smiled weakly. “No wandering any lower.”

He gave her a small smile in return and complied with his right hand on her forehead and his left hand on her chest. “Now what?” He inhaled suddenly and stiffened as the last word escaped his lips.

She closed her eyes breathing as deeply as she comfortably could. After several breaths, she felt strong again. She looked over at him. “You can move your hands now.” Withdrawing his hands, he had an odd look on his face. “Are you all right?” she asked him in concern.

“Yes,” he replied uncertainly. “I think… I am fine. Just a little…tired.” He looked at his hands and then back at her in wonder. “That was so strange. Can you heal others too?”

“Yes, but I would not want to put any of your healers out of work. Besides it can be very exhausting for me.” She paused a moment. “I must finish healing myself now. Thank you for helping me.” She reached out with her left hand and gently squeezed one of his. “Thank you for everything.” And she truly meant it.

She placed her hands back on her wounded ribs and completed the healing. Weariness quickly overtook her. She glanced up at his beautiful face again as she drifted off to sleep. She would miss him. He really was wonderful. She felt the sheet being raised covering her to her neck. Fingers gently brushed her cheek.

“Sleep well. You have earned it,” he whispered, admiration evident in his lovely voice.



Notes:

▪ Nirnaeth Arnoediad- The Battle of Unnumbered Tears. The last of the great battles of Beleriand in which the Noldor and the Edain fought. King Fingon was killed, but Turgon escaped taking the surviving members of Fingon’s forces back to Gondolin with him. Most of the surviving Edain, under the leadership of Hurin and Huor, bought the escape of Turgon’s forces with their lives.

▪ Gates of Summer – A festival welcoming summer, held on the longest day of the year.

▪ I made up Glorfindel’s parentage though he really was Chief of the House of the Golden Flower in Gondolin. In History of Middle Earth, volume XII it says that Glorfindel was a kinsman of Turgon and that that kinship was largely the reason Glorfindel joined the rebellion of the Noldor. I also subscribe to the belief that Glorfindel of Gondolin and Glorfindel of Imladris (Rivendell) are the same person.


Chapter 3 - Chapter 3

Title: Crossroads of Time
Author: Ellie
Betas: Fianna, Julie, Rianna, and my husband who doesn’t have a screen name yet
Chapter:3/?
Rating: PG for now
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs
Summary: A woman not of Arda but in the position of being able to change Arda’s past, finds herself becoming a part of it instead. Not a Mary Sue.
Feedback: Please let me know what you think. This is my first fan fic and the longest story I've ever written.


Chapter 3

Warm and comfortable, Ariella snuggled up in the softness of the bed, the scent of flowers filling the air as she gradually became aware once again. She wondered where her mother had found flowers with such a delightful smell. They reminded her of some she had seen in Elrond’s garden in Imladris. She had always meant to ask Elrond what the flowers were called. She opened her eyes to see a vase full of those same Imladris golden flowers with a lovely purple center. The only problem was that this wasn’t her bedroom at home.

She abruptly sat bolt upright and blinked at the dizziness that temporarily assailed her. This wasn’t her bedroom in Imladris either. She looked around in a panic. This was…

She gracelessly dropped back to the pillows with her hands over her face, trying to deny what she had seen. She slowly slid her hands down to expose her eyes, her hands still covering her nose and mouth. She stared at the blank white ceiling in horror. Oh, dear God, she was still in Gondolin!

How could this have happened? What had gone wrong? Was this a joke? Surely this couldn’t be real. She couldn’t be trapped in the past. She just couldn’t.

Ariella lay still for a while, trying to get up the nerve to get out of bed. The sun was shining through the windows while a breeze was busy tossing the curtains about. She looked around the room and noticed someone’s abandoned embroidery project lying on the chair Glorfindel had been sitting in before. He does embroidery? He’s a warrior and a lord. What’s he doing sewing golden flowers on a … Was that a baby blanket? That was weird enough for her to get up out of bed to investigate.

She had tossed back the sheet and turned to get out of bed when she realized she was wearing a thin pale yellow night gown. She fingered the soft linen material wondering where it had come from. It was simple and pretty. Who had put it on her? She would let that one go. At least she wasn’t naked any more.

Ariella stood up and immediately felt light-headed. She closed her eyes, bowing her head and breathing deeply for a few moments until she felt better. She opened her eyes and made her way around the bed to the embroidery on the chair. Examining the blanket, she admired the highly detailed work. She herself could do little more than basic stitching, but she knew quality work when she saw it. This needlework was exquisite.

Just then, the door to her room opened. Ariella dropped the embroidery and spun around to see who was there. A pregnant golden haired elleth in a blue dress stood there staring at her in surprise. The lovely woman pressed a hand to her swollen belly as if the baby had been surprised too.

“Hello, Ariella,” she greeted in Sindarin. “I hope I did not startle you. I was not expecting you to be awake, let alone out of bed.” She paused, taking in Ariella’s appearance. “Are you feeling better now? You look quite well, especially considering what you have been through.”

Ariella stared at her, temporarily at a loss for words.

The woman smiled. “My brother said that you healed yourself right before his eyes. Did you really? I had heard that your wounds were serious.”

She walked over to where Ariella mutely stood, and awkwardly bent over to pick up the embroidery. “I did not mean to be gone so long when I left this here. I just came back for it.”

Ariella finally recovered her voice. “Who are you?”

The woman briefly put her hand up to her mouth in alarm. “I am so sorry! How rude of me for not introducing myself. I am Glorfindel’s sister Elianna. It is nice to meet you Ariella. Welcome to Gondolin. I hear you are from Doriath?”

Ariella looked bewildered. Doriath? Why do they keep thinking that? Celeborn and Galadriel live in Lothlórien. Oh yes, this is the First Age. She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to regain some mental focus. When she opened them again, Elianna was staring at her oddly.

Ariella forced a smile and placed her hand to her forehead. “It is nice to meet you…Elianna. I am sorry for being so slow to respond. I am still feeling a little out of sorts. So much has happened to me in such a short time. I am still trying to come to terms with it all.” What an understatement!

Elianna’s expression relaxed into a sympathetic smile. “Yes, much has happened to you. And much more still may.” She gestured to Ariella to sit down in the chair while she sat on the edge of the bed.

“King Turgon is not pleased that you have recovered so.” Her tone was serious though her voice was soft and kind. “For that matter, my brothers are not happy about it either, except for Glorfindel of course. They fear for him and the punishment he will receive because of you. I am sorry to tell you such unhappy news so soon upon waking up from such an ordeal. I just thought you should know to be wary of my other brothers. They love Glorfindel dearly and are fiercely protective of him.” She paused, looking into Ariella’s eyes for a few moments. She reached out and clasped Ariella’s hand and smiled reassuringly. “I, for one, am happy to see a new face. We are so isolated here! You know, you are every bit as lovely as my brother said you were. You are as golden as a Vanya, but I have never seen someone with eyes your color before. Is that a common color in Doriath?”

Ariella smiled uncertainly and slowly replied, “Thank you for the compliment. It is good to know I have a friend or two here. And no, the color is not common. I have my father’s coloring in hair and eyes.”

“You have a lucky mother to have such features to admire in a husband.” She suddenly clapped her hand to her mouth and quickly apologized, “Oh, I am so sorry. I should not have mentioned your parents. My brother said that you lost them some time ago and that you are alone now. I could not imagine what it must be like to be alone in the world. I have always had my brothers and then my husband. And now,” she looked down with a smile and lovingly caressed her stomach, “I have him.”

She looked back up at Ariella and clasped her hand again. “I may not have much room left on my lap or in my stomach for that matter, but I have room in my heart for one more friend…no matter how things turn out with Turgon’s judgment. So, if you need someone to talk to, I am here. I am certainly not going anywhere any time soon, and even if I did, I move so slowly you would catch me before I got very far away!” She laughed merrily, and Ariella couldn’t help but smile warmly back.

“Ariella, I imagine you must be quite hungry. I always am nowadays. You slept for two more days after you healed yourself. It has been a long time since you last ate. How about if I have some lunch sent up for you? There is a dress for you in the wardrobe over there.” She gestured to a finely carved oak wardrobe that stood against the same wall as the head of Ariella’s bed. “The door beside it leads to a washroom. I will have a servant prepare a bath for you as well.” She stood up and started toward the door. “I must go and tell Glorfindel that you are awake. I am sure he will want to meet with you to discuss some things if you are up to it.”

“Thank you very much for your kindness,” Ariella replied.

“You are welcome. Please let me or a servant know if you need anything. Farewell.” She walked out the door.

“Farewell,” Ariella said as the door closed.

Ariella remained in the chair, pondering the conversation. She had read often enough about how nice Glorfindel was, but history never said anything about his wonderful sister. Well, nothing except that she died in the fall of Gondolin along with her brothers, husband, and son. Her son will be only twenty-two years old, not even half way to adulthood when he dies. Ariella blinked back the tears that suddenly threatened her eyes. She shook her head, trying to clear it. “I can’t do this every time I meet someone. I can’t think about how they are going to die. This is so unfair. So unfair.” She took a few deep breaths to calm herself, then got up and went to the washroom.

When she came out, there was a knock on her door. She opened it to find four women there bearing water and supplies for her bath as well as her food. She stepped aside as they nodded to her and silently went about filling the tub in the washroom and preparing the table across the room from her bed for lunch. When they finished and were walking out of the door to leave, one of them finally paused and spoke.

“We hope all is to your liking. You will find soap, towels, and clean undergarments by the tub. I will come for you in an hour to take you to meet with Lord Glorfindel. If you need anything before then, I will be waiting outside of your door. Just call me. My name is Linanna.”

“Thank you Linanna.”

Linanna inclined her head in a short bow and the women left, closing the door behind them.

Ariella went to the table. She hadn’t realized how hungry she was. She devoured a few slices of bread and some yellow cheese without even bothering to sit down. She drained the glass of juice, then grabbed an apple to snack on in the bath.

She went in the washroom, stripped, and lowered herself into the hot scented water. Her mind was strangely numb and empty during the bath. She had no idea what to expect next and didn’t know enough about what was going on to worry much. She would avoid Glorfindel’s brothers if she could. She was clueless about what to do when she met Turgon. All she could do was wait and see what happened next. Besides, relaxing here in the tub, nothing seemed real anyway. It really didn’t feel different being in this age. And of course, there was still a chance she would wake up or go home any moment now.

After washing her hair, she got out of the tub, dried herself, and went to the wardrobe. She found her bag at the bottom of the wardrobe and satisfied herself that its contents were still there. Her brother would need the brush back intact to get all of the readings off of it. She stowed the bag again and focused on the new dress hanging in front of her. It was a soft lavender and looked strangely familiar.

She put on the undergarments and tried unsuccessfully to pull the dress on over the towel that was still bound around her wet hair. She struggled beneath the cloud of wispy lavender fabric until she extricated herself from the towel. She wiggled the rest of the way into the dress and attempted to fasten it. Picking up the towel off the floor, she went to the door and opened it calling to Linanna.

Ariella blushed in embarrassment, feeling quite childish about her dishevelment as Linanna came in the room eyeing Ariella critically. She straightened the dress on Ariella’s body and fastened a couple of hooks Ariella had missed.

“Thank you,” Ariella said sheepishly. “Would you please help me comb my hair? I am afraid it will not be dry in time for my meeting with Glorfindel.”

Linanna smiled knowingly and retrieved a comb from the washroom. “Lord Glorfindel is not used to considering the needs of an elleth when planning events concerning one. He does not realize we need more time to prepare. Sit.” She gestured to the chair by the bed.

Ariella smiled and hurried to seat herself. Linanna picked up Ariella’s long hair from where it pooled on the floor and began combing it.

“With all of this gold on your head, how could he not see you while out hunting?” she asked in mock disapproval. “Unless he did see all of this and thought he better shoot before you got away. He does love gold, you know,” she teased.

Ariella protested, “I was wearing my cloak and had my hood pulled up.”

“In the heat of summer?” Linanna queried dubiously.

“Well...I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. It is dangerous out there alone.”

“Well a lot of good it did you!” Linanna shot back.

Ariella turned and glared at her. Linanna burst out laughing, and Ariella soon joined her when she realized Linanna was teasing her.

“Lord Glorfindel will never ever live this down,” Linanna shook her head and laughed even harder.

The remainder of the combing took place in a giddy silence occasionally broken by further fits of the giggles from both of them. When she finished, Linanna said, “Your hair is only half dry. Stand up and I will braid it for you, if you like.”

Ariella nodded, and stood up walking away from the chair to give Linanna some room. Linanna deftly plaited a single braid down Ariella’s back, then tied the braid with a silk ribbon that matched the dress. Linanna walked around Ariella, inspecting her, and nodded in satisfaction.

“We should leave now,” Linanna said. “Please follow me.”

Ariella had no idea what to expect next, so she put all of her mental barriers back in place as she followed Linanna. They went into a long hallway, down two flights of steps, and into a large open room filled with sunlight. They turned left and walked down another hallway, stopping before a large wooden door ornately carved with vines and flowers.

“This is Lord Glorfindel’s private study,” Linanna whispered as she knocked on the door.

“Enter!” a melodic male voice commanded.

Ariella felt nervousness settling into the pit of her stomach for a long sojourn as Linanna opened the door and led her in. Ariella slowly followed, looking around in awe. The room was larger and more elegant than Elrond’s study in Imladris. The walls were covered with tapestries and paintings depicting what Ariella guessed were scenes and landscapes from Valinor. The bare parts of the walls were carved with vines of flowers weaving their way throughout the room. It was almost like being in a forest with art growing from the trees. The effect was quite stunning. The engraved forest continued through an archway with small animals and birds carved around it and into a large library with a balcony. The windows in both rooms looked as if they were natural gaps in the trees. It was simply exquisite almost as if a forest with a couple of rooms in it had sprouted within a large block of wood.

When Ariella finished gawking at the room, she noticed Glorfindel standing behind a large carved wooden desk adorned with a couple of stacks of papers, three glasses of wine, a bottle of ink, and some quills. He wore a grey shirt beneath a blue tunic, with matching blue leggings and robes. Two other elves were each standing in front of chairs to either side of the desk. The male looked familiar and incredibly handsome with long dark hair and was dressed similarly to Glorfindel in burgundy and mauve. He also wore a silver knot-work collar set with diamonds. The female was beautiful with loose golden hair long enough to sit on, and wearing a silky white dress but no shoes.

“Good afternoon, Ariella. It is good to see you up and around,” Glorfindel said, a warm smile lighting his face.

“Good afternoon to you, Lord Glorfindel. It is good to still be around to be up,” Ariella returned with a smile. She felt comfortable talking to him.

He gestured toward the woman. “This is Princess Idril, daughter of King Turgon.” Gesturing toward the man, he continued, “And you have already met Lord Ecthelion.”

The comfortable feeling promptly departed as Ariella curtseyed to them and said, “I am honored to meet you.” They both nodded to her.

Glorfindel gestured to a chair beside Idril. “Please sit down. Would you like some wine?”

“Yes, please,” Ariella responded as she walked over to the chair and sat down. Glorfindel, Ecthelion, and Idril sat as well.

A servant brought her a crystal goblet of wine. Glorfindel looked at the servant and then at Linanna and said, “You may leave. I will call you if I need you.”

They both responded, “Yes, my Lord,” as they turned and left the room, closing the door behind them.

“You are looking remarkably better than you did last time I saw you,” Ecthelion observed with a smile. His rich melodic voice would command the attention of any listener.

“Yes, I am much better. Thank you,” Ariella responded as nervousness spread to other areas besides her stomach. She took a sip of her wine in the uncomfortable silence that followed.

“Glorfindel told us that before your parents died, they served our Princess Artanis and the Prince Celeborn of Doriath,” Ecthelion commented.

“Yes, that is correct.” Ariella fingered the stem of her glass. “Although, Princess Artanis calls herself Galadriel now. That is the epesse given her by her husband Lord Celeborn.”

“Yes, of course,” he continued, gesturing with his hand as if to physically brush aside her correction. “But you have the eyes of a mortal. Though, I must admit, the color is quite intriguing. Does Thingol now make a practice of admitting mortals to his realm?”

Why did every one have to comment about her eyes so much? No one in Imladris ever commented about them. “My eyes are like my father’s.” Ariella responded meeting his gaze, trying to remember the proper time frame for the next part of her answer. “And King Thingol has admitted a few mortals to his realm. The most recent, that I know of, was Turin son of Hurin. I believe you knew Hurin?”

“Yes, I did. Hurin lived here in Gondolin for a time as a youth. He and his brother Huor bought us our retreat from the Nirnaeth with their lives and those of their men.” Ecthelion paused as sorrow briefly clouded his bright eyes and bowed his head for a moment before stating. “So, your father was mortal.”

“Yes.”

“Judging by your lovely golden hair, I would say you are of Hador’s people as well.”

Ariella smiled and started to take a sip of her wine without answering. Ha! She had told her brother that she could pass as one of Hador’s people.

“And your mother was an elf from Doriath.”

Ariella froze. Lowering her glass, she asked carefully, “What makes you think that?”

“Well you must have elven blood in your veins or else your healing abilities are not to be explained. You also do not “feel” like any mortal that we have met before. You do not feel entirely elven either. Glorfindel and I could perceive your thoughts before you awoke two days ago, but since then,” he glanced over at Glorfindel. Glorfindel raised his eyebrows and shook his head no. “Neither of us can. There is something quite different about you that we cannot otherwise explain.”

Ariella looked down at the floor. If only they knew how different she was. She was the first alien they had ever met. It was no wonder they did not know what to call her. She thought they were a bit arrogant to think that humans shouldn’t be able to heal like she did and that they shouldn’t be telepaths. But then again, she was not like the humans of Arda, so she guessed she would have to forgive that. She just hadn’t expected to be called peredhel. She was actually flattered.

Ariella shook her head as she looked back up at the two with an odd smile. “No one has ever said such a thing to me before. I never knew I was perceived that way. I do not know what to say.”

Ecthelion sat back crossing his arms in front of his chest, and smiled smugly. “So we have you figured out now.”

Ariella considered this for a moment. Fortunately for her, her people did not get sick or show their age, so she figured she should be able to pull off peredhel… until she dropped dead of natural causes, was executed by Turgon just for being there anyway, or she returned home to her own time. And by then it would be too late for anyone to ask questions. That would work!

“Yes,” she replied with a smile and a sigh of resignation. “So it seems.”

“Yes, it does,” Idril commented knowingly. Her voice was quite nice too, but there was a touch of something in the tone that made Ariella most uneasy.

Suddenly Ariella heard Idril’s voice in her head. “I can still perceive your thoughts, Ariella, though the others cannot. I know what you are. You and I will talk more of this when we are alone.”

Ariella stiffened, turned to Idril, and gave her a slow wide-eyed nod. Her heart was pounding as she tried to control the fear threatening her composure. She had read that Idril could read minds, but she had never realized how powerful she truly was, until now.

Idril turned to Glorfindel and Ecthelion. “My lords, if you would excuse us, I would like a few moments to speak with Ariella alone.”

They looked at each other in obvious surprise, then picked up their wine glasses and rose to their feet. “Yes, my Lady,” Glorfindel replied uncertainly. “We will be on the balcony outside the library, if you need us.” They each cast a last curious glance at Ariella before leaving the room. The women watched them pass through the library and then onto the balcony.

Idril reached for her glass of wine and calmly took a drink. She turned a little and caught Ariella’s fidgeting form with a powerful penetrating glare. Ariella trembled all the more, unable to help herself as her eyes locked with Idril’s.

“Go ahead and drop the barriers, Child,” Idril commanded. “I can see right through them anyway.”

Ariella did as she was bid and was met with the full force of Idril’s awesome presence. She felt naked and exposed, but she could not move to look away. Idril’s eyes bore into hers for what seemed like an eternity before finally releasing her. Idril was clearly shocked at what she had learned. Idril looked down at the wine glass in her hands for a few minutes. Ariella’s shoulders sagged as she stared at the floor, fidgeting again, afraid of what Idril was going to say or do next. Finally, Idril sighed heavily and fixed her gaze upon Ariella once again. Ariella timidly looked up at her.

“So you are from our future? Poor little lost maiden!” There was genuine pity in her voice, which surprised Ariella greatly. “Unfortunately for you, my heart warns me that you will not be going back home any time soon, and not in the manner in which you might expect.”

Ariella stared wide-eyed, mouth open, shaking her head. She blurted, “But I have to go home! I cannot stay here! I could change things so that my future does not happen if I say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing.” She closed her eyes, fighting back tears. She even knew when most of the people here were going to die! Her voice cracked as she opened her eyes and elaborated. “I was only supposed to be here for four hours!” She held up four fingers and gestured to emphasize the point. “My brother built this machine for traveling through time. I was sent here to test some things to see what would happen to objects brought from this time back into my time and to measure how much certain things have changed over the millennia.”

She was silent for a few moments more, composing herself to continue. Idril just stared at her in disbelief. “This is going to sound really strange, but my parents helped save Arda from invasion by another race of beings who wished to enslave the peoples of your world. Afterward, my parents and some of their people established a type of,” Ariella paused searching for the words in Sindarin that would convey her meaning the closest. “defensive perimeter. Maintaining the perimeter requires a certain amount of technical knowledge. My brother and I have been studying to assume responsibility for the perimeter when our parents can no longer manage it. In addition to acquiring the knowledge from our world that we will need, we have also been studying elvish languages, customs, and lore. We need to be able to understand and interact with the people we are trying to protect. We chose the elves as our contacts as they do not have this nasty habit of dying off and constantly requiring new generations to become familiar with us.

So…when I said that my family serves Celeborn and Galadriel. I really meant it. But we serve more than just them, we serve all of Arda. Those two were the only ones I could think of whom I knew personally who were relevant enough to be widely known at this time. Besides, my brother is married to their youngest daughter.”

Ariella gulped some wine then coughed a couple of times before continuing. She was so relieved to be able to speak of this to someone here. “To further complicate the matters of my being here and interacting with people, which I was forbidden to do by the way, my fate has become entwined with that of someone with whom my parents will become close friends, before I am even born. In fact, my mother had a romantic relationship with him before she met my father.”

Idril gawked at her, but then her curiosity got the better of her. “Of whom are we speaking?” she asked, conspiratorially.

Ariella downed the rest of her glass of wine in one large swig. “Glorfindel,” she said morosely.

Idril’s eyes grew wide and she covered her mouth in an unsuccessful attempt at suppressing the giggles.

“This is not a laughing matter! He cannot be told anything about this or it could change history: MY history and your people’s future,” Ariella insisted, becoming angry.

“Yes it is,” Idril replied, her face turning red. “It is terribly funny to me.”

“All right. Why?” Ariella asked folding her arms in front of her chest and hoping she looked every bit as irate as she felt.

“Because I think dear Glorfindel likes you!”

Ariella was speechless, groping for words to express the thoughts that were all jumbling up together in her head at this startling revelation, when the subject of conversation poked his head back in the room. The wine she had drunk was definitely not helping her right now. She bowed her head and put her hand over her flushed cheeks in a vain attempt at hiding, while Idril just sat fanning herself with her hand as the last few giggles escaped.

“Excuse me my Lady. I am sorry to interrupt,” he looked doubtfully from one of them to the other, “whatever is going on in here. But I thought you would like to know that a messenger has just arrived from your father stating that the King will meet with us at court tomorrow morning at 8 to pass judgment.”

Idril immediately sobered. “Thank you, Glorfindel. I think that in light of the very interesting conversation that Ariella and I just had, I will speak to father on her behalf and see if I can sway his heart to mercy for her.” She arose and set her glass down on the desk. “I am going to go now and contemplate what we have discussed so I can speak with him this evening.”

“Ariella, it has been most interesting making your acquaintance. I look forward to many more conversations with you. Good day to you all.” Idril nodded to Glorfindel, and Ecthelion who had just entered the room behind Glorfindel.

“Good day to you, my Lady,” Ecthelion said respectfully as he and Glorfindel both bowed to her.

“And thank you, my Lady,” Glorfindel added placing his hand over his heart in gratitude.

“Thank you, my Lady,” Ariella said graciously as she stood and curtsied. “Thank you very much.”

When the door closed behind Idril, Glorfindel and Ecthelion immediately rounded on her, bewilderment written all over their fair faces. Glorfindel furrowed his brows at her, placing his hands on his hips. “What did you say to her to earn her favor? And what were you two giggling about?”

Ariella quickly pointed out, becoming a little bit snippy, “All I did was explain my situation to her. SHE was the one giggling, not I. And I did NOT see the humor in the subject in which she apparently took such delight.”

“I have not seen her laugh like that in quite a while. Would you care to share the subject of her amusement with us?” Ecthelion asked undaunted, a curious smile playing about his lips.

“No,” Ariella declared bluntly, putting her hands on her hips. “Absolutely not!”
Glorfindel looked down pressing his lips together clearly suppressing a laugh. Regaining his composure, he addressed Ecthelion, “I think we should leave Ariella alone for a while and let her rest.”

“Linanna!”

The door opened and Linanna entered.

“Yes, my Lord?”

“Please escort Ariella back to her room and see to her needs. She could probably use some rest before dinner.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

“Ariella,” Glorfindel said kindly. “You will dine with me tonight.”

“Yes, my Lord. Thank you.” She curtsied to the lords. Relieved to finally be leaving, she gave Ecthelion an annoyed look before she turned and followed Linanna out of the room.

As the door closed, she heard laughter erupt from the room along with an admonition from Glorfindel.

Linanna left Ariella in her room promising to return later to take her down to dinner. Ariella lay on her bed trying to decide if her weariness was the result of the wine, the confrontation, the recent healing, or all three. She fell asleep with the dilemma still unresolved.

*~~~*

That evening, Ariella had dinner with Glorfindel in a private dining area. The meal passed in silence for the most part. Ariella ate without really tasting her food, her mood quite subdued. Reality enclosed her in an ever tightening noose as she realized this could be her last dinner and her last night ever. Tomorrow, Turgon may decide she needed to die. She always knew she would die one day, but she never imagined it would be like this. She felt trapped, so lost and alone as her last hopes of returning home faded.

Glorfindel kept glancing at her, clearly concerned as she toyed with a last uneaten portion on her plate. Finally, he pushed back from the table, arose, and came around to her. She looked up as he offered his hand and commanded softly, “Come with me.”

She arose, taking his hand. He led her out onto a balcony that looked toward the spectacular colors adorning the sky at the setting of the sun. Glorfindel released her hand and they stood quietly for a while, watching the changing splash of color play across the horizon and reflect off the portion of the white city walls visible from their perspective. She guessed they must be in the southern part of the city, judging from their vantage point in relation to the sunset and the city walls.

Ariella shuddered involuntarily as tears unexpectedly assaulted her eyes. Glorfindel slowly reached out and put his hand on her left arm. “Are you all right?” he asked gently.

Ariella blinked. “I just realized this might be the last sunset I ever see.”

“I am sorry,” he whispered.

“I do not want to die.” She shook her head and burst into tears.

He stepped closer and tentatively enveloped her in his arms, pulling her against his chest. She sniffled and leaned her forehead against his shoulder. He tightened his embrace as she turned her head and nuzzled her cheek against his chest, sobbing uncontrollably. He rested his cheek against the top of her head and sighed.

When she finally calmed enough to open her eyes again, it was dark outside. She blinked a few times and took a few shaky breaths. He raised his head as she stilled and looked up at him. He leaned back and held her away from him a little, looking at her face.

She looked down and apologized.” I…I am sorry. I should not have. I just…I am just…”

“It is all right to be afraid,” he said softly. “To tell you the truth, I am a little scared myself.”

“What do you have to be afraid of?” she asked with more bitterness in her voice than she had intended. “It is my fault you are in this situation. Turgon can just kill me and be done with it.”

Glorfindel put his finger under her chin and raised her head, forcing her to meet his stern yet tender gaze. “You are blameless in this. As for me, he may be merciful and just dishonor me. Or, he may make an example of me and take away my lordship, or he may even decide my behavior warrants death. I do not know how he will judge. But my actions were of my own choosing and I must take responsibility for them. I do not regret the decision to bring you here and neither does Ecthelion. I do regret that you face judgment, however.” He cupped her face in his hands. They felt comfortingly cool against her hot, tear-stained cheeks. “I deserve punishment, but you do not. I hope that one day you will find it in your heart to forgive me, but I do not hope for that any time soon.”

Fresh tears streamed down her cheeks at his words. He brushed the tears away with his thumbs. “Shhhh.” He leaned forward and pressed his forehead against hers. Her heart was racing. She could feel his warm shallow breaths on her face, but she seemed to have forgotten how to breathe.

“There is nothing to forgive,” she whispered.

Against her will, Ariella found herself thinking about how handsome and wonderful he was. He felt so good, she could stay here in his arms all night. She wondered what it would be like to kiss him. Before she could chastise herself for such thoughts, Glorfindel tilted his head and lightly brushed her lips with his. Her mind went blank.

He leaned back a little studying her incredulous expression. He must have found this encouraging for he smiled briefly as his mouth descended once more and captured hers. He slid his hands from her face and embraced her, pressing her paralyzed body against his solid muscular one. Her mouth opened slightly as his tongue caressed her lips seeking entry to join with hers. Whatever reservations she had were fleeting as she melted against him, putting her arms around his neck and running her fingers through his silky hair. He deepened the kiss, their tongues meeting in a moist dance of passion. When he finally broke the kiss, her knees were so weak she clung to him to remain upright. He was breathing hard, her gasps for air matching his. Bewildered, she looked up at him, questioning in her mind, “Why did you kiss me?”

He smiled as she heard his response in her head, “Because I might not have another chance.”

She backed away from him with her hands over her mouth shaking her head. She hurriedly put all of the mental barriers back in place. This could not be happening to her. She couldn’t have a relationship with him. He will know her parents. It would change history. Besides, he’s an elf. It would cost him his life - a life of slightly less than 23 years for he will die at the hands of a balrog when Gondolin falls. But then what life was left to her? She very well might die tomorrow on Turgon’s orders. Would it be so bad to be in Glorfindel’s arms for one night?

He frowned in confusion, his hands on her shoulders holding her at arm’s length away from him. She stood there rigid, staring at him and breathing hard. He searched her face perplexed, “What is wrong? I meant you no harm. I thought you wanted that kiss as much as I did. Why did you close your mind to me?”

“I did. I mean… I just…I am shy.” What was she saying? “Should I be kissing you?”

“You can if you like. I rather enjoyed it.” Then concern clouded his face. “Why do you keep your mind closed to me? Do you not trust me?”

“Yes, I trust you implicitly,” she quickly assured him. “I just do not trust myself.” She turned away from him, her mind numb. He slowly slid his hands down her arms and crossed his arms around her waist. She relaxed, leaning back against him and looked up at the sky. It felt so good to be in his arms. He tightened his embrace. Soon she felt him relax too. Suddenly, she realized she was finally viewing the stars of the First Age and gasped.

He startled and looked down at her. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. It’s just that the stars really are brighter,” she replied cryptically, her voice full of awe.

He chuckled. “I have never heard of that being a result of kissing.”

She laughed, shaking her head at his misunderstanding. “It was a very nice kiss.”

“Yes, it was.” He raised his right hand and clasped her left shoulder, his arm crossing her chest. Leaving his left arm around her waist, he squeezed her close to him. She nuzzled his neck. Her fear and misgivings drifted away as she succumbed to the bliss of this perfect moment in time. He kissed her hair and rested his chin on her head. Softly he hummed beautiful melodies to her as they stood thus, looking at the stars until it grew late. Ending one last tune, he turned her in his arms and gave her another exquisite kiss. When they finally broke apart, they were both breathless.

When his breathing returned to normal, he took both of her hands in his and pressed his forehead to hers. “I need to take you back to your room now. You will need your rest for tomorrow, and I need mine.”

She smiled and whispered, “All right.” Suddenly on a whim, she stole a kiss, then turned away giggling.

He laughed and embraced her from behind with a quick squeeze. He released her and then formally offered her his arm saying, “May I escort you to your room?”

“Yes, you had better,” she said, taking his arm. “I do not know how to find it again from here.”

He smiled and then smoothed his expression to something unreadable as they entered the dining room again. They made their way through the house and up the steps to her room.

“Linanna will wake you early in the morning so there will be time to break our fast, if either of us should feel like eating, before we go to meet with Turgon.”

“Thank you, Glorfindel…for everything.”

He smiled, but there was a sadness in his eyes. His goodnight at her door consisted of a kiss to the back of her right hand and the brush of the backs of his fingers against her cheek.

“Until tomorrow,” he said as he turned and left.

Her mind was numb as she prepared for bed, unable to decide how to interpret how she had just spent what could possibly have been the last night of her life. As she settled in to bed, she realized there was no way she would rather have spent her last night under the current circumstances. She had a long talk with God about her life thus far as she lay there, praying for strength, and finally begging for His mercy at least for Glorfindel if she couldn’t have it for herself on the morrow. When sleep finally claimed her, her slumber was deep and blessedly restful.


Notes:
elleth – a female elf
epesse – a nick name or name that an elf can choose to be called by other than the name given to the elf by his or her mother and father.
peredhel – half elf
Elianna - I made up the name and existence of Glorfindel’s sister.
Vanya – A member of the Vanyarin tribe of elves who were known for their golden hair.


Chapter 4 - Chapter 4

Title: Crossroads of Time
Author: Ellie
Betas: Fianna, Julie, Rianna, and my husband who doesn’t have a screen name yet
Chapter:4/?
Rating: PG for now
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs
Summary: A woman not of Arda but in the position of being able to change Arda’s past, finds herself becoming a part of it instead. Not a Mary Sue.
Feedback: Please let me know what you think. This is my first fan fic and the longest story I've ever written.


Chapter 4

In the morning, Ariella met Glorfindel at the door of his house. A dozen armed soldiers, bedight in the colors of the king, awaited them. Ariella quickly put up all of her mental barriers, then glanced over at Glorfindel and smiled nervously. The smile he returned was confident, but his eyes betrayed his uncertainty. He clasped her hand and squeezed it briefly before tucking it in his arm as if he were escorting her to a pleasant formal gathering, and not to a court of doom.

The assembly made their way out into the street in front of Glorfindel’s large stone house and formed up with Glorfindel and Ariella in the center. Glorfindel looked exquisite in his heavily embroidered forest green robes with matching leggings. His tunic and shirt were trimmed in golden flowers as on the day she first awoke in Gondolin. Ariella, bedecked in her wispy lavender dress with her long hair loose and lightly braided, tried to keep her chin up and look worthy of standing by his side. His deportment was so high and noble that the king’s men more closely resembled an honor guard escorting a regal dignitary and his lady to an audience with the king than soldiers leading prisoners to their judgment.

Fear and wonder fought for control of Ariella as they marched toward the palace of the king. The first several streets they traversed were lined with close-standing houses, all adorned with lush gardens. People gawked from their windows or stood to the side of the streets and stared as they passed, all seeming to want a glimpse of the maiden for whom their beloved Lord of the Golden Flower was standing trial. The party turned and entered a market with various vendors selling food, wine, jewelry, painted pottery, and colorful fabrics. At the opposite end of the market stood the Square of the King and Turgon’s immaculate white palace. On either side of the entrance to the palace stood images of the Two Trees wrought by Turgon himself: Glingol and Bansil made in fair memory of the Two Trees of Valinor.

Having read about the fall of the city too often for her own good, Ariella was briefly assailed with visions of the last rally of forces before Gondolin finally fell. She saw the fountain where Lord Ecthelion and Gothmog lord of balrogs would slay each other. Looking at the two trees, she pictured Turgon standing there throwing down his crown and ordering the evacuation of Gondolin. She could imagine all too easily the milling and cries of the terrified refugees and struggling desperate warriors. Everything about her seemed so surreal. Surely she was not marching to her own doom in the same place where so many would meet theirs in such a short span of years as the elves reckoned it?

She was pulled out of her horrific reverie by the company halting at the palace doors and Glorfindel’s other hand loosening the viselike grip her hand resting on his arm had assumed without her knowledge. She looked at him apologetically and relaxed her hold on him. He gently patted her hand as he leaned toward her slightly and whispered, “Be brave, lovely one, and answer all questions truthfully. I will be at your side no matter what.”

“Thank you,” was all her nervous mind would permit her to respond, and he smiled encouragingly.

The palace doors opened and they were led inside and then on through another set of doors into the main hall. The entire court was assembled, adorned in deeply hued robes and gowns, lining the walk to the king’s throne. Ariella stared open-mouthed in awe at the spectacle before her. She had never seen so many elves as great and beautiful as those gathered in this hall. At the end of the walk sat Turgon, robed all in white, upon his throne of marble. He was greater and more glorious than either Glorfindel or Ecthelion. She could see from whence Elrond had inherited much of his lordly bearing. Turgon’s presence filled the hall far more than his court did. Idril stood beside him to his right, dressed in white as well.

The guards remained at the inner doors as Ariella and Glorfindel continued on alone. Ariella sensed Glorfindel’s body tensing as they walked, and out of sheer reflexive terror, she renewed her death grip on his arm. Glancing sideways at him, she saw that he continued to bear himself in every way like the lord of a house of princes that he was.

When they halted in front of Turgon, Glorfindel released her hand from his arm. He bowed deeply and Ariella followed suit with a curtsey. Turgon’s face was unreadable as he nodded toward them.

“Tell me, Lord Glorfindel, do you still think it was worth it to incur my wrath and bring this elleth to Gondolin?” Turgon asked Glorfindel.

“Yes, my Lord, I do,” Glorfindel responded confidently.

“I see. So you are Ariella?” Turgon inquired.

“Yes, my Lord,” she answered nervously.

“My daughter tells me that your family served my cousin Artanis and the Prince Celeborn of Doriath. She also says that your father was mortal. You have the eyes of a mortal.”

“Yes, my Lord,” Ariella answered. She thought it best not to correct the King about Artanis’s new name.

“Prove to me that your family served my cousin,” he demanded.

Ariella was at a loss for what to say. How could she prove this to his satisfaction? “What kind of proof do you desire, my Lord?”

“Tell me something that only someone who knows her well would know,” he challenged.

She desperately thought about it for what seemed like an eternity, but the only things she could think of had to do with Galadriel and Celeborn’s interaction with her family. She certainly couldn’t talk about her brother’s marriage to their daughter who hadn’t been born yet, or the interactions between them as grandparents with their grandchildren, or the Lord and Lady’s visits to her parents’ house. But, what else was there to say?

“My patience wears thin,” Turgon cautioned irritably, drumming his fingers on the armrest of his throne.

Ariella felt her face growing hot as her cheeks flushed from the pressure. Her hands fidgeted with her dress. The silence in the hall was unbearably oppressive. There was only one thing she could think of that she thought Turgon, the close friend of Galadriel’s dearest brother Finrod, would know as well.

“Princess Artanis is extremely ticklish!” she blurted out far louder than she had intended.

Glorfindel turned and gave her a shocked yet perplexed look. Turgon sat back and chuckled as the room filled with laughter.

Ariella looked down, the blood rapidly draining from her face. She felt very small and incredibly stupid. She had just signed her own death sentence. She just knew it.

When the room had settled again, Turgon regarded her with a smile, shaking his head.

“I can see you know my cousin well. I do not believe that most knew that about her and I am rather surprised that you know it. Your family must have been close personal servants indeed to know such a thing. Admittedly, that was not the kind of information I was looking for,” he chuckled again. “But it will do.” He paused for a moment then continued. “I understand that you are a healer, and quite a talented one at that to have survived your injuries.”

“Yes, my Lord,” Ariella answered.

“Excellent.” Then he turned his stern grey eyes upon Glorfindel who noticeably stiffened.

“My Lord Glorfindel, Ariella is to be your ward, under your care as a member of your household, and is now your responsibility. She is not free to leave Gondolin unless it be by her death. This is our law. However, I am most disappointed in you, Lord Glorfindel, for your disregard for our rules on allowing visitors to enter Gondolin, no matter how noble your intentions. You have put me in a most difficult position between kinship and the law - a law that you, as my kinsman and a member of my council, should have been most willing to uphold.

Your punishment shall be thus: You will pay a fine of 100 gold pieces. The House of the Golden Flower shall be removed from its responsibilities for maintaining the guard of the Great Gate for the duration of this year. The House of the Golden Flower, led by you, will assume responsibility for the guard of the First Gate for three consecutive months, as opposed to the customary one month, beginning tomorrow night. Perhaps, Cousin, this will teach you new respect for the laws of our fair city.”

“Yes, my Lord,” Glorfindel cast down his eyes and bowed his proud head.

“Lord Ecthelion of the House of the Fountain will assume the responsibility for Warden of the Great Gate, and the house responsibilities for the other gates will be adjusted accordingly by Lord Ecthelion. This is my judgment. You may go.”

“Thank you, my Lord,” Glorfindel and Ariella each replied as they paid their proper respects. Idril smiled at them as they turned and walked out of the hall.

Ariella felt elated and horrible at the same time. She was thrilled beyond belief that she had survived Turgon’s judgment, but she felt terrible that Glorfindel had been so dishonored. She remembered reading somewhere that the First Gate of Gondolin was in a cave, and that Warden of the Great Gate was the most prestigious position a lord could assume. Now Lord Glorfindel was going to spend his summer doing guard duty in a cave because of her.

Glorfindel was silent and preoccupied for the duration of the journey back to his house. Out of respect, Ariella remained silent as well. Once inside the house, Glorfindel gave instructions to his servants regarding Ariella’s status as a member of his house and instructed them to see to her needs until he returned from his duties and could decide what her role would be. He bade her good day with a nod and quickly disappeared up the steps to make ready for his three months away.

He was so distant and so different now in his hurry and humiliation. She felt so guilty. It was all her fault.

She was preparing to start up the steps to her room, but was stopped by a commanding voice.

“Ariella!” It sounded almost like Glorfindel, but couldn’t be as he was already upstairs.

She halted and turned around. Two dark haired lords dressed in green stood in the doorway of the house. They approached with equally irate looks on their beautiful faces.

“We are Glorfindel’s brothers Celoril and Elindir,” Celoril informed her as he gestured to himself and his brother to indicate which was which.

“It is nice to meet you,” she said uncertainly as she curtsied.

“I am afraid the feeling is not mutual,” Celoril responded curtly. “We will be assuming Glorfindel’s responsibilities as chieftain of our house while he is away. Though you are a new member of our house, are you aware of the shame and dishonor you have already brought to it and to our brother?”

“Yes,” Ariella responded sadly, her shoulders slumping as her chin met her chest.

“Then do not forget it. If you do anything else to dishonor our family or our house, you will deeply regret Turgon’s decision not to slay you today, as we regret it now.” With that, they turned and strode toward Glorfindel’s study.

Ariella turned and fled up the stairs to her room. Tears were dripping from her chin by the time she entered her room, slamming her door shut, and flinging herself on her bed. Maybe it would have been better if Turgon had killed her.



Notes:

I made up the names and existence of Glorfindel’s brothers.

In Unfinished Tales, when Tolkien described Tuor’s arrival in Gondolin and the meeting with Ecthelion at the Great Gate, he described Ecthelion as being "Warden of the Great Gate at that time." I took that to mean that the position was probably held by different lords on a rotating basis. I also read somewhere else (perhaps in the History of Middle Earth series?) that guard duty at the gates lasted for one moon or one month.


Chapter 5 - Chapter 5

Betas: Fianna, Julie, Rianna, and my husband who doesn’t have a screen name yet
Chapter:5/?
Rating: PG for now
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chapter 5

In the chaos of packing, turning over duties, and mustering his troops, there was no time for Glorfindel to meet with Ariella, let alone to say goodbye. She stood with the servants and watched him depart in his glittering golden armor and gold embroidered mantle. She felt so very alone. It would be a long three months for everyone.

In the weeks and months that followed, Ariella gradually began to accept that she would not be going home. She missed her parents and brothers and sisters terribly. She wondered what her brother Arzus finally told them about her fate. Did he even know what had happened to her? None of the history books she had seen had said anything about some mysterious elleth from Doriath showing up in Gondolin, let alone a time-traveling alien from another planet paying a visit to the hidden city.

She often cried herself to sleep at night wondering if her family missed her too or what her life could have been if she hadn’t been so stupid and gone back in time. None of her previous hopes and dreams mattered here, but what new hopes could she replace them with? What kind of future can a person have when everything from her past is taboo? She certainly couldn’t marry here: that would change history and condemn an immortal elf to death – if the elf chose to follow her fate when she died. Therefore, she also could never have any children. So her punishment for being foolish and curious was to be alone for the rest of her life, or at least for the rest of her days here. But, would this fate really be so different from the one she faced in her own time?

She had no one special waiting there for her. No one really seemed to understand her weird obsession with a primitive race most people had never even heard of on an obscure planet no one but her family ever went to. Looking on the bright side, if she was doomed to be alone, then at least she had the opportunity to do it someplace interesting.

Elianna took Ariella under her wing and endeavored to teach her the customs of the city and of Glorfindel’s house. Elianna and Idril often took Ariella out to the Greater Market in the eastern part of the city and to the Lesser Market in the southern part of the city, north of Glorfindel’s house. They provided her with four more dresses, hair accessories, and with some new shoes as well. As the three months wore on, Ariella had grown quite close to Elianna and Idril, much to the chagrin of Glorfindel’s brothers.

According to Elianna, the brothers had Ariella watched whenever she went out and were most displeased at the friendship she had formed with their sister and their cousin. They desperately wanted Ariella to go away and for everything to be as it was before.

Fortunately for Ariella, she did nothing for the brothers to complain about, and she avoided them whenever possible. She dined only in her room or with Elianna or Idril, and she never stayed out late. When she was not out with her new friends, Ariella would spend her time absorbing as much lore as she could from the books in Glorfindel’s extensive library and in the city library. She was hesitant to make friends with anyone else for fear of messing up history with unguarded words to the wrong people. It was a strange reclusive life for her, far from her life as a teacher and healer on her world, and a scholar and student of culture in Imladris.

She looked forward to Glorfindel’s return with mingled fear and anticipation. The night before their judgment day had been wonderful, but she had no idea if he would still feel anything for her after his three months away. She also didn’t know if she even wanted him to as nothing could ever come of their relationship due to the whole time, history, and mortality situation.

Though she tried her best to put such thoughts out of her mind, Ariella often wondered how much damage she had already done to the history of this world she had adopted. On the day Glorfindel was scheduled to return, she got the answer she most feared. Near lunch time word reached the city of a cave-in in one of the mines some miles outside of the city. Some jewel smiths and miners had been trapped, including the King’s nephew Maeglin. Ariella, accompanied by Idril, watched the excitement in the city with great interest. Soldiers and healers had been dispatched to aid in the rescue. She had never read or heard about this event in any of the books or songs in Imladris.

At dinner time, they were both summoned to return to Glorfindel’s house with great haste. When they arrived, they were met by Ecthelion who rushed them to Glorfindel’s private suite of rooms. Ecthelion’s burnished silver armor was grimy and his dirty haggard face betrayed his weariness. Outside the door, he stopped them.

“What is going on?” Idril demanded.

Ecthelion did not meet their eyes as he replied. “Word of the cave-in and the call for aid spread quickly this morning. Glorfindel and his soldiers were the closest, and arrived before anyone else. He and some of his men made their way into the mine in search of those who were trapped. They found them and dug them out. On the way out, Glorfindel was carrying Maeglin, who had been injured in the cave-in, when the ceiling above them collapsed, burying Glorfindel and Maeglin. I arrived at this time with my soldiers. It took a long time to dig them out.” He paused and took a deep breath to compose himself before continuing.

“Glorfindel had protected Maeglin with his own body or Maeglin would be dead now. And…if Glorfindel had not been wearing armor, he would have been dead too.” Ecthelion’s voice broke and he looked away blinking several times. “Unfortunately, the injuries Glorfindel has sustained are quite severe. He…the …the healers say he has broken many bones and has many internal injuries. They… they said he might have had a hope if not for the… By the Valar, I did not know or I would have been more careful when I moved him. They said… they said I should have put him on a board instead of lifting him in my arms. I just did not think. It never occurred to me that…” He ripped off his glove and smeared the dirt further across his face trying to wipe away the tears that he could no longer hold back.

Idril put a consoling hand on his arm. “It is all right, Ecthelion,” she said gently.

He took a few steadying breaths then went on. “They had to cut Glorfindel’s armor off of him; it was so mangled and crushed. The healers discovered a spinal injury once his armor was removed. His back is broken. There is nothing that can be done for him. We thought you would want to be with him in his final hours, if he indeed has hours left.”

“No, it cannot be,” Idril whispered clapping her hand to her mouth in disbelief.

Ariella was horrified. This couldn’t be happening. There was nothing about this in the history books. Maeglin was never in a cave-in that she knew of, and Glorfindel was to be killed by a balrog when the city fell.

Then something far worse occurred to her. This was all her fault! Glorfindel was at the First Gate because of her. He was leaving the First Gate on this day because of the punishment he served because of her. In spite of being so very careful and having so little social interaction, the damage had already been done. She hated herself for her selfishness. If only she had never taken part in the experiment. If only he had left her to die by the river and had never brought her to Gondolin. If only Turgon had executed her. This situation would not exist now.

When Ecthelion opened the door, Ariella’s heart sank even further at what she saw. Glorfindel’s red-faced brothers and their weeping wives and sons stood huddled together. Turgon turned and held out his arms to Idril who fled into her father’s tearful embrace. Elianna was seated in a chair, crying, her hand resting over Glorfindel’s limp and swollen left hand. Her husband stood beside her with his arm around her. Other lords and ladies Ariella did not recognize were huddled in couples weeping or trying to stay the flow of tears. A group of forlorn-looking healers with dark hair stood in a group across the bed from Elianna.

Ariella walked into the room, choking back tears of her own when she saw Glorfindel. He was covered to the waist by a sheet. His exposed torso was discolored and swollen. His chest looked strange from many obviously broken ribs. His face was black and blue and his nose appeared to be broken. Each labored breath came in a short rasping gasp that rattled painfully in his chest. She thought it odd that he was lying on his back considering his spinal injury, but after listening to his difficulty in breathing, she guessed his death would come more quickly if he lay on his stomach.

It was not supposed to happen this way. It just was not. Ariella clenched her fists as her anger with herself turned to rage at others as well. She glared over at the healers. Why weren’t they even trying? Didn’t they understand that he had to survive or so many others would not when the city fell?

“How can you just stand there and let him die? Why are you not trying to help him?” she demanded loudly, surprising even herself. Everyone glared back at her in surprise or anger, but she didn’t care.

The healers looked at her guiltily. “We have done all we can for him,” a healer dressed in blue conceded.

That was no excuse. It was totally unacceptable. “You mean among the four of you, there is nothing more you can do? What kind of healers are you?” she lashed out angrily.

It was the healers’ turn to get angry. “We are the best in Gondolin!” the one in blue shot back. “If we cannot help him, then no one can.”

The realization of what she must do suddenly dawned. If they couldn’t fix this result of her stupid mistakes, then perhaps she could. Perhaps she could heal him. Her abilities weren’t the same as theirs. History would definitely change if she did not try. Besides, she owed Glorfindel her life anyway. What better way to repay the favor?

Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she hesitantly offered, “Let me try healing him.”

Glorfindel’s youngest brother bitterly accused, “It is your fault that our brother is dying! It is because of you that he was anywhere near that place when the mine collapsed.”

“Do not belittle your brother’s sacrifice,” Turgon admonished, becoming angry in his turn. “It was my punishment he was serving that put him out there. But he would have gone to the aid of those in need and done all he could to save them and my nephew anyway. It is your brother’s good nature that landed him in this situation, regardless of the guilt we may feel about it.”

“What makes you think you can do what we could not?” The healer in blue gestured haughtily toward Ariella. “What makes you think you are better than we are, we who were trained in Aman in Tirion and in the Gardens of Lórien? You are moridquendi and have never even seen the light of the Two Trees. How can you presume to do something we could not?”

Ariella was shocked. She had heard of the pride and arrogance of the Noldor, but had never really experienced it first hand before. It was entirely too much for her to take at this point. She was so angry with herself and the situation, she was ready to march over and strangle the light of the Two Trees right out of his snobby face. How could this elf be worrying about calaquendi versus moriquendi when a life was at stake? Her ire was really up now!

“Well,” she said saucily, “why not let me try? The worst I could possibly do is to kill him. And since you have already given him up for dead, there is nothing to be lost, is there?”

With that, she rolled up her sleeves, schooling her face to hide the fear that suddenly assailed her. What if she couldn’t heal him after all? She had only assisted with a spinal healing once before. What if she couldn’t do it on her own? She took a deep, shaky breath and walked over to Glorfindel’s bed. Elianna got up and moved to give her room. Ariella knelt down beside him, gently stroking his left temple with her right hand and placing her left hand on his chest to establish healing contact with his body. Ariella stiffened and inhaled sharply as the connection was made.

His lungs were badly damaged. His heart was bruised. He was bleeding internally. All of his ribs were broken. There was damage to his liver, too. His nose was broken. His arms and hands were broken in several places as were his legs. There was severe ligament, tendon, and nerve damage to his arms and legs. The spinal fracture was a clean break that severed the cord. She had never seen so many injuries in one person before. She knew elves could endure more than any mortal could, but this was really stretching it. Doubt assailed her again. Could she heal this? Where was she even to begin?

Pondering the last question a moment, she decided to look for what would kill him first and start there. She placed her hands over his right lung and then his left, healing and repairing the damage. His breathing settled to something comfortably closer to normal. She then proceeded to heal the bleeding and then his heart and liver. Finally she leaned back, pale and trembling. An hour and a half had elapsed. Feeling dizzy and weak, she closed her eyes and took several deep breaths.

She shifted her position, trying to get some feeling back in her numb legs. “I…I need some help,” she begged softly.

The healer in blue came and knelt by her side immediately, flanked by another. There was great respect in his eyes as he put his hand on her cheek and gently admonished, “You are in no condition to be getting up.”

“But I have to,” she declared weakly, “I am not finished yet. I… I still have to heal his spine.”

He gripped her shoulders as if desperately wanting her to see reason. “What you are proposing is impossible, Ariella. You have healed him enough to ease his passing. You cannot save him. No one can.”

“But I can!” she insisted. “I just need more strength. Please help me.”

“How can I help?” he asked disbelievingly.

“Lend me your strength. Put one hand here,” she instructed placing one of his hands on her forehead, “and the other hand here.” She placed his other hand over her upper chest.

“I do not understand. How is this going to help?” Then he inhaled sharply and stiffened.

She took several deep breaths while he stared at her, wide-eyed and pale, unable to move. She felt absolutely incredible, ready to scale a mountain if need be. Wow! So this was how it felt to be an elf. Breaking the contact, she caught the healer’s swaying shoulders, balancing him as he shifted to a more stable sitting position. His arms dropped limply to his sides. He appeared ready to pass out from exhaustion.

“Are you all right?” she asked with concern. She hadn’t meant to take so much of his energy, but she knew she needed it, and still it might not be enough.

He was breathing hard, but nodded. She put her hand on his cold cheek, checking to see if he really was all right, then smiled warmly at his weariness. “Thank you. Now I can finish what I have begun.”

She rose and sat on the bed beside Glorfindel trying to decide how best to proceed. She needed to turn him over to get to his spine, but realized his broken ribs might undo the work she had done on his lungs. So, the ribs had to be healed first. She placed her hands on his chest and set to work. When she finished, she sat back removing her hands from Glorfindel’s chest. She felt about as strong as she had when she had begun the first part of his healing. She looked around and motioned to two of the healers who were staring at her, transfixed in wonder.

“I need your help to turn him over so I can heal his spine.”

They nodded as she rose and stepped back, watching as they carefully turned him onto his stomach. When they started to move away, she stopped them.

“No. Please stay. I need your help aligning his spine and holding him still.”

They assisted her as she instructed them, and watched as she placed her hands over the break and healed it. Two and a half hours had elapsed from the beginning of the second part of the healing until she finished. When she finally looked up again, she felt even more drained than she had before. Trembling, she leaned forward and kissed Glorfindel’s forehead. Sleep well, my friend, she whispered to him in her thoughts.

She leaned back, shaking. “I have done all I can for him. Do not move him again for about twenty-four hours or so to allow time for the healing to set. After that, you can turn him over and take care of his other injuries.”

She arose unsteadily, leaning heavily on the bed, took two steps, and collapsed. She was vaguely aware of arms catching her and the concern on the handsome face of the healer she had drawn strength from as he gently lowered her to the floor. Then darkness claimed her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Notes:

Maeglin – The son of Aredhel, daughter of Fingolfin and of Eol the dark elf of the forest of Nan Elmoth. Eol was a great smith of the moriquendi who wedded Aredhel after she became lost in his forest. He forbade her to leave the forest and forced her to shun the sunlight. Nineteen years after Maeglin was born, she finally escaped with Maeglin and returned to Gondolin. Eol followed her and when she refused to return with him, he killed her by mistake while attempting to murder Maeglin for refusing to rejoin him too. Turgon had Eol put to death for the crime and afterward loved Maeglin as if he were his own son.

moriquendi – the elves of darkness. The name given by the elves of Aman to the elves who never left Middle Earth and never saw the light of the Two Trees. King Thingol of Doriath was the only elf who stayed behind in Middle Earth who was considered not to be moriquendi as he had seen the light of the Two Trees.

calaquendi – the elves of light. The name given by the elves of Aman to themselves because they had seen the light of the Two Trees. The calaquendi were as superior to the moriquendi in learning as the moriquendi were in turn superior to the first humans that appeared in Middle Earth. There was some strife borne of jealousy and arrogance between the calaquendi and the moriquendi.


Chapter 6 - Chapter 6

When Ariella awoke the day after healing Glorfindel, it was past noon. She was on her way to the kitchen to obtain a very late breakfast when a servant diverted her to Glorfindel’s study. The last thing she felt like dealing with today was Glorfindel’s brothers and their disdain for her. She erected her mental barriers and entered reluctantly to find them both waiting for her.

She curtsied stiffly, doing her best to hide her annoyance, and they nodded to her. Celoril and Elindir, looking a little bedraggled, were both still wearing the same clothes they had worn the day before. She guessed they must have spent the night keeping vigil with Glorfindel. Elindir motioned for her to sit in a chair near Glorfindel’s desk. He offered her a glass of juice, which she gratefully accepted, and both brothers walked over to stand in front of her.

“I know you have not had any breakfast yet today. I am sorry we diverted you from your meal, but we wanted to catch you before you disappeared for the day. We both felt we needed to speak with you.” Elindir sighed heavily and rubbed the back of his neck. “I am not normally the one at a loss for words…”

“That would be me,” Celoril chimed in with a smile, raising his right hand. She noticed he had Glorfindel’s smile.

“Yes, exactly, which is why I am the one trying to say this. I will try to be brief,” Elindir continued.

Ariella smiled at them cautiously. They never cared whether they were inconveniencing her before. What was going on here?

He fidgeted a little bit and took a deep breath, clenching and unclenching his hands into fists at his sides like a penitent little boy about to plead his case before his mother. “First of all, thank you very much for healing our brother. We love him dearly and cannot bear to think of life without him. Thank you for giving him back to us when everyone else told us we were going to lose him. I am sorry I blamed you for what happened to him. We… had a lot of time to think last night as we waited by his side, and we realized Turgon was right that Glorfindel would have rushed in to help anyway, regardless of the danger to him. We also realized that his being so close to the mine at the time may be all that saved the lives of those trapped, including our cousin. So… it could very well be that Glorfindel and Maeglin and the others are only alive because of you.”

Ariella’s smile warmed considerably. She knew it took a lot for him to be telling her this. She actually had agreed with him last night that it was her fault that Glorfindel was in this situation. It had never occurred to her that the others might not have survived if Glorfindel and his soldiers had not been there to aid them. Maybe her idiocy had served some good purpose after all.

“Second of all,” Elindir went on hesitantly, averting his eyes from hers, “we owe you an apology for the way we have treated you since you arrived here. We have been rude, callous, and generally unpleasant. As I have said, Glorfindel is very dear to us, and we are probably a little over protective of him, as I am sure you have surmised. Celoril and I are both very sorry for the way we have treated you. We beg for your forgiveness though we do not deserve it.” They both bowed their heads in shame.

Ariella was quite taken aback. They were actually apologizing to her. She couldn’t believe it!

“I… I do not know what to say.” Now she couldn’t look them in the eye, so she addressed their boots. “Uh, thank you for the apology. I understand your love for him. He really is a wonderful person. He is very fortunate to have brothers who care for him so much.” She took a deep breath then looked up and met their eyes. “I forgive you. I hope that we can get along better in the future, since we will probably be seeing a lot of each other for the time being.”

Both brothers sighed audibly, relief evident on their faces.

“Thank you,” Elindir said.

Ariella slowly drank some of her juice, almost afraid to ask the next question. “How is your brother today?”

Celoril answered, “He had a peaceful night. He awoke a little while ago in a lot of pain. The healers tried to give him something for it twice, but he could not keep it down long enough for it to have any effect either time. The healers have talked about using other methods of putting him to sleep so they can turn him over and tend to his other injuries, but they wanted you to examine him first.”

Did she miss something while healing him or was the trauma of the injuries and subsequent healing still taxing his body too heavily? At least he made it through the night and was awake now. Those were good signs that things had not gone too poorly. “I will go and check on him after I eat and see if there is anything I can do to help. I do not think his body can handle my healing him much more for a few days. But, I will do what I can.”

“Thank you again,” Celoril said quietly with a nod, “And this is a little late, but…Welcome to the House of the Golden Flower.”

“You are welcome,” she responded with a smile, nodding to him in return, “And thank you.”

Celoril and Elindir elegantly bowed low before her. Upon arising Celoril said, “We are going to return to our brother now. Please join us when you are ready.”

She rose and curtsied. “I will do that. Thank you.”

They both smiled at her as they turned to leave the room. Their steps were lighter and their backs less stiff than they had been before.

Ariella watched them leave, then, sighing loudly with great relief, offered silent prayers of gratitude for this pleasant turn of events as she set off to find some food.

*~~~~~*

A short while later, Ariella gently pushed open the door to Glorfindel’s room. She felt guilty for keeping him waiting in pain for her to eat, if he was even still awake, but she knew she had to take care of herself or she wouldn’t be of any use to anyone.

She had been too preoccupied to notice his room the day before, but she took a moment to look at it before going to him. His room was large and bright with white paneled walls. The windows and arched doorways were all trimmed in carvings of vines and flowers. A large furry white bearskin lay sprawled invitingly on the floor in front of a fireplace off to one side. An archway in the adjoining wall led to a spacious balcony. Celoril and Elindir sat in chairs out of the way near the entrance to the balcony.

Glorfindel lay on his stomach upon his large bed off to the side opposite the fireplace. Three of the healers from the day before were busy trying to coax him into drinking something. The healer in blue she had had the row with was nowhere to be seen.

She waved to Glorfindel’s brothers who waved back at her. Finally one of the healers noticed her and gestured in exasperation. “Good. You try to talk some sense into him! He is very stubborn and will not even try to take this now that we have his stomach settled.”

Glorfindel’s quiet raspy voice was quite insistent, “I do not know that I will able to keep it down, and whether it is going down or coming back up it still tastes just as horrible. I would rather endure the pain.”

“My Lord, I can assure that you will not be so eager to endure the pain when we turn you over and start setting all of your broken bones,” the healer answered back, clearly starting to lose his patience.

Ariella bit the corners of her mouth trying to suppress a smile, but failed. Feistiness in the patient was good sign to her. As she walked over to the bed, she wondered if stubbornness was a prerequisite for becoming an elf lord. She would have to remember to ask Idril and Elianna the next time she saw them. If nothing else, it would probably lead to some good stories.

The healers withdrew from their assault upon Glorfindel and gave her room to kneel beside him. His face looked even worse than it had the day before and his broken nose had not been set yet. He tried to smile at her, but winced immediately, gasping in pain.

Though the healers looked at her doubtfully, she smiled at them reassuringly. “It’s all right, I tend to have that effect on males.”

They laughed, but Glorfindel’s raspy voice begged, “Please do not make me laugh. It really hurts.”

“It would not hurt so much, if you would take your medicine,” one of the healers admonished.

Glorfindel ignored him, weakly addressing Ariella. “It is good to see you again. My brothers told me you saved my life when no one else could. A simple thank you somehow seems inadequate.”

She placed her left hand ever so gently on the side of his forehead and, stroking the side of his head, established a light healing contact without his realizing it. His body was tense and rigid; he was in so much pain. She slowly started dulling the pain, taking the edge off of it. “Just you being alive to say it is enough of a thanks. But if you are truly grateful, you need to cooperate with those who are trying to help you so you do not undo any of our hard work.”

From across the room, Elindir asked dubiously, “Ariella, are you sure our mother did not send you from Valinor? That sounds like the kind of thing she would have said, and it would explain a lot about you.”

Ariella snickered. If they only knew where she was from! Well, why not play along? “All right. Yes. You have found me out.” She threw up her right hand in mock surrender, still maintaining contact and easing pain with her left. “Your mother spirited me here from Valinor to check up on her wayward children to be sure you were behaving yourselves because she does not trust you. I report back to her tomorrow. She will be most displeased to hear that he shot me while out playing with his bow and arrows, and you two let him go play in a cave with your cousin all by themselves and they both got hurt.” She gestured at the two brothers accusingly. “I hope you are happy with yourselves. You are all going to be in real trouble when your father finds out!”

Glorfindel’s body trembled a bit, his face contorting as he tried not laugh but painfully lost the battle. Celoril looked at Elindir, mouthing a swear word to him then declared in mock incredulity, “Mother really did send you! Stay away from our sister from now on! She has been a bad influence on you.”

Celoril and Elindir both laughed as Ariella snickered again. “I come from a large family, too. It sounds like your mother is just like mine was.”

Ariella turned her attention back to Glorfindel and increased the easing of his pain. Sensing that his body was finally beginning to relax a little bit, she turned to the healers and asked, “Would you like to go ahead and turn him now? I am easing the pain for him and he is starting to relax.”

One of the healers nodded and replied, “Move up to the head of the bed. Support his head while we turn him. Let us know when you are ready for us to turn him.”

Ariella nodded and did as she was told. Resting his head on her lap, she dulled the pain completely. She smiled as his entire body relaxed.

“Thank you,” he whispered emphatically, the relief in his eyes clearly evident.

“You are welcome. Now be quiet and be still so I can concentrate, or you will really hate them and me for what is about to happen to you.”

“I thought they were just going to turn me over and set the bones?” he inquired curiously.

“You have never had a broken bone set before, have you?”

“No,” he answered softly.

“Then be thankful she is here to aid you, and do not distract her, my Lord,” one of the healers answered matter-of-factly, “or you would receive such a strong dose of reality that you would find throwing up your nasty medicine a most pleasant experience by comparison.”

“Ah. I believe I will lie here quietly then and be most cooperative,” Glorfindel readily conceded.

Ariella smiled down at him. “Good thinking.”

The healers pulled back the sheet and, with the help of his brothers, carefully turned him over. One of the healers took the opportunity to also change the sheets on the bed. Glorfindel, having nothing better to do, looked up into Ariella’s eyes. His bright eyes were quite beautiful, but after a while she found his constant staring to be a little distracting, so she looked toward the healer who was now setting one of Glorfindel’s legs. Considering no one had bothered to cover Glorfindel’s naked body again because of all of the work being done on his legs, she soon found this to be even more distracting than looking at his eyes. She felt her face flushing furiously as she looked back down at his face and realized he was still watching her, biting his lip hard as if trying not to smile or laugh at her reaction to what she had been looking at. This made her turn an even brighter shade of red and completely lose her concentration.

He stiffened and screamed as the full force of the pain suddenly engulfed him.

The healers froze and looked up at her, surprised. Glorfindel’s brothers came running in from the balcony where they had escaped after helping turn their brother. She jumped, and hurriedly reined all of the pain back under control. Glorfindel’s wide-eyed face had gone completely white – even his bruises had gone pale. He was breathing hard, gasping painfully from the sudden shock.

Ariella winced and looked up apologetically, “Sorry,” she apologized in a weak guilty voice. “I, uh, lost my concentration for a moment.”

Glorfindel continued to stare at her as he struggled to catch his breath. “I am sorry!” she whispered as the healers went back to their work and the brothers back to the balcony. “I really did not mean to do that. Just… do not look at me like that, or do not look at me at all. Close your eyes. I get flustered when you watch me.”

He immediately shut his eyes and managed between gasps, “I will do as you ask. But please, please do not do that again. I beg you.”

“I am so sorry. I did not mean to hurt you,” she repented softly, gently stroking the sides of his head. “You will need something for the pain when they are finished. Do you want me to put you to sleep? Then you will not have to endure that nasty concoction when they are finished. I can only control the pain while I am here with you.”

“You could stay with me,” he suggested wearily, opening his pleading grey eyes. She could see his strength was rapidly fading.

Ariella smiled at him. “Yes, I could stay, but I need to get some dinner at some point, and I need to find the healer I argued with yesterday and apologize to him.”

“Why did you argue with a healer? Which one was it and what did he do?”

“It was the one in blue. I was angry that they were not doing more for you and had given up on you just because your back was broken. He tried to tell me that if he and the other healers, who are calaquendi and trained in Aman, could not heal you, then no one could, especially not a moriquendi. Apparently, I am “no one”.”

“Oh.” Glorfindel chuckled weakly, his voice growing fainter. “Do not worry. I have avenged you.”

“How?” she whispered leaning closer to hear him.

“I threw up on him twice.”

Ariella laughed out loud, then looked up and noticed that everyone was looking at her again. “It is all right. Glorfindel is fine and his sense of humor is still quite intact as well.”

Once she was certain everyone’s attention was occupied elsewhere, she looked back down into Glorfindel’s tired eyes. “Thank you,” she whispered giving him a quick kiss on the lips. She watched the sweetly startled look on his face relax as a deep restful slumber suddenly overtook him.

She looked around to be sure no one had spied her actions. Realizing, she had not been caught, she sighed. Kissing him was a really stupid thing to do, especially with other people around. At least the sleep she gave him should keep him from remembering it clearly. Now she needed to forget it. She occupied herself by admiring the skill of the healers as they endeavored to put Glorfindel back together.

Another hour elapsed before the healers finished their work. Celoril helped her get up while Elindir gently placed a pillow beneath Glorfindel’s head.

“Thank you again,” Celoril said softly so as not to disturb his sleeping brother.

“You are welcome,” Ariella whispered back as he accompanied her to the door. “By the way, where would I find the healer who was dressed in blue? I need to talk to him.”

Celoril smiled and looked a little sympathetic. “He left to change and wash up a short time before you came in. Glorfindel… threw up on him.”

Ariella turned away from him, biting back a laugh. She looked back in surprise when she heard Celoril do the same thing.

“I am sorry,” she apologized covering her mouth. “It really is not funny.”

“No it is not,” Celoril agreed then he stepped into the hallway and laughed out loud.

When he had calmed, he gave her directions to the house of the Nestadain, the healers’ guild, saying the healer would probably be there. She thanked him and left for a refreshment before heading out to find the healer in blue.

*~~~~~*

The house of the Nestadain was located a few blocks north of Glorfindel’s house. It was a tall white stone building completely surrounded by lush, well-ordered herb and vegetable gardens interspersed with bubbling fountains. The gardens lent the house an air of tranquility and seemed to emit their own sense of spiritual healing as well as providing tools for physical healing.

Ariella hesitated a moment in trepidation before she knocked on the door, putting all of her mental barriers in place. What if the healer was still annoyed with her or did not accept her apology? Her thoughts were interrupted by a young elleth who answered the door and let her inside. The house itself was filled with light, and a breezy warmth seemed to whisper peace and wholeness to those who entered. Ariella described the healer she was looking for and was finally given his name: Lhûnedhel. The elleth left Ariella just inside the chamber where Lhûnedhel was sitting off in a corner preparing herbs.

Lhûnedhel was now dressed in green and his damp black hair was bound in a single braid down his back. Ariella cleared her throat and greeted him. “Hello. I hope I am not disturbing you.”

Lhûnedhel looked up from the herbs he was cutting and scowled when he saw who it was. “Hello,” he grumbled back as he started chopping somewhat harder than was really necessary. “I am a bit busy at the moment. Is there something you need?”

Ariella was not encouraged by his tone. “Yes. No. I mean, I just want to say something to you.”

He grabbed more things to chop without looking up at her. “Well, out with it and hurry up. I am really busy and need to finish up here. You may not need herbs, but our healers use them quite skillfully and are in need of them now.”

She felt a little flustered and starting fidgeting with her dress. She wished he would stop and look at her so she could do this right, but he seemed determined to make this difficult. Well, if this was the best she would get, then so be it. At least she could say she had apologized.

“I am sorry I yelled at you and the other healers yesterday. I am sorry I accused you of not doing your work, when you had clearly tried. I knew that your healing methods and mine were different; I just was unprepared for facing the differences that I saw yesterday. I never meant to insult or embarrass you. I am sorry.”

Lhûnedhel looked up surprised in mid chop. Apparently this was not what he was expecting. He completed the chop, then immediately swore in Quenya and stuck the side of his hand in his mouth. He reached for a cloth to wrap around his bleeding hand and knocked over a mug which fell to the floor and shattered, releasing its contents under the table. He swore even louder and threw another cloth on the floor to soak up the spill. He leaned over in his chair and started picking up the pieces.

“Do you want some help?” Ariella tentatively asked.

He went to sit up and banged his head on the table. He swore again, this time in Sindarin. “No,” he said testily, though the situation really seemed to Ariella to indicate otherwise. “You have already done enough. I am fine. I can handle this.”

Ariella sighed. She was never going to understand Noldorin pride, but maybe this would be a good lesson for him, she thought, feeling a bit arrogant. He kept touching his head where he had hit it and looking back at his hand, swearing alternately in Quenya and Sindarin. She strode up behind him placing her right hand on his right temple and her left hand on his chest to establish healing contact with his body. Ariella stiffened and inhaled sharply as the connection was made. She pulled his head back against her abdomen to keep him still while she assessed the damage he had done to himself. She numbed the pain and healed the cut and bruise on his head. Then she lifted his injured left hand. She slowly passed her hand over the cut and watched as it healed over completely, leaving only blood on his skin. Placing her right hand over the back of his, she passed their right hands slowly over the blood on his head and hand and the blood vanished.

She released him, but he stood swiftly and turned, grabbing both of her hands and looking incredulously between her palms and her face. He shook his head and mouthed a few words before sound finally came out.

“How? I would not have believed it if I had not seen it yesterday…and then to feel it for myself. What are you?”

She froze. This was not what she had intended. How did things get away from teaching him a lesson and onto her so quickly? She struggled a bit trying to get away from him, but he maintained his grip. She did not want to have to answer any questions. “You called me moriquendi yesterday. Why do you find that so hard to believe now?”

“Because I have never seen an elf do what you have done.”

“The other healers have not questioned me so, and I worked with them again today, relieving Lord Glorfindel’s pain while they set his broken bones.”

“They never question anything as much as I do nor seek to understand as I do. That is why I am the leader of the Nestadain and they are not. Now tell me what you are. I will not hurt you. I just want to know. I have never met someone like you before. You do not feel like an elf, but you do not feel like any mortal I have met either.”

“My father was mortal,” she offered hoping to distract him from asking her any more questions. It had worked with everyone else so far.

He searched her face, staring into her eyes for a long time before stating in disbelief, “Peredhel, I cannot read you. I am almost as impressed with that as I am with your healing abilities. There are few whose hearts I cannot read.”

They were interrupted by a knock at the door. He released her hands and said, “Enter!”

The elleth from before was there accompanied by one of the king’s messengers.

“Lhûnedhel. Ariella.” The messenger addressed them. “The healers attending to Lord Maeglin request your presence immediately. He is fading, and they fear he will not last much longer. His family already attends him. They hope that perhaps you can help him as you did Lord Glorfindel.”

Lhûnedhel grabbed a bag from a table near the door, then took Ariella’s hand leading her out at a run. “You can ride with me on my horse. It will be much faster.”

They quickly arrived at some stables she had not noticed before and swiftly mounted a waiting horse. Ariella clung to Lhûnedhel’s back as they made their way through the city.

How had she gotten herself into this? It was not her fault that Maeglin was injured. Why should they be calling her to help with this? She had volunteered to help Glorfindel, no one had asked her to do it. Helping Glorfindel had been her choice and something she had wanted and had to do to keep from changing history. She did not want to help Maeglin. He was going to betray the entire city to Morgoth in a little more than twenty years. Thousands of people were going to die because of him. Why should she help him? Why should she help a murderer and betrayer of kin? He had even been stalking Idril for decades, frequently asking Turgon for her hand in marriage despite their close kinship. Idril loathed him. Yes, Maeglin deserved to die.

No one here really understood the full extent of her abilities. She could lie and say she could not heal him or she could pretend to help him and sever whatever was still keeping him alive. No one would ever know. She could prevent the fall of Gondolin with a few simple actions tonight.

They arrived and dismounted quickly, these thoughts still running through her head. She ran after Lhûnedhel into the king's house and up to Maeglin's room, feeling a weird sadistic glee. This would be so easy for her to execute. She could save so many from death; so many who did not deserve to die.

She watched as Lhûnedhel raced to their patient's still form, quickly examining him. Ariella heard Maeglin's labored, shallow struggles for breath, knowing she would not have to listen to the ugly sounds of a traitor for much longer. Lhûnedhel completed his assessment and called her over, instructing her on how they would work together on this. She listened to his plan out of courtesy, but knew Maeglin would still die. She was going to prevent the fall of Gondolin, and no one else would have to die.

As she approached the bed, something rather unnerving occurred to her: How many would she be saving from ever having life if she let Maeglin die?

Elrond would never know life. Who would teach her the elven lore and languages she knows? Who would succor the kings of Gondor, if he does not live? Would there be any kings of Gondor? Would there even be any kings of Numenor? They were/are all descended from Elrond's twin brother Elros.

Earendil, the son Idril has yet to bear, will never leave Gondolin and learn about the sea. He will never marry Elwing and sire Elrond and Elros. He will not sail to Valinor with a silmaril bound to his brow to beseech the Valar for pardon for the elves and men of Middle Earth. No army of light will come from Aman to defeat Morgoth and save the few free peoples left in Middle Earth. If that does not happen, then in the end ...

She knelt by Maeglin's bed and slowly extended her hands.

...Gondolin will fall anyway. Morgoth will win. And it will all be her fault.

She established the healing contact with Maeglin's dying body.

At all costs, Maeglin must survive.

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

Notes:
Nestaedain – men of healing, I made this up as the guild of healers. I figured if there could be a guild of jewel smiths in Eregion, the mirdain, then why not a guild of healers in Gondolin?

Silmaril – The silmarils were beautiful jewels created by Feanor son of Finwe, the first king of the Noldor in Tirion. These jewels contained within them the light of the Two Ttrees. Morgoth stole the silmarils and slew Finwe in the process. Feanor swore revenge and stirred the Noldor to rebellion against the Valar. Under the leadership of himself and his half brother Fingolfin, the Noldor forsook Aman and traveled to Middle Earth.

Aman – The continent on which Valinor is located.

elleth – female elf


Chapter 7 - Chapter 7

Warning: Some description of child birth

Rating: PG for now

Betas: Fianna, Julie, Rianna, and my husband who doesn’t have a screen name yet though he really does need to get one.


Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs

Please let me know your thoughts on how this story is progressing. This is my first multi-chapter story.

******************************************************************

Ariella and Lhûnedhel labored far into the night trying to save Maeglin. His internal injuries were extensive: he had brain damage from a skull fracture in addition to several injuries to his arms and legs. Ariella had to draw energy from two other healers and Turgon himself in order to complete the healing of Maeglin’s more severe injuries. When she finished with all she could heal that night, Ariella gave her remaining strength to Maeglin. Neither she nor Lhûnedhel left Maeglin’s room conscious, and neither remembered hitting the floor.

Near dinner time the following evening, Ariella’s peaceful slumber was rudely interrupted by someone shaking her shoulders quite forcefully.

“Ariella! Wake up! Now!” A female voice was shouting at her.

“Stop!” Ariella whined. “I am exhausted. Leave me alone.”

“I cannot. You are needed!” The voice was quite emphatic.

Eyes still closed, Ariella rolled away from the direction of the voice, and pulled the blanket over her head. “You got along just fine without me for many years. There are other healers. Let me sleep. Please?” The blanket was pulled away from Ariella as was the pillow. “You are cruel, but I can sleep without them. I am so tired right now.”

Something grabbed Ariella’s hair and pulled it quite hard, drawing her head toward the speaker. She swore loudly and opened her eyes trying to retrieve her hair from the evil hands that were pulling it. She finally managed to turn and look at the speaker.

“Ow! Idril? You are supposed to be my friend!” she cried indignantly. “What are you doing in my room?”

“Good, now that I have your attention. I am your friend, but this is not your room. It is mine. You need to get up immediately. It is Elianna,” she said, the fear in her voice now evident.

“What is wrong with her?” Ariella asked, becoming concerned.

“She went into labor last night an hour or two before you arrived to help Maeglin. She has been in labor ever since. The midwife said the baby is breech, but she cannot turn it or shift it enough to be able to deliver it. Elianna is weakening and they cannot make her stop bleeding.” Idril’s voice rose in pitch the longer she spoke, as panic began to set in.

Ignoring her badly wrinkled dress, Ariella scrambled out of bed, and searched for her shoes. “Where is she?”

“At her house. Please hurry,” Idril begged, handing her the shoes. “I have already had someone awaken Lhûnedhel. He said you can ride with him.”

“Please get me something I can eat on the way there. Lhûnedhel might need something to eat too.”

“He has already requested that and is on his way to the stables to retrieve his horse.”

*~~~~~~*

A few minutes later, Ariella, arms laden with food and drink, joined Lhûnedhel on his horse. He looked about as tired and bedraggled as she felt. They ate and rode quickly in silence too preoccupied to talk much.

Two servants met them at the entrance of the house. One took the horse and the other led them to Elianna. Elianna lay naked upon her bed, partially covered by a reddening sheet. Her long golden hair was completely soaked with sweat. Her eyes were red and puffy, her face flushed and wet with tears. Celeg, her husband, sat on the bed beside her, holding her hand. His black hair was somewhat unraveled from the tenacious single braid trying to contain it. When he turned upon hearing Ariella and Lhûnedhel enter, his face was haggard and his eyes were full of fear. The very air of the room felt tired and afraid.

Tears came to Ariella’s eyes: she clapped a hand to her mouth. Lhûnedhel, standing beside her, briefly grabbed and squeezed her other hand. “There is so much blood,” she whispered to him.

“Be brave Ariella,” he whispered encouragingly. “Be strong for them.”

When they saw Ariella and Lhûnedhel, Elianna wearily pleaded with them, “Please do not let my baby die. I do not care about myself anymore. Just please do not let my baby die.”

Elianna gasped as a strong contraction came upon her. Celeg held her hand to his lips whispering words of encouragement to her as she raggedly breathed through the pain.

When the contraction ended, the midwife, amid mopping away new blood and fluid, informed them, “I have tried several times to turn the baby, but have been unsuccessful. She will not last much longer this way. I need to cut her and take the baby. Whatever you two can do for bleeding or pain would be most appreciated.”

The two healers set to work with Ariella sitting at the head of the bed controlling Elianna’s pain and Lhûnedhel helping with the surgery. Celeg, paling considerably, maintained his position beside his wife, holding her hand and watching her face. The procedure did not take long and soon piercing wails filled the room.

When Elianna heard the baby, she cried for joy. The midwife held the little dark haired boy for all to see. “He is so beautiful!” Elianna whispered. The midwife wiped him clean, swaddled him and was handing him to his father when Ariella realized something felt wrong. She looked down at her patient; the light in Elianna’s grey eyes was fading, her face a deathly white.

“I love you, Celeg,” Elianna whispered, her voice barely audible. “Take care of our baby boy for me. I love you both so much.”

Tears started from Celeg’s eyes. “No!” he choked. “Elianna, I love you! Please do not leave me. Do not leave us.” He ran to her side and took her hand in his, clutching the baby in the other arm. He laid his head on the bed and wept. The midwife put her arms around them and held them close.

“Lhûnedhel, what is wrong?” Ariella demanded.

“I have completed the delivery and am stitching her up as fast as I can, but I cannot stop the bleeding!” he cried in frustration.

Ariella deepened the healing contact with her now unconscious patient, then got up and moved down to where Lhûnedhel was rapidly stitching the incision. Ariella placed her hands over the cut and began healing it from the inside out. Lhûnedhel moved up to kneel beside Elianna’s head and placed his hands on her forehead and chest, lending her as much of his strength as he could.

It seemed to take forever to finally progress to healing the skin. When the last of the incision was healed, Ariella healed the other areas that should not have been bleeding as much as they were. She proceeded to lay her hand atop one of Elianna’s limp ones and place the hand on the blood-soaked sheet. The wet blood vanished from the sheet. The midwife helped Celeg get up and led him away as Lhûnedhel started feeding more blood-soaked sheet toward Ariella so she could continue replenishing Elianna as best she could. When they had run out of sheets, Lhûnedhel got up and prepared a blood replenishing draught which Ariella helped him administer to Elianna.

When the last drop of the draught was finally gone, Ariella sat on the floor beside Lhûnedhel, leaning back against the bed with a heavy sigh. “I think she will be all right.”

“Yes, I believe she will be,” Lhûnedhel agreed wearily.

The midwife was busy cleaning up Elianna the rest of the way.

Celeg, his tired face now dry, walked over to the healers and knelt in front of them. “I do not have the words to express my gratitude to you,” he said softly. “Thank you. Thank you.”

They both smiled. “You are most welcome,” Ariella responded kindly. She reached out and caressed the tiny face of his son. “He is so beautiful. What is his name?”

“Celegil,” the proud father replied.

“You should send word of his birth to Elianna’s family and to the king and princess. They have been awaiting this birth most anxiously,” Lhûnedhel advised.

“Yes, of course. I forgot with everything going on.” Celeg arose, kissed his wife’s forehead and lips, then left the room still clutching the now sleeping baby to his chest.

A servant entered a few minutes later with wine, bread, meat, and cheese. They graciously thanked him, but admitted to being too tired to get up and walk anyplace to eat. The servant obliged them by setting the tray of food on the floor and preparing them glasses of wine. He brought them a bowl of water, scented soap, and cloths to clean their hands and faces with before eating. The midwife left briefly to wash up more properly, then returned and joined them on the floor for a celebratory picnic.

When their dinner was finished, the midwife volunteered to sit vigil with Elianna and the baby, if Celeg could get him away from his new admirers, and sent the healers home.

*~~~~~~*

It was well past dark when they dismounted at the house of the Nestadain. Ariella wandered into the gardens, looking for a peaceful place to sit and look at the bright stars while Lhûnedhel saw to the horse.

She had hardly had any time to think for all of the excitement of the last few days. Coming to a place where her path intersected another, she realized she had done nothing but intersect other people's paths of life over the last few days. Only her intersections had not been with casual side streets where the chance meeting meant little to nothing. She had been meeting crossroads of a different sort where her choices affected the future; not just her own future, but the futures of everyone around her and beyond. She hoped to God that these crossroads of time had all been traversed now. Plopping down in a secluded area beside the fragrant white blossoms of moonflowers, she propped her elbows on her bent knees and thought about what she had done.

Leaning forward, she hid her face in her arms as tears came unbidden to her eyes. Helping Glorfindel had been an easy choice: she was saving him so he could save others. But, in reality, wasn't she just saving him so he could die in some other way?

Helping Elianna had been heart-wrenching. Ariella had nearly lost one of her two best friends and watched a new little family almost shatter in the process. Unfortunately, that whole little family would be dead in less than twenty-three years when the city fell. How much more would Elianna suffer later because Ariella had spared her now? Was it really worth it to give her twenty-two years with her family so they could all die together? It was such a short time in the reckoning of the elves, just a mere moment in time really. But...it would be a perfect moment, wouldn't it?

Ariella had not seen that many more than twenty-two years herself. Would she want the opportunity to spend twenty-two years with her family, if she ever had one of her own? What would that perfect moment be worth to her? Why bother contemplating it? She would never have a family of her own. Besides, she most likely would die too when Gondolin fell.

So, what gave her the right to judge if it was worth it to give others a few extra moments in time? She herself was mortal. For her, living in anticipation of impending death was normal: it was just the way life was. She just needed to let it go and stop worrying about the mortality of the elves.

But, what had she almost done in judging Maeglin? In a few brief moments, she could have destroyed all hope for elves and mortals of Arda alike, just because she did not like the way he would spend the last years he would have left.

"Please take me away from all of this," she begged amid her tears, not realizing she was speaking aloud. "I do not want to do it any more. I just cannot."

She felt arms envelope her as she was pulled sideways into a tight embrace. She nuzzled against the warm presence beside her, desperately needing the comfort only another living being could provide. Her comforter smelled strongly of herbs and horses and unwashed male, but she did not care. For some strange reason, she found the strong steady rhythm of his heart and the soft rise and fall of his chest with each breath oddly reassuring.

Lhûnedhel gently rocked her and whispered, “It is all right. You are unused to healing like this. We all find it traumatic the first time we experience days like you have had recently.”

“No, I am not used to it,” she sniffled back. “I have never done anything like this before…and I really do not think that I ever want to again.”

“Shhh. That is your weariness talking. Do not say such things.” He continued to gently rock her, holding her closer. “You have a marvelous gift and it would be wrong not to use it to help others. After all, is that not why such gifts are bestowed upon us? It does not matter where we are when we use them, so long as we use them to help others.”

“But what if we are only helping them for a little while? Only sparing them so something worse can happen later?” She had not really meant to speak what was in her heart, but the words apparently wanted out.

He loosened his embrace, pushing her away a little and tilting her head so he could look into her eyes. “So that is what this is about.” He took a deep breath. “Ariella, we have little to no control over the future paths and choices of others. All we can do is help them in the here and now. What they choose to do with any renewed life we have helped give them is their choice, not ours. If you save a person and that person goes on to do something terrible, then that was the person’s choice, not yours. You did your job in helping the person to live. You can only hope that the person will make good or better choices in life afterward.”

Ariella tried to blink away her tears as he looked away, blinking several times himself.

“What makes you so wise? How do you know so much about this?” she asked curiously.

Lhûnedhel chuckled a little, but there was no mirth in it. Looking down, he withdrew his arms, snatched a handful of leaves from a nearby bush, and began shredding them mercilessly. “I am not wise. I unfortunately am just experienced.” He took another couple of deep breaths before continuing. “When the Noldor were leaving Alqualonde after slaying so many of the Teleri - something I took no part in, by the way - two of Feanor’s sons were brought to me. Celegorm and Caranthir had been injured in the fight. I was horrified and angry at what had happened, what they had done. I was asked to tend to their injuries. They are the worst of the brothers, the most evil or at least the cruelest. I did as I had been asked, but I wondered the whole time what I was allowing to live. What further evil would they do and how much would I help it because I gave them their strength back? I ended up being a victim of their next evil when Feanor and his followers took the ships and abandoned the rest of the Noldor on the coast to die crossing the grinding ice of the Helcaraxe. Turgon lost his wife and nearly lost his daughter on that crossing. I lost my parents on it.”

He looked at Ariella again. The light in his eyes was bright with fury and hatred. Then he bowed his head and was silent for a time. Ariella was thankful she was not him, but realized she likely might benefit similarly from Maeglin’s evil in the years to come. She tentatively reached out and started rubbing his back consolingly. She could feel knots of tension in the well-developed muscles and massaged them accordingly.

He finally looked up, wiping his eyes with the cuff of his sleeve and said, “You must be gifted with foresight to be experiencing such misgivings about the healings of late. If you do not mind my asking, what have you foreseen?”

Actually she was hind-sighted and that was worse. She slid her hand across his shoulder blades, before resting it on the shoulder nearest her. There was no harm in being truthful so long as she was vague. “Something terrible that frightens me so much I do not wish to even think about it.”

“I have seen too much of that in my life as an exile already. I think we are deceiving ourselves to think that we will ever defeat Morgoth on our own. Cut off from the Valar as we are, I do not think there is much hope for us outside the walls of this city.”

“Speaking as one who recently has been outside of the walls…” And, she thought to herself, as someone who knows the history of the First Age quite well. Squeezing his shoulder gently, she whispered, “No, there is not.”

She released him and looked away. Would he die too when the city fell? She did not know. Her heart was sick with all of these thoughts of death. She was beyond tired and just wanted to go away for good. Fresh tears spilled from her eyes.

His arms engulfed her once again as he softly kissed her hair. He rested his chin on her head and gently rocked her until her tears finally stopped. His arms were strong and comfortable as she rested against his shoulder- perhaps too comfortable.

“What time is it?” she startled, suddenly remembering she had not been home for a long time now.

“It is late,” he commented into her hair.

She pushed back from him, wondering how much trouble she would be in for not having even sent a message of her whereabouts since leaving to come here after helping Glorfindel. “I need to go home. They will wonder what has happened to me. I have not sent word of anything since I left to come here…whenever it was that I did that.”

“Two days ago, I think,” he speculated, looking a little confused. “I cannot quite remember myself. The king can account for your whereabouts yesterday evening and most of the day today, and I am sure Celeg will mention that you helped with Elianna this evening. I guess that is only a day and half or something close to that. I am too tired to think anymore myself.” He arose and helped her up. They dusted dirt and grass off of each other’s clothes.

“Stay here tonight. I do not think you are up to the walk back home and I am too tired to take you, even on horseback. Besides if I let you go back this late and you did not make it back for whatever reason, I would be in serious trouble.”

She looked at him uncertainly. “Where will I sleep?” she asked uncomfortably.

He took her hand and laughed. “In a bed in a room on the other side of the house from my room, because that is where the guest room is.”

She took a deep breath and slowly let it out, which made her dizzy. “All right. Let’s go get some sleep.” She swayed a little in her weariness.

He put his arm around her to steady her, and took her inside the house and up to her room. He pulled back the covers for her, sat her down on the bed, and knelt to remove her shoes. She was already half asleep by the time her head hit the pillow. He sat beside her, tucking her in, then leaned forward and looked into her tired eyes.

“Thank you,” she whispered, closing her eyes as sleep overtook her.

“You are welcome,” he replied, gently kissing her forehead.

If he said anything else to her before leaving the room, she never heard it.


Chapter 8 - Chapter 8

Rating: Still PG for now

My Wonderful Betas: Fianna, Julie (get well soon, girl), Rianna, and my cute cuddly husband who doesn’t have a screen name yet though he really does need to get one.

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.

Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs

Please let me know your thoughts on how this story is progressing. This is my first multi-chapter story.

******************************************************************

Ariella entered Glorfindel’s room wearing one of her new winter dresses. The cold weather had arrived early this year, considering it was only a few weeks into autumn. She waved to the servant sitting by the fire reading a book and he waved back at her with a relieved smile. Glorfindel called to her from his bed where he was propped into a sitting position and covered in an embroidered green blanket.

“Ariella! It is good to see you again. I had been worried about you when you were gone for so many days.”

She smiled warmly as she walked over to him and sat on a chair beside his bed. “It is good to be home again. I did not think they were ever going to let me leave the House of the Nestadain.”

His eyes darkened with concern and his voice held a mildly scolding tone, “From what I heard, the healers were afraid you would be leaving it via Mandos’ Halls. Lhûnedhel said you overextended yourself with so many healings in so short of a span of time. He said that in spite of him and a couple of other healers giving strength to you as you taught them, they still feared you were fading. You slept for four days straight before they could wake you.”

“I know,” she answered, looking down at her hands where she was fidgeting with the fabric of her dress. “But oddly enough, after they spent four days trying to make me wake up, they then spent another three telling me I needed to rest and trying to make me sleep some more. Where is the logic in that?”

“Ariella.” The commanding tone was stronger now. “Please promise me that you will not endanger yourself like that again.”

She met his eyes unflinchingly. “I can promise no such thing. I did what needed to be done to save lives that would have been lost otherwise. I will not rush in to offer my services unless it is necessary, but I will help if I am needed and to the extent that I need to in order to get the job done.”

He continued to hold her in his authoritative gaze for a time before commenting, “And I thought the Noldor were proud.” His demeanor relaxed. “So be it. I do however insist that you refrain from any more healing for a few more days as Lhûnedhel has recommended.”

“Do not worry. I intend to avoid injured people for a while.”

“Good. I suppose I am fortunate then to be graced by your presence considering my current state.” He nodded in the general direction of his splinted arms and legs.

“Well,” she commented dryly, “Your Grace requested my presence, so I thought I had better comply.”

“Yes.” He assumed the imperious tone and puffed up demeanor once again. “You should always comply with my requests.”

She cocked her head to the side and glared at him taking in his bandaged broken nose and wrapped appendages. “You look pitiful, you know that? I think I am more inclined to obey you because I feel sorry for you than for any other reason right now.”

He leaned his head back against the topmost pillow, rolled his eyes, and smiled. “Laughing still hurts, you know.”

“Well, you just forbade me to do anything about it, did you not?”

“Yes, I did.” He chuckled and grimaced painfully at the same time. “And though I wish you would do something about it, I do not ask it.” Concern filled his eyes as well as something else she could not name. “I was very worried about you, Ariella. And I still am. Please take care of yourself.”

She smiled kindly and started gently rubbing the back of his left hand with her left hand. “I promise I will try.” With her other hand, she lightly brushed the side of his head establishing a mild healing contact. He leaned his head into her caress.

“You are still in a lot of pain. Are they giving you anything for it?” Her voice was soft with concern as she started drawing the pain away.

He closed his eyes and sighed. “You are not supposed to be doing any healing.”

“I know. It takes very little, comparatively speaking, for me to control pain. You did not answer my question.”

He still did not meet her eyes. “They give me something at night so I can sleep. But I hate being unaware of what is going on around me, so I try not to take anything during the day.”

“Nothing is going on around you to be aware of,” she chided, continuing her caresses. “You are trapped in your bedroom unable to move. You would not miss much if you slept some during the day, too.”

“I know,” he conceded wearily.

“How many times have you had this conversation in the last few days?”

“Too many times with too many different well-meaning people.”

“Maybe they are just people who care for you and do not wish to see you suffer unnecessarily,” she offered.

“Go ahead! Make me feel guilty. It is not like I have anything better to do right now anyway,” he retorted testily. He turned away from her, trying to escape her touch.

She drew away more of the pain, watching his tense body grudgingly relax. “Someone sits up here with you all of the time whether you are awake or asleep. I do not think you would be so bored and irritable if you slept a little more.”

He looked back at her and licked his dry lips. “May I please have a drink of water?”

She looked around until she found the cup of water on the table beside his bed. Maintaining her healing touch with one hand, she held the cup to his lips with the other for him to drink. When he was satisfied, he leaned back into the pillows.

“Thank you,” he said, his voice quiet and small.

“You really hate being dependant on others, don’t you?”

He nodded apologetically.

“It is all right. No one minds helping you and you certainly deserve it.” She reached out with her other hand and gently began massaging his scalp with both hands. His loose unbraided hair felt wonderfully silky against her skin. He made noises of contentment as his body completely relaxed and his eyes closed. “Go to sleep, my Lord. Be at peace.”

Once she was certain he was completely unconscious, she broke the contact, brushing his cheek with the back of her hand. She waved to the servant as she got up and left the room. “Enjoy your book,” she whispered and was answered with a grateful smile.

*~~~~*

It was nearly lunch time when Ariella entered the city library. She hoped she would quickly find something to read for the afternoon and then go back to the house for lunch. As she headed into the section with books about Valinor, she was stopped rather abruptly by one of the lore masters.

“Where have you been, Ariella?” he asked, effectively blocking her path with his tall, dark-haired, grey clad form. “I have not seen you here for two weeks. I was beginning to think you had found a better source of reference material that what we have to offer here.” He motioned grandly around the room to the myriad of books and scrolls on the shelves.

“Who are you?” Ariella asked confused. “And what concern is it of yours if I have been away for two weeks?”

“I am Istadan son of Istadir at your service,” he replied with an elegant bow. “I always make a point of observing who is in the library and how often so that I may be the greater service in assisting with the selection of reading material.”

Ariella was perplexed. Who was this person? Had she even spoken with him before? Having previously been so intent on not interacting with people, she obviously had overlooked him completely. She did not want to offend him and did not want to lose her library privileges in case he was someone important, but she had no idea who he was.

“Hello,… Istadan. The past two weeks have been extremely difficult for me, so please forgive me if I do not remember previously making your acquaintance.” She hoped that was polite enough to not embarrass herself.

“You and I have never met before, but I noticed you the first time you came in here.” He looked at her knowingly. “I must admit I never expected to see one of King Thingol’s subjects willingly reading books in Quenya, let alone one of his subjects who knew how to speak Quenya. I have heard from our Sindarin brethren in Gondolin that Quenya is a difficult language for them to learn, far more difficult than it was for us to learn Sindarin.”

Why are these people so quick to judge? Do they never see the similarities? Why do they only focus on the differences? Calaquendi versus moriquendi. Noldor versus Sindar. Sindarin versus Quenya. Is this ALL borne from the Noldorin pride or is some of it also from the Noldor being the crafty, analytical, knowledge-seeking members of the elven race? Or were they that deeply offended by Thingol calling all Quenya speakers kin slayers, even though many of them are?

If only Elrond were here to debate this one with her. She would dearly love to hear his perspective on all of this, given his unique genetic and cultural heritage. Considering that he would not even be born for several decades yet, maybe she should get to know Istadan and see how his knowledge of lore compares with Elrond’s. And here she was comparing two totally different lore masters. She was just as guilty of whatever that annoying trait is that the Noldor are guilty of as well. She smiled broadly and shook her head.

Istadan looked quite surprised at her reaction.

“I fear I am never going to understand you Noldos and your need to judge and compare races,” Ariella baited him.

He took the bait. “OUR need to judge? Excuse me, but I believe it was YOUR King Thingol who grouped all of the Noldor together with the kin slayers, and condemned a richly expressive beautiful language to use in books and behind closed doors just because it is the language spoken by a few who transgressed against his kin! OUR need to judge indeed! Considering King Thingol’s ban on his people speaking Quenya, I am quite surprised that you, so newly come from his realm in Doriath, are so eager to immerse yourself in it. It seems most hypocritical to me.”

“When did I ever say that I agreed with King Thingol’s ban on the use of Quenya in speech or lore?” She countered. “You assume that just because one is the subject of a king that that one agrees with all that he decrees.”

“Ah, but if you are loyal to your king, then you should follow his decrees.”

“In whose realm do I currently reside? What are his decrees concerning the use of Quenya?”

“Turgon son of Fingolfin is the king of Gondolin and he decrees that we may use either language as we wish. However Quenya is to be the language of our lore.”

“Well, since I am in a library in Gondolin, do you think I will offend him if I read a book in Quenya?”

Istadan glared at her, his blue-grey eyes flashing in annoyance, while she gloated to herself over her victory.

He finally shook his head and laughed. “You are a most unexpected surprise, Ariella. You best our healers at their craft and now you take on our lore masters.”

“I hope you are up to the task. I never intended to “best” your healers, I only meant to help those patients who were in need.” She looked at him curiously, a little bit alarmed. “How do you know of the healings I helped with and that I healed what your healers could not?”

“I believe that by now everyone has heard that you saved the lives of Lord Glorfindel and Lord Maeglin. Some of us also know that you helped save the life of Lady Elianna, sister of Lord Glorfindel when she nearly died in child birth.” He spoke matter-of-factly. “However, I do not believe that many know that you know Quenya. You must have learned it while serving Princess Artanis.”

She looked down for a moment, unsure of how to ask the rest of what was on her mind. Perhaps the direct approach would be best. “What else do people say about me?” She looked at him uncertainly.

He clasped his hands together and sighed. “They say that you are peredhel. Your father was a mortal bound to a Sindarin elleth who served our Princess Artanis and Prince Celeborn of Doriath. They also say that you have the most remarkable eyes. None of us have ever seen violet eyes before.” He reached up and brushed a few stray strands of her unbound hair away from her eyes. “Your eyes are quite striking and, if I may be so bold, quite lovely, especially in combination with your beautiful golden hair.”

She felt her face flush with embarrassment and tried to look away, but his hand now rested on her cheek.

“You also apparently blush quite easily and quite nicely,” he observed casually.

She felt her ears grow hot as her face flushed even more. Oh, wonderful! Now she was embarrassed about being embarrassed.

“You are quite an interesting puzzle, Ariella. I would like to learn more about you. Would you care to join me for lunch?” He dropped his hand back to his side.

She took a deep breath hoping the extra blood in her face was returning to where it belonged. “Yes, I will join you for lunch. I have many questions for you.”

“Thank you.” He politely offered his arm, which she took. “What do you wish to know?”

“About Valinor, about your culture, basically your lore, lore master.”

“Then I shall endeavor to instruct you.” He led her out of the library and into the sunlight.

*~~~~~~~*

Lunch had proven to be interesting indeed. Istadan had seemed to be both a knowledgeable lore master and an excellent conversationalist. After lunch, he had directed her to some books he thought she would find interesting and asked her to join him for lunch again in three days to discuss the books. She had agreed.

She was already meeting Lhûnedhel for lunch in two days, per his request, when she had left the House of the Nestadain to return home that morning. It was good to finally be making more friends here. She had never had many male friends, so she hoped it would be interesting getting to know these two.

Ariella had just walked into the house with her books when Linanna stopped her.

“Ariella, I have been looking all over for you.” She sounded a little exasperated.

“I am sorry,” Ariella replied. “I was at the library and ended up having lunch with one of the lore masters. What do you need with me? Is everything all right?”

Linanna smiled. “Everything is fine. Elianna and the baby are coming to visit Lord Glorfindel tomorrow. Lord Glorfindel will not be able to hold the baby, but he can at least look at it. He has been quite concerned about his sister and the child, and did not want her to travel here to visit until she was strong again. I heard the child is quite beautiful. Oh, and Elianna would like to see you, too. Will you be available?”

Ariella smiled in return. “Yes, I will be here. That would be wonderful. The child was lovely from the moment he was born. I cannot believe he is a week old already! Is Elianna feeling well again?”

Linanna replied, “Yes, she is fine now, thanks to you.” She put her hand on Ariella’s arm and gave a little squeeze. “Ariella, thank you for saving this family. They are very close and very loving. I have served them for more than fifteen hundred years, and I know how much it would hurt them if they lost either Lord Glorfindel, Lady Elianna, or the baby. The other servants and I wanted you to know how grateful we truly are for what you have done for them and for us. Thank you.” She gave Ariella an awkward hug around her armload of books, then patted her on the side of her face. “You are a good person. Lord Glorfindel must have been foresighted when he brought you here.”

Ariella looked at the floor feeling the blood rise to her face again. She was quite touched. It had never occurred to her that anyone else might have been so concerned about Glorfindel and Elianna. “I do not know what to say other than you are welcome. Thank you, Linanna for being so kind to me.”

“Any time you need something, Ariella, you have but to ask one of the servants, and we will gladly do whatever we can for you.”

Ariella smiled, but could not meet Linanna’s eyes. She felt so unworthy of the kindness they were offering her. “Thank you,” was all she could manage to say.

On the way up the steps, Ariella began formulating a plan for how she could help make the visit tomorrow extra special. She left the books on her bed, then hurriedly departed for Glorfindel’s room.

She entered to find Lhûnedhel checking on Glorfindel’s progress. She was not thrilled to see him because he would object to what she was planning. But then again, maybe he could be of assistance to her in this. They both looked up as she walked into the room.

“Hello, Ariella,” Glorfindel said brightly. “This is an unexpected surprise.”

“Yes, it is,” Lhûnedhel agreed with much less cheer. “Why are you here?”

“I wish to help,” she replied simply.

“You are not strong enough to help today, Ariella. I am not meaning to be rude, but I am concerned about you. I do not think you are up to helping anyone right now.”

“Lhûnedhel, I am fine and I wish to do something for Lord Glorfindel to make tomorrow’s visit with his sister more enjoyable for him.” She walked over the bed and sat down on it to Glorfindel’s right.

Lhûnedhel walked around the bed and took hold of her arm. Glaring at her, he said sternly, “I do not want you doing any more healing yet. You nearly died from what you did before. I fear for you.”

She was glad she had started blocking her thoughts first thing every morning so that Lhûnedhel wouldn’t know how much of a stubborn ass she thought he was being right now.

“I promise I will not tax myself overmuch with this,” she sighed in exasperation. “Lord Glorfindel is strong enough now that I will not need to use as much of my strength as I did before, and I most likely will not need to use anyone else’s either. Is that good enough for you? You are not my keeper, so I do not know why I am bothering to ask you. I am tired of you mothering me so much.” She glared back at him angrily and yanked her arm back from his grasp.

“Lord Glorfindel,” he started in a pleading tone, but was cut off by Glorfindel.

“Even though this directly concerns me, I am not going to argue with her on what her limits are. She is feisty, but I think she knows what she is doing. Perhaps it would be better if you watched over her during whatever it is she is planning, so you could scold her for it later and have more arrows in your quiver to loose at her when she wears herself out,” Glorfindel offered diplomatically.

Ariella glared at Glorfindel for a moment trying to decide if she should be irritated with him, then glanced over at Lhûnedhel’s now smug face. She shook her head and gave an exaggerated sigh.

She motioned toward Glorfindel and said to Lhûnedhel, “Would you please help me position him so I can heal his nose first? I need him to lie flat with his head in my lap.”

“Why the nose first?” Lhûnedhel asked curiously.

“How much difficulty do you think he will have trying to nuzzle a baby with a bruised bandaged face?” Ariella asked in annoyance. Why did males never think of these things?

“Well, I had never really considered it before now,” Lhûnedhel chuckled. “I guess it would be rather difficult. Perhaps you should ask your patient if he wants you to do this right now.”

“Yes, please,” Glorfindel responded quickly. “This bandage itches horribly and I cannot even scratch it.” He glanced at Lhûnedhel. “No offense intended, Lhûnedhel.”

“None taken, my Lord,” he responded politely.

Lhûnedhel proceeded to gently remove pillows, with Ariella’s help, and managed to position Glorfindel’s head appropriately on her lap in her new position at the head of the bed.

She slid her hands under Glorfindel’s neck and supported his head while Lhûnedhel removed the bandage. She briefly wondered what it would be like to have Glorfindel’s head resting in her lap as they lounged outside watching the stars, but quickly quelled the thought. She needed to focus on the task at hand. Once the bandages were gone, she established healing contact and gently placed her hands on Glorfindel’s face on either side of his nose with her thumbs meeting near the tip of his nose. She immediately felt intense heat rise from her hands making his face sweat. Within a few minutes, the fractured bone was mended and the swelling was eased. When she moved her hands away, his face looked completely normal. She thought he looked quite handsome resting there with his eyes closed, but she squashed that thought too. He opened his eyes, and gently tried wrinkling his nose and stretching his mouth, making absurd faces because he could do so again without pain.

“Are you practicing for when the baby comes to visit tomorrow? I believe I just saw you make the “dirty diaper” face,” Ariella teased.

He laughed and shook his head. “It does not hurt to laugh now!” he exclaimed in wonder.

She smiled down at him and gently stroked the side of his face. “Any more pain anywhere on your face?” She gently glided her hand around different parts of his face applying pressure.

He smiled and responded in a joyful voice, “No pain.” He sighed contentedly as his warm grey eyes sought her violet ones. “How are you feeling? Does Lhûnedhel need to carry you back to your room or will you just camp on the floor in here?”

“I am fine! Do not worry about me. Besides, I am not finished with you yet.” She slid out from under his head, gently resting it back on the bed and moved to sit beside his right arm.

“Are you planning on healing his right arm now?” Lhûnedhel asked curiously.

“Yes. Could you please remove the splint?”

“It will hurt him when I do. You will need to numb the pain for him, if that will not deplete you too much to further heal him.”

Ariella moved back up to the head of the bed and caressed Glorfindel’s face and head taking the pain away while Lhûnedhel worked to unbandage the arm. The look on Glorfindel’s face spoke of utter contentment.

“This is just an observation, sir,” Lhûnedhel remarked teasingly while he worked, “but you look entirely too content, lying there receiving her ministrations.”

“Do not all of her patients respond so to her touch?” Glorfindel inquired peacefully.

“Well, I have only had four patients in Gondolin, and you are the only one to respond this way so far, although you also are the only one to receive my help more than once,” Ariella commented.

Glorfindel was quiet for a moment then responded, “Elianna, Maeglin, myself…Who was the fourth? One of the miners?”

Lhûnedhel squirmed uncomfortably as Ariella replied, “Nooo. It was one of the healers.”

“Oh? Which one? What happened that this person needed your help?” Glorfindel asked a little alarmed.

Lhûnedhel started turning red and hurried to finish his work. Ariella bit her lip trying not to laugh as she watched Lhûnedhel react. She finally giggled. “It was Lhûnedhel. He had an injury to his hand and to his head.”

Lhûnedhel became more agitated as she giggled, then replied through gritted teeth. “I cut my hand while chopping herbs when Ariella first came to visit the House of the Nestadain. Then I knocked a cup off of a table, hit my head on the table, and gashed my scalp while trying to pick up the pieces.”

Glorfindel inquired, “The pieces of the cup or the pieces of your dignity?” Then he burst out laughing.

“Yes, my Lord, quite. It was both and I did not succeed well at either,” he replied with a scowl. “My Lord, stop shaking. You are making it most difficult to finish removing the splint and you do not want me to hurt you, much as I would like to right now. Actually, it is Ariella I want to hurt right now, but I believe she is not available for retribution at this time.”

“I think you have already had your retribution by keeping her trapped in the House of the Nestadain for a week,” Glorfindel admonished. “I believe that was the worst thing you could have done to her. She apparently does not do well in confinement and was most irritable when she came back.”

Ariella commented sweetly, “You do not do well in confinement either, my Lord. Perhaps that is why you were so readily able to identify such behavior in me?”

“I am not going to answer that,” he said, closing his eyes, and returning to the expression of bliss.

Lhûnedhel nodded to her when he finished, and rose to give her space to shift to Glorfindel’s side and work.

When she was in position, she turned Glorfindel’s head toward her and looked into his eyes. “Glorfindel, I will be using your strength when I heal you. I need for you to tell me if you start to feel excessively weak or tired. If you are unable to get my attention, then tell Lhûnedhel. He will stop me so I can switch to using my strength to finish healing your arm. It could be bad if I deplete your strength too much. Do you understand?”

He nodded and said, “Yes, I understand.”

“Lhûnedhel, if his eyes start to glaze over, you might need to strengthen him. If necessary, ask him questions periodically to see how he is doing. You will not distract me.”

“What about you, Ariella? What signs should I look for in you?” Lhûnedhel’s voice was filled with concern.

“I will stop if it is too much for me. Is that acceptable?”

“Yes,” Lhûnedhel and Glorfindel both answered at the same time.

Ariella laughed and shook her head as she put her hands in position on Glorfindel. “You are both impossible.”

Glorfindel smiled and pointed out, “At least you know we care.”

She smiled in return and began her work.

Healing the bones took longer than she had expected and Lhûnedhel stopped her as she finished repairing the fourth break.

“He is weakening too much. It seemed to hit him suddenly.” He walked around to the other side of the bed and gave some of his strength to Glorfindel, who was muttering incoherently with his eyes closed. “Do not drain him further if you can help it, Ariella.”

“I will use my strength now. He was in worse shape than I thought,” she commented.

“Wait at least a week or two before you try healing his left arm. It is far worse. Unless you can do something for it, I do not expect him to regain full use of it. I do not believe he would even be able to lift a shield let alone draw a bow again.”

“Does he know?”

“Yes, I have told him. But I also told him that you healed a spinal injury and a brain injury both of which should have been fatal, so perhaps all hope is not lost. He said he would not go down without a fight, and I believe it. If we can keep his spirit strong, then we will have a better chance of healing his body.”

“Lhûnedhel, you really are an excellent healer. You think of more than just the body, and you seek to heal accordingly.”

“For elves, the body and the spirit are so closely tied together that great damage to one can cause great damage to the other. I am told mortals do not quite function that way.”

“That is true,” Ariella responded. “The connection is not great as it is with elves, but the connection is still there.”

She resumed the healing. It took her an hour to finish healing the other breaks in that arm and to heal the nerve and soft tissue damage. Exhausted, she finally broke her contact and stretched out on the bed beside Glorfindel, as there was sufficient room for her there, too. She only intended to rest there for a moment or two because she did not want Lhûnedhel to find out he was right about how draining this healing was for her.

“I am glad you decided to lay down to rest. You had that look in your eye which to me said that you would probably pass out if you got up,” Lhûnedhel said, his voice full of ‘I told you so’ concern.

“I probably could have gotten up and made it to a chair, but this was closer. I only intend to rest here for a moment. Glorfindel’s remaining injuries were and are far more extensive that I remembered them being. I should probably check on Maeglin again soon, too,” she added, stifling a yawn and placing her arm on her forehead. “Wake Glorfindel and have him move his arm. I need to know if there is any more pain and if he has full mobility.”

“I am sure he will rouse quite nicely once he discovers a lovely elleth lying in the bed with him.” He started trying to wake up Glorfindel.

“I was referring to waking his brain, not anything else,” she snapped back with annoyance.

“So was I, but now that you mention it, you might draw him to attention in that regard as well.”

Ariella felt herself go red again from her shoulders to the tips of her ears, madly cursing the overly fair complexion of her people which nicely showed the slightest rush of blood.

“You do blush quite prettily, you know.” This time it was Glorfindel who had commented.

She turned toward him. “How much of the conversation did you hear?” she asked darkly.

“Too much for your liking, I am sure.” He pressed his lips together, biting the corners of his mouth in an obvious attempt to suppress his intense amusement. He started shaking as did Lhûnedhel and failed miserably at containing his mirth. Lhûnedhel did not even bother trying not to laugh.

She put her hands over her face, rolled away and curled up, trying to hide, but the attempt was futile.

“I would say you are avenged, Lhûnedhel, but she did it to herself,” Glorfindel chuckled.

A few moments later, Lhûnedhel commented, “Ariella, he has full mobility of his arm and no pain.”

“Tell him I am very happy for him,” came her muffled reply.

“Ariella. Ariella, look at me,” Glorfindel pleaded, tugging on the back of her dress.

She grudgingly turned over. “What?”

Glorfindel reached out and caressed her cheek with the back of his hand. His voice was quiet and serious. “Thank you for this gift. I will hold my nephew tomorrow and it is all because of you.” Reaching over, he took her hand, lifted it to his lips, and kissed it. “Thank you,” he whispered again.

Her irritability completely melted at that point. She smiled back warmly but wearily and whispered, “You are welcome, my Lord.” He pressed the back of her hand to his face and smiled as she closed her eyes.

*~~~~*

The next time she was aware again, she found herself in her bed with Linanna sitting in the chair beside her, reading one of the books on Valinor.

“Did you rest well, Ariella?” she asked.

She looked around blearily at the daylight in the windows. “Did I miss Elianna?”

“No, silly elleth, but you did miss dinner and breakfast. Shall I have a bath drawn for you so you can freshen up before meeting with Lady Elianna and the baby?”

“Yes, please,” she responded, rising to her feet. “I cannot wait to see that baby again.”

*~~~~~*

An hour later, Ariella was on her way to Glorfindel’s room to await Elianna’s imminent arrival. Elianna had been in the house a while already, but, according to Linanna, everyone who saw her stopped her to look at the baby and have a turn holding him. Ariella arrived in Glorfindel’s room ahead of Elianna.

As she entered, Glorfindel looked up from the book he was reading and smiled warmly. He was alone in the room for a change.

“Ariella! It is good to see you. Are you quite recovered from yesterday?”

“Yes,” she assured him confidently, walking up to sit on the bed beside him to his right. She noticed that someone had rearranged him and the table beside his bed to accommodate his mobility on his right side.

“Thank you again for healing my arm. I have been enjoying greatly my newfound ability to do some things for myself again. I can feed myself and hold cups and books. I can read to pass the time.”

She smiled back at him, feeling a great amount of pride in her abilities and her patient’s progress. “You are most welcome. It will be a while before I can heal you any further, but at least now you have something to do to pass the time besides sleep. By the way, what are you reading?”

He held up the book. “It is a history of Vanyarin people in Valinor.”

She reached over eagerly and took the book, opening to the title page. “Oh! I have read this one. It is very well written. King Ingwe is a very interesting person. I would never have guessed half of the things I read about him in there.”

His eyes narrowed. “You can read Quenya?” he asked in disbelief.

“Yes. Of course. Why should I not be able to?”

“Ohhh, maybe because you are a Sinda from Doriath, and King Thingol made that little decree about Quenya being the language of kin slayers and banning its use and whatnot,” he answered sarcastically. “That is a rather important detail about yourself that you have managed to keep hidden from me.”

“I was not hiding that from you. How often have I even seen you when you were well enough to talk coherently for any length of time? I learned the language in my service to Princess Galadriel … Artanis…And just because King Thingol banned its use does not mean that I have to unlearn it. Besides, King Turgon allows its use and I am in his realm now. In fact, this is the second time I have had this conversation this week.”

“With whom did you discuss this previously?” Glorfindel demanded.

“Istadan, one of the lore masters at the library. Do you know him? He is very nice. We had lunch and talked about Valinor. I have a few books in my room that he recommended. I could bring them for you to read if you like when I finish with them. I am meeting with Istadan again in a couple of days, but I do not think that I have to return the books at that time. If there is anything you would like from the library, I could get it for you then.”

“I know Istadan, son of Istadir. He is the assistant to the chief librarian. You are keeping interesting company of late, Ariella, between the House of the Nestadain and the library. How did the subject of Quenya come up with Istadan?”

“He accused me of being a hypocrite for reading Quenya and of being disloyal to my king. I simply pointed out that a king’s subject does not have to agree with all of the king’s decrees and told him how I learned the language. I then asked him who the king was here in Gondolin and what his decrees were concerning the use of Quenya. Once he answered me, I pointed out that since Turgon is now my king and he says it’s all right to speak Quenya, then there was no problem with my being in the library reading, no matter what my lineage. He then accused me of taking on the lore masters of Gondolin now that I have already bested the healers.”

Glorfindel smiled in spite of himself and chuckled. “I feared I would have to protect you from the people in the city, but I believe instead I shall have to protect the people of Gondolin from you.”

Ariella gave him a big, gloating smile as she returned the book to him. There were a few moments of awkward silence during which they just stared at each other.

“You look lovely today.” His eyes appraised her in a very masculine sort of way. “When Linanna ordered the winter dresses for you, I asked her to be sure one was lavender. You look quite nice in that color. It compliments your eyes. I am glad you chose to wear that dress today. The ribbons in your hair match it nicely too.”

Ariella looked down at her hands where she had already started to fidget with the fabric of her dress.. “Thank you,” she said shyly, too embarrassed to look at him.

She felt his cool hand on her terribly warm face as he gently tilted her head to look at her eyes. “I cannot believe you can be so shy around me sometimes and so proudly bold at other times. It is most amusing and, at times, quite confounding.”

“Sometimes…” she stammered, “sometimes it is easy to talk to you, but other times you say things or do things that take my thoughts away, and I do not know what to say or how to respond.”

“When you respond by blushing and trying to hide from me, it only makes me want to say or do more of those things,” he responded matter-of-factly.

“My skin is very pale so I cannot help my blushes. But why do you do those things to begin with?” she asked curiously.

He caressed her face, shaking his head and smiling. “If you truly do not know, then I will not tell you because you should be able to figure this out for yourself. Are you really so unused to males exhibiting such behavior toward you?”

In truth she was not used to such behavior in males where she was concerned. Always immersed in her elven studies or busy teaching her classes, there simply had not been time for such distractions in life so far. She suddenly felt very stupid and naive. She thought Glorfindel kind of liked her romantically and she definitely felt that way about him, but this was so wrong. She could so easily mess up history by having a relationship with him. But then again, he has to get married soon so he can have a family to lose when Gondolin falls. Any relationship with him would be brief at best anyway in light of the other woman destined to come into his life soon to be his wife. What harm would there be in enjoying some time with him now until then?

She realized he had removed his hand from her face and was studying her closely. “You either led a very sheltered life in Doriath or you are very young or you had an extremely protective father. Otherwise, I would say you would have had many flirtatious males in your life.”

She started to look back at her hands, but he chastised her, “Ah! Do not look away, lovely one. I believe it was probably all three, and definitely two of those.” He sighed heavily as if searching for the words to say next. “You are my responsibility and I will look after you to the best of my ability. If my playfulness is ever unwelcome, please tell me. I do not wish to make you uncomfortable or make you feel like you must accommodate me or respond favorably toward me just because you are my ward. All you have to do is tell me to stop, and I will. However, please also know that if you do not mind my behavior or if you even like it, then I will gladly continue.” He paused a moment searching her eyes. Then he smiled. “Responding to the unvoiced question in your eyes, I do not behave like this toward everyone. You are one of very few who have seen me behave in such a manner. You are different, even exotic, and you intrigue me as no one else has before. I do wish for our playful relationship to remain discreet for now, as I will most assuredly be teased and tormented for it simply because of the manner in which we were first introduced. And, quite frankly, I am not up to dealing with that at this time. Do you understand all I have said?”

She blushed again, deeper this time, and nodded. “I understand.”

“Do you want me to stop my playfulness?” He was watching her intently.

Truthfulness would probably be best right now, but what was the truth? Did she want him to stop? No. Was she enjoying it even though it was embarrassing? Yes. Was there really any harm in it? No. Would it change history if she just continued as she had been? No, probably not, she convinced herself. She took a deep breath then admitted, “No. I do not want you to stop.”

He looked relieved. “Good,” he said and smiled mischievously. “Lean closer.”

“What?” she asked with surprise.

He reached out and gently pulled her head closer to his face. She leaned toward him uncertainly until their faces were nearly touching. She could feel his hot breath on her face. He closed the remaining distance with a gentle kiss. He started to draw back, but she put her arms around his neck and pulled him back to her lips. With a gleam in his eye, he willingly complied, burying his fingers in her hair. Their kiss deepened as their tongues met and intertwined passionately. They were both breathing hard when they finally parted. Their gazes locked for a long moment as they sat, gasping, still holding on to each other. A startled look crossed his face, probably the match of her own surprised expression as they heard sounds outside the bedroom door.

He leaned back against the pillows and she quickly got up and moved to the chair beside the bed, patting her hair back into order as the door opened. They both schooled their expressions to something innocent and publicly acceptable as Elianna entered.


Chapter 9 - Chapter 9

Author: Ellie
Betas: Fianna, Julie, Vicki, Marcia, and my husband GeorgiaPiper

Rating: PG for now
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs

NOTE: SORRY THIS TOOK SO LONG TO UPDATE! My betas had issues with the first and second drafts (and rightly so). I hope this chapter was worth the wait. Goodness knows it took me long enough to write and rewrite.


Feedback: Please let me know what you think. This is my first fan fic and the longest story I've ever written. I think this chapter is the longest chapter I've ever written, to tell you the truth.


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The morning sun that brightened her bedroom served as a welcome distraction from the dreams that had plagued Ariella during the night. She rolled over in the twisted sheets of her bed trying to squash the memories of the previous night from her mind by pressing her face into the pillow. Unfortunately, it didn’t help.

She knew she must be very homesick, for her dreams had been full of arguments with her furious parents and unsuccessful attempts at trying to explain why she had been away for so long and where she had gone. Then the head of her department at the Academy of Arts and Sciences towered over her in his office, threatening to discharge her for failing to show up to teach her classes. Finally, she dreamed that Elrond, Celeborn, and Galadriel viciously interrogated her in the Great Hall in Caras Galadhon. All of her arguments about how she had thoroughly convinced everyone that she was peredhil and really hadn’t changed time or the past were met with angry disapproving glares. The displeasure of her elven mentors hurt Ariella more than that of her parents or her superior at the academy. She had worked so very hard to prove to the elven leaders that she was worthy of serving as a protector of Arda and as a liaison between the people of Arda and her own people. In all of the endless hours of studying the languages, lore, customs, and culture of the Noldor, Sindar, and some of the Wood Elves, she had sought to demonstrate her prowess while pleasing and putting at ease those who taught her. Judging from their reactions in her dreams, it seemed she had betrayed their confidence and trust, leaving her feeling immature, young, and very stupid.

She arose and bathed, trying to physically scrub away the inadequacy she felt inside. Considerably redder outside and only slightly less unhappy, she dressed and made her way to the kitchen for breakfast. Perhaps a good long walk after her morning meeting with Glorfindel would help clear her mind.

******~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~****************

As soon as Ariella entered Glorfindel’s room a short time later, he seemed to sense that something was amiss for he dismissed the servant who was clearing away the remains of breakfast, asking him to return in an hour. After the servant left, Ariella mutely sank into the chair beside Glorfindel’s bed with bowed head and fidgeting hands. The shame from her dream hung so heavily on her mind that she really did not want to be here this morning. After what seemed to be an impossibly long silence, Glorfindel, propped up on pillows as usual, quietly addressed her.

“Ariella, come sit on the bed beside me so that we may talk.”

She fidgeted in response, but did not answer him.

“Ariella,” he softly commanded. “I cannot reach you over there. Come sit beside me so that we may talk…Now.”

Reluctantly and without meeting his gaze, she got up and trudged the few feet over to the bed where she sat on the very edge. Reaching out with his right hand, he tilted her chin, forcing her to meet his bright eyes. He slid his hand up to cup her cheek.
“Please tell me what I have done that you fear me so,” he asked quietly.

A small smile flashed across her face before she could stop it. It was very sweet of him to assume that he had done something to upset her when, in her mind at least, he could never do anything to upset her.

She wrung her hands as she quickly responded. “It was not you. It was…” She looked away. Oh how could she explain this without betraying anything about her past or his future? He knows Elrond and her parents or would know them all after a few thousand years had elapsed. She took a deep breath and looked back at him. Perhaps a simplified explanation would be best.

“I had a dream last night that has troubled me greatly.” Well that was vague, but it was true.

“I see,” he replied, his right hand still resting on her cheek. “And what did I do in this dream that upset you so?”

“You did not do anything,” she assured him, her hands becoming more restless than before. “You were not even in the dream. You have nothing to do with what I am feeling right now.”

He grabbed her hands with his right hand. “Stop fidgeting! Please.” He drew her right hand to his lips and touched it with a gentle kiss. “Now, tell me about your dream. What happened that has you so distraught,” he whispered into her knuckles.

She sighed. How should she put this? “I dreamed about my parents and Prince Celeborn and Princess Galadri-- …Artanis. I was explaining to them how I came to be here and what I had done.” She took a deep breath. “And they were angry with me.”

He lowered her hand to his side and looked at her curiously. “Why would they be angry with you for being here and for what you have done? You have done nothing wrong.”

She bowed her head for a moment, then, taking a deep breath, she squarely met his gaze. “Glorfindel, I do not belong here. This not my home. These are not my people.” Her voice became very quiet as the real reason for the greatest part of her anguish accidentally slipped out. “This is not my world.”

She looked away, blinking back the tears that were escaping her control. There. She’d done it. She’d told him she’s an alien from another planet.

“Oh, Ariella.” He put his arm around her and pulled her close so that her forehead rested against his shoulder. Rubbing her back consolingly, he said something she did not expect. “I understand how you feel. I do not belong here either.”

Greatly confused, she raised her head and looked into his eyes. His features were filled with incredible sorrow. “What do you mean YOU do not belong here? This is your city. These are your people.” This is your planet, she finished in her thoughts.

His arm slid down her back. “Ariella, like you, I am an exile who can never go home.” His voice resonated with a sadness she had never before heard. His pain was so tangible that it clutched and tore at her heart as he spoke. “This city is but a mere copy of fair Tirion. The light of the sun and the moon is thin and meager in comparison to the radiance of the Two Trees whose glorious splendor permeated our very beings in Valinor. I am half Vanya and our way of life, our culture is so very different from that of the Noldor.” He picked up one of his golden locks and flicked it at her. “I do not even look like the people here. No, this is not my world either.” His voice cracked and he paused a moment before quietly continuing. “I miss the house in which I was born and raised. I miss my parents, too. My father and I were very close, and I hurt him deeply when I left. More than anything I want to go home and make my peace with him, but that is the one thing I can never do. Because of the curse on the Noldor, I can never go home again.”

A single tear trickled down his cheek and he quickly looked away, blinking fiercely.

She had forgotten how deeply and passionately elves felt emotion. She had forgotten that grief could kill them just as surely as any sword. She was so selfish for coming to him and voicing her feelings when they did not begin to compare to the depth of the grief he felt in his heart. How many others in Gondolin lived with this wellspring of sadness bubbling just under the surface? Her own grief and shame were not gone, but perhaps she could help him cope with his.

Ariella wrapped her arms around Glorfindel’s neck, holding him close. She felt his arm around her, clutching her to him. When they had both calmed, she pulled back and wiped his face with her sleeve.

He smiled sheepishly. “I am sorry. This conversation was supposed to be about you.”

“That is all right. I think you needed that as much as I did.” She smiled at him reassuringly.

He raised his hand to her face and inhaled as if to speak, when a knock on the door interrupted him.

“My lord, it is time I left anyway,” Areilla said as she arose, straightening her dress.

Glorfindel took her hand as it slipped off his shoulder and kissed the knuckles. “Come back to me this afternoon if you still need to talk. I am always here and I certainly am not going to be going anywhere any time soon. And next time, it will be my turn to listen to and comfort you.”

“Thank you,” she whispered. She straightened the sheets beside him, then walked away, nodding to the servant who entered as she departed.

********~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~***************

After a pleasant stroll through both markets, Ariella found herself waiting in the herb preparation room of the House of the Nestaedain. The elleth who always met her at the door had said Lhûnedhel was busy with a patient and would return soon to join her for lunch. With nothing better to do, Ariella wandered around the room examining the dried herbs, recalling their various properties in an attempt at proving to the memory of the displeased Elrond of her dream that she could do so. It occurred to her that she could please the dream Elrond with the plans she had made for occupying her time here. She giggled to herself. Well, the time she was spending with Glorfindel and the manner in which she was spending it probably wouldn’t have pleased Elrond very much, but her desire to learn all she could while she was in Gondolin would have met with his approval.

Lhûnedhel entered, startling her from her reverie. He was once again dressed in blue and a brilliant smile lit his face when he saw her.

“Ariella! I am so very happy to see you today.” He reached out and caressed her cheek with his right hand, looking her over. “You look considerably better than you did last time I saw you, and considerably more awake.” His gaze seemed to lose focus and to turn inward for a few moments, his hand lingering on her jaw and the side of her neck. It felt strange to her to have someone using a healing touch on her.

Lhûnedhel refocused and nodded approvingly. “You must have avoided doing any more healing lately. You are quite hale and your strength has finally returned.”

She smiled, bringing her thoughts back to the situation at hand. “Yes. I am whole and completely renewed once again. I thank you for your assistance these last several days in helping me return to health.”

He smiled and raised his hand to smooth her unbound hair away from her face. “Your tenacity has been a great source of frustration to me, but I have found assisting you a pleasurable and enlightening experience.”

“Thank you,” she replied proudly.

He offered his arm which she took as they turned and left the room. They headed down the hallway, stopping briefly in the kitchen to fetch a lunch basket which was waiting on a table. “It is unusually warm out today, so I thought we could dine in the gardens. This is probably our last chance to do so until spring.” He led her through an archway and into the bright sunlight.

“That sounds quite nice,” she answered. Taking a deep breath, she finally asked that which she hoped would please the dream Elrond. “Lhûnedhel, would you be willing to teach me your ways of healing and herb lore? I know a bit of herb lore, but not much. Watching you work, I have realized that there is much more I could learn.”

He stopped and looked at her in surprise. “I would be honored to teach you what I know. Would you be willing to impart some of your knowledge to me as well?”

She thought about it for a moment, then replied. “That sounds fair to me. I will teach you what I can, but please realize that I was born with the ability to do much of what I do. It cannot all be taught or learned.”

He considered her for a moment and then resumed their walk, musing, “I wonder if we have all misjudged you. You have said that your father is mortal, but perhaps your mother is not an elf, but something else. What she might be though, I do not know. I do know that I have never heard of an elf who can heal others the way you do.”

Ariella was glad he was not looking at her when he said this as it made it easier to hide her shocked expression. So she apparently hadn’t tricked everyone about what she really was. Fear welled within her as she felt the blood drain from her face.

He had discovered her. But how? What had she done to reveal herself to him while no one else suspected anything? Idril knew her for what she was, but Idril had been able to read her thoughts from the very beginning. Elianna suspected nothing, or so it seemed in their frequent conversations together. Ecthelion and Glorfindel had admitted that she felt neither human nor elven, but both. So why had her healing ability seemed so “alien” to Lhûnedhel? Elrond had never questioned it nor had Celeborn, and neither of them ever hesitated to question her about anything, whether she wanted to discuss the subject or not.

Then something very scary finally dawned on her. She had based too much of her confidence in her ability to get around among elves on her experiences with those elves of her own time who had had years to get used to the concept of “aliens” and “alien” behavior before she was even born. What other blunders might she be committing without realizing it? Perhaps she shouldn’t have offered her services as a healer, but then history would have been changed. No, she was right to have healed where she had. But, now she’d have to watch her step as her healing abilities had put her in grave danger.

What if Lhûnedhel convinced others that she was something other than what she had claimed? A cold desolation filled the pit of her stomach. She could lose her friends. She could be put to death for lying to the king. Although she hadn’t really ever said anything untrue, she had lied by omission, which was just as bad. She swallowed hard. She could lose Glorfindel…

Lhûnedhel halted suddenly, surprising Ariella so much that she had to put her arms around him to keep from falling. She hadn’t been paying attention to her surroundings or to him. He clasped her close to him, the basket bumping her in the back, as he gently lowered her and himself to the ground. His embrace was warm and strong, but it no longer made her feel comfortable.

Setting down the basket, he lifted her chin, his concerned gaze meeting her scared one. “Maybe I was wrong. Perhaps you are not completely well after all,” he observed. She just stared at him, unsure of how to react.

Apparently they had arrived at the spot for the picnic for Lhûnedhel proceeded to spread a blanket that he had pulled from the basket and to place the food.

Mastering her panic, she began to reason to herself. She would have to be so very careful around him now. Unfortunately, she had just committed herself to spending time with him as a student. Perhaps if she kept the relationship strictly on the professional level, she would be safe.

Finally Ariella addressed him with something that she hoped would silence him on the subject of her origins. The annoyance in her voice intended to hide the fear. “I am well. I am just distracted by what you said about my mother. You do not know all elves and you have not met all of the elven kindreds of the Moriquendi. My mother was a gifted and accomplished healer. I am much like her.”

He looked up from where he was kneeling on the blanket, pouring their glasses of wine. She was surprised to see shame on his face as he sighed loudly and met her eyes. “You are correct. I have judged you based on my limited knowledge of the Moriquendi. I have made the assumption that the Calaquendi are superior in all ways to the Moriquendi. You have quite obviously demonstrated otherwise. Please accept my apology. I am sorry.”

“I would comment on the arrogant pride of the Noldor, but I seem to be guilty of some amount of pride myself.” She paused and smiled in relief. “I accept your apology and I ask that we not bring up this subject again.”

There was a knowing smile on his face as he handed her a glass of wine after she moved to settle herself on the blanket. “I may be arrogant and proud, but you are stubborn and proud and I am not quite certain which is worse. However, that will be my last word on it, for now at least.”

She nodded her thanks as they filled their plates in silence.

He comfortably reclined on his side, facing her while they ate. “I have garden duty every three days. Would you like to join me on those days? I could teach you all aspects of herb lore and you could accompany me to see any patients that I might have.”

“That sounds acceptable to me. I have to discuss it with Lord Glorfindel first to be sure he approves. I meet with him in the mornings to tell him where I will be for the day and to help with anything I can as he recovers.” She took a sip of her drink. “That reminds me. I need to begin healing his legs sometime soon.”

“I believe you are up to it, however I would like to be present, both to assist and to learn.” He smiled wickedly. “And to carry you back to your room after you pass out. And, might I add, that it would probably be best if you did not pass out in his bed again. Considering that you need contact with skin when you heal, it will look more than a little bit suspicious should the servants enter and find their lord half naked in his bed with a lovely sleeping elleth at his side.”

Ariella looked away in embarrassment. After Glorfindel’s comments about her blushes, she was trying very hard not to blush. This was quite difficult, however, considering her exceptionally fair complexion and the conversations in which she kept landing herself. She sighed audibly. Glorfindel had said he did not want anyone to know about their relationship, such as it was. “All right, you can be there. I do not want any rumors to start unnecessarily.”

“Oh?” Lhûnedhel arched his eyebrows in question and teased, “And what would be necessary rumors in that regard?”

She failed dramatically in controlling the rush of blood to her face as she placed her hands on her hips and stated emphatically, “There are no ‘necessary’ rumors in that or any other regard! Do I make myself clear?”

Lhûnedhel took a drink of his wine, fighting back a chuckle until he had successfully swallowed. “Yes. You do. So, is he the only one who has caught your eye or is there hope for the rest of us?”

She felt herself redden further as she watched the conversation spiral out of her control. With more anger in her voice than she had intended, she defended, “I never said that he had caught my eye. And, as much as you people keep insulting me, I am not sure that any of the rest of you will catch my eye for very long either.”

He looked affronted. “I, at least, have apologized.” In one smooth quick movement, he took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. “Besides, I think you enjoy the bantering back and forth and proving us wrong.”

She felt so terribly uncomfortable with the situation and the conversation that she tried to snatch her hand back, but Lhûnedhel wouldn’t release it. Instead he started caressing it.

“Yes I do enjoy proving you wrong,” she replied. She yanked harder trying unsuccessfully to get her hand back. “Now let go of my hand.” Apparently he noticed that she was really starting to get irritated, because he planted a soft kiss on her knuckles and released her hand.

“As you wish,” he acquiesced.

“Thank you. Can we please change the subject now?” she asked nervously.

“Yes, we can,” came his penitent reply.

“Good.” She tucked her hands in her lap to keep him from grabbing them again. Taking a deep calming breath, she asked, “When do you want to start my instruction and what time do you want me to be here?”

Lhûnedhel seemed to ponder her question a moment before answering. “How about if we begin three days from now? You could join me after breakfast and we could work until evening. You could have lunch with me on those days, and you would be home in time for dinner. Is that acceptable to you?”

She took a long pull of her wine and smiled. “Yes. That would be acceptable to me, if Lord Glorfindel finds it acceptable, and if you will behave.”

“I will behave as long as you do.”

“Good. Then you will always behave,” she said self assuredly.

He laughed and shook his head. They finished their lunch discussing the safe topic of the healings of the others who were injured in the mine collapse. Maeglin, she was relieved to hear, would make a full recovery without further assistance from her.

When the meal was finished, she helped Lhûnedhel clean up and refold the blanket. He offered his arm, which she took with trepidation, and he led her back into the house. He deposited the basket in the kitchen before escorting her to the door.

“I look forward to seeing you again in three days, Ariella.” He bowed to her cordially.

She smiled back, relieved to be leaving. “I will see you then. Farewell.”

“Farewell,” he said and watched her leave.

She was so incredibly thankful to be away from him. He was shrewd and terribly observant. She would have to be so very careful around him. His skills as a healer coupled with his keen awareness of what was going on inside of others would make him a difficult person with whom to work. She knew she would be able to learn much healing lore from him, if she didn’t run away in terror first.

*~~~~~*

Upon returning home after her unpleasant lunch, she found Glorfindel alone in his room and sound asleep on his back. She crept into his room, silently closing the door behind her and made her way to his bed. Kicking off her shoes, she lifted his right arm, laid her head on his shoulder, and wrapped herself safely around his arm like a toddler curled around a security blanket. Nestling her back against him, silent tears of fear and relief trickled down her cheeks. She felt a tender kiss on the back of her head as Glorfindel nuzzled her hair and drew her more closely against him.

“It will be a while before anyone comes in to check on me again,” he whispered softly. “Do you want to talk about it, or do you just want me to hold you?”

She sniffled loudly. “I just want to be held,” she replied into his sleeve.

“As you wish.” He kissed her head again and pressed his face against her hair.

When she calmed and her tears had finally stopped, she wiped her face on her own sleeve and rolled in his one-armed embrace to face him.

“I am sorry I woke you and I am sorry that I got your sleeve all wet,” she apologized.

Glorfindel smiled kindly, squeezing her briefly. “That is all right. Are you ready to talk about it or do you feel better now?”

She thought about it briefly. She was really too scared to talk to him about her nearly disastrous lunch with Lhûnedhel. On top of that, she felt very guilty for having woken him from his nap so presumptuously, but she did need to discuss her studying with Lhûnedhel.

“I do feel a bit better now, thank you. I really am sorry that I disturbed you. I should not have entered your room, let alone your bed like this,” she apologized again.

His smile broadened. “I am pleased that you feel comfortable enough with me to come to me when you are in need – even when you just need to be held.” He started rubbing her back with long soothing strokes. “We need to continue to use a considerable amount of discretion, but I do not mind your being here.”

She smiled weakly. “Thank you.”

He slid his hand up to her head and pressed her into a reassuring kiss. When he finally drew back, he moved his hand to her shoulder, squeezing her gently. “Now what else do you need to tell me?”

Ariella blushed self-consciously. “How did you know there was something else I needed to say?”

“Because sometimes you are very easy to read.” He leaned forward and kissed the tip of her nose causing her to blush even more.

Taking a deep breath, she replied, “I have asked Lhûnedhel if I may learn the healing arts and herb lore of the Noldor from him and he has consented. He wants me to join him every third day for instruction, starting three days from today. Is that acceptable to you?”

Glorfindel looked at her curiously. “I am surprised that you feel there is anything you could learn from him when you have healed what he could not, but, yes, you may study with him. However, I do expect to hear about what you are learning after each of these visits. Perhaps it will keep me from losing my sanity from boredom.”

“Thank you.” She smiled back at him and nuzzled deeper into his shoulder and chest.

He pressed her close to him and sighed contentedly.

******~~~~~~~~~~~~~************

After a dreamless night’s sleep, a brief visit with Glorfindel, and a few hours spent devouring a book, Ariella joined Istadan in the massive library near the section with materials on Valinor. She was thoroughly convinced that Elrond would have loved this place.

“Good day, Ariella,” Istadan greeted, smiling warmly as he put away a few dusty scrolls. He briefly wiped his hands on his brown robes, then offered her his arm. “Shall we go?”

Ariella smiled in return as she took his arm. “Good day to you, Istadan. I am ready to go.”

Istadan led her out of the library and down the chilly, windy street to a restaurant. They were seated at a table in a quiet corner by a fountain, piling their cloaks on a nearby empty chair. After he ordered their meal, he graciously thanked the waiter as two glasses of wine were immediately poured.

“So, have you had the opportunity to read any of those books yet?” Istadan asked after taking a sip of his wine.

“Yes,” Ariella responded. “I have finished two of them and have started the third.”

He looked very surprised, then frowned at her. “You have only skimmed them then,” he said disappointed. “That will greatly limit our discussion of them.”

“No! I really have read them. I swear it,” she defended.

“Ariella, that is impossible. Each of the three books is very long. It would be impossible for you to have finished two of them and be part way through the third unless you spent every waking minute of the last three days reading. And I happen to know that you spent a night and half a day sleeping after healing Lord Glorfindel’s arm.” Istadan propped his chin on his hand and glared at her dubiously. “Do you wish to tell me the truth this time?”

Ariella looked at him in confusion. Elrond never questioned how quickly she read. All of her people read quickly and retained the information extremely well. They were just made that way. “I have read “A Study of the Noldorin Culture” and “A Study of the Telerin Culture,” and I am part way through “A Study of the Vanyarin Culture”. Ask me a question about either of the ones I have finished, and I will answer you to prove that I have read them.” Elrond used to quiz her like this. This could be fun.

Istadan smiled smugly, then rose to the challenge. “All right. Name a trait in which Miriel Serinde took great pride besides her skill in weaving and needlework.”

“Miriel also prided herself on speaking with exceptional speed,” Ariella responded matter-of -factly. “I believe that is in chapter 9 in the discussion on the royal family focusing on the wives of Finwe.”

He raised his eyebrows in surprise, smiling shrewdly. “Very good. Okay let us try one from the Telerin book. What kind of jewelry did the Teleri usually make from the gemstones the Noldor gave them?”

“You are trying to trick me. The Teleri took the jewels the Noldor gave them and scattered them on the beaches. They generally did not make jewelry from the gemstones given them by the Noldor. I believe that is in chapter 6 right after the discussion on the Noldor helping the Teleri to build Alqualonde.” Ariella sat back, smiling smugly.

He nodded to her in approval as he raised his glass to her before taking another drink of his wine. “Very well then, either you do read quickly or you stayed up all night and day reading when you were not healing or recovering from healing. You did not have to do that to impress me.”

What nerve he had! She looked at Istadan in disbelief. “I do wish to learn from you, but I did not do this to impress you. I read with exceptional speed and retention. I always have. And, I do not spend every waking minute reading, either. I cannot learn from you if I do not endeavor to study the materials that you give to me.” She thought about the rest of what he had said and it occurred to her he had been keeping tabs on her again.

“How did you know that I healed Lord Glorfindel’s arm? You even knew that I rested for a night and part of the next day.” She was becoming angrier by the minute at his presumptuousness. “Are you having me watched?”

Istadan raised his hands in defense, laughing. “I am not having you watched, silly elleth. I have kin who serve Lord Glorfindel. I too am of the House of the Golden Flower and I have fought under Lord Glorfindel’s command more than once since leaving Valinor. I have only inquired after you to learn more about you.” He took another drink of his wine then continued. “You intrigue me and you know much for a Sinda. Your thirst for knowledge is something that I find quite admirable. You came here under difficult circumstances, yet you did not shrivel up and die of grief. Instead you have worked hard to become a contributing citizen of Gondolin. You have shown great strength overcoming adversity as you have; first in the loss of your kin, and then in the loss of your home. I merely seek to know and understand you better.”

First he insulted her, now he was complimenting her with genuine praise and admiration. She felt flattered against her will and fought hard to keep at bay the smile which was trying to cross her face. She was supposed to be mad at him.

He looked down at the table for a few moments and toyed with his wine glass. “I must sound rather arrogant. I am afraid that I am not very good at conversing with people to get to know them better. I can debate and lecture endlessly on subjects in which I have a great deal of knowledge or about which I wish to know more. However, I am terrible at casual conversation. I am sorry that I went behind your back to learn more about you. I heard that you were most uncomfortable discussing your past. I did not wish to cause you further grief, so I took other measures to learn about you. I hope that you will forgive me.” He bowed his head and sighed, continuing to play with his glass somewhat less enthusiastically.

The rest of her wrath evaporated in the warmth of Istadan’s sincere apology. There was something cute and endearing about him. Sighing in defeat, she shook her head. “I forgive you. I appreciate your concern for my feelings, but in the future, please ask me questions directly instead of going to others for information about me. If I do not want to discuss something, I will tell you. Does that sound reasonable?”

He stopped fidgeting with his glass and glanced up with a shy smile, “Yes. Quite.”

Ariella took a sip of her wine and looked at him curiously. “I cannot understand why you would be nervous talking to me. I am no one important. If anything, I should be nervous talking to you. You are so knowledgeable in lore and I am so lacking. You not only wrote the three history books you gave to me to read, but I have also read many other writings by your hand. Works about minerals, art, architecture… Your work comparing the etymologies of Quenya and Sindarin was fascinating.”

His demeanor had changed as she spoke. He had been smiling proudly until she mentioned the last bit. “The comparative was not my work.”

“Yes it was,” Ariella insisted. “I read it…” in Elrond’s library. Oh. Oh my. The realization that she was actually engaged in a conversation with THAT Istadan finally struck her. Istadan was one of the most respected elven historians and lore-masters of the First Age. Her mouth fell open as her mind reeled in surprise. Now she was the one who was nervous.

“I have been considering doing one,” he continued, “but I have not started it yet. I guess I should get going with it before the work of another on the subject becomes too widely known for my theories to be considered.”

Well, Elrond would be impressed with the company she was keeping! He had only managed to salvage a few of Istadan’s works which had survived the falls of various elven realms, but he highly prized them. Perhaps she should study under Istadan as much as possible. Elrond would be very jealous if he knew, and perhaps she could teach HIM a thing or two when she returned. IF she returned…But, she was never going to return.

She bowed her head putting her hands in her lap. She immediately started rubbing the fabric of her dress between her thumb and first finger. It was all so unfair. Here she thought she finally had the chance to give back to one who had given so much knowledge and insight and lore to her, and she could not. Would it be a waste of time for her to learn while here? Idril did say that she would return to her own time one day. Maybe it would be in her own best interest to learn from Istadan, if he would take her as a student.

“Ariella, are you all right?”

She looked up, placing her hands back on the table and met his concerned gaze. “Yes, I am fine,” she lied. “I was just thinking that I used to believe that I knew a fair amount about the peoples of Valinor, but after talking with you and indulging in your library, I have realized how little I truly know.”

Istadan reached out and took her hand almost reassuringly. “Do not underestimate yourself. You use your knowledge well and you strive to know more. You have sought books and a teacher. I admire your desire to learn.”

It was her turn to feel shy. “There is much I want to know. I am studying with the Nestadain every third day. Perhaps…” She suddenly felt very stupid for asking this. There was no reason why Istadan would want to take a student in addition to his library duties. Who was she to presume that she was worth teaching anyway, as they all figured she was some ignorant, backward Moriquendi? He was such a famous lore master and she knew she was unworthy of his time and attention.

He squeezed her hand encouragingly as a smile lit his face. “Would you like for me to teach you? How about the day after your studies with the Nestadain? I will give you books to read and we can discuss them over lunch or tea. If we need more time, then perhaps we could meet some evenings as well, or when I have free time during the day.”

The prospect of actually being able to learn from THE Istadan of Gondolin thrilled her. “Would you really?” she asked enthusiastically. “I would love to learn from you! Are you sure you want a student in addition to your other responsibilities?”

Istadan’s smile brightened even more. “It would be a pleasure to teach you.”

She squeezed his hand tightly in return, then withdrew it as their food had arrived. She felt like a child who had just been handed the keys to a very large candy store.

While they ate, they enjoyed a lively discussion of the books she had read. After lunch, they returned through the increasing cold to the library where he loaned her another book to read. He saw her to the door of the library, but when he opened it for her they discovered to their surprise that it was raining.

He promptly closed the door. “Please wait a moment,” he said as he disappeared into another room. He returned a moment later wearing his cloak.

“Where are you going?” Ariella asked curiously.

“I am going with you,” he explained hurriedly. “I do not want the book to get wet.”

She looked at him in confusion. “If you are so worried about the book, then keep it here. I can wait and read something from Lord Glorfindel’s library if I get bored.”

“Ah, but then we will not have as much to discuss when we meet again. Now, hold the book close under your cloak with your right arm.”

A little perplexed, she did as he instructed and he raised her hood for her. He raised his own hood, then held out the side of his cloak with his outstretched right arm.

“Now, put your left arm around me.”

She froze. “Excuse me. Why?”

He sighed in exasperation, “So I can hold my cloak over your head to be sure the book stays dry. I thought you were intelligent.”

She gave him a nasty look. “I am intelligent. I just do not see the wisdom of taking the book outside on a day like this.”

“Can you predict the weather? We endure a lot of rain this time of year and frequently the rains turn to snow. If we waited to transport books until the weather was dry, then we might well wait for many weeks,” he explained patiently. “May we leave now?”

Sighing in resignation, she tentatively slid her arm around his narrow waist. “All right,” she conceded.

The blast of freezing cold rain that assaulted them when he opened the door made her instinctively huddle closer to him for warmth. He gave her a squeeze with his right arm before raising the cloak against the weather.

“My accompanying you will also ensure that you do not freeze to death before you reach the house,” he declared loudly over the rain and wind. “You Moriquendi are not as hardy as we Noldor and do not bear the cold well.”

She was glad enough of his protection against the elements to consider ignoring his comment, but he was baiting her now and she couldn’t resist. “I understand that many of the Noldor died in the cold of the grinding ice of the Helcaraxe. Apparently not all of the Calaquendi are as great as you would like to believe.”

The door closed behind them.

“I’m sorry, what did you say? I could not hear you over the door and the wind.”

She knew full well he heard her, so she leaned away from him, withdrawing her left arm from his waist and restated her comment in a language he would have no trouble understanding. He grunted as she jabbed him hard in the ribs with her finger.

“Ow! That hurt!” Istadan stopped and winced, looking down and reaching around with his left hand to rub the point of impact.

“Did you have any trouble understanding me that time?” she asked in a loud, but innocent voice.

“No. I understood you quite clearly,” he responded making a face and rubbing his ribs. “I should not tease you when you are standing near enough to retaliate physically.”

She shot him an annoyed look, then melted in a fit of giggles. “Good. So long as we understand each other, we should have no further communication issues. Do you not agree?”

“Yes,” he responded tolerantly. “I quite agree and you are going to get my book wet. Back in you go.”

Smiling in amusement, he tucked her under his cloak and they resumed their walk. She slid her arm around him again, noting with her fingers the muscle development in his back. He had a lot of muscle for a lore master. Well, he did say he had fought under Lord Glorfindel’s command, and, considering he had lived to tell about it, he was probably as good with a sword as he was with a pen. Now she was even more impressed with him.

Her fingers found a knot under his right shoulder blade and instinctively began to rub it. She guessed it was probably from sitting and writing for long periods of time. Or, perhaps he still practiced with his sword in order to hone his skills in case they were ever needed again. Unfortunately, she knew his skills would be needed again when Gondolin fell. At least he would be one of the lucky few who did survive. Did he return to Valinor at the end of the First Age or did he go to Lindon and serve King Ereinion Gil-galad, Turgon’s nephew? She couldn’t remember… or did she ever even know?

Istadan groaned, shifting his arm, and she realized to her horror that she was rubbing the back of an ellon she hardly even knew. Thoroughly embarrassed, she quickly moved her hand to his waist. She really hated it when the healer in her took over control without her permission. It was all right when it happened with Glorfindel, but not when it happened with anyone else.

Neither she nor Istadan spoke as they made their way to Glorfindel’s house. She looked about them at the people they passed on the street, each wrapped against the weather. Occasionally, other couples huddled together sharing a cloak scurried past.

The wind was becoming fierce, painfully lashing her face with rain. She unconsciously tightened her arm around Istadan, bowing her head against the wind and rain. Reaching across with his left arm, he pulled her cloak closer about her as he quickened the pace. His body emanated welcome warmth while his clothes smelled of books and ink. Nestling her head against his shoulder, she contented herself with watching their feet splash in the puddles as they walked.

Ariella had completely lost track of time. She was rather surprised when she saw the steps to Glorfindel’s house and even more surprised when she realized that she was a little disappointed to be home so soon. They stopped just outside the door, where Istadan dropped his cloak to give her a parting squeeze with his right arm before opening the door for her to enter. He remained outside, now alone in his sodden cloak.

“Farewell, Ariella,” he said with an elegant bow despite the wind which was whipping his cloak about him in the rain. “Enjoy the book, and I shall see you at the library in three days to discuss the book over lunch.”

She smiled at him warmly, feeling just a touch of shyness. “Thank you for the assistance and for lunch today. Farewell.”

He turned and ventured back down the steps, splashing into the rain-washed street.

She closed the door and removed her cloak. The book was completely dry, but the hem of her cloak was soaked as was the hem of her dress. She turned and was startled to see Linanna standing there. Ariella had not heard her approach.

Linanna took the cloak, hanging it on a hook near the door to dry. “I see you were escorted back from the library. Who was the lucky ellon?”

Ariella looked at her in surprise. “How did you know I was escorted?”

Linanna smiled. “You cloak is only wet around the hem and your book is quite dry. I promise I will not tease you or pass judgment. I just want to know who he was.”

Ariella nervously clutched the book close. Why was she nervous? He was just a lore master – a very famous lore master with a hard muscular back and a warm cloak. She smiled weakly. “Istadan? Do you know him?”

Linanna’s smile widened. “Yes I know him, he is of our house. My, you do keep interesting company!” Gesturing toward the stairs, she admonished in motherly tones, “You should go upstairs and change out of that wet dress.”

Ariella started toward the steps. “Is the company I am keeping good or bad?”

“It is neither. Just interesting. Istadan is a good ellon and a fine lore master and Lhûnedhel is a fine ellon and a fine healer as well,” Linanna observed sagely.

Ariella realised that Linanna had something else going through her mind, but decided to ignore it for now. The new book was calling to her, begging to be read. Putting the pleasant walk with Istadan from her mind, she headed up the steps to her room in search of a dry dress and the opportunity to read.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Notes:
Helcaraxe – A grinding ice flow that connected Middle Earth with Aman far to the north. ellon – male elf
elleth – female elf

peredhil – half elven


Chapter 10 - Chapter 10

Author: Ellie
Betas: Fianna, Julie, Vicki, Marcia, and my husband GeorgiaPiper

Rating: PG for now

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs

Feedback: Please let me know what you think. This is quite a long tale I'm telling.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chapter 10

Over the next few weeks, Ariella struggled to maintain her new busy schedule. She healed both of Glorfindel’s legs, with each leg requiring its own healing session and a full day and night for her to recover afterward. Lhûnedhel assisted her, as he called it, though his assistance mainly involved getting her back to her room again afterward to sleep off the effects of the session. Each session also served to disrupt her education schedule for a while. She felt bad about this disruption since she knew that both Istadan and Lhûnedhel were very busy and were therefore being most generous with their time in instructing her.

In addition to healing Glorfindel’s legs, Ariella also assisted Lhûnedhel with Glorfindel’s daily physical therapy. On days when the therapy had been particularly exhausting for Glorfindel, she massaged his sore muscles, eased his pain, and gave him restful slumber when it otherwise eluded him.

Glorfindel seemed to be pleased with her abundance of activities, and she always had something new to discuss with him during their morning visits. He was also becoming bolder during visits at other times during the day and would sneak gentle touches or soft kisses when others in the room were not looking.

Unfortunately for her, the additional time she was spending with Glorfindel was making it more difficult to be away from him. She feared and delighted in the feelings she was developing for him, knowing full well that the time was rapidly approaching for Glorfindel to marry some lucky elleth so that he’d have sons to lose in battle when Gondolin fell.

Otherwise, Ariella was well content with her time divided between studies and her lord. That is she was content until one day a couple of weeks before the Mid Winter Festival when everything came to an end. She did not fully comprehend it at the time of course. It was only in retrospect that she saw it all for what it was.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~***************~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was a cold grey rainy day. She had enjoyed an extra long lunch and lesson with Istadan. They had returned to the library and he had just finished showing her some old scrolls containing the answers to questions that she had posed to him at lunch.

“I am impressed you were able to find these answers for me so quickly,” Ariella admired, truly amazed. She ran her fingers along the dusty shelves where he was replacing the scrolls. “This section is not used much, is it?”

“No it is not, however it is my job to know where everything is no matter how infrequently it is used. No one comes in this area very often and it could use some cleaning.” He returned the scrolls to their place on a shelf above Ariella’s head as she watched and a shower of dust rained down on her upturned face.

She immediately bowed her head shaking it in a vain attempt at removing the dust from her face. She blinked several times at the dust in her eyes.

“Oh, Ariella! I am so sorry!” Istadan apologized. Using the sleeve of his robe he brushed the visible dust from her face and neck.

“Ow!” She pushed him away and stooped over with her hand over her left eye where a particularly tenacious piece of dust had lodged itself.

“Ariella, I am sorry!” He sounded like he felt really bad about it. “Please let me help you.”

He gently put his hands on her face and said, “Let me see. Maybe I can get it out for you.”

“No! It will hurt! I cannot bear to have other people touch my eyes.” She tried to pull away from him. Like the rest of her race, her eyes were extremely sensitive to touch.

“Ariella, for a healer, you are a terrible patient,” he chided, “It will definitely hurt if you leave it in and only might hurt if I remove it. Please let me help you.”

It took incredible force of will for her to let him try to remove the particle from her eye, but she finally stilled, biting back a whimper of pain and frustration. It also did not help matters that she found it quite embarrassing to be a healer in need of medical assistance from a lore master, but she had little choice in the matter.

He pulled her hand away and tilted her head. “I need more light,” he muttered. “Elleth, it is a marvel you ever survived two arrows in the chest, when you cannot even handle a speck of dust in your eye.”

She was too concerned about what he was going to do to her eye to comment back.

He led her by the head over to the nearest sconce candle. He tilted her head again, but she grabbed his hands. Her eye hurt badly and was watering profusely.

“Stop it! Let go of my hands!” Istadan commanded loudly. He tilted her head some more dipping her backward against a wall, pulling at her upper eye lid.

She braced herself and grabbed two handfuls of the back of his robes. She couldn’t see very well for her right eye was now watering in sympathy with the left eye. He pulled at the lower lid and put his finger up to her eye. His finger looked huge that close up and she was sure he was going to jab her in the eye and cause her further pain. Instead he lightly dabbed at her eye. She hit him on the shoulder with her fist as he pulled his finger away, but the pain suddenly ceased.

He started to extend his finger to show her what had been in her eye when he was suddenly torn from her grasp and thrown up against the nearest shelves. He grunted as his head and shoulders impacted rather violently. Dust rained down on him as he slumped to the floor.

She blinked several times and wiped her tear-stained face with her sleeves trying to get a better view of what had happened. In shock, she looked up into the angry face of Lhûnedhel.

“What were you trying to do to her, Istadan?” he demanded, grabbing the front of Istadan’s tunic and hauling him to eye level once more. He slammed Istadan back against the shelves and pinned him with a hand around his throat. He started applying pressure to the arteries of Istadan’s neck.

Istadan’s bewildered face started turning a dark shade of red as he sputtered, seemingly trying to understand what was going on and respond at the same time.

“Lhûnedhel! Release him!” Ariella demanded. “What has gotten into you? He has done nothing! Let him go!”

There was blood lust on Lhûnedhel’s face as he responded, tightening his grip. “Ariella, you do not need to defend him. He will suffer for what he has done to you.”

Ariella grabbed Lhûnedhel’s arm, trying to release his grip on Istadan, but he was too strong for her. She once had seen another warrior with the same look in his eye and knew that Istadan was in peril. She applied her thumb to the pressure point above the elbow on Lhûnedhel’s out-stretched arm, causing him to gasp and release Istadan immediately. He grabbed his now sore arm while Istadan slumped to the floor gagging and rubbing his neck.

Ariella shoved Lhûnedhel backward. She could not believe this was happening. “What are you doing? You are supposed to be a healer! Why did you hurt him?”

Lhûnedhel stared at her incredulous. “By the Valar, Ariella! He had you pinned up against a wall! You were hitting him and crying. How was I supposed to take that?!”

“There was something in her eye that was hurting her!” Istadan responded in a cracked voice, rubbing his throat with one hand and holding the back of his head with the other. “I was trying to get it out for her.”

“That excuse is older than I am, Istadan,” Lhûnedhel responded venomously. “One would think that someone of your intelligence would come up with something better than that.”

Istadan’s expression turned angry as he stood up a little shakily, his hands balled into fists.

Ariella knew that they would fight it out if she let them, and considering they were both elves who had seen combat before, chances were one of them would not walk away from this. She would have to end it herself before it got that far. She planted herself angrily in front of Lhûnedhel with her hands on her hips.

“Lhûnedhel, he is telling the truth! What makes you think I need you to defend my honor? Not that it needed defending anyway. Why did you hurt him?”

He looked into her eyes with an odd expression on his face. His voice softened as he admitted, “I was only doing what any ellon who truly cared for you would do, Ariella. I was trying to protect you because I thought you were in danger…because I love you.”

She was shocked. For a few moments she just stood there staring at him with her mouth hanging open. Surely he did not just say that! This was not happening to her. This could not be happening to her.

She slowly shook her head as she backed up against the wall where Istadan had held her to remove the dust from her eye. “This is not possible. I never…” she whispered to herself disbelievingly, looking at the floor. “This cannot be happening to me.”

“Lhûnedhel,” Istadan’s voice sounded tight with emotion, “Why did you come here?”

She heard him respond as if from somewhere far away, “The midwife who delivered Elianna’s baby needs Ariella’s help with a set of triplets which are due any day now. The mother had difficulty with her first child, so the midwife wants Ariella to be ready when the time comes to assist with this delivery. I went to Glorfindel’s house to find her and was told that she was here with you for her lessons in lore. I had not realized there were other lessons going on as well.”

“You have delivered your message, Lhûnedhel,” Istadan’s voice was filled with disdain. “Now, leave before I have you forcibly removed.”

“Ariella, I…” Lhûnedhel started to plead.

“Did you tell Glorfindel that I need to help the midwife? He has to approve everything that I do,” Ariella asked woodenly.

“No, I did not. Ariella. Please let me…”

She cut him off. “Leave me, please,” Ariella said, her voice filled with bitterness at what he had done - what he had done for her.

He shot a menacing glare at Istadan before turning on his heel and marching away. When he was out of sight, Istadan went to her and gently put his hands on her shoulders. She looked up at him begging him telepathically to let this pass and not start another fight later.

“I will let it go,” he whispered. “But only because you ask it of me.”

She was so shaken by it all. Tears started in her eyes. She felt horrible. She was not worth this. “Istadan, I am very sorry for this. So very sorry.” He pulled her close and held her against his chest as she wept, her face buried in his shoulder.

She could not have people fighting because of her. She had never intended for this to happen; never intended for anyone to like her that way. How could he feel that way about her? How could he love her? She wasn’t even from this world.

Istadan’s arms were warm and strong, an anchor she did not deserve in this tumultuous sea of emotion upon which she was adrift. He did not deserve this either. All Istadan had done was try to help her, and he had gotten hurt for it. How badly was he hurt? It finally occurred to her that she had neglected his injuries.

She pushed back from the embrace a bit and reached up, touching Istadan’s face to establish healing contact. She shuddered as she inhaled audibly and he held her closer again, apparently not understanding what was going on. His head, shoulders, neck, and back were bruised, and there was a cut on the back of his head, but nothing more serious than that. She ran her healing hands over the exposed bruises and the cut. She lifted his hand and, pressing her hand to the back of it, passed his hand over the remaining blood on his head, removing all trace of injury.

“Do you want me to take care of the other bruises?” she asked, looking up into the surprised wonder on his handsome face. He looked at his hand which she had just released and brushed his fingers together examining them in awe.

“So this is how you heal,” Istadan whispered to himself.

“Yes,” she answered softly with a small smile, feeling a little amused and proud at his reaction to her healing. “Do you want me to heal the bruises on your shoulders and back? It is easier for me if I touch your skin.”

He just kept staring at her with a look of bemused wonder.

“You do not have to remove your clothes. Just unfasten your belt so I can get my hands under your shirt to the bruises on your back and shoulders. It will not take long, and I promise it will not hurt. I have already taken all of your pain away.”

“Yes, you have…” he responded still in a daze. He fumbled with the belt at his waist for a moment before it released and he removed it.

She slid her hands up his back, stopping on all of the bruised areas of his warm smooth skin. It did not take her long to finish and withdraw her hands. She smiled at him. “You can put your belt back on now.”

“Your hands are very warm,” he said simply as he fastened his belt. “It felt good.”

Ariella looked into his eyes. “I am very sorry that this has happened to you, Istadan, and that I had to heal you because of something foolish involving me.”

He smiled warmly. “If it had not happened, I would not have known your healing touch. I think it was worth it just for that.”

She bowed her head. “I am not worth suffering for, Istadan. I came here to learn from you, not to put you in any…difficult situations. I am sorry for what happened today. If there is anything I can do to make it up to you…”

“You have already made amends,” he interrupted putting a finger on her lips to silence her. “You chose to stay with me. You apologized. You healed me. For me, that says all I need to hear.” He embraced her again and she wrapped her arms around him to in a tight hug.

“So am I forgiven?” she asked, her voice muffled by his tunic.

“There is nothing for me to forgive,” he replied pressing his cheek to her head.

Feeling an incredible amount of relief, she pulled back from him and looked up into his dirty face. “You need to wash your face and hair, and I need to leave now. There is much I must do to prepare, as the mother I am to help lives on a farm and I will be gone for a few days. I also have to tell Glorfindel about it and make certain that he approves my leaving, which I am certain he will.” She thought for a moment before adding, “I do not think I will tell him about the incident here today. I do not want to lose my library privileges.”

Istadan laughed as he led her back toward the entrance of the library. “You need not fear losing your library privileges as long as I have a say in it.”

“Thank you,” she replied with a smile.

“You are most welcome.”

When they reached the door, she pulled her cloak about her and raised her hood as he opened the door.

“Farewell,” she said as she stepped out into the cold rain.

“Farewell,” he replied.

~~~~~~~~~~~**********************~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ariella hurried home as fast as she could. The cold rain whipped her face causing her to huddle into her cloak as she hurried down the slippery streets. The weather seemed to her to be a suitable punishment for the trouble she had caused Istadan today. She did not understand why Lhûnedhel reacted the way he had nor what caused him to confess his love for her. She liked him, but she certainly did not love him. She was glad of the opportunity to leave the city proper for a while to go help with the triplets. She did not want to have to meet with Lhûnedhel again any time soon.

In spite of the tight weave of the fabric of her cloak, the wind had succeeded in completely drenching her with rain by the time she arrived back home. Linanna smiled knowingly, shaking her head at her when Ariella entered the house. She hung up Ariella’s sodden cloak and ordered water for a bath.

As Ariella started up the steps, Linanna informed her that Lord Glorfindel wished for Ariella to join him for dinner that evening. Ariella nodded her thanks and slogged up the steps hiking her soggy dress up to her knees so she did not trip.

The hot scented bath water felt wonderful and helped ease the afternoon’s tension from Ariella’s body. She napped for a while before packing for her few days away with the triplets. She put on her lavender dress and wore her freshly washed hair unbraided - both to please Glorfindel.

~~~~~~~************~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ariella dined with Glorfindel in the same private dining room which they had shared the night before their judgment day with Turgon. He looked exquisite in his green robes embroidered with gold and the matching sling that supported his useless left arm. She kept reprimanding herself for staring at him during the meal. She was so used to seeing him in his dressing gown and lying down, that seeing him upright and fully dressed seemed a strange way for him to appear before her. This was the first time she had seen him so formally garbed since their judgment day. She had forgotten how breathtakingly gorgeous he was when dressed as a lord.

“Ariella, is something wrong? You keep staring at me and looking away when I look at you,” Glorfindel finally asked in mock annoyance.

“N-no,” she stammered. “I am just not used to seeing you dressed.” When she realized what she had said, she put her hands over her face and turned away to hide. She could not believe she had just said that. Glorfindel laughed and then she heard him threaten the snickering servant assisting with their meal with what would happen to him if he told anyone else about her comment.

“I am sorry,” she apologized. “That did not come out right.”

“Obviously,” he commented dryly.

“What I meant to say is that I am not used to seeing you dressed as a lord, considering how you have spent the last several weeks. Your current attire suits you well.” She hoped her careful phrasing could not be misinterpreted.

“Thank you,” he answered cordially, raising his glass to her and taking a drink of his wine.

Ariella remembered that she had not told him about the triplets yet and thought that perhaps changing the subject would be a good things to do right about now, before she further embarrassed herself.

“There is something I meant to mention to you before,” Ariella ventured. “The midwife who delivered your sister’s baby has asked me to assist her in the delivery of triplets on one of the farms. It will require that I be away for a few days. I am told that the mother had some difficulty with the birth of her first child, so the midwife is particularly concerned, considering there are three of them this time.”

For some reason, Glorfindel looked a little disappointed. “When do you leave and how long will you be gone?”

“The midwife said she wanted me to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice as the babies could come any day now. I do not know exactly how long I will be gone, other than it would be a few days.”

“I see. Certainly you may go.”

“Thank you, my lord,” Ariella replied.

Glorfindel suddenly grinned. “And might I suggest that you avoid contact with any hunters while you are out.”

It took Ariella moment to realize he was referring to their own rather unexpected first meeting when he was hunting while on an errand for the king. She laughed aloud and blushed.

They passed the rest of the meal in lively banter about Glorfindel’s resumption of some of his duties and his dread of returning to court soon. When they had finished eating, Glorfindel led her to his library where they sat side by side in two chairs in front of the fire. They were silent for a long time, just sitting and watching the fire. Finally Glorfindel let loose what seemed to be a nervous chuckle and looked over at Ariella, taking her left hand in his right. She turned to face him, trying to figure out why he was laughing.

“What is so funny?” she asked curiously.

He looked down at their joined hands, took a deep shaky breath then let it out. “Nothing ... I just … I have something to say and I really do not know how to say it or where to begin.”

She gave his hand a squeeze and couldn’t help noticing how large his hand was compared to hers. She wondered what he could possibly have to say to her that had him at a loss for words.

“Why not just say it? What is the worst that could happen? Just let the words go. I cannot believe you could ever be at a loss for words.”

Glorfindel shook his head. “Oh, Ariella, if only it were that easy.” His tone was quite serious now, his rich voice quiet. “If only it were.”

He took another deep breath and addressed their hands. “Ariella, I cannot begin to express my gratitude to you for what you have done for me over the last several weeks. The only reason I am alive is because of you.” He looked away shaking his head again and muttering. “You have seen me at my worst. This should not be so difficult to say.”

“Ariella,” he started again, now looking past her at the wall, “You are so good and kind. You cheered me and comforted me when I most needed it. You are lovely and intelligent. You have a delightful sense of humor and you make me laugh, sometimes without meaning to. Yet you have suffered much in life. You deserve to have great joy.” He glanced up at her face questioningly and she smiled at him encouragingly.

Where was this going, she wondered.

He continued once again, focusing on some point beyond her, “I have begun to realize that something has been missing in my life up until recently. I have realized how very alone I was before … this is so difficult to say.” He loosened his grip on her hand and tightened it again. He took another deep breath and slowly let it out again.
“Ariella, I do not know how to say this …” He looked down at their hands again and shifted uncomfortably. “I believe that I have finally met the elleth with whom I wish to spend my life.” He paused looking up into her eyes.

NO! She could not be hearing this! Not so soon. Not now. Why now? Why now? She really cared for him and here he was telling her that he loved another. He has met the elleth he will marry! He only said all of those nice things to her just now so she would not feel so bad about herself when he told her their relationship was over. She should have known that there had to be someone else in his life besides her. He was so handsome and so wonderful; it was no wonder that he had some other elleth who he fancied. He was probably just humoring Ariella in her naivety all this time. No, he was too sweet and kind for that. No, he just saw his part in their relationship as being nice to a lonely, displaced elleth who needed a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on. Ariella had read too much into the way he treated her, the way he kissed her.

She knew this day would come. She knew it was foolish for her to allow herself to have this relationship with him, to let herself fall for him when she knew he was to marry another. She felt the tears well up in her eyes, but she fiercely blinked them back. No, she would not cry in front of him. She would be strong. She would be happy for him. There was no way she could have him anyway. It would change history. It would change time. But it still hurt. It hurt so much more than she had thought it would. So very much more…

“Ariella,” he continued slowly. “I am in love …” But she never heard who he was in love with for the servant from dinner came rushing in at that moment. Glorfindel immediately dropped her hand and glared angrily at the servant.

“My lord, please forgive the intrusion. The midwife is here and needs Ariella to depart with her immediately.” He turned to address Ariella, “She said that the mother is in labor and you must depart now. A horse awaits you.”

“Th-thank you,” Ariella responded shakily. She looked over at Glorfindel who looked angry and frustrated.

“I-I am sorry, my lord. I must go now,” was all she could manage to say.

He mutely nodded to her as she rose quickly and curtseyed to him. She turned and fled from the room, racing toward the stairs. Her chest hurt with each breath. Her throat burned with each swallow. But it didn’t matter. Nothing seemed to matter to her right now.

Unfortunately, other things needed to matter. The mother mattered and so did her unborn babies. But, that was obviously something Ariella was never going to know about for herself: motherhood and children of her own, she thought bitterly. She had known all along. She had accepted the consequences of her actions. She knew this day would come. She could not harden her heart to others just because Glorfindel had found the one who completed his heart, even though she wanted to be that someone. But she knew she could not be that someone, not for anyone. This was her doom and she must accept it. She would accept it. She would be brave and she would go on. She would go alone, but she would go on.

She entered her room, changed clothes in a flurry of fabric, grabbed her bag, and flew down the steps. Glorfindel was standing by the door as she approached. The expression on his face was unreadable. There was something in his eyes though, something powerful.

“Farewell, Ariella,” he said softly. “Hurry back.”

She nodded to him courteously as she threw her cloak around her shoulders, pulled up her hood, and ran outside into the cold wet night. She could not allow herself to think about him right now. She needed to focus her energy on the task ahead.

The day’s rain had given way to snow; the flakes swirling about her as Ariella carefully traversed the slippery steps down to the street. The door closed softly as she mounted the waiting horse and made a brief greeting gesture to the midwife. Together they rode down the dimly lit street as quickly as they safely could.


Chapter 11 - Chapter 11

Betas: Fianna, Vicki, Marcia, and GeorgiaPiper
Rating: PG for now
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs

Feedback: Please let me know what you think. This is quite a long tale I'm telling.

~~~~~~~~~~~*************~~~~~~~~~~~

The triplets took their time making their appearance, not seeing fit to arrive until noon the next day. A beautiful frosty white world greeted them as their father took each one in turn to the window to show them the loveliness of Arda. Ariella watched this ritual curiously. When she had the opportunity, she asked the midwife about it.

The midwife seemed rather surprised at the question and replied, “Ariella, they are Sindarin. It is their custom. Being a Sinda, I would have expected you to know this.”

Ariella mentally kicked herself for making such a potentially grave error. She had never read about such a custom before, and in spite of their many conversations, Celeborn had never mentioned it her. She tried to cover for the mistake. “Are they from Doriath?” she asked back.

“No. They were of Cirdan’s people,” the midwife replied.

“Ah,” Ariella replied sagely, quite relieved as she realized her cover story would still work. “Menegroth, where Prince Celeborn and Princes Artanis dwell is an extensive series of caves. It is completely underground. There is little of the beauty of Arda to show a child without going outside of the caves.”

“Yes, of course,” answered the midwife. “I had forgotten. I am sorry Ariella.”

Ariella and the midwife remained with the family for the rest of the week, helping with housework and caring for the babies, each of which seemed to wish to be on a different schedule. The grateful parents were most distraught when Ariella and the midwife departed, but the midwife promised to send word to the family’s kin that some help would be most appreciated.

The ride across the snowy farmland was breathtaking, and Ariella lost herself in the beauty of it in spite of the frigidity of the air. The thought of returning to a warm house and some good books thrilled her. Ariella eventually parted ways with the midwife, returned home, and stabled the horse. When Ariella entered the house, Glorfindel was the first person she saw, but the chill in his gaze pierced her far more deeply than the cold that had numbed her fingers, toes, and nose on the ride home.

“I will speak with you in my study now,” he commanded.

She hurriedly hung up her cloak and carried her bag with her as she followed him into the room. She wondered what was wrong. What could possibly have happened to make him so angry?

He closed the door behind them, rather harder than necessary, and motioned for her to sit down near his desk. She did so, setting the bag by her feet and folding her hands in her lap. She stared at him curiously, waiting for him to explain what was going on. He walked over and stood in front of her, his face a mask of fury.

“Ariella, I do not pretend to know or even understand the ways of the Moriquendi, but there are obviously some things that you fail to understand about the ways of the Calaquendi,” he said haughtily.

She was bewildered. What had she done? Why was he so angry with her?

“My lord,” she asked confused. “What have I done that has offended you so?”

“What have you done? What have you done?!” he spat, gesturing toward her with his good arm and pacing as he spoke. “How can you even ask that? You sit there looking so beautiful and innocent. That is how you lured them all, us all, is it not? You toy with our affections. You use us as if we are nothing but pieces in a game, a rather elaborate game played purely for your amusement. Well the pieces took the game seriously, but they have figured it out now. Your sweet little game is over, Ariella! Perhaps you Moriquendi are so primitive that you care little for feelings and emotions and commitment. But the Calaquendi are not that way!”

She was really confused now. What was he talking about? Games? And why was he, of all people, insulting her?

“Glorfindel, I have no idea what you are talking about, and I do not appreciate your insults. Would you please tell me what this is about?”

“It is about lies and deceit and playing around with people’s hearts and lives. That is what it is about, Ariella!”

She continued to watch him in confusion, hoping for some useful explanation to make its way into the conversation.

He threw up his hand seemingly in exasperation, pacing away from her, then turned sharply and gestured toward her again. “By the Valar, Ariella, how can you sit there pretending to look so innocent and uncomprehending? I know all about what you have been doing these last several weeks and with whom. How could you Ariella? I thought we had…” He turned away, taking a deep breath, and running his hand through his hair, then turned back. “Maybe you do not know what how far things have gone.”

His voice was deadly calm as he continued. “Ariella, the morning after you left, Lhûnedhel came to me and asked my permission to court you. Then a few hours later, Istadan came and asked the same thing. They are both in love with you and want to marry you.”

Anger returned to his voice accompanied by a pained expression on his face. “I trusted you and believed you when you said you were going to them to learn their crafts. I thought you really wanted to know more about our lore and our ways of healing. I trusted you and this is how you ...” His voice started to break. “I thought you held me as dear as I held you, and now this. Is nothing sacred to you and your stone heart?” He turned away again breathing heavily, his hand on his forehead.

Ariella was stunned.

Lhûnedhel AND Istadan? Lhûnedhel had confessed his feelings, but Istadan too? ISTADAN? She thought he was her friend! She was horrified. How had things come to this? All she had wanted was friendship and to learn what they knew. She did not think she had ever given either of them any indication that she had wanted something more or felt anything more.

And what of Glorfindel? How could he be saying this to her when the last time they were together he was confessing his love for another? Why does he think it is all right for him to have other loves, but not her? Not that she had any other loves, but still ... This simply could not be happening to her. It just could not!

Ariella stared at Glorfindel with her mouth hanging open, slowly shaking her head. She started to speak a couple of times, but only managed, “I... I...”

Glorfindel exhaled loudly, still with his back to her. When he spoke again, his voice was very quiet and filled with bitterness. “Why did you have to include me in this too? Why me too?” She watched his back go rigid as he took a deep shuddering breath. “Leave my sight. I do not care where you go, but leave now.”

Ariella was still at a loss. How could this have happened? She never meant for any of it to happen. She fumbled for her bag with trembling hands, slowly getting to her feet and making her way across the room. Her hand shook as she reached for the handle of the door and exited the room. As the door closed, she heard a loud growl and something solid crash against something else very hard. Clutching her bag close to her, she ran all the way up to her room and slammed the door on the world.

~~~~~~~~~~~*************~~~~~~~~~~~

Ariella lay on her bed crying for what seemed like hours, until no more tears would come. Mercifully, sleep soon claimed her.

When she woke up, it was dark outside. She still could not believe that Lhûnedhel and Istadan wanted to marry her, but what bothered her the most was Glorfindel and his belief that she had betrayed him. Who was he to talk about toying with people’s hearts when he was just as guilty as he believed her to be? Why did she ever allow herself to have a relationship with him? Why did she love him?

The realization finally struck. She really did love him. And his rejection hurt her more than his confession that he loved another. She could love him at a distance knowing he loved another, but she could not cope with his belief that she had betrayed him. She could never knowingly hurt him like that. And now he hated her. How could she let these feelings go? She had to in order to go on, but for what reason was she continuing?

She let those depressing thoughts go for a moment and briefly considered getting up and getting some food, but the thought of eating made her want to wretch. Instead, she rolled over and mourned silently until sleep took her again. She continued her pattern of sorrowed wakefulness and sleep all the next day and the following night, too depressed to do anything else. Finally she rose, changed her clothes, brushed her hair and decided to seek out Idril in the hopes that she had not turned against her as well.

~~~~~~~~~~~*************~~~~~~~~~~~

As it turned out, Idril was already on her side in this.

Idril greeted Ariella warmly.

“I know why you have come,” she said quietly. “Elianna told me all about what happened after you left to help with the triplets and what she knew about Glorfindel’s conversation with you. I guess you just did not expect to return to your own set of ‘troubled triplets,’ did you?”

In Idril’s private suite, Ariella sat slumped in the chair, her eyes red and puffy, and a handkerchief clutched mercilessly in her hand as Idril spoke. Ariella smiled sadly, shaking her head in response. “No, Idril, I did not. I never expected any of this to happen.”

Idril put a supportive arm around Ariella, consoling, “Please tell me everything.”

Ariella did exactly that, leaving out nothing, including the incident between Lhûnedhel and Istadan the day she left, dinner with Glorfindel that night, and the confrontation with Glorfindel when she returned.

Idril seemed to contemplate what she heard for a while after Ariella finished speaking. She carefully looked Ariella up and down, then asked, “When did you last eat?”

“I do not know. I cannot remember,” Ariella replied mournfully.

Idril got up and left the room for a moment, then returned. “I have ordered food for you. You will eat and drink enough to satisfy me before you leave here. I will not have you waste away over this.”

Ariella nodded. “Idril, please tell me what your thoughts are on all of this?”

Idril took a deep breath, gathering Ariella’s hands in her own. “Ariella, I believe that Glorfindel cares for you very much or he would not have reacted as he has. I do not entirely believe that he has another lover, but he might. He has successfully kept his relationship with you from everyone, so it is possible. However, I find it very hard to believe. I think that you need to talk to him and tell him that the others read more into their relationship with you than was really there. I also think that you need to tell him how you feel about him.”

“Oh, Idril. I cannot tell him that I love him. I cannot love him! I am not supposed to. How much history would I be changing?” Ariella pleaded with Idril.

Idril smiled reassuringly. “Ariella, how do you it would change things? How much do you really know about him? What do the history books say about him? Did he have a wife and children?”

Ariella dabbed her nose and eyes with the handkerchief then recited, “He had a wife and children and he lost all but some daughters when Gondolin …” She clapped her hand to her mouth in horror. She had very nearly told Idril too much about the future!

Idril gave her a sad smile and finished the sentence for her. “When Gondolin falls. I know Ariella. I have dreamt about the fire and someone trying to kill a child – my child, my son – a few times already. I do not know when or how it will happen; only that it will.” She stared into Ariella’s horrified eyes for a moment. “You know the when and the how and who I am going to marry…Please do not tell me. I do not want to know.”

“I could not tell you if I wanted to. That would change the past – your future,” Ariella said.

Idril took Ariella’s hands back in hers and squeezed them for a moment. “How do you know that you are not the one for Glorfindel?” Idril asked. “How do you know?”

Ariella considered this alarming possibility as they sat in silence for a time, when a knock at the door announced the arrival of the food. Idril watched Ariella carefully and made certain she ate ample portions of everything and drank several cups of juice. When Ariella finished eating, Idril ordered a hot scented bath for her. She also fixed Ariella’s hair before sending her back home that evening with a warm hug and instructions to speak with Glorfindel at her earliest opportunity.

~~~~~~~~~~~*************~~~~~~~~~~~

Ariella sought out Glorfindel in his study that evening after he had dinner. She nervously knocked on his study door.

“Enter,” he called.

She steeled herself, opened the door, and walked in.

Glorfindel glanced up, his face haggard, then looked back down at the paper he was working on and scowled. “I have nothing to say to you, Ariella. Did I not command you to leave my sight?”

Ariella was taken aback by the coldness of his voice. “My lord, I …”

“I have no desire to hear your voice either,” he said without looking up. “Leave now.”

“Please,” she pleaded, gesturing in supplication, “give me the chance to explain.”

“There is nothing to explain. You are cold and cruel with no thought for the feelings of others. There is nothing more that I need to know. There is nothing that you could possibly say to me that is worth hearing. Now leave!”

Ariella pressed her lips together and blinked at the tears forming in her eyes. She shook her head, covering her mouth with her hand. Turning, she fled from the room, letting the door close on its own behind her. She ran all the way up to her room, slammed the door, and threw herself on the bed wailing.

Idril had been wrong. He did not care for her at all. He hated her!


Chapter 12 - Chapter 12

Betas: Fianna, GeorgiaPiper, Vicki, and Marcia

Rating: Still PG for now

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chapter 12


For the next few days, Ariella willingly succumbed to the abyss of depression, unable to eat or to leave her room. A few times she thought she heard someone open her door when she was lying listless, staring at the window, but she was unsure whether she dreamed it or not and did not have the life in her to care.

The day before the Midwinter Festival, some people entered Ariella’s room, but she lay with her back to the door, unmoving and not opening her eyes, hoping they would go away.

“How long has she lain thus?” Idril’s voice asked worriedly.

“Since the evening she returned from visiting with you,” came Linanna’s voice in reply. “My husband saw her leave Lord Glorfindel’s office and run up the stairs with tears on her face. No one has seen her leave her room since. I have checked in on her periodically and kept her water pitcher filled. She at least is still drinking, but she has not touched the food I have brought up to her.”

“Surely my brother is concerned about this? He cares for her very much.” Was that Elianna’s voice answering now?

Someone sighed loudly. “My lady, your brother has been a most difficult ellon to deal with for the last several days. He is abrupt and extremely irritable. He has been told about her condition by several of us now and … every time his response was less than encouraging,” Linanna answered. “No one knows what happened to make him thus, except that it started the day after Ariella left to help deliver the triplets and the healer Lhûnedhel and the lore master Istadan came to meet with him.

Come to think of it, they each have been by the house a number of times over the last few days, asking after Ariella. They both miss meeting with her apparently.”

“Linanna, this conversation does not leave this room, do you understand me?” It was Idril’s stern voice again.

“Yes, my lady,” came the immediate reply.

“Lhûnedhel and Istadan came to profess their love for Ariella and ask for permission to court her.” It was Elianna’s voice again.

“Oh my!” declared Linanna.

“I spoke with Ariella at length when she came to visit me a few days ago and convinced her to go speak with Glorfindel again to try to straighten this out and explain to him that she does not love them. She loves him.” There was a brief pause. “Apparently it did not go as I had hoped.”

A hand grasped Ariella’s shoulder, gently shaking it.

“Ariella, I know you are awake. We wish to speak with you. We are worried about you,” Idril said gently.

Ariella slowly rolled over and opened her eyes. She looked up into the faces of her friends, seeing their concern and their love for her.

Idril sat on the bed beside her followed by the other two. “Things did not go well when you spoke with Glorfindel?” she asked doubtfully.

“They were horrible,” Ariella rasped back, her voice broken from so much crying and lack of other use. “He would not even let me try to speak with him. He told me to get out of his sight and not to speak to him as there was nothing that I could say to him that would be worth hearing. He also called me cold and cruel with no thought for the feelings of others. He hates me.”

Idril’s expression turned to one of fury as did the expressions of the other two ellith.

“How could he say such a thing to you? He is the cold heartless one! I will be speaking to him about this. No one speaks to my friend that way!” Elianna exclaimed angrily.

The other two ellith and Ariella looked at her quite stunned. Sweet little Elianna was turning against her favorite brother.

“Ariella,” Elianna continued, “I will not pretend to apologize for his cruel behavior or excuse it. He will have to apologize to you himself.” She rose from the bed, her hands clenched in fists. “I am so angry with him!”

“Calm down Elianna. You and I will both go down and speak with him soon and he will deeply regret it. But, first we must see to Ariella,” Idril reassured her.

“Ariella, I want you to get up and bathe. Linanna will have water brought up for you. She will change the sheets for you while you bathe. Afterward, you will eat what Linanna brings for you. And Linanna will watch you eat it. Do you understand me?”

Ariella nodded as Idril continued. “Elianna and I will have a nice long talk with Glorfindel, I can assure you. It may take a few days for him to lower his pride and talk to you again, but he will do so.” She reached out and took Ariella’s hand in hers. “I also expect to see you at the festival tomorrow. Linanna, would you please help her prepare for that as well?”

“Gladly, my lady,” Linanna replied.

“Ariella, if you truly feel that you do not want Lhûnedhel and Istadan as suitors, then you need to tell them. It is cruel to give them false hope and it will only make things more difficult the longer you wait. So, be thinking about how you want to go about telling them,” Idril counseled.

Ariella asked softly, “What am I to do after I break with them? Studying healing arts and lore had been my two favorite and only pastimes. How am I to spend my time now?”

Idril and Elianna’s faces took on identical looks of uncertainty, reminding Ariella once again that they are akin to each other. “We will have to think about that and talk to you about it again later,” Elianna replied reaching up and patting Ariella’s hand which Idril was still holding.

Idril and the others stood. “Elianna and I will go now and have our little talk with Glorfindel. Linanna will go get the water for your bath so you can get up.” They each gave Ariella a comforting hug. “Please do not despair. We will do all we can to make things better for you. You deserve to be happy. Farewell.”

“Farewell,” Ariella replied, “And thank you for everything. You are all so wonderful to me.”

They smiled as they turned and left.

Ariella obediently got up and bathed when the water came and ate what was put before her to Linanna’s satisfaction. After Linanna left for the evening, Ariella curled up on her freshly made bed and tried to think through what she would do the next day. She realized she felt quite numb about everything.

She did not care that she would be attending a festival that would be celebrated in the ancient manner of Valinor, though she should have been thoroughly excited to have such a fascinating experience. She did not care that she would not be returning to the library or that one of the more interesting books she had borrowed lay half read on the table near her food, waiting for her to finish reading it. Why bother finishing it? With whom would she discuss it? She did not care that there was still much she did not know about herbs and the healing arts of the Noldor.

She simply no longer cared about anything. What was the point of it? Why bother? All she could ever do was mess up time and history if she used her knowledge, so to what purpose was she gaining more knowledge? She was most likely going to die when Gondolin fell, and the things she liked best had already been taken away from her.

She felt weary from the stress of the last few days. Perhaps it would be better to worry about only one day at a time - or maybe one day for all of time.

She made up her mind about what she would do tomorrow and beyond that she would have no worries. She would go to the festival and she would break with Lhûnedhel and Istadan. Beyond that, she would not worry, for the walls of the city are quite high. And beyond them, there would be no more tomorrows to worry about.

~~~*************~~~~~

Linanna roused Ariella the next day in time for her to prepare for the festival. She helped her put on the lavender dress and she brushed her hair, commenting on how beautiful it was and how lovely Ariella looked all the while. She braided the lavender ribbons into Ariella’s hair, then hugged her as a finishing touch.

“Lord Glorfindel will not be able to help but notice you now. Perhaps the warmth of your beauty will melt his cold heart and turn it toward you once again,” she encouraged.

Gingerly, she cupped Ariella’s face in her hands, an oddly sad look marring Linanna’s pretty face. “My Child, my heart fears for you this day and I do not know why. Please dance and be joyful.”

“I will, Linanna,” Ariella replied trying to sound cheerful and reassured though she did not feel it. In fact she felt nothing at all.

Lianna smiled worriedly and took her hand. “I will take you to the festival now.”

They donned their cloaks at the door and left for the festival. Ariella’s mind was strangely devoid of thought. It was as if she was watching herself go through the motions of walking down the street. If they passed anyone along the way, Ariella did not notice.

~~~*********~~~~~~

The entire Square of the King and the surrounding squares were all decorated for the festivities. There were good things to eat and lovely things to buy. When the sun set, there was music and dancing at every turn to celebrate the longest night of the year.

Ariella found Lhûnedhel first and told Linanna that she was going to go dance with him. For some reason, Linanna seemed reluctant to let her go.

~~~~*********~~~~~

When Lhûnedhel saw Ariella, his face lit up. He ran over, picked her up, and gave her a big hug. “Ariella!” he cried cheerily, swinging her around with a swish of his dark blue robes and cloak. “I have missed you so much! Why have not returned for your lessons or contacted me to give me your answer to the question I brought before Lord Glorfindel? Surely he has told you?”

Ariella hugged him briefly and he set her down. “I have been busy and I have been considering matters. Dance with me first and then I will give you my answer.”

Walking hand in hand, he led her to the nearest place where people were dancing and they joined in. She held his hands as he joyfully swung her around, stepping and spinning in time to the music. She had learned to quell her nervousness around him after a few of the lessons in healing, but this dance was the first time that she was actually enjoying herself with him. When the dance was over, she reluctantly took him by the hand, leading him away to a place where they could talk in private. If she could just dance with him and learn from him without any serious discussion, she would actually like to be with him.

They settled on the ground beside some trees in a garden. She looked at his expectant face and took his hands in hers. That dance had just made this serious discussion more difficult.

“Lhûnedhel…” She paused, taking a deep breath and letting it out in a sigh. “I have learned a great deal from you about healing and I greatly appreciate all of the time you have spent sharing your extensive knowledge with me. However…” She took another deep breath to brace herself for delivering the bad news. “I am sorry that I ever gave you the impression that I was in love with you. I do not have romantic feelings for you and I am sorry if I ever gave you that impression. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I do not love you and I do not wish to bind myself to you.”

Obviously stunned, he gazed at her pleadingly, shaking his head, then looked down at their still joined hands. His thumbs caressed the backs of her hands as he stared silently, blinking several times and breathing hard.

She felt terrible for the obvious pain she was causing him. He was alone in the world with no siblings and his parents dead, and alone he would remain without her.

Finally he looked up again and asked bitterly, “So is it Istadan or Glorfindel I have lost you to?”

“I do not love Istadan,” she answered quietly. “I never have. He was just my teacher and my friend, just like you. And just like you, he misunderstood things, too. How or why I do not know, same as with you. I still have to go speak with him tonight. I only spoke with you first because I saw you first. As for Glorfindel, well, he will not speak to me and has called me cold and cruel, so I guess he is out of consideration as well.”

“If there is no one else, then why not me?” Lhûnedhel begged

“Because I will not bind myself to one who I do not love, and I do not love you. I am sorry.” Her voice was quite soft now and sad. “I am so very sorry.”

With that she released Lhûnedhel hands, got up, and walked away from him, leaving him huddled alone beside a tree.

Ariella felt as if part of a great burden she was previously unaware she had carried had been lifted from her shoulders. She felt so bad for the pain that radiated from Lhûnedhel. She understood what it was to be alone in the world, making the pain of leaving him even worse, knowing how empty and alone he must feel now. He was a good ellon and deserved much better than what she had to offer. She hoped he would find it one day either here or back in Valinor.

~~~~~~***************~~~~~~

A tear-stained glass of wine later, Ariella found Istadan chatting with some others. She quietly waited for him to leave the conversation, then tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around in surprise.

“Ariella!” he cried joyfully. He bowed low with a flourish, then offered her his arm. “Shall we go dancing?”

She smiled at him, taking his arm. “That would be wonderful, Istadan.”

He smiled back and led her off. She danced two dances with him as his exuberance made it impossible to break away after only one dance. They were both breathless as they left the crowd and made their way to a quiet alcove.

He gave her a warm embrace and said into her hair, “I have missed you so much. I did not realize how much you filled my days until they were devoid of you. It is so good to see you again.”

This was going to be so much more difficult than breaking from Lhûnedhel. She actually liked Istadan very much, and he had a wonderful innocent charm about him. Still, she did not love him and false hope was not fair. She pulled back from the embrace for a moment, composing her thoughts. She looked into his bright eyes, and brushed aside a few strands of his long dark hair that had escaped their braid during the dancing. She gently caressed his cheek, trying to convince her mouth to speak the words she had come there to say. Suddenly his mouth enticed hers to another form of verbal intercourse.

She was so startled by his lips pressing against hers that she stood frozen for a moment, unable to react. He slid his tongue along her lips seeking entry. Against her will, her mouth opened for him and her tongue caressed his as he deepened the kiss. One of his arms wrapped around her, holding her closer to him as his fingers intertwined in her hair. Her hands moved to his head, pressing him to her as her fingers slid into his mane. His hair was so silky and warm in the cold night air. His mouth was delicious, but it did not compare with Glorfindel’s.

She broke the kiss and looked up to see fire in his eyes, but there was no fire in her, not like there was when she was with Glorfindel. Shocked that she had kissed him like that, she took a deep breath and composed herself, sliding her hands down his muscular arms to catch and hold his hands.

“Istadan, there is something we need to talk about.” Her voice was calm and serious.

He looked into her eyes, suddenly sober himself.

“Istadan, this is very hard for me to say. I enjoy your company and take great pleasure in conversing with you. I like you very much, and…” She reached up and touched her lips where the memory of his kiss still lingered. “that kiss was wonderful.” She said softly, then paused, lowering her hand to take his again. “But I do not love you. I am sorry. I do not love Lhûnedhel either, so do not worry that I am choosing him over you, because I am not. I like you better than I like him. But the fact still stands, I do not love you.” Then she whispered again, “I am sorry.”

She released his hands and looked away, blinking back tears, unable to meet his bright gaze. She felt his warm hands on her cold cheeks, gently turning her face back toward his. The hurt in his eyes threatened to pierce her heart. She desperately wanted to look away again, but he held her firm.

“Ariella, I am sorry too. I thought you loved me. You chose me over Lhûnedhel in the library the other day, and you healed me. Your touch and compassion stirred something so deeply in me. I knew then I loved you. In spite of what you have said now, I still love you.” He swallowed hard. “I hope you find happiness because I believe you deserve it, even if it is not to be with me.”

She pulled him into another embrace, hugging him tightly to her, then finally broke the contact.

“Farewell, Istadan,” she said sadly as she backed away.

He looked forlorn standing there alone. “Farewell, my lovely Ariella,” he whispered back.

She turned and hurriedly walked away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*****************~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ariella downed another glass of wine, as she looked around at the swirling crowd of partying elves in their frivolous festive attire and innocent happiness, oblivious to the doom that awaited them twenty-two and a half years from now. She set the glass down and sighed. The night was getting older and she still had her last task to perform.

Ariella wandered away from the crowd toward the southern part of the city in the general direction of Glorfindel’s house. After a while, she saw the dim outline of the path to her final destination: the stairs up to the battlements of the wall. The wind was becoming chill though the evening was clear and dry for a change. She wrapped her cloak tighter about herself, making her way over to the steps and up.

Traversing this unguarded section of wall a ways, she stopped to admire the lights of the party in the center of the city. Gondolin was so incredibly beautiful from here, even at night. She was glad she had had the chance to see it and experience it. Not that it did her much good in the end. She thought she had managed to avoid changing history, but she had broken hearts. She was as cruel and cold as Glorfindel had accused her. She never deserved to have the experience of being here.

Two of her friends and teachers were hurting now, but she hurt too, more than she wanted to admit. It would be best for them if she were gone. It would be best for everyone. She had split up Glorfindel’s family and turned his adoring little sister and his cousin against him. All she managed to do to him was anger him and make him hate her. She ached with love for him, but to what purpose? To what end?

Yes, it really was best if she left. She had done some good while she was here. Some people were alive for a while longer than they would have been otherwise and others would die or survive because of the people she had healed. But in the end, everyone would be better off without her.

She climbed up into one of the narrow openings in the battlements and looked down the sheer face of the white stone wall to the moonlit rocks far, far below. Idril, Elianna, and Linanna would be angry with her for giving up, for doing this. Couldn’t they see it would be better this way?

Ariella swayed a bit and clung tightly to the battlement, not quite ready to let go. A gust of cold wind whipped her cloak about her as she hung on, briefly blocking her view. She had always heard that this was the coward’s way out and that it was wrong. However, would it not be just as wrong to survive, living off of others as she had been doing, when in the end she was going to die anyway? She had been living a lie. It was time for the lie to end. It was time for her to meet her end.

The gust relented and released her cloak. She took a deep breath and started to release her grip on the battlement. Should she fall or jump? She completely let go, stretching out her shaking arms, but never got the answer to her last question.

Something strong wrapped itself around her waist at that moment and pulled her back. She fell with a cry of surprise, clutching at the battlement, but missing. She ended up on her back on top of someone who grunted as she and the person impacted with the walkway atop the wall. She tried to roll off of the person, but the arm around her waist would not release. She lay on her side prying at the arm to no avail.

Then she noticed the golden flowers dimly illuminated on the embroidered cuff of the ellon’s sleeve. She stopped struggling.

He sat up and scooted back against the battlements, holding her tightly against him. His breath in her ear was labored, but warm. She sat still, fighting between fear of what he would say and do to her and how warm and safe it felt to be held by him again. The wind whipped about them, fiercely tossing their hair and tugging hard at their cloaks. It was so cold up there, but his body kept her warm. He slipped his hand up to her left shoulder with his arm across her chest between her breasts, while maintaining the same tight hold as before. She finally gave in and rested her head against his shoulder and neck. After a while his breathing calmed.

“Ariella,” he whispered fiercely, “My love, I nearly lost you. I nearly lost you.”

Something warm and wet touched her hair as she felt him tremble beneath her. “I love you so much – so very much,” he continued. “I tried to tell you the night you left to go help with the triplets, but never got to finish. Then I was so angry when you came back. Please do not leave me again. I beg you, do not leave me again.” He wept, his face pressed into her hair.

She felt something wet on her face and touched it only to realize she was crying too. She wrapped her arms around his arm and held on tight.

“I am sorry, too, for everything. I love you and only you. And when I thought I could not have you, I wanted nothing,” she finally confessed. She felt him kiss her head and press his head against hers more solidly.

She did not know how long they lay on the wall being battered by the winds of Gondolin and of their own emotions. When they finally stood again, she was stiff and sore from the wind and from the fall. They clung to each other again in a tight embrace.

“How did you find me?” Ariella asked nuzzling her head closer to him.

His voice was muffled in her hair as he replied. “I followed you from the house, but you never saw me. I watched you dance with Lhûnedhel and break with him, and I watched you do the same with Istadan. I was unsure as to how to approach you and what to say, so I just kept following you. I was very surprised when you headed this way, but kept to the shadows so you would not see me. I climbed the steps after you did, and still you never saw me. I did not realize what you were planning until you climbed up as high as you could. I still cannot run, and walking fast really hurts, but I made my way to you as quickly as I could. I was praying the whole way that I would make it to you before you jumped or fell. Fortunately I succeeded.”

“Yes, you did.”

He pulled back and looked into her eyes. “Ariella, I love you so very much and I hate my life without you. Will you have me? Would you bind yourself to me and be my wife?”

Ariella looked into his pleading grey eyes, considering the possibility. There was no way she could ever tell him what she really was, so she would have to continue living the lie. They would only have twenty-two and a half years together before she and most of their children – she would have children, his children– would die when the city fell. She guessed she would have to be the one to bear Glorfindel his sons as elves do not physically develop quickly enough for Glorfindel to sire a full-blooded elf child now and have it be mature enough in body to fight in that fateful battle. Marriage to her would not cost him his immortality, because as far as her own past was concerned, he returned from Mandos’ Halls after his death and even returned to Middle-Earth. It was all right for her to be the nameless wife mentioned in the history books who he would lose when Gondolin was destroyed. There was no one else it could be now. It had to be her. She would have twenty-two and a half years with him, and it would be worth every minute of it.

“Yes, Glorfindel, I will bind myself to you,” for twenty-two and half glorious years. “I will be your wife.” The joy radiating from his face was beyond description. He picked her up in his one good arm and swung her around once. Then he abruptly set her down and hunched over, leaning heavily on her.

“Glorfindel, what is wrong?” she asked worriedly.

He sucked in some air and panted, “I am not yet strong enough to be picking you up like that and it hurt very much.”

She put her arm around him, bearing much of his weight as they slowly, carefully made their way down the steps and back to the house. She helped him to his room and sat him on his bed. With the utmost care, she removed his cloak and the sling supporting his left arm. Then she proceeded to remove his robes and his tunic and shirt, folding them neatly and setting them aside.

“What are you doing?” he finally asked as she pushed him back to recline against his pillows.

“I am surprised it took you so long to ask that,” she commented with a laugh, looking at his bare chest and shaking her head in disbelief. “I am finishing something that I should have completed before now.” She caressed his face and slid her fingers into his wind-tangled hair against his scalp and dulled the pain which engulfed him, finally taking all of it away. Then she established healing contact and healed his new injuries. When she finished, she moved to his left arm and shoulder.

He raised his right hand to her cheek and stopped her. “Ariella, are you sure you are up to this? Remember there is no one to carry you back to your room afterward.”

She removed his hand from her face and kissed his knuckles. “I will heal what I am able tonight.” Then she teased, “Are you afraid that someone will enter in the morning and find a half naked lord lying asleep in his bed beside an elleth who is not his wife?”

“I fear no such thing. But, it is only slightly less scandalous when the elleth is the lord’s betrothed. However, considering my entire household staff turned against me for my recent treatment of you, I think that they will be pleased with me – especially once we tell them we wish to wed. They will not spread any rumors about finding us in bed together. Also, with my sling gone, they will know that you were here to heal me.” He traced the line of her face from forehead to chin with his fingers, pure mischief glinting in his lovely eyes. “However, I do not know how we will explain your presence in my bed the rest of the nights before we wed.”

Blushing and giggling, she pushed his right arm away from her and back against the pillows. “You are terrible!” she exclaimed.

He lay there gloating and laughing.

“I will stop that silly laughter,” she threatened.

“How?”

She leaned forward and kissed him deeply. When she pulled back, he panted, “You win. But only because I am too weak and injured to carry on.” He brushed his fingers along her face. “I long to hold you in both of my arms once again. Our one evening together sustained me through those three boring months at the First Gate, but it is no longer enough. I need more to last me forever. Holding you for all of eternity should satisfy that.”

She could not bear to look him in the eyes at that. For them, there would be no forever together. Lovingly and apologetically, she leaned forward and kissed his bare shoulder. Twenty-two and a half years would have to last him for all of eternity, for that was all history would allow her to give.

She resumed the healing contact and worked on his badly damaged left arm until they both were too weak for her to continue. After kicking off her shoes and removing his boots, she pulled up a blanket to cover them both. She laid her head on his right shoulder and the contours of his body molded against hers as if he had been designed and sculpted specifically for her. Smiling contentedly, though weary beyond all belief, she snuggled as close to him as she could get. He wrapped his right arm around her, pulling her closer still, and rested his left hand on her right where it splayed across his bare chest. She had never known a more blissful night’s sleep in her life.

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Author' s Notes: One of my betas. Vicki, is currently in possession of Istadan until such a time as he may be needed later in the story. I apologize for any inconvience this may cause to anyone's fantasy life. She got dibs on him as she requested him right after his scene ended in her first edit of the chapter.

A note about reviews: It has occurred to me that it may seem to those who don’t review that I don’t thank my reviewers here at Open Scrolls. Actually, I send each one a PM (private message) of thanks. So, lest you think I’m an ungrateful wretch, I’m not. I’m a grateful a wretch.


Chapter 13 - Chapter 13

Betas: Fianna, GeorgiaPiper, Vicki, and Marcia

Rating: PG-13 In this chapter, it's for some sexual inuendo and romantic description.

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.

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Chapter 13

Someone was knocking at the door. Ariella felt the warmth beside her stir. Glorfindel’s voice in her mind said, 'Be still and pretend to be asleep. I am not yet ready to let you go again.'

She kissed the side of his chest in response and moved her right hand to nonchalantly cover her mouth as she was suddenly possessed by a nervous desire to giggle. She felt his right arm tighten around her and his left hand cover her hand near her mouth. 'Hush my love' his mental voice said. She forced her eyes to close tighter, but not to crinkle so she would not look like she was faking sleep.

“Enter!” Glorfindel’s voice rang out heavy with sleep. She figured he must have just awakened too.

She heard the door open, then the surprised voice of one of the servants who happened to be Linanna’s husband. “My lord! Forgive me for … interrupting you.” The servant sounded uncomfortable and uncertain with those last words, but his voice regained it’s formality with the next. “Your brothers are here to see you.”

Glorfindel sighed loudly and cursed rather creatively in her mind. She felt his body tense and shift a bit beside her. Biting her lip hard, she tried not to giggle. His left hand pressed harder over her right and her mouth.

He inhaled as if to speak when she heard Elindir’s voice, his tone that haughty, taunting one that only brothers can achieve at the most inopportune of times. “Good afternoon, brother. We had an appointment to meet with you after lunch. However, it seems you are having a little meeting of your own without us.”

Glorfindel replied in a dignified voice as if his current compromised position was a perfectly acceptable reason to miss a meeting. “I am sorry. I was exhausted and overslept – and I forgot all about the meeting.”

“Why, might we inquire dear brother, were you exhausted?” Celoril asked in mock innocence with that same annoying ‘I can’t wait to blackmail you with this later’ tone in his voice. If he had been her brother, Ariella would have been contemplating doing something very bad to him later, but he was Glorfindel’s brother, so she did not have to concern herself. She fought to remain still.

“My brothers,” Glorfindel addressed them, his voice patiently sweet and generous. “Ariella healed much of the damage to my arm last night. It is easier for her if she has direct contact with the skin when she heals. The healing was as exhausting for me as it was for her and there was no one here to take her back to her room. She sleeps still and it would be polite for you not to disturb her rest.”

Ariella sensed someone beside the bed a moment later and felt the blanket being lifted and then set back down. Glorfindel’s hand left hers and she heard his indignant inquiry. “What are you doing Elindir?”

“Just checking to see which arm she healed, my brother.” Elindir replied.

She heard snickering from somewhere across the room and movement nearby as she felt Glorfindel abruptly shift some more beside her. She bit her lip harder trying to remain still and impassive. It was so very hard not to laugh.

“It was my LEFT ARM,” Glorfindel said angrily. “The one that is about to slap you for being so rude.” She felt him briefly shift further away from her.

“Obviously she has not finished with the healing, as you completely missed him, Glorfindel. And he was an easy target, too.” Celoril’s voice taunted, then turned serious. “However, it is good to see that you can use your arm again. We were worried that you would not recover use of it at all. Did Ariella say if she can completely heal it?”

“No she did not say. And Elindir, could you not see that she is fully dressed without removing the blanket?” Glorfindel sounded really annoyed now.

“Actually, dear brother, I was more concerned about your state of dress. And, Glorfindel, obviously YOU are not married or you would know that the presence of a dress does not mean that you did not partake of certain… pleasures.” Elindir chided. “However, I see by your eyes that you have not bound yourself to her … yet. Can we hope that such a thing will take place sometime in the next year, perhaps?”

Glorfindel sighed. “Why did you two want to meet with me today?”

“You evade the question, brother.” Elindir said. “But you will have to answer it anyway as she is the reason we are here. We came to tell you to stop being an idiot, lower your pride and go confess your love for her. However since she is currently reposing in your bed, cuddled up as close to you as she can get without being completely on top of you, can we assume that the two of you have spoken?”

“Yes, you can assume that.” Glorfindel responded evenly. She felt his body relax and his arm wrap around and hug her close to him. From the quietly joyful tone of his voice she could almost hear him smiling as he said, “and you can assume that ‘such a thing,’ as you put it, will take place in the next year or so, maybe less. We have not had the opportunity to discuss a date. Last night I asked her to be my wife and she accepted.”

The yells and shouts of joy that erupted in the room made it very difficult to pretend to be asleep, so she feigned a restless sleepy stir. She had to press her face even further into Glorfindel’s skin to hide the smile that was invading her face and threatening to set up camp.

Ariella missed part of what was said as more voices chattered excitedly. The next part she made out clearly was Elindir saying, “I cannot wait to tell my wife and son. And Elianna! She will be so happy to hear this. Shall we have a betrothal feast prepared for tonight or wait until tomorrow?”

“Thank you. And it does not have to be that soon.” Glorfindel responded.

“Yes, it does.” Celoril answered back. “We cannot have you turning coward and changing your mind.”

“It would be nice if I actually was able to discuss this with Ariella, seeing as she is somewhat directly affected. I think she deserves to have some say in this.” Glorfindel pointed out.

“Why? She is still your ward and you are her lord. You could just tell her when events will take place and she will have to accept it.” Elindir offered.

“I am going to tell your wife you said that.” Celoril threatened.

“Do not even think about telling her!” Elindir warned in a menacing tone.

“Brothers! Peace. Please let Ariella rest for now and I, your elder brother and lord of your house, will tell YOU when these events are to take place. Now go and leave us in peace.” Glorfindel exerted his authority commandingly.

“Very well,” Celoril conceded. “Farewell brother and give our soon-to-be sister a kiss for us.” A lot of shuffling and many murmurs emanated from across the room and peace seemed to reign once again.

She heard and felt Glorfindel sigh wearily. “Is it safe to assume that the entire household now knows of my betrothal or will very shortly?”

Linanna’s husband answered matter-of-factly. “Yes, my lord, in all likelihood.”

“Do you think it possible that you could see to it that this news stays in this house at least until Ariella awakens, and possibly even until we can make some decisions on dates?” Glorfindel asked in exasperation.

“I will see what I can do, my lord. And, may I say on behalf of the household staff: Congratulations! We are very happy for you and for Ariella, whom we have all come to love and respect during the short time she has dwelt among us.”

“Thank you. Thank you very much.” Glorfindel replied humbly, sounding quite touched by the sentiment.

“Sir, would you like for me to have some food sent up and some juice perhaps considering you have not yet broken your fast?”

“Yes, please. That would be most appreciated.”

Ariella heard the door close and muffled voices recede down the hall.

Glorfindel turned toward her and his other arm wrapped around her once more, squeezing her hard against him. He kissed her forehead lingeringly and nestled his head against hers. He sighed and she opened her eyes as his body shook with a soft nervous laugh.

“By the Valar! None of that went as I would have wished. Oh Ariella, I am so sorry. I am so very sorry about that. But I guess it is retribution for my behavior of the last week. Please forgive me for our betrothal being announced in such an embarrassing way.”

She moved her head and looked into his face. He was the one blushing this time. It was a quite attractive shade of crimson and looked nice on him. She smiled mischievously and raised her hand to brush a few stray strands of his exquisite golden hair away from his face. “I understand your enjoyment at seeing me blush.” She tweaked his nose. “That particular shade of red suits you well.” She giggled and he joined her, turning even redder. “Looking on the bright side,” she continued, “at least everyone knows now and they seem to be very happy about it.”

“Yes…that is true,” he replied hesitantly. He pressed his warm flushed forehead to hers and whispered, “I am never ever going to live this down. First I shoot you and then I announce our betrothal while lying half naked in my bed with you curled up asleep by my side.”

Ariella was amused and a little frightened by the way events were unfolding in her life. Unable to think of anything better to do at the moment, she gave him a little kiss, which he returned deeply and more enthusiastically. She buried her fingers in his tangled hair and pressed his face closer to hers. She felt his hand travel up to her face, lightly skimming her back and shoulder.

As they continued the passionate joining of their mouths, she felt his hand slide down her neck, tracing the contours of her body to rest on her hip, leaving a tingling trail in its wake. He pressed her closer as his hips ground firmly against her, showing her the effects their kissing was having on him. Breathing raggedly, he continued the assault her lips while his hand moved to cup and caress her through her clothing.

She moaned at the sensations coursing through her, wanting more. Tentatively her right hand slid down to his hip and around as she began to explore and caress him more intimately as well. He shifted to give her better access, then broke the kiss in order to bring his mouth down to take over where his bold fingers had left off. She held his head to her for a moment, delighting in the ecstasy, then pushed him away.

He looked down at her predatorily, panting, eyes ablaze with passion. She smiled at him, then said breathlessly, “We need to stop.”

Glorfindel continued to gaze at her ravenously, trying to regain his breath. He moved his hand to her shoulder as reason slowly filled his hungry eyes. He rested his head on her shoulder for a few moments, breathing deeply.

Once he had calmed, he rolled over pulling her on top of him. He cupped her face in his hands, pulling her closer as if to kiss her again. “Maybe we should just go ahead and bind ourselves now. We could not possibly embarrass ourselves further.”

“Yes, you could and binding yourselves with an audience would definitely do it.” Linanna’s voice answered severely.

Ariella and Glorfindel froze. She had not heard Linanna enter and, judging by the look of shock on Glorfindel’s rapidly paling face, he had not heard her either.

Glorfindel’s arms dropped to his sides as if in resignation or defeat. Ariella buried her face in Glorfindel’s neck, shaking with laughter. Glorfindel’s arms enveloped her again as he said tolerantly, “Linanna, please tell me you are the only other one in the room with us.”

“Now why would you want my wife to lie to you, my lord?” Linanna’s husband’s voice asked innocently before bursting out laughing.

Glorfindel swore under his breath in an interesting combination of Sindarin and Quenya before admitting defeat. “All right! I surrender. Please end the torture and execute me now!” He threw his arms out across the pillows.

“No, my lord, you have to give the lovely elleth a nice wedding first. She has had precious few happy events of late,” Linanna chided through her own laughter.

“Thank you.” Ariella responded glancing over at Linanna’s triumphantly smiling face and watching as she placed a tray of food on the table beside the bed. She appreciated the way Linanna was always looking out for her.

Linanna’s husband turned to face them after placing juice and wine on the same table, along with some glasses. “My lord, before we left Valinor, your father took Linanna and me aside and asked us to look after his children and you in particular. While I do not think he would have been particularly impressed with the circumstances under which you met Ariella or in which you announced your betrothal, I do think he would be most pleased with your choice of her as your bride. And for what it is worth, Linanna and I await the task of looking after your children with great anticipation.”

Ariella noticed an odd look on Glorfindel’s face as he replied, “I had not thought of what my father would say. It seems strange to think that I will wed and he will not be here to witness it.” He wrapped Ariella in his arms again, closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. Then he opened his eyes and responded softly, “Thank you for telling me this.”

“You are welcome, my lord.” The reply came with a bow as Linanna and her husband left the room, closing the door firmly behind them.

The expression on Glorfindel’s face spoke of regret and memories best left forgotten. Ariella rolled off of him and propped herself up on an elbow, eying him with concern. She brushed his cheek with her fingertips. “Are you all right?” she asked softly.

“No, no I am not,” he replied quietly, closing his eyes and laying his arm across his forehead. “I am feeling the weight of the Curse of the Noldor once again. It was foretold that all good things that we begin here in this land will end in ruin.

“My parents will miss the wedding of their eldest son. They have never seen their grandchildren. And I guess they never will as Valinor is closed to us forever, unless we return by Mandos’ Halls at our deaths. My parents begged us not to go, but we did not listen. Before I left, my father told me that he foresaw that I would wed and have children here.” Glorfindel swallowed hard. “He also said that in a single night I would lose all that I had gained here, including my beloved brothers and sister and their families, too, before I lost my own life.” He opened his piercing grey eyes and placed his hand on her cheek. “I do not want to lose you. I came so close to that last night. I want to spend eternity with you, but my heart warns me that our time together will be brief.”

He was silent for a time, gently caressing her face and looking at her as if he were memorizing her features. Ariella did not want to tell him that his father was right. She also did not want to tell him that she was mortal and that he would be returning from Mandos’ Halls, even returning to Middle Earth, only to be alone once more. Instead, she reached out and laid her hand on his cheek.

“Let us not wait the customary year to wed,” she whispered. “Let us wed sooner.”

He nodded. “How about at the feast of the Gates of Summer?”

Ariella thought about it for a moment. That would give them exactly or almost exactly 22 years together as husband and wife, depending on when she died during the fall of Gondolin. She forced a smile to fight back the sadness she suddenly felt. “That would be most fitting as it is the anniversary of when I awoke and officially met you.”

Glorfindel smiled, pulling her close and wrapping her in a warm, tight embrace, the length of their bodies pressed together once more. “The Gates of Summer it shall be then, my love.”


Chapter 14 - Chapter 14

Betas: Fianna, GeorgiaPiper, Vicki, and Marcia

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.

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Ariella spent the night before her wedding wrapped in Glorfindel’s arms, awaiting the dawn from atop the walls of Gondolin. The entire city was gathered to begin the festival with ancient songs of welcome and wonder. As the first shades of orange and yellow appeared, Ariella could feel the excitement in the air and in those around her. The birthing of the sun was beautiful to behold as the complicated elven melodies rang in harmony with the visual display which spilled forth across the sky. The scent of flowers in the warm air only served to enhance the beauty of the dawn, making it so tangible Ariella could almost taste the colors. The festivals she had attended in Imladris had been nothing like this.

She leaned back against Glorfindel with his arms clasped around her waist, holding her close throughout the song. She could feel his lovely rich voice resonating in his chest. As soon as the song was complete, Glorfindel lifted Ariella’s right hand and kissed the silver betrothal ring that glinted on her index finger. Then he turned her in his arms and kissed her lightly upon the lips.

“We need to go home and break our fast so we can prepare for the wedding,” he said softly. He smiled and kissed her again. “Although, I would be quite content to remain here and feast upon your lips.”

Ariella giggled in response and nuzzled her head against the side of his neck. He held her close and she could feel his cheek resting on her head.

“I could stand here all day holding you,” he sighed.

“You already stood here all night holding me,” she reminded him contentedly.

“I know. And I look forward to holding you all night tonight, preferably lying down in my bed and maybe on the bearskin rug by the fireplace, too, with no visitors to interrupt us.” He gently pushed her away smiling mischievously.

Heat rose in her cheeks at the thought of spending this night with him. She quickly bowed her head to try to hide the blush, but it was too late. Softly chuckling with that little laugh he seemed to reserve for the times when she amused him without meaning to, he tipped her chin with his finger and gently kissed her lips.

“Let us be off my love,” he said.

Glorfindel elegantly bowed to her and made a show of offering her his arm, which she took laughingly, and they made their way through the crowd back to his house.

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Ariella was too nervous to eat very much, so she contented herself with bathing and washing her hair. Idril, Linanna, and Elianna arrived a short time later to help her dress.

After drying Ariella’s hair, they helped garb her in her new pale lavender wedding gown. The shimmering gauzy fabric flowed about her as if the dress had been poured over her with the layered skirts pooling around her feet. The long wispy sleeves made each movement of her arms elegant and enchanting. The cut of the neckline was low enough to be tempting, but not too revealing. Idril and Elianna had designed it, and judging by their approving smiles as she twirled about the room, seemed quite pleased with the results.

Settling on her bed, Ariella watched in fascination as Linanna and Elianna, chatting merrily, wove the crown of ribbons and flowers she was to wear in her hair. The flowers were the same fragrant variety that Ariella had awoken to find in her room nearly a year ago. She had since discovered that they were the actual golden flower for which the house was named, and that they came in two varieties: one with golden petals and a center of the same hue and the other with golden petals and a purple center.

She felt wonderful, but a little absurd, too, with all of the attention she was receiving. The way her friends teased and fussed over her made her feel like she was some beloved younger sister.

She rubbed the fabric of her dress between her thumb and first finger as a great sadness suddenly took hold of her. She really was a younger sister, and others should have been there that day to fuss over her. She had two older sisters and three younger ones, not to mention the wives of her brothers, all of whom should have been the ones preparing her for her wedding – not three beings that weren’t even of her race.

Tears stung her eyes as she thought of her family. They should have been here today celebrating with her. She could so easily picture her mother smiling, amidst proud tears, at her little girl all grown up and finally marrying. Mother had smiled that way when her older sisters were wed. But Ariella was never going to see that smile directed toward her. She longed to see her mother’s face again and feel one of those wonderful, all-encompassing hugs one more time. What she wouldn’t give just to hear her mother say “I love you” once more. But she was never going to hear that again.

What would her father say if he knew she was to be married? She smiled to herself, despite the tears now streaming freely down her cheeks, at the thought of how horrified he would be to know that Glorfindel, who had had a romantic relationship with her mother before she had met him, was going to be his son-in-law. But her father had always been proud of her and never missed an opportunity to tell her so or to tell her that he loved her.

Warm arms enveloped her as Idril softly said, “He would have been proud of you this day, Ariella. I feel certain of that. Your mother would have been proud of you, too. You have done such good since you have arrived here and learned so very much. From what you have told me of your parents, I think they both would have been pleased with the way in which your love for our people will be rewarded today.” Idril pulled back and smiled at Ariella as she continued, “I also think they would have been pleased with the ellon you managed to capture for a husband. There are not that many lords available for beguiling and marrying, you know.”

Ariella sniffled and smiled back at her. “And I am about to reduce that number by one.” She hugged Idril again then added, “Thank you … for everything.”

Idril withdrew her arms and shook her finger at Ariella accusingly. “Just remember that you only get to keep your handsome lord on the stipulation that you endeavor to increase the number of new lords and ladies in the near future.”

Ariella wiped her face with a cool damp cloth that Elianna had just handed to her and laughed. “I intend to begin work toward undertaking that endeavor quite soon.”

Elianna gave her a knowing smile. “If my brother’s reaction to and great affection for my son has been any indication, then I will not be surprised if you are pregnant before the year is out.”

Linanna patted Ariella on the shoulder and added, “I, for one, am looking forward to caring for all of the little lords and ladies that will be added unto this house by you. My heart tells me that there will be many.”

Ariella blushed brightly and bowed her head at the thought that not only would those children be hers, but also because of what would be involved in creating them AND the fact that everybody else knew how it would happen. She was simply too embarrassed by the reality of the situation to say anything more. The other three ellith laughed gleefully, clapping their hands and shaking their heads.

“Poor child,” Linanna sagely observed amidst her giggles. “Poor naive elleth.”

Once the gales of laughter had died down to occasional snorts and shaking of the shoulders accompanied by knowing smiles directed toward Ariella, Linanna and Elianna combed her hair once more. Idril placed the now completed crown of flowers on Ariella’s head, adjusting it to her satisfaction. Warm mothering, sistering, befriending arms suddenly engulfed Ariella from all sides. Such great love and joy emanated from that embrace that she felt a sense in her mind that she would be a welcome part of their family, completing her bond of friendship with them as she bound herself to her beloved Glorfindel.

As they all pulled back, straightening Ariella’s dress and crown again, Elianna said, “It is time to depart. Shall we go?”

“Yes!” Ariella beamed, having somewhat recovered, but her fingers betrayed her nervousness by immediately fidgeting with the fabric of her dress again. The four made their way to the door of the house where they were met by the wives of Glorfindel’s brothers. The group made its way through the city past the festivities of the Gates of Summer to the Place of Weddings which was on the highest point in the city, and overlooked the King’s palace. Many gaily dressed people stopped and stared or toasted the group amiably or shouted their wishes of happiness to Ariella, but none waylaid her entourage.


When they arrived at the Place of Weddings, Ariella halted in awe. The entire place was adorned with golden flowers, green and gold streamers, and the banner of the House of the Golden Flower.

Suddenly she doubted that it was such a good idea to marry Glorfindel. She hadn’t considered the fact that she would be introducing a strain of alien blood with some non-elvish traits into a noble house of the Noldor. She also hadn’t considered the fact that Glorfindel’s Vanyarin ancestry came through his mother Inarie, the daughter of Ingwe, so the strain would be introduced into the line of the high king of all the elves as well. Unfortunately, it was a little late to be making such realizations now.

Ariella immediately felt Idril speaking in her mind. 'You have already made this choice, Ariella. You cannot back out now because of fear of what your influence will cause. As far as your past is concerned, this union already took place. You are simply confirming history happens the way it already did for you. It would destroy you both if you abandoned him now.

Ariella mutely nodded her acquiescence and started fidgeting with the material of her dress. Elianna grabbed her hand and held it still by her side as the procession continued once again toward the site of the ceremony.

They were met shortly thereafter by Glorfindel, his entourage of family and friends, and King Turgon who would invoke the blessing of Eru on the happy couple.

Ariella was stunned when she saw Glorfindel. He was dressed in tunic, shirt, and leggings of white trimmed with gold. His white robes were heavily embroidered with vines of golden flowers. On his head he wore an intertwined circlet of gold, symbol of his lordship. He was radiant, and very soon he would be all hers.

Turgon, robed in white and wearing his coronet of silver and garnets, took his place as the crowd of kin, friends, and the lords and ladies of the court of Gondolin gathered around. With Ariella’s mother and Glorfindel’s father both absent, others had been chosen to fulfill their parental duties in the ceremony. Idril led Ariella forward before Turgon to meet Glorfindel who was escorted by his brother Celoril. She placed Ariella’s hands in Glorfindel’s and invoked the blessings of Varda upon the couple. When Idril withdrew, Celoril laid his hands upon their joined hands, invoking the blessings of Manwe. Turgon then laid his hands upon the bride and groom’s joined hands and invoked the blessings of Eru the God of All whose name is seldom spoken for the elves great reverence of Him.

With the final blessing complete, Turgon instructed them to remove and return their betrothal rings. Ariella’s hands were quivering so much; she could not take off her ring. Glorfindel grinned sympathetically as he helped her to remove the stubborn silver band. He handed the band to Celoril, then gave her his own silver ring which she handed to Idril. Glorfindel brought forth a gold ring with tiny vines of golden flowers meticulously engraved around it. He kissed the gold band before placing it on the index finger of Ariella’s right hand. She was shaking so badly, he had to hold tightly to her hand in order to slide the ring in place. Taking a steadying breath, she gently kissed Glorfindel’s gold ring, the match of hers, before placing it on his finger. They joined hands again and Ariella realized that Glorfindel’s hands were trembling, too.

Idril then approached Glorfindel and placed about his neck a collar made of intertwining leaves of gold that came together in the blossom of a golden flower with an amethyst at its heart. When she stepped back, Celoril came forward and placed a similar golden leafed necklace around Ariella’s neck, only her flower was made of amethysts encompassing a golden center. Smiling broadly, Turgon pronounced the couple married. Ariella blushed as Glorfindel whispered, “I love you with all of my heart” before his lips met hers for a chaste kiss, hinting at the promise of so much more. The crowd cheered and parted as the happy couple made their way out of the Place of Weddings and down the street toward Glorfindel’s house where the party and feast would begin.

After many hours of countless dances, well wishes, and bountiful food, Glorfindel took her hand and they slipped away to his room. Their first night together was passionate and beautiful, though they were both exhausted. As they lay in each other’s arms awaiting the embrace of sleep, Glorfindel pulled her even closer and whispered, “I can feel you in my mind and in my heart. Our binding is complete.”

Ariella was quite startled to discover that she could feel him in her head and heart, too. She had totally forgotten about that aspect of elvish marriage! She realized, with great anxiety that she would need to explore just how much access he had to her mind to be sure she could keep him away from thoughts and memories to which she did not want him to have access.

He chuckled softly and kissed her forehead. “I will not probe deeply into your thoughts, my love, if you will not probe into mine. You will keep your separate identity as I will keep mine. But, I believe we will always be able to feel each other’s emotions. It will be interesting exploring all of the possibilities here, will it not? And just think, neither of us will ever be wholly alone again.” He yawned loudly. “My dear Ariella, you have brought me my greatest joy. Good night, my beloved.”

Ariella looked inside of him, sensing his great contentment as his thoughts drifted into dreams. It saddened her that she would be leaving him all alone forever in a few years. She erected her mental barriers and realized that they were incomplete now. Her bond with him flowed through them like a vine through a hole in a fence. As she succumbed to her own blessed weariness, she hoped for the sake of her history and his future that he would respect her privacy of thought as she would respect his.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Notes:
Noldor custom of giving of gifts and the elder wedding customs were mostly taken from the History of Middle Earth Series Volume X by Christopher Tolkien.
ellith – Sindarin for “females”
It is my invention that Glorfindel is the grandson of Ingwe as well as the name of Glorfindel’s mother being named Inarie.


Chapter 15 - Chapter 15

Betas: GeorgiaPiper, Vicki, Marcia, and GhettoElleth

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.

Author’s Apology: Sorry it took soooo terribly long to update. This chapter was written, rewritten, revised, buried in soft peat for three months, and then further beta-ed to death for more than a month after that, and on top of that, I had relatives visiting for a while and my daughter had pneumonia.

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Author’s Note: ALL TELEPATHIC COMMUNICATION IS DEPICTED IN BRACKETS AS I ALREADY HAVE SINGLE QUOTES USED ELSEWHERE AND IT’D ALL GET TOO CONFUSING OTHERWISE. I haven’t figured out how to do italics in OSA posts yet. Sorry.

Chapter 15

As the weeks passed, Ariella gradually grew accustomed to Glorfindel’s presence in her heart and mind, causing her to wonder how she had ever existed as a singular, isolated entity. When they were apart during the day, she delighted in reaching out to him with her thoughts, traversing the bond between them and feeling him respond in kind. She also noticed, to her great amusement, that he often initiated such contact himself, whenever he grew bored during council meetings.

Even though Ariella had ceased to study lore and the healing arts, she found that she had little time to herself. The duties required of the Lady of the House of the Golden Flower occupied her days. However, her nights were filled with Glorfindel: talking, reading, looking at the stars, or cuddling on the big rug by the fire. His warm affections brought her great joy while his passionate touch delighted her.

One evening, nearly three months after their wedding, Glorfindel returned to her after a particularly long meeting at court. He had been most playful and seductive in teasing her across their bond all day. She wondered just how productive he had been in the council chamber considering he had spent so much time counseling her on how he wanted to spend his time with her that night. She met him at the front door with her usual chaste greeting kiss, which he returned much more passionately than usual. This surprised her but not nearly as much as when he grabbed her hand pulling her into his study. Haphazardly tossing his notes from the day onto his desk, he drew her into his arms, grinning wolfishly.

“Lady Ariella, do not look so surprised,” he chided. “I believe we had a meeting scheduled to begin immediately upon my return home this evening. Was it not a topic of, shall we say, ‘heated’ discussion all day during council?” He resumed the kiss, deepening it, accompanied by hands that seemed to wander her body with their own agenda. The way certain parts of him pressed against her, she could tell that this discourse would rapidly change to another form of intercourse without much more provocation. Lack of air and much embarrassment at the possibility of being caught by one of the servants caused her to finally break the contact.

Normally Glorfindel returned home from council to confide over a glass of wine his irritation with someone or something that usually involved his cousin Maeglin and the House of the Mole. Why was he so playful today?

“Glorfindel,” she panted laying her head on his shoulder. He shifted her in his arms and began trailing kisses down her neck to her shoulder while his hands deftly manipulated the fastenings of her dress. “Glorfindel,” she called again, insistently pushing on his shoulders. “We should go upstairs. I could not bear the servants snickering at us all day long if we were caught again thus … engaged.”

He straightened at that and held her at arms length, the fire still smoldering in his eyes. “You are correct. Things were bad enough after the last time we were caught.”

Impatiently he led Ariella up to their bedroom, locking the door and discarding his formal outer robes in one fluid motion. He crossed the room and gently drew her down to lie in his arms on the soft bearskin rug. She protested weakly reminding him that it would soon be time for dinner, but Glorfindel smothered her objection with a slow lingering kiss that was deeply seductive. She never could resist him for long when he did that. Unexpectedly, he paused looking into her eyes.

“Beloved, we have more than an hour before dinner, and there is something that I would like to ask you.” He took a deep breath. “Ariella, I would like to start our family. Are you ready, my love?” He brushed her cheek tenderly with his fingers. “Do you want me to give you a child this evening?”

Ariella knew that elves could choose when they conceived their children and she had been wondering when Glorfindel would bring up the subject. The history books had already told her that most of his children would die when Gondolin fell. The books also said that he had been the proud father of many sons and daughters. Was it wrong for her to create a family with him knowing what the future would hold for those children? What was she thinking? She herself was mortal, therefore, this would not even be a concern if he were mortal too - any child she bore would be fated to die. Besides, she now had to ensure that history unfolded for her the way it had once before. She reassured herself with the thought that at least her beloved Glorfindel would be the father of her children – even though precious few of them would survive the fall of the city.

Smiling to chase away the last vestiges of sadness, she met his expectant gaze. “Yes, my love. I wish to bear your child.” She transformed the beautiful smile he gave in response with a seductive kiss and wandering hands of her own.

As it turned out, they were late to dinner.

**~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~********

The next morning, Ariella woke to find Glorfindel’s head resting on her abdomen. Absently, she stroked his golden hair before finally commenting, “It will be some time before you will be able to feel the child, Glorfindel.”

He raised his head and looked at her, a huge grin plastered across his face. “For someone who has assisted the midwife in delivering so many babies, you obviously are not very knowledgeable about the early months. I can already sense the new life within you.”

“What?” she asked doubtfully. “That is impossible!”

He laughed at her, shaking his head, then reached for her hand. After planting a soft kiss there, he gently placed her palm on her abdomen where his head had rested moments before. Holding her hand in place with his, she felt his thought turn inward as if he were searching for some distant feeling or memory within himself. “There,” he whispered almost as if he were afraid of waking it. “Do you feel it?”

Her eyes grew wide as she gasped in shock. She could feel it! There inside of her was indeed a tiny presence, the smallest hint of a spark from the life they had created together not twenty-four hours before.

She did not know how long she lay there lost in the wonder of the child within her when she realized Glorfindel was propped on an elbow, staring at her with amusement and unabashed loved on his face. His wet fingers were gently stroking her cheek.

She looked at him quizzically. “Why are your fingers wet?”

He chuckled softly, “Because you are crying, silly elleth.”

She raised her hand to brush the tears away, when he abruptly grabbed her hand and pinned it to the bed near her shoulder. “No, lovely lady,” he softly admonished. “They are mine.” He shifted and began kissing her tears away. When his lips ventured close enough to hers, she captured them and he did not resist.

As it turned out, they were late for breakfast too.

***************~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~************************

The people of Ariella’s race were known for their fertility and often had large families, especially those who lived on colonized worlds as her parents had. She herself had ten siblings. Before getting married when she and Glorfindel had discussed children, he had told her he wanted a large family with maybe five or six children. She remembered from her studies, however, that when elves conceived and bore children, a part of their being went into the making of the child and the drive to reproduce often diminished after only a few births. However her own brother had four children after only eight years with his lovely elleth and their desire for more children seemed hardly sated. She often pondered of late whose concept of a large family would win out.

Ariella’s own pregnancy progressed like that of any normal elleth. She suffered from no morning sickness and her food cravings were nothing out of the ordinary. Ever present within her was the sense of the added presence of her son, pulsing in time with her own being. She also realized that the child could sense when Glorfindel was physically near as its pulsing changed within her to match the rhythm of Glorfindel’s essence. It felt almost as if the bond between her and Glorfindel had taken a physical form in the body of their child. She had heard and read that the fëa of elven parents nurtured their children throughout the pregnancy and early childhood years. But she had never understood how this could be until now.

As the months went on, the midwife became increasingly concerned about the large size of the baby. Despite Ariella’s assurances that she felt fine and that she could detect no problems or abnormalities with herself or the child, the midwife changed her diet at six months. By the seventh month, this change had made no difference, so the midwife began checking the expectant mother weekly. Ariella grew increasingly annoyed by the constant fussing, but she was even more irritated when a healer began evaluating her at each visit as well. She probably would not have been quite so aggravated if the healer had not been Lhûnedhel.

******************************************************

The midwife had arrived an hour before lunch with the healer in tow.

Ariella greeted the midwife warmly and turned to Lhûnedhel. Instinctively, her mental barriers snapped back into place.

“Hello, Lhûnedhel,” she said cordially. “It has been a long time.”

He greeted her with a warm smile, surprising her greatly. “Good morning, my lady. It has been quite some time since I last had the pleasure of your company. I must admit that I am rather surprised to have you as a patient again. I understand that you are having some difficulty with this pregnancy?”

Ariella sighed loudly in exasperation, placing her hand on the large swell of her abdomen. “There is no problem with the pregnancy.” She inclined her head toward the midwife. “She thinks there is a problem because the baby is so big. I think it is fine, considering I have mortal blood and so does the baby. I can detect nothing wrong with myself or with him. However, she insists on constantly worrying over me.”

Lhûnedhel chuckled in amusement. “I forgot how obstinate you could be when you are the patient. I can see that the next few months are going to be quite interesting. Shall we proceed with the examination? Then I will be able to tell you with which diagnosis I agree.”

The next few minutes were uncomfortable at best, with him professionally looking at and touching her in places that he would have liked to have seen and touched as a lover. He seemed to sense the discomfort he was causing her, for his gaze met hers at one point and she realized that he wished to speak with her telepathically. She lowered her defenses enough to allow for communication.

His mental voice reassured, {I can and do distinguish between profession and passion, my lovely Ariella. As your healer I say, ‘be at ease’. I do still love you, but I do not begrudge Glorfindel the prize he has so successfully wooed and won for himself. My heart rejoices for you and the blessings you have received. I will use the love in my heart to better care for you and the children you will bear Glorfindel. }

Ariella was so taken aback that for a moment she couldn’t articulate anything physically or mentally. At last she found her mental voice and managed to say, {Thank you for saying this. If I must be under the care of a healer, I would rather it be you.}

He smiled in response and completed his examination.

After conferring with the midwife in private for a few minutes they returned, their expressions quite serious. Lhûnedhel addressed Ariella with the professional tone she had heard him use many times before. “You and the child appear to be healthy, however, we think that you are going to deliver him before the usual 12 months have transpired. Our best guess, based on the child’s rate of growth …” His face broke into a highly amused grin. “Is that you will probably deliver this child within the next two to three months.”

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By her eighth month, Ariella found herself tiring more easily. Glorfindel doted on her, rubbing her back when she was sore and singing to her when she could not rest comfortably or when their son grew too active within her. They also had to abandon their pleasant sojourns on the rug by the fire as Ariella could not get up off the floor again on her own, and Glorfindel could not resist laughing at her when that happened.

The evening before their first anniversary, Ariella and Glorfindel had planned to spend their time on the walls of the city awaiting the birthing of the sun. Instead they spent it in their bedroom awaiting the birthing of their own son.

At first, Glorfindel sat in a chair beside the bed, but after a while, he moved to sit on the bed beside her, telling her he would be better able to comfort her. Positioned thus, he held her through each contraction, strengthening her across their bond. Lhûnedhel sat in the chair, monitoring her, ready to assist the midwife.

In the beginning, Ariella found she could turn her thought inward and control the pain. However as the hours drug on into the night, she eventually lost her ability to focus. She did not have the words to tell Glorfindel how grateful she was for his physical and spiritual presence to support her at that point.

When the midwife announced that it was time to begin pushing, Glorfindel sat behind Ariella to help as best he could at that end while Lhûnedhel and the midwife did their part at the other. At long last, as the sun rose to the greeting of song from the inhabitants of Gondolin, the babe added the music of his newborn cries to the celebration.

It was the most beautiful sound Ariella had ever heard. The joyful wonder on Glorfindel’s face as he held their son for the first time was the beautiful site she had ever seen.

*******************~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*********************

The baby was small for a healthy full term baby of Ariella’s race, but Lhûnedhel and the midwife were still surprised at how large he was considering his apparent premature birth. The midwife ordered Ariella and the child to remain in the care of a healer for a few extra days after the birth, fearing for their health in spite of Ariella’s insistence that she and the baby were fine.

Ariella was confused by everyone’s concern for her and her son. Her brother Arzus’ elven wife had carried each of her pregnancies for only nine months in spite of the fact that she was a full-blooded elf. Elrond, who had delivered all four of the babies, had not been concerned in the slightest. Then again, Elrond was half elven himself and had assisted with many mortal and elven births, so perhaps he figured that as long as the babies were healthy, why worry? Ariella wished that her over protective midwife could take a few pages from Elrond’s book. She also wished with all her heart that he and her parents could have been there to see her beautiful son.

Glorfindel named the boy Glorfinion. From the beginning, Glorfinion promised to be much like his father in mood and appearance, except for his eyes. He had her violet eyes.

Ariella was glad that the baby needed her for sustenance, otherwise she feared she would seldom see him as Glorfindel took him everywhere he could. His pride in his little son was a great source of amusement to her as well as to everyone else around the new father, though he was oblivious to this. Ariella also found it most endearing and alluring.

Before little Glorfinion could crawl, Glorfindel contented himself with singing to him during feeding and when the baby was sleepy. He was also terribly fond of constantly removing the boy’s socks and tickling the tiny feet with his fingers and hair, eliciting the cutest giggles. The sock removal quickly became a source of contention between Ariella and Glorfindel. She would argue that the baby needed to wear his socks to keep his feet warm. After all, the boy had mortal blood and was not as impervious to extremes in temperature as a full-blooded elf. Glorfindel would argue that their son was more elven than mortal, so the warmth of his little feet should not be a major concern. Besides, the socks kept getting in the way of Glorfindel tickling Glorfinion’s feet. Ariella could not argue the point much further without revealing that she herself was a full-blooded mortal, so the arguments always stopped there.

Once Glorfinion learned to crawl, Glorfindel would turn him loose on the bearskin rug by the fire and make a game of catching him by an ankle and dragging him backward whenever the little tyke made it to the edge of the rug. The baby would giggle each time he was captured and so would Glorfindel.

By the time their son could walk, Glorfindel had become a strong proponent of Glorfinion wearing socks at all times because they gave the boy less traction on the wooden floors, making him easier to catch when he escaped. However, he was so used to having his socks removed that he would rip them off as soon as someone put them on him and tear away across the room. Both Ariella and Glorfindel were constantly amazed at how quickly that child could move when he wanted to. They were also amazed at how much he had taken control of his parents’ lives.

This realization came to Glorfindel and Ariella one evening as they sat on their bed. Glorfindel was combing her hair and the baby was playing in his own room under Linanna’s supervision.

As Glorfindel tugged on a particularly nasty tangle, he commented, “My love, your hair is matted at the ends. Do you not comb your hair in the morning?”

Ariella sighed. “Glorfindel, I do comb my hair or attempt to every morning, but Glorfinion is big enough that he can grab my unbraided hair and chew on it when he stands beside me. He thinks it is a game when I run away from him every morning while combing my hair, trying to keep away from his little fingers. This morning, I resorted to standing in the rain on the balcony in order to comb my hair in peace before braiding it.”

Glorfindel snorted in amusement. “Why were you standing in the rain? You could have called Linanna or someone else to watch him for you.”

“Everyone was busy. Besides it is embarrassing to ask someone to baby-sit just so I can comb my hair. I stood in the rain because our boy hates to get wet, so he does not follow me out onto the balcony when it is raining. Also, my love, I would not have to struggle with my hair so if you would leave it braided at night.”

“That I will not do,” he replied. “I like the feeling of your hair brushing my skin when we make love. Besides, you unbraid my hair every night, too, and often tell me how much you enjoy touching it.”

Ariella sighed and laughed. “All right, so we are both guilty. I guess we will have to endure the morning tangles then.”

“My love, do not be ashamed to ask for help. That is why we have servants here,” Glorfindel gently chided.

She sighed. “All right, I will ask them for help more often.”

Glorfindel snickered and Ariella smiled at him, a questioning look in her eyes. Glorfindel continued to chuckle as he shook his head.

“What is it?” Ariella asked.

“I was reminded of a conversation I once had with Uncle Fingolfin when my brother Celoril was but a baby.

“We were at a family gathering and Uncle and I had been talking together. Finarfin had just joined us when Uncle pointed to my father and said, ‘I can always tell when your father has a child under the age of two in his house because he wears his hair pulled back in a single braid. It does not matter whether he is at council or a feast or riding his horse, he wears his hair the exact same way every single day. I wonder if he realizes how much people laugh at him because of it.’

“Finarfin replied in a quite dignified tone, ‘I think he is most wise for his grooming habits while his children are small.’ Then he gave Fingolfin a deeply annoyed look and left to go join his wife Earwen who was holding their infant son Angrod. Fingolfin seemed perplexed by his brother’s comment and abrupt departure. But I laughed because I noticed something that he apparently did not. In spite of the formality of that particular occasion, Finarfin was wearing his hair in a single braid too.

“If Aunt Anaire knew Uncle was making such mean comments about her brother, she would not have been pleased. Uncle Fingolfin picked on my ata constantly.”

Ariella laughed. “That is funny! It is strange to think that princes like them would have the same problems that the rest of us have.”

Glorfindel snickered again before admitting, “I realized, only recently, why my ata always wore his hair in that single braid when small children were in his house. I was combing my hair and noticed that the hair that hung over my left shoulder was about one and a half child’s hand widths shorter than the hair over my right shoulder. I puzzled over this until I realized that I always hold Glorfinion in my left arm and, as you said, he loves to tangle his fingers in hair and chew on it.

“My ata used to tease me for my vanity about my hair, but apparently he had some vanity of his own. Now I do not feel quite so bad about it.”

Ariella sensed across their bond, the beginning twinges of regret creeping into her husband at the memories of his father, so she pulled Glorfindel down to lie on the bed. Caressing him and kissing him deeply, she managed to distract him from the journey into melancholy that always accompanied thoughts of his parents. Sometimes the attempt at distraction failed, but this time he willingly allowed her to move his focus to something more primal.

*******************~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*********************

When Ariella awoke at dawn to feed the baby, she felt a bit strange. The feeling persisted throughout the day, in spite of her best efforts at ignoring it. After she put her son down for his afternoon nap, she lay down herself and turned her senses inward to discern what was wrong or different. What she discovered surprised her greatly. She was pregnant.

Why had Glorfindel not asked her before giving her the child? Elves can choose the time of conception of their children, and they never choose to bear children this close together. Why did he make this decision without consulting her? Then something else occurred to her. What if he hadn’t chosen this? She was mortal after all, and even mortals of her race did not choose when they conceived their children. Her brother and his elven wife only chose the first baby they conceived – the rest had been surprises.

Ariella lay on her bed for a long time, sensing the tiny spark of life and wondering why it was there. She really didn’t think she could cope with another child so soon. What was she going to do? She had not even weaned Glorfinion yet. She resented the fact that she was going to be forced to do so before she was ready.

The next thought that presented itself upset her even more: What was she going to tell Glorfindel? He believed her to be more elf than mortal. He was not going to understand.

The little spark persisted in burning brightly as she fell asleep feeling overwhelmed and embittered in anger and frustration.

*******************~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*********************


That evening, Glorfindel dined with Ariella in their private dining room. She ate without enthusiasm, hardly tasting her food. Glorfindel tried several times to make conversation, but she only gave brief responses. Sighing loudly, Glorfindel pushed back from the table, arose, and walked over to Ariella. Taking her by the hand, he led her out to the balcony. The sun was just beginning to set, painting the sky with glorious colors.

Turning to face her, he took her hands in his and quietly asked, “Ariella, my love, what troubles you this night?”

The light of the setting sun burnished his hair into a glorious halo of golden fire, making his beauty almost unbearable to look upon. She tried to avoid his eyes in an attempt at hiding the turmoil within her heart.

Fingers lifted her chin, forcing her to meet his gaze as he questioned further in the same soft tones, “What have I done that has upset you so?”

Immediately, her fingers found the fabric of her dress and began their restless stir. How was she going to tell him? Taking a deep breath, she started, “I … Glorfindel, I …” The words did not want to come out. It was all right for mortals to have this conversation, but not for elves. This did not happen to elves!

Stalling was not going to make this any easier. Gulping another breath, she blurted, “Glorfindel, I am pregnant.”

His hand dropped to his side as he stood staring at her in disbelief. Whatever he might have been expecting to hear her say, this clearly was not it. After a few moments, he moved his mouth a couple of times as if to speak. The third time he did this, sound actually came out.

“Wh…you are pregnant?” He looked at her stomach as if seeking visual confirmation of the news. Taking her hands in his, he began again. “Ariella, why did you choose this? Elves do not bear children this close together. Why did you do this without asking me?”


“Glorfindel, mortals do not choose the time of the conception of their children. I have mortal blood in me. There was the possibility this could happen. Please understand that I did not choose this. I do not want to be pregnant right now.”

His bewildered eyes sought hers once again. “But, you have elven blood in you, too. Should it not have counteracted this somehow?”

It might have if she had actually had any elven blood in her. Perhaps now was the time to start telling him some of the truth about herself. She had deceived him since she’d met him. What if he hated her because of it? He had every right to hate her for her deception. Tears welled in her eyes. What if he left her? She could not face this alone. Her heart ached with the love she bore him and she could not live without him.

Raising a hand to his fair face, she brushed his cheek with trembling fingers. Would this be the last time he would ever allow her touch him like this? “Glorfindel, I …” Her voice shook so with the words. She swallowed hard trying to regain her composure and control so she could say it. “Glorfindel, I am…”

He placed two fingers on her lips, eyes searching hers for a few moments as if desperate to prove that something he wanted to deny could not possibly be true. He slowly shook his head, cupping her face in his hands, tears slipping from his eyes to shimmer down his face. His shallow gasps for air matching hers. They stood thus for a long time, half formed mental questions meeting half formed answers.

{Mortal …}

{Yes.}

{Why Ariella? Why the deception?}

{I had to because…}

{Turgon would have killed you…I still would have supported you.}

{Would you?}

{I still would have loved you…}

{Could you? Can you now? I will die one day.}

{So will I.}

{How do you know?}

{My heart tells me so.}

{I do love you.}

{And I love you.}

He smoothed her hair away from her face, looking at her as if seeing her for the first time. “You are so very beautiful and so very gifted for one so brief.”

She did not know what to say. It felt so good to have the weight of this lie off of her. But what of the part she could not tell him? There was still so much he could not know.

“There is more you have not said,” he continued.

She did not even bother trying to hide her surprise. He rarely went so far inside her thoughts. Panic began to set in.

Pressing his forehead to hers, he whispered, “Please do not tell me anything more for a while. I need time to think about what I have learned tonight. A lot of time.” A gentle kiss brushed her lips before he engulfed her in his arms, holding her close.

Sighing with relief, she melted against him.

“I am not ready for another child either,” he finally confessed, resting his cheek on her head. “But we will survive this somehow. I do not believe that this new child will be the death of us, although considering what Glorfinion is putting us through, I could be wrong.”

She smiled into his chest as she felt his spirit wrap itself around hers. Everything was going to be all right after all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Her mortality was showing much more of itself in this second pregnancy than it had in her first where she had carried her son as an elf would have – until his birth at nine months. She moved much more slowly and exhaustion overtook her after doing practically nothing. She was not pleased to discover the reason why: she carried twins. Her mother had borne two sets of twins and had experienced difficulty with both pregnancies. Ariella feared that would be doomed to the same fate.

Glorfindel had handled the news of their impending twins about as well as he had handled finding out she was mortal and pregnant. To his credit though, he kept trying to reassure her that they would be able to cope with two more children, but she knew he saw her difficulties and was worried about her, too. When she was five months along, that worry proved well founded.


They were preparing to depart for a feast at the palace, which all of the lords and ladies were required to attend. Fighting weariness and a general malaise all day, Ariella was afraid that if she did not attend the feast, then too many uncomfortable questions might be asked. She hurriedly pulled on yet another dress that had fit her thus far into her pregnancy with her son, but was too snug with a belly full of twins. She squirmed out of the dress, pulled on another one and tried again. Glorfindel, who was already irritable from being in council all day, was becoming impatient. This last dress fit comfortably enough to get her through the evening. She hurriedly brushed her hair and decided to leave it down to save time.

“Ariella, we are going to be late!” Glorfindel snapped at her. “You look fine. We need to leave now!”

He took her arm and quickly ushered her out the door and down the hallway to the steps. She noticed a tightening in her belly and great discomfort. She slowed down, in spite of his hasty tugging, and placed a soothing hand on her large round stomach. As they started down the steps, she abruptly fainted.

The next thing she knew, she was lying in bed and someone was patting her face. “Ariella!” Glorfindel’s panicked voice was calling. “Please wake up. You need to talk to the healer and the midwife and tell them what is wrong. You need to tell me what is wrong.”

It took great effort for her to open her eyes as a surprisingly strong contraction suddenly seized her and she cried aloud. Glorfindel grabbed her shoulders and held her to him as he had when she was in labor with Glorfinion.

“Not now, my love, not now! It is too soon for the babies to be born,” Glorfindel begged, his voice full of fear.

Breathing hard, Ariella apologized weakly amid her tears. “I am sorry. I am so sorry.”

“Ariella, please look inside and tell me what is wrong. Is there anything I can do?”

“I cannot!” she panted. “It hurts too much. And I feel so…so dizzy.” She clung to Glorfindel as he knelt on the floor beside the bed. She desperately hoped that if she held onto him, she could get her bearings on the room again and maybe the walls would stop spinning. “Glorfindel,” her face was buried in his shoulder, muffling her voice. “Please do not leave me. I am so scared. Please stay with me.”

Glorfindel held her closer against him. She heard him say something about informing the king that they would not be attending and then the room spun again. She dug her nails into her husband’s shoulders, breathing hard as the room started to go dark. Occasionally the room would return quite harshly, accompanied by horrible pain, and then it would go away again.

She had no idea how long she had followed this pattern of intense wakefulness and dark oblivion, but finally she opened her eyes and the room was still. She was lying on her left side near the edge of the bed and Glorfindel was still kneeling there. She knew something was wrong because his eyes were red and puffy in his overly pale face. His hair was tangled and he looked incredibly weary. He seemed to be asleep or lost in thought, because he did not respond to her staring at him. She tried to reach out and touch his face, but her arm was too heavy to move. Her lips did not seem to want to work either when she tried to say his name. Why was she so exhausted?

She called to him in her mind. {What is wrong, my love? Are you all right?}

The expression on his face as he heard her and his eyes focused to meet hers, was a mixture of surprise, joy, and guilt. “My sweet lady, you have returned to me!” he softly exclaimed. His voice was strained and filled with emotion.

He reached out with his left hand and brushed his fingers along the side of her face. “How do you feel?”

She tried to move her lips again, but was just too drained. {I am tired. So very very tired. I feel as if I could sleep for a week. I cannot even speak. Why am I so weary?}

He cupped her face with his hand. “Something bad happened and the twins tried to come early. All last night and half of today you were having contractions and… and you kept losing consciousness only to awaken screaming with the next contraction. You were not coherent and not really awake, but not really asleep either. The midwife and the healers were trying so hard to stop it and keep you alive.” He bowed his head and looked down at the floor, his voice sad and apologetic.

“I am so sorry. I did not realize something was wrong before I tried to make you leave with me for that stupid feast.” He looked up at her again, his face filled with sorrow and regret. “You never seemed mortal to me before this pregnancy, so I keep forgetting that you are. I desperately wanted to tell the healers and the midwife, knowing it would probably change the way they approached healing you, but … I was afraid of what would happen when Turgon found out.

“The healers and the midwife do attribute your problems with this pregnancy to your mortal blood, believing that you are peredhel. The midwife said that you were not ready to be pregnant again. At least your body was not ready, not for twins anyway. Lhûnedhel told me that mortals do not choose the time of conception, just like you had said. He told me that you probably did not choose to become pregnant again, especially not this soon after having Glorfinion. He said that it just happened the way it does for mortals.” He looked away, pressing his lips together and blinking rapidly.

{What is it, my love? Are you all right?}

It took him a few moments before he replied. She could sense he was steeling himself for something though she didn’t know what.

He looked up at her again, anger in his voice. “No, I am not all right. I spent last night and all of today feeling so powerless, so out of control…” He hammered his fist on the bed hard. “So helpless! I could have lost you. I…you could have died and …and…” He took a deep shaky breath, looking toward the headboard while angrily wiping his wet face. “One day you are going to leave me, and I …” The pain radiating across their bond, tore at her heart. After a few steadying gulps of air, he took her hand in his, gently kissing the golden symbol of their union where it rested upon her finger before he met her eyes once more. With another deep breath, he confessed, “Ariella, I do not know what I will do when you are gone. I am a great warrior and a high noble lord of the First Born of Ilúvatar… but I am nothing without you. Right now, I just…I just need to know that you are going to be all right and that you will be with me a little while longer. I am scared of losing you. I do not want to be alone again. I do not want to go on living without you.”

Dear God, what had she done to him? All she did, all she had ever wanted was to love him, and … this was the price to be paid. {I am sorry I am so weak} was all she could think to say.

His expression softened considerably as he touched her face again. “You are not weak at all. You have amazing strength of spirit. I do not blame you for this. Please do not blame yourself. Please do not. Just think about resting and recovering your strength.”

{I am afraid to ask, but are the babies all right?}

He smiled warmly, moving his left hand out of her range of vision until she felt it rest on her belly. “Can you not feel their presence? They live, and appear to be unharmed. But you have begun to dilate and are not allowed out of bed until the babies are born. I will not risk losing you or them.”

{I can feel them.}

“If there is anything I can do for you, please tell me. This helplessness is one of the most difficult situations I have ever had to face.”

{I need to sleep now. Please come lie beside me and hold me. You look like you need sleep too. Did you stay there on the floor the whole time?}

“Yes, I did, except for a brief time when they made me leave,” he answered softly. “I wanted to be able to see your face and for you to be able to see me when you awoke. You kept calling for me the whole time – even when I was right in front of your eyes. I will sleep beside you, but my fëa will be inside you as well. You did not dream when you were unconscious before and that frightened me. I am used to sensing your dreams.”

Glorfindel grunted as he stiffly rose and left her field of vision. She closed her eyes, listening to the sounds of the room. The bed and blankets moved as his body spooned around hers with his right hand resting on the side of her swollen stomach. She felt his mind brush hers and then it was as if his spirit wrapped itself around hers as well. Feeling safe and warm, her thoughts whispered, I love you and were answered with the same just as quickly before she drifted off to sleep.

One month before their third anniversary, Ariella gave birth to identical twin boys who Glorfindel named Glorion and Galanor.

*********~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~**********

Notes:
It says in the History of Middle Earth book chapter on Elves that when elves have children they describe it as “children have been added unto us” or “children are in my house”.

Atar/Ata – Quenya for father/dad
fëa - spirit


Chapter 16 - Chapter 16

Betas: Many thanks to Vicki, Ghettoelleth, Marcia, and Georgia Piper

Author’s Note: I am very sorry for the long delay between chapters. Real life has been a bear lately and I was mauled by it. If I can get the new basement waterproofing to work (no more flooding), the kids to not be sick, the extremely ill family and friends to get better, and myself to stop falling down steps and spraining my ankles (at least I didn’t break any bones this time), I’ll be fine. Really.

Disclaimer: I’m playing in Tolkien’s sandbox and not making any money from it.

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By the time Ariella was pregnant with their fifth child, Glorfindel had accepted and resigned himself to the fact that he was going to have a much larger family in a much shorter amount of time than he had anticipated. Turgon mercifully allowed for and in fact suggested that Glorfindel delegate more of his duties as Chieftain of the House of the Golden Flower to his highly amused brothers, Celoril and Elindir, in order to give Glorfindel more time with his rapidly growing family. Ariella was quite relieved to have her husband available to her more often as she realized that with each successive pregnancy, she and the unborn baby needed to draw strength from his fëa more and more.

Glorfindel seemed to relish the time with her and the children so much that she began to wonder who was having a better childhood, Glorfindel or the children. He took them camping, teaching the boys how to fish and track animals and whatever else they seemed able to absorb as such early ages. He and Ecthelion, his fellow chieftain, favorite sparring partner, and best friend, also taught the children simple songs and how to make reed whistles. In spite of everything else he was doing, Glorfindel always managed to make time to be alone with Ariella. As he often reminded her, his fëa needed her for strength just as much as she needed him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The winter after the birth of their second daughter, who they named Arienne, Ariella began spending more time during the day with Idril, knowing that Tuor would be arriving in Gondolin soon. Frequently Idril discussed with Ariella her own impatience with waiting for something that was to happen soon, however she kept resolving to Ariella, almost daily in fact, that she would not ask her any questions about what the future held.

Tuor arrived in Gondolin on a clear, bitterly cold day. Ariella went to Idril’s house again that day, taking only the new baby and her eldest son, six-year-old Glorfinion with her. Ariella and Idril stood together on the balcony as they looked down upon the steps to the palace and watched Tuor deliver a warning of from Ulmo the Vala to King Turgon.

Ariella was quite surprised at the figure Tuor presented. He was very tall yet broad of shoulder, sporting a noble carriage, long shaggy blond hair, and a strikingly handsome countenance with piercing blue eyes. He was also very young, a mere twenty-three years old. She had never seen someone who looked less like a messenger of the Valar than this man. Dressed in animal skins, beneath a custom-fitted hauberk, and a high helm adorned with swan feathers, he also bore the shield and sword Turgon had left for the messenger of Ulmo in the deserted halls of Vinyamar. The cloak at his shoulders was grey as the sea, a gift from Ulmo himself, and when it fell to the ground revealing the weapons and armor of Ulmo’s messenger, the garment lay like spent sea foam upon the steps. Indeed, Tuor looked the part of a hero of ancient times.

Idril, staring enamored at the scene unfolding before her, quietly grasped Ariella’s hand and whispered, “My husband has come to me at last. The one I shall wed will be Tuor son of Huor of the house of Hador.”

Still holding Idril’s hand, Ariella started giggling in spite of her best efforts at holding back and conceded. “Yes he is the one you will marry. But, I suggest you let him establish himself here in Gondolin and win your father’s favor before throwing yourself at his feet.” With a mischievous twinkle in her eye, she added, “It also might be a good idea to introduce yourself to him as well. Remember, he was raised by his foster father Annael of the Grey Elves, living in a cave for most of his childhood. He has had little contact with females other than the wild women of the Easterlings who treated him cruelly during his three year enslavement as a teenager. You must be patient with him and ignore any social blunders he may commit during your courtship. All things considered, I think you will be most pleased with the results of that courting.”

Idril glanced sideways at Ariella and asked, “How do you know so much about him?”

Ariella smiled knowingly. “Books. I read it in some history books.”

“Information such as that was in history books in your time?” Idril looked incredulous.

“Yes,” Ariella answered simply as she stifled a laugh.

“How much detail was in those books?”

“It depends on what details you seek, my lady,” Ariella replied, trying to hide her amusement at the line of questioning. “Besides, I thought you were not going to ask me about the future.”

Idril sighed heavily. “I know, but …”

Ariella smirked. “You have already guessed so much, I guess it would not hurt to tell you some details.”

Idril returned her gaze to Tuor and her father who were still conversing on the steps of the palace. Ariella watched as Idril gripped the balcony railing with both hands. “So…did the books say anything about our courtship?”

“Yes, they did.”

Smiling girlishly while chewing on her bottom lip, Idril further pressed, “Such as … when Tuor first noticed me?”

“Yes.”

With a surprised look on her face, Idril’s voice rose in pitch as she met Ariella’s gaze seeking confirmation. “Really?”

“Yes.” Ariella knew she was being unkind only giving such simple answers, but she was having so much fun watching Idril react. It was as if she were back teasing one of her sisters again. Since Ariella had known her, Idril had always been the wise, knowledgeable one and Ariella had been the one seeking affirmation and answers. Now that the tables were turned, she was going to enjoy every moment of this.

“Well?”

“Well what?”

Idril turned to face Ariella and grabbed her by the wrists, as she breathlessly demanded an answer to her impatient query. “Tell me how. Tell me when. What was I doing … what will I be doing when he first notices me? What do I need to do to attract his attention? When will this happen? How long will I have to wait? Where will I be? What am I supposed to do when he does notice me? How will I know?”

Ariella laughed, then chided, “My, you are so impatient!”

Glaring in warning, Princess Idril spoke in her most regal tone, infused with mirth, “Ariella…”

With an exaggerated sigh, Ariella decided she’d teased enough and conceded laughingly, “Very well. When he looks up at you, smile at him.”

“And?”

“That is it. He will be yours.”

“What? That cannot be all there is,” Idril said doubtfully. “Ariella, you were courted and cuddled and held and wooed. You were nearly stolen away by other ellin and your true love tracked you down to declare his love for you. It cannot possibly be as easy as my simply smiling at Tuor.”

“Yes, it is that simple. It was love at first sight for him,” Ariella confirmed as she stepped inside to check on her son who was quietly playing with some blocks, and her daughter who was asleep in the middle of Idril’s bed.

“Truly?”

“Truly,” Ariella called in reply.

Idril turned to look back down toward Tuor. Suddenly she gave a quiet girlish squeal and whispered in a giddy voice, “Ariella, he is looking at me!”

Ariella returned to her side and watched her as the princess was instantly transformed from highborn noble to gushing maiden, blushing a lovely shade of red as she beamed down at her future husband.

Ariella immediately turned and went back inside so as not to embarrass Idril or Tuor as she laughed delightedly at the new lovers.

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The next seven years passed quickly. Tuor courted Idril winning her love and Turgon’s approval. Ariella, once again unplanned, gave Glorfindel another daughter who they named Arlianna.

Glorfindel and Ariella’s children matured at a faster rate than full-blooded elven children. At about age three, elven children’s growth seemed to slow down considerably while their half elven/half mortal children seemed to develop at an even faster pace. All of their children were tall, violet-eyed, and able to heal themselves at will as Ariella could. The children spoke both Sindarin and Quenya, beginning formal studies in language, lore, and mathematics at the age of eight, under Istadan’s tutelage. Their sons were all large and coordinated enough by age seven that Glorfindel began instructing them in fencing and archery – something he had not anticipated beginning to teach them until about age fourteen. By age ten, the children began learning simple herb and healing lore as well.

Glorfindel felt that Ariella was rushing the children’s education, by starting formal studies at such early ages (although, in his opinion at least, archery and fencing were fun). But Ariella knew that if her children were to survive Gondolin’s fall, they would need to be learned in many things, and they were running out of time.

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At Midsummer of the year 502, and with the assistance of her daughters ages five, seven, and nine, Ariella and her three sisters-in-law, helped Idril dress and prepare for her wedding to Tuor. The decorations at the Place of Weddings were even more grandiose than they had been for Ariella’s own wedding. Turgon presided over the nuptials, but to Ariella’s very great surprise, and humbling honor, Idril asked her to serve in the role that Idril’s mother would have served in the ceremony. Ariella smiled and trembled the entire time, both in joy for Idril and for sorrow for herself, knowing that she would never be able to do this for her own daughters.

At the feast and celebration afterward, Ariella and Glorfindel sat with Ecthelion and his lovely wife. The meal finished, they watched the newlyweds dance. Sipping her second glass of wine, Ariella observed, “Is it not amazing how much Tuor has grown and matured since arriving here? He has studied deeply the lore and customs of the Noldor. He is fluent in Quenya now. He even looks very different: stronger, more dignified, and … more grown up.”

His arm around his wife, Ecthelion smiled. “Yes, he has changed much. He is open-minded and learns quickly.” He raised his glass to Ariella. “It must be a trait of Hador’s house which he shares with you. I remember Hurin and Huor being quick of mind and body as well.”

Ariella smiled at the compliment, but she noticed that Glorfindel looked pensive. “What is it, Glorfindel?” she asked curiously.

Glorfindel regarded her strangely. “I was just thinking. I have known you for fifteen years now, and in that time you have not aged at all. You have even borne me six children, yet I see no difference in your face. It is as if the years do not touch you, though they have imprinted themselves quite obviously upon Tuor. Even Hurin and Huor changed remarkably within the brief time they spent here. Why are you not different?”

Ariella felt the blood drain from her face as she struggled to mask her surprise at the unexpected inquiry. Fingering her glass nervously, she looked away. This was a conversation she had secretly hoped never to engage in, least of all now and in such a public place. She really did not want to have to explain this to Glorfindel and definitely not in front of Ecthelion.

Ecthelion laughed. “How much wine have you had, Glorfindel? Four… five glasses? I have never seen you lose your senses after so few.” He took a drink and then laughed even harder at the annoyed look on Glorfindel’s face. “Your lovely wife is peredhel, my friend. Of course she bears the years as an elf would.” He clapped Glorfindel on the back. “Ariella, I think perhaps you should take him home before he does something to embarrass himself further.”

Taking Ariella by the hand more firmly than usual, Glorfindel rose from his seat. She had no choice but to rise with him. “Ecthelion, I think for once you have an excellent idea. I believe we will retire early. If you will excuse us.” He nodded politely to Ecthelion and his wife who both inclined their heads in return with broad, mildly inebriated smiles on their faces.

As Glorfindel led Ariella away, she heard Ecthelion and his wife burst out laughing. She would rather have been back at the table with them than walking away with an amazingly sober Glorfindel right now.

In spite of being quite tall herself, Ariella had trouble matching Glorfindel’s long, purposeful strides. His grip on her hand never loosened the whole way home. The only words he spoke to her as they traversed the streets filled with partying elves were, “We will discuss this once we arrive home.”

The stars twinkled merrily overhead as if they were celebrating too, but celebrating was the furthest thing from Ariella’s mind. Her thoughts raced ahead to the conversation she was about to have and how best to explain things to Glorfindel. He had been kind, accommodating, and understanding of all of her oddities so far, but the feeling in the pit of her stomach suggested that this discussion would not go smoothly. It had been one thing to ask him to accept her mortality, but how was she to explain her ancestry? Well, she would just have to take control of the conversation early on so that perhaps she could regulate how much information she had to disclose about her past and his future.

All too soon they mounted the steps of the house and entered through the front door. The house was silent indicating that Linanna and her husband had already put the children to bed. Ariella was glad of that for it would be difficult enough to say this to Glorfindel without having to explain everything to the children, too.

Taking a deep breath and a grabbing a candle from a nearby sconce as they passed, she drew Glorfindel down the corridor and into the library, closing the door behind them. After lighting the candles nearest to them, she asked Glorfindel to bring the wine and a couple of glasses from his adjoining study. By the time he returned, kicking the door closed behind him, she had already selected the book she intended to use as a visual aide and was flipping through the pages trying to find the illustration.

Sitting at the table beside her, he poured them each a glass. After taking a long pull from his, he sat back and asked, “Ariella, why did you choose the library for this conversation?”

Marking the desired page with a ribbon, she took a drink from her own glass before turning slightly to answer him. “Because I may need this book in order to answer some of your questions.”

He leaned forward and examined the displayed pages. “That is a drawing of Ea. How could that possibly help you explain yourself, except perhaps to show me that I am most likely the only elf in all of Ea having to suffer this conversation with his wife?”

Ignoring the intended verbal jab, she smiled into her glass as she took another sip. “My husband, you have no idea how very correct you are. But, you are about to know. Ask your first question.” Placing her elbows on the table in front of her, she folded her hands and rested her chin on them, staring at him expectantly.

Glorfindel sat back in his chair with his arms folded across his chest. He looked every bit the strong, intimidating elf lord she knew him to be. Although, she could sense his nervousness across their bond, his face and demeanor betrayed nothing. She hoped that for once her face and body would not betray her.

“All right,” he began. “What are you besides mortal and female?”

“I am human, like the atani, but I am not like any of them you or any other elf in this age has ever met before,” she stated matter-of-factly.

“That much is certain,” he readily agreed. Face and voice filled with curiosity, he asked “How are you different? Why do you not count yourself among them?”

She took a sip of her drink in order to collect her thoughts. “I am different and do not count myself among them because my bloodline is not of theirs.”

“But how can that be? How can you be of a bloodline that is not of the atani and yet be the same race as they are? Eru made the atani and set them on Arda where they awoke at the arising of the sun, or so it is said in our lore. It is also said in our lore that the first elves awoke and formed three distinct groups, yet they are all counted among the Firstborn. Eru made you as surely as he made me, so why, being human, are you not atani?”

Grasping the book and placing it between them, she conceded, “Your reasoning is logical in this, Glorfindel, except for one rather important detail. You make the assumption that all humans awoke on Arda.”

He leaned forward, placing his clasped hands on the table in front of him. His expression clearly showed his confusion. “Why would I not make that assumption?”

“For the past fifteen years I have bet my life on you and everyone else making that assumption, but that assumption, in my case, is false.” She looked into his bright, surprised eyes and saw the disbelief he was experiencing. At that moment, she felt herself to be every bit the alien that she was.

Pointing to the illustration of Eä, she continued, “The Valar revealed to the elves that Eä is made up of a few worlds, of which Arda is but one. The only one that can support life as you know it. However, the Valar only gave you the explanation of Eä which you were most able to accept and understand at the time. Eä is in fact vastly huge, made up of more worlds than can be counted. The stars in the sky above are all a part of Eä and most of them have their own worlds encircling them.”

Glorfindel slowly shook his head, his mouth hanging open. “How…how do you know this? Why do you believe this to be true?”

Sighing heavily, Ariella confessed, “Because I am from one of those other worlds that encircles one of the stars in your sky.”

He glared at her disbelievingly. “That is impossible.”

She shook her head in disagreement, a small, sad smile on her face.

Incredulity slowly spread across his face. “Then why…why are you here? Why did you leave your world? By the Valar, how did you even come to be here?”

With a conscious effort at remaining calm and still, she clasped her hands on the table in front of her. “The manner in which I arrived here in Arda and the reasons for my coming here are closely related to why I left my world.” She sifted through her memory for the explanation she had given Idril so long ago. Taking a deep breath, she let it out slowly in order to center herself. “A little more than fifteen years ago, my brother, who is a man of science and lore, created a device that enabled individuals to travel through Eä as well as through time. He asked me if I would be willing to help him test his machine and inquired as to where I would most like to go and when. I told him that I wished to go to Arda to the time not long after the sun and moon first arose. I said I wanted to go to that time and destination because I had heard from elves in my own time that the stars were brighter in this age than they are in the time that I come from. I was only supposed to be here for four hours, but something went wrong and I was unable to return home.”

Glorfindel slowly wiped his face with his hands as if trying to remove her words. He started to speak a few times, then paused for a few moments before articulating, “Elves in your time? You wanted to see the stars? Wh …when? Who? A device that enables others to travel through Eä and time?”

She smiled at him sadly. “Yes, a machine that travels through Eä and time. Some of the elves that I knew in my time who had also lived in Beleriand during this time were Prince Celeborn of Doriath, Princess Artanis or Galadriel as she calls herself in my time, and Cirdan the shipwright. Celeborn told me that the stars were at their brightest when the sun and the moon were young, In my time, the stars have waned and become much dimmer. He was correct.”

“I remember your comment about the stars being brighter after we kissed the night before our judgment day.” He smiled weakly. “I did not realize that you actually had a different basis of comparison other than before and after kissing me. I must have sounded rather arrogant that night.”

Giving a small laugh, Ariella responded, “No. You did not sound arrogant. I was actually quite relieved that you made that comment for I had no explanation to offer you at that moment that you were likely to believe.”

Her left hand trembling, she tentatively reached out and laid it atop his right where it rested on the table. Since arriving in the room, he had not touched her at all, and she feared he would reject her. Much to her relief, he opened his hand and squeezed her fingers, holding her hand in place on his. She had not realized how truly terrified she was that he would never want her again, until this simple sign of acceptance.

“I am not certain that I understand or believe all that you have said, but in my mind I can find no other explanation. My heart tells me that you speak the truth and I sense across our bond that you believe what you say to be true.” He sighed, looking down at their joined hands and then into her eyes. “You still have not told me why you chose Arda or how you came to know of Arda.”

“Thousands of years from now, an enemy will come to Arda against which you will have no defenses. This foe is an enemy of my people as well. When my people learn of what has befallen this world, they will come and eradicate this foe. My kin will be among those who do this. My people will then send representatives to Arda to learn more about the peoples, languages, and customs of the free folk here in order to help protect against further trouble from this enemy. I am one who was in training to help defend Arda. When I told you that I served Celeborn and Galadriel, I did not lie. I learned from them and Cirdan the Shipwright and from others in order to serve all of the peoples of this world.”

Glorfindel looked at her curiously. “If what you say is true, if you are familiar with the lore of our people and indeed know Celeborn and Artanis, then you surely would have known how dangerous these days are and how foolish it was to venture this far north.”

“I did know, but I was only supposed to be in this time period for four hours and I had no intentions whatsoever of coming to Gondolin or of meeting anyone while I was here – elf or otherwise. The precise location of Gondolin was not known in my time, either. I also had no intentions of being shot by two of the Noldorin who were out hunting when they should not have been, and subsequently brought to Gondolin without my consent.”

“I concede that we should not have been hunting, but were we supposed to leave you out there to die?”

“No, and I am very glad that you brought me here. I am simply saying that it was not part of the plan.”

“What exactly was ‘part of the plan’ as you put it?”

“I was to gather samples of the air, the foliage, the water, and living animal tissue in order to study the impact upon these items when I traveled back to my time and as well as to assess how much things have changed between now and the time from which I come.”

“Is that why you were petting the deer?” Laughter rang in his voice.

“Yes,” she admitted, looking down at the table.

“How were you going to obtain a sample of the air? Take a deep breath before you left and compare it to the next breath you drew upon your return?” He asked dubiously.

She laughed. “No. The items I carried in my bag were designed to obtain the necessary measurements. This equipment was disguised to look like ordinary personal objects so that no one would be made suspicious by what I carried if I or my belongings were discovered.”

He shook his head as he reached for his glass and drained it. Ariella poured him some more wine, refilling her own glass as well. After a long drink, she looked in his eyes and asked, “Do you have any more questions for me?”

Glorfindel sighed. “At least a thousand, but I will not ask them all tonight. What I do want to know though is why you have not aged since you have been here? How is it that you heal the way you do? Why can you heal what elves cannot? How have you kept your thoughts concealed from me and everyone else since you first awoke here? Why have you never fallen ill when Tuor, even in his seven short years here has?”

“Where do I begin answering?” She thought about it for a few moments, seeking the best and briefest answer he might accept. “All right. The race of humans from which I am descended has existed for many thousands of years. Over that time, we have developed ways of changing our bodies so they heal quickly and do not succumb to sickness. We are strong, agile, and swift. We also developed our minds in the areas of language, mathematics, and memory, increasing our ability to learn, process, and retain information. Additionally some of us gained the ability to perceive the thoughts of others while hiding our thoughts from others as well. Some of us even acquired abilities of the mind and body such as healing others or manipulating our environment using only our thoughts. Over time, these traits and abilities were bred into us as a part of what we naturally were and have been passed on to each succeeding generation. I am a product of this – as are the children I have borne you.”

Looking down at his glass, he squeezed her hand again. Sighing, he commented, “I have observed many traits and abilities in our children that they should not possess at such tender ages, and some that they would not possess at all if they had been full-blooded elves. Ariella, they know they are different, but they have never questioned their differences. What will we do when they do ask? At what point do we burden them with the truth? I fear they will be unable or unwilling to accept it well. I know I would not if I were one of them.”

Ariella closed her eyes and bowed her head. If they could just wait eight years, the problem would solve itself, for most of their children would be dead, as would she and Glorfindel. A couple of tears escaped, but she angrily wiped them away as she opened her eyes.

Glorfindel was staring at her intently. He gently drew the hand he still held to his lips and bestowed a soft kiss. She noticed tears glistening in his eyes as well as he whispered, “It will not be long now, will it? What will become of them once we are gone? I know in my heart that my atar was wrong in his prophesy and we will not lose all of our little ones. But Ariella, … what will become of the ones who remain? Who will care for them? Who will protect them? Who will love them when we are gone?”

He brushed her hand back and forth against his lips as he turned introspective. They sat in companionable silence for a time, her hand still held to his mouth. She knew he contemplated the unthinkable as did she – the loss of their children and their powerlessness to prevent it.

At length, she spoke again. “Beloved, we still have some years yet. Let us teach the children what we can in order to assure their survival. I started their formal education early for this purpose and you have already taught our sons much about survival in the wild and how to live off the land. Perhaps you should teach our daughters these things as well.”

He nodded. “Yes, I believe I shall.”

Silence descended once again as they finished their glasses. A wave of weariness suddenly washed over Ariella causing her to question whether she would make it her bed before she collapsed. The wine combined with the unburdening of so much that had worried her for so long had depleted her. Glorfindel gave her a small knowing smile as he arose and helped her up. He wrapped his arm around her and she leaned upon him heavily. Together, they blew out the candles in the library before slowly making their way upstairs to bed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eä – I can’t remember which of the HoME books says that Eä, as revealed to the elves, is basically the solar system. I looked it up a long time ago and can’t remember the source now. Sorry.
Atar/ata – Quenya for father/daddy
Atani – humans of Arda
Ulmo – the Vala of the sea and water. He did not abandon the exiled elves to their cursed fate but continued to try to help them even though none of the other Valar did.


Chapter 17 - Chapter 17

Betas: special thanks to the most persistent Marcia and Vicki and to my resident 10 year old for his evaluation of the speech of the young ones in the story and for his amazed comment that his mom wrote something that is like a real story that you'd find in a book.

Author's Note: the telepathic communication is denoted by " * ". I still can't figure out how to do italics here.

Hope you enjoy this very long chapter!


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Ariella felt very relieved after her confession to Glorfindel. Explaining that she was a time-traveling alien from another planet and not a Sindarin peredhel from Doriath as everyone had assumed, had not been an easy task. In spite of Glorfindel’s professed acceptance of her revelation, things changed in their relationship. At first he behaved as if everything was as it had been before, however, he seemed to watch every move she and the children made as if seeing them for the first time. Then he started commenting to her, daily in fact, about every little thing that she or the children did that seemed out of the ordinary or could be construed as unusual for an elf. Initially she had ignored his comments, but after a while, she began to feel very self conscious about her actions and speech, questioning herself whether anyone still believed she was a peredhel. The servants and her friends still acted the same, so she guessed that her deception was still effective, but Glorfindel was not so easily convinced.

Fearing that someone would guess her secret, he began limiting her interactions with anyone outside of the household staff. All of her responsibilities as Lady of the House of the Golden Flower requiring social interaction were turned over to his sisters-in-law, claiming that Ariella was over taxed with the tasks of being both mother to the children and Lady of the House. Resuming his full duties as Chieftain of the Golden Flower, he adjusted his schedule and responsibilities such that most meetings and transactions requiring others to visit the house were conducted elsewhere, always explaining to others that he did not wish to further burden his busy wife with any more visitors to entertain than necessary. He was so very subtle that no one questioned the changes but her, and he was never in a mood any more to answer any of her questions. In fact, he would not even respond when she tried to speak with him across their bond.

She accepted that it was all her fault for deceiving him for so long, believing that she deserved this cold treatment. But it was hard watching him slowly sever his ties with her. He often departed early in the morning before she arose and worked late into the night, not coming to bed until after she was asleep, if he came to bed at all. For a while, he at least ate the evening meal with the family, but after a time he took to eating alone in his study, working all the while.

With the increase in Glorfindel’s workload, Ariella became the sole caregiver for the children. At first she could explain his absence from the breakfast table with “Ada is very busy now with the duties required of him as Chieftain of our House.” However, his continued absence from the evening meal as well became increasingly more difficult to explain away.

The older children attended their studies with Istadan and Lhûnedhel, while the two youngest still spent their time at their mother’s side. Glorfinion, Glorion, and Galanor continued to pursue fencing and archery, which Ariella saw as a positive sign, for Glorfindel instructed the boys daily and at least kept that contact with them. After a few months, the children stopped asking questions about their father’s absence, seeming to have accepted that he was too busy for them right now. Though she was relieved when the questions finally stopped, worry set in as their silence spread to other subjects as well, and it became a chore to extract from them how they spent their time each day.

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Late one chilly autumn evening as Ariella sat on the bear skin rug by the bedroom fire, brushing her hair, Glorfinion came to her.

“Naneth, may I speak with you?” he asked uncertainly from the doorway.

“Of course, Glorfinion,” she replied, patting an empty spot on the rug beside her. “What would you like to talk about?”
He quickly crossed the room and sat beside her. For a time, he silently stared at his long legs sprawled out in front of him, but she noticed he was rubbing the fabric at the hem of his tunic between his fingers.

“What troubles you, my son?” She quietly asked, setting aside her brush.

He looked up startled, his violet eyes wide in his handsome face which was so like Glorfindel’s.

‘Naneth…” He took a deep breath. “What have we done that Ada does not wish to spend time with us any more?”

It was Ariella’s turn to be startled. “What do you mean he does not spend time with you anymore? I know he is absent from meals, but he still teaches you and your brothers every day on the practice field.”

Glorfinion sadly shook his head. “He has not worked with us on the practice field for some time now.”

“What!” Ariella was shocked. Glorfindel loved training his boys. She could accept that he was avoiding her, but he had no right treating the children this way, too.

Glorfinion averted his eyes from her concerned gaze. “I do not think that he is pleased with us any more. I think he is ashamed of us. At first he started pointing out our mistakes more often than praising us for what we were doing well. We tried harder each day to please him, but we never seemed to be able to do anything the way he wanted us to do it. Finally he said he did not have time to teach us any more and handed our training over to Istadan because we already knew him as our tutor. My brothers and I have been working extra hard on the training field each day so that Ada may notice and be proud of us again.”

Anger ignited inside of her, but she kept it under tight control for her son’s sake.

“What has Istadan said of your skills?” She asked evenly.

Glorfinion placed his hand on her arm and exclaimed, “Oh Naneth, he is so very pleased with us and quite proud of us. He says that we are working at a level well beyond our ages, both in our studies and on the training field. Yesterday, he said that even if we were his own sons, he would know no greater pride in our skills.”

She smiled at that. Indeed Istadan had wished to be the sire of her children, but that was a bold statement for him to make to her sons.

Glorfinion continued in a more subdued tone, looking down and brushing the bear skin rug with his fingers. “We asked him how we could draw Ada’s attention and win his praises again, for he has been very busy of late and has had little time for us. Istadan suggested that we demonstrate our skills for Ada. Now my brothers and I are trying to figure out what we can do to show Ada what we have learned so he can be proud of us again.”

Guilt welled within her. ‘Oh, my precious child,’ she longed to say to her son, ‘it is your skills that have chased your father away from you,’ but she couldn’t tell him that. She couldn’t bring herself to tell him that she was the reason for his father’s behavior. She was an alien, her children were half alien, and Glorfindel simply could not cope with it.

Forcing a smile, she asked, “Have you and your brothers decided on what you will do to attract your ada’s attention?”

Still studying the rug and pulling on the hairs, he suddenly gave a small knowing smile. “Perhaps, Naneth, perhaps.”

“Are you going to tell me what you are planning?” She pressed.

He laid his hand flat on the rug, leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. “No. It is a surprise for you, too.” He threw his arms around her and she hugged him close to her. “I love you so much, Nana.”

She patted him on the back, noticing for the first time the extensive muscle development. He was only thirteen and a half years old. When did this happen? “I love you too, my little one. I love you, too.”

He pulled back at that, scowling, her hands sliding down his muscular arms. When did her little boy grow up?

Looking her in the eyes, he indignantly pointed out, “Naneth, I am nearly as tall as you are. You cannot call me ‘little one’ any longer.”

“Child,” she scolded, “I am your naneth and I will continue to call you ‘little one’ if I have to stand on a chair to look you in the knee caps to do it!”

Rich, musical laughter bubbled from him as he shook his head at her. How long had it been since she last heard him laugh? How long had he had his father’s laugh? How long had it been since she last heard that sound emanating from her husband?

Glorfinion gracefully rose. “Good night, Nana.”

“Good night, Glorfinion.”

She watched him stride purposefully from the room. Sighing heavily, she picked up the brush and finished attacking her hair. Glorfindel’s silence had to end soon. She would go to him tomorrow and they would talk. He could ignore her all he wanted to, for she truly deserved his anger, but he could no longer shirk his responsibilities toward his children. It was not their choice to have her for a mother, but it was his choice and it was time for him to resume some responsibility in their upbringing.

Giving up on her hair, she threw some more logs on the fire to keep her warm through the night. Extinguishing the candles in the room, she curled up on the large empty bed with her back to Glorfindel’s side of it. She laid there brooding for a long time before finally succumbing to sleep.

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The next morning, the only signs that Glorfindel had returned to their room the previous night were his discarded clothes neatly stacked with the other dirty laundry and a missing set of dress robes. She guessed he must have important meetings or be expected in Turgon’s court today. Checking his schedule after her breakfast with the children, she realized he would be elsewhere for dinner after the day’s business, so there was no way she would able to meet with him. The next day’s agenda was free from the family’s dinner time on through into the night, so she wrote herself in as an important meeting without listing her name. She also made arrangements for the servants to see to the children’s evening meal without her. That way there would be no excuses for him not to speak with her.

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When the time of the meeting arrived, Ariella went to Glorfindel’s study, garbed in her court attire which had not seen use for several months. Gathering her courage, she knocked and entered.

He looked up from a document he had been reading, setting down his half-finished glass of wine. He frowned when he saw her. “Ariella,” he said impatiently, “I am expecting someone for a meeting right now. I am too busy to talk to you, so whatever it is will have to wait.”

She smiled confidently and strode over to her usual chair by his desk. “I know, Glorfindel. I am the one who is to meet with you.”

Surprise flitted across his face followed by the realization that he was trapped in this conversation with her with no way to get out of it.

Sighing heavily in obvious annoyance, he asked with mock formality, “Lady Ariella why do you wish to speak with me?”

“Lord Glorfindel,” she responded copying his tone, “I have come to speak with you about your children.”

“What about the children?” he asked, still annoyed.

Dropping all pretenses, she replied. “Your children wish to know why you no longer spend time with them. Your sons feel you are ashamed of them and they do not understand why. They seek to please you in every way they know how. Yet it has all proven to be for naught, for you do not even speak to them anymore. You even turned their weapons training over to Istadan.”

“Have you told them why?” He asked coldly. “Have you told them that it is all because of you and what you are and what they are because of you?”

“No, I have not told them why,” she admitted quietly.

“What of your daughters?” He asked in the same accusatory tone.

“They stopped asking about you some time ago and appear to have accepted that you are too busy to have any time for them,” she stated matter-of-factly.

Genuine hurt flickered in his eyes at that. Good, perhaps she was finally getting through to him.

“Why have you not told them, Ariella? They have a right to know what you have done to them.”

Then again, perhaps not.

“What I have done to them?” She asked indignantly. “You do realize they are half yours too, do you not? They have a curse hanging over them because of you.”

“And they are equally cursed because of you,” he spat. “They will never be accepted by anyone of my race when they reach adulthood. The differences of your alien blood have doomed them just as surely as has my past.”

Oh, she was furious now. “Glorfindel, you do realize that you chose me for your wife and to be the mother of your children, do you not? You were intrigued by an alien. You loved and married an alien. And you had to contend with two other ellyn for the hand of that alien. I really do not think that I have doomed the children. If you would take the time to talk to their tutors, you would discover the high esteem in which each and every one of them is held. If you would take the time to talk to your children, you would see how much they are like you. If you would just take the time, you would realize how much they miss their ada and how much they love you.”

They sat in silence for a long time, glaring at each other. Finally he asked in a quiet voice, “Why have you not told them the truth about yourself yet? They have a right to know why they are different.”

She sighed and looked down, clasping her hands in her lap, and mustering her courage before meeting his gaze. “I have not told them because I believe, in all honesty, that it would destroy them to find out just now, especially our sons. They currently believe you are ashamed of them for displeasing you in some way. They think they are not good enough on the practice field to suit you. If the children find out now that you are ashamed of them for something that is totally out of their control, something that is a part of them they cannot change, I do not know what they might do.

“I do know our sons are planning something to try to prove to you that they are worthy of your time and attention. I do not know what, only that they hope to earn your pride in them again.”

Glorfindel looked down at his desk, idly toying with his quill. After a bit, he threw the quill across the desk. He leaned back in his chair, putting his hands on his face for a few moments before smoothing them over his hair. In a tired voice he said almost to himself, “By the Valar, what has become of me that my sons have to earn my pride? What have I become that I am ashamed of my own wife and children?”

“Glorfindel,” Ariella said in a soft voice. “I am so very sorry for my deception. I am sorry for the trouble I have caused you. Please forgive the children for what they are, even if you cannot forgive me. They need their ada and his love.” Her voice caught for a moment, but she cleared her throat and continued.

“According to the Statute of Miriel and Finwe, an elf cannot have two spouses both alive in Arda at the same time. I am mortal, doomed to die, and my fate after death will be different from yours. By the time you return from Mandos’s halls after the death you have foreseen, our bond will be dissolved. You will be free to remarry and sire proper elven children.” She bowed her head, blinking rapidly a few times, then looked back up. “If you would prefer it, we could begin the dissolution now and I could move my belongings back to my old bedroom and you could at least have your bedroom back again. You could simply tell the servants we have moved past the making of children phase of our marriage and have decided we need our own rooms.”

He chuckled mirthlessly. “The servants might accept that excuse if we had been married for several hundred years … but considering we have not even been married for twenty years yet and we still have so many young children … I do not think they would view that as a valid reason. Rumors of our marital strife would abound.” He propped his elbow on his desk, resting his chin on his fist, looking out across the room.

“The servants already know that something is not right between us, Glorfindel. It is rather obvious. Linanna has asked me about it many times, but I keep telling her it is something we must work through ourselves and that you are very busy with your duties. She had some opinions about that, but I am certain you do not wish to hear them.” She looked down at her clasped hands for a few moments, then quietly asked, “Glorfindel, what do you want of me? I have apologized. What more do you want from me?”

Still not looking at her, he replied, “I do not know what I want, Ariella. I honestly do not know. I do not know what I am expecting. I just … do not know. I do know I need time to consider what you have said this evening.”

A loud knock on the door startled them both.

“Enter!” Glorfindel called, sitting up in his chair.

Linanna entered the room and curtsied, a concerned expression marring her lovely face. “My lord, please forgive the interruption. My lady, your sons did not come to dinner and they are nowhere to be found in the house and gardens. Your daughters do not know where they are, either.”

“Did you try the practice field?” Ariella suggested.

“Yes, my lady. According to Istadan, they failed to attend their academic tutoring and missed their lessons on the training field as well. Lhûnedhel did not see them today either. He and Istadan both said that Arianna told them the boys were busy with something for their father today.”

Ariella slowly shook her head. “I have not seen them since breakfast.”

Another servant came running in, stopping abruptly to bow before Glorfindel, almost seeming surprised to see him seated there with Ariella. Turning to Ariella, he said, “I checked the stables and their horses are gone. The stable hand said they left early this morning garbed for hunting, carrying their bows and long knives. When he asked them where they were going, they said they were off to do something for their father, so he let them go.”

She and Glorfindel rose to their feet at the same time. “Ariella,” Glorfindel asked worriedly, “did they give you any indication at all of what they were planning or where they might have gone?”

Ariella shook her head. “No. All Glorfinion said was that they wanted to prove their skills to you with whatever it was they were going to do.”

“Linanna,” Ariella asked, “please go find my daughters and bring them here.”

“Yes, my lady,” she replied with a quick curtsey and hurried out of the room.

Turning to the other servant, Glorfindel commanded, “The House of the Tree is responsible for the city gate this month. Go to Lord Galdor and find out if my sons left the city proper and, if so, if they returned.”

“Yes, my lord,” the servant bowed and sped away.

Glorfindel leaned his hands on the desk, his head bowed. After a few moments, he pushed back and pounded the desk in frustration.

Arianna, Arienne, and Arlianna came running in, herded by Linanna.

“Nana, you sent for us?” Arianna asked timidly.

Fixing her daughters with the best no nonsense motherly glare she could muster, Ariella firmly replied, “Yes. Where are your brothers?”

The girls shifted nervously, looking around at their shoes, the walls, their father’s desk, anywhere but their parents’ faces.

“Well …” Ariella encouraged sharply.

Arienne squirmed and little Arlianna slipped behind Arianna.

Arianna responded meekly. “Are they in trouble?”

“They have missed dinner, what do you think?” Ariella asked.

“Oh,” Arianna fidgeted a bit, then took a big breath and blurted, “They went hunting in the hills to kill a bear and bring back the skin so Ada will be pleased with them and love them again.”

Ariella clapped her hand to her mouth. Oh, dear God, what had they done? Her babies would never survive that! They’re precocious, but they’re not ready for a bear hunt. She looked over at Glorfindel, taking in his shocked horrified expression, most likely the mirror of her own. Instinctively, she reached out to her sons telepathically and realized that they were unharmed, so far, but she had no idea where they were and they resisted her brief attempt at contact.

It took a few moments of stunned silence before Glorfindel found his voice and asked a little shakily, “Why did they think that bringing me a bear skin would please me?”

“Because you kept telling them all the things they were doing wrong on the training field and they thought if they could show you how much they had improved, then maybe you would be pleased with them and talk to them and spend time with them again,” Arianna explained.

“Ada,” Arienne asked timidly, “If our brothers just have to bring you a bear skin to make you happy with them again, what do we have to do? We have talked about it and do not know what you would like. Should we have gone with them on the hunt?”

Glorfindel seemed quite taken aback at that. He obviously was unprepared to face these questions. He glanced pleadingly at Ariella, pain evident in his eyes, but she just shook her head and looked away. She had no help to offer him, and she really did not think she would have aided him even if she could have. She was still angry about his treatment of the children and felt he needed to face them himself.

Taking a deep breath, Glorfindel walked over to the girls. Crouching down on one knee until he was eye-level with Arienne, he put one trembling hand on her shoulder and the other on Arianna’s.

Gently, he explained, “My thoughts have been elsewhere of late and I have been very busy and preoccupied … perhaps too much so.” He closed his eyes for a moment, inhaling sharply. Ariella watched as whatever had hardened his heart obviously began to melt. His eyes were over bright when he opened them again and continued in a soft shaky voice. “You should not have to do anything to gain my attention or my love.” He paused again. “I am so very sorry that I ever let you believe that you had to. You were wise to stay home and not go on the hunt. Your brothers may be in great danger right now.”

Arlianna crept out from behind her biggest sister and asked, “Do you like us again, Ada?”

Glorfindel smiled weakly, pulling all three girls into a big hug. “Yes, I like you again. I love you all very much.” Little arms surrounded him, entwining in his hair, wrapping around his neck, patting his back.

Tears came to Ariella’s eyes at the sight and she sighed, offering a silent prayer for the safe return of her sons and the reunion of her family.

After a long while, Glorfindel released the two older girls and stood, holding Arlianna close. Her golden head nuzzled his left shoulder while her fingers played with his braids.

“Linanna,” he asked, turning toward the servant. Ariella watched Linanna quickly smooth over the self-satisfied smirk on her face and regard Glorfindel obediently. “Has anyone spoken with my sons’ friends to see if they might be with them?”

“Yes, my lord,” she replied. “None of their friends have seen them today.”

Glorfindel cast down his gaze pensively. “It will still be some time before we hear the report from the guards at the gate.”

A few minutes later, he sighed heavily as if forcing himself to do something he did not want to do and met Ariella’s eyes. “Ariella, you are much more gifted in knowing minds than I,” he said quietly. “Can you locate our sons and at least determine if they are all right?”

Ariella gave him a small smile. “I have already tried. They yet live and are unharmed.” She reached out further toward the boys with her mind. “Their quest is as yet unfulfilled and they still feel confident and unafraid. I do not know where they are and cannot tell you any more than that. I am sorry.”

Glorfindel matched her smile. “Thank the Valar,” he whispered.

When the servant finally returned, Glorfindel and Ariella were not surprised to learn that the boys had departed through the gate early in the morning, riding into the fields, and had not returned. Glorfindel dispatched messengers to apprise his siblings and the king of the situation. Upon giving the order for the soldiers of the Golden Flower to muster for a search, Glorfindel left to change clothes and prepare himself to hunt for his sons. Within the hour, his brothers, their sons, and his brother-in-law were assembled with the warriors and waiting for orders.

After Glorfindel donned his cloak at the front door, he turned to Ariella, placing his hands on her shoulders, touching her for the first time in months. Why did it take something as horrible as this to bring him back? A tear slid down her cheek. He cupped her face in his hands, wiping the tear away with his thumb.

He whispered, “I am so sorry. I will bring them back alive, I promise. Listen for my call and you will know when I find them.”

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Across their bond, she tentatively ventured *I still love you.*

Giving her a half smile, he replied. *I know.*

She stood at the door, watching as Glorfindel and the large assembly of warriors rode out.

The cold night passed slowly. Ariella sent her daughters to bed at their usual time, but she sat at Glorfindel’s desk, staring at the fireplace and occasionally talking with her sisters-in-law and the servants who had remained behind and were keeping vigil with her. At some point, she drifted off to sleep.

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It was dark. Giddy anticipation surged through her as she soundlessly brought her bow around, drew forth an arrow and nocked it, aiming for the brown bear resting lazily against a tree. Glancing to either side, she saw Glorion and Galanor, flanking her as planned, bows drawn, arrows at the ready.

*Loose!* She cried telepathically, and all three arrows simultaneously released, speeding toward the unsuspecting prey. With a sickening thud, the arrows impacted and the bear fell.

She punched the air with her right fist, whooping in triumph along with Glorion and Galanor who had dropped their bows and were rushing in with her to examine the kill. A loud crashing sound from behind startled her and she spun around to see what it was. From out of nowhere, something huge slashed her across the chest and neck. Searing pain flew through her as she was slammed hard into a tree. She heard a cracking sound as her head and torso impacted, numbing her completely. From somewhere in the distance she heard one of the twins scream too late, “Glorfinion! Look out!” Then darkness enveloped her.

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Ariella woke with a start. Looking around in fear, she could not quite place where she was. A blanket cascaded over her shoulders with the corners tucked neatly under her arms. Linanna, Elianna, and the other two sisters-in-law were watching Ariella closely from nearby chairs, pity and concern clouding their lovely faces.

Linanna arose and came to her, placing a motherly hand on the side of Ariella’s head, smoothing her hair, stroking her face. “You were dreaming, child. Are you all right?”

Ariella slowly shook her head and burst into tears. Linanna pressed Ariella to her middle and held her as she wept.

When Ariella had calmed a little, Linanna quietly asked, “What did you dream?”

Sniffling, Ariella said, “My sons found a bear and shot it, but then something came up behind them. I … I think it was another bear, but I am not certain. It slashed Glorfinion’s neck and chest and slammed him into a tree. I heard something crack and do not know if it was his skull or his ribs. He was knocked unconscious by the blow. His brothers saw it happen, but I do not know what has become of them.”

“Ariella, you do know that foresight is not always to be trusted, do you not?” Linanna gently admonished.

Ariella looked up at that, blinking away new tears. “It was not foresight, Linanna. It was real. I saw it all through Glorfinion’s eyes.”

Wonder lighting her face, Linanna asked curiously, “Ariella, I know that your father was mortal, but what was your mother?”

Resting her head back against Linanna’s stomach, knowing the other ellith in the room were listening intently, Ariella quietly replied, “She was gifted as I am and as my children are.”

“Have you tried reaching out to your gifted sons again as you did when Glorfindel asked you to find them last evening? Perhaps it was merely a bad dream,” she gently suggested.

Ariella closed her eyes and sought them with her mind. “Glorfinion does not respond to me.” Her tears started again. “The twins are scared, but the danger seems to be over. They are both injured, but conscious.” Suddenly, she felt them answer her mental touch.

*Nana!* The twins called to her as one. *Please help us! We do not know what to do.*

*Stay calm, my children, you will be all right. *

The boys’ responses were so quick, she could not make out which one was speaking.

*My legs are hurt. I cannot walk.*

*My shoulder hurts and my arm is broken.*

*We dropped our bows after we shot the first bear and had to kill the other bear with our long knives.*

*Glorfinion is hurt, too.*

*What do we do?*

*Calm down!* Ariella commanded. *Your father and the warriors of the Golden Flower are searching for you. Do you know where you are?*

*I do not know.*

*We are surrounded by big oak trees.*

*Whichever one of you can move most easily, go to Glorfinion and tell me of his injuries.*

*Yes, Nana.*

Ariella looked up at Linanna. “The children were injured when a second bear attacked them after they killed the first one. They said they killed the other bear.”

The ellith gasped, eyes wide. Linanna clapped her hand to her mouth.

“Oh, Ariella …,” Elianna trembled, gripping the arms of her chair.

“I need to tell Glorfindel,” Ariella said and was already establishing the contact before she finished speaking. She felt him respond almost immediately.

*We are well into the hills following their trail, but still have not found them, my love.*

How long had it been since he had last called her his love?

*I just spoke with the twins. Our sons successfully dispatched one bear, but a second came upon them at unawares. Glorfinion is injured and unconscious. Glorion and Galanor are hurt as well though not as badly, I think. They said they are surrounded by big oaks, if that helps at all.*

Glorfindel did not respond for a few moments, but she could feel his sorrow, fear, and guilt quite strongly.

*Thank you. Tell them to make a fire. We will look for the smoke. Keep me updated.*

*I will.*

Ariella called to her sons again.

*Can you make a fire?*

*No.*

*Yes. Maybe. I think I can if he brings me what I need. I cannot crawl very far. It hurts too much. If I stay still, I can control the pain.*

*All right. You stay still while your brother brings you what you need to make a fire. That way the searchers will be able to find you sooner.*

*But you told me to check on Glorfinion.*

*Help with the fire first. Your father needs the smoke in order to find you.*

*Is he angry with us?*

*He loves you very much and he fears for you.*

*Are we in trouble?*

*Let us worry about when you are safely home again. All right?*

*Yes, Nana.* They answered together.

*Let me know when you have made the fire and do not forget to tell me how Glorfinion is faring.*

*Yes, Nana.* They said again.

When the room came back into focus again, Ariella asked, “Linanna, would you please bring me juice and some food?”

“Ariella, I am surprised you can eat at a time like this,” Elindir’s wife exclaimed. “If my husband were out searching for my injured sons, I would have no stomach for food.”

Ariella smiled in agreement and admitted, “I am not particularly hungry, but I will have much healing to do when they return home and I will need my strength.”

Celoril’s wife shook her head and smiled. “Always the practical one.”

“My sons are scared, alone, and injured. My husband is fearful and sad. One of us has to keep her wits and be reasonable.”

“Indeed, my lady. Indeed,” Linanna said with a smile as she walked away.

*Nana?* One of the twins called to Ariella again a few minutes later.

*Glorfinion is hurt very badly. When I turned him, he started bleeding a lot from his neck. The gashes on his chest are not bleeding as badly. He has four broken ribs and a concussion.*

*Stop the bleeding and clean up the blood the way I taught you. Then heal whatever else you can so he can travel when your father arrives. Has your brother started the fire yet?*

*He struggles with it still. No, wait. There, he got it going.*

*Good which one of you am I talking to?*

*Glorion. Galanor. * They said at the same time.

Ariella put her hands to her face and sighed exasperatedly into them. Rubbing her face for a moment, she gathered her patience, and began again.

*Which one of you is tending the fire?*

*Glorion.*

*All right. Glorion, are you the one with injured legs?*

*Yes, Nana. It is terrible and my legs hurt a lot if I move too much. I do not want to think about it.*

*Galanor, you have the broken arm and an injured shoulder and are the one tending Glorfinion?*

*Yes, Nana.*

*All right. Are you bleeding?*

*Not any more.*

*Good. Do what you can for Glorfinion. Glorion, are you bleeding?*

*A little bit, but not as badly as I was. I am too tired to heal any more though.*

*Glorion, you must stay awake and keep the fire burning. Do you have enough wood nearby to keep the fire burning for a few hours?*

There was a pause, before he replied, *I think so.*

*Good! Do not let that fire go out. Do you understand me?*

*Yes, Nana. But I am so tired. How can I stay awake?*

Good question. What would keep an eleven year old awake? Then it came to her.

*Sing to your brothers.*

*But what shall I sing?*

She thought about it for a moment.

*Sing the song about the Music of the Ainur and the creation of Arda.*

*But, Nana, that one is so long. It will take forever.*

*That is the idea, little one. Then you will stay awake forever.*

*Oh. All right.*

*Call me when someone finds you.*

*Yes, Nana, I will.*

*Thank you, Nana!* They said together.

*I love you my brave, warrior sons.*

A chorus of I love you, toos was the reply.

Ariella contacted Glorfindel, informing him that the boys had built a fire and telling him of their injuries.

At the same time, he told her that his soldiers had spotted the smoke and adjusted their search accordingly.

A short time later, Glorion contacted her.

*Nana, Galanor could only stop the bleeding before he fell asleep. There was an awful lot of blood. We are not used to doing this much healing and with no sleep.*

*Your father is on his way. He and his soldiers can see the smoke. Keep the fire burning and keep singing, my son, keep singing. You have to stay awake.*

*Yes, Nana. I will try.*

An hour past sunrise, he contacted her again.

*Nana, someone is coming.*

*Who is it?*

*I cannot see … ah. It is a group of ellyn wearing grey and brown. They carry swords and bows. I have to talk to them now.*

Ariella paced Glorfindel’s study, rubbing the fabric of her gown between her thumb and fingers, waiting for her son to contact her again. After what seemed an impossibly long time, Glorion’s tired voice called to her. She stood still to listen.

*Nana, Captain Sindedhel of the march wardens is taking care of us. I told him Ada and his warriors are coming. He said he saw them from afar last night and had wondered what was going on. He and his wardens saw the smoke from my fire and came to investigate. They have our horses. He is tending my injuries and said he wants me to drink something so I will not hurt so much. I told him I can make the pain go away on my own. He said he could see by my eyes that I am the son of Lady Ariella, the great healer from Doriath, so he did not doubt me. But, he said that HE would feel better if I were asleep during what he has to do to my legs. I recognize the herbs he used and he mixed them the same way Lhûnedhel taught us. May I drink it and go to sleep?*

*Yes, you may. Tell the Captain I send my most sincere gratitude.*

*I will.*

There was silence for a short while before Glorion sleepily spoke one last time, the pain-relieving draught obviously already taking effect.

*Nana, the captain said I was very brave staying awake all alone, keeping the fire burning. He said that my adar would be proud of me. *

Ariella smiled though her son could not see it.

*Yes, my son. Your ada will be very proud of you. I am proud of you, too.* But she did not know if he ever heard her.

An hour later, Glorfindel contacted her, saying he had found the boys and would return home with them as quickly as possible.

It was nearly sunset when Glorfindel and his brothers burst through the front door, each holding one of the boys.

Ariella had ordered an extra bed brought in to the twins’ room, so all three boys could be together and to make it easier for her to care for them.

After a couple of hours, she completed the last healing, leaving all three boys sleeping deeply. She sat propped up against Galanor’s bed, eyes closed, her cheek pressed to the hand of his newly healed arm. Glorfindel was kneeling beside Glorfinion’s bed, holding his hand.

“Glorfindel,” Celoril called softly but firmly from his perch beside Elindir on the edge of Glorion’s bed. When Glorfindel looked up, Ariella could tell he had been crying. “Glorfindel, Elindir and I will stay here with your sons tonight. Take your wife and go to bed. She is exhausted and so are you. Your sons will not wake tonight.”

Glorfindel made to protest, but Elindir walked over and took him by the arms, easily lifting him to his feet. It had never occurred to Ariella before just how incredibly strong Elindir must be.

“You may out rank us, brother, but we out number you,” Elindir admonished sternly, but Ariella could hear the loving concern in his voice.

Glorfindel glared at his brother, but said nothing.

Elindir released him and walked over to Ariella. “Glorfindel, do you feel up to assisting your wife to your bed or do you want me to carry her for you?”

Glorfindel answered quietly, “I will carry her myself.”

Elindir bent over, taking Ariella by the arms and helping her to stand. She swayed dangerously, but he caught her quickly. Glorfindel scooped her into his arms, carried her to the door, then stopped and turned to face his brothers.

“Thank you for all you have done. I am most grateful to you both.”

His brothers smiled affectionately. “Good night, Glorfindel. Now go to bed. We will call you if any of the boys wake.”

Glorfindel turned and left the room, walking down the corridor toward their bedroom. It felt strange to Ariella to be in his arms again. She rested her head against his chest, listening to his heart beat and inhaling the scents of unwashed husband, horses, and late autumn in his clothes. When they arrived in their room, Glorfindel closed the door with his foot, then gently placed her on the bed. After helping her out of her dress and into one of her night gowns, he quickly bathed and dressed for bed.

Naked from the waist up, he sat at the foot of the bed, staring at her, his weary face full of guilt and sorrow.

“Ariella,” he began quietly. “I think we need to finish the conversation we started last evening.”

Exhausted as she was from worry and healing, she propped herself against the pillows. At least he wanted to talk to her again. She looked at him expectantly.

“I have had a great deal of time to think last night and today.” He looked down at his hands idly picking at the quilt, then back up at her. “If you had not been an alien come here as you did from your world far away in time and Ea, my life and the lives of others would have been very different. I would not have served my punishment all those years ago and I would not have been near enough to save my cousin when the mine collapsed. Maeglin most certainly would have died from his injuries. My beloved sister would have died in childbirth.

“I would not have the children I have now and certainly not this many children, if I had married an elleth instead. I also would not have had unusually gifted, precocious children to treat so horribly that my despondent sons, desperate for my attention, would have ridden out and slay a bear to try to win my pride and love.

“It was because of your giftedness that we were able to find the boys before it was too late. It was because of the traits you passed on to them that they were strong enough to overcome the bears, survive the injuries sustained in that assault, and even attempt to heal each other.”

He paused, blinking rapidly and swallowing hard. When he finally spoke again, his voice was tight with emotion. “It is because of what you are that my sons sleep in their beds safe and hale this night.”

Ariella stared at him in disbelief. Was he really saying this?

“I believe,” he continued quietly, “before we were interrupted in our discussion, you had asked what you could do and what I wanted of you. I believe I know now.” He paused again, giving her a weak smile. “What you could do is forgive me for my inability to cope. What I want of you is for you to continue to be my loving wife and the mother of my beautiful children. I want life to be as it was before you told me of your origins.”

She was so relieved, and yet … She still hurt from the way he had treated her and the children. What if he could not really cope? Should she forgive this so easily? But then, has this been easy? Their sons could have died. No, this lesson was learned at great cost to them both. Still, she had to be certain he understood the situation.

“Glorfindel, you cannot pretend that the children and I are what you believed us to be before,” she said calmly.

“No, I cannot and I do not intend to,” he agreed. “But what I can do is understand and appreciate the differences instead of scorning them.

“The captain of the march wardens out there,” - he gestured in the general direction of where he found the boys - “marveled that our sons had survived this whole ordeal. He was also quite impressed with Glorion’s knowledge of herb lore. He told me that I had chosen wisely when I married you, for I was blessed with a very gifted wife and truly remarkable children of whom any father would be proud. I agreed and told him that I am indeed proud.”

Ariella smiled. “Now you need to tell your children that.”

“I swear to you that I will.”

“I will hold you to that.”

“Ariella, I am truly sorry for the way I treated you and the children. Even though I do not deserve it, would you please forgive me?”

She looked into his bright penitent eyes, seeing the guilt, the sorrow, and the suffering in them, feeling it across their bond, too. Indeed he did understand. With that, her anger faded. “Yes, I forgive you,” she whispered, not trusting herself to speak any louder.

His body relaxed noticeably and he sighed in relief. “Thank you.”

He sat for a time looking at his hands, then said. “Speaking of the children, Ariella, there is something I would know.” He looked at her curiously. “The healers have long maintained that the reason that we have had so many children added to us in so short a time is due to the influence of your mortal blood. They have said that mortals are so very frail that they must produce many offspring in order for the race to survive. Yet … Luthien only bore Beren one child and I do not foresee Idril bearing Tuor more than the son she carries in her womb now. Why have we had so many children when I only made the choice to give you our first one? You said that you are from a large family and that your race of Atani was bred to possess many special traits including greater health and strength. Why would such … fertility be a needed or desirable trait?”

She smiled at him, closing her eyes for a moment trying to think of the best way to explain. Regarding him again, she took a deep breath and began. “A long time ago, my race was at war with a very powerful enemy. This enemy had destroyed whole worlds full of my people. One of the weapons used against us was disease specially made to be deadly to our race. While some of our healers sought a cure for the disease, others worked with the men of science to develop our people into a race immune to the deadly infection, in addition to breeding into us the other traits about which I have already told you. Knowing that it would be necessary to rebuild our population if we wanted our race to be able to continue to fight against our enemy, the increased fertility was added to the mix of desired traits as well. By the time the men of science had achieved their goal of creating and successfully breeding the hardier version of our race, only about one twentieth of our population remained – if that.

“Both males and females have been required to serve in our military since in order to assure the protection of our race because our numbers were so greatly depleted. Our worlds with major cities repopulated first as they had been the hardest hit. Then gradually, the outlying “colony” worlds were repopulated. While we all retain the ability to reproduce easily and create large families, this really only happens on colony worlds now. The people on the more populated worlds generally exercise more control over the number of children they produce, usually through the use of medicines. I am from a less populated colony world, so my family was large.”

Obviously mystified, Glorfindel asked, “But how is it that you have given me children when I did not choose to make them?”

This question was harder to answer. How does one explain hormones and pheromones to someone whose technological advancement is such that swords are still a pretty interesting idea?

Choosing her words carefully, she struggled to maintain eye contact with him, fidgeting with the quilt as she spoke. “When two elves choose to make a child together, the female’s body creates her contribution toward the child at that time as does the male. The Atani do not really have the choice of whether or not to produce a child at a given time. The female’s body releases her contribution toward a child once a month whether she wills it or not, while the male’s body releases a viable contribution every time he creates seed. The unions of Luthien and Idril were each with Atani males who did not have the control over their fertility to direct conception, so the choice to create a child lay entirely with the females. I suspect that there is something different about our physical union during my fertile times that makes your body more likely to produce viable seed – even when you do not intend for it to do so. I believe that on some unconscious level, your body senses that my body is prepared to create a child and reacts accordingly, even though you do not make the conscious decision.”

He raised his eyebrows at her and nodded. “That does seem to be a reasonable explanation.” After seeming to ponder this for a few moments, he spoke again.

“There is something else I wish to know. You mentioned in our previous conversation that when I return from Mandos’ halls, I will be free to take another wife. First of all what makes you think Mandos will ever release me, and second, why will your death dissolve our bond? Are not mortals married forever as elves are?”

Looking at her hands, she tried to figure out how to answer him without saying too much about the future. “I know for a fact that you will return from his halls. As for the dissolution of our bond … When mortals wed, it typically is only for the duration of the life of their bodies. After death, the fëa go elsewhere and are no longer bound to their spouses they knew in life. Depending on culture and custom, a mortal could take many spouses in life, yet after death that mortal’s fëa is not bound to that of any one spouse. For elves, marriage binds the fëa as well as the bodies. When the elves return from Mandos after death, then they can be reunited with their elven spouses.”

Glorfindel’s voice filled with bitterness. “Lady, what makes you think that I would want to return from Mandos’ halls if it meant I could not be with you? Why must we be parted forever at your death?”

Now the conversation was heading toward something she knew she should not be discussing, but she could not deceive him, not anymore. “I do not believe that you will be given a choice as to whether you actually want to return or not because, according to the way history has already transpired for me, you did return. You cannot change your future in such a way that it changes my past or we would never meet and history and time would be changed.

“As for our parting at my death being forever … I remember once reading a similar discussion between Finrod and the mortal Andreth, a maiden of Beor’s house who was in love with Finrod’s brother Aegnor. Finrod speculated that at the time of the Second Music, mortals and elves will be reunited. So,” she paused and sighed. “You and I most likely will be reunited ultimately. It will just take a very, very long time.”

He gave her a brief smile. “Finrod was very wise. I have long admired and respected him. I hope he is correct.” With a strange gleam in his eyes, Glorfindel asked, “How do you know I returned from Mandos’ halls, unless you went to Valinor and found me? Or does news freely travel between Aman and Endor in your age?”

He just won’t let this go, will he? She sighed in exasperation. “I have never been to Valinor and I never knew you in my time. For about three thousand years, news did travel between Aman and Endor, however, in my time that is no longer the case.”

His eyes narrowed. “How could news travel between Aman and here when we exiles are forbidden to return to Aman?”

“The exiles will be forgiven when a supplicant goes before the Valar and entreats their mercy.”

Hope lit his features. “When will this happen? How long must we suffer and wait? Who will be the one to make it there?”

Ariella shook her head. “I cannot answer those questions for you in the detail that you would like. You already know that you will not live to see it, but please also know that the sacrifice of your death will help to assure his survival. I really do not think that I should say much more.”

Suddenly Glorfindel’s eyes unfocused, taking on a far away look. “Our supplicant will be but a child when Gondolin falls,” he said softly.

She marveled at him, watching him experience the vision. “Yes.”

Awe filled his voice. “He shall be a shining star for our people, a star of hope.”

“Yes,” she said simply. “He will be called Gil-Estel by the exiles here in Endor.”

Glorfindel looked around blinking and breathing deeply as if to assure himself that he was really still in the room.

Ariella gasped, as a wave of weariness suddenly washed over her. The healings and the emotions of the last few days, combined with finally having some sort of resolution to her marital difficulties had taken a great toll on her. Feeling she would lose consciousness at any moment in spite of the pillows propping her up, she slid under the covers, making herself comfortable.

Glorfindel continued to sit at the foot of the bed, shoulders hunched, head bowed once again, fingers fumbling with the quilt. “Ariella, may I ask one more thing of you?”

Sighing heavily, she wearily forced herself to sit up again, arms trembling with the exertion. “What is it, Glorfindel?” she asked tiredly.

Looking up at her shyly, he asked, “May I return to our marriage bed and hold you in my arms tonight?”

She could not help but smile in weary response. “Yes you may. I have been cold and lonely without you.”

He hurriedly crawled over to his spot and slid under the covers beside her. Gathering her in his arms, he pulled her close, her head resting on his shoulder, his arms protectively encircling her.

Kissing her lovingly, he whispered in Quenya, “My Ariella, my ‘noble maid of the stars'.” Pausing a moment, he added, “Did the elves of your age give you that name? It is most fitting.”

She whispered back, “Actually, my parents named me that. An ariella is a large yellow blossom from a tree with purple and green leaves. The Sindarin meaning, however fitting, was coincidental.”

“How appropriate for the Lord of the Golden Flower to be bound to a ‘golden flower’,” he whispered, tenderly kissing her lips. “I do love you.”

“I love you, too, my golden lord.” Nestling in, she fell asleep.

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A couple of months later, their family received two surprises: one was that Ariella was with child again, and the other was the arrival of two brown bear skins, tanned and ready for use as rugs, courtesy of Captain Sindedhel and his wardens.


Chapter 18 - Chapter 18

Author's Note: Sorry it took so long to update. I went on vacation the day after I posted ch 17 and came home to a tree on my house, but everything is fine now. Also, my usual betas all developed lives or something and haven't been around, so I had to go get a new one and a used one in order to finish the chapter. Special thanks to Fianna and Riana for stepping in to help me out!

Betas: Fianna, Riana

I used *s to denote telepathic thought.


Warnings: Mild description of child birth, swearing, and a less than mild violent situation


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True to his word, Glorfindel reassured his children of his love for and pride in them. Though he sometimes appeared to Ariella to struggle with the children’s precociousness, he encouraged the children in every way he could. It took time, but slowly life returned to what presumed to be normal in the home of the Chieftain of the Golden Flower. With Glorfindel once again available to help with parenting duties, Ariella was even able to resume assisting the midwife.

No one was more pleased about Ariella’s return to this than Idril for she was nearly 9 months along in her pregnancy. Though the normal gestation period for elves was one year, Idril wondered if hers would be less because her husband was mortal. The midwife visited Idril weekly to monitor her increasing discomfort and her unusually large baby - unusually large for that of an elleth at 9 months. Ariella figured from her own experience with bearing peredhel children that Idril would give birth any day. After three emergency visits to Idril’s house at odd times for what turned out to be false labor, the midwife wondered if this would be so.

Tired of embarrassing herself with these calls to the midwife, Idril asked Ariella if she could call on her the next time she felt such discomfort. Full of understanding and already nearly 5 months along with her seventh child, Ariella had readily agreed. Little did Ariella know at the time what that decision was going to require of her.

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Glorfindel, Ariella, and the family were part way through dinner a few evenings later when a messenger arrived requesting that Ariella attend Idril. With a sigh, Ariella rose from the table.

“I should not be gone long, but in case I am,” she went around the table kissing children goodnight.

Glorfindel rose to meet her when she reached him. Embracing her warmly, he whispered, “Hurry home to me, my love.”

She lingered in his arms for a few moments before pulling back and smiling at him. “I will. I do not expect it will take long to calm and reassure Idril or Tuor.”

Some minutes later, Ariella found herself in Idril’s house talking to a somewhat distressed couple. Idril had hugged her when she arrived and thanked her profusely for coming so quickly. Tuor embraced her in greeting, too.

“Ariella, I am sure it is probably just normal discomfort,” Idril spoke rapidly, obviously trying to downplay the situation as she drew Ariella further into the house to a sitting room. “But I do not know for certain and I am too ashamed to call the midwife over nothing yet again.”

Ariella smiled reassuringly. “Even a midwife does not always know for certain if she is in early labor when bearing her first child.”

“But that never happened to you,” Idril pointed out.

“No,” Ariella readily agreed. “But my children always made absolutely certain that they loudly announced their impending arrivals. And I am a healer and can sense when my body is in labor, so that helped too.”

“That is why I called upon you instead of. . .” Idril gasped suddenly, rubbing her swollen belly for a time before exhaling sharply and finishing her sentence. “. . . instead of the midwife.”

Ariella’s eyes narrowed. “How long have you been having contractions like that?”

Idril continued to rub her belly, taking long deep breaths. Tuor answered for her. “Since this morning,” he replied matter-of-factly. “I have stayed home with her all day. She has been having pains since this morning, but only since this afternoon have they been so sharp that it was difficult to talk through them. We considered calling you earlier, but we did not wish to disturb you.”

“You did not wish to disturb me,” Ariella repeated in disbelief. Not wanting to alarm them unnecessarily, Ariella rose and walked over to Idril, placing her hand on the elleth’s round stomach. What she discovered was most alarming indeed.

“Idril,” she urged as delicately as possible, “I think we need to proceed upstairs to your bedroom now. And I believe we should send for the midwife – immediately. She lives on the other side of the city and it will take some time for her to get here.”

Idril looked surprised and Tuor suddenly looked frightened.

“Are you certain?” Idril asked uncertainly as Ariella took her arm to assist her in rising. Tuor took her other arm and together they helped her to stand. “Are you truly certain?”

Before Ariella could answer, Idril gasped as her body responded with a gush of liquid. All three looked down at the floor and at Idril’s wet dress.

“Yes,” Ariella replied feeling a rising sense of panic herself. “I am quite certain.”

With that, Tuor lifted Idril in his arms and ran up the stairs, with Ariella moving as swiftly as she could in his wake. As he ran, he shouted for a servant to bring the midwife immediately.

Once in the room, Tuor helped Ariella prepare Idril for the birth, the contractions worsening all the while. When Ariella finally felt settled enough herself to check Idril’s progress and start numbing the pain, Ariella’s worst fears were realized. The baby was coming now!

More times than she could count, Ariella had assisted with births. Six times she had been on the pushing end of a delivery, but she had never once been the one to bring the baby forth.

Turning away from Idril for a moment, Ariella took several deep breaths in order to fight her rising panic. Could she do this? Assuming everything went normally, there was little to do but catch. But, what if something went wrong? It could change Arda’s history and it would be her fault. Newborns are slippery, what if she dropped him? What if . . .

No! She had to pull herself together. She had to concentrate. Taking one final deep breath, she turned to face Idril and the task at hand. Tuor was sitting on the bed, holding his wife in his arms.

Calmly, Ariella instructed Idril in what she needed to do and when. After just a few pushes, the air was rent with the sound of the newborn wails of the one whose cries of supplication would one day move the Valar to mercy. After cutting and tying the cord, Ariella’s hands trembled as she firmly clutched the child – the boy who would hold the fate of the Eldar and Atani alike in the clutches of his hands. Soothingly, she wiped the young eyes that would one day look upon the stars from the heavens themselves – the first among elves and men of Arda to ever do so. Gently, she cleansed the nose that would breathe the pure air of Valinor. Softly, she wiped the mouth that would beg for pardon and aid for the free peoples of Arda. Lovingly, she wrapped the body that would one day give life to the kings of Numenor and to her first elvish mentor – Elrond Peredhel.

“Your son, my lord,” Ariella said proudly as she gingerly handed the babe to a wide-eyed, bewildered Tuor.

With a confidence she did not expect to see, Tuor took his little son in his powerful arms, cradling him protectively against his broad chest.

“Earendil,” he whispered as he gazed at the baby in awe. Bestowing a tender kiss upon the silvery downy head, he carefully walked over to Idril and sat on the side of the bed facing her.

Voice choked with emotion, Tuor quietly said, “Thank you for this most precious gift, my beloved.”

Her glistening eyes filled with love, Idril smiled at him and held out her arms.

“He is as beautiful as the stars,” Idril wondered in the midst her tears as she took her son in her arms for the first time.

“Yes, he is,” Ariella quietly agreed, “Indeed he is.”

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In the months after Earendil turned one year old, scouts brought reports to Gondolin that the Plains of Tumladin were completely encircled by Morgoth’s hosts. Turgon ordered the watch and ward to be tripled in strength at all points as well as the construction of more weapons and new engines of war. Consequently, Glorfindel spent a great deal of time away from Ariella and their family both in counsel at court and in training his battalion. Though their sons Glorfinion, Glorion, and Galanor were all still quite young, Glorfindel felt they were of great enough stature and strength to begin more rigorous combat training than the simple sword play and bow work to which they were accustomed. As the boys grew in muscle, proficiency, and prowess, Glorfindel allowed them to progress to more advanced training against the day when they would need to defend their homeland.

With the increase in combat training throughout Gondolin, Ariella and her daughters received instruction in bow and sword as well. She and the girls also found themselves in greater demand as healers, although the girls were not even teenagers yet. Their healing skills brought a more immediate return to health than the remedies of the Nestadain, so many of the injured sought the ladies of the Golden Flower at their home rather than at the house of the Nestadain for fear of insulting the elvish healers by preferring the ladies’ healing services over theirs. Considering Ariella had a young son nearing his first birthday to contend with at home as well, she did not mind the injured coming to her so long as they understood that there might be interruptions from little Glorindir.

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One afternoon after putting Glorindir down for a nap, Ariella entered the sitting room on the opposite side of the house from Glorfindel’s study to meet with her latest patient. The room contained a couple of long lounges which could be covered with sheets to accommodate the injured. There were many windows as well as two fireplaces so the lighting was always sufficient for healing.

The elf she found sitting on one of the lounges when she entered the room surprised her greatly. It was Maeglin, the nephew of King Turgon. His dark hair was matted and tied back into a single braid. His dirty clothes spoke of heavy travel through mines and brush and not of combat training. She met his weary almost fearful grey eyes with a calmness that belied her inner turmoil. He was the one who would betray Gondolin to Morgoth and bring its doom. His actions would result in the deaths of thousands including her husband, herself, and most of her children. Why did he have to come to her for aid?

“Hello, Maeglin. It has been a long time since we have had the pleasure of your company in our house. How do you fare?” She tried to sound as polite and cordial as possible.

He glared at her coldly. “Not well obviously, Lady Ariella, or I would not be here.”

Dispensing with the pleasantries, she pulled up a chair and seated herself within easy reach of him. “What is the nature of your injury or injuries?”

Wringing his hands, he dropped his usually haughty gaze. He sat in silence a few moments before answering her in a rush of words. “I… I have injuries on my back and chest. I was…wounded while foraging for metals in the hills.”

She really did not want to be helping this betrayer and aspiring killer, but the sooner she did, the sooner he would be gone from her house. Taking a deep breath, she calmed herself enough to attend to the task at hand. “I need for you to remove your clothing from the waist up so I can examine your injuries.”

He hesitated, seeming a bit upset by this request. “I…I thought your healing methods were different from those of the Nestadain.” He sounded uncertain.

“They are different and you will most likely recover more quickly,” she patiently explained. “However, I require contact with the skin in order to perform the healing most effectively.”

He squirmed apprehensively in response.

Her healer’s compassion took over. “Are you in pain, Maeglin?” she asked gently.

When he did not respond, she reached out and brushed the side of his head with her hand, seeking to stifle the pain that must be consuming him for him to be acting so oddly. She felt the blood drain from her face at what she perceived in him.

His entire body ached from fatigue, nearly quivering with tension and stress. She inhaled sharply and stiffened as she deepened the contact to assess his injuries. Searing pain from deep untreated cuts in his chest and back nearly took her breath away, so she quickly numbed the physical pain she found. Yet, something else ached, too, something deep inside his very fëa. Curious, she placed both hands firmly on the sides of his head with her thumbs meeting at the top and looked into his mind and spirit. She gasped at what she perceived there.

Darkness…

Insane Hope...

Anger...

Hatred...

Arrogant Pride...

Dread…

An overwhelming bottomless dread...

Tainted blackness...

Gaping in shock, she released her hold on him. Sitting back, she trembled as she grasped fistfuls of her skirts with rapidly numbing hands.

He had done it!

She struggled to breathe, looking at the floor but not really seeing it.

He had already done it.

She blinked, her eyes suddenly dry as she continued to stare at the floor, not wanting to comprehend the truth.

The bastard had already done it.

Fury, white hot amid wrenching fear seared her nerves as the realization finally hit her.

The damn bastard had already betrayed Gondolin to Morgoth!

She shook her head as she fought back tears.

The damn bastard had …

Something gripped her hands, practically making her leap out of her skin. She looked up, utterly bewildered, to find Maeglin staring at her, his bare chest covered with the partially-healed bloody stripes of a whip. The history books said he talked his way out of death at the hands of the orcs and that he actually told Morgoth not only where Gondolin lay hidden, but how to destroy it as well. They had not mentioned that he had been tortured.

“Ariella?” he said softly. “You eased my pain, so I removed my clothes as you requested.”

What should she do? What could she do? Should she tell someone? Who would believe her? Should she say anything to him? What would she say to him?

“Ariella,” his voice was strained with exaggerated patience. “You may proceed with the healing now.”

“Yes, of course,” she mumbled half to herself.

There was nothing she could do. It was already too late. He had already betrayed them all to their deaths. Despairing defeat consumed her. Slowly, almost mechanically, she laid her hands on his body and healed his wounds. When she finished, she sat back watching him dress in his filthy clothes. Contempt welled up within her, fueled by a sudden uncharacteristic boldness.

“Why did you do it, Maeglin? Why did you betray us to Morgoth? How could you doom Gondolin?”

He froze in the middle of lacing his shirt, his face suddenly pale. He remained motionless for a few moments not looking up at her, and then continued dressing, angrily tying the laces of his shirt. “Why do you think I betrayed Gondolin to Morgoth? I told you I was quarrying in the hills.”

“Do not lie to me Maeglin.” Her voice dripped with bitter contempt. “I know you broke the leaguer of the hills against Turgon’s edict. No one was to go into the hills for any reason whatsoever.”

Maeglin angrily fastened his belt, his eyes glaring darkly. “I am Turgon’s nephew! In fact, I should be his heir! How dare you accuse me of such a thing?”

Ariella continued undaunted. There was nothing else he could take from her now that he had completed the betrayal. “I know orcs took you prisoner, Maeglin. I saw for myself the stripes of their whips upon your back and chest. I know you went before Morgoth and told him where we were hidden and how to destroy our city. Morgoth will never give you the captaincy of an army of orcs as he promised you. And he will never give you Idril when the city falls.”

Maeglin stood up abruptly and she rose to face him, catching his sleeve tightly.

“Maeglin, you are a fool to trust Morgoth. He will never give you what he promised. In the end, you will meet the same death as your father did. The only hope you have of surviving now is to tell Turgon what happened and he might pardon you. That at least would give us the chance to plan some strategy for escaping.”

Before she even realized what was happening, his hand was gripping her neck and the point of his dagger pricking her throat. She had gone too far. Why had she let her anger get the better of her? Why had she provoked him so?

“I do not know what kind of half-blooded sorceress you are that you know these things, but know this,” Maeglin snarled softly through gritted teeth as he tightened his grip on her neck. “I do not care if this city falls. I will have what Morgoth promised and Idril will be mine.”

Her vision began to blur, tinged red and brown around the edges. It became harder to breathe as his hand constricted about her throat. She gripped Maeglin’s hand, calling out to Glorfindel across their bond, begging him to come home now. She could only hope he was close by.

She struggled against Maeglin’s strength and could barely speak as his hand clamped tighter against her throat. “If you kill me like this in my own house everyone will know you did it,” she accused him hoarsely.

“You are correct,” Maeglin conceded with a wicked smile and he abruptly released her.

*Glorfindel, please! I need you now.* She called again.

“But I cannot have you telling anyone what you know, Sorceress,” he purred maliciously.

She tried to back away but he moved almost casually toward her, like some wild animal stalking his prey.

*Glorfindel, I am in trouble! I need you now! Run!*

She took several steps but then his hand darted out suddenly to grasp her arm, pulling her toward him. His other hand punched her hard in the stomach and she doubled over in pain, gasping for air that would not come.

*Glorfindel, please!*

Effortlessly Maeglin picked her up and carried her to the nearest lounge. Laying her down, he straddled her hips with his knees, an evil grin lighting his face. “If I suffocate you no one will know how you died. They will think it was a healing sleep from which you never awoke.” He shoved a pillow down onto her face as she struggled futilely, her world going dark as he laughed. “Farewell, Sorceress,” his disembodied voice gloated faintly.

She tried to inhale precious air, but the pillow blocked her mouth. Her flailing arms could find nothing to grasp, her heels drummed in panic on the cushion, but nothing made any noise. She was helpless, her strength rapidly fading as she fought to breathe. No one to hear, nothing to do but kick the lounge and that made precious little noise to draw attention to her predicament in the room.

*Glorfindel, please! I cannot breathe. I cannot see. I’m in the sitting room with Maeglin. Help me please!*

The pressure increased despite her struggles. Her lungs were burning. Her muscles seared with agony.

*Glorfindel, I love you. I am sorry.*

She fell still as consciousness faded, knowing her life was ending. Distantly she heard a door open. The force pressing on her face and body suddenly eased. Barely perceived light flooded her closed eyes. The last thing she heard before she succumbed was Maeglin’s panicked voice speaking as if from far away.

“You are just in time, Glorfindel! Your wife has fainted.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note:
HoME book 2 The Book of Lost Tales Part II, The Fall of Gondolin was my source for this chapter.
Atani – humans of Arda


Chapter 19 - Chapter 19

Special thanks to my early beta Vicki and my later beta Michelle102.

Disclaimer: Most of this is Tolkien's and I'm only borrowing it for a while. I make no money from this.

Asterisks (**) denotes telepathic communication.


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Chapter 19

Something gently caressed her face, filling her with warmth. Ariella opened her eyes and looked directly into the bright gray gaze of Lhûnedhel.

What was he doing here?

Closing her eyes again, she placed one hand on her viciously throbbing head and the other on her aching abdomen. The pain receded immediately.

“Ariella. Ariella, open your eyes and look at me,” Lhûnedhel gently encouraged, patting her cheek.

She obeyed and saw his concerned countenance lighten with a relieved smile. His hand cupped her jaw, his thumb brushing her cheek.

“You frightened us, my lady. What happened?”

What had happened? She looked to one side, gradually realizing she was in the sitting room she used for healing. Then all of the horrible memories came rushing back.

“Maeglin!” she said in a panic as she bolted upright. Hands gripped her, restraining her, forcing her to lie back down. She struggled wildly, but they held her firm.

“Ariella! Lie still. It is all right. I am here. Maeglin has gone. You are all right.” To her relief, she realized it was Glorfindel speaking. She turned in the direction of his voice, realizing two of the hands holding her were his.

“Glorfindel?” Her voice cracked. “You came!” The other hands left her as Glorfindel leaned toward her. She threw her arms around him and he pulled her close. “You came,” she whispered desperately. “I was so scared. I kept calling you, hoping you would come in time. And you are here.” Burying her face in his shoulder, safe at last, her tears freely flowed.

“Yes, my love, I am here,” he soothed, pressing his cheek to her hair and rubbing her back comfortingly with one hand while his other arm held her tightly against him. “I am here.”

She felt Lhûnedhel’s hand rub her back, too, lending strength to her weary body as she wept in a turmoil of fear, sorrow, and relief.

When she finally calmed, she sighed, still clinging desperately to Glorfindel.

“My lady,” Lhûnedhel said softly, his hand continuing to gently massage her back. “I was meeting with Lord Glorfindel when you called. Maeglin told us you collapsed after healing him.”

She flinched involuntarily at the mention of Maeglin’s name. Lhûnedhel paused in his ministrations a moment then continued a little more tenderly than he had before. Glorfindel likewise stiffened a moment, then drew her closer still. She could feel Glorfindel’s anger and concern across their bond.

“He looked terrible,” Glorfindel continued, the contempt in his voice growing with each word he spoke. “As if he had been wallowing in his mines. But that would mean breaking the leaguer of the hills, which Turgon has expressly forbidden. And he seemed uncharacteristically nervous when I entered the room. He was bending closely over you, too close for my liking.”

“Why did he come to you for healing?” Lhûnedhel quietly asked.

According to every bit of history she knew, no one in Gondolin knew of Maeglin’s betrayal. Should she tell them the truth about what happened? It could change history, but who would believe them if they told anyone? Turgon would not believe anything negative said about his beloved nephew and it would sully Glorfindel’s name in court. Glorfindel could lose the favor of the king and possibly his lordship for speaking such slander – no matter that history would prove the veracity of it all. No. This was one time when she had best not reveal the whole truth.

Answering carefully, she replied, “He…he said that he injured himself in one of the mines. He came to me for healing because my methods of healing bring more immediate relief.”

“Ariella,” Lhûnedhel said worriedly, a touch of anger in his voice. “If his injuries received in the mines were such that he was still able to come to you for aid under his own power, why did you collapse after healing him? You are a most capable healer - the greatest I have ever known - and a very strong elleth. I have never known you to be so drained after a healing unless the injuries you healed were quite substantial. When I examined you, I found a cut on your neck and a small amount of blood on your dress below it. I also observed red marks on your face and neck and noted some abdominal tenderness. Was there a struggle or did you fall at some point before you lost consciousness?”

Curse Lhûnedhel and his perceptiveness! Why did he have to be so damn thorough? Her mind raced through the possible explanations she could give. Before she could think of a suitable response, Glorfindel spoke again, his statement quite matter-of-fact.

“You challenged Maeglin about his venture into the mines and he grew angry with you.”

Ariella stiffened, causing both of them to still their consoling hands on her back. She never felt Glorfindel brush her mind with his. How did he figure this out? Was it that obvious?

“How did you guess?” She asked mournfully hoping they would not guess the rest of the truth. Her face remained safely buried in his shoulder. She did not want to have to look her husband or her healer in the eyes right now.

Glorfindel sighed loudly. She could feel the anger, frustration, and regret coursing though him. “I should not speak ill of my king’s kin whom I am sworn to serve, but …” He hesitated a moment and she could tell he was considering whether he should say such things in front of Lhûnedhel. “Most of King Finwe’s line has a tendency toward being rather impetuous. Feanor and his sons were and are the absolute worst, but Fingolfin and his line, even though they are my kin, have been known to behave quite rashly at times as well. Fingolfin’s son Argon died in our first battle in Endor because of it and Fingolfin took on Morgoth himself in single combat after the Dagor Argaleb. So, I guess, I should not be at all surprised that Maeglin reacted violently toward you when you caught him in his transgression.”

Glorfindel kissed her head, nuzzling her protectively, then spoke into her hair with a shaking voice, his body tensing dramatically. “I am so sorry for what my kinsman did to you. I swear I will make him pay for …”

“My lord,” Lhûnedhel interrupted sternly. “If you are wise, you will do nothing about this. You have
no proof that would satisfy the king as to Maeglin’s guilt. Your cousin is blind in his love for Lady Aredhel’s son. It is as if Turgon feels that treating his nephew like the prince he does not deserve to be will somehow assuage the guilt he feels over his sister’s death.

“Turgon will not look favorably upon you if you or anyone else brings this matter to him. Your punishment for it would be harsh. You know the truth of this. Our people need you. Your family needs you now more than ever before. Glorfindel, I implore you, let this matter lie. Please, let it lie.” Lhûnedhel paused a moment, then continued, his voice strong and proud.

“My lord, I swear to you that I will do all I can to look after your wife and children whenever I am able and to the extent that I am able. I will encourage this in Istadan and in the others who regularly have close contact your family as well. I do not ask you to forget what Maeglin has done, nor to forgive it. I only ask that you not act upon it. Maeglin will know whenever he looks upon you that you know what he has done to your wife. I believe that he will avoid you for it.”

Ariella drew back in astonishment at Lhûnedhel’s words and looked into her husband’s face. Glorfindel closed his eyes and pressed his lips tightly together for a moment. Suddenly she felt something release inside of him as he nodded to Lhûnedhel. Opening his eyes and still holding her in one arm, Glorfindel reached out and grasped Lhûnedhel’s shoulder. Lhûnedhel grasped Glorfindel’s shoulder in kind.

Releasing a deep shuddering breath, Glorfindel said, “I accept your oath and your wise counsel, Lhûnedhel. Thank you very much.”

Lhûnedhel smiled grimly and nodded. The two ellyn released each other and returned their attention to Ariella who gaped at them. She could not believe what had just transpired between them, though she was very grateful for it.

The healer brushed his hand across her cheek again, saying, “My lord, you should take your wife to your rooms. I will prepare something for her that will induce a dreamless sleep. I believe it would be best if you stayed with her while she rests.”

Glorfindel nodded. “I will do that. Thank you Lhûnedhel – for everything.”

Lhûnedhel rose and inclined his head with a smile as Glorfindel lifted Ariella in his arms and stood up as well. “My pleasure, my lord, my lady. I will return presently with the draught.”

He walked into the corridor with them, then departed to gather the proper herbs while Glorfindel continued on to the stairs, holding her safe and secure in his loving arms.

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The next day, Ariella’s strength had returned sufficiently for her to seek out Idril. There was something that she desperately needed to discuss with the princess.

A servant led Ariella into the foyer and closed the door. Smiling warmly, Idril came up and embraced Ariella.

“What brings you to my house this morning?” Idril asked brightly.

Before Ariella could even respond, Idril’s cheerfulness instantly evaporated. “We’ll speak in my private chambers,” she said quietly.

Idril called for refreshments to be brought and for a servant to listen for Eärendil who was napping in his room.

Once they were settled behind closed doors, Ariella considered how to bring up such a sensitive subject. However, Idril immediately jumped into a conversation about a totally different subject as she often did when perceiving something interesting in the thoughts of her close friends. This habit still caught Ariella off guard sometimes and today was no exception.

“What did my cousin do to you yesterday?”

Ariella gaped at her for a moment. Regaining her composure after a few moments, she admitted, “He came to me for healing. I perceived some of his secrets through my healing touch – and through a good look into his heart. I confronted him with what I learned and he tried to kill me for it. Fortunately, Glorfindel and Lhûnedhel were close by and came at my mental call, so I was spared. Had they arrived a few moments later, I would have died.”

Idril shook her head in disappointment. “Ariella, you must not do this!” she admonished sternly. “Just because you know the future and who the significant movers will be in Gondolin’s future does not give you the right to confront them with your knowledge. Think of what your actions could and nearly did cost your husband and children if you do not care enough for yourself in this. Do not change your past in vain attempts at giving yourself more hope about your family’s future: a future that is tenuous and shrouded in mystery enough as it is.”

Ariella looked down at her hands folded in her lap. She already felt so foolish and stupid for what she had done yesterday. But she had not expected this reprimand from Idril. It surprised her just how much Idril’s disappointment hurt her.

Finally nodding in defeat or acquiescence, she wasn’t quite certain which, Ariella sheepishly met her powerful gaze and said, “You are right, Idril. I am sorry.” Taking a deep breath, she steeled herself to completely disregard what Idril had just said, confidently meeting her eye and continuing with her real reason for visiting this day. “However, I am not sorry for using my knowledge of the future to bring up what I am about to discuss with you now.

“Idril, have you talked Tuor into beginning work on the tunnel out of the city yet?”

It was Idril’s turn to gape. Eyes wide, Idril shook her head a few times obviously trying to recover from the shock of what Ariella had just said. Breathing hard, Idril stared for a few moments before managing a breathless, “Ariella … Ariella how did you know? I … I have only discussed this with Tuor and he only with those he discreetly contracted to do the work. I look into their hearts daily. And they have said nothing of this to anyone. How … How do you … It is in the history books?”

Ariella sighed in relief, thanking God that the work was already under way. She gave Idril a relieved smile. “Idril, you are building the way of escape that the survivors of Gondolin will use. It is because of you that your people will have a hope of escaping the fall of the city. For my own peace of mind after what I learned yesterday, I just needed to know that the work was under way. I will not question you about it further. That is all that I needed to know. Thank you.”

Softly Idril responded almost in disbelief. “My visions are real then. It is all really going to happen.” She looked around futily gesturing to the grand room about her. “All of this will be gone in a few short years.”

“Yes” Ariella quietly confirmed. “All of it.”

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Over the next few years, Ariella and Glorfindel avoided Maeglin whenever possible. In spite of Maeglin’s new bright cheerful demeanor, Ariella could sense his torment whenever she was around him. True to the history books, Maeglin did not venture forth from the city again and seemed quite content with the merrymaking he used to shun. Turgon was obviously pleased by this change in Maeglin, but Ariella and Glorfindel were not fooled at all.

Glorfindel continued to work with their children, preparing them for a time when they might need to protect their home. When their sons reached their late teens, he let them begin training with the warriors of their house and of other houses. When their eldest son, Glorfinion reached age 19 Glorfindel had him fitted with armor so he could begin more formal training.

Although Glorfinion was taller and broader across the shoulder than his father by age 18 and Glorion and Galanor were almost as tall as him by age 17, the boys were not gangly or awkward. Instead they were sleek, smooth, and graceful in their movements. Ariella’s father, a military commander himself, would have been extremely proud of the boys’ skill. They clearly had been blessed with the best of both worlds in their agility, speed, strength, and prowess with weapons.

The maturation of Ariella’s daughters kept pace with that of her sons. They too learned weapons at an early age, desiring to keep up with their brothers, but the girls also engaged in the more feminine pursuits of needlework and weaving in addition to their academics and healing. Their ability to focus on tasks for long periods of time enabled them to keep pace with other ellith twice as old as they. However, the part of the girls’ maturity which bothered Glorfindel the most was the fact that, by age 15, Arianna was as physically mature as an elven maid of 35. Considering it was somewhat common for elves to wed as early as age 50, Glorfindel did not look kindly upon the fact that his eldest daughter was already starting to attract the attention of the young ellin.

All of Ariella’s children were also gifted intellects who not only read and retained with surpassing speed, but also were highly skilled in mathematics and quite promising healers. Every one of them had shining golden hair and bright violet eyes of varying shades from amethyst like hers to pale violet-grey –marking them for life as Glorfindel’s offspring by her.

In spite of the fact that Ariella and Glorfindel knew that they should tell the children the truth about their mortal ancestry, there were always legitimate excuses and valid reasons to not tell the children just yet. It had become so easy to focus on the children’s strengths and the pride their accomplishments wrought in their parents, that there really was no immediate need to tell the children. In Ariella’s eyes, the children were everything her people were genetically engineered to be with elven grace to boot. So she was all the more surprised to learn that they hated what they were.

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One evening a few months after Glorfinion had turned 19, her older children made known to their mother exactly how displeased they truly were.

The family was half way through dinner. Four-year-old Glorindir attacked his second chicken leg. Eleven-year-old Arlianna ate in brooding silence beside her equally dispirited fifteen-year-old sister Arianna and thirteen-year-old Arienne. The three eldest boys were unusually quiet and unenthused as well. Considering meal times were normally lively and chatty, it was easy for Glorfindel and Ariella to discern that something was very wrong.

When Glorfindel finally asked them what was bothering them, the elder children exchanged wary glances before Glorfinion finally put down his eating utensils and responded angrily.

“Adar, we are tired of being different. We are bigger than everyone else. We are taller than everyone else. We look different from them. We can do things they cannot do.” He paused, taking a deep breath and gripping the edge of the table with his hands.

“When we work with the warriors of other houses, they wait for us to make mistakes so they can laugh at us and mock us. We are treated with contempt when you are not around. Some of the young warriors intentionally try to cause us to make mistakes when we practice together. They sabotage our arrows during archery. They play tricks on us. They try to injure us on purpose during hand-to-hand fighting. When we are injured and heal ourselves afterward, they taunt us and say we are abnormal and call us “peredhil” as if we were a contemptible lower form of life. If we answer them with silence then we are called “proud lordlings” or “arrogant little princelings”. If we respond in anger, then they mock us even more.

“The warriors of our house defend us when they witness what is going on. They remind them that we also have the blood of the House of Hador in our veins, so having our skills and abilities at our age is not something to be wondered at or to be treated with disdain. And, they remind everyone of the sacrifice of Huor and Hurin to save our people at the Nirnaeth. But we have also heard others say that we are abnormal even for Hador’s house. Still others say we are tainted by our Moriquendi blood and that it was foolish for you to ever bring Naneth here, let alone marry her. Why did we have to be different? Why are we different? We are tired of being “creatures,” Adar, we just want to be like everyone else.”

Glorfindel stared at his sons for several moments. In his mind he told Ariella. **I have known of this for some time now, but I was waiting for the children to bring it to me. I think we can no longer put off telling the children the truth. **

Ariella took a deep breath herself, then offered, “Perhaps they are just jealous of you because you can do at a young age what they cannot even though they are pure blooded Noldor for the most part - and Calaquendi.”

“Naneth, do you not understand?” Glorion asked in bitter exasperation. “It does not matter to us what THEY are, it matters what WE are!” He gestured across the table then pounded on it with his fist for emphasis.

Seemingly emboldened by his brothers, Galanor joined in the assault. “Even our sisters are tormented with these differences. They are teased by the other ellith because they are…” He turned red as he floundered for a moment, gesturing in the general direction of his sisters’ chests. “Shaped the way they are already. The Noldor and the Vanyar are not like us. The Sindar are not like us. We are different and strange and…and…and not normal. And we are tired of being this way. Why could you not have been different, Naneth? Why did you have to be so…so alien?”

“Galanor! How dare you say such things to your naneth!” Glorfindel reprimanded angrily.

Why indeed? It had never occurred to Ariella that being peredhel could be a bad thing. She looked at her elder children, staring defiantly back at her. It never occurred to her that all of the things she was so proud of in her children could ever be a cause for anything other than pride. And they were correct, so very correct, more so than even they in their questioning contempt of her could have guessed. She was an alien and so were they. There was nothing she could say to make this better. She was simply going to have to tell them the truth. But how? She needed some time to think. She really did not want to have to tell them, but she had no choice now.

**Glorfindel, ** she spoke telepathically, **I need to be alone for a time before I tell them. **

**Of course. I will come get you when they have settled. We can gather in our bedroom and you and I can tell them together. **

**Thank you, my love. **

**You are welcome. **

Ariella quietly pushed back from the table and rose from her seat. Taking her mostly full glass of wine in her hand, she looked at her angry older children who were glowering less defiantly now and looking much younger and less bold under the seething glare of their father.

Quite calmly and softly she addressed them, “You cannot change what you are any more than I can change what I am. I am sorry that I am not what you want me to be.”

With that, she turned and strode out of the room.

Ariella did not know where she was going at first, other than away from them. She grabbed her galadhric cloak from its peg near the main door, then headed down the hallway toward the back of the house. After a few turns, she found herself at the door to the gardens. She wandered outside and down the paths toward her favorite spot - which was so dark and far away from the house lights that the stars were at their brightest.

Carefully sitting down so as not to spill her drink, she made herself comfortable and looked for the constellation containing her star and her world. It winked at her as if in joyful acknowledgement of her presence. She was glad that someone was happy to see her, even if it was just a stupid star.

She gazed at her star asking why. Why her? Why did she choose this road in her life? Why did she have kids? Why was she chosen to fulfill this part of history – a history that had nothing to do with herself or her own race? Why had her parents helped these godforsaken people in the first place?

It was stupid to blame her parents for her problems. Wasn’t she just on the receiving end of that conversation from her own children? Did her parents even know where she was? Was…how appropriate. Yes she certainly was past tense to them right now and doomed to stay that way.

She took a drink of her wine. Her father really would have been proud of her children though. Not tonight of course, but any other time he would have been. They were so much like what he had wanted his own sons and daughters to be. She had not tried to make her children that way on purpose, that was just the way they turned out.

She reached out with her mind as far as she could psychically, extending herself to her very limits.

**Father, I miss you so much. I need you. I need you to tell me what to do. Ellatur: the star master the elves named you and your own grandchildren do not and will not ever know who you are. I wish I could go back to you again and be hugged just one more time and hear you tell me everything is going to be all right. But it’s not, is it? It will never be all right again. I have been so foolish in my life, and I never seem to learn, do I? You said before I left that you would be waiting to pick up the pieces. Now my life has been so fragmented by time and space and interaction with so many lives. I’m not so sure that the pieces are worth picking up. And now I am about to go fragment and destroy the lives of my children with the truth about what they are. I’m sorry, Father. I’m so sorry. And you will probably never even know what really happened to me. **

But she knew he could not hear her, would never hear her again. Ariella wiped her eyes with the hem of cloak, but could not stop the flow of her tears. There was a chill wind blowing through the garden, making her tears sting her cheeks. She pulled her knees up close to her chest for warmth and rested her head on them, the wine glass held by the rim and dangling from her fingers. She sat thus for a long while, feeling the cold wetness on her cheeks. Finally her thoughts drifted back to the task at hand.

What was she going to tell her children? How could she tell them that everything they previously believed about themselves was false? That everything they had believed about the universe was false? How could she tell them that they had been living a lie? They will never want to speak to her again once they learn the truth. They will hate her. Her beloved little ones will utterly despise her for everything she is and everything they are.

Why could this not have waited for two more years? Just a few months less than two more years? Then Gondolin would fall and her children would have died still loving her and not hating her for what she was and what they were.

Oh … dear … God. Gondolin will fall in less than two years! Had it been that long already? The years have flown by so fast. So very fast… It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair…

The tears came harder and she sobbed aloud.

In less than two years, all that would remain of her family would be three girls. No adar or naneth or aunts or uncles or cousins to watch out for them. No warrior brothers to protect them. No baby brother to pester them.

But they are just babies themselves! They aren’t ready to be alone in the world! And she was not ready to let them or any of the others go.

No! She would not let them go. That was it. She would survive. She would defy history and she would survive. She would see her children safely to the settlement at Sirion.

But what of her husband? He had to fight the balrog. He had to die.

‘. . . Now the folk …pressed behind and hindered ahead were grown so close that well nigh all could see, yet it was over ere Glorfindel’s men could leap to his side . . ..’

No! She did not want to watch him die. She did not want to let him die! She pounded her fist on the ground. She loved him so much. So very much…

She drank some more wine and suddenly felt her youngest call to her telepathically to say “I love you” and “good night”. Ariella embraced him mentally and pushed her little boy’s thoughts into dreams.

Ariella had never managed that from as far away as the garden before. Her telepathic abilities had improved as she had grown older and her children were exceptional in that regard as well. It was just one more way in which they were alien. She finished her wine and set her empty glass on the grass beside her. As she huddled more closely in her cloak, the wind blew harder.

Something touched her, making her jump, effectively startling her out of her brooding. She looked up into Glorfindel’s concerned eyes which glowed like the stars themselves. She never heard him approach and sit down beside her.

“How did you find me?”

“I noticed that your grey cloak was gone, so I figured you did not want to be found. I also know that whenever you feel melancholy, you come out here to where the garden is darkest and take comfort from your beloved stars, my “noble maid of the stars”.”

He smiled encouragingly at her, but she did not smile back.

“Are you ready to share those stars with our children?” He asked, his voice soft with concern.

“No, I am not,” she quietly replied.

He put his arm around her. “The children meant no insult to you. They are…” He paused as if searching for the next words to say. “They are frustrated and uncertain of themselves. I believe they are afraid of what they are and what they can do. They have grown up so fast, so very fast...” His voice trailed off quietly. “Our sons looked for you after dinner. They wanted to apologize to you for what they said.”

“Why should they apologize?” Ariella demanded, feeling new hot angry tears in her eyes. “They were right. They are unnatural and it is my fault. They do not belong in this world, and neither do I!”

Glorfindel moved around in front of her, lifting her chin with his fingers. “You do not mean that, beloved. The Calaquendi were a part of this world at one time, but we left it, and despite our triumphant return, we do not belong here, either. So …” he paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. “I guess I have to agree with you on that point. However, according to the Great Music of the Ainur, are we not always where we are intended to be? Even when we rebelled and left Aman and came here, were we not in a sense fulfilling a part in the Music, a horrible part filled with bitter discord, but part of the Song none the less? I think that you being here is part of the Song as well – a natural part of the Song, for you and the song were both made by Ilúvatar. Therefore, our children are not unnatural.”

Her husband paused for a moment, looking down as if bringing himself to say something he did not want to. Taking a deep breath, he continued, head still bowed. “There is something I must do before I die and it will bring my death. If I do not do this thing, make this sacrifice, then many others including our children will die. I have dreamt of my death and what I must do many times now.” He looked up into her eyes again. “I would not be alive to do this thing if it had not been for you. In my dreams, I think of my love for you and the children to give me the extra strength I need to fight this …foe I must face, and I succeed in my task, though it brings my death.”

Ariella looked away, suddenly feeling very selfish and stupid for feeling so sorry for her self. She truly did not know what to say to him. What should she say to a hero who is admitting that the act of renown he will perform, making him the subject of song for ages to come, will be done with the love he bears her in his heart to aid him? It was most humbling.

“I am not worthy of you,” she responded shaking her head. “Not worthy of being your wife or the mother of your children. I deceived you for so long about what I really am to the extent that our cursed, half-alien children are confused and overwhelmed. I am a foolish, overly curious mortal from another world. I do not inspire legends in their hour of need. Why do you still love me?”

He lovingly caressed her cheek with his finger tips, letting his hand fall to rest on her shoulder. “First of all, the children are cursed because of me and my choices and actions, not because of anything you have done. Second of all, from your perspective, the children are half alien, from mine, they are peredhil. Third of all, you intrigue and captivate me as no one else ever has and I am not the only elf who saw you as a worthy bride and mother. I would not trade you or our children for anything. And if I had it to do over again, I would gladly make the same choices again in my life if it meant having you.” He paused and gently kissed her lips. “You complete me.” For the space of a few breaths, he gazed into her eyes, his fëa glowing brightly through and around him, around them.

“Fourth, I am not a legend and never will be,” he continued.

“Now, I do concede that you are foolish, and a very great fool at that because you married and bore children to me – knowing full well that I am a cursed elf, fated to die. I know that you know how I will die and when, and you have known this all along. And yet you chose to marry me and make the children who will die. It is my turn to ask why, for I do not see myself as worthy of your love or this sacrifice.”

“You, not worthy?” she asked incredulously. “But you are the great Glorfindel of Gondolin, the balrog slayer, the subject of many songs, one of the most beloved in all of Gondolin, a legend even in my time, and your actions at death will become a metaphor for great deeds done against terrible odds.”

He looked quite stunned, but she plowed on, looking into his eyes, willing him to see what she felt. “But the songs and stories fail to mention that your heart is as golden as your head. They do not do justice to how kind and gentle and giving and good you truly are. They do not mention what a wonderful father and incredible husband and lover you are. Yes, there have been many times in our relationship when I have questioned the wisdom of what I was doing loving you, marrying you, bearing you children. But I love you and for some strange reason you love me. Any child I could have borne to a mortal would have been fated to die and any mortal I could have married would have died eventually. So why should I have let those fears of loss keep me from marrying you and bearing your children? At least I got to know you and have you for my beloved husband and spend the last and best years of my life with you. And I know from the history books that some of my children – our children – will survive this, will survive us. But even if that were not so, it was enough to be your wife and bring you joy, for you have brought me such joy. If I had it all to do again, I would again make the choices that would bring you to me as my husband and the father of my children.” And she meant every word of it.

Glorfindel sat there, staring at her in wonder. She took his hand and brought it to her lips, kissing his fingers. After a few moments, he moved forward, pushing her back onto the grass. Positioning himself over her, he kissed her passionately and quite lovingly. She wrapped her arms around him, returning the kisses, her fingers entwined in his soft hair. After a very pleasant while, he rolled off of her. He propped his head on his hand as he lay stretched out beside her, his other hand tracing the design on the wedding necklace she always wore.

“There is still one thing I do not know,” he began quietly, looking into her eyes. “What do the history books say about how my wife and children died?”

She took a deep breath. “They say that your wife and children were lost when Gondolin fell. There are no details given other than that. I had asked, but no one knew. I have guessed that our elder sons died in battle for that would seem logical, but I do not know how Glorindir and I will die.”

He closed his eyes for a moment. “Did I not teach our sons well enough? Did I fail them?”

She cupped his cheek with her hand. “Our sons are too young to fight in a battle, Glorfindel. The foes will be many and very few warriors experienced or untried will survive when Gondolin falls. I have told you my guess, my speculation as to how they die. As I just said, I do not know for certain how they will die. No one in my time was able to tell me for they did not know. There were precious few survivors of Gondolin left in Endor in my time. Two more ages of Arda will pass away completely after this age before I will even be born. The lack of information on this detail is not to be wondered at.” He started to turn his head from her, but she held him fast. “Do not blame yourself for something that has not happened yet which may be completely out of your control anyway, Glorfindel. And do not blame yourself when you are sitting in Mandos’ halls afterward, either. You have not failed us. You have given us your life and love. Our sons seek nothing more than to hear you say how proud you are of them. If they die knowing you are proud of them and that you love them, then you will not have failed them.”

He looked at her for the span of a few breaths before nodding his assent. She let her hand drop.

“What of our daughters? You make no mention of them,” he asked solemnly.

“I know they will survive and make it to the settlement at Sirion where the survivors of Gondolin will be joined with ...” She paused.

Doriath hadn’t fallen yet. Should she be telling him this? Then again, did it really matter considering what they had discussed so far this evening?

“Joined with what?” Glorfindel pressed.

“The survivors of Doriath.”

“Doriath has not fallen.”

“It will in a little more than a year at the hands of the sons of Feanor.”

He abruptly sat up and gaped at her.

“What?!”

Maybe telling him this was not such a good idea.

Sitting up herself and speaking softly, she explained about the Silmaril in Doriath, currently in Dior’s possession.

“We must warn them! The eagles would do this for us.” He leapt to his feet.

She rose as well and grabbed his arm. “Glorfindel, we can do no such thing. We cannot change history!”

“A history that has not happened yet!” Glorfindel countered angrily.

She maintained her grip on his arm, desperately trying to make him see reason. “Glorfindel, it is a history that has already happened for me. If you change this, what would happen to me? To our children? If Doriath does not fall, would events still occur, leading up to my time such that I would come into the past and meet you? One of the stipulations on my being allowed to travel into the past was that I could do nothing that might change history as it had already happened for me.”

“But Ariella, we are talking about a kinslaying! Do you not understand?!”

“Yes, I understand. Better than you think.” She paused a moment, then tried a different tack. “The sons of Feanor always send messengers requesting the Silmaril be turned over to them before they attack. The possessor of the Silmaril always denies them and then they attack, slaughtering the elves keeping the Silmarils from them.”

“You speak as if the sons of Feanor have done this more than once.” Glorfindel’s face was white with shock.

“Yes, they will attack more than just Doriath in an attempt at regaining the Silmarils. And even if you did warn Dior, how would you explain your knowledge of this? You could not tell him about your time-traveling alien wife. And if you just sent him a warning with no source other than Gondolin, then he will think that Gondolin is allied with the sons of Feanor, which is not true. And the survivors of Doriath may well refuse to allow the survivors of Gondolin to take refuge with them at the mouths of Sirion in Arvernion after Gondolin falls. There are people who play important roles in the ages to come who would not be born if that happened.”

He stared at her in disbelief as she continued to hang on to his arm. Finally he relaxed, a look of abject defeat on his face. Slowly, he reached out and took her hand from his arm, pulling her closer and looking down into her eyes. “It must be horrible being you, knowing what you know and being unable to do anything about it. No wonder you wanted to leap from the wall that night so long ago.”

“Yes, it is difficult living with the knowledge I have and knowing there is nothing I can do about it,” she whispered. “It has been the most difficult knowing your fate and the fates of the children.”

He pressed her close, wrapping his arms protectively around her, stroking her hair. She nuzzled his neck. “I am so sorry,” he said softly. He rested his cheek on her head, sighing heavily. “So very sorry.”

They rested thus for a time when Glorfinion’s telepathic voice interrupted them.

**Adar, Naneth, we are in your room waiting for you. Do you still wish to speak with us this night? **

**Yes.** Glorfindel answered. **Your naneth and I will be there shortly. **

Glorfindel pushed back, looking into her eyes. “Come, my love. Let us go tell our children of their rather unique heritage.”

She nodded in resignation. “All right.”

They turned and walked hand in hand back into the house.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

After a quick detour to the library for the book containing the picture of Ea, they arrived all too soon at the door to their room. Glorfindel paused. Turning to face her, he took her hands in his. Looking down at their clasped hands for a moment, his thumb toyed with her wedding band. Ariella could sense across their bond that he was almost as nervous as she. Releasing her hands, he took her in his arms and kissed her tenderly.

Moving his hands to her arms, his forehead pressed to hers, he whispered encouragingly, “I love you no matter what may befall us in there. Do not forget it.”

She smiled meekly and nodded. “Thank you.”

Taking her hand once again, he turned and opened the door.

They entered to find some of the children gathered on the balcony and the rest sitting on the bed. The seated ones rose to their feet immediately while the rest hurried into the room. Ariella could not resist smiling at the ones who stood up in respect. They truly must be nervous after the conversation at dinner. Observing the uncertain, slightly scared looks on all of their faces, she wondered what Glorfindel must have said to them after she left the table.

Glorfinion, dressed in the green he favored and the twins in their matching garments of blue walked up to her, the twins flanking their brother as usual, all three with fidgeting hands and bowed heads. She looked up into their penitent faces, seeing in their features images of the adults they would soon become.

Her babies were growing up so fast! But would they still want her as their naneth after they heard the truth?

“Naneth,” Glorfinion began, sheepishly meeting her gaze. “We are very sorry for what we said to you at dinner tonight. It was wrong of us to blame you for our troubles. We…” he paused, his left hand dropping to the hem of his tunic where his thumb and first finger started rubbing the fabric while he gestured with his right. “Naneth, it is very difficult for us right now. We are the only peredhil beside Eärendil. No one knows what to expect from us and we do not know what to expect from ourselves. We … we are not Atani and we are not Eldar. We are both and we are neither and it is very hard.”

The twins nodded in agreement.

Ariella smiled weakly and nodded. “I understand and I too am sorry that you are experiencing this.” Reaching out and brushing her fingers lightly across each of her sons cheeks, she said, “I still love you and I am proud of you.”

They smiled at her in obvious relief, each one hugging her tightly. Glorfindel smiled too, patting Glorfinion on the shoulder and she sensed the telepathic words of approval and gratitude that passed between them.

Taking a deep breath, she said, “All of you come sit on the bed with your father and me and I will see if I can adequately explain to you why you are different.”

She was met with very surprised and curious looks on the children’s faces as they moved to claim territory on the bed. Kicking off her shoes, she climbed to the middle of the head of the bed, and leaned back against some pillows. Glorfindel joined her, handing her a glass of wine which she gratefully accepted.

She took a long pull on the wine while everyone got settled. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Glorfindel do the same. When she lowered her glass, she felt Glorfindel’s hand slip into hers and give a reassuring squeeze.

She looked upon the expectant faces, seeing the elven beauty mixed with alien features. What would they see in themselves the next time they looked in a mirror? Would they be horrified, ashamed, proud?

Taking a deep breath, she began.

“What I have to tell you tonight, I realize I should have told you long before now. It was grossly unfair to keep this information from you for so long. I apologize to you now for not having said anything to you before. In truth, I have been afraid of what you would say and what you would think when I did tell you.” She sighed, looking down unable to continue to meet their confused stares. Her hand holding the glass was shaking. Glorfindel squeezed her other hand again.

**I am here and I will not leave you, my love, ** he encouraged. She felt his fëa wrap itself around hers, giving her much needed strength.

“This evening, when you blamed me for your being so different from everyone else, you were correct. You inherited your differences from me. A few moments ago when Glorfinion said that you are not Atani and not Eldar, he was partly correct. You are definitely of the Eldar and are versed enough in the history of the Eldar to know this to be true. And your adar is clearly of the Calaquendi. However, those who have taunted you for being part Moriquendi and for being of the Atani are incorrect. You are neither of those.”

“But Naneth,” Arienne protested, voicing the obvious opinions of her suddenly squirming siblings. “You are part Sinda AND of the House of Hador. Therefore we are these, too.”

Ariella smiled sadly and shook her head. “When I came here, I truthfully told your father and others that I served Prince Celeborn of Doriath and Princess Artanis. I also told them that my father was mortal. Everyone assumed that mortal was synonymous with Atani and that my height and hair and eye color clearly spoke of Hador’s lineage. They also assumed that my mother had to be an elf. I encouraged those assumptions as a matter of self-preservation or King Turgon would have, without hesitation, cast me from the walls of the city like he did your cousin Maeglin’s father. Those assumptions about me were and are incorrect.”

The children gaped at her, stock still and deathly silent.

Arlianna, the youngest daughter surprisingly recovered first. Tilting her head to the side like she always did when puzzling over something, she stated, “But Nana, your ada has to be Atani if he is mortal. He certainly could not have been a dwarf! You are too tall and too beautiful for that. And though you are very beautiful, I do not think that your nana was a Maia. So what else could she have been if not an elf? You do not get sick. You do not age. You heal very quickly. Only elves are like that.”

Ariella felt Glorfindel release her hand. She turned and watched him look away, putting his hand to his mouth in an effort at stifling a laugh.

Ariella could not help smiling herself. “My sweet, my naneth was not a Maia and my adar was most definitely not a dwarf. However, my adar and my naneth were both mortal and of the same race and they definitely were not of the Atani. There are other mortal races in Ea besides Atani and dwarves.”

Galanor spoke up, his disbelief clearly evident. “Then why have we not learned of these other races in our studies? Istadan is very wise and a great lore master. Surely he would have told us about these other mortals if they truly existed.”

“Istadan never told you about them because he does not know about them. Other than myself and you children, I know of no others with the blood of my race in all of Arda.”

Glorion gazed at her levelly, his arms crossed in an exact imitation of his adar when faced with an obvious falsehood. “Naneth, that is impossible. You cannot be the only full-blooded one of your kind and you know too much to be a first one of a race. You had an adar and a naneth and first ones do not have either of those. The elves are the greatest of all races and even they took hundreds and thousands of years to amass the great wealth of knowledge that they possess. And you know things that we have learned to be true that our teachers never taught us and that are not recorded in any elven book and that are not readily known by elven lore masters or elven healers. Only elves have been awake long enough to gain that kind of knowledge. Besides, mortals age and get sick and heal slowly. I have seen this with Tuor. Therefore, you must have some elven blood.”

Ariella smiled feeling great pride in her son. Turning to her husband, she asked, “May I please have the book?”

Amusement coloring his face, Glorfindel handed her the book. She opened it, discovering he had already marked the page for her. She turned the book and held it up for the children to see the illustration.

“That is a picture of Ea,” Glorion remarked flatly.

“Yes, it is,” Ariella agreed. “However, it is grossly incomplete. In fact, there is not enough paper in all of Arda to accurately depict a true, complete representation of Ea.”

“How do you know?” Galanor asked defiantly.

“Because Ilúvatar reveals to each of His groups of children that which they are able to comprehend at the time and leaves it to them to use the gifts He has given them to discern more. And before one of you interrupts me again, let me also say that while He revealed this concept of Ea …” She pointed to the picture. “To the Eldar, his First Born children of Arda, He has revealed much else to his other children who were born at other times, in other places … on other worlds.” She paused to let the information sink in.

Six golden heads shook at her amidst expressions of wonder and half belief.

“Other worlds …” Glorfinion echoed incredulously. “Naneth, are suggesting that you are not from Arda?”

Ariella raised her eyebrows at him and nodded, stating matter-of-factly, “Yes, I am. And I am further suggesting that, although I am of the same kind as the Atani and mortal like they are, I am not one of them.”

Glorfindel slipped his hand back into hers and gave another reassuring squeeze.

Glorfinion slowly shook his. “Naneth, what you are saying is impossible.”

“Why is it impossible?” she countered. Gesturing toward Glorfindel she continued, “Is it impossible that unassailed, his body will endure as long as Arda does?” Turning to Glorfindel, she asked, “May I please borrow your knife?”

He eyed her oddly as the strange request, but rose to get it for her.

**Ariella, do you plan on threatening them into agreement with you? **

**No. I need to further illustrate something. **

**What would that be? **

**You will see. Now give me the knife. **

Handing her glass to her husband in exchange for the knife, she cut her palm then held her bleeding hand so the blood dripped into her other hand. She then proceeded to heal herself in front of them and pass her hand over the blood, absorbing it back into her body.

Gesturing with the knife, she asked, “Did I not just do the impossible?” The children all looked down at their hands and then back at her. “Before I arrived here, no one in Gondolin had ever even heard of anyone being able to do what I just showed you – and most of these people are Calaquendi who had dwelt among the Valar.” She handed the knife hilt first back to Glorfindel who set it on the bedside table.

“Do you not think it odd that the Valar specifically stated that Arda is the only habitable world in all of the picture of Ea that I showed you?”

The looks on the faces before her showed that they were all finally beginning to accept what she was saying.

“Naneth,” Arienne asked. “Is your world in the picture of Ea that we know?”

Ariella smiled. “No. Arda is the only habitable world in that picture, but there are many other habitable worlds outside of that picture of Ea. All of the stars you can see in the sky and millions and billions beyond that which you cannot see and the worlds orbiting around them are all a part of Ea as well.”

Arlianna piped up, “How come you have not aged? Why can you heal? Why do you not get sick?”

Ariella sighed wondering how to explain this. Glorfindel handed her back her glass of wine and she took a grateful drink trying to think of how to explain this to the children.

“Over time, my people learned how to change themselves in order to breed a stronger version of our race impervious to illness and much less prone to the wearing of age. We also bred into our race other abilities of the mind in the areas of academics and memory. Additionally we improved ourselves psychically. For example, with the exception of your father to whom I am bound, Idril and Princess Artanis are the only elves who can read my guarded mind. You already know that your range for speaking mind to mind far exceeds that of elves who are not bound to each other. And you are just children.”

“Why did your race change themselves?” Galanor asked.

“A great war took place between my people and those of another race for many years. The war spanned many stars and many worlds. The greatest weapon that the other race used against us was an illness that they created which was deadly to my race. By the time we were able to successfully breed the greater, stronger, healthier version of our race, only one twentieth of our population survived. We did finally win the war. Afterward, we continued to pursue enemy renegades who continued to cause trouble elsewhere.”

“Was Arda involved in this war?” Glorfinion asked.

“No. Arda is very far away from where this war will take place. Our enemy will come to Arda later and attempt to take over and enslave the peoples of this world, but my people will discover this and save Arda. My parents are the liaison between Arda and our people. My eldest brother and I, before I came here, were in training to eventually assume that responsibility from my parents. In preparation for this, we had to learn the languages, customs, and history of the Eldar and of all of Arda.”

“Naneth,” Arianna interrupted with an odd expression on her face. “You keep changing your verb tenses. You said the enemy will come to Arda yet your parents are guardians and you were going to be a guardian. Have you had too much wine this evening?”

Glorfindel laughed out loud shaking his head. “No, my child, your naneth has not had too much wine. If anything, I think she needs more.” He rose, taking both of their glasses and refilling them. “Ariella, you need to put the proper perspective on this tale. You are confusing the children, my love,” he gently chided.

Ariella smiled at him as he returned her glass and sat back down beside her.

She took a long drink, then sighing deeply, she looked over at Glorfindel. “I do not know how to say the next part.”

“My lady, you have already convinced them that you are of an alien race from another world. And you have changed their entire concept of Ea in the space of one conversation. The rest of what you have to say sounds quite … plausible beside that.”

Ariella gave him a dirty look in response and he raised his eyebrows at her.

Sighing again she said, “My confusion of verb tenses is quite understandable because the war my race must face has not happened yet. In fact, I will not be born for several thousand years yet.

“My eldest brother is a rather extraordinary man of science and in his spare time, he created a machine that could travel through Ea and through time. When I was 25 years old, I helped him test it one morning and came to Arda from our world AND traveled more than six thousands years into the past. I was only supposed to be here in the past for 4 hours, but something went wrong and I was stranded here. And here I have remained ever since.”

Glorfindel took her hand, adding, “And I for one am very glad that you are here or I would not have them.” He gestured toward the children with his wine glass. Kissing her hand, he said, “I am a most fortunate ellon indeed.”

She smiled warmly at him. **Thank you my love. **

Ariella looked back at the children who seemed quite shocked.

“You traveled through time?” Glorion asked dubiously.

“Yes.”

Voice filled with curiosity, Arianna asked, “What was it like?”

“It was dizzying and it made me feel quite nauseous.” Judging by the children’s expressions, this was not the answer they were expecting. “I am telling you the truth,” she added in exasperation. “There is nothing fun or glamorous about it.”

“Why did you do it?” Arianna asked.

“I am silly, adventurous, and idealistic. The elves in my age that had lived through the First Age used to claim that the stars in the First Age were brighter than they are in my age. I wanted to know if it was true. Having seen the stars of both ages now, I have to agree with them.”

Arienne asked, “Were you scared when you came here?”

“I was when I realized I was in Gondolin and that I would not be going home. In the history books, Turgon did not have a reputation for being nice to visitors to Gondolin. And I also missed my family very much. I still miss them.”

“We are your family now,” Galanor said. “Are you going to go back to your time and world one day?”

Ariella shook her head. “I love your adar and I love you. I do not want to go back even if I could.”

“But you are mortal,” Arienne said sadly. “You will leave us one day.”

“Yes,” Ariella quietly agreed. “I am mortal and one day I will die.”

“What will become of us?” Glorfinion asked. “Are we mortal or are we Eldarin? Will we die as you will or will we persist as Adar will?”

These were questions Ariella had not expected. Glorfindel looked at her expectantly as did the children.
“Most of the peredhil about whom I have read and whom I have known have been given a choice as to the kindred under which they will be judged. I learned lore from some who chose to be counted among the elves, but some of their kindred chose to be counted among mortals and eventually died.” She paused and looked down at her glass for a moment before meeting the curious gazes once again. “I believe that you will be given a similar choice, but I do not know when you will be asked to make that decision.”

“Nana,” Arlianna said, crawling over to her with tears in her eyes. “I do not want you to die. I still need you.”

Glorfindel took Ariella’s glass so she could embrace their youngest daughter. “I will not die tomorrow, Arlianna. We still have time together.” She rubbed her cheek on her daughter’s hair, holding her close.

“I know,” Arlianna sobbed back. “But when we lose you, we will have to go away from here. It will be a long, hard, lonely journey. I have had dreams about it so I know.”

Ariella exchanged startled looks with Glorfindel.

**Ariella, is foresight a gift of your race? It does not occur this early in the Eldar. **

Ariella shook her head no. **The children are precocious. Maybe this trait has shown itself earlier because of her mortal blood. **

**What do we dare tell them? **

Kissing her child’s head, Ariella said, “You need not worry about such things right now, my sweet. Our family is still together and we will take good care of each other.”

“I love you, Nana.” Arlianna said.

“I love you, too.” Ariella pressed her daughter closer.

“Naneth,” Arianna asked, “Who else knows the truth about us? Can we tell our friends? Can we speak to the servants of this or to our kin?”

“No!” Glorfindel firmly responded. “Absolutely not! The only ones who know besides you and us are Idril and Tuor. You would be shunned even more and your mother and I at the least would be dishonored - if not put to death for withholding such important information from the king. I honestly do not know what would become of you children in that situation. You can tell no one.”

“But Adar, what about when we wed? I mean, can we? I mean can we have children by one of the Eldar or are we too different? Some animals of different species can mate, but their offspring is infertile. Can …” she paused and blushed deeply from her shoulders to the tips of her ears. “Can we wed and bear children? And if we do wed, what do we tell our spouses? They will know that we are different. Did you know about Naneth before you married her?”

Ariella smiled gently and, she hoped, reassuringly at her daughter, but a glance at Glorfindel showed how upset he was that his little baby 15 year old daughter was even considering such things already. “Yes, you can wed with the Eldar and bear children.”

“How do you know?” Arianna asked.

“Because I know from the history books that you will wed one of them and bear him children.”

Arianna looked pleased, a dreamy smile joining the far away look in her eyes as she obviously considered the possibilities. The reaction Ariella felt in Glorfindel made her feel guilty for being a little bit glad for her daughter’s sake that Glorfindel would not be around to intimidate and pass judgment on whoever she would choose as her husband.

“You know our futures?” Arienne asked in wonder. “Will I wed, too? What about our brothers and Arlianna?”

Arlianna drew back, staring intently at her mother. Ariella sighed, glancing at Glorfindel.

**Go ahead and answer, but be vague, Ariella. ** Glorfindel told her.

“I only know a little about your futures as little was ever said. All three of you ellith will wed ellyn. As for the rest of you … I do not know your fates for certain.”

With a coy expression, Arianna persisted. “Adar, you did not answer as to when naneth told you the truth about her.”

Glorfindel reached for his glass and leisurely took a long pull of his wine. Ariella knew he was stalling. He set the glass back down quite deliberately, then bowed his head for a moment before looking up and answering slowly.

“Your naneth told me that she was mortal when she was pregnant with the twins. I came to understand her mortality when she nearly died in her fifth month of pregnancy and, in truth; I was terrified I would lose her. I could tell no one that she was mortal and that nearly cost me my wife and two of my beloved sons.

“She told me the rest a little more than a year before Glorindir was born. I admit I was angry that she had not told me before, but I know I would not have handled the knowledge well before that point.” He chuckled mirthlessly to himself. “In fact I did not handle it well when she did finally tell me. It was … difficult having my whole concept of Ea AND my beliefs about the nature of my dearest love and my children changed in a single night. It took me some time, but I did finally come to accept it, and I have learned to cope fairly well, I think. … Well, I cope as well as a cursed ellon can whose wife is a time traveling alien from another world and whose remarkable children are gifted in ways that he will never be.” Glorfindel put his arms around Ariella and pulled her close to him. She could feel his fëa pulsing with the power of his feelings. “I am proud of my wife and my family, and I love you all very much. That is all that matters to me now.”

Arianna seemed to be a bit embarrassed by the depth of emotion in her adar’s answer, for she blushed again and looked away. However, Glorfinion’s voice welled up in bitterness.

“Naneth, why do you tell us this now? Why did you think that this news would help us? If anything, it makes it harder for us. How are we to defend ourselves with words now when the taunting starts again tomorrow? At least we had pride in what we believed ourselves to be to shield us when our heritage through you was criticized. Now…” his voice cracked for a moment, his pain seeping out all around it. “Now, we have nothing. We are nothing. How can we believe in ourselves now? There is nothing to say in our own defense unless we continue the lies you have perpetuated.”

The shattered, defeated look on her son’s face broke Ariella’s heart. She sensed intense pain in Glorfindel across their bond and felt him protectively make a show of tightening his arms around her. He had told her they would face this together.

“Alien adaneth,” Glorfinion spat, rising to his feet and drawing himself up to his full, considerable height. “Why did you not think of this before you created your alien half-breed spawn? Our lives are nothing but lies!” He gestured angrily at his parents. “And you two are the greatest deceivers of all! Morgoth is in good company sharing Endor with you!” With that, he spun on his heel and ran out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

In the stunned silence that followed, no one moved nor spoke. For what was there to say?

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Notes:
The quote about Glorfindel’s death is from p.194 HoME book 21 The Book of Lost Tales Part II, The Fall of Gondolin.
Atar/ata-Quenya for father/daddy
Atani – humans of Arda
Adaneth – mortal woman


Chapter 20 - Chapter 20

Betas: Extra special thanks to Michelle, Fianna, and GeorgiaPiper

Warnings: Blood and death in this chapter

Disclaimer: Most of this is Tolkien's and I'm only borrowing it for a while. I make no money from this.

Asterisks (**) denotes telepathic communication.

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For four days, Ariella flitted from bed to bed and room to room. At each one, she worried that she had not spent enough time, yet feared that she had been away from the others too long. But, for the last two days, she remained in one room beside one bed.

In all of this time, there had been no discernable change in this patient. She, two of her daughters, and a couple of the Nestadain, including Lhûnedhel, had examined him daily and given him strength, but to no avail. She had reached out to him telepathically, perceiving his dreams and the level of his unconsciousness, yet even she could not reach him. Such was the depth of the recovery sleep of a healer who had over-extended himself to the brink of death. And there was nothing Ariella could do to help him.

In her frustration, Ariella paced the room, pondering the events of the last few months, wondering what she or Glorfindel could have done differently and whether it even would have mattered.

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It had started long before the night that the children learned of Ariella’s people and past. Her children were physically and intellectually advanced well beyond their years as far as the elves were concerned. Elven youths who should have been her children’s peers had singled them out and rejected them for their differences, as children will often do. Rather than being helped by the news of their mother’s highly gifted alien heritage, Ariella’s offspring, particularly her sons were even more unsettled than before.

Whenever she asked them about their brooding silence at home or their obvious public discomfort, they brushed her aside with angry words or hurt-filled glares. All of Glorfindel’s attempts at getting through to them were met with a scathing silence as their sons shut him out as well, while their daughters wept about it behind closed doors. Glorfindel kept telling Ariella that the children needed to work through this and that they would be back to normal soon. However, the children’s scorn hurt far more deeply than either of them could have imagined.

Fortunately, as Glorfindel and Ariella saw it, the city gates were shut to those wanting to wander the hills, so the children couldn’t run away. However, their sons were becoming more impetuous on the practice field, throwing themselves into their training with reckless abandon. Their spiritual and emotional unrest was so evident that they consequently became more frequent targets for taunts whenever the warriors of the Golden Flower were not present to stick up for their lord’s sons. Unsurprisingly, the tormentors were almost all from the House of the Mole, Maeglin’s house.

The primary antagonist, as far as Ariella and Glorfindel had been able to determine, was a youth called Morang, a trainee from the House of the Mole. His favorite pastime appeared to be making sport of goading their sons, particularly their eldest, into contests of strength or arms that they were inevitably doomed to lose. As dark of hair as he was of countenance, this young Noldo was her sons’ nemesis, constantly harassing and antagonizing them at every turn. When his parents died in the Nirneath Arnoediad, he had been taken in by kin who were nobility of the House of the Mole and close friends of Maeglin their lord. Lately come to his majority, Morang was held in high regard by Maeglin, whom the young ellon practically worshipped and followed without question: liking those who Maeglin told him to like and scorning those Maeglin told him to scorn.

Whenever a lord other than Glorfindel or Maeglin was in charge of training young warriors, invariably that lord ended up in Glorfindel’s study that evening complaining to him about his sons and the multiple incidents that had occurred that day between the young lords of the Golden Flower and the youths of the Mole. Whenever Maeglin was in charge, their sons returned home late and extremely weary. Ariella’s connection with the children was so strong that she knew when they were injured no matter where in the city they were. She therefore knew that her sons’ weariness those days sprung from the extensive healing they had to perform in order to be able to walk home again. Each night they silently accepted reprimands and punishments from their parents or stoically brushed aside offers of comfort.

All too aware of what was happening on the practice field Ariella was not surprised to discover that her sons’ unrest spread to other areas as well.

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A few weeks after “The Discussion,” as Ariella and Glorfindel had taken to calling it, Istadan came to the house, requesting a meeting with Ariella. Garbed in scholarly browns (which hid the ink stains the best, he had once confided to Ariella), Istadan sat in a chair beside Glorfindel’s desk. Glorfindel was away at council for the day, so Ariella occupied her husband’s usual seat. After exchanging pleasantries over tea, Ariella steered the conversation to Istadan’s reason for requesting the meeting.

“My lady,” Istadan said, sitting up straight and placing his tea cup on the desk. “Your children confound me. For years they have been some of the most eager and talented pupils I have had the pleasure to instruct. However, now…”

Ariella propped her elbows on the desk and buried her face in her hands. “Oh, Istadan,” she interrupted him, her voice muffled by her hands, “Not you, too. Please, not you too.” First the practice field, then problems reported by Lhûnedhel during the healing lessons. Not this too, oh please, not this too.

She slid her hands into her hair and peered sideways at Istadan.

Biting his bottom lip, he raised his eyebrows and nodded his head almost apologetically.

She swore under her breath, pounding the desk with her fist in frustration as she sat back in the large chair.

“My sentiment exactly, my lady,” he quietly agreed. “It is not so much your daughters as your sons. They constantly question my sources. They challenge my authority and knowledge, especially in the areas of science and studies of the Atani.” He rose from his seat, gesturing and pacing as he slowly spoke.

“Ariella, I learned much of what I am teaching them from the Valar themselves, yet those ellin have the audacity, the brazen audacity, to question the veracity of my words. They have even suggested that the Valar have hidden information from us, claiming that we the Firstborn of Arda were too primitive to be able to handle the whole truth about some matters.” Sitting down heavily in his chair, he put his elbow on the desk. He ran his fingers through his loose dark hair, then rested his head on his hand.

She felt her stomach clench at the thought of what her sons might have said. It must have sounded like blasphemy to Istadan.

“Ariella, the last person I heard claim that the Valar had hidden information from us was Feanor when he told us what he had learned from Melkor of the coming of the Atani.”

Ariella bowed her head and cringed. When an exiled Noldo compared someone to Feanor, it could not be a good thing.

“And he was correct,” Istadan continued.

Ariella looked up in surprise. “What did you say?”

“I said Fëanor was correct. The Valar did withhold information from us. And, I had to agree with your sons that the Valar may well have chosen not to disclose some other information to us. However I think it is for our own good that the Valar withhold teachings, especially if we are not ready for the lessons and experiences that might accompany such knowledge. And I told your sons this.”

Ariella sighed in relief.

“But for some reason, your sons persist in doubting the wisdom of not only the Calaquendi, but of all of the Firstborn. And they no longer to care to learn anything more of the Atani - not even of your kin of the House of Hador.”

The relief instantly died.

“As if that were not enough, your daughters seldom say anything at all during lessons. Instead, they…” Sitting up, he paused, taking a long drink of his tea, and looked away fidgeting with his cup. “Thank the Valar I do not have to say this to Glorfindel,” he said under his breath.

Ariella sat forward in her chair, leaning her arms on the desk in front of her. “You do not have to say what to Glorfindel?” She asked alarmed.

Still not looking at her, he continued nervously. “Ariella, you are an elleth. You understand these things. I never had any sisters and have had few female friends, but I do not believe I am misinterpreting what I am seeing and experiencing. Then again, I misinterpreted your own behavior so, I could be wrong. I do not know. I just…” He finished his tea then fidgeted with the cup more violently.

“Istadan, you are not making any sense. It is not like you to babble.” She rose to her feet, and walked around the desk. Taking his cup, she set it on the desk, then grasped his hands and knelt in front of him. Speaking gently and, she hoped, reassuringly, she said, “Istadan, tell me what has you so troubled.”

He squeezed her hands and then met her gaze with his piercingly bright blue-grey eyes. “Ariella, your elder daughters argue over who will sit beside me during lesson. Glorfinion always sits to my right as is his due as the eldest and heir of my lord, but Arianna and Arienne practically come to blows over who will occupy the other chair. Then whichever one gains the seat for the day, sits so close to me that I could write on her parchment almost as easily as I could write on my own. I feel so uncomfortable, that I have taken to standing during lessons.

“These young ellith also stare at me constantly. And it is not the gaze one would expect from a student paying rapt attention to a tutor speaking on a fascinating topic, either. I have perceived some of their thoughts on these occasions and …” He looked away, his face flushed bright red.

“To make matters worse, your peredhil daughters are also developing physically much more quickly than full-blooded ellith of their same years and…” He paused, swallowing hard, still not looking at her. “Their more feminine qualities are ah, becoming rather apparent. In fact, I dare say that Arianna … ah … shares many of your more notable attributes and to the same proportion to which you yourself … exhibit them.”

Ariella valiantly fought down the urge to laugh out loud. She took his hands more firmly in her own; donning what she desperately hoped was a sympathetic expression as he met her gaze again.

“Ariella, I do not deny that I was and am still in love with you. Nor do I deny having looked upon your children as my own in many ways. I am trying my best to teach them what I would have taught my own. But … Ariella, stop smiling at me! It is not amusing! It is not at all funny!” His exasperation was clearly evident in his voice now. “Your daughters are too young to look on an ellon that way or to have such thoughts about one. And they especially should not think such things about me. I mean, if they only knew how I feel about you…”

At least she had not laughed out loud at him. Yet. Much as she wanted to. The smile was stuck on her face, however, and refused to leave.

“Istadan,” she spoke matter-of-factly. “Their behavior is quite normal for mortal girls of their years, as is their physical development. I think that even if they knew of your feelings for me, they still would … shall we say, “admire” you. In fact, they would probably “admire” you all the more, thinking that because they do look so much like me, they might have more of a chance of gaining your affections. You are handsome, tall, nicely built, highly knowledgeable, and have a lovely voice. I am not at all surprised that they are attracted to you.”

He looked abashed, but then quietly pointed out as he squeezed her hands again, “It was not enough to win you.”

“No, it was not,” she conceded, “But if I had not had Glorfindel, your chances with me would have been rather good.”

Smirking, he asked, “So are you suggesting that since I cannot have you, I should take comfort in the affections of your daughters?”

“When my daughters are grown, you may, as you say, take comfort in their affections,” she clarified. “Until then…”

“Until then, I will have to endure their revolting adolescent glances and annoying giggling while desperately hoping that Glorfindel never learns of their fascination with me.”

“Exactly,” Ariella said as she leaned forward and kissed his cheek, much to his obvious surprise. She rose to her feet still holding his hands. “If only the solution to my sons’ problems were so easy.”

“My lady,” he admonished rubbing his thumbs over the backs of her hands. “Your solution to your daughters’ problems could hardly be described as “easy” from my perspective. You have no idea how uncomfortable this situation is for me.”

“Then why not teach them some history that might appeal to their romantic girlish fancies while still incorporating the other lessons you may wish to teach?”

He looked at her curiously and asked, “How so?”

She released his hands and walked across the room to a table sporting several glasses and a large decanter of fine red wine. Pouring two glasses, she brought him one, most of which he immediately gulped. She returned to her seat with the other glass, while explaining, “Teach them the story of Beren and Luthien. You could incorporate into your story information about the Maiar, the Sindar, mortal men and the House of Bëor, as well as Doriath and Nargothrond. Or you could teach them about Aegnor and Andreth which could encompass Noldorin history as well as that of the Atani House of Bëor.”

“Aegnor and Andreth?” He repeated. “Aegnor son of Finarfin? He died in the Dagor Bragollach I did not know that he had wed. Who is Andreth and what are her ties to that house of men? I have never heard this tale. Did they have any children?”

Ariella felt the blood drain from her face as she nearly choked on her sip of wine. She had read that story in Imladris from a book passed down through the ages. Only Andreth, Aegnor, and his brothers knew about this unconsummated romance before the book recording it was passed on through the lines of men to finally end up in Elrond’s possession. Of course no one in Gondolin would know anything about it.

“Ah,” she stammered, trying to decide what to tell him. “Aegnor was in love with a mortal woman named Andreth of the house of Bëor, but since elves do not wed in time of war, he never pursued her though she loved him in return. He died in battle, but she died not long after of old age. It was said by Finrod that his brother most likely would not choose to return from Mandos’ halls because of his great love for Andreth and that they would have to wait until the Second Music to be reunited again.”

“How very sad,” Istadan said quietly. After seeming to ponder this for a few moments, he asked. “My lady, what of your own parents? Do you think that your mother will wait in Mandos’ halls for the Second Music so she can be reunited with your mortal father?”

Ariella looked at him in surprise. “My mother?” Her mother was mortal. She would never go to Mandos’s halls! And she almost said as much before remembering what he believed to be true about her past. “Yes, yes, I believe she will wait for him.” She bowed her head and exhaled loudly, not realizing she had been holding her breath. Istadan was so easy to talk to, that she kept forgetting just how little he knew about her.

“I am sorry I mentioned your parents, Ariella. I can see that the memories still trouble you greatly. Forgive me.”

She raised her head and was met by his gentle compassionate gaze. “It is all right. I do not think of my family often. The memories are still difficult to cope with.”

“Have you told your children of your kin, Ariella? Perhaps it would help encourage them in their studies of the Sindar and the Atani.”

She smiled at him weakly. “Yes, I recently told them. But, they take no pride in what they have learned of my kin. I think that the knowledge was too much for them to handle with so much of their mortality showing in their early development and marking them as different from everyone else in Gondolin. I think perhaps I should have waited to tell them the stories of my past until they were more comfortable with what they are and their role in society in Gondolin.”

“I have heard of the problems they experience on the training field and the difficulty that Lhûnedhel is having with them. Do you believe that this knowledge is what has caused their behavior to change so much of late?”

“Yes, it is the cause,” she admitted.

“Oh Ariella, this must be very difficult for you. Yet, I do not understand how knowing your heritage could be anything but a source of pride for them. Is there anything I can do to help this?”

She thought about it for a moment. “Yes, there is something you could do. Remind the children that they have a duty to their father and his people to listen to you and learn what you have to teach. Remind them of their high heritage through Glorfindel and their responsibility to the House of the Golden Flower. That way, though they have no pride in me, they can be proud of something.”

He smiled warmly. “I have tried to instill in them a pride in their Sindarin and Atani ancestry. For you, I have done this. But I will turn the focus more to their Vanyarin and Noldorin heritage, if you think it might help.”

“Yes, I think it might help.” It certainly could not make things any worse.

She smiled at him in gratitude and relief as he finished his wine.

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Istadan did as she had requested and though her daughters seemed to settle and behave more appropriately, her sons did not.

One evening some weeks later found Glorfindel and Ariella seeking solace in their bedroom on the bearskin rug in front of the fire. They had just endured yet another exasperatingly long complaint from the training captain and doled out yet another punishment to their sons. Glorfindel sat staring into the flames, his arms wrapped securely around Ariella, holding her close.

Sighing heavily, he whispered, “My lady, news of our sons’ difficulties has finally reached Turgon’s ears.”

Ariella jerked her head from Glorfindel’s shoulder in surprise, but he pressed it back in place and rested his cheek against her hair. “Be still, my love,” he softly admonished. “It is all right. I spoke long with Turgon today. He wants this situation resolved soon, but he wants it handled very carefully. He fears that any outcome to this situation will have lasting repercussions for his grandson. It is very fortunate for us that Earendil is peredhel like our children. Otherwise, I fear our House would be harshly punished for our sons’ poor behavior of late.”

“Glorfindel, what are we to do?”

“I do not know. Turgon suggested that we speak with Tuor and Idril about this situation. We are to meet with them tomorrow.” Suddenly Glorfindel lifted his head, obviously hearing something she did not. Then there was a knock on the door.

“Arlianna!” he called. “Come in, daughter.”

Ariella looked up in surprise as her youngest daughter opened the door just enough to slide around it and into the room, her rose-colored dress swishing against the door as she turned to close it behind her.

Ariella held out her hand in invitation. “Come and sit with us.”

Arlianna looked at them timidly before rushing over to plop down on the rug in front of Glorfindel and snuggle up against his chest. He put one arm around her drawing her and Ariella into a tight hug. They both smiled at him and he relaxed his hold, bestowing a kiss on his daughter’s forehead.

Looking into her eyes, he asked, “Now what brings my little elleth to my arms this evening?”

She gave him a small smile which quickly faded to a frown and bowed her head. “Adar, I want to help my brothers get better. But I do not know how.”

Ariella answered, “Your father and I have talked to them about their behavior many times, but they no longer seem to hear us.”

“My sisters and I have talked to them, too, individually and together,” Arlianna said, nodding sympathetically. “The twins tell us that they wish for all of the taunting to stop, but whenever they try to ignore it, Morang and his friends turn their insults upon Glorfinion and provoke him until he responds.

“We told Glorfinion that if he keeps on reacting in violence then no one will respect him. But he said he does not care any more what people think of him. He said that no one will respect a peredhel anyway, so why not return unkindness with anger? His reaction will make no difference in the outcome of the situation anyway or in others’ opinions of him. We told him his responses do make a difference and that many people no longer think that any of us are mature enough to handle any adult tasks because of his constant fighting. He said he does not care. We told him he is selfish to mar our reputations so. And we also told him that if he does not respect himself, then how can he expect others to do so?

At that point, he threw us out of his room and slammed the door and locked it.”

Ariella took a deep breath and slowly let it out, hearing Glorfindel do the same.

*Oh, Ariella,* he whispered across their bond.

Ariella lifted her daughter’s chin, and, looking into her eyes, quietly said, “It was very wise of you three to go talk to your brothers and very kind of you try to understand their problems and desire to help them. Do you have any thoughts about what can be done to help your brothers – especially Glorfinion – feel good about themselves again?”

Arlianna chewed her lip, making her “thoughtful” face before finally saying, “I think they need for their peers to praise them for something and genuinely mean it. Naneth, it is so very difficult for all of us not really fitting in physically or intellectually or emotionally with any one group.”

Ariella bowed her head, trying not to cry. She felt so horrible. She never should have told the children the truth. They truly did not belong anywhere and they never would.

“What do you wish for us to do?” Glorfindel asked, gently caressing his daughter’s cheek with his finger tips. “We have tried for so long. We truly have, but I fear there is nothing we can do to remedy this.”

“I fear for my brothers and sisters,” Arlianna whispered, her maturing, pre-teen face suddenly melting back into that of a frightened little girl. “My sisters intend to stop our brothers from fighting any more. But…” Her voice grew quieter still. “But I have had dreams, Ada. Bad dreams. And I am so scared. So very scared.” She put her arms around him, curling up as tightly against his chest as she could. Glorfindel’s arms automatically encircled her protectively as muffled sobs rose from her now shaking form.

Ariella rubbed her daughter’s back consolingly, staring dejectedly at Glorfindel. The sorrowful helplessness on his face echoed across their bond. Neither of them knew what to do or what to say, so they just sat there, comforting their little girl in a silence broken only by her weeping and the crackle of the fire before them.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Early the next evening, Ariella and Glorfindel met with Idril and Tuor while little Eärendil and Ariella’s youngest son Glorindir played in Eärendil’s room under the watchful eye of one of Idril’s servants.

One arm comfortably draped around Idril who was sitting beside him, Tuor asked, “Ariella, do you know if any of the other peredhil have had this much trouble coping with being a peredhel in an Eldarin society?”

Glorfindel was holding her hand to stop her fidgeting, so she rubbed the back of his hand as she spoke. “I do not believe that any of the other peredhil have had problems with being accepted by others. However, my children and your son are among the first. My children suffer so because we hid the truth about their heritage from them for so long and also because Maeglin does not like me. We suspect that he is encouraging Morang and the other trainees of his house to antagonize our children.”

“I believe you are correct about Maeglin’s suspected influence. He does not like you any more than he likes my husband,” Idril said. “I have warned you in the past to be wary of my cousin.”

“I have been wary of him,” Ariella replied in exasperation. “But there is nothing I can do about the way he encourages others to treat my children.”

“Ariella, do you know if he or anyone else will cause trouble for my son when it comes time for Eärendil to begin training?” Tuor asked concerned.

This was one portion of the future about which she knew she could safely comment. “I know for a fact that Maeglin will not be troubling your son when your son reaches an age where he can begin training.”

“You seem very certain about that. So, will Glorfindel get so disgusted with Maeglin that he kills him or will I beat him to it?” Tuor asked.

Ariella knew that Tuor’s words were spoken in jest, but she did not think he realized how near to the truth he had come. Tuor would be the one to kill Maeglin during the fall of Gondolin. “I think it best I not comment.”

In her mind Ariella heard Glorfindel ask, *Will you tell me later? If it is to be me, then I want to start sharpening my sword now.*

Eyes wide, Ariella turned and looked at Glorfindel in surprise. *I cannot believe you asked me that!*

“I can believe it,” Idril observed aloud.

Ariella and Glorfindel both whirled on Idril, and Glorfindel said, “Stay out of our private conversations, Cousin. It is rude to eavesdrop.”

Tuor laughed and said, “Glorfindel, from your expression even I could tell that you probably commented to her about hoping to be the one to, shall we say, end Maeglin’s negative influence on your family.”

Glorfindel scowled and said nothing.

Leaving her husband to brood alone, Ariella got up and began to pace. “There must be something we can do to convince Morang and his friends to leave our sons alone. I just wish I knew what.”

“Has anyone talked to Morang about this?” Idril asked.

Ariella replied in irritation, “We have already been over this, Idril. Yes, all of the lords who have led training have talked to him and his friends and to our sons.”

“Yes,” Idril patiently replied, “But have you and Glorfindel spoken with him?”

Ariella stopped and looked at her. “We –“

Ariella inhaled sharply at a sudden sharp pain in her abdomen. Clutching her stomach, she doubled over and fell to her knees. She gasped for air as the pain vanished just as quickly as it had come. Glorfindel, Idril, and Tuor were out of their seats and kneeling on the floor by her side in an instant. Ariella blinked and looked around confused, trying to figure out what had happened.

Glorfindel gently put his hand on her arm as Idril worriedly asked, “Ariella are you all right?”

Ariella hesitated a moment, waiting to see if any more pain would come before slowly answering, “I do not know.”

Quietly, Glorfindel asked, “Is one of our sons injured again? Maeglin led the training and the practice should be over for the day.”

Reaching out with her mind as she straightened her posture, Ariella reported in bewilderment, “No. It is not one of our sons. It is… It is Arianna.”

Suddenly a burning sensation ripped clean through her from belly to spine. Ariella jerked and collapsed to the floor. She lay there panting, clutching her stomach against the horrific agony.

Reaching out telepathically, Ariella’s mind immediately filled with her daughter’s perceptions. She saw the shocked horror on Glorfinion’s face as he lowered her to lie on her back. A large crimson stain covered much of his shirt. Glorion and Galanor looked equally terrified as they leaned over her. Amidst the blinding pain, she felt the healing contact of all three assessing her condition. Suddenly the pain and all other sensation left her even though her brothers had not begun the numbing so they could heal her. Everything gradually faded to white as Arianna faintly whispered to her mother in her mind.

*Nana I tried to stop them. I do not know what happened. I am so sorry. I tried. I love you. Tell ada I love him, too.*

Before Ariella could reply, a gentle yet powerful male voice, encompassing all of the pleasant sounds of the world and awash with the colors of the rainbow, engulfed her mind, resonating in her body as it softly commanded, “Arianna!”

Then she was gone.

As Idril’s sitting room and Glorfindel’s face came into focus, an emptiness filled Ariella’s heart as if a part of her spirit physically had been ripped from her. The place in her mind and soul where her eldest daughter’s thoughts and presence had resided was empty.

Ariella lay on her side pounding the floor with her fist, screaming in silence before sound finally came out with uncontrollable sobs. “No! Not my daughter! Not my little girl! No! No! Nooooo!!!!!”

Glorfindel lifted Ariella to a sitting position and gathered her in his arms. Holding her close, he rocked her, gently commanding, “Shhh. Shhh. Ariella, hush. I need you to calm down and tell me what has happened.”

“I…I think I heard Mandos call our daughter. I know I heard him.” She blurted out angrily. “I cannot feel her thoughts anymore. Arianna is dead!” Ariella rested the side of head against Glorfindel’s shoulder, wailing, “My baby girl is dead! She is gone!”

He silently pressed her closer to him.

“Glorfindel,” Idril quietly said, “I cannot feel her thoughts either. You need to go find your sons. I sense their fear, but they have not given up on Arianna yet.”

Glorfindel did not respond.

“Glorfindel,” Idril urged more forcefully, “Go to your sons. I will take care of Ariella.

Glorfindel!”

Glorfindel still did not respond. He just sat there silently clutching Ariella to him and rocking her.

Highly exasperated, Idril asked, “Tuor, please.”

Tuor and Idril positioned themselves on either side of Glorfindel. Together, they both unpeeled Glorfindel’s arms from around Ariella. Tuor pulled Glorfindel to his feet as Idril put her arms around Ariella and held her close.

“Come, Glorfindel. We must find out what has happened. We must learn the truth and bring your children home. Little Glorindir can stay here tonight. Idril will see your wife safely home. Come.”

Amidst her tears, Ariella watched Glorfindel’s shocked overly pale face as Tuor straightened her husband’s tunic for him before taking him by the arm and slowly leading him from the room.

Ariella did not know how long Idril held her there on the floor while she cried. At last she calmed enough to pull back. Gradually she became aware of a warmth and lightness filling the empty places inside of her. But, it made no sense to her. Her daughter was dead. She knew she heard Mandos call Arianna and knew her daughter was dead.

“Ariella,” Idril quietly commanded, placing a cup of water in her hands. “Drink this.”

Ariella shakily took the cup and drained it.

“Good,” Idril soothed, handing the cup to a servant Ariella suddenly noticed kneeling beside her. Each grasping one of Ariella’s arms, Idril and the servant stood as Idril said, “Now get up. Tuor has contacted me saying we are to meet your family at your house immediately. They are bringing Arianna and your sons home. Your sons have made a miracle, my friend. Arianna lives again.”

Ariella looked at her stunned. As the words sank in, her sudden joy and relief were so great, she was on her feet and racing for the door faster than she would have thought possible. Reaching out with her mind, she was so overcome at the renewed presence of her daughter that she stumbled and nearly collapsed. Fortunately Idril had caught up with her and was able to steady her before urging her on.

Arianna was alive!

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The sound of the door opening jarred Ariella back to the present. Turning swiftly, she watched Glorfindel enter their son’s room.

“Has there been any change in him?” he asked hopefully.

“No,” she replied shaking her head, her eyes dry with no more tears left to shed after so many days of crying in fear and helpless frustration.

Kneeling beside the bed, he lovingly stroked Glorfinion’s pale, nearly lifeless face. “Oh, my son. My beloved son,” Glorfindel whispered. “Please come back to us. Please come back.”

After a few moments like too may others in the last 6 days, there was still no discernable change in Glorfinion. Ariella watched her husband kiss their eldest son’s forehead and rise. She walked over and embraced Glorfindel, holding him close.

After a time, he pushed back and said, “Turgon expects us to be at court when he judges the case. We need to leave now.”

Ariella shook her head at him, taking a step back. Though she had dressed for court to appease Glorfindel, she had never intended to accompany him to the palace. “No, Glorfindel. I will not leave him.”

“It is all right, Ariella,” came Lhûnedhel’s voice. She turned and saw him standing in the doorway. “I will be staying with him while you are away. I swear I will send word if his condition changes at all. You need to be there. You need to go.”

Casting a longing look at her son, she tore her eyes away at last and took Glorfindel’s hand. “Very well. If I must.”

Squeezing her hand reassuringly, Glorfindel thanked Lhûnedhel and led her out of the room.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Her hand formally tucked in her husband’s arm, the lady of the Golden Flower, bedecked in green and gold finery similar to her lord’s, walked to the palace in silence, accompanied by her nervous twin sons. The family had already discussed this whole affair among themselves and with others so many times that there was nothing left for any of them to say. Before departing, Glorfindel had briefed their sons on the conduct expected of them while in court, no matter what was said or what the outcome.

When they finally entered the throne room, Ariella heard her sons gulp and was stunned herself to see just how many of the lords of the different houses of Gondolin were in attendance.

She heard Glorfindel’s voice in her mind and knew the children heard him in theirs as well.*Many have witnessed our sons’ unrest over the last few months. Turgon requested that these lords attend. Take courage and do not be afraid. I love you all very much. Be brave and we will get through this together.*

Ariella squeezed his arm in response. Glorfindel led them to the head of the assembly before Turgon’s throne where they all paid their proper respects to the king before taking their place to his left.

Maeglin entered a few moments later accompanied by Morang and the rest of the youths who usually antagonized the sons of the Golden Flower. After paying their respects, they took up their position to Turgon’s right.

Turgon’s voice rang out over the now silent court. “You have been summoned here to hear my judgment on the incident between Morang Morlinion of the House of the Mole and Glorfinion Glorfindelion of the House of the Golden Flower: an incident which resulted in severe bodily injury to Arianna Glorfindeliel. All present already know of the continual strife between Morang and his comrades and the elder sons of Glorfindel. I have spoken at length with each lord who has witnessed the conflicts between the two parties as well as with the lords of the Mole and the Golden Flower. None of you have been able to resolve the conflict which has ultimately led to this grievous end.”

“My king,” Maeglin asked indignantly. “How can we proceed with this when Glorfinion Glorfindelion is not present to receive your judgment for his crimes? Does Lord Glorfindel think he can protect his reckless son from your wrath by keeping him home?”

Glorfindel immediately responded. “My king, I beg your forgiveness and understanding in this. My son has not yet regained consciousness from the healing he performed on the evening in question.”

“But is not the Lady Ariella a healer of great renown, indeed the most gifted healer in all of Gondolin?” Maeglin asked, his voice dripping sarcasm. “Why has she not restored your son to health so he could attend?”

Ariella calmly replied, trying very hard to keep her growing ire in check. “My son lies in a healing sleep from which he may never awaken. It is possible for a healer to put too much of his strength into a patient in order to accomplish a healing. If your lordships will recall, I myself, the most gifted healer in all of Gondolin, nearly died after healing Lord Maeglin of the injuries he received in the mine collapse. I have known of healers who have died after performing particularly difficult healings, such as the healing my son performed. If there were anything more I could do for my son, believe me I already would have done it.”

Turgon gave her a penetrating look, then glancing briefly at Maeglin, formally stated. “Given the circumstances, Glorfinion Glorfindelion’s absence is excused.

Morang Morlinion. Come forward and tell me what happened on the evening in question.”

Morang, garbed in black and brown velvets similar to Maeglin’s, nervously stepped forward from Maeglin’s side and addressed the king in a shaky voice. “My lord, I… I was on the practice field with some of the other trainees. My Lord Maeglin had led our instruction for the day. Our last session had just ended and many of the trainees had departed when Glorfinion came up to me. He was angry with me for some things I had said to him earlier in the day. We usually wait until the last session has ended before we settle our differences.”

“I have heard much of this ritual in which you, Morang, and Glorfinion daily take part. What said you to Glorfinion earlier that day that troubled him such that he felt that there were differences to be settled?” Turgon asked curiously.

Morang fidgeted, rapidly withering beneath Turgon’s powerful gaze. “I… I strongly criticized his mother’s half-blood heritage. I told him that because he and his brothers were her sons that made them even lesser beings than what she was. I laughed at their mistakes during practice. I told them they were too weak and slow and would never belong among pure-blooded elves.”

Turgon’s eyes narrowed. “Morang, why did you feel it necessary to say these things to young Glorfinion?”

“My lord,” Maeglin interjected, “Teasing and taunts are common among warriors on the practice field and on the field of battle. If a potential warrior cannot handle hearing such jests as a trainee, then he has no business on the practice field, let alone protecting our fair city. If the little lordlings of the Golden Flower need to have their feelings coddled like precious babes in order to keep them from temper tantrums, then perhaps they are not mature enough for combat training.”

Ariella was furious. She glanced at her husband. Glorfindel’s face remained impassive, his demeanor regal, yet inside she could sense he was seething with suppressed rage. She had a new and greater admiration for his self-control. However, she would have been willing to bet money that upon returning home, he would be sharpening his sword until the blade could split hairs, hoping he would be the one who would end Maeglin’s life. She just didn’t have the heart to tell her husband that Tuor would be the one to have that particular honor.

“The question is for Morang to answer,” Turgon rebuked with a glare at Maeglin.

Wringing his hands, Morang replied, “My lord, the differences between the children of Lord Glorfindel and the rest of the inhabitants of Gondolin are very obvious and difficult to overlook.”

“Why do you feel the need to champion these differences? Do you perhaps think that Lord Glorfindel’s children are not aware that they are different from everyone else?” Turgon asked.

“My lord, I … They … they are very young. And yet, they seem to think that just because their bodies appear to be as mature as those of us who have seen many more years and have reached our majority, that they should be treated as our equals in intellect and ability as well; something of which I have heard many say they are undeserving,” Morang said.

A long silence settled upon the hall, occasionally disturbed by nervous shuffling. Despite the lack of audible murmurs, Ariella could sense a flurry of telepathic activity as everyone discussed what Morang had just said. From what Ariella could determine, many of those present obviously agreed with Morang.

“Istadan Istadirion, come forward,” Turgon commanded.

Istadan’s dark blue form strode forward confidently and bowed deeply before the king. “My lord,” Istadan said upon rising.

“You are tutor to the children of Lord Glorfindel, are you not?”

“Yes, my lord, I am,” Istadan replied.

“Long have you been a tutor of choice among the nobility of the Noldor, teaching many pupils both here and in Valinor. Tell me about the children of Lord Glorfindel. What is your assessment of these sons and daughters of the Golden Flower?”

“My lord, I began teaching each of these children at the age of 8 years, far earlier than any full-blooded elf I have ever instructed either in Endor or in the 2000 years that I taught in Valinor. Lord Glorfindel’s children are ready and capable students, exhibiting exceptional skills in language, lore, literature, mathematics, and science. Their reasoning abilities and retention of knowledge acquired is exceptional as well. I attribute the advanced abilities that these children demonstrate to their mortal blood. Most elves, in my experience at least, seem to require a minimum of 35 years before even beginning to show the aptitude these children have possessed since their early teen years. I also know from my experience as the tutor to Hurin and Huor during their brief stay here, my work with Lord Tuor, and discussions with Lady Ariella, that such a demonstration of intellectual prowess in ones so young is not to be wondered at in mortals of Hador’s house.

Intellectually, I would say that the four eldest children: Glorfinion, Glorion, Galanor, and Arianna are at least the equivalent of an elf of like gender who is near to or has reached his or her majority.”

“Thank you, Istadan,” Turgon said with an odd smile.

“Yes, my lord,” Istadan replied with a bow and resumed his place in the crowd.

“Morang, tell me how Arianna came to be involved in your dispute with Glorfinion,” Turgon demanded, his face once again impassive.

“My lord, Glorfinion approached me in anger.” Morang recited in a flat practiced tone. “We always settle our differences by sparing with swords or by wrestling. We had decided beforehand that this time it was to be with swords. Glorion and Galanor were going to match blades with my friends Brenin and Dorlin.

“Arianna came running up and put herself between us and her brothers. She argued with her brothers, condemning their actions. I sheathed my sword and stood with my arms crossed, waiting for her to be silent so we could continue. Surprisingly, the twins acquiesced and sheathed their swords. Then she rounded on Glorfinion and would not be silenced. I could tell he was done with her and wanted to get on with settling our differences, so I drew my sword in preparation. He finally yelled at her, telling her to go home, and pushed her back to get her out of the way. She stumbled and … She…She stumbled and she …” His voice broke and his face began turning red. He cleared his throat and pressed his lips together. Shifting his stance, he looked down at his empty hands as if seeing something that no one else could.

“Morang, finish your statement,” Turgon commanded. “She stumbled and then what?”

Shaking his head and blinking rapidly, Morang quietly said, “I did not mean for it to happen. I never ever intended for anyone to get hurt like that. Glorfinion and his brothers get injured often, but it is never anything serious. They always heal themselves and go home. Then they come back the next day and it starts all over again. I swear I never meant for anything to happen to her. I swear.”

“Morang, look at me and finish your statement,” Turgon reminded. “She stumbled and then what?”

Morang looked up. “Glorfinion did not realize I had unsheathed my sword, he was so busy arguing with her. He would not have pushed her that hard if he had. Arianna stumbled backward and fell on my sword.” Tears sprang from Morang’s eyes and slid down his cheeks as he spoke.

“It went right through her back and out her front. Blood was everywhere. I have never seen that much blood before. I…” He swallowed hard, tears dripping from his chin. “I knew not what to do. I stared at her for a few moments. Then I pulled the sword out of her and watched her begin to fall. Glorfinion caught her and held her close. Blood was spurting from her front and spreading across her back as he lowered her to the ground. I looked at my sword… it was covered in her blood so I dropped it. I turned away, fell to my knees, and threw up. When I looked back up again, she was limp with unseeing eyes. The blood was pooling beside her and she was no longer breathing.” He paused, wiping his face with his sleeves.

After a few deep breaths, Morang continued. “I… I stared at her unable to believe Arianna was dead. I watched her brothers try to heal her. They refused to give up, especially Glorfinion. They just… they refused to accept that she was dead. Glorfinion talked to his brothers about some things about healing or something. I did not understand. I know nothing about healing arts. Then one of the twins started breathing in her mouth and the other pushed on the center of her chest. They kept doing this while Glorfinion laid his hands on her wound and went into his healing trance. I have watched him and the twins heal themselves many times.

“I do not know how long I knelt there watching them. But, finally the twins stopped what they were doing and started helping with the healing, too. Lord Tuor and Lord Glorfindel came running and I realized there was now a crowd watching. Then Lord Tuor came over and grabbed me by the front of my tunic and lifted me to my feet, demanding I explain what had happened.” Morang looked deeply ashamed.

“I… I told them everything, fully expecting Lord Glorfindel to kill me right then. I deserved it. Even though Glorfinion was the one who pushed her, I had provoked him and it was on my sword she fell. I closed my eyes and waited, but nothing happened. When I opened my eyes, I saw Lord Glorfindel kneeling beside his daughter, holding her hand to his lips. There were tears on his face. Lord Tuor told me I would answer to the king and threw me to the ground. I stayed where I landed, too scared to move, and just watched. A short time later, Glorfinion passed out. Glorion and Galanor finished up and removed the blood from her and from themselves and their brother. They told their father that she would live and then they passed out too.

“I do not remember who helped carry Lord Glorfindel’s children home. Dorlin and Brenin took me home.” Shoulders slumped, arms hanging limply at his sides, Morang bowed his head and took a few deep steadying breaths.

Seeing Morang standing there so pitifully, Ariella actually felt sorry for him and she sensed across her bond that Glorfindel did too.

Looking up again, Morang continued, “I… I went to Lord Glorfindel’s house the next morning. Judging from the looks I received from the servants and from Lord Glorfindel’s kin, I think any one of them would have slaughtered me gladly if they had been armed. I was scared, but I knelt before the lord and lady and apologized, begging for their forgiveness. I also expressed my sincere admiration for what their sons did in healing their sister. I had underestimated and undervalued Glorfinion and his brothers and I told the lord and lady as much.

My king, I was wrong and I am sorry for what I have done to this family.”

“Lord Glorfindel told me that you apologized and begged forgiveness for your actions in this. Did Lord Maeglin command you to do it?” Turgon asked, his tone cold and authoritative.

“No, my king. I laid awake that night and wondered what my parents would have thought of my behavior of late and what they would have told me to do. I realized I had shamed them greatly and resolved to try to make amends as best I could. It was difficult, but I made myself rise the next morning and go to the lord and lady and apologize.”

“That was a very noble gesture, Morang. You should take some comfort that you are making good choices at last,” Turgon said, gentleness creeping into his voice.

“Thank you, my lord. I cannot change what I have done and what has happened, but I offer my sincere apologies to the lord and lady once again. I apologize to you as well for bringing this discord into your kingdom.”

Ariella and Glorfindel nodded their acceptance to the young ellon.

“Thank you, Morang.” Turgon said. “Glorion and Galanor, come forward!”

Morang returned to his position at Maeglin’s side, and the twins in matching blue robes took his place before Turgon’s throne.

A brief look of confusion crossed Turgon’s face as he obviously tried to figure out which twin was which. Instead of asking for clarification, he resorted to talking around the problem. “Sons of Glorfindel,” he began.

“Do Morang’s descriptions of the events leading up to your sister’s injury match your own memories of those events?”

“Yes, my lord,” the twins answered at the same time.

“Did you sister really die?”

“My lord,” Glorion said, “If you mean did her heart stop beating and breathing cease, then the answer is yes. However, mother taught us that depending on the cause, sometimes it is possible to restart these functions and the patient can be revived. We tried using the methods she had taught us. Glorfinion had already established a healing link with Arianna’s body, so our starting the methods right away enabled him to keep the contact and heal her injuries until she was able to breathe on her own. After that we helped him finish healing her wounds. He was already tired from training all day, and then he put the rest of his strength into maintaining her body and healing her wounds.”

Ariella felt a great amount of pride in her sons for what they had done to save their sister. Hearing them talk about it so made her feel even more proud.

“Lady Ariella, where did you learn these methods of reviving the body? I am told that none of our healers have ever even heard of such a thing as what your sons did.”

Ariella hadn’t expected Turgon to ask her about this. Glorfindel’s sudden nervousness flowed across their bond, fueling her own discomfort. He subtly slid his hand into hers and she gratefully squeezed it as she gave her standard evasive reply, “I learned it from my mother.”

“So, she learned this from Melian the Maia in Doriath. I am constantly amazed at the things Melian has taught her subjects in Doriath, that the Maiar and the Valar in Valinor never saw fit to teach the Calaquendi,” Turgon commented dubiously.

Ariella sensed the twins growing frightened at this and saw them start to shift nervously.

*Naneth, what will happen when Turgon learns we are aliens? Will he have us put to death?* One of the twins asked fearfully.

*Hush,* she commanded.

Glorfindel squeezed her fingers tightly, his fear pulsing within him, but she was not worried.

“My lord,” she said confidently, “the experiences of the elves in Endor and the needs driven by these experiences differ greatly from those of the elves in Valinor. The Valar and Maiar instructed those in Valinor as they saw fit, given the circumstances and quality of life in Valinor. The circumstances and quality of life here in Endor are quite different. Death and injury are common occurrences here where they are rare in Valinor. It is therefore no wonder that Melian instructed the elves here in healing arts to a greater degree for the need was far greater.”

*Beautifully stated!* Ariella heard Idril’s voice in her mind.

“Well said,” Turgon conceded, with a nod. “I had never before considered that the Maiar and Valar might teach us each to our needs. I must admit that I am very thankful that one who has benefited so much from Melian’s teachings resides within the walls of this city and has seen fit too pass this valuable knowledge on to her children.”

Ariella sensed a great swell of pride and relief from her children at that, and saw pride in her sons’ faces as they looked on the king.

“Thank you, my lord. We are glad to be of service to you and the people of Gondolin,” Ariella replied humbly.

“Thank you Glorion and Galanor,” Turgon said with a nod and the boys returned to their places by their parents.

“There has been a great deal of suffering on all sides as a result of the grievous events described here today. I believe that the sons of Glorfindel have bitterly atoned for their actions and behavior. I will administer no further punishment to them.

“Morang Morlinion, your punishment shall be thus: You will provide encouragement, instruction, and positive reinforcement to the sons of Glorfindel on the training field and in all other matters. You will suffer no one to criticize them in your presence for being peredhil. Should Glorfinion survive, you will act as his personal servant in the daylight hours, accompanying him to all lessons, assemblies, and training sessions for the duration of one year, beginning tomorrow. In the event of Glorfinion’s death, then you will serve his twin brothers in like manner for the remainder of the one year term. Morang, do you understand what is required of you?” Turgon asked.

“Yes, my lord,” Morang replied, “And I thank you for your mercy.”

“The court is dismissed,” Turgon pronounced. “You may go.”

Morang bowed low before the throne accompanied by his friends and Maeglin, who was scowling, and the group departed.

“Thank you, my lord,” Glorfindel said, his family following suit with expressions of gratitude and proper respects before the throne.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

That evening, the family was gathered in Glorfinion’s room, sitting on and around his bed when at last he awoke. Waving her two youngest children off the bed, Ariella gave her eldest a little bit of water to drink, then she and Glorfindel sat on the bed to Glorfinion’s right. They both held their son’s hand.

“Welcome back,” Ariella said, gently smoothing the hair back from her son’s face. “How do you feel?”

“Terrible,” Glorfinion rasped. “Where is Arianna?”

His sister came and sat on his other side, taking his other hand in hers.

“I… I am so sorry for what happened to you,” he whispered emphatically. “I never meant for it to happen. I never wanted you to get hurt.”

“I know,” Arianna whispered in return, a tear glistening on her cheek. “Thank you for saving my life.”

He smiled weakly. “I am so tired.”

“Rest so you can get better, big brother,” Arianna said, kissing his hand.

“How much trouble am I in?” he asked quietly.

Glorfindel answered with a smile, squeezing his son’s hand. “None. None, that is, provided you choose to behave in the future. The king has absolved you. Your naneth and I are very proud of you for what you did to save your sister.”

“Wh- … the king?” Glorfinion asked, confusion vaguely registering on his weary face and in his tired eyes.

“Yes,” Galanor piped up. “We had to go before the king today and answer to him for what happened.”

Ariella glared at Galanor shaking her head.

“And we will tell you all about it later after you rest some more,” Galanor hastily added. “But the king said he is glad to have healers such as us in Gondolin. He is pleased with our special abilities.”

“You need to rest, my son,” Ariella said, caressing Glorfinion’s surprised face. “It is very important that you regain your strength. You have been unconscious for 6 days.”

“We feared for you,” Glorfindel continued, his voice filled with emotion. “After Mandos called your sister, I was afraid that he would call you as well. I do not know what we would do without you, my son. Your naneth and I love you so very much.”

“He did call me, Adar,” Glorfinion whispered, a far away look in his eyes.

Ariella heard Glorfindel gasp and felt him tighten his grip on their son’s hand and hers.

“But then he told me that my body would heal and I must go back. I asked him when we will be asked to choose under which kindred we will be judged – elf or mortal. He smiled at me… His smile was so beautiful… and said that the Valar have not ruled on the fates of the peredhil yet, so my siblings and I need to behave and be more careful because he does not know what to do with us. I told him that I would.”

“He told me the same thing,” Arianna said, smiling weakly. “And he smiled that beautiful smile at me too.”

Glorfinion’s voice grew weaker as his eyes began to glaze over. “You are weary, too sister.” He squeezed her hand. “You should rest as well.”

“I will,” she assured him.

“Naneth, Adar, please stay with me,” Glorfinion softly pleaded, his strength rapidly fading. “I do not want to be alone any more.”

“They have hardly left your side since you were brought home,” Arlianna pointed out, bringing a ghost of a smile to Glorfinion’s face.

“We will stay as long as you like,” Glorfindel said, leaning forward and kissing his son’s brow.

*I love you both very much,* Glorfinion said telepathically.

“We love you too,” Ariella replied. And then he was asleep.

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To be continued…

Author’s Note: This chapter was very long and difficult to write. Please tell me what you think.


Chapter 21 - Chapter 21

Betas: Extra special thanks to Michelle and GeorgiaPiper

Disclaimer: Most of this is Tolkien's and I'm only borrowing it for a while. I make no money from this.

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Since it’s been so long since the last update, here is a quick refresher on the non-canon character names: The children of Glorfindel and Ariella in order by age:
Glorfinion (son), Glorion (son), Galanor (son), Arianna (daughter), Arienne (daughter), Arlianna (daughter), Glorindir (son)
The servant elleth: Linanna
The “hot” scholar: Istadan
The elven kid who caused all of the trouble in the previous chapter: Morang Morlinion of the House of the Mole (Maeglin’s house)

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Chapter 21

Even when one has forewarning of horrible event, it is still difficult facing the days leading up to that event. Looking back, Ariella realized that she had lived almost half of her life in Gondolin and the vast majority of that time as Glorfindel’s wife. As each milestone before the fall of Gondolin passed: each birthday of one of her children and of Eärendil and each elven festival, she relished them with bittersweet tears.

The birthdays were the most difficult for her to face as her children would chatter about what next year’s party would be like and what they would do when they became yet another year older. Ariella knew these were all empty dreams, but she didn’t tell her children this. It just wasn’t fair to rob them of their joy by telling them that those next birthdays would never come. For the sake of her children, she smiled on them all the more when the fear and sorrow threatened to overtake her so they would not know the end was coming. For the sake of her husband she smiled, too, knowing that elves dwell much in memory and memories were all that her beloved Glorfindel would have when he returned from Mandos’ halls after the fall of Gondolin.

She and possibly some of their children would be parted from him until the Second Music or perhaps forever. Among mortals of Arda, at least there was the promise and hope of being reunited after death, but no such promise existed for the reunion of an alien and an elf. Would the coming of the Second Music reunite only Atani and Eldar or would other mortals be included in those melodies as well? She did not know.

In preparation for the fall of Gondolin, Ariella encouraged her children all the more in learning things that would be useful for survival of both a long journey and when starting over again in Arvernian. At the end of the last growing season before the fall of the city, she gathered seeds from fruits and vegetables and healing herbs and stored them away. She also had large strong traveling bags and durable traveling clothes made for her children.

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The preparations for protecting Gondolin which started all those years ago provided so many strong ballista and so many years’ worth of arrows in store, Gondolin indeed seemed able to withstand anything Morgoth could throw at it – if he ever found out where it stood. Maeglin, who had secretly betrayed the location of Gondolin to Morgoth years before, therefore had little difficulty persuading his Uncle Turgon to reduce the watch and ward to the ancient numbers. Even after news of the fall of Doriath at the hands of the sons of Fëanor reached Gondolin, King Turgon still rested comfortably in the belief that he and his kingdom were safe from any threat.

As a result of the general sense of safety and contentment, many new babies were being born to the inhabitants of Gondolin and many other females were with child. Because a relatively pain free labor and delivery were desired by all, Ariella had to apprentice her daughters to the midwives while continuing to assist her favorite midwife herself in order to meet the high demand.

While Ariella’s daughters enjoyed their new responsibilities, her elder sons flourished under the acceptance of the other warriors of Gondolin. Even after Morang’s time of mandatory service to Glorfinion had ended, he still chose to be at Glorfinion’s side as his friend. Morang and his two companions had become fast friends with her sons, and Ariella and Glorfindel were glad to see it, for what better way to destroy an enemy than to make him your friend?

When Ariella was not busy with her medical duties, she spent time with her children and with Idril who was becoming increasingly distraught over the impending doom of the city. Idril and Ariella pestered Tuor daily about the progress on the secret tunnel, encouraging him to see to its completion.

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When the Midwinter festival arrived, Glorfindel and Ariella allowed their three eldest sons to attend the festival unchaperoned in the company of Morang and his friends. Glorfindel, in his best intimidating mighty elf lord fashion had duly threatened all six of the young ellyn to stay out of trouble that night. Because Morang had just finished serving his one year sentence of servitude, he was more than willing to not only comply with Glorfindel’s demand of good behavior, but to enforce it in the others as well. Glorfindel delegated responsibility for the other children to the servants and trusted members of his House, assigning in particular the servant Linanna’s husband and Istadan to watch over Arianna and Arienne who were both far too lovely and physically mature for their father’s own peace of mind.

Ariella had to cover her mouth and bite her hand in an effort to contain her laughter when she noted how pitiful and amazingly uncomfortable Istadan looked when he left the house that evening with one of her daughters clinging lovingly to each of his arms. In contrast, Linanna’s husband trailing behind them seemed to be enjoying himself immensely as he scowled menacingly at any male who dared to look at either of the buxom young ellith.

Arm and arm, Ariella and Glorfindel walked out into the festival. They were dressed in lavender and green as was their custom every year since that first Midwinter festival where he had proposed to her. There were other personal traditions that they observed on this night as well, but those observances always came later in the evening.

Everywhere Ariella looked, elves were singing, dancing, eating, talking, and reveling in the cold night air. For a people known for their foresight, it seemed odd to her that they would be so happy when she knew that this was the last Midwinter festival that most of them would see in Middle-earth. How could they be so oblivious? Then again, she was doing everything she could to hide her own sorrow, so perhaps they were doing the same and celebrating as if this were their last Midwinter festival, vowing to enjoy it to its fullest. But somehow she doubted it. Peeking into the minds of many of those she passed as she walked along, she realized that they really did not know that this would be their last Midwinter here.

Stopping near a group of dancers, Glorfindel put his arms around her, quietly admonishing, “My lady, if this is to be our last Midwinter festival, then let us enjoy it as such. Stop worrying about everyone else and what they feel or believe or foresee. Do not ruin our special night together with thoughts of things you cannot change. Let us make joyful memories for ourselves.”

Ariella smiled weakly in response, and nodded her acquiescence.

“Good,” Glorfindel replied then kissed her deeply in a surprisingly public display considering how conservative and prim he normally behaved.

When he ended the kiss, Ariella stared at him wide-eyed. He shook his head, laughing at her as he led her into the next dance. All thoughts and worries left her as she whirled and spun in his arms during the fast dances and snuggled close on the slow dances. When midnight approached, he led her away to the wall. They climbed the steps, glasses of wine in hand, and walked to the place where she attempted to jump all those years ago and he had saved her and proposed to her. They cuddled close against the chill wind of the clear night air, watching the party from up high, looking at the stars – she pointed out her star to him – and caressing each other while sharing gentle kisses. When their passion became too much to bear, he wrapped his arm around her waist, tucking her close under his cloak, and they made their way home.

Glorfindel quickly made a fire to warm their bedroom while Ariella lay invitingly on the rug in front of the hearth. With the crackle of the fire singing to them, he stretched out by her side, trailing his fingers down her face, neck, and shoulders. Smiling possessively, she reached out and deftly unfastened his tunic and shirt and watched as he sat up and removed them. When he lay back down, she moved her hands over the hard muscle of his exposed shoulders and chest, marveling as she always did that he was hers.

“I still remember our first Midwinter night together when I stripped you and healed you and slept in your arms.” She sighed contentedly allowing her hands to wander lower across his firm stomach and down to his leggings.

He smiled in return. “I remember it, too. It was a good thing that I was so exhausted from the healing or you would not have escaped becoming my wife that very night.” He caressed her, unfastening her dress and baring his favorite parts to his exploring hands as he spoke. “I had little care for propriety or tradition once I felt you pressed so close to me in my bed.”

One hand on one of her favorite parts of him, she began stroking, eliciting a soft moan from deep within him. “I see. Is that why we always end up here before the fire, making a fire of our own on this night every year?”

“Yes,” he whispered huskily. “But in spite of that, only three of our children were born in the autumn.” All conversation abruptly ended for the night when he captured her lips with his.

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After the feast the following evening, Glorfindel and Ariella put little Glorindir to bed early and called the rest of their children to their bedroom. The excitement of being out all night and all day at the festival apparently had taken its toll on the children. Leaning sideways into Glorfindel’s one-armed embrace, Ariella smiled and shook her head as she watched the children sprawl on her large bed, nudging and shoving each other until they each had a comfortable position.

“I guess we will be standing,” Glorfindel whispered in her ear, his voice ringing with amusement. “At least they will sleep well tonight.”

“I do not doubt that,” Ariella whispered back. “Perhaps we should not have allowed them to stay out so long.”

“No, my love,” Glorfindel quietly reassured her. “We had to let them go some time, and what other chance would they have for this?”

Ariella merely nodded in response so she would not burst into tears. There would be no more Midwinter festivals in Gondolin after this one.

Glorfindel kissed her cheek encouragingly, then addressed the children.

“My sleepy little babes,” he called cheerfully, knowing full well it would irritate the children, and was immediately met with grumbling protests and scowls. “We did not call you here so you could sleep on our bed.” He nudged Galanor in the foot. “So sit up and pay attention.”

With protesting whines and groans, the children grudgingly worked their way to slumped sitting positions and glared at their parents in annoyance.

Ariella crossed her arms and scowled. “Be mindful,” she reminded them sternly, “In whose presence you currently reside.”

With that, they all sat up straight and adjusted their clothes to a more proper fit amidst penitent apologies to their adar and naneth.

Ariella nodded her approval and Glorfindel continued. “The first time my atar allowed me to attend a festival on Taniquetil with my friends, I remember how exhausted I was when I finally rejoined my parents in their rooms at grandfather’s palace after the feast at the mingling of the Trees. Still mildly intoxicated with wine, song, and merriment, I sat on their bed much as you rest on mine now.” He paused, smiling at some memory as he walked over to a nearby table and returned with two ornately carved wooden boxes.

As he handed one box to Ariella, Arianna coyly asked, “Why are you smiling, Adar? Did you dance with many pretty ellith that day?”

“Yes, I did,” he replied matter-of-factly. “I danced with several; however that is not why I am smiling. Looking at all of you this evening brings back so many memories to me. I wish you could have known the festivals on Taniquetil with the Valar, garbed in their radiant splendor, descending to make merry among us. It was so very beautiful. I can think of no words to adequately describe the experience.”

Across their bond, Ariella sensed the jumble of emotions fighting for control of Gorfindel: joy at his memories, his worry that his children would never see Valinor, and sorrow that his atar, who did not even know that Glorfindel had wed, was not here for what Glorfindel was about to do. Ariella sent her husband comforting feelings and was rewarded with a wave of gratitude as he gathered himself emotionally.

With a sigh, he opened the box he held. “As my atar did for me, so I do for you. I am so very proud that you are my children. My house is truly blessed with your presence. As a symbol of my gratitude for this blessing, I have something for each of you. Gold rings for my sons...” He held up the three rings contained in the box he held. “And gold necklaces for my daughters.” Ariella held up the necklaces residing in the box she held as he continued. “Each made with encircling vines joined in a petalled blossom: the symbol of the House of the Golden Flower.”

The presentation of the gifts to each child was met with gasps and exclamations of awe and young faces suddenly drained of weariness, shining with pride. Glorfindel and Ariella received warm hugs and kisses, and heart-felt expressions of love from each child as its gift was bestowed.

Once the children had left for their own beds, Ariella, sensing the continued turmoil in her husband’s heart, led Glorfindel to their bed. He lay down beside her and she gathered him in her arms. She held him close as he buried his face in her shoulder and breast and wept for all that he had lost in Valinor and for the horrible loss that was yet to come.

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A few days later, Ariella awoke to something gently brushing her stomach. Without opening her eyes, she swatted at it with her hand. Something grabbed her hand and she irritably opened her eyes as Glorfindel’s amused voice admonished, “Silly elleth.”

“Stop it, Glorfindel,” she said wearily, trying to pull her hand away. “I am not an elf. I am mortal, and mortals require sleep. I am tired and want more sleep.”

“I had wanted more sleep, too, but I was awakened by the presence of another in our bed,” he said.

After a quick scan of the bed, she said, “So you calmed the nightmare or sent the overly energetic early riser to pester the servants. You are a good adar. Now let me go back to sleep.” She tried to roll away from him, but he would not release her hand. His other hand began gliding in smooth circles around her stomach again.

She sighed in exasperation and turned her head to face him without bothering to try to hide her annoyance.

He grinned at her. “You are most correct, my love,” he boasted. “I am a good adar. In fact, I am an exceptionally fine adar and I am an exceptionally fine swordsman and an exceptionally fine archer.”

How could he be so… so joyful and perky this early in the morning? She glared at him menacingly, hoping he would get the message and shut up and leave her alone so she could sleep. “I am very happy for you. Now go to sleep,” she grumbled.

But he continued. “And I have exceptional aim.”

“I do not care.”

“Ah, but I do. For, you see, if one thrusts with the steel of a great long sword and possesses the true aim of a great archer, all wielded by an abundantly virile ellon, then one ensures that that ellon increases his bounty.”

“Bounty?”

“Yes, bounty. As an adar. Increased bounty.”

Now she was confused and irritated. There were many things she wanted to say to him at this point, most involving derogatory words against sleepless elves and their boundless energy and annoying coyness. In the end she settled for, “What are you talking about?” because it required less energy to say.

His eyes twinkling with amusement and love, he stopped rubbing her stomach long enough to tweak her nose and kiss it lightly. “Silly adaneth. For the greatest healer in all of Gondolin, you can be very ignorant about your own health.”

What was he playing at? Ignorant about her own…She gasped and felt her eyes grow wide as she realized what he was saying. In dismay, she laid her own hand on her abdomen.

Oh, no...

She looked over at Glorfindel who was grinning broadly, his uncontained joy spilling over their bond and into her spirit.

Ariella gaped at him. “I…” she began incredulously. “I am…”

He finished for her, “Pregnant with twins.” Then he leaned back against his pillow, crossing his hands behind his head and gloating proudly with a contented sigh. “Yes, I am a fine adar indeed.”

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The winter that year passed much more harshly than any winter ever known in Gondolin. The Plains of Tumladin were covered in frost for three full months and snow lay deeper than ever upon the Encircling Hills and blanketed the city all winter. However, the season’s chill did nothing to dampen the spirits of the elves who continued about their merry ways amidst the bubbling fountains of the city, oblivious to what the summer would bring. With the arrival of spring, the melting snows brought forth a sudden burst of flowers on the Plains and within Gondolin that was more glorious than any in many decades. The festival of Nost-na-Lothion, the Birth of Flowers, was exquisite with wondrous scents perfuming every street and with every home gaily bedecked in fragrant colorful blossoms.

Heady with the sights and smells of the new season, Ariella almost began to wonder if perhaps the historians had gotten it all wrong and perhaps Gondolin was indeed doomed to fall the “following” year. However, nearly every conversation with Idril involved at least some distress of deep foreboding and fear for Eärendil’s life or concern that the Way of Escape Tuor was building would not be finished in time. In spite of constantly listening to Idril’s fears, Ariella still could almost imagine that the end was not near. Almost, but not quite, for the fear was present in her home as well.

Two nights after the flower festival, Ariella rested in Glorfindel’s arms; her head nestled in his shoulder, when she was awakened by the sound of their bedroom door opening and the pounding of bare feet running to their bed. Ariella blearily looked across Glorfindel and into the tear-filled eyes of their youngest daughter Arlianna.

“Adar! Adar!” Arlianna cried, falling to her knees and grabbing Glorfindel’s hand nearest the side of the bed. “Please! Say it is not true! I am so scared. I am so…” and she broke down sobbing into his sleeve.

Disengaging himself from Ariella, Glorfindel leaned over, gently stroking Arlianna’s tangled golden hair. “Daughter, daughter,” he crooned soothingly. “Shhh. Hush, Child. Come lie here with us and tell us what troubles you.”

Calming herself a little, Arlianna wiped her face on her sleeve and crawled onto the bed, snuggling in between her parents. Ariella and Glorfindel each turned on their sides, facing their daughter. Glorfindel grasped his daughter’s nearest hand while Ariella brushed away a few stray tears that the sleeve had missed.

“What ails you this night, my sweet?” Glorfindel asked in a gentle voice.

“Adar, I had a dream and it was awful!”

“Tell us about your dream,” Ariella said softly, fearful of what she might hear.

Arlianna swallowed hard, then shakily began. “It was a warm summer night. I heard a sound outside, so I looked out my bedroom window to see what it was. I saw all of the battalions of Gondolin standing together in their armor with their swords and their banners. I ran to tell my sisters. When I looked out Arianna’s window with her, there was fighting in the streets with orcs all around killing the soldiers of Gondolin. We were scared because we could not find adar or our brothers, so we went to look out of Arienne’s window. There we saw a dragon and I saw…We watched…I saw my uncles and my cousins and my brothers fall. Their blood was everywhere. We ran downstairs, crying for naneth, but we could not find her. We were all alone.” She paused as a few sobs escaped. Gulping some air, she visibly gathered herself and continued.

“We opened the back door to look for her in the garden and … and all of sudden we were standing on a narrow path in the mountains. Tuor and Idril were beside us and Eärendil clung to Idril’s skirts. I clung to her hand, my sisters standing about me. We were scared and holding each other close. Suddenly we felt great scalding heat and looked up. I saw a horrible creature of flame and fire, with wings like a giant bat. It had a whip of flame. Adar fought against it trying to protect us. I remember how strangely the moonlight glinted off of adar’s golden armor as he jumped from rock to rock, driving the creature up higher and farther away from us. Then…then…” She sniffled loudly and swallowed again.

“Adar pushed the creature off the cliff, but it grabbed adar and he fell too. We yelled and screamed and we cried.

Adar, we cried so hard! But you did not come back to us. You did not come back and we were alone.” Tears flooded their daughter’s eyes and voice again as she reached up and touched Glorfindel’s stricken face, quietly pleading, “Adar, why did you not come back to us? Why did you fall? Why did you leave us all alone?”

Ariella viciously fought back tears of her own as she watched and felt across their bond Glorfindel’s desperate struggle to find words to console their daughter who had just dreamt of the death he himself had foreseen for years now. How many nights had Ariella comforted Glorfindel after he had awoken in terror from similar dreams about his death? How many times had he comforted her when her fears about the fall of the city, the loss of him, and the fates of their children had become too much for her to bear? At last, she and her husband had enjoyed a few weeks of respite from their terrors and fears, only to have them awakened again now by their little girl’s nightmares.

Every night for the next month, Arlianna came to her parents’ bed in the same desperate state after the same or similar horrifying dreams. But Ariella and Glorfindel knew they were not just scary images haunting the psyche of a pre-teen girl. For all too soon, they would become reality.

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Notes:
Ellith/elleth – maidens, maid; atar/adar – father; adaneth – mortal maid; Ellon/ellyn – male elf, male elves


Chapter 22 - Chapter 22: The Fall of Gondolin

NOTE: This is the chapter you either have been waiting for or dreading for a long time, and it is the longest chapter I have ever written (more than 11,300 words so you might want to take a potty break and/or go get a drink and a snack before you start reading. Grab the tissues while you're at it. You'll need them, according to my betas.


Warnings: Character death, Descriptions of battle and childbirth

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Many thanks to my betas for their help on the many iterations of the scenes of this chapter: GeorgiaPiper, Michelle, Chrissie, Ghettoelleth, and Vicki

This is dedicated to all of my abundance of betas over the last two years or so who helped me get this story to this point in the telling (listed in no particular order): Fianna, Julie, GeorgiaPiper, Marcia, Vicki, Riana, Michelle, Chrissie, Ghettoelleth, Alex. Thanks folks!


Author’s note: As faithfully as I could, I tried to follow the details of the Fall of Gondolin found in HoME: The Book of Lost Tales Part II.


**denotes telepathic communication.

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Chapter 22: The Fall of Gondolin

In spite of what the history books said about the fates of Glorfindel’s wife and children, Ariella had carefully planned how she and her children would survive the fall of Gondolin. Now that she was pregnant, she realized that her survival on the grueling journey to safety after the fall was in doubt. If she were only carrying one child, then she knew the travel would be very difficult, but most likely not impossible. However, she was pregnant with twins, and she had nearly died in the fifth month of her last pregnancy when she had carried twins.

Even though she knew that the city would be destroyed in her sixth month of pregnancy, Ariella was driven by her need to protect all of her children. From the beginning of the pregnancy, she took an extra nap or two every day. She ceased all healing work, ate only the healthiest foods, prayed daily for the safe deliverance of herself and her family, and took walks each day to help build her own endurance. In addition to that, she regularly drew strength from Glorfindel or from one of her older children in order to keep the babies strong as well. Both Lhûnedhel and the midwife were amazed at how well she was doing with this pregnancy. Ariella was greatly encouraged by her own progress, desperately hoping against hope that somehow she would cheat history, cheat fate, and cheat death. Unfortunately, history has a way of fulfilling itself even without the willing participation of its guests.

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The week before the festival of Tarnin Austa, the Gates of Summer, the city bustled with a flurry of activity, preparing for the wondrous celebration. In spite of Ariella’s best efforts, the stress of what was to come finally began to catch up with her. Fatigue came easily and unexpectedly, making her feel almost as if the very life were being drained out of her. Keeping up the pretense of enjoying herself and having hope for the future had become too much to bear, especially when her eldest son would talk of the plans for his birthday party to be held the afternoon of the festival. Unfortunately, Ariella knew that in all likelihood, he would not live to see his birthday just as she most likely would not live to see her wedding anniversary on that same day.

Looking at her children each day became a bittersweet treasure as she drank in as much time with each of them as she could. She tucked them into bed each night, knowing that some of them would never see that day of the week again. Each night she cried herself to sleep in Glorfindel’s arms, no longer able to keep her sorrow or her terror at bay. Glorfindel did not even try to offer her words of comfort. Across their bond, Ariella sensed that the impending doom was slowly tearing Glorfindel apart as well, for neither of them knew if they would ever be reunited again after their deaths. She realized that he too was cherishing every small moment, every glance, every smile, every touch, for very soon there would be no more.

Still driven by her dwindling hope for their children, Ariella spent time preparing her family’s traveling bags for the long journey. She also made certain that the winter store room was filled with bags of travel essentials and food for the servants and their families as well. Every account of the Fall of Gondolin that Ariella had ever read had lamented that the refugees of Gondolin were ill-prepared for the long journey, so Ariella wanted to make certain that the members of her House at least could support themselves on the road to Arvernian.

On the eve of the festival, Ariella’s children spent the day flitting around, jovially anticipating the festival’s fun while Ariella prepared as many provisions as she could fit into the travel bags. When she felt that her packing was done, she walked through the house with Glorfindel and the children, insisting that they indulge her whimsy, lingering in rooms, savoring old cherished memories, touching the things that held special meaning but could not be taken on the journey. Although reliving the memories was painful, she and Glorfindel both had to smile when they heard Glorfinion quietly advising his siblings to indulge naneth without question because pregnancy often made her overly emotional and sometimes very irritable if her will was crossed.

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That evening just after dark, Ariella and her family gathered together in silence on the walls of the lamp-lit city along with the rest of the inhabitants of Gondolin. Ethereal music mingled with the song of the fountains, filling the air with starlit joy. Ariella leaned back into Glorfindel’s strong embrace, his arms wrapped comfortingly around her swollen belly, trying to calm the unusually restive babes within.

Speaking telepathically, Ariella advised him, **Turgon will call his lords to council soon. You need to take Lhûnedhel aside beforehand and tell him that the Nestadain need to set up a healing ward in the king’s halls instead of in the House of the Nestadain. **

**Why? ** Glorfindel asked, clearly puzzled.

**Because the Square of the King is where the army will make its last stand. Everyone will eventually be sent there before Turgon calls for the evacuation of Gondolin down Tuor’s secret tunnel out of the city. **

**How do I justify this to Lhûnedhel without revealing too much and so that he can justify this to the King? **

She pondered this for a moment, and then replied, **Tell him that the palace is more easily defensible, it is bigger than the House of the Nestadain, and it will also more easily house refugees in addition to the injured. It also would provide Turgon with updates on the battle from those who have been in the middle of it, namely the wounded. So, strategically, it makes sense and for the safety of the civilians, it makes sense as well. **

**I will do what I can, my love, ** he responded. Sighing deeply, Glorfindel then kissed the top of her head, and trailed gentle kisses down her neck. Breathily he whispered aloud, “I love you so very much.”

Ariella nuzzled him in response, whispering, “I love you, too.”

They were both startled to receive a nudge in the side and looked over to see Glorfinion who was blushing as he quietly pleaded, “Stop that. You two are embarrassing us.”

Glorfindel smiled mischievously and replied, “Oh, are we?” Then he turned Ariella in his arms and dramatically gave her a deeply passionate, lingering kiss. His tongue caressed hers in a most seductive dance which took her breath away. Pulling away at last from her lips which pulsed with the memory of that joining, he looked directly into his son’s scandalized face and panted, “Now that, my son, was a kiss worth being embarrassed about.”

Ariella and Glorfindel laughed at the horrified expressions on their children’s faces, but were soon interrupted by exclamations from folk further up the wall. An unusual light blossomed eerily on the northern horizon. They both tensed and looked at each other in shocked realization.

The fall of Gondolin was at hand.

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The ever-increasing glow stained the snow of the surrounding mountains a bloody red, turning the excitement of the throng of people gathered on the walls and battlements from wonder to dread. Glorfindel ordered his family back to their house as riders arrived from the watch on the hills, bearing tidings that Morgoth’s forces approached the city.

Summoning servants and members of the household along the way, Glorfindel and Ariella fought their way through the masses of confused people in the streets. By the time they reached their house, chaos ruled with children crying amidst the shouts of ellin, weeping ellith, and parents desperately trying to keep their families together while hurrying back to their homes. Soon the sounds of the crowd included the ring of arms as the battalions of the 12 houses of Gondolin began to muster in the squares.

Ariella’s stomach was cramping and she struggled for breath as she stumbled into the house armory, clinging to Glorfindel. Esquires already waited to gird him and his sons with armor. Soothingly rubbing her belly with one hand, Ariella held on to her overly excited youngest son with the other to keep him out of the way. Her nervous daughters stood around her, looking on in stunned silence. By the time the last straps were tightened on Glorfindel’s glimmering gold armor, and his golden mantle had been fastened about his shoulders, a messenger from the king had arrived, bidding Glorfindel to join the lords in council with the king immediately.

After giving orders for the ellin of the household to join the battalion upon his departure, Glorfindel paused at the door of the house, looking appraisingly at their sons. In her mind, Ariella heard him say, **I have led the sons of many ellin into battle many times. Never have I led my own. They are so very very young. I can only hope they are ready. **

**You have done all you could do to teach them, to make them ready for this day. You need to be strong for them and let them know you are proud of them and that you love them dearly, **she responded, knowing it was small consolation, but unable to think of anything else to say.

Ariella desperately fought back tears as he hugged and kissed each of their children, expressing his love and imparting words of encouragement to their sons who were about to see battle for the first time. By the time he turned to Ariella and pulled her close, she saw that his eyes had grown quite moist as well.

Again his thoughts touched hers. ** I realize we have known this was coming. But, never before have I had to leave my wife and children to go into battle. This is so much harder than I thought it would be. Will I ever see you again, my beloved, my lady? **

**I do not know, ** she replied. ** I do not plan on giving up so easily. Look for us in the halls of the king. I will gather our bags and everyone I can from the House. We will be with the Nestadain where we may be of some use. I know you will survive this night. I believe we will see each other again before the end. **

He nodded, seemingly unable to speak. After giving her a last passionate kiss, he removed one of his gloves and wiped her tears with his fingers, then briefly wiped his own eyes. “Keep the children safe,” he whispered, his voice breaking with emotion. “I love you so very much.”

“I love you, too,” was all she could manage to say before she felt him steel himself and turn away. Replacing the glove upon his right hand, he set his high helm upon his noble head, and left the house.

Ariella watched him stride swift and purposeful to his waiting horse and ride away toward the palace through the press of elves which parted before him.

When he was out of sight, Ariella looked on her sons standing before her tall and proud in their burnished armor. She sensed the nervous fear mixed with giddy anticipation at the chance to finally prove themselves in combat. Lovingly, she hugged and kissed each of them, her heart wrenching all the while, and sent them on their way as well. When they too had disappeared from view, Ariella fell to her knees and wailed aloud for the impending loss of her husband and sons.

As all of the ellin of the household took up arms and left their loved ones, Ariella was oblivious to the tearful farewells taking place around her until she felt hands on her arms and then the sounds of crying ellith came to her. Carefully she was pulled to her feet by a red-faced, equally tearful Linanna, and led away to a nearby sitting room where the other ellith and children of the household were congregating.

“My . . . my lady,” Linanna trembled amidst her tears as another servant pressed a cup of tea into Ariella’s shaking hands. “What can we do? We . . . we cannot sit idle and just wait. Tell us how we can help."

Drinking deeply of her tea, Ariella gradually gathered her wits enough to face the task at hand. Looking around at the tearful occupants of the room, she saw some desperately dab at their eyes with handkerchiefs while others quietly whimpered clinging to each other. The fear and worry in the room were almost palpable. But Ariella was the Lady of the House of the Golden Flower and now her household was looking to her for guidance.

Ariella finished her cup, then gazed into the expectant eyes of those around her. Taking a deep breath, she told them about the provisions she had assembled in the winter storeroom for each of their families. She then began giving orders for the evacuation of her house, instructing everyone to quickly change into traveling clothes and pack those things that would be useful on a long journey, such as weapons, blankets, and extra clothes both for themselves and for their families, including things for the ellin who had gone to the battle. Additionally, she demanded that every empty waterskin and wineskin stockpiled in the storeroom be filled.

Immediately, a barrage of angry protests began.

“But we are safe here in this house!”

“Gondolin will stand as long as Taniquetil or the Mountains of Valinor will. Our city will never fall!”

“My lady, how can you doubt the might and skill of our soldiers when your own husband leads them?”

“There are arrows and ballistae enough for our soldiers to fight for years!”

“It is too dangerous out in the streets! Our children will be lost!”

“Our ellin will not know where to find us if we leave!”

Ariella was shocked. Never before had any of them questioned an order. Reigning in her own anger and dismay at the servants’ behavior, she rose to her feet.

“I have given you an order!” she sternly exclaimed. “By the end of this night you will understand why I have asked these things of you. If you have any respect or love for your Lord, then you will honor him by respecting his Lady and doing as she bids you!” The room grew silent as a few heads bowed in shame, while the defiance slid off the faces of others. Ariella’s tone softened as she was once again struck by the realization of just how deeply these people loved her husband. “Once we are packed,” she quietly continued, “We will go to the king’s halls where we will assist the Nestadain in their treatment of the wounded and in helping others find refuge. This is the best way we can assist our ellin during this battle. Now go make the necessary preparations and join me back here as quickly as possible.”

There were a few mutinous glares, but no one argued with her further as they rose and left the room to comply.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Ariella’s daughters joined her in her room after they had changed clothes. Glorindir, already dressed and his hair braided back out of his face, sat on the bearskin rug, playing with a toy. She met her daughters’ rash of complaints that the things they wanted to pack had suddenly gone missing by handing each daughter a bag containing the things she had already packed for them.

As Arianna knelt on the floor rummaging through her bag, she stopped abruptly and looked up at Ariella. “Naneth, you knew this was coming.”

“Yes,” Ariella admitted as she sat down on the bed and massaged a persistent pain that had spread itself across her lower back.

Arlianna secured her pack over her shoulder and said simply, “It is all as in my dreams. Gondolin will fall tonight.”

“Yes,” Ariella quietly agreed. “Yes, it will.”

Suddenly thoughtful, Arienne looked up from rearranging the contents of her pack to suit her, and commented, “Naneth, the sounds outside have changed.”

Almost as one, her daughters arose and ran across the hall to Glorindir’s room and looked out his window. The discomfort subsiding, Ariella arose and joined them.

“Look,” Arienne said, pointing down to the street. “The soldiers are marching.”

“Come,” Ariella said. “It is time to go.”

They all gathered their packs and those of Glorfindel and her elder sons as well. With Glorindir in tow, Ariella called for everyone to meet for immediate departure. After reminding the breathless assembly that they were going to the king’s halls and why it was the safest place to go, Ariella dispatched a few servants who had no young children of their own to go to Glorfindel’s sister and sisters-in-law and try to convince them to come to the palace as well. Once out of the house, the whole group of ellith and children held hands so none would be separated in the trek through the city.

Over the confused cries of the people in the streets, Ariella could clearly hear the din of battle already begun about the gate. Despite the initial coolness of the night, the temperature of the air seemed to be rising steadily. As best she could, she hurried everyone along, encouraging those they met on the way to come to the safety of the king’s halls. She only slowed when the pain returned to her back, bringing cramps to her front as well. Giving Arlianna a handful of skirt to hang on to in place of her hand, Ariella rubbed her belly trying to sooth the restless babies within. After a few deep breaths, the discomfort left again, and she was able to grasp her daughter’s hand and move more quickly.

The journey took at least four times as long as it ordinarily would have because of the great mass of panicking people blocking the streets, and the mad press as the crowds were parted and shoved this way and that whenever battalions, sweating in their heavy armor, marched past to aid in the fighting. Soon the heat grew stifling and even the fountains began to steam in the swelter, creating an ever thickening mist.

When the bedraggled household of the Golden Flower reached the king’s halls at last, Ariella instructed them to set aside their bags and assist the Nestadain in any way they could. She took her family off to a relatively cool, quiet corner on the far side of the great hall where they would be out of the way, yet available if the healers needed their aid.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The Nestadain had just completed setting up the area that would be devoted to healing the injured. Looking up from laying out the final cot, Lhûnedhel beckoned to Ariella from across the room. Dragging an overly excited Glorindir along behind her, she made her way to the chief healer.

“My lady,” Lhûnedhel greeted them, wiping his sweaty brow before bowing elegantly. “And young master Glorindir,” he added with a wink as he straightened.

Ariella heard Glorindir giggle from somewhere behind her skirts as he hid from Lhûnedhel. Hiding from adults who politely addressed him seemed to be one of Glorindir’s favorite games of late, often to his parents’ consternation. Tonight, however, Ariella did not have the strength to care about decorum.

Lhûnedhel smiled briefly in Glorindir’s direction, then continued, “Lord Glorfindel said you would know to come here when we discussed setting up the healing ward in the king’s halls. I am relieved you found us. I must admit, with the panic in the streets, I was beginning to worry that you would not make it.”

“It was difficult getting here,” Ariella admitted. The twinge in her back started again, spreading more rapidly this time. Wincing slightly, she automatically moved her free hand to ease the pain as she continued. “But, we made it. I have dispatched what remains of my household to assist your healers. My daughters are at your disposal as well, though I do ask . . . ” She paused for a couple of deep breaths, rubbing the place where all of the little hands and feet inside of her seemed to be concentrating their attack. “I ask that you not call on them unless the need is great. They are young and will tire more easily than they realize once they start healing battle wounds.”

Concern clouding his eyes, Lhûnedhel placed his hand on the spot she had been rubbing. His healing touch brought some relief and settled the babies, but the rest of the pain took its time departing. “How long have you been having contractions like that?” He asked.

Ariella looked down unable to meet his gaze. She did not want to be weak right now. She needed to be strong for her children. She needed to be able to lead them to safety when the city fell. But she knew he was justified in his concern.

He moved his other hand to her swollen abdomen as well. “Ariella, when did your pains begin?”

Ariella renewed her grip on Glorindir who was attempting to escape, then looked up again, wearily replying, “I do not know. Perhaps when Glorfindel was donning his armor after we left the walls. I do not know how long ago that was.”

Nodding to her, he asked, “How often are the pains occurring?”

“I . . . I do not know. I have not paid attention.”

Calmly turning her to face the corner she had claimed for her family, Lhûnedhel put his arm around her. Taking Glorindir by the hand, thus relieving her of that energetic burden, he accompanied them back to their corner.

“No healing others tonight, my lady,” Lhûnedhel said sternly. “I want you to stay over here out of the way and concentrate on easing those contractions.”

When they reached her daughters, Lhûnedhel commanded them, “Do not allow you mother to perform any healing tonight. She is experiencing some pains and needs to rest. Watch over your little brother for her and keep him out of trouble.” He helped Ariella to sit down. Crouching down to look her in the eyes, he said “I will be over there if you need me.” He glanced at her daughters and gestured to the makeshift healing ward on the other side of the grand hall. “Come get me if you need me.”

Ariella’s daughters gave their assent and Lhûnedhel turned his attention back to Ariella. “Please rest, my lady. My heart does not bode well for this night, but it would be greatly eased knowing you are all right. If you will not do this for yourself then do it for me and do it for your husband, too. He has enough to worry about right now without the distraction of sensing your distress across your bond.”

The possibility of troubling or distracting Glorfindel had not even occurred to Ariella. She resolved right then to do as Lhûnedhel had asked; see to her own healing and rest.

Lhûnedhel patted her cheek lovingly. “Regain your strength and be at peace, my lady. I will be back in a while to check on you.” With that, he arose and walked briskly back to the ward.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

After a short while, the first wounded began to arrive from the fighting about the gate. Ariella dutifully sat in her corner, resting against a wall, directing her daughters in assisting the healers with pain relief, and occasionally giving her 6-year-old different toys to play with to keep him occupied and out of the way.

“Lady Ariella!” a breathless, vaguely familiar voice called to her.

Ariella looked up to see one of Tuor’s soldiers, garbed in the livery of the Wing, approaching her. “My lady, please. We need your help,” the soldier of the Wing called again. The ellon, sporting a splash of blood most of the way down his left leg, staggered awkwardly beneath the weight of one of the soldiers of the House of the Mole. Lhûnedhel came running to the soldier’s side and helped him lay his bloody, moaning burden on the floor near Ariella.

A young elleth from Ariella’s household beckoned Glorindir out of the way to come play with her so Ariella could see to the task at hand. The elleth pointed to where she would be sitting with Glorindir, and Ariella nodded her approval.

Ariella looked carefully at the soldier who had addressed her and recognition finally dawned. It was the former captain of the march wardens who had rescued her sons years before after the disastrous bear hunt.

“Captain Sindedhel!” she exclaimed. “I had heard that Lord Tuor had chosen you for the captaincy of the Guard of the Wing. How do you fare? How is Lord Tuor?”

Sindedhel nodded in acknowledgement as he helped Lhûnedhel remove the wounded soldier’s helmet and armor. “My lady. My leg is injured, but that is not why I am here. There was fighting at Lord Tuor’s home, and Prince Maeglin and many soldiers of the House of the Mole were slain. Lord Tuor has sent Lady Idril and young Lord Eärendil to a way of escape accompanied by some of the Guard of the Wing. Lord Tuor has gone to the fighting about the gate to aid as he might there. I am here because my Lord Tuor bade me bear this young one to you for healing.” Sindedhel paused, reaching out to take Ariella’s hand. Pressing his lips together, he nodded toward the crimson mess of the warrior’s chest and slowly shook his head in defeat, acknowledging that he saw no hope for his survival. “My lady . . . ” he forlornly began again, his voice cracking, betraying his inability to continue speaking.

Ariella nodded and moved to kneel beside the injured ellon. She released Sindedhel’s hand and reached out to turn the bloodied face toward her, gasping as she saw who the young one was.

“Morang,” she whispered. Fiercely blinking back tears, she looked into the pain-filled eyes of her sons’ dearest friend. “What happened?”

She extended her hands to assess his condition and begin numbing the pain, but Lhûnedhel grabbed her hands, preventing her from establishing healing contact. As she glared at him angrily, she heard his voice in her mind.
**It is too late, Ariella. Mandos calls him. I can hear it. When you take his pain away, you will remove all that holds him to his body. Let the young one say what he needs to say. Then you can take his pain and help him to pass to the Halls of Waiting where he can join his parents in honor. **

At first Ariella made to protest. Morang had grown so much in the time she had known him. He was such a good young ellon, almost like one of her own sons for his having been at her house so much in the last year and a half. She could not just sit back and let Morang die!

Firmly taking Morang’s nearest hand in hers, she made to defy Lhûnedhel when she faintly felt and heard the clear encompassing beautiful voice of Mandos in and around Morang. Lhûnedhel was right after all.

“My lady,” Morang weakly said.

She tried to smile at him. “Yes, Morang.”

“I . . . I stood aside when Prince Maeglin ordered us to help him take Tuor’s house and the Lady Idril. After Lord Tuor cast Maeglin from the walls for attempting to kill little Lord Eärendil, the soldiers of the Mole attacked the Guard of the Wing.” Morang paused and gripped her hand tightly as he coughed wetly. Blood showed on his teeth as he struggled through a few breaths before he continued speaking. “I . . . I refused to fight. I remembered Arianna and I could not bring myself to raise my weapon against another elf. I tried . . . tried to stop . . . to stop the fighting and . . . ” He turned his head and coughed again, deeper and more painfully than before.

Sindedhel quietly continued for him while Lhûnedhel gently wiped the blood and spittle from Morang’s face to help him preserve his dignity before the Lady of the Golden Flower. “A comrade in arms had fallen beside me at the hands of two of the Mole. My leg was injured in the assault. Morang bravely stood protecting us, refusing to join the soldiers of the Mole in fighting against us. Two of his house called him “Weakling” and “Coward” as they tried to shove him aside. But Morang steadfastly held his ground, giving me time to regain my feet. The two then stabbed him repeatedly to get him out of the way so they could finish me. Morang’s righteousness and brave courage saved my life. I dispatched them, and then Lord Tuor ordered me to bring Morang to you in all haste.” Tears slid down Sindedhel’s face. “I brought him here as quickly as I could.”

Ariella squeezed Morang’s hand again and he sluggishly met her gaze. The light was rapidly draining from his eyes and the song of Mandos’s call was much louder. A thought came to her, whether from Mandos or somewhere else, she knew not nor cared, but she knew it was the right thing to do to ease his passing.

“Captain Sindedhel,” she ordered. “Give me Morang’s sword.” Sindedhel obliged, unsheathing it and handing it to her. She placed the weapon in Morang’s right hand over an uninjured part of his chest, the point of the bright sword resting on his legs.

Wrapping her hand around his, she gathered herself up as regally as she could, wishing for Glorfindel’s noble bearing, and addressed the dying warrior before her. “Morang Morlinion, the House of the Mole is no more. Lord Glorfindel is not here, so I ask this in his stead. The House of the Golden Flower implores you to add your true heart and noble courage to our ranks. Would you so honor us?”

The light in Morang’s eyes shone brightly again for a moment as he inhaled raggedly and whispered, “I would, my lady.”

The music of Mandos sang loudly through Morang as she bent and kissed his forehead. “Go to Mandos’ halls in honor, son of my House and dearest friend of my children,” Ariella said amidst her tears. “Your parents will be so very proud of you as I am proud of you.”

Morang sighed and a sudden silence echoed in Ariella’s mind and spirit.

He was gone.

Ariella bowed her head and began crying in earnest, but a twinge of pain started in her side and spread across her abdomen, drawing her back to awareness. She inhaled sharply and pressed her hand calmingly on her belly.

Wincing in pain, she looked up through her tears and saw Sindedhel salute Morang before closing the sightless eyes. After whispering a prayer of his own in Quenya, Lhûnedhel arose and came over to Sindedhel, helping him to stand.

“Captain,” Lhûnedhel said. “Lady Ariella is in no condition to heal anyone right now or she would gladly heal you herself. One of my healers will see to your injuries. I do not believe that anyone else could have eased the young ellon’s passing as you and the lady have done. Thank you for all you did for him.”

Sindedhel bowed awkwardly to Ariella. His sorrowful voice resonating gratitude and respect, he said, “Thank you, my lady.” Then he limped away, leaning heavily on Lhûnedhel.

Lhûnedhel returned presently with a cup and two other healers. The two healers respectfully covered Morang’s body and removed it as Lhûnedhel knelt in front of Ariella.

“Drink this,” he ordered, handing her the cup. “It should ease the contractions.”

Ariella nodded her thanks and drank the mildly bitter draught. “Thank you,” she said as she handed the cup back to him.

“I will return to check on you as time allows. I have asked your daughters to take turns staying with you to further ease your pain and also to keep them from tiring themselves too much.”

“Thank you, Lhûnedhel, for everything,” she said with heart-felt gratitude as she took his hand and squeezed it.

He smiled, squeezing her hand in return, then rose and went back to his other patients.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

A few minutes later, the young elleth returned with Glorindir accompanied by Ariella’s favorite servant who was quite bedraggled and soaked with sweat. Linanna told the young elleth to take Glorindir for another walk around the hall, then sank to her knees in front of Ariella.

“My lady,” Linanna said solemnly, taking Ariella’s hand. “I went to Lady Elianna’s home to speak with her as you had asked. I spoke long with her but could not persuade her or her servants to leave. The other servants you dispatched spoke with the wives and servants of Celoril and Elindir. No one would believe us when we said they should leave. They said they trusted to the might of this fair city and would not leave their homes. “My lady, we . . . we have failed you. I am so sorry. We are so very sorry.” Linanna paused, bowing her head in shame. “It . . . It took us a long time to make our way here afterward for the battle goes ill. I apologize for speaking against leaving our house earlier this evening. I had not realized you were so foresighted when you bade us pack our belongings and leave. Please forgive me. Forgive us.”

Sighing deeply, Ariella squeezed Linanna’s hand, then reached out and lifted her dearest servant’s chin. Ariella looked steadily into her tear-filled eyes. With all of the gratitude and reassurance she could muster, she said, “Linanna, you have not failed me. You and the others advised me this evening with what you believed to be the best course of action and you at least tried to convince our beloved sisters to come here to safety. I do not fault you or the others in this. There is nothing to forgive. I thank you with all of my heart for trying.”

Linanna looked up, smiling weakly. She gently brushed Ariella’s cheek with her fingertips and tucked a few stray hairs back into Ariella’s sweaty braid. Then Linanna’s expression suddenly changed, and she smiled oddly at Ariella, almost as a mother would look upon a beloved daughter who had grown into a woman worthy of her pride.

“From the time you arrived here in Gondolin, you have watched over the members of the family of the Golden Flower. Thank you, my lady, for the joy and blessings you have brought to Lord Glorfindel. Thank you also for what you tried to do for Lord Glorfindel’s kin and for what you have done for the members of his household tonight. Whenever it shall come to pass that I shall again see my Lord and Lady in Tirion, I shall sing your praises to them for the healing, aide, and joy you have brought to their family and especially to their eldest son.”

Ariella tried to smile at the thought that she might please the in-laws she never met, but tears came to her eyes instead. She may have brought their son his greatest joy, but she was going to bring him his greatest sorrow as well, and she did not think they would ever be able to forgive her for that. She was not so sure that she could forgive herself for it.

The pain began again, so Ariella bade Linanna to go fetch her a drink of water, knowing that the contraction would subside before Linanna returned. She did not want anyone else to know how badly things were going for her. It was enough that Lhûnedhel and her daughters knew.

The water and little Glorindir both arrived at the same time, accompanied by her eldest daughter. A few splotches of blood stained her daughter’s dress and her golden braids were fraying a bit from the heat and activity.

“Naneth,” she said breathlessly as Ariella drank. “The wounded say the battle goes badly. Naneth, they . . . they say there are dragons in the city! They say the air is hot and the fountains steam because of them. And I have heard that Lord Duilin was shot from the walls, Lord Penlod is dead, and the entire battalion of the House of the Hammer of Wrath is no more.” She desperately clutched Ariella’s free hand. “Naneth, I have not . . . ”

The song of flutes, terrible and lovely, suddenly filled the air. Ariella and her daughter looked over toward the windows and saw that hearts and eyes were raised at the beautiful sound as the harmonies mingled and reverberated off the walls of the hall. Her daughter arose, straining to see around others who also had abandoned their tasks to catch a glimpse.

“I want to see. I want to see!” Glorindir said, running over and tugging on his sister’s dress. His big sister stooped and lifted him high in the air so he could see out the windows.

“Lord Ecthelion leads the soldiers of the Fountain to the battle!” He excitedly exclaimed.

“Naneth, perhaps the tide will turn now in our favor,” Arianna said hopefully.

Ariella forced an encouraging smile for her children. But she knew that things were only going to get worse.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Ariella’s daughters had dutifully been taking turns easing her contractions and watching over Glorindir, at Lhûnedhel’s behest. One daughter was always at her side while the other two were busy aiding Lhûnedhel with the wounded. The hall was growing quite crowded now with refugees and a startling number of wounded. Periodically, more ellith and children were being sent in by Lord Egalmoth and his soldiers who were faring about the city rescuing stragglers and bands of captives. The smells of blood and sweat pervaded the air, punctuated by the moans of the injured and cries as families were reunited or the wounded died.

Arienne had just finished helping Ariella through a particularly nasty contraction and was repacking the toys that Glorindir had discarded while searching for something new to hold his attention. Glorindir bounded about, calling and waving to everyone he knew as if the commotion in the hall was some grand party held for his amusement.

His weary mother sat back, resting against the cool wall, when a sudden pain seized her in the chest, driving the breath from her. She gasped and fell over sideways.

“Naneth!” Arienne panicked, scrambling back in her direction. “Naneth, what is it? It is too soon to be another contraction. What . . . ”

Ariella lay there panting for a few moments, then cried out and rolled as a second burst of agony shot through her chest. Tears flowed freely down her face. Half blinded by emotion and pain, she glimpsed her other two daughters pushing their way over to her as well.

“Naneth!” Arienne called again. She placed her healing hands on her mother then withdrew them immediately. Instead, she reached out and gently stroked her mother’s shoulder and arm. Tears filling her frightened eyes, her voice cracked, “Oh, Naneth . . . Naneth. Which of my brothers was it?”

When Ariella could finally breathe again and the ache subsided enough for her to speak, she whispered, “I do not know, my child. I do not know.” She could not focus her thoughts enough to find out, and, she realized, she really did not want to know.

“Naneth,” Arianna said as she knelt at her mother’s side, “Lhûnedhel wants us to give you sleep. He said you need to stay calm or the babies will come.”

“No! I have to stay awake,” Ariella protested. She wanted to remain aware for as long as possible. She wanted to see her husband again one last time.

“I will lie here and be as calm as I can,” Ariella reassured them. “But please, please do not give me sleep. I beg you. Please.”

Her daughters looked at each other for a few moments, then nodded. “Very well, Naneth,” Arianna said sternly. “But you must be still and rest.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The din of battle grew ever louder over the noisy chaos of the crowded hall. The weeping and the screams of agony seemed to grow louder with each passing moment. Ariella was calmly breathing through another contraction when her daughters became distracted from helping her yet again and the full force of the pain assailed her. Moaning, she curled up on her side clutching her belly.

Suddenly the girls sprang to their feet, waving their arms and yelling, “Adar! Adar! Over here! We are over here!”

As the pain in her abdomen and back subsided, Ariella slowly rolled over and pushed herself up into a sitting position with her back resting against the wall. She didn’t want Glorfindel to know how bad off she was. Looking in the direction in which the girls were waving, her heart sank at what she saw. Glorfindel, sweaty and covered in black and red blood, approached, half carrying Glorfinion. Galanor and Istadan staggered right behind him, supporting Glorion between them. Lowering their burdens to the floor, they propped each youth’s back against the wall almost within reach of her. The boys’ breastplates were drenched in red blood. Her sons’ beautiful faces were masks of pain.

Lhûnedhel and her elder daughters rushed to the brothers to assist them as best they could. Glorfinion, obviously unable to speak through his pain, looked at his father with pleading eyes and a face much too young to have even seen battle much less taken part in it. Glorfindel weakly gave him an encouraging, reassuring look. Glorfinion clung to his father even after being helped to the floor, so Glorfindel sat beside him. He carefully removed the boy’s helm and breastplate, then tenderly rested Glorfinion’s head against his shoulder while Arienne worked to heal him. Two tears escaped Glorfinion’s eyes before his sister mastered the pain and healing rest calmed his features. Glorfindel gently kissed his son’s head, fondly stroking the sweat-soaked golden hair as if he could cure the mortal wound with a hug and a kiss.

Galanor similarly held his twin to him, removing armor and helm after his father’s example, while Arlianna and Lhûnedhel worked to expose and heal the wound. Ariella saw Glorion’s body relax immediately under the pain-relieving ministrations of both his brother and sister. With so many healers helping him at once, hope surged through her that maybe he would be in good enough condition to be able to escape the city. Maybe the history books were wrong about his fate. It looked so promising that he at least might survive.

But Istadan had written the account of the fall that Ariella held to be most accurate, and he was here now receiving Arianna’s ministrations for some less severe wounds of his own. He would have known the truth about what happened and he dutifully would have recorded every damn heart-wrenching word of it.

Ariella could not hold back the tears that assailed her. Despite knowing that this moment was coming even before she had married Glorfindel, the pain at seeing her own sons suffer so was almost more than she could bear. She could sense the helplessness in her husband, slowly tearing him apart as it rent her own heart. She wanted nothing more than to hold her little boys and heal them of everything that was working to destroy them and would ultimately bring their deaths before this battle was over. But there was nothing she could do. The desolation of her own helplessness threatened to consume her as she looked over at her other children who would be bereft of both of their parents and at the least their eldest brothers before 48 more hours had passed.

Her youngest son brought Glorfindel a water skin, which he gratefully accepted. Glorfindel removed his own helmet, setting it aside. His beautiful silky hair was darkened and stringy with sweat. After several longs pulls of water, Glorfindel put the skin aside. Wrapping his free arm around little Glorindir, he pulled him onto his lap and began to talk breathlessly.

“We were ambushed in the market. I kept sending messengers to the king, begging for aid, but none came. We held our ground for a long time. A dragon came upon us. We escaped and made it here. Tuor has taken command of my battalion for me. I just . . . I needed to be here with you and the children for a few minutes.

“Glorion was stabbed by an orc. Glorfinion came to his aid and tried to heal him enough to get him out of there for the wound was quite serious. Two more orcs came upon them. Glorfinion dispatched the first one, but the second one pierced his armor. Galanor fought his way over to them and managed to ease the bleeding in both of them, but their wounds reopened as we fled.”

Glorfindel closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. He swallowed hard, took a deep breath, then slowly let it out.

The pain Ariella felt in her husband’s heart overwhelmed her with a far greater grief than she had ever known before. She knew what he was about to say.

When he opened his eyes and continued again, his voice was hollow with ache. “My brothers are dead, Ariella. Their sons died in their arms. Then a short while later they died in mine. First Celoril with an arrow in his neck and then Elindir was run through by two orcs. I just could not get to them in time. I could not protect them.” His voice cracked. “I could not save them as I could not save my own sons, and now they are gone. My little brothers are gone.” He buried his face in little Glorindir’s hair and wept.

Ariella shut her eyes against the agony she felt in her husband as everything he loved was slowly being taken away from him and destroyed before his eyes. His heart was rent and bleeding in sorrow and it tore hers as well. When she opened her eyes again, she saw her youngest son turn in his father’s embrace. The boy stood and wrapped his arms around his ada’s head, resting his head on his ada’s. Gently stroking Glorfindel’s tangled hair, he said, “It is all right, Ada. Nana and I love you.”

Glorfindel’s shoulders racked harder with powerful sobs despite his son’s tenderness or perhaps because of it.

Reaching across their bond, Ariella’s fëa embraced Glorfindel’s. She felt his fëa desperately cling to hers in return. It was the only comfort she could give him as he sat there and wept.

After a few minutes, Glorfindel regained some semblance of control. He kissed Glorindir’s wet head where his tears had soaked his son’s hair and turned his little boy so he sat in his ada’s lap again. Glorfindel took Ariella’s hand tightly in his.

**We used to hold them this way, ** Glorfindel said telepathically, nodding toward their older children. **Do you remember? **

**Yes, I remember, ** she replied.

**Whose fate do you think the Valar will allow them to choose? Do you think any of them will choose my fate and be with me in Valinor? But I guess it does not really matter, does it? Because either way, our family will be divided forever. ** He took a deep shuddering breath, blinking at tears that refused to stop flowing. **It is unfair, my love. It is so unfair that we are allowed to be together now, but must be parted forever. Why is this so, my Ariella? Why is this so? Why were you allowed to come here? What have we done? Why was this allowed to happen? **

**I do not know, Glorfindel. I do not know. **

In the distance, she vaguely heard a male voice asking for the whereabouts of Lord Glorfindel and someone else answering.

**I do not think I have the strength to go back out there, Ariella. **

**Yes, you do. You must go back out because history says you did. **

**Lady, I do not give a damn what your history books say. **

She gave him a bland smile. ** I tried that attitude and look where I am now. Your people need you, Glorfindel.**

**Will you be here when I come back? **

**Yes. **

**Promise? **

**Promise. **

**I will return as soon as I can, my love. **

He gave her hand one last squeeze, then set Glorindir on his feet. Ariella carefully leaned over and wiped her husband’s face with her sleeve. He weakly smiled his gratitude then donned his helm. After carefully disengaging himself from his dazed eldest son, he stood up stiffly.

“Children, it is very dangerous outside. There are too many people crammed into this hall and everyone is frightened and confused. Stay here!” He pointed to the floor in emphasis. “Stay here with Lhûnedhel and Istadan and stay together. Look after your naneth and brothers until I return,” he ordered, his voice strong and commanding once again. They all watched as he strode off to meet the messenger and disappeared into the chaotic crowd.

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A short time later, sad news spread through the halls heralded by wails of sorrow, telling of the heroic death of Lord Ecthelion who fell in battle with a balrog at the fountain just outside the palace. Ariella sorrowfully listened to the impromptu laments melodiously rising here and there in praise and memory of Ecthelion, when yet another vicious contraction seized her. She curled up on her side, trying unsuccessfully to breathe through the pain. She was so tired now, so drained and worn. A warm hand gently encompassed hers and a small amount of healing strength passed into her. She slowly looked up to see who it was.

Lhûnedhel, anxiety clouding his handsome face, gently said, “Ariella, squeeze my hand if you need to, if it will help you through the pain.”

She gripped his hand tightly, focusing on it until the pain finally subsided.

With his other hand, he rolled her onto her back and she slowly uncurled herself.

“The herbs are not helping, are they?” He quietly asked, his slumped shoulders and weary eyes betraying his exhaustion.

She meekly shook her head no.

“Ariella,” he desperately whispered. “Tell me what to do. Tell me how to help you.”

Taking a deep tentative breath, she managed a weak smile. “There is nothing you can do for me. I will not make it out of Gondolin alive.”

He looked horrified. “Make it out of Gondolin? Gondolin will not fall! Our city is strong. You need to rest my lady. Everything will be fine.”

“Everything will not be fine! Look around you, Lhûnedhel!” She gestured around at the innumerable wounded whose bodies covered most of the marble floor which was now slick and sticky with blood, and the teeming masses of frightened refugees spilling out from the hall and into every available space in the palace. “The city is going to fall. I know it is. Everyone who can evacuate should make ready to do so.

Watch over my children, Lhûnedhel. Keep them safe. I had thought before that I would be able to last, that I would be strong enough to get them out of the city myself. But now I know I cannot change history. I will not make it out of this city alive.”

Lhûnedhel looked at her oddly, clearly thinking that the herbs he had given her were impairing her thoughts. Suddenly Istadan spoke, curiosity ringing in his voice.

“Ariella what do you mean by you cannot change history? That makes no sense.”

She had forgotten Istadan was there receiving Arianna’s care and had not realized he had been listening. But, Ariella no longer had the strength to care about what damage she might do in letting anyone else know about her true past. With the city falling and her children soon to lose their parents, perhaps it would be best if her two friends knew the truth so they could protect her children.

Sighing deeply, she looked first into the expectant eyes of Istadan and then into Lhûnedhel’s. “I have known you two for all but a few short months of the time I have been in Gondolin. Throughout that time, you have questioned me about my background, my past, my family history.

Lhûnedhel, you constantly questioned what race my mother was, accepting that my father was mortal, but doubting my elvish heritage.”

Ariella paused, feeling the eyes of both her healthy and her injured children on her as she spoke.

“My mother and my father were both of the same race, a race of Atani, but my race did not originate in Arda as did the elves, the Atani you know, and the dwarves. My race originated elsewhere. More than six thousand years from now, members of my race will come to Arda to save its inhabitants from an enemy against which Arda will have no defenses. Some members of my race will travel to Arda regularly after that to see to this world’s continued safety. Before I came here, I was one of those training to protect Arda.”

Istadan stared at Ariella and slowly shook his head as he laughed, “Lhûnedhel what did you give her? She is delirious.”

“No, Istadan,” Ariella spoke reassuringly. “I am quite sane. Lhûnedhel gave me the proper dosage to help an elf, but I am not an elf, so the herbs are not working as they ought to.”

The smug look of ‘HA! I knew it!’ which appeared on Lhûnedhel’s face was almost comical. Ariella could not help smiling at him in amusement.

“So you have no elven blood in you at all,” Lhûnedhel stated. “Which is as I believed from the beginning. But,” he looked quite puzzled now. “You also have no maian blood. So . . . so you . . . Are you suggesting that you are a full-blooded mortal?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“I do not believe that you are a full-blooded mortal,” he said flatly. He probingly trailed his fingertips down the side of her face from forehead to chin. “The years have not touched your beauty. You know no illness. You can close your mind to me as few elves can. You move with an elven grace. You can heal yourself and others as neither elves nor Atani can.”

Speaking matter-of-factly, Istadan interjected, “You also read with exceptional speed and retention. Your facilities of the mind surpass many elves I know. You question and seek to know more. These are not the abilities of mortals. I do not believe you either.”

Ariella was momentarily stunned at the prejudices of her two friends before her, then she remembered that they had met very few mortals and even fewer aliens. Gathering her patience, she further explained, “Long ago, my people developed the ability to change and improve themselves as a race such that they increased their intelligence, their powers of the mind, and their abilities of the body. They eradicated sickness and the physical detriments of age, and grew intellectually, far surpassing their ancestors of old. My children and I are a product of this.”

Fighting through his obvious bewilderment, Istadan said, “But, that cannot possibly be true. Not from Arda? But . . . From where do you come? Why did you deceive us?”

“I had to let you believe what you thought to be true if I was to survive. Idril has known the truth all along and told me to continue the deception. Glorfindel has known for a few years and my children have known for less time.” She paused, looking into the bright Calaquendi eyes of her friends, and seeing the last traces of doubt begin to vanish. “Eä is far far greater in size than you can possibly imagine. I am from a world far away from here and outside of your current conception of Eä.”

Ariella was silent for a few moments, letting these words sink in before she continued. “My brother was a man of science and lore. He built a machine that could manipulate time and location, allowing someone to travel many years into the future or into the past while at the same time traveling to another world. I came to Arda in this Age as part of an experiment to test the machine. Something went wrong and I was trapped here. Instead of staying for four hours, I have been here for 23 years. I am actually from a time more than 6 thousand years in your future. So, when I said I could not change history, I really meant it. In my history, in my past, Gondolin fell and Glorfindel’s wife and much of his kin were lost.”

Identical looks of stunned shock consumed the faces of the two ellin as they stared at her, mouths agape.

Arienne’s shaky voice broke the silence of the moment. “Naneth, so this is what you meant when you told us about your past and Arlianna said that one day we would lose you. Why did you not tell us? Why have you let us persist in dreaming and learning new things when we are going to lose you . . . when we are going to die, too?”

Ariella reached around Lhûnedhel to take her daughter’s hand. “Arienne, my sweet, I told you that Glorfindel’s daughters would survive and escape Gondolin. I also told you that I did not know the fate of his sons because the history books were very vague in their description of what happened to Glorfindel’s family at the fall of the city. Your father and I have endeavored to teach you all that we could to ensure the survival of our children. I did not know what would become of me or how I would meet my end. The history books do not even mention my name, nor do they give that of Glorfindel’s wife.”

She looked straight into Istadan’s eyes. “History books that you wrote, my friend.”

Ariella looked back at her daughter. “I tried to see to my survival and to yours. I tried to thwart history, but I could not. I . . . ”

Ariella suddenly gasped as a contraction claimed her once more, spreading pain tightly across her abdomen. She squeezed her eyes shut against the pain and released her daughter’s hand. Ariella tried not to cry out as she curled over on her side, gulping air and fighting nausea.

A hand gently began stroking the side of her head while another hand caressed the side of her swollen belly. The pain receded immediately, but the nausea remained until the tightness in her abdomen dissipated. A warm gush of liquid slowly began soaking her dress.

“Naneth,” Arienne softly called from her new position beside Lhûnedhel at Ariella’s side. “Naneth, I believe your water has broken.”

Ariella rolled onto her back and protectively wrapped her arms around her stomach. “The babies are restless.”

Arienne moved her hand further around her mother’s belly. “They are in distress, Naneth. Something is wrong.”

Ariella glared at her daughter. “Of course something is wrong,” she snapped without meaning to. “My water has broken and they are going to be born soon!”

“Bend your knees, Ariella,” Lhûnedhel ordered as he moved to her feet. He slid his hand inside her dress to examine her. “Everything is progressing quickly. It should not be long now.” His face grew pensive as he withdrew his now wet hand. “Perhaps if you deliver soon, then Istadan or I could carry you while your daughters carry the babies.” He glanced over at Istadan. Ariella looked over at Istadan, too, and saw that he still sat with his back to the wall, his own blood drying on his armor where the wounds had been mostly healed by Arianna. Ariella noted that Arianna, her lovely face pale with worry and fear, clung to his right arm and hand, but he did not seem to mind. Her daughter leaned her head against Istadan’s shoulder as he nodded his agreement to Lhûnedhel.

“Lhûnedhel,” Ariella said, reigning in her emotions and quietly mustering the courage to face reality herself. “The babies will be at least three months premature. They will not survive. When you evacuate the city, you and everyone else will have to run in order to reach safety in time. There will be no way for you to safely carry or support me.”

“Ariella,” Istadan said angrily. “We will not leave you here to die!”

“There is no hope for me,” she quietly replied in acceptance of her plight. “Please save my children. Protect my daughters. Save my sons. They will need help, too.”

“But Naneth,” Arlianna said from her place at Glorion’s side. “We cannot heal Glorion enough for him to be moved. The wound is deep and we will need to rest for a long time if we continue much longer.”

“Glorfinion is no better off,” Arienne softly stated matter-of-factly.

“No,” Ariella whispered, shaking her head as tears began to stream down her cheeks. “No. Not my sons . . . Not my sons.” She turned her head away from her family and her former suitors, unable to bear to look on them any longer. She had failed them. In spite of everything she had done to try to save them. It had all been for naught. It was not fair! It just was not fair! She covered her face with her hands and wept aloud until the pain and the tightness began once again.

Arienne eased the unpleasantness of the contraction while Ariella’s dress was soaked even more. When the discomfort subsided, Ariella felt herself lifted into strong arms. She uncovered her face and looked up into Glorfindel’s defeated eyes.

“Why did you not tell me you were having pains, my love? Why did you not tell me you were in labor?” He asked, his voice steeped with desperate sadness.

“I did not want to upset you any more than you already were. This is the night your atar warned you about when you would lose everything you had gained. You were already so distraught over the loss of your brothers and nephews, I . . . I could not add to that.” She finished lamely.

“You could not add to it?” He choked. “You knew this was coming and yet you . . . ” Tears washed lines in the grime on his cheeks.

“My beloved,” She gently reminded him, wiping his tears with her thumbs. “You knew this was coming, too. And you have foreseen what is still to come.”

“Yes, but . . . ” he gasped, taking a few steadying breaths. “But I cannot do this alone. You cannot leave me. There is no one to care for the children if you . . . ” He closed his eyes breathing deeply through his nose, his lips pressed tightly together. When he opened his eyes again, he said, “We are to evacuate the city. I cannot leave you . . . I will not leave you to be slaughtered by the orcs and the balrogs. You cannot . . . ” He visibly struggled to gather himself to continue speaking.

“Lhûnedhel, Istadan,” he ordered. “Take my sons. I will carry her. We should be able to make it.”

“Glorfindel,” Ariella desperately said. “Although Tuor finished his secret tunnel all the way out to plain, it will take you two hours or more to pass through it. The way is narrow and the end of the tunnel is very low, barely finished. There simply is no room for you to carry someone in your arms through that tunnel. And I cannot walk.”

Ariella looked at the determined faces of her silent family and friends as they obviously tried to think of another alternative.

“Adar,” Glorfinion weakly called as he and Glorion shook off the healing hands that still sought to aid them and painfully crawled over to their parents. “Naneth is right; you cannot take us with you.”

With great effort, the two brothers drew their swords. “Adar,” Glorion said in a stronger voice. “We will watch over naneth. We will protect her. They will not harm her while we draw breath.”

Galanor joined his brothers, drawing his sword as well. “Adar, I am wearied from battle and from healing my brothers. I have not the strength to run. I will stay with my brothers and protect naneth as well.” He looked over at Istadan and Lhûnedhel. “Protect our sisters and little brother for us, . . . Please,” he asked.

Istadan and Lhûnedhel’s faces were white with shock and sorrow as they looked from Glorfindel to his sons.

Ariella thought her heart would burst with pride and love for her sons and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for her. But she could not allow them to do this and she knew Glorfindel would never allow it.

Glorfindel kissed Ariella deeply, then whispered, “I love you so very much,” as he gently laid her down on the floor. He moved to each of his elder sons, kissing their cheeks and cautiously embracing each in turn, mindful of injuries. “Words cannot express the love I feel for each one of you,” he said as he released the third one. “I am more proud of you than I have ever been before. But I cannot leave you behind. I will not.”

Ariella watched her sons stiffen in defiance at those last words when suddenly Glorfindel looked around.

“Where is Glorindir?” he asked. Istadan, Lhûnedhel, and her daughters rose to their feet with him, pushing through the crowd, looking for the six-year-old and yelling his name.

Ariella was calling for him as well when another contraction started. Her three elder sons turned to her when they heard her gasp and all three laid hands on her to ease the pain as best they could. Blessedly, Glorindir chose this moment to return, making a dash to his mother’s side and wiggling in between his brothers to grasp her hand.

“Adar, we found him,” Galanor called loudly in relief. “Or more truthfully, he found us.”

Ariella looked over as Glorfindel and the others began to make their way back. The room suddenly seemed to be growing hazy. Ariella blinked several times, trying to flush away the fog. She had no memory of this side effect of the herbs Lhûnedhel had given her. Thorough the growing haze, she watched as her former suitors, her daughters, and her beloved husband abruptly halted, their faces awash with fear and dismay. She looked around as her skin began to tingle while a white brightness grew. Her sons, still grasping their weapons, gripped her more tightly as well.

What was happening?

She felt her eyes grow wide as realization dawned on her. With her free hand, she reached toward Glorfindel who stood rooted to the ground as those around him clung to him and to each other in fear.

“No!” she cried. “I do not want to leave you! I love you! I love you!”

“Ariella!” Glorfindel shouted, shaking himself free of the others and desperately lunging toward her.

But the whiteness engulfed Ariella and her sons as the room vanished in a nauseating whirl of rainbows and sudden silence.

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To be continued . . .

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Chapter 23 - Chapter 23

Many thanks to my betas: Michelle, Fianna, Julie (who helped with the bits and pieces of the beginning of this chapter), and Chrissie.

Disclaimer: Much of this is Tolkien’s. I am merely playing in his sandbox right now and make no money from this, however the sandcastles are pretty awesome.

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Ariella looked around and beheld a most pitiful sight. A pregnant woman lay in the operating room of a hospital. The instruments indicated a lack of respiration and cardiac arrest. The doctors, nurses, and healers were all scrambling.

“Cut her and deliver!” Someone commanded. “There is no time to waste. We may not be able to revive her.”

“How far along is she?” A female voice asked.

“Unknown. Just cut her and deliver. If she dies, the babies will die for sure. It’s not worth the risk,” came the reply.

“Get a neonatal team down here immediately!” someone distantly called, but the voice was fading.

Feeling a tug somewhere near her heart, Ariella looked up and noticed a shimmering golden cord. Curious, she reached out and touched it. A wonderfully familiar feeling flooded her, reminding her of the times when Glorfindel would wrap his fëa around hers to ease her distress and bring her peace.

Where was Glorfindel? She needed him right now. It wasn’t like him to be away from her.

Suddenly her vision filled with a whirl of stars and color. She looked about in wonder as water, grass, and trees took shape in a dizzying blur. A strangely beautiful city came into view, then an elegantly exquisite stone mansion. Passing into the house, she found herself gazing upon three elves in a room with a large fireplace. The elves fëar shone so brightly that their physical bodies were almost obscured, but she found that if she concentrated, their physical bodies came into sharper relief.

On a bench facing the fire sat an incredibly beautiful elleth dressed in white. Her lustrous blonde hair swept about her, mingling with the raven locks of the stunning, muscular green-clad ellon in whose arms she rested. On a black bear skin rug at their feet sat a second ellon clad in blue. His head was bowed; long, lank hair obscuring his face, his broad-shouldered back slumped and resting against the knees of the dark-haired ellon. The elleth and her husband, for Ariella knew instinctively that these two were bound, lovingly stroked the golden hair of the second ellon, obviously their son.

The hearts of the couple ached for the considerable pain consuming their child, though Ariella knew not how she was aware of this. It was incredibly difficult for them to watch him wasting away. They desperately wanted to love away his grief, but all they could do was keep him close to them and hope he would find healing in time. The shear emptiness and desolation in their son’s heart was almost palpable to her. More than anything, she wanted to reach out to him and comfort him, bring him peace.

Extending her hand, she found herself kneeling immediately in front of him. The couple gasped in shock. Ariella placed her hand on the side of his face, lifted his chin, and found herself staring into Glorfindel’s surprised, tired eyes. His skin felt warm and yet not so – almost as if she were feeling the fëa beneath and not the physical body.

He placed his hand over hers, wonder lighting his features. “Sweet Eru. Is this real?” he whispered.

Silently she nodded.

“Oh! Ariella!” he exclaimed, tears spring from his eyes and trailing down his ashen face to drip from his chin. He gathered her into his arms, and yet it was not so, and yet it was. The physical sensations made no sense to her.

His fëa flared so brightly, it blinded her. She nestled herself into his embrace, shielding her eyes, yet feeling closer to him than she had ever been before.

“My beloved, you have come back to me,” he choked. “I have missed you so.” Swallowing hard a few times, he continued. “I love you so much … so very much.” He sniffled, pulling her closer still. “I need you with me. I am so alone. So very alone. Please do not leave me again. I beg of you. Do not leave me again.”

“It was not my choice to leave you before,” she whispered. “They brought me back. I wanted to die in Gondolin with you. I do not want to live without you.”

Something gently tugged within her.

“Glorfindel, I love you so much!” she said, holding him closer to her.

The something tugged harder. Glorfindel obviously felt it, too for his grip on her tightened.

“Ariella,” his bewildered voice asked, “What…?”

The tug came harder still, nearly tearing her from his grasp. “No!” He screamed. “I will not let you go! I cannot be alone again. I love you, Ariella. You are mine!” His tears came harder.

She clung to him with everything that was in her and so he clung to her.

**You cannot have him like this.** A powerful voice said within her and around her. **You must go back now. It cannot be this way. **

“NO!” She screamed. “I will not leave him. I love him!”

**Your children need you. They will not understand. It is time to go back now,** the voice commanded.

She felt herself ripped from Glorfindel – body and spirit.

“ARIELLA!” he shrieked, diving after her toward the fireplace, his parents lunging after him to keep him from falling into the fire. Quickly he receded from her perception. Already he seemed light-years away as the emptiness surrounded her and isolation engulfed her in a blur of sight and sound and sensation.

Intense sorrow filled her. She gasped for air, opening her eyes and looking directly into the concerned tearful gaze of her mother.

“My child! My blessed little girl!” her mother exclaimed in a language Ariella barely remembered. “You are alive!”

“Nane-,” Ariella began, but an incredible pain took her breath away.

“I am so sorry, child,” her mother apologized profusely and the pain immediately vanished. “I feared you were dead and was so surprised and relieved when you returned.”

“Where is…,” Ariella whispered in Sindarin as her sight grew dim. “Where did my husband go?” The darkness immediately closed around her and she knew no more.

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Ariella opened her eyes again, surprised by how oddly the room was illuminated. This was so different from what she was used to. The light was not distorted as if made by flickering flames nor did it cast shadows like streaming sunlight. The walls on her left side were bright white and the equally white ceiling held the source of illumination. It was…

Gasping in terror, she bolted upright and immediately felt strong hands pressing her back down into some pillows. Too weak to struggle much, she complied and turned her wide-eyed gaze to see the source of the hands.

Her mother and father stood over her. Her mother began gently stroking her hair while her father took her right hand in his and kissed it.

Ariella stared at her parents as if they were from another planet. What were they doing here? They shouldn’t be here!

But, where was here? Where was she?

“Welcome back, child,” her father said smiling warmly.

Welcome back? Back from where?

“Ariella, how do you feel?” Her mother asked in her soothing healer’s voice.

Ariella stared at her parents for a few moments. The fingers of her left hand began to rub the blanket as she pondered her situation. How did she feel? She had to search her memory for the words she needed to respond in the language in which her parents were speaking to her. It was as if she had not spoken that language in years, yet she had been speaking it all of her life. How strange…

Slowly she remembered the words she wanted to say. “I…I am tired… and… empty… and alone? My heart feels … alone. I feel empty inside. What…what is missing?” Ariella paused for a moment and looked around the room again, noticing a couple of blue doors just behind her parents and the quiet hum of medical assessing machines beside her. She realized the machines were monitoring her health. Feeling quite bewildered, she looked at her parents again and asked, “Why am I in a hospital?”

“You were bleeding heavily and went into cardiac arrest. You spoke to me briefly when we revived you. Do you not remember?” Her mother said.

“No…I…” Ariella unconsciously placed her left hand on her stomach in what felt like a familiar comforting gesture. Her stomach felt unexpectedly small and soft and squishy in spite of the blanket, sheet, and hospital gown. That wasn’t right. It should have been hard because she was…

The memories came flooding back.

She fought to get out of the bed, but her parents firmly pinned her down. “No!” she exclaimed. “I have to go! Where…Where are my babies?” Ariella grew frantic.

“Where are my children?” she demanded. “Where are my sons and daughters? Where is my husband?”

Suddenly the will to fight left her as tears coursed down her face. “Oh my God! He died when the city fell, didn’t he? It happened just like history said it would! My children are gone! My husband is gone!” She turned her face away from her surprised parents. She clutched the edge of her pillow, sobbing hard into it. “He is gone,” she wailed. “My beloved is gone.”

Her parents said nothing in response. She felt them rubbing her back as she wept uncontrollably. Fortunately, sleep soon claimed her.

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When Ariella woke again, she felt strangely numb inside. She did not want company, but there was nothing she could do. Her room was considerably more crowded than it had been before. In addition to her parents seated quietly beside her bed, Ariella recognized her brother Arzus and his wife’s parents Celeborn and Galadriel and his brother-in-law Elrond seated in the room as well. She smiled weakly at the elves and peredhel in the room and they returned the gesture but with a touch of surprise and what seemed to be disappointment.

She briefly wondered if they understood what had happened to her and if they would even speak to her again after learning what she had done in Gondolin.

“Hello, Ariella,” Arzus said with a cautious smile. “Will you still speak to me after what you have been through?”

Just by looking at him, slouching behind their parents, fidgeting with the fabric of his belted shirt, Ariella could tell he felt horrible about what had happened to her. He looked so pitiful and so like her elder sons when they were in trouble; she could not help but smile back at him. “Yes, I will still speak to you,” she reassured him. It was because of him that she even had sons and daughters and a husband. However, she could not bear to think about them now. The grief was too much to bear. It was not his fault that they had been lost to her. “I am not angry with you, Arzus. In fact, I thank you for giving me the chance to go where I went.”

The warm relieved smile she received from her brother in return almost made her laugh. She could not help but wonder what their parents had put him through once they learned that he had sent his little sister more than 6,000 years into the past onto an alien planet.

A bit hesitantly, he asked, “Did you make it to the First Age?”

“Yes, I did,” she replied softly with a sad smile.

He sat up, grinning in pride, and pounded his right fist on his thigh in triumph. “How long were you there?” he asked.

“23 years and three or four days. It all seems so long ago and yet it seems like yesterday, too.”

He looked stunned. “23 years and three or four days?” He shook his head in disbelief. “There was a momentary glitch, a sudden power drain, or so it appeared. I only lost your signal for a moment and then got it back again. I immediately reset the machine and brought you back.”

She looked at him oddly for he was still shaking his head, staring at her in dismay. “Why are you so surprised? How long was I gone from this end?”

He took a deep steadying breath and she could tell he was trying to reconcile something to himself. He had always been so very easy to read.

“Ariella…,” he began gently, “Ariella, I do not understand how this could have happened. This did not happen with any of the other experiments. The amount of time the subject was gone from here was equivalent to the amount of time the subject spent either in the past or in the future. I just do not understand...”

“Arzus,” Ariella was trying patiently to understand why he was so disturbed by this. “Why are you so surprised by how much time I spent in the First Age?”

“Ariella, you were only gone from here for four hours.”

She gasped, staring at her brother in astonishment. “What! Only four hours?” It was her turn to be stunned. “You mean to tell me that I went back in time, fell in love with someone wonderful, got married, had a family and a nice home, and lost all of it in only four hours’ time?”

Her brother nodded, eyebrows raised and a grimace for a smile.

She could not believe it! That was impossible! Well, then again, no, just improbable.

Realizing that she needed time to think about the implications of what she had just learned, she changed the subject. Nodding toward the non-humans in the room, she asked, “Why are the lords and lady here?”

Her father answered her. “You did not return from the past alone. When your brother,” he paused, glaring lethally at his son who visibly shrank back. “Brought you back, you were accompanied by four males who appeared to be elves. Arzus said that he did not realize that additional living beings could be brought back to our time along with the subject he originally sent. We have shut down his time machine and destroyed it in light of this new and rather disturbing information. Because we did not know who these… these “ellin” were or what knowledge they may have had of you, we thought it prudent for them to be greeted by elves when they awoke.”

Hope unlooked for sprang to life in Ariella’s heart.

“Are they all right? Have they awoken yet?” Ariella anxiously asked, trying not to feel too hopeful, just in case…

Her mother replied carefully, folding Ariella’s hand in hers. “They have not awoken yet. But they appear to be fine now.”

Ariella breathed a sigh of relief.

“But that was not the case when they first arrived,” her mother continued with a frown. “Two of them suffered from severe puncture or stab wounds to the chest, which were only partially healed. A third, who appears to be the identical twin of one of the other two, was extremely weak after the manner of a healer of our race who has overly spent himself trying to heal another. We have speculated that perhaps he was the one who had partially healed the other two. The fourth is a little boy of maybe 5 or 6 years by our standards and perhaps 11 or 12 years by elven standards. He was uninjured, just physically drained beyond endurance, most likely from the time travel. Elrond has examined the four in addition to the medical staff here, including myself, and he agrees that these four ellin are not like any other elves we have encountered before.”

Galadriel, garbed as usual in her queenly white, gazed appraisingly at Ariella for a few moments. “We have examined the armor, weaponry, and other effects borne by the three elder elves. They all bore indications of having been in heavy combat. However, these ellin seemed to us to be entirely too young to have been allowed to see combat unless the need was most dire.” Galadriel leaned forward, her sapphire gaze piercingly bright as she gazed intently at Ariella. “The three also all appeared to be members of one of the Noldorin Houses. The uninjured twin wore the livery of the House of the Golden Flower and all of them have rings bearing the badge of the Golden Flower of Tirion.” Galadriel sat up coolly and glanced at Celeborn. “In addition, they all bear the golden hair of one of the Vanyar. Based on this, we must assume that they are in fact some close kindred of the Lord of the Golden Flower from either Nevrast or Gondolin. His mother was a Vanya and it is through her that he obtained his rather remarkable hair color.” She flashed a knowing smile at Ariella. “Well, it is remarkable for a Noldo. Your mother said that tests performed here prove that the four are indeed brothers.”

Ariella was grateful for the information. “Was there anyone else with me when I returned?” she asked hopefully although she already knew the answer. “Were there any ellith with me?”

“No, daughter,” her mother answered. “Only the four ellin.”

Ariella nodded and then looked away, fighting back the tears. She couldn’t cry now, she would mourn the loss of her daughters when she was alone. Unconsciously she reached down and pinched the blanket over her stomach with her thumb and first finger, a restless stir that was a longtime habit. It was then that she remembered that she was no longer pregnant. Her hand immediately stilled. This time the tears did escape.

She turned slowly toward her parents, her voice tremulous. “What has become of my babies?”

Her parents both gazed back sympathetically, and then her mother turned away, closing her eyes with a shake her head. Her father took a deep breath before answering, his voice gentle. “Ariella, they…they are…” His expression grew very sad as he struggled with the words.

Ariella stared and them in horror and then buried her face in her hands. “No! Not my babies. Nooo!”

Her father rolled her back toward him and pulled her hands away from her face to clasp them tightly in his. “No, love. It is not that,” he quickly reassured her. “The babies live. They just…They are so very, very small. It breaks our hearts every time we see them. Nevertheless, they are strong, like their mother. They are hanging on to life right now. You can go see them later when you are stronger.”

Relief swept through Ariella; bring a new flush of tears. Her father sat on the bed beside her and drew her into his arms, holding her close. She clung to him, burying her face in his shoulder as her mother stroked her hair.

When Ariella finally pulled back, her mother wiped her face with a soft cloth. “Ariella, how far along were you when the babies were born?”

Ariella sniffed, wiping her cheek. “I was right at 6 months.”

Her mother gave her a brief smile. “The babies, a boy and a girl, are small for 6 months of gestation, even for twins. I realize that you were living in a time without…” She glanced hesitantly at Elrond. “Medical care as you have known it here.”

Elrond arched a long brow at her mother. “Ro’lise, we learned excellent medicinal herb lore from the Valar. It is not as if we used stone knives and wore animal skins,” he declared dryly.

Ro’lise’s face flushed bright red and she apologized,. “I know, Elrond. I am sorry. It is just that…”

Elrond raised his hand to placate her and smiled. “I understand. Any medical care she may have received there would not have met the standards to which you are accustomed due to our different methodology.”

Elrond folded his hands in his lap as he turned to Ariella and continued. “Ariella, were you taking appropriate care of yourself during the pregnancy? Were you under the care of a midwife or a healer?”

Ariella smiled at him weakly. “I took very good care of myself during this pregnancy and was under the care of a midwife and the best healer available, both of which were pleased with my health and my progress… until the end. My unborn babies were of a normal size for peredhil.”

Elrond sighed heavily, looking down at his hands for a moment and then back at her with a faint frown. “I feared you would say that they are peredhil. Who was their sire?”

Ariella’s father leaned back away from her in dismay and then exhaled loudly, crossing his arms. Immediately, Ariella began fidgeting with the nearest bit of blanket she could grab. She really did not want to have to say this in front of her father, or her mother for that matter, but there they sat, staring at her expectantly along with her mentors and her brother, who looked totally fascinated by the whole conversation. Steeling herself for the worst, she clutched the blanket tightly and answered in a small voice. “Glorfindel.”

“What!” her father practically yelled, standing up stiffly in outrage.

Ariella had the very strong impression that if Glorfindel had suddenly and miraculously been spirited there from Valinor, her father would have killed him with his bare hands.

Everyone else gaped at her in stunned silence. Celeborn, ever the practical one, recovered first. “But Glorfindel lost his wife and most of his kin when Gondolin fell.”

“I know,” Ariella replied meekly. “And now I know why the history books were so vague about what happened to most of his family. No one knew what became of us.”

Celeborn sent her a wry smile. “Those four ellin are your sons then. And the battle in which they fought was the Fall of Gondolin.”

“Yes,” Ariella replied in a painful whisper.

Elrond sighed deeply but he smiled too, shaking his head in disbelief. “So you are Glorfindel’s mysterious wife for whom he still pined even when he left us to return to Valinor years ago.”

Ariella nodded sheepishly and felt a flush creep up her cheeks at the thought that Glorfindel still missed her – even after more than 6,000 years.

Arzus interrupted her thoughts. “Would you tell us what you remember?” he asked excitedly.

Suddenly Ariella felt her stomach rumble. “Could I have something to eat while we talk?”

“Certainly,” her mother replied grabbing Ardus’ hand and yanking on it until he grudgingly sat back down on the bed.

Ariella began her tale, continuing it during her meal and the one brought in for everyone else later. She left out the parts about Istadan and Lhûnedhel also being her suitors because her father seemed to be struggling rather viciously with the whole idea that his little girl had been courted and won by Glorfindel. As everyone in the room knew, Glorfindel had been her mother’s last suitor before she met her father. When Ariella telepathically caught her father thinking to himself, **The elvish bastard couldn’t have my wife so he took my daughter instead,** she knew she had been wise in her choice of omitting other suitor details.

The top of her gown soaked with fresh tears, Ariella finished the tale with her last memory of Glorfindel when he shook off Istadan, Lhûnedhel, and her daughters and lunged for her as she and her sons were transported back to the present.

A silence settled in the room for a couple of minutes until Celeborn cleared his throat. “It has been most interesting finally hearing your perspective on this tale. A great many things make sense to me now that had eluded and confounded Galadriel and me before.”

Galadriel was the only person in the room who did not look at Celeborn in confused wonder at that comment.

Smiling sympathetically, Celeborn explained. “Your daughters suffered much because of what others believed to be true about their maternal heritage and because of the reality of it. The survivors of Gondolin believed that you were from Doriath and were a student of Melian if not even part Maia yourself. They were dismayed to learn that no one from Doriath had even heard of you. Idril and Tuor had confided in us the truth about your heritage and together we managed to create a story to explain away your abilities and your existence. However, by then the damage was done and your daughters were disregarded in contempt and treated as outcasts. Some folk had even called for their banishment from the settlement.”

Ariella looked away as her eyes burned once again. Dear God, what had she done to her children? Why had she gone back in time? Her girls were innocent. Why did they have to suffer so because of her? It had never even occurred to her that her lies might catch up with her daughters in Arvernian. She should have thought of this. She should have realized it. Why didn’t she? Why? It was all so unfair, so unfair.

Celeborn rose to sit beside her on the bed, opposite her parents. He grasped her hand gently, smiling his encouragement. “Together with Tuor and Idril, we managed to remind everyone that your daughters were ladies of the House of the Golden Flower and the only surviving kin of Lord Glorfindel, no matter what their mother’s heritage may have been. And no one could banish these ellith simply because of what their mother was or was not. Istadan the loremaster from Gondolin and the master healer Lhûnedhel kept your daughters under their protection as they had since they had departed Gondolin. When a desperate need for healers arose again, your daughters volunteered. They put aside all that had happened to them and performed admirably. After that, no one cared what your daughters were, so long as they were available to help when the need arose.”

Tenderly Celeborn reached out and brushed away Ariella’s tears. “Do not grieve for your daughters. There was no way you could have known what would befall them. Istadan saw to it that no account of your daughters’ treatment in Arvernian made it into any recording of the history. I remember asking him why this mattered so much to him and he said he was doing it for Glorfindel’s wife. I did not understand what he meant by that at the time, but I believe that I do understand now. He was trying to protect you. He knew the truth about you and must have known that your knowledge of the First Age would come from history books, so he saw to it that none of the recorded accounts concerning Glorfindel’s wife and children gave any indication that they were of alien origins.”

So Istadan and Lhûnedhel had stayed by her daughters until the end, whatever end that was. This was a debt she could never repay and a blessing for which she could never be able to thank them. And considering what Tuor, Idril, Celeborn, and Galadriel had done for her girls, how could she ever…

“Thank you, my lord and lady,” was all Ariella managed to say when a sudden weariness took her.

Celeborn eased Ariella back against the pillows and then moved away as Elrond and her mother both took her hands. They gave her strength, filling her with a strong sense that everything was going to work out for the best even though she could not see how that could possibly be.

Her mother gently caressed her face. “Rest now, my child. I will be stay with you while you sleep. When you wake up, perhaps you can go see your children.”

Ariella smiled weakly. “Thank you, Momma.”

As Ariella watched the rest of the group walk to the door, she remembered something important she needed to say.

“Lord Celeborn,” she called softly, reaching out to him with her hand.

He turned and came to her side, taking her hand in his. “Yes, child?”

“I just wanted to let you know that you were correct.”

He looked puzzled. “Correct about what?”

“The stars of the First Age,” she tiredly replied with a smile. “They really were brighter than they are now.”

He smiled beautifully, the light of those ancient stars shining in his ageless eyes. “Silly elladaneth,” he said, shaking his head. “By the way, I have many stories to tell you later about your rather remarkable daughters.” He gently kissed her forehead. “Rest well, my lady, and be at peace. Your daughters loved you very much and are well worthy of your pride.”

Wearily, Ariella smiled her gratitude. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“Now sleep,” he commanded in a soft voice, his hand brushing the side of her head.

Ariella felt herself slip into oblivion.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The familiar distinctive feeling of being pounced on by a child jostled Ariella into awareness as the bed shook. She opened her eyes, instinctively turning toward the little intruder, gathering him against her as he burrowed his way under the covers. It felt so good to hold him close just now. Reflexively, she established a healing contact with him and relaxed when she realized he was absolutely fine as her mother had said.

“Nana!” Glorindir cried joyfully, throwing his arms around her and giving her a big kiss on the cheek. “I am glad you are awake. I am hungry and I want to go play. Can we get up and go to Eärendil’s house now?”

Ariella kissed her son’s face until he wiggled away, giggling at her as he sat up. She recognized the clothes he was wearing as belonging to Arzus’ eldest son who was the same age as Glorindir. “I am glad you are finally awake, too, and I am hungry as well,” she said in an attempt to stall for time. How was she to explain all of this to him? She had never told him anything about her alien heritage.

She glanced up and saw her mother standing near the door. Elrond stood near the bed. Both of them were smiling at her and her son.

“Glorindir, have you met that woman over there yet?”

Her son eyed her critically. “Yes I have. She is your nana. And I have talked to this ellon with dark hair. But he lied to me, Nana.”

Ariella looked at her son in surprise with a stern reprimand. “Glorindir Glorfindelion, that was rude! Apologize to Lord Elrond immediately!”

Glorindir looked aghast. “But Nana, he lied to me! He said that Eärendil is his adar. That is impossible! Eärendil may be older than me, but he only comes up to my eyebrows.” Glorindir stood up on the bed and held his hand up to his eyebrows to illustrate. Ariella immediately grabbed his other hand and yanked him back down to a seated position so he wouldn’t fall off the bed.

“So,” her son continued matter-of-factly, “he cannot possibly be that ellon’s ada. And, Eärendil has gold hair like me and blue eyes and that ellon has black hair and grey eyes.” Glorindir crossed his arms in a huff and cocked his head in a perfect imitation of Glorfindel’s disbelieving look.

Then he addressed Elrond in a scolding tone. “Lord Elrond, it is rude to tell lies.”

The expression of amusement on Elrond’s face was so comical; Ariella had to fight the urge to laugh. Her mother was struggling with this as well, with her hand over her mouth and her shoulders shaking silently.

Smiling broadly, Elrond sat on the bed beside Glorindir and said, “Some children look like their mothers and others look like their fathers. Still others resemble both of their parents. I look like my mother Elwing of Doriath.”

“Glorindir,” Ariella gently admonished, “Lord Elrond does speak the truth. You need to apologize.”

The six-year-old released an exasperated sigh, then looked Elrond in the eyes and said, “I apologize for calling you a liar, but I still do not believe that Eärendil is your ada.” Turning to his mother Glorindir asked, “Nana, when can we go to Eärendil’s house? I want to get my blue boat back. I forgot it when we were playing in the fountain in Lady Idril’s garden yesterday. And if I do not get it back soon, then Eärendil will forget that it is mine and try to keep it like he did my little yellow boat. And I do not wish to have to argue with him again.”

Ariella turned her son to face her, taking his hands in hers with a heavy sigh. “Glorindir,” she said quietly, “you cannot go back to Eärendil’s house because he is not there any more. You were asleep for a very long time and he has moved to a new home. We will live in a new home too, now.”

Her son looked at her for a long time in disbelief. “But Nana,” he protested loudly, “I do not want to live in a new place! I was not asleep that long. I promise I woke up when I was supposed to. I really did. Eärendil did not have time to go away. If we go right now, we can find him and I can play with him.”

“No, you cannot,” Ariella quietly replied.

He gazed at her disconsolately, obviously realizing that she was not going to change her mind. Then he looked around the room, a curious expression on his face. “Nana, where is ada? He can take me to Eärendil if you are too tired.”

Ariella looked away, tears stinging her eyes. How was she to tell her little one that his father was gone beyond his reach, possibly forever?

Fortunately the door to her room opened at that moment and Ariella’s heart skipped a beat for joy. Galadriel entered followed by Glorfinion with Celeborn at his side, Glorion entered escorted by Ariella’s father, and Galanor was accompanied by Arzus. Each of Ariella’s sons wore pale blue hospital attire, their weary faces framed by unbraided, freshly combed golden hair. Seeing her twins with her father and brother, Ariella was surprised to note how closely the four resembled each other. The similarities made it all the more evident to Ariella just how much Glorfinion resembled his elven father and Glorindir was clearly a mixture of his parents’ races.

Elrond rose and moved to nearby chair as Ariella’s elder sons slowly made their way to her side.

Glorfinion called out in exasperation. “Glorindir, I could hear you from the corridor. We told you that Adar is away right now. Stop pestering Naneth about going to Eärendil’s. We told you that we will make a new blue boat for you and that you cannot go see Eärendil right now because he is away at the same place where Adar is.”

Ariella smiled her gratitude at her eldest son as little Glorindir reluctantly nodded his head, staring dejectedly at the floor. She sat up in her bed and hugged each of her elder sons in turn, taking the opportunity to assess their health as she did so. She likewise was surprised to sense that each of them assessed her as well. Relief flooded her as she realized that, though none of them had completely regained their strength, at least they were all healthy again.

Her sons sat on the bed around her with Glorfinion on her right with the pouting Glorindir, and the twins on her left.

Glorfinion took her hand. “Naneth, it is good to see you well. We…we had given up hope. This is sight we never expected to see again.”

Ariella squeezed his hand, blinking back tears. “I know. I never expected to see you again either.”

He looked around the room a moment, his face full of wonder. “You really did tell us the truth about yourself. So, this is your world.”

“This is a house of healing,” Ariella replied with a small smile. “When you are well, we will take you outside and you can see what my world is really like.”

He squeezed her hand. “Is there any chance that we can ever go back to Arda, that we can ever go home?”

Ariella sighed. “The home you knew is gone forever for Gondolin is no more. In time you can go back to Arda, but Middle-earth is different now from what it was when we lived there. When we are well, I will take you to one of the few remaining refuges of the Eldar.”

Galanor spoke up. “Lady Galadriel told us that Adar returned to his kin a few years ago. She also said that more than six thousand years have passed since we left Gondolin. We were told that your parents were friends with Adar when he was last in Middle-earth before he sailed.” Galanor nodded toward Celeborn, Galadriel, and Elrond. “They told us what happened to Adar and our sisters after we left them in Gondolin.” He paused a moment, looking away and wiping his eyes with his sleeve. His elder brothers’ faces were equally sorrowful. Forcing a weak smile, he looked back at his mother and said, “They told us that there are songs about Adar’s fight with the balrog which claimed his life.”

Ariella smiled at her sons. “Yes, there are songs about your adar.”

Glorion looked at her strangely and whispered, “Naneth, you knew Adar was going to die. You knew it before you even met him.”

Ariella pressed her lips together and nodded.

“You knew Gondolin was going to fall and when and how,” he continued. “And yet… and yet you chose to marry him and have us, knowing all along…” his voice trailed off and he looked away.

Ariella nodded. “I told you much of that before when I first told you of my heritage.”

Galanor shakily continued for him, “You knew your time with Adar would be brief and that our time would be brief and yet you still married him and you still had us. Why?”

Ariella closed her eyes for a few moments in an effort at keeping her tears at bay. Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes. “Because I loved him. We both knew our time together would be brief, but we wanted a family. If I had it to do again, I would make the same choices just so I could have him and so I could have you.”

Glorfinion angrily wiped his face with his fist. “Naneth, since you knew what was going to happen, why did you save us and not our sisters, too? Why did you not save Ada? Why did you not warn anyone that this was coming? You could have.”

“Glorfinion, I did not even know that I was going to survive, let alone that I would return to my time and that you were going to be transported back with me! The history books never said what happened to Glorfindel’s sons or his wife.” She sighed, gripping his hand tightly. “As for warnings, I did warn Idril who already had foreseen the fall of Gondolin and I encouraged her and Tuor to build and complete the tunnel. Your adar foresaw his death years before the city fell and knew that he had to face the balrog alone. I told him of the good that would result from his sacrifice and he told me that that knowledge made it easier for him to bear what he had to do. Turgon was too blinded by his belief that Gondolin was impregnable to ever hear anything I might have said. He also was too blinded by his love for Maeglin to ever believe that his beloved nephew would betray the city to Morgoth. Besides, I would not have been able to justify how I knew that the city would fall and when and how that would happen.”

Her sons stared at her incredulously.

“Maeglin!” the twins exclaimed in disbelief.

“Yes, Maeglin. He was captured while out mining for ores and Morgoth tortured him into revealing the location of Gondolin and how to destroy it,” Ariella explained.

Galadriel spoke up in surprise. “I never heard from any of the survivors of the fall that Maeglin had been tortured during his captivity. How could you possibly know that?”

Ariella smiled blandly. “Because I had a reputation for being the most powerful healer in all of Gondolin and he came to me for healing afterward. I looked into his heart and saw what he had done. I foolishly confronted him with it and told him to go to Turgon and beg for forgiveness so there might be some hope of saving Gondolin. Maeglin’s response was to try to kill me. First he grabbed me by the throat and threatened me with a knife. Then he realized it would be very obvious that he was the murderer, so he punched me in the stomach and tried to smother me with a pillow. Fortunately I had already started calling for Glorfindel across our bond and he came running in just as I lost consciousness. I never told Glorfindel the whole truth about what happened that day.”

Ariella sighed. “To further punish me and my family, Maeglin encouraged young warriors of his house to harass my sons whenever possible. Fortunately, Turgon put an end to that but not before things went too far and one of my daughters was nearly killed by one Maeglin’s soldiers.”

Glorfinion bowed his head in shame in spite of the years that had passed in Gondolin since those difficult months. He fidgeted a bit, then said, “Naneth, you know it was an accident. Morang never meant to hurt Arianna. It was supposed to be between me and him. We never meant for anything to happen to her. He apologized many times for it in the days and weeks afterward, and he eventually became our closest friend.” He paused for a moment then met his mother’s gaze and asked in a small voice, “Naneth, do you know if Morang survived the fall?”

Ariella glanced over at Galadriel, Celeborn, and Elrond who were attentively watching and listening to the whole exchange. How should she say this? She wondered.

Galadriel looked at her in bewilderment and replied telepathically,** I have never heard of Morang of Gondolin. I am sorry I cannot help you. **

Ariella was startled. **The question was meant for myself not for you, my lady. I am used to Idril responding to my thoughts like this, but not you. I actually do know what happened to Morang, I just do not know how to tell my sons. **

Galadriel smiled knowingly.** Then simply tell them the truth, but remind them that their friend is probably alive and well in Valinor now, no matter what may have befallen him in Gondolin.**

Ariella took a deep breath, then looked back at her expectantly hopeful sons, not quite meeting their eyes. “The first thing you need to remember is that Morang, in all likelihood, is back with his parents in Valinor now, considerably older and wiser than before. When Maeglin was killed by Tuor for attempting to kill Eärendil and kidnap Idril, the soldiers of the Mole attacked the Guard of the Wing. Morang remembered what had happened to your sister and refused to raise his sword against another elf. He tried to stop the fighting and defended two soldiers of the Wing who were injured. One of those two was Captain Sindedhel.”

At this Glorion interrupted. “But Naneth, of course he would try to protect Captain Sindedhel. He knew what the captain meant to us.”

Ariella smiled. “Yes, Morang knew, and he also knew he was doing the right thing in protecting the injured. Unfortunately others of his own house did not see it this way. Two soldiers of the Mole stabbed him in the chest to get him out of the way so they could finish the captain. However, Morang had delayed them enough that Sindedhel had time to regain his feet and he slew the two. Sindedhel brought Morang to me immediately thereafter at Tuor’s behest. There was nothing I could do for Morang. His wounds were severe and Mandos was already calling him. I heard the call as did Lhûnedhel. Before Morang died, I asked him to join the house of the Golden Flower since the House of the Mole was no more. He accepted and I told him that his parents would be proud of him as we were proud of him. Then he died.”

Her sons looked away sniffling, their faces wet. Ariella’s mother handed each one of them a cloth which they quietly accepted, wiping their tears. They wept in silence for a few minutes, shying away from Ariella’s offer of an embrace, trying to master their feelings on their own.

When they had calmed, Galanor softly asked, “What of our aunts and…and the servants of our house? Did any of them survive?”

Ariella dabbed at her own eyes and replied, “I sent Linanna and a few other servants to your aunts to beg them to come to the safety of the king’s halls once the battle had begun. Linanna told me they all refused to believe the city would fall and refused to come. I honestly do not know if any of our household survived the fall, but I did provide them with travel bags filled with provisions for a long journey. I evacuated the house and led them to the king’s halls safely before the first wounded even arrived. I tried my best to see to their survival. I truly did.”

Her sons looked away again for a time. “Naneth,” Galanor asked, “is there any way we can send a message to Adar and tell him where we are so he knows not to worry about us?”

Ariella shook her head opening her mouth to speak a couple of times before she found the words. “My sons, I do not think you understand. Your adar and your sisters believed you died when Gondolin fell more than 6,000 years ago. They mourned your deaths more than 6,000 years ago and have moved on. There is no way to contact Valinor from here save perhaps by ship. However there are no return voyages from Valinor back to Middle-earth. What good would it do to tell them that we are here and alive when they cannot come see us?” Ariella paused a moment, gathering herself to face reality as well. “Your adar knew I was mortal and that once we were parted, he would be free to wed again. He has been in Valinor for decades now. What if he has since married an elleth there? Would you so selfishly deny him happiness now by telling him that those he once loved and lost thousands of years ago are alive when he cannot come and be with us and we cannot go and be with him?”

No one spoke for while, then Glorfinion mournfully asked, “What will become of us?”

“I…I do not know,” Ariella quietly replied, knowing there was nothing that she could promise them about the future. What kind of future had she brought them to anyway? They knew nothing of what it was to be of her race. No elf in Middle-earth now would ever treat her children as if they belonged on Arda for their alien heritage would be too obvious to those who knew aliens.

“Ariella how can you say that?” her father asked in a hurt voice. “You will stay here with us! This is your home and it will be home for your children, too.”

“Adar,” Ariella responded hesitantly, “Are you sure about this? They know nothing of our race, let alone the history of their own race for the last 6,000 years. And there are so many of us, even if my babies do not survive. Can you handle that?”

Her parents came to her side and her mother took her hand. “My child,” she said. “You and your children will live with us. We will not hear any further argument on this.” She paused and smiled. “Besides, who better to teach you children than those who are the current guardians of Arda? Perhaps in time, when your children have learned enough of both of their heritages, they will be able to serve as guardians of Arda as well.”

Ro’lise turned to her grandsons, sizing them up with pride. “Your adar trained you to protect Gondolin. Imagine how proud he would be to learn that you were protecting all of Arda. We will teach you all that you need to know. Think about it for now. We will speak more of it later.”

Numb with surprise, Ariella mutely stared from her parents to her sons. She could see the hope blossoming in her sons' eyes as they pondered the possibility. Unable to even think as far ahead as that afternoon, Ariella felt tears slip down her face, this time in relief.

**Thank you **she said telepathically, the words never finding her lips.

Her parents smiled back in reply.

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A few hours later after a meal and a bath, Ariella sat in the neonatal care ward, gazing at the tiniest babies she had ever seen. Each was so small she could have held it in her hand. A myriad of drugs and machines kept each child alive. With trembling fingers, Ariella gently stroked the miniscule bodies and tiny heads, enamored with how beautiful and how perfect they appeared.

“Look at the difference in their vitals when she is near them,” her mother exclaimed in surprise.

Elrond reply came from somewhere nearby. “It makes sense, Ro’lise. They are peredhil. They can sense their mother and are simply responding accordingly. If Glorfindel were here, they would respond to him, too.”

If only Glorfindel were here, Ariella thought wishfully. But then again, did she really want him to be here? Did she want him to have to see his children like this? Was it not bad enough that he had had to see his sons skewered by orcs?

Her eyes spilled forth yet again. How much pain had she caused that ellon since she had married him? Glorfindel was such a good person. He did not deserve to suffer as he had. And to finish it all off, she had left him at his weakest moment and taken his sons with her. He must have welcomed the opportunity to face that balrog. After her abandonment and what she had done to him, the balrog was probably good company. At least it had ended his pain quickly.

However, her pain continued. What was she to do? How could she possibly raise these children without him? What of the babies? Elven babies needed to draw strength and life from their parents throughout childhood. Would her babies even survive without their elven father? What of little Glorindir? Would he survive?

Then she remembered Elrond and his brother and mother. They had all survived being orphaned at very young ages. Perhaps her peredhil children could survive without their father after all. But could she survive without him?

Glorfindel had been a constant warmth and strength and presence in her heart and mind from the night they had wed until they were sundered by time and space. Could she return to being a singular solitary entity? Did she have the strength to go on and raise their children on her own?

As she caressed one little arm, the tiny hand clasped the tip of her finger. She realized her wedding ring could fit on that arm. Would this her youngest daughter live to marry and wear such a ring on her own hand? Would Ariella be there to speak the words, invoking the mother’s blessings on the marriage? She reached out and joined her finger tip to the hand of her son with her other hand. Who would speak the words for him when he wed? Which of his brothers would he choose?

It had hurt Glorfindel so very much that his father was absent from his wedding. Now he most likely would be absent from the weddings of all of his sons as well. It just wasn’t fair.

Would Glorfindel ever even know what had become of his children?

Still holding hands with her babies, she turned her head and wiped her face on her sleeves. When she looked back at her little ones struggling to hang on to life, she made a decision.

Yes, Glorfindel would know what had become of his children, she decided. She would see to it that he knew.

Her children needed her now and she would be there for them. She would teach them all that she could. She would see to it that they never forgot their father or his kin. She would see to it that they learned and grew into their high elven lineage and that they could just as easily walk in her world as one of her race, too. Then when her children were ready to leave her, they could sail to Valinor and present themselves before their father. Glorfindel would smile on them with all of the pride and love she saw in him when he had last hugged and kissed their sons. The children would be her gift to him to make up for all that his relationship with her had cost him. They would be her last token of love to her beloved husband.

To be continued...
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Elladaneth – mortal maid of the stars


Chapter 24 - Chapter 24

Many thanks to my betas: Fianna, Michelle123, Chrissie

Disclaimer: Most of this is Tolkien’s. I make no money from this.

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Sorrow and depression filled the weeks before the first anniversary of Ariella’s arrival back home and the first birthday of the babies. No matter what she did, she could not escape from her memories of Glorfindel and their daughters and how desperately she missed them. Even the children were painful reminders of the elf she had loved and lost. It was nearly impossible to look on her eldest son without bursting into tears for his face and voice were so much like his father’s she could hardly bear it. Every trait of Glorfindel’s borne by her children: his smile, his nose, his eyes, his gait, his bearing, his sense of humor, seemed more pronounced than ever before. Whenever she held her baby girl, she could see her other daughters in her face and unwillingly remembered the different milestones of their lives.

The children coped with the impending first anniversary of their loss of home and kin by being fussy and moody. Her elder sons found a small amount of comfort in the few things that they had left from Gondolin - swords, bits of armor, their rings - but even these only reminded them of that horrible last night and their losses all the more poignantly. She tried talking with them about their happy memories, but that brought more pain than poultice to the wounds of their spirits. Even the babies who had never seen their father reacted to the uncomfortable tension in the house with nightly problems, exhausting their mother even further.

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A week before the anniversary, Elrond, who happened to be visiting at the time, took Ariella aside. With a couple of glasses of wine in hand, they slipped away from the children and out onto the back porch of her father’s house. For a time, they sat in companionable silence side by side on a glider bench, slowly rocking back and forth, watching the birds in the garden and the sunlight reflecting off the pond. Finally Elrond took her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“I remember when Celebrian sailed, rapidly fading and too wounded to endure in Middle-earth any longer,” he reminisced sadly. “My children and I were devastated. We had done all we could to heal and help her, but we just could not save her. I am the greatest healer of my kind in Middle-earth and I could do nothing for her. I had never before felt so helpless. My vast knowledge was worthless. The only respite she could find lay across the sea and I can only hope that she survived the journey and is waiting there for me even now.”

Ariella looked over at their still joined hands. “That must have been very difficult for you,” she quietly observed.

“It was. We saw her off at the Havens and watched long after her ship sailed out of sight. The journey back home after that was the longest one I have ever made in my life. I wondered the whole way what I was going back to and for, and why I was bothering to go on. I came to realize that I was doing it for my children and because there were those who depended on me and still needed me in Middle-earth. Otherwise, I swear to you, I would have been on that ship with her.”

Ariella took a long pull on her glass of wine, then meet his eyes, bluntly asking, “Why are you telling me this?”

Elrond smiled and sighed. “You never were one to mince words, my lady. I am telling you this because I believe that you still blame yourself for not being able to save Glorfindel. I know that you know his death was not your fault and that it had to happen to fulfill history.” He took a deep breath. “But I also know that you keep questioning if there was something you could have or should have done differently. For all of your wealth of knowledge, there was nothing you could do and it is eating away at you still. I have seen you looking on your children, wondering if you could have done anything differently with them and if they would have been better off with their father than with you.” He paused for a drink of his wine, then continued matter-of-factly.

“Your elder sons would be dead if they had stayed in Gondolin and you would have died with them. With you, your then unborn youngest both would have died as well. I remember survivors telling stories about how the majority of those who died in that desperate flight from Gondolin to Arvernian were the children. In all likelihood, young Glorindir would not have survived that treacherous journey either.”

She looked down at her drink, trying to blink back the tears that she felt forming in her eyes. Perhaps it would have been better for her children if they had died, if she had died, then they would not suffer so now.

“Ariella, events happened the way they were supposed to happen and you need to accept that.”

He was right. She didn’t like admitting it, but he was right. But she hurt so much inside! And the hole in her heart and soul where Glorfindel used to be cut so deep, so very deep.

Elrond squeezed her hand again, then set their glasses aside and arose, pulling her to her feet. Gently, he gathered her in a warm, fatherly embrace.

“But...” She burst into tears, sobbing loudly. “I feel so very empty where his thoughts and feelings used to be. I am so truly and absolutely alone.”

He pressed her face into his shoulder, her tears dampening his silky burgundy robes.

“I know. I know,” he softly crooned in her ear. “Valinor divides us completely from those whom we love. That is just the way it is. It takes time to get used to the severance of the bond. It took me years to recover from Celebrian’s absence from my heart and fëa.”

Ariella burrowed into his shoulder, continuing to cry. She did not know how long he held her, but Elrond finally sighed and pushed back to hold her at arms’ length, his hands gripping her shoulders reassuringly.

“Ariella, there is one more thing I will tell you. It was told to Elladan, Elrohir, Celeborn, and me in confidence – well in the confidence shared by drunken close friends anyway.” He chuckled to himself at some memory, then continued.

“We were gathered for the Gates of Summer celebration the night before Glorfindel departed for the Grey Havens to sail. It was just a few weeks after the birth of your brother Arzus. Glorfindel had become unusually drunk and most talkative, telling us for the first time about his wife and children in Gondolin. However, he failed to mention that his wife was a time-traveling alien from another world and that his children were gifted beyond typical elven children. He did tell us that those were the happiest years of his life, and wept as he described the loss of his family. He said that he had begged Mandos to reveal the fates of his wife and children, but Mandos said they were not in his halls and refused to comment further. Mandos did tell him that if he wanted the chance of having his wife or children, he would have to embrace life and ultimately return to Middle-earth. Glorfindel, along with Finrod and Ecthelion, returned to life at the same time and helped train the army of light in Valinor to prepare them to fight Morgoth.

“Glorfindel’s two elder daughters arrived in Valinor at the end of the First Age, accompanied by their husbands Istadan and Lhûnedhel and their children. His youngest, left her husband in Middle-earth, arriving quite pregnant with twins and terrified of miscarrying. Glorfindel remained in Valinor for a thousand years, helping to raise the twins and being grandfather to his other grandchildren. He told us how he felt somewhat purposeless and half empty where his wife’s thoughts and fëa used to be.

How well I could relate to that feeling myself and still can!” Elrond gently brushed a tear from Ariella’s face, and then continued speaking, his hand cradling her cheek.

“Glorfindel said he was summoned by the Valar and told that his services were needed in Middle-earth once again. This gave him purpose at least, so he departed over the sea via Numenor to help Gil-Galad and me.

“Downing yet another glass of wine, Glorfindel then told us how much your mother reminded him of his wife. He said that the relationship he had had with her had been sweet, but he realized he loved in her the things that reminded him of his wife. He also said that when he held Rho’lise and Ardus Ellatur’s infant son, Arzus, the child reminded him so very much of his own children that his heart ached fiercely to be back with them. He knew he could not stay in Middle-earth much longer after that moment. His heart and fëa ached for his wife and children so very much. He was so very weary of waiting for them.

I do not know if that helps, but I thought you should know,” Elrond concluded.

Ariella buried herself in Elrond’s embrace one again. Glorfindel still loved her and still cared for her! But to what end? For more than six thousand years he had yearned for her only to be disappointed again and again. She felt even worse, knowing that as recently as thirty-five years ago; he still loved her and missed her. It wasn’t fair for him to have suffered so much and for so long because of her. All that she could hope was that he had gone on with his life and found someone else by now.

Ariella finally calmed down and pulled back, meeting Elrond’s sad, but compassionate gaze

“For the first few years after Celebrian sailed, my children and I would go to the Grey Havens on the anniversary of her departure and just rest there, watching the waves and wandering the beaches. It was the closest we could be to her with the same water that brushes the sands of Aman touching us as well. It is not much, because the Sundering Sea is a chasm you can never cross to be with Glorfindel again, but it is better than nothing.”

“Did it help?” she asked weakly.

“Yes, my child, it did.”

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The anniversary of her greatest joy and greatest sorrow found Ariella on a beach around a bend from the cove that harbored the Grey Havens. Her mother had taken charge of the children for her so she and her father could go for an early evening walk. The wind was unusually chilly for the time of year, but Ariella did not care.

After several minutes of wandering in companionable silence, her father stopped her, taking her hands in his and said, “Ariella, I realize that the past year has been filled with unbelievable heartache and sorrow for you. You have traveled back in time on an alien planet, found a life and love for yourself there, suffered the loss of it, fought and struggled to adapt and survive in your new life, and lived to tell about all if it. Your mother and I were so incredibly angry when we heard about what had happened to you and that children were involved as a result of the events caused by your choices. In our eyes, you quite literally grew up overnight.” He chuckled. “Actually, you grew up in one morning for you were 25 when you left us and then 4 hours later you were 48!”

Ariella smiled at him amidst her melancholy and could not resist a brief laugh herself. “That must have been strange for you and mother.”

He looked at the ground shaking his head. “Oh! You have no idea.”

“Father,” she began tentatively. Suddenly serious again, he looked into her eyes which were identical to his own. She took a deep breath, then continued, “I am very sorry for all that I have put you and mother and the rest of the family through this past year. I am sorry for all of the worry and heartache and fear and anger. I had no idea that any of this would or even could happen when I took part in the experiment. I just…I never imagined... I did not know... I... Daddy, I am so very sorry.” She looked away at the rushing waves, unable to meet his gaze any longer. She felt so very ashamed for what she had done.

He placed his hand on her cheek, turning her to face him again. She stared at his nose, too scared of what agreement and scolding might be coming to look into his eyes again. “Yes, you have put us through a lot this past year, but we have seen our way through this, supporting and helping each other along the way. Ariella, you do not need to apologize to us. We are family and that is what family members do for each other. We take care of each other and help each other in times of crisis and need.”

She looked up into her father’s eyes and saw only love there.

He raised his other hand to cup her face. “Ariella, your mother and I are very proud of you. You have shown strength and courage beyond anything we ever could have hoped for you. You are a wonderful mother and are raising your children quite well. I am proud that they are my grandchildren.” He paused for a moment and smiled. “I feel extremely old when I look at them seeing as how some of them are older than your younger siblings, but I am most proud. We could not have wished or hoped for you to experience what you have and come out as a stronger, greater, more mature woman than you have proven yourself to be. My child, please know that your mother and I will always love you no matter what.”

Ariella smiled amidst the tears she felt forming in her eyes. “Even if I married and had children with the last boyfriend mother dated before she met you?”

Her father turned red and laughed. “Yes, even if that. But, please do not remind me that he is or was my son-in-law. I just...” He shook his head. “I have tried for a whole year, but I am still having trouble coping with that little detail of your life. I guess it is justice though in a weird sort of way. He could not have my wife so he took my daughter instead.”

She laughed. “Father, if it makes you feel any better, the same justice was served Glorfindel as well.”

Her father looked at her curiously. “How so?”

“Well...”

Should she really be telling her father this? Well, she had already started so she might as well finish. Why not test the ‘declaration of love no matter what’ while the ink was still drying on the parchment? Her hand immediately dropped to her side where her thumb and finger started rubbing the fabric of her dress.

Feeling her face flush with what she feared would be a vivid shade of red, she took a deep breath and blurted out, “Glorfindel was not my only suitor in Gondolin. I had two others: a healer named Lhûnedhel and the famous loremaster Istadan.”

Her father stared at her in shock. She snuck a peak into his unguarded mind at the turmoil within him as he tried to reconcile the quiet obsessed girl who left him with the woman he apparently hardly seemed to know who stood before him now.

She continued hurriedly. “I was told that once my elder daughters reached maturity, my other two suitors married them in Arvernian. So, Glorfindel has had to live with twice the problem that his marriage to me has caused you. I thought it might make you feel better to know this.”

He shook his head as if to clear it of his previous thoughts, then grinned. “I guess there is justice in this universe. Yes, that does make me feel better.”

He hugged her close as a gust of wind blew hard, tangling her hair and making them both shiver. After a few minutes, he released her and looked at his time piece.

“It is getting late. Cirdan said the feast will begin at sundown. Will you be joining us?”

Ariella sighed, suddenly sad again. Sometime in the next few hours, she would have been another year married, and sometime in the last few hours completed a whole first year without her beloved husband. Tears welled up in her eyes.

“I do not know if I can, Father. I just do not know if I can. Tell the others to start without me. I think I will stay out here and wait to see the stars before I return to the house.”

He brushed her cheek with his fingers. “I do not like leaving you out here alone.”

“I will be all right,” she reassured. “I need some time by myself.”

“I will bring you your cloak at least. It is getting very chilly out here.” He hugged her again with his warm comforting arms, kissed her forehead, then turned and hurried back toward the Havens.

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Ariella lost track of time, staring at the waves and later the spectacular sunset when it splashed across the sky. She hugged herself, rubbing her arms trying to stay warm.

Glorfindel had shared many sunsets with her during their betrothal time and their married life. Was he watching the sunset tonight? Was he thinking of her?

As the sky began to fade from gold and orange to darker blues and purples, she saw the light of the Silmaril as Eärendil sailed across the heavens. She suddenly felt extremely old. She had helped deliver him, changed a few of his diapers, given him a bath or two with Glorindir, and attended his first seven birthday parties. It all seemed so long ago. Was it only a year ago or was it more than six thousand years ago or was it just yesterday like she remembered it?

She felt her cloak as it was wrapped around her shoulders and warm comforting arms embraced her, holding her close. She hadn’t heard her father approach, but was glad he was back. She suddenly no longer wanted to be alone.

Not wanting to disturb her solace with needless conversation, she left her mind unguarded while she watched the waves reflect the setting sun and the Evening Star as she quietly hummed one of Glorfindel’s favorite songs,. This was the closest that she would ever be to her beloved again – touching the waters of the same sea.

She remembered the night before her wedding when she had stood atop the walls of Gondolin wrapped in Glorfindel’s strong arms, feeling the songs of welcome resonating in his chest. He had such a beautiful, rich voice. She remembered the lullabies he had sung to the children while she nursed them and as he rocked them to sleep at night.

She knew all along that her husband was going to die and how and when and why. But in the end, she was the one who had left him – left him to die and to live again all alone. What had she done to Glorfindel, sentencing him to an eternal life of loneliness filled only with the memories of a few good years? She had accepted that she would be alone now as a consequence of her choices, but why was he chosen to be the victim in all of this? What had he done to deserve to drink from such a bitter cup? He was going to be alone forever because of her. It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair!

And what of her daughters? Their lively banter, beautiful faces, and joyous playfulness still visited her in her dreams. What kind of life had she sentenced them to simply by being their mother? Everyone would always know her girls were different, branded forever as aliens not only by their gifts, but by their very eyes. How many times had she had conversations with others about her own unusual eyes which marked her as alien and different? How many times was she certain that someone had guessed her secret? How much pain had her family endured because of her alien heritage?

Why didn’t she think of any of this before she left on that foolish fateful trip one year ago today? Why didn’t she think of this when Glorfindel asked her to marry him? Why didn’t she think of this when he asked her to bear his children? Perhaps she did consider this in some way each of those times, but the choice to say “yes” to each of those things was so very easy to make. So very easy…as if there really were no choice before her.

The elves believe that their fates are pre-ordained in the Great Music of the Ainur. They also believe that humans are sometimes outside of the Song. Why was she, an alien woman, allowed to walk the roads of Gondolin and lend her own voice to those bars of the Song? She was and is no one of importance, yet she could have changed Arda’s history, changed the Music so easily. Fortunately, her choices resulted in the fulfillment of history and the Song instead.

She gasped as sorrow suddenly overwhelmed her, her tears falling harder now than they had since the first weeks after her return. The embrace tightened protectively as if seeking to shield her from her pain. She stood slumped a while weeping openly.

When she felt reasonably in control of her emotions again, she said aloud, “Elrond said that Glorfindel returned to Aman seeking solace from his pain, missing me and the children. That was 35 years ago. Do you think he is still somewhere across the sea right now missing me?”

“No.” The tone was quiet, barely a whisper, but very matter-of-fact. Her father never was one to give false hope.

She bowed her head. “You are probably right. It was only a short time that we were together. I am foolish and vain to think that he would not have gone on with his life. He went to Valinor to find healing and peace. It is probably best to hope he has forgotten me and gone on.”

Fresh tears streamed freely down her cheeks as she was turned in the warm embrace. She felt a finger beneath her chin, raising her face to meet piercing grey eyes filled with tears.

“No, he has not forgotten. He went to Valinor to find peace and healing, but they eluded him. A year ago today, he saw you again as if in a dream made real. Eonwë arrived at his parents’ house immediately thereafter, summoning him to Manwë’s halls where he was told of your fate. Glorfindel is not across the sea missing you for you are in his arms and he prays he will never have to miss you again.”

“Glorfindel?” She put her hands on his face, touching him, verifying his existence. “Praise Eru! You are real! You are really here! For the last year I have wanted nothing more than to be in your arms one more time. Just one more time. I love you so very much. I have missed you so very much…so very much.” She buried her fingers in his soft silky hair and pressed her mouth hard against his in a deep, bruising kiss. He did not respond at first, but he soon recovered and met her fervor with his own, his fingers wrapping in her hair, pressing hard against her head.

She pulled back when she thought she would collapse from lack of air. Panting, they looked at each other, still holding on tight, too terrified to let go.

“You are real. You are really here!” She exclaimed breathlessly. She searched his eyes and saw the deep abiding love within them. “Oh…You are really here!” She moved her arms to his neck and hugged him close, smelling his wonderful, familiar scent. He lifted her off the ground and swung her around, laughing.

When he set her down again, he nuzzled her neck and whispered, “This is where you and I belong - in each others arms. And I never intend to let you go.”

“But...” She pushed back in his embrace far enough to see his face. “I am mortal. One day I will die and you will have no choice but to let me go.”

He smiled at her strangely, almost in wonder as he raised his hand to trace the line of her face from forehead to chin and back up to her cheek. Slowly shaking his head, he said almost in a whisper, “So, you do not know?”

She regarded him curiously, “I do not know what? What are you talking about?”

Speaking almost to himself, he softly speculated, “But how could you not know? You could not have... Did you not wonder how...”

Seeming to focus on some distant point over her shoulder and out to sea, he swore softly in Quenya, then asked, “Why did they tell me and not tell you? I would have thought...”

Glorfindel closed his eyes, bowing his head as a heavy sigh escaped. He took a couple of deep breaths, then opened his eyes. Cupping her face in his hands, he looked into her eyes, then looked away again with an almost embarrassed laugh.

“My love,” she admonished. “You have not changed that much in the thousands of years since I last saw you. What are you so nervous about telling me?”

His eyes sparkled with joy as he met her gaze again. “Ariella, did you not wonder how it was that you came to me on this day last year?”

Her brow furrowed in puzzlement. “What do you mean by that?”

He smiled at her engagingly, making her heart skip a beat. It was a beautiful smile, the smile she remembered from the night he first kissed her. “When you returned to your time last year on this day, you were in labor,” he gently reminded.

She nodded, even more puzzled. How had he known this? Unless... Someone at the Havens had told him. Perhaps her mother...

“Your heart stopped beating and your fëa left your body for a brief time. I was at my parents’ house in Tirion at the time,” he continued evenly.

She shook her head in disbelief. “But that was only a dream. I ... I never told anyone about it. How do you know of it?”

“Because you really came to me, or at least your fëa did.” He held up his right hand and traced a shiny mottled scar from the base of his little finger across his palm to the base of thumb. “I badly burned my hand in the fire when I lunged after you and tried to grab you as you faded away. All I managed to get my hand around was a burning log. I was so bewildered by what had just transpired that my atar had to pry it out of my hand, burning his hands, too. My amil was furious with both of us.”

Ariella backed away, still shaking her head and looking at him in wonder.

“My lady, you went to a land where no mortal may set foot. Even in death, mortals cannot come to the Blessed Realm.” He reached for her, but she backed further away, her hands covering her mouth.

“It was not real, Glorfindel,” she said flatly.

Glorfindel lowered his hand and stood very still. “Eonwë brought me a summons from Manwë immediately after you departed. My parents went with me for they had seen you, too.”

“But Glorfindel,” she said again, trying to make him see how absurd he sounded. “It was only a dream. It was not real!”

“Ariella,” he continued in exasperation, taking a step toward her and reaching out again, but she backed away. Sighing, he stood still yet again. “It WAS real. Manwë told me that now that you have caught up with me in time, you and I share the same fate that was granted the other union of elf and mortal in Gondolin.”

Ariella shook her head again. This could not possibly be happening. She must be imagining that Glorfindel was here and that he was speaking to her. It was all some elaborate hallucination borne from grief. It had to be. He could not possibly be standing there telling her this. Telling her that she was now...

Swiftly, before she could even react, he took a few strides and caught her by the shoulders. “Ariella!”

She turned her head away from him, unable to look at the apparition before her, tormenting her in her grief.

“Ariella,” he commanded sternly. “Look at me!”

Flinching under his tight grip, she slowly, nervously met his gaze. “Ariella,” he said again in a gentler tone. “Ariella, I am real. Feel my hands upon your shoulders? I am truly here telling you this.”

She meekly stared at him, too scared to even move for fear that he might go away . . . for fear that he might be telling her the truth.

“Ariella,” he said more gently still, his grip relaxing a bit. “Your fate has been joined with that of mine. My lady, together with me, you have the life of the Eldar now.”

She looked at him in mute wonder, unable to even move.

The smile returned to his face. “You...We were granted this in payment, in reward for all that we have done in service to my people. You already know what I have done. You have read about it in the history books. But, there were so many things that you could have done to change history and yet you did not – even when you knew the consequences meant death for yourself and for the ones you loved. You even saw to the welfare of many others when the city was falling. And what you did not know was that the provisions you gathered enabled the survival of many on the journey. Our daughters distributed much of what you had packed for yourself and for me and our sons. Ellyn and ellith had clothes and blankets and food and healing herbs and ... and Eärendil and some of the other children had clothes and toys because of your careful planning. The crops and healing herbs the refugees had to sustain them their first year in Arvernian came from the seeds you sent.”

Cautiously, he raised his hand to her face, brushing away the tear that slipped down her cheek. He took a step closer and she could faintly feel his warm breath upon her face as he looked down at her.

“My lady,” he quietly pleaded. “Join yourself with me again. I will follow you and be at your side wherever you wish to go - even back to your world - and whatever you wish to do for as long as you wish to remain here. Then, when you are ready to sail, we can go to Valinor and be together there forever.”

She felt herself tremble as the words sunk in and realization settled upon her. This … this was far more than she ever could have hoped for. How could it be real?

Yet she knew it was.

Slowly she lifted a shaking hand to touch his face. He leaned into her caress, his bright eyes shining with a more powerful light than she had ever before seen in him.

When words found her lips again, all she was able to say was, “I love you so very much.”

His brilliant smile lit the night. He took her in his arms and she wrapped hers tightly around him, too. How long they stood there locked in each other’s embrace, she really did not know or care. All that mattered to her was that he was hers and she would never have to part with him again.


The End

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Amil – mother (Quenya)
Atar – father (Quenya)

Author’s Notes:
1) Many thanks to all of you, my readers, for your time, your encouragement, and your reminders to post another chapter. And many thanks for all of the reviews!!! Please let me know what you think of the ending! I hope you are pleased! I can’t believe I have finally finished my first novel-length tale and to think it was my first piece of fan fiction, too!

Many thanks to all of my wonderful, patient, kind, nit-picky, sometimes feisty betas over the last two years and especially to Julie and Fianna for all of their help and encouragement in pursuing my passion for writing. I hope I made you proud!

Much love and many thanks to my family for putting up with my obsessive writing and my not always getting the housework finished because the muse was calling to me.

2) I have outlined a sequel to Crossroads telling the tale of Ariella’s daughters, so be on the lookout for it when time permits me to write it.
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Printed from Open Scrolls Archive (http://www.openscrolls.net) on Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:19 am