Book 1: Elizabeth's first life.
It was volleyball season. That meant shaved legs, vortex creams, and insurance-on-speed-dial. It also meant volunteer work. So hear I stand, frump and lumpy among gorgeous teenage girls, tall and toned.
But girls in general are nice. The mean girls stereotype doesn’t exist, at least to that extreme. Sure there were clicks that were more admired than others, but that was it.
Maybe America is vastly different than its Canadian counterparts, but that doesn’t happen in real life.
“Hey girl!” a tall Senior waved at me, her eyes bright and smiling at me. I waved back, enthusiastically, admiringly.
“Hey,” I said, trying not to show that I forgot her name. I cracked a few lame jokes that probably brightened their moods before running those awful, excruciating laps around our larger-than-life gym court.
“Lane! Get the scoreboard,” Coach yelled, after I was done laying out the pylons. I might as well mention the fact that coach is sexy. He is tall (6’ something), with that perfect physique that only men in general can acquire (I tried, it didn’t work out with me). I didn’t really look at his face a lot, in fear that I would spontaneously combust. He was tall and blonde, need I say more? After practice, the girls would allow me in on their circles, and I could take all my admiration of Coach out on them. They didn’t mind my existence.
I wasn’t a pest or a nuisance. I was more of a cute, lumpy, last-resort-friend. I didn’t mind that, I actually had a stable connection of friends. I didn’t really have bad relations with anyone (that third grade fight over a cosmic brownie with some girl who moved schools doesn’t count).
“Sure thing,” I called, trying not to take out my awkwardness in my naturally slow jog. I was already panting and sweating. I glanced enviously at Leslie-Ann’s forehead, which didn’t shine like my unachievable dreams.
So if you are wondering about me, stop right there. No need to wonder any longer. I love talking about myself.
Aside from glaring physical setbacks, I feel like god has a higher purpose in life for me. Like getting myself a sugar-daddy so I don’t have to work so hard for these ‘effin grades. I like talking a lot, but that is in company I know.
For all my talkativeness, my jokes, and my extroverted personality, I have been told I am quiet tactful and sharp. It really surprises people when they notice that about me. I don’t really give off the vibes of intelligence, but my grades say otherwise. I don’t mind that people don’t think I am smart. It is better that people don’t know my true self.
I am not fit, as you may have guessed.
I love food and studying. My life goal: work so hard, Dubai would look cheap.
Getting my volunteer hours is mandatory to graduate and get a decent job so here I stand. In my baggy sweats and school t-shirt. WIth a ponytail to hide my bald-spot at the center of my head. It wasn’t really bald, but my hair just isn’t as thick there. I may not be the prettiest flower in the pot but I am not ugly.
Everyone has flaws.
I am, unfortunately, not exempted from that. (Low key, I know I am perfect). My features were too broad on my square face. But they were comparatively dark compared to my hair (black to dark brown), which isn’t necessarily bad. My dusky skin hides my acne scars. I stand at the disappointing height of 5’4, not enough height to spread out my fat nicely. My breasts are a nuisance and my bum bumps everywhere.
Let’s not get to the disappointing bits.
I avoid everyone’s eyes as I run. It was awkward, running when they were all waiting on me. It was a mock tournament. The actual tournament was day after-tomorrow. The teams were split in two, A and B.
Obviously. They have a parkour player on their team. She is tall and her leg muscles were disgustingly beautiful. Imagine how high she jumps. Sometimes, I feel her jump-height is taller than me, the shortest person in the room at the moment.
“Good job girls,” Coach said, patting the girls as they jogged past him into the changing rooms. He was the only coach today, which was strange. The older coach was always here. I couldn’t remember a time when he was never not here for volleyball practice.
“Good job, Lane,” Coach said, patting my back as I walked behind him, hunching my shoulders so he wouldn’t notice me. As if that worked.
“Thanks coach,” I muttered shyly, helping some of the volunteers put away the equipment.
When he wasn’t looking, I made a ‘fan-me’ face to the girl in front of me, causing her to giggle.
“I’ll see you guys at the tournament won’t I?” the Coach said in his loud, school-spirit voice.
“Yea,” the volunteers muttered. Even though we all knew that half of them won’t show up.
I could faintly hear tires screeching as I crossed the road. I couldn’t hear anything when Beyonce was blaring in my ears.
“Elizabeth!” I could hear someone shouting, I looked behind me. For the first time I looked Coach in the face, fully. His eyes were wide and from where I was from, I could see the alarm on his face. His tan face was bloodless.
It was as if it was in slow motion.
Move , his sculpted mouth seemed to say.
A powerful impact to my side sent me flying to the other side of the intersection. It was as if I was within and without. I was seeing everything from Coach’s eyes, even when my mind froze, the pain ripped through my body unforgivingly, and I lay there.
My mangled body lay among the broken glass and car pieces. The driver in the car had crashed through the windshield. My own blood surrounded me, dripping into the sewers and pedestrians ran to the scene. People were crying and screaming in horror.
All I could think about was the pain. It was all I could think about. I was seeing white lights…
“Elizabeth Lane,” Coach’s voice said.
I closed my eyes.
Elizabeth meets Estel.
“Her body is unsalvageable…” the voices seemed to say.
“...The impact crushed all the bones on her left side…”
“...Not enough blood...”
I was floating in purgatory. White surrounded me. It felt as though I was on a never ending rollercoaster. Speeding through all the memories I remember and don’t remember. The pain was still there, fresh like new snow. I couldn’t scream.
Then, suddenly, it got even brighter and colour started coming in. It was as if I took a deep dive without diving equipment and just came up for air when I should have drowned.
My eyes were wide open and before me was a purple, blue, and pink sky. Lush green narrowed my view of the sky and I was on soft earth. The smell of fresh lavender and grass reached my nose. I was faintly aware of a stream rushing nearby.
“Help me,” I remember croaking. Then, the next few moments… hours… days… they all blurred through my memories. I remember laying there, then standing up. I may have cried.
I was not in my body, it was as though I was outside of my body, looking at myself...not processing what was actually happening.
When everything became clearer, I was walking, my feet dragging me God knows where. The scenery never changes. The sky got darker and I stopped, it got lighter and I walked. I got hungry and I ate whatever I could lay my hands on. I got thirsty, I was walking along a stream. I got dirty and I bathed.
My eyes became clearer, sharper. I could hear a river and it was several yards aware. I breathed and the oxygen burned in my nostrils. It was as if I was wandering aimlessly in the fields of Asphodel, except it was not grim and dim. Birds sang and creatures were in every corner. Squirrels and owls and everything. But no sign of human life.
“Who are you?” a gruff voice asked behind me. I froze and forced myself to turn around. I tried not to seem so shocked that there was another human here.
Before me was a man, alarmingly tall, all in black. His eyes were grey like the steel of the sword he had pointed towards me. His hair was as dark as his clothes and his beard hinted faintly at signs of his age through the long white streak running down the side of the chin of his overgrown beard.
I swayed a bit and blinked at him. Opening and closing my mouth, gaping like a fish.
“Elizabeth Lane,” I finally said. I raised my hand and pointed my forefinger at the tip of his sword and pressed. I was stupidly surprised that it pricked me. What did I expect?
“What are you doing?” the man was unimpressed with me.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. My mind refused to comprehend how strange everything that was happening actually is.
“Where are you from?” the man asked, lowering his sword when he realized there were more threatening rodents than me.
I stared at him blankly. Where are you from?
I shrugged and swayed again. The world seemed to spin beneath my feet.
“If you cannot handle your drink, woman, then you mustn’t drink,” he reprimanded, grabbing my arm. I was vaguely aware of him. I reached up and touched his beard. It felt awfully rough against my fingers. The man shook my fingers off and I dropped my hand.
“‘M not drunk,” I said petulantly, “I’m in pain.”
It was true. The pain wouldn’t fade. His bushy eyebrows rose sardonically.
“To drink is to forget pain,” he said dryly and then when he realized it might have been the literal kind of pain, he sardonically asked, “How so?”
I gestured all over my body, “Everywhere.”
He rolled his eyes.
“I was hit,” I said, “It was big, and I flew, I died…” I was babbling nonsense and it was clear the man thought so too.
“I’m sure,” he said wryly.
“Me too,” I agreed, swaying and dropping to my knees for some form of stability.
His feet were large…
“You are awake,” the man noted.
I sat up. I could smell cooking meat. When was the last time I had meat?
I nodded glumly.
“Do you have a headache?” he asked. I shook my head. The pain lingered but my senses weren't so foggy.
“Curious,” I could hear the man mutter as he studied me over the firelight. The shadows danced across his face. We were in an open field. I stayed silent. I felt strangely cold. I was in a baggy brown dress and a small shawl to cover me.
“Where am I?” I asked.
“Just paths the Coldfells, on the foot of the Misty Mountains. A curious place for a woman like you. There is not a village for miles around,” There was chastisement in his voice, but I could care less about that. I only nodded stupidly. None of this made sense to me.
“Where are you from?” his brow raised when he realized I wasn’t about to humor him.
“I don’t know,” I admitted.
He was getting frustrated, I can tell. Maybe he should just stop asking ridiculous questions.
“Where is your family?” I paused.
“Dead, I think,” I said, trying to remember. They were dead in my memories. I don’t recall them. Everything was dead in my memories.
We don’t talk again for a few days. It was unspoken that he let me tag along. I tried to be as helpful as I could. For all his strength and raw masculinity, he let me crush plants and he was rather gentle with his hands. He hunted, I helped skin. The first time was a disaster. All the meat ended up on the skin and I kept sneezing.
Our silence helped us bond. We observed each other. I observed how he never really slept, how he was silent and graceful, how he was skilled in everything he did. Beneath his bushy beard, there was a rugged handsomeness, even behind the lines of fatigue and sadness. I suppose he was sad because he seemed so alone.
Sometimes we would say things to each other. He stopped asking. I never got his name. We generally took the rocky paths, the hidden paths and it made me wonder if he was an outlaw. When we came near a road, we would stay in the trees. I tried to refrain from asking. Why was he making this so hard on us?
Hygiene was unspoken of. He was clean and I tried to stay clean too. I gathered the leaves I’ve seen him gather and stuffed them in a makeshift satchel we had picked up along the road. He had given me half the bar of his soap and everytime we went near a water source, we always cleaned ourselves and watched out for anything. For what, I’m not sure. But I think that he thinks that I actually know what we are watching out for.
I don’t know anything. All the strangeness surrounding me confounded me into silence. Which was unlike me.
Eventually, after several days for walking, we reached a cover of the trees. My calf muscles burned and my dress kept slipping off my shoulder. It had also gotten warmer. Which meant that I didn’t need to borrow the man’s coat any longer. I noticed he dressed strangely. Even though his clothes were worn, they were strange to me. He wore plain black tunics, and long shoes. Every part where there should have been stitches, were braids. His clothes were braided together instead of stitched. There were buttons made of wood…
He must think I’m strange too. Even I could tell my fatness was strange to him because more than one I caught him eyeing my body, as though he were eyeing a spectacle. Something purely scientific, observatory. It wasn’t a flattering look, but it wasn’t offending or threatening. I wanted to ask his name but I felt too shy, scared. Scared that if I opened my mouth, I would forget my words too.
The trees were enchanting.
“Estel,” a voice greeted, masculine but...pure, like water. It was a greeting and it came out of nowhere. ‘Estel’ is the man who had been so generous with me.
He turned around quickly and I turned around slower, more lethargically. I didn’t want to appear dumb but I did.
Before me was a man even taller than Estel. He was fair, his hair the same colour as the golden necklace that was around my neck. It was ridiculously long and it flowed with the wind. His eyes were like the sky. His physique was even more impressive than Estel’s even though it was more slender. Everything about him was...outlandish, especially his pointy ears.
His startlingly bright eyes zeroed in on me and I stumbled back into Estel.
“Fear not,” Estel said gently, his chest rumbling against my back, “He is a friend,”
The greeted each other in a strange language that sounded impossibly smooth. The grasped forearms in a weird handshake. The man turned to me.
“A stray?” he asked politely. I didn’t think the term was very polite. Estel said something in his strange language.
His eyes hooded with understanding.
“What is your name?” he asked.
“Elizabeth Lane,” I said flatly. Yours?
I didn’t say that though.
“I am Glorfindel,” the man said, putting a fist to his chest and nodding at me. I thought his eyes were a little sad, and a little too old for such a striking and youthful face such as his.
I didn’t say anything.
“Elrond awaits you,” Glorfindel said, “The Evenstar senses your presence,”
A tense silence, a phrase in a strange language and we all departed our separate ways, me with Estel and Glorfindel back to where he materialized from.
We didn’t speak again. Even when we reached a valley. It was strange because I don’t remember climbing a mountain. But there were waterfalls in every corner, the mist providing for a magical impression. Large silver structures with towers and greenery and many tiny little houses.
I felt sick. I was too high up. I swayed a bit but held myself steady when Estel glanced back at me.
“This is Imladris,” Estel told me, “Or Rivendell…” he paused, as though expecting me to know it. When I showed no signs of recognition, he continued, evidently disappointed. “It is the Last Homely House East of Sea,”
I didn’t know what any of that mean but it sounded sad. The last . How sad, it sounded so lonely…
We eventually made our way down, me stumbling more than a handful of times. In the end, I was holding on to his cape as we navigated our way to the colossal gates of this...Homely House.
The gates opened and before me was life. Tall people went about their day, vendors sold goods. Everyone had long hair and pointy ears. Everyone wore long robes. Everyone was youthful and beautiful. Everyone like Glorfindel, but with darker hair.
Everyone looked at me.
I thought to myself, it wasn’t as lively as it first looked. Some houses seemed empty.
I tried to hide myself behind Estel.
“Fret not,” he told me softly. As if it was assurance.
Estel seemed to know many people. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t even know the language. They greeted me politely, seemingly surprised at my name. I suppose that wasn’t conventional either.
I shrugged my stubborn sleeve up my shoulder for the hundredth time this day.
We entered a tall structure with murals painted on the walls. They were so life-like, it needed just to move. Vases and tasteful decorations stood and it seemed they really liked vines .
“Estel,” A voice said. It was unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It was a woman’s voice, high and sweet. I hadn't heard another woman's voice in so long that I felt my heart skip a beat.
Before me was a woman so beautiful, she knocked the wind from my lungs. She was tall and lithe. Her gaze was sharp and her skin was fair. Her hair was long and luscious, almost touching the ground. She wore a circlet on her forehead and her smile brightened up my entire day. I smiled stupidly at her.
“Who is this curiosity?” she asked kindly. I didn’t say anything. I was too in awe of her beauty. I shrugged my sleeve back on, feeling understandably inadequate.
“Elizabeth Lane,” Estel said when he realized I wasn’t going to speak. “Evenstar,” he said softly. I was too dumbstruck to start at the change. He was soft with her, patient, and he spoke to her as a lover would. Immediately, I felt like a trespasser.
They spoke in their language and she looked at me with sympathy. I looked away, uncomfortable.
They spoke some more and she led up up a few flights of stairs into a study.
“Lord Erestor,” Estel bowed and I stood there dumbly, unsure of what to do.
“Estel,” the tall elf was just as tall as Estel, which was short compared to the…men I have seen so far. He had straight black hair down his back and his eyes were green, his features were sharp and he was the image of scholar. Behind him was a desk, neatly organized but clearly busy.
“Who is this?” Lord Erestor looked at me critically, but somehow, not unkindly. As if I was just another book.
“Elizabeth Lane,” Estel answered for me and I was thankful.
“Yes, I’ve heard of the unspeaking curiosity you have brought along,” Erestor nodded. I said nothing, not bothering to correct the patronising elf. Were they all the same age?
“She speaks,” Estel said, “But she does not do that a lot, it seems.”
“Lord Elrond awaits you,” Lord Erestor pointed it the tip of his quill towards an intricately carved door, his gaze never leaving me.
Evenstar said something to Estel and in a slow, graceful dance, moved out of the room.
Estel stood in front of the door and I looked at him curiously. I looked back at the door and realized that there were two guards who flanked either side. They were too intimidating to miss. Maybe I really was stupid. Their armor was shining, with blue-ish accents and a ribbon-cross design, their faces were covered with a helmet but I could feel them looking at me.
When they opened the door for us, we entered. Before us was a tall man, with black hair, like oil and broad shoulders. He began speaking in that strange language again and when he turned around, I thought he bore a strong resemblance to Evenstar.
They exchanged conversation and Lord Elrond stopped right in front of us, if I raised my arm, I could touch him.
“What a curious girl--woman I suppose--you have brought along,” Elrond observed, eyeing me, kindly. I stared at him, marvelling at how the lines on his face didn’t take away from his age, or how his eyes were just as blue as the Evenstar’s.
“You are like a disturbance in the wind,” Lord Elrond told me, I couldn’t find it in me to be alarmed. “Your very presence teases my senses. You are like a stain in my vision.”
I didn’t say anything even though that sounded vaguely insulting. Estel spoke again, his voice sterner. Elrond responded, his voice placating.
“You are no threat, you are just lost,” Elrond assured me and I stared at him, wondering how he understood me so well. His eyes lingered on my throat.
“What does this symbol mean?” he gestured to my necklace. It was a cross. I didn’t understand its significance. I had the same shape of it etched on the skin of my wrist and under my breast. I also had a little flower on my ankle. I shrugged, wishing I knew.
“No matter, it will come to you eventually, I am sure,” Lord Elrond said with conviction.
His certainty about myself gave me some comfort, he had his credibility to him.
So they resumed speaking in their language, catching up, probably while I stood there, still as one of the statues I’ve seen.
“Miss Lane,” they were addressing me. How long have I been standing, unmoving. I looked up. Lord Elrond and Estel were gazing at me, Lord Elrond gestured to a large chair across the other side of the room.
The continued talking.
I woke up a while later. I only woke up because they pressed a hot cup of sweet-smelling tea into my hand, which seemed too small to hold anything now.
“She has rather small hands and feet,” Lord Elrond was observing, just as I noted the same.
“Yes, it has been difficult to make herself useful with them,” Estel said, his voice soft, affectionate even. I felt a little offended. I wasn’t so useless.
“How old do you think she is?” Lord Elrond asked.
“I can’t be sure, and I am not in want of anymore shrugs,” Estel said.
“Miss Lane,” I looked up from stirring the hot tea. They sat far from me.
“How young are you?” Lord Elrond asked. I looked at my cup.
“Sixteen,” I said automatically. Estel narrowed his eyes.
“Barely a woman,” Estel muttered.
“And yet women her age are already bearing their husbands children,” Lord Elrond said critically. “She is not undesirable. She is also not Dunedain, nor is she low born.”
“She just seems so young, far too… far gone,” Estel murmured, worried.
I let them discuss me. It was interesting to know what they thought of me.
“She needs healing in her heart and soul,” Lord Elrond said, “Her heart is hurt.”
He spoke about my heart as if it was a person. How is my heart hurt? It’s my body that was in pain.
I closed my eyes and slept again.
The duo reaches Imladris.
When I woke up, I was on a soft featherbed. I was worried that they carried me, I don't think I was a light load on them. But I couldn’t care about that. A young woman had entered my room, her face long and beautiful. She was here to help me with my bath. I let her help me. It felt strange. I didn't want her to help me. I wanted to feel useful. But when I tried helping her with the bucket of water, the handle was too large for me and I nearly fell if it wasn't for her. She was laughing at me, with me, even when I didn't so much as smile at her. The bath smelled like a garden. It felt like hot springs.
It felt like heaven. Many days worth of travel soiled the water. So we drained out the water and refilled the tub. After, I felt like a baby. I bet I smelled like one too, my nose faintly remembered the smell of talcum powder.
When I went back to the bed, intent on sleeping, the lady shook her head, giggling at me with her silvery voice.
“No, you eat,” she gestured to her beautiful mouth.
I nodded glumly.
She helped me get dressed in a dress that was just my size and three times my length. She was giggling the entire time, speaking in broken English and it was hard not to enjoy her company. She was like a glass of fresh water compared to brooding, silent Estel. I also had to admire how she persevered with her one sided conversations.
I wasn't very talkative.
She led me to a great Hall that had a long table sparsely filled with people. I recognized Lord Erestor, Evenstar, Lord Elrond and Estel. Next to Estel was a short man. Childlike in size, but with a plate piled with twice the amount of food I felt he could stomach, the little man was setting the mood for an enjoyable dinner.
All conversations quietened when I entered.
Why did they stop?
I awkwardly took a step forward, looking at Estel.
“Come here my dear,” it was the short man, his face was startlingly old and his hair was faded and white. My tiny feet carried me to the short man, desperate to disappear. He was patting the seat next to him.
“Had a nice nap?” he asked me kindly. I nodded, it was very restful, but I wish I could sleep more.
Of course, I didn't say that.
“Bilbo,” he held his wrinkled hand out,”Bilbo Baggins,”
“Elizabeth Lane,” I said and Bilbo clapped with delight.
“What a husky voice you have!” I wished he didn't say that because I could feel their eyes on me.
“What would you like to eat?” He gestured to his plate, “have something.”
When he insisted I picked from his plate, so I shyly picked up an apple pie.
“No my dear, you can't have your sweets first,” I returned the pastry.
I picked a large, seasoned and boiled potato and nibbled at it.
“Thank you, “ I finally said when I realised I was being rude.
Dinner, although was lively, was a silent affair on my part. I listened to them having an intelligent conversation about a man named Maglor. It wasn’t very interesting. They spoke about the first age. The first age of what? It was something I obviously didn’t understand and therefore didn’t care about. But when I look at Erestor’s silent, brooding face across from me, I know that he’d rather be discussing something else.
Bilbo Baggins was more interesting than his fellow tall friends. His speech was animated and he made mundane things sound not mundane until you actually start listening to them. I picked food off from this plate as he piled his plate higher and higher, until I couldn’t eat.
“Is that it?” Bilbo asked incredulously when I sighed and sat back, studying the pattern on the edge of the wood. I looked at him and nodded. I wanted to sleep. I wasn’t interested in eating as I thought I would be.
“Do you want your sweets then?” Bilbo offered when he realised I wasn’t going to really eat. I could tell it meant a lot to him so through the entire dinner, I tried to fit an entire apple pie down my stomach. It was interesting to watch Erestor eat. He made sure he used every piece of cutlery. I thought it was a waste of time and effort on his part. He could make eating messily look graceful.
“Thank you,” I said again when Elrond invited everyone to sit in the Hall of Fire, the significance of which was lost on me.
So for the next hour, I sat through an opera of sorts. It was a good one. I didn’t understand anything and I sat far away from everyone because I couldn’t care to speak to them, or have them speak to me. Even sweet Bilbo Baggins, who was in deep conversation with Estel, gesturing wildly to the man who played the Harp so wonderfully.
“A curious, disinterested young woman,” I heard Bilbo say. I didn’t think he was being rude. But obviously Estel did because he glanced back at me, apologetically.
I yawned right back at him.
I wandered around with Bilbo, who graciously invited me to a stroll, which I accepted when Lord Elrond nodded at me approvingly. I realised I should have probably tried to make an effort to be more gracious towards him and his people because I tried to listen even when I yawned every now and then. Before I knew it, I was back in front of the door of the room I left earlier today. Erestor sat primly behind his desk.
I thought he had lovely fingers, but I didn’t tell him that.
We went through pleasantries and Bilbo departed.
“Do you write?” Erestor asked me softly.
I walked over to him to see what he meant. He was holding a quill over a blank piece of parchment. He handed me the quill. I wrote my name. He made a small, elegant noise.
“Is that the only language you know?” Erestor asked.
I thought about it and nodded my head.
“Would you like me to teach you?” Erestor asked me softly. I stared at him.
“Teach me what?” I asked, sitting when he gestured me to sit.
“History, lore, and arithmetics,” it was sweet that he was taking my consent, but I could already tell that my answer couldn’t be a no.
“Yes please,” I said because I didn’t know how I would spend my time in a place like this.
“You start tomorrow, rest well,” Erestor said gently, gesturing to the door. I nodded and got up, clear that this was my cue to leave. I waved at him lamely.
“Curtsy,” he ordered me, not ungently.
I stared at him, why?
“When you leave a presence of a Lord, Highborn, or someone of equal rank or higher rank than you, you must curtsy in leaving their presence,” he explained to me. I nodded and did as he told me, clumsily.
“Do you know who your parents are?” he asked me. I thought about it.
“Maybe, I don’t remember,” I shrugged.
“What do you remember?” Lord Erestor asked me gently.
“Everything that needs an explanation,” I told him apologetically.
“You may leave,” Lord Erestor said and I curtsied again.
I got lost and it was the Evenstar who helped me back to my room and it turns out her name is Lady Arwen. She spoke to me about things that I didn’t think necessarily applied to me (something about being traumatised). I pretended to listen politely when all I could think of was what it would be like to have a pet.
I don’t remember my brain being this useless. I remember a time when I would talk. But where was any of this? I just know I am a different person now.
When I woke up the next morning, Estel was sitting on my bed, looking like the father I might have had. He was staring at me softly, patting my shoulder. When I woke up he smiled through his bushy beard.
It was strange that he was here of all places.
I stared back at him, uncomprehending before turning the other way and closing my eyes again.
“Wake up, Elizabeth,” Estel ordered me softly and I whined. No , I wanted to say petulantly but then reluctantly struggled up on my arms.
“Erestor awaits you, you have already missed breakfast,” it was a reprimand.
“‘M sorry,” I said, not feeling very contrite.
“Here,” he handed me two apples. I took them graciously, biting into one. The burst of flavour surprised me a bit but I didn’t dwell on it. My mouth felt fresher.
“Thank you,” I muttered.
“I will be gone,” Estel informed me and I looked at him. Gone where?
“...” when he realized I wasn’t about to voice my confusion, he elaborated.
“I have some matters to deal with, I do not know how long I will be gone, but I promise you I will visit you when I can,” Estel promised me and I blinked at him owlishly. It felt silly to be attached to a grown man the way I was but he was all I’ve ever known for weeks.
I didn’t know what to say so I stayed silent, feeling my eyes burn. It was ridiculous, I was sixteen years old and here I was about to cry all over him.
“Ok,” was all I said. Estel gave me a sad little smile, stroking my hair before getting up and walking out of my room, never to be seen for another year.
Elizabeth slowly begins to adapt to the cultural clash.
It had been a while since I had first seen the man named Glorfindel.
He was half a head taller than the tallest one here and he was stern as he was kind. At least, from my limited interactions with him, that is what I have gathered. But his kindness had its limits, especially regarding me.
He had entered the room when me and Lord Erestor were studying, a month or so after Estel had left. I was reading some complicated text about the Battle of Unnumbered Tears (it was terribly sad and terribly horrifying). Lord Erestor made me read all the books I didn’t like. The only few I actually enjoyed were the stories like that of Luthien Tinuviel and her mortal lover, Beren. Half of our sessions were spent me asking questions and Erestor patiently explaining to me, in great detail and tedious length, the answers to my questions.
I had gathered he is immortal, as was everyone in Rivendell, save for the few merchants, Bilbo, me, and Estel.
“Lord Erestor,” the deep, faintly familiar voice said. I didn’t turn around. I tried not to jump, it took me awhile to get used to their silent, catlike steps.
“Lord Glorfindel,” Lord Erestor inclined his head politely, standing up and bowing slightly, shooting me a look. I got up, squaring my shoulders, trying not to seem as short as I felt. I turned around and clumsily curtsied (something else that Erestor tried to teach me without actually demonstrating).
Lord Glorfindel was watching me, his strangely bright eyes trained on me, trailing down to my throat where my necklace was.
“Miss Lane,” he purred and I tried not to give him a strange look. Elves, as they called themselves, were strange.
“Lord Glorfindel,” I said, glancing back at Lord Erestor, to make sure I said it right. Lord Erestor didn’t look at me and I looked back.
“Are you waiting for Lord Elrond?” Lord Erestor asked when I shifted with discomfort under his sharp, exposing gaze.
“Yes,” Lord Glorfindel answered shortly, turning his eyes to Lord Erestor who didn’t so much as blink. I was comparatively short to them. To everyone here, save for Bilbo. Many had commented on my small hands and feet in passing. I thought they were large but apparently they were not.
“What is Miss Lane studying?” Lord Glorfindel inquired curiously. A tense silence and I could see discomfort in Lord Erestor’s eyes.
“The Battle of Unnumbered Tears,” Lord Erestor said when the silence became unbearable. I picked at my nails. I was surprised to see Lord Glorfindel stiffen.
“Interesting,” Lord Glorfindel said, shortly. Clearly it was anything but--not mundane-- it was something more personal. I didn’t say anything.
Lord Glorfindel turned his gaze to me and I thought he seemed a bit like an erratic bird, or perhaps a hawk that won’t stop studying its surroundings.
“Have you made any friends, Miss Lane?” he asked me and I was a bit uncomfortable at his keen interest in me. Lord Erestor’s expression didn’t betray his feelings like mine probably did.
“Well…” I trailed off, gesturing meekly to Lord Erestor, Lord Glorfindel’s eyebrows rose in wry surprise.
“I’m sure,” he said, smiling brilliantly at us, clearly disbelieving. I looked meekly at Lord Erestor, who looked down at me with a raised eyebrow.
“I’m sure you have been acquainted with Mister Baggins?” Lord Glorfindel asked and I nodded, the thought of my portly, aging friend bringing a smile to my face.
“Sentinel Glorfindel,” Lord Elrond’s voice sounded behind us, passive. Lord Glorfindel stiffened and bowed shortly to us. I curtsied back but he wasn’t around to see it.
The Great Hall was strangely full and I could see why, many new elves had come. They were all in polished armor, ceremonial. Their wives stood with them, in gorgeous, fluttering gowns. It all felt like something from a book of fairytales or an old song. I hadn’t known about any of this.
I stuck close to Bilbo, suddenly, stupidly aware of how I must have looked in front of so many elves all in one place. It had always been Lord Elrond, Lady Arwen (who was Evenstar), Lord Erestor, Bilbo, and me. Sometimes with the few odd officials and merchants but never in this multitude.
I was wearing a new purple gown that they had laid out for me today. It was a little more teasing than the last five Lord Elrond had gifted me with. The neckline was lower and there was golden stitchings on it. The maid had come today, she had stopped coming after the first week. She had worked around my curls prettily. I felt overdone. But then I looked at Lady Arwen and realized I was underdone.
At the end of every week, Lord Elrond would give me an allowance of sorts. I thought it was strange, but then Bilbo assured me that it was fine. I was Lord Elrond’s ward, which meant I was like a glorified pupil. Bilbo was the only one I could speak to about matters I was shy about.
My allowance still lay in my dresser, untouched. I wasn’t sure how to use it. I didn’t really want for anything or need for anything. I didn’t know in what way I earned it but it made me uncomfortable to think about spending it.
Maybe I could have used it for some kind of bracelet like I had seen at the vendors but I still didn’t understand what was cheap and what was not.
“Miss Lane,” Lord Erestor. He was seated in between Lord Glorfindel and another dark haired Lord. I nervously walked over to him, faintly aware that I was waddling compared to them.
I didn’t know what to do with my arms so crossed them behind me. Then my chest felt to exposed, so I forced them by my sides. I tried to school my expression to disinterest.
I curtsied with a small, “My Lords.”
“You are to be seated next to Lady Arwen,” Lord Erestor said kindly and I nodded. I never got to sit next to Lady Arwen.
So I sat next to her, feeling inadequate and wondering if they seated me here on purpose to make me feel less pretty. My time with these Godly creatures taught me a lot about personal maintenance.
But some people were just naturally blessed with it.
Lord Elrond toasted the men and I caught a few phrases. Lord Erestor’s teaching in Sindarin helped me understand that they were a patrol group, and that there was a rising darkness.
I didn’t understand anything but his toast was grim and ended on applause.
There was a wide variety of foods. More various than the last time and I wasn’t very hungry but I forced myself to eat a small bite of everything that was served. It was sinfully delicious but my stomach was in treacherous turmoil.
I wasn’t next to Bilbo, unfortunately, his place was next to Elrond and I was a disappointed. My favourite dinner partner was my last chance at not seeming like a socially awkward adolescent. By the time the dessert arrived, I was feeling awfully sick and I tried not to let it show. Arwen was conversing politely with the elf in front of her.
“Is that the infamous ward of Lord Elrond?” An elf inquired politely. I looked up and Arwen spoke for me, thankfully, in her fluent Sindarin.
“She is, and she is a delightfully quick learner,” Arwen said, smiling at me sweetly and I blushed with pleasure. I felt much better when they complimented my intelligence. I didn’t get many compliments towards my looks.
“I’m sure,” a woman said, watching me curiously, her eyes lingering on my wrist, where that strange cross-tattoo was.
They started a polite conversation with me, I answered them as politely as I could. I wasn’t a good conversationalist.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Bilbo thumbing his ring finger.
I glanced around cautiously, the squiggling bundle in my arms almost slipping from me. How long would it take before they found out?
A long time I hoped. The prickly hedgehog squeaked and I shushed it frantically.
“Does Lord Elrond approve?” it was Lord Glorfindel and I jumped away from him, so hard I hit my head on the wall behind me. I tried not to show it hurt but he probably knew.
I stayed silent as I stared at him. The hedgehog whined some more.
“The mother died,” I explained lamely. Lord Glorfindel gave me a toothless smile.
“Does Lord Elrond approve?”he repeated and I felt my face heat up with childish embarrassment.
“He doesn't know,”I muttered, feeling annoyed. We only spoke to each other twice before this, what right did he have--
“He should,” Lord Glorfindel murmured, his ridiculously large hand reached out to scratch the hedgehog underneath its chin.
“I'll tell him,” I promised, glancing back. Maybe if I could just…
“If you run, I'll catch you,” he promised and my stomach dropped. He probably could.
“I'm not a child,” I said haughtily, trying not to show my surprise at how threatening that statement sounded.
“Why do you not speak then? Only a child does not speak out of petulance and disrespect,” Lord Glorfindel shot at me and I stared at him. His blue eyes gave nothing away, but his jaw was set.
“I just don't have anything to say,” I finally defended myself. He was worryingly blunt, so unlike his people, who were never direct.
Lord Glorfindel didn't say anything. He simply walked past me, leaving me embarrassed and slightly scared.
Lord Elrond was a lot more receptive of my new pet that Lord Glorfindel was. He let me keep it. My hedgehog still needed to be fed with milk and cloth. Lord Elrond assured me it was a girl. He gave me permission to raise it and I couldn’t help but feel extremely giddy, my earlier unpleasantness with Lord Glorfindel forgotten.
“What will you name her?” Lord Elrond asked, doing something with his strange plants in the healing wards. I sat next to him, feeding my new pet.
I thought about it, “I don’t know,” I finally admitted.
“She must have a name, how else would you be able to relate to her?” Elrond asked me, looking down at the wiggling, baby hedgehog, faintly intrigued. I stared at her some more, she was barely bigger than my palm.
“How about…” a moment of silence, “Baby?” I asked lamely.
Elrond remained silent, “If that is what you wish…”
“Baby,” I nodded, it fit. “Do you think she had any other siblings that I missed?” I asked him.
“Potentially,” Elrond said, stirring, looking like a brewer of magical potions than an actual Lord.
My heart leapt in fear and I stared at Elrond, stupidly hoping that he would hear my silent plea.
“If you can manage all of them while managing your tutelage with Lord Erestor and Lady Arwen, you may keep them,” Lord Elrond said and I started.
“Lady Arwen?” I asked, ready to get up and flee to the forest, to where I found Baby.
“She has kindly offered to teach you embroidery and sewing, and other fine arts of etiquette. In some months, some important guests will come along, it is imperative that you are on your best behaviour,” Lord Elrond said, almost absently. I didn’t know whether that was an insult or not, I chose not to dwell on it.
“Alright, thank you Milord,” I curtsied hurriedly before pausing, “May I be--?”
“You may, take Lord Glorfindel with you,” Lord Elrond inclined his head towards the door and I whirled around, panicked.
No! I wanted to shout.
Lord Glorfindel was out of his armor, his hair damp, dressed in a blue tunic. It is clear he had just gotten out of training with his squadrons. It was also clear that the thought of accompanying me was just as distasteful to Lord Glorfindel.
“Why?” I asked trying not to seem bratty about it, Lord Elrond fixed his gaze steadily on me. I squirmed.
“It is not safe,”
It was completely safe when I first found Baby, but I didn’t say that, knowing I pushed my limits already.
“Thank you,” I finally said. I turned back to Lord Glorfindel and curtsied.
“Lord Elrond,” Lord Glorfindel began but Lord Elrond cut him off.
“I am sure whatever it is can wait, we have more pets to acquire for Miss Lane,” Lord Elrond said and I glowed. It was heartwarming that he would put such emphasis on my happiness.
Lord Glorfindel bowed shortly and turned and began walking. I hurried behind him on my short legs.
“Wait,” I gasped, trying to catch up with him. Lord Glorfindel glanced back and slowed down.
“Where are we to go?” Lord Glorfindel asked.
I led him to the part of the forest where I found Baby. I followed the atrocious stench that led me there in the first place.
“Maybe there are other babies around,” I said thoughtfully, looking around the deteriorating body of the mother.
“Here,” Lord Glorfindel said softly. I adjusted Baby in my arms. Out of the four, it was clear that only one survived, and barely. I felt the childish urge to cry. Thankfully, Lord Glorfindel bent and scooped the prickly animal into his large hands. The animal squirmed pitifully.
“We should get it back to Lord Elrond,” Lord Glorfindel murmured, sparing me a glance. I nodded eagerly and followed the Golden Lord.
“Thank you my Lord,” I said, adjusting Baby in my arms.
Lord Glorfindel looked back at me, his eyes softer than what I remembered not two days ago.
Elizabeth gains two more friends.
I felt a prickle of annoyance as my finger was pricked for the hundredth time. I suppressed it, squaring my shoulders to try and relieve the ache in my shoulder blades. I tried to sit like Lady Arwen did but she had too much patience and too much time on her hands. I glanced back at her, she was absently petting Otis, Baby’s brother in one direction so as to not prick herself on his spikes.
I bet she never pricked herself.
Baby lay next to Otis on the cushion I’d sewed together the first time I ever had my lesson with Lady Arwen. It was made of old linens that Lord Elrond gave me, that I dyed purple with some dye that I insisted Bilbo come buy with me, and stuffed with goose feather that I brought off the merchant.
They had grown a bit and I was surprised how fast they had grown. It had barely been a month. Baby and Otis looked the same so I had given them collars to identify them. Baby was pink and Otis was blue and they didn’t seem to mind it. Bilbo seemed to find it amusing to no end, I didn’t understand what was so funny.
“My dear, it is not very common to have pet hedgehogs,” Bilbo had told me. He seemed to take a liking to Otis.
Lord Glorfindel had left just a few weeks before and I felt we had parted on good terms. He hadn’t been unpleasant to me after we rescued Otis.
My embroidery wasn’t awful, I decided. It was a nice flower, I had drawn it out with a piece of coal before. It was having to prick myself constantly. Otherwise, it wasn’t unenjoyable. It gave me time to think and I prefered sitting in silence most of the time.
“What occupies your thoughts,” Lady Arwen asked me softly.
I looked up, narrowly avoiding pricking my finger.
“Nothing much,” I finally said, unsure why she would be asking.
“Have you given thought to marriage?” Lady Arwen asked and I stared at her.
“Not really, no,” I shook my head. It seemed like such a distant concept.
Lady Arwen looked up, surprised, her stunning blue eyes studying me.
“I don’t know anyone very well to really think about it,” I hastily added. “The elves here are beautiful, yes, and noble and good, but they aren’t…” I trailed off, gesturing to myself.
“What is it that you look for in a spouse?” Lady Arwen asked and I was trying not to seem annoyed by her line of questioning, why was she so curious?
You can’t stay here forever , a little voice told me, it is unwise, it will bring nothing but grief.
I blinked back tears, trying not to show how hurt I felt. Instead I took a deep breath;
“Well, they can't be too old,” I said jokingly.
Lady Arwen smiled in appreciation for my weak attempt at a joke, and awaited my proper response patiently.
“I mean, I suppose everything any woman would normally look for in a man,” I said cautiously, “I don't want to raise all my expectations...I don't want to be disappointed.”
Lady Arwen listened patiently, attentively. I was surprised how invested she was in that question.
“Kind and intelligent,” I finally settled on saying, “They have to treat me like an equal,”
That was really important for me, I was fine with not carrying around a sword. But I couldn't stand for disrespect. Lady Arwen looked at me with something new shining in her beautiful eyes.
“That is a rather unconventional response,” Lady Arwen said, faintly impressed.
“I don't want to expect much from them,” I said, feeling a sense of familiarity with the words.
Lady Arwen’s eyes looked at me and I was surprised to find regret in them.
“This is quite good,” Lord Erestor said after he finished reading the story I had submitted in for my assignment, “your letters have improved.”
I beamed with pleasure. It was rare he would give me compliments on my work.
“Thank you,” I said.
A moment of silence and Lord Erestor’s face turned grim. I shifted with unease because I realized his eyes stopped reading. When he put down the parchment, I became worried.
“Elizabeth,” Lord Erestor said, my heart leapt. He never called me by my name, it was always 'Miss Lane’. I waited.
“In just a few weeks, many people, Lords and officials, will come. Lord Elrond intends to find you a husband among them,” Lord Erestor said and I felt suffocated.
“He invited the Lords and Officials just to find me a husband?” I asked incredulously, I didn't think I was that important.
Lord Erestor shook his head. “No, it is a matter much more urgent than that.”
“What is it, if I may ask,” I tried not to show how thick my voice had become.
“Have you heard of Sauron the deceiver?” he asked me.
“I've heard of him,” I shrugged, aware of how Lord Erestor hated it when I shrugged. I was surprised he hadn't called me out on it.
Lord Erestor sighed.
Now that both Lady Arwen and Lord Erestor spoke to me of marriage and other worrying things, it was all I could think about. Who would Lord Elrond marry me off to? How would he know who is the best match for me? Would my husband treat me as his equal?
The thought of leaving the house of Lord Elrond was distasteful and frightening, but imperative. I was guest (ward, they insisted) therefore I couldn't overstay my welcome.
My only comfort to my thoughts were me two pets, Baby and Otis.
Another surprise had awaited me this week. It was Estel, he had returned. When I had spotted him in the courtyard earlier I saw him standing next to a tall man in grey robes, a funny pointed hat, and a grey beard so long he could have tucked it in his belt. I remembered seeing him around Lord Elrond study but I never thought about it.
I let a cry of happiness. No one had told me he was coming. But as I hurried close, his face was etched with worry, as was the grey man’s age-worn face.
I hurried stopped in front of them, curtsying quickly. Estel looked at me and smiled at me warmly, thought his eyes remained worried.
“Elizabeth,” he said affectionately, patting the side of my face.
“Do you want to see my hedgehogs—oh my Lord,” I curtsied deeply to the grey Lord, realising I was being rude.
“I am no Lord my dear,” the man said, smiling at me grimly, “you may call me Gandalf,”
I nodded absently, “would you like to see my hedgehogs also?” I asked tentatively.
He seemed nice, he seemed rather grandfatherly.
“I would be delighted to my dear, it might help avert my mind from my dark thoughts,” his eyes were red rimmed and I felt worry. I nodded taking the arm he offered. Estel came and stood on the other side of me patting my shoulder.
“I will bring Bilbo with me, he will be glad to see you Gandalf,” Estel said.
“Oh he is already there,” I assured him, “He told me to go to the courtyard, I didn't know why but he knew,” I gestured to them, happily.
They nodded and I led the way to the solar that we occupy frequently in our free time. Bilbo was sitting on a homely chair, absently stroking Otis, his eyes red rimmed and distracted. I paused, letting go of Gandalf and stepping back to allow them to pass through. I felt like an intruder. I shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
I departed the room quietly, walking back to my room, feeling slightly alone. I didn’t want to intrude, I didn’t want to seem more annoying than I already, evidently was. I tried my best to be useful, even going as far as cleaning my own room and helping in the kitchen when I could.
“Elizabeth,” Lady Arwen’s voice cut through my thoughts when I was seriously considering turning into a kitchen hermit. I turned around and smiled at her, trying to hide my hurt and embarrassment.
I curtsied with a small, “Lady Arwen,”
“Come, you must make yourself presentable for our guests,” Lady Arwen said, walking up to me and linking her delightfully slender arm through mine.
“Guests?” I asked.
“The Party of Eryn Lasgalen,” Lady Arwen told me and I nodded, I knew of their arrival. I didn’t expect it to be so soon after they’ve told me. It was no wonder, I have been curious about the dress left on my bed this morning. I nodded.
“Are they like you?” I asked her. I’ve never known anything else.
Lady Arwen looked at me, her eyes dancing merrily, as though she understood a joke I didn’t.
“How so?” she asked me politely and I shrugged.
“Well…” I trailed off, unsure as to how to proceed.
“Some believe they are lesser than the Sindarin or the Noldor,” Lady Arwen said casually, I didn’t dare ask anything else. I already felt as though I was being rude by asking a question like that. Before I knew it I was in front of my room.
“A bath has been drawn for you,” Lady Arwen told me and my eyebrows shot up. That was a treat. I had insisted on drawing the baths myself. I hated people working for me and Lord Elrond agreed with my request. It was a tedious process and for someone to have done it for me was a relief.
“Thank you very much,” I told her, grinning happily, readily to escape to my bath.
“I will be here to help you later,” Lady Arwen told me.
“Alright,” I nodded. I curtsied quickly and when I opened the room to my door, the familiar scent of vanilla hit my nose. It had become my customary scent when I would take a bath, or oil my hair, or put cream on my hands and elbows.
In the back of my mind, I thought about Bilbo and Gandalf, how distressed they looked. What had happened?
Elizabeth begins to feel more self-conscious than ever when faced with her own kind.
The dress was a rose gold color. It was the same chiffon I had personally embroidered at the edges and it made me proud to know that Lady Arwen had deemed it good enough to be put in my dress. It was long sleeved and made a delightful ‘U’ dip down to the middle of my back, where my front was a straight cover across my collarbones. It emphasized the curves I never really thought about, or cared for. It made my thickness look good. I loved it so much, I didn’t think there was anything about it that could disappoint me. It shimmered in the movement and the sun. I put on a small charm that Bilbo had given me, it was a small golden flower that he had gotten me on my begetting day. I put it on my chain and waited patiently for Arwen to come, brushing my hair in process.
“You are a vision in this dress,” Lady Arwen’s voice said from behind me, when I was fiddling with a toy I had been working on for Baby and Otis. I looked up, grinning when I saw Lady Arwen.
Her beauty was exceptionally radiant today, not that it wasn’t ever. She was in a Queenly dress of fine blue, with more patterns and embroidery than mine had. It was a nice dress, I found. It was beautiful. When I looked to her face, Estel stepped from behind her.
“Miss Lane,” he greeted, giving me a weary smile, “You have blossomed in Imladris,”
I didn’t know what that meant but it sounded like a compliment so I thanked him.
“I know I missed your begetting day,” he told me, apologetically and I made to deny him. Tell him it was alright. I wasn’t very good at receiving felicitations or gifts. It was embarrassing when I received either.
“Allow me,” he put quiet to all my protestations. I looked, hesitant, at Lady Arwen, who smiled at me encouragingly.
He stepped forward, bringing out the arm I hadn’t realised he had behind his back. In his hands was a small, wooden box, carved intricately with vine leaves and stalks. When I opened the box, I had to keep from grinning. Two platinum hair pieces sat there, at their very top was an assortment of flowers and rubies. I couldn’t begin to imagine how expensive it was.
I literally couldn’t accept something like that. I didn’t know how to repay him.
“Thank you,” I choked, unsure of how to express my gratitude.
“Pleasure,” Estel said. I wanted to ask how he got it, where he brought it. How much it cost. I stopped myself. I didn’t want to be rude. Instead, I looked up at him and squeezed his hand.
“I will leave you to it,” Estel cleared his throat awkwardly and departed from the room. Lady Arwen was giving me the sweetest smile.
I felt beautiful.
I was standing next to Lord Erestor, between him and Lady Arwen. Waiting for the Woodland party to arrive took a five minute wait, but it was expected. They weren’t late, at least, that’s what I thought. They ran into something called orcs, according to Lord Elrond. No wonder he had been busy preparing the infirmary.
When they strode in on their horses, I had to keep myself from gaping at them. They were unlike anything I’ve ever seen. They were beautiful, but their beauty was wild and rough. Their hair varied between shades of auburn to dirty blonde. There had to be twenty in the party. At their head was the tallest of them, astride a great, lean, white horse. They were dressed for war, like in the illustrations I’ve seen in the hall of fire. Their dark armour gleamed in the sunlight and I thought that they would blend perfectly with the trees. It was their leaf cloaks.
Loud trumpets and drums blared at their arrival and I for a moment I felt my heart skip a beat at how formidable they looked. I thought it was a little strange that they were so war-themed. But according to Lord Elrond, Lord Erestor, and Lady Arwen (on several, vague occasions) these were dark times, and darker still were the times to come.
They got off their horses and I noticed that they were covered in a black substance. When they took their helmets off, I was struck in awe by their beautiful visages. I couldn’t imagine how they were lesser. Sure they weren’t as striking as their Sindarin counterparts, generally speaking. But that is because they frowned so fiercely.
When the leader dismounted, so did everyone else and they bowed gracefully.
“Your Grace,” Lord Elrond bowed and I thought it was strange that Lord Elrond bowed. I looked back at the leader, it must be Prince Legolas Thranduillion.
He had a high forehead and even higher cheekbones, which gave him a sharp, threatening look. His skin was paler than Lord Elrond’s, but not as pale as Lady Arwen’s. His eyes were a pale green from what I could tell but his pupils were small, adding to his hawkish appearance. His body was built and lithe, and he was taller than Lord Elrond but not taller than Lord Glorfindel. No one was taller than Glorfindel. His hair was silver and shaved on the sides. I’ve never seen silver hair on someone so youthful.
“Greetings, Lord Elrond. Please accept my apologies that my Lord Father could not make it. I am here in his stead,” Prince Legolas said in Sindarin. But it wasn’t as clear as Lord Erestor’s or anyone else in Imladris. He had an accent. I assumed it was because his mother tongue is Silvan.
“There is naught to forgive, Prince Legolas,” Lord Elrond said lightly, “Please, you must be weary from your travels and, ah, encounters.”
“The fame of your hospitality has never failed,” Prince Legolas said, raising a strong fist to his heart.
“My gratitude, it is but my pleasure,” Lord Elrond smiled and Prince Legolas paused, turning to smile at Lady Arwen.
“Forgive me my lady, I did not mean to dismiss your presence so callously,” Prince Legolas took Lady Arwen’s offered hand and kissed it. They said their greetings and I tried really hard to focus on what they said. I didn’t want to be rude by saying something weird. But it was so hard to focus when I could feel the entire party of the Woodland elves staring at me. I can see them looking at me, with their indecipherable expressions.
When he came to me, he paused.
“My ward,” Lord Elrond introduced, motioning to me, “Miss Elizabeth Lane.”
It was clear that Prince Legolas hadn’t expected my existence to say the least. But he took it in good stride, giving me a friendly smile that seemed weird on a face like his. His face wasn’t meant to smile, it was meant to be grim, I thought a little self-consciously, when the wind blew my hair into my face. I hurriedly tucked my hair away, trying not to wince at how flimsy and girly that action seemed.
“It is a pleasure to meet you,” Prince Legolas said when I curtsied.
“Your Grace,” I muttered, unable to look up, in fear that I would do something and humiliate myself.
When all the pleasantries were exchanged and courtesies were observed, Lord Elrond led the procession into the hall of fire. Lindir, the minstrel, had already begun playing his harp and I thought this was a rather mundane thing to do. Most of the party had been led to the infirmaries by Lord Erestor. Wine has been served and as per usual, I got grape juice, which wasn't so bad.
Gandalf had appeared some time ago with Estel, and both had caused a bit of a commotion with the Woodland elves who were happy to see them. By they, I meant Prince Legolas.
A while later, the men from Gondor arrived.
Their entourage was understandably less impressive than the elves but they were no less formidable. They all had beards, all wore the black and silver colours of Gondor, which gave them their own, special brand of dangerous. They were worse for wear from their travels and it showed. Lord Elrond had received them graciously and I could feel their gazes on me more profoundly than the gazes of the elves. It felt weird, seeing another human besides Estel after nearly a year of residing with Lord Elrond. No less than twenty stood and I felt a little giddy at their presence. I tried not to show it.
“Lord Boromir,” Lord Elrond greeted.
“Lord Elrond,” the man’s voice was gruff and he looked like Estel. Not in the sense of physical resemblance but rather in how human he looked. He wasn’t clean shaven like the elves (they didn’t shave according to Bilbo) and he was mortal. It showed in the dimness of his eyes, compared to Lady Arwen, Lord Glorfindel, Prince Legolas, or any of the elves.
Lord Boromir greeted me curiously and it was clear that I was an oddity, even to them. That was more disappointing than I thought it would be. I shouldn't have raised my hopes.
No one was as tan as I was. Even their darker people were not like me, they were not my pigment. I was dusky and I was, in polite terms that I would later hear them call me, exotic.
That night, there was no festivity. Not until the dwarves arrived. They were not like anything I have ever seen before. They were taller than Bilbo but shorter than me. I couldn’t compare them to anything. They were like iron, cold and strong.
I don't think they found me strange like all the elves or the humans did. I think it's the elves whom they found strange, funnily enough. I sort of understood why they hated each other but it still didn't make sense. What use was it to hold a grudge for centuries?
I couldn't understand why everyone was here. I tried to make myself as small as possible.
I was wandering around the halls next to Lord Erestor ’ s study,who hadn't had the time for me a week before the arrival of our guests. No one had time for anyone and I was being kept out-of the healing wards. It was the only place where it actually comforted Baby and Otis, who obviously were very familiar with the herbs, rain-y scent of the healing wards.
So there was that disappointment. I hadn't seen Bilbo all day, yet I had my suspicion that he was in the healing wards. The secrecy had me on edge.
I sighed as I watched the large doors, firmly shut, enviously. I didn't have anything to do and Lord Elrond always had something for me to do in the healing wards.
“Miss Lane,” it was Lord Glorfindel. I looked up. The sight of the famed elven Lord knocked the breath out if me. I hadn't seen him today and it wasn't an unpleasant surprise.
“Lord Glorfindel,” I squeaked foolishly, curtsying. I had changed out of my pretty rose gold dress. Now I was in a more practical blue dress that I had on my first day in Imladris. I didn't think I could handle the humiliation of having been looked at by the judging stares of both humans and elves alike. The blue dress wouldn't attract attention like the rose gold dress did.
“I hear you were a vision today,” Lord Glorfindel smiled genially at me.
I blushed, not feeling the truth of his statement. Maybe anywhere else I would have been considered faintly pretty, but I couldn’t imagine being ‘a vision’ today, and here of all places.
“Thank you,” I said instead. I didn’t think I can handle any more disappointment today. I had hoped to fit in with the humans at least, but they’ve avoided me like a plague. I didn’t make a move towards them, it’s true. I didn’t speak to or look at them unless I had to but it was a little disappointing that none of them took the initiative to know me.
His smile was warm and his bright eyes were a little sad. I couldn’t understand why.
“You will always be different,” Lord Glorfindel told me softly, in my own language. I couldn’t find it in myself to be offended in the face of truth. I nodded absently.
“Your difference is not of this world. But that is alright,” Lord Glorfindel said, “You will always be beautiful to me.”
“You?” I asked incredulously, feeling a smile coming on about how absurd that statement sounded. When Lord Glorfindel didn’t smile, I shifted with discomfort, unused to such heartfelt words from a man such as him, who had initially disliked me.
“Your beauty from the inside radiates on your person,” Lord Glorfindel told me and I couldn’t scoff at the statement; at how inner beauty didn’t get me anywhere with these humans. But then I realised that he wasn’t speaking about this in a superficial sense.
He saw something that no one else could. It was the light in someone, or something, that no one would be able to understand, and neither would he. It was their very makeup, that made Glorfindel’s words so credible. His purity, despite having killed and being killed, made him invincible and beloved. Glorfindel as he was, noble, kind, and with magic in his very essence, understood everything and nothing that no one else could, or ever would. He was, despite how he may have initially disliked me, my greatest comfort and in some ways that I couldn’t understand, my greatest sorrow.
I blinked back my tears of emotion, feeling a rush of affection for the golden-haired lord.
“You are very kind to say that,” I finally said, my earlier bitterness forgotten.
“Now tell me, where are the newest additions to Lord Elrond’s household?”
He was speaking about Baby and Otis.
“In the solar, I think,” I murmured, hooking my arm through his as he led the way.
We didn’t speak about today for the rest of the night. Instead he asked me about the names of my hedgehogs, smiling laughingly when I told him their names.
“Baby and Otis,” he had mused, “You have a sweetness in you…” he trailed off, staring at me intently. I tried not to blush, but it was hard. An attraction was stupid on my part so I didn’t entertain anything other than sisterly thoughts for him. He was making it hard.
“I couldn’t think of anything else,” I finally admitted, playing with the bell on Baby’s collar.
He hummed in acknowledgment. When I yawned, he sang a beautiful song.
I felt his large hand stroking my head.
His senses were on alert. It felt, as it had for so long now, as if the very air was sizzling with evil.
Glorfindel didn’t see things as everyone presumably did. He saw colours that pertained to their nature and the South was a dark shadow in his vision. He could already hear the screech of the Ringwraiths. He could feel the power that lay on Frodo’s throat attracting them, luring them. But they were blind to it and it was by the Grace of Elrond’s powers that kept them out.
He looked down at the head that occupied his lap. Elizabeth Lane. The greatest, unsolved treasure he had ever come across. Her light was gold like the color of her dress that day, when he had caught a glimpse at her before she departed to her room in haste. Her colour had always been strange to him, having never seen such a specific color on anyone.
But at the same time, he had seen it before, perhaps in another life, but there was no use dwelling on that which he could not comprehend.
She was beautiful, even though she would scoff at such a statement. By mortal standards, she was gorgeous. She carried her thickness with a confidence that was incredibly attractive. Her face deserved more than a passing glance, with a high forehead and full, high cheekbones. Her skin was tawny, with gold undertones. It was such a strange skin colour that it had taken him off-guard the first time he had seen her. Her features were dark and her eyes were like two almonds. The arrangement of her face was strange because all the dark colours that would have looked bland and listless on others, looked vibrant and contrasting on Miss Lane.
He could go on and on about describing her beauty and her flaws. But the mystery that was her sudden existence in Ea was unsolved. Her soul was new in this world, unspoiled and full of life, full of potential. Potential for what?
“Lord Glorfindel,” it was so quiet, the sleeping woman on his lap wouldn’t have heard it but Glorfindel did. He looked up and before him stood the Mirkwood Prince.
Already, rumors of his skills with a bow and blade were spreading like wildfire. Even in the dark, unforgiving, and uninviting land that was Eryn Lasgalyn, the Woodland Prince was famed.
“Prince Legolas,” Glorfindel was reluctant to get up, he didn’t want to spoil Miss Lane’s much-needed sleep.
“There is no need,” Prince Legolas glanced down, his handsome mouth quirking up at the sight of the human that was the source of fascination for both elves and humans.
“Forgive me,” Lord Glorfindel said humbly. Prince Legolas’s eyebrows rose.
“There is nothing to forgive,” he dismissed, “Forgive me, I presumed that the solar was empty.”
An honest presumption.
One of the hedgehogs, Baby, squeaked loudly. Miss Lane stirred, sitting up, stifling a yawn.
“Sorry,” she mewled tiredly, “I didn’t realise I fell asleep--” she blinked blearily at Glorfindel, surprised.
“Sorry,” she repeated lamely. In the moonlight, he could see her cheeks flush, he could see the pulse on the side of her neck beat frantically.
“There is nothing to forgive,” Glorfindel gestured to the Prince, who stood silently, watching the woman.
She looked behind her and shot to her feet, almost rattling the table on which Otis and Baby lay.
“Your Grace,” she curtsied.
Prince Legolas smiled at her.
“Miss Lane,” he inclined his head to her, smiling at her, a rather predatory, smile as Glorfindel proceeded to get up and execute the overdue bow. “I have not gotten the chance to speak with you earlier, forgive my rudeness.”
“Please, there is nothing to forgive,” she was nervous and it showed in the shakiness of her voice.
Prince Legolas didn’t lose his smile but studied her as her eyes looked at everything, everywhere, but at him. How must the Woodland Prince see this mystery? How must Lord Elrond, or perhaps Lord Erestor, or Lady Arwen see this mystery? How must Estel see her? How must anyone see her, in eyes that are not his?
“If I may have permission to leave your presence my Prince,” she murmured, her head ducked. It was clear she didn’t know how to exit the presence of royalty, her voice was hesitant and her words were forced, as though she thought about them harder than she should have.
“Permission granted,” Prince Legolas said playfully, stepping aside to allow her leave. She curtsied, scurrying past him, turning towards them, walking backwards as she exited, her two pets in her arms.
“A curiosity,” Prince Legolas noted, “What is her story?”
“No one knows,” Glorfindel said, sensing good intentions from the young Prince. “Not even her,”
“Then how did she come to be, in Lord Elrond’s household?” Prince Legolas asked.
“Estel says she has been found, near the Misty Mountains, in poor condition,” Lord Glorfindel recounted, trying not to think of all the possibilities...all that could have happened to her. What had her former life been like?
“I have never seen a human woman before,” Prince Legolas noted, “Are they all like her?”
Lord Glorfindel shook his head, “No woman or man looks like her,”
Prince Legolas’s eyebrows rose, “It must be strange for her, then.”
“It has not been easy,” Glorfindel agreed.
The lingering scent of vanilla made him dizzy.
The infamous Shipwright delivers a mouth-souring prophecy to Elizabeth.
The only person who really struck an wind-knocking impression on me was that one elf. He was tall, as all of them were, built, as all of them were, and beautiful as all of them were. He had silver hair, which apparently wasn’t uncommon among the Sindarin, and he had a beard.
It wasn’t as long as Gandalf’s, or bushy like the dwarf beards. It was as silver as his hair and lashes and eyebrows. He came a day after everyone arrived, with a significantly smaller procession than I expected, seeing as Lord Elrond expressed his importance rather adamantly.
He was tan, which contrasted against his hair like the sand to the sea. He also smelled like the sea. Not the unpleasant rot, but the wind--and if boats had a smell, it would be him. Thus his moniker, Shipwright (my personal connection, but the origins of his moniker were a bit more prophetic).
His eyes were pale blue, unlike anything I have ever seen, and he spoke to me as though I was an old friend. His beard made him look old but his face wasn’t old. Without the beard, he could look like Prince Legolas.
But even Prince Legolas bowed low to him. So I curtsied low. It was as if everyone (speaking of elves) had to talk to me, not in an inviting way, but in a way that only elves did. As though they were observing an experiment.
“You are lost,” he noted and I shifted, looking desperately for Lady Arwen, or Lord Elrond, who would save me. “You are destined for great things, I have seen it. Great is your destiny and to some, sorrowful is your fate.”
That killed my mood.
I gaped at him like a fish, his vague, terrifying words rendering me speechless. I was thankful that there were not many who could hear us. Everyone was socializing in the Hall of Fire and Lord Elrond insisted I speak with at least everyone once.
Once is one too much with that Shipwright.
“Thank you,” I stuttered, curtsying clumsily, inching away from him as he watched me, a curious smile on his face.
“There is no need to feel discomfort around me, youngling,” he told me, a hint of reprimand in his voice and I flushed with embarrassment. It was rather hard not to feel uncomfortable when he kept saying things like that.
“Beg your pardon,” I muttered.
“Nothing to Forgive,” he dismissed, holding out his hand, “May I have the pleasure of this dance?”
“There is no music,” I looked around hesitantly, noting that no one was dancing and that there was no one to dance with. There were only a hand-full of women to speak of; Lady Arwen, a few wives of highborn officials in Imladris, and I. I didn’t think that the serving maids were allowed to dance.
“Let us make some music then,” I didn’t want to be rude by declining his request. He didn’t seem crazy but he certainly acted like it. In the end, the weight of Lord Elrond’s imaginary stare won out and I accepted his hand.
As we walked to the centre, I tugged my dress down, self consciously, while accidently meeting the eye of a red-bearded dwarf-lord. I didn’t look too bad today, I thought. Darker colours suited me more. I was in a off-shoulder, wine-coloured chiffon dress, with golden embroidery on the neckline and hems.
When we reached the uncrowded center, I could feel everyone’s eyes on us. Feel their eyes.
This was my punishment for unwittingly disrespecting Lord Cirdan. I just know it. I was vaguely aware of the wizened elf humming. Of all things, humming . I swallowed down my fear and tried to remember all my steps from the dance lessons Lady Arwen had given me. I had always practiced with a tall elf so it wasn’t too difficult to dance with a tall Lord now.
I was entirely too aware of the conversations hushing and soft, ballroom music beginning to play. He bowed to me, I curtsied, and so we began our traditional arm gestures before he took hold of my lower shoulder blade and my hand. I couldn’t really reach his shoulder so I had to settle for his upper arm. Lord Cirdan danced elegantly, and he took charge, something for which I was grateful for. But he danced everywhere, as though showing me off.
I had the nagging feeling he is showing me off. I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t want to be shown off. I wanted to go play with Baby, Otis, and Bilbo whom I hadn’t seen in a while now.
“Don’t be nervous dear,” he murmured, “You are a wonderful dancer, just smile. People need to see that you are no different than they are."
“How can you know?” I asked, forcing a smile to my lips. His lips twitched, seeming to know, without being told, that I wasn't referring to me being different.
“You will have to elaborate, Miss Lane, I am afraid that perception can only go so far,” he told me.
“About my destiny,” as an afterthought, I added, “My Lord,”
He smiled at me, amused.
“I see many things,” he told me vaguely and didn’t elaborate. I had a feeling if pressed, he wouldn’t answer so I let the matter be. Instead he asked me about my pets. It was strange that everyone seemed to know about them.
We danced for what felt like hours, when in reality, I’m sure it was only a few minutes. Lord Cirdan stopped abruptly and I could see why. Behind me, Prince Legolas was bowing.
“May I cut in for this dance?” he asked silkily and I couldn’t see Lord Cirdan’s answer but he put my hand in Prince Legolas’s outstretched one.
I curtsied reluctantly. While dancing was enjoyable, I wasn’t in the mood for it so instead I forced a smile on my face. Turns out, it was easier to smile with the Woodland Prince than it was with the Shipwright.
He spoke to me about his home, which was a curious topic to talk about but fascinating. An embarrassing part of me also enjoyed looking at him.
Then, a human asked to dance with me.
I was a bit shocked. So shocked in fact, I curtsied late when he bowed.
“Forgive me,” I stuttered, “I haven’t--well, it has been a while since I’ve spoken to another human…” I giggled nervously. He was obviously of high ranking, his hair was auburn and his beard was well-kept. He was Lord Boromir.
“I’m Elizabeth,” I finally decided to settle on, “Elizabeth Lane.”
Lord Boromir raised a wry brow; “You are quite infamous here, it is hard to not have heard of you.”
“Well...I didn’t meant to be, infamous I mean,” I murmured, blushing with mortification.
“I’m sure,” he smiled kindly at me, his eyes crinkling at the corners and I don’t remember what we talked about. I just enjoyed talking to him.
“ ...horses...great scroll keepers….mithril...Prince Imrahil- -” it might have gone from one topic to another; sports, features, politics, and economy. But eventually we had stopped dancing and had stopped to talk to each other. Me listening and him speaking. All of this was nearly strange to me.
I had only ever read about Gondor and its territories in the books that Lord Erestor had studied with me. Hearing it from an actual resident was something else completely. It was like I was seeing a white, magnificent city, from the eyes of an insider...I was able to imagine it. He was an excellent conversationalist and just as charming. I hadn’t realized we had spoken so much until Lord Elrond announced dinner.
I was unwilling to part from Lord Boromir. I felt a kinship with him that I didn’t feel with Estel, who seemed far too elf-like. I wanted to follow him like a lost puppy but my dignity forced me to curtsy politely, telling him, earnestly that I hoped we spoke again. I followed Lady Arwen from the Hall of Fire and into the Great Dining Hall.
There was a wider selection of meat than I remember there ever being in Rivendell. I also noticed that people were divided into packs.
The humans stayed together, save for Estel, who sat in the honor seat on Lord Elrond’s high table. The Dwarves stayed together, raucous and loud, and entertaining to eavesdrop on and watch as they got drunk and said merry tales. I notice they didn't really speak their language. The elves sat together, prim and proper and at some point, cool and unreachable.
I didn’t know how Estel must have felt, but I knew he probably didn’t feel like he fit anywhere. He was like a shadow, drifting between two races, nomadic. I wasn’t nomadic, I was stable...but I was stable in a world that I didn’t belong in. Maybe nowhere in Ea was meant for me and the thought made me incredibly sad.
I had wine this time, and I was surprised. It would be the first time I was ever served wine and I had the feeling it was watered down. It didn’t taste like it appeared, or perhaps smelled. I expected it to be sweeter but it was bitter and strong, burning my throat. I tried to keep my expression from souring.
I discreetly glanced down the table and back. I found that across from me Prince Legolas was seated next to a broader elf with a long scar running down his visage. I tried not to stare. It was awkward, I had never seen such profound facial scars on an elf. On a dwarf or a man, it seemed normal. They were a rough, tough lot. But elves were too...ethereal for such a human disfigurement.
Prince Legolas was watching me. I smiled at him, my taste buds burning from that large sip of wine I accidently inhaled when I caught him looking.
He was unabashed, I was mentally dying. I never realized how awkward social functions could be.
“The wine displeases you?” he murmured. Having sat right across from me, inconveniently, I could hear him perfectly well.
“No--I like it,” I stuttered, trying not to show my surprise at having been addressed, “Your Highness,” I added hastily when the Prince’s scarred friend looked over at me. “I am just not used to it,”
An understatement if there ever was one.
“I’m sure,” his eyes were grinning at me but his mouth wasn’t. “How are your pets?”
A safe, unassuming, rather stunted topic for someone of his standing but I humored him because it was more fun to talk about Baby and Otis than it was to talk about wine.
“They are well, thank you for asking,” I murmured, resisting the urge to go on a full rant on how Baby kept antagonizing Otis and how Otis kept eating Baby’s food.
“Their spines, do they not hurt?” he asked curiously and I nodded.
“Sometimes, when I’m not careful to brush them...but they probably won’t grow much longer. Baby and Otis were the runt.” I told him, trying not to seem too eager to talk about them.
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Prince Legolas told me, his mouth finally quirking into a half-smirk.
“I’m not an expert,” I admitted, I just like to sound smart. “But that is what I think.”
He smiled at me, warm and friendly, politely averting his attention.
My ribs burned.
Elizabeth ponders on a potential future--or demise.
I'm not sure what happened, but over the next few days, everything became rushed. I don't remember what exactly happened. I know we celebrated a recovery. It was the recovery of a little hobbit, apparently Bilbo’s nephew, who had been sick. I thought it was an oddly sweet thing to celebrate but at it seemed rather strange. He just didn’t seem that important amongst Lords, Princes, and Officials.
But I didn't say anything. Instead, I sat on a porch swing outside on the balcony of Lord Erestor’s study. He let me use it sometimes. It was a habit of mine, I vaguely realized.
That I never really said what I thought aloud. It was one of my quirks, I suppose. But I still didn’t think I was difficult to read. I wasn’t very complicated as a person. Maybe my memories aren’t complete, but otherwise, I wasn’t as glorious as the elves made me out to be.
Great is your destiny.
I shook my head, the Shipwright’s words echoing in my mind. I couldn’t imagine how my destiny would be great. The way he said, I would be breaking and mending the entirety of Ea if I could. But I wasn’t really good for anything. I tried imagining myself in scenarios where I am actually making a difference, instead of being a lump potato-pest in Lord Elrond’s household. It was hard to imagine.
To some, sorrowful is your fate.
It was a violent awakening. To some? I wouldn’t be surprised if it meant my enemies. Sorrowful is your fate. ..that didn’t take long to work out. It was the worst part out of all of this. I wasn’t ready to die, even though it was inevitable...any second, any minute.
Humans are so fragile, a little voice whispered.
Not my voice, I’ve never heard it before. I’ve never referred to humans as though I am not a part of their race. I sat up, blinking sharply, almost dropping Baby from my lap. My heart was pounding in my breast and it seemed like the haziness in my vision lifted.
I didn’t hear the little voice again.
“My Lady,” a strong voice called. I looked around to see who the voice could possibly be addressed in such an empty room. I looked to find Prince Legolas, looking strangely disconcerted. It was a weird look on him. Elves just didn’t lose their cool.
“I’m not a Lady,” I said flatly, when the Prince stopped in front of me, “Your Highness. I am not noble.”
I couldn’t imagine why he would address me as Lady but a small part of me preened at the thought of the Mirkwood Prince feeling respect for such a useless person such as me.
“No, yet your heart is noble,” he said softly, a strange look in his bright eyes. I stared at him a little more, trying to read him.
“You wanted to speak to me?” I asked tentatively.
“Yes,” the elf cleared his throat and I could feel my eyes widen. This was not something one encounters every day. I’ve never heard an elf clear their throat before.
He held out his palm and I hesitantly looked down and I think my world took a pause.
In his palm was a necklace, small in his massive palm. The entire thing was white gold and ridiculously elegant and feminine. A little pearl was its charm, held together by a white cage surrounding it. The craftsmanship was unlike anything I have ever seen before and it was so beautiful that all I could think about was how much it must have cost him. It could be platinum, but it could have also been mithril. I highly doubted it was mithril but I wouldn’t be so sure. After all, it clearly belonged to a prince of a glorious realm.
It took me a few moments before I could find the words; “Is this for a Lady you wish to court?” because how can there be any other explanation? But why would he even be showing it to me?
I looked up and saw him watching me, his gaze studying me, I blushed.
“Before it was even decided that I would come here, I knew it in my heart…” the Prince paused, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he composed his thoughts. “I knew that there would be someone I would meet. Ælfwine . I do not know who it is as of yet, but I know that they will one day hold this,” he gestured to the necklace. “Forged by the elves of Gondolin--some say King Turgon himself.”
“Why would you show it to me--if I may ask,” I hurried to amend, so as to not sound rude. I knew what Ælfwine was. It was an honor, bestowed upon men by elves when the men have done them a great service.
All the names of Ælfwine --Elf-friend-- raced through my head; Beren… Hador...Tuor...Barahir… Turin… Hurin… Elendil. All the greatest heroes of the history Lord Erestor had taught me.
“I am not sure,” he frowned, as though his sharp eyes have failed to catch something. “I do not know...but I trust you. Your heart is pure,”
I stared at him, trying not to feel flattered. It was dangerous to feel flattered or charmed by the elves...look what happened to Beren and Luthien, Lord Elrond’s parents...Idril and Tuor... Tragedy followed the star-crossed lovers. But I didn’t think we were star-crossed. I didn’t really feel the pull of fate. Whatever that was.
“Thank you, but what will you do with it, once you find the person?” I asked curiously, following Prince Legolas as he gestured for me to follow him.
“I will bestow it upon them. I think that I will find them soon. My heart is sure,” then he looked me deep in the eyes and he said words that I don’t think I will ever forget; “My heart has never led me astray,”
So many meanings, so many possibilities raced through my head. I remember the sun had hit my face but the glare couldn’t bother me. I remember trying to compose myself, trying not to seem affected. I wasn’t stupid. Whatever he was insinuating...it was presumptuous of me to think that this Prince would ever love me. No elf has ever fallen for a mortal woman. There weren’t any precedents to such a situation. It was difficult to imagine.
So instead of trying to imagine, I nodded and gave him a smile. I remembered excusing myself, walking back to my room.
To some, sorrowful is your fate.
In the back of my mind, the treacherous names of Aegnor and Andreth echoed in my mind.
An offer to foster Elizabeth with the human is unexpected--but seemingly the wisest course of decision.
I was within and without. I was staring at the mangled body, clearly a woman but I couldn’t see her visage. She was lying in a pool of her own blood, crystals surrounding her, the sunlight reflecting off of them, giving a halo-like aura. The woman was wheezing and I could faintly make out her breath, crystallized and reflecting like what surrounded her. Eventually, her blood covered the reflecting crystals and my vision darkened.
Then a bright light and I was staring at myself in the mirror, my vision hazy, my movements frustratingly sluggish. But the entire left half of my face was distorted. I couldn’t make out the details but I was scared. Then my face changed and it was that scarred elf from the banquet. The face changed again. Prince Legolas.
Wake up, he growled.
I bolted upright, my body drenched with sweat. My hair had loosened from it braid and the left side of my face was tingling. I plopped back on the pillow, staring at the canopy.
Great is your destiny.
I blinked back unwarranted tears. It was a resounding nightmare. I didn’t understand but every time I tried to imagine that woman, struggling for her life, I kept imagining my own face. It was such a profoundly vivid sight, my mangled face, left-side completely unsalvageable, bloody like the dress I was wearing tonight.
To some, sorrowful is your fate.
I got up hurriedly, lighting a small candle and took out the book Bilbo had given me for my seventeenth birthday. It was leather bound, with vine markings as a border and a hundred, precious pages of parchment.
I wrote the date, the year and In the Year of Eru . I began writing my dream down, exactly how I saw it, in my smallest, neatest handwriting possible. When I was done, I wrote a small line of my feelings on this dream. I wrote Lord Cirdan’s words, trying to find the connection.
Bilbo told me about doing this, that it would be helpful. Writing my feelings, I mean. It wasn’t cathartic, but I felt a little lighter in knowing that I would never forget my dream now. I closed my ink bottle and blew out my candle. I settled for watching the sunrise and the crisp morning air to fade away with time.
“Lord Moravid has graciously offered to foster you,” Lord Erestor told me when things had eventually calmed in Imladris. I stared at him. Lord Moravid was a high lord of a city near Gondor, important for its trade in obsidian and ore. I couldn’t recall its name. He wasn’t the youngest man or the most robust man...his manners weren’t awful though.
“Why?” I asked hesitantly.
“He feels that you should be among people of your kind. It would not do to be the only human...woman--”that word was forced, as though he didn’t really believe I was a woman, “amongst a place full of elves, his argument in politer terms.”
It was a pretty solid argument on Lord Moravid’s part, “Lord Elrond,” I asked, already dreading the answer, “has he agreed?”
“Lord Elrond agreed with him, it has been a difficult decision to make. Lord Elrond would be sorry to see you go,” Looking at Erestor, I thought he would have been sorrier from the regret in his eyes.
“When was this offer made?” I asked, already knowing. Lord Moravid had no other business here, he is the only one who had lingered after everyone had watched Estel, Prince Legolas, Lord Boromir, the four hobbits and Lord Gimli depart. I didn’t know where to, no one told me where. I don’t think anyone actually knew. But I knew that all the elves made pretty solid guesses so I was pretty much the only one who wasn’t let in on it.
“A while back,” Lord Erestor said, watching the little ring on my hand, gifted to me by Lord Boromir before he had departed. It was a pure peridot, set in gold. Lady Arwen had called it an evening emerald. It was my birthstone. It was said to protect the wearer from nightmares, and to represent beauty. So far, it was just beautiful. But I loved it.
“Why would--why wouldn’t he tell me?” I asked Lord Erestor, feeling understandably put out.
“He did not want to alarm you, or distract you from your tutelage, you are already thriving so well under his care, with your own burdens. He did not wish to burden you further with such...life-altering news,” it was clear that Lord Erestor found this mindset just as distasteful as I did. Perhaps I can find an ally in him, but I knew that his first and foremost duty was to Lord Elrond.
“So this means he has accepted?” I asked, already feeling resignation. I knew something like that was bound to happen. Ever since Lady Arwen brought up the topic of marriage and men...I just knew.
“Lord Elrond has accepted, yes,” Lord Erestor sighed, raising his eyes to study me with the same intensity that Lord Glorfindel usually studies me with.
“When am I to leave?” I asked turning my eyes to watch his neatly filed fingernails.
“Lord Elrond hopes in a fortnight,” he said, “The terms of the agreement were that you were to continue your tutelage in subjects that Lord Moravid deems fit and that Lord Elrond also deems fit...subjects such as etiquette, lore, dancing, and perhaps even arithmetics.”
“Perhaps?” I echoed, surprised.
“Lord Moravid is adamant about focusing on more...feminine subjects,” Lord Erestor said hesitantly, clearly displeased. Arithmetics was my best subject.
“He is also to find you a good husband,” Lord Erestor said, “Someone of standing,”
“What does Lord Elrond benefit from this?” I asked trying not to seem as cross as I felt.
“Your bride’s dowry...horses, silk, obsidian, and ore,”
“Why does he need all this? He is leaving anyways eventually,” It was getting hard to control my emotions and Lord Erestor’s eyes sharpened when he understood my indirect reference to the Undying Lands.
“There is a war coming, youngling,” Lord Erestor said sharply, “None of this is for the benefit of Lord Elrond, it is for his people...elves, men, and dwarves alike. Imladris contributes more to the greater cause than many might believe. Silk to build tapestries, to tell the tales that would be history. Horses for the riders of the light, who face the threat of Mordor. Obsidian for arrowheads and spearheads. Ore...ore for iron and precious materials...you need to think of all this child. The day will come when you cannot think of yourself,”
It was the only chastisement he had ever given me and after that, I couldn’t bear looking at anyone. My hurt, my humiliation, and my dignity suffering a blow like a physical hit to the gut.
I tried to make more effort to speak to Lord Moravid after that. The more I tried to get to know him, the better our conversations were. I tried to keep the conversations simple, I tried to flatter him. From what I gathered, he didn’t suffer impudent women. He wouldn’t allow me the same liberties Lord Elrond has allowed me. Maybe I would have an easier time if he liked me…
I don’t remember anything, but the two weeks passed by quickly and only recently have I been informed that Baby and Otis weren’t allowed to come with me...which broke my heart, but Bilbo promised to write to me when he could. I haven’t spoken to Erestor in the past few days, ever since my chastisement.
I had packed all my things, my jewelry, my books, the clothes that Lord Elrond had given me, and the oils that have been gifted to me. Most of my possessions were gifts from Bilbo and other acquaintances I’ve made in Imladris. It had been a faintly embarrassing realization. It further cemented the fact that I was not meant to be with them if all my life I would only ever depend on their charity.
Like the hairpins and cloaks from Estel; or the charms and books Bilbo had given me; or the ring Lord Boromir had given me; the oils, creams, and sewing materials Lady Arwen had gifted me with; the quilts that Lord Glorfindel gave me; the dresses from Lord Elrond, and the quills and pens Lord Erestor had given me. I treasured them greatly and a small part of me would be lying if I said I didn’t hoard them. That they weren’t important to me.
So far, there was a significant list of downturns in moving to Torsnan:
- Not learning Sindarin or Arithmetics.
- Not allowed to have Baby and Otis.
- Obvious inappreciation of women in Torsnan, the volcanic city I was to stay in.
- From what I gathered, it was raided often by corsairs.
- Obviously, Lord Elrond did not put as much thought in my safety as he did the supplies.
- Apparently, the volcano is active but it only flows into the sea which is raided by corsairs so it is supposedly safe.
- I will get married.
- I just didn’t want to go.
I couldn’t imagine there were any upturns over there.
Bilbo’s eyes were red when he greeted me goodbye, Baby and Otis in his arms.
“Take care darling, do not allow them to belittle your goodness,” Bilbo patted my back when I was kneeling to hug him. I couldn’t be bothered with how inappropriate that seemed.
“I won’t,” I promised, my nose tingling with emotion. Maybe Lord Glorfindel would come at the last second...and bid me farewell. I wanted to ask them to come and visit me but I knew I couldn’t ask that of them. They weren’t indebted to me and I highly doubted they loved me so much as to travel halfway across Middle Earth.
I pried myself away, stroking Baby and Otis briefly. I walked to Lady Arwen, she leaned down, kissing both my cheeks, murmuring a farewell in Sindarin. Lord Erestor gave a similar farewell, his eyes sorrowful as he kissed my forehead. Lord Elrond was perhaps my most profound goodbye after Bilbo. He took me in and was so kind and generous with me. I should have appreciated my time here better. It was too late now, all I could offer him was a kiss goodbye on his smooth cheek.
When I was helped onto mounting my horse, I couldn’t bear to turn back, feeling that if I did, I would really cry and embarrass myself.
Over the few days that I could, I tried to find all the information that I could about Torsnan. They were a tough people, living in harsh, dry lands. Incredibly hot during the summer and mildly cold during the winter. Its people had volcanic vegetation and spices to go by and their food came through trade. They had cows and rams, from the richest to the poorest. It was practically their currency next to spider silk and obsidian.
They were not poor, they were not in the way of conflict between Mordor and Gondor because an active mountain and a treacherous river stood between them. Obsidian was precious to many.
Nothing mentioned their women, further adding to the fact that they were not a progressive lot. About their men, however, it spoke of their education and marksmanship with both arrows and daggers. Their education included everything.
The most common colors worn were warm colors; oranges and golds. They were dark skinned, especially middle and lower class. But not like me, I am certain of it, if looking at Lord Moravid was anything to go by.
Once we reached the borders of Imladris, far into the forest, we were greeted by the patrol, the leader of whom was Lord Glorfindel. I stared at him, my heart hammering in my chest. Would he bid me farewell? Would he ignore me in the presence of all the elves and men, who were strangers to us as we were to each other?
Lord Glorfindel greeted us, a grim quirk of his lips and walked to my horse. Even atop of my horse, he was but half a head shorter than me. I secretly savored the moment that I was actually taller than an elf.
“Farewell, my friend,” he said grimly in Sindarin, his words meant only to my ears and I heard them. I nodded, my mouth was frozen on my face. His large hand came to the side of my neck, weaving through my curls, pulling me close and planting a kiss on my forehead. It was a strangely intimate thing to do but I tried not to pay attention to that fact. I was too glum to blush about it anyways.
“Farewell,” I finally murmured. Glorfindel looked me deep in the eyes and nodded, secretly tucking a curl behind my ear.
That was the last I ever saw of them again.
Elizabeth travels to her new host's land, only to discover the cruelties hidden beneath a beautiful surface.
At first, my days in Torsnan were spent, as Lord Elrond had promised me, studying lore, sewing, dancing, and other arts. Arithmancy and the sciences were taught to me with a great reluctance.
I parroted what they wanted me to say. I was luckier than most women, I didn’t have to cover my face as they did. I only had to cover my hair. I still had so much to learn in social norms.
Unlike in Imladris, I got punished when I didn’t abide by social etiquette. Sometimes I didn’t get my meals, other times, I got a harsh, thin stick to the back as much as three times.
I wasn’t happy. But it wasn’t a petulant reason. Their scorn for me must have run deeper than Lord Elrond realized. He was a strangely perceptive elf and him not realizing something was amiss was greatly disturbing. Lord Elrond didn’t seem cruel or even remotely unkind. He wouldn’t have done that to me on purpose...Maybe it might have been their magic, a high questionable guess, that clouded Lord Elrond’s judgment so well.
I suppose that this was a rough awakening to what I should have been expecting. Slowly, I began losing everything. From nice rooms to musty rooms in the servant’s hallway. From time for studies to hard labor alongside the servants. They never allowed me to write my letters to Imladris alone. I was forced to lie in my letters. I couldn’t call for help, I couldn’t tell them how I really felt. I never received any letters either.
I never got to see Lord Moravid.
My nights were spent watching the ceiling from my bed or watching the stars from the tower in which I was stationed in. I kept thinking about ways to escape, ways to escape the bars they installed in my windows and doors. But slowly, it became ways to survive. All the little things Lord Elrond had taught me when he allowed me to stay in the healing rooms. The mold on the bread for immunity...the watered down wine or the lemon, or even the vinegar for sterilization...the aloe vera leaves that grew outside of my window...or chewing on lemon balm leaves to help ease my spiral down to unbearable depression.
I sometimes listened in on the conversations, when I was to clean the hallways next to the council rooms. They spoke of Mordor and used strange terms such as Uruks and Yrch , and often times they spoke of an alliance. It wasn’t hard to group everything together.
They were planning a betrayal and I didn’t know how to inform my friends.
But the real misfortune started that day. It was as if all possible pretenses were dropped and in their stead was the real image they wore behind their painted masks.
“Father,” Lord Moravid’s nine-year-old son had said one ay, when I had been summoned to the room, “Is this the whore?”
I stared at the little boy. Who was he to say such a thing?
“She is our honored guest,” Lord Moravid said. “Let us show Miss Lane how we honor our guests..”
I don’t remember how this particular conversation went, I only remember the words that really stuck out in my head. It was something along the lines of a spoiled brat wanting to see a spectacle and the father indulging in the child’s awful fantasies. I was the spectacle. It was the first day they ever did that, I had been pulled from my classes.
They made me eat the raw heart of a cow in front of the entire court. If I wasn’t to finish it in an hour, I would get five lashes, in two hours, ten lashes, so on and so forth.
I got the five lashes. But this time, they weren’t the stick. They were the stock whips. The really thin ones that split the skin. I remember my scream was so loud, my ears popped and my jaw unhinged. I remember forcing my arms to shove the cow’s heart down my throat. I remember being too numb to choke.
Let us show Miss Lane how we honor our guests...
Their honor was a crime against humanity. Every day during court, they would watch a masquerade of people, naked and oiled. They would dance in various forms of sexual poses. The atmosphere would be hot and heavy but my eyes would be focused on their scars. The court loved it when they had scars. Unmarred skin signified highborn status.
No one was allowed to be highborn except those who were born into it.
Then there would come my turn. Sometime, I would go days without anything happening to me. Just a verbal beatdown. Other times... those times.
They never defiled me in the way of a man and his wife. They were careful, for some odd reason, not to do that, even when they had no issue stripping me naked in front of the court and shaming me. But there would be other ways to defile me.
One time, they made me dance for them, with strings attached to my wrists, pulled by the children, who would find joy in pulling me about. Other times, Lord Moravid would order his high guards to beat me down with their armored knuckles.
When I tried asking why they did this, they never told me. They only made it worse and so I stopped asking that question even though it burned in my head. But it was easier to listen to their plots. Now that I was but a puppet to them, a mindless whipping girl, they saw that the best form of torture was the physiological one.
Because I could never do anything to stop it.
“Our ally, Lord Sauron the Monumental--he holds a grudge against your people you know--and your friends those pointy-eared bastards. Centuries old…”A Lady, tall and cold, wearing the uncustomary black, staring at me with hooded eyes.
She was Lord Moravid’s third wife. She was young and gorgeous, already pregnant. But she was the meanest woman god ever blew breath into. She was the one who had all those awful fantasies. Her dress was more controversial than most women here. She took special pride in her breasts and most of her clothes bared them in every way possible. Her skin was tan and her hair was the color of dark eggplant. She spoke softly, to make people lean in, to quieten them. Her voice had an unmistakable charm in it and it compelled me to do things most of the time.
She was as beautiful as she was cruel, as I was ostracized.
“Yes, my Lady,” I was trembling. It was hard to be strong in the face of such terror.
“You are valuable to us, my love,” she purred, leaning down, pressing her mouth to mine. I stayed still, feeling something slick down my mouth. “The elves were loathe to let you go...but you are just a human after all...they love you enough to fight for you if need be. I have seen it,”
So this was a trap and I was the bait...It was like something had clicked. All along, that was what I was...but then it suddenly didn’t add up. If what they were saying is true, the elves wouldn’t care if I was defiled, they would still save me. When she said that, Lord Glorfindel’s face swam in my vision. He would be, without a doubt, the first person to come to my aid. It was something that I just knew. He made it clear that I was dear to him, in what way, I am still not sure.
Lady Moravid understood that elves didn’t care about my virginity. She was the orchestrator. After all, she wore Sauron’s eye on her naked breast.
It was the perfect opportunity for assault of that nature and yet they didn’t do it. No, my purpose was higher than that. They wanted me unspoiled for something.
“Your purpose will come to play,” she promised, “ filth… ” she hissed at me and hit me hard enough to smack my head on a pillar. My vision filled with pain.
“You are a fat, useless child until then…” she sneered, “barely a woman...perhaps...you must be starving,” she squealed with delight, clapping her hands, her milk-colored eyes darkening with mischief. All I could think about was that awful cow’s heart I was forced to eat.
As if on cue, the doors opened and the court spread apart to accommodate the largest...cake I have ever seen. When I looked closer, it wasn’t a cake. Well, it was, but it had worms on it, and was that blood? The stench was atrocious.
“I am merciful,” she hissed in my ear, licking the shell of it, making me suppress a shudder of disgust. “You have two hours,”
I burst into tears.
I dreamed sometimes... a recurring dream. A tall man, with a quiver, strapped to his back, in the dark. I couldn’t see his face but sometimes, he would turn his head and his circlet would gleam in the moonlight.
Other times, I would call for him. Try and beg him to help me.
The only time he had ever answered me was when I almost died.
After the whole ordeal with the gross cake, I had been delirious with fever for a week, according to one of the kinder maids. But that hadn’t truly risked my life. It was the lashing I had received after, for not completing the cake.
“How dare you!” Lady Moravid shrieked, gripping her husband’s arm in indignation, “We feed you and clothe you, and this is how you repay us...rudely upchucking our food?!”
I begged for forgiveness. I remember my words were jumbled because my tears didn’t allow me to speak properly. Her breasts heaved magnificently and I spied many men looking, including her husband and stepson.
“No matter,” her voice softened, “I think, a lesson is in order, yes, my Lord Husband?” she asked Lord Moravid, leaning in and kissing his ear slowly, intimately.
“What--yes my dear,” he said absently. I wailed.
“Fifty lashes I think…” she murmured, pulling an elegant finger to her lips, delicately.
They had dragged me, kicking and screaming as I was, to the post in the middle of the city. Many people had gathered, the servants in the background watched on, emotionless. People shouted in anger, at me. People threw spoiled vegetables at me.
But unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for the first whip.
Or the second, or the thirtieth, or the fortieth.
By then, I was vaguely aware of people counting, until only a few voices did, until one voice. I think I closed my eyes at twenty, and shortly afterwards, stopped making a sound.
I never made it to fifty.
Who are you? He asked.
I stared at him, he looked so familiar.
Lane... I murmured absently, my eyes focusing on the beautiful lights that hovered above a lake.
You seem familiar , he murmured, cocking his head. I nodded, he seemed familiar too.
Where are you? The man asked, his circlet gleaming.
An awful place, I said. The man frowned.
I’m sure it is not--
It is , I insisted, it can always be worse...I am a prisoner to the supporters of the Dark Lord.
Prisoner? His eyebrows shot up. What are you to them...if not a prisoner?
Bait , I whimpered, the know my friends will save me, they want to kill them.
But that is not it? The man asked desperately, as he began fading away. I shook my head.
I’m sorry, I burst into tears.
Trapped in her gilded cage, everything seems hopeless to her.
Days passed on after that. I never got out of my cell. I tried not to move because rarely did the physician come and I always kept reopening my wounds. I was in a state of perpetual pain and I didn’t have any form of anesthetic for this. They wouldn’t even give me milk of the poppy.
I couldn’t find it in myself to be angry. My depression had consumed my thoughts and my only source of happiness was the possessions that I had from Imladris that they allowed me to keep. It was my only happiness. But even that soon became bleak.
After a while, I stopped recording my dreams because I never dreamed again. The man never came and my pain was too great to do anything but rest.
I thought about Bilbo, Lady Arwen, Lord Erestor and all the friends I’ve made. I looked at my jewelry which I wore on my person at all times because they never took it off of me and I feared it would be stolen.
Sometimes, I thought of ways to kill myself. But there wasn’t any way to do so. I had no poison, I had no knives. I knew that if I had any, I wouldn’t have courage, but I would have the will.
They always kept me alive though. It was a tedious task in my opinion because they also insisted on torturing me.
It had been so long since I have gotten out of my room. I had gotten used to the stifling nature of it. I didn’t mind drinking the questionable water or eating the hard, moldy bread. The mold gave me immunity to plagues. But I don’t think they knew that.
So instead, I passed my time sleeping, and sometimes, dreaming of plots and men that never made sense. But in my dream, I would always understand them, until I forgot them.
But I know I dreamt. But from all my days after that terrible affair with the fifty lashes, there is only one dream I remembered and hoped I would forget.
I was in a cage, and the little chirping of a bird was the only sound in my dream, the flapping of wings...I remember a little heart beating in my chest. From fear or excitement, I would never know.
I remember flying out of the cage, and going so high up until my feathers froze and I couldn’t breathe. But that hadn’t mattered. It was the freedom I felt. I don’t remember anything after that, but I do remember waking up and seeing a dead bird outside of my window. In blind fear, I remember hustling up and pushing the bird away from my bars, lest they frame its death on me. I remember falling and ripping apart my wounds.
I remember waking up on my bed the next morning.
I remember...I remember…
The young maids had dragged me in a scalding, citrus bath. It was so painful that I couldn’t help but cry out every time the rough loofah touched my sore skin. THen they waxed my entire body out after they had strapped me down. I had become nearly impervious to such trivial pain. Then they bathed me again, in equally scalding water as before with the citrus oils. Admittedly, I felt clean. Then they rubbed me down with cream and painted henna on my feet, my hands and wrists, my collarbones, and my breasts. Then, the put me in a long, sleeveless red dress that was so fine it was sheer. They wove flowers, hay, and fern into the braids of my hair, letting the bottom half fall loose. I was beautiful but I was suspiciously beautiful. The never paid mind to my physical appearance so vigorously before.
Then, the guards dragged me. They dragged me through the familiar hallways until they no longer became familiar. And then, before I knew it, I was standing on a balcony facing the entire city of Torsnan, alight in the night by torches and lamps everywhere. Culture lit up the hallways. I spied animal entrails, dancers, sex performers, magicians, and even thieves among the crowd that concentrated below us. The music below us from several different directions filled the silence that was not filled by the screams, laughs, and shouts. When the wind picked up; grey flecks, like snow, fell from the sky above and the crowd below me roared in frenzy. But it was so hot.
All at once, it stopped and Lady Moravid began to speak. My heart clenched with fear and anticipation. It all looked like a beautiful nightmare.
“Dearly beloved,” her voice was loud today, but it seemed to echoed across the entire land, “we are gathered here today, to witness the greatest event that will precedent our history. That will bind us to our cause, the cause for the greater good. As it has for those before her and those thereafter! She is borne of the elves, like none before her. She is the loveliest of all women. She is the bride. She is the lamb!”
The crowd was wild, I could see people spilling wine on themselves, tearing off their clothes and throwing rice seeds in the air. None of what she said was true. I was not borne of elves. I was human--I am human.
“Our lamb,” a hand on my shoulder, pulling me close to her bare breasts. She put her mouth to my ear and I whimpered in alarm, the word lamb eliciting fear in my mind. She said it twice now and it took my hearing the words twice to understand the meaning.
“Our sacrifice!” Lady Moravid roared in my ear and I felt my mouth open to scream. No sound came out. I was paralyzed with horror. “Her heart is ours, her body is the Dark Lords’! A feast in her honor!”
Hands grabbed at me, dragging me below the dais on which I stood with the Royal family. Someone picked me up and chucked me from the balcony and I screamed so loud--I landed with a violent thud into someone’s arms. Several peoples’ arms. I was passed across the crowd for goodness knows how long. Everyone wanted to touch me. People put things on me: a necklace of bones and stones around my shoulders, a silk shawl across my body, golden flakes in my hair, a crown of flowers and bones on my hair, oil, and rice on me. But they also took things too. They tore viciously at my clothes and skin. I was useless to stop them.
The crowd traveled with me, many miles across to the cliffs of the volcano, when suddenly I spied a great contraption. It was wooden and large. The only thing I could think of was a catapult when I saw this but something told me that this was not a catapult. A catapult would be kinder than this. No, this-this is my deathbed.
I began to scream, kick, and cry. They tied me to the contraption, my arms hanging above me, supporting my weight. I screamed myself hoarse until I choked on ash. I kicked until I broke my toes and I could feel the heat of the lava scorching me, the rough Torsnanian winds couldn’t provide any more cool comfort for me. The ashes went in my mouth and nose, and I could feel my skin literally curdle from the heat.
“Mama--mama please,” I bawled like a baby, my desperation making me delirious with horror, “Mummy please--Help! Oh--no-please, where are you, mama?!” I screamed for my imaginary comfort. I screamed for what I read about in books but never knew. Lord Elrond was no longer my comfort, he stopped being my comfort for a while now. My heart, mind, body, and soul now depended on fairy tales.
But even that couldn’t have ever worked.
It was a foolish part of me to hoped Lord Elrond would save me. Lord Erestor told me that Lord Elrond had the gift of foresight and it was obvious enough that he had seen what would happen to me and yet he chose to ignore it. Maybe...maybe at the last minute, my savior would come. My golden Balrog-Slayer would come in the last minute and sweep me away from this hell... as he did in my dreams when I finally left Imladris. When I left to meet my inevitable fate.
But my thoughts couldn’t provide me comfort today. Perhaps not ever.
The face of a woman with brown eyes, wrinkles, and a beautiful smile flashed before my eyes.
“Mama,” I whimpered, “Help me.”
It wasn’t a painless death.
*~END OF BOOK 1~*
Book 2: Elizabeth wakes up in a strange world, bound to live her third life.
A/N: Hey guys, don't forget to subscribe for my, hopefully, weekly updates.
Honestly, I have a lot of chapters planned so you guys can expect a decent amount of dedication to this fanfic.
Also, any criticism and comments on the historical accuracy are really welcome. It has been a while since I've read the Silmarillion and The Further Tales of Beleriand, so don't expect too much historical accuracy from me.
If it seems really off the timeline, that is probably because I wanted it to be so but don't be shy, ask for clarification. Also, I evolve a lot of my theories of the original theories of Christopher Tolkien. Is there anything you feel is missing, not quite right, needs improvement? Give a heads up!
Give a kudos and subscribe for more---PLEASE, don't forget to comment.
I was looking down at a battlefield, where stood, on both sides against each other, the dark forces against the light forces.
They charged at each other and the scene changed; a woman, naked and gorgeous, with long hair, black like ebony. Her face was eerily familiar and I realized I was looking at myself.
“Help me,” my look-alike croaked and her body began deforming itself into all the scars I had presumably ever suffered. It ended with my skin boiling to ugly black burns, scorching and excruciating. I screeched in terror.
The scene changed again and I was in a red dress, on my knees, before a king who looked down on me. His hair was the color of blood and his ears were pointed. He was holding out his stump as though he were holding out a helping hand.
The scene changed once more and my look alike was on a bed, her legs wide apart and blood flowing out from between her legs. I looked like I was screaming but no sound came out. A man, his face indiscernible, walked to where my look-alike lay on the bed and held her hand.
Wake up, he murmured in a deep voice. Wake up .
My eyes flew open.
But I regretted doing so because it burned.
I could hear a terrible ripping sound, high pitched and pained. Only when the whimpering began did I realize that these noises were coming from me.
“ It burns !” I screeched, my eyes refusing to open. All I could think about was the terrible pain, the molten rock melting me, my skin boiling like water from the hot springs. It was terrible and it felt real . It was a nightmare I was unable to wake from, doomed to suffer so for all of eternity, with no hope of reprieve.
Only when a cloth came over my mouth and the distinct scent of poppy seed milk did I realize that I was hallucinating. I was safe...slowly, the pain subsided and I remembered nothing else.
I was laying on a soft cotton bed, my body bare and cool and unaffected by the suffering I had suffered. Did I live? I couldn’t have...this was impossible . I fell into the pit of molten lava and I remember my flesh melting off my bones. I remembered the pain and I remembered my hoarse voice.
I wiped away the imagery. My nightmare was presumably over. But where was I now? I wasn’t anywhere I recognized. I slowly sat up, my eyes adjusting to the rooms--healing wards--that I was in. It was a gothic-style room, with tapestries and incense.
I blinked slowly as a man came and stood before me. He was looking down at me, unimpressed and he was beautiful. His features were too perfect, and it gave him an extraterrestrial look, and his ears were unusually pointed. It reminded me vaguely of Lord Glorfindel.
“Hello,” I murmured. I looked down at my body and was briefly surprised at how sluggish my vision was.
He didn’t answer, but he handed me a little cup and gave me a command in Sindarin; “Drink.”
I drank. It tasted sweet and it made warmth flood within me. When the stranger moved aside I flinched because my bed was in front of a mirror. All my hurts were in view, I could see abrasions on my neck, and I could see discolorations along my skin, but strangely enough, not burns. I didn’t expect myself to look so...intact. I blinked at my reflection.
Two elves stepped forward once I finished my drink and I paused. They were tall and frightening in their strange armor. It was familiar, as though I had seen it before, in a tapestry perhaps. It was a tapestry of--
It can’t be.
I looked cautiously at the man who gave me the drink. The man didn’t look at me, his mouth set in a frown. One elf handed me a neatly folded bundle of fabric.
“Dress,” he ordered and I nodded. But when he didn’t leave, I hesitantly began unlacing the front of my dress because his hand had moved to the hilt of his sword.
I pulled the blanket up to my breast, holding it beneath my armpits as I struggled out of the dress and struggled with putting the other dress on. It was a shapeless brown dress, with no drawstrings to pull so it could give any form of shape. It was too scratchy and too rough to provide any sort of warmth. I was given a pair of slippers that I put on my feet and were too large for me. I wasn’t given any breast bindings so my breasts felt awfully loose and jiggly.
But I tried not to appear as rumpled as possible. The beauty that surrounded me made an excellent job of making me feel frumpy.
I followed them when they ordered me to, surprised to find that my body was painless. My body was intact and my jewelry was still on my body. But it was a hassle to keep up with the long-legged strides of the two elf-guards, who blocked my view of everything and were unpredictable with turns and halts.
We weaved through many corridors, climbed many flights of stairs until finally, we reached a tall, intricately carved door. I had never seen the likes of it. It was so tall, it was the length of Imladris’ shortest turret.
It took me a while to see that the statues stationed at the entrances were actually breathing because they stood so still and they blended perfectly with the walls.
The colossal doors opened and my heart leaped in my throat. Before me, sitting at the head of the dais with a beautiful crown on his brow was the exact replica of King Turgon from the tapestries of Imladris’ Hall of Fire.
I forced my feet to follow the two guards who stopped when the King held a lazy palm up. Yet he was anything but lazy. His physique was tall and impressive and his gaze uninviting so I dropped my gaze to his massive feet. The fashion here is not as conservative, I found. His tunic was shorter and it showed his physique more than I ever thought it would. I forced my gaze to the marble tiles. How long had it taken to build this place? How much had it cost? It must have been an impressive, over-ambitious project.
“Whosoever has a question will ask it through me, to avoid confusion. State your name, Intruder,” a deep voice rumbled in accented Sindarin. I glanced up, my heart leaping in my throat. I couldn’t bear to meet his gaze, lest he takes it as an offense.
“Elizabeth,” my chin trembled, “Elizabeth Lane.”
I swallowed a thick bile. I looked up and I studied the dais. There were chairs upon it, I didn’t bother counting but they were all occupied by tall, large men--all distinctly featured--many of them fine-featured and raw-boned. Each of them was dark-haired save for one. I looked away before my stare could prolong on any of them. I knew him. He was my final, most devastating confirmation of where I was right now.
I studied them again; I recognized a few of them, Glorfindel and Rog were present. Maeglin must have been the one next to the King, a carbon copy. Lord Penlod with his scribing material and Lord Etchellion with his silver fountain sigil. I couldn’t identify the others but I guessed that one of them was Salgant. Their gazes were unnaturally bright, just like Glorfindel’s. It was something I realized because neither Elrond nor Erestor nor any of the new generation elves that resided in Imladris had these eyes.
“What is your age?” he asked and I paused. If I was in Gondolin, I would have been immediately killed. But why had they spared me? How did they even find me past their wooden gates? Where was I found? Most importantly, how did I end up here? But one thing I know for certain, the Noldor loved children for they had none of their own so I said the first thing that came to mind.
“Sixteen,” I said. It was technically not a lie. I was only sixteen last year--maybe I am eighteen now, I lost track. But I know I looked like a woman so I couldn’t pass for a twelve-year-old even if I wanted to. My assets were far too well-develop for any hope of a believable falsehood. But their concept of time was very different from mine or even Lord Elrond’s
I looked at their polished boots, terrified that they will catch me on my lie. I heard them murmur amongst themselves and so I looked at the view of the balconies that lit up the great hall. The view was magnificent. It was covered in snow down the mountain slope but then it slowly greened. I could make out three of the seven gates in the far distance; steel, gold, and silver, which glinted in the cloudy daylight.
A light breeze picked up and I shivered, stepping back.
I looked back at the seven lords. They were looking at me and my heart paused for a second, had they asked a question and I was not aware?
“Where are you from?” the King’s voice was patient and my mind went blank.
“Rivendell,” my voice stuttered because it really wasn’t a lie. I didn’t know the geography of Beleriand--East or West. All I knew were that the Eastern front was where the Feanorians were and that is where the fighting was the worst. I also knew the Feanorians were reviled and accursed.
An unearthly silence descended and I wanted to smack myself. Rivendell couldn’t have existed now. How could I have not thought of that? Lord Penlod would surely look in his maps and think I was bluffing. But he wouldn’t find Imladris on any map--no, Imladris was five thousand years from now.
“Where is that?” the King asked and my stupid mouth opened itself again without my permission.
“At the foot of the Misty Mountains,” I shrugged lamely, might as well go along with it. But I didn’t mean to shrug, it came as a habit and I remembered Lord Erestor hating it.
The King’s gaze sharpened perceptibly and then his mouth softened, as though realizing I wasn’t lying. The elves had an uncanny perception for falsehoods, most of the time. And these were Noldo, they loved what they were good at; they were good killers. They would have no problems killing me once they realized that I was not only not a child, but also a stranger to all these lands. Strangers were often of Morgoth’s make in the many histories I read.
“Do you know what happened to you?” he asked. When I thought about it, there was no harm in telling him the truth. While I silently debated on what to tell them, I was vaguely aware of them staring at me. I shifted my weight on my feet. Would they believe me? What would they think--that I was cursed for surviving such an ordeal? Perhaps it would be easier if I simplified it?
I let my mouth speak for me; “I was about to be sacrificed, I don’t remember what really happened.”
That set the silence back another intolerable minute and they began murmuring again. I glanced at Lord Glorfindel but he wasn’t looking at me. He was speaking to someone--Rog, who sat next to him on the dais. I looked away, wishing he would look at me. A stupid part of me hoped he would remember me--but how? I knew him later on in his second life. He wouldn’t know me now.
“Why were you to be sacrificed?” The question was tense, as though he really had a hard time putting credibility to my words. I didn’t blame him; I didn’t look very special--perhaps my virginity would have made me special but I was not the prettiest, I don’t think.
“I’m not sure,” I admitted.
“This happened in Rivendell?” King Turgon asked, clearly unimpressed with my story so far. I wanted the ground to swallow me. I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to go away--back to Lord Elrond, back to Estel and Lord Erestor--back to the second Lord Glorfindel.
I shook my head, “No, I was...taken?” I struggled with the word. Was it the right word? Sindarin was not my strongest--I hated speaking in Sindarin and I often spoke in Westron and other tongues of men that I just happened to know.
“You are sure?” King Turgon asked, raising a neat eyebrow.
“I am sure,” I nodded, “I am not sure the of the right word--taken, force--”
“Kidnapped?” the King supplied patiently and I nodded, looking back at his boots. I looked down at my feet. I hadn’t realized how small they truly were until I came compared them to the King’s feet.
It wasn’t a kidnapping so much as trickery and abduction. I wasn’t sure how Lord Elrond managed to miss such a life-altering detail--maybe his vision only allowed him to see events that would come to pass that would change the entire world’s future, from evil or good? I would never know.
“Yes, Your Grace,” I murmured. My story did not make sense to me when I thought about it. Too much happened in such a short period of time. Too much hate and pain.
“Who were you in Imladris?” the King asked, leaning forward with interest. I stared at him blankly, I was me ...what did he mean? When the King realized he needed to elaborate, he did;
“What was your station--position, in Imladris?”
“A student, Your Grace, or, a ward,” I said and the King leaned back.
“Who were your parents?”
“They are dead your Grace, I never knew them,” I said flatly. Another silence. Maybe my orphaned status might appeal me to these Gondolinrim...I couldn’t possibly predict Lord Glorfindel in the first age. The first age was a wild and savage place, filled with mistrust and misery. Lord Glorfindel’s child-like quality and expressiveness made him infamous, even in Rivendell. His purity and sense of duty and sacrifice were spoken as elvish proverbs...but he was first and foremost a Gondolinrim Lord. Especially in this age. He could be less merciful for all I knew.
“Do you know where you are?” the King asked. I had a hunch.
“No, Your Grace,” it wasn’t a lie. I just wasn’t sure--I couldn't be sure; even with all the living evidence before me. It was simply too strange a concept to consider that in my death--I had fallen through a crack in time and reality; a reality I was never alive in.
“Do you know why you are here?” The King asked.
“No, Your Grace,” I shifted my weight again.
The interrogation lasted fifteen more minutes after that, in which they mostly discussed whatever they had to discuss. They didn’t ask me any more questions, only asked me, once or twice, to clarify a few details.
Eventually, I was led back to the healing ward that I woke up in. A small, meager broth awaited me and I devoured it hungrily. How long had it been since I’ve eaten a proper meal that was not rock hard bread and watered down wine?
After a while, I think I fell asleep.
Wake up. Wake up.
“Wake up,” I opened my eyes and it was the same elf who had given me that drink yesterday. I sat up groggily, watching him as he handed me another bundle of clothes. These elves didn't know how to take care of Edain. They didn’t understand that I was not impervious to the cold as they were. They didn’t understand that I needed more than a small loaf of stale bread and a cup of water to survive. They didn’t understand anything and it was starting to take a physical toll on me. I was always fat and healthy--robust even but now, my skin was flabby from the weight loss.
I put them on compliantly, more comfortable because he was polite enough to look away even though he was facing me. Once I had donned on my clothes, I was escorted, once again, to the room where they first interrogated me.
It was routine for nearly ten days. They asked me about my life in Imladris and they asked me more awkward questions; Are you a virgin? Are you married? Did you have any affiliations with men?
And other, more answerable questions; What did you learn? What did you excel in? Who was your mentor?
I answered them as best as I could, and omitted facts that didn’t add up to my story, or were too complicated to explain. I tried not to seem nervous in the presence of these god-like elves who were infinitely more glorious and beautiful (given their legendary acts and historical significance) than their Third Age descendants.
But curiously enough, they wouldn’t give me their locations or names. I think they didn’t think I was very bright and I sort of expected that. It was clear that there was a prominent racial divide between the Noldor and the Sindarin… The high-elves and the wood elves… Elves in general and humans… Elves and humans and dwarves… Elves and dwarves. Several battles and skirmishes of the time of Beleriand were, if not against Melkor, were against the each other.
It was still quite offensive because, at one point, Lord Erestor said that I was a bright student. I trusted Lord Erestor.
After Elizabeth stands on trial for her existence, a verdict has finally been reached.
On the tenth day of my trial, I think they finally reached a verdict. I wasn't quite sure why it took them that long. In my mind, there was only one option; my death. But over the ten-day period, I finally plucked up the courage to no longer feel afraid of my own death. I already cheated it once, no use in cheating it a second time.
I was brought before them, bathed and combed thoroughly. I stood still. It had gotten annoying after the fifth day that they couldn’t reach a decision. After the sixth day, all twelve chairs began varying in fullness and I finally recognized a few more like Salgant, who was the most finely-dressed elf I have ever seen. His face was slim but his robes were fine and voluminous, that it made him look...fat. It was such a comical sight that I actively avoided looking at him.
I stood in front of them, twiddling with a curl that wouldn’t stay in the braid I had hastily tied in my hair. All I wanted to do was to shuffle my feet, the dress wasn't long enough to cover that.
“Elizabeth of Imladris,” the King’s voice cut across my thoughts like a bolt of thunder, I looked up. The way he said my name made it sound so final. "There has been a debate in the decision of your placement and integration here. The final decision rests with you; who would you prefer to stay with?"
He gestured to all twelve Lords and I nearly fainted. He wanted me to make that decision? I stared at him blankly.
"You...want me to pick, your Grace?" I asked him unsurely, glancing nervously. This was infinitely more stressful than anything that ever happened to me before.
"That is the general idea, yes," his tone was dry and it made me blush because it made me feel dumb.
"I-I don't know, your Grace," I told him honestly, trying to convey my alarm at having to make such a decision. It felt as though all the brewing political chaos was resting on my shoulders with just my answer. "I don't know how to...decide."
I didn't want to use the word 'pick,' these Lords were not apples sitting idle on a tree, they were moving chess pieces, capable of ruining my life with just one small misspeak. i didn't know any of them fully to make such a decision. Perhaps I could pick Lord Glorfindel but would he want me to stay with him now?
The King sighed, as though he honestly expected this answer from me, he sent a discreetly sour look to either side of him, where all the Lords seemed to subtly shift with discomfort. It was clear that they had a debate on my placement here before I came.
"Who would you think to feel more comfortable with?" he prompted me, something akin to kindness in his tone but his gaze was impatient.
I took my time to study each of them fully. Each of them remained unsmiling on King Turgon's left side, their faces like granite. Immediately, I skipped over them, my eyes passed by Lord Maeglin quickly. I didn't want him to be my caretaker, I always found him to be incredibly disturbing, even before he thought to betray his own country. Lord Rog had an especially fierce disposition and I cleared my throat nervously as my eyes finally rested on the only smiling face in the room.
The relief in my belly made me dizzy; it was Lord Glorfindel who was smiling at me, something imploring about his gaze. I quickly studied the other faces once more to be certain of my decision and took a deep breath. I didn't know Lord Glorfindel now, but he was the only one who was smiling and that put me at ease. Now...how do I vocalize my decision? I looked back at the King and opened my mouth to speak--then closed it again.
I wasn't supposed to know his name...I wasn't supposed to know anything and my fear of revealing more than I was supposed to know made me weary. I was already allowed to live and I knew I was pushing it. It was rude to point either way and my dilemma made as useful as a potato.
"Have you made your decision?" The King asked me gently and I shyly nodded my head. It felt incredibly intimate, to make such a decision and it made me blush like a mad woman.
"Yes, your Grace," I squeaked, clearing my throat. The King watched me patiently.
"I don't want to point," I elaborated, finally plucking up the courage when the silence felt too awkward. He nodded and leaned forward in his chair, starting from the left, pointing at the last person and going in. I shook my head at every time he pointed at a Lord. My embarrassment was mounting with each shake of my head, wishing the ground would swallow me as I felt all eyes on me.
When he finally reached the Lord Glorfindel, I nodded quickly, hoping he understood. King Turgon nodded wordlessly and I watched the Lord Glorfindel for affirmation. He only gave me a bigger, more inviting smile. I know I made the right decision right then and there.
"Good then. It has been decided. You will owe your loyalty, obedience, respect, and gratitude to Lord Glorfindel of the House of the Golden Flower. He who has generously vouched for your life in the first place. Do this house proud, Elizabeth of Imladris--now Elizabeth of the Golden Flower,” the King said with a finality that I knew would never be able to go back on my decision. I only hoped that this Lord Glorfindel was as kind and gentle as the last.
I looked to where he gestured, at Lord Glorfindel, who was watching me, no longer smiling, but in the same way that he watched me when he first saw me, in another life. His eyes were brighter than I remembered, his hair was infinitely longer, and his physique was more amplified by the strange, ceremonial armor he wore. But something about his pose was relaxed. I looked back at the King, unsure of how to react. It was clear he waited for me to say something.
“I--my gratitude, your Grace,” I executed my most elegant curtsy, bowing my head until I was told to rise. I was truly grateful. I just wasn’t ever good at being sentimental.
Lord Glorfindel had arisen. I hadn’t heard him but he had come to stand in front of me. I started at his height, stepping back in alarm. Why had he approached me like that, in the presence of everyone? Lord Glorfindel, even in Imladris, was worryingly blunt and expressive. It hadn’t escaped my attention that his hand was resting casually on the hilt of his sword. No...the King couldn't have so callously lied to me, to comfort me in the face of my death. I stumbled back in alarm, dismayed. All the courage I had been gathering to face my death for the last ten days evaporated like boiling water. I was left a frightened, cowardly mess.
This is not the Lord Glorfindel you know, a voice warned me in my head.
“My Lord,” I begged, I didn’t know why, but everything felt horribly wrong. His height made his face shadowed, he turned around, bowing to the King.
The Golden Lord said something in a strange language, presumably Quenyan, which was outlawed. I didn’t understand it but the King spoke back. I looked at the King and saw him watching Lord Glorfindel with interest. It was strange that he was being so conspicuous about it but I didn’t pay attention to it. Then the King spoke again and several Lords looked up in surprise, including the meanest-looking of them, Rog. Lord Glorfindel said something tersely. The conversation went back and forth, several Lords putting in comments in the same language.
I didn’t understand what was being said but clearly, most of them were displeased.
“It is the law that has been set,” King Turgon’s voice boomed and everyone fell silent.
“Where is it to be done then?” Lord Glorfindel asked, moving in front of me, blocking my view of the King.
“Here, in view of the high witnesses and King,” another elf said softly and I recognized him as Lord Egalmore. He was the oldest elf in Gondolin, I think...he was the textbook definition of Noldor with his signature straight black hair and grey eyes. His robes were of fine blue but his gaze was worryingly cold. I was glad I hadn't picked him.
But then in one swift move, Lord Glorfindel grabbed the back of my neck and I squeaked in alarm, the touch feeling more threatening than it should have been and the next thing that he did rendered me numb.
He grabbed a fist full of my hair, my entire hair, and unsheathed his sword, making me pull back in alarm. Two more hands held me, pushing me towards Glorfindel who looked down at me sorrowfully.
“What--?” I whimpered, crying out in alarm when I felt the question die on my lips as I felt the load on my head lighten and heard the sound of his sword cut my hair. My beautiful hair.
The gravity of what happened dawned on me and instinctively, I felt my arm lift up and a ringing clap echoed, my hand burned. I just slapped the Lord of the noblest house of all. When I looked up, he didn't seem angry, only resigned and a big part of me felt bad for slapping him. But I didn't apologize for it and no one mentioned it again.
I couldn’t look at Lord Glorfindel anymore. My greatest pride was at my feet. My one vanity. I couldn’t understand why and I couldn’t be bothered to ask. I was too numb to do anything. My eyes heated up and I blinked my tears away. I looked at my feet and my curls, which seemed incredibly gorgeous now, was no longer attached to my scalp.
Lord Glorfindel’s large hand gently cupped the back of my head, rubbing it gently, as though to soothe my grief. I didn’t say anything even though I couldn’t bear his touch right now.
“The Price, Your Grace,” Lord Glorfindel said stiffly.
“Council dismissed.” The King said and I was vaguely aware of him walking past us until me and Lord Glorfindel were the last ones in the room. No one spoke to Lord Glorfindel and I could just imagine the looks they were giving us. Was it pity? Disgust? Mocking?
I blinked away the tears that threatened to fall.
“Come, mime titta er ,” Lord Glorfindel said, and I nodded numbly, shaking my head so that he would let go. Lord Glorfindel did and didn’t touch me again.
Lord Glorfindel’s horse was a magnificent sight. It was tall and powerful and it was the scariest beast I have ever seen. It tried to bite me.
“Worry not,” Lord Glorfindel said when he caught me eyeing the horse wearily, “He is harmless to little girls.”
I wasn’t a little girl and his horse was awful. But I didn’t say anything, still sore that he seared my hair off. I heard him sigh.
“It is law, you are an intruder who has been allowed to live here,” Lord Glorfindel explained to me. I pretended to be disinterested as he grabbed me by the waist and set me on his horse. “Your hair must be shorn and only until it grows to its original length, will you be considered lawful.”
“Why was I allowed to live?” I asked him bluntly and Lord Glorfindel started at my question, seeming surprised, as though he hadn’t expected me to have such a sharp mind. “I didn’t think you would let me live.”
He stared at me, quiet and unwilling to answer my question. The tension between us rose and I looked away first.
“I vouched for you,” Lord Glorfindel finally said, gracefully getting up on his horse behind me. He didn’t elaborate further on why he vouched for me and I wasn’t about to question the blessings provided for me. It was a while before we reached his estate.
Elizabeth adjusts to her new life as a member of the House of the Golden Flower.
Lord Glorfindel’s mansion was a splendid sight. It was white with golden accents. Its gates were made of steel and it had wonderful plantation growth. It’s wealth shown in its appearance.
“It is more beautiful in the winter,” Lord Glorfindel murmured and I made no indication that I heard him. It was a bit chilly here.
The servants of his house came out and they were dressed in fashionable and rich uniform. They looked at me with open curiosity and some with barely perceptible disdain.
“She is a ward of this house now and she is to be treated as such,” Lord Glorfindel said, a hand between my shoulder blade, maneuvering me forward once I was on the ground. Everyone was enviously tall and put-together, whereas I was frumpy in comparison.
A few courtesies were observed and then I was led to my bedroom, with Lord Glorfindel walking next to me. His mansion was open and airy, with its insulated doors open to let some wind in. I presumed it would be closed during winters because winters were harsh in Gondolin.
My room was a well-furnished affair. It was simple but beautiful and I was surprised to find a window and balcony.
“You will find you are afforded freedoms that not many who enter Gondolin have,” Lord Glorfindel's voice said when he caught me looking at it. “Do not misuse this freedom,”
It was a vaguely familiar thing to say. He said something similar to me once. A threat. I nodded briefly. How far would I even get past the tree line anyways?
“Yes, my Lord,” I murmured.
“Rest now, be familiar with your surroundings. Your tutelage will begin in a fortnight’s time,”
“Tutelage?” I asked turning to him.
“I have hired teachers to continue your education,” Lord Glorfindel said, then smiled. “Princess Idril was most interested in teaching you the fine arts,”
I nodded, the name rings a bell in my head but I was too tired to think about it.
Lord Glorfindel was barely out of the door before my head hit the pillow and my eyes closed.
For three days straight, my time spent in my new house was spent sleeping. I only got up to eat, change my clothes, and use the facilities. No one really disturbed me. No one could disturb me. I was too tired to really wake up. Now that there was no immediate threat, and that, despite cutting my hair, I was under Lord Glorfindel’s protection, I could sleep in peace.
When I truly woke up, the first thing I did was look in a mirror.
My hair was cropped short, my curls making it seem like I have a bush. I lost some weight, not a lot. My eyes were wider. My jewelry was still on me. So were the symbols that were etched into my skin, from a previous life that I didn't recall. Despite my short hair, I still looked rather feminine.
I put on my dress again and sighed, unsure of what to do now.
“You are awake,” Lord Glorfindel. I turned around at the door was Lord Glorfindel, how long had he been standing there?
I nodded bleakly, tiredly. All this sleep made me tired.
He had a red dress hanging from his arm and when he saw me looking at it he smiled.
“I had the liberty to have you measured in your sleep,” Lord Glorfindel said, “We were not sure when you would wake.”
I nodded, just a little perturbed by that revelation. But I forgot all about that when I saw the dress. I was clearly fitted to my size. It was rather a lot more conservative than what I imagined it would be. But it was still pretty.
“Wear it,” Lord Glorfindel urged, handing me the dress, “shoes your size await you,” he smiled.
I smiled back at him. His smile was beautiful and contagious. Lord Glorfindel was perhaps the greatest person to ever walk Middle Earth, Valinor, and Beleriand. He was an entire species of his own from how pure he was. The oxymoronic qualities of guileless innocence and love contrasted against his skill in battle and his general ability to kill and be violent. He was so powerful, he battled a Balrog of his own at one point. Being in the presence of a celebrity made me sort of giddy, despite him having cut my hair off.
“Thank you, my Lord,” I curtsied and Lord Glorfindel left to give me privacy.
The dress fit like a glove. It was wonderful, a lot prettier when I wore it. Then I looked at my hair and my would-be smile fell.
I didn’t know what to do with myself now that I was partially integrated into Lord Glorfindel’s house. I tried to recall the history that Lord Erestor taught me. I knew for a fact that Glorfindel was well loved, well respected, and the chief Lieutenant in King Turgon’s army. He also dies protecting the people who fled from the city. Thinking about that made the sorrow that I have always associated with Lord Glorfindel spark in my chest.
How can I live with myself, knowing that my friend, from whichever time, would die so terribly? How could I live knowing that so many would die? But my hands were tied, I was of no consequence and I was terrified that my presence would only make things worse.
My thoughts were cut off when a small, feminine cough sounded behind me. I turned around, getting up from the chair I was sitting on. Before me was the housekeeper. She was a tall woman, her face strict and striking. A keychain was wrapped around her waist where the heaviest bundle of keys hung there. Her uniform was light blue and fit more for a tea gathering rather than actual housekeeping.
I gave her a smile but I felt so shy around her. She gave me a terse smile and motioned for me to follow her. I complied, walking through the halls, my eyes wandering around, eyeing the tapestries, the vases, the interior design. It was all so very elaborate. So very Princely.
I entered a room and before me stood Glorfindel, strapping some leather unto his forearm.
“My lord,” the lady said, curtsying low. Lord Glorfindel looked up and nodded.
“Leave us,” he said and the elf who was helping him, the housekeeper, and the guards inside the room left. I made to step back but Lord Glorfindel looked at me.
“Stay,” he murmured and I froze. He was so different. His eyes were not burdened with what he had seen, or would. His face was younger, more virile if that was possible. But there was a hardness to his eyes, a hardness that I presume, came from bearing such a weighty responsibility as upholding the defenses of his beloved Gondolin--or perhaps all that he had suffered from the crossing of the Herclaxe and other tragedies.
“I leave today,” he told me, walking around his desk and shutting a few books away. I nodded, trying to show I understood. I presumed that he would be defending the city. The walls of Gondolin were constantly defended.
“Your tutelage starts in a few days now. There are many things that you will learn. I come back in a month’s time. I expect to hear you have progressed well. It is important to show that we have not made err in allowing you to...stay,” Lord Glorfindel hesitated, as though he didn’t like what came out of his mouth any more than I did.
“Yes, my Lord,” I murmured, my scalp tingling at the unpleasant memory. I still remember how he had grabbed my hair and pulled out his sword. The memory made me shudder. Thankfully, Lord Glorfindel wasn’t looking at me.
I found it a little disconcerting that of all the elves here, Lord Glorfindel looked the most elven. That of all the elves here, he seemed to be the only one who wore his heart on his sleeve. I noticed his habits had not changed. He would bite his bottom lip when he was thinking really hard. His jaw would set with restraining or displeasure. His eyes would glow a little brighter when he seemed in a particularly positive mood.
He looked down at me, as though in a trance, and murmured something in the other language which I couldn’t understand. He blinked and walked around his desk towards me. To him, it may have seemed slow but his massive height made him seem impossibly quicker. Only elves seemed to be able to do that.
He paused, as though he had woken up from the strange trance he was in.
“Do not wander where you have no business,” he said, staring down at me, his eyes studying my face so intently, it made me uncomfortable.
“Yes, My Lord.”
Elizabeth gets integrated into Gondolin's tenacious society.
Getting integrated into Gondolinian society was harder than I expected. Etiquette was so different. Everything seemed absurdly complicated. There was a protocol for everything. But I was a mortal and a month was more than enough to get the hang of everything. I didn’t have all the time in the world like they did.
Getting integrated was also difficult because of the racial shock. I was the only edain in the entire kingdom. I heard them, in court, when they thought I couldn’t understand them. I heard them comment about my race and it was all very disgusting. All the inter-battles between the elves started because of racial hate. The Noldor were literally oppressive colonizers to the Sindarin, Silvan, Morquendi, and Edain. I read about the atrocities they committed--outweighing even their valor and tragedy. I heard what they called Lord Glorfindel;
“The half-vanya,” they would say, by way of identification, as though he didn’t outrank them by a lot, and then some more. “The Summer Child--King of Flowers.”
The names were flowery, but the meaning was not. These racial slurs were uncomfortable to me because I couldn’t comprehend such...aversion. The idea of race has always been a prominent issue for me because I was usually the only one of my kind in any setting. But watching the most beloved figure in all of history be discriminated against made me incredibly uncomfortable--especially when I saw how negatively it affected him.
I tried to be quick with my studies but everything was complicated. Their literature was more complicated than I expected it to be. There was even Tengwar to learn, a language Prince Feanor had created. But I had adamantly insisted against it until it was finally taken out of my curriculum. I didn’t want to learn a language I wasn’t going to use or benefit from. Not many people wrote their books in Tengwar. It was terribly hard but my favorite subject had to be the fine arts.
Lady Idril was a woman unlike that I have ever met. She was strong-willed and rather vocal. It was clear that she had limited interactions with humans so I was a mystery to her. But the strength of her personality didn't seem to adhere to the subject she was teaching me. I half expected her to pick up a sword. However, she was a prolific embroiderer.
It was only eventually that I remembered about her. Maeglin loved her and he betrayed his city for her. I tried to figure out how someone can love another so much that they would cause so much devastation and pain. But I was not Maeglin, I was not any of her piling suitors. I was just a mortal girl, who thought that all elves were uncannily perfect.
“Did you read over it?” it was one of Lord Penlod’s scribes. He had been hired, personally by the great master of lore himself, to teach me. I was a bit flattered that they gave me such a privilege. I couldn’t imagine how costly any of that would be. It always made me feel guilty when I accepted presents or compliments. It made me terribly uncomfortable. I didn't feel as though I earned it.
“Yes, sir,” I murmured, my eyes frantically going over the expensive parchment. I couldn’t afford to fail. I barely just escaped with my life. Lady Aeronid, the housekeeper, emphasized the risk Lord Glorfindel had taken in saving me from a certain fate. I could let it all go for nothing.
“Read over it again,” he ordered, not ungently. He had been strict with me this past week, but he was being strangely nice today. I wasn’t going to waste it.
I opened the translation books again. My eyes frantically, with great difficulty, went over the words. The frustration was building up. I couldn’t find the mistakes that he implied.
“Give it here,” Lord Relos murmured, holding an elegant hand out.
“Oh--well, give me a minute please, I’ll try to find it,” I said, my heart frantically beating.
“You won’t be able to find it, not many do,” Lord Relos said patiently. My shoulders slumped and I handed the parchment over to him.
He went over and explained the grammatical error that I knew I couldn’t have been able to find. It seemed so inconsequential.
“Lord Glorfindel arrives in a week’s time,” Lord Relos told me when I dipped my quill back into the ink pot. I looked up, my mouth dropping open slightly.
“That is good,” I said hesitantly, going back to my parchment, aware that Lord Relos was studying me. Elves, in general, were rather studious, at least, towards me. It was really good news. I hadn’t seen him in what felt like forever. I was to understand this was one of his shortest patrol stays and that was mainly because I was the newest member of his household. He had to be present to personally oversee everything concerning me and report back to one of the only men who actually outranked him in Gondolin; The king.
But that wasn’t to say he neglected his duties. Lady Aeronid told me (she told me a lot of things) that his time spent guarding Gondolin will be more frequent, but shorter than normal. At least, until I become integrated properly. So he spent the same amount of time tending to his duties, just at a different pace.
“At his arrival, he is to host several council meetings. You are required to attend the gatherings before that, as a ward and a member of Lord Glorfindel’s house. You are to be on your best behavior. Do not shrug, or shake your head, or nod it. It is unseemly on such a delicate figure such as yours,” Lord Relos said absently, drumming his fingers on the table, his eyes studying my previous works.
No one had ever paid such a comment to my figure before. I wasn’t sure whether or not it was a compliment. Everyone was so large here, it seemed like a norm. I was below normal and I wasn’t sure whether or not that was a compliment.
“Yes, sir,” I nodded.
“Lady Aeronid will go over similar instructions. It is important that you will go over your etiquette with Lady Idril. I have heard reports that you need improvement,” Lord Relos said, dropping the paper and looking at me, as though he was trying, and failing from looking at me.
I didn't know whether that was from repulse or intrigue.
“Yes, sir,” my mood couldn’t be soured by his reluctance to my existence. Lord Glorfindel was coming and that was all that mattered. He was dear to me in another life, perhaps not so much as now. My attachment to him grew significantly, even though I barely saw him.
Lady Aeronid certainly did go over my etiquette and instruction protocol. Just as Lady Idril had, though not with the same urgency as the housekeeper. I tried to absorb all that in. I tried to focus more on which spoon I was to use when I was stirring my tea, or which spoon to use when I was stirring lemonade.
“You are a spectacle,” Lady Aeronid said, disapprovingly when my hand trembled a little, causing a little clatter. “With or without manners. You are edain . If you are to be a spectacle, be a proper one.”
“I will try harder, Lady Aeronid,” I murmured. In the beginning, I got the strongest impression that she seemed to dislike me, but eventually, her dislike for me turned out to be a customary sign of affection.
“Good,” she hummed, turning back to her writing. I didn’t know what she wrote, but I imagined they would be reports on the household. There were reports for everything, that even I had to write.
“Lord Glorfindel is to arrive any day now,” Lady Aeronid said, looking up and watching the faded evening sky.
The anticipation was nearly unbearable when it was all they ever talked about; their Lord’s arrival. No one was more excited than I was, but I wasn’t very vocal about it.
“Fix your wrists, Elizabeth,” Lady Aeronid admonished without looking. I suppressed a sigh. It was more tedious to have etiquette lessons with her than with Idril.
“You are but a babe,” Lady Aeronid sighed, turning to watch me, her eyes searching my face with the hunger of a starving man and I paused. It was the first time I had ever say anything about my comparative youth. “You are beautiful...I never had children of my own, nor did I have a mother,”
I stared, mouth threatening to be agape. Elves said the strangest, most uncomfortable things. It was a rather sad thing for Lady Aeronid because she was always running errands to the orphanage outside of the Golden Flower Estate. The Noldor, according to lord Erestor, treasured the children as though they were silmarils. It didn’t matter what race they were. Children were a treasure to them. The Moriquendi and the Green-elves were less inclined towards children.
Every time she came back, her bright eyes were a little dimmer. I never asked her about it because I understood how she couldn’t have children. How the Noldor didn’t have children, or how they didn't get married in times of conflict. It wasn’t a law, but it was customary.
It didn’t make sense to me.
“Thank you,” I said hesitantly. I wasn’t sure how to comfort her.
“I never had a mother,” she repeated, blankly, “I was one of the first to ever wake up along the waters of Cuivienen along with my fifty-six other kinsmen and women, the Tatyar,” I never heard a story like this before and I was vaguely aware of my entire attention focusing on her.
“I had my love,” she said solemnly. “But he was taken from me by The Riders of Melkor.”
I was silent.
It was nighttime when I next woke up but it might have seemed like the daytime because the moon was large and bright tonight. I shivered when my feet touched the ground.
But it wasn’t the chill that woke me.
In the moonlit room, a small shadow stood in the corner. It was an unnaturally shaped thing, I doubted it was anything solid. But then eight rubies blinked in the shadows.
A frozen fist clenched around my heart.
“Who are you?” my voice was trembling with a dying effort to find my bravery. It was like the bedtime stories I studied with Lord Relos, except, this nightmare was real.
The shadow didn’t move for the longest time. A hissing noise suddenly reached my ears and gooseflesh covered my body.
My eyes strayed unwillingly to the door. It was so close. I glanced back at the creature. I grabbed the book I kept hidden under my pillow.
“What are you, answer me,” I said, trying to put more authority into my trembling voice.
“ Sssssaaaaayyyy myy namme,Vana anna oo-eedainn, ” it was a horrible hissing sound that made my voice die in my throat.
“I don’t know it,” I insisted, clutching the book, ready to swing.
Then, out of nowhere, it began to shriek. Its immaterial body launched itself at me and I swung the book with all my might, fleeing to the door when I felt my book hit the creature with a satisfying thud.
My feet took me to the part of the house that I never dared wander into. I could hear its feet critters behind me. I could hear it’s hissing. Where are the guards?
I couldn’t dwell on that now. I needed to flee. My heart was pounding in terror. I spied a door at the end of the hallway.
I glanced back and all I could see were the twelve red rubies in my vision.
I might have shrieked. But I lost my footing on the stair of the dias on which the door was raised.
My head hit the stone floor beneath me...my vision blurred with pain. Then, the creature’s tentacles pinned me to the ground.
“ Ssssaaayyy myyy nammeee, Vana anna oo-eedainn, ” it shrieked and I felt my body convulse within itself with sobs.
“Help!” I shrieked.
“ Nooo onne willl heeeaaarrr yoouuu, mortal filthhh, ” it cackled.
My world came crashing down on me.
Elizabeth is comforted in the wake of her nightmares.
I woke up with a start.
My heart was pounding at the nightmare, the eight rubies still in my vision. It was still the same moonlit room. But the shadow of my nightmare was nowhere to be seen. The door clicked open and my heart leaped in fear, I opened my mouth, ready to shriek.
“Be calm, child.” Lady Aeronid. I let out a strange noise, half sob, and half gasp. The relief was mind-numbing.
“I-I,” I was stuttering incomprehensibly.
“Night terrors?” she asked sympathetically, walking over to me, the candle she is holding lighting the contours of her face.
“It felt so real,” I put my trembling hand in her outstretched one.
“I can imagine, I heard how you felt from the kitchens,” Lady Aeronid said curtly, but not unkindly.
“Sorry,” I sheepishly muttered as I helped myself off the bed, feeling a little disgusting from the sweat that coated my body.
“What was it?” Lady Aeronid asked as I walked down the hall with her. Elves didn’t need sleep as I did, or in this case, mortals. So I wasn’t surprised to see a random elf-servant walking around, doing their chores.
How could I explain to her that I saw a phantom with eight rubies for eyes, terrifying tentacles, and a terrible hissing voice?
It sounded silly and I felt silly.
“It is silly now,” I admitted shyly, sitting on the couch in the drawing room. Lady Aeronid wrapped a blanket around my shoulders and immediately, the warmth I wasn’t aware I needed was flooding through me. I sighed softly.
“Silly enough to make you shriek like an orc in the middle of the night,” Lady Aeronid raised an expectant eyebrow, taking a seat next to me.
“It was strange,” I murmured, trying to buy time to formulate a response, “It was a shadow with eight red eyes...I couldn’t--well, it wouldn’t tell me what it was. It told me to say its name. It called me Vana anna o-edain . Do you know what that means?” I asked. It all came pouring out and I hadn’t realized how stiff the Lady Aeronid had become until I truly studied her face. Her face was whiter than usual and her lips had thinned into a fine line.
“It does not mean anything,” Lady Aeronid said curtly, in a voice that suggested that it meant something.
“But--” I began but she cut me off.
“It is naught but a nightmare, my Sweet Summer Child,” Lady Aeronid said and I stared, a little shocked at her endearment. But the way she said was sad. I couldn’t understand why she been so evasive when just a moment ago she was insisting I tell her.
“Lady Aeronid,” I frowned, “I--”
“Lady Aeronid,” the deep voice that I felt as though I hadn’t heard in forever startled us both, I was surprised Lady Aeronid hadn’t heard Lord Glorfindel come.
We both stood up in unison, dropping into low curtsies. Before us was a ragged looking Lord Glorfindel, still in his armor that was covered in black stuff that I had seen him covered in before, in a previous life.
“My Lord--forgive me, I hadn’t expected you so soon, I am glad I had the right mind to clean your room again this morning--”
“Be at peace, Lady,” Lord Glorfindel said calmly and I wanted to flinch. He was startlingly calm for my over-wired brain. “Allow me a moment’s privacy with my ward if you will,”
“Of course, my Lord,” Lady Aeronid departed with an elegant curtsy, leaving us both in complete silence. I hurried to drape the blanket on me properly.
“Come,” Lord Glorfindel held out his hand in my lowered vision. I hesitantly took it, marveling at the significant size difference. He pulled my arm through the crook of his elbow gently and led me away from the Drawing room.
“Tell me, how have you been?”
A rather mundane question.
“I have been well, My Lord,” I said, feeling uncharacteristically awkward. I was never this awkward around the Lord Glorfindel who was my friend.
“Have your night terrors frequented you often?” Lord Glorfindel asked, stopping in front of the door of his study. He unlocked the door smoothly, leading us inside.
I shifted with discomfort.
“No, it was only today,” I said dropping my arm when he led us in and let go of me.
“Forgive me for my forwardness, but I have been wearing this armor for long enough, will you help me?”
I had a feeling he was perfectly capable of undoing his own armor himself but I didn’t say anything. I merely complied. He pushed a leg stool towards me.
“For any vertical challenges you may face,” Lord Glorfindel said smiling at me, setting the lamp he was holding down. I hadn’t even noticed it.
The joke eased some of the tension between us. I got up on the stool and began undoing the straps on his shoulders. They were tediously difficult to get off in candlelight. I wasn’t taller than him on a stool, but it made it easier for both of us.
“Are you enjoying your time here?” Lord Glorfindel asked as I worked on his straps.
“I like it here,” I admitted, tugging on his armor and huffing when I realized I had to undo it from the sides.
“The Darkness grows bolder with each passing day,” Lord Glorfindel said thoughtfully. “It plagues many a mind, even those who do not understand it. Your innocence is wonderful. I wish to preserve it. You are childlike to us...but to the edain, you would already be bearing children. Your lives are terribly short.”
The conversation was taking a darker turn and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
I got the last of the buckles off and staggered under the weight of the armor. Lord Glorfindel steadied my hands, managing the task from there.
“I--well, we don’t really have time, I suppose,” I murmured, “That’s why we try to learn things quickly.”
“But you are not completely Edain,” Lord Glorfindel turned to me and I stared at him.
Then I giggled. He was being ridiculous, but it was clear he didn’t think so.
“Yes, of course, I am,” I said, giving him a disbelieving smile.
“Your fëa,” Lord Glorfindel insisted, “It burns brighter than fire. I have not seen anything like it.”
That was credible because I remember Lord Glorfindel, from another life, telling me something similar. Although, he never related it to me being a different race.
“Well, if I am something else, I don’t know what it is,” I sat on the couch in his study, my feet unable to stabilize me any longer from fatigue. There was no use in thinking about it.
Lord Glorfindel then proceeded to remove his blood-soaked tunic. I couldn’t find the energy to feel uncomfortable.
I was a bit surprised he would feel so familiar as to undress himself in front of me. But he was a truly beautiful specimen. His height gave him an enviable leanness that did not take away from the hard lines of his prominent muscles. It was a body capable of enormous leverage--a cruel body.
I looked away, my face heating up, and then I closed my eyes, feeling drowsy.
A moment later, a hand came on my knee and my eyes flew open. Lord Glorfindel was kneeling before me on the couch. His gaze was heart-stoppingly soft and his voice was like a lullaby.
“Sleep, Sweetling, I will wake you,” he promised and I didn’t see why I should say no. I was probably breaking a hundred rules of propriety just by breathing the same air as him but thinking about propriety increased my fatigue and I fell asleep in no time.
Morning came and I woke up in an unfamiliar bed. It smelled of freshness mixed with unfeminine scents such as pine and sandalwood. I felt incredibly well rested and warm, even as I spied morning-frost coating the windows. My eyes flew open but the bed was too soft for any real action.
“You are awake,” Lord Glorfindel’s voice murmured beside me and I slowly, lethargically, turned my head to find him sitting on a chair behind his desk, his gaze skimming the parchments.
“Yes, my Lord,” I agreed, sitting up, stretching.
“You have had a good sleep, I hope?”
“Yes, my Lord, I am sorry for taking your bed, my lord,” I apologized when I realized why he was sitting on his desk. I tried to feel guilty but his bed felt so good.
As though realizing it, Lord Glorfindel smiled at me and set his parchment down in favor of looking at me. I self consciously shrugged the sleeve of my nightgown back on.
“Think naught of it, I do not sleep very much anyway,” Lord Glorfindel said dismissively and I thought it was high time I walked back to my bedrooms.
“I shall escort you back. It would be rather tedious, having to explain and whatnot,” Lord Glorfindel said when I made to got to the door. I nodded, silently agreeing with him.
The walk back was taken from a hallway I’ve never seen before. I was likely never to find it again.
Elizabeth faces more trouble as she lets slip a very important detail of her life.
New dresses had been commissioned for me a few weeks earlier. Only darker colors, such as wine and sapphire colors, that would compliment my coloring better according to Lady Aeronid. I received my first dress, just a week before the first general’s party.
I was to be seen and not heard, according to Lady Aeronid. I didn’t mind being silent. Sindarin was still difficult for me to understand, as I don’t speak it as well as common-speak. But no one speaks common-speak. I don’t think they knew how to.
They wouldn’t know how to until the Second Age.
Thinking about time soured my mood. I knew everything that would happen. But I always got worried that my presence would disrupt everything. The more I thought about it, the more nauseous I felt.
After my strange but barely memorable night in Lord Glorfindel’s rooms, I tried avoiding him. I always felt strange around him. It was a strange, fluttering sensation in my belly that raised the alarms in my mind.
I looked at myself in the mirror, my hands unsuccessfully trying to put together the servant’s hair. It was important that I learn how to skillfully accessorize hair. The servant-elleth, Linad, was extraordinarily patient with me.
“Twist it the other way or it won’t hold,” Lady Aeonid commanded me. I did as I was instructed and swallowed a bile of bitterness. My beautiful hair hasn't grown as long as I would have liked since Lord Glorfindel had unceremoniously cut it from my head.
“You will improve,” Lady Aeonid assured me when I was done. It wasn’t the most harmonious masterpiece I’ve ever come up with. I was better at drawing.
I was learning how to do hair while I was dressing up for the Lords’ gathering that was being hosted at Lord Glorfindel’s estate. The dress I was wearing was wine coloured and of Sindarin style. It wasn’t as constrictive as Lady Aeronid’s dresses. It was off-shouldered and almost sheer, with barely any volume. My hair, short as it was, was combed and styled so that my curls actually looked like curls. It wasn’t so bad a look but I had a heart-shaped face and I didn’t think it suited me. I wore the ring that was given to me by Lord Boromir and the necklace that held the sigil of the House of The Golden Flower as a delightfully crafted charm.
When Lady Aeonid was sure I looked passable, she escorted me down the hallway, where already, three Lords were gathered, surrounding Lord Glorfindel.
They were speaking in that Quenya language again and I stayed still next to Lady Aeronid, waiting to be addressed.
Minutes passed by before we were addressed. I tried not to pay mind to the Lords. I wasn’t planning on being noticed. Lady Aeronid insisted that they won’t speak to me. I noticed a Lord wearing the sigil of the silver fountain and next to him stood a man with the arrowhead sigil and a symbolic leaf in his hair.
It was a while before they really bothered to pay attention to me.
It was the man with the arrowhead who addressed me first when refreshments were being served. His face was grim and he didn’t really smile but it added (albeit darkly) to his charm and beauty.
“I see you have been faring well,” he murmured, looking down at me, his gaze profoundly sharp.
“Lord Glorfindel is generous with me, he treats me well,” I murmured after I curtsied with a quick ‘my lord’.
“I imagine he would be,” Lord Duilin murmured, raising a slightly unimpressed eyebrow. I blushed. It felt strange to be true in the company of court elves who were great, renowned warlords. I wasn't sure what he meant by that statement either. Glorfindel often brought me little things, jewelry or anything of the sorts. I always tried to tell me he didn't need to get them because it made me uncomfortable that he did. It made me feel as though I had to work twice as hard at my studies. I felt indebted and I didn't like it.
Especially ones who were obviously less than impressed with what I am and who I am (nobody).
Lord Duilin kept staring at me and I wanted to look at Lady Aeonid for help. This was getting unbearable. Lady Aeonid seemed rather occupied, much to my chagrin. She had was speaking to another Lord, the one with the sigil of the silver fountain.
“You are a curious creature,” he murmured and I looked back at Lord Duilin.
To them, I seemed to be a curious creature indeed even though I had to be the most unexciting person to ever breathe.
“Your presence teases me, evades my senses...do you ever wonder who your parents are?” he asked me and I stared at him.
“Not really, no,” I admitted, “There isn’t any use in missing that which I never knew.”
“A strange mentality,” he mused, “Tell me, is it true that edain may take two wives? It has always been a nagging curiosity of mine,” his question was innocent enough and so was his guileless, albeit sharp gaze.
“I wouldn’t know,” I admitted, “I heard the same thing too.”
He stared at me, “But how would you not know? Were you not raised by your people?”
I shook my head before I remembered, I never really told them that they were elves. I blushed in mortification. How would I explain that now?
“Well,” I said, realizing I won’t be able to go back on my word. If they have the slightest mistrust about me, I wouldn’t live very long. “I wasn’t raised by edain. I was raised by elves you see.”
Lord Duilin was staring at me, shell-shocked and genuinely alarmed.
“Your whole life?” he asked, his nostrils flaring.
“Yes, my Lord,” I tried not to squirm under his sharpening gaze. “Well, not really. I have no recollection of my memories before my thirteenth birthday.”
A rough estimation, seeing as I was only aware of myself when I was sixteen.
“My Lady,” Lord Duilin said, bowing stiffly.
The next day, riders of the King had demanded my immediate presence. Lord Glorfindel had been unsurprised and had kept his unreadable gaze upon my person the entire time. I couldn’t help but feel ashamed, as though all I ever caused was trouble when I tried so hard to avoid it.
So here I stood again, in front of the King, in finer robes than the first time I ever spoke to him. Lady Aeornid had insisted on dressing me well.
“A better impression than the last might give you some leniency,” she said, her face ashen and pinched with anxiety.
All of the Lords ere present, not including Glorfindel, which drove me insane. I wanted him here. He was my only source of comfort. I wanted the Earth to swallow me up. Why did I have to be so careless with my words?
I couldn’t very well weave another story. I just had to stick with the truth.
“Why did you ever see fit to tell us of your true origins just hours before, Lady Elizabeth?” The King said after ceremonial gestures and courtesies were observed.
It was with great difficulty that I neutralized my expression.
“It never came up, and I never really thought it was ever that important, your Highness,” I admitted, trying to sound as mature as possible. I kept my eyes on the King’s boots. All the gazes of these great, intimidating Lords made me want to melt into the Earth. Embarrassment, terror, and tension made my body stand painfully rigidly. I clutched my dress to keep my hands from wringing themselves.
“What made you deem it so unimportant?” after a moment and I could hear the strain in the King’s voice. My heart dropped to my stomach.
“Well, no one ever asked me about my past, your Grace. Therefore, I never really talked about it,” I said, and it was the complete truth. After a while, Lord Elrond stopped asking me about it and I didn’t bother about overloading my pitiful past over others. I wasn’t significant but they treated me like I was.
What they saw in me I didn’t understand. However, clearly, my previous connections to the elves gave me more leverage, in some ways than what I expected.
I just had to get past the interrogation without falling apart.
An unearthly silence descended upon the council room at my response.
“Have the first ten days of your presence here not have been an interrogation?” King Turgon asked. Fair point.
“They have, your Grace, but I only answer what was asked of me. I wasn’t sure how much you wanted to know. I didn’t really think I was that interesting,” the last slipped out of my mouth and my mortification made spots dance in my vision. I closed my eyes, praying desperately to the powers that be for mercy.
“I can see that you truly had no ill intent, aside from perhaps your rather vexing presumptions. It matters not now. You will tell us everything. All that you remember, leave nothing out,” the imperviousness in his voice didn’t yank away the relief I felt in my chest.
So I opened my mouth.
“I don’t remember what happened,” I admitted, “They told me that my parents have died and that I was what was left,” that part was a falsehood. It was what they told me to say when people asked questions.
“How old were you?”
“Thirteen, your Grace,” I said, “I don’t remember anything before that.”
“Lord Elrond told me he was my guardian now,”
“What denomination of elves is this...Lord Elrond?” it was clear they were dubious of my origins at best, but I persevered.
“Well, he never really told me and I never really knew, but he spoke Sindarin,” I said, giving an apologetic touch to my voice. That was true, I never knew. I was still confused by his race because, in the histories, his bloodline was a melting pot.
“What happens after?”
“A year later, a man comes, an official from a distant place. I don’t know how he managed to trick Lord Elrond into agreeing to it, but I was taken.”
Then all the horrible memories came. I tried not to openly flinched. I hadn’t gone over any of these details.
“They were nice to me at first,” I tried to remember at which point the torture began, “But then after they weren’t.”
I didn’t know what to say after that so I stayed silent.
“What happens next?” the King was insisting and I couldn’t bear looking at them. My past was awful and I hated it. It garnered pity I didn’t want but sorely needed.
“Well, they told me I was to be sacrificed. They said something about a Dark Lord. I don’t remember the rest. I was put to sleep,” death .
My ending set this entire council another few minutes back and the tension was unbearable. Slowly I began to feel shame. They fought against this Dark Lord. Elves died fighting against him and here I was, flaunting my importance to him. What must they be thinking? Was my sacrifice a sign of a good omen for the Dark Lord? Was it a sign of their misfortune? Was I a walking curse?
Murmuring began and I tried to seem collected and calm. I probably wasn’t as good at it as they were.
“How were you saved?” It wasn’t the King, but the King’s nephew, Maeglin. He was silent as a ghost and his silence was the most menacing thing about him. He wore dark robes, which didn’t take away from his pale beauty, but added to it. His voice was incredibly soft.
“I don’t know. I only remember waking up here,” I gestured lamely around the room. That question often nagged me but for a while, in my stay with Lord Glorfindel, it seemed like I wasn't supposed to question the kindness of the void in my memories.
The sombreness of my response set the entire council meeting an unbearable five minutes back. Five minutes of silence.
I’m not sure what happened after that. I was taken away, to stay in the cold cells that I woke up in. My mind was ready to accept defeat, but I wasn’t ready to die. I muffled my tears in my fists, wishing I knew my mother, for comfort.
I was only visited once, and it was by Lady Idril.
“He will see reason,” she assured me, her lips pursed in disapproval.
“Oh, but I kept something so big from them,” I whimpered.
“It must explain your scars,” Lady Idril hummed, handing me a sweet biscuit, I stared at her.
“My scars?” I stuttered, my arm flinching to my back.
“The marks on your back,” Lady Idril stopped to stare at me, “Do you not remember that either?”
“I remember it,” I assured her. It was rather hard to forget about, “I just...well I suppose I didn’t think…”
“You shouldn’t assume,” Lady Idril scolded, “Where did you get that from? If I may ask, of course.”
“You may,” I assured her, “I-well, it was their special brand of kindness,” I gave her a teary smile, “The people who wanted to sacrifice me.” I elaborated.
Lady Idril gave me a sorrowful look and I thought that I was the least deserving person of her compassion. That was how lowly I felt right now.
She wasn't allowed to stay very long and when she left, I wondered how on earth she must have known about the scars I tried so hard to hide. I never wore low back dresses and I never dared accept help from Lady Aeronid with my dresses. I already knew how to lace myself up in my time with Lord Elrond. What gave it away?
The perceptiveness of Lady Idril and the elves made me nervous. How many lies have I said, and how many omissions have I made that they have known them for what they are? But I never truly lied, I only left out details.
After my conversation with Lady Idril, not too long after, I imagine, the King, accompanied by Lord Maeglin and Lord Penlod entered the room.
I stepped back when Lord Maeglin, in one swift, barely perceptible move, had grasped me by my arms and turned me face-down against the wall, none too gently.
“Ai!” I squeaked, and Lord Penlod murmured something, I wasn't sure what it was but Lord Maeglin’s grip softened on me.
Then, the most perverse thing happened. They began to untie the laces on my back.
“W-what?!” I squeaked indignantly but forced myself to keep silent when the hand tugged sharply on my arm.
The cool air hit my back and silence descended upon the room.
“How have you attained these?” Lord Maeglin’s voice was a dangerously soft, but not in ire for me, but of me. Why would he be wary of me? But then it began to make sense. How else could I have attained these scars but by being associated with evil? Tortured or reformed...the possibilities of what it could be were endless and they were not wrong. My sacrifice was in the name of evil--that they tried so hard, and failed, to vanquish.
“They told me that I had to eat--” I paused, the memory was so repugnant, it was as if I was eating that awful pie all over again.
“Were you not eating?” King Turgon asked impatiently when my throat clogged up with words.
“No--I--it wasn’t that. They told me I had to eat this...cake,” I trailed off. I was trying to arrange my words, to make sure there were no mistakes. They had to understand, I wasn't a threat to them and it was already clear that they distrusted me.
“You did not like it?” The King was unimpressed and I shuddered at the memory, the cold wall against my front gave me some assurance that I wasn’t back at Torsnan.
“No, it was made of blood, worms, and animal entrails, your Grace.”
“How did you acquire these scars?”
“I couldn’t finish within the given time,” I muttered, remembering the horrible pain. I could remember all those days where my wounds would not heal. Where I could barely open my eyes and the unbearable heat of the country’s climate that hadn't helped. It was the most painful memory I had, besides my death.
A gentle hand came to my chin and lifted my face upwards, Lord Penlod. His eyes shined with unnatural brightness as he stared down at me. I tried to keep my mind open, my eyes imploring him to believe me. But would he? Would he see that I was not telling them falsehoods?
“She speaks the truth,” he murmured, “I see no guile nor falsehood.”
“Release her, Lord Maeglin,” King Turgon’s voice sighed, his voice tired when Lord Penlod released my chin.
Lord Maeglin complied soundlessly and released me. Immediately, my hands went to my back and I turned. I tried to put together the laces of my dress while trying to be respectful. I kept my eyes lowered and my body bent at the waist.
“Summon back her overlord,” King Turgon said and Lord Maeglin’s feet exited my vision. The laces slipped again from my hand. Then, his feet exited my vision.
Lord Penlod stayed, “Allow me to help you, Lady Elizabeth,” his voice was soft.
I didn’t know how to refuse him so I turned to him and allowed him to do his work.
“Lord Maeglin was a touch less gentle than I anticipated. Forgive this oversight, we do not understand how fragile the edain are,” Lord Penlod said, gently pulling the laces. "Do not resent Lord Duilin for reporting you."
It was quite obvious that he did and I was glad he didn't think I was dumb enough to not realize that.
"I don't," I said flatly, "He was only doing his duty. I understand duty."
"You do," he hummed, "That is good. You must keep that in mind at all times."
"I do," I agreed. I wish I didn't but I do, I learned my lesson. Lord Penlod wasn't being mean. He couldn't have been threatening me in any way because his hands were so gentle when they were helping me...surely?
“Lord Penlod,” Lord Glorfindel’s voice said and I turned around swiftly. There, towering above everyone else in the cell, was the beautiful Golden Lord. His face was hard and his eyes were glowing brighter than normal. “I will take it from there. I thank you for your unwarranted kindness.”
“Think naught of it,” Lord Penlod said curtly, bowing his head and moving to the exit. Lord Glorfindel moved aside to let him through. Soon it was just Lord Glorfindel and I let in the room.
My heart was beating frantically and all I could say was: “Sorry.”
In two short strides, he was in front of me, so close, my upturned chin could have touched him.
“There is nothing to apologize for,” he murmured, bending down a bit and his arms going behind me, to lace me up again, bringing me into a sort of hug.
He didn’t ask me about my scars. He didn’t look at me again and I felt as though I had personally wronged him. I had promised not to bring shame to his house, yet here I was, causing trouble enough for all the Lords to be in attendance for my hearing.
I couldn’t speak, my shame making me a little too impervious to my surroundings. But Lord Glorfindel was gentle with me. He hadn’t made provisions for a mare for me so he let me ride before him on his horse. He had been gentle when he set me on his horse. His hands hadn’t bruised me as Lord Maeglin’s had.
The ride back to the estate was in unbearable silence. I tried to busy myself by wringing my fingers and thinking about all the things that could have been avoided. I was an awful liar, and even more terrible with omitting details. Perhaps that is what made me so vulnerable to a situation like this.
Elizabeth learns that there can be kindness in the Noldorin elves, who are so vicious and distrusting; and also that not everything is as it seems.
“Wake up,” Lady Aeronid’s voice sounded in my ear and I jolted awake, the remnants of my nightmare fading.
I stared at her; her face was ashen and her bright eyes were distressed. I couldn’t speak, for some odd reason.
“Is it another nightmare?” Lady Aeronid asked me kindly. I shrugged. I never remembered my nightmares, all except for one, the one I had weeks ago.
“I think,” I admitted tiredly, “I don’t remember, I’m sorry.”
Lady Aeronid was muttering angrily under her breath. After my interrogation, all my terrible memories had resurfaced. All in my dreams. I kept remembering all that I wished to forget. At the expense of others in the household. It seemed as though Lady Aeronid was here to wake me up every day.
“Nothing for you to be contrite about,” she said stiffly, her ire not directed at me. She handed me a glass of milk honey.
“Drink, this might help,” she said and I downed it. I seemed to be drinking this nightly now.
“It doesn’t help forever,” I muttered, licking my lips.
“No,” she agreed, “But it is the best. I do not want you to develop an addiction.”
“Thank you,” I muttered, feeling drowsy.
“Sleep now,” Lady Aeronid murmured, pressing an affectionate kiss to my cheeks.
“How is she?” Lord Glorfindel asked when I was barely aware. I could hear his voice through the door.
“She has night terrors almost daily. What happened to her with the King?” Lady Aeronid asked a little crossly.
“Lord Penlod tells me she has recounted her story,” Lord Glorfindel muttered curtly.
“I imagine it was not the most pleasant,” Lady Aeronid said derisively.
“No,” he agreed, “It was not.”
“What do we do now? I fear she has not been herself lately.”
“Has anyone?” Lord Glorfindel murmured bitterly.
“What are you thinking of going?” Lady Aeronid’s voice was panicked.
“I will do what I think is right,” Lord Glorfindel told her and there was a pause.
They began speaking in Quenyan again and I drifted off into sleep. I was vaguely aware that Lord Glorfindel had been due to arrive sometime this week.
She is asleep, a whisper.
I felt been lifted into someone’s arms and I blinked blearily, tiredly. I felt been lifted so high up, I felt dizzy. I whimpered.
“Hush now, sweetling,” Lord Glorfindel murmured. He had been so warm, I drifted off again.
When I woke up again, a quiet voice was humming next to me. I opened my eyes, fighting to stay awake. I turned to the lovely voice and closed my eyes, the dream turning incredibly pleasant.
I woke up, smiling, remembering the pleasant dream I had. A faintly familiar scent of pine and sandalwood tickled my nose and my eyes flew open. I turned my head to the side and sitting on a chair next to me was Lord Glorfindel.
I gave him a lopsided, drowsy smile; “I dreamt an angel sang to me,” I whispered happily, “My Lord,” an added afterthought in my drowsiness.
He gave me a beautiful crooked smile and I felt my heart speed up.
“Have you had any nightmares again today?” he asked and I shook my head.
“Good,” he nodded. He leaned got up and the action itself seemed as though he were unfurling himself. I watched him as he got up and then to my surprise, he leaned down and pressed his lips to my forehead.
A shameful part of me wished it would never end.
But all good things come to an end and so did this.
“Why am I not in my room?” I asked after a moment, sitting up to face Lord Glorfindel who sat next to my side on the bed. His hair fell about his shoulders in a mane of waves and ringlets. Did I spy something black on his neck...orc blood?
Lord Glorfindel looked at me for a moment; “I felt it was best to sleep where I can reach you before you are plagued with your night terrors.”
I smiled; “That is sweet of you my Lord,” so sweet my heart was hammering within me. “But I don’t think you will be able to protect my dreams all the time,” I smiled at him shyly, resisting my silly urge to run my fingers through his beautiful hair.
He wasn’t smiling now and I felt my smile fade.
“I understand that,” his hands went to his next and he took off a necklace that was hidden under his tunic. I watched him curiously. It was a golden necklace with a single, stunning peridot hanging from the bottom. I looked at the ring on my middle finger. My gift from Lord Boromir.
“Now you may have a pair,” Lord Glorfindel told me, putting the necklace over my head. “It is said when the evening glass is set in gold, it has great magical properties to ward off night terrors,” Lord Glorfindel told me and I stared at him.
“I can’t accept it,” I stuttered and his eyebrows furrowed.
“Why not?” he asked me gently.
“How will you sleep properly when you are protecting your walls?” I asked him, making to remove the beautiful necklace. His hand stayed me and a deep chuckle rumbled from the depth of his broad chest that warmed me all over.
“I do not need to sleep, you need not worry for my welfare,” he told me and I bit my lip, feeling guilty. Then, my hands came to my other necklace on my neck, the one with the curious cross on it. I unlatched the necklace and held it up.
“For you then,” I said and Lord Glorfindel stared at me.
“You need not--”
“I want to,” I insisted, getting on my knees and putting the necklace around his neck and hair in a semblance of a hug. I latched the necklace together and sat back on my heels.
“There,” I said, feeling strangely happy, “Now we can protect each other.”
“Your sweetness...” he murmured, staring at me in wonder and I squirmed. He had said the same thing to me once before. It made me blush then and it made me blush now.
“You are my friend and Lord,” I told him, the word ‘ friend ’ feeling tasteless in my mouth. “You do so much for me. I didn’t know what to do for you.”
“You owe me nothing,” Lord Glorfindel shook his head, patting my arm gently. Lady Aeronid’s voice cut across my happy thoughts; except your loyalty and obedience .
Lord Glorfindel took my hand in his and pressed his lips to the back of my palm, his eyes never leaving mine.
My lips parted.
Lord Relos relished in making my assignments difficult. Translating text was even more difficult, one would argue, than creating an entire text. I only managed to slip away when he wasn’t looking. It was the sneakiest thing I ever did and the thrill of it made me giggle to no end. I never evaded an elf before. Either that or he let me do so, realizing he couldn't hold my attention for much longer.
But I probably had so many mistakes on my sheet that he couldn’t be bothered to focus on anything else. One more flaw to add to my learning skills.
But I managed to slip away into the woods behind the grand estate. On the horse rides with the mare that Lady Aeronid would often lend me, I would often trot down the path in the forest. If I came close enough, I could see the Steel gates that guarded Gondolin’s heart and core. But I had no mare and therefore, I lost track of time as I walked.
I already knew what I was going to see. Every time, I would come across a clearing and every time I would see the same pond. The sight was no less breathtaking. Today was sunny, despite the crisp autumn air. I was thankful I had the sense to put on a cloak today. I felt pretty in the bright winter sun, in my purple dress and my hair down. I felt free, for a bit, if a bit chilly. It was pleasant.
But what I saw was the most unexpected thing I could ever think of.
Maybe a band of twenty or so, tall men in shining armor. Behind them, from the line of the trees, great eagles flew off from the ground, surrounding us in the sky. I stared briefly at the great sight before me before looking back at the band before me.
The patrol guards didn’t come to this area...I tried to remember an instance in which they did. They usually went through the entrance of the steel gates. Their sigil was a silver, eight-pointed star etched on blue but stained with orc blood and actual blood. They were terrifying to behold because their leader was the tallest, most magnificent of them.
These were not just any eagles, they were...they were Lord Manwe's eagles! I quickly made the connection and realized that these...men must have ridden on these eagles to get here. Otherwise, how could they have ever found their way back?
But I knew him immediately by the gold intertwined in his dark hair in long, thick braids woven into his scalp and framing his stunning face, the only one who was not wearing a helmet among them. He was Fingon the Valiant, arguably the most tragic and beloved hero from the wars of Beleriand. But it made him no less terrifying. Him and all the rest of his party.
My voice was stuck in my throat and my smile had fallen. All had their attention on me, their weapons drawn. I wanted to turn and flee but I knew that any one of them can easily outrun me. Or maybe pull out their arrows and shoot me down like prey. So I just stayed frozen, hoping perhaps they would ignore me. But they didn't.
Prince Fingon stepped forward.
“Who are you?” his voice was a low growl, hoarse from probably shouting orders. But it was so intimidating, it made the hairs on my arms rise. I pulled a fist to my sternum wearily. It was a gesture I did when I felt uncomfortable. I clutched the area where Lord Glorfindel’s necklace lay between my breasts underneath my dress. “Answer me, girl.”
“Elizabeth,” I squeaked, stumbling back when he took a step forward.
“What business do you, an edain, have in Gondolin?” he asked fiercely, unsheathing his sword and pointing his sword at me and I wanted to scream. I didn’t think that would help my cause so I stayed my voice.
“Peace, your Highness!” Astride his great warhorse, was Lord Glorfindel, galloping towards us. I wanted to turn and run into his arms but I didn’t want to do anything brash. Instead, I watched him desperately, hoping he understood my unspoken plea to help me, to save me.
All I could do was watch. When Lord Glorfindel stopped he swiftly dismounted, stepping between me and the Prince and bowing low. I managed a curtsy on my shaky legs, my hands itching to bury themselves in Lord Glorfindel’s tunic. I hadn’t realized that tears had fallen from my eyes until I felt a wet tear fall on my collarbone.
“You are Lord Glorfindel,” Prince Fingon has yet to sheath his sword but he wasn’t quite as alert anymore. “The half-Vanya.”
A heavy silence fell and I squirmed with discomfort. It sounded like a racial slur to me. So far I had been severely disenchanted with those whom they call ‘Valiant’ .
“We had not been aware you would be coming,” Lord Glorfindel said, his voice strained and his words slow, as though he was very carefully choosing his words. "I saw the eagles."
“No,” Prince Fingon agreed, “It was far too great a risk to send a messenger or raven.”
“Had we known, we would have prepared better,” Lord Glorfindel said, “But please, I can find accommodations for--”
“I imagine you would not have welcomed me either way when you are all shacked up here in your mountains and wrapped in your silks while my people die for your sake. Where is my dearest brother?” his strange silver eyes glinted in the morning light. I pressed myself flat on Lord Glorfindel’s back unintentionally, his hand came and rubbed my hip assuringly. He sounded incredibly petty and that frightened me. “I have urgent business to discuss with him and him alone.”
“Right this way, Your Highness,” Lord Glorfindel bowed, wisely ignoring the Prince's laments, and turned around, pushing me towards his horse. I complied and began to walk but a hand on my shoulder stopped me and turned me around. I almost screamed because this hand was not gentle.
“You are edain,” Prince Fingon mused, “That is not good for our politics with the edain. Why is an edain woman in Gondolin?” He tsked, as though he were disappointed and I was terrified. His pale eyes were not as warm as his voice was.
“I am sure His Royal Highness, your brother, can explain everything. I am afraid I must return her back to the estate, as she is my ward. She has wandered and our housekeeper is worried for her. By your leave, your Highness.”
Lord Glorfindel bowed humbly and I curtsied, trying to subtly brush his hand from my shoulder. I could feel the Noldo’s sharp, eccentric gaze on me and finally, he let go of me.
“We can’t have our housekeeper so worried now, can we?” he said, tucking a short curl behind my ear after rubbing it between his fingers. His hands dropped to the side of my neck and collarbone, where my tear still lay fresh.
His exploration of my body made me go painfully stiff. I couldn’t understand why the elves had such a strange interest in me. I just couldn’t understand it and I didn’t like it. I did not want their curiosity. Especially if it causes so much trouble and forced unwanted attention to me.
“No, your Highness,” I murmured.
“Lead us,” The Prince commanded, letting go of me. I stepped back, taking Lord Glorfindel’s outstretched hand, praying to keep my calm visage.
“Oshala will lead you back to the estate,” Lord Glorfindel murmured, picking me up effortlessly by the waist and setting me on his horse. He murmured something in the horse's ear and patted its rear.
When I looked back, among the ranks, I spied a man with a beard.
I couldn’t get back to the estate fast enough.
A life-saving and life-changing choice catches Elizabeth off-guard, pleasantly.
When I arrived back, Lady Aeronid was practically wild with worry, next to an equally frantic Lord Relos. I tried explaining to them what happened but I trembled too much. They only relaxed when I told them their Liege Lord was fine.
I sat the rest of the day with Lord Relos, unable to relax. I tried to redeem myself by trying harder but I could tell that even Lord Relos’s heart was not into this. What could the King’s brother, he who associated himself with the reviled Feanorians, want so direly that he needed to ‘visit’ his brother in his hidden City.
But I could already guess.
I just hadn’t expected it to be so soon, and there were no accounts of the Prince going to his brother in Gondolin. It was all happening too fast, in my lifetime. It terrified me so much that I woke up, drenched in my sweat, visions of balrogs and orcs, of Prince FIngon's skull crushed like an egg, of Lord Glorfindel's body, burned to a crisp.
I didn’t see Lord Glorfindel for the rest of the week.
When Lord Glorfindel had finally arrived, he was unnaturally grim and for the longest time, he didn’t speak to me. I tried not to let it get to me, after all, I may have potentially gotten him in trouble. Yet sometimes, he looked at me so intently, I feared his gaze was indiscernible from a glare.
I wondered what he had faced back with the Prince and the King. I imagine it wasn’t one of the more pleasant council meetings he had ever attended. I just couldn’t understand why he was being so distant.
It was only then, very early in the morning, had he summoned Lord Relos, Lady Aeronid, and I in his study. I was so nervous, I couldn’t think of anything positive as I tried to.
“As you may be aware,” Lord Glorfindel was the picture of stoicism, “The Prince has arrived, unannounced in Gondolin. He has come a long and tedious way. He is bound to stay longer.”
I wasn’t really aware but when I glanced at the two elves next to me, I could see they did. I refrained from asking. I just wanted Lord Glorfindel to get over with my punishment.
“He has emphasized that it was not politically favorable to host an edain ward,” Lord Glorfindel inclined his head towards me and I literally folded into myself, my heart thudding with unspoken dread. This statement spiked fear in my heart. He fought so hard to take over my custody rights...he would surely fight to keep them.
“There is also an edain companion in his party and he has expressed displeasure. The King, Turgon, has realized such a fact…”
He was looking at me now but I was not focused on him. I couldn’t. All I could remember was Lord Elrond giving me away to those who would eventually be the cause of my untimely death and new life. I didn’t want to die again. The first time was too painful. The memory of the pain was so profound and real, I flinched.
“...and I do realize that you are meant to be with those who are your own kin, even if you may never have known them,” Lord Glorfindel was looking at me now and I searched his face frantically, hoping he was not thinking what I thought he was thinking. The thought of being given away that same way Lord Elrond had given me away was unbearable.
“But that decision falls solely upon you,” Lord Glorfindel said and Lady Aeronid said something sharply in Quenya.
The fact that he gave me such a choice made me want to cry. I didn't have a choice either way. It was tragically sweet that he would ask me for my opinion. But the only thing that would ever determine my fate was the game of power and politics and already, I knew that there were many powerful Lords who disapproved of my existence in Gondolin.
“Don’t give--,” I choked, “I-I can’t--” I cut myself off anyway. How could I ask so much of him? I was trying to suppress my anguish. I tried to think off all that happened, how the humans were extremely valuable for fighting against Morgoth. I really did but all I could see were Lady Moravid’s beautiful, obsidian eyes.
“Are you quite sure this is what you want?” Lord Glorfindel asked and I cleared my throat, composing myself, thinking of all the battles fought with the humans. All that could have been impossible. I didn’t want to do anything rash and change the entire course of history. The fact that he understood my blubbering words made it all the harder. A selfish part of me wanted him to understand my incoherent negation but the bigger, more dutiful part of me understood that in a world that is so fragile like this, selfishness was not an option.
“You are my Leige Lord,” I finally uttered after forcing myself into a composed passiveness. “I know you can tell those who are good from bad. I know you can see a person’s true heart. I only pray you to make the right decision...May I be excused?” I asked him, unable to stand to be in the same room as these elves. Unable to look in his eyes. Decisions were in my hands and the wrong one could easily turn things for the worst. I couldn’t bear it if I made the wrong choice. It was easier to let someone wiser and more experienced to make such decisions for me, even if they knew nothing. That way, I was not bearing the responsibility of all that will happen. It was the only selfishness I suppose I could afford. Everything had to go the way it did before and there were so many possibilities. So many possible outcomes, decisions, and scenarios, with just as many devastating mistakes.
Yet the man who had sold me like cattle was the man who I loved like a father--who was my father. But he miscalculated and made the wrong decision. I was so sure he never meant to hurt me and I still am. How could he ever want to hurt me like that when he showed me kindness, compassion, and the meaning of family? I could already envision it playing out the same way with Glorfindel, and the mortal man turning out to be a terrible person, who enjoyed torturing and tormenting me. I could already envision another dreary ending to my life and my heart shattered with the weight of betrayal. How many times do I have to die because of the decisions of the people I love?
A long silence, “You may.”
I curtsied and exited.
I knew of poisons that could kill. I knew that Hemlock could kill a person, on average, within sixty minutes of vomiting and general unpleasantness. A simple overdose in belladonna could give me a more peaceful exit. Or perhaps milk of poppy can give me the most painless death I could think off. My mind drifted seamlessly through all the poisonous flowers that grew on the estate and beyond it. They grew freely, like weeds. Lord Relos often used them to make medicine for Lord Glorfindel to take with him to the walls.
And I knew exactly where to find each and every one of these flowers at the back-forest of Lord Glorfindel’s estate.
So here I stood, in front of the tall hemlock plant. I could smell its bitterness wafting in the frozen swamp waters where first snow is already falling. I looked back and saw that, eventually, my tracks could be covered up before anyone could find me. It would be a poetic end to my life. I would be found, in my happy, pink dress. So then they know that I was always happy with them--but that I would never want to be unhappy.
I reached up for the highest leaf I could reach--
“That is poisonous, you know,” Lord Glorfindel. I yanked my hand away as though I have been burned, not daring to look at him, in fear that he would know. He would know my greatest cowardice and understand what I was about to commit. My image in his eyes would be tarnished. I didn't know he would come, or follow me.
“I-” I felt the need to answer him, to tell him it wasn’t true. But it was a lie. In a way, I was glad he was here to stop me. I don’t think I would have had the courage. I know I might spend my entire existence of thinking of all the what-if's had I not gone and be done with the terrible act. But in a way, I didn't mind. Now that he stopped me, I don't think I would find the same courage once more. That saddened me greatly.
“You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to,” Lord Glorfindel said, standing so close to me, I could feel him against my shoulder blades. “There are ways.”
“I can’t stay here forever,” I muttered angrily turning around to glare at him fiercely at his disgusting lack of comprehension, “I will grow old and I will die. Yet I still--I just--oh, I can’t bear the thought of going through what I went. I can’t bear the thought of living lesser than I am now.”
My vanities and vices showed in my fear and it all came flooding out to my closest confidant. He who held a piece of me close to his chest, the piece of me I never remembered, but felt the closest to.
“You don’t understand--” I was stuttering, my impassioned monologue out of control now, “You can’t--when I say they weren’t kind to me--I don’t mean they were cruel like children, or like politics. They genuinely enjoyed torturing me, they enjoyed my pain. They made me do things because they thought it was funny . They beat me and whipped me because they thought I was lesser than a human . I--I never knew--I think I might have known humans before. But I don’t know them now. The one time I do know them...they are the most disenchanting of Eru Iluvatar’s creatures,” those were kinder words. “The pain--the torture and the torment, it is--that is what plagues my nightmares, my Lord.”
I was facing him now, staring into his eyes as I spoke, the boldest I have ever dared to be with anyone. My voice was shrill and trembling at an embarrassing pitch but I still held my resolve. His face was stoic, his eyes were bright and he was like the angel, of death or protection, I couldn’t tell. But he was the likeness of an angel, to me.
“There are ways,” he finally said, “But the one way to truly guarantee...that you do not relive your past, or live lesser than you do,” those words made me flush because they sounded disgustingly vain. My words coming out of his mouth were crass and awkward and I realized that is what I was compared to with the elves. I wanted to cry. So I did just that, but Lord Glorfindel continued, offering no comfort;
“The way that I could completely guarantee…” the anticipation was killing me, “You would have to bind yourself.”
I stared at him through teary eyes, hiccupping and uncomprehending; “What?”
“Would you willingly bind yourself to me, Elizabeth Lane?” he asked me, reaching and taking both my hands in his. I tried pulling my hand away in alarm.
I searched his grim face frantically. A thousand thoughts raced within my head. But my mind focused on the simplest thought.
“What--I will age and I will die--you know that, don’t you? I can’t become a burden to you. You can’t--my Lord,” I chuckled derisively through my tears, my incredulity tainting my speech, “And these are times of darkness--war, the Noldor do not marry during wars, do they not?”
My reasoning and inarticulate stuttering couldn't begin to go in detail on how everything about a union like that was wrong.
“I am perfectly aware of what it means to marry you,” he finally said after staring at me, contemplative, still not letting go of my hands. I looked down at our hands, his were large and mine were childlike next to his. “I am aware of the blessings of the second born that we do not possess.”
I had to give him credit where it was due. He had tact. ‘Blessing’ ...
“It is not in our customs to bind ourselves during times of war. Gondolin is not at war presently. But it will be. The Prince is unpredictable. You do not have time for such a decision. Will you bind yourself to me?” he made a fair point. His eyes held no guile or mockery. He was completely serious and for a moment, I was terrified.
After a moment of hesitation, I nodded numbly, making a sound that could have sounded like a yes but in my daze, I didn’t know what it was. It seemed to be enough for Lord Glorfindel. He held up his hands and took off the smallest ring, the one on his pinky finger. It was a simple golden band, with no specific design on it. When he took my left hand and put it on my ring finger, it was slightly too large, but it felt binding--that brought great comfort to me.
All had happened so fast. One minute I was standing in front of Lord Glorfindel, staring at him, mouth agape, his ring feeling heavy on my finger. The next, his lips were on mine and it was like a cocoon of millions of butterflies had opened within my belly. The snow fell gently, lightly, upon our brows.
Where all else was cool and crisp, his lips were warm.
Elizabeth faces the whole world after a ground-breaking decision.
So it has been brought to my attention that a lot of people are realizing similarities to another story. I read the story and realized that they do have a point; there are some subtle similarities. I will try to tweak my ideas a little because that story came before mine, I don't want to be accused of plagiarism or hypocrisy. But otherwise, I will stay true to myself and I hope you guys realize that the similarities are purely based on theoretical ideas that even Christopher Tolkien himself suggested. To all those who don't like it: ok, lmao.
It was a significantly smaller room than I anticipated. When Glorfindel had taken us both to have an audience with the king, I had expected the same throne room I had seen, grand and intimidating. But it was not. Only the King, Lord Maeglin, Lord Penlod, Prince Fingon, and his mortal companion, Earl Born were present, along with Lord Glorfindel and I. I had dressed in my best day dress; a demure teal-colored gown with a flattering neckline and long bell sleeves. What we revealed today was not an easy morsel to swallow.
“So I suppose it is just a matter of convenience,” the Prince was looking at me as he spoke but he wasn’t addressing me per say. I couldn’t explain it.
I felt he wasn’t very pleased.
“Convenience,” Lord Glorfindel agreed, “And Genuity.”
I blushed, my heart beat spiking up. Whether Lord Glorfindel felt something for me that did not resemble filial love, I didn’t know. But I did know he had good intentions. I tried not to think of it because a part of me was all too aware because elves only married for love and there was no other recorded love between the edain and elves in history. I didn’t know how to feel. It would be easy to love him, very easy. Hopefully, with time, he would come to love me too...at least, more than whatever love he might have for me now.
“I can imagine,” the Prince scoffed, his gaze icy but his words jovial. “Though I can tell you my companion will be none too pleased.”
The Prince inclined his head to Earl Born, who stood, livid. He was handsome and virile, young, and every maiden’s fantasy. But he was not my fantasy. This man represented everything for which I had an irrevocable scorn.
“I am only pleased if the Lady is pleased,” he said politely, his words tense. It was clear that his words were spoken but his heart was not in it. I wasn't even sure why he was here, in Gondolin. Why was he even permitted entry? Despite the eagles dropping off here, he shouldn't even be here. The only mortals that have ever been welcomed to Gondolin were Huor and his companions, but they were well-received, upon Lord Ulmo's request after their valor in battle.
“I am pleased with this, Earl. After all, it is my will,” I said politely, looking him dead in the eye, in his pupils, to blot out any doubt.
His jaw clenched, he wouldn’t give up. “You belong with your own kin good Lady. He will outlive you. While he is young you will be withered--”
“Yes, I’m sure,” I said curtly, feeling heat spike in my chest. “We have discussed this, and we have come to terms with it. It does not matter whether you have or have not. You have no business in our marital affairs.”
It effectively silenced him and I could feel Lord Glorfindel relax where everyone else tensed. But so long as I had the support of Lord Glorfindel, I felt like I could do anything.
Finally, Earl Born conceded, and I honestly expected him to put up more of a fight.
“Forgive my impertinence,” he bowed his head, “I wish you a happy marriage.”
“I thank you,” I curtsied shortly.
“When will the gathering of your union be? Soon, I hope. After all, I am one for festivities,” Prince Fingon remarked casually, effectively ruining the tension.
“Yes,” Lord Glorfindel said, his thumb soothingly rubbing over my forearm. “I imagine an early festivity is the best choice for us. More convenient. It would be an honor to host you, your Highness.” Lord Glorfindel gave a short bow and Prince Fingon gave him a wolfish grin and averted his gaze to me. I tried not to flinch. I was already high strung as it is.
“For an edain, she is quite remarkable,” Prince Fingon noted and I could see, from the corner of my eye, Earl Born’s lips thin with displeasure. “You carry yourself well, Lady Elizabeth. It is an admirable quality in anyone.”
Despite my hesitancy to accept this Prince into my questionable existence, I still blushed with pleasure at the compliment because the Prince meant it. There wasn’t an ounce of guile in his hawkish gaze and he didn’t strike me as one for false flattery.
“Your Grace, you are too kind,” I curtsied respectfully.
“None more than what you merit,” The Prince laughed, his voice charming the persistent tension away. “Come, let us celebrate. It is not every day a Noldo decides he would like to get hitched in the family way.”
Even that got King Turgon to crack a smile.
The festivity was rushed and short but no less entertaining and perhaps grand. Music was played and wine was served. Women of Court danced the free-spirited Sindarin dance and many talked and laughed. Lord Glorfindel sat at an honorary place next to the King and his brother, as he was the main cause for festivity. Right next to him, further from the King but not far enough from the Prince, was me. Golden robes to represent the House of the Golden flower were draped over us to represent our pre-union.
The each and every one of the twelve Lords of Gondolin, the closest to Glorfindel in rank and friendship, gave a speech. Each was long and gave a detailed list of all of Lord Glorfindel’s (to me, I can call him Glorfindel now, as he insisted) merits and victories. It was only Lady Idril and Lady Aeronid who gave speeches for me, as was customary. The bride would have her lady friends speak for her, and the groom would have his men-friends speak for him. By then, my face felt uncomfortably hot and I had downed an entire glass this evening from my hay-wired nerves. It was only a single glass over the evening but it was enough for me to feel the effects. After that, I requested water.
The festivities continued well into the next day, and the day after that. For elves never slept and time for them was but a blink. Earl Born and I were given guest rooms in the palace. I only remember fleeting moments in my sleep; Lord Glorfindel walking to the foot of my bed and stroking my knee...kissing my forehead...humming to me.
When the festivities had ended, so had the amiability between the two brothers. It was said the Prince Fingon had been persistent enough to be insulting. But the King was stubborn as well, each had clashing views. I didn’t understand what they spoke about but I imagined it would be something relating to the war that might be happening in the near future.
The most devastating war of the Wars of Beleriand...I remembered every detail of it because Lord Erestor had felt it deep in his heart and so had I when I read about it, unable to stop. However, I don’t remember reading about the Prince going to Gondolin, personally, to give news of the war. No one is really sure how the Gondolinrim even went to war, or how they knew, so isolated as they were.
I had awoken to a worried looking Glorfindel, bent over the parchment, biting his lips and gripping the sides of his desk tightly enough to whiten his knuckles.
“What’s wrong?” I asked groggily, struggling to release myself from the comfort that was his bed.
He glanced at me, his lance keen and glaring, though not at me so much as his parchments.
“None that may worry you, sweetling,” he said gently, standing up straight with an effort to restrain himself from an outburst of emotions.
I didn’t want to pry but my curiosity was piqued.
Glorfindel walked over to me where I sat up on the bed. He sat down at the foot of my bed, watching his desk wearily before sighing softly. Then he turned to look at me, all the while I stayed silent, unsure of what to say.
“Have you slept well?” he asked me and I nodded, suddenly feeling unsure. The look in his eyes was troubled and all that was running through my mind was; am I too selfish?
“Do you--” I trailed off, trying to find a proper way of phrasing what I wanted to say. He waited for me expectantly. I swallowed nervously, reaching down and finding a glass of apple juice that was awaiting me. Courtesy of his thoughtfulness.
“Well, what I wanted to say was…” I said slowly, “Are you regretting this? You don’t have to do this you know--marry me I mean. I know you would marry for love, ideally of course--but--”
“Peace,” he said softly, the simple words cutting me off from my nervous ramblings. He stared at me straight in the eyes. I was almost tempted to look away but doing that felt sacrilegious.
“I don’t do anything I don’t want to,” he said finally, “My personal affairs are mine to manage, no one can manage them for me or make me do anything I do not intend to do.”
I stared at him, my jaw tempted to drop. His words sent my heart racing a mile a second. But I still had to be certain. now for my next, more important question.
"Will we be husband and wife?" I asked him shyly, plucking up the courage to string the sentence properly.
Glorfindel obviously understood what I meant, and it was clear that he was not planning to beat around the bush with that question. Would it be a true marriage or a farce? It all depended on what we both wanted and I couldn't make up my mind until he did. What if he didn't want it? I would have to be in accordance with him and bind my time separately from him without making the both of us miserable. If he so wanted it to be a true marriage, then I would gladly accept the decision. I was hoping it was the latter if I was being perfectly honest with myself. I would much prefer a true marriage, even though there were a lot of insecurities that I was hesitant about.
"I would prefer it to be true," he admitted, "But the decision falls on you to make. I will not force you into this. We can stay as we are, as friends and counsellors of each other. Or we can be husband and wife."
Nothing on his face gave anything away and I felt my face heat up in embarrassment. The decision, for some reason, was surprisingly difficult to make. I wasn't sure why but the silly fear that what I wanted was not what he wanted fell on me, despite his admission. Would he think I was too easy? Would he think I was roping him into this? I didn't want to to take away his freedom of choice.
But I also wanted to be happy too. Then the thought of my death fell on my mind. He would suffer the rest of his life for me--if in the unlikely case that he grew to love me. I could never do that to him. So I took a deep breath to give my regrettable answer.
"Well--I--," it was so difficult to speak--now of all times. I suddenly lost all my words--in both Sindarin and Westron. "I just don't want you to...suffer." The word was appropriate enough, I suppose. "I have...gifts, that you don't."
He studied me pensively for a moment, leaning back on the palms of his hands on the bed. "You will never live a mortal life," he finally told me quietly, as though he had studied this thesis thoroughly.
"How do you know ?" I asked him. It was not the first time he had reached such a conclusion. Twice before he had told me a variation of the same thing, but void of explanation.
"I do not see things as you do, or even, for all his wisdom and foresight, as the King does," he finally told me quietly, lifting his weight from his arms and leaning forward towards me so that our faces were so close, I could smell his sandalwood and pine. "Your light is unlike any other that I have ever seen. Neither Elf nor edain. You are a curiosity. I am unsure of what you are if I am being perfectly honest. But I know this you will live a sufficient life--enough for me. Do not let this affect your decision."
I felt my heart begin to beat normally again in relief...he just took away an obstacle from my path to my selfish happiness and I didn't want to deny myself but I didn't want to deny him. What he told me just now gave me a lot to ponder about. I had always guessed that he did not see things as others do because why else would he be the way he is? Why else would he be the pillar of hope and purity to all races on Arda?
Before I was even finished deciding, I felt my head nod itself. Immediately, so fast I could barely see them, I felt his hands cup my face, pulling my face to look at him. It almost hurt to look at him because of how beautiful he was.
"I would rather this be a true marriage," he told me softly, so quietly I depended on the tremors of his breath to understand him, there was a tone of begging in his voice that took me by surprise. So much so that I blinked, confused. He really wanted this? With me? "No one can make any decisions for me. I can decide things for myself. Know this; I decided to take you as my wife out of my own volition."
"Yes," I breathed, thoughtless with elation. His happiness, delightfully enough, corresponded from mine. nothing was immediate. But we would have the time after this to figure things out on our own, surely. "I want this to be a true marriage."
"Good," he told me, smiling at me, studying my face. Then, a rush of overwhelming affection ran through me and I smiled at him, hesitantly. I struggled into a kneeling position and pressed a kiss on his cheekbone.
“Thank you,” I whispered against his skin, the words feeling absurdly intimate. His large hands held me by the waist and my heart took a painful drop when he pulled me away--but then he pressed his lips to mine.
My heart thudded painfully in my breast and I felt myself melt flush against him. Kissing him was extremely pleasant because it didn’t feel intrusive or forced. That and the phenomenon that was the butterflies fluttering in my belly. This man, if he could make me feel like this always, I wouldn't mind this being a true marriage.
A part of me urged to pull away and another part stubbornly refused. It was only eventually did Glorfindel pull away, eliciting an embarrassing whine from me. He gave me a soft smile and a peck on the nose, stroking my hair, which had now grown, surprisingly fast, near to its original length.
“Get dressed, future bride,” he told me softly and I giggled when his fingers gently skidded over my sides tickling me, “Lady Aeronid and Lady Idril plan to teach you how to properly run a household.”
My smile fell playfully, “Here I was hoping to run around, carefree,” I joked and his smile then fell.
“I must warn you, sweetling, it is not safe now. I do not know how the Prince is, only that he is changed. I do not trust them around you. I implore you to stay within the estate vicinity. I especially do not trust the mortal,” Lord Glorfindel warned me. I nodded, sober.
“I won’t,” I assured him, “I learned my lesson.”
“I do not mean to restrict,” he told me gently, “this is not meant to be a cage for you but a barrier. Should you wish to speak to the mortal, I can arrange it. But I must know. Only while they stay in Gondolin, I must know.”
“I understand,” I assured him, pressing a kiss to the irresistible skin of his mouth for emphasis. He pecked me back and playfully patted my bum, making me giggle in shock.
“Get dressed,” he ordered, pressing me closer to him, “I will have Lady Aeronid escort you to your first lesson.”
“Okay,” I said looking at his delightfully bright eyes, wondering how lucky I was to have a such a close friend in my future husband.
I couldn’t ignore my tingling skin where he touched me.
The big day has finally arrived!
My heart was pounding in my chest with exhilaration as I spun and spun wildly, many faces in my vision. I was giggling like a silly girl, my arms were everywhere. I come to a stop and everything seems to float around me. Then, before my eyes, comes the great figure of Lord Glorfindel, in all his might and glory. He smiled at me and light blinded me.
I woke up to Lady Aeronid opening the blinds to my window. It was rather bright today, despite it being cloudy. Snow was falling softly, creating the effect of slow time. The new snow coated the window still like a soft dusting of sugar.
“Wake up now, little dove,” Lady Aeronid said, smiling brightly at me. I couldn’t help but smile back.
Today was the day.
I tried to summon the energy because I didn’t feel very well rested from the night before. All I could think about was all the possibilities. My mind was racing through all the possibilities. The possibilities for a new life. A safe life and maybe even, a happy life.
A bath was drawn for me and it was the most beautiful bath that had ever been drawn for me. The soft scent of roses wafted through from the oils. It was steaming gently and there were rose petals floating serenely on the surface.
When I got in, I didn’t want to get out. The sea salts in there were incredibly relaxing for my sleep-lagged body. Lady Aeronid got in the bath with me, as was the ceremony. Lady Aeronid was my acting mother-figure. She combed through my hair, which had grown long to my shoulder blades in the months of my stay in Gondolin.
The dress that had been commissioned for me was a dress of ivory chiffon with long tulip sleeves. It was the flowiest dress I had ever worn and it rippled with the slightest movement. There were gold accents on the hems and edges. It was all very beautiful and elaborate. But it was the simplest dress I had ever seen in Noldorin culture. It was purely Sindarin.
When Lady Aeronid put the laurel leaf crown on my head, she smiled at me.
“You truly are the most beautiful of the Edain,” There was no trace of ingenuity in her voice.
My heart raced.
Lord Relos had led me before their great, Holy Glass Cave that was hidden in the mountains and was littered with a hundred, million, tiny little gems that reflected on a crystal pool. He was dressed formally with a simple circlet to signify his rank. The ceremony was small, with only the twelve Lords, the Royal family, including the Prince, and members of the house of the Golden Flower.
“Who comes here, before the holy alcove of the Gondolinrim? ” The King’s voice boomed. He was dressed in the finest robes of blue and silver and armour I had never seen with the grandest crown upon his brow. In the dimly lit cave, his eyes were shining.
“I, Lord Relos of House Penlod, come today, with a humble heart and good intentions.” Lord Relos recited.
“Speak your intentions, Relos of House Penlod,” The King said. I felt my sweaty grip tighten on the bouquet of lilies in my hand.
“I stand in lieu of the Sire of Elizabeth Lane, ward of the House of the Golden Flower. Today I intend to hand her over to her betrothed, in good faith.”
“Where-be her betrothed?”
“Aye,” Lord Glorfindel’s voice sounded behind me and I resisted the urge to turn around. Instead, I suppressed a smile and held still. Not even the piercing gazes of these Noldo elves could ruin my mood or confidence today. It was my day and it was perfect.
“Who speaks?” King Turgon said, his face still stoic. His voice reverberated through the walls of the cave.
“I, Glorfindel Laurefindel of House of The Golden Flower, am here to bind myself to Elizabeth Lane, my betrothed.”
“Do you, Elizabeth Lane, agree to take this ellon as your husband, willingly, with good faith, and with the intention to cherish and love him?”
“I do,” my heart was fluttering at a dizzying rate within my chest.
“Do you, Lord Glorfindel Laurefindil, agree to take this woman on as your wife, willingly, with good faith, and with the intention to love and cherish her?”
“I do,” Lord Glorfindel said, possibly standing on ceremony. I couldn’t see. I felt Lord Relos relinquish my hand to Lord Glorfindel. I resisted the urge to grip it as it was not part of the ceremony.
"Before your friends and your family, hold your hands and speak your vows in good and binding faith," and we did just that.
"Friend, guide, lover, and equal. You are mine and I am yours, from this day forth and all the days forever more," We murmured together, our voices synchronized.
“Then it has been pronounced. With mutual intentions of love and faith, let it be known, you are now husband and wife. Cursed be he who dares tear them asunder,” the King’s voice was a terrifying rumble at the end and everything felt like a dream.
I looked to see Lord Glorfindel slipping the ring of our union on my heart finger. I took the ring that I had clutched in my hand and slipped it into his finger. There was a loud cheer and I could distinctly hear Lord Rog and Lord Etchellion’s jovial voices.
“Be merry,” the King said, his voice kind and light, “For today has been a great blessing for us all.”
I looked at Lord Glorfindel and made to smile at him but his mouth covered mine. The applause was nearly deafening. Rice grains fell on my hair and I closed my eyes. This was truly my happiest day. When we pulled away, I thought that Glorfindel glowed a little brighter. But nothing else matters when he smiled at me.
The festivities were beautiful and lasted well into the night. I couldn’t eat from excitement. All I could do was dance and dance. I danced at least once with Lord Relos all the Lords of Gondolin, even Lord Maeglin, surprisingly (even his blank stare couldn't dissuade my happiness). Lord Etchellion and Lord Rog, Glorfindel's two closest friends, danced with me many times and always cutting in when Lord Glorfindel was dancing with me to poke fun at him. But he took it in good faith and instead settled to dance with Lady Idril and Lady Aeronid. But no matter what, my gaze always fell back to him, my Husband.
All until finally, I collapsed on the cushions, perspiration on my neck and forehead. I was giggling the entire time, unable to control my mirth. The Prince had redeemed himself when he led me in several dances and made me laugh at his play on words. It wasn’t hard to be polite with the elves when they were so happy. The only person who wasn’t truly smiling was Earl Born, who stood quietly in the shadows, occasionally stepping into a group-dance.
But I couldn’t think about it now. All I could think about was how this was my day, mine and Glorfindel’s, and that no one will be able to ruin it for us. I was so happy, I couldn’t find it in myself to indulge in the wine. However, I did drink a lot of water and I manage to eat a few pieces of fruit.
“Are you enjoying yourself?” Glorfindel asked me, plopping down on the cushions next to me, wrapping an arm around me. We had long taken off our ceremonial garments and I had managed to pin my hair up in a pin, which fell off in my passionate dancing at one point. My arms were bare but I couldn't feel hot, even when the snow fell outside.
“Immensely,” I giggled breathily.
“Good,” even he was breathing harshly from all the merriment we made. When I yawned, he looked on with concern.
“Are you tired?” Lord Glorfindel asked.
“Just a bit,” I admitted, “Oh, I had so much fun .”
“You were the life of merriment,” Prince Fingon’s voice said from next to me, “Though I imagine that at one point, you would have to retire, after all, you Edain have strange sleeping habits.”
“Sleeping is pleasant,” I giggle, clutching my wrists to keep from touching him as I was wont to do in my excitement. “If you do it right.”
“I can only imagine,” Prince Fingon snorted, his eyes watching Idril, who was dancing with her cousin, Lord Maeglin.
I yawned once more, leaning back against Lord Glorfindel, feeling the inevitable exhaustion come over me.
“Would you like to retire?” he murmured in my hair and I nodded, giving him a lazy grin, loving how cut he looked in his uniform, even after dancing so much.
“Yes please,” I murmured, taking his outstretched hand and helping myself up. We quietly exited the hall, leaving the elves to get drunk and merry.
On carriage, we had driven back to the estate. The ride was longer than it should have been and something was making me nervous. I kept fidgeting and in the end, to avoid awkwardness, I sat back and closed my eyes.
I already had a semblance of an idea of what was expected of me. Lady Aeronid had been discreet yet thorough. It was the final step for our union to be recognized, even by the Valar, who had doomed the Noldor for their folly. It was the step that made me nervous, even though we had discussed our positions in the matter.
When we reached the estate, it was strangely empty. All the servants of his estate had gone and attended the wedding, and were not due for another night, according to Glorfindel. I always knew the West wing of the mansion is where the quarters of Lord Glorfindel were. I knew that was where his rooms were (I frequented them often). I knew he had a bath of natural springs because I saw the layouts of his estate in his study, which was also in the west wing. The library, which was used by both servant and Lord, was also in the West Wing.
When I entered the estate, everything felt strange. Everything felt sure. Nothing could ruin my mood. All I could think about was how much I felt I could love the man who was my husband. He was easy to love, he was kind and he treated me no less than I felt I should be treated.
“It feels so different,” I murmured, looking up and smiling at Glorfindel, who, in one swift move, picked me up. I squeaked in surprise, giggling.
“That definitely feels different,” I giggled, clutching his shoulders. Being married was weird. It felt different, but at the same time, it didn’t. I didn’t feel as though I had to change.
“Would you like a bath?”
“In hot water?" I asked him and he nodded.
“Yes please,” I nodded happily. I let him carry me, even though I itched to wiggle down. I may never be carried like this again and I savoured every single moment of it, especially when he did not struggle.
His bathing chamber was a built in a cave with an alcove on a dais, large enough to fit five people. There was a large, spiral hole filled with bubbling water within the alcove. The water was lit blue with something, algae, I presumed. Besides how magical the heated springs were, the rest of the chamber seemed ordinary.
“Would you like to take off your dress?” Glorfindel asked me, after setting me down. I nodded, turning around and letting him fiddle with the laces. A part of me was anticipating and the other part of me was shying away.
I forced my thoughts away. Let it happen naturally, according to Lady Aeronid.
So that is what I did. Surprisingly, Lord Glorfindel was good with untying the laces of my dress. The first layer fell loose without my help. I let him undress me. I wasn’t sure if I could do it myself, so shy as I was.
I never understood how attractive my body was. I had nothing to compare it too. But the shape of it was pleasing enough. I couldn’t tell whether or not Lord Glorfindel thought so too because when I turned to look at him, he was only looking me in the eyes.
“You can look,” I said after a moment of hesitation, looking at the laces of his tunic. I was too shy to see his reaction. To keep my hands busy, I began undressing him. I couldn’t stand being the only one naked. My hands didn’t shake as much as I thought they would, determined as they were to leave another person in an equally vulnerable position as I.
But Lord Glorfindel had nothing to be vulnerable about. He was helpful enough to maneuver his way out of what I couldn’t undo. His body was as formidable naked as it was in armour. It was beautifully sculpted, as though the powers-that-be purposely spent more time moulding his body with their talented hands. He was muscled in all the places he should have been, having to guard the most dangerous of the seven walls as a living. His height only emphasized his physical superiority. That and the ink on his the entire upper left side of his body; covering his arm, shoulder, pec, and even, surprisingly, a small part of his neck. I could see an etching of an arrow crossed with a sword at the right side of his hip. The appearance of his tattoos was strangely threatening.
“You are so very beautiful,” I whispered shyly, afraid to touch him or look at him. He truly was. But he hadn’t said anything yet. I tried not to think about it because what did I expect him to say? That I was beautiful? When there were other women who could easily outdo me? I tried not to raise my hopes because that would have been asking too much. It would have been far too selfish for such a bold wish. I was already too selfish. That is what I told myself when I felt my breath hitch.
But I still waited for him to say something and when he didn’t, I turned around, trying not to show how hurt I felt. I suppose there were some things that could have ruined my mood, and my vanity was one of them.
I made no move to put my dress on because he already knew what I looked like. There was no need to make a ridiculous show of my feelings. Maybe I could indulge in a bath in the springs? Preferably without him.
Just as I was about to step in the water, a hand shot out and stayed my step by my shoulder.
“What?” my voice came out harsher than I expected. Glorfindel stood, his face strangely passive but his pupils were worryingly blown.
“I did not mean to cause you discomfort,” his words were forced, as though he were trying to articulate himself, which was strange. Glorfindel made sure that every word that came out of his mouth was effortless and chosen with care.
“Well...you did,” I said, my lips trembling against my will, I brushed him off. The humiliation of having been stared at, and finding out I wasn’t worth a spoken compliment hurt more than I expected it would. I was never a vain person but I did try to maintain myself. I never realized how self-conscious I was until I stood before such a perfect specimen.
“Elizabeth,” his voice rumbled softly when I turned around, “Forgive my tardy response. You must understand, I have never been in such a situation before. That is not to say you are not beautiful--”
His words made me flush because he made it sound as though I was fishing for compliments. I probably was but I will put myself in a vulnerable position and he hadn’t appreciated that very well. I wanted to roll my eyes, to show annoyance instead of the deep-burning hurt that I felt.
“Fuck it,” he growled and my eyes widened. I opened my mouth, ready to chastise him but his lips covered mine. I froze, unsure of what to do until his large hands covered my buttocks and lifted me, effortlessly, so that I was straddling his hips.
I squeaked indignantly, gripping the hair on his scalp.
“How about that bath right now?” Lord Glorfindel didn’t wait for a reply before he took three steps and in one move, dunked us both.
The water was hot, but not scaldingly so. Underwater, everything was blurry, except the feel of his lips on mine. His front plastered against my front and that was how we were.
A short chapter where Elizabeth reflects on her life as a newlywed.
In the morning after the feast, I woke up to rumpled sheets, soreness, and engulfed in warmth. I ached right where it felt good. This morning was my first day as a married woman. I stretched lazily, briefly reminding myself of a cat. Everywhere aches wonderfully. The night before was like some kind of a haze of pleasure and too much awareness that I had forgotten all about, but the sensation was not lost on me. I whimpered when I felt the sheets on the other side of the bed feel cool.
“Good morning,” a deep rumble and I blinked. Glorfindel’s voice sounded unusually hoarse. I sat up a little unsteadily and blinked at my Lord husband. His hair was a strange mess, his cheeks were slightly flushed which was strange because he never seemed so disheveled. But he was completely bare save for a pair of shin-length britches that hung low on his hips. His pupils were large and his gaze was full of heat and tenderness that made me blush. His eyes were glowing strangely.
“Good morning,” I gave him a smile, clutching the covers to my chest, “I forgot you didn’t sleep very often.”
“Unfortunately, being newly married does not exempt me from my duties,” Lord Glorfindel said regretfully, inclining his head to a few parchments unrolled on his desk. He got up and moved to sit on the bed, stretching out next to me. I plastered myself to his side, feeling strangely affectionate.
“Hmm…” he hummed and wrapped his arm around me, pulling me closer. “I am afraid it was a was a grave mistake to come back here, now I am ensnared in a siren’s embrace,” he teased when I wrapped my arm around his middle.
“Just any siren?” I teased, feeling bold and his chest rumbled softly.
“Lady Wife,” he acknowledged with playful reluctance, stroking my back. The movement was soothing, but after a while, I began to feel a familiar tingle.
My thoughts flashed back to our time together. Our moments in the spring pool, our underwater kiss, and then our heated union, still wet from the bath. It all seemed so distant like it was a fairytale. A gorgeous fairytale. It was so beautiful that night.
“Glorfindel?” I murmured, slipping a leg between his, peppering his neck with kisses.
“Hmmm…” he murmured, and I suddenly felt too shy. Everything felt so new, and I just wanted to do everything with him, but I didn’t know how to tell him that without humiliating myself.
“I--I,” I was stuttering and he looked down at me, regarding me curiously.
“I know,” he murmured, turning over and pressing a kiss to my lips.
For a few days, we were living a dream. We talked, we laughed, we loved. The servants discreetly came and went with food and new clothes. Lord Glorfindel was attentive and a part of me dreamed that he would be like this for all our marriage, hopefully, till my end.
Sometimes he would leave for a few days to attend to his duties and I felt it was a welcome break for both of us. I didn’t think it was necessary or healthy to spend every waking moment with him. In his absence (or in his presence, during the day when we weren’t confined to their chambers) I took up several duties such as helping Aelin with the household, resuming my studies with Lord Relos and Lady Idril, and even entertaining courtiers.
Yet when we were alone, our time for both of us, I spent every moment I could to love him. I spent it being loved by him and talking and laughing. I tried to love my life as much as possible with him. Hopefully, I would have loved him as much as I could before the Fall. I don’t think I could bear it if I watched my kind, attentive husband dies, no matter how heroic his death was.
I knew, that at one point, it was all bound to happen, and I couldn’t change anything because I already changed enough. Lord Glorfindel was never said to have a wife. He was never said to have loved a woman and already, the Prince’s visit to the hidden city was a testament to my uneasiness. It was never recorded and a visit such as that would have had some form of documentation at least. It was always said that the messages were delivered by Manwe's eagles and in some accounts, even, Ulmo, Vala of the sea. Never an actual visit.
I tried not to think about it.
Imladris of the Third Age discovers a devastating piece of information.
Lord Laurefindel stood before Lord Elrond, breathing heavily, his composure lost among the war council. The war council consisted of the five generals of Imladris, Lord Erestor and a few scribes.
“How could you not have seen this?” Lord Laurefindel growled, surprising himself with how assertive he was. “Your gift has never failed you like this before.”
The man who he had respected so greatly stood sat on the council chair before him, his forehead gripped between his fingers, his face stricken with grief. But Lord Laurefindel couldn’t find any gentleness in him for Lord Elrond. Laurefindel forced himself to take a deep breath. There has to be something.
“Tell me again what you saw,” he turned to the traveller who cowered under his icy stare.
“I--my Lord,” the man stuttered, quaking in his boots and Lord Laurefindel tried and failed to soften his stare.
“No harm will come to you,” Lord Laurefindel promised. It was not a custom to harm travellers in Imladris. But this particular traveller had gotten drunk and had let slip of current events in Torsnan, where she had been sent. There must be more that he could reveal.
Her letters had stopped arriving after few weeks of her stay there and there were many assurances that she was indeed thriving among the humans. Evidence had been given of her works. There was nothing to say that she was being--
Lord Laurefindel clenched his fists. How could they have not seen this?
“It was a pagan sacrifice, my Lord,” the man squeaked, “I am not sure what for my Lord. But I know who did it.”
“Who?” Lord Erestor asked softly, his eyes betraying his fury.
Eamon, the traveller, looked unsurely at Lord Erestor and then helplessly at Lord Elrond, who could not look up from his grief.
“You were asked a question, man. Answer it,” Lord Laurefindel murmured.
“Why, the Leaders of course, Lord and Lady Moravid,” Eamon said, his eyebrows furrowing in confusion, as though he thought they knew, “She was their ward. They never sacrifice anyone other than their wards.”
A tense silence in the council.
“There were others before her?” Lord Erestor asked. Eamon nodded.
“Of course, but they said she was special. They said she was an elf,”
“She was not an elf,” Lord Erestor said flatly, “She was a human girl of seventeen years.”
Eamon swallowed audibly and Laurefindel can see perspiration on his forehead. Laurefindel kept silent about his reservations about Elizabeth’s actual race. He wasn’t sure what she was, but she was definitly not human.
“How did they sacrifice her?” it was Lord Stannis who asked this, another one of Lord Laurefindel’s comrades.
Eamon was silent for the longest time, his nervousness had disappeared. Lord Laurefindel dreaded the answer, but needed to hear it.
“It wasn’t like the other deaths,” Eamon finally said. “Other deaths were by the knife, like a lamb.”
“How did she die?” Lord Stannis repeated, and everyone was on the edge of their seat, some opting to stand. The sons of Elrond were standing restlessly. They had never met Elizabeth. They had heard tales of her, Bilbo had introduced them to her pets--Baby and Otis. They knew she held special place among the hearts of the elves.
“Well, they strapped her to...well, I am not quite sure what it is...but, they rolled it off the mountain…” Eamon trailed off, “Into the volcano.”
A collective intake of breath. Yet Eamon continued, as though he were in a trance, telling his story. His eyes were glassy, as though remembering something he would not have liked to remember, but couldn’t stop.
“I was standing there, on the roof of the establishment. I saw everything that was happening...She was so beautiful, in her red dress and all the finery they had put on her. There was gold in her hair but she was screaming. I could hear her screams from so far...it was horrible. But her red dress hid many things...but I could see, it hid their cruelty. They are not kind to their sacrifice. They told me she begged for her mother and a man named Elrond,” at the mention of Lord Elrond’s name, the man snapped out of his revere and stared at Lord Elrond, as though realizing that this was the man she had begged for. The man who could have easily prevented all this.
“They use dark, obscure magic, and I only found out by coincidence. It is their weapon that they use,” Eamon said, furrowing his brows sadly, “I am not quiet sure what they sacrifice too, but I have my suspisions that it is to...the Dark Lord.”
“By what chance did you happen to be there?” Lord Erestor said, a strange thickness in his voice.
“I--well, I was trying to reach Gondor from Ithilin and it was told that this was a safer passage since creatures of the Dark Lord did not surround this area. I took it and it so happened to be their...celebration.” Eamon said.
Lord Laurefindel was shaking so hard that he had to grip the edges of the table to steady himself.
Lord Elrond, mayhaps unwittingly, had given away the greatest treasure, that would ever walk on Ea, away to be sacrificed. It was a great loss. It shook Laurefindel to his core and it was clear that the other Elf-Lords in the council felt the loss too--including those who did not know her.
“We ride in a weeks time,” Lord Elrond finally said, “We ride for vengeance.”
No one spoke a word in contradiction.
Lord Laurefindel stood above, breathing heavily as he stared at the land, now soiled with blood. Civilians and soldiers alike were killed and the few that managed to escape were let go. But there was no satisfaction in it. There was no pain, there was nothing that he felt. All he could see was the shapely silhouette of the girl-woman who glowed rose-gold. He could see her body fading into ash.
Ash that fell from the sky, the volcano in proximity was emitting lung-burning ash. He could see none of the elves had fallen, perhaps wounded, but they had lost none. It was a city of culture, not of war. But it was a terrible culture that could not live on.
“My Lord?” It was Eamon, the traveller who had opted to accompany the elves on their war-path.
“What is it?” Lord Laurefindel asked, looking at the man but not quiet seeing him.
“There,” he pointed to the towering castle that stood above all the homes and streets. “There is where she would have lived.”
“Is it where Lord and Lady Moravid would have lived too?”
“Take us all.”
“My Lord,” Eamon bowed and mounted his horse.
By the time they had reached the castle and slew everything in their way, the Lord Moravid had finally taken his life. It was the most peaceful way to die. Eamon would later tell him the poison gives a notoriously peaceful death; “ A long Farewell,” he said.
Yet Lady Moravid lived on.
“You have humbled us,” Lady Moravid said, sitting on the throne, her breasts bare, as Laurefindel realized was common among the women here. Next to her on the throne was her husband, bleeding from his nose and mouth and on her lap, her child, lying peacefully, also bleeding from his nose and mouth.
“We have,” Lord Elrond said, his pose relaxed but his countenance stony.
“I must admit, I have not expected this.”
“Neither did I,” Lord Elrond admitted, “It was a fate that I had never dreamed of being played out.”
“I imagine never saw,” Lady Moravid said antagonistically and then laughed. The beginning drops of blood trailed down her nose. “I fear that I have to give you credit where it is due. I used my magic to obscure your vision and judgment. Take comfort in that. Let none say your gifts have failed you.”
“Why do you tell me this?” Lord Elrond asked fiercely, watching the woman’s eye droop.
“Because I am not evil, whatever you might believe,” Lady Moravid said, stroking her child’s cheek, fondly. “I am just a woman with too much power and I did not know what to do with it.”
Her final words were whispered to her son. Just like the bodies of all the men, women, and children of Torsnan, their bodies were tossed over the mountain into the lava. The earth was salted so that nothing might grow there. This had not happened since the First Age when High King Fingolfin of the Noldor salted the Earth of the Easterling army.
But still, Lord Laurefindel was not satisfied.
He searched frantically for any evidence of her. He hurried through the hallways, kicking open every door, with Lord Erestor and Eamon following him.
“Check here,” Eamon said, gesturing to a door where it was heavily barred.
Lord Laurefindel walked up to the door and with one heavy strike with his foot, the door was kicked down.
It was a small room, with an even smaller bed. On the lampstand beside the bed was a notebook and Lord Laurefindel recognized it. It was Bilbo’s and he had given it to Elizabeth.
His sweet, beautiful Elizabeth.
Eamon stayed outside the door, watching the two elves, Lord Laurefindel and Lord Erestor, in their magnificent war-armour, their massive builds filling up the room.
Hesitantly, Laurefindel kneeled before the lampstand and reached an uncharacteristically shaky hand to touch the notebook. It had been collecting dust and the pages were worn. He could see blood splattered on the parchment. He could see it on the sheets of the bed.
Hesitantly, he turned to a random page.
“What does it say?” Lord Elrond’s voice asked, his voice shaky. Lord Laurefindel looked back, seeing Eamon discreetly walk away. Filling the doorway were King Aragon and Lord Elrond.
Lord Laurefindel looked back and began reading aloud:
“Their cruelty knew no bounds, but all the same, I could never forget the kindness that was given to me. Despite how Lord Elrond could not predict this. I still felt comfort in imagining his kind, fatherly face. His, Lord Erestor’s, Bilbo’s, Estel’s, and Lord Laurefindel. I could imagine the beautiful face of Arwen Evenstar, her aura of beauty and love--a hand as gentle as a mother. A mother I wish I knew. I never knew what I wanted for a husband, or what I sought in a husband. I didn’t have an answer for it when Lady Arwen had asked me. But before I could imagine it, I imagined having a child in my arms. I know now that this is not possible.
And they did not see my mangled body where it was lying on the bed, the white sheets hiding the horror of all that blood from the day. I am so very glad they did not seem me like this, and only remembered the smile on my face. I just wish I could have been more happier with them. I was always happy, but I should have shown it better. My only regret is that I didn’t express my love for them more profoundly. My sweet-”
The words squiggled off here and there was a gush of blood on the page beneath. Lord Laurefindel could feel the tears rolling down his face, his voice now too thick to continue. He was glad that was where it ended. He could not bear to continue if there was more.
There were drawings. Lady Arwen, Estel, Lord Elrond, Lord Erestor, Lord Laurefindel, Baby and Otis, Bilbo, even Lord Cirdan, Lord Boromir, and Prince Legolas. Several drawings of them, each perfectly captured. There was something off about the drawings, as though it was a all from memory. A very good memory. It was drawn with love.
His sweetest--the most precious thing in his life...Lord Laurefindel could not begin to imagine how much he loved her now. He had always held a part of him that loved her, and it had grown more after her departure. But now, that love was now laced with bitter regret.
He should have loved her properly, like she deserved. She did not deserve to die so young. Her soul was so full of potential. She was so full of life, hope, and love. Her beauty was inexplicable. Everything about her was good .
Lord Laurefindel could not imagine a greater sense of loss or hopelessness and indeed, it would be a long time before he could manage a smile again.
King Aragorn’s hand reached gently and touched the pages.
“Dear Eru,” Estel’s voice was broken, “She was so young…”
“So full of life,” Lord Erestor who stayed silent spok, his voice a faded murmur, acceptance. Many mortals had come and passed in his lifetime. There was no loss comparable to this.
Lord Elrond was unabashed with his tears. She was like a daughter to him and now, he was disenchanted with all that was in this life. Middle Earth no longer appealed to him. He could feel his grief turn West-ward.
It was not Lord Elrond’s fault, Lord Laurefindel finally decided. She loved Lord Elrond just as dearly. She could not see it as a betrayal and her goodness convinced him of Lord Elrond’s innocence in her death.
Laurefindel rose, tucking the book close to his heart and turned to Lord Elrond. Lord Elrond let out a broken sob and Lord Laurefindel could now see him as a small child. He clung to Lord Laurefindel like a lifeline.
Lord Laurefindel stared at the days, possibly weeks-old blood on the sheets.
His love for her did not die with her.
The West called to him like a lullaby.
~END OF BOOK 2~
Book 3: Elizabeth of the First Age adjusts to married life.
The winter passed uneventfully. Glorfindel was often away on business and wall duty and often times, he was detained for long periods of time because the mountain winters had grown harsh enough that not even the lithe elves could not tread across. But I occupied my time as best as I could. Lord Relos often entertained me with many stories that I often recorded down, in multiple languages, as per his request. It occupied my time and it gave me space away from Lady Aeronid, who enjoyed taking the reins of the household without the interference of the Lord’s wife. I was all too happy to let her control the house. She has done so for nearly a millennium and she is perfectly capable of doing so for a millennia more. So far, the estate hasn’t burned down even once and there has yet to be a scandal that has happened.
“I think it is important to go over the details…” I began but then trailed off when I spotted a spelling error. I winced. Parchment was expensive and hard to come by in the winter. I couldn’t afford to make mistakes.
“Continue. This is but a rough copy of the true work,” Lord Relos encouraged. “What details are you referring to, Lady Elizabeth?”
I almost rolled my eyes. Calling me ‘Lady’ felt and sounded ridiculous even though I was a Lady through my marriage to Lord Glorfindel.
“Well, the Queens of the Eastern Paradise...what are they based on?” I asked, resisting the urge to pick the parchment with my fingers.
“We have not yet gotten to that part. We will cross the bridge when we get to it,” Lord Relos hummed patiently and I nodded. It was trying to be as patient as the elves. However, I was not getting any younger, despite my eighteen years. Lord Relos has yet to realize that.
“Are we still on the Children of the Forest?” I wanted to rip my hair out. This was tedious. At first, the Children were interesting, but then I heard mention about the Queens of the Eastern Paradise. The Children of the Forest couldn’t hold my interest like the name ‘The Queens of the Eastern Paradise’ did.
“Yes,” Lord Relos said, his perfectly filed fingers laced together, a gesture that I have come to understand as resilience...there was no hope to speed this up. I mentally sighed and dipped my quill back into the ink. I resorted to making my own ink by crushing burned charcoal in oil, the ink was even more expensive than parchment.
The Children of the Forest were human-made folklore. I had seen the illustrations that Lord Relos had skillfully drawn. The humans described them as brown-skinned with white freckles, like a summer doe. Their eyes were red and they lived for centuries, bound by the earth on which they lived.. They were child-like in structure but they were not children and they spoke the language of the Earth. The humans fancied them as the Children of Yavanna. Those who had green eyes were rare and it was said they could enter the conscious of any animal...they were connected to the very core of the Earth. I got sad writing about them because the Children of the Forest seemed so beautiful and it was rather disheartening that they did not exist. I wrote everything the Lord Relos told me about them, which was not a lot because men didn’t really know what to say about them.
“Your handwriting has improved,” Lord Relos observed, “Everything has improved...that is good.”
The encouragement from the normally stoic mentor made me more conscious of my handwriting, eager to please. I forced myself to pause and regain my footing with the writing. It was dangerous to receive compliments. I was bound to mess up.
I was cutting up carrots when Lady Aeronid found me the following week. I had taken to trying to be useful around the household with doing menial chores. Lady Aeronid hadn’t disapproved as of yet. We needed all the help at this time of the winter. Many of the servants have retreated back to their households, unwilling to brave the fierce Gondolin winters daily. Neither Lady Aeronid nor I could ever ask it of them because even Lord Glorfindel didn’t if he did not absolutely need to.
“Lord Relos has told me of your improvement,” Lady Aeronid said, giving me a proud smile. I smiled back, my hand almost slipping. “Careful,” she scolded gently.
“It is enjoyable,” I admitted quietly, leaning in, smiling mischievously. “But don’t say I said that. He might take that as a sign to give me more work to do.”
Lady Aeroind laughed, shaking her head. “It is strange that you tire so easily. The Edain are so frail…”
Her bright eyes dulled ever so slightly and I fell silent. Whenever Lady Aeronid spoke about the Edain, she would get very sad. It made me uncomfortable because I always thought of my death. I would leave Glorfindel...but I would not live long enough to see him die. But I knew I would live long enough to see him suffer.
“I admire your fortitude,” I offered, changing the subject.
“Yes...well, you get used to it,” Lady Aeronid said, walking away with a swish if her long, fur-laced skirts.
“The Queens of the Eastern Paradise are what they are...Queens.” Lord Relos said, his eyes glassy. I furiously scribbled keywords on my rough piece of parchment, which I had re-dyed after I had made several mistakes. I took to re-dying my parchment.
“They are warrior Queens and are said to be beautiful and immortal. They are said to live in the imaginary mountains of Themyscira, a place that is said to reside in the East…”
I furiously scribbled down the words I could catch, knowing that he will not slow down for me. At first, he was slower, but as time passed, his pace had begun to change and grow quicker. It had been a trial for me so I took to paraphrasing his words and then rewriting them afterward.
The Queens of the Eastern Paradise were quite interesting. They were fierce warriors and very isolated from the rest, so much so that they passed into myth. Not that there was any suggestion that they were actually real. I just liked to imagine they were.
“Lord Relos?” I once plucked up the courage to start my question first before Lord Relos started anything. It had become a sport to try and get any question in.
“Hmm?” he hummed distractedly.
“Who do you think will fight in this battle?” I asked him timidly.
Lord Relos’s face didn’t change but his hand briefly paused the frantic motion of following the words on the page he was reading. Without batting an eyelash, he resumed and if it weren’t me spending nearly two years observing him, I wouldn’t have noticed a difference.
“What makes you think it will come to be a battle?” he murmured.
I almost shrugged but caught myself. I was surprised, it had been a while since I broke my habit of shrugging. I knew there were five wars of Beleriand for the jewels and the ultimate destruction of Morgoth the Corruptor and if my estimation of this current timeline was correct, this would have been the time around where the fifth and most devastating war took place: Nirnaeth Arnoediad.
“There have been four before,” I pointed out, “Luthien and Beren, they have given hope with their deeds and their evasion of--” I stopped myself before I could utter the reviled name. But Lord Relos’s eyes flew to me sharply, his jaw clenched.
“You have the right of it,” he finally agreed, “I heard say of the Easterlings taking up arms along with the Sons of Feanor,” Lord Relos took a pause, his mouth curling at the mention of their name, “I imagine everyone--every race will take up arms...Lord Maedhros’s words are flowery indeed...they sway even the hardest of hearts. I hear speak of the Blue dwarves, I cannot be sure. Why the sudden curiosity?”
My mind stopped following Lord Relos’s words when my mind caught the word Easterlings. Easterlings ...the corners of my mouth turned down in dismayed realization. Ulfang the Betrayer--the sons of Ulfang. If it hadn’t been for them, the battle would not have been so devastating a loss. My eyes teared up and Lord Relos started when he caught sight of my tears.
“What is the matter?” he asked with concern, letting his quill down and reaching up to put a comforting hand on my shoulder but stopping before he touched me.
“I just--oh,” I whimpered, wiping away an embarrassing tear, “I get very scared.”
It was a ridiculous excuse but he cannot know what I know...he can never understand and even if he did, it would be too large a risk to take.
“You have naught to be afraid of,” he consoled me, awkwardly. He was not used to such alarming displays of emotion from me. “We are safe in Gondolin.”
That made me cry harder. Maeglin would ensure it’s destruction for his petty jealousy and unrestrained desire. I never liked Lord Maeglin and although our interactions were rare to none, I disliked the thought of him. His very person made me shudder in disgust and the way he watched his cousin sent shivers down my spine. If I hadn’t realized the betrayal of Maeglin betrayal from the lore I accomplished with Lord Erestor, I would not have known what to look for in Maeglin.
So today, instead of continuing with my studies, Lord Relos took me to his medicinal headquarters and let me enjoy his medicinal teachings. Learning healing, medicine, and surgical procedures with him were in fact more exciting than lore. Lord Relos must have picked up on that fact since the moment we started together (after Lady Idril could no longer teach me).
Stitching on fruits and animals was far easier than stitching on a piece of cloth. There was no need for fanciness and designs. Only precision and neatness and to follow along with the line of the scar. Setting bones and blood came easier to me than lore, feminine practices, and etiquette even though I enjoyed all of them. Over the past few months, Lord Relos allowed me more time with medicinal practices than with lore after we slowly ran out of parchment and the parchment took too long to dry after re-dying. The process itself was tedious enough. But the herbal resources that we usually used were found in the glass-garden that Lord Glorfindel had ‘recently’ built (three hundred years previous). Most of our nutrients and food came from that garden.
Someone was shaking me when I woke up that night. I brushed the insistent hand away. I was having a dream, I couldn’t make out if it was bad or good and I was annoyed because whoever woke me up also ruined my dreams.
I loved dreaming. Dreaming was a source of nightly entertainment for me after my imagination had been running the entire day, what with medicine, lore, and housekeeping. Especially in the silence of winter and the absence of servants with only the cool, crisp view of the snow outside, a dream was a welcome refuge from the redundant interactions with Lord Relos, Lady Aeronid, and the few passing servants and the guards who would sometimes greet me if I was really insistent.
“Stop,” I whimpered.
“Wake up, my love,” at the sound of his voice, my eyes flew open immediately. I completely forgot how nice his voice sounded. It was deep and warm, like soft thunder, but with the unmistakable silvery quality that I have come to associate with the elves.
“Glorfindel?” I sat up quickly, nearly bumping foreheads with him. It was dawn right now, based on the dim blue lighting through the cream curtains of his apartment. I was laying in a mess of books and drawings. I had been updating the medicinal manual I had taken to create. I always wrote the pages separately in case there was need to arise from reorganizing them. But right now, it didn't look very organized. Everything was strewn on the bed and the candle had long diffused itself. But I could see my husband, tall, even when kneeling next to me on the floor, his hair slightly stringy and the smell of chamomile wafted to my nose. He just bathed. Chamomile had been a formula of soap that I created with Lord Relos with the remaining Chamomile leaves that were not used for tea or medicinal mixes. It had been my idea to make it into soap if it was falling out of use. What best way to use chamomile but to bathe with it?
“You were whimpering,” he told me and I stared at him blankly.
“Well, it wasn't a bad dream,” I shrugged.
“That is good,” he murmured.
“You’re back?” I murmured, discombobulated. I realized that I was a mess and he was...early? “I hadn’t realized--I never knew. Oh, let me clean this mess up,” it was like a jolt of adrenaline pulsed through me, forcing me from my feet. I maneuvered my way around him, trying to feel in the dim lighting of sunrise, for quills and papers so that I may make room for him. Glorfindel quietly helped me. I took the papers and walked over to the second desk in the joint study in the apartments. Lord Glorfindel had commissioned a special desk for me to sit across from him as we did our work in our leisure. I tried to stack the papers and books as neatly as possible, but ended up, in my rush, knocking another stack of papers over.
“Peace,” Lord Glorfindel said, walking and kneeling next to me, helping me pick up the mess I made.
“If I had known, I would have been better prepared to greet you,” I told him apologetically, accepting his hand to help me rise to my feet.
“I thought it unnecessary to send a messenger in this weather. It was safer for all of us to return silently,” Lord Glorfindel said and I searched his face. My memory didn’t do his features justice. He was even more beautiful in person. I nodded in understanding.
“Let me refresh,” I told him, curtsying slightly. I had taken to curtsying to my Lord Husband because he insisted to bow to me. He must have done it and I didn’t realize. But he bowed to me when I curtsied and I took that as a way of saying ‘go ahead’.
In our communal washroom. I ran a hand through my curls, which I had recently cut for health purposes. In the bleak, dry winter, without the proper sources of nutrition, my hair was weak and breakage was easy. I had taken to trimming it ever so often. It didn’t lose any length yet, it still fell to my waist. I brushed my teeth quickly, washing the gunk of sleep from my face, and changing out of my gown, neatly folding it in the laundry basket. I paused, realizing that Glorfindel had also thrown his tunic out too. I slowly picked up the tunic, frowning when I spied orc blood in the places where his armor wouldn’t cover it. So he had been at the walls also. I had my suspicions that Glorfindel drifted between political duties and wall duties.
I returned the tunic back and made a small turn to ensure that my body was presentable enough. I had lost some weight over the winter. Food was rationed and I insisted on eating what everyone else did. But that didn’t mean my stomach was flat or my thighs didn’t touch. I was glad for that. If that were so, I would seem unhealthy and I found that incredibly undesirable. I had taken to daily and routinely waxing my body hairs and trimming my nails. I always had a lot of time on my hands and especially in the winter's, where there was scarce to be done but be bored, I had taken to personal care. It was always good to maintain a high standard of personal care when one lived among such perfection, especially when that one was not as perfect. I was glad I had bathed not a day previous. At least my hair still smells like chamomile.
I put on the spare gown that I had left for myself the day previous. I had taken to leaving a few spare gowns in the powder room because I often forgot them and that proved to be quiet a challenge when I had to walk across the freezing floor tiles in the middle of winter. This dress was a simple rose dress, with long sleeves. It was old and slightly worn but still clean and it gave my body a flattering shape. I knew I was to perform my wifely duties. I didn’t think it was a chore. My husband was kind and attentive and he always held me secure in his arms. I couldn’t have imagined a better husband. In my time with Lady Moravid, I had seen plenty of women with bruises and plenty of women get publicly beaten and chastised by their husbands.
When I walked back outside to our room, Glorfindel was seated on the chair of his study, pensively looking at the papers before him, the ones I had been working on.
“You have improved,” he murmured, a trace of pride in his voice. “Your writing has gotten better and so has your grammar. You have done well my love.”
I blushed with pleasure. I loved compliments like this, it made me feel good about myself.
Lord Glorfindel looked up at me and smiled softly at me, “You look exceptionally good.”
“You look worn,” I observed. “Have they been feeding you?”
“Well enough,” he assured me.
“We have some leftover stew,” I offered, holding out my hand, “I imagine you are hungry.”
“I wouldn't mind a hot meal,” Glorfindel admitted, reaching out and holding my hand. He got up and we both went outside to the kitchens.
I woke up in the afternoon the next day, my body sore and buzzing with languid satisfaction. Next to me, Glorfindel was on his stomach, his head turned facing me, eyes wide open and unblinking. I always found it strange that elves didn’t sleep with their eyes closed. I lived among them for the majority of my remembered life and I had yet to get used to it. His muscles were hard, even when they were relaxed and I could see the necklace I had given him resting on the pillow next to his mouth.
His breathing changed and I knew he had woken up. I wiggled closer, settling myself under his arm, which moved to accommodate me under it.
“I’ve missed you,” I murmured, pressing kisses to his chin.
“So have I,” Lord Glorfindel murmured drowsily. “I can stay for a week now.”
“Oh,” I murmured, disappointed. So little time…?
“How has everything been going?”
“Smoothly,” I told him but then I hesitated, “As smoothly as can be expected in such weather. Lady Aeronid is such an efficient woman...I feel that if I were to take charge, the whole estate might burst into flames,” I joked, earning a chuckle.
“I am sure that is not true,” he murmured, pressing me closer to his warmth, turning to settle me against the wall of his chest. I began tracing patterns on his collarbones. I could see little scars here and there.
“I may be exaggerating a little,” I admitted, “Are you injured anywhere? Even if it is small...tell me.”
“Naught that I have not already attended to, my Lady Wife,” Glorfindel pressed a kiss to my lips.
I dug my fingers in his hair.
The week was spent either in the study with Lord Glorfindel, helping him with checking the accounting of estate resources (fully accounted by Lord Relos) and going over the important documents that have been left too long in Glorfindel’s lengthy absence that only he could oversee. I helped him as best as I could and I was always surprised when he asked for my input. I hadn’t realized that it was that important to him. I never knew what it was to be married. I never asked anyone about it and Lady Aeronid never talked about her love and I wasn’t sure Lord Relos had a family so to speak. He always deflected my probing questions. I let it all lead me to where I am with Glorfindel now and I tried to compromise where I could. I often did that with Bilbo when neither of us wanted to do the same activity.
So whenever I felt Lord Glorfindel’s displeasure, I always tried to subtly make amends. I got the feeling he tried to pay the same respect too. He was new to this also, but I imagine he had some outside experience, having lived with his parents for a while before the unfortunate exodus of the Noldor from Valinor. I tried not to ask about his parents. I felt that it was an especially sore topic to him. Parents and family that have perished in the Herclaxe and the kin slayings were a sore subject to any elf. It was a sore subject for me because everything that ever happened could have easily been avoided by just a few decisions, and the tragedy of it was incredibly disheartening.
So every time I looked at my husband, I felt my heart pound a little faster--in fear, in love, in terror? I will never know, but I tried my best to love him as best as I was able. Glorfindel sometimes seemed startled by my bouts of affection. Even though he didn’t rebuff them, he gladly welcomed them. It wasn’t gratitude I felt every time I looked at him. Sure I was thankful he saved me a trip of returning my back with the humans, but it was nothing compared to the warm rush of affection, the heat pooling, the anything--I felt when looking at him. I tried to show him as best as I was able because who knew how long we had?
Not long enough, a nagging voice at the back of my head said when I lifted my husband’s face from his papers and kissed him.
“You are a very needy wife,” he noted, his normally stoic face cracking into an indulgent smile. I giggled, it was very easy to be playful with him. At first, his expressionless humor caught me off guard because I’ve never met another elf who knew how to crack a joke (or something similar) or make a joke I can understand.
“Would you rather I ignored you?” I challenged him with a raised brow.
“No,” he finally said, after pretending to think. I playfully poked his chest in rebuke but leaned my face in, bending to kiss him.
“Would you rather I stopped?” I challenged, not done teasing him. Sometimes, the power I had over Glorfindel like this--or the power he may have afforded me--made me feel good. It felt good to be considered beautiful like this. To be the face that inspires some admiration--especially to an elf.
“I am afraid that won’t be possible,” he sighed with faux disappointment, pulling me to sit on his lap. I pressed my lips to his.
The terrible news has been declared. Elizabeth needs to rethink her intentions furthermore.
The moment he came back from one of his longer trips from the palace, I knew what had happened. It had taken longer than I expected to finally agree to this, in my opinion, noble but idiotic cause. I was completely against another war, only because I knew the sad, tragic outcome. But I didn’t voice my opinion. Because then I would have to explain it and I didn’t want to bother. I didn’t want my voice to be stumped and I didn’t want to try and fail. That is what pained me the most.
The fear of failure. I know that if I tried to argue against this war, I might be executed on the behalf of treason. I imagined that King Turgon didn’t need any excuse to kill me, I was a mortal who overstayed her welcome.
So all I could do now was stare glumly at the slumped shoulders of my husband. He was leaning over his desk, his fists on the desk. I was lost for as to how to help him. I wanted to take away all his troubles from him but the fear that his load would fall on me, its weight crushing me, made my eyes tear up and I sniffed.
Glorfindel's ears perked up and I closed my mouth in fear that if he turned and look at me, I would really, burst into tears.
“What is it, my love?” he asked me gently, turning around and I realized that I was being silly. Glorfindel wasn't selfish enough to let me carry his burden all by myself. But I was, shamefully enough, too selfish to attempt to carry his burden all by myself. So in my shame, I had to backtrack.
“I just don’t know how to make you feel better about all this,” I told him honestly and then I cringed. It sounded even sillier when I said it out loud. But Glorfindel walked over to me, where I sat on the armchair before the fireplace. He knelt before me, his eyes glinting in the firelight and his face soft for me. My heart raced in my chest and all I could think about is all the ways I could help him…how I would study strategy and I secretly, to myself, vowed that I would do whatever I could to save the 10000 Gondolinrim soldiers.
“You mustn't worry for me, my Sweet Summer Wife,” his voice was soft and his shoulders seemed to relax when he was looking at me and all I could do was lean forward and kiss him. It didn’t matter anymore when I kissed him. All my troubles melted away when I touched him.
And this was how we were for the rest of the night and into the morning after. We were unwilling to leave each other's embrace, only leaving to stretch our legs and sometimes use the latrine. In those times, either of us would look at the documents and go over what needs to be fixed. Our sense of duty never deserted us, even in our passion. I think that is what made our marriage feel so old and successful, despite having been married for nearly a year and a half. Through Glorfindel, I developed a sense of duty. It was not productive to sit idle and spoiled and to follow one’s heart as opposed to their head.
But it was these moments when the world around us could be burning, we would still be together. We wouldn’t pay attention to the rest of the world and we would love each other as best as we could. I loved him for it.
But like all good things, our time together must come to a halt.
Glorfindel had gotten out of bed, kissing my shoulder and I whimpered at the loss of him.
“I know, Lady Wife" he murmured, sounding just as reluctant to leave me as I felt. “But the real world calls and I must not say no. The living warmth and bliss your arms provide are too good for this world, I am afraid.”
His way with words never failed to impress me so instead I used my last resort. I lifted myself off the bed and turned to face him, holding the back of his neck and kissing him. It worked well enough because not too long later he was inside of me, around me, loving me. Safe to say, he was late.
I sighed sleepily, happily. Everyone probably knew what was going on. But I couldn't care less. He was my husband. I got up sluggishly, thinking to myself that there was a set time that I had to get ready in before it was considered wanton for staying in bed for too long. Admittedly, now I just wanted to sleep but I knew that was no option. I was better off just drinking a hot cup of rejuvenating tea.
A large, hot cup of rejuvenating tea. I shuffled to the latrine, feeling as though I had let my personal maintenance fall into misuse from neglect. I quickly waxed away all my hairs and dead skin and retrimmed my nails. After I soaped myself down with some water from the hot springs, away from the hot springs. We generally tried to avoid polluting that water. Even though it cleaned itself just by boiling. The hot springs were also a source of warmth for this room.
I got in the pool, sighing, rather wishing my husband would be here. I missed him already and oftentimes, I only saw him once a week. I knew it was impractical of me to try and dissuade him from his duties. The Glorfindel I knew would always put duty first and that is how I want him to be. I never wanted him to change and I never wanted him to prioritize me because it felt sacrilegious. It felt as though I was single-handedly rewriting history for the worst.
I told myself it was impractical to be together all the time, but a voice reminded me that I only see him once a week and the longest time we have ever spent together was for a period of 2 weeks after our wedding.
A little, more selfish part of me, wished that he would be here right now, loving me. It suddenly wasn’t enough, having him for so little time. I shook my head.
What had gotten into me? I wasn’t supposed to be thinking like that.
I scoffed and dipped some chamomile oil into the hot springs. Immediately, the scent of the tea calmed me.
After the bath, I donned on my day dress and lifted my hair up in a bun. I felt really funny all of a sudden. My stomach felt overly full. It was the unpleasant feeling of nausea that I was unaccustomed to. I shook my head. I had my theories but I couldn’t be sure and I wasn’t about to go to Lord Relos for confirmation. It was weird, then I’d have to face him every day about it. Even though I was married, it felt weird still.
So instead I went about my day, as normally as I could, feeling stuffy in my dress. Everything suddenly felt tighter and I felt as though I gained 50 kilos. I cringed, I probably looked like a cow, I should probably cut back on my toast this morning. Maybe Glorfindel stopped coming because of the way I looked?
No, he couldn’t be that superficial. He loved me for something no one else saw. I was sure of it. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to skip on my toast and marmalade.
“Good morn to you,” Lady Idril hummed. She had been a guest over for a few days now and I didn’t mind. She was easy to talk to and she was always so kind and she made me feel accomplished.
“Sorry,” I murmured, embarrassed, “ I hadn't realized you were there.”
Lady Idril smiled indulgently, “We all have late mornings.”
Nothing about her demeanor suggested that she knew why I was so late this morning but I knew she knew. Elves were dangerously preceptive. Before me sat a late filled with steaming rice pudding and egg pie. As primly as possible, I began eating. I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until I finished my plate. I desperately wanted to go for seconds but the tightness of my dress forced me away from temptation.
I promptly got up to follow Idril out of the room. She had been gracious enough to take breakfast with me. But the moment I got up, Idril seemed to sway.
“Idril,” I murmured, concerned for her. When she turned, I realized that she was the stationary one.
I think I just fainted.
“You are pregnant,” Lord Relos told me, “Congratulations.”
The news seemed to genuinely please Lord Relos, as well as Lady Aeronid, and Lady Idril. Having it confirmed by Lord Relos only made it ten times better. I knew there was no way I would have ever come to him willingly for confirmation.
“Don’t tell anyone yet,” I begged, thinking of the times women have miscarried, coming to seek aid from Lord Elrond. “I want to make sure the baby will be alright.”
“Will you tell your Lord Husband?” Lord Relos inquired gently.
“When he comes back,” I promised, thinking that he didn't even need to ask such a question. “I want to say to him in person. I don’t want to distract him from his duties right now.”
“Hmm…” Lady Idril murmured pensively, “There has not been a child in Gondolin for nearly five centuries…these are indeed glad tidings, if a bit poorly timed.”
My good mood dampened. She was right. We were on the brink of war, my body had decided to conceive a baby right now, of all times. I suddenly felt inexplicably angry at myself. Why was I always such a hassle?
Seeming to sense my change in moods, Lord Relos patted my shoulder, understanding shining in his brilliant eyes. “Come now, Lady Elizabeth. Your child will be the most favoured in Gondolin. This is a ray of light in our darkness. Your child shall be a beacon of hope for our future here. May your child be blessed with many more brothers and sisters. Each just as special as the other.”
His heartfelt felicitations made me burst into tears because now my good mood was back. I felt silly but I also felt elated. I could just imagine Lord Glorfindel's reaction. He never mentioned children. Children, the topic in general, never came up and it was because we never thought to bring it up. We just lived in our moments together and awaited the future together. I also imagined he didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on me. He is considerate that way.
The next time I saw Glorfindel was two weeks later. He had come astride a horse with Lord Etchellion, who I hadn’t seen since my questioning. My mood soured when I saw him but I still put on a brave smile. I couldn’t afford to be free around these men. They would report me for even the misuse of my cutlery. Just because my hair had grown back to its original length didn’t mean that I was still exempt from their suspicion and their purposefully ostracizing ways.
The only people who hadn’t regarded me in such a manner were Lady Aeronid, Lady Idril, Lord Relos, and Lord Glorfindel.
“My Lords,” I curtsied and all the members of the household followed. When Lord Glorfindel dismounted his horse, he came up to me, taking my hand and kissing it. His eyes were intense on me, confused even. I felt my heart jump, why was he confused?
"He gave me a hesitant smile, his gaze raking me over, as though trying to solve some puzzle. That set my heart racing at an alarming rate and I let a little giggle. I resisted the urge to hug him. He was so sharp and neatly-pressed, always. Instead, I took his hand shyly and kept holding it as I greeted Lord Etchellion. I could feel Glorfindel looking at me, a puzzled, indulgent smile on his face.
“My Lord,” I said politely, “Welcome back. Come, you must be hungry. Dinner is prepared.”
Hand in hand with Glorfindel, we walked inside.
A roast awaited them for dinner, with baked vegetables, an assortment of kinds of pasta and salads, and for dessert, marmalade-stuffed cake. All through dinner, I barely touched my meal, only eating the potatoes. My seat next to Glorfindel made me extremely aware of him. I really did try to control myself but he just looked so handsome in his figure-hugging formal tunic and his loose hair, falling from its braid. All I could think about were his fingers. I looked at them dreamily for a long while. They were just so large and slender. Those fingers drove me to incredible heights of pleasure. For nearly three weeks I had been deprived of my husband. I had considered touching myself but that felt dirty and traitorous. Only Glorfindel was able to drive me to heart-stopping heights of pleasure.
Now that he was within proximity to me, I was nearly mindless with lust. But then when I looked at my wine, all my lust faded away into disgust.
Wine made me nauseous all of a sudden. The thought of drinking it sickened me to my very core. I could almost smell it. It was always a necessary formality to have a glass of wine. I never drank it but it was always just there. Now I wished they would take it away. I focused outside of the windows behind Lord Etchellion. The winter season was almost at an end, just 12 more months left. The winter season often lasted three years in the mountains. I could tell that 12 months was far too long for Prince Fingon to wait but it gave us all time to prepare. But that didn’t mean the bad weather decided to slack off just this once. A snowstorm was expected and undoubtedly, Lord Etchellion would room in for the night. Maybe even for the week.
Then my mind frantically went over the details of the household. Was the room I prepared for Lord Etchellion for his taste? When would he retire so I can finally draw him a bath? Why did I have to let the servant go so early? I hated drawing baths, but for Lord Etchellion I would if it would get him to like me. He was Lord Glorfindel's closest ally and comrade. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have an ally in him.
“Are you well, Lady wife?” Lord Glorfindel asked me quietly as Lady Aeronid kept an easy conversation with Lord Relos and Lord Etchellion.
“I am fine, it is you I am worried about," I whispered, high-strung.
“There is naught to occupy this lovely head of yours, I am well enough.” Lord Glorfindel said smoothly, brushing his hand over my thigh.
He didn’t remove his hand from my leg. Occasionally he patted me and I just wished no one was there and that I had no more responsibility just so I can finally be with him. He must have been aware of the effect he had on me. My heart was racing ridiculously fast and I could feel myself burning up. When I looked up at him, I could see a small pull at the corners of his lips. He knew.
Dinner was painstakingly slow to end. After, Lord Glorfindel and Lord Etchellion chatted in the drawing room about the politics I couldn’t be concerned about. I left the men to their business and went to ensure that everything was in order. Glorfindel would tell me about it later anyway, as he always did. Anything he told me always entertained me because oftentimes there was nothing to do but to copy sacred texts to preserve them. I would have to boil some water, Lord Etchellion would expect a bath. For sure.
By the time I was done drawing the bath, I was sweaty and exhausted. I wanted to cry. Now I was ruined and I won’t be able to make love to my husband properly without feeling icky.
“Lady Elizabeth?” Lord Etchellion’s voice asked me softly from behind, sounding concerned, even alarmed. I whirled around, hurriedly wiping away tears when I realized I had been crying.
“Ohh,” My voice trembled, “A hot bath awaits you, my Lord, there is chamomile soap that I made myself. Enjoy,” I curtsied hurriedly to him, walking past him and back towards my old room. I just needed some time to myself. I felt terrible and dirty. I couldn’t be bothered to draw myself a bath and I certainly wasn’t going to look Glorfindel in the eye looking like a mess. So instead, I laid on the bare mattress that I used to sleep on and buried my face in the mattress, sobbing. Perhaps news of the baby can wait. I think I will sleep here tonight—
“What ails you, My Sweet Summer Love?” Lord Glorfindel's voice was concerned. I heard the door click clock closed. I felt the mattress dip as he took a seat on the mattress next to me. “Lord Etchellion seemed rather concerned for you.”
“I’m pregnant,” I wailed into the mattress, thoughtlessly. “I didn’t know how to tell you and I had to draw a bath so now I am sweaty and I don't want you to see me like this. But I want you so badly and I stink and I wouldn’t want to be near myself either,” I was rambling and finally I was sitting up.
Lord Glorfindel was silent for the longest time. He was staring at me, unblinking, seeming quite shocked. I wanted to cry again. Why wouldn’t he say anything? I thought he would be happy. I felt his hand come to my belly.
I felt my eyes tear up again. He was upset, wasn’t he?
“A baby yes?” he seemed confused and dazed. "Is that what it was?"
I didn't understand what he was referring to, and I didn't care to understand. I simply wanted to know how he felt about that and so I nodded shyly, realizing I was being silly. My husband, kind and considerate, would never be upset about something like this. Once the news of my pregnancy had revealed itself to the three of my most trusted friends, they assured me Glorfindel would want this. That it was all he had ever wanted since he could understand what it meant to have a child. All of a sudden, I was flipped on my back, Glorfindel on top of me. He was stroking my belly with both of his hands, from the bottom of my breasts to the top of my hips; his hand lingering on the little cross I had under my breast, even though he couldn’t see it.
“I’ll be a father,” He was dazed. “Fuck, a father.”
He was convincing himself and he seemed to be happy beyond belief. It made me happy. So I took this opportunity. I hope he didn’t mind.
“I want a bath,” I said in a small voice, “And I want you.”
“You can have whatever the fuck you like, my love,” Glorfindel promised, rolling up my skirt and spreading my legs. “Right after this.”
The moment the cool wind touched me between my legs, my suspicion of having been wet for him this entire dinner was confirmed.
Then, he moved back and bent his head, kissing me, right where it drove me to tears and to indescribable heights of pleasure.
After a mind-blowing …whatever that was, Glorfindel carried me back to our rooms. The halls were empty. The guards wouldn’t be back for another thirty minutes from their break. It felt so good to be carried in his arms like this that I clung to him, kissing him where I could reach. He didn’t seem to mind. He only held me tighter.
When we finally reached our rooms, I forced myself into composure. It wouldn’t do to pounce on him when I was still dirty and sweaty. I wasn’t sure how he could stand me back there. I walked into our bathroom and began taking out my blue dress. It was an old one but then again, I always retouched my dresses with new designs or new cuts. As long as my body never changed too much, I could always wear my old dresses. I heard the door open and close behind me. Just in my chemise, I whirled around.
“My Lord,” I grinned, shy and slightly mortified. I felt fat and maybe it was better to go quickly into the hot springs. He didn’t need to see how fat I truly was. In one long stride, he was standing right in front of me, so that our toes were touching. His fingers began deftly unlacing my chemise.
“My beautiful wife,” he breathed, taking my chemise off of me and settling his hands on my belly, still unchanged. All my self-conscious thoughts flew out the window when he called me beautiful. His terms of endearment never failed to set my heart racing. He never called me by my name since we married. I did though, always with a ‘Lord’ before it. He didn’t seem to mind.
“These have changed,” he indicated, unembarrassed. His hands dragged to my breasts, stroking their underside, his thumbs stroking my nipples. I didn’t look down to see how even though I was curious. I was entranced by his eyes. Always bright and soft for me.
“How?” I asked him timidly. He walked me over to the mirror, holding my hand and raising it above my head, twirling me around as though we were dancing. I giggled in delight. My giggles however stopped when I realized he was turning me to face the mirror.
I didn’t see a change if I was being honest. I saw myself in the mirror daily. His arms came up to my front, hugging closer to him. I could see him bending down to accommodate my body to his.
“Well, they are bigger,” He whispered in my ear, swaying softly to music I couldn’t hear. He was right, they were bigger and rounder, more like oversized teardrops. I could see the veins crisscrossing under the skin. I could see the little cross etched under my breast.
“I had thought you had decided for a more daring dress this evening,” he admitted, spreading both my hands so that now we were full on swaying. I gasped in dismay and embarrassment. I hadn’t meant to. I tried to pull back my arms to hide my body but he wouldn’t let go.
“I would never,” I stuttered, turning around to face him, “I didn’t mean to. I just thought that…”
I trailed off. It was silly just to think about saying it out loud to my husband. He was always so healthy and fit. I wasn’t fit. I was fat and getting fatter.
“What did you think?” He asked, looking down at me while his hands gripped my shoulder blades.
No use hiding it, how could it add to my embarrassment? “Well I thought I was getting fat and I was just thinking about adjusting the dress but I had no time.”
He furrowed his brows thoughtfully. “I believe you lost weight, my love. I love you all ways but I think it would be nice if you start paying more attention to your meals. I believe it would be best from now on if you had a healthier appetite.”
I blinked at him. I hadn’t expected him to say that. So instead I just nodded. I turned around and bent to pick up my dress, setting it in the dirty hamper. When I turned around, Glorfindel was already unbuttoning his tunic. I walked up to him and began undoing his britches. I was too impatient to wait for him and he was always slow to undo his clothes after a particularly tiring week. Not that he was slow, he just liked to take his time, to tease me, I am sure.
Once we were both equally as naked, we walked together to the little corner where we soap ourselves up. Once we were done soaping up, we stepped into the hot springs. Oh yes, that felt good.
“Are you feeling better?” Glorfindel asked me and I nodded. I felt much better, I felt more relaxed, as though even my greatest happiness couldn't make me burst into tears. I felt as though I had spent all my tears for the next lifetime.
I snuggled up to him in the hot springs, lazily washing, occasionally dripping water on his shoulders. I stroked his tattoos, fascinated by the tribal tattoos he had on. I felt invincible when he sat me on his lap and began massaging my scalp.
“O-oh,” I giggled breathily, throwing my head back and closing my eyes, “Don’t stop, please.”
But he did, his hands fell to my waist and he lowered his lips to my neck.
The next day, I opened my eyes to find the sheets cool beside me. I sighed in disappointment. Had he returned to his duties again so soon? I wanted him here with me just for a while longer. To love him and to hold him, before all our lives would crumble around us. Sniffling slightly, I struggled to my hands and forced myself to shuffle off the bed. I took a quick shower from the rain shower that was in the room. The hot springs were only ever used when I was with Glorfindel. Otherwise, it was the rain shower. The water filtered through a small man-hole in the ground and was flowed outside.
I boiled the water and began untangling my hair.
Once I was showered and clean, I took some of my dresses and my sewing kit. I believe it is time to get started on readjusting my dresses. I didn’t want to look like a brazen hussy like I probably did last night. I would do that in the Ladies Parlour where I often had tea with Lady Aeronid. She would help me with the dresses. As far as I was concerned, I had never seen a man enter it, so I thought it was safe to go to.
“Ahh…” Lady Aeronid said thoughtfully, “We might have to buy new dresses anyways.”
“Oh…” I was disappointed, “Now?”
“For now we adjust your dresses. I sent for the seamstress. She should be here in a few days.”
“Oh…” I wondered when she had sent for a mistress? Was it after I looked like a brazen hussy for dinner?
“Worry not,” Lady Aeronid told me kindly, patting my shoulder, “It was an afterthought from a couple of days ago.”
“Thank you,” I said anyways. Adjusting my dresses was far easier than I expected with the company. I always hated adjusting my dresses. It was always so tedious.
“Come now,” Lady Aeronid said after a while, “Lord Relos awaits you.”
“Alright,” I murmured, thinking back to where Glorfindel was. Had he left? I should have asked Lady Aeronid. He didn’t mention leaving me.
Later that night, I put on my socks. My feet had chilled and I knew if I didn’t warm them, it would wake me up. I heard the door open behind me.
“Lady Aeronid?” I asked, confused. She never came in here. No one ever did. I always cleaned those rooms, “Is something the matter?”
I turned around, briefly adjusting my socks and pausing when I saw Lord Glorfindel.
“Oh, my Lord!” I was pleasantly surprised, “I thought you had to leave, this morning.”
“No,” Lord Glorfindel shook his head, “I had something I had to do with Lord Etchellion. I was loathed to wake you up.”
“Oh…” I trailed off.
“Lady Aeronid told me you adjusted a few of your dresses today,” he told me, walking over to me. It was true, I did. I self-consciously pulled up the neck of my nightgown. I hadn’t adjusted those yet.
“I haven’t gotten to all of them,” I admitted, pulling my night robe over myself. “I just finished my third text.”
I was really proud of that. After weeks of working on it, I was finally able to say I was done.
“That is good,” Lord Glorfindel walked up to me, “Very good.”
He sat on the bed and I felt the mattress dip under his weight. I wasn’t going to lie, I felt rather put out at his absence this morning. But when he started to pull me into his lap, I softened. I couldn’t help but forgive him. I would forgive him anything.
“Forgive me, My Love,” he told me gently, kissing the back of my neck, stroking my belly. “I did not mean to leave like this.”
“M' not angry,” I murmured sleepily, reclining on the bed.
“Hmm,”Glorfindel murmured distractedly, rolling up my dress, baring my stomach. “I got you something.”
My ears perked up. “Really? What is it?”
He took out a considerably sized jar of rose-coloured cream. “I thought it would be nice if you wanted to rub it on.”
I graciously accepted it from him, touched that he would think of me while on business.
It was sweet smelling and I imagined it would be great if I wanted to avoid stretch marks.
“Thank you,” I murmured, sitting up straight, trying to pull my dress down. Glorfindel stayed my hand and instead began kissing my relatively normal stomach.
“My Lord,” he was being ticklish, “It won’t grow any faster if you keep kissing me.”
“Why can’t I just kiss you then?” he asked kissing me even lower. My arm sluggishly fought to put the jar away. It wouldn't do to have it accidentally drop.
Just as well because a few seconds later, my head threw itself back into the pillow and I cried out in pleasure.
Glorfindel and Elizabeth overcome some obstacles in their married life.
I looked to the side of the mirror, trying to make my dress seem bigger so that I didn’t look so pregnant. At seven months, I was larger than normal. I had passed the first month, thankfully, without any nausea. Although the feeling did come up often enough to be a hassle. This dress was a purple dress, dark colors tended to look good on me.
“You look beautiful,” Lord Glorfindel’s voice said from behind me. I turned around and smiled. He seemed to always be coming earlier than I expected, which was a great thing to have. I always loved it when he was with me.
“Are you sure?” I asked him unsurely, “I don’t feel very pretty at the moment. I feel huge.”
“You are still quite small,” he assured me, walking up to me, “Quite unchanged. You wear your pregnancy well, My Love.”
I glowed with pleasure, turning around and slipping into my slippers. I walked over to him, self-consciously trying not to move my shoulders. I had started that awful stage of waddling. When the women came to Lord Elrond, it was endearing when they waddled. They reminded me of ducks. But when I did it, I felt as though I was going to fall any second.
I took his hand and raised it to my lips, kissing it. Then I got to my toes to give him a kiss. Indulgently, Glorfindel bent to accept it. Once we broke apart, he bent even further and kissed my stomach.
“We shouldn’t keep the King waiting,” I murmured when he stood back up. “Or the Prince.”
“He is still a king,” Lord Glorfindel frowned, not sounding too sure. When the story of Fingon saving his cousin spread, the legitimacy was questioned. Meadhros was king first. It was a rather generous act to give Fingon Kingship over the entire Noldor realm. But I suppose being saved from nearly a century of torture was enough reason to give up power. I still didn’t understand it so I settled for his title; King.
The two brothers, the two Kings, stood, their faces uncannily similar and uncannily hawkish. I could see Earl Borg and I spotted Lady Idril, standing next to Lord Meaglin, whose face didn’t even twitched. But he was leaning towards Lady Idril. I looked down to try and hide my disgust. All the elves here were unusually perceptive.
I stood next to Glorfindel, watching as he spoke with all the officials and Lords in rapid-fire Sindarin. I saw Lord Relos speaking with some other Lords. He looked strangely relaxed. I felt strange, like an outsider. To begin with, I was probably the shortest one here and I was the only woman who had been pregnant in five hundred years. I could see everyone looking at me, whispering. I pressed myself closer to Glorfindel, who didn’t need to look at me to know how I felt. He wrapped his arm around me, a strangely intimate gesture for Noldorin court, and pulled me close enough so that my breast was squished painfully against his side. I didn’t mind the pain, as long as he was with me.
“Ahh…” Lady Idril’s voice murmured from beside me, I looked at her and felt a smile coming to my face when I saw her smiling sweetly at me. “You look gorgeous tonight.”
“Thank you,” I giggled, curtsying as elegantly as possible. That act alone almost made my knees give out. Everything seemed to be ten times harder when I was pregnant. At least my rings still fit.
“May I?” Lady Idril asked me politely, gesturing to my stomach. I was hesitant about letting her touch my stomach because then I felt that everyone would feel that they are at liberty to touch my stomach. I hated that. Everyone at court seemed to do it whenever they pleased and it was annoying because I didn’t know how to say no.
“Of course,” I nodded giving her a smile to show I was fine with it. Idril was one of the few people who actually took permission before she touched me.
Her touch was gentle, though. The elves here had no idea how to handle me sometimes. At one point, I had a few bruises on my stomach and I know it wasn’t from the baby’ kicking (it barely kicked). It was the only time I had ever seen Glorfindel genuinely angry. He had been holding a glass in his hand that night and had crushed it at first glance at my belly.
“Thank you,” Lady Idril said, she didn’t let her touch linger longer than three seconds. I released a breath of relief I hadn’t realized I was holding.
“Have I offered my felicitations on your expectancy?” King Fingon’s voice said from behind me. I looked to him and executed another curtsy.
“I don’t think so, your Grace,” I said timidly. Without taking permission, he set his hands on my belly and I tried not to wince. It was clear he didn't know how to handle me. I was significantly more fragile than the rest of them.
“What do you hope for? A boy or a girl?” King Fingon asked me, giving one last stroke and letting go.
“I am happy with whatever,” I admitted, “But if I had to choose, a girl first.”
“Have you decided on a name yet?” He asked me and I thought about it. I hadn’t really discussed it with Glorfindel yet. He wasn’t around enough to do so. When he was around, we were always making love. We didn’t talk much.
“I like the name ‘Ophelia,’” I said thoughtfully, “But I am not sure if that is what we would decide on.”
“Interesting name. Good eve to you, Niece,” he hummed distractedly to Idril and turned away, a sign of dismissal. I curtsied and turned back to Idril. I rubbed the sore bit where the King touched me. The skin around my belly was prone to bruising.
“I am sorry,” Idril told me lowly, “We do not understand that mortals are often times much more fragile than we are.”
“It’s alright,” I assured her, “I don’t mind when you do it, you are gentle and you ask me before you do it.”
She smiled at me graciously and kissed my cheek.
I wasn’t quite sure what this gathering was for. All I knew was that the King was hosting a long-overdue celebration. Dancers came and put on a merry show. Fire dancers and fabric twirlers alike. One man came and spun for five minutes consistently, showing off the colors of his plate-like dress, and walked away as though nothing he hadn’t just been spinning at an alarming speed. It was all very amusing and fun to watch. There were merry songs, which Glorfindel and I opted to stay out of. I don’t think my feet would have enjoyed dancing while I was pregnant. I may have not been quite so heavy but my feet were swollen for no reason and putting any more unwanted weight on them made them unbearable.
Instead, I sat next to Lord Penlod while Lord Glorfindel spoke to other officials out of courtesy. Lord Penlod was generous with his attention and unfortunately, so were the other comrades sitting around with me. Many of them congratulated me. Many more touched my belly and only a few asked. I couldn’t say no. Not all of them knew how to be gentle either. Lord Glorfindel glanced at me occasionally. That was why I didn’t wince when there was a particularly rough stroke. I just kept smiling and making a few jokes that got them all laughing. I didn’t want to worry Glorfindel, grab his attention away from potentially more important matters. Hopefully, he wouldn’t notice; his attention was occupied elsewhere.
But these elven festivities were bound to last a long time, straight into the night and the next morning after that. So Glorfindel took me home. When we arrived back to the estate, I couldn’t help it. I ran to our room, barely missing bumping into Lady Aeronid, who looked alarmed.
“What happened?” I heard her ask, sounding concerned. I didn’t hear Glorfindel answer. I shut the bedroom door behind me and began taking off my dress. I could barely breathe. It hurt so much. I needed to see what damage had been done.
I heard the door open and close behind me.
“I am sorry,” Glorfindel sounded vexed and concerned, “Show me, my Love.”
“No,” I snapped, “I don’t want to show you anything. Look away!”
When his hand touched my shoulders I burst into tears and slapped his hands away. I didn’t turn around. I can already see bruises on my sides.
“Sleepaway this night,” I blubbered fiercely, “Sleep somewhere else. I can’t bear anyone else touching me!”
I put on my camisole and wadeled to the washroom, slamming the door behind me. I began hugging myself, trying to ease the pain. It just hurt so bad.
I heard the door open and I turned around, my mouth open and ready to yell at Glorfindel. Why wouldn’t he let me be? I didn’t want him touching me tonight. His hands, before were so large and beautiful--so gentle, now were freakish. They reminded me of giant claws, capable of great leverage. They looked like cruel hands to me now. I couldn’t bear him coming near me. His height was now unnatural to me, he was large and it frightened me to no end all of a sudden.
I felt fear creep in my stomach and I turned around quickly, bending over and upchucking my meal.
I could see the concern and horror in his eyes as he reached for me. I held my hand up to stay him; “No!”
I don’t think I have ever raised my voice before today. I don’t think I have ever been so unreasonable or so angry. I blamed myself for all this. I didn’t know how to say no and now I was taking it out on poor Glorfindel.
“Come, Sweetling,” his voice was strained as he slowly inched towards me, his hands held up, as though to show me he won’t touch me. A jar was in his hands--it was the jar he got me. I hiccuped, confused.
What reminded him of that? I forgot about that. I remembered putting it somewhere but then I forgot about it and I thought I lost it. It was a slightly devastating loss but seeing it again made me stop crying.
“Where did you find it?” I asked him after a long silence.
“It must have fallen under the bed,” he told me, no guile in his eyes. I slowly took it from his outstretched hand and stepped away from him when he took a step towards me. In the moonlight, he was frightening and I hated that all of a sudden, all his muscle and height made him threatening. I couldn’t bear to stand close to him at the moment.
“Please leave me,” I whimpered, feeling as though I was going to burst into tears at any second.
“I will,” he nodded and slowly stepped out. I didn’t look at his face. I couldn’t bear to. I turned back around and waited until I heard the door close. After, I took off my camisole and set the jar down. I cleaned the contents of my meal and I got in the hot springs and burst into tears once more.
My belly was ugly and bruised, there were little dents everywhere. I cried until my throat was sore and when I finally got sick of the hot water, I got out of the water and patted myself dry.
Looking at the jar, I realized that I mishandled the situation with Glorfindel poorly. No monster would bend under the bed and retrieve this jar for me, much less buy it. He wouldn’t try to comfort me. He wouldn’t listen to me when I tell him to leave. His height and width were alarming, yes. But he was gentle with me. His eyes were soft, only for me. He would bend down to kiss me so I wouldn’t have to go on the tip of my toes to kiss him. He would always put my pleasure first before his. He would lay down his life for me, I was sure of it. He wouldn’t ever harm me, or our baby.
I felt my eyes tear up when I realized I had really mishandled the situation. It’s just that the pain on my belly had turned it disfigured and ugly. It alarmed me and I couldn’t help but feel cornered.
I put on my nicest night robe, long and flowy. I put on my underwear and let my hair flow free over my shoulders to cover my breasts. I wasn’t going to bother putting on a nightgown. I wanted to make amends with Glorfindel and I thought maybe if he put the cream on for me, he would understand I wasn’t upset with him anymore.
With the jar in my hand, I took a deep breath and walked out to the bedroom. I was disappointed when I didn’t see him there. I did tell him to leave. Now, I only had to think about where I would find him. He had to be around here somewhere. I put on the robe he left on his bed and tied it around it me. It was big enough to fit me and my belly. My night robe was too flimsy to walk around with, especially in the hallways where there were guards and servants.
I started to feel embarrassed. My wild display of emotion and anger must have alarmed everyone around me and I didn’t want to ever have a repeat of it. I hated myself for having put myself in such a vulnerable situation. I should have learned to say no. I should have tried to tell Glorfindel how I wasn’t fine.
I shook my head and began searching for Lord Glorfindel. Where would he be? In the library perhaps? Or maybe in my old room? I couldn’t decide which.
So I went through each room carefully. I was surprised to find him in the stables. I had looked through the connecting window to the building. Just as I was about to open my mouth and call to him, he mounted his horse and rode away. I felt my heartbreak.
I really must have messed up this time around. I wiped away a stray tear that had fallen without my permission. I had no right to feel heartbroken, I was the one who drove him away. With a dejected posture, I turned away and began making my way from the stables. I didn’t know when he would be back. I just knew I didn’t want anyone to put that cream on me but him.
I woke up the next morning, my nose stuffy and my back and belly were aching. I had fallen asleep with his robe on and he was nowhere in sight. I looked away, silently and vehemently blaming myself. Everything that could have gone wrong just did and I had no idea how on Earth I would fix it. Where did he ride off too? When would he come back?
I paused. My heart began pounding, could it be him?
“Come in,” I called timidly, sitting up and clutching Glorfindel’s robe together.
“It’s me,” Glorfindel’s voice murmured, opening the door. He was carrying a tray in his hands. The smell of a hearty breakfast reached my nose.
“Come,” I nearly begged, struggling to stand. Glorfindel set the tray on his desk away from me. “I am so sorry.”
He turned to look at me. In a few short strides, he was kneeling before me, his gentle hands rubbing my knees. How could I have thought those hands were cruel? They were so gentle right now.
“There is naught to be sorry for, my Sweet Wife,” he assured me, pressing a tentative kiss to my lips. When I kissed him back fiercely, he gave in and hugged me.
“I shouldn’t have yelled at you like this,” I told him honestly, “I should have learned to say no to them. I don’t know how to. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”
“Whatever you did was completely normal,” he cut in, his eyes fierce, “You are my sweet wife, no bad word could have ever passed those lovely lips of yours. I should have known better than to let them touch you. I hadn’t learned my lesson the first time nor the second time around. For that I am sorry.”
“No,” I shook my head frantically. Before I could tell him that he was not at fault, that the fault was all mine, he cut me off.
“Let us not discuss this topic, it angers me to think of it,” he told me honestly, pressing sweet kisses to my throat. I pulled my head back. I should have had a lovely night filled with kisses and sex. But all I had was heartache and pain.
“Ok,” I agreed breathily.
“Are you hungry?” he asked me gently. I thought about it and nodded.
“Just a little,” I admitted. Glorfindel gave me a smile and got up, holding my hand and walking me over to his desk, where the tray was. Glorfindel made to pull another chair next to his. I didn’t know how to tell him that I would much prefer his lap. So when he sat down on his chair, I got up out of mine and made myself comfortable on his lap.
“Needy wife,” he teased, hugging me close to his body, his hand gently stroking my belly. The fabric of my robe felt a little scratchy on the skin of my belly but I ignored that. I was starving.
There was breakfast enough for both of us. I giggled when he fed me a few pieces of fruit, always getting it on my chin or cheek. He was being playful and I liked him that way.
“Do you have anything to do today?” I asked him tentatively.
“No,” he replied immediately, “Nor for the rest of the week. I am all yours.”
I felt my heart beat wildly. He was mine.
“Did you want to do something in particular?” he asked me softly, undoing his robe from my body, kissing my shoulder through the thin fabric of my own robe.
“I wanted you to rub the cream you got,” I blurted. It took me a while to find the courage to say those words. It sounded all too intimate and embarrassing but I couldn’t help it. I wanted it and I wanted it to be him who did it.
“With pleasure,” he said slowly, undoing my own robe now. I playfully slapped his hand away and got up, walking towards the nightstand where I had left the jar of cream. I sat down nervously on the bed and waited for him. I wasn’t sure why I was nervous.
Glorfindel watched me with heated eyes. After what seemed like forever, he languidly got off his chair and strode over to me.
“You’re like a puppy, you know?” he said casually, untying the robe I had tied together again, “Always demanding attention.”
“Is that so bad?” I giggled nervously.
“No,” he told me, leaning to kiss me, “I love it.”
When he undid the robe and parted it, he sucked in a deep breath. It was an ugly sight for sure. He set his large hands down on either side of my hips and I saw him clench his fists, gripping the sheets until his knuckles turned white. I slowly and tentatively stroked his knuckles.
“It would make me feel a lot better if you rub this cream on my belly,” I coaxed him gently. He seemed to take my words to heart because he did exactly that. He rubbed the cream all over my belly, gently massaging me. I think I moaned a few times. I felt him kiss my belly a few times. His gaze never strayed away from my belly and I just slowly reclined on the bed, staring at the canopy, feeling as though I could sleep again.
“This feels good,” I whimpered, delighted that he was doing this for me.
“Hmm…” he murmured distractedly. I felt him tug at my panties and I helped him wiggle them off me.
“So fucking beautiful,” he murmured, pressing kisses to my belly and going lower. I let him spread my legs and I let him kiss me there until I cried out.
I wiggled off from Glorfindel’s body and stripped the sheet away from us. I studied his body and tried to remember the reason why I found him so threatening. His body was beautiful. It was delightfully lean and muscled, hard. His shoulders were broad and powerful. His skin was pale and clear. How could I have been so afraid of him that night?
I shook my head and leaned forward, pressing kisses against his chest and trailing down. I never tried to give him what he gave me so many times before. It wouldn’t hurt to try.
Somewhere while I was at it, I felt his hand weave into my hair.
“Dear Eru,” he croaked hoarsely. All of a sudden he raised his hips and I almost choked.
“Glorfindel,” I had to pull back, “My Lord, gently. Gently, my Love.”
He seemed too incoherent to speak but he eased his hips gently down. I rubbed his hip bone soothingly and kissed him just above his navel. I couldn’t help but smile, I was doing something right.
“Glorfindel,” I whimpered, feeling him inside me. “My Lord.”
“Shhh…” he whispered gently, rubbing the curve of my bum lovingly. I whimpered when I felt him move some more. He was always the right amount of rough. I think this was also how he liked it.
I loved it when we were like this. I felt as though anything could happen right now and I still would be with him. I wouldn’t care.
“I was sleeping,” I teased him sluggishly.
“No you weren’t,” he chuckled, rubbing me where it felt good.
“You don’t play fair,” I sighed, raising my hips some more. I felt his hand circle around and hold my belly, stroking it gently.
I don’t think we left each other for the rest of the week. We barely came outside and any other time, I would have been embarrassed. But after the terrible ordeal with the rough elves and my bruised belly, I don’t think I was going to ever let him go. Our first fight ever was terrible and I wished it would never happen again.
“I don’t want to fight again,” I whimpered one night after I had woken up from a nightmare that was now distant in my memories.
“I don’t mind fighting if this is where it gets me,” Glorfindel said playfully, his large hands circling my body and pulling me on top of him. I set my hands on his chest to support myself so that I don’t squish my gravid figure into him. My fingers traced some of the ink etchings on his skin.
I couldn’t help but smile. Sure it was all amazing, I never felt so close to him before. But still. It was a terrible ordeal.
“It would be nice though, wouldn’t it?” I said hopefully.
“It would be,” Glorfindel agreed, stroking the curve of my bum, his hands taking to dragging it up with each stroke.
“My Lord,” I told him, trying to glare at him sternly. But when I thought about it, what was there to speak about? I already said what I wanted to say.
“We can’t promise not to fight,” Glorfindel said when he realized that it was a very important topic for me, “That would be ridiculous. But I can promise you that I will fuck you for a week straight after every fight.”
His face was absolutely serious when he promised me that sweet, albeit vulgar oath. Just as I was about to giggle, I felt his fingers dip into the cleft between my open thighs, each knee on each side of his hips. I felt myself exhale in an effort to keep from collapsing on him from how mind-numbing that was.
“Ohh…” I mewled when he pushed his fingers in deep enough to hit the perfect spot. He was holding my arm as a source of my support and all I could do was to look down at him, my vision cloudy.
Where all else was dark, his eyes were bright for me.
A beautiful, bouncing bundle of joy arrives in this world.
I had reached that point in pregnancy where I could no longer move properly. But the more pregnant I got the more active I was. I couldn’t really find it in myself to stop ‘over-exerting’ myself, as Lord Relos put it.
But as the months progressed, Glorfindel got more and more creative with all the positions in which we made love. I didn’t mind. He was barely ever here and whenever he was, all my thoughts of The Doom, the weird spider dreams, and other nightmares would fade away. I wouldn’t be bored anymore.
It was unspoken between me and Lady Aeronid and the rest of the household that whenever Lord Glorfindel was here, we were not to be disturbed nor questioned. We got work done too. I always helped him with the ledgers that Lord Relos must have missed. I slowly learned that while Glorfindel did his duty without complaints, he didn't necessarily like it. He would always find something to distract him, from the feathers of his quill to massaging my ankles. I didn’t mind him being distracted because where he hated paperwork, I enjoyed it. It was like reading a new book, no matter how uninteresting.
We had discussed names for the child. If it was a girl, it would be Ophelia, and if it was a boy, it would be Aegon. It was obvious who wanted to name the girl. Glorfindel had been interested in naming both of them but I quite frankly didn't want to name my daughter Arwen. I had nothing against her namesake but Arwen deserved a name she could call her own and have it be unprecedented. It was a small respect in that sense.
Any day now, I would give birth. I just knew it. I would wake up in the middle of the night with my baby kicking me to no end. I was terrified, mainly because Glorfindel would not be there. Unfortunately, wall duty waited for no man and exempted no man, especially an expecting father.
When I woke up one night; I knew it had begun because I was laying in a puddle of my own making and it didn’t smell like urine. The white-hot pain that soon followed confirmed my suspicions.
I wasn’t awake for most of my birth-giving. The pain had been too much. I had passed out, that and the baby wouldn’t come out. I was told I had to be almost cut open but Lady Aeronid had vehemently fought Lord Relos on the matter until he relented and literally yanked poor Ophelia out of me.
I had to laugh a little at the story. I was finally done with pregnancy. Now for the baby part.
Where is Glorfindel?
Glorfindel didn’t come until three weeks later. It had been a particularly rough patch of orcs and goblins. He had come home with a bandaged arm but a wide smile on his face when he realized that Ophelia had come.
When he looked me in the eye, I felt invincible. I felt as though all the sleepless nights without him and with Ophelia were just a hassle that would get past us. He loved me.
“Ophelia,” he murmured, “She will be greatly loved among her kin. She will grow in beauty and grace. She will be smart, just like her mother.”
I glowed. I trusted his word over any other person’s. I knew how credible his words were because he could see what no one else could. This was his gift, his beauty.
He was my true love and in my arms, holding onto Glorfindel’s pinky finger was the best thing that would ever walk Arda.
END OF BOOK 3
Chapter 28: A/N clarification + Chapter
At the arrival of a powerful and unexpected guest, House Glorfindel is no longer as powerful and is affected by the change.
So just a few things to clarify:
1) This story is not The Hematic. If you see similarities, not much I can do to convince you otherwise. I am staying true to myself. You can always read other stories.
2) I answered a question earlier that I shouldn't have because it literally revealed the plot. Just know that the 3rd age is very different and has no correlation to the 1st age.
“She comes with us,” King Fingon declared jovially. At first, I was confused. What poor woman would he drag down to his battlefield? When all eyes in the room turned towards me, I stepped back, terrified. Did he mean me?
I searched frantically for Glorfindel, he would know what to do. However, when I looked at him, I almost fainted. He was being held back by armored men, not of Gondolin. Glorfindel himself was struggling, panic in his eyes. No one would dare touch the Sentinel of Gondolin so callously. I looked to King Turgon and saw his face was pinched in displeasure, as though he already knew.
“What?” I stuttered, holding little Ophelia closer to my chest. I felt incredibly threatened. Why was no one doing anything?
King Fingon bared his teeth in a smile. “I think it would be nice for you to get a fresh look to the people outside of those walls my dear brother confined you in.”
“I am not confined, Your grace,” I said, not meaning to sound cold. “I never felt trapped.”
“You have become delusional,” Earl Borg said roughly, “You are not free from this palace.”
“I really couldn’t care less what you think,” I snarled roughly, wondering why he felt it was imperative he get involved in my business. “I am happy right where I am.”
I felt a rush of anger I never thought I would feel. It was a rage so consuming it drove me to the edges of my sanity. I handed my baby over to Lady Aeronid who was glaring fiercely at the mortal man. I then turned towards Glorfindel and grabbed Lord Relos's wine glass. I felt the room hush around me as I angrily stalked to the guards who were wearing King Fingon's colors, holding my Glorfindel down. Before anyone could blink, I chucked the wine at one of them and smashed the glass into the other, reaching as high as I could. I felt a ripple of satisfaction when the man yelled and let go of Glorfindel.
“He is your superior you filthy mongrel,” I snarled at them. I hugged Glorfindel and kissed his chest. He hugged me back.
“Good girl,” he murmured quietly. I walked back to Lord Relos, Lady Aeronid, and Ophelia. I turned to King Fingon who was glaring at me fiercely.
“You are not my King,” I began and I felt emboldened when I heard the scandalized gasps and when Glorfindel kissed my forehead. “I owe no allegiance to you nor you, Earl Borg. I don’t care that we are the same race. You are still the most disenchanting man I have ever had the displeasure of meeting. I owe all my allegiance to King Turgon King of Gondolin, Gondolin itself, my husband Lord Glorfindel, the House of the Golden Flower, and all that comes with that. I have willingly bound myself to my husband, does that not prove to you that I am free? He has afforded me all the freedoms that you would never think of affording your wife and children, Earl Borg, including the freedom of addressing you.”
I felt everyone looking at me. I can see Lord Penlod and Lord Etchellion smirking smugly at their boots and I could see Lord Relos and Lady Aeronid looking at me proudly. With their support, I took a deep breath and I turned to King Turgon, who watched me passively;
“Your Highness, is it your wish that I accompany this entourage, to where you are going? If so, your wish is my command.”
“It is my wish,” King Turgon conceded, sounding immensely pleased. I ignored the twinge of disappointment that I felt. “However, you shall only come for the purpose of accompanying your husband. You may bring two servants with you and if you so wish, your daughter.”
“We shall prepare such arrangements, Your Highness,” Glorfindel said, bowing low. I curtsied just as low.
“You may go,” King Turgon said dismissively, sitting back on his chair.
The entire House of the Golden Flower departed the council quickly, not daring to tarry. As we filed through the doors in neat order, I squared my shoulders and resisted the urge of looking back. King Fingon’s cold, unforgiving gaze made me shudder. Now I wonder about the wisdom of me challenging him so openly.
“My Lord,” I murmured quietly once we retired to the privacy of our chambers. Ophelia gurgled sleepily. It had recently come to my attention that married spouses who could afford it didn’t sleep together. They slept in separate beds and in separate rooms.
Ophelia definitely should have slept in a separate room but Glorfindel insisted on having her close to him, where he could watch her. He seemed absolutely in love with Ophelia, who had charmed everyone who had ever beheld her.
“Yes?” Glorfindel asked me absently, sitting before the fireplace, staring at the fire with his fists bundled against his mouth. I walked to him and sat at his feet, leaning my head against his knee and watched the fire with him.
“I don’t think it was wise to challenge King Fingon so openly, on my part,” I said honestly. The possible consequences of my actions began to dawn on me. Glorfindel would surely suffer the injustice of enduring my punishment, for my insolence. It was just that it drove me to a rage to be challenged by the man who insisted that I stick to my own race, who regarded me with a disdain reserved for traitors of their own country. To be told I don’t know my own mind drove me to a craze. This man had a lot of nerve.
Sure I wasn’t outspoken or remotely bold and daring, but I don’t think that anyone could have ever angered me that much.
“It was unwise, but sorely needed,” Glorfindel said after a while and I winced. “You made me incredibly proud.”
“The King and the Earl, they will attempt to retaliate,” I said glumly, watching Ophelia toss and turn. She was a surprisingly strong baby for her five weeks.
“I know,” Glorfindel said, “But I am his cousin, twice removed. It adds weight to Turko’s judgment. He will stand with me.”
“Against his own brother?” I asked him incredulously, moving to sit in front of him on the ground, and leaning my head against his knee. I stared at the fire, feeling slightly put out.
“Turko has been very vocal against many of Findekano’s policies and alliances, namely between Feanor’s passle,” Glorfindel said thoughtfully, his hand stroking my head and I closed my eyes. That felt good. “I think I might stand a chance.”
“I hope so,” I said glumly, “I just don’t want you to get into trouble because of me.”
Glorfindel remained silent for a while; “His torment will be meaningless if I have you and my Ophelia by my side.”
My heart began racing; “I wouldn’t know how to make you feel better. This man has the power to degrade you in the worst ways.”
“He doesn’t have as much power as you think,” Glorfindel sounded faintly amused, “Or I should say, as he thinks. But such talk is treacherous talk. Let us not discuss it further. The unseen may easily hear us.”
That marked the end of that conversation. I winced when I moved. My birth had been a long and difficult process. I had gotten stitches in my nether regions because the birth had literally ripped me apart. Lord Relos had given me a surgical cut in my lower midline. It was a trauma that still baffled me.
I hadn’t seemed that large when I was pregnant, looking back at it. How could a baby be so big? But Ophelia was a big baby. She was healthy and robust, which was all that mattered to me. However, sometimes, extra cushioning didn’t go amiss.
“I missed you, My Lord,” I finally sighed. “I missed this, no matter how unpleasant a conversation it is.”
“I missed you too,” Glorfindel murmured from above me, shuffling to come and sit next to me on the ground. He wrapped his arm around me and gently lifted me up in his arms, pulling me on his lap. I sighed dreamily, snuggling closer to him.
Yes, I missed this.
I didn’t feel too self-conscious, even when he put his hand on my tummy, absently tracing patterns. It was slightly ticklish but also very soothing. I had learned to accept the fact that I was not going to be as perfect as Lady Aeronid, or Lady Idril. I only know that all I need is a little grooming and maintenance, and just being as I am. Only me, as I am, was enough to inspire passion and love in my husband.
I studied his face. He had tattoos. I never paid much attention to them until now. Or at least, I didn’t think too much about them until now. He had tattoos covering his entire left arm, left shoulder, left peck, and even part of the left side of his neck. He had an arrow crossed with a sword sticking from a bush of leaves, low on his hips extending into the top of his thighs.
I began unbuttoning his tunic, hoping he wouldn’t mind. I would like to see his tattoos again.
“Are you ready, My Lady Wife?” he asked me, sounding concerned and amused. “Have you recovered properly?”
“No,” I shook my head, pouting at how disappointing that answer was. “But I want to see your tattoos.”
Glorfindel obliged to let me undress his upper body. As usual, the sight of him, especially in the firelight, took my breath away. But his tattoos grabbed my attention.
“Are you the only one who has them?” Elves, in general, were very modest in their clothes so if they had any tattoos, I would never know about them.
“No,” Glorfindel shook his head. “All my comrades and brothers in arms have them. I know the late Lady Aredhel had them. We usually do them for each other. Lord Borg and Lord Etchellion were my closest comrades, most of my etchings are drawn by them.”
“Really,” I was surprised. “Are you all artists?”
“We learn to draw these things from a young age, every little ellon dreams of having them. I remember spending most of my childhood perfecting a few designs, most of which now form a mural on Lord Etchellion,” Lord Glorfindel explained. He slowly moved his hands to my dress and began unlacing it. I helped him, shy. He got rid of my corset with relative ease though. However, our bottoms stayed on.
I felt shy. It has been a while since I bared myself for him, it always felt new. “Will you get other ones?”
“Lord Penlod has expressed an interest in etching a few designs unto my side,” Lord Glorfindel murmured, his bright eyes studying me, almost hungrily.
“He is not your comrade though, right? He is in the library often times,” I remembered from Lord Relos’s teachings about the Heraldry of the houses of Gondolin. Lord Penlod was a man of the quill and parchment.
“He is nonetheless my friend,” Lord Glorfindel said thoughtfully.
“How sanitary is that process?” I asked him, still looking at his tattoos. I tried to ignore my nakedness but it suddenly felt difficult to do so.
“As sanitary as possible. The herbs are prepared and cleaned thoroughly and the needle itself is boiled for a long period of time,” Lord Glorfindel murmured, seeming distracted. I felt my face flame. When he looked at my face, he gave me a laughing smile and stroked my cheek, leaning forward to peck me on my lips.
I giggled softly, I always felt safe with him, safe and loved. I could feel his hands drop. His rough, calloused fingers began stroking my heavy, milk-laden breasts. My mind went blank for a long moment and it took me a moment to comprehend what he just said.
“My Lord,” I sighed, falling against him, hoping to dissuade his fingers from their exploration. It didn’t, but his touch was so gentle it was like a little tickle.
“What about that little cross, here,” to show me what he meant, he stroked my cross, “You have the same one on your wrist.”
I frowned; “I don't remember how I got those but they must have been significant to me in another life,” I was glad for the distraction because it felt as though his fingers were dragging me down a dangerous road that would only hinder my recovery.
I felt his fingers brush over my nipples and I almost swooned. Everything about my body just got more sensitive. I couldn't understand how he had such an effect on me.
“When I touch you…” I began slowly but blushed when I realized I didn't know how to word my question.
His eyebrows raised themselves at me and I cleared my throat. But I took a deep breath and plowed on; “Do I affect you the same way you affect me?”
He stared at me for a moment and it suddenly fell silent. I squirmed under his gaze, looking away.
I felt him shift and very gently, he moved us both to the ground, so that he was on top of me. I then felt his hips grind on me and I almost cried at how good that felt.
“You are the only person who is capable of making me go down on my knees,” he told me, his eyes mischievous as the implication slowly made sense. I playfully gave his arm a little shove and then leaned forward to kiss him. Glorfindel broke the kiss, taking my hand and kissing it, before bringing it down between us. I could feel the hardening of his desire and I blushed. I could literally feel my chest move as my heart pounded underneath.
“When I go on patrols, I am always, in some way, thinking of you. What dress you would be wearing, or how you would bite your lips when you would be concentrating on a piece of text. All those little things, I can't stop thinking of. When I am alone at night, I think of your sweet warmth, tight yet soft. I think of your lovely thighs and your delightful breasts. I am always thinking of you and you affect me more than you would think,” his eyes were sincere. When he was speaking to me, he was stroking my face and pressing kisses. By then I was already in love with him, all over again.
I was not going to deny; that made me feel a lot better. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one between the both of us who were affected by the other. Maybe he was just better at hiding. It reinforced all that I believed in, regarding our marriage.
I slowly maneuvered us so that positions were switched and I was on top.
“You don’t have to,” Glorfindel said, sitting up and pulling my hair out of my face, stroking the side of my neck. That tickled me and my neck concaved on itself, I giggled, gently pushing his hand away. He knew that tickled me.
“I know,” I said bluntly, “But I would like to do something for you. You already do so much for me, my Lord.”
“You underestimate yourself,” Glorfindel frowned, studying me intensely. “You do much more than just sit idle as a trophy wife.”
“Lady Aeronid does all the house management,” I frowned, realizing that that was becoming slightly untrue.
“None of the highborn elleths would willingly spend long hours patiently copying old text, and not many are quite as invested in their gardens and herbs as you are. It is an incredibly efficient source of self-sufficiency,” he told me, giving me a gentle smile. At the mention of my little garden, I smiled. Now that I had plenty of time on my hands after completing a considerable amount of recopying text, I realized I was actually good at gardening. I had perfected my garden in our large, unused sunroom. It was always so warm in that little garden and it enabled a considerable amount of self-sufficiency regarding produce.
“Not many elleths could boast of having a husband like you,” I murmured, pressing a soft kiss to his throat.
He chuckled and moved away, his hand on my shoulder; “It wouldn’t be fair to you.”
I was slightly confused; maybe he didn’t want this anymore. I sat back on my heels, cocking my head to the side and studying him. He was studying me too, just as intently. I was willing to forgo my pleasure for his. He didn’t seem to realize that. But that didn’t matter because the terrible feeling that he was no longer interested by me was impending. I swallowed and smiled, trying not to blink. If I blinked, I knew my eyes would tear up and I didn’t want that to happen. He didn’t need to know that I was always so self-conscious, even though I tried to repeatedly reassure myself, like a hypocrite.
“I’m tired,” I finally declared, giving him my best smile and putting on my corset back together. I got up and walked around him but his hand on my calf stopped me.
“My beautiful wife,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to my hip. I forced myself to look at him and smile at him. I didn’t understand why I was so hurt. I went to our washroom and closed the door behind me. I undid my corset again and pulled down my skirt and walked to the mirror. I frowned when I saw that my old body hasn't returned as I had expected it to. I had been doing little exercises alone, so no one would see me or hear me. It had been difficult but I had genuinely thought that these exercises would have worked. I did them every day for the two hours that Ophelia would sleep in during the afternoon. It was painful sometimes but it felt like it made a difference.
Now my stomach had stretch marks and was a little flabby. I gave a little sigh and quickly undid the rest of my dress. I had unrealistic views on this matter and I genuinely wished, for the first time ever, that I had someone who understood. I wanted a mother who would tell me what to do. Lord Relos could only do so much for me and Lady Aeronid would not understand, neither would Lady Idril nor any elleth. I grabbed my jar of cream, that I made with aloe vera, egg whites, sugar, and butter, and rubbed it all over my stomach. It had been a ritual that I rub some on my belly every day after my birth. It would soften the skin and hopefully, eventually, make the stretch marks disappear. It was a logic that I figured out on my own; softer skin is more flexible. I had essentially figured out everything on my own.
I dejectedly picked up my clothes and cleaned myself from my post-partum blood. I picked up a small bowl and filled it with water from the springs. I sat on the floor, applying a few drops of rose oil I extracted from my gardens, and washed my feet, scrubbing them as hard as I could. I began grooming my feet once more, filing my nails and putting oil on them to make them soft and shiny. I heard the washroom door knock and I swallowed once more, feeling slightly numb.
“Come in,” I said in my strongest voice. I put everything away on the little shelf next to me, chucking out the water down the drain. I didn’t get up, instead of waiting for the oil to dry on my feet to avoid hazards. I had once made the mistake of walking while the oil was still fresh and I had fallen painfully on my behind. It was one of the days Glorfindel was not here.
I heard the door open and close. I massaged the oil into my legs, studiously ignoring him. I didn’t feel like speaking with him because I didn’t want to cry. It felt terrible, to be so ugly in the face of such perfection. I began thinking to Earl Borg, he was right. I would age and become ugly while Glorfindel would stay young and beautiful. I shook my head, laughing to myself. I had just insulted the man, how could I take his words into consideration?
When I judged the oil on my feet to have dried enough, I got up and brushed myself off, walking back into our bedroom. I could feel Glorfindel watching me but I studiously looked away. I didn’t feel like being humiliated again; no matter how sweetly worded his rejection was.
I walked over to Ophelia’s crib and watched her, feeling all my bad thoughts wash away when I watched her pretty little face. Already, she had a head full of hair. When she was newly born, her head was just one mop of brown. Her eyes were still unfocused and thus, her eye colour was not quite as clear, but it was grey so far. I gently stroked her cheek, being careful not to wake her. She was precious, but her sleeping schedule had just started to improve and I didn’t want to disrupt it.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and jumped, I hadn't heard Glorfindel come. He always made sure to stomp a little harder to announce his presence to me because I didn’t hear him, just like all the other elves.
“Is something the matter?” I was concerned, why was he so silent? Did he hear something I didn’t? I stood up, watching the dark walls around me wearily. I couldn’t see anything but I felt better standing over Ophelia.
“Nothing, my Love,” he murmured, bending down and kissing the corner of my mouth. I relaxed. Oh, then why was he silent?
“You didn’t stomp this time,” I observed, trying to subtly shuffle away. I couldn’t bear his touch right now. If he touched me, he would feel how truly changed my body was, especially through the thin chemise.
“If you heard me you would have left,” he murmured silently. I felt him pull me closer. In the firelight, his profile was shadowed from one side, giving him a sombre appearance. His mouth was pressed into a thin line and I was astounded by his perception. I swallowed once more and winced, he probably heard that too.
“Tell me what soured your mood,” he implored me gently, bending down to my eye level. I felt his hand go under my bum and lift me by my thighs. I gasped, barely avoiding screaming and waking up Ophelia.
“My Lord,” I hissed, grabbing his shoulders for support. I felt him move and he sat on the bed, with me on top of him, one knee on each side of his thighs. When he sat there silently, I realized he was waiting for my answer.
I shook my head; “I just recalled my audience with the King.”
It was the only time I ever lied to him and he didn’t know how I lied or what I did when I lied. At least, that is what I thought.
“Try again,” he murmured, his large hands squeezing my bum, slightly too hard. I gasped in dismay. He never handled me so roughly but I could tell, by his steadily cooling gaze, that he caught on to my lie. He hates lies, it seems.
“It’s nothing you should concern yourself with,” I said roughly, pulling away and trying to wiggle away from my hands but his painful grip on my bum held steady. “My Lord, stop.”
“Do not lie to me,” he said coldly. I wanted to cry. I have never seen him so angry with me, “It is stealing. Did you know that?”
When I stayed silent, he jostled me, not enough to hurt me but enough to force my attention.
“Stealing is the worst crime anyone can commit,” he told me softly, his gaze watching me, hawkish and skullish in the firelight. “You can steal someone’s life or their right to truth.”
I took a deep, shuddering breath. “I don’t need you to raise me. I need you to let me go and stop asking me questions I clearly don’t want to answer.”
“Not until you tell me. What answer do you disdain to give so much that you lie to me?” He asked me, his grip unrelenting, even when I tried to push his hands away.
“Stop it,” I whimpered, unable to handle it any longer, “Stop it you are hurting me.”
It was as though he had been doused in cold water. He blinked slowly at me and as quickly as lightning, his hands left my bum. The speed of it left my balance crooked and I nearly fell. I struggled away from his lap and glared at him.
“I’m sorry,” he said grimly. “I didn't mean to mishandle you.”
“Whatever you didn’t mean to happen just happened,” I said coldly, snatching my night robe and wrapping it around me. I could hardly look at him. Would he always treat me like this when I evoked his ire in the future? The idea of it terrified me to no end. Elves were generally a benign race if one disregarded their foolhardy affinity for war and killing, namely the Noldor. But I couldn’t handle any pain, the thought of pain brought back terrible memories. It unearthed that which I desperately wished to forget.
But I couldn’t ever forget Lady Moravid’s beautiful obsidian eyes, her torture, and torment, or the terrible pain of my flesh melting off my bones. Instead, I took a deep, placating breath. It wouldn’t do to have nightmares.
“Elizabeth,” I froze, he never called me by my name. But he sounded desperate. I shook my head and walked to the other side of the bed, briefly considering sleeping elsewhere tonight but remembering that Ophelia was a night responsibility too.
“I am tired,” I said roughly, trying not to cry.
I forced myself to sleep that night. The awareness of having Glorfindel in the same room was driving me insane. He didn’t sleep on the bed which I was immensely grateful for.
I felt someone stroking my sides. I wiggled, feeling comforted. It was a familiar gesture and whoever was doing that knew I liked it. I sighed dreamily turned away, burrowing deeper into the pillow. But my eyes flew open when I felt those hands raise my chemise.
“What?” I murmured blearily trying to push those hands away--Glorfindel. “My Lord, don’t.”
“Is this what upset you?” he asked me, sounding breathless. I focused my eyes on him and watched him look at my body. I shuddered when I felt his fingertips run along my stomach. “Your stretch marks?”
I studied him wearily, not answering. That wasn't the only reason. His rejection stung too. Now he was airing out all my dirty laundry.
Then he did something completely unexpected. He leaned down and kissed my stomach. I gasped, sitting up quickly. I held his head in my hands and tried to push him away.
“My Lord,” I pleaded, feeling myself melt in his warm gaze. He sat up before me and now we were facing each other.
“You’re fucking gorgeous,” his eyes were fierce, “I am sorry you don’t believe me.”
I looked away, feeling ashamed. It felt like he just rebuked me and I wasn’t sure what to do. He never did that before. The only time he ever did that was the first time he caught me with my hedgehog, Baby, in Imladris.
“I need to go to Ophelia,” I said suddenly when I heard her whimper.
When I looked back at him, he had turned his back away from me, putting on his day tunic. I looked away in fear that he would turn around and catch me looking at him; in longing? In Terror? I was too afraid to let him see my feelings, even though he already knew them.
Elizabeth prepares for a strenuous journey--her punishment for her boldness.
When I looked this morning, I couldn’t help but feel immensely pleased. After nearly six weeks of incessant bleeding, it finally stopped. I stopped bleeding and all I could feel was relief and joy. I never usually bled. It was an ongoing issue that had concerned Lady Arwen and Lady Aeronid in both of my lives. But as it turns out, I was fertile enough to conceive just a month after having lain with my husband. It was enough for me. I suppose it was only a blessing. Some women bleed often enough that it is a hassle.
I felt alive and enlightened, for the first time in what felt like forever. I was active enough to carry Ophelia around in the intricately carved stroller that was given as a gift for her birth. I was active enough to plow through a new plot of land and plant new seeds that I had with me for a while and had been meaning to get to planting. I felt stronger and more alive.
“Come now,” Lady Aeronid implored, “Ophelia has had enough of the sun.”
“Oh, yes, of course,” getting up off my knees and dusting myself off. Lady Aeronid had already reached Ophelia, cradling the baby in her arms. Lady Aeronid, like practically everyone else, were half-in-love with Ophelia. It was quite alarming and it always concerned me that it would spoil her. But that was a worry when she would be old enough to understand, and for now, all I can do is love her and coddle her.
“I’ll go and change her,” Lady Aeronid told me, “She will need to be fed soon.”
“I’ll go and change as well,” I told her, removing my gardening gloves and picking up the materials and tools I was using. I put everything in the little shed and walked back into our chambers.
Once I reached my chamber, I walked right into the washroom and began undressing. I threw my dirty clothes in the hamper and scrubbed myself down. I was sweaty and grimy but I didn’t mind. My gardens always turned out beautiful in the end. Now that I had finally stopped bleeding, I was finally able to go to the springs--something I looked forward too immensely. I thought nothing could ruin my day until I heard the door click.
“Lady Aeronid?” I asked her, turning around and reeling back. Before me stood Glorfindel, tall and shadowed, even in the afternoon light. I stared at him, unsure of what to say. Since our little spat, I had been avoiding him. I shouldn’t say avoiding, he left immediately afterward. But when I saw him, the terrible memories of him mishandling me resurfaced and I blinked at him, slowly.
“Welcome back, my Lord,” was all I could say. He was so handsome, but I still hadn’t forgiven him. It was all too soon.
He didn’t say anything, he just watched me. I felt something small build up inside me, a scream but not quiet. It was far too awkward and I hated the silence and staring between us.
“Thank you,” he finally said, “Were you going to use the washroom?”
“Yes,” I said automatically, turning around and folding the towel that was wrapped around me on the ground next to me. I couldn't be bothered to wait for him to leave. Besides, he had already seen me naked before.
“May I join you?” He asked me gently and I frowned, glad he couldn’t see my face. I didn’t want to say no because it was his room before it was also mine. I couldn’t just dismiss him, he was my overlord and husband.
“Yes,” I finally said, finding I didn’t disdain the thought of him joining me as much as I thought I would.
So it was that he joined me, both of us naked and as far apart as possible. I imagined it was enough for him to see that I didn’t want to touch him at the moment. I heard him sigh.
“Forgive me,” Glorfindel said, and I looked up, regretting it immediately. He was waist deep in the water, his hair loose about him and his expression forlorn, and quiet repentant.
I wanted to say ‘there is nothing to forgive,’ but not only would it be petty, but it would also be untrue. I learned my lesson the hard way. I simply nodded to show that I heard and began sponging myself. It would also be petty to remain silent, I decided. Nothing is fixed with silence.
“Don’t ever touch me that way again,” I finally said, “If you are displeased with me, tell me. I will try to amend my mistakes. Do not presume to raise me. I never had a father and I do not need you to be one for me. I simply need you to be my husband.”
I slowly looked up at him to gauge his reaction. He was looking at me, his lips were drawn into a thin line of contemplation before he finally nodded.
“I had no right to touch you that way. You are right, I need not have expressed my ire so callously,” he acknowledged.
In my heart, I had already forgiven him and he had forgiven me. I don’t remember what we argued about. I remember only what happened. But now, I saw that he had no intention to repeat that episode again. It wasn’t like the women in Torsnan, who insisted that their men would never lay a hand on them again and arrive the next day covered in bruises. Glorfindel was not a violent person by nature. I don’t even think he even realized he was handling me so roughly until I told him. He didn’t even try to excuse himself, which told me more than enough.
I slowly waddled to him, watching his reaction. I didn’t know how he would take my advances but I approached him as one would a frightened deer. But I didn’t need to worry any longer. One long arm came out and pulled me to him. I felt him maneuver us so that I was sitting with my knee on either side of his lap. I looked at him, in his bright eyes, searching for what I don’t know. But when he kissed me I felt my mind go blank.
I kissed him back, holding him tightly to myself. But then I remembered Ophelia and broke away.
“I have to go feed Ophelia,” I told him breathlessly, leaning against him, my head on his shoulder to show I wasn’t avoiding him. I kissed his powerful shoulder. His hands were gripping my hips, unwilling to let go.
“Yes,” he agreed, pulling me closer so that I could feel him. I sighed, unsure of what to do next. He just felt so good. I loved the feel of him against me and it was all too much. Eventually, the pending responsibility of Ophelia won out and I peeled myself away from him, regretfully.
Ophelia loved her father. She never cried when she was being carried by him and Glorfindel had no problems with carrying her. He always made sure to spend as much time as he could with her, especially while I slept or did other paperwork.
I couldn’t help but watch them. It was like a dream. Everything was a dream. I was too afraid to wake up from it. But I knew in my heart, that I was to come with Glorfindel. I didn’t want to take Ophelia with me but she still fed from my breast and wouldn’t stop for another few months, perhaps even years. Besides, she was safer with me. I just couldn’t imagine leaving her. The thought of it broke my heart, just as the thought of endangering her also did.
When Glorfindel looked at me, his eyes dimmed, and I knew he was thinking of the same thing too.
“I don’t want to bring her with me,” I admitted, “But I can’t leave her. It would break my heart.”
“I know,” he told me simply. “I know.”
I didn’t understand how much I needed that reassurance until he said it and it made me tear up.
“I love her so much,” I blubbered, trying to get a grip on myself. “I don’t want her to be around humans.”
Glorfindel frowned, “That is not a fair thing to say. It would be good for her to have a change of scenery.”
“I’m sorry,” I murmured, wiping away a stray tear, “I--you don’t understand. All my grief and nightmares were because of humans. My own race...”
But Glorfindel looked at me curiously, seeming slightly unconvinced. Then I remembered what he believed about me. He didn’t think I was a human, like the rest of them did. He had insisted, once, that I wasn’t. I had laughingly dismissed him and the thought of me being anything but human brought a little chuckle to me whenever I thought of it. But it was easier to say I was mortal than it was to try and figure out what I actually was.
He nodded grimly; “I won’t let anything happen to either of you. In all cases, you will be either with me or with any of the Sentinels of Gondolin. If the time comes for battle, you will be far away.”
I cocked my head pensively, watching him grimly; “You won’t be safe.”
“When am I ever safe?” he told me lightly, slowly getting up and setting a sleepy Ophelia in her crib. “My duties have kept me well in-shape and well-prepared for what is to come.”
I watched him, feeling a rush of affection for him. He was the most selfless person I know. He was always putting my needs before his, he was always ever so understanding. I didn’t mind that I wasn’t going to carry a sword, or that I wasn’t going to be as involved as my husband in the politics. I didn’t want any part in their business because I didn’t understand enough and I wasn’t curious enough to. I felt that it would take away from the ethereal quality that only elves possessed. It would make them seem so human and that was the last thing I ever wanted. Besides, he always asked for my input and he always took my opinion seriously enough.
I tried to make myself useful too. Now that Lady Aeronid afforded me more responsibility for the house, I had begun to take leave to the marketplace ever so often, even without a chaperone, because I finally learned how to navigate myself about. I copied sacred text unto new parchment so as to preserve them, a hobby that has been long in decline, even among the long-suffering elves. I had tried to make the estate itself more self-sufficient instead of relying on the expensive imports. So far, my gardens have been inexpensive and fertile. I imagined that some of my ‘reforms’ didn’t go amiss.
I was deep in thought when I felt Glorfindel settle next to me. I blinked tiredly at him. Despite my burst of energy today, sleep has been avoiding me, especially with Ophelia’s sleep schedule. He smiled at me lightly and held my hand, bringing it up and kissing it.
“Would you like to sleep now?” he asked me softly, leaning forward and pressing a kiss to my forehead.
“Yes, please,” I murmured, settling my head against his shoulder tiredly and then picking it back up to smile at him. I got up and walked over to our canopy bed. Despite how often we used the bed when he was around, he never seemed to sleep in it, or at least, actually sleep as I do.
“I will be taking care of estate matters,” he informed me.
“Just a nap,” I assured him and he smiled knowingly at me.
“Just a nap,” he agreed gently.
“Wake me up soon, I don’t want to miss feeding Ophelia,” I told him, settling on the soft bed and covering myself with my robe, which was warm from sitting in front of the fire.
“I imagine she will have no troubles waking you up herself,” he said absently, looking over the papers, “But I will make sure she is fed.”
I didn’t bother to decipher the meaning of his last sentence. He often used code language with me and it infuriated me sometimes, but today, I was too tired to roll my eyes.
“Don’t forget, my Lord,” I told him, settling on the soft bed and closing my eyes.
I felt something tug at my nipple, and I felt a slight chill on my chest. I shuddered slightly but the feeling of discombobulation after waking up persisted and I had to open my eyes. Glorfindel was moving Ophelia away from me, rubbing her back and jostling her softly. He looked at me and smiled.
“Sleep now,” he told me, “She is fed.”
I closed my eyes and nodded, tiredly retying the laces of my dress back together. If this was a dream, I hoped that I didn’t wake up.
I had insisted that I commission myself breeches, much to Lady Aeronid’s displeasure and the seamstress’s scandalized expression. But I couldn’t very well travel in a dress. The entire thing was ridiculous and impractical. I could just imagine my skirt flying up with the wind or any such undesirable situation. Besides, breeches were a lighter load than dresses (those I apparently couldn’t forgo).
I didn’t want to seem useless and I didn’t want to seem tasteless either, so I had to sit with the seamstress and go over the intricacies of what exactly having women’s breeches would entail. I had made the breeches out of a stretchy, flexible fabric that hugged my legs tastefully enough and modestly enough so as to not seem brazen. I insisted on having the inside of my legs a thicker, darker fabric (leather) because I knew for a fact that it would fray from my thighs rubbing; my underpants were proof. I had insisted on having little pockets because I didn’t want to have to stick my hand down my front, in the presence of thousands of men, to take out something whenever I was stuck.
As for my tunics, I made them long enough to cover up to the middle of my thighs, but I had slits on the sides that extended all the way to my hips so I can ride properly. Sitting side-saddle seemed impractical when traveling the mountains. I put pockets on those too and my neckline was infinitely more feminine. I made sure to include a few buttons so that I was able to breastfeed Ophelia properly. It was an elegant scoop, just hinting at the tops of my breasts. The sleeves were adjustable and braidable, like I had seen on Estel’s sleeves.
As for my corsets, that was perhaps my greatest pleasure. I had designed a new concept that had intrigued and horrified Madam Aelin, my seamstress. I called it half-a-corset. I didn’t want to compress my abdomen, but the top would be fine. I just needed something to hold my breasts together, while being gentle on them and easily removable from the front (buttons and laces were used; zippers, when taken from tent packs, were incredibly useful). It would give a flattering figure anyhow. My outerwear was a knee-length, black coat with grey fur and a golden flower stitching, with an emphasized waist achieved by buttons and a belt. I couldn’t forgo the hood. I designed a sewed-in headband in the hood to keep it on during rough winds. Although bulky, I imagined having a good figure on it would take away from its clumsy appearance. I had tried to be practical and stylish at the same time. This was war, but that didn’t mean I had to be shabby and shame my husband. I had a standard of elegance and cleanliness that I must uphold, I don’t plan to neglect it. I was the wife of a Sentinel of Gondolin. I had an image to uphold, colors to wear (although we agreed that completely gold was impractical, gold stitchings on the green were fine, gold on blue, or gold on any other dark colors), and standards to live up to.
To the other seamstress, I had commissioned several cold-enduring outfits for Ophelia, made of stretchy material and lots of furs. With her, I let Ophelia have a few pinks in with her golden flowers because she was always so beautiful in pink and I loved her too much to dress her in ugly browns or greens. I didn’t want her to have any dresses while traveling. That would be impractical and I couldn’t risk her growing cold in her legs. Already it was a risk to bring her along, but I couldn’t leave her. I wasn’t going to live forever and I needed her with me at every waking moment. How would we change her or feed her in such cold? I shook my head, shuddering. Her little boots would have to do, I made sure to insulate her clothes with leather and fur to avoid snow melting on her and giving her a chill.
I had spent more time perfecting her clothes than I had mine. For me, I had simply given Madam Aelin designs and layouts. But for Ophelia, I was a hawk over the mistress, everyday dropping by, inspecting everything. I was paranoid and she seemed to be understanding enough. I just couldn’t bear it if I lost Ophelia to the cold mountains of Gondolin. I think I would rather die.
The day came where we would finally travel. Not all 10 000 soldiers of Gondolin would travel at once. That would bring every single living creature that breathed Morgoth’s fumes down on us. Instead, we travelled in small packs of 100. With Ophelia strapped to my breast, I followed after Glorfindel past the wooden gates, which were an eye-sore of their own. On the horse, we went down an unclear path filled with terrain and basically everything else. We went through a hidden mountain pass, which was the long way down, but the infinitely safer way. No one wanted to bring attention to Gondolin when two-thirds of its defenses have been taken away.
When Glorfindel looked back at me, he gave me a reassuring nod. I found he didn’t smile as much when he was in his armor. He looked scarier in his armor too. Thankfully, Ophelia didn’t cry much. She was being silent; or at least, as silent as can be. At night, when I was in the privacy of my little tent (which Glorfindel didn’t sleep in, I noticed with no small amount of embarrassment), she only fussed for milk and I was a surprisingly light sleeper out of the comfort of my own home.
I had brought lots of soap with me so I can regularly clean Ophelia and myself as well. I didn’t want to be stinking, even if everyone else around me did (after a few weeks in the wilderness, everyone tends to stink, even elves). I made sure to always keep Ophelia wrapped in as many layers as possible while leaving her limbs out for movement. Sometimes, it got too hot for her and I would have to take off a few layers. It was difficult without the help of Lady Aeronid and Glorfindel knew only a little better than me, even though he tried in the privacy of the little tent.
But so far, Ophelia seemed healthy, even smiling at times, with her cute little mouth. I sometimes couldn’t stop staring at her. I tried to be quiet about my love for her because it felt strange to be openly affectionate in the presence of a hundred elven soldiers.
She was absolutely gorgeous, her hair was like spun gold, with only a few streaks of brown here and there. Her eyes were mismatched, one eye was brown, like mine and the other was blue, like Glorfindel’s. She was absolutely gorgeous, despite her mismatched eyes, which only served to endear her more. She was literally one half me and one-half Glorfindel.
I loved her so much.
An unfortunate turn of events displaces Elizabeth from her family.
“She is a quiet baby,” Glorfindel murmured quietly beside me, wrapping his arm around me when we were in the privacy of our tents. I looked at Ophelia curiously, I was aware that she was silent. I just didn’t expect it enough for Glorfindel to comment on it, whom I was sure had no experience with children.
“My cousins were once little children too,” his mouth twitched as he referred to Lady Idril and perhaps even his half-Vanya, half-Teleri cousins from the line of Finarfin.
“I thought you were younger,” I said thoughtfully, leaning against him, relishing in his warmth.
“Not necessarily,” he said thoughtfully, “Only Finrod is older than me.”
I nodded, that was something I never knew before.
“Is that how you know she is quiet?”
“Yes,” he told me, “Although, that is comparatively speaking. I am sure there are quieter babies.”
I nodded tiredly and shivered, Glorfindel added a few small twigs into the lamp. “But Ophelia is perfect.”
“I can’t wait until she grows up,” I told him excitedly, “But I want her to stay like a baby forever.”
“I’d rather she stay in her infancy forever,” Glorfindel admitted, “She will grow in beauty. It would be tiresome to keep the suitors at bay.”
I giggled in disbelief; that was something I never thought he would say.
Once Ophelia spat out my nipple, I handed her over to Glorfindel to burp her while I covered myself up. I shivered when the cool air hit my exposed skin.
“Is her face getting cold?” I asked, concerned. “Her nose is running.”
I took out my handkerchief and wiped the drool and snot from her face. I always made sure to wipe any signs of liquid away from her, and to regularly check for that. It wouldn't do to have her bodily fluids freezing all over her.
“Her face is warm enough,” Glorfindel assured me. Once Ophelia was burped, I put her in the makeshift cot and wrapped her in several warm layers of fur that have been left by the fire. I had taken to regularly leaving blankets by the fire and switching Ophelia’s blankets regularly in the night.
“Do you have to go now? I asked him softly, lying against him.
“My duty begins in an hour,” he told me. I sighed, an hour, I would just have to make do with that.
I slowly nodded, pressing my body to his and kissed him. I didn't want our silhouette appearing outside the tent. But the moment I kissed him, I felt all my worries disappear. It has been several weeks since we last kissed or did anything with each other. His kiss left me panting softly, staring at his face and noticing his red ears and flushed visage.
“Sleep now, my beautiful wife,” he murmured softly, “I will hold you.”
I could live with that. I hadn’t realized how tired I was until he said that. I patiently waited for him to settle on the little mattress. Just as he did, I settled to his side, my head on his chest and closing my eyes.
I felt him humming quietly, I didn’t hear him. In the presence of so many and away from the privacy of closed doors, affection was a strange concept. Even open affection; especially when an elf can hear anything as minuscule as a mouse from a three-mile radius (that caused a lot of problems with Lord Relos at some point). But the vibrations of his chest set my tired eyes closed and I fell asleep.
When I woke up again, I was alone in my tent and Ophelia was whimpering. I stoked the lamp fire some more and got up, taking a warmed blanket from next to the lamp, warm and ready.
Once Ophelia was fed and warmed, I set her back down, sighing softly. It was difficult to be so close to Glorfindel and yet so far. I wanted him with Ophelia and I. I wanted to watch him hold her, kiss her, and play with her. He was absolutely lovely with Ophelia and she enjoyed receiving attention from him. Who wouldn’t? I enjoyed receiving his kisses and his love and giving back as much as I was possibly able to. My favorite thing in the world is to wake up with him next to me; with him just getting up to go and watch Ophelia over her cot. That is not possible now. Glorfindel had guard duty that he was not exempt from. He had a great responsibility for a hundred men that he couldn’t set aside for Ophelia and I. That number would increase significantly once we reached base with all the rest of the armies and eventually, he would be unreachable. I tried to be as undisruptive as possible. I didn’t need his attention, I didn’t ask for it, and I tried to be unproblematic. If all the other elves could endure it, then so could I (I was acutely aware of the untruth in that statement). But Ophelia couldn’t. That is probably the only reason why he stayed with us in his precious spare time. He was significantly warmer than I was (something I was incredibly envious of) so he held her all the time he was around unless she needed to be fed. Sometimes, we shared our rations together, which weren’t enough; but I didn’t mind. As long as he was with me, or close to me in any estimation, I was content.
When I would look back, I would think that even those were the best days of my life; the days we spent in marital bliss, together and apart, and our days now, with Ophelia. But all of this was a mere image, designed to distract me from what is to truly come; the impending Fall, the terrible war...all of it.
I was helpless to change more than I already did; anything could happen for the worse if what I do turns out for the best. Even if I wanted to change what would happen, disregarding everything, I still didn’t have the power. There was only so much an edain living in Gondolin could do, even as a Sentinel's wife.
Dawn was cracking and I decided it was time to move. I never heard them move. But it was Glorfindel who always came to wake us up. I think it would be nice if he didn’t have to just this once. I was already awake. Once I cleaned Ophelia up with some melted ice I kept warm by the fire and sweet smelling chamomile soap, I warmed her up quickly and dressed her in new clothes, cleaning her old ones.
Once Ophelia was proper, I changed myself and cleaned up. I braided my hair, which by now had gotten too long and thick to hold up without an ungodly number of pins. I packed up and stepped outside the tent, beginning to disassemble it. Before we left, Glorfindel taught me how to set it up and take it down in minute time. It was a difficult task to learn and it was easier once I figured out how to strap Ophelia to my back.
I began setting up my horse, Osha, in dawn light (an old but gentle mare, sturdy enough to keep up with all the rest of the elves) while feeding her apples, her favorite snack, and so happens to be mine too, until it goes bad. I began stroking her softly while she drank some water from my hand her rough tongue tickling me but I didn’t want to spill clean water so I tried to hold my hand still while jostling Ophelia on my back to placate her. When I thought about it, it was sort of funny because it looked like I was dancing without actually moving--
A loud horn blasted and immediately, the camp rose to life. That never happened. I felt my heart spike with fear. No one would dare blast their horns unless...it wasn’t us who did that. My heart leaped in fear as I gripped Osha’s reigns, I quickly adjusted Ophelia so that she was against my breast instead of my back, so it was easier to protect her and watch her.
“Elizabeth!” it was Glorfindel, he never usually called me by my name. I suppressed a scream of terror, and when I turned to look at him, it was all I could do, at the expense of my sanity, to not scream. His eyes were as wide as dinner plates, his pupils' little dots in a sea of blue, terror distorting his beautiful features. He was running towards me, all the way from across the camp, at an inhuman speed, his long cloak trailing behind him. Across my vision, something so quick whizzed behind me and I yelled, backing into my horse, who neighed in panic. I moved away from under Osha to avoid her hooves and in a minute second, I was on my horse, trying to calm her down.
“Take Ophelia and ride away!” Glorfindel yelled and that is exactly what I did.
I couldn’t help but think that this might be the last I would ever see of Glorfindel, but that was such a small thought. All I could think of now was Ophelia, her beautiful, mismatched eyes and her heartbreaking smile.
Arrows whizzed back and forth and I rode into the shelter of the trees, barely dodging a few stray branches. I could hear growls and howls behind me.
“Shhh my sweet,” I whimpered, trying to make my voice sound optimistic when she whimpered. I didn’t want her to cry out and give us away. Osha’s hooves were already doing a good job at it. A baby’s cries would surely draw them in.
All of a sudden, Osha neighed and dropped to the ground, making me roll off her in an attempt to soften my fall. When I looked at my horse, I realized that she had been shot, to the side. My heart broke, she would be suffering so much right now. In one swift move, I took out my dagger from my boot and stabbed Osha between the eyes.I didn’t need to think about it. I had seen the stable master in Rivendell do it once when a horse injured its foot. It was the most humane thing I could think of doing right now. It was more merciful than what these creatures would do to her while she was still alive. With one final kiss to her beautiful ear, I yanked my dagger out and regretfully stumbled away. I wouldn’t get far on foot. I just knew it.
I wrapped my arm around Ophelia as I ran so as to not jostle her and loosen the tie that I was hard-pressed to make. All of a sudden, I felt a searing pain hit my shoulder. I had just been shot. I stumbled to my knees, the pain ripping through my shoulder. It hurt so much it nearly rendered me mindless. But Ophelia’s weight on my breast spurred me to keep moving. I glanced behind me and saw black, distorted silhouettes running behind me. Oh, Dear Eru; Glorfindel, where are you now?!
I quickly ran past a large tree, hidden by the cover of trees. A large burrow was inside its trunk. It was large enough to fit Ophelia. An idea came to my mind. It was risky, but it would keep Ophelia safe if she didn’t cry. I gently set Ophelia in there, covering her up with some clean leaf paper that I use for toilet emergencies.
“Hush now, my baby,” I whispered, pressing a kiss to her forehead and covering her face with the dark blanket. Now she looked like a shadow.
Hopefully, Glorfindel would find her if I couldn’t.
All I could do now was pray and run. My heart felt heavy, exhausted. Without Ophelia, I felt as though my heartstrings were dragging behind me, holding on to Ophelia. I wiped away my tears and kept running, trying not to make a sound while crying.
She would be safe, I told myself.
Glorfindel would find her, I just knew he would. But I didn’t know if he would find me.
My thoughts spurred me on far enough that I finally wasn’t physically able to any longer.
Soon I was surrounded by all the creatures I saw in Elrond’s library. It was all like a distant nightmare. It would all be over soon. The thought that I would die a painful death like all the others before me at the hands of Morgoth’s servants was incomprehensible to my mind.
“Fuck you!” I spat when one of them came towards me, antagonizing me by poking me with its crude sword. I took out my dagger and stabbed its hand. Its screech deafened me. I felt their grubby hands grab my limbs and pull me apart.
“STOP!” I screamed, terror clouding my vision, “HELP ME!”
I felt a weight fall off my arm. I blinked at the white, branched sky above me, confused. What had just happened? Then a hot white pain blinded me.
They had just cut off my arm. I felt myself plop on the ground, roughly. I stared at my disembodied arm, I watched as they picked it up and waved it around like a trophy, my blood spilling all over my face. I stared numbly at my arm, the idea of my arm being lost not comprehending in my mind, even though the pain did.
I felt my legs being roughly pulled apart and my pants being ripped.
I prayed for death.
But it didn’t come. Instead, arrows began whizzing all about me and a panic rose about me. The orcs screeched and ran all about me, their ungainly feet stomping in my vision.
My terror was over. Glorfindel heard my screams, he has come to save me. He rode the whole way, following me, he heard me. He has Ophelia with him. Any moment now I will be crying in his arms, and he will be kissing my forehead, whispering sweet nothings and hope-giving assurances in my ear while rocking me. My arm will magically reattach itself because he is here...but no. Instead, a bronze-colored boot filled my vision. I felt a cloth come over my face and I breathed in a saccharine sweet smell.
I knew no more.
When I woke up, I was warm like I had never been before, so much so that I was actually sort of sweating. I blinked, confused. Where am I? Was this all just a dream?
“You are awake,” a woman’s voice. I blinked and turned my head. Sitting elegantly before me was a woman. She was wearing a long golden dress, elegantly pulled in some areas to create an illusion of a waterfall on her body. Her skin was translucent and just like mine; dark. Her eyes were gold and her hair was curly and brown, like hot chocolate.
“Who are you?” I asked, sounding discombobulated to myself.
“That is not important,” the woman said dismissively and immediately, I began to distrust her. Who was she? She was not someone I would imagine to be unimportant, especially with that circlet on her head. “Who are you?”
I stared at her; I saw no reason to lie. As far as I was concerned, they could do nothing to me because I had nothing to lose. I don’t know where my husband is; whether or not he is alive and whether or not he found the most precious thing in my existence; Ophelia. Judging by how warm it was, I was a long way away from him and his best guess about me was that I was dead.
“I am Elizabeth Lane Laurifindel,” I finally said, feeling a little parched. I sat up sluggish, feeling strange lying down; it felt too vulnerable of a position. As though reading my mind, she handed me a clear glass of cool water, which I greedily consumed.
“Did you know that you lost your arm?” she asked me gently. I blinked at her, confused. When I looked down, I realized she was right. An ugly stump was on my left arm, just a little below my elbow, I couldn’t feel my entire left arm. I felt panic clawing at my throat. My fingers were no longer there and the ring that signified my married status was lost from me; and with it, my identity.
“We barely managed to salvage the rest of you. You had been poisoned by the arrow in your shoulder,” she told me casually, leaning back and crossing her legs, “You are lucky to be breathing.”
“I need to go back,” I choked, “I need to get back to--”
“Your company has left,” the woman said dismissively, “You would be hard-pressed to find them.”
“How do you know?” I demanded, feeling an inexplicable hope that drove me insane. “How many were left? Did they have a baby with them? Do you know? Please tell me!”
The woman stared at me passively for a while; “They were unharmed, there were no casualties save for a few horses.”
I flinched at the mention of horses because I remembered poor Osha; “The baby, was there she? And a man, he had golden hair, he is the tallest of them and he is the only one who wears a circlet. Did you see him? Was he holding a baby? Tell me, please.”
I was begging but I didn’t care. My dignity had no place here when I was powerless. Once again, for the millionth time in my existence, I was a nobody who needed everyone’s help. I had no hope to call my own; even for false hope. If the company had left, they already think I am dead.
“They searched extensively for you,” the woman assured me, “They found the child in a tree, half frozen.”
I burst into tears; Ophelia, my poor baby. Was she dead? I could feel my entire world go dark. How could I live on?
“She lives,” the woman told me, “She breathes. She is unharmed.”
I looked at her; feeling my heart pound; was she only saying this? “How do you know that? Why didn’t you do anything?!”
“We do not interfere in such affairs. Your child was found; the man you are looking for found her himself. He was quick to warm her.”
I stared at her; “Why didn’t you just leave him to find me then?”
“You were half-dead,” the woman dismissed. “He found your arm and ring though.”
“How do you know this?” I was going crazy. How could they watch on and give no clue that they saved me, that I was alive, if barely?
“We watched,” she said simply, “In our cover.”
Did this woman understand love? Did she not understand the concept of family; if she did not deduce that much already? Was she so cold and unfeeling? I was in disbelief. Where is her compassion? It would have been better to leave me for dead, so that he may find my corpse and actually know that I was dead instead of not finding my body and leaving to guess for the worst.
“I need to go back,” I finally insisted, wiggling out of the bed; “I need to go back to them, take me back!”
“Peace,” it was someone else who spoke, a woman too. I looked and saw a woman, tall and elegant, with powerful muscles, dressed for battle, and sweating, as though she was training. A sword was at her side and a shield strapped to her back; her hair was long and braided intricately with a crown on her head; her skin was black. I’ve never seen such a skin color on anyone.
“Please take me back! I need to be back with my husband!” I was going insane, will no one listen to me? “I need to see my daughter, please help me!”
She looked at me pitifully; but not because I was lost. It was because I mentioned my husband and daughter. It felt as though I misstepped in saying those words.
“You willingly bound yourself to a man?” it was a little girl, standing behind the black woman, her skin somewhere between my color and the black woman’s color. I blinked at her, confused. What did she mean by that?
“I love him,” was it such a crazy thought? I had only ever been surrounded by elves and these women seemed to be completely different; aside from their strange skin colors and rounded ears, they didn’t seem to understand love and family.
The girl giggled; “You can’t love a man! They are bad.”
I didn’t find that amusing; I found that concerning.
“Hush Thea,” the black woman said gently, “Go see Merola.”
“Yes mama,” the girl said obediently and ran away. I stared after her and then shook my head, turning to look at the black woman, who watched me passively.
“Please,” I begged.
“Your company left,” the woman explained, “They searched for you and they didn’t find you. Your daughter is safe and unharmed.”
“My daughter!” I exclaimed, latching on that, “I need to see her; surely you understand?”
“I do,” the woman told me, “But I cannot let you leave.”
“I didn’t ask to be here,” I insisted; how hard could it be to let me leave? I just needed to leave. “Please!”
“No,” the woman shook her head. “You are still a stranger in our lands. We cannot risk exposure.”
“You brought me here,” I yelled, unable to control myself. It was completely unreasonable, they should have just let me die.
“We are bound by oath to help any woman in need of it,” She explained patiently, coldly.
“Is it part of your oath to keep them prisoner?” I demanded.
“Did you husband not keep you, prisoner, also?” she challenged me, “These elves do not let anyone past their gates. You are not an elf.”
I stared at her in disbelief; “That’s different.” sort of, however, I wasn’t going to tell her that. “I already knew him. I loved him anyways.”
That wasn’t a lie. In my past life, in Rivendell, in Torsnan, I knew Glorfindel also, perhaps even loved him.
“You are telling me you willingly bound yourself to your jailkeeper?” she asked me, sounding amused, as though that thought was ridiculous. When she put it like that; it really was.
“He was never my jail keeper; he is my savior,” I insisted, “I was half-dead when he found me--no, I was dead!”
I was quickly sounding insane and her raised eyebrows told me that so I hurried to explain. Maybe if I told them my full story, they might understand; “I lived in another life before this, I knew him then, I loved him then. I lived there but I was tortured to death by my own people! I woke up in this life and he found me, he loved me even when he didn’t know me! You have to believe me! He found me and he loved me. He loved me and he saved me from being taken again by my own people! He married me and he loved me; he loves me!”
I didn’t know how much clearer I could be. I explained myself as best as I could in my hysteria. Recounting my story made my eyes tear up once more. The women stared at me dispassionately but in their eyes, I could see doubt.
“That is not possible,” the other woman who was wearing a gold dress scoffed, “You cannot have died and lived again. You must have been found half dead. There seems to be a pattern of that.”
I shook my head frantically; “No, they threw me off the mountain into the molten rock. How could I have survived that?” I laughed hysterically at her. She was being ridiculous. I felt something tug at my waist. When I looked down, I realized there was a rope wrapped around me, and the woman in the gold dress was holding that rope.
“Why is that wrapped around me?” I asked, confused, tugging at it.
“Leave it,” the golden woman snapped and I immediately let go. She seemed vexed. “Men don’t love--”
“How would you know?” I asked her, narrowing my eyes at her; “From what I have seen so far, it doesn’t seem like you have men living here.”
The woman fell silent, glaring at me; “Peace.” It was the black woman who spoke. I turned back to her and began speaking.
“Right now, as I speak, they might be fighting a war,” I began. “We left our city to fight a war against the evil of Morgoth the Defiler. Surely you know of him? These creatures that deformed me are his servants. It is a foolish war to be sure. We are outnumbered. But I need to be with my husband. He might not need me with him and I may not need to be with him but he loves me enough to stay with me! We have to stay together!”
The black woman chuckled derisively; “If he loved you he would have left you where you are safer.”
“He had no choice. The High King commanded it and no one could have overridden his command. He did it to spite his brother the King because I was edain,” I thought my story made perfect sense. I wasn’t sure what they were thinking if they didn’t believe me. Perhaps they were thick-headed.
The women stared at me.
“This war, why do your...countrymen choose to fight it when they could stay in their hidden city?” I frowned, how did they know about the city anyways if it was hidden?
“How do you know it is hidden--no, how do you know about it if it is hidden?”
“We have our ways,” the woman said simply. “Answer the question.”
“I am not quite sure. Another commander has seen that Morgoth has had a weakness. He intends to exploit it,” I said honestly and frowned. I just realized I gave away more information than I intended to. Why was I so honest all of a sudden?
“I need to leave,” I repeated, “I need to be with my husband--I want to be with my husband. I need to see my daughter. She is my whole life.”
“No,” the woman said, “We shall decide what to do with you and then we will see if we can allow you to leave.”
“What?” I stuttered, watching as they curtly turned and dismissed me, walking out of the room; “Come back!” I was helpless to stop them because I felt boneless. I felt as though I were about to fall. I needed them back. I needed them to understand my desperation, I needed to leave.
I only realized now that the rope was no longer wrapped around me and that now, I was alone.
I was taken to a large cave, with waters that glowed blue. I was told to bathe there. But when I tried asking questions, I was ignored. There was only so much I could do and I hated feeling as though I were speaking to a brick wall. How long will it take them to decide whether or not they wanted to let me go?
In my lost thoughts, I failed to appreciate the beauty of the place. The walls were made of gold marble and the view outside was tropical and magnificent. Where was I? For sure I was no longer anywhere near Beleriand. I was somewhere else, where the winds were warm. I saw murals of women fighting against dark forces, and loving each other as Glorfindel and I would each other (that scandalized me into speechlessness and discomfort). I saw pieces of art that rendered me speechless. It was a progressive civilization because of the fact alone that women ran it and that there were no men. But how did their population advance without men? That was my question.
I sort of understood that they didn’t need men completely because when I thought about it, I was completely self-sufficient without Glorfindel and the elleths did the work that ellons did and Lady Idril could just as well teach me what Lord Relos does. But still, it felt like a strange and lonely existence to me. I couldn’t imagine living without Lord Glorfindel. He was the only one who knew how to love me best. He understood me better than anyone, even myself. He helped me create the greatest gift in my entire world; Ophelia. He loved Ophelia as I imagined my own father would me. He spoiled both of us and he afforded us the independence and freedom that I knew the King didn’t afford even his own daughter. Glorfindel, for being half-Vanya, understood discrimination and it was in his mindset that he was more progressive than the rest of his people.
My greatest grievance came from a woman alone; this woman single-handedly managed to make me hate and fear my own race. She tortured me and tormented me; she killed me. Yes, men were horrible and all that which these women believed (the men of Torsnan prove that), but so were women.
It was nearly two weeks before I saw any sight of the black woman or the woman in a golden-dress. However, I did see the little-mixed girl running hereabouts. I tried not to speak with the women because they were all tall and intimidating with their muscles. I watched them train and they were just as brutal as the elves with each other. But they loved each other just as well, they were always so supportive. However, they were too tight-in with each other to ever truly speak with me and try and get to know me so now my existence was lonely. It was made even harder by trying to navigate with one hand. Once the impact of what actually happened hit me, I realized I had bigger problems, like worrying about Ophelia. How was she being fed? Was she alright? Was Glorfindel the one taking care of her? Was he fighting right now? I couldn’t be bothered to think about myself, that would be ridiculous.
On the tenth day of my stay, the black woman finally decided to show her face. I was so annoyed with her that I couldn’t find it in myself to be excited. What did they think was so important that they had to discuss it for ten days? Why did everyone think I was more interesting than I actually was? That caused me a lot of problems and I hated it.
“You will be reunited with...your husband, soon,” the woman told me. She was dressed differently. She was dressed in bright orange robes that contrasted wonderfully against her skin. The way she said husband didn’t disturb me as much as I thought it would. They didn’t understand and I didn’t expect them to. I wasn’t sure what man managed to make all these women hate the opposite sex, but obviously, it would be a grievous mistake on their part to trust men again, much less aid them.
“When, how?” I asked her, feeling hope in my chest. I hoped she wasn’t just saying that to make me feel better. However, when I thought about it, I realized that this woman was not a liar. She was too blunt for that.
“In due time,” the woman told me, not in an assuring voice. “As for the matter of how we shall determine that.”
“What do you mean?” I asked her, feeling suspicious.
“We shall ride to war,” the woman told me, “We have long had grievances with the Dark Lord. If there is an attack planned on a massive scale, we intend to contribute to this peace.”
I stared at her; “As in, helping men?”
The woman smiled, as though she understood a joke I didn’t; “I wouldn’t put it that way. But if it helps you understand, then yes. To helping men.”
I wanted to laugh but then I frowned. There was never a mention in the historical text of an army of women calling up arms to aid the Alliance of Maedhros in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. What repercussion would this change in history have on all of us? Would it delay The Fall? Would it make it more devastating, if that was possible? Would it make us all ultimately lose, the entire race of elves, men, and dwarves wiped out to nothing?
“You don’t have to,” I said without thinking and the black woman raised a disbelieving eyebrow at me.
“You would deny the offer of help given to you--to aid your husband? You must be more foolish than I thought,” she chuckled, her eyes hard. I shook my head, back-tracking. I really must start thinking before spewing stuff out.
“No,” I shook my head, “I was only expecting you to just let me out into the wilderness alone and to let me find my own way.”
That wasn’t a lie. But it certainly seemed to placate her.
“I imagine you would most likely end up in worst condition than when we actually found you.”
“Most likely,” I agreed. The black woman smiled at me.
“But I don’t know how I would repay you,” I finally settled on the next most important matter, compensation. “I don’t want to bear responsibility for your decisions and loss. No one is expected to benefit from this war alliance. The only benefit is peace from tyranny.”
“You are not expected to bear responsibility,” the woman agreed, “You may represent your countrymen, and you do them credit, but you are but one woman. You do not influence our decisions.”
I deflated with relief; “I am glad. I just hope you understand that you can’t expect any rewards--I cannot guarantee that nor a safe return. Neither can my countrymen and the alliance.”
“We understand,” the woman said simply, “We have tired of Morgoth’s servants defiling our land with his seed, and killing our women.”
“I suppose being fed up is the one thing you have in common with men,” I shrugged, and the woman gave me a wolfish grin.
As it turns out, these women have many fierce animals at their beck and call. To name a few that I actually saw; War Elephants, Jaguars instead of horses, and some strange war-birds that were large and colorful. They had many instruments of war that I have never seen before, that terrified me. How powerful were these women? Would they actually help us or join the enemy?
The thought of a betrayal was not far from my mind but how would I divert their attention, what if they really meant to fight with us? I didn’t know them enough to judge them--the only thing I knew is that they hated men. How willing were they to actually help out the alliance? Were they all in agreement with such an impactful decision? What did they think war actually was? War against Morgoth, with men? He had fire-breathing serpents so large they can block the sun for days; he had hundreds of thousands in his army. He was the betrayer, the defiler, the corruptor. He led the elves to kill each other, he led entire races to set traps against each other, he tortured people into insanity. The only reason there are Noldorin elves in Beleriand is that he killed Finwe, the original High King of the Noldor.
I shuddered delicately when one of the Jaguars came up to me and sniffed me.
“Nice Kitty,” I whimpered, fear making my heart pound.
“She doesn't bite,” it was the black woman, I still didn't know her name.
“It looks like it wants to,” I snapped, stepping back when it stepped forward.
“She generally tends to like women,” the black woman said, “She likes mothers even more.”
I stared at the woman, shocked. How did that Jaguar know or even understand I was a mother? She gave me a raised eyebrows and I had the feeling I wasn't going to like what she said next.
“She smells your breast milk,” the woman informed me, “It is a wonder it hasn't dried up yet.”
I put a self-conscious hand to my breasts. They had been aching and leaking a lot lately. They were drying up and it was incredibly painful. Without Ophelia, the physical aspects of my life were also harder.
“Oh,” unsure of what to say, letting the jaguar sniff my stomach. So far, I hadn't died. I imagined if she wanted to kill me, she would have done it already. “She likes milk?”
“She loves it, it causes a hassle with the cows more often than not,” the woman patted the cat on her flanks affectionately.
I perked up; “She can take my milk.”
The woman stared at me and then roared with laughter, realizing I was serious.
“I meant,” I said forcefully, realizing I had to rephrase, “I can try and...oh never mind, I sound like a cow.”
So now I will have to endure for another few days this unbearable and disappointing pain. How could I live with myself if I wasn’t able to breastfeed my own daughter? But it felt stupid to ask such questions.
The black woman stopped laughing and watched me carefully. “I understand what you mean. Come, I will let Doha, our healer, help you.”
Elizabeth faces a challenge that will shape her purpose.
As it turns out they had something called a pump. It basically sucked my breast milk for me and into a bowl, from which Kala the Jaguar languidly drank. The first two days of this were extremely painful. But the relief afterwards helped me sleep at night. In my offer to donate breast milk, I found a new friend in a cat who followed me everywhere, even though she was meant to be a steed. I had unwittingly turned a fully grown wild cat into a house cat who literally got all the cream.
I still wasn’t sure Kala understood the concept of personal space or weight gain. She often mistook herself for a lap cat and actually sat on me.
“She likes you,” Thea told me when I was bathing, my stump lifted away from the water. Having anything cold or hot on my stump made it ache unbearably. I glanced at the Jaguar, who lay atop the rock, swishing its long tail and purring when I scratched her head. She was strangely affectionate for being so fierce-looking. I found I quite liked her, despite my initial reservations.
“I like her too,” I admitted, scratching her behind the ear.
“You are weird,” Thea finally said and I stared at her, unable to comprehend how rude she was. But then I realized she was probably seven years old. There was only so much about social etiquette she could possibly know. Besides, I wasn’t her mother, it wasn’t my place to chide her.
“You are strange to me too,” I told her, humouring her.
“How can you love men when you can love women?” it was such an honest question that I didn't know what to say. I gaped at her. Her question didn't have a proper response because to her, she was right in saying what she did because that is what she knows. I couldn’t feel pity for them because they seemed to be very well off on their own without men; even better off than the men themselves. Perhaps in another lifetime, where I was not a wife and a mother, I would have liked to join these women. But not in this life.
“I just can, the same way you do--or will,” the concept of intergender love was foreign to me. Having a female lover, as a female, mystified me and it caused me discomfort to no end. I had no right to express my discomfort nor insult it. I was not in my own land, I was on theirs and they were powerful enough to be a commanding force of their own. Besides, I was just as strange to them, I had no right to judge.
“For men?” she asked, scandalized. I nodded and when I thought about it, I thought it all made sense.
“What are you humming about?” Thea asked me.
“Well, I just thought that…” I thought about how I would phrase it, “Well, I suppose there are languages that I don’t understand, but I do know they exist. I am fine with that.”
“What are you talking about?” Thea asked me, confused.
“Our preferences in lovers,” I shrugged. My reasoning was completely sound to me. Thea grinned mischievously.
“I know every language there is!” she declared proudly.
I suppressed a sigh.
I have been commissioned a golden dress, that was similar in style to the dresses the women wore here, which did not make me feel very comfortable. It fell of my shoulders and exposed more of my breasts than I would have liked, but otherwise, it gave me a flattering shape. My patroness was the black woman, who I later learned was the Queen; Malu.
Queen Malu, despite her intimidating appearance, was very soft-spoken and too intelligent for her own good, in some cases. Sometimes, she was far too perceptive, but I suppose I found a bit of a friend in her.
On the day the armies of the warrior women were to leave, I was taken aside by the woman who I first saw when I woke up her.
“You will ride alongside the Queen,” the woman told me, “You are never to oppose her in her decisions and you are to try and make yourself useful should we be under attack, do you understand?”
I nodded, swallowing a thick bile in my throat. “I only have one arm,” I waved around my stump dolefully, “How useful could I be?”
“Some women who ride to battle today have no legs,” the woman scoffed, I recoiled from the hostility in her tone, “Here. This might help a little.”
Her object of aid was a little dagger, barely half the length of my arm. I thought that this would be less useful to me than it would be to her. I didn’t know how to use it and I sure didn’t know how to reach with such a short lance.
“Alright,” I finally said, tucking the knife in my belt and covering myself with a translucent shawl that I had taken to wearing because my arms felt too exposed. I was not used to being warm or dressing for warm weather. “I’ll try to be useful.”
“Hmm…” the woman scoffed and walked away, scandalously short armour-dress swishing with the angry movement of her hips. I turned to Kala and stroked her ear.
“Come, I have to ride with Queen Malu,” I murmured.
There were seven thousand strong in Queen Malu’s army. Each woman had some sort of steed of her own; from Jaguars to Lions, to Panthers, to tigers. There were even some who flew on mighty, colourful birds, whom I soon learned were called Phoenixs. They had huge contraptions and small contraptions--so many war machines. The one contraption had the power of a thousand men and their army was impressive, to say the least.
Kala was a surprisingly pleasant steed. She didn’t jostle me too much even though I had the feeling she wanted to run about with the rest of her many littermates. Queen Malu was a pleasant riding companion also.
We spoke about many things that pertained to the cultural differences in our societies. Learning about her culture was much more interesting than talking about mine. They didn’t conceive, they created--which, as fantastical as it sounds, was not far fetched. They had many rituals in creating a child, and they were all immaculate conceptions, rather than natural ones.
“Oh,” I frowned once she was finished her explanation, “Well, for us, a man makes love to a woman and that is how we conceive.” It was embarrassing to talk about it, but so far, Queen Malu didn’t seem embarrassed in expressing her affection to her lover; the woman who gave me the dagger. When I saw them kiss, I realised the woman was jealous of the attention I received from her lover. I wanted to reassure her that nothing would ever happen, that I didn’t like women that way. But she already knew that and there was no use speaking sense to brick walls.
“If that were so with us women,” Queen Malu laughed, “We would surely be more than seven thousand strong!” The implications of their active love lives made me blush.
But other than the embarrassing topics, I genuinely enjoyed speaking with them. I told them everything I ever learned with Lord Relos, all the healing I learned.
The first battle that we arrived into took place in the pass of Ered Wethrin. Once we left the borders of the warm country, the cold settled and so did the snow. It was like a prominent divide that I realised must have been some form of magic. I was horrified at all that there was. I couldn’t see any of Gondolin’s flags but I recognized the flags of the sons of Feanor.
“Them--they are the good ones!” I yelled, pointing my finger, “The elves are good, the dwarves are good, these humans are good--there are other humans who are not-- and the orcs are definitely not good!”
“Then we have arrived at an opportune moment,” Queen Malu roared, the trumpets of the women sounded. “Do not follow, stay hidden.”
Immediately after, all seven thousand women with their war contraptions thundered past me, joining the battle. It was too far for me to see but I could see the women joining the battle on their steeds. I could hear the orcs screech and I felt a ripple of satisfaction. This was beautiful.
My face fell when I spotted the greatest monster I have ever seen. The thing was like an oversized orc. It must have been fifteen feet tall. I could see the Union defenses scattering. Kala shifted restlessly beneath me.
“No!” I hissed at Kala, yanking the reigns when she made to run to them, “We have to distract it!”
I looked about for anything that I could use as a distraction with only one hand. Not much. So I took out my dagger and held the helm of my dress between my teeth and ripped some of the fabris. I grabbed a stray stick and wrapped the fabric on the top. I looked at Kala; this must be the stupidest thing I will ever do.
“Kala,” I whispered in the Jaguar’s ear, more for myself than her, “Are you ready to run?”
The Jaguar huffed as though I asked a stupid question. “Alright, I just need to light this on fire.”
Kala shook me off of her roughly, I fell to the ground with a yelp and she turned to me. I gulped when she opened her mouth and closed my eyes; I should never have trusted them-- I heard something like a strong breath next to em and when I looked, I realised that the stick was on fire from where the fabric was.
“You can breathe fire?” I was shocked. When Kala growled, I realised I was being ridiculous, there was no time to waste. I grabbed the stick and climbed back on her back, I looked to the small mountains behind the fighting. “Go there! It might be stupid enough to follow us!”
The mountain pass itself was a small affair, narrow and unlit. The best I could hope for after actually distracting that giant was for it to slam head-first into the mountain walls and fall without bringing the mountain down on us.
But Kala didn’t seem to think about the repercussions. The intelligent creature roared, running in front of the giant, leading it to turn towards the mountain pass, stomping on all the orcs in its path. I sincerely hoped that it didn’t stomp on any elves or women. Arrows whizzed past us but never got us. I held up my torch just as we entered the mountain pass and then it was dark. I felt a rush of wind get the better of me, making me dizzy.
“Run Kala! Don’t stop!” When the Jaguar falted, I glanced back and saw the great giant stomp behind us. “Run!”
And that was what Kala, the intelligent cat, did. I could see a light, far at the end of the tunnel. The mountain above me shook violently, signalling that the giant actually did slam into the mountain, just as I expected it would.I let out a whoop of victory, the adrenaline in my veins making me dig my knees into poor Kala’s sides, making her run faster. I jostled the torch slightly but held fast. Just as we were so close to reaching the light at the end of the tunnel, the mountain shook again violently, this time making rocks fall. I looked behind me and saw the mountain falling apart behind us, with the giant bringing its fists down on it. Fear made me scream in terror.
“Run Kala! Run!”
And if we were one second too late, that rock would have fallen on the both of us, killing us. But it did not and we kept running, the sunlight almost blinding me but my arm never went down. I heard yells around me, and clanging and when my vision adjusted, I gasped, another battle was going on and three more of the same giants were advancing on the elven army that I knew belonged to Fingon. My heart stopped when I recognized the banners of Gondolin. Glorfindel had to be here, he just had to! But I couldn’t focus on that. A fifteen foot giant just broke through an entire mountain trying to chase Kala and I down. I had bigger problems than looking for Glorfindel.
“Kala! To those giants!” I yelped, hoping she understood, if she didn’t, I stirred her in the right direction by pulling my stump, which had the reigns wrapped around them. I knew for a fact that my stump should be in agony right now, but I didn’t feel the pain. Rather I felt the thrill.
Kala and I wove through the battlefield, making our way towards the giants. I could feel the earth beneath me shaking at the force of the giant’s footsteps behind me. With all my might, I chucked the torch right at one of the giants and before I knew it, the giant behind me leapt over us and head slammed first into the giants, all of them falling over like a game of building blocks. I yelped in victory, my heart beating in exhilaration. This was too easy, the giants were so stupid, they followed something, breaking their own ranks and ultimately weakening their forces. The giants had fallen over their own contraptions, which impaled them and crushed the goblin forces beneath them. I chucked my torch at one of the fallen contraptions, which almost exploded upon contact with fire.
But my victory was short lived when the arrows whizzed at me. I yelped and ducked, yanking Kala the other way; “Run, Kala!”
A trumped sounded behind me and I glanced back, feeling elated to see the banners of Feanor’s sons rise on top of the mountain rubbles, and ahead of them the Warrior women. I couldn’t help but laugh--oh, this was going so well, they had obviously defeated their enemies if they were coming to help this lot out! I was glad I had run through the mountain pass, otherwise, that giant wouldn’t have smashed right through it.
Kala took me to safety, up in the highlands away from the battlefield, behind the cover of the trees, but still visible to my eye. The battle was over less than a day with victory on the elven, dwarven, and the human party (not Ulfang’s breed for sure). While casualties were heavy on the orcish side and the union side, the orcs
I wiggled out of Kala’s back, feeling that she had carried my weight enough for today. I settled down on the ground, watching the scene before me unfold as all the black either scattered or disappeared between a sea of steel and color. It was beautiful.
Kala sat down next to me, panting softly, I stroked her ear; “Good girl.” She purred happily and nudged my shoulder, whimpering.
“No,” I said firmly, pushing her snout away. She was getting greedy but when I thought about it, my breasts had started to ache once more. I suppose it was time to milk myself again, like a cow. I pushed aside the feeling of indignity that came along with milking myself. I took out the little pump from my pack, maneuvering my way around it with one hand and my teeth. I placed the pump on my breast and took out a little leather sack to put the milk in it. With one hand, I began pumping while holding the sack upright with my feet. It was still hard to do it alone and for what felt like the millionth time, I wished that I still had my arm. But I realised that I had to lose my arm in order to gain victory for the Union of Maedhros against Morgoth. Everything else dulled in comparison.
I shuddered delicately when the breeze touched what little skin I had exposed. I didn’t miss this weather. Once both my breasts were pumped of their milk, I gave the now full sack to Kala. I freefalled the sack into her mouth, which she gobbled up greedily, letting no droplet fall. It stopped feeling strange after a while, funnily enough. I still felt humiliated to be pumping milk to a fully grown jaguar but so far, I gained one new friend and an entire army. So who cares, really?
“Should we head back?” I asked Kala softly, getting up with fair struggle without another hand to support me. I was now homesick. I missed Ophelia so much could feel my heart fall in disrepair.
Kala got up silently, without complaint, and followed me. With my silent companion, we walked out of the cover of the trees and slowly made our way to the battlefield. By now, they had piled the black corpses up high and had begun burning them. The stench was so strong, I had to stop breathing lest it kill me. But my eyes searched frantically for Glorfindel. I didn’t care about anything else. I deflated when I couldn’t see him. Everyone was wearing their helms and everyone was tall. I couldn’t make out anything so instead, I just settled back on the ground and huffed in annoyance. Eventually, these people would clear out back to their bases and I would be left, lost and alone.
Kala whined, I looked at her and saw her staring past me, I looked behind me and saw the women walking away from the battlefield.
“I guess we’d better get going, huh?” I said with disappointment, brushing myself off and following Kala.
The women set up the base near the elven camp which belonged to the sons of Feanor. I wanted to go to the camp where the Gondolinrim were. I wanted to see Ophelia and Glorfindel. But it was not to be.
“You have our gratitude,” Lord Maedhros said, after entering the women’s camp in procession, his seven other brothers in tow. Queen Malu looked at him with somewhat of distaste but it was so subtle, that even I didn’t notice it until I caught her lover look on with approval.
“We do not seek it,” Queen Malu said curtly, “We simply seek revenge...this is but an opportunity for us.”
I blinked, horror dawning onto me. I tried to tell myself that she was a Queen, she was able to speak to them in that way...but the thought of insulting the leaders of the Noldor terrified me because I was standing next to her as she threw back their gratitude in their faces. The Noldor were a rather...violent race and recently, their diplomatic attitudes meant nothing. I didn’t want to make any move that would go against Queen Malu because her lover’s threat still lay fresh in my mind. So instead I schooled my expression.
Lord Maedhros was the tallest of them and he was so handsome, I could barely look him in the face, even if he was heavily scarred. Maglor was no less handsome, albeit in a different manner. His hair wasn’t red like his brother’s (a strange color to be sure), and he seemed to have a tragic element about him. Curufin and Celegorm stood like two pillars of light and dark. Celegorm was handsome in a way that would make any woman swoon while Curufin was handsome in a very gothic way. Caranthir stood in the shadows, moody and glaring, his arms crossed and his mouth twisted into a sneer. The twins hereafter, Amras and Amrod, stood, stone faced and broad-shouldered, their eyes fierce and their fists clenched. But one thing they all had in common, they all looked distinctly Noldo--as though their faces were model features for what the Noldo race of the Eldar should look like.
When Lord Maedhros turned to look at me, I almost withered in my shoes; “She is not of your elk, is she?”
“No, she is a foundling,” Queen Malu acknowledged. Was it that obvious? When I compared myself to these warrior women, I realised that it was quite obvious. I was short and extremely curvy, soft all over. My features were entirely too feminine and delicate in comparison and my beauty (or perhaps lack thereof) wasn’t outrageous. I wasn’t lean, nor muscled, and I carried my stump clumsily. I certainly didn’t don any armor and my gold dress was fit for a taller, slimmer person.
“She saved us,” Lord Maedhros turned back to me and gave me a gentle, heart-stopping smile. “It takes a special sort of courage to lead a giant goblin to break through a mountain. For that, you have our loyalty.”
I nodded slowly, “Oh, well...I honestly thought I was going to die,” I said honestly, my good hand self-consciously coming up to rub my collarbones. “Oh, but perhaps you know my husband.” That took a lot of courage for me to say. I wasn’t sure I could speak in the presence of those who caused so much grief and suffering. I was surprised I could speak to his face.
His eyebrows furrowed in polite interest; “Perhaps if you gave me a name?”
I mentally mentally smacked myself silly; “Pardon me, Lord Glorfindel?”
He blinked at me, surprised. Then his eyes turned doubtful, cold even. “You cannot be his wife, news came of her death.”
I blinked at him, shocked; “No, I am alive, clearly. I almost died though. I lost my arm in the process.” I held up my stump and he blinked at me. My stump had been the cause of a few problems regarding my health and now it was angry and red. They had to take skin from my stomach and put it over my stump to allow it a chance to heal properly.
“If you truly are his wife, perhaps it would be wiser to take you to him,” he finally said, after a long moment of studying me. I probably looked worse for wear.
I nodded grimly and turned to Queen Malu, I curtsied low.
“Thank you very much for saving me,” I told her, “Thank you for coming with me and fighting. I will miss you very much,” I said sincerely and Queen Malu smiled at me gently, recognizing that she could no longer keep me away from my husband and daughter when we were so close. Instead, she stepped forward and grabbed the sides of my face. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion and then my eyes widened in shock when she kissed me on the lips. Her lips were warm and soft and unlike anything I have ever felt. All I could do was stay frozen and aware of the heavy silence that fell over the room.
“You have been a good woman,” Queen Malu said, “We shall miss you also. This will be the last time you see us.”
I nodded, slightly dazed. It made sense that I would never see them again. I was never meant to know about them in the first place. The thought saddened me more than I thought it would. I turned and started when I found her lover glaring down at me. I thought to myself for a moment, that she was going to kill me but then she grabbed my face and kissed me also. But this kiss was harsh, and it made my eyes tear up slightly.
“Farewell!” the woman said sweetly, patting my cheek and going to stand next to the Queen. I nodded, giving her a slight glare and turning to face the Feanorians, who looked on, shocked and even appalled.
I gave them a nervous smile.
I rode on in front of Lord Maedhros on his steed. Kala had opted to stay back at the women’s camp and for some reason, that hurt me. But I suppose Kala never owed any allegiance to me. I was simply a woman who gave her breast milk.
“If you heard about my apparent death,” I began with lord Maedhros, “Did you hear any news of my daughter? Of Ophelia?”
I needed to swallow up every little word he said about her and I waited patiently for him to speak. He didn’t wait long; “She is well, the last I heard. She is safe and healthy.”
“Are you sure?” I asked frantically, my heart beating so fast in relief, it was almost dizzying. If two different people told me the same thing, it might be true.
“She is well--safe and happy,” he assured me.
By the time we had reached whatever camp it was, it had become nightfall and it was all I could do to keep my eyes open. Even if the anticipation was killing me. I leaned my head back against Lord Maedhros’s hard and uncomfortable chest. But at the moment, he felt like the softest pillow. It felt wrong to do be in such an intimate position with another man. I didn’t know him and for all I knew, now that I thought about it, he could be kidnapping me. But I didn’t care, all I could think about were Glorfindel and Ophelia, even in my exhaustion. I felt the world slow down around me and I realised that we had halted. I blinked blearily but closed my eyes again...probably feeding his horse.
The wall of support behind me was suddenly gone and I felt gravity doing it’s duty on me and I fell backwards, into a pair of arms strong enough to lift me up gently. “Come now, your husband awaits you.”
I nodded, “My husband--Opheli--...philly,” I murmured sluggishly and leaned my head against his shoulder.
When we entered a warm area, collective voices began to speak, all in outrage--in delight, I couldn’t tell. But all I knew, was that in no time, Glorifndel would hold me in his arms, Ophelia with him.
“Where did you find her?”
“Quiet,” Lord Maedhros hissed when I shifted, “She sleeps.”
“Give her to me,” it was Lord Etchellion’s voice. “Her husband fades without her.”
I felt my eyes shoot open and I tried to wiggle, alarm clouding my mind but immediately, Lord Etchellion’s face filled my vision. “No,” I gurgled weakly. “Ophelia...Glorf--fy.”
“Hush now,” he whispered to me, taking me out of Lord Maedhros’s arms and into his. “You have been very brave today.”
“Ophelia…” I murmured sluggishly. Glorfindel won’t fade while I am still alive. He couldn’t, he could never love me that much, surely?
“In but a few moments,” he assured me, walking out of the warmth and for the longest while, I was cold. Lord Etchellion had wrapped me in his coat but it did little to warm me. Eventually, we entered another tent, warm too. I heard a baby’s gurgles.
“Leave us,” Glorfindel’s voice was hoarse and rough, unlike that which I never heard it. I wiggled to get down and opened my mouth to speak but Lord Etchellion cut me to it.
“Your wife lives,” Lord Etchellion said and Glorfindel gave a bitter laugh, his back still turned away, his arm robotically rocking a crib, in which I knew Ophelia was in.
“My Lord,” I breathed, inching towards him, holding out my arms but flinching when I caught sight of my stump, quickly tucking it away. I just needed him to see me now, not with a stump. I didn’t want that to sour our reunion.
At the sound of my voice, Glorfindel’s head whipped around and the change was literally instant. His golden hair seemed to start glowing and so did his eyes, his cheeks which were gaunt and pale, rouged and it was all I could do to keep from sobbing.
In an instant, his arms were around me and I hugged him as tightly as I was able with an arm and a half.
“I thought you were dead--your arm…” his eyes were searching mine frantically. “When I saw you today--I didn’t think it was possible that it was you…”
“It is me--see,” I stuck out my arm, or what remained of it, “My arm--you found my arm!”
His face crumpled and I don’t think I have ever seen such profound emotion on his face expressed as such before. I was wide awake now and I was catching all the little details. I held his face in one hand, pressing my body against his; “Glorfindel--my Lord, my Love. You are the one thing that kept me from dying. You and my sweet Ophelia.”
I tried to convey to him how much I didn’t blame him for the loss of my arm. My arm was nothing compared to the hardships he would have to suffer for my sake--because of my interference with history. It was an inconvenience--it was a part of me that I lost, but when I was back in his arms, safe and warm, I couldn’t think of anything else.
He was still staring at me, holding me tight in his grip, it was almost bruising, but that didn’t matter. He was holding me, I felt his hands trail up and down my body and I couldn’t help but lean forward and kiss him. When he stepped back to accommodate me better he must have bumped into Ophelia’s crib because she began crying.
I let go of him, Ophelia’s cries bringing me back to reality. Oh, my sweet, beautiful baby. I let go of Glorfindel and bent to pick up my beautiful baby. When I looked at her, I truly began crying. She was even more beautiful than I remembered. I began peppering her beautiful face with kisses, even when she was crying.
“How did you feed her?” I sniffed, once we were all settled, me sitting on his lap on the ground, Ophelia in my arms. Glorfindel’s arms wrapped around me, holding Ophelia and I close. I took advantage of this opportunity to free a breast. Ophelia wiggled closer.
“There was a midwife in the human camp, she came to feed her regularly,” Glorfindel said quietly against my bare shoulder, watching in fascination as Ophelia fed hungrily, rocking us both quietly. His rocking movements nearly set me to sleep. Being with Ophelia and him did wonders for my internal system.
I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
The road to post-traumatic recovery barely begins for everyone, especially in such devastating times.
When I woke up again, I was engulfed in warmth and I could hear a little baby’s cries--Ophelia. I shot up quickly, looking around for her, when I couldn’t find her, I felt panic building at my throat. I got to my knees.
“Ophelia?” I whimpered softly, I could hear her but I couldn’t see her. “Ophelia!” I screeched. I felt someone shake me and this time, I woke up for real.
Glorfindel’s face, tight with concern, filled my vision. I shot up quickly once more, but then the world spun around me, proof that I wasn’t dreaming; “Ophelia,” I whimpered.
“Here she is,” he told me soothingly. His calmness made me flinch. I didn’t want to be calm, I wanted to scream and cry and let all the terror of the past several days out. All of a sudden, everything--all the heartbreak, conflict, terror, fear, and adrenaline--that I should have felt but didn’t, came rushing down on me. It literally crushed me with its weight and I felt myself deflate. My entire existence suddenly lost its taste. I did more than I ever imagined I would ever do. My dream-like bubble around my life had popped; the time for peace, bliss and love ran out and with it came all the demons that haunted me. Lord Cirdan’s prophecy, Lady Moravid’s torture and torment, my interrogations, my conflicts, my ordeal with the goblins, my lost arm, the indignities, and all the courage I had to summon to face all my nightmares--all my demons.
I began sobbing and I felt Glorfindel’s warmth leave me, I cried harder at that. But then I felt him move down next to me once more, I slowly stopped when I realized he was only bringing Ophelia to me. I stared at him, glancing down at Ophelia and then back at him… he would be the last person to ever add to my suffering. He would be my beacon of light in my darkness.
“Come now,” he murmured softly, holding her out for me to hold. I wiped my tears and held out my arms for her. Glorfindel relinquished her to me and then pulling me closer to him, helping me hold her with my one good arm. I nearly dropped her from having a missing arm. I wanted to cry again--I couldn’t even hold my own daughter. But then I adjusted my grip and found that I could hold her that way better.
“Thank you,” I sniffed, “Unlace me will you?” I murmured softly. He didn’t need to be asked twice, I felt his fingers deftly unlace my dress from the front. I freed my breasts and found all these negative emotions I was feeling were only from how tight my dress was. I was being silly, I decided. All this self-hatred, all this trauma, it would fade with time. It would heal with the help of Glorfindel and Ophelia. I let out a sigh of relief and pressed Ophelia to my bare skin.
“I am sorry for not being with you--I should have protected you better,” he told, stroking my hair. I shook my head--I never blamed him. He was the last person to receive blame from me.
“No, my suffering has brought good tidings to this war--I would do it again all over if it meant victory for you,” I admitted and Glorfindel fell silent or the longest while. Perhaps this would change everything for the better.
“You should never have to suffer for me,” he told me fiercely, pulling away and cupping my face, staring at me sharply in the eye. “I would rather die a thousand deaths than have all this happen to you.”
I gulped, swallowing back emotion. I didn’t have to suffer for him, for sure--but he would suffer for me. He would die protecting Gondolin but he didn’t know it yet. But this was the only declaration of love I have ever truly received from him and I thought to myself it was more heartfelt than if he had actually told me that he loved me.
When Ophelia had gone back to sleep, I cleaned myself up with water and soap that Glorfindel managed to save, along with all the contents of my previous pack. I took of my golden dress and I briefly considered throwing it into the fire from how chilly it was but then I decided against it. It was a beautiful dress and it was gifted to me by Queen Malu, I already ruined it enough. I neatly folded it aside and put on another set of clothes, pants this time around.
“We ride to battle in a week’s time,” Glorfindel told me grimly. “Perhaps earlier. This battle that just took place took many days to finally end, with barely any progress. We were just beginning to lose hope.”
I flinched--how much did he suffer? He probably barely ate anything, they were now drained of energy and war was difficult to be comfortable in. His features also seemed more gaunt. What sort of rotten food did they eat? I shuddered.
“Then I came at the best moment,” I pressed a kiss to the side of his ear, ignoring the fact that we barely had seven days together--even less, presumably.
“You saved the entire union,” he admitted, chuckling a little. “The Easterling’s betrayal lay fresh in our minds...they had tricked the host of Maedhros…”
“I know,” I murmured dully. I knew exactly how it all played out. I knew exactly how everything would happen. The one thing I know for sure didn’t happen and would never have happened, was my interference.
My fear of the unpredictable future disquieted me and Glorfindel caught on; “My love, what is it?”
“I--I am not sure,” I admitted, wishing desperately that I could tell him. But if he knew...he would never be reborn, he would never have saved Frodo, he would never have been alive to give me my final kiss before I left to Torsnan. He is arguably one of the most important Noldorin princes (he was indirectly in the line of succession for both the Noldor and the Vanyar, but he was so far down, it wouldn’t ever reach him), one of the most important figures in Middle Earth History. He was vital for his spirituality, his sacrifice, and the example he laid for all to follow. It was better that he never knows, I determined with great regret. He needed to die, it was essential that he died fighting that Balrog. The thought shattered my heart.
The day all this shall come to pass is the day my world will turn black and not even my sweet, beautiful Ophelia, and all her siblings hereafter, will be able to fully bring back the light to my life.
For now, all I could do was love him. As fully as I was able, as best as I was able. I needed to cherish the time I had him in my life--in our lives, Ophelia’s.
He frowned gently at me and tucked my hair behind my ear, weaving his large hands in my hair and holding my head in place as he kissed me. Yes, I could love him.
When I woke up, I was pleasantly surprised to find Glorfindel next to me, holding me in his arms, one across us, moving in a swaying motion, presumably jostling Ophelia in her crib. He was watching me, as though he was burning my face into memory.
“Good morning, my love,” he murmured, watching me, his eyes tearing up, his eyebrows knitting together. He seemed distressed. I pressed my body to his, sighing at the skin to skin contact. We hadn’t had that at all since I had given birth to Ophelia. Sure we were naked in the presence of each other, but nothing ever really happened. There was just too much that happened. But last night was the best of my life. I had only slept for small intervals until the pleasant feeling of Glorfindel slipping inside me lovingly would wake me up.
“Why do you weep, my Lord?” I asked him softly, kissing him gently. The weather in Hithlum was bitterly cold, but this was akin to summer in Hithlum right now so Glorfindel’s arms and his warmth was sufficient.
“Your eyes when you sleep,” he admitted and I stared at him, confused; “They close...elves don’t close their eyes unless they are dead. I am sorry, but the edain have strange sleeping patterns.”
“You thought I was dead?” I asked him, trying not to smile at him incredulously. I didn’t want to ridicule his feelings so callously. I would be shaken too. “No, my Love, I would never leave you alone--you nor Ophelia, if I can help it. Against all odds, I still came back. See?”
He stared at me, expressionless before he gave me a weak but assuring smile; “I imagined you were...after all this ordeal, it is difficult for me to--forgive me. It is very difficult for me to see you safe.”
I nodded grimly; “Think of good thoughts when we are like this, my Lord,” I begged, pressing a kiss to his chin, “Good thoughts only.”
“Good thoughts,” he agreed, rolling over me.
For the following two days, Glorfindel was busy with his armies. He had been revived by newfound energy that he kept contained. His vengeance and hatred were stored for battle; boiling beneath the surface. He would be gone from the morning until night. The only reason he ever returned was because he was the only active fighter who even had a family coming along with him. No word came from King Fingon, no apology and no indication that he knew what his foolish commands had caused to me. I was irritated that the King hadn’t even chosen to acknowledge his folly. Earl Borg was no better. I wasn’t even sure he understood and once again, my misfortunes came at the hand of my own race.
I shook my head, unwilling to even acknowledge the fact that not one had the Earl deigned to show his face to apologize. It was only the next day did word come of his death. I couldn’t feel satisfaction at it. There was no use blaming the dead, they were not there to stand on trial for their actions.
In my free time, I would help the cooks assemble and amass astronomical amounts of food, and everything I did was made even more difficult with one hand, and barely half an arm. Food was scarce and vegetation was volcanic at best. Potatoes were a staple food because they grew quickly and in cold weather. Carrots, pumpkins, and tomatoes were also grown but the meat was scarce. Animals were reserved for feasts, of victory if there was ever. But there was enough wheat to make pasta out of and sometimes I made plates of pasta out of the vegetables. I had taken to growing my own herbs and creating my own little garden once more. The herbs that grew surprisingly quick from my garden were the only things that gave taste to the food besides salt.
Ophelia stayed strapped to my back while I worked and often times, it was all very difficult. The kitchens were hot and I hated having Ophelia be exposed to such sharply varying temperatures so I have resorted to leaving her with the midwife; occasionally returning to feed Ophelia.
At night, when Glorfindel would come back, I would be so exhausted, I would sleep before he got there. He wouldn’t ever disturb me, sometimes, but my senses would tickle me like little butterflies in my dreams whenever he was near.
“My Lord,” I whimpered, feeling him settle next to me.
“Hush now,” he murmured, stroking my maimed arm. I felt him press kisses to my collarbones. My eyelids fluttered open; “Sleep,” he commanded me gently.
“How can I?” I murmured, feeling him pull up my dress slowly, kissing my legs as he went along; “You are devilish for this, my Lord.”
“Hmm…” he hummed, distracted, as he pulled down my panties, kissing me right where it felt good.
The next battle raged on for days at an end; their strategies had improved; the spies were caught. I had continuously warned Glorfindel about the spies. They were the reason why the first battle was so devastating. They had been betrayed. The worst part was; it was all the lowly servants; the humans, and all of that ilk. It always disgusted me that they were from Ulfang’s house. I hated them all for it.
I was beginning to be disgusted with my own race as if my disenchantment with them was not enough already.
Unfortunately, I was not allowed to help with the medics, my one arm already made me a liability. The Gondolinrim healer had urgently but politely asked me to make myself useful in actually growing the herbs that would help him. Mushrooms came easily enough. Their medical properties were unexpected but outrageously beneficial. Certain types helped immensely with the compression of internal fluids after particularly difficult surgeries. It was all very specific when it came to actually fix those medicinal herbs; but Lord Elrond and Lord Relos taught me well.
I was taught well, I thought to myself as a form of assurance, watching with great regret, everything happening that couldn’t be fixed with one hand alone.
Elizabeth, once more, plays a hand in ensuring a vital part of the future of Middle Earth and at the same time, healing her hidden wounds.
The battle itself ended terribly when Morgoth released the Balrogs. We still lost--it was still so devastating--Queen Malu’s forces retreated as quickly as they came. The Gondolinrim had been forced to retreat, also, after the death of Fingon himself at the hand of that wicked balrog--the events played out just as they did in the books. It made me realize something--even with--and despite--the aversion of Ulfang’s betrayal by Queen Malu’s awe-inspiring arrival, an earth-shattering event on its own that was never mentioned in the histories, everything would have still played out as it did. The realization gave me a deep, insatiable sorrow because it made the realization that I couldn’t save Glorfindel if I tried even more devastating. Ulfang was not the only house who betrayed the Alliance--there were at least three more houses that I knew of. It made me want to pull my hair out because it was a crucial detail that I completely forgot about. But that was the fault of the histories; they always glorified power and overlooked the smaller details, the pawns, that actually made all the difference.
A man--a human, tall and blonde, his beard the only defining aspect of him behind his armour had ridden to the elven camp. He had stopped on his horse right in front of me, who was holding baby Ophelia in her arm. The man seemed extremely surprised to see her.
“My Lady!” he cried out and I stumbled backwards in alarm-- “King Turgon and his host have retreated--come, my Lady, the camp departs now as we speak!”
“My husband is part of King Turgon’s host,” my heart leapt in fear and despair.
“I know, my Lady. Lord Glorfindel bid me come and deliver you to him--he could not break free from battle, else he would have come himself,” the man implored me, holding out his hand, his blue eyes shining beneath the shadows of his helm.
“How do I know you are not a traitor?” I snarled, moving away from him, glaring at him fiercely. The man paused, surprised, as though he hadn’t expected me to be uncompliant. For good reason to, I was edain. To have an elf-husband was already strange, as an edain. But to distrust, my own race, so openly must have been the salt to the wound.
“I am not of Ulfang’s elk,” the man said fiercely, his eyes cold upon me, “I wish not to mishandle you--to soil my image to my closest brothers in battle. I am Huor, son of Galdor, of the House of Hador, my Lady.”
My gaze softened on him. The house of Hador had always been a friend of the elves--this man, his son--he would meet and love Idril. I found myself tentatively putting my hand in his--which he never put down.
“Forgive me, my Lord,” I told him, feeling contrite and embarrassed. This man saved my husband. I didn’t see it happen but I knew it did. I also knew he would die saving the Gondolinrim host, him and all his men. “But what of the others--the--”
“They have already begun packing their possessions,” the man gestured around him and I realized it was real. Shorter men, though not significantly, with beards--edain, were running around the camp, shouting, there was a flurry of movement all around. “Leave yours, Lord Glorfindel bid you come with the clothes on your back if that is how I come upon you.”
“I am sorry for mistrusting you,” I told him apologetically. Huor’s gaze softened again, reaching up softly and stroking Ophelia’s head, shifting the pack on my back. It had but a few bars of soap, some herbs, Ophelia’s blankets, and my breast pump.
“A sweet child,” he told me, giving me a heart-stopping smile that would have made a younger-me swoon. He bent down, his hands grasping my waist and in one move, he was lifting me up, side-saddle on his horse, “Think naught of it. You are wise to do so, your husband taught you well.”
I wanted to correct him, to tell him that it wasn’t my husband--or even Lord Elrond, my father figure, who taught me to distrust strangers. It was my own race, but I didn’t tell him that.
Huor rode in front of me, skillfully maneuvering his steed so that none of us fell. I held on for dear life because I have never been on a moving horse that did heart-stopping tricks. I held on to his waist, always looking behind me. Many of the other elves and men on their steeds followed us, carrying what they could. We wove through the trees, to return to our original party, the Gondolinrim.
“My Lady,” Huor called from in front of me, “I beg from you a favour if you will.”
“Ask, my Lord,” I called over the howling wind over us.
“My quiver, next to my saddle, give me all the arrows, do not remove it--lest it falls.”
I did as I was told and for a moment, I felt regret come into my heart. These valiant men, risking their lives for the elves that brought Morgoth’s wrath on them...that was true valour and honour. They would all die so cruelly, him and all these men, and those who didn’t die today, or tomorrow, would die eventually, having to live with the horror of this ill-advised war.
The names Turin, Tuor, Hurin, Nienor, Findulias, Morwen, and poor Lalaith...all of these tragic characters, would die terrible, tragic deaths that would haunt all the generations to come.
I buried my face in his back, feeling my heart pound with grief and sorrow for all the suffering to come.
“Come, My Lady,” Huor called, “I see the host of Gondolin!”
I looked up, feeling my heart pound in my chest when I spotted the familiar blue sigils.
“Thank you, my Lord!” I called, giving his waist a squeeze.
“Stay safe, my Lady!” Huor called back, stopping his horse when riders from the Gondolinrim host rode on their horses towards us.
I tugged at his armour thoughtlessly and Huor turned around, his eyes gleaming beneath his armour. With my mouth, I took off the ring that Lord Boromir had given me, feeling confident..eventually, it would come back to me. But for now, it would serve as a promise and a charm to ward off nightmares.
“Your seed will grow,” I promised him looking him in the eyes, holding his hand and putting my ring in his large palm, resisting when he tried to give it back, “It will grow and prosper--you will be remembered, forever. A new star will be born--from the House of Turgon and the House of Hador. This ring will find its way back to me. Send it to your son, first.”
I didn’t know why I told him all this but something told me that Huor, son of Galdor, already knew of my prophecy from Lord Ulmo of the seas. I felt metals hands wrap around my waist, beneath sweet Ophelia, and pull me towards them.
“Come, Lady Elizabeth,” Lord Etchellion’s voice implored me. I felt him pull me on his horse, in front of him, holding Ophelia by her back, to keep us both from falling. Huor watched me from beneath his helm, his eyes glistening with tears. He would not live for long. He knew that...but his seed would live on. He knew that also.
“Farewell, my Lady!” he called, turning around on his horse, “Gift of the elves!”
That was the last I ever saw of him.
I didn’t see Glorfindel again until we had finally reached the wooden gates of Gondolin. Unlike our descent from the hidden city, there were many obstacles in our ascent.
The forests were flooded with orcs. Never once did anyone stop, the horses ate on the way. Lord Etchellion never let his hold loosed on either me or Ophelia. When Ophelia would cry, he would always sing a soft tune that would quieten her, and when she needed to feed, he would cover us with his cloak.
Only two years ago he was reporting me to the king…
“Elizabeth!” Glorfindel’s voice sounded, from beside me. He was riding up to Lord Etchellion and I. I sat up straighter, almost raising my arm to wave to him but realized that I had a stump and Primrose would fall any moment. So I fought my instincts and held on for dear life. My eyes hungrily watching my husband. “My Lady!”
“She is well,” Lord Etchellion said from above me, “Her and your daughter, untouched.”
“Thank Eru,” Glorfindel sighed, visible relief on his normally stoic, outward face. “My friend, you have my gratitude.”
“I did naught but deliver her--Huor, he saved her from certain death.”
“You will have the chance to thank him,” I promised Glorfindel, who looked at me, “Not today...in the years to come.”
Glorfindel stared at me for a moment before nodding numbly. His large hands collected me from Lord Etchellion and unto his mount; “My Love,” he whispered, low enough for me to here. He clasped arms with Lord Etchellion, in a customary sign of brotherhood.
“I am indebted to you,” Glorfindel said solemnly and Lord Etchellion snorted. I started at the sound, no elf ever made a sound remotely resembling something so...edain.
“After all the times you saved my arse from being flayed in battle? I think not,” Lord Etchellion said dryly. “We are so close to home now...we must ride and speak later.”
“Later,” Glorfindel promised. I gave Lord Etchellion a meek smile of gratitude before Lord Glorfindel turned away and rode back to his sector of the army.
“When we arrive home,” Lord Glorfindel whispered in my ear, holding my hand over Ophelia’s back, “After all is settled, I will fuck you so hard, you will only know my name.”
It was the dirtiest thing he had ever said to me, in all my two years of marriage. It made my face flame, the blood rush everywhere it had no business rushing to, my heart pound, and it made me look around to see if anyone heard but everyone seemed too preoccupied to even bother looking at us… I looked up at him, pausing at his heated eyes, and quickly, shyly, pressed a kiss to his lips.
“I will hold you to that promise,” I whispered back, hoping to have been just as quiet as him.
After we were in the safety of the gates of Gondolin, everyone settled for a moment of respite.
It gave me the opportunity to sleep properly; in reclination, instead of having to settle for Lord Etchellion’s hard chest. It also gave me the opportunity to clean Ophelia and myself up from grime and any other unpleasantness.
Glorfindel stayed next to me the whole time, helping clean Ophelia when I struggled to do it with one hand.
“I went into this...hoping to come alive, with you untouched,” Lord Glorfindel told me from behind when I was cleaning myself in one of the private baths in the barracks. I turned to him my heart dropping. He was talking about my stump.
“Well...there is no use crying over a lost arm,” I told him trying not to show how affected I was, “Many lost their lives, including the King’s brother. Those balrogs...without them, we might have won this war.”
“Morgoth’s servants are varying in their evil and witchcraft...they are like a disease, festering and always growing stronger,” Lord Glorfindel said, stroking my maimed arm, his hand going to the underside of a heavy breast, stroking my ribs. “I had wished to shield you from them...but alas, I could not.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I told him, “What matters is that we are safe.”
I moved over to accommodate him into the bath with me. He got in behind me. From where I sat, I watched sweet Ophelia on the table before us, sleeping in a pile of blankets, peaceful, clean, and warm. I reclined against his hard body.
“You can’t change what has happened,” I told him, I felt as though every time we were together, alone, I had to tell him so. He had a deep guilt, for failing to protect me, but what he didn’t realize is that my suffering leads to fair tidings to the war--even though we lost it. I loved him too much to ever resent him for failing to protect me if I was a less optimistic person. “Don’t drive yourself away with guilt and self-hatred. I don’t hate you for what has happened and now that I think about it, I cannot resent the King for forcing the matter. If it meant that I would have to die to save you, I would. A hundred times over.”
It was spoken from the bottom of my heart, and I felt him hug me closer into his body. Only when I felt his warm tears on my shoulder, did I force my eyes from Ophelia, turning around and kissing him.
This would be our last intimate moment for many weeks.
I got out of the hot springs, in our chambers. After our arrival back from Nirnaeth Arnoediad, many shrouds for the dead were built. The entire city was in a state of grief for several weeks. The adrenaline of everything--the war--had suddenly vanished and in its wake came a crippling depression. No lights were lit, the flags were half-mast, and the laments were sung by all those who could. There were no tales to tell...the grief was too great for anyone and everyone.
I couldn’t find it in myself to miss home, my grief was too great. All that I tried to do was for nothing. This was so incredibly disheartening. I had dearly tried to save--to turn the tides of the war. But it still played out as it did in the histories. Every night, I would wake up, all of a sudden, from a heart-wrenching nightmare. All the events that happened in this war--my torture, my capture, my fears--played in my dreams. Only, this time, I was silent in my terror, so I had no one for comfort. I would wake up cold, deprived of contact--my husband could not be with me.
The only light in my life was Ophelia, who was always healthy and beautiful. Glorfindel could not be with me these past few weeks. Lady Aeronid and Lord Relos had both embraced me upon my return, gazing at my stump sorrowfully, but with pride in their eyes. I couldn’t understand why no one could understand that my physical marring saved many of Gondolin’s men. Did they not understand that there is always some form of sacrifice for a greater good--even if we never technically won the war?
I shook my head, gazing at my beautiful baby. I couldn’t believe something so beautiful would come out of me, so plain in comparison. She took after me, as her features formed more, I could see that, indeed, she looked more like me than she did her father. Her colouring, however, was all her father’s, save for that one, brown eye. Every day, I would count her fingers her toes, kissing each of them, I would undress her and study her skin for any scratches or discolourations, I would stroke her lovely, fragile head, I would listen to her when she coughed, my heart leaping in my throat. I just couldn’t get enough of her. It saddened me greatly, however, that I couldn’t hold her properly.
“She sleeps, my Lord,” I heard Lady Aeronid’s voice from behind me and my eyes tiredly blinked open.
“Thank you, Lady Aeronid,” Glorfindel’s voice was kind. I stirred, turning towards the door, just as it opened. Glorfindel’s entire silhouette came into view, the door closing behind him. I tiredly got up, feeling more and more energetic as I became more determined to wrap my arms around him. He turned towards me, in the dark his eyes lighting my way because they glowed so brightly.
I began helping him unclasp his ceremonial armour, undoing his black cloak--for mourning purposes, I am sure.
“I missed you,” I whimpered, my one hand fiddling in the dark but when Glorfindel lit a lamp for me, my fumbling got a little better.
“I have missed you also,” Glorfindel said tiredly.
“Come sleep with me, you must be exhausted--did you eat?” I asked him, going on the tips of my toes to tug his armour off. Glorfindel helpfully maneuvered out of his armour. My one hand was making things infinitely and frustratingly more difficult.
“I did,” Glorfindel assured me, “I showered and ate before I arrived here.”
I touched his hair and felt that it was wet; “You don’t want tea?”
“I am well,” Glorfindel assured me, pressing a kiss to my forehead.
“Ophelia will wake up any moment now to feed,” I told him, “You can see her then.”
“I will,” he assured me, kissing me fully on the lips. I pulled back frantically, I hadn’t realized I missed him so much until he arrived--and I was whizzing around him like an overly-eager hummingbird. All my depression, hurt, grief, and loneliness of the past weeks faded away when he was in the same room as me. I felt so energized right now.
“I missed you,” I gasped, pulling away and leading him by the hand to sit on his great chair that he kept next to Ophelia’s crib.
“You seem happy,” he teased me softly, complying with my unspoken command to sit on the chair. Once he was seated, I knelt between his legs and I felt Glorfindel go completely still beneath me, I could see his throat bob in the moonlight.
“I have missed you, my Lord,” I admitted, deftly undoing his laces, feeling a heart-racing satisfaction when he hardened beneath my touch, “Would you like me to show you how much?”
“I wouldn’t mind,” he breathed, weaving his long fingers in my hair.
A/N: Some of you might notice I switched from American grammar to actual, Canadian grammar. If you catch on to these tweaks, good for you, nerds :* The relief feels great, eh?
Hommage and tribute are paid--and good news lightens the aftermath.
I was pregnant again, for the second time. I had found out just shortly after Glorfindel had returned from his mourning duties. I wasn’t sure how he knew, but I woke up to him, kissing my stomach, murmuring sweet nothings against it. I had nearly fainted at the implication, and I actually swooned when he confirmed my suspicions.
“My lord,” I breathed, peppering his face with kisses, feeling incredibly elated, “I l-l-l-love you s-s-s-so much.”
I was sobbing uncontrollably. This was the best news in a long while--since the birth of Ophelia. Glorfindel had settled between my open legs, kissing my shoulder while supporting himself on his forearms.
“This is the best news in a long while--I know it will uplift the spirits of everyone here,” Lord Glorfindel murmured softly against my shoulder. I nodded in agreement, gripping his powerful harm to try and balance myself as I leaned forward to kiss him. I tried avoiding touching him with my stump. It always felt sacrilegious, even though he often kissed it.
“It will,” I blurted, pressing a wet, teary kiss to his newly-tattooed shoulder. Glorfindel had come home, his torso nearly covered with murals that Lord of Gondolin had drawn as ritual. The significance of it was not lost on me. It was the bond of comradeship But I didn’t mind. Tattoos never marred Glorfindel’s beauty, in fact, they might have emasculated him even more than ever. I had playfully told Glorfindel that it was good they hadn’t drawn on his anatomy, that would have genuinely displeased me.
“We have to tell them all,” I declared, just as Glorfindel slipped inside me, cutting off my train of thought. I felt my head loll back in pleasure, my elbows trembling in an effort to keep me up. My stump, in particular, was too weak to hold me up so it was my good arm.
“That could wait,” Lord Glorfindel told me softly, grunting when he began to move, gently. I felt him grip my waist, pressing loving kisses to my breasts.
“Hmmm…” I whimpered, feeling my arm give out and I plopped to the mattress, boneless, feeling my body move with his thrusts.
“Ophelia needs feeding,” I murmured tiredly, feeling Glorfindel move out of the bed to bring her to me.
“Here,” Glorfindel murmured softly, pressing sweet Ophelia to my breast, I winced when she latched on. It was always strange and painful, the first few seconds. I felt him stroke my shoulder, peppering kisses to my neck and leaning forward to kiss Ophelia, his large hands moving to stroke my unchanged stomach.
“Thank you, my Lord,” I murmured tiredly, moving to blink at him and then leaning forward and kissing him. I leaned back down and fell asleep.
I was crying out in pleasure--nearly screaming. It just felt so good. He always knew how to love me properly. He always knew how to show his love--in actions and words. Something I was trying to be adept in. I was never good at expressing my love, even if I tried.
But he knew how--he could take me; eagle spread beneath him, all on fours before him, on top of him, on a chair, on his desk, against the wall, against any flat surface, in any convenient position...he just knew. He saved me from going back with those whom I know now as traitors, he vouched for me before he even knew me, he protected me, he loved me, he helped me create the greatest gift in this world; Ophelia and now her future sibling...he wasn’t always there, but he always made up for it.
“I gave you my word, didn’t I?” Glorfindel grunted from above me, “You will only know my name when I am done with you.”
“Yessss…” I hissed, delirious with pleasure.
For days, we barely came out of our rooms. When we did, the house was empty, but the food was always left prepared. When we came back, the sheets were always changed and the laundry was cleaned. It always embarrassed me and warmed me. It was good of them to do all this...I would have to reward them somehow.
The few hours we were out, Ophelia was with us in Glorfindel’s arms, seemingly miles above my short stature. My garden was well-cared for in my absence and there were new flowers added to the batch. Occasionally, if I spotted a stray weed in our stroll, I would bend and dig it out, much to Glorfindel’s amusement. Whenever I wasn’t feeding Ophelia, or I wasn’t preoccupied with making love to my husband or filling out overdue paperwork in our absence, Glorfindel was always carrying Ophelia. He would press kisses to her head, watch her like an eagle, his grip on her never faltering. He always spoiled her, carving little wooden figures for her, bathing her, and playing with her.
Life was pleasant now, even with my stump...the only reminder of the horrors that had ever happened.
King Turgon had summoned all the elves in Gondolin--civilians and soldiers not on Patrol duty alike. Glorfindel had told me it was a customary awards ceremony for deeds in the battle that had happened, to tell the tale, to remember everyone. I had a feeling that it would be a grim ceremony and I was sure to not be wrong.
“You will wear this dress--” Lady Aeronid said, “I had it commissioned for you since you had arrived.”
It was a black dress, with golden embroidery of flowers all over it. It had no crinoline (these have been going out of fashion recently since they wasted so many resources). It had two thick straps on my shoulders, wrapping around my breasts tastefully, the black itself shimmered like the stars. It was flowy, going with the movements and it tightened around my breasts and upper waist before flowing out. It was very beautiful. The golden shawl was sewed on so that it was more like a cloak than anything and it did wonders to hide my stump. Little golden pearls were woven into my dark hair and the effect was wondrous. My hair had grown long again, my curls villous, especially with the right oils.
“You look gorgeous,” Lady Aeronid seemed extremely affected, emotion making her eyes shine.
“Thank you,” I gave a playful little twirl, “I feel good.”
It was true, I hadn’t felt this pretty or pampered in a while. It was a beautiful feeling. “Come, you will lift many gazes tonight,” Lady Aeronid said, giving my stomach a gentle, loving pat, deep longing in her eyes. I gave her a soft smile, kissing her cheek and going to find my husband.
My husband himself outshone me by miles but that didn’t upset me, it never did. He was wearing black also, with golden flowers embroidered, just like mine. Although his ensemble was significantly more austere than mine, no golden cape or anything. His ceremonial sword was in an honorary sheath, his golden hair pulled from his face in one simple but thick braid down his back. When he looked at me, his grim face softened.
“You will outshine everyone tonight, my Love,” he told me his eyes holding no guile in it and for the longest moment, I almost believed him. But it would be impossible to outshine an elf. Perhaps he wanted to make me feel better, and I did feel better anyhow. He wrapped his arms around me, bending to press a loving kiss to my lips.
“I will carry Ophelia tonight,” Lady Aeronid said from behind, making us pull apart, I blushed, resisting to giggle like a silly adolescent.
“Thank you, Lady Aeronid,” Glorfindel said, giving Lady Aeronid a warm smile. He led me away and we both entered the ceremonial carriage. Lady Aeronid would ride with us.
The ceremony itself was a grand affair. The black versions of all of Gondolin’s banners were hung like shrouds from the ceiling, many elves, nearly two-thirds of the entire city was in attendance. It was a grand hall indeed.
The ceremony itself was lengthy, it spoke of the valour of many Lords and soldiers. It spoke of a grand tale, happening exactly as it did--perhaps sparing some gory details. The tales were sung, the dead were properly mourned, and finally, the end was reached. Several times, in the middle of stories, honoraries were mentioned, medals of valour, honour, and bravery were awarded, several of which my husband received.
By then, my eyes had watered many times. Oh, this affected me so much. Many things happened that I wasn’t aware of. Despite the long ceremony, spent standing, I was still enamoured.
“Finally, there is one who stands here today,” King Turgon’s voice boomed, “Who has placed her life--willing--in danger; to sacrifice for the sake of this cause. She who suffered for the sake of this cause and brought down much-needed aid upon us from the mountains--I would award her the highest honour; Elf-Friend.”
I looked about me. He couldn’t be speaking about me, I couldn’t have been the only female in the Gondolin Host. I saw there were several female guards and fighters. But I have only ever known Elf-Friend to be given to humans and I was the only human in Gondolin. I knew there were other humans, like Huor, who were more deserving of that title than I was.
But when he called my name, doubt was blot out from my mind; “Elizabeth Lane, mistress to the House of the Golden Flower; Mother, wife, healer, warrior, and elf-friend.”
These titles all seemed grand to me, I personally believed that these were my obligation and duty, not a source of valour to be awarded. I did no more than the lowest foot soldier.
“Come forward, Lady Elizabeth,” and just like that, the crowd parted for me like a sea splitting. I felt my face burn and I forced my feet to walk. This was embarrassing, everyone’s eyes were on me. I was dazed, I hadn’t expected any of that. I looked behind me to Lady Aeronid for encouragement and she gave me a soft smile, pride in her eyes. Perhaps that was all the encouragement I needed.
I subtly pulled my stump to hide it in my golden shawl. I walked up the dais and like all the others I have seen do before me, I knelt down, unsure of what to do.
“Thank you, your Honor,” I murmured, feeling embarrassed, “But I did no more than a foot soldier would have done to serve their country.”
“Do not undermine your actions, my Lady,” King Turgon’s voice was soft, “You are a jewel, rare and precious,--a gift to the elves and a credit to your peoples. Rise and accept your award for Valour Extraordinary.”
I looked up from his feet and did as he bid me. In his palm was a small, thin necklace and my heart dropped when I realized I knew this necklace, in another life. It was the one Prince Legolas had shown me when he spoke of Elf-Friend.
My heart has never let me astray.
I felt emotion well up inside me at the sight of the pearl. The king stepped forward, his hands going about me, in an embrace, almost, to fasten the necklace around my neck. It sat elegantly between my collarbones.
I didn’t feel any different receiving it; “May you be known as an example today and for all the generation to come; true courage, sacrifice, and Valour Extraordinary. You are elf-friend.”
My heart has never led me astray.
Truly, it did not.
I was still in a daze when Glorfindel had taken me home. I still didn’t comprehend the fact that I received an award--one that I already knew of, in another life. How did Prince Legolas come by it, anyway?
But I couldn’t think about that when Glorfindel helped me undo my dress. I couldn’t think about that when Glorfindel kissed me, when he spread my legs on his desk, taking me, almost roughly. I couldn’t think about anything after that.
I could only think about Glorfindel...when he was around me, with me, inside me, all those many moments. I arched my back so many times that it almost hurt to do so again, I woke up so many times that night, by either Glorfindel, Ophelia, or myself--out of my own volition.
I loved my life now. I never wanted this dream to end.
End of Book 3: Elizabeth lives her life--the years passing until the inevitable fall.
The years passed. Many of them...I almost lost count, had it not been for the fact that Glorfindel kept annoying track of my begetting days, always with a small pastry and a creative way of waking me up or celebrating. In 20 years, we had three children together, including Ophelia, all of them were beautiful, intelligent girls. All of them were just like my sweet Ophelia; golden-haired and mismatched eyes. But they were beautiful. Glorfindel doted on them relentlessly and the fact that he didn’t have a son didn’t seem to bother him as much as I thought it would, or as much as it bothered me. That set my mind at ease. It was funny, the Noldorin elves loved my children in any way that they could have them, as though my children were not mine alone. It became more amusing than disturbing after a while.
“Girls are sweeter,” Glorfindel told me, one of the nights when I was disquieted by the probability of never having sons, “They do not head into war recklessly, I would not want to lose them to such horrors.”
But he never had to worry about that; I could no longer give birth. After my Sweet Primrose’s delivery, I nearly died and when Victoire had come, my ovaries had been far too damaged to be of any use other than to regulate the hormones in my system. Lord Relos had spent many nights, sleepless, to keep me alive. Glorfindel had been banned from the birthing room because it was far too much effort to keep him in the room; far too stressful. It had frightened Glorfindel into a period of isolating himself from me for nearly three, excruciating years before Lord Relos developed a potion that stopped-conception, at least for one night.
That was perhaps the one thing that gave me the most ache in our marriage, my inability to do what I was designed to do. Not to mention, our long, 3-year period of not touching one another or seeing one another properly (imposed by Glorfindel, I would rather he stayed at night and held me). It had been a period where he slept in a different room, playing with the girls and avoiding contact with me like a plague. So much so that I began avoiding him too, out of bitter spite. At one, treacherous point, I had begun regretting our marriage, only in my dreams. When I looked at my daughters, I would always re-realize that I had a lot to be thankful for from Glorfindel.
Eventually, I wasn't sure how, but we found ourselves drunk one late night--I don't remember how. But woke up in his arms; naked. I remember that night so well because of how good it felt to have him inside me once more, pressed to each other and rousing with the steady heat of our passion. All was well after that.
My stump hadn’t affected me much over the years. My performance had not been quite as stellar but it was subpar. Lord Maeglin had fashioned me a hand as a show of gratitude, a hand that worked wonderfully well, when it was connected properly to all the nerves in my stump, beneath my skin. It worked so well that I decided to put aside my sore feelings for him just this once--not to mentioned I was admittedly slightly charmed.
But it didn’t matter anyway, I still stayed unchanged in my looks, surprisingly enough. I was still just as agile. My daughters were all very energetic. Each of them tall and willowy, proud of stature and fair of face. Ophelia was the only one who faintly resembles me. I didn’t mind. I liked that they all looked like Glorfindel. I was still cherubic next to the elves. Cherubic, short, and curvy.
Tuor, as I had promised his father before him, had come to the City of Gondolin. He had fallen in love with Idril just as in the Histories, and Boromir’s ring found its way back to my forefinger. And everything--all the deaths and tragedies; the sacking of Doriath by the dwarves, the curse of the house of Hurin, all of it reached Gondolin through Manwe’s eagles.
This year would be the year Earendil would be conceived.
The countdown began now, I thought to myself sadly, watching as my three beautiful daughters sitting with each other, with an enviable elegance. Elf-Friend sat heavy between my collarbones. In just six more years, Maeglin would betray Gondolin.
I already knew that I had to die then--my husband and I. I had already outlived my expectancy as an intruder, I had cheated death too many times for redemption. I would have to die, but my daughters didn’t have to.
I already knew of a secret path in the mountain pass, I knew about it and I made sure Glorfindel was aware of it. He understood that I knew something that he did not. He never asked for it, even though I could tell he was curious. I was grateful he didn’t. He is never meant to know; he should never ever find out.
I would give elf-friend to Ophelia...she would--I don’t know, she would keep it for my namesake. Perhaps through her...it would find its way back to Legolas Greenleaf. Somehow…
I didn’t know how I would die, but I just knew I would.
It all came too quickly.
One day, the alarms sounded, loud and terrible, like they have never been sounded before. Soon after, explosions sounded and a great fire engulfed the forests around the city. I had led the people--tried--to the hidden mountain pass, I had forced my daughter in the care of Lady Idril and Lady Aeronid.
But my own hand had choked me. The one Maeglin had gifted to me so many years ago had risen up and had wrapped it’s cold, metallic fingers around my throat. I could hear my windpipes crushing beneath the force and the last I saw were these terrible yellow eyes surrounding me.
~END OF BOOK 3 ~
Chapter 36: Season 2 of the Series.
Further information provided in the chapter.
Haha, ok so guys, good news; I'm back, with a brand new track.
I'm gonna make a series to this world because I am getting really invested in it. I spent all this time (MIA) planning at least three separate books of Glorfibeth (Ship name?) to add to the series and each one roughly has 10-15 chapters, give or take, maybe less. Some are short stories. Others are long semi-novella length.
Book 2, or season 2, of this series, officially, is due to come around in the next few minutes or so. You might like it, you might hate it. Season 2 is a continuation to this Season 1 story. This particular story is not over yet, just continued in the next book: Time Never Stops. I am a sucker for happy endings and the hereafter so...hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge. Just be nice about it. Updates are, *hesitantly*, weekly. Not sure which days yet.
Also, I wanted to see who would be interested in drawing out scenes or characters from the fanfic. It's a longshot because not everyone is as invested in my book as I am. I just think it would be interesting. I was planning to make a whole book in the series dedicated to the art that you guys DM me via my email:
Or I think you can DM me on A03, this is my first time doing this, lol. The art can range from (these are just ideas):
- Queen Malu and the Warrior Queens.
- Short comic strips.
- Images sourced from Pinterest/Deviantart/Google/etc... of how you imagine some places/characters. Please source and reference!
- Human characters.
- Scenes and settings (i.e. war, council, etc...)
- The only limit is your imagination!
Only if you guys are interested--because I am super interested in how many of you perceive the couple. Any and all art is welcome in the future Hall of Fame!!! I'll try to make my own art as well, but I don't think it's gonna be great, lol.
1) Book two in the series of Worlds Apart is arriving in hours. Update: it is up now so head on to it. I made this story part of a series and Time Never Stops is *technically* Book 2.
2) If you are interested in drawing out or finding images online for art related to this fic, go off, fam.
3) Don't forget to Kudos and Comment!