Chapter 1: Seduction
His voice came out huskier than suitable for such an event. Findaráto's kiss of greeting, in turn, was utterly formal. Laurefindil's gaze followed him through course after course of the elaborate feast, until at last Findaráto's perfect composure cracked and their eyes met across the table. Heat flowed straight to Laurefindil's groin, and a flush colored Findaráto's milk-white skin.
Later, there was dancing, and he brushed against Findaráto as if by accident. Much later, the elite of the Noldor stood gathered in small groups, drinking stronger liquors, talking art, science, politics, and Laurefindil sidled up to Findaráto, giving a courteous smile to Arafinwë and Nolofinwë while he whispered into his ear how he would love to bend him right there over uncle Arafinwë's table.
Findaráto exhaled shakily, and after a moment, excused himself. Aglow with victory, Laurefindil followed him onto the deserted balcony to pin him against a pillar with his body, laughing into Findaráto's beautiful face that was wavering between annoyance and amusement.
“Ah, youthful arrogance.” There was admiration in Findaráto's voice, as well as exasperation. “Have you not yet learned that there is a time and a place for seduction, and that one of uncle Nolofinwë's gatherings is neither?”
“You like my arrogance!” Laurefindil's smile gleamed more brightly than his hair, and Findaráto rolled his eyes, though his answering smile proved Laurefindil's words to be true. Laurefindil stole a kiss, tasted his cousin's surrender.
“I've taught you too well,” Findaráto mourned.
Chapter 2: Defiance
Laurefindil's carefully braided hair had partially unraveled. The events of the night had left their mark on him, too; a new, hard light of determination shone in his eyes, a bag of hastily packed clothes sat at his feet, and he proudly wore a sword girded around his waist.
Finórë looked at it in sorrow. It was a fine blade – forged by Fëanáro himself; given to his son as a gift by Findaráto. Now it meant death.
“You might never return.”
“I swear we will meet again, atto. But I cannot be a slave. I must go.”
Chapter 3: Ice
Sometimes Glorfindel wonders why Turgon chose to build his hidden city among these high, cold mountains whose icy tips defy even the heat of summer.
Turgon's pain is glacial. No sunlight can melt the ice, nor can Glorfindel's friendship. His friend was once earnest, but always willing to listen, and though his smiles came slowly, they were no less genuine. His king is as a glacier: unchangeable; frozen.
When the heights of the Echoriath glisten with cruel cold in the sun, Glorfindel sees their reflection in Turgon's eyes. It is the gleam of Elenwë's hair sinking forever beneath the ice.
Chapter 4: Determination
Laurefindil hesitated in the stables. He rubbed Alcaran down with vigor, scraped the drying mud from his hooves, disentangled the glorious white tail until the stallion snorted with impatience and mouthed at the crib.
With a sigh, Laurefindil gave him the oats he deserved after the long run, then slowly made his way towards his family's mansion. Stalling would avail him nothing. Even here among his father's vineyards and pastures, news spread quickly, as did rumors.
He straightened his shoulders when he saw his parents wait for him. His mother was as fair as his father was dark; both looked equally thunderous.
“You heard the news then?” he asked, hurrying onward before his courage left him. “It is true. All of it.” He hesitated, then proudly raised his head, meeting his father's eyes. “Yes, I whipped him. Because he let me. Because I wanted to. Because we both enjoyed it.”
There was a long silence. His heart thudded in his chest; he bit back the desperate plea to love him, to not send him away forever, because truly, he could not change who he was...
“Well. That is quite some news,” his mother said at last, her voice weak. “We wanted to ask if it was true that you got drunk with your cousins, threw up onto the steps of the Mindon and were then found fooling around with Makalaurë in your uncle Fëanáro's stables.”
“Well. Yes,” Laurefindil admitted sheepishly. “That was after.”
Chapter 5: Isolation
The first step he takes is hesitant. He does not know how long it has been. He remembers his death: fire, pain, defiance. There was no place for fear.
Then there was rest. A long, deep sleep. He felt arms surround him, hold him with impartial love, and yet it did not assuage the ache that was his fëa crying out for his hröa, a small, vulnerable thing that wants to cringe and hide in its sudden nakedness.
His soul recovered in the Halls of Mandos, yet the ache of being incomplete never abated. Time did not truly exist, and yet he could feel it pass as he slept his deep, dreamless sleep. Mandos guards his fëa well, yet disconnected from his hröa, he feels perpetually cold, barely even remembering what it was like to warm his hands at a fire, to sink into hot water, to love with ardor.
“Awake, child of Eru.” Glorfindel feels the brush of cool lips and trembles. His skin shudders, suddenly too large, too small to contain all of him. With sudden, brutal force his fëa is squeezed as if at the heart of a giant star, compacted to the size of a needle's tip, and then, ah, Ilúvatar...
“I am,” he says, trembling in profound worship at the wonder that is voice. Words come to him slowly, memories of experience. This is tears. That is kneeling.
There is earth beneath his hands. He buries his fingers into the rich soil and weeps.
Chapter 6: Greed
Some say that possessions are a burden. That gold cannot buy happiness; that diamonds cannot buy love.
Glorfindel knows better. Once he stepped from his parents' house with a bundle of hastily gathered possessions. He had packed his favorite jewelry; a set of fine clothes in addition to sturdier gear for their journey across the sea; two books he could not do without. One is a philosophic treatise by his mother, the other a slim volume of erotic fantasies penned by Finrod himself, though Glorfindel is one of the very few who know of his authorship.
There was no ship for them, only the bitter march through ice and night. Like many others, he left his courtly clothes behind like withered blossoms on the ice, exchanging it for the warm skin of a seal when he could.
His jewelry, his books he clings to as a last memory of the home he left behind. The books are lost with fallen Gondolin; the golden rings and necklace melt into his skin in the Balrog's fire.
Now he makes the journey anew. This time, there is a ship. This time, there is no blood, no doom, no despair. Glorfindel has packed well for his second journey. He brings more jewelry: a ring of gold and emerald, crafted by his father a long time ago, the first gift he gave Glorfindel's mother. A locket that holds their picture inside, the parents he loves and yet had to leave behind a second time. A ring with the celandine seal of his lost house, a gift from Finrod who knows what it is to come to life anew after bitter loss. The bottom of the heavy box is lined with a plethora of books; and with him and Olórin, the ship also carries a cream-white stallion, a descendent of the horse that was an unexpected gift from Celegorm so long ago.
Some say that possessions are a burden. Glorfindel has learned better. This golden ring holds his parents' happiness; that diamond holds Finrod's love. Glorfindel cherishes his memories the way a dragon protects its hoard.
Stay away from my son.
Arafinwë does not speak the words, but Laurefindil knows that this is what he wants to say. The rumors about him have become more persistent.
Findaráto is more cautious than he is. Laurefindil thinks that if his father has not overcome his prejudices out of love for his son, then talking with his son's lover will not cure him either. Still, he smiles at Arafinwë, bows courteously – and Arafinwë turns his head and leaves.
“I have heard of you, Laurefindil.” Findaráto's mother comes closer. She does not leave, but instead takes his hand.
Chapter 8: Wine
Laurefindil likes the country they have settled in. Somewhere on the ice, he ceased being the carefree youth who would chance the disapproval of all Tirion for a tryst, and instead became someone who knows that the survival of his people depends on him, too.
Turukáno is lost without Elenwë, and needs him more than ever. Laurefindil is now a lord of Vinyamar. He names his house for the golden celandine that sprang into blossom when they first stepped onto these shores.
He helps to build Turukáno's halls with his own hands. As if to build a monument to his grief, Turukáno spends long, feverish nights with his architects, and at last the glory of Vinyamar nearly seems to rival the white city they left behind.
Laurefindil builds himself a home on the southward facing slopes. It is a great mansion; he has many men and women now who wear his golden flower on their livery. His garden is large and beautiful, strewn with celandine in spring, ripe with grapes in autumn.
The first wine he bottles is thin and sour. It is too cold here, too close to the sea.
He continues to experiment with the wild vines he barters for with the native Sindar of these lands. Only courtesy keeps his king from spitting out the wine he hopefully serves.
In Gondolin, Laurefindil knows better. He builds his small vineyard facing south again, next to the large baths that serve his part of the city. The earth is warmed by the pipes that lead the heated water to the pools; here, even the heavy reds he favors flourish.
He remembers his father's wine: the touch of oak; the burst of sweet, red fruit; the richness that is the light of Laurelin caught not in a Silmaril, but in the grapes his father so lovingly tends.
At Tarnin Austa, Laurefindil pours his own wine into a goblet of clear crystal, raises it towards the setting sun in greeting. He wonders if far, far to the west, his father does the same.
His father's face has hardened; his mother's face shows her grief more openly.
He loves his parents, just as he loves the land of his childhood. It calls to him: his father's vineyards, the gentle, green pastures and hills, brooks and rivers and forests so glorious, so peaceful that he feels a thousand yéni will not suffice to fully appreciate their beauty.
Sometimes he wondered if this land was made wondrous only by recollection, by the stark difference to the strife and death he saw in Ennor. But now that he has a body to experience once more, he glories in the beauty that has not changed since he left. His childhood comes to life around him once more.
How can he, who has experienced death and grief, desire to leave Aman again? There is no king now to whom he owes allegiance. Turgon is gone, as is all the glory of the Noldorin kings. And there is peace to be found here, the familiarity of home, the love of family – yet something still calls out to him. There is an awareness deep within him of how darkness will taint the Ennor he loves, too, if no one stands against it.
“I can make a difference.” Grief paints further lines onto his mother's face. “I will make a difference. I do not go because I seek greater glory or power, nor do I follow an oath, or the call of allegiance. But I know that this is the right thing to do. I can see it – a single ray of light that by chance may cut through the clouds and banish all darkness. Something calls me, mother. I am needed.”
His mother looks at him with pain in her eyes. She has lost a son – a bright, impetuous youth – only to have a stranger returned to her home, a stern, grown man well used to wielding power.
“If you go, then know this,” she says, calling on the gift of foresight that runs through her blood, too. “Temptation will meet you should you return to Endórë. Once more you will know pain and grief. And if you fail your testing, you will sink into darkness, and be truly lost to us.”
Glorfindel exhales slowly. “But... there is more, is there not?” He takes her hand. “I cannot see it, but I feel it. There is more.”
Istime sees a slender figure, a lovely youth with hair the color of wheat. Most impossibly of all, she sees her son with a child in his arms, the sun shining onto the riot of golden curls that crown both their heads.
She turns the vision in her mind for a moment, noting the love in her son's eyes, the pride, and feels a sudden, unexpected desire swell in her own heart in answer. Long ago she ceased to image what it would be like to hold a grandchild in her arms, but she has been blessed with a beautiful, loving son and never thought to question Eru's will.
She does not know what the vision means, nor how it will come about, but she understands all of a sudden why her son feels that he needs to go. It is the call of love, or so she hopes, and that is a call impossible to resist.
“I see light and darkness – love and hate.” She hesitates. “When the time comes, choose well, my son.”
The House of the Mole
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. No, it was definitely the worst of times, Glorfindel admitted ruefully, especially on the morning after.
He should know better than to accept one of Maeglin's invitations. If only Maeglin did not know exactly how to lure him in.
Glorfindel lifted his blanket. A tousled, dark-haired head sleepily blinked up at him. To his right, another well-formed, lash-marked body stirred.
Glorfindel smiled. Not all that came out of the House of the Mole was bad – he would just have to learn to stay away from its liquors.
Chapter 11: Sacrifices
“I don't think I'll enjoy this, Findaráto.”
“You won't know until you've tried it.”
“I feel silly. Do you feel silly when I tie you up?”
“And now you are talking too much. Where is your respect for me, lovely Laurefindil?”
“You know I respect you, but this hardly looks like fun.”
“Oh, I promise you – it will be fun. At least for me.”
“Can we not do what we usually do? You know I can make you feel good! I brought a whip!”
“Sometimes we all have to make sacrifices...”
Chapter 12: Stone
Laurefindil has not interacted with dwarves before. He has heard of them, of course: Aulë's children, who favor gems and metals over all other beauty of Arda. Laurefindil loves gems and jewelry as well, yet his roots lie in the earth his father so loves, the vines he cultivates, the crop of bright-eyed foals every spring yields. When he first travels to see Finrod's caves, he expects to keenly feel the lack of life.
Instead, what he finds is stone that lives: pillars carved like beeches; gems shine like leaves in the sun. He thinks that maybe, dwarves know beauty, too.
Chapter 13: Prayer
Glorfindel is a generous man, or so those who know him say. Everyone knows that despite his faults, he is a good man, whose heart is not given to jealousy.
That is what his lovers say, and that is what Glorfindel likes to believe. The truth looks different.
He hides behind smiles when Idril and Tuor are blessed with a child, yet his heart aches with pain whenever he looks at them. Almost he can understand Maeglin when at last, they are betrayed.
He, too, has come to know what it means to pray for something that can never be.
Chapter 14: Peace
As a child, Laurefindil always spent a part of the summer with his grandparents near Taniquetil. It is a memory he cherishes: a place filled with the brilliant gleam of Laurelin while he seems to forever run down green hills with other children, or helps care for the sheep with wool softer and whiter than can be found anywhere else.
It is a place that breathes peace, and where the mingling of the lights seems to last forever while all the household comes together for quiet contemplation. No words are said; no songs are sung. From the pastures higher up the slopes of Taniquetil, he can hear the soft baa of the sheep. Birds sing as they try to lure their almost-grown children from the nests. The wind breathes a promise of herbs and blossoms and all the joys of the coming day against his face. His heart expands with love for the beauty of this world that has been given to them. And though later, he will run and shout with the other children again, and much later, his nature will lead him to seek adventure far from the peace of Taniquetil, it is a memory he never forgets.
Sometimes, on a warm summer's eve in Imladris, he will stand silently and watch the sun sink beneath the horizon. He breathes in the scent of summer flowers, listens for the faint sounds of the sheep high up on the slopes of the Hithaeglir. His heart aches with overflowing love.
Chapter 15: Plum Cake
It was a stranger who stepped through her door. All too well she remembers the day when her only son left, never to return.
Yet now he has returned, or so they have told her. But how can this stranger be her son? Her Laurefindil with his bright smile is gone. Instead, she sees a man with her son's golden curls – yet this man is broad with muscles, his face is stern and commanding despite the hint of insecurity she can feel, and his eyes no longer hold that spark of infectious joy.
“I have returned, mother,” he says, and she hesitates for a moment, confused by this memory of her son which differs so much from the golden-haired stranger's looks.
“Oh!” he then says, and his eyes light up with that bright joy she remembers so well. “Is that your plum cake I can smell?”
Chapter 16: Ruins
A gentle breeze brushed the hilltop, combing the ruins. A cloud of smoke still hovered over the stables; the walls of the main building were black with soot.
The corpses had been buried before Laurefindil arrived with his troops. His purpose was not to rebuild, but rather to seek out the forces responsible for it, to destroy as many of the dark creatures as he and his men could manage.
For a moment, Laurefindil imagined his parents' mansion burned to the ground, the door a gaping wound. He shivered. It had been the right decision to come to Endórë.
Chapter 17: Gifts
“I heard that you, too, were returned to us!” Finrod's face was given even greater beauty by the joy that shone from his eyes, and Glorfindel, who had not seen him for such a long time, simply stood and stared for a moment.
“Finrod...” He embraced him, nearly crushed him until Finrod laughed and begged him to stop, and then Glorfindel was laughing too, and crying when he remembered hearing the news of his death.
“How long since you were...?” He let the sentence trail off, but Finrod knew what he meant, of course – no one who had been through it would be able to forget the experience.
“A long time. Long enough to hear all about your own exploits, Glorfindel the Beloved.” Finrod slid his hands into Glorfindel's hair, pulled him into a kiss.
“I heard you were married?” Glorfindel could not resist the question when they finally parted, and Finrod laughed breathlessly against his lips.
“You know very well that Amarië would not mind. But she might pretend to, when I return...” Finrod's eyes gleamed at the thought, and Glorfindel just barely kept from shaking his head. He did not begrudge Finrod his happiness, of course, and yet, sometimes he wondered what it would be like to find that sort of happiness himself.
“You are leaving again, aren't you?” Finrod asked, sobering, and Glorfindel nodded.
Finrod raised a hand to his hair, gave him another smile. “Always too noble for your own good. But you know that, don't you? Here. This is a gift. Perhaps they won't believe you when you return.”
“Why wouldn't they? Do I look like one of Sauron's creatures?” Despite the glib answer, Glorfindel felt his heart clench when he looked at the ring of heavy gold in Finrod's hand. He took it, traced the familiar design with a finger. The golden flower of his lost house...
“It is not lost. After all, you live.”
Glorfindel embraced him again then, held him tightly for a long time. How could Finrod bear the loss of all the glory they had built? And yet, Finrod seemed happy now. Would he ever know that sort of happiness himself, or would he always feel that pull that once more lead him away from all those he loved?
He looked down at the ring on his finger once they parted. All was ruins... but not all he had loved was lost. There was Idril's grandson. And maybe, somewhere on those shores far to the east, he would find his own happiness, too, this time...
Chapter 18: Generosity
They had met the troop of Sindar not far from the hills where Turukáno expected a hidden camp of orcs. The Sindar were on foot, and just like the horses of Laurefindil's men, spattered with mud. It had been raining for weeks, and the gray sky promised more rain for the coming night.
“It's better to be miserable in company than alone,” Laurefindil said to his second-in-command, and offered them the comfort of his camp fire for the night. The Sindar retaliated by contributing a brace of grouse to the evening meal, so that Laurefindil eyed their long, polished bows with a new appreciation.
The Sindar had not snatched up more than a few words of Quenya, and there were only two among Laurefindil's men who could make themselves understood in Sindarin. Laurefindil caught the eyes of a lovely, silver-haired archer, slender and graceful like a birch tree.
“I am Laurefindil,” he said, then thought about the way sounds had shifted during the long years the Sindar had spent on these shores. “Glaurfindel?”
The lovely Sinda gave him a broad smile. “Glorfindel.” He reached out and wrapped a tress of golden hair around his fingers.
Laurefindil laughed, pleased by his boldness. “Yes. Glorfindel.” He touched the Sinda's fingers, saw the answer in the other man's eyes before he had even asked the question – but then, some things did not need words.
“Nimorn,” the Sinda then volunteered his own name, eyes gleaming as Laurefindil stood and beckoned.
His men had fastened a sheet of oiled canvas to two trees to keep their captain's sleeping place dry, and below was spread Laurefindil's bedroll – felted wool to repel water, soft furs to keep him warm. It was as comfortable as one could get on the road, in this never-ending rain.
Laurefindil sat down, extended a hand in invitation. “I am nothing if not generous,” he murmured, and pulled Nimorn down to share the comfort of his furs with him that night.
Chapter 19: Meetings
Círdan had given him a map, and so Glorfindel had set out from Mithlond toward the east on his own. After all, he was Glorfindel, whose valiant fight against the Balrog had become a proverb among the Eldar. What need had he of armed guides?
Glorfindel shone with power. His hair was the golden brilliance of Laurelin, his eyes held the sweet, argent light of Telperion. Only a few eyes beheld him as he traveled towards the hidden valley of Elrond, and none of them dared approach him.
When he came to the end of his journey at last, the hooves of his stallion beating a fast rhythm onto the white bridge that led to the courtyard, many had gathered to meet him. On the stairs that led into the generous main building, a large group had assembled, many of them with the familiar Noldorin coloring of dark hair and star-gray eyes.
He stepped towards the stairs, leaving his stallion in the hands of a courageous boy who had eagerly come forward. The eyes that took him in held awe, admiration, relief, in a few cases distrust, but there were also, Glorfindel was pleased to note, some that held frank appraisal and invitation.
Then he met the eyes of a man he almost seemed to recognize: Turgon's graveness; Idril's kindness; Tuor's courage.
“Elrond, Eärendil's son,” he said, and bowed. “Well met. I have been sent to aid your efforts.”
He did not kneel. His king was long dead, and he would not swear an oath of fealty again.
“Be welcome. Be very welcome!” Elrond said and clasped his hands with a smile that warmed his face, so that Glorfindel felt another stab of pain when he thought of that last glimpse of Idril with Eärendil in her arms. Elrond met his eyes, and Glorfindel could feel his relief at having gained such a powerful ally. Did things stand that badly then?
Not that it mattered. He would have come regardless, even in the face of certain defeat, because he had to. Still... Elrond made it easier. Glorfindel pressed his hands, returned his smile, reading in Elrond's eyes what he himself felt: that here stood two equally powerful men united by the same duty towards this land and their people.
Chapter 20: Decisions
None of them were prepared for war. There was no need for it in Aman, and though for a while they did their best to prepare, forging swords and mail and sparring with each other, the first time they meet Morgoth's forces comes as a shock.
Laurefindil watches, wide-eyed with confusion and fear, as the first men fall, skewered by crude arrows and iron blades. For a moment, everything stops. He sees Arakal and Herentir hesitate as well, frozen for a moment by the senseless brutality. They had come to fight the forces of Morgoth, but they had not thought it would be like this: simple slaughter.
Laurefindil takes a deep breath and all of a sudden, everything seems to speed up around him, showing him all too clearly that if they falter now, the orcs will break through here, while Turukáno far too their left is already so beleaguered that Laurefindil wonders if he will hold, or if this is how they will all die, during their first skirmish on the shores of Endórë.
In the end, it is not a decision he makes. It all happens naturally, as if he were watching a stranger take command. “To me!” he yells, raising his sword like a standard. “Follow me!” He grips Arakal's arm, Herentir's shoulder, chooses three more of those who have followed his call. “To Turukáno! Quick!” he commands, and does not even wait to see if his order is followed, for the orcs are too close now, their lines still faltering, and he rushes at a mad-eyed creature that claws with unholy pleasure at a dark-haired corpse.
Later, shock will return, and he will sit in Turukáno's tent spattered with dark blood, not quite able to follow his friend's words who names him captain and pins a golden brooch to his cloak. Much later, a shame-faced Arakal will come and try to apologize for his hesitancy, and Laurefindil will be too overcome by all that had happened to tell him that in truth, he, too, did not know what to do.
Chapter 21: West of the Moon, East of the Sun
West of the Moon, East of the Sun
Twice Glorfindel has crossed the sea. Twice he left the Blessed West to go east – once on foot, through ice and never-ending night until at last the first rising of the sun greeted their arrival. A second time by ship, to make what difference he could in the fight that seemed to go on without end.
Once he returned west, his hröa slain, his fëa fleeing into Mandos' embrace.
He goes west a second time now – a last time, or so he hopes. Still, he cannot take his eyes from the shore that slowly gets smaller and smaller to the east, thinking of the one he leaves behind.
Not for long, so he prays, so he knows, and yet his heart feels restless in his chest without the quiet reassurance of his archer's presence.
An arm wraps around his shoulder. He turns and smiles, acknowledging the blessing that does make the journey to Aman by his side. Next to his son, he watches the sun sink into the water far to the west.
They are a bedraggled lot, the refugees of Gondolin. What they built brought the beauty of Tirion upon Túna to the Hither Shore. They know they will never accomplish its equal again.
In Nan-Tathren they make a home among the willows. They lack the white marble of Tumladen and so build their homes with grey stone.
The sea ever calls to Tuor, and so they come to the Mouth of Sirion. The houses they build cling gracefully to the shore. Tuor looks ever west; Idril looks east when the celandine blooms in spring and remembers all that is lost.
Chapter 23: The Tower
“Everyone avoided the tower. It was believed to have been the Necromancer's lair, but in truth...” Glorfindel paused for effect, delighting in the way all the gathered children stared at him with wide-eyed excitement.
“When their parents come calling tomorrow because suddenly their children are plagued by nightmares, you will answer the door,” Legolas whispered. He shook his head at the crowd that had gathered in front of Glorfindel. He really should not leave his Lord's side, at least not on market day – the news had quickly spread among all the children in this hamlet close to Tirion that the stranger with the remarkable mane of golden hair was not only a great hero, but could also tell the best stories ever.
“I know who he was!” a precocious girl crowed. “It was Sauron! My ada said we lived there before we sailed across the ocean!”
“Indeed he was!” Glorfindel smiled at her, so that she beamed at being proven right in front of her friends. “And after he was defeated, so that he can never again return to trouble you, we dismantled his tower. And guess what we found?”
“Spiders!” the girl supplied. “Orcs!” the boy next to her shouted. Glorfindel grinned.
“Much, much worse!” He hesitated again for effect. “Moldy bedrooms! Dripping roofs! And the only food in the kitchen was a thin, gray gruel that even Orcs would not eat! If that was what Sauron had to eat for breakfast every morning, no wonder that he was such an unlikeable fellow!”
The children giggled with delight, and Legolas shook his head again, smiling despite himself.
“And what will Lord Manwë say if news comes to him that our next generation of children all feel sorry for the Deceiver, thanks to your stories?”
Glorfindel laughed, taking Legolas' hand as they slowly walked back to their current accommodation. “Manwë did not see that place. Believe me – even he would have felt sorry for Sauron, forced to hide in such a dismal place!”
“I'll remind you of that when Manwë decides to see how you would enjoy a stint in one of Sauron's dungeons.”
“All destroyed now,” Glorfindel said and grinned. “Ah, but I forgot – you never saw Dol Guldur as I saw it. Never fear; I'll build you a little Dol Guldur of our own, once we find a place to settle.”
“With gruel even Orcs wouldn't eat?”
“Only if you are very, very bad. And you'll try very hard to be good – won't you?”
Legolas shivered and for a moment, forgot all the din of the market around them, as instantly breathless with need as when he had been a youth. “You know I will, Lord...”
Chapter 24: Falcon Song
Write a story or poem or create artwork using one or more animals as symbols, omens, or metaphors. Use associations and meanings from any culture or source you wish (e.g., Celtic, Native American, Biblical).
Laurefindil tried his best not to fidget.
It was not that he did not like poetry. And some of the verses had been set to music by Makalaurë, who sat before them by Findaráto's side, singing in that incomparable voice that brought tears to many eyes, and brought to Laurefindil's mind images of the wide sky, of a soaring falcon with silken jesses at his feet.
He glared at Findaráto, then hastily put up a mask of bland enjoyment when his mother turned to look at him.
Damn that smug Findaráto. Did no-one realize that that poem was about him?
Inspired by the following poem by the Kürenberger, a 12th century poet. For years now I've been thinking of using it for Glorfindel somewhere, but when I saw the prompt I realized that I could imagine Finrod as author even better. :)
Ich zôch mir einen valken mêre danne ein jâr.
dô ich in gezamete als ich in wolte hân
und ich im sîn gevidere mit golde wol bewant,
er huop sich ûf vil hôhe und floug in anderiu lant.
Sît sach ich den valken schône fliegen:
er fuorte an sînem fuoze sîdîne riemen,
und was im sîn gevidere alrôt guldîn.
got sende si zesamene die gerne geliep wellen sin!
I brought up a falcon for more than a year.
When I had him tamed as I wanted
And when I had adorned his feathers with gold,
He hopped up into the sky and flew to another land.
Since then I have seen the falcon flying:
He wore silken jesses on his feet,
And his feathers were all red-gold.
God bring together those who want to love each other!
Chapter 25: Shards
She knelt on the floor, carefully picking up the shards of glass. Why did it have to be this one that broke?
Start a story with this two lines and answer the question of what was once broken. Or create a poem or piece of art that pictures this scene.
She knelt on the floor, carefully picking up the shards of glass. Why did it have to be this one that broke?
She had heard so many rumors. It seemed as if every other week, a ship arrived. One had brought a letter, shortly after Sauron had been vanquished, and she had wept without shame when for the first time after so many years, she beheld her son's generous, flowing tengwar.
Now, after all this time, the plump, slightly lopsided horse her Laurefindil had crafted as a gift for her three Ages ago had fallen off her desk. She smiled through her tears, remembering Laurefindil's fascination with the glass-blower's market stand. Of course, it was thanks to the artisan's help that the horse looked like a horse at all, yet it was exactly the imperfection of the figurine that had made her love it.
Well, it could not be helped, she thought resolutely and put the shards away. And if the rumors she had heard were indeed true, maybe she would soon be able to put up gifts from a grandchild instead.
Chapter 26: Advice
"Pride is still aiming at the best houses: Men would be angels, angels would be gods. Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell; aspiring to be angels men rebel."
How would a character not allowed to express his or her thoughts, creativity, or opinion act out? Capture this in a story, poem or piece of art.
“You don't like who I am.”
The man in front of him shook his head. One of Elrond's advisors – Glorfindel had not been in Imladris long enough to learn all their names yet.
“I am glad you came. We all are! We are glad to have your support and your experience in these dangerous times!”
“Then you do not like what I am.”
The advisor barely refrained from nervously wringing his hands. “If you would just be a little less obvious, lord...”
Glorfindel laughed, his eyes cold.
“You think you have the right to tell me who to love? How to love?”
“There were complaints...”
Glorfindel made a sound of disgust. “I do not intend to lodge in those quarters forever. My suite of rooms shall be finished in a week, I am told, and then I will finally have the privacy I deserve.”
The advisor no longer dared to meet his eyes, but still he would not budge. Glorfindel might have admired his courage, if he hadn't felt such anger.
“Erestor, one of my apprentices, said that he'd seen... marks on the body of your latest companion, down in the baths.”
Glorfindel clenched his teeth. “Has my companion complained about myself to you?”
“Then unless one of them does, don't you ever dare to tell me how to live my life again!”
Chapter 27: Horses
Write a story or poem, or create a piece of art where your character rises above themselves to follow their dreams.
He was not supposed to ride Hrávayar. He was not supposed to ride any horse – only his fat, short-legged pony, and while he loved Cundo, he was old and lazy and too slow to follow the horses of the older children. And Laurefindil hated to be left behind when his cousins rode off to have all sorts of wonderful adventures in the forest.
His father had said that once he was old enough to ride a horse, he would get one – but he had not said when that would be. So Laurefindil had decided to take matters into his own hands. He would ride – and not just any horse, but Hrávayar, the most beautiful stallion his father had ever bred, and unfortunately also the most wild. Hrávayar would not let any of the boys in the stable ride him; so far, he had only allowed his father onto his back. Once his father saw that he could ride Hrávayar, he certainly would have to give him a real horse at last!
Determined, he dragged a small box into Hrávayar's stable, and used it to crawl up onto the crib. He swallowed when for the first time, he was eye to eye with the stallion, whose massive head alone seemed bigger than his body. “I have an apple,” he said, and Hrávayar's nostrils twitched. “You can have it after. All we need to do is show atto that I am big enough to ride on you. Then you can have the apple and I will finally get a horse, so the others won't laugh at me and tell me to stay behind.”
He thought he saw agreement in the stallion's eyes, and with a deep breath, he leaned forward until he could clutch at his mane, then jumped.
The stallion's body was massive with muscle, and for a long, embarrassing moment, Laurefindil hung at his side, frantically trying to get his leg over Hrávayar's back. At last the stallion turned his head and nudged his bottom so that Laurefindil slid up onto his back, panting for breath.
“Thank you. You really are... big,” Laurefindil said, and for the first time there was insecurity in his voice. When Hrávayar slowly stepped out of his stable, Laurefindil clutched his mane more tightly, for the stallion's back was so broad that his legs were spread wide apart, and he found that it was impossible to hold himself in position with his thighs. Only Hrávayar's slow, careful steps kept him on his back as they made their way into the courtyard.
The first person who saw them gasped, but did not dare to approach, for Hrávayar was well known for his dislike of people. Laurefindil started to feel proud again, even though he knew that he would fall off at the first faster movement.
There was his atto at last! “See, atto? I am now big enough to ride on a horse!” he declared, and then his father's arms came around his waist and lifted him from Hrávayar's back. “Now you have to give me a horse, too!”
His father sighed, not looking as happy as Laurefindil had thought he would. “It looks like I have no choice, unless I want to see you fall to your death from his back one day.”
“Hrávayar would not hurt me! I promised him an apple,” Laurefindil argued, then looked at the tall stallion towering above him, remembering how he had been unable to find purchase on his broad back. “But he is really tall. I would be happy with a smaller horse, too...”
His father shook his head and laughed, then swung Laurefindil up onto his shoulders. “I'll take you to the market tomorrow. Sartaron has nice po- horses. They are twice as big as Cundo – then you can get up to all sorts of dangerous things with your cousins. Won't that be nice?”
“Oh yes!” Laurefindil said enthusiastically, and his father sighed in defeat.
Chapter 28: The Letter
There was no avoiding it; the letter had to be composed...
Who will receive this letter? An uncle? A lover? The High-King? Why is there "no avoiding it"? Circumstances? Or is Mother watching with arms crossed? Will the letter be written in haste? Or will each phrase be meticulously crafted?
Write a story or poem inspired by this line (you do not need to use the exact quote), or create a piece of art that reflects this situation.
Laurefindil sighed as he looked down at the letter. He did not know what to write. How did one respond to an invitation like this? An invitation to celebrate the betrothal of the man who had initiated him to his darker side, who had proved such a faithful, patient teacher, and who had above all taught him joy and pride in who he was?
An hand came to rest gently on his arm. He looked up and forced himself to smile at his mother. He had not even heard her enter his study, but of course she would be aware of what the letter for him had contained – gossip about Findaráto and Amarië's betrothal had spread very quickly.
“Do you regret that it is not you? I know how much he means to you.”
Laurefindil leaned back and sighed. “I do not know. I love him – but I am not meant to wed him. I like Amarië, and they are well suited to each other. I know that she gives him something he needs, something I never would be able to give him. And yet... A small part of me is jealous, I fear.”
“Perhaps you are not jealous because you lose a beloved,” his mother pointed out gently. “Perhaps you are afraid that you are losing a friend.”
He mulled her words over in his head. “You might be right. Maybe that is what I fear. Everything will change now. I fear that all his heart will belong to her now – even the small part that was devoted only to our friendship.”
“Change is always difficult. And yet, perhaps one day, you too shall wed. Do you think that would change your love for him?”
“No,” he said immediately. “No. He is special. He taught me about myself. He gave me confidence. You are right, of course; a part of my heart will always belong to him.”
“My beautiful, strong son.” Istime pressed a kiss to his brow. “If you don't know what to write, why don't you ride to the city and give them your answer in person?”
Laurefindil pressed her hand in thanks. “I might just do that, emmë!”
Chapter 29: Atonement
"Darkness is only driven out with light, not more darkness."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
Write a story or poem or create artwork where your character battles and overcomes their darkest hour.
The thought was seductive. To climb to the top of Mount Taniquetil, to search out the High King of Arda, to fall to his knees and admit his terrible sin...
He knew that he had not suffered enough for what he had done. He never would. If Fëanor was denied rebirth until the end for what his terrible pride had wrought, then how could he, Glorfindel, walk these shores as a free man, admired by all for his feats of strength and courage?
Should not he, too, be judged? Should not he, too, be made to suffer in atonement?
In the darkest hours of the night, he remembered it all: Legolas' tears. His despair. The way the light had seemed to slowly fade from his eyes.
Glorfindel stared up at the heights of the Pelóri. A cold wind tore at him until his eyes teared up, and still he could not look away.
The guilt he bore was terrible. There was nothing he would not do to be free from it. He would gladly bear any punishment, if only he could live again without the guilt that would never cease to eat at him. And yet, he also remembered Legolas' words, the anguish in his eyes at the suggestion. You have not wronged him. You have wronged me!
Of course Legolas had been right. His words were true then, and they were still true now. He had no right to demand forgiveness from Manwë when it was Legolas he had wronged. Legolas' soul still bore the scars of what he had done. Was it not justice then that he, too, suffer this guilt until Arda was unmade?
He looked up at the hidden heights of the Pelóri, then at last he turned away. If he truly wanted to atone, perhaps a first step would be tell his parents the truth of what he had done.
Chapter 30: Sunshine
"You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it's all right."
Write a story or poem, or create a piece of art on the theme of leaving or returning home.
Everything was as he had left it. That was perhaps the strangest thing about returning home.
Not his rooms, no – his mother was not the sort of person who would leave his rooms completely unchanged as a memorial to the son who had crossed the sea. His bedroom and sitting room would have been used to house guests if the occasion arose, but Glorfindel was pleased to see that all his personal belongings had been kept safe for him in his study.
No, his suite of rooms was not as he had left it, and yet his parents' estate had not changed. There were mares with foals out on the pastures, the apple trees that had stood when he left so many yéni ago were in flower, and the large mansion that had been built from white stone shone peacefully in the warm light of the midday sun...
Ah. There was the difference.
With a sudden shock, Glorfindel realized that nothing was as it had been. This was his childhood home, unchanged over two Ages of the world – and yet it was irrevocably different now.
He had never seen it in the light of the Sun before.
Chapter 31: Folly
"Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain."
Write a story or poem or create artwork that illustrates this quotation.
Finrod's eyes met his over the cup of wine. “Some of my people came to me. Some of those who survived sailed eventually, a handful of those who died were returned to us from the Halls. Only a very few begged for a position in my household.”
“They are ashamed,” Glorfindel said. He eyed Finrod, who was still as lovely as a calm, clear spring day. Who could betray him, he thought, shaking his head. It was still as inconceivable as when he had first heard the news.
“Yes. They betrayed me and left me to die. But that is the past. I've taken on those who asked my forgiveness, but many cannot forgive themselves yet. And who knows what might have happened had Celegorm not managed to turn my own people against me...”
Glorfindel looked at Finrod, tried to imagine what could have brought his own people to refuse him their fealty. He could not imagine it. Crowned or not, Finrod demanded respect, and more – he engendered love in all those who met him.
“Sometimes I wondered if I should have sworn myself to you instead of Turgon. Would that have changed something, do you think? But he was my friend long before you were my lover, and we shared the same vision. And he was a good king, until...”
“Until he too was doomed by pride, as so many of us were. No, Turgon needed you. You saved his daughter; his grandson. I knew I would find my death, leaving no heir behind to inherit my realm. And here the two of us sit together once more.”
Glorfindel smiled. “Yes. I wish it had been different, but we cannot change the past. Perhaps you are right. We did the best we could; there is no use in wondering what else could have been. Still... if ever Celegorm is returned from Mandos, rest assured that I will give him a good beating for your sake.”
Finrod laughed. “Perhaps... or perhaps I will beat you to it. Do you remember how he brought you to me, that day so long ago? I find that I still cannot hate him, no matter what he did. But he does deserve a good beating for what he did. Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield! Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain.”
Glorfindel snorted with laughter at Finrod's declamation. “You are turning the story of your own death into a play, aren't you? Ah, Finrod – you will never change!”
Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield! Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain.
--Schiller, The Maid of Orleans, III 6