Gondolin is small.
Not small by the standards of most people, true, but compared to the wide, rolling plains of Valinor, compared to the vast wilderness of Beleriand, compared to what Aredhel had been used to, before, Gondolin is small.
And the mountains loom all round her, entrapping her in the white city that bears painful echoes of home, not real enough to be true, but real enough to make her regret.
She has not fought her way to Beleriand, has not shed sweat, blood and tears, has not lost her beloved Niélë even before they bonded, to be trapped in a city, in a cage of her brother’s making.
Turgon loves this city, and she does not understand. She does not understand how memory and pain do not turn the high peaks into prison walls, and he does not understand how she cannot dwell in this place of peace.
Forgetting does not work, for she does not have the tools to forget. Any ride across the plain is unsatisfying, for she can see the end of the journey, and that destroys the thrill. Any footrace is hampered by men who slow down for her, thinking she cannot handle their speed; men who cannot learn, after all this time, that she is not weak, that women are not weak. As for sparring, only Glorfindel and Ecthelion would allow a woman to spar with them, and most days, they are busy with council-work. With work for a council she is not allowed into, despite being one of the highest-ranking nobles in the city. A council which only allows Idril to sit in because she is the Princess, and considers her insights foolish.
Aredhel begins to understand why Artanis—Galadriel now, she must remember—joined the Sindar in their forest, ruled by their Queen. Begins to understand why her aunt Lalwen stayed behind with Fingolfin, who would respect her ability to work, at least.
Of all the curses of Middle-earth, this is the worst. This is far by the worst. In Valinor, they shook their heads at her actions, but they never truly sought to prevent her. Never sought to bind her spirit and restrain her like a wild thing.
Aredhel begins to wonder if she will be trapped here forever, never again able to feel the wind in her hair properly, never again able to fight, never again able to love like she loved Niélë—here, they even scorn the love of two women, as if a woman without a man is a horror and tragedy beyond the tragedies she has witnessed.
But she cannot let this world overtake her, cannot let herself drown.
She will escape this place. She must.