12. Chapter Eleven: A Shadow.
Disclaimer: The characters are Tolkien´s.
Thanks to [name removed for review] for beta, as usual.
Chapter Eleven: A Shadow
Maeglin and Aredhel had been ushered through gates, streets and avenues, followed everywhere by curious and happy faces peering intently at them. Rumours of the White Lady's return had soon spread around the place, and at the time they had arrived to Turgon´s palace a considerable throng had been already crowding the windows and the gardens, eager to catch a glimpse of the long expected homecomer who had been believed dead by most. There had been so many that Maeglin had been unable to hide his surprise.
"They are looking at you." Aredhel said imperiously, as if she had expected her son to believe it.
Now, both were at last inside the King´s halls, and the excited voices had died away to be replaced by a solemn silence. The clank of the metal armours of the guards who escorted them was the only sound he could hear as they walked past the corridors, and Maeglin felt Aredhel´s hand in his, as if she was trying to give him comfort and reassurance.
Ironical, he thought, but he did not say a word. Instead, he let his thoughts lie elsewhere, concentrating to prepare himself for what he was going to see and hear at the throne room. As he began forming words in his mind, unconsciously he reached for the hilt of his sword.
Do you really trust me?
Maeglin´s face contorted, and his hand dropped down.
"Princess Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, the White Lady of the Noldor!" a proud and glad echoed through the corners of the hall. The guards retreated aside to follow the one who had spoken, allowing Maeglin's eyes to have a glimpse of what lay behind.
The ceiling was high, not so high as the halls of the Dwarves, but the pillars were more comely shaped, less impressing and more gladdening to the heart. That was the first thought he had, while he wondered about the huge difference between the breathtaking massive beauty of the outer Gates and the delicateness of the City's ornaments, as if she was a bright maiden protected by walls and towers from the cold winds of the North. Everything there spoke about a peaceful, languorous life, defended day and night against the power of darkness by the warriors he had seen at the Gates, which had been so strong outside but completely absent from Turgon's realm.
From a reasonable distance, advancing some steps but keeping himself apart from the scene, Maeglin saw Aredhel reach the throne, and the man who sat upon it stand up in all his powerful height. His golden crown sparkled as he did so, and his eyes matched its light for the brief moment that the son of the Dark Elf could study his face before he took Aredhel into his arms and embraced her. Whispers and murmuring reached his ears, but he stayed unmoved, watching their embrace attentively. Nobody was minding him still, even if he knew that this would change the very moment that Turgon and Aredhel turned to face him.
He clutched the hilt of his sword once more, and stayed silent.
"This is her son", he heard behind him.
"The son of a Moriquendi", another chimed in.
You are my son. The son of your father.
"This is my son ", her voice, full of love and passion, announced as she pointed at him with a white hand.
Maeglin stared at the King as if he had been suddenly struck by lightning. Words, truths, lies, that never before had failed to come to his mouth, had abandoned him now, and he did not know what to do.
"Maeglin, sister-son. Will you greet me?"
Fool! You can do so, but you know I never will, the voice whispered in his ear
Feeling his mother's unreadable eyes upon him and trying to make his own as unreadable as hers, Maeglin knelt at the floor and unsheathed his darkness in front of his new king. Anguirel stayed black and silent, but the Child of Twilight could still hear the sound of her words in his ears.
You can do so, but you know I never will.
Suddenly, as he looked up, Maeglin's eyes spotted a golden gleam behind Turgon´s back.
After the joy of the first meeting, Turgon disposed that Aredhel and Maeglin should rest from the toils of their long journey. Asking his daughter Idril to escort them to Aredhel's chambers, he invited them to have dinner with him in the evening so that they could tell him their whole story.
"Your old chambers continued to be tended during your absence", Idril said, smiling at Aredhel's surprise when they reached the place. " My father decided so."
"So he knows me better than what I thought", the dark-haired woman answered with a smirk. "He even knew that I was going to arrive tired. Perhaps Ulmo told him?"
"Perhaps" Idril shrugged her shoulders and gazed at her intently. "But I think that he could not bear to believe you dead."
Aredhel turned serious again. Escaping the Princess' eyes, she sought for Maeglin's.
"And he was right; for we are tired, aren´t we?"
Maeglin nodded absentmindedly. For a moment, Aredhel seemed to wonder what the matter with him was; if he could be affected by the magnificence that surrounded him, or if it was simply that he had held a powerful battle with his treacherous sword, who surely had not wanted to be humbled before a Kinslayer. However, the presence of Idril did not allow her to ask any questions.
"I will leave you now, so you can rest in peace", Turgon's daughter said, as if guessing her thoughts. "This evening, we will meet again, and then I will be eager to hear what you have to tell."
Aredhel shook her head. "Alas! The tale is dark and sad, and little joy will you draw from it."
"I know"; was the Princess' answer. Now her sapphire-blue eyes showed pity, and her hand moved to caress the White Lady's pale and withered face. "But you will unburden yourself...and your son as well."
"Maybe", Aredhel whispered, seeing her take her leave. Then, she stayed for a while at the corridor, as if petrified, and only reacted when she felt Maeglin's arm encircling her waist.
"She is the one you always told me about in your stories, is she not?"
"Yes, she is", she answered, somewhat surprised at the question. "I saw you talking with her while I was with Turgon."
"Yes. She..." Suddenly, Maeglin turned away, and Aredhel followed him inside with a look of puzzlement. "I was kneeling in front of Turgon and swearing allegiance when I saw her behind him for the first time", he began, sitting on the edge of her bed. "At first I thought she was no Elf, but Anor, the Maiden of the Sun, for her hair gleamed with the same brilliance that her rays had as we stood on the treetops to receive her secret caresses. But she was not looking at me. She was looking at the sword, and she...she was frightened. "
"Are you sure?" The White Lady stared at him, her fingers playing with her old white dress. As Maeglin nodded back, a worried expression in his face, she made an effort to forget her own thoughts for a moment and sat down next to him.
"They do not remember", she said, with a tight voice. "They once knew darkness, but now they do not remember. They welcome us, have pity on us, but they have forgotten. But do not worry, my love." she added, with a determinate and almost crazed look in her black eyes, " This evening, when night falls, we will tell our tale. We will let them know everything, and, even among the light of a hundred lamps and a thousand candles, they will understand."
Maeglin embraced her. They were in Gondolin, and from Aredhel's previous indications he was vaguely aware that he should go away to his own chamber, but he saw that she did not care anymore, and so stayed with her in her bed.
Hours later, he did not exactly know when, Maeglin heard a distant noise in his dreams. A feeling of sudden, cold emptiness came over him in his uneasy sleep, as he rolled over the bed and slowly began to regain consciousness.
"Mother?" he whispered, finally remembering where they were and who had been in the bed with him when he fell asleep. His gaze wandered across the now darkened chamber, and he was able to perceive a faint light that seemed to come from the adjoining room.
Getting up from the bed, Maeglin walked through the chamber and peered at the place where the light came from. When he did, however, his question died unfinished.
She was there. She sat immobile in a chair, her features glowing quietly with the light of the candles. Her eyes were lost in the shadows of the corner, dark and forlorn, and Maeglin recalled all the times he had seen her like that in Nan Elmoth, while an icy hand gripped his heart and quenched the words in his mouth.
Her hands were trembling under the rich folds of her dress.
"Maeglin, we have to go", she said, more determinedly, standing up and steeling her expression as if he was an enemy she had to be wary of. Maeglin felt a cold uneasiness creeping inside his soul as he watched her evolutions in the dark chamber. "They are waiting for us. We have to go with them and show them the end of this story."
"Mother!" Maeglin threw his arm over her shoulder and pulled her towards him, but it was no use. She was cold as snow and her hands were still trembling.
"They sent word to me while you were still asleep, my son", Aredhel informed him. " Your father is here."
At that moment, the conversation was stopped by a soft knock in the door.
"We will be ready soon", her voice answered, before turning to her horror-stricken son. "Take your sword."
(to be continued.)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.