1. Dance With Me
Dance With Me
I swallow involuntarily as I hear the voices behind me. I am the veteran of battles untold, yet I dread these more than any battle wound or fearsome warrior that I have ever faced. Fixing a smile on my face I turn and face my fears.
Immediately I am surrounded by elleths of all ages, swarming around and chattering incessantly. Before I can free myself from the mob of well-bred ladies, several of them extract promises that I will dance with them before the night is through. No words – no polite words – of refusal come to mind and I am forced to concede.
Barely escaping their clutches I search for a safe place to hide. My eyes fall onto Eglamoth, who has secreted himself in a corner, and I make my determined way towards him. Arriving unmolested I slide into the seat beside him with a sigh of relief that I do not even attempt to disguise as anything else.
He grins, asking, "Will you never learn, 'Thel? If you arrive early, find a spot and stay there all night, then the ravening hordes will not catch you!"
I pull a face in reply, then nod towards the centre of the room, where Glorfindel is revelling in the attention. "Or perhaps we should be like him? Abandon ourselves to fate and the attentions of the elleths?"
We last but a moment before bursting into laughter. Serious faces cannot last before such a patently ridiculous suggestion; neither of us is anything like Glorfindel, a certified ladies man. Eglamoth because of his deep – and deeply secret – love for a certain one who knew not of his adoration, and I because of my own private love; returned but equally as secret as that of Eglamoth's to others.
"Perhaps," I comment when we have calmed sufficiently to speak, "They will forget that I have promised dances?" My hopeful words and expression are belied by my mournful tone.
"Ha! That is unlikely," Eglamoth replied, voicing my own thought, and the reason behind my pessimistic tone of voice. "The maidens of Gondolin forget nothing as important as that!" Catching the hopeful expression on my face, he adds hastily; "And, no, I will not take some of them off your hands! Dear friend though you are, I would not put myself into the sights of those insatiable fiends for all the world!"
A wan smile crosses my features as I consider the comparisons made, but it quickly turns into a grimace of fear as the musicians begin to play. Savouring my last few moments of freedom I take several deep breaths, then stand, drawing their attention to myself that they not notice Eglamoth. The first elleth claims her dance and we begin our turns of the floor, surrounded by other couples.
The inanity of her chatter washes over me throughout a dance that seems to last for eternity, and I begin to wish that I were not so polite and had the courage to refuse to dance. Faces and forms whirl past, and all of the other smiling, laughing dancers seem to be enjoying themselves. I do not envy them for the happiness in their faces; instead I envy those who are still seated, and those standing around talking, their dance-free time.
The seemingly-endless dance finally ends, but I do not even get the chance to move from my place before the first elleth is replaced by another, and the music – the torture – begins again. A dozen escape plans flit through my mind as I dance, each one more unlikely than the last, and I try once more to resign myself to the situation. The scenario is repeated twice more before I crack and start searching the crowds for Eglamoth as we turn the floor – I can cope no longer; if I am forced to listen to one more elleth unsubtly bemoan the lack of available males then I shall do something most un-gentlemanly.
Finally I spot Eglamoth's hiding place and, after throwing a pleading glance towards the corner, I see him grinning at me, but making no move to help. Cursing mentally, I twirl my current partner around the floor once more, keeping only half an ear on her – continuous – mindless chatter to be alert for questions. Midway through our second circuit of the floor, the song ends and I – hoping beyond hope that I can escape in the lull – bow to my partner, murmuring some inanity about her dancing ability, and turn rapidly to head towards the door.
But my efforts are in vain as I am caught by yet another elleth who has a dance promised to her. She drags me off on another circuit around the too-familiar and now-hated dance floor, and I try to resign myself to this seemingly endless night. My attempts fail, and I pay careful attention to our position. As we near Eglamoth's position once more, I ready myself to beg, plead – anything!
We spin into the right position and, sending another pleading look in Eglamoth's direction, I am relieved to see a few moments later that – instead of laughing once more – he has set off towards Glorfindel, though still with a smug smirk covering his features. I can only hope that he has gone to obtain Glorfindel's – most willing – aid in my salvation, and not merely to have someone else laugh at my misfortune.
To my indescribable relief, a few moments later I hear Glorfindel's honeyed tones hailing me and, as my current partner and I turn to the source of the voice, I see him striding in my direction, Eglamoth at his heels, his amused grin still firmly in place.
"My Lord Ecthelion!" Glorfindel calls my name once more, and then they have arrived. Glorfindel sends a broad wink my way, then turns to my current partner, lamenting that he has not had chance to dance with her yet. "Ecthelion, you are being very selfish tonight, my friend," he continues, turning back to me as his tone turns gently chiding. "Yes, indeed. Keeping all of these beautiful ladies for yourself. I feel it is only fair that you sit out the next few dances, to allow some of us other poor fellows a chance to dance!"
I have great difficulty controlling a snort of amusement – poor fellows? Glorfindel dances more in each ball than the rest of us have in our lifetimes! Yet I must not give myself away; he has – Valar bless him – provided me with the perfect excuse to escape the dance floor and, from there, the entire ball. Concealing my elated smile at our well-executed tactics beneath a politely contrite expression, I sketch a bow in Glorfindel's direction and reply;
"I apologise most humbly, my lord, for my selfishness. Of course I shall sit out the next few dances, and allow you some time on the floor, my friend." With that, I turn and head towards the sidelines in the pretence of finding a seat. The lady's attentions and battle-plans immediately turn to Glorfindel, and I am able to sidle slowly towards the doors; watching all the time for the slightest shift in attention on the part of the host of women.
Leaving the hordes of demanding females in the capable – and most willing – hands of Glorfindel, I slip into a side hall, praying that none of the ladies shall notice my departure in the light of Glorfindel's attentions or – if they should notice nonetheless – that they should not take it into their heads to follow. My prayer – along with my sudden luck – holds firm, and I find myself in the corridor outside, alone. I do not wish to leave entirely, for the music continues to play and gives me great delight and so – finding one of the many window-seats that litter the halls – I settle myself and watch the world go by.
Mere moments pass before I hear the door open behind me once more. I ignore the sound, believing that any eyes will pass over, leaving me unnoticed in the shadows. To my surprise, the footsteps head unerringly in my direction and I stiffen slightly as I feel arms encircle me, then relax as the voice of my beloved murmurs, "I feel as though I have not seen you for an age, meleth."
I lean into the embrace, forsaking words in favour of a contented sigh as his arms tighten reassuringly. The faint sounds of the music follow from the hall that we have vacated and the musicians strike up a slow dance as we listen. He pulls me from my seat, spins me around and, as I stare into his dark eyes, murmurs – a teasing tone barely hidden – "If you are amenable, my lord, I would ask a question."
"I am always agreeable to your wishes, my lord." The kisses we pepper across each others eyes, nose, cheeks, and lips are a teasing counterpoint to our formality. He pulls back once more to ask;
"Dance with me?"
My lips twitch into an involuntary smile, and I sigh out, "If you insist; I can refuse you nothing for I owe you my fealty," as we wrap our arms around each other and sway gently to the music. Here, in his arms, this is where I belong. The feel of our arms around each other, the way we fit together in every way, all these things only confirm what I knew already; we were made for each other.
My mind wanders as my body relaxes into the dance, and I cannot help but wonder at how strange it is that I should react so differently to this dance. An absent smile crosses my lips as I think, and he – seeing this – raises a single, curious brow.
"I was just thinking how strange it is…"
"How strange what is?" he asks as I trail off once more. Startled from my thoughts, I continue
"That I should be so blissful in your arms, when I dread dancing with the maids of the court more than anything I can think of – even a Balrog would be more welcome than they are!"
"Ah! That is simple," he grins at me. It is my turn to raise a curious eyebrow, and urge him to elaborate. He does so, "You owe me your dancing fidelity – I would expect nothing less from my faithful dancing partner!" I pull a face at his teasing tone, and he laughs, the deep, mellow tone calling out a matching smile from me; we both know we have the others loyalty, if in things other than dancing.
A touch of lips, too soft to be called a kiss, brushes my lips and I feel shivers run down my spine. We press closer, deepening the touch into a kiss, and our arms enfold each other. The unfortunate necessity of breathing forces us to part, and I stare into eyes full of love and joy, knowing the same emotions shine in my own.
"Turgon…" his name escapes my lips, barely a breath, practically a prayer, yet I tell all I wish in that single word. Our arms tighten around each other once more, then – abruptly – he releases me. Surprised, I blink in his direction and he smiles at me, commenting lightly;
"Close your mouth, love, you look like a fish!" Childishly, I pull another face and stick my tongue out. He continues to smile evenly, only the barest twitch of his lips betraying his amusement, then says, "I think, perhaps, we should continue this in more…comfortable surroundings, my lord."
He turns and starts to walk slowly away, throwing a grin over his shoulder. I follow willingly; I can do nothing else:
I owe my Lord my fealty…and my fidelity.
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.