The Golden and the Black

Songs by Starlight

Two elves sat on a ledge halfway up the eastern mountains overlooking Imladris valley—Maeglin on a patch of tufted grass starred with tiny white flowers, and Glorfindel on a tall rock jutting out from the cliff wall to her left.

Laid out to dry on some rocks to their right were their boots and their wet clothes weighted down with rocks so that the winds might not blow them away.

Maeglin was wrapped in his light grey cloak, which had remained fairly dry in his oiled-leather travel pack, while Glorfindel wore a spare white tunic he had found rolled up at the bottom of the bag. Unbelted, it fell almost to his knees, and as he leaned against the cliff wall behind him, he looked rather as though he was wearing a sleeping shirt. He had combed out his wet braids with his fingers, and with his golden hair tumbling loose over his shoulders, Maeglin thought he looked even more ridiculously boyish. And ready for bed.

From this high perch was to be had one of the most breathtaking views of the valley, and their elven eyes were undazzled by the evening sun shining full into their faces as it sank in the west. Two waterfalls cascaded down the forest-clad mountainside to their right; before and below them was the valley, the great house crouching tiny by the slender ribbon of the Bruinen river as it meandered southwest; behind them rose the towering white peaks of the Hithaeglir.

It was not scenery that was primarily on both their minds, though. Both had discovered that there was nothing like undressing with their backs to each other to get them thinking about the other in a state of undress. So as they now sat gazing out across the beauties of the valley, they were thinking of the beauty of the one they were not looking at. Maeglin sat as still as a statue. Glorfindel appeared relaxed, but the fingers of his left hand were twisting the damp ends of a golden lock of hair.

Alae!” Glorfindel said, suddenly, and both of them lifted their eyes gratefully to the distraction in the north-eastern skies, above the waterfalls. Two of Gwaihir’s eagles, circling above.

The great eagles did not watch over Imladris as they once had Gondolin, but occasionally they traversed the skies above it. And Glorfindel recognized the pair. Belroval and Gwailint: the two eagles who had mated that spring during his visit to the eyries. And as the two elves watched the soaring grace of the mighty pair, Glorfindel remembered their courtship dance above the eyries.

A good omen…

But even as the thought came to him, he could have laughed at how ludicrous it was.

But not as ludicrous as it might have seemed just a day ago, whispered a voice within.

True. Against all expectations, Maeglin had opted to spend the Gates of Summer with him. At best, she had been amiable. At worst, sullen and angry. But…she had come back. She had stayed. She could have left at any time, but chosen not to, and for Maeglin Lómion that was a great deal. As the eagles departed, soaring eastwards, Glorfindel remembered his prayer in the morning and felt gratefully that it had been answered.

It was ten in the evening, and the longest day of summer was drawing to a close. The heavens high above were deepening to shades of twilight blue, but the sky above the western heights glowed still with shades of rose and gold. High clouds streaked the sky, still rosy in the setting rays of Anor, and towered over the valley like vast Maiar guardians.

As the last gold vanished, and the stars lit one by one, Midsummer evensongs rose and fell on the air, wafted to them on the breeze.

Soon the songs of Gondolin would begin, thought Glorfindel, and continue through the night. Turgon’s journey into the Echoriad… the recreation of glorious Tirion…the loss of Aredhel… the birth of Maeglin…

The lilting melodies could reach them here, on their mountain ledge—but not the words. That was as Glorfindel intended; he, of course, would recognize each song from the melody, but Maeglin at least would be able to enjoy the beauty of the music without the reminders of their city’s ruin.

As the darkness deepened, Glorfindel glanced at Maeglin. Curled up in his cloak, her black silken hair lifted by the wind sweeping up the hillside, her knees hugged to her chest, the strong warrior-smith looked to him as vulnerable as a child. The obsidian eyes, opaque and inscrutable, were gazing up at the constellations of summer in the darkening sky. Blazing with white fire, high above them, flew Sorontar, the King of Eagles and Alqua the Swan. Rising over the eastern range behind them was Angulócë the Serpent pursued by Quingamo the Archer…

The first time the two of them had ever gazed at the stars together had been six and a half millennia ago on the city walls of Gondolin.

It had been the night after Aredhel’s funeral, and Glorfindel and his house had been in charge of the night watch. Strolling along the northern city wall, he had seen the tall young prince all in black, standing silent and still as a statue, and staring out into the night.

Maeglin had looked up into the vastness of the open sky above him, feeling lost and empty. He had felt it to some degree, as he and his mother rode across an endless expanse of flat terrain towards the Echoriad. Suddenly, the dense forest of Nan Elmoth that had so suffocated him had seemed comforting and secure, less a prison than a womb. It had been different when he had travelled before with his father. They had journeyed by night and along forested trails to visit the deep caves of the ancient dwarven kingdoms. But on the journey to the hidden city, like a chick hatched from its shell, Maeglin had felt the shock of the sunlight—too glaring, too bright—and the openness of the plains on either side—too empty, too vast. Yet the desire to escape from his father and his accursed shadows had overcome all his un-ease. Excitement and novelty and the rush of adrenalin had overruled all fear.

Now his mother was gone. And his father. Locked deep within him, the heavy ache of unsheddable tears. He stood on this wall with his back to a strange city with foreign ways, its Sindarin dialect almost as foreign to his ear as the Quenya he could barely converse in. He felt exposed and desolate and afraid before the infinite heavens that yawned above him full of alien stars, and the great valley that stretched dark and void before and below him. He felt himself adrift. Felt he could fall forever into that expanse of darkness, and never land or find firm footing again.

Maeglin turned cold eyes upon the lord who approached him. The Lord of the Golden Flower glowed softly in the darkness, as though his hair and his very being were gathering all the coldness of the white stars, and spinning it into the warmth of the morning sun. This vision of golden beauty only reminded the prince of Idril, and brought afresh to his savaged, wounded heart the excruciating agony of a love that had struck him through like a spear, like a bolt of lightning. A love Maeglin had known to be forbidden from that first moment of utter longing and abject adoration, for which the only healing might be oblivion.

The orphaned prince unnerved Glorfindel. He gazed into the blank, unsmiling face before him, into black opaque eyes that glittered with reflected starlight but gave no window into their owner’s soul, and shivered a little. He remembered the pale, tearless face at the funeral earlier that day. And the same bleak, emotionless face at the execution yesterday.

They would all have preferred to see again the furious tears of rage they had witnessed in the throne room, the pale face snarling with hatred at the murderous father, as the boy cradled his mother in his arms and shouted barely comprehensible curses in a barbarous accent at the Dark Elf whom Glorfindel and Rog held pinned down to the ground.

But there had been no more tears after that. No more rage. Just the smoulder of golden fire in obsidian eyes as Maeglin sat at his mother’s side. When Aredhel breathed her last, the fire had fallen to ashes. And all Glorfindel had seen in those dark eyes was an abyss of nothingness, and felt both pity and fear.

Glorfindel went to the young prince’s side, sensing that he should not be left alone. And should be drawn away from standing near that steep drop from the city walls, for the golden lord had not forgotten the executed murderer’s dying curse.

“You have not slept for days,” Glorfindel said softly in the valley’s variant of Sindarin.

The black eyes looked out into the night. A slight shrug of the shoulders was the response.

“If you wish, a draught to aid in sleep could be prepared for you.”

A shake of the head. The obsidian eyes staring still at the sky.

Quite at a loss, but undeterred, the Lord of the Golden Flower asked, “You like stargazing?” And immediately cursed himself for being a gnat-brained dolt.

In the silence that followed, Glorfindel wracked his brains for anything he could say in the light of the tragic and terrible events of the past few days. The worst thing in Arda to utter would be platitudes like My fëa sorrows with your fëa, your loss is my loss…

Glorfindel could have wordlessly placed an arm of comfort around any other boy’s shoulders. But not this boy, with his arms tightly folded across his chest, face hard as stone. Simply standing near, in silence, might have expressed quiet sympathy to another. Not to Maeglin, whose hunched shoulders and rigid posture clearly indicated that Glorfindel was naught but an intruder, resented and unwelcome.

Stubbornly holding his ground, Glorfindel was about to ask if the prince would like to share a little wine with him when the muttered reply had come, as though spoken unwillingly, in that strange accent:

“The stars mean nothing to me.” Stars could barely be seen in Nan Elmoth. And no one had spoken to Maeglin about those cold, distant lights, not even either of his parents on his separate journeys with them.

“There are stories in the stars. Heroes, and battles, and creatures each with their own tale. They form patterns, and almost every star has its own name. Look—” And Glorfindel pointed them out one by one and named them. Valacirca the Sickle, Menelmacar the Swordsman, Wilwarin the Butterfly, Anarríma setting in the west. . . Of each, he recounted tales and related histories in his musical voice.

And if the boy Maeglin did not understand all the words that were spoken, still the magic of the golden lord’s vivid voice had power to form ideas and images in his mind. And Glorfindel, looking into the pale face, saw the eyes become sharp and alert, the face listening and alive. The boy is a sponge, thought Glorfindel. He is hungry for learning.

And somehow, as the hours passed, the two lords had ended up lying on their backs on the soft lawn starred with small white flowers set some feet away from the wall’s edge. The black-haired prince stared rapt at the heavens above as the golden-haired lord at his side pointed and gestured animatedly and breathed life into the cold stars for him.

The sentries marching past made two rounds of the walls, the stars wheeled westwards, and at last, the stars had faded in the light of dawn.

For those few hours, the prince had not felt quite so keenly the darkness and desolation of his heart. And some spell woven by the voice of the golden lord had salved his soul so that the daybreak seemed just a bit more bearable.

One would have thought that surely after that night a friendship would have been born. But alas, that was the first and last encounter of Maeglin Lómion with Glorfindel of the Golden Flower that was not poisoned by the venom of jealousy.

For later that very morning, Idril Celebrindal had run with light foot to the Lord of the Golden Flower as he stood by the fountain in the King’s Square, and kissed his cheek and stroked his face with a loving hand. And as the golden pair stood with heads close together and conferred long and intently about the late Aredhel and her tragic son, the prince had watched from afar. A dark anger had begun to spark, to later be fanned into the flames of hatred. His enmity toward the golden lord once kindled, the embers would smoulder, unabated, for the next six thousand years.

Yet from that time, the night skies of midsummer over Gondolin would never be alien to the prince again, and the stars smiled down as friends.

Now, on the heights overlooking Imladris valley, each remembered that night as they gazed at the stars together again.

Glorfindel was thinking of that moment of connection they had shared so long ago, and pondering how much of his love for Maeglin was tied to the fëa, and how much to the hröa that housed it.

Maeglin’s thoughts were far less metaphysical. As she relived the memory of her previous self lying on the soft grass next to the golden-haired lord, her wandering mind imagined pulling him to her and doing all manner of unspeakable things to him. Here in the present, he sat just out of her reach on that rock. Without turning her head, she knew how he would look as his flowing hair shone warm and golden in the night, and how the stars would glitter in his azure eyes. And how his embrace would feel. And how he looked without that tunic…

It was growing unbearable. I have to get away from here.

Maeglin rose suddenly, and went to where the clothes lay drying. He watched as she fingered her leggings. Still wet, and unlikely to dry much faster as the night air grew chillier. Cold, wet clothes never seem that bad while you are still in them, she thought; the idea of putting them on again now she was warm and dry, however, was utterly repellent. A fire would help, but neither of them had suggested starting one, for neither wished to attract any attention.

She looked around the ledge everywhere except at him, seemingly agitated, and muttering something under her breath even his elven ears could not catch. He looked at her, baffled.

“Uhh…are you looking for something?”

“No. Yes. Have you anything to eat?” Maeglin said abruptly. There was nothing but mountain grasses on the ledge; not very palatable unless you are a goat.

Glorfindel was eyeing her with concern as he descended from his perch. “There may be some lembas…” he crouched by his pack and began to rummage in it, emptying out its contents as he went. Nothing. “That piece you had in the morning was the last of it, I am afraid. We passed some berries down the slope, and a stand of pines with cones. Wait here.”

The thought of the Commander of Imladris wandering its hills at night to forage for pine nuts and berries for her in nothing but a white tunic was rather precious, but suddenly Maeglin did not want him to leave.

“No, please do not. My hunger is not so great.” She eyed a small oval flask that gleamed silver on the grasses among the gear he had emptied from his pack. “What is that?”

“That?” He picked it up. “A parting gift from Bard. A form of uruinén that they make in Dale from fermented corn mash.”

“Allow me to try it.” It came across as a princely command, rather than a request, as Maeglin reached out her hand from beneath the grey cloak.

Thinking she had not understood, Glorfindel said, “It is uruinén. Urnen. Not to your taste, I should think.” The prince had disdained to touch the stuff in Gondolin, all those late winter nights of carousing. And then Glorfindel made an error. He added, “It is rather potent.”

The black eyes sparked gold fire. “Let me be the judge of that.”

“There is water, if you thirst.” He held out the waterskin to her. He would not have minded offering her wine, but it had all gone to the squirrel that morning.

“I was drinking urnen at my father’s knee,” Maeglin said. “I can take it.”

Sweet and fiery and smoother than silk, the golden liquid burned its way down her throat. The warmth spread through her, relieved some of the ache in her chest, melted away her tension. She felt less on edge, less tightly wound up. “Very pleasant,” she pronounced, and to his alarm, took another swig.

After the third swig, Glorfindel said, “That is enough.” Maeglin held it away as he reached for it.

She turned to him, full of calm resolve, and her lips parted to speak: It has been a most agreeable day, but I will take my leave of you now. No vaer i dhû… And she would get dressed, sodding wet as her clothes might be, and get herself far away from him.

But what came forth from Maeglin’s lips as her obsidian eyes met his azure ones was, “You promised you would tell me by starlight who the Singer is.”

And she placed the flask in his hand.

He had been bracing himself for a tussle over the firewater. Now, he relaxed visibly. “So I did,” he said, keeping the half-empty flask away in his pack.

Maeglin sank down on a mound of grass near him; her obsidian gaze as it travelled across the darkened valley was almost mellow. Tiny golden lights winked at them like stars where the great house lay, and hauntingly sad cadences of the songs wafted to them on the breeze. Glorfindel was glad she could not hear a word. This verse was her mother dying of poison. After the next chorus, her father would be plunging to his death.

Sitting an arm’s length from her, he wondered how to begin. “Well…it need not be a long tale if you know a little history. The Singer’s story is essentially captured in three words: silmarils, oathtaking, and kinslaying.”

And Maeglin understood. “Maglor Fëanorion,” she said softly.

“Yes. The greatest singer who has ever lived,” said Glorfindel. “Many name him the second greatest…but having heard the celebrated Daeron once, in the lands far to the east, I still esteem the second son of Fëanor most highly.

“For six millennia Maglor has wandered across all of Ennor, singing his lament. He lingers most in Lindon and the Ered Luin, and very oft along the shores of the great sea. But every now and again will he come to our valley. For there is something draws him here… Or I should say, someone.”

“And who is that one?”

Glorfindel gazed to the north-west, thinking of lands now far beneath the waves. “I did say the tale was sorrowful. The answer is be found long ago, at the Havens at the Mouths of Sirion, at the Third Kinslaying.

“The sons of Fëanor descended on the Havens in the dead of night, and in the middle of the harshest winter in seventy coranári.” He fell silent. Even thinking of it sickened him so deeply he could barely bring himself to repeat the story as told to him by Elwing first in Aman, then Elrond in Ennor. “They swept through the Mouths of Sirion and slaughtered all in their path.”

Many who had escaped destruction in Doriath—and Gondolin—fell that day, Glorfindel thought. Had he not perished in the flight from Gondolin, how would he have fared in the kinslaying? Never had his sword been raised to slay one of the children of Ilúvatar. Could he have done it?

Or would he have fallen, refusing to kill?

“Maedhros was as one possessed, and would spare none. Those who could, put out to sea and escaped to Círdan’s realm on the Isle of Balar.

“The Lady of the Mouths of Sirion was Elwing, and her Lord was away at sea,” Glorfindel continued, refraining from mentioning Eärendil by name. “Knowing there was no reasoning with the sons of Fëanor, she went forth bearing the prize they sought, their father’s silmaril, and ran to the high cliffs, hoping for nothing but to lure the attackers away from her people, and sacrifice herself.

“At that time her twin sons were only four coranári old. She placed Elrond and Elros in the hands of a trusted elflord, and bade him escape by a secret passage with some of their household. Alas, they were never to reach it. The Fëanorians breached the palace and cut them off on every side. Hotly pursued, the lord locked the children in an empty bedchamber, and blocked the way.

“The twins heard battle and terrible screams coming from the streets through the window, and the sound of sword blades clashing outside their door. They crawled under the bed, huddled together, and covered their ears with their hands.

“The sound of fighting beyond the door fell silent. They heard the sound of the key in the lock, and when the door swung open, they saw that the boots and cloak of the one who entered were not that of their protector. Their hearts pounded so loudly, they were terrified the enemy would hear it. They watched as the booted feet moved across the floor of the chamber with unhurried, measured steps, the hem of a long, dark-red cloak swirling. From the tip of his drawn sword, dark blood dripped upon the floor. And through the open doorway, they could see Egalmoth lying unmoving upon the flagstones—”

The name slipped out unthinkingly. Glorfindel saw her start.

“—and both the children began to sob, certain they were going to die.

“The booted feet halted. Then, slowly, the warrior lay down on his elbows and knees and looked under the bed. And Elrond found himself staring at blood-spattered armour and long dark hair, and large, glittering grey-silver eyes. They were eyes bright with the light of the Trees like Egalmoth’s had been…but all Elrond saw when he gazed into the kinslayer’s eyes was sorrow. They were weary, and burdened, and incredibly sad.

“The son of Fëanor stared a long while at the half-elven toddlers in silence, as cries of death still rose from the streets.

“Then he laid aside his bloody sword. And spoke:

“‘Do not fear, little ones. I shall do you no harm.’

“And such beauty was there in his voice, and so softly and gently did he speak, that it diminished some of their horror.

“He went to the window and closed the shutters to muffle the sounds of battle and shut out the bitter winter chill. He crossed to the door and he locked it.

“Then he lay on the floor and began to sing to them. And as he sang, their fear faded. He removed the gauntlets from his hands, and they did not resist him when he reached out and gently took them from under the bed.

“And he sat on the bed, and placed them on his lap. He cradled them against his blood-stained armour, in the protective circle of his steel-clad arms, and rocked them and sang softly to them till the sounds of battle and death fell silent outside the room. He sang on, not heeding when the door was pounded upon, and they heard a voice shouting in Quenya words they did not fully understand. He sang till the door was broken down by a tall beautiful warrior with flame-coloured hair and fearsome eyes, who wielded a bloody sword with his one hand.

“And quietly and stubbornly, in spite of the angry protests of his elder brother, Maglor would not relinquish the infants.

“He brought them home, and raised them as his own. He was more of a father to them than their own absent father had ever been. But finally, he sent the boys away, to Ereinion Gil-galad, so that they would be safe. So that they would not be tainted by the oath he and his brother had to fulfil.

“For over forty years were they with Maglor and Maedhros, and as peredhel they grew to full stature long ere the War of Wrath ended, Thangorodrim thrown down, and the silmarils taken from Morgoth’s crown.

“Then Elrond and Elros pleaded with Maglor not to send them away. And full of fear and dread for him were they, seeing the fey light in his eyes, and knowing well to what wickedness and folly the Oath could drive him and his brother. But Maglor prevailed, and despatched them to Balar, much against their wills.

“The twins grieved exceedingly when they heard how the sons of Fëanor had taken the silmarils, and how the purity of the jewels had seared their corrupted flesh. And most bitterly they wept as witnesses told of how the eldest son had plunged into a fiery chasm, and how the second son had hurled his bright jewel into the sea. From a league away could the silmaril be seen—shining brilliantly in the twilit skies as it arced through the air, then illuminating the dark waters with its radiance before it sank away into the depths of Ulmo.

“And for a while Elrond and Elros roamed the coastline seeking Maglor. But never have they seen him since. And only from afar did they hear the voice they love so well, lamenting in grief and regret.

“For thousands of years Maglor has wandered these mortal shores, ever singing, cursed still with the guilt and sorrow of his bloodsoaked soul. For he has cursed himself to ever wander alone, and never to find rest.”

As Glorfindel’s voice fell silent, the only sounds were the wind in the trees of fir and pine, and the roar of rushing waters cascading down. Maeglin looked out into the night, and the stars shone down upon her with their cold, cold eyes.

“So he comes here for love of Elrond.”

“Yes. Yet not once in six thousand years has Maglor spoken to him. Not once has he come to the house, or allowed any near him. He haunts the hills, and watches from afar. And sings.”

Maeglin stared into space. “So, if you were to find him,” she murmured, “What would you say to him?”

“I would tell him that six thousand years is long enough a sentence,” replied Glorfindel. “He has punished himself enough. I would tell him: be a wanderer no more. Make Imladris your home. I will let none disturb you here in this valley. Here you may lay your burden down, and here you may find rest.

As Glorfindel spoke, Maeglin felt something well up within her, heavy as lead. It sat upon her chest, and caught hold of her throat.

“What of the kinslayings?” she said huskily. “There are those here, in Imladris who were at the Havens, who suffered at his hand and barely escaped with their lives. Erestor…and Lindir.”

Glorfindel turned his head, and saw the obsidian eyes gazing almost pleadingly at him. “I cannot speak for them,” he replied. “But with all my heart I believe that regardless what a person has done, should there be remorse, should forgiveness be sought, it should be given. None could doubt, who hear his song, how deep is his remorse, how deep his regret.”

The tightness in her chest, her throat was so great, Maeglin could barely breathe, barely speak. “Do you truly believe that? You would forgive? No matter what one has done?” she managed to say, barely audible.

Glorfindel’s violet-blue eyes gazed deep into Maeglin’s, and held them. They heard a faint swell of song rising from the valley. And in that moment, two Midsummers six thousand years apart became one. They were back on the walls of Gondolin, and there was dragon fire on the northern heights as the midsummer stars gazed down upon them. And to the dark abyss of the traitor’s eyes, Glorfindel said, as the black hordes descended into Tumladen, “Yes. No matter what.”

And Glorfindel saw, suddenly naked and exposed in those dark eyes, such brokenness and torment, such infinite guilt and self-loathing, that he could do nothing but lean forward and kiss Maeglin on the mouth.

And so natural did it seem, so very right did it feel, that every reason against it melted away, and every wall built against it crumbled. This was, out of many thousands of kisses in his life, the first Glorfindel had ever truly desired. This was, for Maeglin, the first time she had ever actually been kissed. Soon she was leaning into his kiss desperately, needily, and clutching at him as though she was drowning and he her only lifeline. As they kissed hungrily, her arms went around him and the grey cloak slipped to the ground. He found his hands sliding down the smooth softness of her bare skin, found himself intoxicated with her scent, her taste, found himself pulled against her rather forcefully, and falling entangled with her onto the cloak and the mountain grass. Then the floodgates opened, and no thought possible to either from that point, only a driving need that swept them along like the whitewaters of a river. As the songs of the fall of the white city rose to the skies, neither of the two Gondolindrim in Imladris heard them, lost as they were in the tumult of their own blood.

Below in the valley, the tragedy unfolded as Lindir and his singers and actors performed in the gardens of the house before a rapt audience. The battle for Gondolin was waged—the Square of the King was lost, the Tower of the King collapsed, and Turgon was slain.

On the heights, the King’s two lords lay cloaked in a warm, silken tangle of golden and black and the most euphoric of afterglows—a happy haze in which no memory existed but the bliss they had just shared, and the whole world was condensed into the other. They lay so entwined they hardly knew where they ended and the other began. Wrapped in each other’s arms, both thought: This has to be a dream. Irmo, pray do not wake me…

Already Glorfindel felt how the boundaries of their fëar were blurring—his brightness and Maeglin’s darkness intermingling, the shadow within her crouching like a wounded animal amid swirling eddies of rapture and fulfilment.

And, unvoiced, the words sang naturally, unthinkingly, from his fëa to hers:

Gi melin…I love you.

At that, he felt Maeglin stiffen in his arms, and he saw dread in her half-closed eyes. And abruptly they were two again. Separate.

The hurt at her fëa’s withdrawal from him was like a knife thrust, even though the warm length of her body pressed against his still. She gazed at him warily, angrily, shaken by that breach of her mind. He felt a dark wall raised against him in her fëa, fencing the secrets she was guarding.

“I have to go—” And she pulled out of his arms, pushed herself upright, and got to her feet, turning towards where their clothes lay drying.

“No! Please don’t!” He caught her by the arm and spun her round to face him.

There was a wild, almost feral look in Maeglin’s dark eyes as she gazed at him like a wounded animal through the black hair falling across her face. Fear. Desire. Need. She did not break away from his grip.

He lifted a hand and gently brushed back her hair from her face. “It won’t happen again.”

“My mind is mine. Stay out,” Maeglin growled.

Did she not understand what they had just done? What had happened between them? He gazed at her in hurt and despair. “I will. I am sorry.”

And taking her face gently in his strong hands, he kissed her. A kiss that disarmed her, that frightened her. There was nothing in it of the aggression of their earlier passion that she could dismiss as sheer lust, little different from two animals joining in the night. The kisses he lavished on her now were slow, tender, attentive, and they bared within her a need so intense, a void so deep, that she almost wept. An impulse of terror flared in Maeglin, made her want to shove him away with a curse and a snarl.

Daro!” she cried out, jerking back and striking him across the face.

He at once released her and stepped back, his cheek stinging.

That’s it. I’ve ruined it. What should I do now? he thought wretchedly, as she paced about the ledge, distraught, like a wild thing seeking escape from a cage.

The next moment, to his great confusion but utter delight, Maeglin was pushing him back against the cliff face at the back of the ledge, kissing him with a desperate hunger and jostling against him fiercely…

As the Imladrim in the valley below sang of the fall ofa traitor and of a hero plummeting from a pinnacle,the hero andthe traitor shut out all thought of the fall of fair white towers, blocked out flame and ruin, blocked out the pain of past love and loss and betrayal and death. By the time the lastnotes of the songs of Gondolin lingered in the night air, the last two Gondolindrim lay sated and sleepy on fragrant grasses starred with white mountain flowers, the grey cloak covering them both. Maeglin’s head nestled in the crook of his neck, and her eyes were heavy with languor as she sighed. Like the fading of the sunset, the rapture of their climax throbbed for her with an aching sadness as it subsided, and an ancient shadow seemed to loom vast over them…

“Losto vae, meleth-nín,” Glorfindel murmured into her black hair, and the sadness was banished. He was careful not to speak to her mind as he had erred in doing earlier, but even so, he cocooned her in warmth and security, his love lapping at the borders of her being like gentle waves on a lake shore. In the sunshine of his presence, the shadows could not stay…

Glorfindel watched over Maeglin till her breathing and heartbeat became slow and deep in sleep, and lay awhile in thought, lost in amazement as what had happened slowly sank in.

They were wed.

He could feel Maeglin a part of him, interlaced fëa and hröa. That what they had done was binding until the Second Music he had not the slightest doubt. He knew it to the depths of his being.

But with a stab of desolation, he knew that she did not see it so. One light touch of osanwë, and he had found himself facing a phalanx of spears. What all this meant to her, he had little idea, but it certainly was not marriage. Given her parents, he was unsure what marriage meant to her anyway.

It certainly was not how he had dreamed their binding would be—whenever he had allowed himself to dream of it, that is. Vaguely, in his mind, he had envisioned a season of courtship, a year of betrothal, a wedding attended by friends and kin… like the thousands of pairings he had witnessed in his lifetimes.

This—this had happened so fast his mind was still in a whirl. To be lying here with his love in his arms, when just a day past he had been in utter despair, was so surreal he half-expected Irmo to awaken him any moment.

Glorfindel looked up from Maeglin’s sleeping face to the eternal stars gazing down at them.

What do we go from here?

After the marriage, would at last come the courtship… friendship… and, Eru willing, the sharing of hearts…

Well, nothing had ever been normal about this love from the first moment, anyway.

Glorfindel tried not to think what Idril and Ecthelion would have to say about all this. He gazed at Maeglin again, as she lay with her black eyes untroubled and serene in sleep. His beloved traitor. And as he gently draped an arm over her, and himself drifted into Lórien, his heart was singing.


Alae (S) – behold

Belroval (S) – mighty wing

Gwailint (S) – wind-swift

No vaer i dhû (S) – may the night be good / good night

Gi melin (S) – I love you

Daro (S) - stop

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