The Golden and the Black


“One of the worst things about being with child is that every other nís who has ever been with child has advice to dispense. Or a tale of childbirth to tell.”

Maeglin scowled darkly. She had been flanked by well-meaning elven matrons from both Imladris and Lothlórien for much of the ride to Minas Tirith, since Glorfindel rode at the front or the rear with his guard. “Why would anyone imagine I need a blow-by-blow account of sixty-four hours of labour?”

Nai! the agony!” Glorfindel winced at the thought as he braided pearls and white crystals into Maeglin’s hair. For the first time he felt a twinge of anxiety about the coming birth. After witnessing thousands of joyous and uneventful births, thought the father-to-be, why should a handful of horrific incidents truly stand out now that his beloved’s turn drew near?

“The most beautiful and transcendental experience of her life, apparently. In between the screaming and her husband fainting,” Maeglin added drily.

Glorfindel chuckled. “Elrond almost fainted too, when Celebrían was giving birth to the twins.”

“He did?” It was hard to imagine. She smiled a little too wickedly.

“Sympathetic pain.”

“The solution to the pain, as another matron told me, is apparently meditation and heated poultices,” said Maeglin wryly. “She has kindly offered to share meditation techniques with me whilst we are in Gondor.”

“I hope your reply was not too rude. They all mean well, melmenya, and are genuinely concerned and eager to help.”

“I know. But after suffering through ten hours of childbirth advice and tales, I was sorely tempted to tell her to go to Mordor with her meditation in my sweetest voice. Lady Galadriel caught my eye in time.” She shifted her weight in her chair.

It was only her seventh month, but twins made her larger than she would have been for a first child, and it was further becoming apparent that neither of them were small babies, being of the House of Finwë. Thankfully, the fastenings and lacing of her midnight-blue gown had plenty of allowance, and Glorfindel admired how the silk hugged the curve of her now-full bosom and gently skimmed the swell of her belly.

He could tell she was tired. They had ridden and walked long hours for many days, and rested but little since their arrival at the City of Kings yesterday, on Midsummer’s Eve.

“Close your eyes and rest, melmenya. I shall be done in a few minutes.” He continued to weave in fine, slender chains of silver and pearls and crystals into her dark tresses. “Your hair is so much thicker and glossier than it even was before,” he said appreciatively.

She was amused by how much he enjoyed playing with her long, silky black locks. She seldom allowed him to braid her hair, and he appeared to be relishing each moment of the present. The wall mirror was set too high, such that she could not see herself in it, only him, tall and shimmering white and gold in the lamplight. The guest room in the citadel had plain sandstone walls and floors. A faded mural of a forlorn Tar-Palantir gazing towards Avallonë from the hill of Oromet was painted over the heavy mahogany bed.

“I hope you are not overdoing it,” she said, shifting slightly in the chair again. “Nothing elaborate, nothing like Ecthelion’s, please.”

“Worry not. You will look far lovelier than Ecthelion ever did, I promise.” He flashed a dazzling grin. “Just do not ever tell him I said so.”

Maeglin leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes, feeling his skilled fingers moving swiftly yet unhurriedly through her hair, listening to him whistling softly as he worked. He himself never needed any help with braiding. He had a dozen different ways of styling his own famed golden tresses, and he executed each of these with such speed and perfection that it had never made any sense for her to offer him any help, even if she were disposed to.

She opened her eyes again. Lovingly watching him in the oval mirror mounted on the wall, she reflected that her beloved, for all his radiant beauty, was less vain than other Lords of Gondolin. Ecthelion had worn diamonds set in silver in his beautiful dark hair, Rog loved red rubies, Egalmoth opals, Penlod pearls, and Galdor had flaunted emeralds as green as his flashing eyes in his fiery tresses. But Glorfindel needed no adornment for his golden head, for the glory of his hair alone was enough. Thus he rarely had added jewels to his braids except during feasts and festivals, although he had been showered with gifts of sapphires to match his blue eyes. Today, all he had chosen to wear, pinned on his white robe, was the golden brooch shaped like a flower, its eight petals like the rays of the sun, which Maeglin had given him. That, and his gold wedding ring.

Maeglin herself, when she had been the prince of Gondolin, had preferred to wear plain black with a touch of silver embroidery. Accessories were minimal. A single silver earring. A plain silver brooch in a cloak or robe. A solitaire diamond.

“Tasteful, elegant, understated,” she reminded him in a murmur as he worked.

“Right, right. Trust me. Stop fidgeting,” he said mildly, smiling in amusement.

“Hurry, it is almost time,” she said, shifting in the chair again, as the babies started to kick restlessly.

“Such impatience, the three of you.” He extended a hand to pull her up from her seat, and with a flourish, showed her his finished handiwork in a hand mirror.

The master crafter of Gondolin and Imladris scrutinized herself in the looking glasses on the wall and in his hand, angling herself to see the back of her head. Glorfindel smiled. Not a word was needed. The expression of approval on her lovely face said it all—his work had met her high standards, and surpassed them. He laid down the hand mirror on a table, and offered his lady his arm.

She laid her hand on his arm, took three steps forward and halted with a groan. “Orro! I need the privy again.” Only very recently had this embarrassment begun.

With a look of profound sympathy, Glorfindel drew the chamberpot out from under the bed and passed it to her.

“Balls of Tulkas,” she scowled as she took it. “Six thousand years of civilization in Númenórë and Endórë, and they have not yet invented plumbing and sanitation? It is perfectly barbaric!”

“I am sure Estel will do something about it, melmenya.” Arwen would of a certainty see to it, for she was far more delicate in her sensibilities than Maeglin.

“However did he survive among these barbarians?” she grumbled as Glorfindel poured water from a jug into a basin for her use later.

“With a great deal of love and forbearance. They are his people.” Considering that Maeglin had grown up in Nan Elmoth, survived the Nirnaeth Arnoediad and month-long war games with several thousand warriors in the great outdoors, and had just endured long weeks of travel through open terrain, it amused Glorfindel how dainty his prince was now behaving. It seemed to him that Maeglin was determined to like little about this city of the Secondborn.

When finally they arrived at the embrasure of the Citadel together, they found all the Imladrim and Galadhrim waiting in the starlight, looking towards where the sky was lightening in the east.

“Ah, the Two Trees are finally here,” said Erestor, as the couple arrived and took their place next to Elrond and his family.

“Sshh… the vigil begins,” said Lindir.

And all the elves stood in silent stillness to await Arien as she ascended bearing Anor, the last fruit of Laurelin the golden.

The Two Trees had been Arwen’s handiwork. She had given, as her wedding gift, a white robe for Glorfindel and a midnight-blue dress for Maeglin. Embroidered down the side of the white robe was a gracefully spreading golden tree, and down the side of the deep blue gown was a beautiful, shimmering silver tree, and small silver flowers on the sleeves.

“Laurelin and Telperion.” Maeglin had eyed Glorfindel a little dubiously as she took the gifts out of the gossamer-like tissue they were wrapped in. “Would you wear this?”

In the First Age, the Two Trees of Valinor and their light had been held in great reverence. Maeglin would have imagined that Glorfindel, brought up by half-Vanyarin Idril, might have been raised with the idea that it was almost sacrilegious to wear them on one’s clothing.

“It has been seven thousand years since the Years of the Trees, meldanya,” Glorfindel had said with a smile. “I would definitely wear this in the Third Age. And I do not think even Itarillë would have objected in the First.”

So their friends had enjoyed the sight of the couple in their new finery a month later as the household gathered for the Gates of Summer vigil.

Alae! The Two Trees!” Erestor had proclaimed at once.

Calan a dhû!”

“Anor ar Isil!”

“Light and dark. Maer!” laughed Gildor, who had arrived too late for the wedding but stayed on for Tarnin Austa.

“Lady Arwen, you have outdone yourself,” said Lindir, admiring the embroidery.

“Uhh… is it not the golden tree Laurelin that is female, and the silver tree Telperion male?” observed Elrohir with an arched eyebrow.

“There are ways in which that seems rather fitting, actually,” said the quieter twin, Elladan, looking at the bright and dark pair with a twinkle in his amused grey eyes.

Bain! They look beautiful,” declared Arwen with satisfaction, her grey eyes sparkling as she examined Glorfindel and Maeglin dressed in her labour of love.

Oblivious to everyone around, the two lovers were holding hands and talking with their heads close to each other, indeed looking like day and night, sun and moon, as they stood side by side.

When Glorfindel and Maeglin showed up at the festival of the Fading of the Year wearing something else, they had endured more comments.

Nae! What happened to the Two Trees?”

“Did Ungoliant get to them already?”

“By the Valar! We demand the Two Trees!”

All of which Glorfindel and Maeglin had blithely ignored.

But this morning they were wearing the Two Trees for Arwen. She gave them a smile as she stood beside her father and brothers above the city she would reign over as Queen. It was for her the last Tarnin Austa dawn ceremony of her soon-to-be mortal life.

The city of Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor, lay spread below the elves. The elven travellers had arrived just the evening before the wedding day, on the shortest night of the year, and had shortened their Midsummer vigil to the half-hour before dawn.

The air was cool. The city lay dark and silent. The elves stood shimmering in the dim pre-dawn light, gazing eastwards. East, over lands once shadowed, now free.

As the first rays broke over the horizon, two hundred fair elven voices lifted in the ancient chorus. Below, those of the people of Gondor who were already in the streets lifted their heads to gaze upwards, or opened windows to look and listen in wonder.

On the embrasure of the Citadel the fair folk stood, shining bright in the sunlight in raiment of many hues. Their voices rose and fell in the morning air, each note carrying clear and heartbreakingly haunting over the city, weaving a deep spell of enchantment over all who heard. The ears that heard that song would recall it ever after, and speak of it to their children and children’s children—the morning of the royal wedding of King Elessar, when the Queen and her people sang over the city and blessed it, before their race passed away beyond the west.

Glorfindel glanced at Maeglin as they sang together, and saw her black eyes free of shadow for the moment as the sun fell golden and warm on her face. Each Midsummer marked another year they had been together. And each year his heart rejoiced to see in her face the freedom she was winning from her past.

She returned his glance briefly, and smiled.

He turned his own face back to the east, his face radiant as the sunrise as he sang.

In the end, he changed their travel plan on the way home from Minas Tirith.

“It is not a question of your endurance, meldanya,” Glorfindel said, massaging the sore muscles in her lower back at a rest-stop. “I have not the slightest doubt that if you had to travel north to Fornost and back on foot, you would. It is the needlessness of this suffering. Did you know both Itarillë and Celebrían spent most of the last few months of their pregnancies sleeping and relaxing, and being waited on hand and foot?”

“I am neither Itarillë nor Celebrían,” she said stubbornly, but she was looking drained.

He sighed. “Listen. I have seen enough nissi go through this to know how much of their strength is drawn out of them, even with just one child, let alone two. And the father can only do so much to help. Why should you have to suffer long days in the saddle, even if it is on Asfaloth? It is so unnecessary.”

He folded his arms around her for a while and let his light and strength flow through her and the children.

“Our sons are of the line of Finwë and have strong fëar. They demand a great deal of our lifeforce in their making.” He released her gently. “We may have children only this one time, melimë. Can we not simply relax and find pleasure in it? And not one word about Erestor’s mother. He was not twins, and we can be grateful for small mercies that he was not. Neither are we fleeing for our lives. I want us to have this time to enjoy and to remember.”

The one day they had spent at Lothlórien in early summer on their journey to Gondor glowed in memory, an oasis of rest and peace. Maeglin thought of breezes sighing through trees of gold and the singing waters of the Celebrant. “Very well.”

And thus it was that when the travellers parted ways on their journey, Glorfindel and Maeglin bade fond farewell to Elrond and his household who would head north to Imladris, and turned their horses aside to follow the Galadhrim home.

There was a peace and enchantment still over the Golden Woods, even as the power of Nenya slowly diminished. Glorfindel and Maeglin walked over lush, green grass and under the shimmering branches of golden mellyrn. For an age after all the elvenfolk had departed, the mellyrn here would remain golden-leaved in winter, for the life of Valinor in its sap depended not solely on Nenya’s strength.

Ai! There they go—fighting again,” Maeglin said, placing a hand under her swollen belly.

“They are playing,” said Glorfindel, watching her midriff bounce and shift in shape. It never failed to fascinate him.

“Fighting,” she sighed. “What did we expect? They are the children of warriors, and they are having a war in me.”

Glorfindel leaned over, patted the baby bump, and sent out a firm command. “Na manë! Behave, boys!”

And the violent kicking subsided to gentler movements.

They looked at each other in surprise and amusement. “Well, looks like they just need a telling off if they get too rowdy!” said Glorfindel with a laugh.

“If they are that obedient, they take after you rather than me.” Maeglin smiled as they resumed their walk.

All her life had been devoted to craft, the creation of things beautiful and deadly, useful and clever. Only over the last few months had this bearing of children grown into an extension of that, as she felt nature turn her into a vessel for the creation of life.

She had initially detested the sensation of being helpless, and at the mercy of forces beyond her comprehension or control. And Glorfindel had initially made it worse.

“Heartbeats!” Glorfindel had exclaimed suddenly one morning at the end of winter as they were getting dressed. His face was incandescent with wonder. “Did you feel that? Their hearts are beating!”

It had been another five days before she became tuned in enough to the children to sense it. She had experienced a deep pang of jealousy and resentment that he had sensed it so much more sharply than she, so much earlier, and had a special connection with their sons. More than that, it had made her feel almost a stranger in her own body, and that the babies were intruders.

Sometime after that, they had been lying in bed one night, drifting off to sleep, when he had murmured drowsily, “Amazing... they are swimming round and round. Look at that… they have their tiny fingers and toes already…”

And with that he had fallen sleep against the curve of her back. Leaving her wide-eyed and sleepless in the dark, staring at the intricately carved wooden panelling of the wall.

After that, she had gone quietly to the library and Idhren, with a wise and gentle smile, had found her a book. It had gotten better from there.

The book, co-authored by Tercenalto and Nilmië, a Noldorin couple of Tirion, offered both the meticulous clinical detail of scientific observation and the first-hand wonder of new parents. It gave her, at least, the assurance that she was normal, and that it was Glorfindel who was not. Where his heightened senses came from, whether his years in Valinor dwelling with the Valar, or his father’s blood, she did not know, but it was comforting to discover that she was no worse and no different from innumerable ellith who had undergone this before her. It armed her as well with an understanding of the entire process of gestation… details which Pengolodh’s biology lessons had naturally glossed over as being irrelevant to the needs of a prince and the kingdom he was being schooled to run.

As Glorfindel had joyously announced the next few developmental milestones, always a few days ahead of her feeling them herself, she had at least been prepared, able to anticipate each of them. And her fascination with the invisible creative process happening within her had been stirred.

During their first stopover in Lothlórien, as Glorfindel and she had walked upon Cerin Amroth, she had suddenly halted in her tracks with the strangest look on her face.

“I think… I think that was a kick.”

With a luminous look both tender and wistful, Glorfindel reached out a hand and gently laid it against her belly. He had sensed the kick in his fëa, but only she would be able to experience it as part of her own hröa. And suddenly she understood, without his saying a word, how much he both worshipped and envied her for the privilege of bearing life within her.

As she grew more greatly in tune with the children as they developed, she and Glorfindel celebrated the milestones of their growth together. She began to feel differently: a partner with the forces shaping life in her womb, and not merely a vessel, as the children fed on the strength of both her fëa and hröa.

She obediently ate the foods prepared for her by the Galadhrim, rested more than she had in all her life, and took long walks under the golden-leaved trees at the side of her golden-haired love. She even forced down the herbal tonics brewed by the Galadhrin healers, not even daring to scowl since it was under Galadriel’s eye. Her sense of well-being grew with each passing day. She hardly recognized herself anymore on some of those days, for she felt whole, and full of life.

Her nights of sleep grew rather fitful, as autumn turned to winter, for the twins enjoyed nocturnal acrobatics.

The night she found she could not turn in bed because of their weight, she had lain there like a beached whale seething in such resentful frustration that her mood had woken Glorfindel up. He had matter-of-factly turned her over, propped her with pillows, given her a sleepy kiss and murmured, “Wake me whenever you need me.” Then gone back to sleep.

For a long moment on the darkened talan, she did not know which she wanted more… to hit him with a pillow, resentful of his sleep, or kiss him lovingly, grateful for his care.

Some nights, as the twins turned somersaults, she listened to the breeze in the mellyrn branches and Glorfindel’s slow, deep breathing. Her long black eyes gazed drowsily at the dark forest shadows dancing across the woven screens of the flet, and saw scenes of her life playing across them…

And it seemed surreal to her to think she had ever been that dark ellon. She tried to remember what it had been like to live in his body. Tall… broad, muscled shoulders… narrow hips… a long, lithe, feline stride. What it had been like to be him. She tried in vain to stir the cold ashes of his hatred for his Adar, his craving for the crown, his lust for his cousin, his hatred for Glorfindel, for Tuor… all whose happiness did naught but reveal to him his lack.

And as his face gazed back at her in the night, black eyes cold and mocking and guarded, lips curled with half a smirk, half a scowl, she felt as though she looked on someone else.

At other times Maeglin Lómion blurred into Eöl of Nan Elmoth.

“You have nothing to do with me,” her father and her past-self sneered down at her, with disdain for her womanhood. “You are weak and soft. You have no part of me.”

“You had a gift for hatred,” she found herself replying. “And what you hated most was yourself… Everything you held as strength was your weakness…and the things you held as weakness are now my strength.” What Lómion hated in his father he had only become himself. Her sleep-heavy fëa felt a strange detachment of pity for both of them.…

Glorfindel turned over in bed and looked at her in sleepy bemusement. “Melimë… are you talking to yourself?”

The shades faded and happiness spread wings in her heart as she smiled at him with love. “I need to be turned again.”

During the day, she walked as much as she was able, and napped whenever she could, sleeping on the flower-starred grasses with her head in Glorfindel’s lap. And he would sing various lays and songs to her and the children.

One afternoon, as they rested in a quiet glade just outside Caras Galadhon, his thoughts wandered to Gondolin. Indeed, as they looked up at the leaves of gold and the tall mellyrn about them, they could almost imagine they were in Gondolin again.

His voice rose melodiously in the cool autumn air, carrying on the breeze, so that some of the Galadhrim passing through the nearby trees saw visions of the high towers and the hundred courtyards in the sunlight, the busy marketplace, the King’s Square, the proud lords in shining raiment riding on their steeds, the fair ladies walking on the white city walls, the colourful heraldic banners streaming in the wind, the lush green gardens with fair blossoming trees, and the silver fountains flowing. And encircling and protecting all, majestic high peaks crowned with dazzling snow, cradling within them an emerald-green valley of waterfalls and flower-filled meadows, over which the great eagles watched.

His voice fell silent. The twins had fallen asleep.

Maeglin, lying in his lap, curled on her side with a cushion under her belly to support its weight, said quietly, “I still miss it sometimes.”

He was silent as he combed his fingers through her dark hair. Even after all these years, it would have sounded accusing to say, “So do I.”

“They must never know,” she said. “Never.”

His fair brow furrowed. He had been thinking about it as well. If there was any way they could ever tell their sons. Tell them their mother had once been a prince who unlawfully desired his cousin, betrayed a city, and cost the lives of a hundred thousand.

He could tell his sons about Vinyamar and his childhood by the sea. He could tell them all the glorious tales of Gondolin and his life there, and how he slew the mightiest of balrogs. But their mother’s story would have to begin on a rainy night near Imladris, when she woke up in dark woods, pursued by wargs.

He was angry how cruel history had been to Maeglin. If ever they went to Valinor, Glorfindel thought grimly, he was going to have a long talk with his old friend Pengolodh the loremaster and insist on a rewrite of some passages in the annals of the fall of Gondolin.

“I will tell them of the Lords of Gondolin,” said Glorfindel. “And how one of them was Lómion, the proud Lord of the Mole. I will tell them that he was fearless in battle, and the finest craftsman outside of the House of Fëanáro. I will tell them how he commanded the undying loyalty of his House and his warriors, and that his words were few but wise. I will tell them that he built the seventh and finest gate of Ondolindë.”

“And allied himself with Moringotto and destroyed the fairest city in Beleriand and died a villain’s death. There is no way of sugar-coating that part, my love.”

“I will tell them how tragic a life he had, to have suffered much so young, and been so little understood in a life so short. He did not choose whom he loved. He never had a real chance at happiness in life.”

“Do not be too kind to me. I made choices,” she said calmly. “I chose to dissuade Turukáno from obeying Ulmo, though I knew Tuor spoke true. I chose to go out that day into the mountains to find new ores, when Turukáno forbade all to leave the city. I chose that fork in the mountain paths that led to an orc ambush. They will need to hear all that too.”

She paused.

“And it is true. I broke in Angband. I sold my city for my cousin. My desires were dark, and used against me. I was Sauron’s puppet because I gave the strings into his hand. You cannot rewrite history for my sake.”

“I love you so much.”

There was such a note of intensity in his voice that she looked up at him in surprise. His eyes were dark blue with emotion, helpless and angry at the ineluctable facts of history.

“You have strange taste in lovers, Lord of the Golden Flower,” she said with a wry smile, then shifted restlessly. The weight of the twins made it uncomfortable to stay in one position for too long.

“I have been lucky in love, my Lord of the Mole.” He helped her to sit up and kissed her.

“Lucky? Ui, you poor, deluded soul,” she murmured and smiled, before carefully shifting her weight and lying again in his lap on her other side, burying her face against his tunic, and falling asleep.

Glorfindel gently arranged the cushion under her belly to support it, and gazed down at her with soft eyes as she slept in his lap.

A single tear trickled down his cheek. He brushed it angrily away.

That was a huge one! Hold on, love. We are almost there!”

Which was what he had said eight hours earlier.

“Will you just shut up with the commentary, Flower?”

So he massaged her back gently and softly hummed a lilting, soothing melody.

Then the next one hit…

Ai! This one is even bigger. You are doing marvellously, melimë. They are so much closer now. That’s it—give a good push—it should not be much longer—”

“Shut up. I warn you—I have never felt more like castrating you than I do now.”

“Sorry,” he said contritely. But he was smiling as he gently wiped her brow and kissed it.

And then came the next three in succession…

Good as gold, he kept silent through it all, let her crush his hand, and channelled the strength of his fëa into her to sustain her, as he had throughout the past few days. But finally, he could take it no longer.

Melmenya,” he said. “Please stop being such a proud prince, and just scream. You are unnerving the midwife with your silence. There is nothing wrong with screaming.”

“I have been in Angband. This is nothing.”

But when the next contraction hit her, her knuckles turned white and she clenched Glorfindel’s hand with a grip that would have fractured the bones of anyone less than the mighty warrior…

She panted and glowered ferociously at him as it tapered off.

“You balrog-slaying bastard. You did this to me.”

An eyebrow lifted ever so slightly. “Oh? I recall no protests from my lady as I ravished her.”

That earned him an expletive so colourful that Glorfindel glanced nervously at the Silvan midwife kneeling across from him on the platform of the flet. The green-eyed elleth was looking a little bored, for with Glorfindel there, she had so far had next to nothing to do. He was relieved to see from her bland countenance that she understood no Quenya.

And he saw, standing at the opening in the woven screens of the talan, the Lady Galadriel laughing quietly, greatly amused.

Maeglin gazed at their two sons lying asleep between them. “Well,” she said with a smile, “Absolutely no doubt as to paternity here.”

Gleaming on one tiny head was the rich, bright gold hair of Finarfin’s house.

The other shone with fine wisps of pale white-gold hair.

The first grey-eyed babe slept peacefully. His brother, restlessly pushing and kicking his tiny limbs against the swaddling, resenting restraint, had eyes of blue.

Finrod and Rílel’s bloodlines had asserted themselves. Galadriel and Celeborn gazed with radiant and soft faces upon the two infants, and smiled at each other as they remembered another time and another birth, thousands of years past.

Then all visitors and the midwife departed from the talan to give the new family some time to themselves. Glorfindel lay on his side, looking at the two tiny heads, his heart overflowing with love and joy.

He had, however, one disappointment. He had been hoping for one dark and one golden head. “The line of Nolofinwë needs another chance,” he said jokingly. “Let’s get started straight away.”

“Go ahead if you wish. I’ll be with you in a yén,” she said drowsily. She had been in intense labour for forty-one hours, and had been complimented by the midwife as most elven deliveries took over forty-eight.

The golden morning sun was now pouring in a warm gentle haze over their bed through a gap in the screens, even though it was midwinter.

“Names,” said Glorfindel to Maeglin. “This is Arinnáro,” he touched the cheek of Bright-gold Hair who was still asleep, his hair radiant as his father’s as it caught the morning light. “And this is Arman.” He held the tiny hand of White-gold Hair, who had managed to loosen the swaddling cloth and was now gurgling happily and punching the air with his tiny fists.

“Yes,” she murmured. “That suits.”

She held the other tiny fist and examined it, marvelling at the intricate workmanship of each finger and nail. Her eyes scrutinized the details of eyelashes, golden and dark, at the softness of velvet skin, and knew that nothing that had ever left her forges in Gondolin or Imladris could ever compare with this great work.

Mother-names could come much later, if at all, she thought, and yawned.

When the Galadhrin midwife next peeked into the talan, both parents and babies were fast asleep.


Orro (Q) – exclamation of dismay/disgust/horror

Alae (S) – behold/look there

Calan a dhû (S) – day and night

Anor ar Isil (S) – sun and moon

Maer (S) – good (here, with the meaning “nice/well done/splendid”)

Bain (S) – beautiful

Nae (S) – alas

Na manë (Q) – be good (imperative – behave yourself)

Melimë (Q) – darling/beloved

Ui (Q) – No / It is not so

Arinnáro (Q) – fire of the morning

Arman (Q) – ray of sunlight

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