Translation of Elvish: Hervennen - My husband. Melethen - My love. Peredhel - Half-elven.
Chapter 27 - Of Letters and Plans
Now (1 F.A.)
Turgon sighed as he put down the letter. His temples were pounding and he longed to throw something at the nearest wall. He would not do such a thing, of course, but oh, how he wanted to. His eyes fell on the beautifully crafted lamp on his desk and he smiled. He had made the right choice, he knew. His kin no longer afforded the luxury of deeming themselves apart from the other races. They had caused as much harm as dwarves and men put together, if not more. They had slaughtered each other, and for what? Some stupid gems that should have been given to the Valar upon their request. Maybe the dwarves had been right to distrust them, especially after Thingol...
Everything somehow always came back to the Sindarin elf. And he had thought he would be granted a respite of peace after their last meeting. Oh, how he wished Fingon or their father had taken the crown... Or that Ingwë had not decreed that after thousands of years, he would pass on the title of High King of all Elves. Revered though he was, he longed for peace, especially after the Fall of Beleriand and the influx of elves of maybe a less than friendly nature. Had he been referring to Thingol when saying this? Not only to the golden-haired elf, of course, but maybe in part? There was that urge again, the urge to destroy something. Though not this wonderful lamp, no. He did not believe that Thorin would look kindly upon one of his guests destroying the furnishings of his rooms, even though it was the High King himself.
A storm was brewing outside and this had effectively put an end to any and all construction works. Of their new city, that was. Not within Erebor. Only a few chambers from his, elven stonemasons were busy carving leaves and vines out of cold stone, and woodworkers debated how to put elven touches to the dwarven furnishings. He had passed on both their offers, as had his wife. They both took delight in the strong lines and almost harsh angles of the dwarven designs, and he knew that Thorin, while pretending not to care, had secretly been very pleased. Turgon had to admit that he liked the dwarven king, more than he had ever thought it possible to like a dwarf. And his hobbit mate, well, Bilbo Baggins was truly of import, not only because he had been a Ring-bearer, no. He had changed Thorin for the better, and was in the process of doing so with everyone around him. And he did not even know it! Maybe he should ask the hobbit to have a word with Thingol. But no, he could not do that to the kind and joyous halfling.
Getting to his feet, he walked over to the balcony doors. It had started to rain and large drops of water fell on the slabs of marble and saturated the grass. His balcony, much like that of the royal couple, was more of a garden than something hewn from rock, even though that was exactly what it was. A lot of soil had been shifted to create the illusion of stepping into a small meadow. Spring flowers were already blooming, and Elenwë would sit among them many an hour, reading this or that book that she had found in the bowels of the great Library of Erebor. She had also taken to teaching Sindarin to those who wished to learn, enabling the dwarven scholars to share in elven knowledge. One of her first pupils had been Óin, the healer, and right now she was helping him translate one of Elrond's books on various ailments. Maybe one day, the dwarves would reciprocate and share their own tongue with the elves and teach them... But even if that never happened, Ori and Balin had granted them access to all their books, be they in Westron or indeed in that secret language of the dwarves. For there were some elves who did speak Khuzdul.
He sighed, turning back to his desk. The letter lay there, mocking him. It was filled with barely veiled insults and even a rather covert suggestion that maybe someone else would be a better leader of the Elves of Valinor, seeing that he had left the path of wisdom and sided with those who would steal from their kin and betray them to their deaths if they could. In other words, he had apparently sided with the dwarves and turned his back on the elves. It was funny really, considering how many elven lords had already sent missives saying how much they applauded him for his plans to move the capital city and to rebuild one of the jewels of Beleriand. Especially Finrod was beyond pleased and was already suggesting trade routes between Nargothrond and both Gondolin and Tirion. And of course the dwarven Kingdom of Erebor. Apparently Finrod had had enough of certain meddling Sindarin elves and had decided to invite the former kings of Durin's line, Thrór and Thráin, to dwell with him in the caverns they had helped shape. Thingol though did not know of this as yet, or else it would surely have been a part of his letter.
He simply wanted to burn it and forget all about it. But he knew he could not. He was High King after all. He would have to find a way to write a reply to Thingol that would not spark a war on Aman's soil. "It is him again, is it not, hervennen?" Elenwë had silently entered the chambers as was her wont and she was now gazing at him, concern in her deep blue eyes. There was a warmth about her that he had missed desperately in Gondolin, and not for the first time did he wonder if things would have turned out differently had she not perished during the crossing of the Helcaraxë. Maybe...maybe she would have seen signs of warning that must have been there. Or maybe she could have tempered Maeglin's emotions... "And now you are thinking of your city again. Stop. You cannot undo past mistakes. You can only seize this second chance that has been given to us all. To him as well."
She could be referring to Thingol, yes. Or to the Traitor. But the way she was glancing at the letter made him believe that she was, in fact, speaking of the Sinda. "You are right of course. But he makes it extremely hard to not consider a second kinslaying as a worthwhile option." She chuckled, smiling warmly. "What would you advise?" She raised a curved eyebrow, shrugging. He sighed. "I will reply, do not worry. I will remain civil and not respond to his accusations except by telling him that I am broadening our horizons, not betraying elven values."
"And you are not, you know this. On the contrary. Our kind is supposed to embrace the other races, not avoid them." Her eyes were sparkling with anger that only Thingol seemed to be able to evoke in her. "He is. His hatred of the dwarves is excessive. Not unfounded, I grant you, but very much exaggerated. He has brought his fate upon himself by seeking that which should have been returned to the Valar by Fëanor himself. The Silmaril were never ours to possess. They touch our hearts and fill them with greed, and even the most noble among us may fall. It is as if Fëanor's desire to keep them to himself has tainted them, and then Morgoth's touch has sullied them further. Maybe that is why Elu Thingol is the way he is. And the grief over losing his daughter..." She looked to him now, pleadingly, and he went to to embrace her and to hold her close. "I could not bear it if I lost our sweet Idril, and to know that Lúthien will never be by his side again...that he all but brought this fate upon himself..."
It was easy to forget that Thingol had been a father once, that he had woken to find his beloved Lúthien gone forever. But instead of finding solace with his wife, he had decided to chose a path of rage. Rage against everything and anything that he might not fully agree with, and mostly against Aulë and his Children. He would not dare voice his dislike of the Vala openly, but Turgon had no doubt regarding how the blond Sinda felt. How Melian found the strength to stay with Thingol, he knew not. "Elenwë?" Her eyes met his, anger fading from them as calm settled over her again. "I would never put a jewel over the lives of my family. You and Idril are the most precious beings in this world to me." She smiled at that. "And soon we will have Gondolin reborn, not secret and hidden though, but proud to call Erebor its neighbour." Elenwë nodded and kissed him gently, and soon he forgot all about letters and Thingol.
"Yikes!" A thick droplet of water had found its way under Kíli's hood and tunic, and was now rolling down his back. He was cold and wet and miserable. "How is this helping with Bilbo and Thorin's wedding anyway?" Maybe he had been asking this question a few too many times already, but really...there was no reason for Fíli to glare at him quite like this. "What?! I'm just asking." His brother simply huffed, pulling his own cloak closer. "Couldn't we at least wait until tomorrow? So we don't drown while walking around?"
"Do you want to explain to Balin that we kind of forgot to go and speak to Elrond about the wedding? Do you? Because I most certainly do not." Fíli gave him another glare and then trotted onwards to the elven tents further up the road. They could at least have taken a pony, Kíli mused. But for once he remained quiet, not wanting to annoy the other dwarf even further. It wasn't as if it was only his fault. Fíli had forgotten as well after all. Balin had given them a choice. Either speak to Master Erestor or Lord Elrond. Now Erestor was intimidating, but Elrond had healed Bilbo, so in a way he was something like family. At least that was how they had initially seen it when they had been asked to chose. Only after Balin was gone, they realised that Elrond was also the former Lord of Imladris, a great warrior and healer who would probably frown on them if they were foolish enough to ask his assistance. Especially now that he was overseeing the construction works.
So for days they had made up excuses to not speak with the peredhel. They had to keep an eye on their other project after all, especially after Bilbo had told them exactly what he had witnessed on numerous occasions now. The only problem was that both Frodo and Ori seemed to be utterly oblivious of both their own feelings and the other's as well. What was one to do? And then Fíli had the genius idea to ask Frodo about hobbit courting rites, right in front of Ori. The way the younger dwarf had blushed before scurrying off had been hilarious to say the least. Frodo had been very much forthcoming with information, clearly believing that it was all for Thorin and Bilbo's wedding. The fool! And Bilbo, who had accidentally come to the Library that very moment, had reported that Ori had been standing just around the corner and very much within earshot.
The plan for today had been that Bilbo leave a book on dwarven courting customs lying about somewhere for Frodo to find. After all, the future consort had every reason to study something like this, but with all the work he was doing and the wedding looming closer and closer, he was almost expected to be a little scatterbrained. But with Bilbo taking over for the day, there was nothing left for them to do but finally talk to the former Lord of Imladris. Who so happened to be in the overseer's tent near the construction site of the great elven city. Clearly there were things he could still see to despite the downpour that had put an end to all building works. "Couldn't he come back to the Mountain again instead of staying out here in the rain?" Kíli lamented again, brown eyes big and miserable as they caught Fíli's.
"He clearly has things to attend to, and all his paperwork will be out here, in the tent. Besides, you have seen Glorfindel and Ecthelion, haven't you? Peering over blueprints and the like. I am pretty sure Lord Elrond would do pretty much anything to avoid them." Fíli's face fell as he said that last bit, obviously thinking of the bets that had been placed. It seemed like none of them would win as Elrond had started avoiding the two Balrog Slayers instead of outright telling them to get lost. Not that he would use those exact words anyway, but he might say something to that effect. One more day, and Fíli would lose, and another for Bilbo to be out of pocket. He already was, and he was very much saddened by it. Their friends had truly let them down.
"Who will the money go to, do you think?" Fíli raised an eyebrow as if to ask where he'd left his brains that day. And then he remembered. Thorin! That traitor of an uncle had gone against them all by betting on Elrond to never kick out the two banes of his existence but to find an alternative that suited him. He had won the moment the tent had been set up. Burn him! "Well, I hope he will spend it wisely. On something for Bilbo. At least one of us will reap the fruits of this sad endeavor then." His brother shook his head, making watery pearls fly this and that way, and made a noise that seemed to be caught somewhere between a sigh and a giggle.
They were drawing near now, and the tent seemed to loom up ahead where it should have been a welcome sight in this atrocious weather. "Let me do the talking," Fíli whispered, and his brother was only too happy to nod. The two elves guarding the entrance of the tent bowed their heads to them, offering them towels to dry off at least somewhat. "We are here to speak to Lord Elrond if we may. We have something of great importance to discuss with him and could not wait for his return to the Mountain." Kíli was about to say something, for he begged to differ, but thought better of it. Fíli had said to keep quiet so he would. For now at least. They were led inside without any question; after all, they were the nephews of the dwarven king and deserved to be treated with respect.
Elrond himself was standing over a table filled with papers that looked more complicated than the blueprints for Erebor had been. Gondolin would be a masterpiece of elven craftsmanship, but, and that made Kíli smile, there were also dwarven influences visible. Guest houses that had surely been designed by dwarven architects would stand side by side with elven palaces, and he felt a rush of pride towards both his uncle and the High King Turgon. They had both come very far indeed. "You approve then, young Kíli?" Elrond's question pulled him out of his reverie and he blinked in startlement. "I know you can read these," he pointed at the scrolls, "so what do you think of them?"
Looking to his brother for permission to speak, he only received an eyeroll in reply. Very well then. "It will be magnificent. Just as beautiful as Erebor, only in a different way. And to see that both realms will be...well...displaying the designs of the other... I cannot wait to see it, to tell you the truth. I love the elven guest rooms in our Mountain. It almost feels as if one is outside with all the vines and leaves. It is a wonder to behold. Or so Bilbo says and I agree with him." He averted his gaze and blushed. "Gondolin will be wonderful and I cannot wait to see the markets and maybe stay at an inn and challenge more elves to a drinking game and..."
"...and I think that is quite enough," Fíli laughed. "Forgive my brother's rambling. I think it's an aftereffect of dying and being dropped on his head as a child. There is no telling which was worse for his mental faculties." Kíli just glared. It wasn't his fault that both Thorin and Fíli had been inattentive so very often, and he had a tendency of falling onto his head. If anything they should be glad he had turned out as well as he had. Elrond smiled at him before turning to Fíli with a frown. Apparently the elven lord didn't think there was anything wrong with his enthusiasm and exuberance.
"Your brother is right in his assumptions though, Master Fíli. Gondolin will be a jewel, both of elven and dwarven craft. With a bit of hobbit architecture thrown in for good measure. Bilbo and Frodo were kind enough to make drawings for me, and the good people of New Delving are sending woodworkers and stonemasons once they have finished preparing the fields." Now that Elrond had mentioned it, Kíli could see the holes for windows and doors in various hills within the walls of the city. Though he was wondering how the hobbits would like the moat. After all, halflings weren't too keen on water. Which was an understatement. "So what may I do for you? It must be important indeed for you to brave the storm raging outside."
Fíli nodded and began explaining. "Well, you know that Lord Balin is organising the wedding and bonding of our uncles. But he wishes all of Bilbo's friends to partake in the celebration. And as you are one of them..." The peredhel smiled and nodded. And that was it. Soon they were sitting together by the brazier, warming their hands on mugs of mead, discussing the feast and listening to tales of Bilbo's years at the Last Homely House. Both dwarves reached for each other's hands as it became more and more apparent just how much Bilbo had missed Thorin, how much he had grieved. For them as well. And they vowed, silently, with just one look at each other, that the wedding would be everything that had been missing from their hobbit's life for so long. It would be warm and sunny, and happy and fun; a celebration of the love that every one of their people could see so plainly written across both Bilbo's and Thorin's face whenever they were together. It would be a spectacle to be remembered forever.