Translation of Elvish: Tarnin Austa - Gates of Summer. Mellynen - my friends. Mellon - my friend.
Chapter 35 - A Reason to Celebrate?
Now (1 F.A.)
"So tell me again why you're not looking forward to the festival. I mean, it's a festival! What's not to look forward to?" Kíli's eyes were like big brown saucers, and Fíli felt the urge to either pinch the bridge of his nose; or throw his brother over the terrace wall. He opted for the first option, surmising that certain members of his family might be somewhat cross with him if he murdered his sibling. Although...would he not be doing everyone a favour?
It was pretty clear, at least to him, why the two Balrog Slayers could not bring themselves to feel joy at the prospect of celebrating the festival of Tarnin Austa considering that it was during the celebrations of this particular festival that Gondolin was attacked and destroyed. However, to his dearest idiot of a brother, any celebration was reason for cheer. And maybe that was for the best as well, considering how quiet Kíli was at times. Unnaturally so. Then again, he had perked up recently, and Fíli wondered if that might be because of all the time he now spent with some of Turgon's elves, archers all of them. The blond didn't know what his brother got up to with them, and truthfully, he did not want to know either. All he cared about was that Kíli was beaming whenever he returned from the city of tents surrounding the great building site.
Fíli had thrown himself into the perusal of history tomes, which coincided just nicely with keeping an eye on Frodo and Ori. Thorin seemed to think that something had shifted between the two of them, but the blond could see no indication of that. They worked together amiably, but nothing more than that. Or maybe they thought he was watching them, and... Well, that would put a damper on things. He would have to discuss it with his three co-conspirators, that was for certain. Even though two of them seemed to be more interested in each other at the moment than in their little project. It was truly sickening to see Thorin act like a lovesick puppy at times, especially since Fíli had the sneaking suspicion that he was doing it on purpose. Just like he was talking about having tea more often than he'd ever had before. And every time he did, both he and Kíli cringed. And Bilbo, their sweet and loving hobbit, what was he doing? He giggled.
"...and I know Erestor will not let me out of his sight, fearing Balrogs around every corner." Fíli blinked as he realised that Glorfindel had been talking ... for some time by the looks of it. "But maybe it will not be as bad as we think. After all, nothing bad can happen now that we are in Valinor. And we know for a fact that the worst thing that could befall us here, simply will not. Thingol would not visit a place so close to a dwarven settlement." The Elda chuckled, but the blond dwarf could tell that the elf was still troubled. "Turgon's decision still surprises me. I do not believe he upheld the tradition of Tarnin Austa after his death and rebirth, did he?" Ecthelion shook his head, but would not turn from where he gazed out of the window. "Then why is he so intent on celebrating now?"
"Because he has finally regained that which he longed to see restored. Gondolin. The city he always wished Elenwë could have seen. Surely you remember; for he spoke of it oftentimes. He wants her to see the fair city in all its glory, and this festival was one of the most beautiful ones. Until that snake in the grass betrayed us..." The anger that was apparent in the Ñoldo's voice nearly made Fíli recoil. Never before had he heard Ecthelion use this tone, no matter what, or who, he spoke of. "Our queen thinks he deserves a second chance, but she did not know him. She does not know the darkness in his heart." He turned suddenly, blinking. "I ... I beg your pardon, mellynen. This is precisely why I do not wish to think of the festival. It reminds me of him and his misdeeds. Of Maeglin!" He spat the name as if it were a worm that had found its way onto his tongue.
Glorfindel cautiously approached his friend, the two dwarves clearly forgotten for the moment. "Maybe the Lady Elenwë is right, 'Thel. Maybe it is wrong of us all to hold on to the past in this manner. Maeglin died for his sins, and is atoning for them. Should he ever be given a new chance by the Valar, it will be because he has repented, has seen the error in his ways." Ecthelion laughed rather harshly at that. "I know you do not think it possible, but even that irritating Sinda was given a second chance. Not that he is making good use of it if you ask me."
"That is true. And while Thingol's sins were nothing like his, they are no less vile. Trading one's own daughter for a cold jewel..." Fíli had read about that. Lúthien Tinúviel who had chosen a mortal life after falling in love with Beren. Thingol had promised Beren the hand of his daughter if the human could procure one of the three Silmaril for him. "I do not understand why he is allowed to continue the way he does. Nothing but hatred, greed and envy fills his heart."
But Glorfindel shook his head. "If that were so, Melian would not still be by his side. There must be good within him, too, only we have not seen it." He placed his hand on Ecthelion's shoulder, pulling him into an embrace. "Erestor feared that the past might catch up with us now that our fair city is being rebuild, but I say we will not let it. Our anger and fear, they blind us and make us miss the beauty that is all around us." He turned to face the two dwarves then, "And it makes you frighten our poor little friends." That made Kíli stutter and Glorfindel giggled. "See, Kee cannot even form words anymore. Well done, 'Thel. Well done."
Kíli shook his head, his eyes sparkling with indignant rage. "I'm not a 'little friend' of yours. And I'm not frightened either. Don't forget, we died as well." He huffed and marched from the room then, and Fíli had to chuckle. His brother had begun to view his own death as a badge of honour of sorts, and more often than not did his elven friends ask him, nay, almost beg him to tell them about the Halls and meeting Aulë. Elves were, the blond had found, rather intrigued by the dwarves and curious to learn everything they could from his own kin. It also seemed that most of the Firstborn, with some glaring exceptions of course, truly began to embrace the new alliances with both the dwarves of Durin's Folk and the hobbits. Where before the three races had been divided and only having limited interactions, now there was a wholeness to Valinor that had not been there before.
Ecthelion smirked as well, and shrugged. "Whatever got into him seems to be rather good for him, you know... Maybe we should congratulate whoever it is that is getting into him on a job well done?" Eyes twinkling, the Lord of the Fountain winked at Glorfindel and then Fíli, and the young dwarf wanted to run and hide somewhere. He didn't want to hear nor think about anyone... Nope. Kíli was simply talking with the elven archers and practicing his bowmanship. That was all. "You know, Fin, I think it is Anorion. The dark-haired archer who keeps getting teased over his name. Not that it is very surprising. With that name, one would assume he was like you. You know, blond and so on."
"And so on? I do not know what you are talking about." And then Glorfindel stuck his tongue out at his old friend before pulling him closer and disturbing his hairstyle a bit. Which was something he could not easily do with his two dwarven friends, and there had been many complaints about Fíli and Kíli's braids already. Once he was done rearranging Ecthelion's long tresses, he stepped back with a grin, and nodded. "He is kind though, and unattached. Which is surprising given how very handsome he is."
"You know, if Erestor could hear you now, he would think you only married him for his looks. Shallow, mellonen. Very shallow indeed." The raven-haired Ñoldo managed to keep up his stern expression for all of five seconds before starting to giggle. "I am so very proud of you. Taught you well, I did," he chuckled, shaking so hard he was forced to sit down. "Do not trouble your pretty little head, Fin. Anorion will find his match. Eventually. Though I do not believe it is our dwarven friend. I think there is another destined to be with Kee." Ecthelion now glanced at Fíli once more, his eyes filled with genuine hope and love for his young dwarven friend. "And with Fee as well. You will see, Fíli. If Glorfindel and I found someone who will have us, and trust me, it was hard convincing Erestor... He was so very much in love with his silly books, it was a close call." He grinned again and Glorfindel huffed. "Anyway, if we found love, then it will be exceedingly easy for the two of you. Especially since I believe things have already been set in motion."
That made Fíli pause. "What do you mean?" But in lieu of answering Ecthelion simply smiled mysteriously and exchanged glances with Glorfindel. "Oh, alright then. You keep your secrets. Just don't forget ... they won't save you from the festival." It was almost enough to make him feel guilty, the way the two elves looked at him, dumbstruck. Almost. They had brought it upon themselves after all. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have matters to attend to." Chores. But even they were better than listening to the two elves make comments about his and Kíli's lovelife, whether in the present or the future did not matter. Make comments and then not go into details. Or go into details.
He shook his head to clear his mind and then stood, bowing to them both. "I shall see you later. I have to go meet with Master Baggins now. Uncle Bilbo had a few ideas and Kíli and I have been tasked with seeing them come to fruition. But unfortunately my brother has once again run off, so it's fallen to me..." In other words, Kíli was doing something far more important again. With Anorion. Oh no, he did not want to think about it. He would have nightmares. Maybe he should think of his uncles having tea. Surely that would be less disturbing than thinking of his brother and the elven archer. He all but ran from the room, kicking the door shut behind him. And nearly collided with Balin in his eagerness. The day could not get any worse now.
"Ah, Fíli. I have been looking for you and your brother. I understand you will be riding out to the hobbit settlement? To Dwarfing?" The hobbits should be shot for their way of naming things. Dwarfing. Really? Just because it was close to the dwarven mountain didn't mean... Thorin and Bilbo had many a discussion about it and Fíli knew the king would not soon drop the matter. It was silly. "...so be so kind and tell him, yes?" Oh? Oh darn. Balin had still been talking to him and the blond had no idea what his old tutor wanted him to do. "Here," the older dwarf held out a scroll, "I wrote all of it down. In case I ran into Kíli and not you. You know how he is. Daydreaming his time away and missing it completely when others are talking to him." Thank Aulë for that!
Fíli took the scroll and gave it a cursory glance. Ah. He was supposed to speak to Master Bungo. Good. "I will relay your message. Do not worry, Balin. I have to speak to him at Bilbo's behest anyway, so..."
"Good. The sooner we can start, the faster we will have solved our mead problems." Ah. So someone was drinking too much mead and now they had to find a way to replenish it before the festival. "I just wish the Skin-changer was here with his giant bees." Balin sighed. "Oh well, can't be helped. Though I promise you, if I find the culprit..." For once, Fíli was innocent. Well, sort of. He knew who the culprits were, but as it was all for a semi-good cause, he would not get his fellow mischief makers into trouble. Not when the elf at the receiving end of this particular prank was none other than Thingol, the Dwarf Hater. "Now, run along. I have your uncle to deal with now. The hobbit one. He is still trying to argue certain customs away and it is not getting him anywhere."
Fíli had an inkling of which custom Balin was speaking, and he had no interest in hearing any more about it. "Well, enjoy your little chat with Bilbo then, I'm off to see his father." And with that he walked away, fighting down the urge to run. It would not do, and Balin would begin to ask questions. No. Slowly. But before he rode off to Dwarfing, he would find his brother. It was not fair that only he was made to suffer.
"So no one suspects?" Balin shook his head. "And I was called a liar and a thief. I should have told Smaug to have a word with you instead." Bilbo snickered. "But Balin, it is not very nice to scar poor Fíli like this. To make him believe that I am harassing you about the abstinence bit. You make me appear needy. Though, maybe that will come in handy when the time comes..." The old dwarf grinned and nodded. "And I will be a bundle of nerves, you know this." Bilbo sank into his chair, head in hands. "I do not know if I can do it, Balin. It is true that I am learning; more and more every day. But..."
"If anyone can do it, laddy, it's you. But if you prefer to speak the words in Westron only, that is fine as well. It will be just as binding." Balin patted his shoulder, and Bilbo nodded. "I don't even know what Thorin intends to do. The ceremony itself is very much yours. Your vows, your words. All I will do is take your hands and place them together. That is all. Afterwards, Thorin might wish to place your crown on your head, but even that is not truly a necessity. The moment you are pronounced his husband, you are his consort as well, your word only second to that of the king. Though at times I believe folk will listen to you more than they do him." The old dwarf smiled then. "Just say what your heart tells you. It's always best that way I found."
Bilbo frowned at that. Balin? In love? It seemed a strange thing, but then again not surprising. The old dwarf had a warm heart and had always been there for Bilbo, from the very start. The hobbit could still remember the little wink Balin had bestowed upon him after welcoming him to the Company of Thorin Oakenshield. Warm, yes. That was one of the first words that sprang to his mind when thinking of Balin, Son of Fundin. Surely there had been someone drawn to that warmth... "Did you ... Was there someone? I am sorry if I'm overstepping, but ... where is she? Why is she not here, with you?"
The old dwarf chuckled wryly. "I've not been old and white-haired all my life, you know?" He pointed at his grey beard. "There was indeed someone who, for some reason, thought the world of me. And I did. I did tell him. Every day we were granted, I made sure he knew how he'd enriched my life." He sighed and sank down on one of the chairs by the fire. "He was kind and gentle and loving. And a fool. He was so young, and I his tutor. But he still managed to break down my better judgement and reasoning. It was hard, Bilbo, not to love him, or rather not to admit to myself that I did. His siblings knew, but not his elders. And when he died..." He shook his head then. "I do not know why he is not here. I never got to see him in the Halls. But Bilbo, I do not regret my choice. Even though I wish he had made the same..."
There were tears in Balin's eyes, and the hobbit squeezed his friend's shoulder. "I am sorry. But there is still hope, isn't there? He could still choose to join us."
But Balin shook his head, "I doubt it. Thorin ... you know how he felt about the elves, don't you? However, knowing that there was a chance to be with you again, even if it was small, it was enough motivation for him to endure the Firstborn. And he's made friends amongst them, even though he is probably still loathe to admit as much." He sighed, a sad smile on his face. "My One ... he died with even more hatred in his heart, knowing only the betrayal of King Thranduil and not the help of Lord Elrond. I do not think he would choose to live amongst elves, not even for me. Besides, he might not know what happened to me. Who knows what those in the Halls learn of life in Arda? But it matters not, Bilbo. I have my friends. I have family. And even though there is not a day that passes that I do not wish for him to be by my side again, I am happy. To see my king smile the way he does, it brings me joy. I've seen him through all his ups and downs, laddie, but never have I witnessed him as carefree as he is now. To have you by his side again..."
The hobbit nodded, "Still I wish you could be reunited. I cannot think of anyone who deserves it more than you." And he meant it. Fíli and Kíli ... they would find the ones they were destined to be with, of that Bilbo had no doubt. But Balin... Maybe it was time for him to talk to Thorin about it. Maybe his betrothed knew who Balin's beloved had been...
"Now let us see. What did you write so far... Ah yes. You may wish to go over the translation again..." Oh yes, his vows. He brought a footstool to Balin's chair, crouching next to the old dwarf and they began to work. Vows first, matchmaking after.