Always Been There
Chapter Seventeen

First Age c.345

Gondolin

 

With tear-filled eyes Turgon moved to Maeglin, who stood stony-faced at his mother’s bedside.

 

“I am so sorry, my son,” Turgon whispered, placing an arm about the younger Elf’s shoulder.

 

But Maeglin flung off the King’s arm and took a stumbling step away from his uncle. “I am not your son,” he hissed.

 

Erestor watched as Idril approached her cousin and spoke quietly to him. Whatever she said seemed to comfort the younger Elf.

 

Maeglin turned and looked at Erestor, the sounds of weeping filling the room. “Will you show me to my rooms?” he asked, not once looking back at his mother’s body.

 

Erestor glanced at his King, and receiving his nod, led the younger Elf from the room, leaving behind the mournful cries of death.

 

There had been such joy in the Hidden City with the return of Ar-Feiniel, but the celebrations had so quickly turned to tragedy with the arrival of Eöl and his poisonous spear. Erestor could not help but feel for the young one; Maeglin had lost both father and mother all in the same day and was now charged to remain forever more in a strange city with Elves he did not know.

 

Turgon had been impressed with Maeglin. The young Elf had the look of a Noldorin Prince, and despite his Adar’s poisonous words, had held himself erect and proudly. But Maeglin was young still, and Erestor could see the hint of youth in the grief-stricken face now.

 

Maeglin stood in the center of the rooms provided for his use, looking lost and so unsure that Erestor found himself offering what words of comfort he could. “It may not seem like it now, but you do have family here that cares for you. My Lord Turgon is a great and compassionate ruler. He is fiercely loyal to his kin, of which you are a part of, and my Lady Idril has the kindest heart of any. You will be most welcome here.”

 

Erestor hoped his words brought Maeglin some comfort, but the younger Elf did not answer him, only continued to look about his quarters. “If you require anything else, my name is Erestor.” At Maeglin’s nod, Erestor backed out of the room, closing the door softly behind him. He paused for a moment and then he heard it - the barely audible sounds of weeping. So the young one is grieving, Erestor thought. Erestor had hoped Maeglin would let his grief out; it did him no good to force it away. This Erestor knew all too well to be true.

 

Having his sister’s flesh and blood near seemed to help ease Turgon’s grief. Many in the city began to look favorably upon the King’s nephew, for Maeglin had an eagerness and love for learning that reminded many of great Noldor from the past. They saw in him great likeness to those they missed from the Blessed Realm or those lost on Middle-earth’s great shores. Turgon had asked Erestor to look after Maeglin, to make him comfortable in Gondolin, and the King told Maeglin that if anyone could help him learn all he required, it was Erestor. Erestor did not join Maeglin’s House, but he did advise and guide the young Elf through any stately duties the King asked of Maeglin. So it came that Erestor was more Maeglin’s advisor than Turgon’s, and Erestor began to learn more about the younger Elf.

 

It was on an excursion through the mine of Anghabar in the north of the Echoriath that Erestor learned that Maeglin had much to offer them in Gondolin. The prized iron of Anghabar Maeglin sought and used to create stronger and more keenly the arms of the Gondolindrim. Erestor introduced the young Elf to the master craftsmen and metal workers in the Kingdom, and Maeglin began surrounding himself with those interested in such things.

 

Over time, Maeglin’s counsel came to be valued by his uncle, his advice often hardy and wary, yet for all his successes and great fortunes, Erestor sensed a great grief in the young Elf. His Lord never did share his heart with anyone, Erestor knew, and it saddened him, because as time went on Erestor could see that ache began to eat away at Maeglin’s heart.

 

*~*

c.445 F.A.

 

 

Erestor could hear the King’s and Lord Maeglin’s laughter as he approached the royal chambers. Knocking on the door, he was bid welcome, and opened it to find both Turgon and Maeglin sprawled out with full goblets of spirits in their hands.

 

“You sent for me, Sire?” Erestor asked, bowing briefly to Maeglin before returning his attention to Turgon.

 

“Yes! We are celebrating, Erestor, and I want you to plan a grand feast this evening for the occasion,” Turgon said.

 

“What are we celebrating, my Lord?” Erestor inquired, his mind already preoccupied with all that he would have to accomplish if his King wanted a feast tonight.

 

“My friends, the little birds have told me I am an uncle! Fingon has had a son, whom he has named Ereinion.” Turgon toasted Maeglin once more, and Erestor realized that his King was drunk.

 

He hid his grin and saw an answering amusement in Maeglin’s eyes. “That is indeed joyous news, my Lord. I will see to the celebration forthwith.” Erestor bowed and left the Lords to their drinking, wondering if they would even be awake when it came time to feast?

 

Erestor sent notices to each of the Twelve Houses of Gondolin, receiving back acceptance for the evening’s feast. Of course none would say nay when the King summoned. Of late, there had not been much to celebrate, so this evening was looked forward to by all the Houses. Erestor oversaw much of the evening’s plans. For the King’s table, Erestor chose the King’s colors; white, gold, and red. Arranged around the table would sit the head of each House - the House of the White Wing to the right, and the House of the Mole, Maeglin’s House, to the King’s left.

 

Entertainment would be provided by Ecthelion’s House; and next to Ecthelion would sit Glorfindel. Come to think on it, Erestor realized that he had not seen much contact between the pair; not since that day. Erestor shook his head, banishing those memories. Enough hurt had resulted from that folly, and he had no wish to relive it yet again. Salgant, Lord of the House of the Harp, of course would be seated next to Maeglin. Erestor often thought Salgant’s fawning of Maeglin sickening, but Maeglin counted the Harp among his friends.

 

The tables set, seating assigned, and the entertainment planned, Erestor left the menu to Turgon’s favorite chef. For the spirits, Erestor chose a light wine; his King had partaken of enough liquor that day. As he was telling a servant what vintage to bring forth, Ecthelion entered the hall, and for a moment, Erestor faltered. Finishing his orders quickly and sending the servant on his way, Erestor faced Ecthelion with trepidation.

 

“My Lord,” he greeted Ecthelion politely, face carefully blank. Erestor could not help but feel cautious; contact between Ecthelion and he had been limited to courteous nods.

 

“Erestor,” Ecthelion greeted him, his tone just as careful. “I received the request for music for this evening and the invitation to a feast, and I was hoping perhaps you could give me some hints as to the cause.”

 

“Cause, my Lord?” Erestor shook his head, not fully grasping Ecthelion’s question, and he fought not to flush when Ecthelion frowned.

 

“Yes, Erestor, I will need some idea of the nature of the celebration if I am to provide appropriate music.” Ecthelion could not prevent his frown or the harshness of his tone; it was not the norm for Erestor to be dense.

 

Erestor offered a small, self-conscious smile. “I am sorry, Ecthelion, the King just announced this celebration a short time ago and I have been quite frazzled making sure all is ready.”

 

Ecthelion found himself returning Erestor’s smile, unable to help himself. He had missed the other Elf, his gentle smile and generous nature. Ecthelion gentled his tone. “Tis all right, Erestor, I am sorry to add to your duties.”

 

Erestor smiled gratefully. “The King received word that Lord Fingon has been blessed with a son. He wishes the court to celebrate his brother’s good fortune.”

 

“Well, that is joyous news indeed! Thank you, Erestor. That will help with tonight’s selections.” Ecthelion said no more, and as the uncomfortable silence built between them, the pair stood frozen, smiles still plastered upon their faces.

 

Finally, Erestor cleared his throat, breaking the spell. “Well, I have to finish the menu for this eve. I will see you at the feast?” he inquired of Ecthelion, already moving away.

 

Ecthelion nodded eagerly, glad Erestor had broken the ill silence between them. “Yes, and perhaps we can share a toast to Lord Fingon’s good fortune?” Ecthelion waited until he received Erestor’s nod and smile of agreement before departing the hall.

 

*~*

That evening, despite Erestor’s earlier concerns, the King did manage to make it to the feast, tipsy, and in very good cheer. At least, Erestor thought, Turgon had not passed out before the meal was even served. The Lords and Ladies of Gondolin seemed to welcome the opportunity to celebrate, and the return of good tidings was met with toast after toast. After the feast, the tables were cleared and the flutes of Ecthelion’s House set a merry tune, with the King’s musicians joining in, and soon dancing Elves whirled about the hall.

 

Erestor stood partially hidden by a stone pillar, watching as the King twirled his daughter about the room. Idril was giggling at something her father was saying, and it warmed Erestor’s heart to see the pair so joyous once again. His eyes roamed about the room, settling on one who also had his gaze trained on the royal pair. But in Maeglin’s eyes, Erestor saw something that caused a great deal of unease to settle within him. Before he could give the matter more thought, he was interrupted when Ecthelion offered him a filled goblet.

 

At Erestor’s inquiring look, Ecthelion offered, “The finest my House has to offer.” Erestor smiled gratefully and took the drink.

 

“I have missed your brew, Ecthelion,” he said. Feeling brave, he added, “And you, my friend,” and smiled when Ecthelion smiled gently back at him, the first overture made and accepted.

 

“A toast then,” Ecthelion said, goblet lifted high. “To Lord Fingon and the birth of his heir, and to old friends who are irreplaceable.” They clicked glasses and both eagerly drank, hoping that perhaps this first step could bring them back together in friendship.

 

Ecthelion leaned one broad shoulder next to Erestor’s against the pillar. “What had such a frown on your face when I arrived?” he asked, and without realizing it, Erestor’s gaze returned to Maeglin.

 

They watched in silence as Maeglin asked his cousin to dance, and Idril could not hide her unease as she accepted reluctantly. The pair did make a striking contrast, with Maeglin’s Noldor darkness and Idril’s golden Vanyar beauty. But by dances end, Maeglin did not look happy, while Idril looked overjoyed to be returned to her father’s side.

 

Ecthelion glanced at Erestor’s face. “Think you Turgon knows of his interest?” he asked, not wanting to say more, for there were without a doubt all too eager ears near them.

 

Erestor sighed unhappily. “Oh yes, he knows and has made his position all too clear to Maeglin. I was there when one of the first laws Maeglin was taught was that the Eldar wedded not with kin so near.” Erestor turned his head to meet Ecthelion’s gaze. “But I feel that the warning did no good, or perhaps came a little too late.” Erestor’s gaze returned to the Elf under discussion, and in his stomach a sense of dread formed.

 

Erestor remained in his current position even after Ecthelion wandered off. He kept a careful eye on the drink, sending servants for more when it appeared they were getting low. Surveying the gathering, he congratulated himself on a job well done. Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time, and there promised to be many a sore head come morning. Erestor let a soft smile steal across his usually impassive face as he watched Glorfindel approach Ecthelion with a bottle in hand. The pair spoke, and then Ecthelion reached out and clasped the other Lord on the shoulder, and Erestor’s heart felt lighter. All was well between them, it seemed.

 

Erestor stayed only long enough to take one more inventory of the drink, then with music and laughter softly trailing behind him, he took a turn in the gardens before retiring. His head would be the only clear one in the morning.

 

 

TBC...

 

To be continued...