Idril wrapped her coat tighter around herself as she crossed the main courtyard. Her father’s obsession with security had allowed cracks to form among the people that had followed him from the lands where they had been born, both from the shores of Nevrast and from further. Aredhel, her aunt, chafed at the isolation, separating her from Kin that she sorely missed and from the freedom she had left Tirion to find. Others, like Ecthelion, prized their isolation and confinement from the world outside.
She could not remember Araman well and her mother’s memory had faded into no more than a sense of warmth and comfort, a soft voice that could still nightmares and put a smile on her father’s face. He rarely smiled these days and the increasing arguments with his sister grew in strength and volume. On nights like this, when the winter kept them inside the city walls, their fights grew never-ending.
The raised voices grated on her nerves and vicious attacks made the air in her father’s house heavy and hard to breathe. Seeking some peace she had left them to their insults and shouting, fleeing to find cover and company in her uncle’s house. He too chafed in this voluntary imprisonment but silently, his shoulders hunching over a bit more every day. She wondered sometimes how neither her father nor Ecthelion could sense his suffering.
Finally she reached the tall doorway, crowned with the symbol of the golden flower. A small smile teased the corners of her lips, her father had suggested a white rose as the symbol of the newly formed House of Glorfindel but she had objected, pleading to let her choose the name instead and he had consented. The small golden flowers grew wild along the streams and suited her uncle far better than a white rose. Knocking on the door she waited, shivering in the icy breeze.
Ecthelion laughed as he spun, his sword meeting Egalmoth’s with a loud clang. The winter night had been lit by torches, lining the training grounds by the middle gate. The snow and ice helped to hide the hidden path to Gondolin and so the watches during the dark months were a joy of training and camaraderie. He enjoyed his time at the gates, the sense of safety that he could bring to the people of the city and he loved shaping the armies of Gondolin into a perfection that equalled that of the city itself.
Swirling, spinning, turning he moved until his sword came to rest against his opponent’s side. Bowing their heads they stepped away from the sparring, Eglamoth conceding defeat. Ecthelion was still grinning by the time he reached the wineskin that Rog held out towards him.
"How is Glorfindel adapting to his new house?" Egalmoth asked as he reached for the heavy fur he had hung over the fence.
Ecthelion smiled. "Very well, I think he will make a wonderful fighter one day, once he comes to terms with his new duties. He was not born a Lord and the idea of leading men into battle is still somewhat alien to him."
Elemmakil watched Ecthelion thoughtfully. "He almost seemed more a scholar to me than a warrior."
Shrugging Ecthelion answered. "He is as courageous as any; his attention simply needed redirected to an area where his shrewd mind could actually be of some use."
Rog snorted at him, "There is more to life that is useful than the life of a warrior."
"True," he conceded. "But if I had wanted a wife I would have courted a lady."
Egalmoth burst into laughter, raucous mirth ringing in the winter night.
The wind grew slightly stronger and Ecthelion shivered, picking up his own fur coat. At least the chill was less bitter here than by the damnable sea they had left behind. Looking out over the valley of Tumladen he smiled to himself, this was a place of perfection and if he was ever called to die for such beauty he would.
Idril held her hands out towards the fire, trying to thaw frozen fingers. Her uncle’s reception room was large and imposing with its marble statues, dark dreary looking portrait of people she could not imagine as family and the gilded friezes and the embellished ceiling. It was a formal room, suited for gentlemen in court robes and the long flowing gowns of the ladies, not, she thought, for her quiet uncle.
The door behind her opened the sound of worn slippers sliding over the marble floor made her smile.
Glorfindel crossed the room, wrapping a heavy blanket he had gathered on the way around her shoulders. "I am afraid I have no slippers your size," he said tenderly. "but I found a pair of knitted socks if you do not mind the size.."
Idril laughed as she turned around, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "I am not that frozen, uncle, but knitted socks sounds lovely."
Glorfindel smiled a bit and held out a pair of thick, grey socks. "You really should start wearing shoes at least in winter," he admonished gently.
She shook her head as she sat down on one of the uncomfortable armchairs, pulling the thick wool to cover her small white feet. "I will not wear shoes again, after wearing shoes that ate my feet raw under the crossing I will rather freeze my toes off than put on such torture instruments again." She scrunched her nose as she looked up at him. "Father and Aredhel are fighting again."
He sat down beside her. "I am sorry," he said quietly. "Not all has grown to love our seperation from the world."
Idril glanced at him and nodded. "I know that. Aredhel misses the world but so do you, but you do not have shouting matches with my father."
He smiled softly. "Not all of us has the temper of Finwe’s house," he reached out and caressed her hair. "What I have is here now, you, your father, Ecthelion, I have no reason for wanting to be anywhere else."
Idril snorted slightly. "Father and Ecthelion are trying to change you into one of us, another Noldo with a love for fighting and security and unhealthy relationship to shiny things. This," she paused to gesture," the room, the house, the city is Ecthelion’s and father’s jewel and they seem to forget a life that is not centred around their beloved marble and mortar."
"It makes them happy," he replied simply.
"Yes," she agreed. "It does… and it makes others unhappy. I miss Vinyamar," she confessed quietly. "I find myself drawn towards the memory of the sea and I ache of longing. My fate lies there, not in this hidden mausoleum."
Glorfindel wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "I miss it as well," he confessed. "But our happiness there was at the cost of others as well. We stay for them."
"It is not fair," she said quietly.
"No," he agreed. "It is not fair, but we do it for love."
Idril curled up beside him, enjoying the silence of his halls as she looked towards the window. Outside the snow was whirling in the wind, building thicker walls around the city. They would be trapped here until the spring, the mountain pass buried under snow and ice and while they waited for spring the cracks would widen, over and over until, in a few years the society would crumble like the walls of Vinyamar.