Et In Arcadia Ego (5)
Gondolin was the nearest thing to the lands they had left behind that had ever been, and in that respect it was, indeed, what they had strove for. They had left Valinor for a kingdom where they could be free and here, in hidden mountains they had built a place of white stone where they could live and build. Under Rog, for the House of the Hammer of Wrath they had found a place that was happy, where they could craft the great things they had set out to craft when they had first learned of swords and shields and fine armor. It seemed, truly, as though the sins of the past had been forgotten here, there was no returning across the sea of course but there was some happiness here, more than some in fact.
Their house, cloistered on a fine little street, had numerous small rooms with little windows overlooking trees and white paving, and from one of those lovely windows a loud, pained groan issued.
“Alright, come now, nearly there. A few more big pushes!”
There was another groan, louder, and Runalm looked up from the little drafting table he was sat at toward the door, tapping the tip of his finger against the goblet nearby. The paper, for all of his efforts, was quite empty, and he got up again, holding his goblet, and began to pace. A tall elf in an apron stepped out of the door, closing it swiftly behind her, as she did so.
“Is there… Can I get anything? Maybe just look in for a second?” He asked, with great effort managing, at least in his mind, to sound almost casually flippant about the whole ordeal. To the unfortunate healer in the apron he sounded more like he was being strangled, but that was not very much the point.
“Now, now, everything is fine. Just sit back down, it will just be a few more minutes. She said the blankets were somewhere out here…?”
Seizing on the opportunity he snatched up a little pile of sky-blue blankets, holding them tightly in his free hand, the goblet still securely in the other. “What? These? I’ll just take them in for her. No need to worry.”
“Now, really, this is getting ridiculous. If you will just give me the blankets-”
“Absolutely! I’ll just hand them to you inside.”
“It will just be a few more-”
From inside the room there was a barely muffled bellow, “Just let him in! Let him in the damned room!”
Triumphant, Runalm dodged the well-meaning elf in the apron, squeezing his way into the room where his wife stood supported by two other elves, crouched slightly with heaving shoulders.
“Is that wine?”
“Bring it here.”
He pattered over and held the goblet under her mouth and for a brief moment it was like they were both wandering those green paths together, arm in arm and newly married, speaking abstractly of the wonders of the world beyond the sea. He smiled at her and time slowed to a crawl, long enough to breathe, and then the illusion was broken and the elf in the apron rushed in behind him and he was pushed away gently.
“Here comes the baby! One last push!”
The final part, the push and the rush, came faster than Runalm could follow, and before he knew it someone had taken the goblet he had held like a talisman against the darkness and in his arms, nestled in blue blankets his wife had spent hours making in the last few months, lay the smallest creature he’d ever held. Her face was wrinkled and mottled pink and when her eyes opened briefly he saw a glint of blue like the girl’s mother, and her wisps of hair clung silvery to her forehead. He brushed it aside briefly, walking almost blindly to the bed where Culdalangwen lay propped up by pillows.
“She’s perfect,” He whispered, nervous about raising his voice beside such a small creature, so new to the world. Culdalangwen leaned over slightly, so that they sat with shoulders touching, gazing at the life they had been gifted.
“What will you name her?” She asked, reaching out a hand to touch the girl’s soft cheek.
“It’s a perfect name.”
They drifted off, sitting in silence as sunlight poured through the windows and the sound of soft voices drifted in on the breeze.