As Above, So Below [1]

by raenarcam

The voices of Gondolin rose in a chorus, soft and delicate and gentle, to the very firmament. They seemed like a bridge over the seas, as though they might lead one to safety and out of the shadows of the mountains. As one voice of the choir fell away another rose to replace it, arrayed in the square the singers put their voices to the air and let them reach the stars and overwhelm the great fountains. If she closed her eyes Aelinuial could almost see the lands beyond the circle of the mountains, where the plains did not cease and the forests ran on for eternity. That was where she would go. They couldn’t keep her pent up here in this circle of stone, to become a smith and a warrior with nothing to fight against. Outside of these mountains was darkness, that she knew for certain, but unlike them she wouldn’t run from it. She wasn’t a fool.

She waved down at her younger brother, stood amidst the singers he looked positively absurd with his tall head of silvery hair. Like mother they all had it, shimmering pale, though he’d managed somehow to set gems among his hair. Her little brother Halgruith, the jeweler, who would someday rival Feanor she had no doubt but for now sang among the choir and tooled in his little workshop while their youngest brother ran around like a mad dervish. What Eliagor would do in the future was of no great certainty, but he seemed to have some fondness for following mother around the forge, clinging to her clothing until she sat him down at her drafting bench in the corner where he could not be any trouble.

From her balcony she had a better view of the square. Not that it was her balcony, in those precise words, but a few smiles in the right direction after a lesson in the forge and here she was. They never really appreciated her, mother or father, they treated her as though she had no idea of the world. But she knew all about it, she had heard all of the stories and the songs, she was quite certain what awaited outside. She applauded with the rest of the crowd when the music ceased, running down the stairs to meet her parents. There was her father, tall and narrow shouldered with his dark hair tied back, all dressed in black and grey, compared to her mother he was like a shadowed-thing, his smiles always so fleeting. Mother said he had always been like that, that even in the West he had been grave and serious.

Her mother was not, she wore gems all scattered in her silver hair and on her green dress and if her father was the night sky Aelinuial’s mother was a star, beaming as she waved her over through the crowd, her youngest brother with the silver hair held tightly in one arm. They all had Mother’s hair, Father said it was because he was destined to be outnumbered and overrun even in his own house. She was more like her mother, all fire and brightness, she had none of Father’s measure or calmness. He said she also lacked his thoughtfulness which she supposed was true, but she was young, and here to the east of the sea she was supposed to be free. What had they all fought for if not that?

“Take your brother a moment, won’t you? Halgruith!” Her mother spun nearly in a circle, handing off little Eliagor and hugging Halgruith. He balked slightly under the hug, looking sheepishly around.

Naneth, stop, please, this is mortifying.” He looked genuinely pained, his face where it peaked above her shoulder flashed with horror as he looked desperately toward his sister. She waved a bit, grinning, and Eliagor waved too, though his was a little less sarcastic by virtue of his toddler-hood.

“Mortifying? Hugging your mother is mortifying? Runalm do you hear him? Such a pretty voice saying such horrible things.” She began rocking back and forth while she held Halgruith in a vice-grip and Runalm gave a sigh quite audible above even the crowd.

“Really now, don’t embarrass the boy.”

Her mother let him go after another moment, shaking her head and looking pointedly at Aelinuial. “This is the reward I get for raising him! At least my little one still loves me. Darling little Eliagor will always love his mother won’t he?” She scooped the little boy out of Aelinuial’s arms while she began to laugh and Halgruith looked desperately to his father who just shrugged and shook his head.

“She won’t stop, believe me. She’s always been like this.” Halgruith inched over toward his father and safety from needless displays of emotions.

“Oh come on! We’ll go have dinner, at least you’ll all gush over that if not your own sweet mother!” Culdalangwen marched off and Aelinuial, stifling her laughter, followed along  down the wide streets. Whatever lay beyond the mountains would wait until after dinner at least, after cups of wine under the stars on their balcony, until Father had told them stories of the battles and Mother had sung them songs about the west and the trees and the lights. It would wait until she’d lain on the balcony all night and watched the stars. She had Mother’s fire, yes, but it hadn’t yet fanned to flame, just smoldering embers.