Standard disclaimer: All the characters, locations, some quotes, and the initial conception of this world belong to J.R.R. Tolkien, whether it be from Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, or The History of Middle-earth Volumes I-XII. This disclaimer applies to all subsequent chapters of this fic. .

Note: This is a belated birthday fic for Joan Milligan (Sept. 24). She made several requests, but the one I took up is the fluff for Tuor and Idril. No surprise. I love the Gondolindrim.

The Twilight of Gondolin

In the City of Seven Names, even the changing of the guards required a ceremony. This was necessary for two reasons. The first, no single House could be expected to remain as guards of the Hidden Kingdom without eventually requiring rest. The safekeeping of Gondolin was of utmost importance, especially after the Dagor Nirnaeth, and such a thing was stressful to any individual assigned as even a mere sentry. The second, because there had to be no question and no doubts at all that the City was always guarded. The changing of the guards between the Houses of the Gondolindrim became known as Tirlómë, which means "Twilight of the Guards," and it was named such because, at that time, Gondolin was guarded by two Houses for a brief time and that was likened to the twilight that had been in Tirion, when there was blending of the Light of the Two Trees. The Tirlome occurred unbeknownst to most of the Hidden City and involved only three Houses: that which was ending its guardianship of Gondolin, that which was beginning its guardianship, and the House of the King. Of course, the King of Gondolin was not expected to attend the Tirlome, for there was much else that required his attention, but the King's presence was always present in the form of his Captain of the Guard, Elentirmo, who would have been considered Lord of the Royal House if the House was other than that of the King's.

On the morning of the spring equinox, Galdor of the Tree came forth with Elentirmo of the House of the King and a host of the people of the Tree. Galdor and Ecthelion exchanged formal greetings. Then, together, they went to the First Gate, the Gate of Wood, where Elemmakil of the Fountain bowed to Ecthelion and begged leave to relinquish his post to Legolas of the Tree. Ecthelion accepted his resignation and relieved Elemmakil as Captain of the Guard and dismissed those sentries working for Elemmakil. Elemmakil then surrendered the Lamp of the First Gate, a Feanorian Lamp of clear blue light, to Legolas. Elentirmo, Galdor, and Ecthelion then proceeded to the next Gate with the people of the Tree and repeated the ceremony until, at the Last Gate, the Seventh Gate of Steel, Ecthelion himself begged of the Royal House resignation from his post, and Elentirmo, on behalf of the King, granted him such a right, passing the Lamp of the Last Gate to Galdor. The three bowed to each other once more and concluded the ceremony with words of good fortune. Thereafter, it would be Galdor's duty, as Lord of the Tree and Warden of the Seventh Gate, to ensure the safety of Gondolin and its thousands of inhabitants. Ecthelion breathed a sigh of relief and felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted from his shoulders.

Ecthelion had scarcely been free of his great duties for more than a moment when the Lord of the Golden Flower greeted him with a merry smile and a simple melody from his golden harp. "Gondolin rejoices at the return of Ecthelion of the fair voice to its merrymaking. Even the day seemed like night without the most beloved Elf of Gondolin!"

Ecthelion greeted his golden friend with a hug and a kiss on either cheek. "We will be saying the same of you in two year's time, when the House of Golden Flower are made Guardians of Gondolin and you are at last released from your duty." He shook his head. "Most beloved, indeed. Who is to say? If I were to choose, I would choose Lord Glorfindel."

"Aye, because you are modest beyond reason," Glorfindel teased. "Come now, you are at last unburdened of the great task. What do you wish to do now? Name it, and I will come with you."

"Ah, the Lord of Golden Flower is most kind. It is no wonder that he is so beloved in Gondolin," said Ecthelion. That earned him a playful jab in the side, and though he was armored and would not feel it, Ecthelion dodged from Glorfindel's attack. "I thought to visit our newcomer, Tuor, son of Huor, for his house is close to mine in the southern city."

Glorfindel shook his head. "And yet apart, for he likes not the close neighborhood of other dwellings. Tuor is like a rose bud that refuses to open its petals." Tuor was hardly a newcomer. He had been in Gondolin for almost a year now and had the confidence of the King, but what Glorfindel said held some truth. He associated with few others.

"He has opened to my person, Voronwe Ciryacano the Ship Captain, and that is enough," Ecthelion said. "The rose has opened, but not all are allowed to see it in full bloom."

Glorfindel put an arm around Ecthelion's shoulders. "Well, then, Lord of the Fountain, let me accompany you to the rose's abode, and perhaps I too will be allowed to see this rare flower in bloom. He speaks rarely to any, and I sometimes think that our King erred in building for him a house so far from others."

Ecthelion began to lead the way even as he defended Tuor and the King. "Nay, though I loathe the compare him to a wild animal, he is indeed wild and used to the free airs, and much care is required if we are to acclimate him to the lifestyle of Gondolin."

"What better way to tame a wild beast than with sweet music?" Glorfindel ran his fingers along the strings of his harp to produce a lovely lullaby. "Thus it is explained why he chose to dwell by the south wall, where he could be near to those most deeply skilled in music."

"You are also most skilled, Lord of the Golden Flower. You need not flatter the people of the Fountain," Ecthelion said.

"Flatter? I merely speak the truth!" Glorfindel laughed merrily, and it was a wonder to Ecthelion that his friend could be so joyful despite all that had happened since the Nirnaeth Arnoediand. Still, like Glorfindel, Ecthelion too was a Lord of Gondolin, the pride of the people, and it was well nigh one of their jobs to be cheerful so that others would not despair. But outside of the Echoriath, Ecthelion knew that the world despaired under Morgoth's subjugation. Even the Lord of the Fountain found it difficult to maintain a pretense of merriment with such grave wisdom. "Such a serious face." Glorfindel cocked his head to the side and looked at Ecthelion sideways as they walked. "What is on your mind now, Lord of the fair voice?"

Ecthelion reminded himself once more that many eyes were upon them as they strolled through Gondolin, that the happiness of the innocent was thus because the Elf-lords maintained the innocence. It was a difficult task, and Ecthelion had come to wonder if he and the other Elf-lords now aided a very similar imprisonment to that described by Feanor with regards to Aman. The "gilded cage" had Feanor called Aman, and he had likened the happiness of the Blessed Realm to the "bliss of ignorance." Was it true? For here in Gondolin, though the Dagor Nirnaeth was known to all, few knew of the fullness of the sorrow that lay beyond the Encircling Mountains. However, such matters were the choice of the King, not of a mere Lord, and so Ecthelion smiled at the inquisitive Glorfindel.

"I thought, dear Glorfindel, that it a shame you were not set for this next watch rather than Lord Galdor of the Tree," said Ecthelion. "Though your company is also most welcomed, the Lord of the Tree shares the same name as that of Tuor's grandfather, Galdor, son of Halmir and father of Hurin and Huor. Perhaps Tuor would be more comfortable around he than you."

"You wound me, Lord of the Fountain!" Glorfindel said indignantly. "How can any prefer a tree to a flower? Surely all know the flower to be the lovelier of the two."

"Loveliness does not always win the heart of one who has too long been without beauty or hope," said Ecthelion.

"We shall see about that!" Glorfindel exclaimed. "Yay, and now you have strengthened my resolve to win the friendship of the son of Huor. Let us see if he can withstand the charm of the Golden Flower." At that, Ecthelion burst out in laughter, real laughter, not just the chuckles of conversation, and he felt the sun warming his face of tears of joy and glistening on his silver hair, and it seemed to him that the shadow that held him as Warden of the Seventh Gate was passing.

"My beloved Glorfindel, what would I do without you?" Ecthelion said when he could at last speak again. His sides still hurt from the bout of fresh laughter.

"You would visit Tuor, son of Huor, I believe," Glorfindel said.

"Of course, of course." Ecthelion smiled lightly. His friend's manner was just what was needed after a year as Chief Warden of the Gates of Gondolin. Though they had seen each other during that time, it had not been the same.

They continued to Tuor's house, just south of the dwellings of the people of the Fountain. Ecthelion often invited Tuor to his house, and so it had been some time since he'd last seen Tuor's house. The place was now decorated with marble statues of Tuor's making. Tuor greeted them both gravely and invited them into his humble abode. The walls were adorn with paintings of the Sea and the seven great swans flying south that he'd seen at Nevrast, a sign that had led him to Vinyamar. Also, there were tapestries of Cirith Ninniach, the Rainbow Cleft, and of Gondolin upon Tumladen. Tuor had learned many skills of the Elves, from the hewing of stone to the craft of weaving and spinning. His eagerness to pursue all knowledge had led him to be as greatly favored to King Turgon as Huor and Hurin before him. However, such knowledge could not hide his youthfulness, and both Ecthelion and Glorfindel noticed that his eyes remained averted from the Lord of Golden Flower yet also stole glances at that fair lord.

"Do you have issue with me, Lord Tuor, guest of King Turgon?" Glorfindel said at last. He did not sound annoyed in the least, only curious. "I could not help but to notice that, though you continue to hold conversation with me, your eyes avoid my person." He tactfully did not add mention of Tuor's occasional straying gaze. Tuor's cheeks colored slightly.

When he did not answer immediately, Ecthelion spoke. "Lord Glorfindel, do refrain from such forward questions. The ways of Men are not the same as the ways of Elves."

"And what ways may you be referring to, most beloved Ecthelion?" Glorfindel asked with a twinkle in his eyes. Ecthelion felt his own cheeks flush.

"I would not know," Tuor said, his words sudden and stinted, unlike the eloquence that seized him when the Lord of the Waters used him as a mouthpiece. "I do not know much about the ways of Men. I was taken to foster by Annael of the Grey-elves until I was sixteen and learned the ways of the Elves of Mithrim."

"So they taught you their ways of loving between men as well?" Glorfindel asked. He leaned forward, a slight smile illuminated by the quick raise of his eyebrows.

"Anar!" Ecthelion whacked Glorfindel hard in the arm. Glorfindel gave Ecthelion a wounded look and leaned back in his chair.

However, Tuor took their jesting very seriously. "I only know of the love and brotherhood between men," he said. "There was only one woman among us, my own mother Rian, wife of Huor. And when I was held in thralldom by Lorgan, chief of the Easterlings of Hithlum, I saw only the women of the Easterlings, and they are like their men, beasts and fell servants of Morgoth. So much is different in Gondolin..." His voice trailed off, and his eyes stared unseeing at the table. After a moment, Ecthelion realized that Glorfindel's golden hair was being reflected in the smooth tabletop.

"The Lady Idril Celebrindal must be a welcomed change then, for she is as beautiful as she is kind and gentle yet strong and proud, as are all the descendants of Finwe. She is the very model of womanhood," Glorfindel said. Ecthelion groaned. Apparently Glorfindel had made the same connection as he but had chosen to speak of it more openly. Tuor blushed slightly but said nothing. "We could arrange a private meeting."

"Lord Glorfindel, she is the King's daughter, not a noblewoman to be aided by your plotting," Ecthelion said as sternly as he could to his friend, but he knew that even such a tone would not deter the Lord of the Golden Flower.

"And why not?" Glorfindel said. "Idril is indeed the Princess of Gondolin, but she is also a woman. It seems to me unfair that she should be placed on an unreachable pedestal if her heart desires otherwise. I did not say that I would trick her into marrying Tuor, son of Huor. I merely wish to arrange their meeting. King Turgon favors Tuor. Is it then so unusual for him to converse with the King's daughter?"

"The King may favor him, but that does not mean he wishes for him to wed with his daughter. The two matters are different."

"You speak overearly of wedding and the King's approval. I simply wish for them to meet. I do not ask that this meeting be of a romantic nature." Glorfindel's face suddenly became serious, and there was power in his voice. "Do you think him unworthy of being in her presence because he is of the Atani?" No longer was his voice filled with the merriment of his jesting tone, instead it possessed the majesty of one who had seen the starlight by the very Waters of Awakening. "Forget not that he was sent by the Lord of the Waters, as his messenger and his vassal."

"Anar..." Ecthelion looked with great wonder at the change that had come over Glorfindel, for there were few times when the Lord of the Golden Flower showed his full power.

"I wish to be judged as myself, not as the avatar of Lord Ulmo," Tuor said quietly, yet his voice was deep and strong, no less great than Glorfindel.

Then a rare moment of foresight came to Ecthelion, and it seemed to him that he heard several chords of the Music of Arda as played by Iluvatar the One. In that music, he heard the words of Huor ere the end of the Nirnaeth Arnoediand: "This I say to you, lord, with the eyes of death: though we part here for ever, and I shall not look on your white walls again, from you and from me a new star shall arise." The vision, if such a dream of music could be considered a "vision," passed, and when Ecthelion awakened from the deep resonance of Arda, he looked at Tuor with wonder and realized that the star would arise from the son of Huor and the daughter of Turgon.

Ecthelion bowed his head to fate. "So be it. Let the golden daughter of the King judge you for herself." All of Gondolin seemed to become still for a moment, and in that second, Ecthelion heard no sound, not even the birds chirping in the tree nearby. Then the moment passed and he could again hear the faint bustle of the City, the distant echo of cartwheels rolling by the southern wall, and the world as it resumed motion.

Once the moment passed, Glorfindel became merry once more. "Well, then, now that that is decided, let us bring our good Tuor to see the Lady Idril. By fortunate chance, I was to meet her today to lend her aid in her studies of the legends of the Falathrim."

Tuor looked startled. "Today?" He blushed lightly again at the mere thought of the King's Daughter. He was himself, genuine and awkward around others as a result of years of solitude as an outlaw.

"Yes, but we must first adorn you as an Elf-lord. King Turgon may be generous and has given you much, but his taste is that of a married man, not of a bachelor. Married as in wed, that is, not merry as in joyous." Glorfindel played several strings on his harp.

"Well now, though I loathe to encourage the silliness of the Lord of the Golden Flower, I must confess that there is some merit to what he says," said Ecthelion. He smiled to Tuor and nodded at him. Tuor forced himself to relax, and though he did not smile in return, his eyes were bright and excitement filled his every step. Ecthelion suggested going to his house instead since the dwellings of the people of the Fountain were nearer to Tuor's, but Glorfindel would have none of that and insisted that the three of them go to his house.

There, Tuor was dressed in the raiment of the Vanyar. Rather than the embroidery common in Noldorin robes, the patterns of leaves were imprinted in the very cloth and were of the same black color as the robes so that the decorations were obvious only in bright light or to the keen- sighted. Glorfindel wanted to braid Tuor's hair, but one look at the man's widening eyes cued Ecthelion to save him. Instead, Ecthelion simply brushed his hair with the scent of oiolaire and bound a star to his forehead with a silver circlet. They then went to the Palace of the King, offset slightly from the Tower of the King.

Idril awaited Glorfindel in the gardens and sat amidst a field of yellow, star-shaped elanors. She wore a beautiful white summer dress with pink and lavender flowers embroidered along the collar and sleeves of the dress. Her bodice was made of fine lace that remained modest and revealed nothing of her smooth, milky skin underneath. She stood to greet the Lord of the Golden Flower and the Lord of the Fountain, but she paused when her eyes caught sight of Tuor, son of Huor. The faint smile about her lips faded as she became lost in his eyes. Her bare feet did not bend a single blade of grass as she crossed the field to the marble walkway that wound throughout the garden. Tuor seemed to grow taller, and any awkwardness that they had seen when grooming him melted away as he poised to take her in his arms. She entered his embrace, and they stared at each other in wonder and joy.

"At last, you have come to Ondolinde," Idril said in her soft, melodious voice.

"I'm sorry to keep you waiting so long, my Lady," Tuor said. There was no hesitation in his tone, no questioning of his right to lightly lay his hand about her slender waist. And it seemed to Ecthelion and Glorfindel that they were not meeting for the first time but as lovers long sundered and at last reunited. Glorfindel smiled crookedly at Ecthelion and tilted his head towards the exit to the gardens. Without having even introduced them, Ecthelion and Glorfindel left the two lovers alone in the garden of elanor.


Notes: Twilight is both the time of dawn and the time of dusk. In Aman during the Days of Bliss, twilight referred to the blending of the Light of the Two Trees and so is used later to mean the blending of two things, two houses, two people, etc. It served as excellent imagery here, especially since Maeglin, who brings about the ruin of Gondolin, is also named Lomion, Child of the Twilight. Oiolaire means "ever-summer" and is a fragrant evergreen tree from which the bough of return is made. Elanor means "evermind" and is, of course, our favorite yellow flower that tends to grow at places connected to honorable people. Ondolinde means "The Rock of the Music of the Water" and is another one of Gondolin's names. Of course, Tuor arrived a year earlier, but I thought it'd make Idril seem less selfish than if she were to say, "you've come to me," and also reflects upon the Music of Arda that Ecthelion felt earlier. Tuor mentions that the only woman he knew was his mother Rian, but any who have read Unfinished Tales should know that Rian died when Tuor was still in his infancy. Shows how familiar he is with women (not at all).