~ The House of the Golden Flower ~


Summary:
Those of the House were always noble - they gave their loyalty unquestioningly, and never shirked from their duties. But Gondolin, and those who held loyal to it, were doomed by first Morgoth, and then the sons of Fëanor. Now, only one remains in Middle-Earth - only one to see the Chief of the House returned. And it is up to her to let him know who he his - as soon as she remembers who SHE is, first... (A pre-Last Alliance romance, starring two of the more under-appreciated characters of the books - Glorfindel and Thranduil. And no, it's not slash.)


Disclaimer:
I do not own any of it, nor do I claim to. The only part of it that is in any way mine is the personality of the character Laurind. The rest belongs to JRR Tolkien - or, more specifically, his estate. No copyright infringement is intended. (So please don't sue.)


Author's Note:
Right, so I'm bored, figured I'd post the first chapter of this, my new fanfiction. Hope y'all enjoy it...it won't be nearly as long as my last one (which was 80 chapters long, for any new readers out there) and will probably, unfortunately, be much slower in updating. This is due to a multitude of reasons...first and foremost being the quantity of research that's going to be involved in writing this. Sooo...if anyone could point me towards something with lots of nitty-gritty details about the Last Alliance, I'd be much obliged. Also, any mistakes you find, feel free to point them out. It will probably save me trouble further down the road.

Now, on with the chapter!



Chapter 1: The Fall of the House
~The year 510 of the First Age~

Gondolin is burning.

The thought was the first coherent one Laurind had had since she began running. Her vision was trained on the Elves in front of her and the ground where she was putting her feet, so she did not actually see the city burning, but she could smell the smoke. She didn't want to turn and look, anyways. It was hard enough leaving another home, she did not want the memory of this one burning etched in her memory for the millennia to come.

::Laur!:: the sudden call in her head startled Laurind, and she stumbled slightly, only to be helped up by a nearby elf. ::Laur, where are you?:: The call was more urgent this time, and Laurind forced her mind to work once more; to think, instead of just react.

::I do not know, exactly. Wait a moment-:: she replied, slowing her pace - much to the dislike of those behind her - and looking around carefully. ::Not far from the entrance to the tunnel.::

::How many are behind you?:: the voice asked urgently.

::Less than there were a moment ago.:: Laurind replied dryly as she slowed her pace yet more to look behind her. ::A hundred, perhaps less.::

::Can you stay at the rear and urge them on? I must stay at the front with Tuor and Idril.:: Laurind sent a mental affirmative, and the light touch on her mind withdrew.

Knowing that 'rear' meant the absolute farthest back she could get, Laurind not only slowed more, but turned and went in the other direction, one hand on the hilt of the sword her brother had given to her the day after Maeglin had arrived in Gondolin, and taught her to use in the time between then and now. Several Elves shot her looks of disbelief, and a few of suspicion, as she went back. Laurind ignored the looks, however, scanning the flood of fleeing Elves for the familiar colours of her house, or for any that she knew.

She spotted one of the guards of her house first, and called out to him. He recognized her immediately, and called out to several of his fellows nearby before making his way over to her. He, and three others, reached Laurind just as the flood of refugees began to thin, and she quickly told them of her orders to guard the rear. They nodded acceptance and formed up around her as the last of those making for Idril's hidden passage approached them. They fell in behind, almost running backwards as they watched the path behind them.

Laurind had fallen into instinct again, her body moving without commands from her mind, going through actions she knew how to do in her sleep, though she had never had to use them in earnest before now. Beside her, she sensed that the guards had done the same. As her father had said once, long ago, thought would only get in the way in a time like this, anyways. So they ran, straining their senses beyond what even they as Elves thought possible to detect any sign of pursuit; but fortunately, their retreat was hidden by the fog and steam that rolled down off Encircling Mountains. Even on the day of the great city's destruction, those mountains were giving them one last defense - and though she sent thanks to the Valar for this small favour, Laurind did not relax her guard even after they had passed into the tunnel.

Laurind's head and limbs ached by the time they emerged from the tunnel onto the mountainside, but she did not ask for another to relieve her of the duty of rearguard. She knew there were none to take her place even if she did ask. The Balrogs and dragons of Morgoth had killed all who had fought against them, and only those few soldiers and guards who had deemed a strategic retreat the best course of action had survived - and Laurind knew that she most likely had around a quarter of those with her at that very moment.

Eventually, as the path climbed and they went higher into the mountains, Laurind and the guards had to relax their guard somewhat, for the thin air and cold would cause them to pass out if they did not. They were not happy about it, however, and were twice as wary of everything, though the area in which they watched for enemies had grown smaller. Then, the call came from farther up the line - they had been attacked, but from ahead and above, not behind.

Laurind glanced at the guards, and two of them peeled off without a word and sprinted up the line, the panicking refugees making way quickly for them. One other guard, this one from the now dead House of the Fountain, joined the two from Laurind's house before they were out of her range of vision, but he was the only one to do so as far as she saw.

The refugees began to shift, moving in different directions, as the ones to the front tried to outrun the ambush they had fallen into - but Laurind and her two guards stood there and reminded the people of the dangers that lay behind, and then the Eagles cries were heard from up above. Soon, the line began to creep forward slowly, again, but there was still a ripple of panic from those at the front, and Laurind reached out tentatively with her mind to see what was the matter.

::Fire slash darkness hurt flame cut shadow-:: Laurind found herself abruptly cut off from the incoherent thoughts, and reeled in surprise. He had never pushed her out before, even when fighting. He could not spare the energy when fighting to push her out, he said - so why had he done so this time? The answer reached Laurind just as she considered going to the front of the line herself - a Balrog stood in their way. And Lord Glorfindel was doing battle with him.

A cry was ripped from Laurind's throat and her sword fell from her hands as she pelted off up the line, going faster than she ever had - but it was not fast enough. She came within sight of the battle only in time to see the two fighters tumble over the side of the cliff. Thorondor dove after them, but the refugees did not need to wait for his return to know that he was not fast enough - Laurind's mournful wail told them long before the Lord of the Eagles reappeared.

Lord Glorfindel, Chief of the House of the Golden Flower of Gondolin, was dead.

---

Ereinion Gil-galad stared at the smoking ruins at the mouth of the Sirion with well-concealed horror, his stomach churning not only from the horrible sight, but the sickly-sweet smell of burning flesh that drifted on the wind. He did not want to go any closer - did not want to know the ruin that the sons of Fëanor had heaped upon these people. But he knew he must. Not only did his duties as High King demand it, but he could not let himself believe that all had perished.

Mechanically, Gil-galad set about arranging for those on the ships to land on the shore - up-wind of the ruins, of course, but no one seemed any more eager than he to do even that. Yet a morbid need to know the extent of the destruction drew them on, as well as the slim hope that someone had survived the assault.

Silence hung over the landing boats more thickly than any fog, no one daring to speak a word. What orders were needed were given by hand-signal - in the unnatural stillness, and through the determination of all to look at anything but the ruins, the hand-signals of the commanders were never missed. The scraping of their boats hulls against the sandy floor seemed like thunder in the silence, and a good many of the Elves winced at the sound.

Gil-glad and Círdan accepted the sounds with a joint sigh, however, and then became the first to break the silence as they gave their followers orders of where to set up camp. It was late in the afternoon already - they would set up their camp, stay for a night, and then search the ruins for survivors in the morning. So it was done, and though it was not done in is as complete silence as their trip from the ships had been, it was done much more quietly than Gil-glad had ever heard a military force of any type set up camp.

As evening fell, the construction of the camp was finished, and the second set of sentries stayed only long enough to get some traveling rations before heading out to replace those that had watched while the camp was assembled. Gil-galad and Círdan called their captains to them in the main tent, and they spoke quietly over a map of the city and the surrounding area, deciding where best to search in the morning. They were just about to retire for the night when one of the sentries appeared in the entrance to the tent.

The sentry nodded to the High King and to Círdan, then motioned for them to follow before turning and leaving the tent once again. Gil-galad and Círdan followed, with their captains not far behind, and soon came to the northern edge of the camp. There, standing between two soldiers, they found an Elf-maiden, waiting with her head bowed, and her hands clasped in front of her. Golden hair fell around her face like a curtain, blocking her face from their sight and marking her as one with Vanyar blood.

"She literally walked into me." the sentry said quietly to the King as they stopped before the maiden. "We have been unable to get any sort of response from her - I am not sure she is able to respond at all." Gil-galad nodded thoughtfully, then stepped forward and lightly touched the maiden's shoulder. Unexpectedly, given what the sentry had just said, the maiden actually raised her head to look at the High King, and Gil-galad felt pity as he saw the grief in her eyes - along with a flicker of recognition. She knew who he was, then.

"M'lady, did you come from the settlement?" It was a stupid question - there was nowhere else she could have come from, but Gil-galad had to ask.

"Narntë vanwa." she said, as if she had not heard Gil-galad. "Narntë qualin." Gil-galad blinked at the unexpected use of Quenya, but adjusted quickly and replied in kind.

"Man?" Gil-galad asked with a concerned look.

"Nossënya." the maiden replied quietly, looking down at the ground, and as Gil-galad watched, it seemed as if something died within her at that admission. When next she looked up at him, a shiver went down his spine at the emptiness within her eyes. And try though he and others did, for that night and the next three thousand years, she did not speak another word. She lived as one consumed by grief, yet did not - perhaps could not - fade.



Translations:
'Narntë vanwa.' - They are gone. (Quenya)
'Narntë qualin.' - They are dead. (Quenya)
'Man?' - Who? (Quenya)
'Nossënya.' - My House (Literally: My [clan, family, kin, or people]) (Quenya)