Fortified no longer

Gilthoniel, daughter to the Lord in the House of the Golden Flower, sat on the stone steps that led to the door of her home. Her green eyes gazed at the waterfall in the distance and her stare would sometimes move to look at the rocks that surrounded her home. Her home was Gondolin and the rocks that surrounded the city were called the Encircling Mountains. Gilthoniel was the only daughter to Glorfindel, Lord in the House of the Golden Flower, and a friend of many, for her heart was pure and kind and she touched the lives of anyone to have met her.

She had been born shortly after the First Age began: year 2 of the First Age to be exact, making her nearly 506 years old. Her golden hair, a mark of her Vanyan blood, made her stand out among the dark-haired Noldor Elves of Gondolin. Her green eyes came somewhere from the clash of her mother's Elven-race and her father's Elven-race, which were both different. Her mother was of Noldor blood, her father coming from the noble line of the Vanyarin.

As for her parents, her mother died giving birth to her and she felt awful about that, although she never knew her mother. Despite the facts, she and her father had a deep, loving father-daughter relationship.

She also had a fondness for horses; they were just perfect and amazing in her eyes. She owned two horses: Adrieniel and Nienel, both white in color. And at the edge of the city, there were twelve paddocks; one for each House.

Yet not all horses could fit, with new horses coming now and then, so stables were made near the paddocks. This is where Gilthoniel kept her horses. She had also been allowed to help around the stables. All she had to do was give them water, feed and attention and the stable hands would do the rest.

She heard the loud noises of celebration behind her. It was the night of the Mid-Summer's Festival. It would be over soon, though, for the new dawn was only hours away.

"Gilthoniel, may I speak with you for a moment?"

Gilthoniel turned at the sound of her name and smiled at the she-elf who stood behind her. "Of course Alandrie, anything." Gilthoniel stood and approached the dark-haired Noldor.

"I sense a coming of fear...pain, destruction...death and betrayal. I sense it coming and so do you, do you not?" The older Elf said.

Gilthoniel was taken aback. The feelings she would get were nothing at all...weren't they? "I-I...get feelings sometimes, like the peace of our homes...of our land...will be taken, but they are just feelings and nightmares. They mean nothing."

"Ah, but they do, milady, they mean so much! We are both getting the same feelings! Curious, isn't it?"

Gilthoniel shook her head. "These feelings tell of destruction! Destruction of what? Gondolin? Folly! We are hidden by the Crissaegrim and watched over by the Eagles! Nobody, friend and foe alike, know of our home. I repeat, the feelings mean nothing...they can't!" She said.

"I didn't say Gondolin, milady, yet it could happen. You only center on the word destruction, yet we have mentioned fear, betrayal, pain and death."

"Fear to the people of Gondolin, pain to the people of Gondolin, death to the people of Gondolin, betrayal to Gondolin and destruction to the city of Gondolin. It all falls into the same category. They are nothing more than bad dreams and misplaced feelings. Now, if you'll excuse me, my Ada is waiting for me." Gilthoniel said.

The door opened and Glorfindel stepped out. "Excuse me Alandrie. Can I have this dance?" He held his hand out to Gilthoniel, smiling the same smile that Gilthoniel had known forever. She nodded, looking quickly to the dark- haired Elf before being led inside by her father.

'They are only feelings, nothing more.' Gilthoniel thought, convincing nobody, not even herself. She smiled at her father and laughed when he said, "I cannot wait for this to end. My ears hurt." . "How is my daughter this fine evening?" Glorfindel asked after a moment.

"I'm fine, Ada, how are you?"

"I'm great, but was that sadness I heard in your pretty voice, my daughter?" Glorfindel had caught the slight sound of sadness in Gilthoniel's voice.

Her green eyes hesitated to look into her father's blue ones.

"Gilthoniel?"

"Ada, is Gondolin safe with the Mountains surrounding us and the Eagles flying over us? Nobody could ever find us, could they?" Her eyes met her father's for a few seconds before staring at her feet, watching the way she danced.

"Of course we're safe, why do you seem to think otherwise?" Glorfindel said.

"I don't, but I was curious. Ada, I think I should be learning to fight."

"No, you do not need to wield any weapon, for there isn't going to be an attack on the city." Glorfindel tucked some of Gilthoniel's hair behind her ear.

"How do you know we won't be found Ada?" Gilthoniel eyes finally met her father's.

"Why do you think we will be found?"

"You cannot refuse me, Ada, if I want to learn to protect myself, you cannot refuse me that." Gilthoniel said, stopped dancing and walked out of the room, going outside for fresh air.

= = = = = = = = = = =

Gilthoniel lifted her head at the sound of an Eagle's cry. Even from the mighty distance that dwarfed the actual size of the mighty Eagle, Gilthoniel could still tell that it was Thorondor, the mightiest of the Eagles that circled over Gondolin. She walked through the quiet streets of Gondolin until she reached a stone stairway. She went down the steps, slowly and one-at-a-time, until she reached the wooden path that let her cross over the mote that circled the city. She crossed safely over the mote and walked to the bubbling fountain that faced the city. The clear blue water sparkled in the starlight and moonlight, reflecting the Heavens above.

She sat on the rocky base and ran her fingers through the water, tiny ripples forming under her fair touch. She raised her head to the midnight sky as Thorondor gave a loud cry, soaring slowly high above Gondolin. Gilthoniel moved her head to stare at the water, a few tears falling from her eyes and falling into the fresh fountain water, making tiny splashes.

As soon as the ripples in the water cleared, a form appeared behind her in the reflection and she jumped, turning around quickly. "Very sorry to have frightened you, fair Elf child. I saw you sitting there all alone and wondered what such a pretty Elf was doing out alone at this time of night, and during the Festival, I might add." Her visitor said. The visitor was Thorondor, the mighty Eagle guardian of Gondolin.

"It's quite alright, Thorondor, I needed fresh air from the party so I can out here. It is a beautiful night. Earendil shines brightly tonight." Gilthoniel said, looking quite small compared to the big Eagle.

"Indeed they are beautiful. Would you like to be closer to the stars?" The Eagle asked, ruffling his feathers.

Gilthoniel blinked. "I don't understand."

"Come, climb onto my back and I will let you see the stars at a closer range." Thorondor spread out one of his long wings and Gilthoniel cautiously climbed onto the Eagle's back.

"I'm not hurting you am I?" She asked.

"You are like a feather on my back. It is as if I am not even carrying you. Now, hold on tight."

Gilthoniel held onto the creature's feathers, for there was nothing else to hold onto and then she felt a rush of adrenaline push through her as Thorondor took off into the night.

The city was below her and the night sky looked close enough to touch! Over the Encircling Mountains, she could see far into the distance. There were mountains, waterways, forests and plains. It was wonderful! "It's beautiful, Thorondor!" Gilthoniel said.

"It is indeed."

Gilthoniel looked upwards, towards the heavens and immediately eyed Earendil. The brightest star gleamed against the dark sky. She felt she could touch it and shakily, holding onto the Thorondor tightly with her left hand, she reached up with her right hand to point at the star as if it were a mere centimeter away.

Thorondor soared slightly, leading with his left and Gilthoniel held on tightly again, as if she'd fall. She looked down at the city again. She couldn't see her home! The home with the white stone walls, guards standing ever watchful on either side of the doorframe, the long stairway leading the door, and the beautiful elaborate detail inside the home. The home that felt warm, loving and safe all the time. She couldn't see it. Valar, she could barely see the High King's home! But soaring so high on the back of the Eagle was not something you did often.

Thorondor dipped down, heading for the ground, and Gilthoniel held on tighter. Thorondor didn't pull up and the ground was coming up so fast. Gilthoniel knew they were going to crash. She closed her eyes, waiting for the worst, but then she felt Thorondor pull up and she opened her eyes. They were soaring inches above the ground and the lush, green grass blended together in an odd, swirling unison.

Then Thorondor was standing on the ground and let his wings out for Gilthoniel. The young Elf stepped down, but her land-legs had yet to come back and she stumbled, ending up with her back against Thorondor's feathery wing as the Eagle caught her. "Easy, dear, your land-legs will come back."

The tingly feeling in her legs quickly disappeared and she stood straight without Thorondor's help. "Hannon le, Thorondor, that was exciting!" Gilthoniel said, walking over to the fountain nearby and sitting on its edge.

"You're quite welcome, fair child. Now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to my post." The Eagle lifted his head towards the sky and took off into the night.

Gilthoniel smiled and headed back towards the House. Once there, she sat back on the front steps.

"Dear, you're right; I can deny you nothing. You will begin sword lessons first thing this afternoon." Glorfindel said, coming up behind her.

Gilthoniel turned. "Ada, I..." Gilthoniel started, but at that moment there was a loud BOOM! and many Elves came running out of the House, swords drawn.

"Invasion! We're being attacked!" One cried, directing it to Glorfindel.

As soon as "Invasion" the Elf's mouth, Gilthoniel was hit with reality. This was what she was feeling. She ran inside, Glorfindel following, and grabbed a sword that hung by two hinges on the wall. It had a curved blade and an Elven inscription in the blade, which, in the Common Tongue said: Focus on the battle before you and do not dwell on what your future holds.

"Gilthoniel, don't, you can't wield a sword."

"And not protect myself? Ada, I have secretly been taking sword lessons for the last Yen or longer. Alegol has been teaching me. I will fight whatever is out there." Gilthoniel said, running to follow the other Elves, leaving her surprised father. Glorfindel followed the Elves leaving, grabbing an elaborately decorated armor chest-plate and slipping it on.

Out side was chaos; Orcs, Trolls and Goblins killed those on the ground, being the lesser creatures there. Balrogs and Dragons, being the higher creatures there, were working on bringing the city down.

Orcs crowded Gilthoniel, but she spun in small, fast circles and killed them as they came. Then Gilthoniel felt a sharp pain move down her left arm. One of the Orcs' scimitars had caught her, digging deep enough to see bones, and she spun and killed him, holding back a cry of pain.

Glorfindel found his daughter and made his way to her, fighting past the Orcs that surrounded her, and he stood against her back. "You're injured." It wasn't a question.

"I cannot worry about that now. Besides, it isn't too bad and I can handle it." Gilthoniel said, her sword going through an Orcs' heart and leaving black blood smeared over the blade.

Many of the lesser creatures had been killed by now, their bodies lying like litter all across the city. Lord Ecthelion, in the House of the Fountain, had slew Gothmog, one of the Balrogs, in a weakened state. He was dead now. There was still another Balrog standing. Before Gothmog had been slain, he had unleashed his whip on Gilthoniel three times and had left three ugly marks on the girl's back.

= = = = = =

Now, remaining Elves were passing through the tunnel to head to Christhorn, where they could take refugee. Among these were Glorfindel, Gilthoniel, and many woman and children. Gilthoniel's best friends, identical Noldor twins named Dinendal and Duordreth, were also, gratefully there. The twins were nearly fours years older than her.

The remaining Elves cried out at the loss of loved ones, calling for their children, husbands or wives. The moans of the wounded were heard and the soft voices of the others telling them to hang on. Glorfindel's voice was heard from the end of the line, moving people along. Tuor, at the beginning, was calling out commands.

The High King's House had just been pulled down and the Elves wept at the loss of their King. The King had been foolishly brave to stay in his House and not fight. He would not flee his House and his guards were loyal and stayed. And, standing on Christhorn with the Elves was a Balrog, the evil creature sent to destroy Gondolin from Morgoth. "Hiro hyn hîdh ab'wanath." She whispered. Let find they have peace after death

Glorfindel stepped out, his sword raised to the mighty Balrog. "Ada, don't you dare." He heard Gilthoniel say.

"Dinendal, keep Gilthoniel back there. Duordreth, help your brother if you have to, but whatever you do, don't let her follow. Now go, all of you, I have this handled!" Glorfindel didn't look back, but his words reached the twins' ears.

"Ambush!" one of the Elves cried and Gilthoniel ignored him. Suddenly she was swarmed with Orcs and Goblins and couldn't get to her father. She was forced to fight.

"Ar ve tirnentë, or i coronna etuller minna eälë1 lenwi2 tuimat; ar ilamma3 né or ilya Ambar i lúmessë, ar únë lamma hequa i Yavanno lírala. Undu linderya i tuimat randortaner4 ar eänë vanimë ar hallë, ar tuller lóten; ar sin cuivaner Ambaressë Aldu Valinóreva." Gilthoniel whispered to herself over and over, calming her fears. And as they watched, upon the mound there came forth two slender shoots; and silence was over all the world in that hour, nor was there any other sound save the chanting of Yavanna. Under her song the saplings grew and became fair and tall, and came to flower; and thus there awoke in the world the Two Trees of Valinor.

"Gilthoniel, watch it!" She heard and looked just a second to late to see an Orc approaching. She held up her sword to ward off the attack, but it was too late. The sword hit her already-injured arm, causing pain to soar through her. She felt dizzy, but moved her sword and sliced the Orc's head off in one fluid motion.

She turned around to see her father fighting the Balrog...and winning. The Balrog fell, and Gilthoniel sighed. Her father was safe! At the last second, the Balrog grabbed Glorfindel's hair, breaking his neck as if it were like snapping a twig. Gilthoniel heard the sickening sound of the bones breaking and cried out.

"ADA!" Her voice would have deafened those in a quiet room, but she was in the midst of battle and her cries were a mere whisper over the chaos. "No!" She cried in anguish, nearly falling to her knees.

The man she loved was dead.

Her father, gone, felled by a Balrog, the evil creature from Morgoth.

He was dead.

Her home went up in flames.

She had nothing.

Every night in my dreams

I see you, I feel you,

That is how I know you go on

Far across the distance

And spaces between us

You have come to show you go on

Near, far, wherever you are

I believe that the heart does go on

Once more you open the door

And you're here in my heart

And my heart will go on and on

Love can touch us one time

And last for a lifetime

And never let go till we're one

Love was when I loved you

One true time I hold to

In my life we'll always go on

Near, far, wherever you are

I believe that the heart does go on

Once more you open the door

And you're here in my heart

And my heart will go on and on

There is some love that will not go away

You're here, there's nothing I fear,

And I know that my heart will go on

We'll stay forever this way

You are safe in my heart

And my heart will go on and on

-Celine Dion

=============

Her laughs could be heard through Rivendell, echoed as if she were in a small, hollow room. "You know, that doesn't put out fire, it fuels it. Water works better." Gilthoniel said, looking at Erestor as if she were going to cry from laughing so hard.

"I only had the wine."

Gilthoniel raised her eyes to the sky, laughing good-naturedly. "Of course."

"Elrond told me that you weren't coming to dinner tonight?"

Gilthoniel nodded, her bright green eyes shining when the sun hit them in the perfect angle.

"Might I ask why not? It should be fun."

"My good friend, formal affairs are never fun." She said, taking a sip of her drink and then setting it back on the table.

"You went to that meeting this morning." Erestor said.

"That was a formal affair, my good friend, and I only went because of two reasons. One, Elrond would have been broken-hearted if I didn't. Two, we were discussing that ambush of Orcs on the messengers from Mirkwood. I wanted to make sure it wasn't Legolas." Gilthoniel sat back in her chair, the shade from the tree above them darkening her normally bright green eyes. Then she raised her finger as if pointing to the sky. "Oh, and another reason I didn't go; I would have had to watch the twins."

Erestor laughed. "Yeah, those two are a handful."

"Two handfuls: one hand for each twin." Gilthoniel laughed.

"True, very true."

"And I really need three hands, the extra for Legolas. I am worried that all three of them shall give me gray hairs."

"I very much doubt your being an Elf if you get gray hairs." Erestor laughed.

"Oh, no, those three will break that little detail about me. With them, anything is possible."

"Oh, but trouble seems to find you too, mellon nin." Erestor said, a smile coming to his lips.

"It can't, I haven't left Rivendell since...well, you know." Gilthoniel lowered her eyes.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that. But, yes, it follows you around Rivendell." Erestor said, his ear-to-ear smile fading to a simple grin.

"How so?"

"Well, last weekend you set the breakfast on fire and the week before that you dropped the clean laundry on the ground and then..." Erestor began

"Enough, those were accidents. I didn't know it would catch fire that fast. I seem to remember a certain Elf who was watching a certain pair of twins and..." Gilthoniel started, smiling.

"Alright, alright, I get it. And I still haven't found the shoes either, I'll have you know."

"You will find it, the twins can hide things, but hidden things can be found if they are around. It isn't impossible." Gilthoniel said.

"I suppose so. Did you find that book I was looking for?"

"Yes, I put it on my desk in my room."

Moments of silence passed. Gilthoniel stared up at the sky. "Have you ever been close enough to touch the stars?" She asked suddenly, breaking the silence.

Erestor looked confused. "No, and are you drunk? Touching the stars, Gilthoniel?"

"I'm not drunk, nor have I ever been and nor will I ever be. I didn't mean literally touch them. I meant have you ever been so high up that you felt you could touch them?"

"Nothing goes quite that high, Gilthoniel."

"Sure they do, Erestor, I'm talking about Eagles." She said, closing her eyes and smiling at the memory.

"When have you seen an Eagle, my good friend?"

Gilthoniel sighed shakily and Erestor knew he must have said something. And then he remembered what he read: 'And Eagles circled high over the hidden city of Gondolin, soaring lazily about the sky.'

"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to..." Erestor began, realizing how he must have sounded.

"No, no, it's alright. The Eagles circled over Gondolin, watching, and the mightiest of them was a friendly Eagle named Thorondor. One night, the last night Gondolin would ever see, I needed fresh air from the Mid-Summer's festival so I went out to the fountain in the courtyard. Thorondor saw me and came down. Somehow, he ended up taking me for a ride so I could be close to the stars. It was so exciting."

"Couldn't the Eagles help out during the Fall of Gondolin?"

Gilthoniel shook her head sadly. "There were few Eagles there, the number never went over ten. A thousand Eagles couldn't help us. Not against one Balrog and we were hit with five Balrogs. Not to mention trolls and dragons. The sun rose in the north that day. I remember that. I also remember that it was the Mid-Summer's Festival. It was supposed to be a joyous night." Tears were spilling silently down her cheeks, but her voice was clear and undisturbed. "I also remember the Gates falling and the screams. And the fall of the House of the High King as we escaped into Christhorn. And the ambush of Goblins and Orcs that killed my friends, Dinendal and Duordreth...they were twins too...they were cut down by Orcs and I tried to nurse them back to health for three days, but I couldn't and they died. And..." She shook her head. "And Ecthelion died while he drowned a Balrog in the city's great fountain."

"I have to remember how the dragons brought down my home, The House of the Golden Flower. They used fire and the remains from the other torn Houses. Orcs had fired rocks into the House after my Ada and I sat down to breakfast." By now her shoulders were shaking. "And in the pass, everyone was crying...my father was pushing people along and Tuor was calling commands from the front."

Erestor walked around to the other side of the table and kneeled down in front of Gilthoniel, taking her hands. "Enough said, my friend." He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her forward gently into an embrace. She let the tears fall, getting lost into the many folds of Erestor's clothing.

But I know I must go on

Although I hurt I must be strong

Because inside I know that many

feel this way

-Creed

"I could have stopped him...all I had to do was run...and he wouldn't be dead." Erestor knew she was talking about Glorfindel. "I had foresight! I felt the death and destruction of the city days before it happened! It's all my fault." Gilthoniel whispered the last four words.

"It isn't your fault and don't even argue with me. From what you've told me over the years, I think opposite of what you believe and many will back me up on it." Erestor ran his hand through Gilthoniel's blond tresses, trying to soothe his friend as best as he could.

Gilthoniel sat back on her heels, wiping her eyes and laughing a bit. "You know, he used to sing to me. I would make him sing it until I was asleep, but usually I fell asleep within two times of him singing it. It was an old Elvish lullaby."

Sing all ye joyful, now sing altogether!

The wind's in the tree-top, the wind's in the heather;

The stars are in blossom, the moon is the flower,

And bright are the windows of Night in her tower.

Dance all ye joyful, now dance altogether!

Soft is the grass, and let foot be like feather!

The river is silver, the shadows are fleeting;

Merry is the May-time, and merry is our meeting.

Sing we now softly, and dreams let us weave him!

Wind him in slumber and there let us leave him!

The wanderer sleepeth. Now soft be his pillow!

Lullaby! Lullaby! Alder and Williow!

Sigh no more Pine, till the wind of the mourn!

Fall moon! Dark be the land!

Hush! Hush! Oak, Ash, and Thorn!

Hushed be all water, till dawn is at hand!

Her whispered voice died down as she finished the song, more tears coming as she thought of all the times her father sang it to her.

Glorfindel smiled as he sat on the edge of his daughter's bed. Her open eyes were unfocused in her sleep. Her breathing was even as she dreamed.

Erestor smiled. "The song is beautiful, I think I almost fell asleep myself." he half-teased.

"I remember all the times he sang it to me. Well, of course not when I was a baby. He was a wonderful person. Why did the Valar let him die? And even so brutally? He fought the Balrog and it would have died there for fallen to its death, but at the very last second, it grabbed my Ada's hair. He...his...h-his neck broke. I-I think he died right away, but I'm not sure." Gilthoniel played with the grass.

"I'm sure he did and at least he didn't have to suffer." Erestor decided that he would only comfort her when she finished speaking. Talking about it seemed as if it lifted something heavy off her pure, innocent spirit, even if it seemed at moments that it just made her feel worse.

"And the twins? They suffered!"

"Elladan and Elrohir?" Erestor asked, forgetting what she'd said earlier about her friends.

Gilthoniel shook her head. "Dinendal and Duordreth." She said no trace of annoyance in her voice. "The younger twin, Duordreth, suffered more. He was the last of the twins to...go. And his wounds were just a little worse than his brother's. They were older than me. They were the next closest thing to me from my Ada. They were my brothers. Now I have twin brothers again. And Elrond is like a father to me. He can't replace my real one, but he has treated me like a daughter. He has given me a home, food, a room and his love. And Celebrian is like the mother I never had." She laughed as if she were somewhat nervous. "I'm weak. I could have saved him!"

"Whoa, hold the horses a second, you? weak? What you say is folly, for you have went through so much and you could have easily given in to a broken heart to leave this land, but did you? No, which makes you a lot stronger than most Elves could ever be."

The girl lowered her eyes.

Peace is what they tell me

Love am I unholy

Lies are what they tell me

Despise you that control me

The peace is dead in my soul

I have blamed the reason for

My intentions poor

Yes I'm the one who

The only one who

Would carry on this far

Torn, I'm filthy

Born in my own misery

Stole all that you gave me

Control you claim you save me

The peace is dead in my soul

I have blamed the reason for

My intentions poor

Yes I'm the one who

The only one who

Would carry on this far

-Creed

= = = = = = = = = = =

Elrond was so into his letter that when a knock came to his Study door, he jerked and his quill slipped. He sighed. "Come in."

"Milord, this Elf claims he is from Gondolin. He just showed up."

Elrond dropped his quill. "Give him a guest room." He said and stood, running past the two in the doorway and out to find Gilthoniel.

= = = = = = = = = =

"Gilthoniel!" She heard her name and turned to see Elrond running in her direction.

She stood up as he came over. "Are you alright?"

He nodded. "Please excuse me, Erestor, I need Gilthoniel to follow me."

Erestor nodded.

Gilthoniel followed, confused, keeping in stride with the other Elf. "Is something wrong with the twins or Lady Celebrian?"

"No, no they're fine." Elrond said, heading towards the hall in which the guest rooms were. He stopped in front of the door where the guard who had brought the Elf to his Study stood. "You can go back to your post, Gelmir, thank you." Elrond said.

Gelmir nodded and went down the hall without another word. "The guest room, Lord?" Gilthoniel asked.

Elrond, not wanting the girl to wait any longer than necessary, opened the door to reveal an Elf, clothed in only leggings. His back was to them, but he heard the door open and turned to face his visitors. At nearly the same moment, the visitor and Gilthoniel dropped their jaws slightly.

"Ada?!" Gilthoniel cried, frozen and confused. He was dead! The Valar took him! He wasn't supposed to be here!

"Gilthoniel?!" Glorfindel cried at the same time. She survived the battle? She wasn't dead! Well, he knew she had survived, otherwise he would have seen her again in death. Who else survived?

Gilthoniel looked to Elrond. "I dream." She stated, disbelief flooding her voice.

The Lord in the Last Homely House shook his head. Gilthoniel, finally unfrozen, ran to her father, throwing her arms around his neck in a tight embrace. Glorfindel hugged her back, not wanting to let go. Lord Elrond closed the door, giving the two privacy.

"Ada...Ada, Ada, Ada..." Gilthoniel whispered.

"My daughter, Gilthoniel." Glorfindel whispered, overcome with emotion.

"Say it again. Say my name again so that I can know this is not a dream." Gilthoniel let herself out of the embrace, but didn't take her eyes off him, as if he would dissolve into thin air if she looked away or blinked.

"Gilthoniel." He whispered.

With trembling fingers, she touched his throat. "It isn't broken, you're really here!"

"I'm really here and you are too. You survived the battle! How badly were you injured?"

"That was so long ago Ada. I had the back injuries from the whip, the arm wound, an arrow wound and a scratch on my face. I was also bruised badly for weeks." She answered. Tears of mixed emotions poured down her face. "B- but how did you come back?" she asked, leaning forward into another embrace.

"The will of the Valar only. They sent me back to watch you. Dear Valar, I love you Gilthoniel. I was thinking of you at the time I battled the Balrog and you were on my mind even while I died." The former Lord of the Golden Flower said.

Gilthoniel closed her eyes and pressed her forehead against her father's shoulder. She let tears fall silently as she thanked the Valar repeatedly in her mind for sending him back to her.

= = = = =

Nine-year-old Estel sat in Gilthoniel's lap, laughing as his twin brothers and the girl from Gondolin played a made-up game. "Oh, you're not getting out of that so easily 'Ro. What do you think we should make up as a punishment, Estel?" She asked.

"Dunk him in the river!" Estel cried, his voice full of humor. "Is that a good idea for punishment, 'Oniel?"

Gilthoniel nodded. "I like the idea."

The three Elves and the Human were sitting on the grass on the shore of River Loudwater, which bordered Rivendell on the West. Glorfindel and Elrond sat nearby in chairs, watching the four.

Estel stood, letting Gilthoniel stand up. The Elf girl and the Human countered on the youngest twin, who stood to defend himself. "Now, the river is a cruel punishment!"

Gilthoniel looked at Estel. "No, I'm sure we can think of something better like dying your hair blue or green." She said.

"Or hiding your clothes or cutting your hair..." Estel said.

"I like those..." Gilthoniel smiled evilly.

Elladan stood off to the side, laughing and not wanting to get involved.

"El, get your butt over here and help me! Now, Estel, Gilthoniel, two against one isn't very fair." Elrohir backed away.

"Life isn't fair, my good friend, and this is mild compared to what we can do otherwise." Gilthoniel walked slowly forward each time Elrohir stepped backward.

"Oh yeah?" Elrohir looked unconvinced.

"Yeah, we could make you eat my cooking." Gilthoniel said, shrugging innocently.

"You don't cook, you set it on fire until it is so burned that one cannot consider it food." Elrohir said, backing up again.

"Now, insults are mean, little 'Ro. All my food doesn't end up charred, sometimes I don't cook it enough..."

"...and you poison all who eats it." Elrohir finished.

Gilthoniel nodded as if considering an idea.

"But you also set the tablecloth on fire years ago."

"No, that was Erestor, I only set food on fire."

Elrohir stepped back again and Gilthoniel stepped forward and Elrohir fell into the river. Gilthoniel looked at Estel. "And I didn't even push him in..." She said, smiling from ear-to-ear.

Elrohir came up, sputtering and spiting out water. He climbed on shore in a very un-Elf-like fashion and stood before Gilthoniel. "Ah, thank you Gilthoniel! Give me a hug!" Elrohir opened his arms and stepped forward.

"No!" Gilthoniel backed away and hid behind Elrond's chair. "Don't touch me, 'Ro! I meant it, leave me alone!" She laughed.

"Ada, Glorfindel, give me a hug!" Elrohir sought new targets.

"Hey, leave us out of this." Elrond said, holding a hand in front of him. Estel, Gilthoniel and Elladan laughed in unison.

= = = = = = = = =

"No! Don't! Ada...Ada...no, no, no..." Her voice echoed through the room and moments later, Glorfindel came into the room. Gilthoniel was tossing and turning, becoming wrapped up in sheets, her eyes were closed and she was talking.

"Gilthoniel, wake up child, it is only a nightmare." He soothed, holding her shoulders and trying to stop her movement.

She opened her eyes, breathing erratic, and she lay heavily against the pillows. "I'm sorry I woke you." She said, slowing her breathing.

"I was awake, don't apologize. It is alright, it was only a nightmare." Glorfindel said, wiping hair from his daughter's forehead.

"No, it wasn't just a nightmare. It was Gondolin's fall and you dying before my eyes. It wasn't a nightmare, it was the truth and it was a reliving of the worst moment in my life." She turned her head to stare at her side table.

Glorfindel sighed. He cupped his hand under Gilthoniel's cheek and gently turned her head so she was facing him. "I died and came back, and if you still blame yourself, you shouldn't. I kept you away because I too had a vision. Like you did of the Fall of Gondolin. I had a vision of you going up against the Balrog and telling others to keep me away. And I was the one who fought in the ambush in Christhorn and I was the one who tried to save the twins. I got the injuries you had. But you fell and that was something I didn't do. I lived and you didn't."

= = = = = = =

You're the bravest of hearts, you're the strongest of souls

You're my light in the dark, you're the place I call home

You can say it's all right, but I know that you're breaking up inside

I see it in your eyes

Even you face the night afraid and alone

That's why I'll be there

When the storm rises up, when the shadows descend

Ev'ry beat of my heart, ev'ry day without end

Ev'ry second I live, that's the promise I make

Baby, that's what I'll give, if that's what it takes

If that's what it takes

You can sleep in my arms, you don't have to explain

When your heart's crying out, baby, whisper my name

'Cause I've reached out for you when the thunder is crashing up above

You've given me your love

When your smile like the sun that shines through the pain

That's why I'll be there

When the storm rises up, when the shadows descend

Ev'ry beat of my heart, ev'ry day without end

I will stand like a rock, I will bend till I break

Till there's no more to give, if that's what it takes

I will risk everything, I will fight, I will bleed

I will lay down my life, if that's what you need

Ev'ry second I live, that's the promise I make

Baby, that's what I'll give, if that's what it takes

Through the wind and the rain, through the smoke and the fire

When the fear rises up, when the wave's ever higher

I will lay down my heart, my body, my soul

I will hold on all night and never let go

Ev'ry second I live, that's the promise I make

Baby, that's what I'll give, if that's what it takes

If that's what it takes

Every day

If that's what it takes

Every day

-Celine Dion

= = = = = = = = = =

"She has made the biggest change since you've come back." Elrond said to Glorfindel. The two Elves sat on either side of a rounded table, watching Gilthoniel, the twins and 15-year-old Estel target practice trees. Gilthoniel was teaching Estel, holding her hand under his elbow to lift his arm.

Gilthoniel was saying something to the Human, gesturing at the bow. "I'm sure. Was she always depressed?" Glorfindel asked as Estel fired the arrow, completely missing the tree, and the shaft landed on the ground near the drop-off that led to the waterfall.

Estel ran to get the shaft and Gilthoniel said something to the twins, holding the bow by her side. "No, once in awhile she would talk about the Fall and sometimes she would have nightmares. And trouble seemed to follow her in Rivendell. She tried cooking a few times and she set it all to flames. Once she was so afraid of setting the food on fire again that she didn't cook it enough. Everyone got sick from food poisoning. She also fell out of a tree, got bucked off her horse, and stabbed herself on accident." Elrond smiled. "But she also saved the twins when the shed caught fire. Luckily, there were no horses present. And she saved Legolas from a pack of wolves. She also saved me when we were ambushed quite a long time ago."

Estel must have hit a slippery part on the rocks because he fell, tumbling down the sharp rocks towards the raging river. Gilthoniel ran, not thinking, and stood on the rock fence. She took her headband off and threw it behind her. She held her breath and dived, intent on saving the young Human. "Estel! Gilthoniel!" The two Lords shouted, running to the rock fence and looking over the edge. There was nothing there. No Estel and No Gilthoniel.

Thinking the worst possible thing, Elrond ordered the twins to stay up with Glorfindel and then ran the other way. He had to take the long way, for he'd be unable to jump as Gilthoniel had. Even Gilthoniel shouldn't have made the jump.

The twins appeared at the stone fence, looking down, and Glorfindel came up on Elrohir's right. Each Elf held their breath subconsciously and waited for the two to appear. Seconds passed into moments; no one worried about Gilthoniel holding her breath because, since she was Elven, she could hold her breath for moments longer than Mortals, but they worried that she might have hit her head or something. They worried for Estel: being Human, he wouldn't be able to hold his breath as long as his Elven friend. They all released the breaths they didn't know they'd been holding as golden hair appeared.

Gilthoniel swam, one arm holding Estel across the chest and the other paddling as she swam. She pushed the Human on shore, meters below the four Elves who watched her. She climbed up on shore, coughing up water, and going to Estel's side.

She placed her ear against the Human's chest and, finding no heartbeat, she placed both her hands on his chest and tried to get his heart pumping again. "No, Estel, come on, breathe. Don't do this to me, Estel, breathe." She said, pushing on his chest harder.

High above them, the twins' eyes filled with tears that threatened to fall. "He's not breathing." Tears poured down the twins' faces and Glorfindel stood in shock.

Elrond ran up to the Elf and Human and noticed Estel's lips turning steadily blue. He pinched Estel's nostrils shut and began CPR, switching between this and leaning his ear against his foster son's chest to listen for a heartbeat.

Gilthoniel turned her head away, coughing up a mixture of water and blood, and tears welling up in her eyes. Estel...

High above, three Elves stood watching. "He's not breathing and Gilthoniel doesn't look good." Elrohir said.

Gilthoiel turned back and watched as Elrond desperately tried to save his foster son. Then Estel coughed water and Gilthoniel broke out in tears of joy. She helped Elrond move the boy onto his side to help clear water from his lungs. Elrond looked at her, his eyes glistening with tears, and said, "You do the same."

"Thank Valar." High above, the three Elves whispered these words.

Gilthoniel lay on her side, another coughing fit overwhelming her and she coughed up blood and water. Elrond frowned and moved over to her. Gilthoniel patted Estel's back, which was faced to her, but stopped when another fit came. This time, only blood came up and she couldn't stop it, and she couldn't breathe.

Elrond patted her back, quickly looking for a wound. He found one; she had been stabbed with a rock and was bleeding, but she obviously hadn't felt pain yet. Her lung was punctured. He needed to get her to the Houses of Healing, and fast.

= = = = = = = = =

Estel and Gilthoniel were taken to the Houses of Healing where Elrond took care of them and they were dried off and given fresh, dry clothes. "Are you awake Gilthoniel?"

"Yes." She whispered.

"Thank you." Estel said.

"You're so cute when you're sincere. It was just a reaction. You're welcome." She turned her head and smiled at Estel, who was is the next bed.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Of course, anything except to cook for you." She teased.

"Could you tell me about the Eagles?" He asked hesitance in his voice.

Gilthoniel smiled and stared at the ceiling. "They're awesome. What do you want to know about them?"

"Well, I heard rumors about the...Fall of Gondolin and I was wondering if it was true." He asked slowly.

"What's the rumor?" She turned to look at him.

"That the mightiest Eagle came down and saved you after the Balrogs were slayed."

She nodded. "It's true, Thorondor was his name and he saved me from a dragon. And second, 'slayed' isn't a word, I think you mean 'slain'."

"A dragon!?"

Gilthoniel nodded. "I was caught under a piece of debris. It was a heavy wooden board. I would have been dragon-kill then and there if not for Thorondor. He lifted the board, grabbed me and let me down where I would be safe."

"Is this Eagle still alive?" Estel asked.

"I would believe so." She smiled, remembering her friend of old. The Eagle named Thorondor, mightiest of them all. And she remembered those who didn't survive the attack on Gondolin; the women, children and men. She remembered her friends. She remembered those who didn't survive the ambush on Christhorn. And she forgot what happened to her father, for he was back now and he wasn't leaving again.

Even if those who died were gone on this earth, the memory of them remained in a special part of Gilthoniel's heart.