1. Rana, The Wanderer
“I think, at last, I understand something of Feanor’s grief,” Ecthelion said. “Before, I pitied him, for Finwe was our king, and I grieved also for his passing. But now... this, this is entirely different.” His tears began anew, but Glorfindel hushed him, and his weeping subsided quicker this time.
Ehtele, Ecthelion’s father, had been slain in the Battle of Lammoth. He’d protected Turgon from following in Argon’s demise, but it was of little comfort to Ecthelion at the moment. Though they had at last crossed the Grinding Ice, it seemed there was no end to the sorrow of the exiled Noldor.
“Your father was born in these lands. I do not think that he will regret dying here,” Glorfindel said.
“It’s easy for you to say.” Ecthelion pounded on Glorfindel’s chest like a distraught maiden. “You didn’t lose a single person of the House of Golden Flower upon the Grinding Ice. None, not Fingon, not Turgon, not even Finrod, could say the same.”
“Blind luck.” That earned Glorfindel a more manly punch. It was good for Ecthelion to express his mixture of anger and sorrow, but sometimes it hurt. Glorfindel rubbed himself where Ecthelion had punched him. “I have no answer, Ecthelion. I know that I was not alone in my desperate struggle to help my people, but I do not know why the House of Golden Flower alone was untouched by the sorrow of death when it has affected all those around us. But neither can I say that I wish that one of my people had died.”
“I know it.” Ecthelion closed his eyes and rested his head on Glorfindel’s shoulder once more. “But Glorfindel, it’s just so hard. I did not feel this way even for Elenwe’s death.”
“Elenwe is Turgon's wife, and Turgon must bear the chief share of her departure. But Ehtele was your father, and that is a bond that is entirely different from any other.” Glorfindel sighed. “It is hard, and I have no words of comfort for such a loss, but Ecthelion, your people need you, and you cannot remain so! Come. Let us leave this tent so that you may see the stars, for they have ever been the strength and love of the Elves.”
Ecthelion allowed himself to be pulled to his feet but leaned heavily on Glorfindel still. “I wish that he could have lived long enough to see the Noldor prosper in this new land, to see the House of Fountains flourish. I despise the fact that his last years were spent wandering like a beggar through the Grinding Ice. I almost wish he could have died at a ‘better’ time, but I suppose no time is a good time.”
“True enough.” Glorfindel dumped Ecthelion onto a nearby tree stump once they were out of the tent. He knelt so they met eye to eye. “Look, Ecthelion, our people need us. Our sovereigns need us. And I need you to stop this.” He flicked a stray strand of golden hair back behind his ear. “I do not like being unhappy, and I do not like seeing you unhappy.”
“I am not this way by choice.”
“But neither are you choosing to fight the heaviness in your heart.” Glorfindel put his hand over Ecthelion’s heart. “The water of a fountain needs to flow freely or it is nothing more than a stone sculpture. As we did with Uilos, let us cherish his memory but continue to live our lives.” The pain in Ecthelion’s heart seemed reflected in Glorfindel’s worried face.
“This pain cannot be healed right away, but I will try,” Ecthelion promised. “What will we do to honor his memory? Shall we find another flower, Lord of the Golden Flowers?”
“Nay, your father was a dear friend to me, and he would think a flower more to my taste than his.” Glorfindel stood and looked to the stars, and a tear slipped down his cheek, though whether it was a tear of relief that Ecthelion was at last opening himself to recovery or a tear of grief for the death of Ehtele, even Glorfindel did not know.
Ecthelion leapt to his feet and gasped, for a round silver flower touched the horizon where Glorfindel had been gazing and began to cross the starlit sky. It outshone the stars of the heavens, but the beloved stars of the Elves were still visible. It was like the memory of Telperion, the Silver Tree that had been slain.
“You’re a Vala, Glorfindel,” Ecthelion said.
“It is not of my doing! But I will claim it and name it before any other. " The tear upon Glorfindel's cheek was wholly forgotten. "Let it be Rana, the Wanderer, in memory of Ehtele of the Fountain, but also, this moon will cherish the memory of all the Elves who have died upon the Grinding Ice and all those who will die in the times to come."
Ecthelion took Glorfindel's hand. The rising of the moon had not been his doing, but the lifting of Ecthelion's heavy heart certainly was. The Lord of the Fountains gazed at the new moon in wonder.
After a time, Glorfindel at last tore his gaze from the moon and smiled crookedly at Ecthelion. "And I think that will be your new nickname, my dear Ecthelion, for Telperion is no more, but now Rana graces the skies over both Valinor and Middle-earth."
They heard Fingolfin's voice nearby, calling out to his sons, "The sign is given. Let us march into Middle-earth!" And both Glorfindel and Ecthelion were pleased to hear their lord thus, for he had long been mourning for the death of his youngest and favorite son, Argon.
"What of you, Lord of the Golden Flowers?" Ecthelion asked. "What name will you have in place of Laurelin?"
"I lost no man upon the Ice. Perhaps I do not deserve a nickname," Glorfindel jested.
"Maybe." Ecthelion sighed one last time and then straightened himself. Gladly would he trumpet (rather than flute for a change) to herald the coming of the hosts of the Noldor who followed Fingolfin's silver and blue banners. He would lead his peoples of the Fountains forth into Middle-earth, and he would guide and protect them as he might. Yet there were some things that a friend could do that a king could not. Ecthelion said to Glorfindel, "Should the golden image of Laurelin rise again, I will name it Vasa, the Heart of Fire, for you have ever brought cheer to the hearts of those in need."
Glorfindel laughed, and many looked over in surprise, for laughter had not been heard since the Noldor had left fair Tirion upon Tuna. “Very clever, Lord of the Fountains. Naming celestial entities before they’ve arisen, surely then it will be so. I look forward to the coming of Vasa, but when it does, I will cherish Rana more, for it holds the memory of our dearest friends.”
The Silmarillion states that Fingolfin marched into ME unchallenged, but in the Peoples of ME, Fingolfin’s youngest son Argon was slain in the Battle of Lammoth (XII. 362). In this fic, Ehtele was also slain.
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