Eyes Like the Sea by Oshun

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. . . and his sleep was troubled with many dreams, of which naught remained in waking memory save one: a vision of an isle, and in the midst of it was a steep mountain, and behind it the sun went down, and shadows sprang into the sky; but above it there shone a single dazzling star. –Unfinished Tales, “Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin.”

Idril found it nearly impossible to take her eyes off Tuor. She mused to herself that he looked better without the untidy beard, although her reaction embarrassed her. It was probably a reflexive narrow preference for the familiar on her part. Or maybe her response was culturally conditioned, not particularly admirable in either case. She did not have to be told explicitly that, as fond as her father had been of Tuor’s father and uncle, that he would be unlikely to be pleased if he learned she found this mortal appealing on a romantic level. On the other hand, there was probably no one in Gondolin good enough for King Turgon’s only daughter.

Tuor might have arrived out of the wilderness with the outward appearance of a scruffy outlaw but his eyes revealed a strong and noble nature, despite his history of torment. Suffering can refine or coarsen one depending upon the resources within a given person. She sensed that Tuor had not been damaged by his early losses or his later thralldom, but that through his will and endurance in his darkest days he had banked the flames of hope within his own heart. Most importantly, he carried a message from a Vala and none other than the Lord of Waters, the King of Sea, her father’s own protective spirit among the Mighty Ones. What better credentials might one offer than that?

She smiled and shook her head, still gazing at Tuor across the room in a small circle which included Voronwë and a group of young Elves, most of them of the Falathrim, who had given up the seafaring life to follow Turgon from Nevrast into Gondolin. Their high-spirited conversation sprinkled with enthusiastic gesticulation and laughter, drew tolerant attention to them.

Yet Tuor glanced up and looked in her direction, as though he sensed she was watching him. He cocked his head to one side. A pellucid smile brightened his handsome face. Bowing with self-possession to his new-found comrades, he excused himself and began to wend his way unhurriedly across the chamber crowded with courtiers and warriors, administrators and wealthier tradesmen, and lords and ladies of the noble houses, the usual attendees at any function like this in Gondolin.

When Elemmakil, a captain of rigid discipline but an individual strong in wisdom, had allowed Voronwë and this man of the House of Hador into the city, the refugees had looked bedraggled, half-starving, and near collapse. Their arrival caused a stir.

Idril had found Tuor striking at first sight despite the raggedy smattering of hair on the young man’s cheeks and other evidence of hard living. In her opinion, Tuor ranked in physical appeal among the most handsome specimens of the Elven or Edain—a tall strong body, beautifully wrought, a fair face and a high brow and eyes like the sea in their color, their depth, and mutability. In any case, and more importantly, she sensed in him a valorous heart and a mighty purpose.

He grinned at her and she smiled back. Although perhaps the quiet type, he was far from shy. His eyes sparkled with challenge and invitation.  

“Good evening, my lord Tuor son of Huor. Did you rest well?” she asked. “I hope you have found your accommodations comfortable.” He looked clean, warm, dry, and adequately, if not elegantly, clothed. The pale blue tunic and jerkin with darker leggings suited him well, accentuating the color of his sea-blue eyes.

 “Is there anything else that you need? Do you have a good bed? Enough blankets?”

“I have been given a fresh, overstuffed feather bed and copious blankets, which is a spectacular improvement over the cold hard ground.” She thought she detected a hint of lasciviousness in his charming smirk. Well, that would be normal in a healthy young man, suddenly provided with good food and plenty to drink, new clothes and warm baths, and the solicitous attention of a not unattractive woman. “You live in luxury here, Princess,” he teased.

“As I am well aware you know, young sir. I’ve experienced hardship in my life.”

He looked abashed, blushing sweetly. “My apologies, kind lady. You look so young that it’s difficult to remember that I am not your equal in age. It’s hard to believe you experienced a life filled with sorrow and danger long before you came to this sheltered city.”

“But still I am considered young amongst my own folk here. I insist we consider ourselves to be equals.” She was playing with fire and knew it. Instead of fearing a conflagration, she only welcomed the warmth, leaning further into his space.  “I hope we will become the greatest of friends,” she whispered. His face shone in the lamplight, clear and beautiful as a young hero graven in stone. She inwardly laughed at her foolishness but smiled up into his eyes, while marveling to herself, so this is what falling in love feels like?

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