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A love denied
The characters, places, and events are creations of J.R.R. Tolkien. No profit was or will be made from this story. It is written solely for entertainment.
Many thanks to my beta, Linda Hoyland.
Arwen left her home after the abduction and departure of her mother. Was the depressing atmosphere at the Last Homely House her only reason?
Chapter 1: unwelcome interruption
The knock had already sounded a second time, but the Elf-Lord did not move, nor even answered the call. In fact he was not willing. He wanted to sit in the dark, stare into the flames, forget about the world around him.
He looked at the empty goblet in his hand. He gripped the wine bottle from the side table but it was empty too, like the two others on the floor. With an angry grunt he tossed the glass into the flames.
As expected, the door opened before the splinters had fallen onto the hearth stones.
„Master Elrond….? “came the reluctant call.
A mixture between a question and a statement.
„Is everything alright? “
Had his thoughts not been this fuzzy he would have laughed out loud. Nothing was and would ever be alright. His wife had left him. Despite his best efforts to heal her she had nonetheless decided to leave these shores. He had failed her. It was as simple as that.
When he heard steps nearing his high backed chair he held up his hand.
„Tinár, please leave. Whatever it is I´m not willing to leave my study.“
If he had hoped that his attitude would repel his chief healer, he was mistaken for the next moment Tinár said.
„Master Elrond, I have a patient and I need your help.“
The Elf-Lord closed his eyes. His chief healer was an expert. There was surely nothing he could not handle himself. Why the interruption? His anger returned. He bent forward and placed his head in his hands.
„What have you not understood about `leave me alone`, Tinár?“
He had spoken slowly and softly, yet his irritation was clearly heard.
For several long minutes nothing happened. Just when Elrond thought the healer had left he was addressed again.
„You have to look at my patient. She will die otherwise. Please, at least wash your hands and face if nothing else. “
This time the irritation of the younger elf was equally clear to hear. A rustling of robes followed. Elrond was left stunned. How dare his assistant to speak to him thus? He was sitting here since – since when? - maybe he had not changed his clothes since….
With an angry shake of his head he rose and nearly tripped over the empty wine bottle. His head spun for a moment. Dammed Dorwinion, he would only consume the much lighter Imladris wine in the future….
Future – this word hit him hard.
His swaying changed into a full-fledged shivering. He had to steady himself with both hands braced against the armrests of his chair. He squeezed his eyes shut.
Opening them again, he left the place in front of the hearth to go to a settee right under the great window. Yes, a short nap would bring some relief at least to his body.
His gaze fell on the still open door. Why had Tinár not closed it? He would not go to the infirmary only to look at…a woman?
Sighing profoundly, he took a deep breath. Looking down at himself he swallowed. Since their return from the Havens he had worn this clothing. He had really not changed since…since?
How long had he been sitting here brooding?
He could not remember when he had last ate or slept. He had not once heeded the concerns of his sons, of Arwen or anyone else – where was the girl?, he has not seen her in days. Poor thing, she had of all of them least understood why her mother felt no longer at home, why she had to leave….
Too quickly he wheeled around and hit his fist hard on his desk. The pain did something to clear his mind.
Then his anger returned.
Why did she have to leave? WHY!!
He panted hard, desperately trying to prevent the tears from falling.
He looked over the table. Strewn papers, stock lists to complete, reports that needed looking over, letters unanswered.
With an angry swipe of his hand he hurled the items on the floor. Why did this have to happen? Could the abyss not open up and swallow him too?
„Elrond, we really need your help!“
Not Tinár but another interrupted him this time.
He had not recognized the other elf coming into the room nor the hand now resting on his shoulder.
He whirled around. For long moments he glared at the slightly taller elf.
„Glorfindel, leave me alone. I want to be alone. Will no one respect my wishes?”
The golden haired elf did not blink nor react in any outward way to the outburst.
„You have been alone for much too long now. She will die, Elrond.”
„I do not care,” the healer retorted his eyes burning.
What had he just said? He was a healer at heart.
The concerns of Middle-earth no longer bothered him. He could not heal his wife. What sense did it make to heal anyone else?
Still getting no response, he turned around again. He braced himself at the words surely to come. Glorfindel had never been afraid to voice his opinion.
Yet, nothing – only silence.
After taking another deep breath, he turned and was astounded to find the room empty.
As much as he wished to be alone as much he felt alone now, empty, lost.
But had not he blocked all attempts of comfort the elves around him had tried to offer?
But what sort of comfort could they give? His wife had left to find healing elsewhere and she had ripped a hole in his heart that could never be closed.
Thank you, my love, for that.
Again he registered this unaccustomed feeling: anger.
At whom was he angry? At Celebrían? At himself? At the orcs for causing all this – ridiculous!
Orcs were an integral part of this world. You had to live with them and accept the consequences caused by them. That was simply a fact.
All their elven might was nothing in the face of their simple and savage brutality.
With another deep breath he combed his fingers through his tangled hair and smoothed out his crinkled robe – both actions with little to no effect.
Concerned faces came back to his mind. His younger son had countless times tried to lure him out, begged him to take some nourishment. His seneschal, his troop commander, healers all had danced around him …..concerned…concerned…damn it.
He wanted nothing more than to be alone.
He swallowed. This self-pity would bring him nothing. He was Elrond of Rivendell and had the valley to rule. He had three children who would need his guidance now. Yet, to whom could he turn in need? With whom could he share his inner fears now?
When the sun shining through the window graced his face, he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. Celebrían was not dead, only far away and one day they would meet again……one day.
His long perfected mask in place again, he left the room with determined steps pausing only to grab his healing bag, which lay packed and ready next to the door.
With quick strides he hastened down the corridor quite aware of the looks following him. The further he walked the more the feelings washing over him lowered his resolve. The thin crust over his sore soul begun to break, the black chasm was opening anew……
The softly spoken word crumbled his defenses. He whirled around.
There in the corridor stood his daughter, as forlorn as he was himself. He wanted nothing more than to envelop his child in his arms, yet he could not. He could not take one step. Arwen was as reluctant. The chasm between them was growing.
She needed her mother, but he needed her too…..where were her brothers? Could not anyone else comfort her?
She looked so much like her mother, yet different. The raven black hair, the stronger build– attributes of her partly human heritage.
“I have work to do, Arwen.”
Hollow words with no meaning. Large grey eyes were directed at him with incredulity, pleading, begging…..
Yet he turned and hastened down the corridor. Away from more feelings, responsibility….
At last he stepped through the slightly ajar door to the healing wing and was instantly enveloped into the familiar and unique odor of healing herbs, the smell of blood and earth and freshly brewed tea…..
Instantly the flurry of activity stopped. Openly relieved gazes and some veiled suspicious looks were directed at him.
Here he felt safe, this was his playground, here he knew exactly what to do, how to react. His confidence was back.
What caused the Elf-Lord to stumble and sway, however was the woman on the high working table.
A slender body with long golden hair. One pale hand was hanging lifelessly over the edge of the table. Elrond´s breathing increased. His healer instincts screamed at him, yet his muscles felt as if they were frozen.
He could not take his eyes from the bruised and battered body. His trained eye clearly perceived the signs of broken bones and a mistreatment that made bile rise in his throat.
Tinár had narrowed his eyes at his entrance.
His helpers had already done a great job, yet their work did nothing to make the sight of this poor soul any more bearable.
“Celebrían...” he breathed.
His world begun to spin again around him. The sight before him narrowed to a slim tunnel. Der noises and voices faded away until all was a grey mass.
From one minute to the other all went black. The impact he did not feel anymore.
To be continued……………..
Tinár………….Chief healer of the Last Homely House
a love denied
Chapter 2: suffering souls
He awoke to feel someone caressing his face. He opened his eyes and closed them again with a groan when a splitting headache made itself known.
“Don´t move, Ada. You have a nasty bump on your head.”
The Elf-Lord opened his eyes again and looked into the concerned face of his daughter. How had he acquired the injury?
“Celebrian…..” he breathed as he sat upright.
He did not see the narrowed eyes of his daughter because his gaze swept toward the high working table - now empty.
Freeing himself from the restraining hand he rose.
“You should stay in bed, Master Elrond.”
He had not heard the healer approaching. Irritated he turned his head. Not a wise course of action either.
“Tinár, where is she?” he asked his gaze again scanning the large room.
“Who?” the healer asked with forced calm while deliberately stepping into Elrond's line of vision.
The dark haired Elf-Lord started to round on his colleague. “I have seen her….” Irritated, Elrond tried to free some tangled hair from the bandage around his head.
“Elrond stop,” Tinár said his voice still calm but strained now.
The Elf-Lord stopped and turned. For a short moment steely grey eyes were fixed on the healer. Tinár was reminded that the ruling Lord of this valley was a descendant of a long line of noble heritage. Not for nothing was he once destined to succeed his King.
Suddenly, the dark haired elf begun to sway again. Tinár was at his side an instant later, swearing. He would not let a second fall happen. Determinedly he guided his chief to a nearby chair. With gentle force he made the elf sit.
“Please remain sitting down. You have a slight concussion.”
Elrond´s head jerked up. Not an action recommended for a headache. Tinár refrained from sighing.
“Where is Celebrían?”
Dragging another chair near the chief-healer of Imladris sat down.
“Elrond. Your Lady wife is no longer dwelling here. You have personally escorted her to the havens. The woman you have seen was not her. She´s the patient I asked your assistance with earlier.”
Propping his head in both hands the Elf-Lord took a deep breath.
“What happened to her?”
Tinár pressed his lips into a thin line. Since his return from the havens the Master healer had hardly left his room, barely eaten or slept. He had neglected his duties, his family, himself. Tinár had already rued asking him for assistance.
He would need some distraction but was a gravely wounded, dying woman the right kind?
Tinár sighed. He had started this so he had to go on now. He rose.
“I will show you. Please follow me.”
With a critical eye on the other healer, Tinár motioned the Elf-Lord toward an alcove where patients were shielded from view separated by a screen.
From the corner of his eyes Tinár saw that Lady Arwen was leaving the infirmary in a rush. He made a mental note to inform someone to look after her. She had sat on her father´s sick bed all night and now Elrond had not even acknowledged her.
When Elrond rounded the screen he stopped in his tracks. On the bed lay the woman he had earlier mistaken for Celebrían. Now he saw instantly that the woman was human, not an elf, yet her built was especially graceful for a human and she was unusually tall. And she had beautiful long blond hair, albeit matted in grime and blood.
He shook his head. How could he have mistaken her for his wife? He had no mental or emotional connection to this woman and yet…..
Three assistants of Tinár were still engaged in tending to the woman.
Elrond, however doubted that the woman on the bed would survive, with or without his intervention He was already doing what came naturally to him. Observe, analyze and weight up the options.
This woman had been too long bereft of proper help. The skin was no longer grey, rather translucent presumably from lying on cold earth. Without touching her he was sure that her body temperature was well below normal.
The woman was covered all over in cuts, bruises and scratches and it was clear that she had been severely beaten. The many bruises told their own story. Most prominent however, was the deep stab wound in her left side, dangerously high up, so that her lung could be affected. That she had been raped and abused was also clear to see and only completed the horrible sight.
Finally nearing the heightened bed the assistants moved aside to give the Elf-Lord room to further observe.
Yet there was not much to discover additionally. It was a miracle anyway that the woman still lived.
“What happened?” Elrond asked a second time, having got no explanation so far.
Tinár spirits sunk. He had hoped to spark some interest in the healer´s heart, yet the cool indifference in the Elf-lord´s voice dampened his hopes. Yet he had asked and not ignored the woman. Tinár cleared his throat. Elrond might be troubled, yet his healer's mind was still sharp and he would tolerate nothing short of a thorough briefing.
“By chance, the northern border patrol came across a small homestead that had been raided by orcs. It was obvious that a whole family, along with their farmhands and animals had been killed. At first the warriors took her – he nodded toward the woman on the bed - for dead too. She held a dead baby in her arms. When they realized that she was still alive they brought her here. She´s not counted among the Dúnedain nor does she seem to have other relatives nearby.”
“Has the child been brought here too?”
Tinár narrowed his eyes and nodded. A short but precise question.
“Please see that it is buried according to these people's customs.”
Tinár nodded having given this very order hours again. He still shuddered, remembering the sight of the little child's body. The boy could not have older than one year. His little body was nearly cleaved into two with a crude but sharp weapon. The child must have died immediately, but this sight was hard to endure, even for him. As a healer he had seen much senseless cruelty during his long life.
The Elf-Lord bend over the woman and started his examination. Returning to his side, Tinár raised an eyebrow.
Was there any hope that the woman could survive? He believed their efforts would be futile in the end. She had lost too much blood and her wounds had been neglected far too long.
But was not Master Elrond the best healer in all of Middle- earth? Had he not for this reason called for him earlier? If anyone could, the Elf-Lord would be the only one able to call her back.
He in any case would keep a wary eye on the superior healer. Elrond was in no shape to overtax his abilities.
Elrond had worked for hours. His world had narrowed to this bed, to this one soul in need of rescue. But whenever he solved one problem a new one would arise. Maybe he should cease his efforts and let nature take its course. Why the woman was still struggling eluded him. Her whole family had been extinguished, her husband and child dead. But was she even aware of that?
Death would be more merciful. If a miracle happened and she recovered there would be a long road ahead of her.
Maybe he had done the woman no favors in helping her to survive. Without help she would already be united with her loved ones beyond the circles of this world. But this was not his way. He would not let her die.
He did not know why, but this woman touched his heart. For a short moment he paused in his ministrations, earning a bewildered look from the assistant opposite to him by ignoring the bandage roll the younger elf was handing him.
Searching his inner feelings he knew suddenly why it was so important to him that this woman lived.
It was quite simple. He could not help his wife despite all his power, maybe he had a chance with her.
After he resumed his work, another hour or so went by. Several times the Elf-Lord had to pause to make sure the woman was still alive. Her vital signs were so faint by now that he had to strain his senses to detect them at all.
Sometimes he was worried that she would not take another breath. But somehow her struggles always continued.
Maybe the second-born were not as fragile as it was believed.
Albeit the figure on the bed looked exactly like that: fragile, weak and one step away from whatever fate awaited Eru's younger children after leaving this world.
Again he was reminded treating his wife after being brought home all those months ago. Bleeding, filthy, reeking of orc-filth and odors the Elf-lord did not care to remember.
He shuddered at the memory of when his older son had placed the limp body of his beloved into his arms. The horrible truth he had long felt before the rescue party came in sight had now become very real before his eyes.
Bodily, Celebrían was not nearly in such a bad shape as this young woman. She had also been stabbed and raped, yes, but her numerous wounds were of another nature. Deeply embedded in her soul, her mind shattered beyond repair.
Maybe unconsciously the Elf-Lord longed for the confirmation that his healing power would not have been strong enough to heal his wife and the blame was not his.
Oddly enough, no one but he blamed himself for things that were out of his control.
Celebrían had sailed, either not able or not willing to accept the help she could have received.
She had left a not only grieving but also frustrated family behind struggling to understand her decision.
At home surrounded by her family she could have received the utmost care, love and support and Elrond would have trodden every dark path with her.
But she had rejected him every time he had tried to get through to her and sooth her.
She had always used the same argument. She was afraid that her husband would be too shocked to see what the orcs had done to her.
Elrond had two healer-trained eyes and could well guess what had happened.
They had tortured, tormented and wounded her with a poisoned blade.
This could hardly be the reason for her flight. He was sure that he could have gone with her through the long way of recovery from being put to torment. Not once did any thoughts of blame or revulsion cross his mind.
Elrond was a warrior and had surely seen more cruelty and pain in his long life than Celebrían could even imagine.
And he was a healer, trained in easing hurts in body and spirit. Certainly, it was much worse when the patient was a family member but the motivation was also much higher then.
Her husband would have had the power, strength and will to travel the long way of recovery with her, but as always she did what was best for her.
Finally Elrond had relented and stepped back with no less envy in his heart why his wife should find healing in the blessed realm but not with him. He knew that Middle earth was marred and all his personal might could never compare with the healing power at the Blessed realm. He felt somehow guilty for not going with her, yet till today he could only accept, but not really understand.
She had left him and three children behind, when she had not been able to come to terms with what had happened.
And who could help her in Valinor? Someone nearer or with more insight in her heart than her husband, her children, her parents? He knew that he was again betraying himself. The very nature of Valinor alone would help her. Angrily he shoved these disturbing thoughts away.
Feeling the burning gazes of all around him, Elrond continued working, blocking the past out.
Why did this young woman touch his heart so?
Her fate was that of many in these dark times. Attacked, abused, killed and thrown away.
To be continued…….
A love denied
Chapter 3: hard feelings
“Where is Adar, Glorfindel?”
The question held a highly irritated undertone and would have intimidated every elf standing before the heir of Imladris, but not so Elrond's chief commander.
The tall elf only raised an eyebrow at the abrupt tone.
Sensing the building tension between his brother and the Troop commander the younger son of Master Elrond stepped forward.
“We are not sure if Ada is up to treating a gravely or maybe mortally wounded woman so soon after…..in his state.”
The slip of the tongue did not go unnoticed. Glorfindel was the same opinion, yet for Elrond to hide in his study forever was no option either. He had already stated this to the young Lords.
“Your Lord father is old enough to decide on his own and the woman might only be saved with his superior skills.”
“A human…you could have consulted Tinár……..” Elladan retorted. He was already in the process of rounding the tall elf blocking his path to the healing ward's entrance.
A quick movement and Elladan's upper arm was caught between steely fingers.
“Mind your tone, Elrondion.”
With a final flash of his sharp eyes the Troop commander left the two young elves standing in the corridor with their lips pursed.
Since Celebrian had left, the atmosphere had been explosive at Rivendell. This incident was but the latest example.
Elrohir grabbed his brother´s arm, whirling him around for fear he would call after their mentor, unleashing trouble not so easily tamed again.
“Leave me,” Elladan growled.
“You will not make it better like this,” the younger twin retorted.
For a short moment the angry stare vanished from the older twin´s eyes only to return a second later.
Without another word, Elladan turned and resumed his initial course. Elrohir was close behind.
With long strides, their capes billowing behind them, the young Lords hastened across the aisle of the healing area.
Ignoring questioning and disapproving looks, the sons of Elrond had almost crossed the long row of alcoves when they espied their father.
Elladan paused but only for a second when a warning thought from his brother reached his mind. He shook his head. Plain speaking was long overdue and he was never one to hold back for long.
However before voicing his opinion the older twin stopped, his narrowed eyes directed at the patient his father was still treating. Glorfindel had not exaggerated. The woman looked as good as dead.
Why was the Elf-lord labouring for hours for this lost cause? Sometimes is was best to step back and let the inevitable happen.
In many cases it was even for the best. Why keep someone alive at any cost only to condemn him or her to a life of misery and pain?
As concentrated as the Elf lord appeared to be his head jerked up at the strong feelings proceeding the young elves. He had long sensed their arrival, yet their hostile attitude was still a surprise to him.
Before starting the next phase of treatment a short pause was needed to allow his helpers to do their work. Elrond used it to address his sons.
Yet before he had even a chance to say a single word, Elladan stepped forward again shrugging off his brother´s restraining grip.
“Why are you taxing your strength to this extent, my Lord? It´s hardly worth the trouble.”
Raised eyebrows, even gasps could be heard at the challenging words and the use of the formal form of address.
Wiping his bloody hands on his working apron Master Elrond nodded toward his two helpers.
“I can safely take for a break. I will call for your assistance shortly. Elladan, Elrohir please follow me.”
Nodding and leaving quickly Elrond looked at his sons after he had covered the woman´s naked body with a light blanket.
Elrond whirled around at the use of the formal address again.
“That was no request, Elladan. Leave this room, at once.”
No gasps could be heard this time. There was only silence. Some of the elves however were quickly leaving the ward.
“No, ADAR…I will not leave. I will say what I have to just in the presence of this…..woman. She can´t hear us anyway.”
A strange transformation was happening to the Elf lord. His already stiff posture became rigid, almost as if preparing for a battle. His eyes changed from steely gray into a tumultuous black brown.
Seeing this, Elrohir stepped in front of his brother, yet his jaw was as set as the older twin´s.
“Adar, this might be not the right time nor the right place but Elladan is right. We have not seen much of you for weeks, you have not spoken to us or to anyone else for that matter. You have ignored Arwen completely. But now a patient is here at our house and you have appeared and are exerting yourself.”
“I have only done what I had to. I´m not willing to discuss my motives with you….”
“Others may have needed your help too…..” Elladan cried, fury now underlying his voice.
Instantly realizing that the words would be misinterpreted Elladan closed his mouth. Elrohir rammed an elbow into his brother´s gut. They had lost the battle before it had even begun.
The hard stare had left the Elf lord´s eyes. Without another word the healer turned.
“Valar preserve us, Elladan! When will you learn to control your anger? That was not very helpful.”
Elrohir left also, yet in the opposite direction as their father. Speaking to him now would achieve nothing.
Elladan took a deep breath.
`I have not mentioned naneth`, he transferred in mind speech.
`I know` came the wordless reply.
After about half an hour Elrond returned into the healing ward. His mind was still in turmoil, yet he had regained his control. He ignored the discreetly searching looks aimed into his direction.
He was still angry. Angry at himself. Why was the slightest mention of healing or his wife always knocking him off balance? He shook his head unwillingly. He had done what was in his power. Celebrían had left and it was her decision. Otherwise she might well have faded.
`Forgive yourself and your heart will heal eventually`.
Elrond did not even bother to look up. There were not many elves to address him in this familiar fashion and he was in no mood to receive further well-meant advice.
Meanwhile his healers had finished tending to the woman. There was still much work for him to do, yet the simple chores had been done.
After all the dirt and grime had been cleaned from her body, Elrond was surprised how fair the young woman looked.
Without the bruises her face would be beautiful as it was comely and framed by a long mane of golden slightly wavy hair.
Apart for her rounded ears she could easily be mistaken for an elf – outwardly at least.
Why the young human was clinging so stubbornly to life was beyond his comprehension.
Again a prominent thought was invading his mind. Why was he so desperately trying to save her?
Being a healer could not be the only answer. Why did she speak to his heart?
He would lose this fight, yet he had to try.
After two more hours, all that could be done was done. It lay now no longer in the hands of the elves. The woman had to pull through on her own.
Elrond directed a last look at the pale face. He doubted that by morning she would still draw breath. Another loss on his conscience.
He thanked his helpers and left the ward with a slight nod toward Tinár. With a sigh he shoved one of the great double doors shut.
“Would you care to join me at a glass of wine?”
“Very well, but only one and in my study. I´m tired.”
“As you wish, my Lord.”
After receiving an irritated look, Glorfindel followed the dark haired elf down the corridor.
To be continued………………
A love denied
Chapter 4: clear words
While surveying the healer´s office, Glorfindel stepped over the threshold and closed the door without a sound. He retrieved a bottle of wine from the cabinet next to the entrance and two glasses from a side-table.
Out of the corner of his eye he watched the other Lord´s rigid form standing at the great window. Elond´s gaze was directed at the spacious gardens, but Glorfindel was positive that the Elf-lord was not really looking at them. His mind was in the uttermost West.
Glorfindel took a deep breath. He did not need to be a mind reader to know what the other elf was thinking.
Just as he was about to say something, Imladris´ Lord whirled around and Glorfindel nearly dropped the just opened wine bottle at the sight of the stormy expression on his long time friend´s face. Nothing unusual either of late.
`What in the name of the Valar` was happening? ´
Glorfindel stepped closer the wine forgotten. Again, he was reminded of the great warrior and descendant of a king, which was often overshadowed by the serene and calm attitude the Elf-lord usually displayed.
“Why did she to have to go? Why in all of Middle-earth did she decide to leave – to leave me…..?”
An irritated, almost angry intake of breath.
Glorfindel´s eyes darkened.
“Do I really have to tell you again? She would have faded here. Her spirit was broken and the air of the Blessed Realm is healing itself…..”
“Alas! Here is her family, her children, her home, and…and…..me…”
Glorfindel raised an eyebrow. This was new.
The healer had been many things, but never had he been selfish. Where was the heart of the problem?
“Elrond, the blessings of Valinor can never be matched by anything or anyone here in Arda marred…..”
“Give it a rest! Glorfindel. How can her spirit heal when her heart is sundered from the ones who love her? She´s the daughter of Galadriel, a descendant of Finwe. I had expected more!”
Glorfindel took a step back swallowing. This was not Elrond, the greatest healer of Middle earth talking. He had ever been the understanding one where the sorrows and pains of this world were concerned. Why was he not granting his wife the same favor?
Before, however, he could form a suitable reply the other Elf-lord turned in a rush and left the room with the door banging against the wall.
Glorfindel closed his eyes.
After replacing the glasses on the side table, he followed his friend.
This scenario was repeating itself again. Elrond refused to address the pain – not an action he would accept from of a patient of his.
Glorfindel grimaced while hastening through the corridors.
`Physician first heal thyself`
A few words with a chamber maid directed his steps outside. The healer had just rounded the stables on the path leading to the river.
`Let the river stay calm`
With the mind of the mighty Elrond in turmoil it was nothing to be played lightly with.
It would be not the first time that an angry Elf-lord´s mind had caused a raging river.
When Glorfindel had rounded a cluster of bushes, he instantly recognized that Elrond had not headed for the river but the training grounds.
The Balrog slayer narrowed his eyes. What was the meaning of this?
Elrond had not been to the training grounds for months. With all the sad events concerning his lady, the regularly scheduled training sessions had been neglected and eventually ceased – understandable because not really paramount right now, yet Glorfindel always insisted that even the leaders practice regularly.
But Elrond was not in condition and surely not in the mood to do training right now.
Oddly, the training ground appeared empty, even with many sessions scheduled for today, at least as far as Glorfindel knew.
It were as if a predator had appeared in a forest clearing, causing all prey to flee…..
Glorfindel had seen Elrond vanish into the building which held the training weapons. He hastened his strides.
´This had to stop – now`
The golden haired warrior opened the wooden door with a jerk.
The healer had his hands propped on the rim of an open wooden chest where the training swords were kept. What Glorfindel espied instantly was the sword leaning next to the healer and this one was by no means a training sword. Where and when had the Elf-lord retrieved his own sword?
Glorfindel took a deep breath.
“Elrond, let us talk….”
“I´m tired of talking, of everyone telling me what to do or not to do. How I should react or feel and when I have to sleep and eat. Enough of that….”
With the last word the healer raised his sword and advanced.
Glorfindel was taken aback, but only for a second. Millennial old skills never slept.
While his body readied for an imminent fight nearly automatically, his mind was in turmoil.
`Would the healer really attack him? Was he out of his right mind? `
Glorfindel whirled around and broke the lock of a cupboard with the hilt of a training sword he had grabbed. The door flew open and he retrieved a sword – also a real one – normally locked away from eager novices. It was not his own but it had to do.
Not a second too early, Glorfindel raised his sword in defense when the first blow came. He blocked the blow but was nonetheless surprised by the vehemence. The momentum drove both Elf-lords outside.
Glorfindel tried to lock eyes with his opponent. He frowned when unfamiliar eyes stared back at him. Black eyes in a hardened face no longer resembling the kind and caring Elf-lord they were all used to.
Glorfindel did not make the mistake of underestimating an opponent – not on a real battlefield nor here.
Elrond may have been lacking in practice and he had never been forced to act like an every-day warrior, yet he was still an excellent sword fighter and millennial old skills never vanished.
Another blow and another.
Glofindel was only defending himself while studying his friend. Did Elrond really fight him in earnest? Was this a game to vent his frustration and anger?
The moves of the Elf-lord and his eyes, however spoke another language. It was no play. Glorfindel was hard pressed to parry the blows. Step for step he draw back in the hope that the Master of Imladris would come to his senses.
He needed time, just more time.
Another hard blow and then Glorfindel felt sudden pain.
Glorfindel looked in surprise at the growing red stain on his upper sleeve. The other´s blade had only nicked him.
Glorfindel looked back at his friend. Maybe the shedding of blood would reawaken the healer within Elrond? Maybe it would stop this madness?
No such luck. With a battle cry not heard in decades the dark-haired Elf-lord was advancing with a new vigor Glorfindel knew he had to do something against and act soon, otherwise a severe injury would ensue.
The blows came now in such quick succession that Glorfindel had to block and parry in earnest and he had to fight back skillfully to ensure this fight did not prove fatal for one of them.
Out of the corner of his eye, Glorfindel espied the first onlookers. Just what he needed right now. But what had he expected? The news of two fighting Elf-lords had raced through the valley like a
Wildfire, despite only the two of them being there.
Thankfully, the elves kept their distance sensing that something was amiss with this fight. Elrond and Glorfindel had often sparred in the past but this had always been announced in advance and often made a show for young warriors. Somehow everyone knew that this was different.
Another blow much too precise and near his head.
Glorfindel raised his sword and with three quick strides and moves he drove the furious Elf-lord back, rounded him and landed a hard blow with the blunt side of his sword on the other Elf's back.
Elrond cried out and stumbled forward. He was not seriously hurt, but would surely have a large bruise.
Glorfindel rounded his opponent and advanced with the speed and precision that only a warrior who trained daily could display. The healer had no other choice than to retreat and defend himself.
Glorfindel took care not to injure his friend in earnest, yet he wanted to end this and show the other that he had stepped over a line. Heavy bruising and a cut here and there he took into account. Maybe the pain would hoist the healer back to reality.
With quick blows and strides he had driven the healer back and pinned against a tree trunk. Pinning the dark haired elf´s sword along with his arm to the tree so their faces were only inches apart.
“Elrond stop this madness. I do not want to injure you.”
No hesitation, not for a second.
With a quick raised knee into the other´s belly, Elrond used the short distraction to free himself and the fight continued with quick blows and strides, dance-like moves and spins until both Elf-Lords were sweating and panting heavily.
From the side of the training field the sons of Elrond raced onto the fray. Elladan was just about to enter the field when a steely hand around his lower arm jerked him back.
“Child, are you mad?” someone cried in his ear.
Elladan looked up in surprise and anger at the elf addressing him like this and holding him back.
“Erestor, can you not see? Look at this. Something is seriously wrong.”
“My eyes are pretty good, young Lord. Yet this is no situation for a child to run into.”
Elladan was bristling at the new affront, yet the calming thoughts of his brother just a step behind caused him to hesitate.
“When you now disturb them in their concentration it be deadly – so stay away!”
A clear command that even the heir of Imladris obeyed at once.
Just enough time for Elrond´s chief counselor to shed his cape and reveal a long sword held in front of him. Elrohir took a deep breath.
“Take away the bystanders.”
While the brothers and other elves made haste to follow Erestor´s command, the dark haired elf ran across the field never taking his eyes off the fighting Elf-lord´s. He saw clearly that Glorfindel was holding back, yet he also saw that this could go on no longer. He was already bleeding from cuts – looking worse than they were.
A cry, however, halted him mid stride. Elrond was on his knees pressing a hand to his thigh, blood was already seeping through his fingers.
He raised his sword and cried:
“ELROND, GLOFINDEL STOP THIS AT ONCE!”
Both Elf-lords froze. Erestor advanced more quickly than any eye could follow and kicked the lowered sword of Elrond out of reach. Still in motion, he turned and hurled Glorfindel's sword out of the way.
Nothing stirred. No movement, no sound, no breath.
Erestor closed his eyes and inhaled sharply. He hoped that the spell was broken. With two furious Elf-lords you could never be sure however.
Glorfindel approached the kneeling healer.
“Elrond, you are injured. Let me see to this wound,” he said while falling to his knees in front of the other elf.
There was not much that could surprise Erestor, yet the reaction of the valley´s Lord surely did.
“I´m a healer, you know. I know what to do. Save your words.”
With some effort the healer rose and limped toward the house. Erestor and Glorfindel stared after Elrond, even the twins, watching the scene with open irritation, stood rooted to the spot.
What was happening here?
To be continued……..
A love denied
Chapter 5: No silver lining in the clouds.
Glorfindel also rose and started to go after the Elf-Lord. Erestor caught his upper arm mindful of the still bleeding cut.
“Let him be. Maybe he needs some space to breathe.”
Not sure of his feelings at present, Glorfindel only nodded. He had known Elrond for a very long time. The Lore Master had always been difficult, but someone you could easily get along when respecting his boundaries. Since Celebrían had left, Glorfindel found it increasingly difficult to reach the Peredhel.
“Let me see to this cut,” Erestor said softly.
“It´s nothing,” Glorfindel replied and walked away.
`What else? ` Erestor thought.
He gathered up the two swords and looked around. The twins had vanished. It was strangely silent in the valley, in the atmosphere – everywhere.
The peace of the sanctuary was at stake – it´s foundations were shaking.
Glorfindel nodded his thanks at Thalan, a young apprentice healer in Elrond´s service. He had relented and allowed himself to be treated after a furious head healer had explained to him how important it was to treat deep cuts properly if he wanted to have full use of his arm in battle.
Tinár was not really angry at him. He had also been rejected when trying to help the valley´s Lord - the cut Elrond had received was a lot more serious than Glorfindel´s injury.
Only after Arwen had appeared and promised to look after her father and take care of his wound, had Tinár had stepped aside, but not without venting his anger on another – in this case the other stupid Elf-lord in his opinion. Arwen was as competent as any healer at Imladris – having been her father´s pupil almost since she could walk.
Testing his arm while walking down the corridor, Glorfindel was just about to enter his chamber when he sensed someone near. He turned around. The sons of Elrond emerged from an alcove in the dimly lit corridor.
Glorfindel took a deep breath. Trouble was looming. Nonetheless he made an inviting gesture toward his rooms.
No words came in reply, only the expression in two pairs of dark eyes.
Glorfindel raised an annoyed eyebrow. Nevertheless, he followed the young elves he had known all his life. Quietly he closed the door.
Elladan was standing at the window facing the courtyard.
Glorfindel had hardly taken one step inside the room when the older of the twins whirled around.
“How could you let this happen? Were you in need of some excitement?” His tone was heavy with sarcasm.
Glorfindel took a slow steadying breath. After briefly closing his eyes, he stepped just in front of the dark haired elf, their heads only inches away. Glorfindel could feel the hot breath. He had to make a statement; otherwise the situation would spiral out of control. In this case Elladan being exactly like his father.
“I have said it before and I will say it again. Watch your tongue, young one. I do not need to explain myself. If you have anything to say worth me listening to, then say it. Otherwise leave my rooms.
Elladan stepped back from the intense gaze. Suddenly the Elf-lord he had known all his life had changed. As always of late he had been angry, wanting to provoke, to vent some of his frustration but instantly he noticed that he had stepped over a line. For a short moment, he wanted to apologize but then the anger resurfaced. As it always did of late – dark and malicious, pouncing on him like a beast.
“Come on, Glorfindel. Spar with me, maybe you can still learn something?”
Elrohir, silent so far, had sprung up from the bed he had just sunk down on. He had clearly sensed the changing of the aura in the room. He was so tired of placating his brother to prevent worse mischief.
Yet before he could intervene he was thrown back by some sort of shock wave coming from where Glorfindel was standing. In one fluid motion, he leapt back to his feet. After briefly closing his eyes he opened them again, yet he was barely able to look at the blinding white light emanating from the spot where his mentor was standing. He could no longer see Glorfindel.
Hardened through recent events, he felt fear for the first time in ages – real fear because the figure standing in the middle of the room no longer resembled the companion who had raised and protected them all their life.
From time to time they simply forgot that the golden haired Elf-lord was one of the mighty elves of old, one who had been reborn and was still some of the great, even here on Arda marred.
No word was uttered. Elladan was simply staring at the glowing figure trying to shield his eyes. Some sort of conversation was held, yet Elrohir was receiving nothing – his brother was closing his mind to him completely.
Elrohir could not say how long it was before the blinding light faded. Glorfindel appeared as normal as before. Without another word, Elladan left the room. Elrohir looked at his mentor.
“Go after your brother. It would not be wise to confront your father right now.”
Elrohir, already in the process of leaving, whirled around.
“Stop ordering us around, Glorfindel. We shall see our father when we deem it right.”
The door was slammed shut; Glorfindel was left alone in the dark.
Later that evening Glorfindel walked down the corridor toward his Lord´s chambers. He silently opened the door and was not surprised when he saw Tinár just rising from Elrond’s bedside.
The Half-elf was sleeping, his eyes closed. His injury had been treated and the damaged leg was propped up on a plush cushion.
Tinár motioned Glorfindel to step outside the room with him.
“Lady Arwen has done an excellent job in treating the wound and convincing her Lord father to rest….”
The “but” was left hanging in the air.
“Well?” Glorfindel asked softly but with enough insistence to make the healer look at him sharply.
“When I arrived Lady Arwen was just leaving her father’s rooms….”
“Yes?” Glorfindel asked. He sounded irritated. The healer was stating the obvious.
Tinár looked the Elf-lord in the eye. He didn´t like to be questioned like an Elf child caught helping himself to the cakes.
“She was crying, my Lord. She has kept watch at her father´s bedside, and has taken care of his wounds. He did not even thank her, only asked to be alone after waking.”
“She has told you that?”
“No, I´m a mind reader!”
Tinár lowered his eyes. “I´m sorry, my Lord; that was uncalled for.”
“There is nothing to be sorry for, Tinár. I´m the one who should apologize. I had no right to question you thus. This lesson I have learned twice today.”
Without another word the Elf-lord turned leaving the healer standing in the corridor with a much worse feeling than before.
Glorfindel headed out of the house, He knew exactly where to find Elrond’s daughter when she was not in her rooms. Twice he had wanted to help and was rejected. Maybe this time he would meet with more success.
He walked down the narrow path directly leading toward the river. On the base where it veered off to the east and border of Imladris was a cove, not easily detected when you did not know where to look.
Arwen had often played here as a child when she wanted to be alone. Each time she gave her father a fright when she was missing and out of his sight. After Glorfindel had discovered her hiding place, the searching had stopped much to her dismay.
Elrond had countless times told his daughter not to come here – a swell of the river could easily reach the den. As a child, Arwen had only looked at her father and countered with her childish logic.
`You control the river, Ada. What could possibly happen?`
Despite his tense mood, Glorfindel had to smile. Little Arwen had always been very smart – no adult could stay cross with her for long.
Arwen was no longer a child. Her wits were sharp now. She knew exactly how to hold her ground against the male elves surrounding her.
Her mother’s departure had knocked her off course, however. While everyone had reacted in some way to Celebrían leaving, Arwen had not shown any emotion, at least not openly.
Glorfindel stopped walking. The longer he thought about this the greater his anxiousness became. Had he ever seen Arwen cry or complain or even comment on the matter? The twins had loudly argued with their father, they had even accused the Elf-lord of not doing enough to heal their mother.
Now they vented their anger and frustration by riding out time and again and slaying orcs.
Elrond´s reactions to his wife´s leaving had ranged from total stupor to the actions this day had seen.
But Arwen? How had she grieved? Glorfindel could not recall one moment when Elrond´s daughter had voiced her fears, her concerns, or her sorrow in some way.
Was all this now building up, exploding?
He rounded the bend silently and was surprised to see Arwen sitting totally still at the water´s edge, her bare toes immersed in the water.
He deliberately stepped on a twig, yet the she elf did not react. Glorfindel frowned.
He carefully rounded on the seated woman to look her in the face. Her eyes were glazed over as in sleep, yet Glorfindel knew she was far from sleeping.
He had seen this state of mind often enough before. Like her father Arwen had the skill of far-speaking. While Elrond conferred from time to time with his mother in law or other mighty elves like Cirdan, Glorfindel had never seen Arwen use her ability until now.
He did not need to be a mind reader to know with whom she was conferring.
On the one hand, he was relieved that she was not lost in grief; on the other hand he anticipated trouble looming.
He was just about to turn as not to disturb her concentration when Arwen blinked and rose. Her gaze cleared and she looked at him with dark eyes.
“You may be right, Glorfindel. Trouble may be coming into the valley. My grandparents are already on their way here. This situation cannot carry on like this.”
Glorfindel raised an eyebrow. Galadriel and Celeborn coming to the valley to clear things? He let out a breath.
“I´m not sure if this visit will lead to the desired end, child.”
Arwen had turned again toward the river but now whirled around.
“I´m no child anymore, Glorfindel. You would do well to keep that in mind. And do not worry, my Lord. My grandparents will not order anyone around or hand out any advice. They are only coming to escort me to Lóthlorien. Imladris is no longer my home. I am leaving.
To be continued…….
Chapter 6: Painful insights
Elrond was standing at the open balcony door and studying the mountains surrounding Imladris. He was waiting for the first notice from a border guard informing him of the upcoming arrival of his wife’s parents.
Shortly after Glorfindel’s, he had learned that Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn would be arriving within the next weeks.
At first, he had been surprised then angry.
Surprised that so shortly after their last visit they would come to his valley again. As glad as he was for their support during the dark days while he had cared for his injured wife, as relieved as he was, when they had left with their entourage on their way back from the havens heading directly toward Lothlórien, having them back so shortly was not something he was looking forward too.
Then the surprise quickly turned to anger after he had learned the reason for their coming. Firstly, he was shocked to say the least, that his daughter felt the need to contact her grandparents rather to seek him out for council.
Arwen was no longer willing to suffer the depressing atmosphere at her home, so she had confided to Glorfindel, but never to him. This fact and statement had left him speechless.
He gripped the balcony reeling so hard that his knuckles went white. He was already losing his sons to the darkness, was Arwen now also slipping away? Had he neglected his youngest child in such a way? Was he too busy with himself?
Since the departure of his wife, he had been struggling to re-arrange his life, yet he was never aware that he was ignoring his children. Obviously, his perception had been wrong. Just after he had learned the Lothlórien elves were on their way, he had bidden his daughter to come to him and talk things out. He had the distinct feeling that something else was the reason for Arwen´s feelings. The atmosphere in the house was depressing, yet their family had mastered and survived many dark times. This could not be the only reason.
The healer sighed and turned inside his office.
He still shuddered when he thought back at this day when he had lost the last chance to convince his daughter to remain at home.
Never aware of Arwen´s real reason for leaving; this reason had just presented itself on this day.
Elrond was on his way to meet his daughter. Asking his child for an audience – this was weird. Had they moved so much apart?
However, since her announcement that she wanted to leave her home, their relationship was...…difficult.
He had nearly reached their meeting point, a secluded alcove on the front porch, one of Arwen´s favorite places, when Tinár came striding down the corridor waving at him.
“Master Elrond, please follow me. You will not believe it otherwise.”
Elrond stopped and searched the other´s eyes. Was this statement joyous or irritated?
Tinár, however was a master of keeping a straight face.
Knowing that Arwen was waiting and would not react well to a delay Elrond was about to excuse himself, when the door to the healing ward opened.
The healer froze on the spot. In the doorframe stood the woman, he had believed would not live to see another sunrise.
The sunlight streaming into the corridor illuminated her thin frame and let her golden hair shine. Even if she was deadly pale and her eyes much too big in the gaunt face, she could be counted as very fair.
Even if she conveyed the impression of being vulnerable and in need of protection, she had nonetheless a sense of authority around her.
Suddenly aware that he was staring, Elrond looked from the woman towards his chief healer and back. The inevitable raised eyebrow followed. Tinár only shrugged. The Elf-lord sighed and quickly walked over to the woman seeing that she was swaying lightly.
“You should not be out of bed,” he said softly, but with enough emphasis.
Her big eyes darted around.
“What happened? Where am I? Who are you…what…what…”
Stopping her flow of words with a gentle finger to her lips, he carefully guided her around.
“I will answer all your questions but first you have return to bed…”
Slowly he walked the woman back into the healing ward, the door silently closing behind them.
Tinár took a deep breath unaware of what process he had interrupted.
Arwen had waited two hours for her father to arrive. After she had realized that he would not come, she searched her feelings and discovered that amazingly she felt neither sad nor angry. In fact, she had not expected otherwise.
Yet, despite her best efforts, she could not contain her tears.
Whatever had hindered her Adar to come was again more important than her. This experience she had felt more than once lately.
She knew that the departure of her mother had hit her father hard – more than he was letting anyone see.
She however, had seen the small signs of her father´s desolate condition.
She had heard him cry at night, slipped into his rooms when the ever-present guardians were not looking. She had comforted her father and guarded his dreams, one time even pretended to be her mother – the only means to compose her distraught father´s soul.
Yet she had always been in the background, vanished by morning, often not leaving more than a faint echo of her presence, too subsidiary for her father´s troubled mind to recognize.
She knew, or hoped to know that her father did not reject her on purpose but on a deeper unconscious level, her being the visual reminder of his loss in person. She had already lost one foundation in her life – her mother – she was not willing to lose the second pillar, yet she had to guard her soul also.
And, she wanted to tell her father the real reason for her leaving. It was the all-consuming grief, the constant mourning, yet there was also an aspect that was unbearable for her.
Many times, she had seen her father care for the injured woman. Even if she did hardly respond or interact, there was an aura around her that disturbed Arwen greatly.
Her father was responding to the attitude of the woman in a way Arwen could no longer bear. Her mother had barely left the house – was not even dead – and her father had nothing better to do than to engage himself completely in caring for this woman. On many times Arwen, had seen her father respond to the woman in a way she could not accept.
If intended or not, the absence of her father, the changing of her brothers’ souls into something darker she was not willing to explore, and the depressing atmosphere which had enveloped the Last Homely House was reason enough for her to turn her back on the valley once known for bringing peace and hope to anyone seeking it.
Knowing that her father would not react well to her decision, she rose and returned inside the house. She wanted to make a last effort to speak with him and make her motivations clear.
Briefly, she was undecided where to go but she made her mind up quickly. Where than at the infirmary should her father be?
She was just about to enter the ward when one of the two huge double doors was pushed open from the inside.
“Lady Arwen, I´m sorry I didn´t see you enter. You surely want to see your Lord father and celebrate with him? The woman we actually were caring for is awake and responding.”
With that, the young apprentice healer left her standing without looking back. Arwen had caught the door from closing again but now she released the massive oak door and closed it silently.
No, her motivation to seek her father out had suddenly vanished.
She left the hallway and ventured outside to find some solace down by the river.
Elrond looked at the sleeping form of the woman. He had needed almost an hour to calm her down. At the end, he had no other option than to send her to sleep with the promise to guard her dark dreams.
She had, of course, not understood this promise nor in fact, anything else the Elf-lord had told her. She had not even recognized where she was nor what had happened to her family.
Her many questions Elrond had deliberately skirted and answered only vaguely, anticipating a relapse should she learn the whole truth unprepared. She had just awakened and her mind in league with her body needed more time to recover. It was still a miracle to him how this woman had survived in the first place.
He rose silently and closed the curtain of the screen sending a last searching look at the face now relaxed in sleep.
He left the healing ward and walked down the corridor toward his rooms. He felt drained after pouring his healing energy into the hurting body of the woman, yet he walked past his rooms, not wanting to be alone with his thoughts, at least not in his chambers where still so much remained of his wife or of what he remembered of her.
Yet the talk with the woman – he still had not learned her name – had done him some good. She was still very disorientated and scared, yet she was also passionate, loving and eager to listen. Finally, someone who did not look at him as if he were in the last stages of dying.
His office was the best place to think undisturbed, away from prying eyes and concerned questioning.
He had just closed the door when he felt a presence. He shortly closed his eyes. So much for being undisturbed.
The healer slowly turned around and raised an eyebrow at the dark clad figure sitting in front of the great hearth, a glass of wine in hand.
“You have all you need?” Elrond asked not without coloring his tone with irritation.
“I think the question is rather if you have all you need,” Erestor retorted, not reacting to the cool attitude of the Elf-Lord.
Elrond took a deep breath.
“Would there be any chance of you leaving me alone?”
The healer sighed. Of all elves in his service, Erestor was the most obstinate. He would never back down before he had voiced his concerns.
“Erestor, please say what you have to say. I have still work to do…”
Elrond´s chief counsellor huffed.
“All right, my Lord, straight to the point. Do you love your children?”
Elrond now facing the great balcony window whirled around.
“What stupid question is this, Erestor! Of course, do I love…...”
“Do not be so sure of yourself, Elrond. Your sons are walking on a path I´m not sure I want to explore further and your daughter is crying for your attention but you ignore her …...”
“That´s not true…...”
“Of course it is and you know it, Peredhil.”
Elrond swallowed. What was Erestor talking about?
Suddenly he had again to force down tears, hurt and anger. Had he no right to suffer, to be out of frame?
“That´s out of the question and not the problem, half-elf.”
Elrond eyes widened. Since when had Erestor become a mind reader?
“And the problem lies where, in your opinion?” Elrond asked his voice dripping with sarcasm.
`Oh, yes, of course the woman`.
“Erestor, the conversation is over. I do not know what is suddenly happening. I´m a healer and I´m caring for a wounded woman. That´s all!”
Before the councilor had any chance to answer, the Elf-lord had left the room.
Erestor sighed and rose.
“That´s not all, Peredhil.”
To be continued…….
A love denied
Chapter 7: welcomes and goodbyes
The Lady of the Golden Wood dismounted alongside her husband, her gracefulness belying the long way they had travelled.
Both elves kept standing beside their horses and stood like statues. Everyone, including the deaf and blind would have registered the awkward silence.
Even the well-informed stable-hands were irritated and shot stolen glances at the front door.
Master Elrond was standing at the top stairs of the huge perron, his gaze directed at the massive rock face surrounding the valley.
Only after long moments, he descended the steps to greet his guests.
“Welcome to thee and thine companions to the Valley of Imladris. It is my hope that the journey was uneventful.”
His tone was controlled yet it gave away nothing else. He continued standing at the base of the stair.
Lord Celeborn inclined his head while the White Lady looked at the Half-elf intensely.
“Thank thee, Lord Elrond for your welcome. Our coming was not shadowed at least not by dark creatures.”
The double meaning of the statement let every elf in hearing range cringe. All, except for the Master of Imladris. Now he stood like a statue.
Finally, after a moment or two, he bowed.
“I have prepared rooms for you to refresh. I wish to invite you to a feast that we will hold tonight in your honour.”
Another incline of the head, yet this time from the Lady of Light.
After a signal for the stable hands, Elrond turned and ascended the stairs.
“Our dear son-in-law is a bit nervous and tight-tongued,” Celeborn said softly, for only his wife to hear.
Galadriel begun ascending the steps, without turning back to her husband.
“He has all reason to.”
The elves of Lothlórien had just entered the great hall when Arwen was flying down the great staircase.
“Daernaneth, Daerada, you are already here?” She cried her feet barely touching the ground.
Celeborn had already readied himself to receive the bundle of energy whirling in to his arms a second later.
No answer was needed, as the tall elf simply hugged his granddaughter close, hiding his deep breath in tugging the head of the slightly smaller elf under his chin.
Galadriel needed no eyes to recognize her husband´s emotional outcry. While stroking her granddaughter’s raven hair, she was surprised how alike Arwen had become to her mother.
She had become a woman, graceful and comely. No longer a child.It was only months since they had seen each other.
“I´m so glad you have arrived,” Arwen said softly now hugging her grandmother.
“You needed us – so we have come,” Galadriel said her eyes scanning the hall.
Seeing her grandmother’s searching gaze Arwen sighed.
“He´s in his study. He is awaiting you two an hour before lunch.”
Arwen kissed both her grandparents. With a sigh, she turned and them depart. Somehow, she was dreading the meeting of her father and grandparents.
While taking a deep breath, Elrond closed the door of the guestroom behind him. He still had an hour left before the feast would begin. He wanted to quickly check on the woman – no Elisa, he corrected himself before it began. Two weeks ago, he had for the first time a real conversation with the guest, stirring so much unrest in his house.
Quietly he had answered the many questions she had asked, and tried to put her at ease after she recognized she had no family or relatives left. After letting her cry and rage, he was able to console her as she had accepted the bitter truth.
After that, she had further progressed even when Elrond feared she could relapse at any moment. Elrond had even allowed to leave her sickroom for short walks until she was finally given her own room for more privacy.
With fondness, he gazed at the sleeping woman on the bed. Again, he was surprised how beautiful she looked – no elf and yet….
He was just about to leave.
Elrond slowly neared the bed. She had risen and was now sitting on the edge. Elrond made sure that plushy slippers covered her feet.
“Thank you for looking after me, it has not been my day”, she added with a sigh.
The Elf-lord took a cold hand in his. Instantly, he knew she had another rough night.
Elrond nodded in understanding.
She smiled again – this time sadly. The healer had told her about the upcoming meeting with his parents in law.
“Join me at the feast,” Elrond said softly turning Elisa´s head up with his finger.
She looked at him with the crystal blue eyes.
“Certainly not. I do not want to be the reason for war between Imladris and Lothlórien.”
Elrond closed his eyes briefly. She was right.
“I will see that something is brought to you.”
After she nodded, he left the room. Outside the door, he took another deep breath. Why was this woman speaking to his heart in such a way?
Again, he searched his feelings. The love he shared with Celebrían could not be swayed or replaced, yet the decision she had made gnawed at him ever since.
Still he could not understand why she decided to find healing somewhere other than her home. Suddenly, his eyes widened in surprise as he discovered a feeling foreign to him, at least in relation to his spouse: disappointment, frustration and failure.
This woman sleeping in the next room was so readily accepting of help and appreciated a gentle touch. Celebrían had not endured any touch. She had not even let him sit on her bed or to lie next to her. He had so desperately wished to take her in his arms, to comfort her and simply envelope her in a loving hug, but nothing. She had simply shut him out.
Knowingthat he could no longer postpone the meeting with Celebrían´s parents he walked down the corridor. In his mind, he was again justifying himself for being out of routine. This had to stop.
He had done all in his power to rescue his wife´s body and soul and she had decided to sail in the end – everyone else except for him had accepted that.
Galadriel looked up when the door to the study opened. The Half-elf looked irritated but only for a moment, his ever-perfect mask back in place within seconds.
“Ah, you have helped yourself already,” he commented at the full wine glass in Celeborn´s hands.
After closing the door, Elrond rounded his huge desk. His arms propped on the table as he looked intently at his guests, his tension palpable.
“Will you not sit with us, son?” Lord Celeborn asked.
Elrond closed his eyes briefly and letsome of the tension leave his body.
After some consideration, Elrond rounded the table and sat in the third chair arranged around the great hearth.
No sooner had he leaned back when Galadriel looked up and directed her piercing eyes on the Half-Elven Lord across from her.
Instantly feeling her searching and probing in his mind he rose again and rounded the chair.
“Stop this”, he demanded. Quickly he had closed all barriers to his mind.
“What do you fear, Eärendilion?”
“Nothing, I have nothing to fear but I do not appreciate you poking around in my mind.”
Galadriel lifted an eyebrow.
“I´m not poking, I am only try to understand why my granddaughter feels the need to leave her home.”
Elrond´s form tensed even more. He pressed his lips into a thin line.
“That is something I want to know myself”, he said his voice strained.
Now, Celeborn rose.
“We should stop talking in circles. Elrond, you know damn well why Arwen is this distressed. In fact, it is your doing that she feels no longer at home. Can you explain yourself?”
Elrond took a deep breath. True, he had some disagreements with his daughter as of late but nothing serious enough for her to turn her back on him or to leave her home. He glared at the Wood-elf.
“Celeborn, I do not see….”
He had no chance to finish his sentence.
“Eärendilion, barely a year ago, I escorted my only daughter to the havens and my world nearly crumbled. Now my daughter´s daughter wishes to leave her home because her father has nothing better to do than to replace her mother with some……. mortal?”
Elrond stepped back outraged. He looked at the silver haired elf in shock.
“How dare you speak to me like that in my house,” Elrond shot back his hands gripping the backrest of the chair.
Celeborn stood rigid and glared at his son in law. “I speak as I see fit where it concerns my grandchildren. Elrond open your eyes. The twins are losing themselves in needless hate and Arwen is begging for your attention. You are supposedly too lost in your grief to notice……”
“…. supposedly…...?” Elrond cried.
“Well, you have seemed to quickly find solace in the arms of this mortal woman. You are spending days and nights to heal her. You gave her a bedroom next to yours; you even let her sit beside you on the high table. I wonder what comes next…”
The sharp command startled both Elven lords standing only inches apart.
Galadriel had made a step forward and the Ellyn stepped apart. She was now standing between them. Her aura was glowing and her eyes flashing.
“What goes on in your house is entirely your concern, Elrond, but when it regards the wellbeing of my daughter or my grandchildren then we have to intervene. I do not know what is going on with this woman but the reports I have received disturb me. It´s hard for us to accept your all-consuming devotion to her but for the children it must be unbearable.”
Elrond looked aghast at his in laws. Reports? What reports are they are speaking of?
“Are you accusing me of endangering the health of my children? I´m speechless. I would die for my children and the mortal woman has nothing to do with that.”
At a depreciate gesture of Celeborn, Elrond´s eyes flashed.
“Ah but I see. There it is again. The old argument. I failed to heal your daughter but you know what? I have finally accepted her choice. She did not want me to heal her. She did not even try. And it was her choice to leave, not mine. I´m perfectly fine with that.”
Elrond turned not wanting everyone seeing the turmoil in his eyes.
“Valinor is healing in itself…….” Celeborn started but did not have the chance to finish his sentence as Elrond whirled around.
“Save your breath Celeborn, I have heard this before….”
Just as Celeborn started to reply, the Half-elf suddenly swayed. Galadriel narrowed her eyes when all color drained from the healer´s face. Before she or her husband could reach the Half-elf, he sank to his knees his brow nearly touching the plush carpet.
Celeborn sank to his knees beside his son-in-law. His grim face darkened eyes vanished.
“Elrond….?” He asked concern in his voice.
“…. why did she to leave, why in the name of the Valar did she have to leave….” the healer choked.
Galadriel stood towering her eyes still cold.
Celeborn was just about to lay a hand on the younger elf´s back when the healer straightened on his heels.
All sadness had left his eyes his back rigid. The lines around his mouth hard.
To be continued……
Chapter 8: not a night to remember
Celeborn approached his wife silently. She was sitting on the river´s bank her bare feet dangling down the slope. He smiled at the sight. With her white gown and her loose hair, an ingenious watcher could have mistaken her for a young maiden enjoying the rush of the mighty River Bruinen below.
He sighed. Galadriel was anything but a young maiden and she was surely not enjoying the moment. Knowing that she had long sensed his approach he sat beside her.
Even with her eyes open, she was not seeing the river or anything else in her imminent surrounding. Her gaze was directed a great distance away, her ageless face troubled.
Celeborn closed his eyes and let the serenity of the trees sooth his mind. It had been a long night but not only while the feast had progressed into the morning….
The evening before……
Elrond looked up when he felt someone slip next to him on the chair. He raised an eyebrow at his seneschal.
“Erestor, what`s your purpose tonight? Glorfindel is already watching me like a hawk.”
Elrond stopped speaking when he recognized that his words came out slurred. Had he drunk so much wine already?
Erestor had obviously noticed it too.
“Ignoring the Lord and Lady of Lothloríen may be wise or not but to decimate our wine stock at that rate I have to protest for.”
Elrond grimaced. Erestor had as always wrapped his irritation in sloppy words.
“I have nothing further to say to the Lothlórien elves. They will leave in the morning and I will be fine with that.”
“And Arwen will leave with them,” Erestor said matter of fact.
Knowing the impact of his words exactly, the dark-haired councillor did not start when the Master healer slammed a fist on the table.
“Not without my consent! Now leave me alone Erestor, I´m not drunk enough to endure more of this nonsense.”
Without a further word, the healer rose and vanished through a side portal. Erestor directed a concerned gaze at Glorfindel, who only nodded. He would keep an eye on the strange acting Half-elf. Erestor would make sure that the guests would not notice too much of the unruly behaviour of their Lord.
Not even two hours later, Glorfindel looked up at the noise of glass shattering on the floor. During an agitated conversation Elrond had wiped the glasses from the table.
Glorfindel gave the signal. Enough was enough. The Master of Imladris had definitely reached his limits. The feast had well progressed into the dead of night and some guests were already leaving to retire. A good opportunity to intervene.
Elladan and Elrohir were approaching the healer and flanked him on both sides. They steadied the swaying figure and steered their father toward the entrance of the Hall of Fire. They made sure not to attract further attention.
Glorfindel anticipated another protest like the hour before when he had already tried to convince the Half-elf to retire. Yet the swaying healer let himself be brought from the room after a short but fierce dispute with his sons.
Glorfindel took a deep breath and winked at Erestor.
The twins would make sure that the Master of Imladris would not return and take his rest and Erestor would further entertain the guests until even the last elf would leave for a break or greet the morning outside. Celeborn and Galadriel had already left and Arwen had not been seen for hours.
Not a night to remember.
Elrond tossed on his bed. Images of Celebrían, injured and broken – pictures of the gravely wounded woman, his sons blood-splattered bodies after coming home from a hunt and Arwen´s outstretched hand screaming for him mingled in his mind into an all-consuming black chasm threatening to swallow him at any moment….
I'm so tired of being here
“Shhh….it´s ok I´m here now……let go, I´m here, you are safe….”
“Shhh, I´m here, try to sleep.”
When I cried, you'd wipe away all of my tears
Elrond blinked into the night and reached out a hand to the silhouette leaning over him. Two hands enveloped his and kissed his knuckles. He opened his mouth but a tender finger was pressed over his lips. His mind was so confused…
“Cel…...,” he breathed.
She was here, next to him. He could feel her breath. He closed his eyes and sighed in contentment when a warm body laid down beside him. He buried his head under her chin –
- somehow, she felt and smelled different.
He reached out with his mind but encountered –
Again, she was blocking her mind, shutting him out. He was used to this. This night it did not matter. As long as she was here, all was well.
Arms enveloped him, held him close. He felt warm, safe, loved. He reached out to caress long wavy hair; the texture felt…different but nonetheless silky and smooth.
Again, his hand was stilled. The warm body snuggled next to him, soothing him only through it´s presence. He made no further try to reach her mind or speak to her. He only enjoyed being held.
Suddenly sobs threatened up his throat, all the strain of the last months could no longer be held back. He turned fully toward the warm body hugged her fiercely and was hugged back. A small gesture he had missed so much.
He wrapped the slender body with his own and without a conscious thought; a desire crawled up his spine. He kissed and caressed, stroked and touched the warm body, inhaled her scent so alien and yet familiar, he kissed her face, her mouth, her throat…
… “it cannot be…”
… “I need you tonight, please…”
… “I know, but it´s not possible…”
… “I do not care…”
… “please don´t” …
Elrond awoke with a start. It was well past morning and he blinked at the sun streaming through the window. He sat up and growled when a massive headache made itself known.
He shook his head. He could not remember much of the last evening or night. He rose. His bedsheets were tangled. Obviously, he had not slept well – damn wine!
On his way to the bathroom, memory came back with full force. The dispute with Celebrían´s parents and the following feast with…yes, definitely too much wine.
The healer growled. At least he had a pleasant dream to remember. For months, he was not able to walk the path of dreams but last night it had happened.
He would check on Elisa and then grab breakfast….
A knock sounded on his door.
“Elrond, are you awake?”
The healer sighed. So much for a pleasant morning.
“Yes, Glorfindel I´m awake. Come in.”
No sooner, he had spoken the invitation the door opened and the warrior entered, yet he was sure his chief commander had entered anyway.
After closing the door, the fair-haired elf kept standing just inside the door.
“Reticence isn´t a concept of yours. So, out with it.”
Smoothing his tangled hair Elrond regarded the warrior intently.
“Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel are ready to leave.”
Elrond blew out a breath. His headache was back full force.
“I will be there shortly,” he answered already turning toward the bathroom again.
“Arwen is with them.”
Elrond whirled around.
“For Valar´s sake, Glorfindel. I cannot convince her to stay…”
“You have not even tried!”
“Indeed! My daughter is no longer feeling that the Last Homely House is her home. What argument do I have against this?”, Elrond retorted.
Glorfindel recognized that anger but also remorse was coloring the healer´s voice. Yet he had to take another step.
“It´s not the House that drives her out, it´s you!”
Elrond took a step back and looked at his commander aghast.
“Elrond, she misses her mother….”
“I miss her too, for heaven’s sake, why does everyone doubt that….”
Glorfindel´s eyes blazed.
“No one doubt´s THAT, it´s your handling of Elisa…”
Elrond lifted his arms in a dramatic gesture.
“Elisa, of course, please Glorfindel stop it. Elisa is a patient – nothing more and nothing less. Let us visit her and she can tell….”
Elrond´s eyes narrowed.
“What do you mean “she´s gone”? he asked barely restrained.
“She left early in the morning.”
Elrond grabbed his dressing gown from a chair.
“And you have not stopped her?” he asked angrily already heading for the door.
Glorfindel sidestepped the healer purposely blocking the door.
“Elrond, listen to me. I tried to convince her to stay but she declined. I provided her with many supplies, warm clothing and a horse. It was her decision.”
“Off course. Go out of my way. I have to organize a search party.”
To be continued…….
The lyrics are taken from the song “My Immortal” by Evanescence
Chapter 9: bitter truths
Elrond was standing at the base of the great staircase leading into the courtyard.
His long burgundy robe along with his raven hair was blowing behind him. A cold wind had come up and the clouds threatened rain. Two search groups had returned without success. Elisa had vanished. No sign from her on the road.
Elrond swallowed. How could a mortal woman, still recovering survive in the wild? Glorfindel had assured him that he had provided her with everything he thought vital to help her survive, yet….
Why did she have to leave in such a hurry? He did not even know in which direction she had headed. Once she had mentioned that distant relatives of her dead husband lived in Gondor.
By the Valar, it was a long and dangerous way into the south.
He was startled out of his thoughts when a horse whinnied in protest. He recognized this sound instantly. Arwen´s mare. He had personally trained the beast to be the best protector Arwen could wish for whenever she left the sheltered valley. Now the beast could prove it´s worth by crossing the dangerous High Pass.
Not an hour ago, he had for a last time tried to speak to his daughter; to convince her to stay. It was a very emotional meeting and they had talked long and left nothing between them, yet Arwen had made it clear that she had to go nonetheless. Too many things had happened she had to think over.
Elrond had relented in the end. What could he have done anyway? He had lost his wife to the West and now his daughter was leaving her home too with only a vague promise to come back.
The talking with his parents-in-law had been less emotional and much shorter. They had promised to take good care of their granddaughter. Elrond did not doubt that. Arwen would return when she felt ready. To this hope, he had to cling.
He looked over the long row of riders ready to march. Additionally, to the Lothlórien warriors the Master of Imladris had ordered a contingent of Imladris to escort the group safely as far as the High Pass where a group from the Golden Wood would take over.
Elladan and Elrohir had volunteered to accompany their sister too. On their way back they wanted to look out for any trace of Elisa. They would travel as far as Tharbad to determine which way to Gondor Elisa possibly would have selected.
“She will be safe. I will watch over her.”
Elrond´s head snapped to his left. Galadriel was looking at him with an unreadable face.
The healer closed his eyes briefly. He had again not watched his thoughts.
He decided not to comment on this. Why the Lady of Light should have any interest to watch over a mortal woman eluded him. Elisa was gone and time would soon erase her existence.
“Celebrían is NOT gone, only far. She is waiting for you as soon as you are ready.”
Galadriel touched his arm briefly and some of the heavy load on his shoulders lifted. He wanted to retort something, yet she had already descended the stairs and was just mounting her horse. At a signal from Celeborn the group of elves marched out. At the gates Arwen turned and waved back to her father.
“She will come back,” Glorfindel said softly while Elrond nodded and waved back. As soon as the riders were out of sight, he returned to the house.
You used to captivate me by your resonating light
Elisa looked fondly at the infant sleeping peacefully in her arms. During her long journey to Gondor she had sometimes doubted that she would reach the great city in time to deliver her child in safety. Fortune however was on her side.
When she had just entered the plains of Rohan, a merchant and his wife had picked her up and taken her all the way to Gondor.
In the great canvas-covered wagon, she had travelled almost comfortably. The great brown mare the elves had provided her with had dutifully stayed at her side, even when she had turned it lose with the promise to return home.
During a longer stay in Rohan the merchant´s son had joined them. Elisa had made the acquaintance of the young man and even a friendship had developed between them. He had promised to visit her in Gondor should she permanently settle there and Elisa had accepted this with joy.
When they resumed their journey, the couple had been very supporting and she could not have wished for no better company along the rough way. The merchant had even volunteered to search for her husband´s relatives and within a week, he had returned with good news.
Her husband´s uncle did live on the outskirts of the great city of Minas Tirith and were overjoyed to welcome his nephew´s wife and the expecting baby.
Two months later, the strong cry of a newborn could be heard throughout the house.
“He´s truly a delight,” Jaylynn the wife of her husband´s uncle said while fondly gazing at the sleeping child. Tenderly she stroked the down of black hair.
“It´s so sad that his father cannot be here to see him.”
I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
Elisa swallow. Yes, her son´s father was far but he would get as much love as she could give him.
She looked out over the rolling waves crashing at the shore.
“I will name you Annion, my dear boy.”
Jaylynn raised an eyebrow.
“What a fitting name, he´s truly a gift.”
The lyrics are taken from the song “My Immortal” by Evanescence
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