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Glorfindel left the session with Vorondur feeling washed out and he wanted nothing more than to go back home, crawl into bed, and sleep for a year. Instead, he drove over to the college, meaning to get some work done at Elf Academy. It should be empty now that the conventioneers were gone, so he planned to get a lot of work done, work that he had neglected because of the wedding and dealing with the High Kings. He pulled into his reserved space in the parking lot attached to Elf Academy and sat there for a moment after turning off the engine and undoing his seatbelt, thinking about the past week.
Getting rid of the kings and their entourage had been a relief, particularly where Turgon was concerned. He was still unsure in his own mind how he really felt about their reunion. On one hand, he was glad to be able to renew his oath of fealty to the only king he would ever acknowledge, yet at the same time, he wished he had never given it in the first place. He had never questioned the rightness of the Blood Oath and what it meant, but when Turgon showed up, it came home to him just how dangerous the oath was. Turgon could easily have invoked it and demanded that Glorfindel return to Aman with him and he would’ve had no real choice but to obey and that realization frightened him as nothing else could.
And it was a fear he had no intention of ever sharing with anyone, not Vorondur, not even Finrod. He sighed and closed his eyes, leaning his head against the steering wheel. And then there was Helyanwë.
He pushed that thought away, not willing to deal with it at the moment. He had lied to Vorondur about his feelings concerning the elleth, but at the moment the feelings of hurt and rejection were too raw and he would need a little time before he could face them or talk about them with another. Thank the Valar he had Elf Academy with which to occupy himself. He had never been one for introspection; he’d always left that to Elrond.
He chuckled to himself at that thought and straightened, pulling the key out of the ignition and climbing out of the van. He entered the building and smelled the clean scent of lemon and knew that the cleaning service people were already at work preparing the dorms for the next group that would occupy them, which, if he recalled correctly would be a group of school children attending an “Elf summer camp” later in June after school was out for the summer.
The idea had been Daeron’s: to provide a one-week summer camp experience for area children between the ages of ten and fourteen where they learned some of the skills that the Elves had to offer, particularly woodlore, as well as more arts-and-crafts-type projects. Last summer had been their first foray into the program and it was hugely popular, so much so, that there were now two sessions, one in June and the other in July.
Glorfindel smiled at nothing in particular as he headed for his office, remembering the children running through the halls with several Elves chasing after them. He had not been too involved with the program himself since he had been busy with organizing the next term of Elf Academy. Perhaps this year he would help out.
He reached his office and was in the process of unlocking it when further down the hall, Daeron’s door opened and the former minstrel of Doriath and their resident loremaster stepped out of his office, giving him a smile. He was still pale-looking and did not move fast, but, as with Elves in general, he was healing more quickly than any Mortal. Glorfindel had wanted Daeron to rest more; the ellon had insisted that there was too much to do for him to be lying in bed all day long. He had promised not to overdo it so Glorfindel had let it go, especially when the healers had given their permission for Daeron to resume some of his duties, though not all.
“So how did it go? I see you’re still in one piece,” Daeron said.
Glorfindel chuckled as he opened the door and went in with Daeron following him. “Did you think I would show up missing a limb or something?”
“When Ron is done with me, I often double-check to see that all parts of me are present and accounted for,” Daeron said. “He has a way of taking you apart and putting you back together again and I’m always afraid he’ll leave a vital piece of me out. He never has, of course, as he’s just too good at what he does, but it’s not a pleasant experience, however necessary it might be.”
“Has he helped you?” Glorfindel asked as he took his seat, gesturing for Daeron to sit as well. The loremaster settled into one of the chairs facing the desk, crossing his legs and placing his elbows on the arms of the chair, clasping his hands under his chin in a relaxed pose.
“Very much so,” Daeron admitted. “I hope he can help you as well.”
“He wants to set me up for a full physical before we meet again. Mir and Elrond will conduct it.”
“At the hospital or at home?”
Glorfindel grimaced. “At the hospital. Ron wants blood work, CAT scans, X-rays, the whole nine yards as well as anything the two come up with while scanning me. A waste of time in my opinion. I’m not sick.”
“Mir thought you were fading,” Daeron offered.
“Well, Mir’s wrong,” Glorfindel insisted. “I’m not fading. I’ve seen it often enough to know.”
“Sometimes we fail to see in ourselves what we so readily perceive in others,” Daeron countered softly, giving Glorfindel a searching look. “I will admit, I have no idea what the symptoms are. I never really was around any Elves who eventually faded. Looking back, it’s a wonder I didn’t fade. The Valar know I certainly wanted to, or just to die.”
Glorfindel gave him a sympathetic look. “Yes, I know, better than most, but I meant what I said, Darren. You’re one of the strongest and bravest ellyn that it has ever been my privilege to know. What you went through… well, water under the bridge, isn’t it?” He quirked his lips into a lopsided smile, then, deciding to change the subject, he asked, “So, what’s on the agenda for the day?”
“We’ve made a final selection of students for next term,” Daeron said. “Would you like to see the list? There are a couple of interesting candidates.”
Glorfindel nodded as he turned on his computer. “Yes, let’s see what this new crop of students is like. Here, I’ll let you access your files.” He stood and moved away from the desk to stare out the window to the mountains in the background while Daeron settled into his chair and punched in a few commands, bringing up files.
“Here we are,” he said and Glorfindel turned around to look at the computer screen where Daeron had called up a particular document. He saw the photo of a young Man staring back at him and leaned over to read the file.
“Sounds like the typical candidate,” he said with a shrug. “What’s so special about him?”
“For one thing, he’s British,” Daeron said with a lift of an eyebrow. “This is our first international application.”
Glorfindel straightened and blinked. “But how and more important, why?”
“Well the how is easy enough to explain,” Daeron replied with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Our website is accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. Anyone can read about us and the application form is downloadable. As to why…” He shrugged. “Perhaps he just wants to have a unique experience.”
“So, the selection committee has decided to invite him to become an Elf Guide?” Glorfindel asked somewhat skeptically.
“There was no reason to deny him,” Daeron said. “Nothing in our mandate says the candidate has to be American, only that the person needs to be over eighteen. We don’t even have an upper age limit, but for obvious reasons we choose only young-looking people and in truth, I think the oldest person to apply has been Alex and he changed his appearance to seem younger than he is.”
“Well, it should be interesting to see how the chap handles us colonists,” Glorfindel said with a proper English accent, giving Daeron a sly grin.
Daeron laughed. “Indeed.” He closed that file and opened another one and Glorfindel saw the photo of a Woman and blinked. “I know her!” he exclaimed, backing up in shock. “But that’s impossible.”
“Melody Moran,” Daeron read off the screen, “from Syracuse, New York.”
“Is that what she calls herself?” Glorfindel asked. “And Syracuse? Why in Eru’s name would anyone live there of all places?”
“Everyone has to come from somewhere,” Daeron said with a sly quirk of his lips. “Besides, she’s an Elf. Who can understand their motives?”
Glorfindel gave him a sour look and then his expression became more contemplative. “Morwen Lindiriel. She was one of Arwen’s handmaids, but she disappeared after Arwen died. No one knew where she went, though Eldarion ordered a search when she went missing. We just assumed she either died of grief somewhere in the wilderness or found her way to Mithlond and Sailed. Why is she applying to Elf Academy? Why doesn’t she just come and join us?”
“We’ll have to ask her when she comes,” Daeron said.
“Surely Dan and Roy and even Ron and Holly recognized her.”
“Oh, yes, and they were pretty shocked, but Ron cautioned us not to say anything. He wants to see how far Melody Moran is willing to take the game. I thought you needed to know even if no one else does.”
“Well I’m sure Elrond and Celebrían will recognize her.”
“But they are unlikely to have anything to do with her or Elf Academy,” Daeron pointed out. “The Twins will be gone and you know Ron is very good at poker.”
Glorfindel snorted. “Among other things.” He gave the screen a considering look. “Well, well, well. Morwen Lindiriel. Poor Lindir. I’m sure he wonders whatever became of his daughter. And now that I think on it, I wonder why he didn’t accompany Elrond here?”
Daeron shrugged. “We can ask Elrond. I’m sure there was a reason.”
“We’ll need to find a way to get word to Lindir about his daughter, but let’s wait until she actually arrives and we can learn her story. When she does come, we will pretend we don’t know who she is. Let her make the first move.”
“That’s what the selection committee agreed upon,” Daeron said. “Ron thought perhaps she’s playing it safe, not revealing herself to us, but checking us out to see if we’re for real and I agree.”
Glorfindel ran his hands through his hair. “Okay. Fine. So we have a Brit who wants to travel nearly seven thousand miles just to be an Elf for a season and we have an Elf who’s pretending to be a Mortal wanting to be an Elf, which is déja vu all over again.” He gave Daeron a searching look. “Valar plants?”
Daeron just shrugged. “Well, unless you can corner one of them and ask, I doubt we’ll ever know for sure. Certainly, the elleth has to be one of those Elves the Valar insist are out there waiting to be found.”
Glorfindel nodded, then cast Daeron a wry grin. “Well, we can’t complain of leading boring lives, can we?”
Daeron laughed and closed down the file. He stood. “I’ll let you get on with your own work. How about going into town later and see if we can convince Finrod to join us for lunch at the café?”
“Let’s see, it’s nearly noon but I really want to get a couple of hours’ work in first. I’ll give him a call now and see if he can meet us,” Glorfindel said, fishing out his phone and speed-dialing a number. “Ah, Finrod, Loren… It went okay… I’m with Daeron at Elf Academy. We’re going to do some work and then break around… two?” He gave Daeron an enquiring look and the minstrel nodded. “Around two. Care to join us at the café, assuming Nick can spare you for an hour?... Sure, I’ll hold… Great! We’ll see you then.” He ended the call and shoved the phone back in his pocket. “Okay, shoo. I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”
Daeron smiled as he headed for the door, then stopped before opening, turning to face Glorfindel who had resumed his seat and was typing away on the keyboard. “I’m glad you’re seeing Ron, Loren,” he said sincerely. “I think talking with him will do you good.”
Glorfindel looked up. “And you? How are you doing?”
“Oh, I’m surviving,” Daeron said with a slight smile. “I have my own session with Ron on Thursday. It will be my first since…” He swallowed, looking suddenly more pale than he already was and his right hand went reflexively to cover his left shoulder.
Glorfindel immediately got up and went to him, giving him a brief hug. “We’re a right couple of losers, aren’t we?” he said, giving Daeron a wicked grin.
“Hmph,” Daeron replied with a disdainful sniff. “Speak for yourself.”
They stared into each other’s eyes, each taking the measure of the other, each warmed by the love and acceptance they found there. “Le hannon,” Daeron said softly.
Glorfindel stepped back. “Pedo gúbeth,” he said, using an idiomatic phrase that essentially meant ‘don’t mention it’ that had been commonly used in Gondolin whenever acknowledging another person’s thanks for a favor done.
Daeron nodded and opened the door, exiting and closing it behind him. Glorfindel stood there for a moment staring at the door before sighing and returning to his desk and his work.
A knock on his door interrupted Glorfindel’s train of thought as he pondered some logistical matters concerning class size and classroom assignments, but he welcomed the break, and looking at the computer clock saw it was almost two o’clock and knew it was Daeron on the other side of the door.
“Minno!” he called out and when the door opened Daeron peeked around it.
“Are you ready?”
“Just about,” Glorfindel answered. “Give me five more minutes. You want to give Finrod a call and tell him we’re on our way?”
“I’ll wait for you in the foyer,” Daeron said in reply and closed the door, leaving Glorfindel to himself. He spent a couple of more minutes wrestling with the problem and then, satisfied with the results, though he knew he still had some other stuff that needed to be dealt with later, he shut down the computer and left the office. Daeron smiled at him as he reached the foyer. “I walked over from Edhellond, so we just need to take your van.”
Glorfindel gave him an exasperated look. “I thought you promised not to overtax yourself.”
“And I didn’t,” Daeron assured him. “I took it nice and slow. I even stopped and chatted with Mr. Fisher who was outside working on his garden. We had a lovely conversation about his roses that lasted a good twenty minutes. Don’t worry so much, Loren.”
“But I do,” Glorfindel protested. “I can’t help it. You wouldn’t have gotten shot in the first place if I’d been less cocky.”
“Any one of us could have been hit. I was just the unlucky one and I’d rather it be me than one of the kings. Now, stop fussing and let’s get going or Finrod will think we stood him up.”
Glorfindel nodded reluctantly as he fished out his keys and they headed for the parking lot. Ten minutes later, he pulled into the Safeway parking lot and the two crossed into the square and made their way to the café. Inside, they found Finrod sitting at a table rather than at a booth, poring over the menu. Even this late in the afternoon all the booths were occupied. He looked up at their approach and smiled.
“How are you both faring?” he asked in Sindarin as Glorfindel and Daeron took seats. “You have not overtaxed yourself, have you?” This last was addressed to Daeron.
“I wish everyone would stop hovering. I’m fine, I promise,” Daeron insisted, speaking in the same language.
“We’re just naturally concerned,” Finrod said, “and I suspect some of us are also feeling guilty.” He gave Glorfindel a quick glance which the ellon ignored.
Daeron looked at them in surprise. “Guilty? Guilty for what? For my getting shot and almost dying? There’s no need for anyone to feel guilty about that. Anyone could have gotten hit, even one of the Mortals. I don’t blame anyone except the fool who actually pulled the trigger. Now, let’s drop it and move on.”
There was an awkward silence for a moment as Daeron continued to glare at them both. The waitress came over just then with menus for Glorfindel and Daeron and they took a moment to give her their drink orders before she left them. As the three perused their menus, Finrod looked at Glorfindel. “How was your session with Vorondur?”
“Fine,” Glorfindel replied. “He’s going to make arrangements with Mir and Elrond to give me a full physical before we meet again after the Memorial Day weekend. He thinks my dreams are important and wants to do some kind of regression to help me remember them better. Right now, I can only remember bits and pieces and I still don’t know what the dreams are all about.”
“You do not sound too enthusiastic about it,” Finrod commented with a smile.
Glorfindel shrugged. “I don’t care for people messing around in my head.”
“Yet, do you not want to know what the dreams are about?” Daeron asked softly.
“Yes, of course, but still…”
“Would it help if one of us were with you when Vorondur regresses you?” Finrod asked.
“Assuming I let him, but yes, I don’t like the idea of being alone when he does it. Silly, I know, but—“
“It’s not silly if you honestly feel this way, gwador,” Finrod insisted.
“Well, let me get through the physical first and I’ll think about it. Now, let’s change the subject, shall we? Is Nick still okay with you taking a week off next month for the trip to Fairbanks with the Three Amigos and Nell?”
“Yes. He said he saw no problem with that. He just asked me to give him some notice as to when we will leave.”
“Well, why don’t we plan to leave on the First? That’s a Friday. What about the youngsters’ summer jobs? When do they start?”
“I asked Finda about that and he said they were not expected to begin work until the end of June and Nielluin will not be working this summer.”
“Oh? Why’s that?”
But Finrod did not answer immediately as the waitress returned with their drinks and took their lunch orders. With it being as late as it was, the Elves kept to light fare, with Glorfindel and Daeron both ordering bowls of tomato basil soup with rolls while Finrod settled for a cobb salad. When the waitress had gone, Finrod answered Glorfindel’s question.
“I promised Celeborn that I would limit Nielluin’s interaction with the Mortals a bit more than I have. He is naturally concerned for her and I did not wish to burden him or my sister with the truth of our present reality. They really did not stay long enough to understand it. I did not tell you that both of them were against the idea of her coming with me in the first place, but I felt Nielluin needed to come, just as I felt that Finda needed to be here as well. Nielluin is naturally upset that she is not being allowed certain freedoms that her mortal friends take for granted, but I assured her that over time this would not be the case.”
“Well, once she’s married to Gareth, it’ll be a moot point,” Glorfindel pointed out. “Gareth is a liberated ellon, after all, and won’t insist that Nielluin stay at home and embroider bedsheets.” He gave the other two a wide grin and they both chuckled.
“So, I’ll make the reservations,” Glorfindel continued. “We’ll stay in Fairbanks for a few days and then we’ll go to Denali and camp for a few more. We can test them on their woodlore.”
“How long do you plan to be gone?” Daeron asked even as the waitress returned with their orders.
“Just for the week. We’ll come back sometime the next weekend. I’ve decided I’d like to help out with the Elf Camp, at least with the first session. I may be too busy with Elf Academy business to help with the second session. We’ll be starting earlier than usual because of where Thanksgiving falls this year.”
“Well, I would welcome your assistance,” Daeron said, “and I think the Valinóreans will enjoy helping out as well. They’re all rather enthusiastic about the idea of working with the children.”
“And I am happy that they are,” Finrod said, “though I know Erestor and Lindorillë will be busy with the store, which I understand will have its grand opening during the holiday weekend. Do you think they will get customers?”
“Oh, I have no doubt about that,” Glorfindel said as he sipped on his soup. “There aren’t many choices for buying clothing around here unless you either want to make the trip to Coldfoot or Chandalar or buy online.”
“And people will naturally be curious about it anyway,” Daeron chimed in. “When they see that the store offers what they need and can afford, most people are going to shop there, especially when it comes time to outfit their children for school. And those who are against us will just have to shop elsewhere if they choose not to patronize the store.”
Finrod gave them a wicked smile. “Before long, they will accuse us of trying to take over Wiseman completely.”
Glorfindel sniffed. “Trying to? We already have. They just don’t know it yet.”
The other two chuckled and their conversation drifted randomly to other topics of interest as they continued eating. Eventually, they finished and Glorfindel insisted on paying the bill. Upon leaving the café, they headed for the bookstore, stopping at the clothing store to chat with Erestor and Lindorillë and those helping out in preparing the store for its grand opening. Then Finrod left them to return to the bookstore and Glorfindel and Daeron headed for the van, meaning to return to Edhellond. Daeron admitted that he was now feeling fatigued and would like to rest and Glorfindel said he still had some Academy-related work to do but he could do it just as easily at home as at the college.
“So, you take a nap and I’ll get some work done and we’ll let someone else worry about dinner,” Glorfindel said as the two climbed into the van.
“I think it’s Cennanion’s turn to cook anyway, he and Alphwen.”
“Do you think they’ll declare their love for one another anytime soon?” Glorfindel asked as he pulled out of the parking lot.
“It would be nice,” Daeron said with a sly grin. “I’m anxious to use the rose petals I’ve been saving up for just such an occasion.”
Glorfindel just shook his head in amusement as he continued driving along Kodiak, but when they passed St. Mary of the Snows Catholic Church, he was suddenly reminded of his dream and the role Charles Waverly played in it and his good mood vanished.
Words are Sindarin:
Le hannon: ‘Thank you’.
Pedo gúbeth: ‘Speak no word’.
Note: Morwen Lindiriel is an OC.
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