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Glorfindel woke shortly after dawn to find himself stretched out on Finrod’s bed with a blanket covering him. He was alone. Looking blearily about, trying to remember how he’d ended up in Finrod’s bed, he saw that Legolas’ bed had not been slept in. He could hear water running in the bathroom and had to assume that either Finrod or Legolas was showering. Even as he was thinking that and climbing out of the bed, adjusting the robe he had apparently slept in, the corridor door opened and Legolas stepped in, still dressed as he had been the night before.
“Nice walk?” Glorfindel asked nonchalantly.
Legolas quirked his eyebrows in the same manner as Glorfindel remembered Thranduil doing on many an occasion, proof that the apple did not fall far from the tree indeed. “It was pleasant enough,” Legolas answered mildly. “I spent the rest of the night downstairs reading and as soon as Finrod finishes his shower, I will take one as well. How are you doing? I gather you had a rather rough night.”
Glorfindel scowled. “Stupid dream keeps plaguing me but I can never remember enough details. All I have when I wake up is a sense of dread.”
“Dreams are important,” Legolas commented with a frown. “Has Vorondur not been able to help you?”
“He wants to regress me to see if I can recall the dream,” Glorfindel replied as he hunted through his pack for his toiletry bag. “I’m not so sure.”
“It’s not as if you’ve not done it before,” Legolas pointed out as he sat on his bed to remove his shoes.
Glorfindel gave him a startled look. “What do you mean?”
Legolas looked up, his expression puzzled. “Surely you remember when Elrond did something similar that time when you and he were visiting Mirkwood. You joined me in a patrol and then you somehow got separated from us and when we finally found you, you couldn’t remember what had happened to you. Surely you could not have forgotten that? My adar practically emptied out the Stronghold when I sent him word of your disappearance.”
“Valar! I’d forgotten all about that!” Glorfindel exclaimed as he sat heavily on his bed, his eyes dark with a memory of an incident that even ages later left him feeling weak.
The bathroom door opened and Finrod came out drying his hair. “Forgot what?” he asked, looking between the other two and taking in Glorfindel’s shocked expression and Legolas’ sympathetic one.
“Uh… nothing,” Glorfindel said hastily. “Liam was just reminding me of something that happened a long time ago. So, just let me use the bathroom for a moment and then it’s all yours, Liam.” He got up and passed Finrod, refusing to look at the other two ellyn, closing the bathroom door behind him.
Finrod gave Legolas an enquiring look. “Do you want to explain?”
“It is not my story to tell,” Legolas said. “I was merely reminding Glorfindel that he once allowed Elrond to help him remember something that he could not recall. I imagine it was a similar technique to this regression Vorondur wants to do. I think Glorfindel has tried very hard to forget what happened until I mentioned it to him. Perhaps now he will be less hesitant to allow Vorondur to help him remember his dream.”
“One would hope,” Finrod said as he rummaged about for clean clothes. “I deem the dreams are of great importance and may be linked in some manner to his fading. If he can remember what the dreams are about, that might help us to help him.”
Glorfindel came out of the bathroom just then. “All yours,” he said to Legolas, who thanked him and set about preparing to take a shower. Glorfindel sat on his bed, watching Finrod dress. Neither spoke. Finrod stood before a mirror and ran a comb through his hair.
“So what did we decide to do today?” he finally asked, though he knew what their itinerary was.
“Um… the Museum of the North and the Botanical Gardens,” Glorfindel replied. “Gwyn and Gareth will meet us at the Gardens and then afterwards we’ll have lunch somewhere. Tomorrow we can visit the Ice Museum and let the youngsters loose to do shopping. We can take them to Bentley Mall and the Wal-Mart Superstore. They’ll enjoy that.”
Finrod nodded as he put the comb away. “Well, I will go see if the youngsters are awake yet and meet you downstairs for breakfast.”
“Sure.” Glorfindel watched Finrod cross the room to leave. “Ah, Finrod.” His gwador stopped with a hand on the doorknob and looked back at him. “Um… thanks… for… well… for helping me. I’m sorry I ruined your night.”
Finrod gave him a warm smile. “You did not and you are welcome. I will see you shortly.” Glorfindel nodded and Finrod left. When Legolas came out of the bathroom several minutes later, he found Glorfindel still sitting on his bed deep in thought.
“Your turn,” he said and Glorfindel just nodded as he stood and gathered his things and went to take his shower.
About twenty minutes later, he joined the others downstairs for breakfast and they spent the time discussing what they would do and see that day. As it was Sunday, they lingered over their meal, not in any hurry to rush out, but eventually they were on their way and soon they were back in the university area enjoying the museum.
As they were wandering through the exhibits, Finda suddenly asked, “Do you think the exhibits come to life at night?”
Finrod gave his son a startled look. “And what brought such a notion to your mind?”
“Oh, we saw this movie on campus, Night at the Museum, where the exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City come to life at night.”
“But only because of that ee-gip-shun artifact,” Calandil pointed out, carefully pronouncing the unfamiliar word. “I do not think this museum houses such an ancient artifact.”
“And how ancient is it?” Legolas asked, intrigued by the concept being described.
“I think it was about four or five thousand years old,” Calandil replied.
“Well, that’s not too old,” Nielluin said with a disdainful sniff. “I’m older than that and no one calls me ancient.”
“Yet,” Glorfindel couldn’t help but say, a twinkle in his eyes.
Finrod laughed, giving his niece a quick hug and a kiss. “Could such a thing happen though?” he asked, looking at Glorfindel for the answer.
“Nah, it’s just a fantasy,” Glorfindel replied dismissively. “It’s a fun movie and they made a sequel that takes place at the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex in Washington, D.C. If you’re really interested, we can rent it when we get back to Wiseman.”
“Yes, I think I would like that,” Finrod said and then the subject was dropped as they made their way out of the museum and headed for the van. Soon afterwards they were pulling into the parking lot of the Botanical Gardens where they saw Gwyn and Gareth waiting for them. Nielluin rushed over to Gareth and they began kissing.
“Hey! Not again,” Glorfindel shouted as he climbed out of the van and locked it. “Will you two stop already? Honestly, you’d think you hadn’t seen each other in years the way you carry on. Give it a rest.”
“Easy, gwador,” Finrod said mildly as they joined Gwyn and Gareth. “I know you are upset about Helyanwë but you do not need to take it out on my niece and soon-to-be nephew.”
“I’m not upset about Helena,” Glorfindel protested. “It’s just that these two lovebirds are beginning to get on my nerves with all their mushy oohing and aahing over each other.”
“Well, whose fault is that?” Gwyn demanded somewhat angrily. “In the normal course of things, these two wouldn’t even be engaged. They’ve been practically forced into this relationship by Ilúvatar from what we’ve been told.”
“And you resent it because the same thing didn’t happen with you and Misty,” Glorfindel said shrewdly.
Gwyn blushed slightly and refused to look at anyone. Gareth’s expression became one of guilt. “It’s not like I planned this,” he said quietly. “I really wish Nell and I had been given a chance to not fall in love.”
“We have no easy answers for either of you,” Finrod said with a sigh. “For now, let us just accept what is and go from there. Gareth, Nell, try to control yourselves while you are in public. Hold hands if you wish, but leave the rest for when you are private.”
“Yessir,” Gareth said.
“And Gwyn,” Finrod continued, “it would have been lovely if what happened with your brother and my niece had happened to you and Mithrellas, but I think, given her history, this way is better for you both.” He gave the ellon a sympathetic smile. “I know for a fact that she misses you and if circumstances had not been such that she needed to remain in Wiseman at this time with Nimrodel being close to term she would have come with us.”
“Della’s not due until September though, isn’t she?” Gareth asked, looking puzzled.
“Elrond thinks not,” Finrod explained. “Multiple births usually do not go to term, as you must know from being around Mortals. Having twins is rare enough among us, but triplets are unheard of. None of the healers think she will deliver on their begetting day. We will have to wait and see. Now, we can stand out here in the parking lot all day or we can go in and enjoy the gardens.”
“Yes, let’s go in,” Glorfindel said, “and Gareth, I’m sorry I snapped at you. I think you and Nell make a lovely couple and I look forward to when you are husband and wife in truth.”
“Thank you,” Gareth said and nothing more was said about the subject.
They entered the visitor center, paid their admission fee, picked up maps and went into the gardens, which were divided into different sections, some, like the children’s garden, still under construction. With Finrod’s permission, the Three Amigos were allowed to wander on their own. Gwyn, Gareth and Nielluin also went their own way, leaving the three older Elves to themselves.
“Plan to return to the visitor center in two hours,” he told them. “That should give you plenty of time to admire the flowers.”
“I really don’t think we’ll be here that long, Finrod,” Glorfindel said as the younger Elves went their own way. “This is not that large an area and from what the map shows, a lot of it is still under construction, so there won’t be much to see.”
“Perhaps,” Finrod allowed, “but it gives us time to ourselves to stroll through what there is and just relax without having to keep an eye on the children.”
“All of whom are older than dirt, even Gwyn and Gareth, as the Mortals would say,” Glorfindel pointed out with a wry grin.
“But not as old as we,” Finrod countered with his own grin.
“Perhaps, then, I should also leave you elders to yourselves and join the elflings,” Legolas said with feigned solemnity.
“Anyone born before the Fourth Age is a card-carrying elder,” Glorfindel retorted, “so you’re free to join the elflings if you wish or remain with the grown-ups, your choice.”
“I will remain with you and Finrod,” Legolas rejoined. “You two are not likely to get into trouble without my help.”
“In your dreams,” Glorfindel said with a sniff and Finrod laughed.
They came to an area which their maps claimed to be the Frank Wooding Memorial Garden, which highlighted what they learned was Fairbanks official flower, the delphinium, a perennial with purple or blue flowers, though some were red, yellow or white, and in meadowlands, the plant could grow as high as six feet, though the alpine forms were usually not much larger than about four inches.
“Odd to think they would choose a plant that is toxic to both people and livestock as their official flower,” Glorfindel commented.
“Who can comprehend mortal logic?” Finrod asked rhetorically.
“Still, it is lovely,” Legolas said as they wandered through the garden. It was a mix of perennials, all neatly labeled, and annuals, which were not. Glorfindel identified most of the annuals with the names by which the Mortals called them, though they all knew some of them by their Elvish equivalents. In fact, the Wood Elf and Glorfindel reminisced about how some of the plants which had managed to survive through the ages had been called in the languages of Middle-earth. But not all the plants were familiar to them and Glorfindel suggested that these were new species which had risen long after the ice age.
“Which only makes sense,” he concluded. “The planet evolves and species of plants and animals die out and are replaced by others.”
“It is less so in Valinor,” Finrod averred, sighing slightly. “I much prefer here to there.”
“It’s certainly less boring, I’m sure,” Glorfindel responded with a smile.
“I think you made the right choice not to return,” Finrod said.
Glorfindel shook his head. “It was not my choice. I had promised Elrond I would watch over his sons. Until they were ready to Sail, I was bound to remain, but truthfully? I wished with all my heart to be back in Valinor with you and Sador giving the Valar grief.”
Legolas chuckled at that and even Finrod smiled, but his expression became more solemn as he spoke. “Even so, I am glad you stayed behind, if for no other reason than without you and the Twins, I do not think the others would have fared half as well as they have, especially the ellith.”
“You’re probably right about that,” Glorfindel admitted with a shrug. “Daeron—” He stopped, his expression darkening suddenly. “I could’ve killed Celeborn right then and there for upsetting Daeron the way he did. That ellon deserved better. What he suffered—”
“Hush, gwador,” Finrod took Glorfindel into his embrace, hugging him fiercely. “Shh… it’s all right.”
“No, it isn’t,” Glorfindel countered, standing stiffly, refusing any comfort. His voice was thick with emotion and it was obvious to Finrod and Legolas that he was fighting tears. “None of you have a clue what any of us endured through the ages.”
“I have been reading your letters to me,” Finrod said softly, “and while I suspect you left much out of them, what you have written is enough for me to get a glimmer of what you experienced. I am so sorry, hanno. I wished I could have been here to help.”
“I know,” Glorfindel said, sniffing. “I’m so tired. It’s getting too hard to hold things together anymore.”
“You should not have to bear the burden alone, Glorfindel,” Legolas spoke up. “That is why we are here. You do not think the Valar sent me here, for instance, to join the police force, do you?”
“Well, that’s what you did, didn’t you?” Glorfindel countered.
“As a necessary means of supporting myself and keeping me sane,” Legolas allowed, “but our main purpose in coming was always to help relieve you and the others of the terrible burden of having to prepare the Mortals for the coming war all by yourselves.”
“Legolas is right,” Finrod said, “and deep in your heart you know this, but you are so used to being the leader, of making all the important decisions, that you are not willing to let go of the responsibility and let others help. It is no wonder that you feel tired all the time. It has to be an awful strain for you.”
“I’m not cut out for it either,” Glorfindel said, rubbing his face. “You would think being the lord of my own House would have trained me for this, but in truth, I let my steward do most of the work. I just stood around looking gorgeous and important.”
Finrod and Legolas both laughed and the tension in Glorfindel’s body eased slightly. “No really,” he said with a thin smile. “That’s what my steward always said.”
“Most stewards will say the same, I think,” Finrod said as they continued walking through the gardens.
For a few minutes they walked in silence, coming upon a small pond and wetland area where dragonflies flew and they could hear a variety of birds singing. Several goldfish swam serenely in the pond. All three seemed to take deep breaths and the sights and sounds around them were as a balm to their souls.
“I think I could just sit here by the pond all day and watch the goldfish do absolutely nothing interesting,” Glorfindel said somewhat musingly as he and Finrod leaned against the railing of the small bridge that spanned the pond.
“And I would gladly join you,” Finrod rejoined, “but I do not think it would be possible.”
“No, it wouldn’t,” Glorfindel said, “but you know, I’ve been thinking we should convert part of our own garden into something like this. You’ve never seen a Japanese garden. I’ll have to show you some pictures when we get home. They’re like this in a way and water has such a calming effect.”
“I was not aware that your gardening skills have improved over the ages, gwador,” Finrod said with a knowing smile.
“Oh, I still can’t tell weeds from flowers,” Glorfindel admitted, “but I know what I like in gardens. I’ve owned plenty down the ages in one form or another. We’ve only been living at Edhellond for a couple of years and the grounds were in a terrible state when we first moved in. The flowering season is so short that we haven’t had time to really get the garden into shape. It’s still pretty much a work in progress.”
“Well, perhaps over the winter we can plan the watermead so when spring comes we will not waste too much time,” Finrod suggested.
“I’ll be pretty busy with Elf Academy, though,” Glorfindel pointed out.
“Well, I think you can let others handle things for you,” Finrod countered. “Zach, for instance, could and should probably take over most of your duties. I think you have been neglecting yourself and these last few months with everything that has happened has not helped. You need rest, gwador, whether you admit it to yourself or not.”
“Finrod is right, Glorfindel,” Legolas said as he knelt by the pond and slipped the fingers of his left hand into the water, wiggling them to entice the fish closer so he could tickle them. “It’s time for you to look after yourself and to let us help you.”
“And you can start by letting Vorondur help you with your dreams,” Finrod added. “Legolas told me that you once allowed Elrond to help you remember what you had forgotten, so I do not understand your reluctance to allow Vorondur to do the same.”
Glorfindel tensed suddenly and looked wary. Legolas stopped playing with the fish and gave him a thoughtful look. “There is no shame in what happened to you, my friend,” he said softly. “None who learned of it ever thought the less of you, least of all myself. Even my adar told me privately that he was impressed by how you handled the situation, and you know that Ada is rarely impressed by anyone or anything.”
“Would you like to tell me what happened?” Finrod said softly, not pressing.
For a long moment, Glorfindel leaned against the rail and stared silently into the pond where the goldfish lazily swam. Finally, when he began speaking, it was in Sindarin, as if what he needed to say was too fraught with significance to be told in any mortal language. “It was during the Watchful Peace, a period of almost four hundred years after Mithrandir went to Dol Guldur, forcing Sauron to retreat to the East. Maybe fifty-five years into the Peace, Elrond was visiting Thranduil in Taur-en-Daedhelos to discuss trade and such. I was there as a matter of course. We had left the Twins behind in Imladris to rule during Elrond’s absence while Celebrían and Arwen visited Lothlórien. Legolas invited me to join him on patrol since I was just kicking my heels waiting on Elrond.”
“Our patrol took us south past the Emyn-nu-Fuin even to the Men-i-Naugrim and beyond,” Legolas offered, also speaking Sindarin. “We were checking on some of the Silvan villages that still existed that far south, though most had moved north of the mountains. It wasn’t until after Dol Guldur was re-inhabited that those few villages were abandoned.”
Finrod nodded his understanding and Glorfindel took up the tale again. “It was a routine patrol from what I was told. We skirted the east flank of the mountains and made a wide loop toward the Narrows and then back up along the west side of the mountains. We weren’t expecting any real surprises. Mirkwood was still a dangerous place but those under Legolas’ command were competent and well trained. I was just along for the ride, as they say.”
He paused and straightened, taking a deep breath as if about to plunge into cold water. “We had two more villages to check on when… when things went terribly wrong.” He paled and began to tremble, gripping the railing so hard that his knuckles turned dead white. His eyes darkened with a memory that was almost too terrible to bear and his breathing became ragged and shallow. Legolas immediately rose and joined Finrod who was attempting to loosen the ellon’s grip, which was beginning to warp the wood.
“Easy, hanno,” Finrod whispered gently, also speaking Sindarin. “That’s right. All is well. You’re safe. No harm can come to you. Shh… you’re safe, you’re safe…” He kept repeating his assurances while Legolas rubbed Glorfindel’s back to give him a sense of calm. Finally, they were able to convince him to release his hold on the railing and the two led Glorfindel off the bridge and along the path until they came upon a bench where they sat with Glorfindel between them.
“What happened, Liam?” Finrod asked in English.
Legolas gave him a startled look at the sound of his mortal name on the prince’s lips but answered readily enough in the same language. “We had two more villages to check on before we would head back home. We reached the one village and all appeared fine, though the headman told us that there had been an incursion of giant spiders in the region recently, so we needed to be extra vigilant. We made our farewells and headed for the last village. It was our custom to take to the trees since the forest floor held its own dangers. We were perhaps a day’s walk from the village when we were suddenly attacked by spiders which we later learned had attacked the village toward which we were heading and were apparently making their way to the village we had just left….”
“Stay with me, Lord Glorfindel,” Legolas shouted even as he was racing toward one of the spiders, letting fly arrows at a speed too quickly to see. Glorfindel whipped out his sword and followed. He thought they would continue fighting in the trees, but Legolas and his people jumped to the forest floor after the first volley of arrows, forcing the spiders to follow and Glorfindel saw the sense of that. In the trees, the spiders could use their silk to swing from limb to limb, easily avoiding the arrows, but on the ground they were more vulnerable.
Glorfindel leapt to the ground next to Legolas who had abandoned his bow in favor of his knives, his eyes deadly and calm as he faced one of the larger spiders. It was hideous, its mandibles clacking as it attempted to attack, but Legolas and Glorfindel were able to hold it off.
“Keep it occupied!” Legolas shouted at him as he ran around to the left.
“And how do you propose I do that?” Glorfindel shouted back even as he thrust his sword at the monster.
“Well, I suppose you could always sing to it, but just keep it focused on you for a moment,” Legolas shot back.
“Fine. Hey, you! That’s right. I’m talking to you, you big, fat, ugly thing. Come and get me.” Glorfindel waved his hands at the spider who took the bait and went for him, scuttling toward him more quickly than he was expecting, forcing him backward out of its reach. The monster ignored Legolas altogether and Glorfindel suddenly found himself in peril for his life. He fought desperately to keep the spider at bay and was too busy trying to stay alive to see what Legolas was up to, but suddenly the spider gave an almighty death shriek that was painful to hear. Glorfindel fell to his knees, involuntarily dropping his sword and clapping his hands over his ears. That proved fatal, for he felt a sudden sharp sting in the back of his neck and knew nothing more…
Words are Sindarin, unless otherwise noted:
Hanno: (Quenya) Colloquial form of háno: Brother.
Taur-en-Daedhelos: Mirkwood, literally ‘Forest of Great Fear’.
Emyn-nu-Fuin: Mountains of Mirkwood, literally, ‘Hills-under-Darkness’. Amon (pl. emyn) also means ‘steep-sided mount’; fuin can also mean ‘night, dead of night, nightshade, gloom’ and all these meanings are probably meant in this case.
Men-i-Naugrim: Old Forest Road, literally, ‘Road of the Dwarves’.
Note: The Watchful Peace lasted from Third Age 2063 to 2460. The incident which Glorfindel relates took place in 2118.
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