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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…….
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