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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……
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