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On the knife’s edge  by Laikwalâssê

Chapter 13: Reunion

Elrond took a deep breath when they rounded a bend, and the camp came into sight. He had long sensed the other elves, especially his wife. And Galadriel´s fëa was not to be overlooked either, yet sensing something and finally seeing it was another matter.

Two further days had gone by since their departure. Haldir was doing well considering the circumstances. Apart from an occasional light headache, he felt no harmful after effects of the injury. The Marchwarden, however, had a streak ever to downplay his injuries and Elrond had, therefore, kept a close eye on him. Elladan´s leg was healing to expectations, yet the boy was still too quiet and often tired which was something Elrond was not comfortable with.

Glorfindel was another matter entirely. After his outbreak, he had not spoken one word again. He had closed his eyes and refused to react to anything or anyone. Only Tinár had been able to coax him to take some fluids and some bits of lembas.

Elrond wondered how to proceed. The warrior was descending into a full-fledged depression. The healer wanted to wait out the final diagnoses about the immobility. He had high hopes that it was temporary due to swelling along the spine, which he could finally answer when reaching home and he could thoroughly examine the warrior.

Elrond lightly tapped on his son´s shoulder. “Look we have arrived. Your Nana and Daernaneth are waiting for you.”

Elladan, leaning heavily against him, did not react outwardly to the announcement. “I want to see Ro,” was all he said already squirming to be set down.

“Wait,” Elrond answered frowning. Why was the boy this downcast?

While riding into the middle of the clearing and stopping his horse, Elrond looked around with appreciation.

The spot was selected thoughtfully. Secluded from casual bypassers, a little stream nearby, open space to let the sunlight down and tall trees to protect from inclement weather.

Elrond sensed at least three guards in the trees for protection and early warning. Altogether a perfect established and running camp.

Just what he needed to treat the injured properly finally.

And now Elrond recognized the reason for this perfection.

Erestor!

His dark-haired counselor was sitting on a log arranged around a small campfire just taking a pot with boiling water from the pole. When he spotted the riders, he rose, silently, observant and attentive as was his wont.

Elrond relaxed marginally and nodded toward his seneschal and was sure the thanks had been noticed. He would express his approval later.

While Haldir and Celeborn were already dismounting and helping to dispatch the litter with Glorfindel, Elrond kept sitting until someone relieved him of Elladan.

Just now the tent flap was thrown to the side and Celebrían followed by her mother came out.

Elrond directed his gaze at his wife, but when he had hoped to see joy or at least a welcome smile on her face, he was disappointed. Nearly instinctively he opened his bond and was greeted with icy silence. Sighing inwardly he closed up again and nodded gratefully when Tinár took Elladan down mindful of the splinted leg.

Galadriel had already greeted her husband, no kiss or boisterous hugging only a gentle touch—an intimacy Elrond envied right now.

The healer started however when he observed how Tinár repositioned his son in his arms to transfer him to his nearing mother. Just when Celebrían stretched out her arms, the older twin suddenly squirmed and turned, hugged the young healer and spoke softly in his ear.

“Take me to Ro, please?”

Tinár was stunned in such a way that he directed a helpless gaze at Elrond. The healer sighed and nodded ever so slightly. Ignoring the shocked face of his first lady, Tinár hugged the boy close and fled the scene.

Elrond directed his gaze at his wife while dismounting. If her face was closed before, it showed open fury now.

Outwardly appearing calm, he kept standing on the spot awaiting the storm to come. When Celebrían had reached him her eyes blazed.

“It was not enough to shut me out from my children, peredhel, now you have influenced them such that they will not even great me? I hate you…” she cried raising her hand for a slap.

Elrond intercepted the raised hand and pressed it down to her side clenching his fingers around her wrist.

“Calm down, wife. You speak nonsense.”

When she ceased her struggles, Elrond released her and strode toward the tent where Celeborn had placed Glorfindel. He did not miss the thinned lips of Galadriel while passing her. He inclined his head and knew that this was much too rude for a greeting but he would make up for it later. All what he would say now would be wrong.

 

 

…………………………………………

 

 

Elrond was just about to kneel beside Glorfindel to check on him when an urgent call from Tinár brought him back to his feet.

“Elrond come quickly, something is wrong with the twins.” Tinár’s voice held a tinge of panic.

While exiting the tent, Elrond nearly bumped into Galadriel also running toward the children's shelter. When he entered, he saw his wife sprawled over both children caressing their faces.

“My poor babies, what is wrong. Answer me…” Tears were running down her pale face. She did not even notice her husband and father entering.

Elrond looked bewildered at Tinár.

“Elladan went unconscious, and both stopped breathing.”

Shocked, the healer wanted to assess his children´s condition, but his wife blocked him purposely with her body.

“It is your fault. It is because of you,” Celebrían cried still hindering her husband to reach out.

“Celebrían, Elrond–out! Leave this tent at once.” Celeborn's voice was not overly loud but insistent.

Elrond´s head snapped up. “But…”

“OUT!”

Celeborn had moved quickly and grabbed his daughter´s and son-in-law’s elbow shoving both out of the tent. Galadriel slipped inside and gestured for Tinár to leave also. The young healer complied bewildered.

Tinár stopped outside and witnessed aghast the scene unfolding at the clearing.

Celeborn was standing opposite his children, and his eyes were blazing. He looked from one to the other.

“Have you two lost your mind? You are responsible for your childrens’ condition with your witless quarrel. The twins are shutting down because they can no longer stand this hostile atmosphere between you. Stop this immediately.”

Celebrían was just about to retort, but she closed her mouth quickly upon seeing her father´s angry eyes. Elrond only gasped when the implication hit.

Both parents turned as one.

“Stay where you are!”

The sharp command stopped them effectively.

“My wife will anchor them, and after that I expect you two to do what loving parents do and make it very clear to your children that there is no need to flee this world, have I made myself clear?”

While Celebrían nodded Elrond thinned his lips. He bristled at the tone of the older elf, but he was in too much turmoil to reply to anything.

When Celebrían gasped Elrond´s head snapped toward the tent. A faint blue light suddenly emanated from the inside. A slight wind was ruffling the flap even if no leaves outside moved. When the light grew in intensity and finally became blinding, Elrond closed his eyes swallowing convulsively.

Galadriel used her ring to save his children. How could it have come so far?

 

…………………………………………………

 

When the light was reduced to a reasonable level and finally expired, Elrond and Celebrían moved forward this time not stopped by the Lord of the Golden Wood. Elrond looked briefly at his wife, yet her gaze was fixed on the tent.

He swallowed. Was the chasm between them already too great to overcome? He only wanted to protect her from bodily harm in coming out here in the wild. He had closed his bond to concentrate entirely on the rescue mission. He never wanted to shut her out from her children. Her overbearing anger was uncounted.

`Maybe you should tell her that?`

Elrond started when he heard Galadriel´s words in his mind. They had just reached the tent. Galadriel was blocking the entrance.

“I was able to revive them and persuade them not to fade. They are in a deep healing sleep now. Whatever you do do not ruin my efforts.”

Celebrían rounded her mother and vanished into the tent without a word. Elrond was stopped by a raised hand of his mother-in-law.

“Give her some space to breathe and some time alone with them. You owe her that.”

Elrond nodded, his face a mask. “They are alright?”

Galadriel inclined her head, knowing that Elrond was referring to the bodily state of the twins.

Without a look at the tent or another word the healer turned and strode to the edge of the clearing. Before any guard could react, he had vanished into the trees.

A lone black-clad figure followed the healer silently.

 

…………………………………………………….

 

Elrond strode through the underbrush with quick strides. The clearing had suddenly been too enclosed for him to breathe. He could no longer stand any face looking at him. He needed air and craved for the serenity of the trees. He stopped and leaned his back at a tall pine and listened…all right no comfort here too. He resumed his walk nearly running now.

What had went wrong? He only wanted to protect her and everyone else. He would die should Celebrían come to harm. Why did she not see this? Yes, Elrond loved his children beyond anything and was now worried sick because they had come to harm due to his decision to let them go. Had he made a wrong choice not considering the dangers enough? And then Glorfindel–his long-time companion, protector, and supporter–he could not, no would not, rule Imladris without him. If his worst fears about his diagnosis were confirmed and the golden-haired warrior was permanently paralyzed, Glorfindel would leave for the West, this much was clear.

He cried out more in fright than in pain when he stumbled over a root and fell flat on the forest floor. He recovered and leaned his back at the base of the nearest tree.

He raised his knees to his chest and lifted his head to the canopy. Voiceless but powerful he let out a mental cry full of anguish, hurt and worry.

A shockwave raced through the underbrush. Closing his eyes, Elrond lowered his head on his knees. Unseen by mortal eyes he blended perfectly into the natural surroundings.

 

 

……………………………………

 

Erestor had followed the dispute in the clearing with narrowed eyes. He had been aware that some misunderstanding was going on between Elrond and Celebrían. He had witnessed the heated parting words when Elrond had made it clear to his wife that he did not wish for her to accompany him in rescuing their children and Glorfindel–yet he had not been aware that the argument had raised to this level.

He had also tried to convince the first lady to remain home when she had informed him that she meant to follow her husband. He had failed in this part but quickly decided to accompany her so he could protect her personally.

On the way she had complained that Elrond was purposely shutting her out from her children.

Erestor was wise enough not to argue. He had known Elrond now for a very long time. First, he also had his fair trouble with this withdrawn and close-lipped elf, but gradually he had managed to advance Elrond´s inner core.

Elrond had many bad experiences during his life, and this had started when he was a small child. During his life, he had acquired a technique which allowed him to protect his injured soul. He seldom let his emotions show and he showed an indifference which often let him appear uncaring and aloof.

However, just the opposite was the case. Elrond was a perfectionist and loved clear rules and standards. He did expect much from others but instead of himself. When it came to understanding, caring, love or support, there was no elf west of the sea with a greater heart.

Elrond´s greatest wish was a wife he could cherish and love and children he could guarantee a pain-free and worry-free life, all he and his brother never had. 

This was the reason why he was sometimes overprotective and unmoving when a decision was not matching his standards of control.

When meeting Elrond at the camp Erestor had seen the level of stress Elrond had reached, and he knew that he could not endure much more.

The confrontation with his wife and parents-in-laws had caused the final impact. Erestor had clearly seen that Elrond´s endurance was overstepped.

However, before he could interfere, Elrond had left the clearing and vanished into the underbrush.

Erestor sighed and instantly followed the elf after he had quickly pointed out to Celeborn where he was going.

Elrond was a formidable fighter and more than capable of looking after himself, yet in his current state, Erestor knew he would not be able to react to any danger adequately as he had not taken any weapons with him.

Erestor followed the half-elf quickly as Elrond did not make any attempt to conceal his passing. When the healer stumbled and fell, Erestor kept behind a tree knowing that Elrond would not react well when he would appear and offer his help.

When Elrond leaned back against the tree and let out a cry, Erestor started. A shockwave was racing through the underbrush not only ruffling his hair and clothing but sending tremors along the floor.

Erestor blinked. He had occasionally seen Elrond use his power but always positively, never had he negatively witnessed Vilya.

When the wave had ebbed away, he moved forward. He had to act now before the healer entirely withdrew.

He sat beside the half-elf and waited until Elrond lifted his head.

“Better?” Erestor asked eyeing his long time friend intently. When he had expected a sharp retort and the demand to leave, Elrond only took a deep breath.

“Yes. Erestor, I am glad you are here.”

There it was again–clear words without much ado. Elrond was all passion and feelings but not very good in voicing them.

“Always at your service.”

Long moments the two elves sat there staring into nothing. Erestor had long sensed the guard that had followed him but remained unseen in the trees so Erestor could concentrate on his charge.

“My children feel the need to fade, my wife is mad at me, and Glorfindel is descending into depression. Right now I do not know how to proceed, Erestor. Whatever I do it turns out wrong.”

Erestor moved a bit so that he could sit opposite the healer and look him in the eye.

“Elrond, I will take the liberty of quoting words you spoke to your wife, not an hour past. YOU SPEAK NONSENSE. Heed your own counsel. The only thing I see that is paramount now is to make amends with your wife.”

When the Lord of Imladris did not answer, Erestor took another deep breath. Marital problems were not really his area of expertise.

“Elrond she is hurt and worried. Tell her of your motives, and she will understand.”

Erestor saw the inner battle. Elrond wanted nothing more than to take his wife in his arms and explain all, yet he dreaded the reaction, another rejection.

Erestor tried a different approach. “Elrond, the twins' condition will not improve if you two continue with this quarrel. So take the first step. You owe this them.”

Elrond´s eyes blazed. “I have done all to save them. What more do you expect?”

Erestor ignored the tone. “You have done all to heal their bodily hurts, but it is the emotional level you have to address.”

Looking highly irritated at first, Elrond gradually calmed down and nodded. Erestor sighed inwardly. He knew what cord he must play.

He clapped the other on the shoulder. “Come let us return before your mother-in-law comes and gets you back.”

Elrond snorted very unlordly.

Just when the two elves had risen and dusted off their clothing, a call from a perimeter guard alerted them.

“Orcs, orcs attacking the camp!”

To be continued…     





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