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On the knife’s edge  by Laikwalâssê

Chapter 16: an overdue talking and bad dreams

“It is high time for bed,” Elrond said directing a stern gaze at his sons. Already two times they had managed to beg another few moments to stay up longer.

While Elrohir stood up and hugged his mother first and then his father good night, Elladan opened his mouth to protest.

“Elladan, your father, has already said it is time for bed,” Celebrían looked at her son expectantly.

The elfling crawled down from his chair and turned facing his mother.

“You can tell me nothing!”

Celebrían threw down her napkin while Elrond´s eyebrows rose in irritation.

With a scowl, the elfling turned and was already halfway to the door when a chair was shoved back loudly.

“Elladan, come back here at once.”

The sharp tone of his father made the elfling stop and turn. With uncertain eyes, he shuffled closer. When he had reached his parents, he looked at his feet.

“I will no longer tolerate your tone with your mother. You instantly apologize to her.” Elrond´s eyes blazed dangerously.

After a few minutes, the boy raised his eyes. He looked first at his father and then at his mother.

“I am sorry,” he said.

Elrond took a deep breath. Nothing he had hoped for, but it was a beginning.

The healer stepped next to his wife. “You may go, and I do want to see nothing of you until the sun rises; light out immediately, understood?”

“But Erestor promised a story…” Elladan retorted his chin raised in defiance.

“Elladan, I have had it, out!” Elrond´s anger was palpable.

Elrohir quickly ran over and grabbed his brother's shirt. “Come,” he said softly practically dragging his brother from the room.

When the door had closed with a thud, Elrond sat down with a sigh. His wife kept standing with a stony face.

The children's obstinacy against them was their fault. They clearly felt the tension still being present between him and Celebrían. Only last evening Elrond had talked to his wife about her supposed blaming of Glorfindel. The talking had ended with a door in his wife’s face and him sleeping on the couch in his study.

 

………………………………………………

 

The talk the day before…

 

Elrond closed the door to his private chambers. Celebrían was sitting at her dressing table brushing her hair.

“Care to help me?” she asked holding out the brush.

Elrond sighed and sat on the bed. “Celebrían I want to talk to you about something Elladan just said.”

Elrond looked at his wife expectantly. He could still not believe what his oldest had told him. His mother had forbidden him to visit Glorfindel and had blamed the warrior for the bad outcome of the trip.

Celebrían laid down the brush and turned on her seat until she faced her husband.

“He complained to you that I caught him visiting Glorfindel—the second time that is, right?”

Elrond narrowed his eyes at his wife´s arrogant tone.

“No, I caught him crying and running away. Only after much coaxing, could I get him to speak.”

Celebrían only raised an annoyed eyebrow.

Elrond had risen, his eyes narrowed. “Celebrían, why in Valar´s name have you blamed Glorfindel for being responsible for the children's injuries and pray tell me why do you forbid our sons to visit with him?”

Celebrían had also risen. For long minutes both elves were staring at one another in anger. “He is responsible that our sons nearly died. He has betrayed the trust we had in him. I have said it from the beginning that it is not safe to let them go, but you overruled me again.”

Elrond took a deep breath. “Again?”

Celebrían waved a hand in dismissal. Elrond stepped closer and grabbed her upper arms and forced himself to stay calm.

“Celebrían, it was an accident. Just inclement weather. Glorfindel would give his life to protect our sons, and he had nearly done so,” he said. His heart still clenched when he thought back at how the warrior had sustained the twins fëar with his own life energy.

Celebrían only raised a derogatory eyebrow at her husband´s words.

“He was not very successful, now was he? Both of my boys nearly died!”

Elrond stared at his wife speechless. Where did the deep aversion against Glorfindel come from?

“I cannot comprehend your feelings. With your careless words, you ruined the weak hope that Glorfindel would overcome his depression and maybe recover. He is on the edge of fading.”

Elrond shook his head and sat down heavily on the bed.

“I only want to protect my children and make sure that anything like this damned trip will never happen again. That they get hurt no more. Unfortunately, the boys are enchanted with Glorfindel. I want to change that. If he leaves for the West; all the better.”

Elrond gasped. He had thought immense worry behind his wife´s repelling attitude toward the warrior, but her words could only be interpreted as hate. His sons injuries had healed completely. There was no reason for such an over-reaction. Only together, the children and Glorfindel would overcome the trauma they had suffered. His sons would be devastated if Glorfindel left them. Did his wife not see this?

Whom did she want to protect or punish? Surely not her children? He looked up sharply. Maybe her anger was directed at him? This he could manage but to direct her anger at others in need was no concept to him.

“Elrond, I want…”

“Celebrian, I have heard enough for today. I have to digest this. I will sleep in my study. I do not wish to share this room with you tonight.”

With that, the Lord of Imladris turned and left his wife staring after him speechless.

 

………………………………….

 

Celebrían tossed and turned in her bed. She could not find real sleep. The path to elven dreams was somehow blocked. Doubts were gnawing at her conscience. She did not, of course, hate Glorfindel, but she did not like how her sons hung on every word the warrior said. He had too much influence on the boys. She wanted to protect them as long as possible. Glorfindel encouraged them too much to spread their wings, and she could not tolerate this in such dangerous times. She only wanted to limit the contact her sons did have with the ancient elf.

She doubted that the worsening of his condition had anything to do with her talking to him. Had he not continually agreed with her children that the trip would be a good idea, nothing would have happened. Only with much luck both of her babies had survived, and this was Glorfindel´s responsibility. She had not thought the warrior to be this sensible not to tolerate the truth.

Her husband was again overreacting, not she. If the warrior had lost hope to live on, then it was his decision and not because of her. Elrond was blaming her for nothing. First, he had handled her like a child in forbidding her to come and save her children, and now he was accusing her of being responsible for Glorfindel´s state.

She sighed. This was not talked through for her. Contrary to her expectations she felt suddenly exhausted and soon was fast asleep.

She woke with no memory of her dreaming. Maybe she had slept dreamless—all the better.

She rose and blinked when the light falling through the high window looked much dimmer than the day before. Clouds must have come up last night. She put on her sleeping robe and was determined to break her fast before she would talk to her husband. The big bed had felt very empty, and this quarrel had to be put to rest. A new morning and maybe Elrond would now see reason?

When she headed down the corridor, she frowned. She could barely see the end of the hall and only two of the torches were lit. What was the meaning of this? Elrond always insisted to light all twenty torches, so no child or visitor on a nightly errand would break his neck.

She shook her head but stopped when she headed past a wall hanging. She knew all the tapestries at the Last Homely House because most of them she or her mother had woven, but this one was foreign to her. Not only was it woven in dark colors it also showed a fight scene. She nor anyone else had produced this tapestry, and she had surely not agreed of such a hanging.

What was going on here? She gathered her gown and headed further down the corridor when the door to her husband´s study opened. She stopped, her eyes wide with surprise.

Elrond was standing in the doorway dressed all in black with leather armors protecting arms and legs, a sword attached to his hip and a bow in hand.

Celebrían swallowed. Her husband´s hair was braided like the warriors of old, and he looked ready for battle.

“Elrond, what is the meaning of this? Do you hunt for our breakfast?” Erestor came out after the healer and was also dressed all in black nodded toward her and headed down the corridor.

Elrond looked at her while narrowing his eyes.

“Hilarious, wife. Have you not heard the horn? As if it is not the third time this week we are under attack. This time they have breached the inner circle. Please go to the cellar, where all others are already barricading. I am not sure if we can hold them back.”

Celebrían took a deep breath.

“Elrond, that was funny for such an early morning, but please I am not in the mood for such jokes. I know that Glorfindel is not in charge, but this play is a bit too macabre for my taste.”

Elrond looked at his wife bewildered. What was she talking about?

“I do not know who this Glorfindel should be, but I advise you to head toward the cellar before it is too late.”

Without another word, the Lord of Imladris turned and headed after his advisor.

Celebrían stood there clueless. Had all lost their minds this morning? Orcs had never invaded the valley; they had not even found it. What nonsense was Elrond talking?

When Lindir came running down the corridor, she was about to open her mouth to ask the administrator what was happening, yet the raven-haired elf grabbed her wrist and dragged her toward the staircase.

“My lady, what are you doing still up here? We are under attack.”

Celebrían wrenched her hand free.

“Stop, stop this madness. I will go nowhere until someone has explained to me what is going on.”

Lindir stopped and looked at his lady in anguish.

“My lady, this is no time for discussing. You know better than that. If we do not hide immediately, they will find us…”

“Who?” Celebrían nearly cried.

Lindir blinked. Was his lady testing him, or why did she act as if she did not know what was happening? For many years Imladris was besieged, and occasionally the orc broke through, like today.

“Orcs and Uruk-hai, my lady,” Lindir said unsure looking at the first lady.

Celebrían sighed. “Dear Lindir, that´s impossible. Glorfindel has built a formidable defense around the valley. No evil creature has ever breached our borders. Glorfindel has made sure of that. His legions of warriors have protected us against all evil. So what are you talking about?”

Lindir´s eyes went wide. “Glorfindel? I have never heard of an elf called this, but we could have needed such a formidable warrior in the past. Our valley could still be saved…please my lady, if no miracle happens this day then we will be overrun. Please come with me.”

Celebrían shook her head. She had to admit that Lindir´s words had frightened her, but it was impossible. She knew it otherwise. What weird play was going on here?

She started when she heard the clashing of metal and the usual sneers of orcs. This could not be.

She looked about wildly. “Lindir?” she asked her voice not so sure anymore.

The elf grabbed her wrist once more. “Please, my lady we have to leave—NOW!”

Celebrían swallowed. Whatever was happening she did not understand right now but one thing she knew with certainty. She would go nowhere without her sons. She had to get them first.

Again she wrenched her hand free. “Lindir, I will follow you, but first we have to fetch my sons.”

Why had no one thought about the children, she wondered.

Lindir´s head snapped around. “Sons? What sons? My lady now is not the time for such cruel jokes. You have no sons. And now let us go!”

Without waiting for another comment, the black-haired elf dragged the first lady down the corridor.

The shocked wail of the daughter of Celeborn was drowned out by the howl of the orcs.

 

To be continued…     





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