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Chapter 19: A miracle
Glorfindel sighed after another embarrassing morning. He had been bathed and re-dressed and was now waiting for someone to bring him his morning meal.
While his weird dream had disturbed him, the talk with the Vala had disturbed him even more. What had the Vala meant that he was erring in saying he could no longer protect this valley? How could he in his current condition?
He shook his head in frustration. There had to be an end in asking and doubting and hoping. He had made up his mind and would act upon his decision.
Before the elves who had been assigned to help him with his morning chores had left, he had expressed his wish to visit the garden, but the healer on duty was reluctant and promised to counsel with Master Elrond.
Glorfindel closed his eyes in frustration. What could possibly happen in the garden to him? Were they afraid that he would break his neck?
He had to laugh aloud at the absurdity of this statement.
While he still tried to find his inner equilibrium the door opened, and he heard someone enter. Another one telling him what to do and not to do.
“You will not visit the garden in your nightgown.”
Glorfindel opened his eyes in surprise at the Master Healer´s voice.
Long moments the elves looked at one another.
“I would go there naked if someone would let me,” Glorfindel said softly. “Elrond, I need to feel the sun on my skin.”
`One last time,' he silently added.
Glorfindel could not place the look in the healer´s eyes but was yet again surprised by the Half-elf´s reaction.
“Alright,” what are you waiting for?”
Half an hour later, Glorfindel was sitting in a comfortable rocking chair under a mighty oak; a light blanket over his knees and a refreshing lemonade next to him on a bench.
He inhaled deeply and closed his eyes in content. `I will miss this valley,' he thought sadly.
Elrond inhaled deeply after he had returned inside. He headed straight into his study and closed the door quickly so as to be undisturbed. He had sensed Glorfindel´s depressing mood. He did not have to be a mind reader to know why the warrior wanted so desperately to be in the garden to feel the sun.
Glorfindel had decided to fade. Elrond swallowed even if the healer in him cried out at him to do something––anything!
Yet, there was nothing he could further do, at least not physically. Against his hopes and prognosis, the warrior had remained paralyzed, even if nothing physically did warrant this.
Glorfindel´s injuries to his back had healed, and he should have been able to walk. Why he did not or could not, was a mystery to Elrond.
Even if the healer could understand the warrior´s motives not to remain here in his state, the friend in him still denied accepting this decision. Again, he had tried to reason with the warrior, to give it more time, he had pleaded to give nature a chance, had even called at the warrior's famous known pride and stubbornness, but all his attempts had been ignored. Glorfindel had decided to give up, and the process of fading had long started.
Even if his wife wanted to speak with Glorfindel and apologize for her former accusations, Elrond doubted that this would reverse the effect. He was not even sure if the accusation had started it, enhanced it maybe.
He was ripped from his thoughts when the door to his study was pushed open and banged on the wall with a thud. He closed his eyes shortly. This could only be one of his sons or both.
He quickly masked his features not wanting to let his children see what thoughts were coursing through his mind.
“Ada, Nana has allowed us to visit Glorfindel, but he is not in his rooms. Where can we find him?”
“Are we allowed to visit with him?” Elrohir asked from behind his brother.
Despite his dark mood, the healer had to smile at the two rapidly fired questions. Many elves often had trouble with the manner of asking at the same time. He had long grown accustomed to it.
“Glorfindel is in the garden under the old oak near the path leading to the stables and yes, Elrohir, you both are allowed.”
After two identical whoops of joy, the door was closed with the same bang as opened before.
Elrond sighed. ´Please open the door carefully and do not bang it shut. Thank you, my sons, for again ignoring me´.
He shook his head. Maybe the children could make an impression on the depressed warrior. He doubted that.
When another knock sounded at his door, he was on the verge of denying entry when he quickly reconsidered. No one was to blame for the situation and should be reprimanded, so he called to enter.
When the stable master entered, Elrond took a deep breath. He had totally forgotten about a fact, which would have brought great joy to his heart under other circumstances.
Therefore, he only inclined his head.
“Master Elrond, last night it happened. You wanted to be informed!”
“Thank you Calan; I will be along shortly.”
The stable master frowned at the lack of enthusiasm of his lord but refrained from commenting.
After some moments, Elrond rose. This happening would sadly change nothing.
Glorfindel watched the twins play ´warrior sparring,' as they called it, on the grass with their tiny swords he had given them a year ago. Real toys, still it could not hurt to practice early enough.
How he had wished to teach them in earnest, to form them to formidable warriors. Someone else had to perform this task now. He closed his eyes and continued to soak as much energy from the sun as possible. This was his mission today.
After a while, he opened his eyes. He must have dozed off. The sun was already descending, and he could no longer hear the childrens cries. Maybe someone had called for them to come inside. He was glad that he remained unbothered during this beautiful afternoon.
´Thanks to Elrond.'
However, the wooden swords were still lying in the grass abandoned. He frowned puzzled. Whoever had retrieved the twins would not have left them behind knowing how much they loved them.
A high-pitched cry jerked his attention toward the stable.
“Elrohir, watch out!”
Glorfindel´s blood ran cold when he saw one of the twins––Elrohir––balancing on the stable roof. His heart nearly missed a beat when the elfling swayed and stumbled.
He quickly gauged the distance to the building and knew with some luck he could reach it and hopefully catch the falling child before he hit the ground.
He flung the blanket aside and without a conscious thought, ran at a mad dash toward the stable. He reached out and felt the weight of the elfling crash into his arms. The momentum ripped him from his feet. At the last moment, he rolled on his back so that the child´s fall was cushioned. With a quick glance, he made sure that Elladan was still on the roof.
“Do not move, Elladan, sit down. I will come to you shortly,” he called.
The warrior inhaled deeply to slow his rapidly beating heart.
“Child are you all right?” he asked while carefully cupping Elrohir´s face in his hands. He was still lying on his back the elfling on top of him.
Elrohir´s eyes were wide open. Only now registering that he was safe, he began to cry loudly. Glorfindel gently hugged the elfling to his chest and rocked back and forth.
“Shhh, nothing happened, you are safe.”
With his free hand, he had made a quick check of the little body for injuries but could find nothing obvious. Only after long moments, the elfling quieted and rested his head on the broad chest.
Only now the world around him began to exist again. Glorfindel was surrounded by many elves staring at him in wonder and at the elfling in sympathy.
With relief, Glorfindel registered that Calan, the stable master, had climbed on the roof and came down with a shocked Elladan in his arms. He placed the elfling next to the warrior.
“Thank you,” was all the fair-haired elf could say. The rising murmur unnerved Glorfindel. What was so special about rescuing a child from a fall? Every other elf would have done the same. Why were all looking at him in wonder?
He slowly rose to his feet, Elrohir still in his arms. He sighed relieved when he saw Elrond come running down the lawn. Someone must have informed him. Now the healer could make a thorough examination.
When Elrond had reached them, he looked with the same consternation at the warrior like all the other elves around. Glorfindel, already wanting to hand the elfling over, frowned.
“What?” he asked irritated. Elrohir should be the reason for the healer´s concern.
After a brief glance at both of his sons, a big smile suddenly crossed the healer´s face.
“Glorfindel…” he breathed.
The warrior´s knees suddenly went weak. Elrond was just able to receive his son when the warrior sank to his knees. Convinced that his son was all right, only shocked, Elrond handed the boy carefully to his mother who had just appeared beside him.
Elrond knelt next to his friend.
“Glorfindel, are you all right?” he asked a hand on the other´s shoulder.
“I was able to catch him,” was all, the warrior retorted, staring at his hands.
Elrond nodded and laughed. “Yes, my friend, and you ran all the way.”
Glorfindel´s head snapped up. Only now the words were sinking in.
Elrond rose and extended his hand. Glorfindel reluctantly let himself be hoisted to his feet. He felt no discomfort, no pain, only a slight weakness from the fright the elfling had given him.
Slowly a smile was spreading across his face while the surrounding elves cheered at their captain. Elrond was smiling too, gathering Elladan in his arms. With a quick check, he made sure that the other twin was all right too. Thanks to Glorfindel. The lecture could wait until later––much later.
Elrond held his breath when Celebrían––Elrohir now in her arms––walked toward Glorfindel.
She kissed the warrior on the cheek and hugged him with one hand.
“Thank you for rescuing my son. I want to apologize to you for my unjust behavior toward you. I should have apologized done long ago. Can you forgive me?”
Elrond blinked when he saw tears glistening in the warrior´s eyes. A rare thing.
Glorfindel swallowed. “You are welcome, my lady. There is nothing to forgive. I am glad I could be of service,” he replied with a perfect bow.
Celebrían took a deep breath and squeezed the elf´s arm. She looked at her son sternly.
Elrohir squirmed under her gaze. He looked up uncertainly.
“I´m sorry Glorfindel. Thank you for catching me…” the elfling swallowed.
Glorfindel stretched out his arms and knelt. Both boys ran into the comforting embrace.
“You are welcome, both of you,” he said while placing a kiss on each head.
When the crowd had dispersed, Elrond took an arm around his wife´s shoulders and steered her toward the house.
“Glorfindel, are you coming?” he asked laughingly over his shoulder.
The warrior nodded and followed the couple with an elfling on each arm. Despite the joyful mood, Elrond had a critical eye on the warrior. Glorfindel´s gait was still a bit unsure but nothing to worry about. Elrond took a very deep breath. Just what he had so desperately hoped for. The injury had not been physical.
“You can walk,” Elrohir said in wonder.
“Yes, I can,” Glorfindel replied a smile firmly attached to his face.
“Are you finally ready?” Glorfindel asked irritated. For half an hour Elrond was examining him, and there seemed to be no end.
Elrond smiled. He only wanted to make sure what his eyes had already told him. The warrior was back to normal. The interaction of body and mind was working again. This was still a miracle to him. Only in union, all could function perfectly.
“Yes, I´m ready, Glorfindel. Nonetheless, I would advise you to take it slow. Many of your muscles and sinews are still untrained. An inconsiderate movement can cause extensive damage.”
Glorfindel nodded. “I will keep that in mind, Elrond. Thank you for everything.”
“It is I that has to thank you, my friend,” Elrond replied squeezing the other´s arm firmly.
The gratitude in both elves´ eyes made more words unnecessary.
When Elrond said nothing more, Glorfindel hopped from the high examination table.
“Right, I have a valley to guard, my lord. If you would excuse me?”
Before the warrior could turn, Elrond grabbed his arm.
“Glorfindel, one moment I have something to show you.”
The fair-haired elf raised an eyebrow. When Elrond only smiled and turned he frowned.
What was the Elf-lord up to?
Curiously, Glorfindel followed the healer out of the room. Elrond descended the great staircase, crossed the hall and walked outside. He did not once turn, evidently sure that the warrior would follow him.
Glorfindel did just that, intrigued where the healer would lead him. When Elrond turned around a bent, Glorfindel knew that the healer was heading toward the stables.
Glorfindel swallowed. Since his return, he had not been at the stables. Too sore was his heart over the loss of his faithful companion. He had not had the heart to choose another horse just now. For what should he have anyway? Why was Elrond probing this wound?
With a heavy heart, Glorfindel stopped at the stall door. He had to choose another companion, yet in doing so, he would finally accept that Asfaloth was gone––forever. Knowing that his friend had found a peaceful last resting place gladdened his heart somewhat.
“Glorfindel, are you coming?” Elrond´s voice sounded impatient.
Glorfindel took a deep breath. He stepped into the shady aisle of the stable and stopped dead in his tracks.
Elrond was kneeling in the middle corridor a very fidgety snow-white foal in his arms. When the warrior came into sight, the healer whispered something into the little horse´s ear and gave it a light push.
The wobbling baby horse walked forward eyeing the tall warrior curiously and with a bit of fright.
Glorfindel swallowed and quickly knelt. The foal stalked forward until it had reached him. After a brief hesitation, it walked into the elf´s arms and placed his head on the warrior´s forearm. Glorfindel carefully enveloped the tiny animal in a gentle hug tears in his eyes. He stroked the fluffy fur and felt the foal already relaxing against him.
Drawing back a bit, he looked into the great brown eyes. The colt stood perfectly still looking back at the ancient being. Time was of no essence right now. When the little horse snorted softly, Glorfindel released his hold, and the foal raced from the stable into the paddock jumping left and right like a goat.
Elrond stepped next to Glorfindel. Drawing his gaze from the perfect being, Glorfindel looked at the healer.
“He´s for me?” When the healer nodded, Glorfindel inhaled deeply.
“He´s perfect, Elrond.”
Briefly, he regretted now having replaced his old companion.
Elrond placed a comforting hand on the other´s shoulder.
“Not replaced, Glorfindel––continued.”
When the warrior looked puzzled, Elrond smiled.
“The foal is a one hundred percent son of Asfaloth. He had already sired this little one before your trip.”
Glorfindel looked at the healer in awe. He hadn´t known this. Elrond must have done it in secrecy.
“Thank you,” was all he could breathe, his gaze already returning at the antics of the young colt.
“You are welcome, my friend,” Elrond retorted. “Now, tell me, what shall we call him?”
Before Glorfindel could answer, the foal was again racing into the aisle nudging Glorfindel with his head and whinnying loudly after stopping abruptly.
Glorfindel knelt, and again elf and horse looked long at one another. The fair-haired elf started. The shape of the eyes was so familiar, the golden specks around the pupil, the long curved lashes, the shape of the nose and this look…
Again the horse whinnied softly, parting his little teeth and softly biting the warrior´s left forefinger, just as Asfaloth had always done.
After another soft nudge, the baby horse raced again from the stall. Glorfindel stood with a frown on his face. This was definitely no son of Asfaloth; this was Asfaloth reborn. Glorfindel closed his eyes and sent a heartfelt prayer to every Valar listening.
“Are you alright?” Elrond asked concerned, seeing the inner struggle of his friend.
Glorfindel opened his eyes and smiled at the healer.
“All is perfect, Elrond. You asked for a name? What other than Asfaloth would be appropriate?”
Elrond raised an eyebrow in surprise. What reasons would Glorfindel have to call the little horse like his old companion? Watching Glorfindel look back at the foal, a thought came to his mind. Surely that horse could not be Asfaloth…could it? Glorfindel merely smiled at his friend and shrugged before sending a thoughtful look after the young colt. Stranger things have happened.
“Then, Asfaloth it shall be.”
I would like to thank my wonderful beta reader, LadyLindariel for her constant help and support and most of all for her excellent idea of having the foal being Asfaloth reborn. Thank you, my friend. Lai
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