1. Interrupted musings
Elrond was pacing the confines of his private study with slow and deliberate strides. He absentmindedly stepped around haphazardly stacked books and silently strode back to his chair and sat down – only to stare absently into the low-burning fire. When his frustration finally reached its peak, he gave his old friend an intensely searching gaze and the dam of silence burst wide open.
"Gandalf, who in all Imladris am I to select to represent the elves? For men, whose day you say is at hand, we have agreed on my foster-son Estel and Boromir of Gondor…though I still hold reservations on the latter." Shaking his head and continuing on rather darkly, "I cannot See into this venture, but he clearly hears the whispers of the Ring. His actions at council have shown this. I fear that either his pride or his sense of responsibility to Gondor will compel him to heed what treacherous ideas it offers."
Studying Elrond over the top of his goblet, Gandalf absentmindedly withdrew his pipe from one of the many folds of his rather travel-worn robe and placed it in his mouth - but wisely did not attempt to light it. Feeling as if he were stating the obvious, he mumbled around the pipe, "Ah, but my friend, if Aragorn is to truly realize his destiny, he needs to befriend the man who would be both his steward and guide. They must be able to rely on and trust one another, and in this perilous task they shall learn to do so. It may be that they develop a better understanding of one another that will draw acceptance from the Stewards son. This, in turn, will help the citizens of Gondor become more accepting of this stranger who would be King.
Leaning towards Glorfindel, Erestor glanced over at Elrond and Gandalf and muttered in a falsely tragic tone (but with a perfectly straight face), "Well and so, but that begs the question of whether they can actually make it to the end without coming to blows, rather then embrace each other as friends!"
Gandalf had, rather unfortunately, chosen that moment to finish off the last of the wine in his goblet and tried to both swallow and laugh at the same time. Alas, the wine attempted to go down the wrong pipe and a rather loud coughing fit followed. Glancing between the sputtering wizard and an exasperated Elrond, Glorfindel finally burst out in a deep laugh that quickly spread to the others. After a few moments of this tension relieving laughter, Erestor stood up, crossed smoothly to Elrond's parchment-littered desk to retrieve the half empty bottle of wine. He began to drift soundlessly around the fire and refilling each of their goblets.
As the laughter died off, Elrond took an appreciative sip of his wine and looked across to Glorfindel. With a slightly raised eyebrow, he asked, "Well back to our original dilemma then – who shall the elven representative be? Do we choose a more experienced warrior whom may be more recognizable to the enemy – thus placing the Ring-bearer in greater peril - or do we choose someone who is an unknown but does not have the experience needed to survive this gambit?" Glancing from Glorfindel to Gandalf with his concern and frustration clearly evident, he continued, "Can we not find someone that falls into the rather large area in between these two extremes?"
An insistently loud knocking shattered the ensuing silence just as Erestor finished filling the last goblet. "The twins, do you think?" he queried as he turned around to stare hard at the door behind Gandalf's chair.
"Most likely", scowled Elrond as he rose in irritation. "Would you let them in before they break the door?"
Placing the now empty wine bottle back on the desk, Erestor then moved swiftly to the door – just not fast enough. He reflexively jumped back as the door was thrown angrily toward him. There he was safely out of the way as the twins were led into the room by none other then a very determined looking Arwen.
"Adar." She greeted rather bluntly, moving into the room with long purposeful strides, before stopping directly in front of him, hands on hips. "Dan, Roh, and I would like to speak with you for a moment. We have concerns that we feel you must hear before you decide on who shall accompany the Ring-bearer."
Elrond stood by the fire place, with one hand resting on the mantle, momentarily shocked by her passionate entrance. His steel-grey eyes locked in a silent battle of wills with eyes that were so like his own. They stood thus for only a moment before he acknowledged the determination, need, and fear hidden far within their depths. Glancing over to Gandalf, he expected to see the wizard shake his head. However, his only response was a quick wink and an impudent smile - he rather inconveniently appeared ready to humor them.
Sudden realization had him looking towards the hidden stars in consternation. By the Valar! Devious of them to enlist the wizards' help! With this thought he sat back down in defeat and waved them in. Wariness and curiosity battled across his face before he finally addressed them - with no small hint of resignation in his voice.
"My Daughter, we have much to decide…but, you may say what you will. However, I do reserve the right to act in the best interests of the fellowship rather than those of your heart." Turning to address his sons, "And I suppose it was brotherly concern that compelled you two to join her in this?" he asked drolly as he raised one elegantly curved eyebrow.
"That would have been rather noble of us, wouldn't it? Risking your wrath in order to protect our poor, fragile, and defenseless little sister… I can go with that." Turning to his brother with a look of pure innocence, "What do you say, El?"
"Why, I must agree as well," nodded Elrohir slowly, as if in serious contemplation. Turning to Glorfindel and Erestor with a mischievous glint in his eyes, he quickly added, "That is, after all, far better then simply wanting to watch the…ah…discussion progress until our poor, defenseless little sister gets what she wants!"
"You forgot fragile." Arwen reminded as she flashed them a saccharine-sweet smile.
Elladan chuckled lightly as he moved three chairs closer to the small group already seated together. While Elrohir simultaneously pulled two hidden wine flasks out from under his light-weight traveling cloak and moved to pour three more glasses of deep red wine. After placing the goblets on a trey, he offered one first to Arwen, then Elladan, before taking his seat. Placing the trey precariously on a rather lopsided stack of books next to his chair, he glanced slyly at Erestor out of the corner of his eye before turning back to his twin.
"El, remind me to thank our friendly prince for the Dorwinion. It was considerate of him to ensure we got it, rather then turning it over to a certain advisor who would undoubtedly forget to deliver it to us! Although in all fairness, I think we should leave the rest here for Adar – after all, they he will likely need it more then us before this night is through!"
Glorfindel rolled is eyes over to Gandalf, and in a tone of and long suffering resignation, mumbled, "Here we go again!" Gandalf simply shook his head and tried to contain his mirth by chewing lightly on the tip of his pipe.
Pointing a finger at Elrohir and sputtering indignantly, Erestor flew quickly into a tangent. "Just because you happened to loose that case of Dorwinion does not mean it was my fault! How many times do I have to say that I did not remove it from the entrance hall? Just because I said, in passing, that it was a really good year –
Rapidly loosing his patience, Elrond silenced him with one word. "Why do you let them bait you so easily on that matter?"
Ignoring her brothers light teasing, Arwen spent the time of their 'argument' simply holding her glass in both hands and studying each of her elders in turn. Turning to look each person in the eyes, she lingered on each of them long enough for them to see the gravity in her eyes before moving on to the next – looking last upon her father.
"Coming back to the reason we disturbed your gathering…It is painfully obvious to all here that I have a vested interest in who shall accompany the Ring-bearer and Estel on this quest," holding up her hand as if to stop any interruption, she continued passionately, "And yes, I assume that he shall be chosen seeing as he has already volunteered. Everyone here is aware that should they both successfully complete this trial, my heart's desire will be realized for Estel will be crowned king and I will ever stand at his side."
Pausing to take a sip of her wine and soften her words, she held up the index finger of her free hand for a moment then dove back in. "However, I know the Road with be fraught with dangers – both seen and unforeseen. You must decide on those best to travel with Frodo - both to provide protection and strength - for so long as they are able."
Turning to her father and placing a reassuring hand over his, she addressed him directly, "I know you feel the weight of this decision heavily, but I will help you in this if you will truly allow it. I may not have been with you at council, but much was openly discussed between my brothers, Legolas, Estel, and I. From everything I have heard I believe the crux of your problem to be this…do you send an older, more experienced warrior such as Glorfindel or Erestor, or do you send one who may have battle experience, but is younger and unknown to the enemy?" she finished quietly.
"Indeed, that is the very question you interrupted," Elrond bit out in barely contained frustration, but tempered his words with a gentle squeeze of her hand.
Looking over to her with a somber expression on his wizened face, Gandalf studied her for a moment, before finally asking, "And is this where your advice comes in? Have you come up with a viable solution that we may not have been able to see?"
"Well, my advice is simply this…Do not look so hard that you do not see those right in front of you—
Quickly cutting her off, Elrond's voice began to raise, "If you think for one moment that you—
Yet, he was even more swiftly stopped. "Ada! I was not suggesting literally in front of you! We both know my place is not on this quest. I merely meant that you must look here, in Imladris, while at the same time consider those here as representatives. My point is this…there is one here who has extensive knowledge in battling the enemy, but is not known to him; one who is no stranger to the effects of the growing darkness, but still holds hope and love for middle-earth; one who is a hardened warrior, yet holds a purity and innocence that many of our people have lost long ago; one whom both Estel and Gandalf know and trust in both judgment and skill."
"Are you suggesting who I think you are?" interjected Erestor incredulously, as realization dawned.
"If you are indeed suggesting who I think you are, then yes I do believe you may be right." Glorfindel slowly agreed as he studied first her, then Erestor thoughtfully. Turning to Elrond, "Thranduil will not thank you for this, if you choose him, I'm afraid. I suggest you inform him well after they have departed. Unfortunately, I can see her point in this. He has all of the qualities needed to make it through this quest and he is well trusted by Estel. What do you all say to this?"
"While I agree that he is a good choice due to the fact that he has all of the qualities needed, my concern is this…Is it really wise to send Thranduil's only heir on such a trip as this? Considering his history, he may be quite unforgiving for sending his only son to the very place where his father fell." Erestor stated reluctantly.
"If you are looking for my opinion, then yes, I believe his initial anger may be great, however, in time he will see the necessity of this decision. He knows his son well and will quickly come to realize how the loss of Gollum will impel him to act – even if that action would lead him to the Black Gates. We want to keep the group small, and there need to be trust in at least a few of the travelers. The rest will come to trust in time. I believe his presence will lend a soothing comfort to all those that travel with us at most times – save maybe the chosen dwarvish walker – yet he is a fierce and efficient warrior when needs be." Gandalf stated with an air of confident assurance. Although after a slight pause, he added wryly. "However I do agree with Glorfindel and Erestor…You may want to hide somewhere for a while after you tell the Woodland king!"
Elrond sat staring into the fire once again, wine held but clearly forgotten, with a look of deep concentration upon his face. He glanced around this small group with an unreadable expression upon his face before finally nodding, apparently coming to some decision in his mind. Turned decisively to his children, he asked smoothly, "And does he know that you are here requesting this of me?"
Elladan glanced at his sister and blew out a frustrated sighed before answering. "No, he does not actually. We wanted to give him your official stance; however, Arwen did not want either of you to feel too pressured into this by getting one of you to agree prematurely." Unable to hold his father's scrutiny for long, he looked down momentarily and smoothing away an imaginary wrinkle in his shirt. He glanced back up, smiled slightly at his Adar before adding, "We have spoken to him about it though, just in quiet speculation mind, and he has expressed the desire to help with this quest. Gandalf is quite right…he feels their loss of Gollum most keenly – almost as if it is directly his fault – and is looking for a way of both atonement and to protect Estel." He finished with a small shrug and a glance at his brother.
Turning to his other son, Elrond asked quietly, "Elrohir, do you have anything to add?"
Meeting his father's direct gaze with his own troubled one, he finally replied, "Not really, Adar, just remember that they both feel this sense of duty most keenly and they both know how to recognize the Rings' mind-traps. They are both well suited to the rigors of this quest."
"What you have brought for us to consider is sound and thorough advice. I thank you all for bring this to us, however, if you would now give us time to debate this candidate, it would also be appreciated." With that, Elrond quickly dismissed his three 'elflings', but his pride in their actions was evident in the tone of his voice.
They each stood, bade everyone else a good evening, and headed towards the door…with wine still in hand.
Though just as they reached the door, Elrond said none too quietly, "It would not be remiss to gently prepare Legolas to receive both myself and Gandalf in the morning."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.