5. The Courtyards of Lindon
Now Elendil and Gil-galad took counsel together, for they perceived that Sauron would grow too strong and would overcome all his enemies one by one, if they did not unite against him.
From the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Chapter 5 The Courtyards of Lindon
'Who goes there?' Came a call, accompanied by the sound of someone in armour moving.
'The Lord of Imladris, Elrond son of Eärendil.'
'Rivendell.' Explained a voice from behind. 'Let him pass.' Elrond turned around to see who the voice belonged to.
A man, a Númenórean, no doubt, passed the Elves of Elrond's guard.
For a moment he thought he was mistaken, that he was simply day-dreaming.
For one moment he thought it was his brother that appeared from the shadows of the night-time Palace. The next moment he saw he was mistaken.
'High-king Gil-galad said you might be arriving.'
Elrond looked inquiringly at the Man.
'You are one of Elendil's sons.'
'Indeed.' The Man approached the Elf and both closely examined each other.
'Isildur…' A voice came from inside the room Elrond had wanted to enter. 'Stop hindering my vice-regent and let him come in.'
Isildur stepped back to let Elrond pass; their eyes lingering on each other with a strange recognition. Stepping over the threshold, he found himself in Gil-galad's study. For a moment Elrond was filled with a feeling of lost times. He recalled the many hours he spent here: reading, studying, discussing…
'I fear you have left your mindfulness in the hall outside, Master Elrond.'
Gil-galad was bent over papers and looked on to where Elrond was standing.
'Would this have anything to do with a certain, far-removed, great-nephew you met just now?' He added, pointing at a chair near the desk.
Elrond sat down and folded his hands.
'He is the first of the line that…'
'He does rather resemble Elros.' Gil-galad said, turning a page of a leaflet. He finished reading and put it away, sitting back and rubbing his neck, which had gone a little stiff.
'I fear you have missed the banquet, but there are still a lot of people in the Great Hall. If you want to go…'
'Would you join me if I went?'
'Of course, my Lord.'
Gil-galad pushed back his chair and stretched his lengthy limps before slipping on robes over his trousers and tunic. Placing his hands behind his back, they silently walked beside each other, making their way to the Great Hall.
Elrond wondered when he had last seen the High-king so sombre. One explanation could be Lindon itself; Elrond always suspected Gil-galad saw Imladris as a retreat, a place where he could forget some of his responsibilities. Here he needed to be King. Secondly, the fact that war was finally coming closer likely worried him as well.
'…Meneltarma was utterly deserted in those days; not even the Dark Lord dared to desecrate that high place. The King would allow no one, upon penalty of death, to ascend to it. Especially not those of the Faithful who still kept Ilúvatar in their hearts. The Dark Lord had pleaded with the King…' Isildur stepped towards the children sitting besides their parents, and raised his hand, making it a claw, changing his voice to a low and deep growl. 'Cut down the White Tree, Nimloth the Fair.' and continued, his voice normal again. '…for it was a memorial of the Eldar and the light of Valinor.' There he stopped for a moment and watched Gil-galad and Elrond silently enter and sit down, before he continued.
'But the King would hear nothing of it at first. Because he believed that the fortunes of his house were connected to the Tree, as his uncle, Tar-Palantir had predicted. He hated the Eldar and the Valar, but still clung to an echo of the old alliance of Númenor. And Amandil, my grandfather, heard of the Dark Lord's evil purpose, and feared that in the end Sauron would convince the King. So I said nothing and went to where the tree stood, dark and without leaves. There I took the only fruit that hung on its branches and tried to get away; but the guards discovered me, and I had to fight myself out to escape. Luckily they did not recognise me, because I wore a dark cloak. I delivered the fruit to my grandfather and collapsed, because of my wounds. Amandil blessed the fruit and planted it. When it sprouted in the spring, and only then, my wounds troubled me no more.'
Elrond looked at Gil-galad, as an applause rose in the Great Hall.
'Certainly a different way to tell a story.'
'There is a definite unconventionality to it.' Gil-galad smiled.
Isildur came towards Gil-galad and Elrond, giving them both a nod, turning to Elrond.
'I was told you are quite a storyteller, Lord Elrond. Will you honour us with one of your stories?'
Elrond narrowed his eyes.
'I am tired, Lord Isildur, and trust that the stories I have to tell can be told much better by others.'
Gil-galad raised his eyebrow and stretched his neck.
'There might be someone who can help you convince him, Isildur.' Gil-galad seemed to find who he looked for and gave a short wave.
Elrond felt sure there was no one here that could convince him, but he found himself sorely mistaken.
Light-footed and dressed in a splendid elegant white, her eyes pleaded as Celebrían neared their seats. Elrond was on his feet as soon as he could, catching the hand she extended. An astonished smile moved over his lips.
'You will grant us the pleasure, won't you?' She asked him.
'What would you like to hear?' He returned, aware that Gil-galad had lured him here, knowing Celebrían would be present as well.
'Make him sing, my Lady.' Gil-galad said, his eyes shedding the tiredness, letting amusement replace it.
Celebrían shook her head, joined by a conspiring smile meant for Elrond.
'That even I would not dare, my Lord. And I fear he would not listen if I did.'
'At Rivendell…' He started, having noticed the many un-Elvish eyes on him, who would not know the Sindarin translation for his fair home, '…we have only recently heard the story you have just told, Lord Isildur. Our stories are much older, and have little action in them, I fear.'
'Tells us of the Sun and Moon.' Celebrían asked, taking the empty place beside his, and pulling him down into his seat again, waiting in anticipation.
Elrond took a deep breath and started, his voice clearer then ever.
'It was to put right the evil doings of Melkor, that Manwë bade Yavanna and Nienna to use their powers, to heal the mortal wounds of the Trees, Telperion and Laurelin. Yet using all their knowledge, their tears and singing seemed to avail to nothing, and their hope failed.' Elrond paused and caught the eyes of listeners before continuing. 'When at last, for she was reluctant to give up, Yavanna's song faltered, Telperion bore one great flower of silver, and Laurelin a single trait of gold, before They died. Yavanna took these to Aulë, who prepared vessels to hold them and safeguard their radiance. And those, upon completion, were given to Varda, so they could be made lamps of heaven, nearer to Arda than the stars, and so outshine them. For the Valar were resolved to light up Middle-earth, to hinder the deeds of Melkor. Not utterly forsaking the exiles. But also Manwë knew that the hour of the coming of Men drew closer. The Valar had made war upon Melkor to protect the Quendi*. And now they feared even worse would befall the Hildor*, the Aftercomers, the younger Children of Ilúvatar, for they were mortal and weaker in withstanding fear and tumult. However, it had not been revealed to Manwë where the beginning of Men would be. Therefore the Valar decided to let the light travel the whole of Middle-earth, strengthening all of the land where Men would in time come to dwell.' Again he paused and rested his smile on the Elven children that sat listening, not far removed.
'The flower of Telperion was called the Moon, or Isil the Sheen, and the fruit of Laurelin the Sun, or Anar the Fire-golden. The Noldor name them also Rána, the Wayward, and Vása, the Heart of Fire, that awakens and consumes; because they foresaw even then that the Sun was a sign of the awakening of Men and the waning of the Elves.' The pitch of his voice, ever changing, if only in the slightest, was enough. His hands not necessary to convene the essence of the story. 'As Telperion had been the elder of the Trees, Isil was ready first, and rose into the realm of the stars. So for a while the world had moonlight, stirring and awaking many things that had waited long. It filled the servants of Morgoth with dread, but delighted the Elves of the Outer Lands. Fingolfin ordered his trumpets to blow, beginning his march into Middle-earth; the shadows of his host long and black before them. And when Isil had crossed the heaven seven times, and was in the east; Anar rose in glory, and with it the clouds awoke, and the waters in Middle-earth.'
There Elrond ended his story, and smiled at Isildur, who was seated nearby and returned an approving grin. Gil-galad led in the applause, and somewhere a voice started to sing the Narsilion*.
Elrond turned to Celebrían.
'And what of your parents?'
She tilted her head.
'My father convinced my mother to exchange the South for a more Western sea… They stay with Círdan in Mithlond*. Lord Gil-galad invited me to stay here until they return.'
'Which will be soon. Within days; for I have requested their presence here when Elendil arrives from Annúminas.' Gil-galad interrupted. Apparently not in the least concerned of intruding.
Elrond smiled and rose.
'Hoping I give no offence, my Lord, I will retire now. The road was long.'
Gil-galad gave him a wave and smiled.
'I trust you will be able to find your old chambers. Your guard should be around there as well.'
Elrond nodded and looked at Celebrían.
'Will you need an escort, or will you stay here?'
'No escort is needed, but I would like your company, for we have not spoken for a long time, and have much to discuss.'
Taking their leave of Gil-galad and Isildur, Elrond and Celebrían walked into the hallway.
'I would invite you to my rooms, but I do not want to start rumours.' Elrond smiled.
'If we leave the door open, it will be fine.' Celebrían returned with a grin, and Elrond shrugged as a sign of admission, but not entirely conveying indifference.
Outside the doors that gave entrance to Elrond chambers, two of his guards saluted him. Inside, they found Glorfindel waiting. He seemed a little uncomfortable upon noticing who Elrond had brought.
'I only wished a word, but it can wait until…'
Elrond was quick to reassure his friend.
'Under the circumstances, we need someone here to keep an eye on us, so to speak. I am not sure it would be appropriate for a Lady of Lórien to visit my chambers without another person present.'
Celebrían looked up at Elrond, a resolute smile on her lips.
'This Lady of Lórien is old enough to decide for herself what is deemed proper and what is not.' She turned to Glorfindel. 'But you are welcome to watch over the Lord of Imladris, if he considers it necessary.
Glorfindel looked at Elrond, barely able to keep a grin from his features.
Elrond nodded, mouthing silently to Glorfindel. 'Stay.'
Glorfindel smiled, pointing at a door Elrond knew led to a small study.
'I will be in the next room, and leave the door open.'
'Fine.' Elrond returned.
Celebrían waited until Glorfindel had left the room before sitting down on one of the two beautifully carved benches. She looked up at Elrond, who was still standing in the middle of the room.
'I enjoyed receiving your letters.'
'So did I yours,' he returned, finally taking off the travelling cloak he was still wearing. 'Especially the ones in which you wrote down your favourite tales.'
'Since you had given yours away, I thought I might share mine.'
Elrond smiled gently. As he stood there, it was for the first time in his life that he wanted to tell everything; all that was in his mind, in his heart, to a real person. Not to the stars, not to the Valar, but a person. How Gil-galad would have loved seeing him now.
Celebrían's eyes rested on him, and he forced himself to answer their gaze. Quite naturally she extended her hand to him and Elrond, taking some careful steps, caught it with fervour, sitting down beside her.
With her free hand she carefully swept his hair out of his face, behind his ear, and started to softly sing, the same tune she had sung a long time ago, at the bridge over the Bruinen. Then her voice abated.
'Tell me then, what haunts you so.' She whispered.
Elrond looked away.
'You know what troubles my thoughts.'
'Tell me nevertheless.'
He shook his head.
'It has all gone too fast. We have not been vigilant enough… We believed he had been destroyed when Númenor fell. And because of that, his return went unnoticed. Yet all the while he dwelled there again, in his Dark Tower, taking his time to grow his new shape, preparing his war against Men and Elves. And now he has taken Minas Ithil… He burned the White Tree Isildur had planted there.'
'Isildur was able to save a seedling… It is safe.' Celebrían whispered.
The next moment they found themselves caught up in a tight embrace that neither of them seemed willing to end.
'I wish…' Elrond said, finally pulling back and looking at her face, 'I wish it was all over.'
'In comparison to the years that have gone by already, it will be soon.' Celebrían said, touching his face. 'And I will wait.'
Elrond caught her hand, pressing his lips against the fingers.
'Do not now speak of such vows… For when that time arrives, I might be in the Houses of the Dead*.'
Celebrían smiled weakly.
'I speak them now, if you agree not to mention of the Halls of Mandos again in my presence.'
Elrond nodded solemnly, before giving her a soothing smile.
'Now, please, leave me be, before I start promising things I should not.'
Celebrían departed, leaving him with an inner struggle of feelings.
Elrond sat for a while, trying to control the adrenaline that surged through his veins, before he walked to the open door of the study.
'I believe I will retire now, my friend. But thank you for waiting.'
Glorfindel nodded as Elrond turned around and entered his bedchamber, where he hoped the cool sheets would bring him some peace.
When he woke in the morning, his heart was heavier than usual. It was an hour after first light, and he was late. Washing and dressing quickly he headed off for Gil-galad's study. There he found Glorfindel and Isildur anxiously waiting. Glorfindel looked at him as he entered.
'Is something the matter?'
Elrond shook his head.
'Just a feeling, probably just nerves.'
Glorfindel's eyes delayed leaving the Lord of Rivendell, but Elrond did not notice.
Gil-galad entered, three secretaries in pursuit.
'My Lords, please make yourselves at home.' He said, pointing at the chairs and taking his place behind his desk.
Isildur sat down and Glorfindel, watching Elrond stand near the fireplace with no intention to take a seat, reluctantly took a chair as well.
'I have send word to all our allies and they all perceive that to overcome Sauron we need to unite amongst ourselves. Now Elendil has done the same with those that are under his charge, and they have also consented to gather their arms with us.'
'And what of the Dwarves?' Glorfindel asked.
'I fear that many of them will try and keep out of this, or even chose the other side. But the kindred of Durin of Moria have informed me, they will fight with us.' Gil-galad answered, his eyes flashing to Elrond, then back at Glorfindel.
'We plan to assemble at Imladris and make our plans there, if it's Lord will have us.'
Elrond spun around.
'Imladris would be honoured to receive the host of the High-king and the heirs of Elros Tar-Minyatur.'
'Good.' Gil-galad concluded, writing something down on the papers before him. 'Then I propose we wait for the arrival of Elendil, and the others, at which time a meeting shall be held, after which you, Master Elrond, shall make your way back to Imladris and prepare for our arrival.'
Elrond nodded in compliance.
Gil-galad rose from his chair again.
'You are all excused, except for Master Elrond. A word with you?'
As Glorfindel and Isildur left the room, together with the secretaries, Gil-galad walked over to Elrond.
'So you feel it too?'
Elrond raised his eyebrows.
'Who else feels what?'
'Círdan, the last time he stayed here... He described it as melancholy.'
'It's probably nothing.'
'Probably not.' Gil-galad replied, returning and stepping behind his desk again.
Elrond, his hands behind his back, left the room.
Outside, Isildur was waiting.
'Your Lord Glorfindel said he had something to take care of, and he would find you in the afternoon.'
'Very well.' Elrond answered, making his way into the hallways.
Isildur followed him.
'What will you do?'
'See if there are messages from Imladris.'
'There have been no arrivals yet. Perhaps later in the morning.'
Elrond slowed down.
'When will your father arrive?'
'Day after tomorrow.' Isildur smiled. 'There is little you can do now, Lord Elrond, perhaps you will join me for breakfast? I don't believe you have had any yet?'
Elrond watched Isildur eat and talk, sitting across from him in the dining hall, eating very little himself. There was a rashness about him, not suiting the heir of Elendil. Yet also an unmistakable charisma, which gave Elrond no choice but to like him, his kin of many generations down.
'…Minas Anor, the Tower of the Setting Sun, is the house of my brother Anárion, and Minas Ithil, the Tower of the Rising Moon, is where my house was. Our thrones were set side by side in the Great Hall of Osgiliath*…'
Elrond listened to Isildur. Not really hearing the words, rather focusing on something, somewhere deep down, which sounded eerily like his younger brother.
'…My wife is here,' Isildur said with a smile, 'my sons will arrive with their grandfather. Your own family is still in Rivendell?'
Elrond needed a moment to recount the words in his head.
'No.' He finally answered, and Isildur smiled, a glimmer in his eyes that made Elrond suspect he was well aware of the absence of such a family in Imladris.
A hand on his shoulder made him turn, expecting Glorfindel, but finding Celebrían. Isildur, across the table, got on his feet.
'I shall leave you… My Lady…' He bowed briefly towards Celebrían and gave Elrond a teasing smile, resembling a look that could have come from Gil-galad.
But Celebrían held Elrond's attention, allowing him no time to return a warning stare.
'Did I interrupt?'
Elrond shook his head and surrendered a comforting smile.
'Not at all.'
'Will you join me in the inner courtyard?'
'Allow me.' He returned, his voice pleased, offering his elbow.
As they made their way down to the large square internal courtyard, with its sixteen rectangular shapes of grass, each with blossoming trees on their borders, Celebrían spoke softly.
'As punishment, for me not telling where I went yesterday evening, my ladies will not let me out of their sight. They are following.'
Elrond felt no need to look around, but pulled Celebrían closer.
'Which makes me?'
'Well, not decoy, because that would be rather impractical. I wished to speak with you. And since you will leave when Círdan and my parents arrive, we have so little time left together.'
Elrond raised his eyebrows.
'Who told you I am to leave?'
'After all those years of talking politics to me in your letters, you still pose such a question?'
'Is it that obvious?'
'If Gil-galad intends to go to Mordor, what better place to assemble than at Imladris? Besides, I cannot imagine Oropher coming all the way to Lindon, and then return almost the entire way back again. Especially not under another's command. He will want to keep it as short as possible.'
'It is a hopeful sign that, even with the constant desire of the Silvan Elves to involve themselves as little as possible in the affairs of other people, Oropher has found the wisdom to anticipate; a peace will not come unless Sauron is overthrown.'
'My father says Oropher will join with an army from Lórien.'
'That is better news still.'
Celebrían looked at him.
'But what of the Master of Imladris? Will you stand on your own, or as a part of Gil-galad's army?'
Elrond shook his head.
'I will abide by whatever Gil-galad intends for me.'
'So will my father apparently; he will stay here at Lindon, instead of coming with you all to Mordor.'
'Someone will have to stay behind…'
They entered a path between two grassy patches where the branches of trees on both sides met high above their heads. Beneath their feet lay fresh petals, and Elrond remembered watching the gardeners when he was younger; they had seemed to consider it of vital importance to keep the petals away, a never-ending battle. In autumn the petals were replaced by leaves and the skirmish, that had been discontinued during summer, was resumed.
A voice cut through the memory.
'I came across your writings in the library.'
Celebrían remembered it vividly. Her heart had jumped upon recognition, and eagerly she had made an effort ascertain the writer's name. Her search had been satisfying, for it had led to an inventory of his other writings. 'It wasn't very hard.' She added.
He laughed, a gleam in his eyes that made their forthcoming parting a little more bearable.
'I suppose, owing to the years I spent there, they have gathered quite a collection.'
'They have.' She answered.
Partially hidden by the trees, Elrond, his heartbeat increasing, let Celebrían's arm slip from under his. As he caught her hand, their fingers instantly intertwined.
Celebrían's voice was a whisper when she spoke.
'My ladies are going to enjoy reminding me of this.'
Elrond smiled and stopped her, pulling her closer and slowly lowering his face towards hers.
Both Elrond and Celebrían instantly parted, as if they could somehow hide what had almost happened.
Glorfindel shook his head.
'I do apologise…'
Elrond ironed his face.
'What is it, Glorfindel?'
'Messengers from Osgiliath have arrived.'
Celebrían caught Elrond's hand again, and Elrond led her towards Glorfindel.
'Anárion holds Osgiliath, and has driven the Enemy back to the mountains for the time being. But he sends word that alone, he will not long stand. And before I forget, Círdan, Galadriel and Celeborn have arrived. Gil-galad hopes you will join them. As soon as possible.'
Elrond looked at Celebrían, who let go of his hand.
'You are needed, my Lord. I will be fine.'
Quendi, is the original name for the Elves (of every kind), and it means 'those who speak with voices'.
Hildor, is the Elvish name for 'Men'
Narsilion; the Song of the Sun and Moon.
Mithlond, the Grey Havens
the Houses of the Dead; the Halls of Mandos, also called the Halls of Awaiting, where the slain go
Osgiliath, the chief city of Gondor, standing on either side of the river Anduin
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.