1. Real Men Wear Jewelry
There was a moment of silence; Elrond smiled and resumed writing.
"So like I was saying--" Haldir tossed a slightly nervous glance through the doorway, his rhythmic tricep curls faltering. "Things pretty much died in Middle-Earth after Sauron was defeated. Galadriel left and Lorien started rotting. Even Celeborn didn't stick around. Men spread like roaches and took over everything. You were lucky if you could find a bottle of wine over twenty years old." He sniffed in disgust.
Next to him, Saeros was flexing in front of the mirrored wall. "Personally, I won't drink anything under a century or even touched by a mortal. But then, my tastes are probably a little more refined, having lived in Doriath." He smirked as he raised a hand to comb his hair back, but swiftly his face drew a frown. He turned in the direction of a low, mournful wail.
"Daeron, will you shut up about the girl already? We all know she was the Fairest Something or Other to ever blah blah blah ... Come on, write a ballad about a war, or something interesting ... like me."
Beleg, who was entering the room behind Glorfindel, sneered as he passed the ranting Elf. "Nice to see you with your clothes on, Saeros," he taunted. The faintly glowing halo which had been floating above his head now abruptly dropped and conked his skull. "Ow!" he exclaimed. "Give me a break! I was good for thousands of years, which isn't so easy when your best friend is an incestuous, schizophrenic psychopath. Let me be bitter!"
Glorfindel approached Ecthelion, who was partially reclined on a bench. "Well, well, well," the latter grinned, lifting a silver barbell above his chest. "Look who's back again. Missed me, eh?"
The fair-haired Elf laughed as he lowered himself to floor, extending long limbs in a vigorous stretch. "It just wasn't as exciting the second time around. Kind of a 'been there, done everything' situation, you know?"
"Everything except get married," amended Ecthelion, and the pair shared a hearty, entirely-too-smug chuckle of balrog-slaying bachelors.
Celeborn, who was taking a brief rest nearby, draped a towel around his neck and looked at the two Elves with envy. "I wish one of you had been around to stop me from making that mistake."
In the library, Finarfin, who had been previously engrossed in a tense chess match with Círdan the Shipwright, slowly turned his head, his rapidly narrowing eyes fixing on the face of his daughter's husband. Elrond seemed amused by this and put down his pen to watch.
Oblivious to the piercing stare he was receiving, Celeborn grew more animated as a little gathering formed around him. " 'Most beautiful of all the house of Finwë' aside, when a girl starts out with the name 'Man-maiden,' you gotta question some things." He raised his eyebrows and shuddered. "Oh sure, she was a great lady, she crossed the Grinding Ice. She just never quite thawed out after that." There was a ripple of laughter, and the suppressed Lord of Lothlorien seemed rather pleased with his audience. "Even then things might have gone all right, if she hadn't got that Mirror. Cuts back on the romance when your wife spends most of her time in the future, or in other people's lives. Sometimes I'd swear that the Mirror fathered Celebrían." He shook his head. "Then there was the time The Mirror told her I was unfaithful ..."
Halting abruptly, Celeborn's eyes widened and he spun around, staggering back under the deadly weight of Finarfin's eyes. He stammered, "The mirror, uh, shows many things ... even the wisest cannot always tell ..."
Turgon, seated on a bench nearby and looking sweaty (although, suspiciously, none could recall seeing him actually exercise) came to Celeborn's rescue, being a great deal less fearful of his uncle. "I have to agree with Celeborn. And the worst part of marriage is-- it's so hard to get out of!" He rolled his eyes, hefting dark hair over his shoulder. "Elenwë just didn't get it. 'Yeah, I'm rebelling against the Valar to follow Fëanor and his sons to Middle-Earth to live as an Exile, although they'd probably just as soon kill me and I'm going to have to cross a big cold thing to get there, and when we do get there probably half of us will die in some battle or another.' Does it sound like I was enjoying married life in Valinor? And what does she say? She says, 'I'm coming with you.' Take a hint, woman. Took the bloody Helcaraxë to get rid of her."
He turned to his brother and frowned. "Then there's you. I'm the smart one in the family. How is it that you escaped the bindings of married life?"
Fingon, at a small table to the side engaged in an arm-wrestling match that seemed to involve an entirely unnecessary amount of grunting, halted the struggle and instead covered his opponent's one hand tenderly. "Why would I need a wife? I have Maedhros."
Turgon responded by throwing back his head and slapping his knee with a fitful round of laughter. At length he recognized the silence around him and choked on his own saliva, then managed quite impressively to compose himself. "Oh ... you're serious," was his awkward observation.
Standing with arms crossed and a face filled with contempt, Eol stared down at his brother-in-law (a bond neither was particularly fond of recognizing). "I had twenty years of life with your sister in which I learned that I did not need a wife. My first lesson, I believe, was at the outset of my first journey to Nogrod after we were married. Prepared and mounted, I called for my sword. She did not bring it. I called a second time, and she told me where it was. I called a third time, for I knew I must exercise patience with her, a spoiled lady who knew not the duties of a wife. The fourth time I called, she told me where to put the sword. Certainly not its usual place, I might add."
The Dark Elf suddenly shot an icy glower to one corner of the room. "This was, of course, before my son poisoned her mind and ran away, taking my sword with him. I shudder at the thought of his weakling hands touching my handle!" [whoa, that just came out totally wrong ...]
Maeglin was huddled in the corner with Daeron and Gwindor (together they formed an active man-hating society called "Edain-Bane"), and ignored his father. Instead his dark gaze was fixed across the room on the face of Tuor (who was looking rather uncomfortable and feeling quite left out as the only mortal Man to be numbered among the elder race and sundered from the fate of Man). Maeglin whispered something to Gwindor, who jerked upright with eyes aflame.
"Cousin of Túrin!" Gwindor made a curse of the words, jumping up and spitting at the feet of the bewildered Tuor.
Fortunately, one Ereinion Gil-Galad chose this timely moment to make his entrance. Throwing open the door from the steam room, he stood framed in a cloud of steam, clad only below the waist in a towel. Finally satisfied he had caught everyone's attention, Gil-Galad strolled in all his high-king glory to join Glorfindel and Ecthelion, putting his hands to his hips and demanding, "Have you guys gotten a look at that Undómiel?" He emitted a low whistle, lifting an eyebrow. "Hear you me, she can star in my evening any time. Eh? Eh?" he grinned, nudging Glorfindel.
In the library, Elrond snapped his pen in half.
Turgon looked at Ereinion with a slight grimace. "Another bachelor. I hate you."
Gil-Galad didn't appear particularly bothered by this announcement, though he did pause to narrow his eyes in thought. "I know you," he said after a moment, levelling a finger at his uncle. "You stole my crown."
Turgon gasped indignantly. "I most certainly did not! You could hardly be expected to rule as High-king of the Noldor as a child. A child, I might add, with questionable origins." Here his eyes turned back to his unmarried brother, who reddened.
"Well--" Fingon began reluctantly. "There was this girl ..."
Maedhros' eyes widened in shock. "I never heard about this." His face fell.
Fingon looked even more uncomfortable. "Well ... that's because it was your girl ..."
Without warning, Eärendil came tearing through the room, the Silmaril bound to his brow and temporarily blinding everyone. Hot on his heels was Fëanor, bound in the Mandos version of a straitjacket (embroidered silk-- very aesthetically pleasing) and snarling viciously at the back of his quarry's head, giving an occasional snap of his teeth which only served to cause Eärendil to spring high in the air.
"A guy comes down for a bit of peace and quiet--" the Blessed Mariner said in dismay before darting out of the weight room. Fëanor charged after, eyes on the radiance of the Silmaril, mouth fixed in a horrific grimace and ... drooling?
"So embarrassing," muttered Maglor, ducking his head and holding up a hand to shield his face. He turned to the elf beside him for a sympathetic ear, continuing, "We just didn't know what to do with him! One minute he's peacefully making jewels and the next he's killing the Teleri and shouting for rebellion. Mother told us he was just high-strung, and that when he was acting up we were to simply agree with everything he said. No one expected that dreadful Oath. I mean honestly, do you think we enjoyed making war on everyone?"
It was about then that he discovered his "sympathetic ear" belonged to none other than Elu Thingol, whose eyes were fastened on the other elf in a steely glare. "Why don't you just tell me exactly how much you enjoyed it," he said softly. "And then I'll tell you how much I'm going to enjoy crushing your fingers under my foot." He smiled.
At the front of the room, an Elf climbed atop a treadmill and balanced himself on the handlebars, waving his arms for attention. "Excuse me," he called, and gradually the conversations dwindled. "Excuse me! I'm Argon, the youngest son of Fingolfin. I crossed the Helcaraxë to Middle-Earth then died in the Battle of Lammoth. I would just like you all to know that I exist."
A few heartbeats of silence followed. Orodreth leaned over to tap his uncle on the arm, muttering, "Who is he?"
Fingolfin shrugged and scratched the back of his head. "Beats me. As far as I remember, I only have two sons: Fingon, Turgon-- well, three I suppose, if you count Aredhel," he chuckled softly to himself, earning a suspicious look from Eol.
Turgon frowned at his father before speaking around him to Orodreth, "He's certainly not one of us. Some common imposter, no doubt, trying to place himself in the royal line."
"Usurper," Curufin hissed at him.
"Back off Junior, I have eagles."
Curufin slunk off, muttering to himself until his eyes paused on a particular figure struggling with the rowing machine. He smirked and squatted down next to the Elf, snickering, "Hello, Beautiful."
Dior the Beautiful swiped tears angrily from the corners of his eyes, crying out, "Why don't you guys just leave me alone! I should have never left Tol Galen, never! Everyone just picks on me ..." He sniffed loudly, shooting a glare over Curufin's shoulder. "He's called 'The Fair,'" he exclaimed, pointing at Celegorm. "Why don't you make fun of him?"
Celegorm held up his hands. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Entirely different. I was never mistaken for my mother-- and by her father, no less," he glanced at Thingol, who at the moment was too busy chasing Maglor around the room to respond.
"At least he wasn't called Shipwright the Shipwright," Círdan's voice rumbled from the library.
Legolas Greenleaf leapt gracefully into view, crying, "Alas, my friend, I too share your predicament!"
"Sit down," Thranduil barked. Chagrined, Legolas sank back into his seat. Thranduil shook his head, speaking aside to Erestor, "I send the kid away so he'll stop embarassing me. And what does that poncy Half-Elf do? He turns him into a bloody hero! Everywhere we go there's people running up to him with questions, and Flower-boy just preens his way through it all."
Aegnor entered the weight room, towel draped over his shoulder, and looked around uncertainly. Instant silence fell over all those within the room, and with a sigh, Aegnor started walking through.
"Pervert," came an anonymous hiss.
"Dirty old Elf," came another.
Aegnor stopped and threw his towel to the ground. "She was a mortal! A mortal! They age differently than us, I swear!"
"Oh, sure, like we've never heard that one before," sneered Caranthir.
"All right, okay, leave him alone," Finrod stepped in, holding out placating hands. He tried a winsome smile. "Why can't we all just get along?
"Pansy," Elrond coughed loudly as he made his way into the room. "Listen up everybody," he shouted, scanning a finger down his clipboard. "Today we have twin-boxing: Elladan and Elrohir versus Amrod and Amras. The odds are about even. Place your bets gentlemen, the match begins in approximately half an hour."
"This isn't going to be near as fun as Maedhros versus Beren," Saeros complained as the Elves crowded around Elrond.
Suddenly an extremely large nothingness filled the room, and directly from the centre of the nothingness came a deep voice. "I'd like to bet on Elladan and Elrohir."
The crowd of Elves became remarkably well-behaved, filing in orderly lines toward Elrond and patiently waiting their turn. "Yes, of course, Mr. Mandos, Sir," Elrond said smoothly.
The nothingness might have nodded-- who could tell?-- and whispered something in Elrond's ear. It then began to move, pausing only once, next to a nervous looking pair of Feanorian twins.
"Win," the deep voice said. "And I'll have you re-embodied as women."
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.