6. Horror to the Nth Degree
"Her arm is severely broken, but it seems to have happened when first she was captured. I will have to break it again." Elrond's teeth clenched as he spoke.
"She will not feel it, I hope."
"I know. Once it is clean, if you would hold her, then I will break it. After it is realigned, I will sew the skin together. I wonder how it happened?"
"I do not wish to know."
"Yes. You are probably right. Celeborn, hold her now."
The Lord of Lórien nodded, took her gently into his arms, and held her close to his chest. He heard the bone as it snapped and watched as Elrond manipulated the bones back into one. He found he was shaking and tried to breathe in more of the athelas. It was weakening. Galdor stepped to the pot and threw in some more leaves. Celeborn looked up at him and smiled weakly. "Thank you." The Elf nodded.
"There. It is done. Now onto her... Oh! By the Valar. How will I mend these?" He looked up at Celeborn, whose face was white. Though both had seen the state of her breasts before, neither had fully comprehended the damage. Elrond sobbed piteously.
"I can see nothing I can do to sew these together. The nubs are gone. I will cleanse them and leave them as they are." He rattled off the words to keep sane.
"Can you build nubs for her? She should not be left with open wounds like that."
"What would she need them for? Do you think she will ever let me touch them again! Elbereth!" he screamed. Galdor put his hand on his lord's shoulder.
"She is still female. She will not want to look deformed, even to herself. Do what you can for her, Elrond. Help her."
Elrond did not stir. Soft moans came from him, but his body never moved. At last, Celeborn leaned over. "She has suffered much already. Please, see if you can help her."
Elrond swallowed and pulled another needle from the cloth. His hands shook. Galdor stepped forward and took the needle and thread from him. Only a moment passed and he handed the threaded needle to his lord.
In the meantime, Celeborn wafted some of the fumes from the athelas towards them. Both of them needed it for this next part. He shuddered, then felt a small peace invade his mind. He grabbed it and held tightly to it; then, he took Elrond's hands and held them. "Do what you can."
Elrond began sewing, pulling up the flesh around the breasts so that it covered the gaping hole. He manipulated the skin in such a way that it folded upon itself. After two hours work, both counterfeit nipples had been shaped and sewn in place. The Lord of Imladris sat back and wept. Galdor knelt and held the Peredhel.
"When the swelling goes down, you will be glad you did this," her father said.
"Take some rest, my lord," Galdor said, handing Elrond a flask.
"Miruvor." Elrond swallowed a bit and handed the flask to Celeborn.
"Thank you," Celeborn said and swallowed a sip. He leaned back on his heels. "We have much more to do."
"At least the worst is over with."
Celeborn shivered and threw the flask. "It is not. You have not seen!"
"I have seen... I put it out of my mind." Elrond stood and walked away.
Galadriel stepped in front of him. "Ion nín," she whispered, then took him in her arms.
"I am sorry. I should never have let her visit you without me. I should have gone with her. Will you ever forgive me?"
"Your suffering and sorrow are mine also. There is naught to forgive. Only these things to share and heal from. Has she awakened?"
"Nay. It is better that she does not. Elladan says she thinks we are Yrch. If she woke, and felt my hands on her... It would be too much." He wept bitterly. "To know my touch will be an abhorrence to her for ages untold. Elbereth! This is too much."
"Hush, now, Elrond. It is too much for her, but not too much for those who love her. We must be strong," she whispered into his ear. "She needs us strong."
He bowed his head, leaned against her shoulder and sighed. "I am tired."
"You have been healing her for over four hours. Is Celeborn of any help?"
Elrond smiled. "He has been. Though he asks things of me that are difficult to do."
"He puts great store in your powers."
"I know. I best return." He held her tighter. "It is hideous. You know that."
"I do, but you are the only one who can help her now. Be strong, ion nín."
He kissed her lightly, then returned to Celebrían's side. "Has she said aught?"
"Nay," Celeborn sighed. "She has not even moved."
"Let us attend to the..."
"My lord," Galdor interrupted. "I have some waybread. Take some before you begin again?"
"Thank you, Galdor. Here, Celeborn, share mine."
"There is enough, my lord, for the both of you."
"Galdor. Get some rest yourself. Has Glorfindel returned?"
"Nay. Glorfindel knew this would take some time. They are probably on the other side of the mountain by now."
"And Elladan and Elrohir are ready to thrash him!" Elrond smiled wanly.
"Let us be about our business," Celeborn said as he ate the last bite of the bread.
Elrond nodded. "I will fix her leg and the knee first. Her toes are crushed beyond anything I can do. I will straighten them and wrap them."
"Straighten them; then I will wrap them."
"Thank you." They worked for over an hour, each realizing that they put off Celebrían's worst wounds because neither could yet face them.
The knee was tended to, the bones in her leg were rebroken and set, the toes were straightened and wrapped. All that remained was her nether regions.
"I cannot do this," Elrond whispered.
"You are the only one who can. If I could, I would do it."
"Would you honestly? Would you put your hands into her openings? Would you pull out the filth that is in them?" He gasped. "Would you stretch her enough so that you could see and move about within her to sew her? Would you know that, no matter what you do, what has been done to her will scar her forever? I cannot do this."
"If you do not," Celeborn's voice was harsh, "then you condemn her to death. The wounds will fester. There is foreign material within her that will cause her to rot from within. She will die slowly, screaming in pain. She will curse you with her last breath."
Elrond cursed him. Loudly so that those in the camp stood, some drew their swords. Galadriel walked towards them, but stopped as Elrond crumpled to the ground.
Celeborn held him. "What can I do to help you?" He motioned for the athelas. Galdor used a cloth to pick up the steaming kettle and brought it to Celeborn's side. "Take some deep breaths. This will help you." He took the flask from Galdor's side and lifted it to Elrond's lips. "Take everything you need to help you do this thing."
Elrond nodded. He could feel power and strength coming from Celeborn himself. The athelas and the miruvor lightened his heart. After a few minutes, he took a steadying breath. "I am ready."
Celeborn did not say a word. He stepped back from Elrond and knelt beside Celebrían. He held the pot close to her. After a moment, he took the flask and let a few drops fall into her slightly opened mouth. Still, she did not stir.
"Why did you do that?"
"Even if she seems insensible, a part of her might know what we are about. I wanted to give her something to sustain her."
"Thank you," the Peredhel whispered. "Now, let us be about this."
They worked for another two hours on her front and another two on her backside. Galdor was instructed to light a torch to help Elrond see into the ruined recesses. Many times, the Lord of Imladris had to stop and take a sip of the Elven drink.
At last, the last stitch was placed. Elrond sat back on his haunches and sighed. "I have done what I could. I... I do not think I will ever be able to... I think she..."
"Do not think ahead, Elrond. Leave that go until the time comes. There is hope."
The Elven lord shook his head. "Not this time. But I will love her, nonetheless. At least with words and gentle caresses." Tears streamed down his face.
"I will finish this. I will wipe her down and put..."
"You will do nothing of the kind," Galadriel stepped to his side. "I will finish this. I will clean my sell and dress her in the garments I brought with me. You two will go to the river and clean yourselves and then you will sit by the fire and rest. Has anyone seen my ionnath? We are ready for supper and no meat is to be found."
Galdor smiled. "Glorfindel asked me to send a message when Lord Elrond had finished. He would not return until the deed was done."
"Wise as ever!" Galadriel smiled as she watched her husband and her son by bond walk towards the river. "Galdor, please go with them. And have a company of Elrond's own watch over them."
"It will be done, my lady. I am heartened to have you here." He bowed and swiftly left her.
Haldir stepped forward, bringing a large pot filled with boiling water. He laid a number of cloths next to the pot and knelt. "If there is anyway I may serve you?"
"Haldir," she whispered. "I need your strength."
"Nay, my lady. You are stronger than Tulkas himself. You need no strength from me, but you have my friendship."
She sighed and began to clean Celebrían's body.
Ion nín - my son
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