12. The Return to Lindon
“Who leads them?” Elrond queried.
“’RESTOR!” a loud, familiar tone reverberated through the woods.
Erestor stood up in one fluid motion and rushed towards the voice like a little elfling leaving Elrond alone with the messenger.
Elrond shrugged saying, “It has been a while since they have seen each other,” but internally he felt a pang of foolish regret. How could Erestor leave him so abruptly, so easily, at the mere sound of Glorfindel’s voice? Had he been merely a stop-gap until Erestor could obtain more pleasant company? He shook himself out of these depressive musings as Glorfindel arrived in the clearing chattering happily with an equally excited Erestor.
Elrond strode forward and clasped Glorfindel’s arm in a warrior’s embrace.
The elf returned the gesture and said warmly, “You look well than you did before the war, as does Erestor.”
“It must have been the lack of your company, Glor,” Erestor said smoothly.
“Not even a few moments and you two have to start it,” Elrond grumbled as Glorfindel retorted aptly.
“Well,” Erestor tugged at Glorfindel’s arm, “let us show you the camp and the valley. First, I will find food for your company and ask someone to see to your horses.”
The next few days, they showed Glorfindel around ‘their’ valley, as they called it fondly. The Elda agreed that there was something alluring about the place but was clearly anxious to return to Lindon.
After one exhausting friendly duel with a guard elf, Elrond set out to take a dip in the river. As he walked towards their usual cove, he heard Glorfindel’s voice.
“How was Elrond during the past few days?” the Elda’s voice was coloured with concern.
“Very merry,” Erestor replied, “It was good to see him in such high spirits. But then the air in the valley is very conducive to merriness!”
“No,” Glorfindel said uneasily, “I meant how does he take the idea that Gil is proposing to have his bonding engagement with Celebrían this spring?”
“Glor,” Erestor’s voice reflected his displeasure, “I do not think that is wise. Elrond, well, Elrond is already in love with someone. This bonding with Celebrían will not be happy. We need to think of his heart, he is not an heir-breeding stallion.”
“The past few days have thrown you two together a lot,” Glorfindel said quietly, “Mayhap he has revealed his heart’s choice to you?”
“No,” Erestor replied grumpily, “We have been too busy keeping the refugees safe, rationing the food, building shelters, sending out patrols and the rest of the time, I spent worrying over you. I really did not have the time to make him confide in me. I am glad we got along well and for my part, I like his company. He is an excellent warrior and administrator. And a sensitive soul who cares for others. He has saved my life more than once these past few days. Elrond Peredhil is more than a worthy choice for any elf. Nobody will spurn his love.”
Elrond felt his heart burgeon with pleasure. But it was a momentary sensation as he thought of Gil-Galad.
Glorfindel sighed, “I wish things were different.”
“You wish for yourself first, what is this I hear about my sister?” Erestor asked irritably.
“Long story, short moral,” Glorfindel said wearily.
Galadriel smiled as she watched her nephew pour her tea and add a single sugar cube to it.
“You remember?” she teased Gil-Galad.
“Perfectly,” the King said smiling, “Is the single cube the reason for your radiance?”
Galadriel said wryly, “I think your eyes are failing you, Gil, for you are seeing something what I have never seen in my reflection these past few years.”
“Yes,” Gil-Galad said seriously, “You are looking ill. What is it?”
“Would that I knew,” Galadriel sighed, “But I am here to talk of something else. Amdir wishes to have the Noldor chair the negotiations concerning his daughter’s marriage to the house of Oropher.”
“The house of Oropher? Who, the Prince?” Gil-Galad frowned.
“Really, Gil, sometimes you can be obtuse. There are only two of the royal blood in Green wood, the Prince and Oropher himself. You know Oropher has not marriage on his list of priorities,” Galadriel said as she found herself relaxing, which she knew had exactly been her nephew’s intention.
“Ah, well! Though I wish that Oropher fell in love with a Noldo, it would make arguments with him more bearable,” Gil-Galad sighed, “But why does Amdir want us to chair what is definitely a matter between the Sindar royal houses?”
“He has been having second thoughts concerning this. And he wishes for neutral ground,” Galadriel said carefully.
Gil-Galad shrugged, “I cannot say anything now until my Chief Counsellor, Herald and Seneschal arrive. They have to be appraised of these events.”
Galadriel nodded and said quietly, “I hope to have Elrond’s answer soon.”
“My will is his wish,” Gil-Galad said breezily, “We just have to make sure of Lord Celeborn’s will. What does he say?”
“He and I are of the same mind,” Galadriel lied coolly, “We wish our daughter to have a safe, cherished marriage.”
“As yours is,” Gil-Galad said lightly, though monitoring her reaction closely. He was determined to get to the bottom of the matter. The rumours regarding Galadriel’s marriage worried him. He watched the expression on his dear aunt’s care-worn face change.
Galadriel was not able to prevent a flicker of doubt on her features before she said composedly, “Yes, indeed.”
Gil-Galad set down his teacup and got to his feet. He approached her and knelt down by her side.
Taking her bony hands in his own larger ones, he asked quietly, “Will you not set aside your pride atleast before me?”
“I do not know what you mean,” Galadriel feigned ignorance, though she knew it would not work. Gil-Galad had always been able to read her feelings easily. Their relationship was deep and loving. And at the moment, Galadriel wished that her husband would understand her so.
“I know your sorrow well and the reason for it,” Gil-Galad caressed her hands softly, “He suffers even as you do. Is it too much for you to relinquish your pride and go to him? Why do you continue to put both of you through this misery?”
Galadriel buried her face on his large shoulder and whispered sadly, “I wish things were so easy to rectify. How can we start anew after I have watched him seek pleasure in countless arms even as my wedding ring sits upon his fingers?”
Gil-Galad pulled her to his chest as she broke down into heavy sobs, the grief that had been eating her from within slowly surfacing after decades.
Now that the floodgates had been opened, Galadriel found it easier to let go of her usual pride and she relaxed in his arms as she sobbed out her sorrow, “He bids me good morning every day and spends the day away from me. Even in council, he seeks to avoid me. Talking is only for the gravest matters, all the rest of mutual concerns, we send messages through our daughter. We cannot even remain alone with each other these days. He volunteers himself for the patrols leaving me alone and anxious for his safety. I pray for him to return safely even when I know he is in the arms of another. His cries of pleasure reverberate in our wedding bond, which itself is weakening rapidly. Now I cannot even sense his thoughts.”
Gil-Galad waited patiently until her sobs had died out into silence and then he lifted up her chin and asked quietly, “Has he hurt you in any other way?”
Galadriel saw the furious expression in her nephew’s eyes and said hastily, “Never intentionally. He was led astray into infidelity because,” she blushed and her head drooped, “because we do not sleep in the same talan anymore.”
“That does not give him a valid reason to disregard his marriage vows so openly before your eyes,” Gil-Galad said angrily, “He promised to cherish you! To value you more than all else! Oropher is alone, yet he does not seek pleasure in the arms of another!”
Galadriel rested her head against his warm chest and closed her eyes saying, “It is in the past. I am glad I had the courage to relinquish my pride and tell you. I feel more clear minded than I have felt in centuries.”
Gil-Galad said quietly, “You need to do something about this. Do you know what you feel for him now?”
Galadriel shook her head wearily, “I have no idea, Gil. I do but know,” she looked up at him, the proud fire of Finarfin’s daughter burning in her eyes once more, “that I have to see him and talk with him concerning the past. Then maybe I shall know where we stand.”
Gil-Galad kissed her forehead gently and said, “He shall have to answer to me if he mistreats you. Is he still in Lothlórien or has he come to Lindon?”
Galadriel told him, “He is in the Green wood, with his kin Oropher.”
“Shall I summon him hither?” Gil-Galad asked her.
Galadriel smiled as she looked at Gil-Galad’s angry face, “Do you miss an argument with Oropher so much? I think since I have been able to give up this much of my pride, it would not harm me to ride to Green wood and surprise him.”
“You are going to what?” Gil-Galad asked incredulously.
Galadriel laughed, the sound more reminiscent of the carefree laughter she had centuries ago, and she remarked, “I seem to have forgotten the joy to be had in surprising others, Gil. Your reaction encourages me. Let me ride out for the Sindar stronghold and fetch my husband.”
“You still love him, that is evident,” Gil-Galad said in a pained voice.
Galadriel’s face darkened as she agreed softly, “So much that I had started fading without his love. If he ends our marriage, then I shall fade. I do not think I can bear to see him with another.”
Gil-Galad opened his mouth to retort fiercely, but he realized the futility. Celeborn was not his subject, not even a Noldor. Even if he threatened Amdir and had Celeborn banished from Lothlórien, Oropher would grant refuge to his beloved cousin. And he would never have Elrond’s or Erestor’s support in such a decision. Both of them were wary of Galadriel and got along well with Celeborn.
He said grudgingly, “All right then, I shall prepare for an escort to leave with you at dawn.”
“I leave now, I don’t need an escort,” Galadriel said firmly, “No, Gil, don’t argue with me. I have faced greater perils than a lonely journey. I will be safe.”
Gil-Galad knew from centuries of experience with her that to persuade her would not be of any avail. So trusting himself to the safety of the paths and her wisdom, he nodded reluctantly.
Anoriel said indignantly, “Why cannot I come with you, Adar? After all it is the discussion of my marriage.”
Amdir said sternly, “You are too young to be dragged to councils! You stay here with your naneth and Lady Celebrían.”
Anoriel bowed with extreme politeness and left her father and King’s presence. She would find a way to travel to Lindon. She hastened to intercept her brother before he rode on patrol.
Half an hour of cajoling later, Amroth said reluctantly, “All right, but I must be allowed to form my own impressions regarding his love for you and you must promise to heed my words in this matter.”
Anoriel said confidently, “Agreed.”
Elrond and Erestor rode at the head of the small group along with Glorfindel. They had left Glorfindel’s second in charge of the refugee camp at the valley in the base of the mountains. Elrond and Erestor were both heavy hearted to leave the place where they had found some semblance of peace, but they could no longer delay returning to their King and kin.
Gil-Galad was waiting impatiently at the steps of the palace for his bonded mate and heir who had ridden off to battle without him. His frown vanished when he saw Erestor break away from the rest of the riders and gallop madly towards him. There was such a joy in those black eyes that he loved, that he forgot all his concerns and burdens of his kingship as he drowned in those eyes.
Erestor jumped off his stallion into Gil-Galad’s waiting arms. Elrond watched painfully as the happy couple kissed oblivious to their surroundings. There was an air of complete contentment and joy around them. He knew that moment that he could never settle for anyone else. His love would always be unrequited and he could never love anyone else that way.
He was roused from his brooding when Glorfindel gasped next to him. Erestor and Gil-Galad had finally stopped kissing. Erestor’s sister, Menelwen was standing with Galdor as she welcomed her brother. As the siblings hugged each other, Elrond watched Galdor direct a possessive look towards Menelwen, who was whispering something to a now frowning Erestor. As Gil-Galad came forward to receive Elrond, Erestor gently disengaged himself from his sister’s embrace and made his way to Glorfindel who had turned ashen white.
They retired to the King’s private rooms, just the four of them.
Elrond and Gil-Galad were seated as usual in their customary armchairs by the fire, a goblet of wine in their hands. Erestor was at the window seat, his face turned away from the rest. Glorfindel was unusually sombre.
“You should have agreed to the bonding ceremony,” Gil-Galad said reasonably, “With due respect to you, Glorfindel, I must say that you have kept her waiting for an unnaturally long time!”
Glorfindel said wearily, “I was a fool.”
“And you continue to be one,” Gil-Galad snapped, “Galdor has asked me to hold their betrothal ceremony come spring. You should act.”
“How so? I cannot spoil her chance at happiness,” Glorfindel said miserably.
“Really, Glorfindel,” Gil-Galad said angrily, “How can you be so obtuse? For she does it merely to make you come and claim her forgiveness and love!”
Glorfindel said quietly, “She seems happy with him.”
“Glorfindel, you are so naïve!,” Gil-Galad spat furiously, “How can you not see her sorrow? You broke her heart and it is you, not Galdor, who has to take the responsibility of mending it!”
Glorfindel sat up and said smoothly, “It is a private matter, Gil. Let it pass.”
“It IS not a private matter,” Gil-Galad was working himself into a temper, “YOU ARE THE WORST ELF ANYONE COULD FALL IN LOVE WITH! You do not realize the value of love even after two lives!”
“The matters of my heart are my own concern,” Glorfindel replied steadily, though now there was a dangerous glint in those blue eyes.
Elrond looked at Erestor, the latter was still staring out of the window determinedly.
Elrond decided to intervene before Gil-Galad flew into one of his fiery moods.
He said pleasantly, “Gil, why don’t you retire early? Erestor seems to be waiting for us to break up for the night. He has missed you.”
Gil-Galad’s face lightened as he said, “Yes, indeed, it has been a long wait.”
“Which was because he had to go into war on your stead, you were drunk, if you remember. I do not want the same fate for Menelwen, at the hand of one she loves. Which is why I will let her go,” Glorfindel sneered.
Elrond felt like wringing his hands as Gil-Galad stood up and said furiously, “You overstep your limits, Glorfindel! I am the King here.”
“The only King that ended up with a hangover while Kings Amdir, Oropher and even the human King Aldor rode for war!” Glorfindel pointed out smirking.
Gil-Galad started to stride across the room, but Elrond quickly threw himself into the King’s path and forcibly led him away. He stayed with Gil-Galad silently until Erestor arrived half-an-hour later, looking exhausted. Elrond was already tired of Lindon. He wished for the starlit nights in the valley under the Hithelagir.
Thranduil walked under the stars singing quietly to himself. He rarely spent time on his own, preferring his father’s company. But tonight Celeborn had chivvied his father to bed and had promised Thranduil to watch over his sleep. Thranduil was very grateful for Celeborn’s presence. Oropher seemed to be less care worn when he was with his cousin. And Celeborn was excellent at making Oropher eat and sleep by threatening him that he would tell Thranduil stories of their youth. Thranduil idly wondered why his father was so careful to conceal from him the stories of their childhood in Doriath and Menegroth.
The sudden whinny of a horse alerted him of an intruder. He cast out his thoughts to the animal. It told him that its name was Ringwe and that it bore an elf who wanted it to remain quiet and alert nobody. Thranduil cautiously probed the surround with his mind and felt the presence of a strange power. He got to his feet silently as he tried to place the familiar feel of the intruder’s mind.
“Lord Thranduil?” Galadriel asked as she watched the golden haired elf approach her quietly. She had wanted to surprise him, but her mare had refused to give in to her command. The Sindar truly possessed a way with animals that the Noldor could never dream of.
“My Lady Galadriel,” Thranduil hid his surprise skilfully and bowed low before extending his hand to help her down from her mount. He had sensed the Elven Ring of Nenya.
Galadriel accepted his hand and dismounted. Thranduil whispered a few words in the mare’s ear and it disappeared through the trees obediently. The Prince then led Galadriel towards his father’s fortress silently.
“You have recovered well, I hope?” Galadriel attempted to initiate a conversation.
“Yes, indeed, thanks to my father’s healers and the Valar’s grace,” Thranduil responded politely, not even bothering to ask how she knew.
Galadriel knew she had to be careful with him. He was more adept in diplomacy and negotiations and soft lying than his father. She sensed the power emanating from his form. It almost equalled the power of her ring. For a moment, she felt jealous that he could be so powerful for one so young as compared to her own age, but then she reflected sadly that life was better without power. Thranduil Oropherion, she knew well, was an elf who would defend what he loved by whatever means he could summon. She could not risk antagonizing him. He was a true hunter who would offer his prey no quarter.
“Is your father well?” Galadriel settled on a safe question. She could not ask about the battle, not when Amdir, her King, had refused to send an army to aid Thranduil’s realm.
“My father is quite well, thank you,” Thranduil said graciously.
“My son, who is that new trophy of yours?” Oropher asked in Quenya as he espied his son. He had not yet recognized Galadriel.
Galadriel was about to tell him when Thranduil said emotionlessly, “Ada, Lady Galadriel.”
Oropher approached them and after a scrutiny of Galadriel’s form, he said quietly, “I think it best, my son, if you would leave us now.”
Thranduil kissed Galadriel’s hand coldly, nodded to his father and left without a backward glance.
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.