14. Where The Loyalties Lie Part One
“Glor,” Erestor’s soothing voice calmed him, “Come with me.”
Glorfindel followed his friend and sword brother silently and they made their way inside.
“I have not seen Elrond today,” Erestor remarked concernedly, “I thought he would turn up to receive the Lórien nobles.”
“Now that he is back in Lindon, he has been brooding again,” Glorfindel admitted, “I guess he must be in the barracks or in his study working his way through the papers until he faints of exhaustion and hunger.”
Erestor sighed, “Lindon does not agree with his spirits. Maybe seeing Tar-Minastir’s men shall pull him out of his shell. Or Aldor’s contigent. He gets along with Aldor’s wife.”
Glorfindel smiled on hearing Aldor’s name, “I look forward to greeting the young chief, we must deepen our acquaintance, we had scarce time for conversations during the battle. But the little I have known him, I like his company. He is remarkably wise for one so young, and very brave in battle.”
“He is a human, Glor,” Erestor reminded him, “Their race grows in wisdom faster than ours for their lives are shorter. They have a greater zest for life according to Elrond.”
“Elrond knows the bitterness of mortality all too well,” Glorfindel agreed, “but yet he says sometimes the gift of men is valuable. They do not grow weary of life,” he shook his head tiredly.
Erestor halted walking and folded his arms across his chest. He said in a dangerous voice, “Are you weary of life?”
“I feel so sometimes that I have lived past my quota,” Glorfindel shook his head sadly.
“Perhaps you think it is better to fade?” Erestor asked in the same low, dangerous voice.
“Well, know that I shall not let you go alone,” Erestor said quietly.
“How touching!” a melodic voice intoned from behind them.
Erestor turned so fast that Glorfindel was afraid he would break his neck, the Chief Counsellor’s sombre features transformed as he laughed merrily and rushed to embrace the newcomer.
“THRANDUIL!” he shouted happily, “I am glad to see you safe!”
“I do not understand why you think me safe in a nest of Noldor!” Thranduil smirked as he embraced Erestor tightly before walking to Glorfindel and bowing with his hand over his heart.
Glorfindel repeated his gesture and asked him quietly, “Is all well in your realm?”
“It is,” Thranduil beamed, “Come, Glorfindel, even if we do not have Balrog Slayers, we still manage!”
Glorfindl smiled, Thranduil Oropherion was one of the few elves he was always glad to see, the handsome features and melodic voice soothing him like few things could. But, Glorfindel observed frowning, there was an aura of power and other worldly radiance about Oropher’s son now. There was an expression of deep wisdom in those green eyes. Glorfindel gasped quietly as those eyes met his own, he knew without a doubt that Thranduil Oropherion had travelled to Mandos’ Halls and defied the call.
“Is your Adar here?” Erestor queried.
“With Gil-Galad,” Thranduil wrinkled his nose, “It must not be a happy scene, but tell me Erestor, where is Elrond? He has my falcon in his keeping!”
Erestor said quietly, “He is in his study working himself to Mandos. I hope you have a better chance to drag him to the feast tonight!”
“I see no reason why the Noldor should have a sea port when they cannot in any case cross to Valinor!” Oropher exclaimed.
Gil-Galad felt like banging his head on the desk. It had not been even half-an-hour and Oropher had succeeded in nearly reducing him to tears. He spared Galadriel and Celeborn a scathing look. The two had done nothing but exchange flirtatious looks and coy smiles since the beginning of the council. His frown vanished as he considered them, his aunt was obviously happier and healthier than she had been for decades. Galadriel caught his stare and blushed before smiling giddily. He raised his eyebrows before turning back to argue with Oropher though he knew he had already lost.
Elrond held his head in his hands as he tried to put himself in a more cheerful mood. Gil-Galad had personally volunteered to come and fetch him if he missed one more meal or meeting.
“Brooding, are we?” Thranduil leapt through the window and neatly landed beside him. Elrond watched with amazement as the Prince settled himself on Elrond’s study desk comfortably, his legs indolently placed in Elrond’s lap.
“You never use the door,” Elrond complained as he shoved Thranduil’s legs off him and got to his feet.
Thranduil shrugged before accepting a cup of tea from Elrond and remarking, “You look better.”
“You do not,” Elrond observed as he saw traces of fatigue on the other’s visage, “Were you injured?”
“Yes, I took a Morgul blade in a skirmish near our borders,” Thranduil said less self-assuredly, “I was near death, Thalion’s skill and Ada’s love pulled me back.”
Elrond hugged him whispering, “I am glad that you are safe,” he pulled back to scrutinize Thranduil more closely, “You need to rest for a few days, and I intend to make sure you do, atleast as long as you are in Lindon. You look different,” Elrond paused thoughtfully, “A bit like Galadriel, I suggest you rest under my care before you end up shrivelled like her!”
Thranduil asked him, “Why halt your ministrations after I leave Lindon? You have never visited my home, Elrond, come with me, a change will do you good.”
Elrond sighed, “I cannot possibly leave here, Thranduil, and that too with the Sindar! Gil shall fry me! But I am grateful for the invitation.”
Thranduil pouted, “Do you know people will kill for an invitation by the Golden Prince Of Greenwood? And you say no so uncivilly! You are hopeless, Peredhil! My Adar’s right, the Noldor do not know what is good!”
Elrond grinned inspite of himself.
Thranduil changed the topic abruptly keeping up with his reputation for unpredictability, “Shall we get dressed for the ball? Ada and I have a bet regarding who will be the most stared at this eve. I vouch for myself, Ada bets on Celeborn and Galadriel.”
Elrond smiled, “You are likely to lose the bet, for Celeborn and Galadriel have been the focus of everyone these past few days.”
“Well, Ada will certainly win if I don’t make an effort to look good!” Thranduil said in a mock worried tone, “Come now, let us get dressed!”
Elrond found himself dragged to his chambers by the hurricane that was the Prince. He dressed hastily in his formal robes and accepted Thranduil’s assistance in braiding his hair, though he started to be apprehensive when the Prince began interweaving gems within the braids. But Thranduil, with his characteristic stubbornness persisted and there was nothing that Elrond could think of to dissuade him.
Then they started with Thranduil’s attire, which did not require a long time as Thranduil threw on a set of usual green robes and hastily braided his hair lightly into two thin braids above his ears away from his face.
“Would you wear anything other than green?” Elrond asked him invitingly, “I have a whole set of ceremonial robes that Gil had ordered for me, though he failed to warn the tailors of my broader half-human measurements!”
Thranduil muttered, “Wish I could, But Adar will not be happy and I don’t wish that.”
Gil-Galad watched appreciatively as Erestor was announced. The counsellor was clad in rich purple silken robes that highlighted his aristocratic pallor admirably. Erestor smiled at Gil-Galad’s hungry stare and took his seat to the King’s right. Gil-Galad possessively placed his hand on Erestor’s knee.
“We are quite eager tonight, are we?” Erestor teased him good naturedly.
“I really do not appreciate sitting through yet another ball that is probably going to end up in a brawl between Oropher and Amdir,” Gil-Galad sighed.
Erestor nodded bleakly. The Sindar nobles of Lórien were already squabbling with those from Greenwood. Amdir kept to the Noldor side, his son and Galadriel accompanying him. Lady Anoriel was not present, Erestor noted worriedly.
“Where is Elrond?” Glorfindel, who had arrived just then, asked them, “Gil, you need to have a talk with him. He is becoming worse than Oropher in attending banquets!”
Gil-Galad sighed and murmured, “I will send someone to fetch him, I cannot leave now, the Númenorians are being escorted hither as we speak, I have to receive them and start the banquet officially.”
“Thranduil Oropherion, Crown Prince Of GreenWood, and Elrond Earendillion, Herald Of the Noldor!”the aides announced.
Gil-Galad eased back into his chair, his expression less worried as he watched Elrond laugh easily at something that Thranduil had said. Gil-Galad noted with pleasure that Elrond had dressed well for the occasion. His rose silken robes highlighted his dark complexion and through the intricately done up braids, small gems twinkled in the firelight. Thranduil was as resplendent as ever, but, Gil-Galad frowned, there was an inner aura that complemented the Sindar’s natural charms. Maybe, the King wondered thoughtfully, it might have been the brush with death that he had before the winter. Círdan had told him that it had been touch and go.
Gil-Galad watched the two elves walk towards the Sindar of Greenwood and strike up an easy conversation with Celeborn and Oropher. Gil-Galad noted the easy rapport that his cousin shared with Oropher. He raised his eyebrows, Oropher did not obviously stick to his Noldor hating policy at all times. Or it might be because of the presence of his son, Thranduil obviously had his father about his little finger.
Gil-Galad could not help noticing that Aldor had eyes only for a certain Balrog-Slayer. Erestor had tactically placed Glorfindel beside the human. Gil-Galad smirked at his bonded mate’s blatant meddling as the latter plied Aldor with tales about Glorfindel.
Thranduil asked his father, “Ada, would you like to dance with me?”
“NO,” Oropher said firmly, “I suggest you take young Elrond to the floor, my son, and leave us to our concerns.”
Thranduil willingly complied with his father’s instructions as he dragged an unprepared Elrond to the floor.
“You idiot!” Elrond muttered, “Amdir is here! Do you have any idea what he will conjure in his imagination?”
Thranduil remarked wryly, “Probably he will accuse me of being a prostitute! Adar might knock his nose off this time.”
Elrond opened his mouth but Thranduil whirled him about suddenly, causing him to almost lose his balance. He cursed the Prince as he clumsily righted his posture and fell into step with Thranduil again.
Celeborn smiled indulgently as he watched Elrond glower at Thranduil, “Your son has been bested at his game, Oropher,” he said boastfully.
“Well,” Oropher said wickedly, “My son is young and hasty. He will learn to be more patient. Like his Adar!”
“Care for a dance?” Celeborn asked.
“Your lady will be mighty displeased!” Oropher pointed out. Galadriel was sitting with Amdir and his wife.
“She does not dance. Neither do I as you well know. But anything for my cousin,” Celeborn said gallantly.
Oropher wrinkled his nose, “Oh, no! He is at it again! Amdir and company will bay for our blood now!”
Celeborn turned to look at the floor. Elrond and Thranduil were in deep conversation.
“You say you can seduce anyone!” Elrond asked incredulously.
“Certainly!” Thranduil agreed proudly, “Let me show you.”
“How?” Elrond asked nervously as he watched a subtle change in those green eyes.
“Quiet,” Thranduil said in a low, enchanting voice, “Listen to my voice, Elrond. Is it as melodic as the call of the sea? As deep as the song of your love? Tell me, what does it make you desire?”
Elrond sweated as he felt himself fall into the trap Thranduil had made for him. He could see Oropher and Celeborn look warningly at him. Erestor was shaking his head silently imploring him not to do anything stupid. Glorfindel and Gil-Galad were however smirking at the scene, a knowing expression in their eyes.
“Elrond?” Thranduil said silkily, “What use is there in hesitation? Are we not warriors? Do we ever hesitate?”
“I…,” Elrond cleared his throat, “I do not know what I want. But you are enchanting, Thranduil… and, well, most desirable.”
“Well,” Thranduil replied in his normal tone, “I proved it!”
Elrond shook himself to sensibility and said scathingly, “You are the limit, Oropherion!”
“So I have been told,” Thranduil bowed politely to him as the dance ended.
Close to them, Amroth, who had been dancing with a Sindar maiden frowned. He had to warn his sister about Thranduil’s unpredictability.
Elrond retired to the banquet tables while Thranduil danced with one of those maidens whose sole purpose in life was to be noticed by him.
Erestor, Elrond observed darkly, was pulling Gil-Galad to the dance floor leaving only Aldor, Glorfindel and Círdan at the table. Sighing, Elrond took a seat across Aldor trying to be as far as possible from Círdan who sat on Glorfindel’s right.
“Lord Elrond,” Aldor smiled, “It is good to see you in a better atmosphere!”
“I agree!” Elrond heartily agreed, “The lady has not accompanied you, I take it?”
Aldor shifted uneasily in his chair before murmuring, “No, only my counsellors have accompanied me. Travelling does not please her over much.”
They talked lightly about matters of trade. When the dance music ended and the ministrels started a slow, romantic tune, Aldor watched the dancers wistfully before sneaking a glance at Glorfindel. But when the elf turned and intercepted his glance, he hastily turned back to watch the dancers.
Thranduil was dancing with Erestor, Gil-Galad had opted out and stood nearby, chatting merrily to a counsellor, as he watched with mild disfavour his bonded mate dancing with the Prince. The pair drew admiring glances from the onlookers, their dancing skills supplementing their natural grace.
“Lord Aldor,” Elrond said kindly, for he was well-disposed towards his brother’s race in general, “Do you fancy dancing?”
“Yes,” Aldor blurted, “I mean not much, only when required by state rules.”
“I would have taken you to the floor myself,” Elrond smiled as he saw the disquieted expression in the human’s eyes, he was reminded of Elros, the same insecurity and daring evident in Aldor’s eyes, “But Glorfindel is a much better dancer than I can ever be.”
Glorfindel sighed mentally seeing the hopeful expression in the human’s eyes. While he loved Aldor’s company, he certainly did not wish to dance a romantic air with him, not while Menelwen was dancing the same with Galdor. But since Elrond had named him specifically, Glorfindel had no choice but to smile, bow and extend his hand, which was readily accepted.
Elrond was now alone with Círdan at the table. He resolved to be quiet as he was sure that any attempt at conversation would ultimately end in a disagreement. A few moments of reflective mutual silence later, it was with surprise that Elrond heard the mariner clear his throat loudly to get his attention.
“My Lord?” Elrond queried politely, not wanting to argue. He shot a desperate glance at Celeborn, who was winking at him from the other side, to extricate him from present company.
“My foster son has suffered enough defeats and betrayals in his life, Lord Elrond. I hope that you would do nothing to cause him further loss,” Círdan said in a low voice.
“And what makes you presume that I would do that?” Elrond asked coldly.
Círdan murmured, “I have lived a long time and I cannot but help seeing what is very evident regarding your feelings for Lord Erestor.”
Elrond did not reply as he appraised the other elf carefully.
“You do not need to worry about me running to Gil-Galad about this. I wish him happiness. Though I love both of them dearly, I wish Gil had married someone who could give him heirs,” Círdan paused, “But what has come to pass cannot be changed. And I hope that you understand and act accordingly.”
Elrond said waspishly, “Then you would not tell me so. For I have done nothing that would harm their marriage. Gil-Galad is my cousin, Lord Círdan, and I would never hurt him. My lineage may not be as pure as yours or his, but that will not make me reckless.”
Círdan said nothing as he twirled a goblet of wine in his hands, his gaze fixed on Erestor and Thranduil, who were approaching the table talking excitedly.
Thranduil stepped forward and boldly kissed Círdan on the cheeks before remarking, “Blue suits you well, My Lord.”
Círdan said embarrassedly, “You are kind, Ernil. I am glad to see you well.”
“Would you walk with me?” Thranduil asked softly.
Círdan complied and they left the hall together.
Erestor dropped into the seat near Elrond’s and whispered to him, “How goes it? You look angry, that is why I came over. I know you dislike Círdan.”
“Now it is not dislike anymore,” Elrond said sullenly, “It is hate; the evil, old sailor!”
Erestor laughed saying, “Fine language, , mayhap a walk would ease your temper?”
Elrond decided against it, Círdan would probably skewer him, “No, would you grace me with a dance?”
Erestor got to his feet and extended his hand, “It would seem that I have more in common with you than with my dear husband! He dances so reluctantly that I have given up asking him.”
Elrond said nothing as he walked with Erestor to the dance floor, if he could not have Erestor’s heart, he would settle for these smaller pleasures whatever Círdan presumed.
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.