22. The Balm of Friendships Part Four
The scream sounded again, this time less loud; he had not been dreaming, it was from Thranduil’s room. He got to his feet and walked to his door and opened it. The torches that lit the corridor flickered dimly. He knocked on Thranduil’s door and then cursed himself, what if the Prince had company? What if the sounds he had heard were the sounds of pleasure? He retreated quietly, and had reached his own door when Thranduil’s door opened.
“Elrond?” The prince enquired.
Elrond turned to look at him. The prince’s normally cleanly brushed hair was tousled. The handsome features shone with sweat. Elrond had almost started to apologize for the intrusion when he noticed the red rimmed eyes of the prince.
“What happened?” he asked as he approached Thranduil again.
“Nothing,” Thranduil said uncomfortably, trying to offer a weak smile.
Elrond raised his eyebrow archly and Thranduil mumbled like an elfling, “Bad dreams. Sorry if I woke you up.”
There was something about Thranduil that made Elrond scrutinize him closely. He detected an emotion that he had never before associated with the prince; fear. There was hidden fear in those green eyes.
Elrond asked softly, “If you wish, I will prepare a sleeping draught for you, or wake your Adar.”
Thranduil shook his head, “Nay , draughts never work for my nightmares. I have had them all my life. And do not wake my Adar, he will be worried. I am once again sorry for disturbing your rest,” he began to move towards his own door, “Elrond,” he paused, “Would you, I mean, if you do not mind, could you stay with me tonight?”
Elrond smiled at Thranduil’s sudden insecurity and took the prince’s hand in both of his own and said, “What are friends for, ernil?”
They entered the Prince’s bedchamber and Elrond moved to the large couch saying wryly, “I was mortified that I had interrupted your night of pleasure! Thank The Valar, I would never have lived it down.”
Thranduil settled himself on the bed and leant against a post murmuring, “I gave up pleasure before the war, Elrond. Though,” his face brightened, “’twould have been worth it to see your face had it been that!”
Elrond smiled saying, “Indeed, though I would not be surprised. After all the Sindar are not known for celibacy.”
Thranduil patted the bed saying, “It will hold the two of us without complaint.”
Elrond raised his eyebrows remarking, “It might be better to keep a distance betwixt us, for I would not wish my celibacy endangered!”
Thranduil said bluntly, “Then you speak not your mind, however, I am too tired to endanger your virtue. Do feel free to shift to the comfort of my bed, Elrond, if you wish.”
Elrond smiled at the characteristic bluntness of speech. Thranduil was right, he was still pondering over their moment of revelation in the pond. Did he really desire Thranduil? Elrond Peredhel had never desired anyone other than Erestor in his long life. So what did this mean?
Thranduil had drifted to sleep, and was now tossing about restlessly on the bed, entangled in the bed covers. Elrond fastened his sleeping robe more securely and joined him on the bed. As he lay down next to Thranduil, arms enveloped him automatically, and Thranduil’s restlessness ceased. The protective embrace of the Prince reminded Elrond of the nights Elros used to embrace him while they were at the house of Maedhros. A long lost peace descended on Elrond as Thranduil snuggled closer. They drifted into reverie together.
Anoriel sat with Celebrían and patted her arm consolingly.
“I cannot believe Adar agreed to this,” Celebrían said furiously, “I thought that he atleast would support me!”
Anoriel said soothingly, “I am sure that he will. Maybe he has not been given the news yet.”
Celebrían said bitterly, “No, Anoriel, they have set the date,” she dissolved into pitiful sobs. Anoriel held her until exhaustion lulled her to sleep. Then she settled the covers on Celebrían and left the room.
Erestor had locked the study door for the second time that night when he heard footsteps in the corridor. Cursing in dwarvish, he turned to face the intruder.
“Lord Erestor,” the lady said sweetly, “May I talk with you?”
Erestor sighed, “As you wish, my Lady,” he opened the study door again, “Come in, let us make ourselves comfortable.”
He lit the fire again and bade her sit in a comfortable chair across his desk. He remained standing for he was afraid that he would fall asleep if he sat down.
Anoriel said hesitantly, “I am sorry to have sought your advice at this late hour. But I have no other to ask. Does Elrond Half-Elven love my friend, Lady Celebrían?”
Erestor sighed again, before pouring himself a goblet of wine, he looked at Anoriel questioningly, she nodded, so he poured her a goblet and said diplomatically, “I am not privy to Lord Elrond’s heart, my Lady.”
Anoriel said softly, “I know only a few people outside my father’s realm and I trust fewer among them. I have always trusted your words, My Lord. I trust you and Elrond. Now that he is not here, I thought that I might receive counsel from your lips.”
Erestor observed acidly, “Even when Elrond is here, it is wiser to receive counsel from me, Anoriel, for he is the herald and I am the counsellor.”
“I alter my question, Erestor, can the Lord Elrond love Celebrían?” Anoriel asked quietly.
“No,” Erestor said bluntly, and continued hastily seeing the fear in the other’s eyes, “I mean that Elrond has lost a lot in his life, So he is naturally slow to form relationships. Introverted, not unlike me, I guess. You asked for frankness, Anoriel, and this is what I can say frankly. But I do not know if he may love her. He is noble and compassionate. I hope for their sakes that they love each other.”
Anoriel nodded saying, “Yes, Erestor, I too wish that, but I know it to be in vain, for Celebrían does not have any love for Elrond. Indeed she hates his half-human heritage. She would rather fade than bode with him.”
Erestor walked into Gil-Galad’s study trying to hold in his temper. Celebrían’s issue had unsettled him more than he cared to reveal. And he had lost yet another night’s sleep. He was definitely not in a good humour.
“Ah! Erestor, you are early,” Gil-Galad greeted him cheerily. He was seated at his desk. Galadriel sat at the window seat of the chamber. She nodded to Erestor before gazing out of the window again.
“I wish to speak with you regarding certain urgent matters, Gil,” Erestor murmured.
Gil-Galad waited expectantly.
Erestor grit his teeth, Gil-Galad was not about to send away his beloved aunt. He had to use some diplomacy here.
“My Lady Galadriel,” he said emotionlessly, “I have led your daughter to the Healing Halls after I found her sick yesternite.”
Galadriel stared out of the window saying nothing, but a cold tendril of her thoughts permeated Erestor’s mind saying, “You expect me to leave you on such an errand?”
Erestor held onto whatever control he had over his temper and shut Galadriel out of his mind firmly. Círdan had taught him something else than diplomacy. The slightly puzzled look on her face as she found herself blocked from his thoughts gave him a grim satisfaction. He turned to face the King.
“I wish to talk with you on private matters that concern us,” he said dangerously.
Gil-Galad said imperturbably, “And do tell me, my love, I am all ears. I am sure Galadriel would not mind us discussing anything.”
Galadriel smirked lightly.
Erestor asked coldly, “Then am I to assume that she is not averse to being present while we engage in acts of pleasure?”
Gil-Gald gaped, and there was shock mirrored even on Galadriel’s features, she bowed to the King, nodded to Erestor and left the room hastily. The Chief Counsellor had won this around.
“What was that about?” the King asked curiously, “I have never seen you thus, my love!”
“Elrond. What is this I heard from the Lady Celebrían about you arranging his marriage with her?” Erestor asked angrily, “He is not even here!”
“My wish is his will, my love!” Gil-Galad said reassuringly, “He does not have any objections.”
“Have you asked him directly?” Erestor queried coldly.
“No,” Gil-Galad admitted, “But he has not yet taken a lover. His affections are not occupied, nobody holds his heart. I must do the best by him as Oropher has done for his son, for Elrond is as dear to me as a son.”
Erestor fell silent as he swiftly reviewed the whole situation in his mind. Celebrían did not love Elrond. Galadriel hated Elrond. And Celeborn did not wish for his line to mix with half-elven heritage. More importantly, Celeborn had no pleasure in an alliance that would give his daughter no happiness. Elrond, Erestor was sure, was in love with someone. Was it anyone so depraved in his eyes that he refused to divulge the name?
“I still think you should get Elrond’s consent before you finalize this,” Erestor said firmly.
Gil-Galad said breezily, “’Restor, Galadriel, Amdir and I have finalized all these, all we need from Elrond and the lady is to be present for the ceremony,” he chuckled at his own words, “Now,” he sobered, “I have a long list of complaints from Sigthor, Glorfindel’s second, who is managing the affairs of that refugee valley. I think we should send them to the Havens. Círdan may not be pleased, but the refugees might acquire sea lust and leave for the west.”
“Many are young,” Erestor pointed out, “And may not wish to leave for Valinor. And many are bound by the doom of Noldor.”
“We cannot afford to bear the brunt of Celebrimbor’s folly. I am hard put to maintain Lindon. Amdir cannot take in any more elves. Oropher will definitely not take in Noldor smiths,” Gil-Galad said, “They are a burden to our realms.”
“They are excellent craftsmen and sword smiths,” Erestor said seriously, “If we take the responsibility, then I am sure they will learn other skills in time. We cannot call them a burden.”
“You are my Chief-Counsellor,” Gil-Galad said, “And I trust your council, but the council of Lindon will not spare our resources to aid the Eregion smiths.”
Erestor leant forward across the table, the fire of Fëanor himself lit in those black eyes as he said quietly, “I will go to the valley and strive to make you proud of the refugees sheltered there.”
He pressed a kiss to the stunned King’s lips and walked out of the room.
Glorfindel tried to reason with his friend, “’Res, you cannot leave Lindon to Gil’s mercy! He does not know the basics of administration. Why are you so taken up with that refugee camp? Gil is right, you know. We cannot afford taking them in. We are a prosperous realm, I agree, but we do not boast of endless resources!”
Erestor turned from his packing to look at his friend and said wearily, “Glor, I wish I did not have to go. But I cannot in good conscience betray the two thousand refugees deprived of a home and a lord because we were not able to defend their city. Women, children and mere craftsmen, I cannot abandon them to their fate. We failed them once in Eregion, their lord failed them. Do we not have a duty to them now?”
Glorfindel said gently, “I understand, but what do you hope to do alone in a wild valley under the Hithalegir?”
Erestor leant his head against Glorfindel’s warm chest and sighed, “I do not know, Glor, I do not know. But,” he straightened up, “I will do whatever I can. Círdan and you taught me to take ever the path my mind dictates. And I will not forego your teachings ever. Mayhap this is destiny.”
Glorfindel and Gil-Galad watched as the Chief Counsellor of the Noldor High King rode away to his mission on his powerful black stallion. Gil-Galad had been able to spare only two guards as escort. So it was with fears that they bade him farewell. Both Glorfindel and Gil-Galad would not know rest until the first letter from the valley arrived apprising them of Erestor’s safety.
Glorfindel watched Ebony gallop ahead of the other horses. Against the full moon, the horse and the rider were sketched in profile.
“This is indeed his destiny,” Glorfindel murmured before breathing a prayer to Elbereth.
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.