In The House of Elrond: 12. Messages - Part 3/3

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12. Messages - Part 3/3

A soft knock and a low voice beyond the door had Glorfindel straightening and hurrying to allow Elrond entry.  Behind him, their identical faces grim and clearly angry, trailed his sons.  "As long as I am here," Elrond said, nodding with his nose toward the bed chamber, "allow me to see to your face, child."

"What about Father?" Gilraen asked, not willing to rise as yet.

"On his way.  Arthor said that he saw them starting back from the practice range as he was coming into the House."

"Master Elrond," Ivorwen spoke up, although her voice trembled.  "My husband?"

An eyebrow lifted.  "Intact, my Lady, and walking without assistance.  Erestor is a master of the dance of bloodless destruction."  With that, Elrond gestured for Gilraen to go before him, and Gilraen gave her mother a quick, comforting pat on the shoulder as she stepped past.

"Bloodless destruction?" she heard her mother ask of those left behind in a voice thin and high with horror.

"And how do you feel this morning?" Elrond asked, leading her with a gentle hand to the window and turning her head so that the light fell on the cheek and ear he'd treated.  "Any dizziness, or ringing?"

"None.  I feel well, thank you."  Gilraen bore with his very thorough inspection.  "Whatever you used last night helped immensely."

Elrond nodded absently.  "It is a recipe of my own devising, one that I have used extensively on the Els over the years and most recently on Estel."  He lifted the hair away from her ear.  "I will probably use it on your father shortly as well."

She looked at him sharply, pulling out of his gentle hold.  "But I thought…"

The grey eyes were storms and steel again.  "What was done to you was relatively bloodless, and did not require a stay in my Healing Ward.  Erestor will have been just as discerning in his dealings this morning.  Your Father is intact, but he will not be without some minor damage; and that is what that balm soothes best."  He folded his hands into his sleeves.  "I am pleased with your healing, but I would prefer you remain quiet and rest for today."

"Yes, sir."  When Elrond spoke in that tone, it wasn't wise to question or contradict him. 

He gestured to the open door.  "We should rejoin the others.  Your father will be with us very shortly."

As regal as a king, Elrond escorted Gilraen back into her own sitting room, and back into her chair.  He took his place between his sons, standing in front of the hearth, while Glorfindel moved to the wall nearest Gilraen and leaned again.  Ivorwen couldn't help looking from one stern face to the next as if wondering where the next explosion would come from. 

Finally, just when Gilraen was certain her mother was going to begin flinching every time one of the Elves made the slightest movement, there was a knock on the door with Erestor's voice behind it.  Glorfindel moved at a nod from Elrond and opened the door for the two who stood beyond, and then let them in.

Elrond had been very correct: Dírhael was quite intact and moving under his own power.  But from the literally shredded nature of his clothing, the dust in his hair, the lines of sweat that had made tracks through the dust on his forehead and down his cheeks, the stiffness of his steps and his other movements, and the thoroughly intimidated expression on his face, it was obvious that Erestor had been anything but kind or gentle.  Erestor himself was as taciturn and dower as ever, and looked far too clean and tidy to have just demolished a seasoned Dúnadan warrior's entire demeanor.

Gilraen heard her mother give a tiny gasp, as if she had never before seen her husband come out of a sparring challenge badly; but what fascinated her was the way Dírhael had yet to meet her gaze or her mother's.  His eyes were fixed on Elrond, and they were not filled with pride or bravado.  When Erestor put a hand on Dírhael's shoulder, the man flinched and then nodded in obvious obedience to instructions given before.

He took a deep breath.  "Master Elrond, I have had it very forcefully and clearly brought to my attention that my altercation with my daughter last night not only offended against the very nature of your refuge here, but was a direct insult to you, your sons, your people, and the honor of my daughter.  I apologize for my behavior and beg of you to tell me what I must do to gain your forgiveness." 

"Lord Dírhael, I accept your apologies on behalf of Imladris and my people.  I fear, however, that I can only speak for myself and those who depend upon the peace that rules this valley.  You will have to speak to my sons, and to Gilraen, to see if they are as inclined to want to put this unfortunate incident behind them as I am."  Elrond gazed at each of his sons.  "What say you, Elladan?  Elrohir?"

Gilraen wasn't surprised when Elladan stepped forward first.  "I am very disappointed that, after generations of cooperation with the Dúnedain, eating with them, fighting the Enemy with them, celebrating their victories with them, mourning their losses with them, we are accused of the worst kind of base behavior with one of the most honored of Dúnedain women.  She is a lady who has done nothing to deserve the insult given her, who has behaved for the years of her residency here with nothing that did not lend honor to the Dúnedain."  Elladan's voice had that flat, enraged tone in it, and his eyes were like his father's had been the night before: almost glowing with the force of his ire.

Elrohir's mood was a mirror of his twin's.  "Like our father, we will accept the apology offered us in order that peace can return to the House.  But our trust, our friendship, has been damaged.  We have agreed that we will continue to ride with the Dúnedain, but our days of full fellowship with them are finished until another leads your people."

Dírhael's face crumpled just a bit at the thought of losing the goodwill of the sons of Elrond.  But he straightened very quickly and nodded.  "I can accept your hesitation.  But please, do not judge my people – our warriors – by my misconduct."

Elladan's scowl only deepened.  "Time will tell that tale.  Let it be enough that we will let this episode slip into the past like water flowing beneath a bridge."

"And now," Elrond spoke again, his voice steely, "I believe that you have something to say to your daughter, my niece and the Lady of my House."

When Dírhael's gaze finally met Gilraen's, she found him filled with an odd combination of embarrassment, anger and resignation.  This entire scene was almost more humiliating to him, she realized, than the trouncing in the sparring ring had been.  There, it had been a question of skill and years of practice, with Erestor having surpassed him in both centuries before he'd even been born.  This standing in the presence of others and admitting fault and asking forgiveness did not sit well, but he was wise enough to know that anything less would be unacceptable.

"I misjudged you, mistook your actions and those of people here, and accused you of behavior that I know now is beneath you.  I also struck you, in the heat of my anger.  I can only beg your understanding and your forgiveness."

This was it.  She could forgive him and send him on his way feeling that he had at least not lost anything, or she could point out the reluctant nature of his apology and her suspicions of its veracity.  He wasn't sorry for what he'd done; he was sorry he had been caught out for one of his rages and finally made to pay for it.

She looked over at her mother, who sat literally on the edge of her chair, waiting to hear what she had to say.  Her mother would have to live with him afterwards, bear with whatever temper he would be in as the result of this meeting.  Gilraen softened, not to her father's plea, but to the sure knowledge of what her mother would have to deal with.

Gilraen lifted her head and looked at his squarely, her back straight, her bearing as full of pride as she could make it.  "Yes, you misjudged me, misinterpreted the actions of others towards me, accused me of things that I would never even consider, refused to listen to me at all, and then struck me.  I understand you, though.  You expected me to be the dutiful Dúnadaneth, returning as a grieving widow to your keeping, without giving any thought to whether or not that was my wish or even wanting to hear my reasons for staying."

She stood and walked over to him to look him directly in the eye.  "You ask for my understanding, and you have it.  But now I ask that you understand this: I have lived here for nearly the same amount of time now that I ever lived as your daughter and Arathorn's wife.  Imladris is as much my home as our village is.  And I tell you that the time will come when I most willingly return to our people, to take my place and carry out the duties that my position will put on me.  But that time is not now.  You are acting Dúnadan, and for the time being, Mother carries out the duties that come with the position of Chieftain's wife.  Here, I help my people as much as humanly possible by making it easier for other minds here to make use of intelligence about the Enemy, saving maybe many Dúnedain lives.  I am needed here more than I am there, and so it is here that I will remain." 

She took a deep breath to say some of the most difficult words she'd ever said in her life.  "I forgive you, Father, but I will never forget what you called me, or how you would have dishonored and disgraced me before our people."

She turned away and heaved a heavy sigh.  Standing up to and speaking to her father in that way – and knowing herself to be finally heard – had taken all of her energies.  "And now, if it is all right with everyone, and if this meeting is concluded, I think I will lie down.  I am very tired."

Elrond, taking charge of proceedings once more, looked up at Erestor.  "Are you satisfied?"

Erestor bowed.  "I am, Master Elrond."

"Does anyone else have anything to say before this matter is closed once and for all?"  His steel grey eyes touched each and every person in the room, offering each in turn a chance to speak their mind.  "If not, then we should adjourn to our various daily tasks and let Gilraen get the rest she needs.  Glorfindel, you will summon me immediately if you feel my assistance is needed."  He spread out his arms as if to herd everyone in the small room out the door.  "Dírhael, please follow me to the Healing Ward, where I might ease some of the aches that you now suffer.  Also, allow our seamstress to take your measurements, so that clothing similar to what has been damaged can be crafted for you before you leave.  Elrohir, if you would be so kind as to show him to Maeniel's studio after the midday meal…"

"I would like to speak to the Lady Gilraen for a moment," Elladan said, suddenly breaking from the group being shepherded out the door to stand next to Glorfindel, who scowled at him.  "Only for a brief moment, I promise."

"She's going to be alone with two of them?  With no one there to chaperone…" Dírhael's surprise and burgeoning outrage was unmistakable.

"Be quiet, you!" Ivorwen hissed at him.  "You've done enough damage to our reputation here.  Don't make matters worse again!"

Gilraen leaned her face into her hand.  Her father would never change – never.

At long last, the latch on her suite door clicked closed, and suddenly she realized that Elladan had approached and now knelt next to her chair.  "Gilraen?"

When his hand touched her hair, she looked up, startled.  "What?"

"I want you to know that if you think it would help ease your adar's discontent with your situation here, I am willing to wed with you."  He let his hand trail down her hair to her shoulder, and then down her arm to grasp her hand very gently.  "It need not be a marriage except on papers sent to your father.  In fact, I know that it could not be more than that because you do not love me that way, and I do not love you in that manner either.  But if knowing you to be safely claimed by one of us will satisfy…"

"Elladan," Gilraen gasped and pulled her hand from his grasp so she could throw her arms around his neck and hug him tightly.  "You are the sweetest, kindest, most infuriating person I have ever met, and I am deeply flattered and honored by your offer."  She pressed her lips to his cheek and then pulled back.  "But I must refuse."

His wide, grey eyes grew round with surprise.  "But why?"  He sounded almost disappointed.

She chuckled and allowed herself the luxury of running a hand over his head in a caress.  His hair was not as fine as Glorfindel's, but it was quite soft.  "Because, my dear friend, were we to marry, we would be confirming his suspicions about us more than anything else.  And considering the humiliation he has just suffered, it would only make matters worse."

At last Elladan nodded.  "I see."  He looked up at Glorfindel with a wry smile.  "Well, it was my one chance to snatch her away from you and Adar, and you can see how far I got."

"Oh, you!"  Gilraen groaned and swatted at his upper arm.  "Go on with you now, so I can rest."

He stood, but reached down to recapture her hand and brought it to his lips.  "The offer will remain open.  If necessity demands it, perhaps you will reconsider."  Then he turned with a flourish and let himself out of the suite.

"And now, Míreth, you will take yourself to your chamber and rest."  Glorfindel's hand was ready for her to grasp and use to pull herself erect.  That same hand quickly disengaged and wrapped itself about her waist tightly.  "I know that there are things about this that you have not told me.  You say to your father that he accused you of something that must have been truly awful for you to swear you would never forget it.  And now we have Elladan, making that ridiculous proposal."

"It's over, Glorfindel," Gilraen sighed and at long last let herself lean into him.  "Let it rest."

"What did your father call you that was so offensive?" he insisted.

She turned and kissed his cheek gently and then squirmed out of his hold.  "I'm very tired.  Would you do me a favor and bring me a little from the midday meal.  I will probably sleep through it."  She had almost made it to the bed chamber door before he caught up to her again.

This time, his arms turned her and then pulled her tightly to him.  "Listen to me.  Your father insulted you, and in doing so, he insulted me as your gwaedh-vellon.  I am bound by my oath to you that I will do nothing to your father.  So I ask you again, what did he accuse you of being?"

She was so tired: tired of being told what to say and what to hold within herself; tired of worrying about what others thought of her; tired of worrying about what he would or would not do; tired of his demanding, as he was now, on rights that simply weren't his.  If he was going to insist on behaving more like an over-protective husband than a gwaedh-vellon, then she was going to claim from him the kind of comfort that she desperately needed from a man who loved her, even knowing that it could never be more than the shadow of a dream.  "Maethor nîn," she murmured the epessë she had given him in her heart long ago.  He was so very much a warrior, and in this moment so very much hers.  "You honestly and truly do not want to know."  And then she kissed him.

Glorfindel hesitated only for a briefest moment before taking charge of the kiss, the fingers of one large hand wrapping around the base of her skull and the other hand pulling her body tightly against his.  Gilraen quickly found herself lost as he deepened the kiss, stealing away her breath and her ability to think clearly with a tongue that fenced skillfully and all too pleasurably with hers.  In the part of her brain that was still working, she felt the beginnings of his desire press against her and ignite a small coil of heat within her where none had been for nearly twenty years.  Arathorn, forgive me!

Then his lips left hers so she could breathe again and pressed against her forehead.  While not letting go of her completely, his arm loosened so that he was holding her lightly.  "Elbereth!" he whispered breathlessly, stroking her hair with a hand that trembled.  "This cannot be!  Míreth!"

She'd been counting on it.  She knew he wasn't rejecting her.  She had instigated an intense moment that neither of them could ever allow to happen again for a number of reasons, but she was no longer above using the emotions and responses that both of them now struggled with to make her point. 

Does this make me a whore, Father?  Are you happy, now that I've proven you right?

"I know."  Her voice shook, and she was out of breath.  "And that is why I cannot tell you what you want to know.  Please don't ask me again."

They stood together, arms about the other, for a long moment.  Slowly Gilraen's heart stopped pounding in her throat, even as his heart slowed to a more regular rhythm beneath her ear.  The rush of heat in her belly died away, as did the press of flesh that had sparked it.  Glorfindel nuzzled her hair and said in a wondering tone, "You are a far more dangerous woman than any of us could have ever imagined."

"I am a tired woman, Maethor, and I'm going to go lie down."

"Maethor?" 

She looked up at him and found his crystal blue eyes smiling warily down at her.  "Maethor," she repeated with a firm nod as she pushed herself out of his arms.  "I'll see you when I awaken."

It was Glorfindel who quietly, yet firmly, pulled closed the door to the bed chamber after her, leaving himself on the other side of it from her.  Gilraen sighed, feeling strangely empty as well as exhausted, and crept beneath her bedspread.

It was a long time before sleep claimed her.

oOoOo

She finally emerged at mid-afternoon, rubbing her eyes against the wish to just go back to sleep again, to find Elrond sitting in his regular chair before her fire, reading a book.  He looked up as she stepped through the door and closed the book down on a marking finger.  "Did you rest well?"

She looked about the room, surprised.  "Where's Glorfindel?"

Elrond gestured for her to take a seat.  "That is part of the reason I am here, to explain that."

"Is something wrong?"  She steadfastly refused to revisit their last few moments together – not in front of Elrond!

"Yes, and no."  He gestured again.  "Please, Gilraen, sit."

She followed instructions, but perched on the edge of the chair nervously.  "Did I do something wrong?" she asked cautiously, suddenly suspicious.

"That depends."  Elrond set the book aside completely and folded his hands in his lap.  "I understand you startled him.  Badly."  It wasn't quite an accusation.

"He was pushing," she returned tiredly, "demanding things that…"  She sighed.  "I had to show him that there were two sides to the way he's been acting lately."

"You definitely got his attention.  He was not specific as to the tactics you used, and I truly have no desire to pry into your private dealings with him, but he wanted some time alone to put his thoughts in order and felt it necessary to begin that time immediately."  The eyebrows were up, and the grey eyes filled with questions.  "It takes a great deal to disconcert Glorfindel, you know."

"I know."  Elrond might be curious, but she was worried now – again.  Had she gone too far?  Had the events with her father diminished her judgment badly enough that she'd ruined a very precious friendship because of it?  Then again, Glorfindel had been pushing closer lately; he had needed reminding that she too had emotions and needs.  "I don't know what to say…"

"You need say nothing.  I am certain the two of you will work things out in due time.  I was simply requested to explain his absence this afternoon.  I also wanted to tell you that I have used the balm on your father's new bruises.  Erestor proved once again, as he used to do for our warriors every century or so long ago, why it is never a good idea to underestimate a person; and he was extremely thorough about it."  He smiled in quiet satisfaction.  "Your father sports bruises in places I doubt he has had bruises in a very long time."

Gilraen's brows raised in surprise, because she could hear so much of what wasn't being said.  Her father had not been bloodied, but had most likely been given a healthy beating.  Erestor, it seemed, was also far more dangerous than she had ever considered.  "Erestor also taught me a very good lesson in the importance of listening very closely to what an Elf promises," Gilraen grumbled.  "Had I been paying closer attention, I would have seen that he was not committing himself to any limits to his actions, only to yours and Glorfindel's."

Elrond nodded and chuckled sympathetically.  "While Erestor's skill with a blade is without peer, his weapon of choice for over an Age has been words.  I myself was once caught up in much the same lesson you just had, with much the same results.  My advice to you is never to let down your guard when dealing with him, especially when emotions are running high."

"Am I going to need constant guard now?" Gilraen asked, finally relaxed enough to sit back in her chair.

"Do you believe that you might yet again run afoul of your father's temper in the remaining time he will be staying?" was the question she got in response.

She shook her head.  "I doubt it.  After the humiliation he has endured, first at Erestor's hand, and then in front of everyone here, I would imagine that he will be looking for safe topics of discussion."

"And with Glorfindel out of the road for a while, there should be nothing that would spark his further questioning your honor.  Very well – I will lift my edict."  He rose.  "That being the case, I will leave you to put your hair up and venture forth when you deem fit."

She had risen automatically and now put a hand to her head.  "Oh."  Where was her mind?  Her hair was indeed not only still loose, but messy, without even the control of braiding while she had slept.  "Yes, I should probably do that."

"At least until your father has departed.  As for the rest of us, you already know how we view your insistence on being a proper Dúnadaneth."  His smile widened, and she could see the twinkle in his eyes.

He was teasing her!  She smiled back, thankful for the tacit approval hidden in his words.  "Elrond, is he angry with me?"  She just had to know. 

Elrond frowned in confusion.  "Your father?"

Why would he have thought that?  She shook her head.  "No, I mean Glorfindel.  Is he angry with me?"

Elrond's face softened.  "No, child.  If he is angry with anyone, it is with himself.  All he told me was that he had deserved whatever action you felt necessary to take, and that he needed time for introspection."  He smoothed a hand down her arm.  "I would not worry.  Glorfindel has been in Bannoth, and knows how to review his actions better than any Elf in Ennor.  When he is ready, he will reappear, and all will be well.  You shall see."

He turned and walked to her door.  "He did want me to tell you that he requested that the cooks keep a small repast ready for you when you finally arose, as you slept through the meal."

With a smile and a nod, Elrond opened her door and left her standing.  She eyed the pile of mending that still sat on the small table near the door, where it had been placed that morning.  She would braid her hair and put it up in Dúnedain fashion, but she didn't feel ready to face the rest of the community.  She could use some quiet, private time for some introspection too, and working on mending would allow her to be productive as she thought things through.

Glorfindel wasn't the only one who had been startled badly.

oOoOo

"I hope that you don't wait another twenty years to come visit," Gilraen said quietly to her mother as she hugged her close.  "And write to me more often with news of the village."

"You write too." Ivorwen gave her daughter's cheek a kiss.  "And perhaps you can convince the sons of Elrond to accompany you on a visit someday."

"Perhaps."  Gilraen doubted it.  Neither Elladan nor Elrohir – nor Elrond, for that matter – considered the roads between Imaldris and points east safe for casual travel.  She eyed her father as he adjusted the stirrup for his wife.  "Father…"

Dírhael turned.  Gilraen had done her best to dress in finest Dúnedain fashion this day; considering the quality of fabrics, she had exceeded her expectations.  She knew there was nothing he could find wrong with her, at least visually.  Still, she felt a little out of control of the situation.  Her father had been almost stiffly formal to her since she had faced him in her sitting room, keeping his comments short and to the point.  It had been Ivorwen who had taken over speaking for the two of them to her. 

"Stay well, girl."  She wasn't certain she was glad that he seemed to have no intention of hugging her farewell at all. 

"And you too.  Be safe, and very careful."  They rode back into dangerous territory.  The fact that, despite everything that had happened, Elladan and Elrohir once more rode with them was very telling.

"I will tell your son that you are doing well, when I see him."  Dírhael gave the stirrup one last tug and then reached to help his wife mount. 

"You have my letter to him?"

He made certain Ivorwen was stable before turning to her, and he patted his tunic breast.  "I have it, right here."  He gazed at her long and hard.  "I was wrong, and I am sorry for it."

"I know.  It's in the past now." 

Yes, he'd had ample opportunity in the last week to see that she really hadn't taken up with any of the Elves.  Elladan and Elrohir had continued to treat her like family, but had made a point of not being quite as tactile as they were when not under observation.  Glorfindel remained closeted, and Erestor had oddly taken his place at times, especially in the Hall of Fire.

Dírhael pulled himself up into the saddle and looked down at her.  "Come home one day."

"I will, Father."

She backed up, and then turned to find herself facing both twins, once more in their armor.  "Don't stay away too long," she told them.

"We won't," Elrohir promised.

"Take good care of Adar for us," Elladan asked, and then grinned cheekily when his father's eyebrows rose nearly out of sight.  He leaned closer to her.  "Are you certain you would not change your mind?" he asked, his eyes twinkling.

She grinned back.  "If ever I find it a necessity, I give you my word I will reconsider your offer."

As was their habit, the two of them leaned down and each kissed a cheek at the same time.  Gilraen deliberately avoided her father's gaze, knowing that he was probably scowling again from the way her mother was hissing at him.  She returned to Elrond's side in time for him to raise his hand.  "May the stars light your path and take you safely to your destination, and bring you back to us again, my sons.  Dírhael, Ivorwen, farewell.  The goodwill of Imladris goes with you."

"My Lord Elrond, our thanks for your gracious hospitality.  If ever there is aught that the Dúnedain can do for you or your people, you have but to ask."  He lifted a hand from the reins.  "Farewell, and may the stars guide you." 

Elladan and Elrohir led the way, with Dírhael following, and Ivorwen between the two Rangers who had accompanied them.  Soon even the sound of the refrain of the farewell song from the riders had faded.

Erestor nudged Gilraen with a shoulder.  "Are you still angry with me?"

"No."  She shook her head.  "But I have learned that I need to listen very carefully to you when you speak."

His grin was wide.  "We shall make an Elf of you yet."  He surrounded her shoulder and steered her away from Elrond.  "I understand the Els brought you a letter from our Estel.  I was wondering what news you have?"

"News?  From Estel?"  Elrond walked faster and came up on her other side and tucked her hand into his arm.  "He wrote not to me.  What did he have to say?"

Gilraen smiled and gave a sigh.  Life could now get back to normal – or at least as normal as things could be without Glorfindel's presence in her life.  "He said that he and his cousin Halbarad have reached…  what did he call it?...  an understanding.  Seems that Halbarad thought that Estel had come to just assume control…"

"He would never do that!" Elrond exclaimed.

"It's amazing the kinds of things people had been thinking about him," Gilraen agreed.  "But it sounds like he's finally starting to make a place for himself there.  Evidently, things finally came to a head on a training exercise that Halbarad and Estel had to accomplish together, just before the first big snow storm of the season…"

"May I also hear the news from Estel?"

Gilraen looked up in surprise to see Glorfindel standing in front of her.  His eyes were kind and had a new touch of sadness in their depths that she wanted so badly to ask him about, except for the people around them.  "Of course," she stammered, finally nodding her head.  "If you want, I'll bring the letter to the midday meal and read it to you all."

"That sounds like a very good idea," Elrond exclaimed and took two steps before coming back and pulling at Erestor.  "I need to talk to you about the news Dírhael brought us."

Erestor would have complained but for a soft fist in the upper arm from the Master of the House.  "Of course, Master Elrond," he grumbled and then followed him into the House.

Finally, they were alone.

"I missed you," she said softly.

"I am sorry," he replied.  "It was necessary."

She nodded.  Her own musings were far from complete, and had given her plenty of disconcerting insights.  "Are we still friends?"

"Oh, yes."  His smile was warm.  "That hasn't changed."

It was something in his voice.  "But something else has changed, hasn't it."

"Yes."

Gilraen wasn't certain this was a line of thought that was wise to pursue after all.  He was so distant, so… aloof.  "I hope…"

"I owe you an apology."

She stared.  "What?"  She was the one that had gone too far, wasn't she?

His gaze had turned very intense, but the sadness remained.  "You were right to do what you did."

And yet Glorfindel stood there without having reached out a hand to hold hers, or to touch her in any way to reassure her.  "Really?"  She cringed at the skeptical tone in her voice.

"Yes.  For a moment, I forgot myself.  I demanded more of you than I had a right to ask.  And it was not until you in turn asked for more than you should have that I realized what I had been doing.  I had violated the trust we had, the spirit of our gwaedh-gwend."  He shifted, a hand twitched, but then remained quietly at his side.  "I am sorry, Míreth, so sorry to have forced you to do what you did.  It will not happen again."

She nodded slowly, wishing that she were alone so she could run into her rooms and throw herself on her bed weeping at the price she was now paying for her actions.  Every last wall that he had ever torn down between them over the last ten years was back up and fortified.  "I'm sorry too," she murmured, as much to herself as to him, and turned away from him toward the open door of the House.  She missed him more now, with him standing in front of her, than she had while he'd been genuinely gone.

Then a large hand engulfed her elbow.  "Allow me to escort you."  He didn't wrap an arm around her waist, as he would have so often in the past, but the relief she felt at his gentle touch was enough to stagger her.  "All will be well with us now," he soothed, allowing her to lean on his strength.  "Trust me.  We are gwaedh-vellyn, and I think we both better understand now which lines we dare not cross."  He was there beside her, he wasn't as aloof as she had feared; but some of the warmth that had sustained her since Estel had left was gone. 

She wouldn't cry – she wouldn't.  This was what had to be.  She gave him a shaky smile and let him lead her into the House. 


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.

Story Information

Author: Aeärwen

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 03/05/11

Original Post: 02/14/09

Go to In The House of Elrond overview

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