Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Haldir gripped his quill more tightly and did his best to ignore his middle brother. Bookwork didn't come easily to Haldir like it did to Orophin, and Haldir was determined to finish this analysis of Aran Amdir's defensive maneuvers during the War of the Men and Elves and Sauron. Haldir wanted to learn how to defend the forest, and Haldir also really wanted to impress his adopted father Lord Celeborn.
"Hal!" Orophin called again. Quietly, but with a pitch and intensity which Haldir could no longer ignore.
"What it is it?" Haldir snapped back intently, although just as quietly. Orophin clearly did not want them to be caught talking about whatever this was. As a general rule, Haldir disapproved of that type of behavior. But he'd follow his brother's lead until he found out what was going on, and knew whether he should be sorting it out himself or dragging Orophin off by the ear to see their father.
Orophin's face was alight with a depth of smug, self-satisfied amusement which confused Haldir. Orophin hardly ever took real pleasure in his brothers' misfortunes, or those of anyone, really. Sometimes a slightly self-righteous but still sympathetic, "I told you so, didn't I, I told you so, why don't you listen to me next time," but nothing worse than that.
Orophin was practically vibrating with happy, pleased excitement, "Lord Elrond is getting it! Right now, in Adar Celeborn's study!" Orophin made a 'come on, follow me,' motion with his hand.
Haldir blinked in surprise, and didn't hesitate to follow his brother. As he walked he started to smile broadly, a smug self-satisfied smirk of his own. "And by 'it,' I take it you mean...."
Orophin grinned, satisfied as if the world was finally working out as it should, "He's getting a sound spanking, at the least. I don't know what he did. But if you stand in the library where the wall is the thinnest, you can hear him getting smacked. And occasionally mouthing off to Ada."
"I knew that he wasn't smart." Haldir observed, with a superior hmmph.
Orophin gave his brother a lightly chiding look, "Well, he did save your leg and your life, so in my books he's aces as a healer. But for breaking our sister's heart again and again and again, he's the stupidest not-elf living. And I'm willing to lay down money that he's going to get the paddle or maybe even the strap if he keeps on telling Adar Celeborn what he should do."
The two brothers stopped talking then, and walked careful as cats to the far wall of the library. They exchanged smug, satisfied grins as they clearly heard from the study, "Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack!," the sound of their adopted father Celeborn's strong hand repeatedly spanking, interspersed with occasional gasps, increasingly loud yelps, and cries of, "Uncle! This is truly uncalled for!" in Lord Elrond's voice.
Haldir nudged Orophin, and mouthed, "Go get Ru."
Orophin made a face, which Haldir interpreted as 'Aww, do I have to?'
Haldir gave Orophin a stern look, a mix of their deceased father Emlyn's authoritative look and Lord Celeborn's I-am-to-be-obeyed expression. Orophin went, and quickly returned with a grinning Rumil. The three brothers listened with joyful appreciation to the elven lord's comeuppance. "Spank...spank...spank...spank" Again and again fell Celeborn's hand in a full, repeating, unrelenting survey of his nephew's buttocks. Even after Rumil's arrival, the punishment seemed to continue for another ten minutes at least. The three sighed in disappointment when the smacking paused, and a quieter exchange between Celeborn's stern voice and Elrond's abnormally breathy voice commenced.
"Bri." Rumil mouthed quietly, and his two older brothers winced. There was always a risk that their older sister, who had been betrothed to Lord Elrond on and off for several yeni and in love with him for over two thousand years, would just have told them off for listening in on his spanking. But she was currently quite annoyed with Lord Elrond over something, some visit of his to a human settlement. So it was remotely possible that she might have enjoyed hearing him get his oh-so-superior part-elven bottom spanked. It was hard to tell sometimes, with Celebrian, when she was going to be an adult and when she was going to be a co-conspirator. Much like with Haldir, although Orophin and Rumil thought that Haldir, being less than two decades Orophin's elder, had less excuse. In any case, it would have only been polite to have at least asked Celebrian, even if they were risking a telling-off. They probably wouldn't have been risking more- Celebrian hardly ever felt like that much of an adult when it came to Elrond these days. And they loved their adoptive sister.
To the brothers' surprise, the voices inside Lord Celeborn's study escalated again.
"I am visiting you as the sovereign Lord of my own realm, and as a Master Healer! As such, I have every right- nay, even a duty - to discharge my responsibilities as I see fit. Regardless of whether you approve!" That was Elrond, and none of Haldir, Rumil, or Orophin would ever have spoken to Celeborn like that. Well, at least Haldir hoped that Orophin wouldn't.
Celeborn's voice was quieter, quiet thunder. Haldir gulped even hearing it. "Is that so, my dear nephew? Your parents are not here, nor their parents. Your great-grandfather was my younger brother, your grandmother was my niece. In their absence, it is my duty to see to your safety. In case you were confused, Elrond, that includes preventing you from going to serve as healer in places where you may contract the plague from your distant human cousins."
"But there are none with my expertise. I know more about these types of diseases and how to preserve human lives than anyone else living, Uncle. I am not bragging." Elrond said, and the challenge had left his voice. Even Haldir, whose ears were the best, had to strain to hear him.
"I know that you aren't, Elrond." The brothers then heard a rustle of cloth, as if their adoptive father Celeborn had moved to embrace his nephew, the Lord of Imladris.
"How can you expect me to not to go, then? How can you ask that of me?" The voice was Elrond's, again. Muffled, as if it was spoken up against the fine, soft cloth of Celeborn's robes, and pained. Haldir expected that after such a spanking, Elrond would be in physical pain. And he even had some sympathy for Elrond. Not on the spanking point - Haldir thought that Elrond deserved any spanking that Celeborn wanted to give him, for the way Elrond kept refusing to marry Celebrian on the ridiculous grounds that marrying her would endanger her. No, Haldir felt a little sorry for Elrond because he understood that Elrond felt his duties as a healer keenly, and hated to lose any patient. Haldir had hated BEING Elrond's patient, but Elrond was a good healer. Haldir's cousin Theli was a healer, too, and Haldir had seen that one of the very few things that could drive his normally light-hearted cousin to despondence was losing a patient.
"I REQUIRE that you not leave on such errands, Elrond. I order it, I insist upon it. I cannot make sufficiently clear to you my disapproval of your actions." Celeborn replied firmly. There was another rustle of cloth, as if Celeborn might have put his hands on Elrond's and pulled Elrond far enough away to regard him sternly. "There are other healers. I have only one Elrond." Celeborn's tone at that last was gentle, almost aching. Losing Elrond would be terribly hard for their father, and Haldir frowned disapprovingly at Elrond through the wall, as did both of his brothers. Foolish, difficult Elrond, always causing heartache for their family.
"Work though I might with the other Master Healers in training our brethren, no one has the feel for how to treat humans in these situations that I do. I won't send other healers alone when I can go with them." Elrond countered. His tone wasn't defiant, it was just matter-of-fact. It was the immovable force meets the unstoppable object. But Haldir's money was on his father. Celeborn had over a thousand years on Elrond, and the authority of a father-by-law, in affection if not fact.
"Well, in that case, Elrond, I do not believe that our discussion is finished."
The brothers grinned unkindly.
"I bet he gets the ruler. Maybe even has to go cut himself a switch." Rumil enthused in a quiet whisper.
"Oh, Uncle, I truly do not think that is necessary!" Elrond protested, angry and unhappy all at once.
The brothers smirked.
"Naive Rumil. You live in a pretty world, baby brother, and have yet to grow big and naughty enough to taste Adar's true wrath." Orophin teased gently, explaining, "Elrond's getting at least Ada's paddle, and possibly even his strap. If Ada has a birch in his office now, maybe that. But he won't pause to make 'Lord' Elrond go out and collect switches for a birch. Ada is respectful of his precious nephew Elrond's dignity, even more so than that of most." The brothers nodded, because they all knew that Lord Celeborn tried to keep most punishments fairly quiet. He certainly didn't advertise them, and particularly not for an elf of his beloved nephew's stature, who commanded the respect of many other elves. The same was true when Celeborn punished their young King Amroth. The three brothers were usually aware of when Amroth, Celeborn's other living nephew, had gotten his bottom smacked by their father, but then Haldir, Orophin, and Rumil lived in Celeborn's talan, where Amroth most often ate dinner. And Haldir, especially, was likely to spend time with the Aran and Celebrian apart from their official duties.
"Elrond!" Celeborn's sharp voice could be heard clearly through the wall, "Get your leggings down, now, or I will take them down for you!"
"Strap." Haldir guessed, after that. It was the harsher implement. At least by Celeborn's reckoning, and his older sons'.
"Nay, my money's on paddle." Orophin ventured, "Ada has a soft spot for Elrond. And Elrond's weird about humans. To him, its sort've like they're all his twin, and he's still sort've crazy about losing Elros. I get that. I'd be crazy with grief if either of you died, and I'd protect anyone who reminded me of you a lot. After I killed whoever killed you, and maybe anyone who reminded me of them. Just to be safe."
Haldir and Rumil stared at Orophin for a moment, while the sounds of a struggle emanated from Celeborn's study. Haldir thought that was a strangely protective and violent sentiment, coming from his peaceful, sarcastic, snarky, manipulative middle brother. It worried him at the same time he was touched.
"That's sweet, 'Phin, but a little bit psychotic." Rumil commented.
"Ooh, psychotic, big word." Orophin teased, a proud smile on his face. "Someone's been paying attention in lessons." Rumil puffed up proudly, as a series of loud, crisp, echoing smacks, interspersed with Elrond's yelps of pain and cries of protest, began to sound from the other room.
"See?" Orophin mouthed quietly, "I told you so. Paddle."
Haldir rolled his eyes. Rumil rolled his eyes since Haldir had rolled his eyes. Haldir didn't approve of eye-rolling in the young, he found it disrespectful, so he send Rumil to fetch Celebrian. Orophin gave him a skeptical look, as if Orophin thought that Haldir was being hypocritical. But Haldir didn't care. He'd try not to roll his eyes around Rumil, but Rumil didn't need to hear that much of Elrond getting paddled anyway. Elrond was going to be in a fair amount of pain pretty soon, and that might upset Rumil. Celebrian would probably send the three of them away, and in the mean time he and Orophin, who weren't at all bothered by the sounds of the peredhel lord being soundly paddled, could continue to enjoy Elrond's dilemma until Rumil got back with Celebrian.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Celeborn hadn't been paddling Elrond for long at all when he was interrupted by a knock on his door. The two brothers heard their father's gentle voice speaking to Elrond, helping the peredhel to re-dress and compose himself. Then the sounds of their adoptive mother entering.
There wasn't much talking for awhile, after that. Not aloud. Elrond and Galadriel didn't really need to speak aloud, and neither did Celeborn at such close proximity. Especially not with Galadriel right there. They could speak mind-to-mind well enough, and sometimes did when it was not rude to do so, because no one was being left out.
After awhile, Galadriel spoke in her own voice of command. "Enough, Elrond. You know how we feel about this. You knew that you would answer to both of us, if you acted as you chose to act. You chose to do so, and so must accept the consequences. Come here."
"I'm willing to bet that Naneth DID bring a switch. A swishy, stingy mallorn one." Orophin whispered to Haldir, grinning. Haldir had to agree. The young brothers heard their father bid his nephew a loving, sympathetic farewell. After that, it was not long until they heard their mother's firm, slender hand began to fall sharply on Lord Elrond's bottom, which was undoubtedly already burning from his earlier spanking and paddling.
Only moments after Galadriel began spanking Elrond, Rumil led Celebrian into the library. Celeborn and Galadriel's silver-haired daughter made no sound as she crossed the floor in her dainty satin slippers. Her beautiful emerald green eyes widened at the sounds of her mother's hand smacking Elrond's heated bottom and Elrond's yelps and cries of, "Aunt 'Adriel! No! This isn't fair!" Celebrian's face did pinken slightly, to just a shade lighter than her rose colored gown.
Celebrian put her hands on her hips and gave her three young adopted brothers a highly disapproving look. She didn't have to do anything else. They hated to disappoint or upset Celebrian, so as much as they wanted to stay to hear Galadriel spank Elrond - and oh, they did. They loathed Elrond for how he had treated Celebrian - they were willing to leave without protest. But before they could, a very strong arm grabbed Haldir by the ear and Orophin and Rumil around the waist, towing them out of the room. Celebrian, shaking her head, followed.
Their extractor was Lord Elrond's Captain of the Guard and Bodyguard-in-Chief. Lord Glorfindel of Gondolin, Balrog-Slayer, Hero and Legend. Haldir, who more-or-less worshiped Glorfindel, dropped his head in shame. Rumil, who hated to disappoint the kind, cheerful hero who told him stories and gave him sweets, started at Glorfindel in sad apology. Orophin, who knew when it was politic to act as if he were ashamed of himself even though he wasn't, also lowered his head and shuffled his feet.
"You three know better. And I will deal with you LATER." Glorfindel told them quietly, the reprimand all the more effective for its neutrality. At least with Haldir and Rumil, whom the ancient Lord waved on their way. Orophin he turned around and swatted twice. To the surprise in the middle brother's gray-green eyes, Glorfindel replied, "Next time, at least think more quietly about how you were leaving anyway and you don't care what I think, eh?"
Orophin pinked and nodded, and then practically fled, at the very least ashamed of his lack of control over his thoughts. Orophin's mental powers were very formidable for his age, and he took great pride in them. To have Glorfindel read him so easily was much worse than almost any punishment the Balrog Slayer could have devised, and Lord Glorfindel seemed quite pleased with himself as he turned to Celebrian.
"As for you, my Lady," Glorfindel began in Quenya, as if he were beginning a lecture.
"Orophin speaks Quenya very well," Celebrian interrupted, with a slight smile, "So if you are going to read me your shopping list in Quenya again, as you did the last time you 'lectured' me when you thought my new little brothers were in ear-shot, you should perhaps be aware of that. Last time, he was rather suspicious as to what, if anything, picking up bread, boot polish, and lemons had to do with adding sleeping potion to Elrond's wine before a banquet."
"How in the name of...." Glorfindel exclaimed, before cutting himself off. "Well, they're outside now so it doesn't matter." Glorfindel gestured grandly towards the library, "By all means, my Lady, carry on."
Celebrian ducked her head and blushed, but didn't hesitate. As she reentered the library, she saw Glorfindel head to the end of the hall, probably to cut off the return of her brothers or anyone else. He guarded his young Lord's dignity as well as he guarded Elrond's life. Although Celebrian was fairly sure that Glorfindel had already spanked Elrond at least once himself, this time, for going to treat plague in the human town. Maybe even twice, for to go to the human town in the first place, it had been necessary for Elrond to leave Glorfindel behind. Which Elrond had done by drugging Glorfindel's wine and leaving Glorfindel in Caras Galadhon, since Elrond had known that Glorfindel's response to Elrond's entering that town would have been forcibly preventing Elrond from doing so. Nor was it the first time that Elrond had drugged Glorfindel in order to go some place potentially dangerous without him. Celebrian had rather gotten the impression that Glorfindel didn't approve. Glorfindel was not subtle in his disapproval, which evidently extended to letting - nay, encouraging- Elrond's jilted bride to listen to Elrond getting spanked.
It was not an opportunity that Celebrian was going to turn up, particularly not as it was her mother administering the smacking. Her brothers did not know it, but the library wall was so thin because it was meant as a spy hole. Celebrian oh-so-quietly removed the books and slid aside the portrait that masked a mesh covered hole in the wall. She carefully stifled her gasp at the first sight of her handsome Elrond, his bottom glowing a bright, deep red. He lay over the white skirts of Celebrian's mother's gown, with Galadriel's pale hand repeatedly smacking the tender undercurve of his bottom. Celebrian felt hot all over, and had to breathe very carefully. She could quite clearly imagine Elrond over her own lap, rather than her mother's. Her own hand falling upon his backside to punish him for putting his life at risk, again, when he refused to even marry her out of fear of making her 'a target.'
Celebrian had no more time to think of that, for Elrond's yelps and pained protests turned to tears, and Galadriel paused the spanking. Her hand resting on Elrond's nearer bottom cheek, she asked her little cousin, "Do you understand why we are so wroth with you, our dear Elrond? Do you regret acting as we forbade you to act?"
Elrond choked on what might have been a laugh through his tears, "Short answer, yes?" He gasped.
Celebrian shook her head in disbelief. Her mother sighed, and picked up the golden switch. Cut from a mallorn tree, probably just that morning, and soaked in water, it left a thin, raised line on Elrond's dark red bottom, and caused him to cry out loudly, in surprise as much as in pain. Galadriel's delicate wrist flicked up and down, painting damp, raised lines on the roasted rear end of Celebrian's beloved. At first, just three lines, and Elrond bore them with only squirms and gasps. Celebrian marveled at his fortitude. Then Galadriel added another three lines, and Elrond yelped again. Her wrist flicked another three times, the switch overlapping on the earlier lines it had left, and Elrond at last howled, and promised, "I'll try!"
Galadriel paused, laying the switch still against Elrond's bottom in warning. "You'll try to do what, dear nephew?"
"I'll try to find someone else I feel comfortable sending to supervise, the next time there is a plague the other healers fear it might be possible for me to catch. But you know, sometimes they're overly cautious about that, and...OW, Aunt Adriel!" Elrond yelled in protest, as Galadriel's hand smacked down firmly in the center of his bottom.
"Fine." Elrond conceded grumpily, "I'll try, Aunt Galadriel. I promise that I will try not to do this again."
"That is all I ask." Galadriel said, and she was exhausted. Elrond immediately pushed himself off her lap, struggling to do so, Celebrian imagined because he was so terribly sore and wrung out. Her mother's strong hand reached out to offer Elrond support, and he took it. He stood to fix his leggings and tunic, obviously struggling for the vaunted composure that had already been so much a part of him, even when Celebrian had first met him and fell in love with him centuries ago. Galadriel opened her arms, which surprised Celebrian a bit, because Galadriel was not a cuddly mother. She did hug her own children, but Celebrian had trouble remembering her doing so with any of their other relations. Although it was well-known, in the family, that Elrond was her favorite. She had been fond of Amdir and Nimloth, and she loved her great-nephew Amroth, but Elrond was her favorite nephew.
And Elrond surprised Celebrian by accepting the embrace. He knelt at Galadriel's feet rather than sit in her lap, but her arms were around him and his arms were around her. Elrond was reserved; almost painfully so. He had unbent with Celebrian, and every moment of that contact, every hug, every caress, every kiss, was precious. He had unbent to some extent with her parents, but to see him accept comfort like this from her mother- it was both heartening to Celebrian, and yet at the same time made her feel somewhat envious.
"Losing you to the plague would be more than unfair, Elrond." Galadriel whispered to her would-be son-in-law. "It would be almost more than I could bear. More than my Celebrian could bear."
Elrond murmured something too low for Celebrian to hear. It might have been, "I know," or it might have been, "She shouldn't love me." Elrond said idiotic things like that, sometimes.
Whatever Elrond had said, Galadriel just hugged him, and stroked his long, raven dark hair, pushing one braid back behind an ear. "Don't die before you marry my daughter and have children." She ordered. "I think that I may want grandchildren."
Elrond gave Galadriel a bewildered look, which was mirrored almost perfectly on Celebrian's face, on the other side of the library wall. That came as rather a surprise to both of them, as Galadriel did not particularly enjoy spending more than a small amount of time with children. She had always liked the idea of Celebrian marrying Elrond, since she loved them both and thought that they would make a good couple, strengthening one another and loving one another for all the ages of their lives. But she'd never mentioned grandchildren as a plus.
"Um." Said Elrond.
Galadriel laughed wetly, fighting tears. Celebrian reflected that the healers must have been even more concerned than they had told her about Elrond catching this plague, or that he must have been symptomatic at some point. This was more release of worry and anger than her parents would normally have shown, for something like this.
"I think that I could like grandchildren." Galadriel explained, "I like Orophin, and have since he arrived as a teenager. I found Rumil sweet and charming, and rarely ever too trying. And Haldir reminds me quite a bit of Celeborn, if a bit more officious. It was out of genuine fondness and enjoyment of their presence that I offered we adopt them, as well as out of political expedience. So I think that I could like grandchildren, even actively enjoy them sometimes. Especially if they had parents like you and Celebrian who were primarily in charge of raising them."
"You are, as always, an overflowing fount of maternal affection, Aunt Galadriel." Elrond gently teased, as Celebrian smiled and shook her head in the library next door.
She rose to her feet when her mother and Elrond did, and walked swiftly to intercept them. If Elrond had still been in her father's charge, she would have had to make herself scarce. Celeborn wouldn't have approved of her presence, let alone of her listening in. But her mother...Galadriel was a different matter.
Elrond stepped out of Celeborn's study, his back a stiff, straight line. He was proud, Elrond Peredhel. And strong, as well, to be heading off under his own power, after a punishment like that. Galadriel walked behind him, leaving him his pride. She understood him, the pride, and she trusted in his strength. They had a lot in common, Galadriel and Elrond.
Celebrian faced them, silent and somber in her rose-colored gown. Pretty in pink, judgment in pastel. Different from both of them, their opposite in nature, his question answered.
Elrond's grey eyes met her emerald orbs, and held. So much pain, so much love. His guilt, her hurt and anger. He still thought that he was doing the right thing, by refusing to marry her, to bring her fully into his life. She wasn't sure that she could ever move him if he still thought that. But her mother thought that she could.
Elrond looked away first. His face was already flushed from being spanked and switched and who-knew-what-else (well, probably Celebrian's adopted brothers did). Elrond's pale visage reddened even more as he realized that Celebrian might know - must know, as she was no fool- what had transpired in her father's study. Celebrian raised her chin challengingly. She wasn't ashamed of herself for eavesdropping. Elrond was behaving like a hypocrite, protecting her and risking himself. She might hate that he was in pain, but she didn't doubt that he'd deserved what he'd gotten. Whatever it was in its entirety. She wouldn't ask. She might not stop Orophin or Rumil from telling her THAT quickly. But she wouldn't ask.
"Iel-nin." Galadriel commanded, her voice ringing out in that low, echoing tone that made the people call her a witch. "Take Elrond to his rooms, and make him...as comfortable as you see fit."
Celebrian met her mother's eyes in a moment of perfect inter-generational understanding. Both could tell that Elrond wanted to reject this hospitality, didn't want his much younger sometimes-betrothed to witness the shame of his spanking and switching written in red upon his backside. Not many would have argued with Galadriel when she spoke in that tone, but Celebrian would have been willing to bed that Elrond would have been willing to. He was brave enough and strong-willed enough, and high enough in Galadriel's affection, to oppose her when he took a mind to. Except he didn't. Not this time.
Instead, Elrond offered her his arm, as if they were in the main hall of Imladris, and he were leading her into a formal ball. Celebrian paused for a moment, awed by the sheer composure that Elrond showed in that moment. Then she delicately placed her arm on his, and let him lead her to his spacious quarters within her parents' talan. Her mother's penetrating cornflower blue gaze followed them, and Celebrian was again glad that it was her mother, not her father, who had finished with Elrond. But she also hoped that her nosy mother left them ALONE....
"She will." Elrond said softly, stiff and proud, the perfect, proper elven lord. Until the door was closed, and they were face to face.
"You must have a burning desire for my company, my Lord." Celebrian spoke into the suddenly uncomfortable, charged silence. "For prim, proper Elrond Peredhel to be willing to see me now." Even after both of her parents had spanked him soundly, Celebrian meant. But she spared his dignity a little, and didn't say so.
In answer, Elrond merely clasped her to him, kissing her thoroughly and passionately. She couldn't help but respond, as much as she'd promised herself she wouldn't ever again, not until he married her. But she loved him, and she burned for him.
And he was strong, so strong, and tough, too. Despite only being part an elf, he cushioned her when they fell onto his bed. He cursed when his roasted bottom made contact with the soft surface, but he didn't let go of her. Instead, it was Celebrian who pulled away.
"Elrond, just how sick were you?" She asked, her face just an inch from his. "How close did you come to something awful happening, that Ada, Nana and Glorfindel were that angry?"
Elrond's hand reached up to stroke her face. "I caught a fever."
Celebrian buried her silver head against his shoulder, shaking slightly. It terrified her how easily she could lose him. How her father had lived with that terror all of his life, she did not know. First Luthien, then Dior, then Elwing and her lost brothers. Elros and Elrond and all of Elros' long-sons. Valandil, whom Celebrian loved like her own. How, how, how? At least with Haldir, Orophin, and Rumil, Celebrian knew that she would not lose them to a mortal life span, or to some human illness. She thought that was part of why Galadriel had told Amroth that she and Celeborn would foster them, in the beginning. As a distraction for Celebrian. A normal mother would just have gotten her a pet.
"Hey, shh, meleth-nin, meldenya, my beloved Bri." Elrond whispered, curling himself around her protectively. "It was just a fever, I promise. And not even that serious. I sweated it out in less than a day. I probably had some immunity to it already, because I once caught a similar fever when I was...hmm." Elrond paused, and hummed for a moment.
Celebrian had to lay her head on the pillow and laugh. "Elrond, it is not reassuring to me that, in order to remember how old you were when something happened to you, you have to close your eyes and basically hum the equivalent of a child's letters rhyme."
"Hush." He told her, a laugh in his own voice, "If you keep interrupting, I'll never remember."
Celebrian threw her head back on the pillow with another disbelieving, exasperated laugh, as Elrond sang, "In the year 883, Aldarion sailed back o'er the great sea..."
"Really, Elrond? I think that Master Orlair was teaching Rumil that one, last year..." Celebrian teased.
Elrond ignored her. "So," Elrond continued, "it was before the year 883 of the Second Age, and after year 780, so sometime during that century between year 780 and year 883. That was when I contracted a similar plague somewhere in the area which we now call Eryn Vorn, in western Minhiriath. The Numenoreans had only just started to call it the Black Wood..."
"I don't need a history lesson, Elrond meleth-nin." Celebrian reminded him gently. "I just want to know what happened to you."
"Oh." Elrond was caught off-balance for a moment. Celebrian supposed that he must always want a history lesson, and that it must be part of why he and Erestor got on so well.
Elrond visibly gathered his thoughts, then hissed slightly between his teeth in discomfort as he readjusted himself on his side before continuing. "Well, we really didn't know then that I could still get sick. Master Healer Isyatur thought that it was not out of the realm of the possible, but I hadn't been ill in...decades, at least."
Celebrian listened quietly, without judgement, her hand entwined with Elrond's. "What happened?"
"I was at the lumber camps by the cape with Price Aldarion." Elrond said, as Celebrian kept herself from commenting. Normally any mention of Aldarion the Mariner had her prying for information about Elrond's odd relationship with Aldarion, which even two thousand years later still made Elrond blush. But now she was just glad that someone who loved Elrond dearly had been there.
"I was summoned to the stricken village. Aldarion did not want me to go, but he and several of the other sailors came with us. By the time we arrived, the sickness had the settlement strongly in its hold. Most died. Many more would have, if we hadn't learned that it was being spread by seasonal bedbugs. I fell sick myself, near the end." He smiled helplessly at Celebrian, "I was covered in postules. It was disgusting."
Disgusting wasn't Celebrian's biggest concern. "Aldarion took care of you?"
Elrond nodded. "He did. Bathed me with cold clothes to keep the fever down, spoon fed me water and broth. Even cleaned the disgusting pustules. When I awoke for true, he was still there. Holding me close, kissing me for living, and calling me a fine healer but an absolute fool. Worse, when we arrived back in Lindon he shared entirely too many details with cousin Ereinion and Atarinya Cirdan, who both strapped me silly."
"Well, good." Said Celebrian.
Elrond made a face at her, stirring uncomfortably. He was unwilling to show that he felt pain in front of her, so he kept clenching his hands instead of giving into the urge to rub some of the pain out of his burning backside.
"You are ridiculous." Celebrian told her love. "Now take your leggings off, and lay down on your stomach. I'll help you put on some slave."
"No, Bri, I really don't think that's appropriate, or what...what would be fitting after your father punished me." Elrond said quietly, but firmly.
"It is what my mother intended when she said to make you as comfortable as I see fit. I see fit to rub salve on your red backside, darling." Celebrian gave him a saucy smile with only a trace of sympathy, "And you should just say thank you, and do as I say."
Elrond still hesitated. Celebrian put her hands on her hips. "Or are you afraid to have me touch you? We touched much more, when we were to be wed."
Elrond didn't seem to know what to say, so Celebrian continued, "Are you ashamed for me to see you, after you have been spanked? I don't approve of your going to serve as healer where my parents have bade you not to. But I am not ashamed of you, Elrond, or even of what you did. You need not be ashamed to have been punished. Not in front of me."
Elrond's gray eyes studied her, weighed her sincerity. Celebrian didn't blink. It was one of the things she liked about Elrond, that he really listened to people. And she didn't fear him judging her truthfulness. She might not always tell him everything, but she didn't try to lie to him. After all, Celebrian was Galadriel's daughter.
A few moments later, Elrond nodded his agreement. She offered him her hand to stand, to help tug off leggings so that he did not have to sit to remove them. Her hand again so that he could lie down on the bed. Which he couldn't even do, not without wincing and swallowing back a groan.
"Shh, meldonya." Celebrian said softly, running a comforting hand over Elrond's soft raven hair. "I'll be back in a moment."
As a testament to how awful Elrond must feel, he just nodded. Usually he'd be telling her what to do. Celebrian went to an intricately carved wooden cabinet, and pulled out one jar of unguent after another until she found the lotion that smelled of aloe, lavender, and sandalwood. Elrond would have put them all back in their color-coded places, but Celebrian didn't bother once she found the one she wanted.
"Not that one." Elrond whispered from the bed. "That mixture has an effective topical pain killer as well as..."
"Hush, Elrond." Celebrian replied, climbing back onto the bed beside him. "Relax. Let me take care of you."
"But, I don't..." He began.
Celebrian didn't wait for him to finish. She knew that whatever he was going to say would only annoy her. She kissed his neck instead, and that quieted him long enough for her to crawl down the bed and lift up his tunic.
"Ouch." She commented, with a wince of sympathy. Elrond's bottom was dark red, all the way down to the top of his thighs. Yet, her mother - and her father too- must have been very careful and restrained. Elrond might well feel this for several days, but the welts from the switch were already fading.
"Yes, darling," Elrond drawled, exhausted and pained but still finding the energy to be sarcastic, "Ouch."
She huffed at him, as she gently rubbed in the lotion. To distract him as she reached the welts, and because she wanted to know, Celebrian asked, "Was Glorfindel so upset because of the fever, or because you drugged him in order to ditch him."
"Hard to say." Elrond replied, pain in his voice, his back stiffening, " But if Glorfindel could have seen how sick I was in Eryn Vorn with Aldarion, I don't think he would have been so worried this time."
"Mmm." Celebrian responded, noncommittally. Glorfindel worried over Elrond like a broody hen with only a small clutch of eggs. An analogy that the balrog-slayer would probably not appreciate - and no more would Elrond. But it had greatly amused Celebrian, and Erestor when she shared it with him. Although Glorfindel's concern for and about Erestor and his family was a near-run thing with Glorfindel's care of Elrond.
"And I'm not even sure if I CAN die of an illness, anymore." Elrond continued thoughtfully, relaxing under Celebrian's hands as the medicated unguent began to take effect.
Celebrian gave him a doubtful look, since her parents seemed to disagree.
In response, Elrond wiggled the fingers of his off hand, the one she hadn't just held clasped within her own.
"Oh. The ring." Celebrian belatedly realized, craning her head to look at it more closely. If she strained, she could just see it. A ring of gold with a great blue stone. "You can use it to help heal yourself, then, as well as others?" She asked, hopeful as well as curious.
"To some extent, at least." Elrond answered, sighing in relief as her talented hands moved from his backside to his lower back, which though unmarked was still tight with tension. "I can increase the rate at which my blood flows, and help myself absorb medicines more quickly and thoroughly. I could probably do the same with poisons, in reverse." Elrond explained.
Celebrian's hands stilled, and Elrond grunted lightly in protest.
"Did you lie to my Mother?" Celebrian asked.
"No. I don't do that. She can still tell." Elrond replied, turning around to look at her. He was moving more easily now, but he still winced when his backside came into contact with even just the soft silk of her skirts.
"Then you will send someone else to supervise, the next time there is such a plague? Another sickness that the other healers fear you may fall prey to?" Celebrian questioned intently.
Elrond sighed, and pushed himself onto his other side, so that he could face her again. "Bri, I didn't lie. Most elven healers make mistakes, dealing with humans. Particularly large numbers of humans, all sick or injured at the same time. With elven patients, if they survive the initial injury, they most often live if they have the will, and slip away if they don't. There is time to decide on a best course of treatment. Or at the least, there is once the initial injury has been stanched. Time to decide...cut off the foot to save the rest of the leg before the poison spreads further, or see if the antidote was administered in time for the patient to recover? Time to decide whether to overdose the patient on fever-reducing medication in hopes that it will reduce the fever where lesser remedies have failed, or whether to let the fever take its course and hope for the best? Time to.."
"Yes, Elrond, I get it." Celebrian interrupted, because she did, and because she knew he'd go on forever if she didn't. "Elves don't like to make snap decisions, and with human patients, you need them. What about Healer Belegur? He went with you. How did he do?" Celebrian's hand had somehow found its way to Elrond's face. She stroked his braids and his cheek, and traced the outline of his ear. It kept him off balance, and he was more honest that way, or at least less controlled, less restrained. At least that was the excuse she made to herself.
Elrond leaned forward to brush a kiss against Celebrian's cheek, and then her forehead, her eyelids, then gently, butterfly soft, against her lips. Celebrian's breath caught, and she pressed her lips firmly to his. Then they lost track of the conversation entirely. Until they fell again onto the bed on top of Elrond, and he yelped. It reminded Celebrian of why they were there, of why she'd broken her rule about not being alone with Elrond until he agreed to marry her again.
"Healer Belegur." She reminded him, breathless but intent. "Will you send him to supervise the healers, the next time the other Master Healers do not think it wise for you to go?"
Elrond moaned. "Bri..." When Celebrian would move no closer, he sighed, "Not Belegur. He did better than I expected, but he...had trouble taking the initiative. He could follow what I did and repeat it in the same circumstances, but when the course of the disease changed during the day I was too ill to aid them...he hesitated. He lost several patients we might have been able to save if we'd modified their course of treatment to accelerate increased dosages of medication, ice baths, and steaming."
"And yet?" Celebrian whispered, kneeling to whisper the words close to Elrond's lips.
His lips which quirked in frustrated amusement, even as his gray eyes smoldered with desire. "And yet, if I can't go, I will try to send Ecthelion - Theli of Greenwood, with Belegur to back him up."
Celebrian was surprised enough that she sat back, "Little Theli, why? He's younger than Belegur, and training to serve as warrior as well as healer. He has little time."
Elrond spread his hands in the air, the elder elven equivalent of a shrug. "He has a feel for when to act, when it comes to treating humans. To any emergency, really." Elrond smiled wryly, "The trouble comes with borrowing him from Thranduil. When he is here visiting your brothers 'tis easy enough. But when Theli is in Greenwood, I or mine need to work through his Master Healer and training officer, and on top of that Thranduil is easily irritated, if he notices the matter.
"I will talk to Thranduil." Celebrian offered. "Acquiring Theli's services in lieu of your own when it comes to situations where you might die and he would not shall not be a problem for us, in the future. And if it is." Celebrian looked at Elrond, weighing him. He did not look away, although he judged himself harshly. "If it is, I might well go with you."
Elrond blinked. "I beg your pardon, Bri?"
She smiled, Celeborn and Galadriel's sweet silver haired daughter. It was a smile which made one remember, if one knew Celebrian, that she was not just sweet, but resourceful, and mischievous. Charming, yes, but also capable and cunning.
"I said, Elrond," Celebrian repeated, "That I will go with you, the next time you go to act as healer against the wishes of the other master healers and my parents and your most faithful guard. Perhaps you are right, that with Vilya no disease could kill you. And with me there, no bandit or paid agent of the Enemy's could kill you when you are weak. That should be Glorfindel's job, but if he is distracted by worrying that you are there in the first place, he might not be at his best. And a little extra back up is always for the best."
Elrond stared at her.
"I would be your wife, my foolish love. I accept that I can't protect you from everything. But I will stand by you, in the face of any risk you must dare." Celebrian swore.
Elrond was silent for a moment, and the silence sung between them, pregnant with meaning, intent, love and duty, and the promise and hope of the same.
Then Elrond's lips quirked into his own mischievous grin, "And will you help me drug Lord Glorfindel, the next time he makes his own presence completely inimical to an endeavor I am set upon?"
Celebrian laughed. "No, that, my Lord, is your burden. But I'll hold your hand while he rages at you, and I'll tell him it needed to be done. He can't stop you from being you."
Elrond drew her closer to him as the laughter softened, "I thank you, my Bri. Its a better offer than I have ever received from anyone, even Erestor."
Celebrian shrugged. "I mean to be your wife, Elrond, not your best friend. The rules are different, and besides, Erestor was always the good elfling. You and I were many things, but "the good elfling" was never exactly one of them."
"Never exactly." Elrond agreed, and he kissed her again. Minutes passed, and more than minutes, but Celebrian did pull away again.
"Elrond, I can't." She told him, "Not unless you are willing to wed me. Are you?"
Another pregnant pause. This one filled with jagged doubt and pain and fear, love and hurt and hope, on both sides
"No." Said Elrond, at the last. And then he opened his mind to her fully, reserved Elrond Peredhel. Celebrian saw through Elrond's young eyes the last farewell of his mother Elwing, protecting Elrond and his twin before she went and fell to her presumed death. Celebrian saw the mysterious woods, covered in snow, through which her cousin Amdir (who was Elrond's great uncle) had searched exhaustively for Elrond's twin uncles, Elwing's brothers, without success. She saw Elrond's belief that death haunted his family. The many attempts on his life through the years, some in war-time and some as recently as the prior year. She saw Ereinion's death. A thousand sorrows, and yes, perhaps enough to make anyone believe in a curse. But Celebrian did not believe.
"Elrond, no one can be kept perfectly safe in this world." She reprimanded him gently. "I would rather take risks beside you than here. And, daughter of a ringbearer or ringbearer's wife, I am already a target in any case. And I am not without my defenses."
Elrond's thoughts again - Elwing dying for him. He could not keep her safe, his mother chose to die for him. Celebrian sighed, feeling like there was jagged glass in her hearts and her lungs, and tears threatening her eyes. Elrond's issues had issues, and she'd known that, curse her, getting into this. But she'd had no choice in loving him. And she loved him still, even more, knowing him more.
"I love you, but I cannot stay tonight, Elrond." Celebrian said at last.
He nodded, roughly. "I would not ask you to, my Lady. I love you and I've wronged you, and I cannot stop both loving you and wronging you. I will take whatever time and attention you deign to give me, and count myself lucky for it. I will take whatever penance you ask of me, and consider it deserved. But I cannot put your life further at risk by making you my bride. I cannot lose you."
Celebrian shook her head, throat tight with tears. "I ask nothing of you, Elrond Peredhel, but that you realize you are acting the hypocrite. If my life is yours to protect, then so is your life mine. Yet you risk your life without even consulting me."
"Celebrian, please." Elrond begged, raising himself off of the bed.
Celebrian held up a hand. "I can't talk about it now. You need to rest and feel better, and I need a break, too. But do think on that, Elrond Peredhel. I do not want you to risk your life, because your life belongs to me." With that, Celebrian left Elrond alone, closing the door gently and walking the length of the hallway. There waited Lord Glorfindel and her mother, conversing quietly on some subject or another.
"I cannot stay with him, tonight." Celebrian told them both, fighting tears.
Galadriel reached out to put a consoling hand on her daughter's shoulder, and Glorfindel nodded gravely. Lifting a tray in one hand and tossing up an apple in the other, the reborn Balrog-slayer said, "I'll take care of my Lord."
Celebrian managed a small, teary laugh. "I doubt that he'll want you to. He may try to make you leave."
Glorfindel grinned, "Oh, he can try." Then he tossed the apple in mid-air, took a bite of it, and opened Elrond's door without dropping the tray.
"He is a very coordinated elf." Celebrian observed to her mother.
"Mmm." Galadriel agreed neutrally. And then she took her daughter hunting, because she knew Celebrian, and what would make Celebrian feel better.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Glorfindel wakes up to find his Lord gone.
Excerpt from Part II
"How in the name of...." Glorfindel exclaimed, before cutting himself off. "Well, they're outside now so it doesn't matter." Glorfindel gestured grandly towards the library, "By all means, my Lady, carry on."
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lord Glorfindel, Reborn Balrog-Slayer, stood guard at the end of the hallway, keeping his young lord's dignity safe from both pestilential younger cousins-by-adoption and more innocent passers-by. Glorfindel was sympathetic to his charge, particularly after catching Celeborn's urchins listening in on Elrond's punishment. But it was more important to Glorfindel, who loved Elrond most dearly, that someone get through the Peredhel's thick skin how he simply COULD NOT do these things. Elrond wasn't just any healer, being both part-human and a royal Lord. That was an issue which had caused no end of arguments between Elrond and his loved ones for centuries, and probably would never be completely resolved. But Glorfindel had not expected this, out of Elrond. It had blind-sided him.
He had not expected it, when he'd awoken in a guest talan on the edge of Caras Galadhon several weeks ago. Glorfindel was accustomed to awaking all at once, save on those rare occasions when there were others he trusted to keep Elrond safe, and he had the urge to drink himself silly. But Glorfindel could not remember having consumed excessive wine the previous night. And he did remember that he had been supposed to leave with Elrond in the morning, to visit several human villages further up the River Celebrant. They weren't the villages which Elrond had WANTED to visit. No, those were by the great river Anduin on the other side of Lothlorien's capital. And Glorfindel's lord had been directed not to go there, for the same reason that Elrond desired to go and help. There had been an outbreak of plague, and though Lothlorien had sent healers, they could not send the visiting Elrond. For Elrond's father had been half-human, and his mother had been part-human, as well. Plagues and certain other virulent diseases were dangerous to Elrond, and Elrond knew that. Curse him, and his too-clever hide.
"Where am I?" Glorfindel directed in a dangerous growl, to the elleth who brought him breakfast.
"Why, in Caras Galadhon, Lord Glorfindel. How was your dream-quest?" She answered, seeming only a little bit intimidated by his behavior. From her thoughts, Glorfindel gathered a faint impression of Elrond explaining helpfully to her that Glorfindel only seldom undertook to see prophetic visions in his dreams with aid of sedatives and hallucinogens, but that when he did he always awoke in a horrible mood.
'Elrond,' Glorfindel promised to himself, 'I am going to kill you.'
Aloud, he answered the elleth, who was innocent in this whole matter. "It was...fine. Did my Lord leave anything for me? A note?" Or perhaps his last will and testament, Glorfindel wondered darkly.
"Oh, yes. Here you are." Glorfindel carefully unrolled the piece of parchment, eating a sausage roll as he did so. It was going to be a long day, he could already tell, and a warrior ate when he could. He knew that Elrond was awake, aware, less than a day's ride away, too busy to talk, and in no pressing danger. All of that Glorfindel could tell from the link between them, the bonds of affection which had grown up between the two powerful elves over nearly two thousand years spent together.
Elrond's note was simple and to the point, and Glorfindel really was going to kill him later. Or at least make sure that the Peredhel wished he was dead. "I am sorry, my most faithful Glorfindel," it read, "I am sure that you know where I am."
Half an hour later, Glorfindel was in the royal family's stables, organizing an 'additional escort' for Elrond's unauthorized trip.
"And he told all of you what, that you simply watched him traipse off without me?" Glorfindel barked at Brombellas, the appointed leader of Celeborn's household guards.
"He said that you had received an urgent message from Lord Erestor, some family matter. And that you had left to take word to Lord Arandil." Brombellas explained, while he sorted out which guards were to accompany Glorfindel and which to join the warriors of Aran Amdir's guard, as planned, on a trip to examine defenses on the outer edge of the forest.
Glorfindel just growled. It was a plausible excuse. The villages by the Celebrant were peaceful, they had treaties with both Lothlorien and Nimrodel's settlement. There was no need to expect trouble. If Erestor HAD sent Elrond an urgent message for Erestor's father Arandil, and if it had been a missive too sensitive or personal for other eyes, Glorfindel might have taken its delivery upon himself, after consultation with Elrond, and then entrusted Elrond's other guards with his Lord's keeping.
"Your anger serves us no purpose, Glorfindel." Lord Celeborn reminded the Balrog-Slayer quietly, as he and his older children joined the group. Out of the corner of his eye, Glorfindel saw Haldir, who was to accompany the expedition (although as Celeborn's adopted son rather than as a junior soldier). Haldir nodded to Glorfindel in wary respect, then went to young King Amroth's side. It was Celebrian who caught Glorfindel's attention, shining in a white dress much like her mother's. Celebrian and Orophin were staying in Caras Galadhon, Celebrian to assist her mother as temporary regent, but they had come to say farewell.
"Just take care of Elrond for me, please." Celebrian pleaded, and Glorfindel found himself humbled by her desperate concern. "I will, my Lady." He promised, before turning back to Brombellas, "I don't suppose that any of you bright lamps noted what direction Lord Elrond's group actually took, when they left the wood? There are three different villages they might have headed to, and knowing what path they took could save us time." Brombellas sighed, and none of the other soldiers spoke up either. Glorfindel glared at them. Fortunately for Brombellas and his fellows, an answer to Glorfindel's question came from an unexpected quarter.
"North and West, Heru Laurefindil." Young Lord Orophin supplied. "They left by the path nearest the Ring of Melbrethil."
Celeborn turned to look at his teenaged son with a narrowed gaze of his own. Glorfindel, for his part, was too focused on his mission to care what prank or mischief Orophin had probably had in mind, to have been watching Elrond leave. He was too intent on following Elrond as quickly as possible to even upbraid Orophin for using his Quenya name and title again. Glorfindel preferred his name as spoken in Sindarin, and had since first arriving in Beleriand. Either way, his name essentially meant, "Goldilocks," not the most masculine of names. The Vanya owned the name though. Slay just one balrog, and suddenly "Goldilocks" became a name famous for strength and military prowess. As a young elf of about Haldir's age, however, Glorfindel had been very sensitive about his name. He had spent years challenging those elves who had mocked him for his pretty hair and eyes and slender build to duel him on the practice courts. Even after he had proven himself to his Prince and his friends, around the time they had crossed the great ice and arrived in Beleriand, "Glorfindel" had just sounded a bit more masculine than Laurefindel. On top of that, his new wife's name was Laureamoriel. Her nickname had been Laurea to his nickname of Laure, so a name change for one of them had been most convenient. And he'd loved her musical name, and the way her dark eyes lit with joy when he spoke it.
Most elves had no trouble remembering what Glorfindel preferred to be called, especially once Glorfindel had reminded them himself. But Orophin lived in the same household as some of the elves who had belonged to Galadriel's original household from Tirion in Aman. They had known Glorfindel since he was a difficult adolescent. And some of them still consistently 'forgot' that he preferred to be called "Glorfindel" rather than "Laurefindel."
One of those other ancient elves was Captain Sendoron, a senior member of Galadriel and Celeborn's guard who had been 'on loan' to Elrond for the past several years. Sendoron was also one of Glorfindel's oldest friends. He had been like a bossy and most often disapproving elder brother to the light-hearted Glorfindel (then Laurefindel) in their long-ago days in Tirion, when they had both been King Turgon's (then Prince Turucano's) personal guards and friends. Yet for the past few years, he had been under Glorfindel's command. Sendoron had handled that fairly well, but just now his smirk was a bit hard for Glorfindel to ignore.
"What?" He snapped in irritation as they moved swiftly through Caras Galadhon, following the trail that Elrond had taken two days hence.
"Oh, nothing." Sendoron replied neutrally, his dark eyes just watching Glorfindel.
"I will make you suffer, Sendron. Blood-brother or not, I swear that I will make you regret this moment of levity."
Sendoron chuckled, and Glorfindel blinked at him. Sendoron was by nature quite a dour elf, so to hear him laugh at all was quite something. Release of tension, perhaps. Glorfindel didn't doubt that Sendoron would lay down his life to protect Elrond, because Elrond was their King Turgon's great-grandson. And because Elrond mattered to Glorfindel. Sendoron was always respectful to the Lord of Imladris. More, had been willing to support Elrond, had Elrond chosen to assert his right as High King of the Noldor remaining in Middle Earth. But Glorfindel had never too closely asked what Sendoron thought of the whole 'part-human' thing. Glorfindel didn't think that he'd like the answer. Over four thousand some years, Sendoron and Celeborn's Sindarin household had reached a sort of detente, but Sendoron still felt that the elves of Doriath, and even more the Laiquendi or Nandor, the elves who had always lived in the woods and never formed their own Kingdom, were inferior to he and the other Noldor who had come over from Aman. That an elf whom Glorfindel loved as a brother could have such unfair prejudices upset the reborn elf deeply, but loving someone didn't mean that you could change them. And at least Sendoron was both polite and loyal.
So Glorfindel merely asked again, a bit more politely, "What has you laughing, sourface?"
Sendoron just raised a superior eyebrow at him, and Glorfindel dropped the matter. He'd get even with Sendoron later, but there was no getting the older elf to talk if he didn't want to. Sendoron was irritatingly like Galadriel in that way.
Instead, Glorfindel thought of Elrond. How desperate his Lord must have been, to help the plague-stricken humans. Desperate indeed, for Elrond should well remember Glorfindel's fury, the last time that Elrond had done something like this. And it had been something very much like this, save that this time Erestor was not involved, and Elrond did not actually know that this was a trap. He'd better not, at least.
Glorfindel fumed and worried all the more. Maybe the Enemy- or whatever was left of him- or some other enemy that Elrond had made - maybe WHOEVER had PLANNED this. Purposely sent the plague to those villages, knowing that the Peredhel would come. Planned to get Elrond weak and distracted, and then attack him. Just like Annatar's - Sauron's- plot last time. A plan that had only barely failed. The wood-cutter whose daughter Elrond had gone to heal had, out of gratitude, betrayed Sauron at the last minute to warn Elrond. Elrond had given himself up as a captive, to keep the woodcutter's family safe from Sauron's retribution while at the same time giving Erestor time to escape and plan an ambush to rescue them both. Elrond had been hit by a poisoned arrow during their escape, but had recognized the poison, and thankfully stayed conscious long enough to give Erestor directions in how to begin treatment of the wound.
Fortunately for Glorfindel's idiotic but noble young Lord and the long-suffering Erestor, the rest of Elrond's guards caught up with the two of them just in time to deter the pursuit and get Elrond back to Lindon and the healers at best speed. Of course, their fortuitous arrival was ABSOLUTELY NO THANKS TO ELROND, who had arranged to leave everyone except Erestor sedated at the Inn they'd stayed at the previous night. Elrond's excuse for leaving Glorfindel and his guards behind had been simple. Elrond had known, going into that situation, that it was a trap and that Glorfindel would not have permitted him to go. No more than would have Elrond's guards, who were under the orders of Elrond's cousin, Aran Ereinion. Elrond had been Aran Ereinion's heir. Heir to the King of the Noldor by blood, as the King's younger cousin. Elrond had also been Ereinion's foster-brother, and the King loved the Peredhel like a brother. Given that, Ereinion's standards for Elrond's safety had been closer to Glorfindel's than Elrond's. Glorfindel missed Ereinion, and Elrond might not claim his right, but Glorfindel was not about to lose another King, crowned or not, to his own foolishness.
"The elfling." Sendoron supplied, pulling Glorfindel's attention temporarily away from his churning anxiety over Elrond.
"Who, Elrond?" Glorfindel asked disapprovingly. Elrond might be in for more than a small amount of Balrog-Slayer and familial disapproval, but that didn't justify referring to him as a child. Only Glorfindel got to that. And maybe Celeborn. Maybe.
"No. My Lady's son. Orophin." Sendoron replied, still amused, although Glorfindel didn't think one other elf out of a thousand would have noticed.
Glorfindel's blue eyes flickered to his friend, "What about him?"
Sendoron's lips quirked into a more visible smile, "If Rumil mixes up your rank or title, its an honest mistake. If Haldir does so, its because he still has moments when he can't believe that he gets to associate with such 'legendary warriors.' If Orophin mixes up your name and title, its because he's purposely trying to piss you off."
And in such a way that Glorfindel would have looked a right fool upbraiding the adolescent elfling in public, just for calling him by his proper title in a different language. Glorfindel shook his head, "What a...clever...elfling. I'll have a word with him later." A persuasive word, but a carefully measured one. Several years ago, Glorfindel had caught Rumil dumping a bucket full of pond scum into Elrond's good riding boots. Orophin had been in suspiciously close proximity, just down the hall. Orophin had claimed that it was all his idea, and then snapped at his baby brother a couple of times when Rumil offered further explanation. Glorfindel had punished them both for it, Orophin more sternly because he was older and had been less repentant. Later that evening, Rumil had confessed to Celeborn that Orophin had, in fact, had nothing to do with the prank except to have been walking in the wrong place at the wrong time. Well, that and deciding to lie to Glorfindel because, at the time, Orophin hadn't wanted to leave Rumil alone to the Balrog-slayer's mercies. Up until that point, Glorfindel hadn't had much to do with Galadriel and Celeborn's younger adopted sons (besides marveling at the idea of Galadriel volunteering to have three elflings in her house, and occasionally frowning menacingly at said elflings for their sporadic campaign against all things Elrond). Afterward, Glorfindel had made an effort to get to know them during Elrond's visits to Lorien. He liked elflings and children, and didn't want Elrond's future wife's adoptive brothers, in particular, to be afraid of him. On top of that, Celeborn was still a bit annoyed with Glorfindel for punishing Orophin unfairly. Glorfindel had been quite careful to pay careful attention to what Orophin was actually thinking as well as saying, even though he didn't doubt that, in this instance, Sendoron was telling him the truth.
Glorfindel gave Sendoron a careful look, "I had not expected you to be so...sanguine, about Orophin and his brothers. Or rather about your Lady's and Lord Celeborn's decision to adopt them." Given Sendoron's long-held prejudice against the Nandor, the elves of the wood, and given that Haldir, Orophin, and Rumil were about as Nandorin as one could get. Their parents were both from little known villages, some of which had been settled even before the breaking of Beleriand. Glorfindel knew that many other elves, less prejudiced than Sendoron, were still unhappy about the Lord and Lady's decision. Lord Celeborn, Aran Amroth's uncle, was the King's heir. Celebrian was second-in-line to the throne of Lothlorien. And, since the adoption, Haldir was fourth, he and his brothers displacing Elrond. Elrond didn't mind; many others did.
Sendoron smiled back at Glorfindel, a mere suggestion of a quirk of his lips. "Spend more time with my Lady's sons. Time off of the practice courts. You'll come to understand why I am so 'sanguine,' little brother. After all, you are not as empty-headed as you look." Sendoron was disinclined to explain further, but the ensuing argument did have the benefit of distracting Glorfindel from stewing about Elrond's predicament any further before they reached the village and he could do something about it.
A lookout ahead signaled their approach to the village, and Glorfindel pulled his mind away from Galadriel and Celeborn's sons - who were NOT Glorfindel's problem - and back to Elrond, who most assuredly was.
The village itself had excellent defensive fortifications, for its size. Under normal circumstances, Glorfindel would have approved. He might have even searched out the head of the town militia, and talked shop. But not today. Today, instead of men on watch, the village had flags warning of plague flying from the blockade towers on the stockade.
Their party slowed, the elves' mood growing grave as they entered this place, a vibrant settlement which death had touched so cruelly. None of them were susceptible to the ravages of disease, at least not after they left their elfling years, but still they felt the sorrow of the tragedy which had occurred, was occurring, here.
At the gate there was a man, dressed only in leggings and an open smock. "We're sick here, my Lords. You can't come in without risking death."
Glorfindel nodded gravely to the townsman, explaining that they were elves, and here to aid the healers. In little time at all, he found himself directed to several low buildings which had been set aside for the care of the stricken. In the center of activity, Glorfindel found what - or rather, who - he was looking for.
The Lady Elwing's dark-haired son, standing in the middle of a knot of healers. Lord Elrond said something firm, and inspiring, and the healers broke off in different directions with new energy. Everywhere there were cots with suffering patients in various stages of the sickness, but it was orderly. One building was already reserved for those who had survived the contagion, and fewer and fewer bodies were being taken away at the end of the day to be burned by the healthy and recovered.
Elrond himself knelt beside a little girl, and tenderly wiped a cool cloth over her head. "This medicine will make you feel a little nauseated, Merilwen. Sick to your stomach, and perhaps a bit dizzy. Like you're floating. But it will also bring down your fever."
"All..allright, Healer." The little girl whispered hoarsely, "Thank you."
Glorfindel watched as one of the younger healers finished mixing the medicinal draught. Another healer called for aid before he could give it to Lord Elrond, so Glorfindel picked it up, and placed it into Lord Elrond's outreached hand. Their eyes met, just for a moment, Balrog-slayer and Healer-Lord. Elrond gave Glorfindel a half-smile, and then turned back to his patient. When she was settled, Elrond at last gave Glorfindel his full attention.
"I had wondered when you would show up, Vorondanya." Elrond said, a welcoming but worried look in his tired grey eyes, " We could use your steady hands and stout heart, My most faithful Glorfindel."
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Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Glorfindel and Elrond, in the plague stricken village.
Excerpt from previous chapter:
"I had wondered when you would show up, Vorondanya." Elrond said, a welcoming but worried look in his tired grey eyes, " We could use your steady hands and stout heart, My most faithful Glorfindel."
Glorfindel took a deep breath, a mix of emotions swirling in his heart. Anger and worry, affection and admiration. Something about Elrond when he was being so completely earnest and dedicated and sorrowful just drained away Glorfindel's anger, like pulling the plug out of the bottom of a barrel. The anger, the frustration, was still within Glorfindel somewhere, but right now...right now Glorfindel's priority was aiding his Lord. The little lord whom Glorfindel loved like another grandson. Of course, if Elrond hadn't already exposed himself to the disease a thousand times over, then Glorfindel's priority would be dragging Elrond away from here by his half-pointy ear. But Glorfindel knew when to accept that his hand was beat, when he'd lost a round. And Elrond had won. He'd won being permitted to fight the plague in this village with trickery and deception, but won it he had.
So Glorfindel just met Elrond's gray eyes steadily, and offered, "My hands and my heart are yours, Hir dithen nin. Always." Silently, Glorfindel spoke into Elrond's mind, *But I promise you that we are going to have a series of very long talks about some of your decisions, after you are done with your work here.*
Elrond nodded, grateful and rueful at the same time. Elrond, too, knew how to focus just on the problem at hand. And when he was playing healer, it was almost impossible to bring his attention to any other matter.
There was plenty a need that day, for Glorfindel's steady hands and strong heart. He needed his strong stomach, too. Elrond fought enemies which didn't have swords or shields. New patients came in. Some recovered, but others worsened. The first crisis with any patient was the fever, and Glorfindel helped to carry cold water and bathe strong men as well as little children, hoping to beat the fever.
"Oh good," said Elrond, when he realized that Glorfindel hadn't come alone, "You bought more guards. Have them bring us more water."
Glorfindel fought the urge to growl, but it wasn't as if they needed his escort and Elrond's to stand as guard. And the elves couldn't catch the illness. As day wore into night, many of the human healers fell ill, and the soldiers of Lothlorien and Imladris were drafted to aid those still standing.
"I've never seen a plague quite like it," Elrond whispered to Glorfindel as they bathed a stricken healer, "I think its spreading in the very air, as the sick cough and bleed."
The fever and the bloody cough weren't the only threats. Even after the fever broke, they still lost patients to dehydration and an extreme weakness. It was as if their very lungs were too tired to breathe. Glorfindel spooned broth and sweetened water into the mouths of those who could swallow, while Elrond rubbed eucalyptus oil on a sick man's chest. Glorfindel wrinkled his sensitive nose at the smell.
Elrond shrugged, his lips curving into faint, rueful smile. "It might not ease his breathing, but I don't think it can hurt."
At one point Elrond left the healing tents. It made Glorfindel hope that his young Lord was going to rest, without Glorfindel having to insist that he do so. But no, Elrond just went into an alchemist's shop, wherein Glorfindel found him and a younger elleth leaning over two vats. One of the vats smelled worse than any scent Glorfindel could remember inhaling, in either of his lives. The other smelled strongly of new leaves, but in comparison to the first, it was quite pleasant.
"WHAT is THAT?" Glorfindel demanded of the disgusting grey sludge in the first vat.
The young female healer, Colleryn, winced. Even Elrond looked a little green, a sight which Glorfindel had not seen since the aftermath of the last Battle of the Last Alliance, before the menace of Mount Doom itself.
"You don't want to know." Elrond answered Glorfindel, and the balrog-slayer believed him. But that didn't stop Glorfindel from helping Elrond and the other healers to administer the two medicines - for such they were - to all of Elrond's patients. Elrond had them give the disgusting medicine to half the patients, and the green smelling one to the others. Only those who seemed well on the way to recovery were spared the dosing. Glorfindel had learned that the latter concoction was made out of crushed seeds of the moringa tree mixed with honey, but none of the healers offered to explain the foul-smelling one. And Glorfindel didn't really want to know, so long as it wasn't Elrond drinking it.
Elrond stood as a maestro in the middle of chaos, a retaining wall against the tide of death that the plague had brought to the village. It made Glorfindel reflect that Elrond was good at many things; but he was one of the best healers Glorfindel had ever met. And Glorfindel knew from healers. Despite Elrond's efforts and those of his fellows, they still lost too many. Glorfindel estimated that all save perhaps five percent of the villagers had been stricken by the plague.
"Why do those villagers not fall ill?" He asked his lord, while forcing Elrond to take a break and drink some tea.
"Hmm. Hereditary immunity, of some kind, I think." Elrond answered absently, "From what we've been able to discern, their great-grandparents survived such a plague, when they lived in a village on the other side of the Anduin." Elrond looked up, offering Glorfindel another faint, rueful smile, "It is a similar immunity which shall save me from sickening, if I am lucky."
"You'd better be lucky." Glorfindel growled back, gently cuffing Elrond's dark head. Then they went back into the dying ground. It was...not as bad, Glorfindel thought, as war. But here it was women and children and even infants dying, and watching that tore Glorfindel's heart asunder. How much more must it affect Elrond, he wondered, but the healer-lord stayed on his feet, calmly going from patient to patient, and speaking softly with the other healers.
When Glorfindel dragged Elrond back outside for more tea and some roast rabbit which their guards had prepared, he looked carefully around, before asking Elrond, "The other elven healers? Is it just me, or were they better during the war?"
Sighing, Elrond replied, "It's not just you. They're better with elves. And most of these - they're relatively young. Lothlorien in particular lost a lot of healers during the war, when their lines were overwhelmed and their camp overrun. The orcs killed everyone they could find in that attack, even ellith who were clearly not soldiers. During the war, the humans had their own healers amongst the Numenoreans, whom I could rely upon to be experts in treating their own people. Some of the Lindon, Falas, and Imladris healers had a fair amount of experience, by the end of the war. But they are mostly back in Lindon, the Havens, or Imladris."
Glorfindel frowned, "Wasn't young Ecthelion always tagging along with you, when you went to aid the humans in Elendil's camps?"
"Towards the end of the War, yes." Elrond agreed, with a faint, fond smile. "It would be good if he could be here now, but the distance is great enough that we've not sent to Thranduil for healers. By the time that they would arrive, the crisis will have passed."
Glorfindel murmured something non-committal in response, trusting in Elrond's judgment on the matter. It was a pity, though. The Balrog-Slayer could remember many nights during the last siege of Dagorlad, when hope had seemed faint and the very air repressive. Glorfindel had returned to Elrond's tent to find his Lord actually relaxing, sitting on his cot reading some scroll or another, with the young healer Theli asleep at Elrond's feet, his head in Elrond's lap.
Glorfindel had liked the young Greenwood healer who had worked so hard at learning to fight as well as to heal. He knew that Celeborn and Galadriel did their best to be fond of Theli because of his cousins who were their adopted sons, but Glorfindel, for his part, liked Haldir, Orophin, and Rumil the better for their being related to Theli. He'd watched Theli argue with Lord Elrond himself in the healing tents, on the rare occasions when Theli thought that Elrond was wrong about the best course of treatment for a patient. But Theli could also watch Lord Elrond treat someone for a malady just once, and then manage to take care of the same injury or illness on his own after that. The last trait had made Theli invaluable to Lord Elrond, even though Elrond had smacked Theli several times himself, for trying something which might not have worked, or which had worked, but for the wrong reasons. Glorfindel would give a lot to have Theli here now, though. As it was, Elrond had to keep redirecting the course of treatment as the disease changed, and endlessly re-instructing the other healers. Theli had Elrond's 'feel' for that type of thing, and wouldn't need so much directing.
"I would be grateful for his aid, now." Elrond said, apparently following Glorfindel's train of thought, "Him, or any Master Healer. Even Moicasion." Who was the master healer of Imladris, since Elrond had recognized with regret that he could not serve both as Lord and Master Healer. Moicasion was also Elrond's friendly nemesis, for reasons which pre-dated Glorfindel's return to Middle Earth, and which the Balrog-slayer had never fully understood.
"Although, Theli would have a hard time with this." Elrond continued. "We cannot help but lose some to death, with a plague. During the war, Ecthelion would grieve a patient's loss to the extent that it would cause him to do himself harm, and I had to smack him to stop him from blaming himself, or risking himself for naught."
"Hmm." Glorfindel said, with a wry grin, "Perhaps a similar tactic would be effective with a certain healer I know..."
"Haha." Elrond replied dryly.
Glorfindel grinned again, then began to glare at Elrond. He'd meant to wait until after his Lord was finished serving as healer, but he couldn't hold the words back any longer. "Elrond, I thought that you had promised, the last time you drugged me and the rest of your guard in Lindon, not to ever do it again."
"No, Vorondanya," Elrond corrected, his tone polite and his demeanor humble, as if he were trying to defuse Glorfindel's infamous temper with uncharacteristic meekness, "You see, it was Erestor who promised you that. By the time that I had recovered from being poisoned, no one thought to ask me for such a promise."
Glorfindel didn't even know what to say in response to that extremely specious argument.
Still facing Glorfindel's glare, Elrond continued in a conciliatory manner, "I know that I have treated you badly. And for that I am so terribly sorry. I..." And whatever Elrond was going to say next was cut off by the young elven Healer Belegur, who apparently couldn't go even half an hour without begging the great Lord Elrond's opinion on something. Glorfindel growled, but followed them back to the tents. The hours passed, seeming to both fly and crawl. Until Elrond faltered, and almost fell, and Glorfindel could tell from the expressions on the other healers' faces that it was more than a moment of weakness. Glorfindel picked his young Lord up, cradling Elrond in his arms as he carried the Peredhel to an empty cot. Glorfindel's own heart raced with fear and worry.
"I'd hoped to get through the night, before I fell ill in truth." Elrond murmured, dazed but still determined.
"Elrond, I really am going to kill you." Glorfindel snapped back.
Elrond just laughed weakly. Glorfindel treasured that small moment of levity, because for many hours after that, Elrond was too sick to laugh. It was awful, the same actions but just terrible, to go through the motions of fighting the fever with Elrond. Glorfindel didn't leave his Lord for a moment, and he cared for Elrond himself as much as he was able. He watched grimly as the healers gave his young Lord medicines, even the disgusting one. Glorfindel thought about demanding to know what was in it, but he'd seen for himself that it was working, so he let it go. Young healer Belegur proved to be an invaluable source of information about what fever-reducing herbs would work for Elrond and which make him sick, and Glorfindel was grateful.
"Master Healer Moicasion asked our Master Healer to send one of us with all of the notes on Lord Elrond's medical history," Belegur explained. "I'd hoped to never need it, but..."
"You're doing well," Glorfindel praised the young healer, and meant it.
The crisis of the fever came and passed. Elrond was still weak and unresponsive, but he felt blessedly cool to Glorfindel's touch, and his lungs were clear of fluid.
"You can take him somewhere quieter now." Healer Belegur offered, "I wouldn't let you earlier because I needed to check on him all the time. But now he will live or die on his own, and there's naught more we can do. Keep offering him fluids when he wakes enough, and let me know if the fever returns. Or if he gets worse."
Glorfindel settled his Lord in one of the finer rooms of the near-vacant inn, and took up his post in a chair by Elrond's side. He talked the Peredhel through strange dreams and nightmares, rejoicing because the healers had told him that would be a positive sign. But some of the dreams...Ai, poor Elrond.
"Atto?" Elrond gasped at one point, mistaking the blond, blue-eyed Glorfindel for the peredhel's own father Earendil the mariner, who had likewise been blond of hair and blue of eye.
Glorfindel knew that it was best not to upset a patient beset by such dreams, so he just clasped Elrond's hand within his own, and answered, "I am here, yonya." Glorfindel tried to hide his own surprise at Elrond's having brought up his father, unlikely though it was that Elrond would notice, or even remember the moment later. Elrond never brought up his father, save in the context of Earendil having been a key figure in the history of Middle Earth.
"You left, Atto!" Elrond said, blinking tears away, "You left, and THEY came. One...one of them...Maglor son of Feanor, he took us, saved us, and I always thought that you would hate us for going with him...we should not have, but we were so hungry..."
"Shh, shh, ion-muin-nin," Glorfindel soothed his dear young Lord, "I am simply glad that you and Elros survived, no matter how. I could never blame you for that." Glorfindel pulled the sobbing Elrond into his lap, and cradled the Peredhel gently. Knowing Elrond as he did, Glorfindel spoke the words that he knew Elrond needed to hear, "I love you, ion-nin. Never doubt that I love you, and that I am proud of you. Your mother and I miss you every hour of every day, and will until the day when you join us. But we do not wish you to hasten that day."
Elrond cried, tears of pain and relief and joy. He still dreamed, he did not wake, and Glorfindel hoped that it might have helped. Glorfindel had loved Earendil since Earendil's babyhood, and had spoken often with the Mariner since his rebirth. Upon his return to Middle Earth, he had expected Elrond to ask after his parents, to want to hear the many words which they had given to Glorfindel to share with Elrond. But Elrond had not, did not, beyond merely inquiring as to whether his parents were well. It was one of the topics which struck too close to the tragedy which ended Elrond's childhood. Glorfindel's young Lord understood why it was that his father and mother had gone to the West, and had stayed there since. But he was their child, and they had owed him more, as parents. Heroes, Glorfindel knew from his own experience, did not always make the best parents.
Elrond quieted, and fell into a more peaceful, genuine sleep. Glorfindel heaved a sigh of relief, and laid down beside Elrond on the bed, the better to wake if the fever returned. Glorfindel must have drifted onto the path of dreams himself, because he awoke to a knock on the door.
Whoever-it-was let himself in. Glorfindel pulled a knife into his hand as the shadow approached the bed, and only at the last moment pulled his thrust when he realized who it was.
"Arandil, you thrice-cursed idiot! I could have killed you!" He snarled at Aran Ereinion Gil-galad's blood-brother and most trusted diplomat. Since Gil-galad's death, Arandil had become Elrond's diplomat and sworn-elf. But Glorfindel hadn't even known that Arandil was anywhere in the area.
Arandil just smirked back at him. It made Glorfindel really want to yank the slender, graceful dark-haired elf over his knee, and spank him soundly.
"Calm yourself, oh great hero." Arandil greeted him sarcastically, before leaning over Glorfindel's shoulder to look worriedly at Elrond. Then Arandil sighed in relief, "Praise Eru and all the Valar, he looks like the illness has past, and restoring sleep come at last." Glancing at Glorfindel sympathetically out of his big, brown eyes, Arandil offered, "No wonder you look so poleaxed that you couldn't even intercept me until I was right above you, Glorfindel. This is not the type of balrog which you know how to slay."
"Never mind that." Glorfindel growled, because it was true and also because he didn't know where Arandil was going with it, "What in Mordor's fires are you DOING here, Arandil?"
Arandil sat down on the chair Glorfindel had vacated. As Elrond slept on, he explained, "Elain and I met Elrond here."
"WHAT?" Glorfindel yelled, in his loudest whisper. "You SAW him here, and you JUST LET HIM STAY?!"
Arandil merely raised an eyebrow, waiting for the Balrog-slayer's initial fit of temper to pass.
"I suppose," Glorfindel said grudgingly, after a long moment, "That you had a good reason."
"Yes, THANK YOU, Captain, I did." Arandil replied, "He'd already been exposed by the time we arrived. Elain said that it would be pointless to remove him."
Glorfindel nodded, "Well, Elain's judgment I trust."
Arandil didn't rise to the bait. Arandil was annoying like that. Instead, the diplomat, Ereinion's former ambassador to Eregion, simply said, "I trust it too. She is a wise elleth, my wife. She is serving with the Lothlorien healers in the plague-ridden village furthest from this one, as Elrond trusted her judgment as healer the most. I was sent on an errand to...lands south of here, to fetch more medicines."
Glorfindel gave Arandil a narrow look, "WHERE south of here? What medicines?"
"As to the first," Arandil said with a big grin, "You don't want to know. As to the second, Moringa seeds and ...something else. Tell me, how have the moringa seeds and the other medicine worked? How many have died?"
Distracted, Glorfindel answered, "Too many. Perhaps as many as three in ten, with the others recovering, but slowly."
Arandil shook his head. "That few." He remarked, seeming both pleased and relieved.
"THAT FEW?" Glorfindel roared back quietly, in disbelief.
"My dear Lord," Arandil explained with quiet intensity, "You should know that this type of plague most often carries off MORE than half of its victims. A death rate of only fifty percent would be lucky. A seventy percent survival rate is very, very good indeed."
"Huh." Glorfindel replied, surprised and appalled. "Well, I suppose that disgusting sludge must be good for something. When it proved more effective than the moringa seeds, Elrond began giving it to everyone strong enough to take it."
Arandil looked a little nauseated, but he nodded. "Well, I brought more ingredients for the foul slurry." An impish smile pulled at the diplomat's fair features, "Do WANT to know what's in it?"
"They gave it to Elrond," Glorfindel replied dryly, "So, yes."
Arandil shuddered. "Our poor Elrond. Still, if it worked..."
"'It' being?" Glorfindel prompted, running out of patience.
"Dust of the dead." Replied Arandil, meeting Glorfindel's eyes to share horror and offer reassurance, "Sulfur and water mixed with the ground-up bones of those who died from this plague the last time it struck."
Glorfindel swallowed hard, looking down at the peacefully sleeping Elrond to remind himself that he had been right to help Healer Belegur make Elrond swallow that. A gentle hand squeezed his shoulder, and Arandil offered, "It was Elrond who insisted that the midwives' old folktales might have some truth to them, and who thought to try this. And if so many lives have been saved...."
The balrog-slayer reached up with his hand to cover Arandil's, his eyes still blurry with tears of worry. "Aye," Glorfindel said, not afraid to show weakness in front of Arandil. Then Glorfindel used that leverage to quietly and efficiently flip Arandil over his shoulder, gently guiding the younger elf's fall so that he ended up lying beside Elrond in the bed.
"You stay with him," Glorfindel commanded, "When he wakes from foul dreams and sees me, he thinks me his father. But when he wakes and hears me only, he thinks that I am you. And he is well content to have his childhood tutor-and-guard caring for him."
Arandil nodded back in acceptance, his face grave at the importance of the charge. "I will watch over him," Arandil promised.
"I know that you will." Glorfindel replied, bending down to press a fatherly kiss to first Elrond's brow, and then to Arandil's.
Early the next morning, Elrond was feeling well enough to eat breakfast and agitate for returning to his duties in the healer's tent. Arandil and Glorfindel took it in turns to discourage him, although they did allow the other healers to come in ones and twos, and ask Elrond questions. Arandil had to leave when the sun rose in truth, in order to take more of the moringa seeds and old bones to the other two plague-stricken villages. Glorfindel left Elrond in Sendoron's care, and went to bid the diplomat farewell and fair journey.
Glorfindel personally had a word with Arandil's guards and companions, before turning to Arandil and embracing the younger elf in a hard hug.
"You take good care of my son." He whispered into Arandil's ear, too soft for anyone else to hear.
Arandil made a huff of protest at being picked up by the Balrog-Slayer as if he were a toy, but then returned the hug full-force as he replied, "I will try, but your son is a difficult fool, my Lord."
Glorfindel laughed and put Arandil down. *Only sometimes a fool,* He spoke directly into Arandil's mind, *And only when he takes after his father. I love you, my difficult fool. Be careful.*
Then Glorfindel went to the healing tents, hoping that he would be wrong. Hoping that Elrond had stayed with Sendoron in his room, as Glorfindel and common sense had dictated.
But no, of course not. Glorfindel was hardly ever wrong when he wanted to be. He gave Sendoron, who was hovering sheepishly behind Elrond, a disgusted look.
Sendoron grimaced. "Lord Elrond is very persuasive." He complained.
Elrond himself hadn't bothered to acknowledge Glorfindel's presence, although he was undoubtedly aware of it. Elrond continued prescribing the next steps in the course of treatment for the little girl Merilwen. Glorfindel waited for Elrond to finish that, then grasped his young Lord by both shoulders when Elrond began to move towards his next patient.
"No, Elrond." Glorfindel said, with what he thought was impressive calm and patience. "You will rest today."
Elrond twisted out of Glorfindel's grasp. "No, Vorondanya. You are loyal to your charge, but I am loyal to mine as well."
Glorfindel closed his eyes and counted to ten, as Erestor had patiently encouraged him to try for many years. Then he grabbed Elrond, and slung the Peredhel over his shoulder. During the blessed few moments when Elrond was still and silent with shock, Glorfindel commanded Healer Belegur, "If you REALLY need my Lord's counsel, you may find him in his room at the Inn. Try not to need him for at least the next two hours."
Belegur nodded, frightened, and stammered out, "Yes, of course, Lord Glorfindel."
"Glorfindel," Elrond growled, too angry and frustrated to be trepidatious, "I am your sworn Lord, and you will PUT ME DOWN immediately!"
"Ha!" Glorfindel replied, hitching Elrond higher onto his shoulder and then applying a firm smack to the Peredhel's bottom. At Elrond's yelp, Glorfindel advised softly, "I would not push me any further right now, Elrond, if I were you."
To Glorfindel's relief, Elrond went limp, letting himself be carried. But that was only temporary; Elrond had been Glorfindel's student for nearly two thousand years, and he knew how to wait for his moment. When Glorfindel was adjusting his balance to step over the threshold of the Inn, Elrond elbowed him in the stomach, hard, and used the momentum from that to roll off of Glorfindel's shoulder.
Fortunately for his solar plexus, Glorfindel had been expecting something like that. He was even rather pleased with the effort Elrond had managed to put forth, despite still being weak and unsteady on his feet. But he'd tell Elrond that later. Right now, he just faced the Peredhel across from him. Glorfindel met Elrond's fiery gray eyes, and just raised a single eyebrow.
"Is that really the best you can do, Hir Dithen Nin?" Glorfindel taunted. Elrond sniffed haughtily and tried to go around the Balrog-Slayer, but Glorfindel simply grabbed his Lord about the shoulders and hefted Elrond back over his shoulders. *This time, guren, I suggest you come quietly.* He spoke directly into Elrond's mind, *Else I shall begin your spanking right here. I think that you would prefer to avoid that. The common room is empty now, but it might not stay that way.*
At that, Elrond stayed still at last, although Glorfindel could tell that he was still unhappy. When they got back to the chamber Glorfindel had claimed as Elrond's, he set his young Lord down on the bed and removed Elrond's boots, tossing them into the hallway for Sendoron to pick up and put somewhere where Elrond couldn't get to them easily.
Elrond watched those proceedings unhappily, but he did stand to pull down his own leggings. Glorfindel wasted no time in sitting down on the bed and pulling Elrond over his knees. He flipped up the Peredhel's tunic and undershirt. Elrond hissed unhappily at having his bottom bared, but stilled when Glorfindel laid a gentle hand on his back.
"Now that I finally have your attention," Glorfindel said wryly, giving Elrond's nearer bottom cheek a gentle pat, "I want you to think carefully as we have this "talk." Because if I have to collect you from the healing hall again before you have been deemed strong enough to return...then we will be having another talk. And you know how I hate to repeat myself. Do you understand me, Elrond?"
"Perfectly." Elrond replied, through gritted teeth. Glorfindel shook his head, and brought his hand down on Elrond's backside, quickly following that first smack with a barrage of restrained but still punishing spanks.
"If I'm too sick to heal!" Elrond yelped, "Then how in your curmudgeoney mind am I not to sick to get spanked?"
"If you're well enough to defy my orders and the other healers' instructions," Glorfindel snapped back, all the while applying light but stinging swats to his Lord's bare bottom, "then you're well enough to take your first spanking."
Elrond groaned, and then muttered back, "First?"
Glorfindel rolled his eyes as he finished burnishing Elrond's bottom to an even rosy shade, "Yes. First. Did you even think that it could be otherwise?" He asked, as he gently set Elrond onto his feet. Elrond shook his head, pushing one dark braid behind his ear. Glorfindel felt a little bit sympathetic for his Lord, he did, but that didn't stop him from taking the leggings that Elrond had been wearing, and everything else in his Lord's travel bags, and tossing them into the hall way for Sendoron to pick up and move into his nearby room.
At Elrond's mutinous look, Glorfindel explained, "You're not going anywhere for the next day or so Elrond, so you don't need to be fully clothed. Your undershirt is long enough to cover your modesty, and I've left you your tunic as well. Now, get into bed, and I'll bring you some soup and some tea."
Elrond obeyed, wincing a bit as he sat down on the bed. Glorfindel didn't feel guilty for that, though. It had been a light spanking. He'd been quite mindful of his Lord's injured state, and he would never do anything to jeopardize Elrond's recovery.
Wiping away a tear, Elrond tentatively said, "Glor?"
Glorfindel sighed and turned away from the door, coming back to sit beside Elrond and tuck his legs under the covers. Elrond got cold, sometimes. "What is it, Guren?" Glorfindel prompted, fairly sure of what it was that Elrond wanted to say.
"Glorfindel, I'm sorry, I really am, its just that..." Elrond began in a rush, until Glorfindel put a gentle hand over his mouth.
"We're not going to have that conversation now." Glorfindel told Elrond firmly, tucking a lock of hair behind his Lord's ear, and offering a towel for Elrond's teary gray eyes and flushed face.
"But," Elrond began to protest. Glorfindel quieted him with a gentle kiss to Elrond's forehead. "Shh, Guren, my heart. Time enough to speak of all of that. For now, you will rest, and feel better."
Elrond inhaled harshly, and Glorfindel couldn't tell if it was a sob or a laugh, because Elrond threw his arms around the Balrog-slayer, and Glorfindel couldn't see Elrond's expression, as Elrond's face was pressed against his shoulder. Glorfindel hugged the Peredhel back, murmuring soft endearments until Elrond relaxed.
"Now," Glorfindel commanded his Lord with a stern look but a glimmer of fondness and amusement in his eyes, "You stay, and try not to fall asleep while I go and get you your lunch."
Elrond nodded, making a face and squirming uncomfortably on his sore bottom, "I don't think that I'll be able to fall asleep that fast, Glor, thanks."
Glorfindel snorted. "I went easy on you, and well you know it."
Elrond just smiled back, because he did know it. By the time that Glorfindel returned, his young Lord was deeply asleep, and Glorfindel had to fetch warm soup and tea anew when Elrond finally awoke, just in time for dinner.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
This chapter is Glorfindel and Elrond on the way back to Caras Galadhon. The next chapter will be Glorfindel's talk with Haldir, Orophin, and Rumil, and possibly also a nice family dinner, if it fits. If it doesn't, then that will be the next (and hopefully the last) chapter.
Thanks so very much to everyone who left me feedback on this story! It means so much to me.
Schadenfreude - a German noun meaning "pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others."
At Glorfindel's insistence, Elrond did not return to the healers' tents until the following morning. During the night, another nine patients died. The little girl Merilwen was one of them. Glorfindel could read the pain in his Lord's heart, but Elrond kept going, following his calling and caring for the living as well as he could.
"I'm sorry." Glorfindel said, when he chivied Elrond to his room for lunch and a nap. Glorfindel knew that, if Elrond had stayed through the night, the girl at least, and perhaps two of the others, might have lived. Of course, in working through the night, Elrond might have taken sick again. But that was a risk which Glorfindel knew that Elrond would have been willing to take.
Elrond sighed. "You did what you did out of care for me. I mourn the deaths, but I do not resent you for having acted in adherence to your calling." They exchanged a very sad smile. Glorfindel, who did not mind looking the fool for a worthwhile cause, reached out to embrace Elrond, holding his young Lord tight against his chest.
Sometimes, Elrond responded to such displays of affection by pulling away, or by staying rigidly uncomfortable. But this time he just relaxed against his long-time guard and friend. "I wish there was a way to save them all." Elrond murmured quietly. "Especially the children."
Glorfindel just held his young Lord closer, and pressed a fatherly kiss to the top of Elrond's raven-dark hair. "You've lost less than thirty percent of the men who lived in this village, Elrond-my-heart. Arandil tells me that is a victory, and I believe him. You cannot win them all."
Elrond just nodded, and Glorfindel could only hope that he believed. Elrond remained in the village another several days, seeing to the remaining sick. Only when all were recovering did Glorfindel suggest that they depart. Elrond agreed, leaving Healer Belegur in charge of their remaining patients.
The Lord of Imladris consented to ride with his Captain on the way back to Lothlorien. When they stopped to water the horses and fix a cold lunch, Elrond followed Glorfindel a small way into the forest. They stopped near a water fall and a ring of trees, where the noise that nature provided would be enough to deaden even a shout.
"You wanted to have this conversation earlier, Elrond Hir dithen nin." Glorfindel began, a stern expression on his face, "And I give you credit for that. But now I deem you well enough. Explain."
"Glorfindel...I know," Elrond began, "I know that I wronged you."
"Wronged me?" Glorfindel replied, his voice rising into a roar. "I am your retainer, Elrond! Your sworn elf. And yet you drugged me, and left me to wake with strangers. Just so that you could go where you willed. Yes, YOU WRONGED ME!"
Elrond sighed, not contesting anything in that litany of his misdeeds. "It was only a harmless sedative, Glorfindel. And at least this time I took the rest of my guards with me."
"Oh, yes, my little Lord. You took only those you could command to do your bidding at the risk of your life!" Glorfindel countered in a dangerous tone of voice.
Elrond paused, and after a moment answered simply. "Yes."
Glorfindel pressed, "And you lied to your royal cousins and to their soldiers as well as your own -my own- soldiers, about where you had left me."
"Yes. I owe you, owe all of you, for that." Elrond agreed, looking pained.
Glorfindel threw his hands up in the air in frustration, "And yet you would still do what you did again. You are not sorry for that, only for the wrongs you had to do to we who love you and watch over you, in order to meet your ends."
Elrond sighed, "What do you want me to say, Glorfindel? I don't want to lie to you."
Glorfindel put his hands down, and took a deep breath. Then he spoke intently, "Elrond, I was your greatgrandfather Turgon's good friend and blood-brother. I carried your grandmother Idril across the ice, held safe in my own arms. Later, my wife Laureamoriel taught Idril to dance, and I taught her to fight. When your human grandfather Tuor came to Gondolin, and I saw my Idril fall in love with him, I spoke for them. My son Glorendil and I carried your baby father Earendil around Gondolin in a baby sack while your grandparents slept. I fought a balrog to save your father and grandparents. I was reborn, and left my life as a reborn elf to come back here and guard you. AND YET YOU TREAT ME LIKE THIS! Elrond, HOW COULD YOU!
Elrond was clearly apologetic, but he held his ground. "I am sorry for treating you so poorly, my dear Glorfindel. But you must realize - I never asked for this! For any of this. I never asked to be me, to be part-human and a little bit Maia, to be a great King's heir or a great Lord or great leader. I just wanted to be a healer! You and everyone else want to preserve me so that I can be the great leader, the great Lord. Maybe I just want to be Elrond, the healer."
Taking another calming breath, Glorfindel replied, "Ai, guren. You are my heart, you must know that. I won't lie and tell you that preserving your life isn't important to me from a political and military standpoint. I've been fighting the enemy since before you were a twinkle in your grandfather's eyes, and I'm fairly dedicated to its destruction. But never mistake this, Elrond. I don't want you to live because you are a great Lord and in being so you protect thousands of lives. No, I want you to live - my primary reason for wanting you to live - is that I love you. And I care about you. AND I DON'T WANT YOU TO DIE!"
"Oh." Said Elrond quietly, clearly taken aback.
Since his Lord was actually listening, Glorfindel continued, "I love you like another grandson, Elrond you idiot. And in this instance, I would treat you like one."
Elrond could have objected. He had, in certain rare instances in the past. Elrond was Glorfindel's Lord, and Glorfindel's only right to discipline Elrond rested on Elrond's esteem for Glorfindel as elder, mentor, and guard. There had been past times where Elrond had denied Glorfindel's right to rein him in, and Glorfindel had accepted that denial. Sometimes, after both parties had calmed down, Glorfindel had been glad that Elrond had stayed his hand. Other times, Elrond had returned to apologize and accept a punishment, if Glorfindel was still minded to impose one. In addition to being Glorfindel's grandson of the heart and his reason for returning to Middle Earth, Elrond was a good Lord, a responsible Lord. He did not hold others to higher standards than he held himself, which Glorfindel had appreciated on the rare occasions when he had erred such that Elrond had called him to account.
But in this instance, Elrond did not object. He merely nodded, unhappily but firmly.
"In that case, guren, come here." Glorfindel led Elrond to bend over a fallen log, before flipping up the Peredhel's tunic and pulling down his leggings. Elrond squirmed just a bit as the cold air hit his bottom, but didn't move out of position, even when Glorfindel began spanking his bottom firmly. Glorfindel was not going easy on Elrond this time, as Elrond's rapidly reddening backside and pained yelps attested. Glorfindel did feel a bit sorry for his dear young Lord, as Elrond was now curling his hands into fists and kicking his feet. But that did not stop Glorfindel from moving his attention to the tender undercurve of his Lord's bottom, once the fullness of Elrond's rear cheeks had turned a deep shade of scarlet. Glorfindel had been told that he had a very hard hand by no less an authority than his own son, who had run afoul of so many rules as a young soldier that he'd been almost permanently in trouble with his commanders, such that Arandil should have reason to know. So Glorfindel hardened his heart to Elrond's struggles, and proceeded to smack his lord's sitspots until they reached the same dark shade of red. When he'd finished, he laid his hand on Elrond's back, and rubbed it in gentle circles.
"Shh, Elrond guren. It is done."
Once Elrond had recovered his composure and rightened his clothes, he gave Glorfindel a rueful look from under his dark lashes. Rubbing his sore bottom, Elrond remarked, "I'd forgotten how cursed much it hurts when you do that."
Glorfindel smirked, but he knew that there was a glint of sympathy in his eyes as he replied, "It has been rather a long time since I warmed your bottom for you, eh, Elrond?" That thought gave Glorfindel pause. It had been a long time since he had found cause to spank Elrond AT ALL, let alone before a long ride. Elrond had never been a mischievous or difficult being, but he had...he had been thoughtless, sometimes. And frequently reckless. And sometimes, after getting caught out at being thoughtless or reckless, he'd been a bit cheeky or irreverent. But now, since even before the war, Elrond had become so careful that it was almost eerie.Oh, sometimes he might enter an engagement DIFFERENTLY from how how Glorfindel would have, but Elrond was a different elf. And reviewing his decisions later, the Balrog-Slayer had found little to fault in them. Glorfindel contemplated Elrond intently, and his heart ached as he realized that Elrond's youth, his very self, had been worn away by the cares of his duties. The thoughtlessness, the recklessness, the cheeky irreverence, it had all been PART of Elrond. Part of the spark that lit his solemn personality from within, the spark that had first made Glorfindel realize that they could be friends as well as Lord and Guard. Now that spark was gone, consumed by duty and the needs of others, and that bloody cursed ring that Elrond would bear until Sauron was gone in truth.
Elrond, who hadn't been paying attention to Glorfindel's moment of revelation, actually relieved some of the Balrog-Slayer's worries, by asking with a trace of that old cheekiness, "Yes, it has been a long time since you've spanked me like that. Particularly before a long ride. I've a cooling salve in my bag. Would you mind if I put some on?" Elrond asked appealingly, gray eyes wide as he rubbed at his sore bottom with both hands.
Chuckling, part in relief and part in dark amusement (he was still annoyed with Elrond), Glorfindel, leaned back against a tree and smirked at Elrond, "Yes, yes I would mind, my stubborn elfling lord. You more than earned your hot bottom, and you will ride seated upon it. You're just lucky that you're still too shaky and us too far from home for me to strap you."
"So lucky." Elrond murmured, sotto voce. Glorfindel ignored it except to collect his Lord with an arm around Elrond's shoulders, and guide him back to the horses. They stopped several more times during the journey back to Caras Galadhon, ostensibly because Lord Elrond's horse might have gotten a stone bruise, but really so that Elrond could have a break. And Glorfindel did let Elrond have some salve at the first of those stops. He did not like to see his Lord in pain, let alone enough pain that Elrond made no objection to Glorfindel holding him up while Sendoron rubbed a cooling unguent on his naked bottom.
When they arrived at the talan of Elrond's aunt and uncle, Celebrian flew out of the door like an arrow, directly into Elrond's arms. What they said to another Glorfindel did not know, but it was several long minutes before they separated enough for Elrond to give his aunt greeting. Seeing Elrond and Celebrian together made Glorfindel realize that the last time he'd seen Elrond truly happy had been with Celebrian. The Balrog-Slayer resolved to put more effort into effecting a reconciliation between the two of them. Making Elrond sincerely regret his actions in ditching Glorfindel to go risk his life playing healer was no longer the Captain's first priority. Now it was saving that spark in Elrond which had lent joy as well as duty to the Peredhel's heart.
Galadriel gave Elrond leave to rest, that first night after they returned from Caras Galadhon. Glorfindel lay beside Elrond in his Lord's large bed. Sadly Celebrian was not keeping Elrond company, and Glorfindel did not want his Lord to be alone. Particularly not in Lothlorien, where ghosts still walked the halls of the royal talan. It made Glorfindel realize how alone Elrond was, and young King Amroth as well. Amroth's father Amdir, Elrond's uncle, had died during the War. As had their second cousin Oropher, the father of young King Thranduil of the Greenwood. For awhile, Elrond had feared that they would lose his great Uncle Celeborn, as well, and with him several of his long-time retainers. Galadriel would have remained, ring-bearer that she was. But the duty would have eaten at her heart without Celeborn's love, as it was eating Elrond even now.
For Celeborn, along had come three orphans in need. Celeborn had always wanted more children. Haldir, Orophin, and Rumil, as well as Celeborn's duties to his beloved younger kinsmen the Kings of Lothlorien and Greenwood and the Lord of Imladris, had helped to anchor him to this time and place.
Elrond interrupted Glorfindel's line of thought by nudging his ankle with a foot, "So, when are you going to spank me again?" Elrond's tone was more tired than anything else, and that bothered Glorfindel.
Frowning worriedly, Glorfindel rose up on an elbow so that he could look Elrond in the eyes as he replied, "I don't know as I am at all, guren."
"What?" Replied Elrond, blinking in surprise. Not even relief, just surprise. Glorfindel cursed himself for a blind fool. He'd been looking out for his Lord's physical safety, and all the while something inside Elrond was dying and Glorfindel had been completely unaware. Some guardian he was. Finrod and Earendil would both have been very disappointed.
Glorfindel reached out a hand to gently push a strand of hair back behind Elrond's half-pointy ear. "I don't know as you need another spanking, Elrond-my-heart. I'm not saying that you haven't earned one, but I'm your heart-kin before I'm your Captain, save when there is an immediate physical threat to your safety. And I think that this is one of those times when I must give you what you need, rather than what you have earned."
"Um." Elrond replied, gray eyes blinking in confusion, which he tried to turn into indulgent bemusement, "What do I need then, vorondanya?"
Glorfindel sat up cross-legged on the bed, prompting Elrond to squirm around and lift himself up onto his elbows, so that he could look Glorfindel in the face. Elrond wasn't sitting, and wouldn't be able to in comfort until some time the next day. Glorfindel knew his own strength of arm, and regretted bitterly in this moment that knowing what to do to heal someone's heart wasn't one of his strengths. "I think you need to spend more time in the company of people whom you love, Guren." Glorfindel answered softly, "And not while planning for war, or for keeping the peace. Just enjoying their company."
"That is a nice idea," Elrond replied with a wistful smile, "But there really isn't the time. Uncle Celebon will want to tear a bloody strip out of me for scaring him, and probably Aunt Galadriel will have words for me as well. I'll need to finish the business of state which was our purpose in coming here, with them and with Amroth and Celebrian, and then we must bid our goodbyes and return to Imladris."
"We will make the time." Glorfindel replied, his tone soft and loving but completely inflexible. "When we get home, you and I will talk with Erestor, about all of this. We will help you to feel less burdened, Elrond. That is what you need, and you must trust us to know it and help you, even if you do not understand. That is what I would ask of you, in lieu of spanking you again."
Elrond still didn't understand, but he nodded slowly in agreement. "I will try." He promised.
Glorfindel pulled his young Lord into his arms, laughing, "You will try, my stubborn and difficult lordling. You will try, indeed. Such a careful promise. You have been and always will be no end of trouble for me, Elrond-my-heart. But I would not trade any of the time I've spent with you and yours, not for anything in Middle Earth or Aman."
Elrond's dark head relaxed against Glorfindel's shoulder. "You're going soft in your dotage, vorondanya." Elrond accused fondly.
Pleased by the teasing, Glorfindel just tugged on a dark braid. "Not soft, not exactly, Elrond guren. If you'll remember, Erestor made that promise, never to drug me and leave me behind again, for both of you. You know that he did, and he may have words of his own for you, when we get home."
Glorfindel had carefully laid them both down on the pillows, Elrond still curled against him on his side. "He will." Elrond agreed, "Words at the least. Erestor sees such matters differently than I."
But despite that concern, Glorfindel could tell that Elrond was more relaxed now, still tired but no longer quite so heart-weary. And Glorfindel resolved that he and Erestor would have to work harder at finding ways to support Elrond-their-friend, as well as just protecting and serving Elrond-their-Lord. Of course, Erestor was probably already aware of this. In fact, that might have been what he meant when he had told Glorfindel, "Grandfather, look out for Elrond. No, not just like you always do. Take care of him."
Erestor was often smarter than Glorfindel. He took after his grandmother Laureamoriel, after all.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Glorfindel catches up with Haldir, Orophin, and Rumil and overhears something unexpected. And then the expected happens.
A/N: This is set in the early Third Age. Haldir is of age, but not by much. Orophin is in his late teens. Rumil is about ten years old. Elrond and Celebrian are not married, yet.
Excerpt from Chapter 2:
"You three know better. And I will deal with you LATER." Glorfindel told them quietly, the reprimand all the more effective for its neutrality. At least with Haldir and Rumil, whom the ancient Lord waved on their way. Orophin he turned around and swatted twice. To the surprise in the middle brother's gray-green eyes, Glorfindel replied, "Next time, at least think more quietly about how you were leaving anyway and you don't care what I think, eh?"
Excerpt from Chapter 3I:
"Lord Glorfindel, Reborn Balrog-Slayer, stood guard at the end of the hallway, keeping his young lord's dignity safe from both pestilential younger cousins-by-adoption and more innocent passers-by. Glorfindel was sympathetic to his charge, particularly after catching Celeborn's urchins listening in on Elrond's punishment."
Glorfindel stayed out of the way as Elrond emerged from Lord Celeborn's study. Since Elrond was with Celebrian, he had no need of Glorfindel. Any other elf would only be in the way, between those two who had loved one another for so many centuries. Glorfindel waited for them to pass, and exchanged a grave nod with Galadriel before going off to find her wayward sons.
He caught up with them on the next lower level of the royal talan, where the great interconnected mallorn trees formed a natural courtyard of sorts. Paths criss-crossed the open air space, and water flowed up the trees to form fountains in the air. Haldir, Orophin, and Rumil waited near the entry way of a chamber beside the courtyard, watching as three elves crossed a path towards them. As Glorfindel didn't really know how he wanted to deal with the three younglings' childish and unkind invasion of Elrond's privacy, he stopped just shy of the hallway that would bring him to the courtyard. He could see the three brothers, and the elves on the path, but they could not see him.
"When the engagement was broken off," one of the two dark-haired, well-dressed elves on the path said pompously, "We rejoiced, hoping that our Lady Celebrian would chose a mate more worthy of her person and lineage."
"It is back on." The blond elf beside him said shortly, "And, while I have no fondness for Lord Elrond either, such matters of the heart are beyond the control of elves."
"It is NOT back on." The other dark-haired elf disagreed. "And even if it was, a betrothal is not a marriage. Perhaps you might approach the Lady? Her mother wed one of your people, and that has not proven to be a bad match." Glorfindel's eyes narrowed, because he recognized this last elf as Sorneturco, once a soldier of Gondolin and now a Lord of Lothlorien and a member of Aran Amroth's council.
"Better a Sinda than an elf whose bloodline has been twice polluted by humans, no matter how royal he may be." The first dark haired elf agreed. "Better even a Silvan elf whose ancestors moved from camp to camp like migrating animals. Better anyone."
That was about as much as Glorfindel could take. Bad-mannered and disrespectful elflings were one thing, and Glorfindel could handle them with a stern talking to and a sound spanking. But grown elven Lords insulting his Lord Elrond in such a racist, prejudiced manner was something much worse, and Glorfindel refused to let it continue.
But it ended up that Glorfindel did not have to intervene, because Orophin did first. Glorfindel had an excellent view of him and his two brothers as they argued almost silently for a moment, and then Orophin stepped forward. The elfling's gray-green eyes blazed with anger, quickly banked so that his tone was sonorous and his manner quite courteous as he called out, "Lord Amayaro, how very kind of you to aid us in our educational endeavors."
"What?" Snapped back the first dark-haired elf, evidently confused. From the path where he and the other fools had been walking, they could not have seen the Lord and Lady's three adopted sons before Orophin stepped forward, his brothers on either side of him.
Orophin nodded sagely, "Of course, we realized immediately that our tutor must have engaged your efforts to encourage us to remember our lessons on the great friendship between he- who-was your Prince, Finrod Felagund, and the humans." At that, Orophin straightened still further and began to recite, from what Glorfindel could tell word-perfectly, from a speech which Finrod himself had given after the Battle of Sudden Flame. A speech which praised the human Barahir of Dorthonion and his followers for their valour in saving Finrod's life. And Orophin was reciting the speech in Quenya. Since Finrod had originally made the speech in Sindarin, Orophin could evidently both speak and translate Quenya quite well.
Lord Amanyaro and Lord Sorneturco were as taken aback as Glorfindel, although they took pains to hide their reaction. Lord Garthanan hid a smile.
"It was very kind and indulgent of you," Orophin continued, this time back in Sindarin, "to cooperate with our tutor to aid us in our education."
"It was." Little Lord Rumil agreed, "We know that you couldn't possibly actually think those things."
"After all," Haldir drawled, his stance beside his brothers vaguely protective, "Both Prince Finrod and King Turgon were famously known as friends to the humans. And our royal cousin and his army saved both of your lives, in Eregion."
Glorfindel realized that the 'royal cousin' in that sentence was meant to be Elrond, and rocked back on his heels in contemplation. Not two hours ago, these three little brats had been disgustingly smug in their rejoicing over his Lord's comeuppance, and now they were oh-so-cleverly defending Elrond against his enemies. It was baffling to Glorfindel, but apparently they at least had a sense of family pride.
Lord Amanyaro, recovering his dignity, nodded stiffly. "Quite so. We are always pleased to aid in your...education."
The way in which he said that made it sound vaguely threatening. Glorfindel's eyes narrowed, and he made a mental note to remember this elf. And to mention him to Celeborn and Galadriel, although they probably already had him on a list of 'elves whom we wish would stop plaguing us and just sail already.' Or at least that was what Glorfindel called his list, although fortunately for him and Elrond, most of those elves had gone to Lothlorien rather than Imladris when Eregion fell, and were continuing to choose Lothlorien above Imladris as Lindon was diminishing. Glorfindel frowned as it occurred to him that, if Elrond did stop being stubborn and marry Celebrian, they might end up with some of those problem apples in their city.
From his response, Glorfindel thought that Haldir probably caught the threat as well. His stance changed slightly, as if he wanted to be even more prepared to shove his brothers behind him and meet the threat posed by these Lords head on, should they go from insulting remarks to physical blows. Sadly, Glorfindel suspected that they were unlikely to do so, which was a shame because he'd really enjoy helping Haldir to hurt them. Glorfindel was in the mood to punch someone anyway, and it would be quite convenient from his perspective if these idiots would volunteer.
To Glorfindel's disappointment, Lord Amanyaro and his companions chose a strategic withdrawal, with parting insults about how they were too busy to further assist the children because King Amroth was otherwise afflicted by a dearth of wise council, and how the elflings should just run along and play.
As they turned to leave, Rumil called, "Lord Garthanan, may I still come to play with your nephew tomorrow?"
Garthanan turned back around with a reluctant smile for the enthusiastic elfling. Rumil was about twenty five years old, approximately the equivalent of a human ten years of age, and his happy excitement was infectious. "Carangallon would like that, I think." He agreed.
Rumil's smile was blinding bright, to the extent that even Lord Sorneturco softened. "Maybe your grandson Ilumerion could join us too?" Rumil asked Sorneturco appealingly.
"Ah...I suppose that he might, if Lord Garthanan approves." Which Lord Garthanan did, and so Lord Sorneturco walked away with the bemused expression of an elf who has just been played at the cards table.
When the three disagreeable Lords were out of hearing range, Orophin kicked his younger brother's foot. "I thought that you were still feuding with Ilumerion. Something about him having cheated at Mallorn ball."
"I'm not upset about that anymore. It was a week ago." Rumil answered. Peering down the open-air courtyard at the three Lords far below, Rumil commented, "They're such rock-heads. I feel bad for Carangallon and Ilumerion."
"We don't call other elves 'rock-heads.' Haldir sternly corrected his brother, although from the young soldier's expression, Glorfindel rather thought it a perfunctory scold.
Deciding that it was time to make his presence known, Glorfindel cleared his throat. When the three younglings, startled, had turned to face them, Glorfindel commented wryly, "I can't disagree that those three distinguished elders are behaving in a manner befitting rockheads. But your behavior was not much better today, Lord Rumil. And that is even more true for your brothers, who are older and should be even more ashamed of the insolent discourtesy the three of you showed to my Lord just two hours ago."
The brothers blushed and cast their heads down, expecting a blistering lecture and deserving one. But Glorfindel paused for a moment. It would undoubtedly only make the children more anxious, which was all to the good from his perspective. The reason for Glorfindel's pause, however, was that the elflings' defense of Elrond had not just startled him, it had...reminded him of something, or someone, and he was trying to place that off-key note.
Glorfindel looked more closely at the three brothers in front of him. Most of their appearance, their bearing, was unique unto them. But there were moments....when Orophin turned his chin in challenge or fought to conceal his emotions; the peaceful, exalted expression on Rumil's face when he sang of an evening; something of Haldir's grace in advancing, sword in hand, that were...familiar, to Glorfindel. He couldn't think from where, and it bothered him. There was something about Theli, too, that rang a chord in Glorfindel's memory. Mostly, that happened when Theli was healing, and Glorfindel had always thought that it had just been because Theli was Elrond's student. And maybe it was. But Glorfindel found himself wanting to line up the three brothers and their cousin, and ask Galadriel if she saw it too. He rather thought that she did, but like himself, she couldn't place the resemblance.
Sighing and giving up on that mystery for now, Glorfindel said in a low, threatening tone of voice, "I don't suppose that the three of you would care to offer any explanation for your abominable behavior?" Glorfindel's tone made it clear that this was a rhetorical question, as he did not think that there could possible BE a defense.
"Um." Orophin offered, "Maybe we should move into the schoolroom?" He gestured to the open door the boys had been standing in front of, "You have a penetrating voice, my Lord, and this talan is more a building of state than a family residence."
Glorfindel narrowed his eyes at Celeborn's most loquacious son, but he did nod and gesture for the three boys to precede him into the school room chambers. Orophin was extremely annoying and presumptuous, but he was right that Glorfindel didn't want to lose control of his temper and yell at the boys loudly enough to give more fodder to elves such as Lord Amanyaro. Glorfindel had a sense of family pride, too.
Once inside the brightly lit rooms, with drawings and maps decorating the wall, the three elflings sat down. Glorfindel raised an eyebrow at them. "Stand up immediately. I did not give you permission to sit."
"But you didn't say that we couldn't." Orophin pointed out. Both of his brothers nudged him to be quiet as they stood shame-faced in a row in front of the balrog-slayer.
Glorfindel pointed a finger at Orophin, "One more impertinent comment out of you, brat, and I will add a number of additional swats to what I am already intending to give you."
That had the gratifying result of finally quieting Orophin, who undoubtedly remembered the last time he had felt Glorfindel's hand. And then a hairbrush wielded in Glorfindel's hand, and then a strap. The last had been excessive. Glorfindel hadn't bruised or blistered the boy, but he'd let Orophin's insouciance push him into losing his temper and punishing the elfling more harshly than he should have, particularly as Orophin hadn't even been involved in filling Lord Elrond's boots with pond sludge that day, he'd just been taking the heat for Rumil. After that incident, Celeborn had been more than a bit angry. He'd made Glorfindel swear to send the children to him rather than punish them himself if Glorfindel deemed that they had earned more than a spanking with just his hand. Which limited Glorfindel's options in this case, since he had his own reasons for not wanting Celeborn to be aware that the boys had listened in as their parents punished Elrond. It was no matter, he decided to himself. He had slain a balrog. He routinely reduced two thousand year old elven warriors to tearful, incoherent apologies. He could certainly make these three deeply and sincerely regret their disrespectful actions with just a severe tongue lashing and a sound spanking.
"Did it make you feel superior, to gloat and have a bit of fun at my Lord's expense?" Glorfindel began, leaning his hip up against the edge of what he assumed was their tutor's desk.
The two elflings and the young soldier were silent.
"I expect an answer!" Glorfindel roared at them.
"No." Rumil offered quietly, "But we were glad that he got in trouble. Because he always makes our sister cry, and no one ever does anything about it except us."
"No, sir." Haldir offered as well, not putting forward an excuse as if he did not believe there was an acceptable one, although he clearly agreed with Rumil's.
Orophin remained quiet, probably figuring that if he didn't say anything he couldn't be blamed for being impertinent. Given what Orophin was likely to say if he opened his mouth, Glorfindel thought that was probably the better part of wisdom.
Glorfindel paused, and rubbed at his aching forehead with one hand. He would not normally show such a clear sign of weakness before punishing three youths whose behavior had been as offensive as the boys' had been this day, but Rumil's protest had gotten under his skin. Glorfindel could well remember waiting in the darkness with his Lord Turgon and several others, waiting to jump out and pour maple syrup and feathers over a certain ellon who had been slandering Turgon and Fingon's younger sister Arelda. Arelda had sort've deserved some of it, but that hadn't mattered to her brothers, and no elleth deserved to be treated as if her honor was nothing. Finrod had been with them that night, and had been punished by his uncle Fingolfin along with them. Their elders had kept the matter quiet, since no one could ever prove that it had been Arelda's brothers and their friends who had perpetrated the assault.
Finrod had called in the debt later, on one of the rare occasions when a suitor of Galadriel's had not gracefully give up the pursuit in light of the lady's disinterest. Galadriel had thought that they were all idiots for defending her, but Glorfindel hadn't thought that she deserved to be called a whorish witch just because she didn't happen to be interested in courting that particular ellon, and hadn't minded that much getting in trouble for tossing that fellow into a muddy pond. In front of most of Aran Finwe's court.
And then there had been Lindanelle, who was Glorfindel's friend Ecthelion's youngest sister. Glorfindel had watched her grow from a charming, sweet-natured little elfing into a beautiful, kind, and gracious elleth. He had bloodied the nose of the first ellon to make her cry, even though that ellon had been her brother Ecthelion himself. Glorfindel had spanked his own brother-by-law Helyandur, for hurting Lindanelle's feelings. Even though Helyandur had been Lindanelle's own beloved husband.
So Glorfindel understood wanting to get retribution on someone who hurt your sister. Still, eavesdropping on Elrond's spanking and commenting on it like smug, unpleasant cats was nothing like cleanly punching Elrond in the face. Not that Glorfindel would want them to do that, either.
"I understand that you want to defend your sister." Glorfindel said at length, his voice level rather than perturbed. "And I have, reluctantly, ignored your childish pranks. Putting ink in my Lord's wine, and honey in his clothes press, and the like. At Elrond's specific instruction, I have let him deal with your petty campaign against him, and I have said nothing. But this goes too far. A spanking is meant to be a private punishment between an elf who has erred and an elder who cares for him. Not fodder for your amusement." Glorfindel's tone had become cutting again by the end, and the three boys nodded. Only Haldir met Glorfindel's eyes, an acknowledgement of his shameful misdeed and a refusal to accept quarter plain in his brown eyes. Rumil and Orophin looked away, but Glorfindel could tell that even Orophin now felt honest remorse.
Glorfindel continued, "Elrond would never have punished any of you in such a way as to make a spectacle for others to gloat at your pain and embarrassment. You violated his privacy, and by rights I should not only deal with you myself, here and now, but also report your appalling conduct to your father and to Elrond for them to deal with you, too."
The children looked very unhappy, but none of them raised an objection. Glorfindel nodded in satisfaction that they realized they deserved such an outcome for their outrageous eavesdropping, before easing their minds. "However, I am not going to notify Elrond, or Celeborn. Not out of consideration for you three; but because my Lord, who has constantly protected you from your father's justifiable disappointment with you regarding your conduct towards him, would not want me to. You may thank Elrond for this mercy by NOT letting on to him what you overheard today. Have I made myself quite clear?" Glorfindel growled.
"Yes, Captain." Haldir answered steadily, holding himself straight even though his face blazed with shame.
"Yes, Lord Glorfindel." The younger two chorused, Rumil appearing relieved as well as ashamed. Orophin was wiser.
Glorfindel considered them critically again, then after a few moments nodded, as if they had passed muster, but only just barely. "All right then. Go find a corner, each of you. While I try to determine out how I'm going to deal with you."
Rumil obeyed that instruction immediately, as if he were still accustomed to receiving it. The elder two paused, probably a bit insulted by the idea of corner time. After only a heartbeat, Haldir pointed imperiously to an empty corner before marching off to another. Orophin sighed and went where his brother had bade him. Glorfindel amused himself by taking a look around their tutor's desk and the classroom as a whole. He wasn't particularly interested in the elflings' school work. Glorfindel was far from a scholar. But he figured that, in a school room, there would probably be some implement with which a teacher could impress upon a naughty student's bottom the importance of paying proper attention to learning. Nor was he disappointed, for a quick glance revealed not only a wooden ruler, but also a pointer. If he'd gone so far as to poke through drawers, Glorfindel thought it likely that he could have found a paddle or maybe a strap as well, depending on how strict the elflings' tutor was. But after the last time, when he'd unfairly strapped Orophin, Glorfindel thought that would be too unkind. And in any case, he wasn't planning to use any of the implements. But the boys didn't know that.
Glorfindel slapped the ruler and then the pointer down loudly upon the desk, watching as the younger two elflings in the corner winced, and Haldir's back straightened ever so minutely. Normally, if the young elf in question was repentant for their behavior, Glorfindel wouldn't make such a production over a spanking. But given the extremely poor behavior the three had exhibited today, he felt it justified. His quick look around the schoolroom had also revealed two other chambers adjacent to the main room, one seemingly a subsidiary library and work room and the other an office for the tutor. The latter would serve well enough for his purposes. He called the boys out of their corners, waiting until they stood before him again.
"I would be more than justified in applying one of these to your disrespectful backsides. I want you to understand that." That got a reaction which Glorfindel had not expected. Even if he were going to use more than his hand, Glorfindel knew that he wouldn't use anything worse than the ruler on Rumil. But the elfings apparently didn't know that, because Rumil's eyes fixed on the pointer and widened in fear.
"If you're going to use the pointer on him." Orophin squeaked, "Then I'm going to go get Adar. Um, Lord Celeborn. I'd rather him know about us eavesdropping on him and Elrond than risk Rumil getting punished with that." Haldir didn't say anything, but he subtly stepped in front of both of his little brothers.
"Oh, for..." Glorfindel shook his head, and put the pointer back on the chalk board where it had come from. "That wasn't for Rumil." Glorfindel paused with a sigh, "But if I had intended to use it on him, then going to get your father you would have been not only a brave thing to do, but also the right thing to do."
"Then...can that not count as 'one more impertinent remark,' Lord Glorfindel?" Orophin asked hopefully.
Glorfindel found it difficult to fight a laugh at that, but he did manage. "It may 'not count.' This once." he answered the elfling solemnly, likewise suppressing an amused smile at Orophin's obvious relief. Turning serious again, the elven Lord told the elflings, "I should spank all three of you right here. However, in an attempt to demonstrate for you the basic tenets of courtesy which you seem to have somehow failed to learn, I will grant you the dignity and respect which you failed to extend to my Lord." Glorfindel gently grabbed Rumil by the shoulders, and dismissed Orophin and Haldir. "You two wait here."
Intending to lead Rumil into the tutor's small office and close the door, Glorfindel was surprised when Rumil looked up at him, soft blue eyes already moist with tears, "May my brothers come? I don't mind if they see me get spanked, I just want them there."
Well, that was unexpected. But Glorfindel didn't have the heart to deny the request, and so it was that Haldir and Orophin held Rumil's hands and did their best to comfort him while Glorfindel got the youngest elfling's spanking over with as quickly as possible. Glorfindel was not accustomed to spending much time with children at all, at least not until they were in training as warriors staring no earlier than their late adolescence. And he did not like spanking children. He much preferred telling them stories or teaching them strategy games. Or even having them drop candy on his braids. Punishing little elflings made Glorfindel FEEL like a balrog, and Rumil was no exception.
When the spanking was over, Glorfindel waited until the elfling had calmed and re-dressed himself, then gave him a kiss on the forehead and forgave him. "Now go wait with Haldir in the classroom, Rumil." Glorfindel gently instructed the youngest, "You will remain there until I have finished with both your brothers. I have chores to assign to each of you."
"Ye...yes, Lord Glor...Glorfindel." Rumil gasped. Glorfindel patted the elfling gently on the back, and gave him into his eldest brother's keeping.
Haldir wrapped an arm around Rumil, but cast a glance over his shoulder at Orophin as he led their younger brother from the room. "Alright, Phin?" Haldir asked, a bit worried.
Orophin lifted his chin up, that challenging, proud but scared look again. It reminded Glorfindel of someone, but for the life of him he couldn't remember who. "I'll be fine." Orophin said aloud, although from the narrowing of Haldir's eyes he'd probably said something more, over the silent mental bond which linked the brothers.
Glorfindel waited for the door to close before putting a hand around Orophin's upper arm. Taking a seat again upon the tutor's straight backed desk chair, Glorfindel pulled the unhappy teenager over his lap. "You know why you're here; count yourself lucky that no one is listening to you get your deserving bottom smacked and chortling over it." Glorfindel told Orophin sternly, flipping the adolescent's tunic up and lifting him up slightly to unlace his leggings and pull them down to his knees.
Orophin's back stiffened in what Glorfindel was fairly sure was resentment for being treated like a little elfling. As Glorfindel deemed Orophin's behavior had been worse than he would expect from a little elfling, he wasn't bothered by that reaction. Orophin's reply of "Yes, Lord Glorfindel," was stilted, but otherwise polite enough. It probably helped that his eyes were fixed on the floor. Glorfindel started spanking then. Orophin flinched and yelped at the first hard swat, and then fought a losing battle with himself to remain quiet as Glorfindel spanked his bottom until it was a bright, practically glowing red. Glorfindel continued spanking Orophin's bared bottom, determined to make an impression. And he clearly was, unless Orophin was acting. Glorfindel wouldn't put that beyond Orophin, but his pain and upset seemed sincere, as it had the last time that Glorfindel had punished him. Only then, Glorfindel had been too annoyed at what he saw as histrionics to realize that this elfling just probably had sensitive skin and a low pain tolerance.
What Orophin did next proved that he wasn't acting. A normal elfling would have put a hand back to try and stop the punishment. Orophin lifted a hand up to bite it, hard, in an attempt to take the spanking with any remnant of dignity.
Sighing and snatching the hand away from the boy's mouth, Glorfindel pinned it at the small of Orophin's back. Leaving the elfling holding his weight over Glorfindel's lap with just one hand, the balrog-slayer tilted Orophn's bottom a little further over his lap and began spanking the undercurves of his bottom.
"I...I'm ss..sorry, Lord...Glor...Glorfindel!" Orophin wailed, and Glorfindel sighed again, though he did not pause in his systemic reddening of the boy's sit spots. He did silently call for Haldir to join them, hoping that the presence of his elder brother would comfort Orophin.
Haldir quietly slipped into the room, timing his entrance for a pause in Orophin's howls. "Are you still carrying on like a little elleth when you get smacked, Pain?" Haldir mocked gently. Glorfindel gave the young soldier a narrow look as he continued swatting Orophin's slender buttocks, but it was apparently an insult which lacked heat, at least between the two ellyn. Haldir enveloped his brother in a half hug around Orophin's neck, and the middle brother sobbed into Haldir's hair and neck until Glorfindel deemed that he had equaled the fire lit in Orophin's bottom cheeks on his sit spots. With one final resounding smack to the middle of Orophin's bottom, Glorfindel ended the spanking. He waited until the adolescent's sobbing quieted, patting Orphin's back gently.
Glorfindel and Haldir helped Orophin rise to his feet, and Haldir aided him in righting his clothing.
"Show me your hand, elfling." Glorfindel commanded.
Orophin reluctantly extended the appendage for the balrog-slayer's inspection. Haldir looked on curiously, and then gave Orophin an appalled look at the neat impression of teeth on either side of the palm.
"Healing supplies?" Glorfindel asked the eldest. Orophin hadn't broken the skin, but it still looked painful. And Glorfindel hadn't been trying to hurt his hand.
Haldir nodded to a chest against the wall, all the while berating his brother.
"Biting? Really, 'Phin?"
"I thought... that it might take...take my mind...off...my bum." Orophin hiccuped.
Haldir rolled his eyes as Glorfindel treated the bite, reprimanding, "Oh yes, what a wonderful idea. What do you think that you are, a badger chewing off its paw trying to get out of a trap?"
"It...hiccup....felt like it!" Orophin countered.
"See your brother settled, then return." Glorfindel commanded Haldir, who then helped Orophin to limp out of the room and lie down on a soft rug beside Rumil in the school room. Haldir didn't hesitate to come back to the office and close the door. Haldir was a good soldier.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Haldir's turn with Glorfindel, and another unexpected conversation or two.
A/N: Thanks to Karen for her assistance with this chapter and the previous one as well.
Excerpt from Part VI:
"See your brother settled, then return." Glorfindel commanded Haldir, who then helped Orophin to limp out of the room and lie down on a soft rug beside Rumil in the school room. Haldir didn't hesitate to come back to the office and close the door. Haldir was a good soldier.
Haldir also appeared quite embarrassed by his shameful behavior.
'As well he should be,' thought Glorfindel. Eavesdropping on another elf's punishment, ANY other elf's punishment (let alone an elder who had saved Haldir's own life and leg), was dishonorable behavior in any soldier. Glorfindel eyed the youth critically.
Haldir stood straight, a statue of a young warrior. Expecting no quarter, and asking none either.
Glorfindel was reluctantly impressed, but gave no sign of it. Neither elf spoke, although Glorfindel was quite sure that Haldir would speak first. The day that Glorfindel couldn't out-wait a sixty some year old youth was the day he would hang up his sword. Well, except for Arandil, who had been capable at sixty of humming a little tune in his head until Glorfindel lost his temper and his tongue. But Haldir was no Arandil. Glorfindel had given up hope of there ever being another Arandil.
Still, Haldir was one of the dozen or so best soldiers of his age whom Glorfindel had ever seen. He wasn't an all-around natural like the young Arandil had been. Nor did he show Thranduil's occasional flashes of brilliance. But he was a strong, determined young elf who worked himself hard, and then cooperated with his trainers to work even harder. Haldir was normally respectful, honorable, and dutiful to a fault. In fact, this was one of only a handful of lapses which Glorfindel knew about on Haldir's behalf. All the more reason to come down hard on him, to see that he avoided such unbecoming behavior in the future.
"I...I thank you for your mercy to my brothers, Captain Glorfindel." Haldir said at last, trying to hide the shame and apprehension he felt with a solemn military bearing, "But I am grown, and I knew far better that to do something so contemptible. I don't deserve your mercy. I...um, you should..."
Glorfindel's eyes narrowed as the boy shifted his weight ever-so-slightly to the right.
"Come here." He commanded Haldir, no longer listening to what the elfling was saying. If Haldir was having pains in his leg again, then he should have already been forcibly relieved from training and his other physically strenuous duties. Glorfindel would always put the health of any soldier before even a well-earned punishment. And Glorfindel was most certainly NOT going to let Haldir's stubborn pride and determination put an end to his promising career, the one which only Elrond's finest efforts had saved in the first place.
"Captain Glorfindel?" Haldir questioned, confused.
Out of patience, Glorfindel took a step closer, and began firmly but carefully guiding Haldir over to the tutor's desk.
"Sir?" Inquired Haldir, confused and worried but doing his best to hide it.
"Drop your leggings, pen-neth." Glorfindel commanded, "I'm going to take a look at your leg."
"Why?" Haldir replied, startled. "It is fine, Sir! I swear to you that it is!" Despite the boy's protests, Glorfindel noted that he was hastily obeying, quickly yanking elegant leggings down over his narrow hips and muscular thighs.
"Your word of honor on this particular subject is suspect," Glorfindel commented wryly, pressing Haldir's body further down over the hard surface of the desk so that Glorfindel could better see the area just above the knee which often caused the youngster so much trouble.
It did look fine enough. Glorfindel pressed his fingers down on the scars, and saw no swelling or evident tenderness. He kept one eye on Haldir's face as he did so, and the boy did not react beyond a flinch at the initial cold of Glorfindel's fingers. The balrog slayer could tell that the boy was both startled and affronted by the indignity, but he did not seem to be in pain. Haldir was quite a stoic, though. Glorfindel could only think of one way to be sure.
"Hold still." Glorfindel directed. Then he pounded his closed fist down on the worst part of the ugly axe scar marring the boy's leg. Twice.
"Oww! By the...Oww!" Haldir yelled in surprise and pain, cutting himself off before he said anything truly objectionable. Which Glorfindel might have forgiven him, given the situation. He hadn't liked to cause the just-not-an-elfling such pain, but he'd needed to know for certain that there was no lingering weakness. Haldir's training schedule was intense, and if there was any chance of a re-injury, it would have to be adjusted immediately.
"You're right." Glorfindel concluded, "It seems fine."
He offered a hand to help Haldir back onto his feet. Haldir declined the assistance, instead levering himself up awkwardly and quickly pulling his leggings back up, even though he must know that he would have to bare himself again soon enough. The youth's hand twitched in the direction of his smarting thigh, but he didn't actually reach down to rub at the pain.
Glorfindel's lips twisted wryly. He'd been young and proud once himself. But he'd always had a better sense of humor than Haldir. Glorfindel had always been one of the first to indulge in a good laugh at himself, at least once his initial fit of temper had passed. Maybe Haldir would grow out of trying to act like an ancient elven warrior before his time. For Haldir's sake, Glorfindel hoped so. He could certainly see why the youth's mannerisms were extremely annoying to some (notably Greenwood's young King, who was very annoying himself at times, in Glorfindel's opinion, so it didn't cause Glorfindel to lose any sleep). Glorfindel did care about Elrond's opinion. Elrond, however, seemed consistently amused by Haldir, except when the youngling was being a bad patient. The amusement seemed to actually have a dampening effect on Haldir's behavior, whereas the annoyance just made the elfling behave even more stiffly and properly and stoically. Glorfindel supposed that was Haldir's response to feeling uncomfortable. Which made sense, as the elfing was particularly stone faced now.
"I was very disappointed by your behavior today." Glorfindel told Haldir. The balrog slayer was stern and stone-faced himself. Enough so that even proud Haldir quailed a bit. "Your brothers look up to you. You are one of your King's sworn elves, not a jackanapes elfling. You should have been STOPPING your brothers, not joining them in snickering over my Lord's misfortune."
"I...I know, Captain Lord, sir." Haldir stammered, still meeting Glorfindel's gaze squarely, despite having to hide tears of shame at his own conduct. "Listening to Adar Celeborn spank Lord Elrond, I mean, um, eavesdropping like I did, and not stopping my brothers. It was hateful. I'm so sorry."
That was sincere, and Glorfindel allowed his features to soften slightly. "As well you should be, young ellon. It was unworthy of you, and I expect never to see or hear of you doing anything similarly detestable again. Do you understand me, Haldir?"
"Yes, sir." The young ellon answered miserably.
At that, Glorfindel realized that this barely-more-than-an-elfling soldier was still more than a bit in awe of Glorfindel. And that, beyond Haldir having a hard time admitting wrong-doing because he tried so hard to fulfill expectations and castigated himself so severely when he failed, Haldir was particularly appalled and ashamed that it had been 'The Great Balrog-Slayer' who had caught him acting like an offensive bratling.
Glorfindel couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for the youth. He knew Haldir best out of Celeborn's three sons, having been on hand when a careless idiot of a weapons student had almost cut through Haldir's leg whilst fooling around with an axe. Glorfindel had done his best to hold the gaping wound together while yelling for Elrond, and he'd been around later to see Haldir tough his way through some truly torturous physical therapy. Just thinking of that time reignited Glorfindel's temper. Elrond had worn himself to the bone caring for Haldir. On top of that, Haldir had not been Middle Earth's most cooperative patient, not by any stretch of the imagination. And after all of that, THIS was how Haldir treated Elrond? Glorfindel said a few chosen words along that theme, which left Haldir pale as a ghost and shaking like a leaf. But he pulled himself together. He was a good soldier, Haldir. He would face up to what he'd done, even if he hated himself for having done it.
"I know, Sir." Haldir managed unsteadily, surprising Glorfindel by continuing, "Lord Elrond has been very good to me, and I should not have repaid him so contemptuously. You should...you should not let me off so easily. Um." Haldir took a deep breath, and offered, "My brothers are still elflings. I am not...and I should face a soldier's punishment and not a child's."
"No." Glorfindel denied. He wasn't sure whether that answer pleased Haldir or no, but Glorfindel wasn't going to change his mind. "This was the act of an childish brat, and I will punish you as I would an erring elfling." Besides, Glorfindel wasn't going to break his word to Celeborn.
"But, Sir!" Haldir protested, appearing torn between obedience and reluctance. Glorfindel could understand why a warrior, even a young one - perhaps especially a young one- would be mortified at the thought of being spanked like a child. But that didn't stop Glorfindel from pulling the young soldier over his lap. Haldir, to his credit, didn't fight the gesture
Glorfindel wasted no more time in baring the youth's pale bottom and landing the first hard smack. Haldir turned his head minutely, but he didn't even gasp. Glorfindel continued spanking the young elf. His strong hand landed with a sharp slapping sound on one cheek and then the other in a thorough, rhythmic pattern. Haldir's muscular backside quickly turned red under Glorfindel's punishing smacks, yet he still did not cry out or squirm. Glorfindel could see Haldir's fingers tense and release one by one where they rested, lightly braced against the floor (as Glorfindel was supporting most of the solid young elf's weight). Haldir held himself silent, even as Glorfindel's punishing spanks turned to the sensitive undercurve of his bottom.
Smack after smack, Glorfindel turned the youth's sit-spots a bright crimson. Haldir's self-control eroded to the point where he was gasping and crying quietly, and then lifting up first one booted foot and then another in response to each spank. Not every young elf reacted as dramatically to a sound bottom-warming, so Glorfindel forced himself to be careful in the strength he put into his swats. He hadn't reduced Haldir to bawling incoherence, but that wasn't the point of the exercise, in any case, just a usual byproduct. It was, however, Glorfindel's intention to make sure that Haldir understood the depth of the Balrog-slayer's displeasure with his conduct. So Glorfindel continued spanking the boy, although he lessened the force of his smacks considerably. He didn't think Haldir appreciated the mercy, at that point. The youngling's bottom had to feel like it was on fire, Glorfindel knew from his own personal experience. Still, Haldir kept his crying quiet and his legs just short of kicking. The youngster's bottom was dark red by then, and Glorfindel did not care to continue the punishment further. He stilled his hand, and moved it to rest gently on Haldir's lower back.
"I am done, Haldir." Glorfindel said just loudly enough to be heard over the sound of the boy's quiet sobs. Haldir struggled to his feet as quickly as he was able, rapidly covering up his flaming bottom despite the evident discomfort it caused him. Then he did something which Glorfindel did not expect. Proud Haldir fell to his knees, tearfully begging the Balrog-Slayer's pardon for the offense to his Lord. It was clear to Glorfindel that Haldir hated to humble himself so, despite his true anguish and contrition over his lamentable actions.
Moved again, for Glorfindel knew from proud elves and the cost to them of such humility, Glorfindel pulled the boy to his feet. Gently touching his forehead to Haldir's, Glorfindel assured him, "You earned that punishment, Haldir. But you are a good young ellon." Glorfindel added with a wry smile, "Behaving like an appalling brat for several hours today does not change that, despite what you in your youthful idiocy may think."
Haldir wasn't sure whether he'd been complimented or insulted, which was good because Glorfindel tried for that. It left his opponents unsettled. Even when his opponents were half-grown children.
"Ye..yes, Sir." Haldir said.
"Now," Glorfindel added, taking hold of one of Haldir's firmly muscled shoulders, "I'd like you to do me a favor. Lay off of Elrond for me, eh?"
"Yes, Sir." Haldir promised, bewildered, probably at that being phrased as a request rather than a command.
"I know that it has been mostly your brothers who come up with clever plans to bedevil my Lord." Glorfindel added sternly, "But you are AWARE of whatever it is that your fiendish little brothers are up to."
Haldir blushed. "Yes, Sir." He acknowledged, to Glorfindel's relief, since that last had been an educated guess.
Glorfindel fixed Haldir with a firm, measuring look. "I want you to tell them to not to bother Elrond anymore. At least not during THIS visit."
"Yes, Captain." Haldir promised, straightening his shoulders and looking determined. Glorfindel wouldn't want to be Orophin or Rumil, if they stepped out of line on their big brother's watch.
Glorfindel nodded gravely back, satisfied. He waited until Haldir had calmed down further, then gestured for the youth to precede him back into the classroom where his brothers waited. Haldir started to do so, only to pause and look back at Glorfindel in confusion.
"Captain, Sir?" He asked tentatively, "What did you mean by, 'during this visit?'"
Glorfindel just raised an eyebrow, and gently shoved Haldir forward into the main room.
Glorfindel would be more aware of what these children were up to, in the future, he promised himself that. But Glorfindel had made it a rule NOT to get involved in whatever was going on between Elrond and Celebrian, except for to occasionally tell Elrond that Glorfindel believed his Lord was acting like a big idiot. And since it now seemed to Glorfindel as if the USUAL sort of mischief the three brothers caused Elrond was more their own way of calling him an idiot than an attempt to actively make Elrond miserable, Glorfindel wasn't planning to get involved in THAT, either. Not unless something like today occurred again. Which the Balrog-Slayer didn't really think that it would. Annoying they could be, but no one who'd spent more than ten minutes with them would consider the Lord and Lady's sons to be stupid.
Rumil had been lying on his stomach on a cushioned window seat. Orophin stood beside him, leaning a hip carefully against the edge of the window seat, reading to Rumil from a thick book of what sounded like particularly gory fairy tales. But as soon as Haldir and Glorfindel reentered the schoolroom, Orophin and Rumil both looked up, their eyes moving to their brother as if to verify that he was still alive. Glorfindel didn't see why. He was famous for slaying balrogs, not young elves just beyond their majority.
Glorfindel gave Haldir another gentle shove in the direction of his brothers. "Stay." He commanded all three of them, before opening the door and drafting a passing maid to bring a light repast from the kitchens. Glorfindel might not remember very much about how to deal with very young elves anymore, but he did remember that one had to feed them. And that they might be particularly hungry and thirsty, after the trauma and tears of a thorough spanking.
While they were waiting for the food to arrive, Glorfindel stepped closer to Orophin, kneeling before him so that they could see eye to eye. Orophin was still upset with himself over how he had reacted to the spanking, and Glorfindel could tell that. "You did well, Oorphin. Feeling pain and showing it does not make you a coward, or weak. You accept the punishment which you have earned, and do not try to avoid it. That makes you brave." He offered the boy. It seemed to help Orophin, at least a bit. And after ward, there was gratitude directed at Glorfindel in the eyes of Haldir and Rumil.
A young elleth brought the food, bowing to Glorfindel and speaking sweetly to the young Lords. Glorfindel noted that they knew the girl's name and treated her with respect, as if they were co-workers. He approved of that.
"Oooh, Haldir." Rumil teased just after the serving elleth left the room, "You're lucky that Silwen's gone to Imladris, so that she couldn't be the cook to come just then, and see that you had just been spanked like an elfling."
Haldir seemed torn between smacking Rumil and ignoring him. Glorfindel cleared his throat, getting their attention. Rumil appeared chastened, and even more so when Orophin swatted him on the hip, on what appeared to be Haldir's behalf. Glorfindel decided that he wasn't going to get involved in that, whatever it was.
No, what he was interested in, was how they had defended Elrond earlier. Or rather, why.
"You had chores to assign us, Captain?" Haldir asked politely, still standing stiffly but partaking of the fruit juice and cheese.
"I do." Glorfindel said firmly, "But first I have a question which I would like for the three of you to answer for me."
The three brothers exchanged questioning glances.
"We will if we can, Captain Glorfindel." Haldir answered on behalf of all three of them.
"I witnessed your confrontation with the three idiots, earlier." Glorfindel began.
"Uh....oh." Said the three brothers, almost at once. They looked as if they were wondering if they were in trouble with Glorfindel, over that.
"Let me reassure you, that conduct did not put you in my bad books. In fact, it was well and cleverly handled. But perhaps you can clear up an issue of some confusion to me." Glorfindel asked.
"We will if we can, Captain." Haldir answered again.
Glorfindel directed a thoughtful look at the three children, "Before today, especially after earlier today, I would have thought that if anyone was in the "anyone but Elrond' camp, it was you three. So..."
"Oh. Well," Haldir began, clearly struggling to explain.
Orophin rescued him, "We wouldn't really dislike Elrond if it weren't for him constantly wounding Celebrian to the quick."
"Well, Haldir might," Rumil elaborated with a mischievous grin, "But only because Elrond keeps saying he should take it easy on his leg." Rumil merrily skipped out of the way of Haldir's swat, "But not very much, anyway." Rumil concluded.
"And?" Glorfindel prompted. The explanation had been pretty much what he expected so far, but he sensed that there was more at play.
"And it wasn't right of them to say those hateful things about Lord Erlond." Orophin added, disgruntled.
"Or about anyone." Haldir concurred, his hand twitching in away that made Glorfindel want to put a hand on his sword pommel, too.
Rumil chimed in with, "And he's family, anyway. Lord Elrond is. Ada's nephew and Nana's cousin and Orophin says later our brother-by-marriage, even if Elrond doesn't know it."
Glorfindel gave Orophin a curious look. "Oh? Do you know something that I don't, elfling?"
Orophin seemed to think that he did. He nodded solemnly, and explained, "In every timeline in which both he and Celebrian live, Elrond as our brother-by-marriage is an inevitability."
Uncomfortably reminded of Galadriel, Glorfindel replied, "Ah. Well, we can't be certain of that."
"Lady Galadriel is." Orophin countered, "And I haven't seen anything to contradict her."
'Oh, Eru.' Glorfindel thought to himself, but he asked anyway, "'Seen' anything?"
All three brothers gave him a funny look.
"I'm her student." Orophin reminded the Balrog Slayer, who had forgotten that. "And having someone else try to scry for the same events as another seer without knowing exactly what they're looking for is a time-tested method of double-blind..."
Glorfindel cut him off, "I understand. Thank you, Orophin. Please keep this to yourself." And Glorfindel was going to have a talk with Galadriel about involving her elfling students in issues that really weren't appropriate for them.
Clearly insulted, Orophin replied, "Of course. I only told you because you're Lord Elrond's keeper...er... friend."
"Don't make me smack you again." Being in much better humor with the children, Glorfindel was mostly kidding.
"Yes, Lord Glorfindel." Replied Orophin meekly, and Glorfindel could clearly tell that Sendoron had been right. The boy was calling him "Lord" instead of his preferred title of "Captain," just to annoy him. But he was still listening as Orophin continued, "Um, may I ask you a question?"
"I suppose so." Glorfindel allowed, and what Orophin asked him next drove any thought of insisting that Orophin stop that out of his head.
The boy looked frightened, for a half moment. Haldir reached out to squeeze his shoulder, and Rumil pressed against Orophin, likewise scared. "We want to know," Orophin began, "Whether Bri's and Elrond's children could get sick, like Lord Elrond does sometimes?"
That was a very good question, and Glorfindel said so. It was also one to which he did not know the answer. He had never known Elwing or Earendil to be sick as adults, but then he had only known them in Aman. And Earendil's father Tuor, who was fully human, had never gotten sick in Aman, either.
"I don't know." He told the boys honestly, meeting their worried eyes, each in turn. "I will ask Galadriel...er, Lady Galadriel, your mother...oh, you know who I mean." He wondered why they hadn't asked her, then figured that they didn't want to cause her pain if she hadn't thought of it, either.
And their next question confirmed that impression.
"Could Celebrian's children with Elrond make Luthien's choice?"
Glorfindel froze. He'd never before even thought of that, and sweet Eru, it would break Elrond's heart if they could and did. "I don't know." He told them again. But he would find out.
"Will you tell us, if you may?" Asked Haldir carefully.
"Please." Orophin added. Rumil just nodded.
"I will tell you." Glorfindel agreed, "If I can get your mother to give me a straight answer."
Orophin managed a slight smile, "Yes, well. There is always that. In her defense, the future is often unclear."
"Not always." Glorfindel replied dryly, "Your immediate futures are fairly clear to me. Rumil, you will be assisting the kitchens with the preparation of dinner."
Rumil was dismayed, "But I was going to go swimming!" He objected, "It won't be warm enough for much longer! And besides, I don't like helping in the kitchens like Orophin does. I just like getting snacks there."
Haldir swatted his youngest brother on the hip. Glorfindel merely smiled, but it was the smile which caused his two thousand year old soldiers to wince. It had the same effect on Rumil, who hurriedly agreed. Glorfindel opened the door, and called silently for a dark-haired elf he saw across the open area of the talan.
"Captain-cousin?" Teased Faronglas Sinyefalion, coming to the door.
Rolling his eyes tolerantly at his younger cousin-by-marriage, Glorfindel ordered, "Take young Lord Rumil to the kitchens, and explain to the Chief Cook that he is to make himself useful, tonight and every night this week."
"Of course, cousin." Faronglas agreed, with a half-sympathetic, half-admonishing, 'what-did-you-do?', look for Rumil.
Rumil shrugged sadly and went to follow Faronglas. As the two walked out of sight, Glorfindel could just hear Faronglas' teasing, sympathetic inquiry, and Rumil's piping voice answering back, "This punishment is so that I don't have to TELL anybody what I did."
Glorfindel huffed a laugh at that. Closing the door, he turned back to the two older brothers. The appropriate punishment for Haldir was required no thought. "Haldir, you will be volunteering in the Hall of Healers, specifically with patients who are undergoing therapies to recover from wounds. Several hours a day for the next two weeks." Which would give Haldir another in-depth look at the fate awaiting him if he didn't take care with his weak leg. And it would also help him to learn better to care for it, while at the same time exposing him to healers who would be closely scrutinizing him for signs of weakness or overdoing. It was one of the most perfect punishments Glorfindel had ever thought of, and he was quite proud of himself. Haldir did not look anywhere near as enthused. Since it was a punishment, that pleased Glorfindel too.
Now for Orophin, and that was harder. He didn't particularly like hard physical work, but he didn't shirk from it either. Glorfindel had assigned Orophin to muck out stalls last time. Orophin hadn't liked the mess or the smell of that, but he hadn't minded the work. And he'd loved spending time with the horses. This time, perhaps something to continue to encourage him to build up his under-used muscles, and spend some time outside with other ellyn. Rather than curled up in a book or scrying in a moon-lit glade with Galadriel's other students. Who were largely female, and all many times Orophin's age.
"Orophin," Glorfindel began, "I think that you will spend every afternoon for the next two weeks with the Thannas, digging holes and working with the trees to better secure the defenses and offensive preparations of Caras Galadhon." The Thannas, or the shield and spear, was a group of warriors and craftsmen who had been assembled to try and address the issue of making Caras Galadhon and the other settlements wihin Lothlorien to be more defensible. The Thannas was staffed by young warriors hoping to gain training and merit, young warriors who had been assigned to the Thannas as an extra-duty punishment for some shortcoming, young craftsman similarly either hoping for more training or merit, or there against their will as a punishment. Private citizens also volunteered, some to share a specialty skill such as blacksmithing or proper tree removal or breeding. Other citizens volunteered because their parents commanded them too. The beauty of the Thannas was that, provided the elf was doing the work required by the military officers and craftsmen who supervised them, no one had to know why said elf was volunteering. Some came for honor, others for punishment. It was a way to punish one's children or subordinates with hard work, where at the same time no one could be sure that they were even being punished, and where they would learn something. Glorfindel approved of the idea, and he thought that it would suit admirably for Orophin.
Glorfindel had expected to see the same ruffled displeasure on Orophin's face as he'd seen on Haldir's face and Rumil's. Reasonable dislike and reluctance for a task seen as unpleasant but not torturous. Orophin, on the other hand, looked shaken. Almost scared. Glorfindel leaned forward to catch the boy's eyes. He was not going to make another mistake with Orophin. The memories which he saw in Orophin's eyes stopped him still. The first and last time that Orophin had volunteered with the Thannas, he'd found himself at the bottom of a pit, just as they were about to throw down the stakes which would be stuck into it. He'd called up in time and the supervisors had ordered him hauled out, kvetching all the while about how he was making their work take longer. Orophin hadn't know for sure how it was he fell and rolled down into the pit. But he thought that he'd been pushed. And there had been little sly, snide comments here and there...
That was all Glorfindel saw, because suddenly Orophin realized what he was sharing, and stopped. He just stopped. Glorfindel, trying to press to see a bit more of what happened, so that he could know how to respond and how to protect this child, found himself met by a solid line of nothing. Thoughts of nothing, nothing but the forest and the trees with a glimmer of 'wouldn't it be nice to take a walk right now.'
If this was the kind of wall that Orophin could build to protect his mind, then it was no wonder that he was already Galadriel's student. Glorfindel had never seen anything like it. He'd not seen the strength of it save in elves who bore the gift of prophecy from an early age, and in ancient elves such as himself who'd developed such abilities over time. In the end, if Glorfindel had chosen to press the child, he could have learned what Orophin chose to hide. Orophin was an elfling, a talented, gifted amateur. Glorfindel was well over six thousand years old, a reborn balrog slayer, with a history of prophets and gifted elves in his bloodline, and had been trained by Galadriel besides. Glorfindel could have pressed through Orophin's forest like mind defenses, but in doing so he would almost certainly hurt the child. Which he would never be willing to do. Still....
"You can tell me or you can show me, elfling." He said to Orophin in Quenya, "Because that is not a secret that I may let you keep. Its not safe for you, or for others."
Glorfindel could clearly read rebellion as well as torment in Orophin's gray-green eyes, but he acquiesced at last. He showed Glorfindel all of the moments which had given him pause. He glossed over the snide remarks and sly comments about the Lord and Lady's wood-elf sons. He did his best to ignore the two elves foully chuckling over how Orophin was the pretty one, of the three brothers, and that maybe that was why they had been adopted. So many things that could be done, with such a pretty boy.
Glorfindel nearly lost control of his temper at that, but they were in Orophin's mind and Orophin's memories. That wasn't what worried Orophin. It wasn't even the being pinched or tripped. It was falling into that pit. If the sharpened stakes had been dropped down before he got up, he could have been hurt.
"We will be taking no chances with your safety." Glorfindel told the elfling sternly. "I will send Sendoron with you. There will be no falling into pits, or any of that other nonsense, with him around."
"Oh, but I don't want to look like I have a babysitter!" Orophin objected, torn between fear of dying and fear of embarrassment. A typical teenager.
"Oh, you won't." Glorfindel assured the boy, grinning. "Sendoron is in trouble with me." A little bit for having teased Glorfindel on the way to the plague-stricken village, and a lot more for having failed to keep Elrond in bed resting whilst Glorfindel said farewell to his son Arandil. Glorfindel continued, "You are just in trouble together, and both being from the same prominent household, it would be natural for you to stick together. And so you shall. That's an order, for both of you." Glorfindel had just informed Sendoron of the same over their bond as long-time friends. Sendoron was less than thrilled about the whole prospect of being assigned to the Thannas as punishment for his misdeeds, in fact he'd been rather sardonic about it. But he was more than eager to keep an eye on Orophin. The elf who attacked Orophin while Sendoron was there would have to be all kinds of a fool. Glorfindel hoped that some of them were. He had complete faith in Sendoron to leave any such fools in a pained condition, but in such a way that Sendoron couldn't be blamed for it, and that the whole incident would get reported up the chain.
"Why are you doing this for me?" Orophin asked, still in Quenya.
Glorfindel smiled. Not quite the vicious grin that terrified his elves. More a smile that said, 'I'm older than you, and I know how to cause far more mischief than you could ever imagine, most of it in the cause of making you stronger. And now that is relevant to you.'
Orophin was clever enough to understand the meaning of the smile, or at least some of it. His head reared up in disbelief and worry, and baffled awe.
"Ah, yes." Glorfindel said with another smile, this one wry and affectionate. "You begin to understand. If Elrond will be your brother someday, then I will be your brother's keeper. We'll be like family." Glorfindel grinned brightly at the elfling and the young ellon eyeing him warily. "You will find that I have excellent taste in pranks. All of the members of my family say so."
With that, Glorfindel shooed them on their way. As he was meandering off to find Galadriel and check on Elrond, he heard Haldir asking, "What was that all about, Phin?" Glorfindel began whistling cheerily. Being physically threatened while 'volunteering' with the Thannas and not having told his brother or anyone in his family about it was a big 'no-no' in Glorfindel's book. He was betting that it was the same in Haldir's, and Celeborn's, and even Galadriel's. Glorfindel would not care to be Orophin just now, explaining that whole mess to Haldir.