10. Aftermath and No Answers
There was a more immediate concern for Elrond. Meren had collapsed in grief and withdrew into her bedchamber refusing to see or talk to anyone for nearly a week. When she finally emerged and asked to see him he found her stoic and showing little of the emotional pain and hurt she so carefully hid. Her own face and form was thin and drawn reflecting her lack of food or rest.
“My lord,” Meren dropped her head and sketched an abbreviated formal bow. “I appreciate you coming to me. I could not face anyone else just yet.”
He frowned, “Meren, what happened?” He asked gently, although he knew only an outright admission of her being the Watcher would have precipitated such an extreme reaction from Glorfindel.
She looked at the elf lord with numbed eyes, “I told him the truth.”
“But why? It was not necessary to do so just yet.”
“It was, my lord,” she turned from Elrond and gazed out the window not seeing the shimmering reflections from the upper waterfalls. “He was insistent that I not sail until we settled this attraction between us. I knew that it would only last a short time then he would withdraw as he always does since he will not allow himself anything more permanent. It was better to end it now and not leave the knowledge of that future hanging over our heads. He would go on his way but for me it would be a bleeding wound that never healed. I would eventually fade seeing him constantly, loving him and knowing I would never share his life.”
Elrond nodded his understanding, “Yet he asked. He has never done that before.”
Meren turned back towards him. “I know, and we made love in his own chambers and in his own bed. He has never done that before either. He has always chosen to pursue those activities elsewhere, but habits honed by centuries of practice are not so easily set aside, my lord. In time he would return to his previous choices, he may have had some regrets but he would still choose to do so.”
“Even if that happened, you need not sail. The Lady Galadriel has offered you shelter in Lothlorien. There you would be able to live and see members of your family from time to time.”
“My lord, even there I would not be immured from seeing him. Nor could he refrain from visiting the Golden Woods until the ending of our time here. But there is something that makes it impossible for me to accept her kind offer, and even more urgent that I sail as soon as possible. As long as I remain here I am a danger to Imladris and everyone I love. If somehow I fall under the shadow’s control such knowledge that I have learned will be his.”
“Meren, you are no longer a danger. Once there has been an acknowledgement of the affection, the ‘gift’ disappears.”
“Can we be sure of that my lord?”
“That is the information Galadriel shared with me.”
“Did she not also indicate that this situation is so rare that little is understood about it?”
He nodded slowly in response.
“Then forgive me, my lord, if I am a little more cautious and less willing to risk all on such vague assurances. I am grateful for her willingness to shelter me, but the only sensible answer is for me to sail as soon as possible. In Valinor I will be beyond the reach of the Dark Lord and I cannot endanger Imladris. I will also with the grace of the Valar begin to heal from this foolishness of a one sided love.”
“I will consider all of this, but it will take time to make any arrangements even if you do sail. Your father will be returning in a couple of weeks. He will need to be appraised of all of this. You owe him that at the very least before you depart.”
“I am desirous of that also my lord. I beg you not to blame either of my parents for my foolishness. They had no knowledge of it nor did they help in anyway, I would not like to think I was the cause of their falling out of your favor. Father is proud of his service to you and Imladris.”
“I know that Meren and do not attach any such blame to them or you. I value his contributions and your naneth’s support. What has happened has been beyond your control.”
Meren relaxed and for the first time since they had started talking smiled sadly. “Thank you my lord. Has there been any word of Glorfindel? Is he safe?”
“No one has talked to him but I know he is well and safe. He will return in time. Have you no sense of him?”
Meren frowned and considered back over the past week, “No my lord, I have not.” She looked up at him, “Nor have I had any knowledge gleaned from you.”
The elf lord smiled, “I think that would indicate you have lost the ‘gift’ and we may no longer worry on that account.”
She shook her head. “It could return. I will not risk it. Do not ask me to remain my lord. The pain would be too great.”
“I know. Given the choice I too would make it.” A great sadness ghosted his face before he buried certain memories and focused back on the elleth.
“Forgive me my lord, I had not thought of your own sorrow.”
They exchanged looks of understanding and Elrond pulled her into a hug. “There is nothing to forgive Meren, I have learned to live with it. In time I too will sail and rejoin her.”
Glorfindel finally stopped his blind flight when Asfaloth dug in his heels and refused to go a foot further. He turned his head and stared at his rider. With a disgusted snort he flicked his tail back and forth in sharp snaps and humped his back crow hopping several times before turning to stare at back up the way they had come. Startled Glorfindel looked down at the stiff neck of his mount.
“Asfaloth, what is the matter with you? Is something wrong? Have you sensed something?” He stared about trying to determine what had distracted the equine. It was then he realized he carried neither sword, or bow to use if he encountered any danger. All he had was the knife at his belt. Groaning, he dismounted and buried his head in the stallion’s mane.
“I have been a hundred times more foolish then any hen would have been.”
Asfaloth snorted and pulled away and pushed his head into that of his master glaring at him.
Glorfindel groaned again. “I know, I am sorry and ask your forgiveness for being so unthinking of your well being.” He stroked the usually satin hide only to encounter dried sweat and dirt. Quickly removing the tack and gathering handfuls of course grass he began to brush the stallion. The repetition of the task soothed him and he allowed himself to sink into a thoughtless state. Finally the stallion began to relax leaning into his strokes and cocking one rear foot in rest as the elf continued to care for him. Glorfindel continued work on the mane and tail removing bits of twigs and leaves caught up in the tangle.
“That is the best I can do for now old friend, we will have to wait until we get back before I can give you a proper grooming. Let me just look at your hoofs then you can do a bit of grazing before we find some water. I will shake out the saddle blanket and clean your bit and bridle before I re-saddle you. There is an old talan near here that I will seek. If I remember well there is a small meadow and stream as well that will provide you comfort. I am sorry that I cannot return back just yet, there is much I have to consider first.”
The stallion snorted in sympathy and rubbed a soft muzzle against the elf’s shoulder.
The elf laughed wryly. “Yes, it is a female, and a most unusual one at that. I never thought I would be so affected. And now I must consider what I will do.”
It was much later and all was quiet. Asfaloth grazed in the small meadow below the talan and Glorfindel sat on the edge of the talan floor his legs dangling and occasionally swinging them to and fro like a small hin watching him. He had been carrying on a one sided conversation with the stallion and grinned when the stallion would switch his tail back and forth agreeing from time to time. Occasionally he would raise his head as he chewed a mouthful of the rich green grass as if considering a comment then look at his master and snort.
“Does that mean you think I have been an idiot, my friend? That I should not have let this one get so close?” He chuckled. “Or should I have taken her to my heart completely?”
The stallion flicked an ear towards the elf and then ignored him and focused on filling his stomach.
“You are right, first of all I should find something to eat.” Glorfindel set several snares made from strips of willow bark woven into thin ropes and collected berries and sweet roots some of which he shared with the stallion. Building a small fire he peeled and roasted the roots and ate them with gusto. Grinning up at the stallion who had moved up close behind him and nipped at his shoulder in a plea for more of the sweet roots, he shook his head and pulled at the stallions ears affectionately.
“You have more grass available to fill that large belly my friend, and I have already shared all I intend to right now.”
Asfaloth sighed noisily and returned to his grazing. Glorfindel turned back to the fire and watched it until it was only embers. Then calling to the stallion bidding him to stay near, he climbed back up into the talan and settled down on the bed of fresh fir bows he had collected earlier. Tomorrow he would face his problem, but tonight he would rest. He hoped!
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.