20. The Balm of Friendships Part Two
“What think you of my father’s realm?” Thranduil asked him pride evident in his green eyes.
Elrond smiled as he said softly, “It is the most magnificent place I have ever seen.”
“Then your mother’s blood has done you some good,” Oropher muttered as he joined them, “The last time Gil-Galad was here, he complained of the falling leaves.”
They rode on more slowly through the hidden Great Forest Road that led from the High Pass of the Misty Mountains to Lake Town. Elrond greedily looked around at the fascinating plants and animals that he had never seen so far. More than once, Thranduil’s stallion snorted in impatience as Elrond halted Dance and stooped down to smell yet another flower.
“My father has his fortress in the centre of these forests. To that side,” Thranduil pointed, “lies the stronghold of our trading partners, the dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, and the Lake Men.”
“I wish to see the forests at night,” Elrond said wistfully, “’Twould be nice to sleep under the trees.”
Oropher remarked, “Then you shall find yourself in excellent agreement with my wild son. He roams these woods more than anyone else and knows all the secrets of these lands.”
Thranduil retorted smiling evilly, “Ada, Celeborn told me of a certain princeling of Doriath who used to wander in the woods of Lúthien. And apparently, Elu Thingol had to send a search party many times to bring back this princeling.”
Oropher said disbelievingly, “Celeborn told you that!”
“Along with many other tales,” Thranduil assured him, “Be prepared to hear them all with embellishments should you persist in calling me wild.”
Oropher wisely said, “My son, you are the sweetest, cutest, most adorable and obedient son anyone could hope for. Now, stop telling those tall tales.”
Elrond laughed as Thranduil sputtered in shock at his father’s adjectives and said hastily, “I much prefer ‘wild’ to all those, Ada.”
They approached the large stone fortress the next week. Oropher’s people came out to welcome their King and beloved Crown Prince. Oropher’s counsellors kissed the hand of the King and led him inside. Thranduil followed more slowly, ushering Elrond in, at the same time, hugging many of his father’s subjects, who rushed to greet him with flowers. Elrond mused that never had Gil-Galad or Amdir been the subject of such affection in their respective realms.
Thranduil said quietly, as they followed the aides through the long, cool corridors of the fortress lit dimly by torches on the walls, “I missed home.”
Elrond replied, “You have been away for a few weeks, and you miss your land so. Think of Glorfindel who has been denied Valinor and sent back to Arda. Think of the Princes of Doriath, who have lost their homes in the Kinslayings. Think of the Noldor, banished from Aman, haunted by the doom of Finwë.”
Thranduil sighed, “That is true,” he brightened up suddenly saying, “THALION!” as a grey haired elf came to meet them. Thranduil hugged the elder elf murmuring, “Glad to see you have not seized power while we were away.”
The grey haired elf replied regretfully, “I had been planning to do that tomorrow, but your arrival has complicated matters,” he held Thranduil back at an arm’s length and inspected him sternly, “You are still weary, . I will not allow you to water the plants with the draughts I made for you as you sneakily did thus far. I am going to personally make sure that you drink even the last drop of my draughts,” Thranduil’s guilty smile did nothing to halt his lecture however. He said less severely, “You are lacking in manners after the stay in that Noldor realm, now, put on your hostly manners and introduce your guest to the long suffering healer of your father’s brat.”
Elrond bowed low to Thalion, “Elrond Earendillion at your service, my Lord. I have heard much of your healing skills and wish to learn from you, if you might find the time to teach me the arts of healing.”
“Ah! Elwing’s son,” Thalion dispensed with formalities and lifted up Elrond’s chin, “Much of your features remind me of her. And of Dior, too.”
“You know my mother,” Elrond asked wonderingly.
Thranduil snorted saying helpfully, “He knows countless people who have not probably even known of his existence.”
Thalion shot him a reproving glance before telling Elrond, “Yes, Lord Elrond. For I was the Chief Healer of Elu Thingol himself and later the chief Healer to Dior. I have patched up your mother countless times once she took to riding. But,” Thalion smiled reminiscently, “that count, however high it may be, is nowhere near the number of times I have patched up Ernil Thranduil.”
Thranduil dragged Elrond away from a victoriously smirking Chief Healer muttering, “Whatever happened to a healer’s discretion?”
The prince led Elrond to a well-furnished, plush room in the royal wing itself.
“I can be comfortable enough in a guest suite, you know,” Elrond murmured as he took in the magnificence of the chambers he had been given.
“Elrond ,” Thranduil said seriously, “You are not only a noble guest to our realm but also my friend unfortunately. We cannot have you roaming about the corridors lost. Now,” Thranduil gestured to his right, “those are my chambers, the ones opposite to yours are Thalion’s and the ones next to mine are my Adar’s. You can come to me or Thalion should you need anything. I am afraid there are not many aides as there used to be at the royal service in Lindon. Adar insists that we help ourselves. And, do never even mistakenly knock on his door. He rests less than I would like him to anyway.”
Elrond nodded saying earnestly, “I would never do that, . Though the King has had nothing but friendly words for me thus far, I am still somewhat in awe of him.”
Thranduil chuckled, “That is the result of his Noldor scaring act! Come now, Elrond, refresh yourself and change your travel clothes and we shall go for dinner. Knock on my door if you are finished. I will retire and clean myself of the way grime.”
Elrond closed the door behind Thranduil and looked about the room. The large bed in the middle was supported by a magnificent cedar cot. Soft satin sheets invited him to sleep. He smiled to himself as he set to removing his travel stained wear, Coming to the Sindar kingdom had proved a good idea till now. He drew himself a warm bath in the marble tub and thoroughly washed himself. If he was to eat with Arda’s most alluring elves, he atleast had to show that he had made an effort! He chose a clean pair of ivory leggings and light brown tunic. Green and brown were the Greenwood colours and he did not wish to insult them the very first night of his arrival by wearing a Noldorin colour. He left his hair loose, except for two braids that held it away from his face and humming softly, he walked to Thranduil’s room and knocked.
Thranduil opened the door, his hands fastening a belt over his tunic as he complained, “I will need new tunics and leggings. For all of mine are too loose now.”
Elrond nodded saying, “Yes, you have indeed weakened much in body. It is as if you are not healed entirely.”
They walked to the small family dining hall quietly. Oropher was already seated at the head of the table, across him sat Thalion. Thranduil led Elrond to the seat on the King’s right before seating himself on the King’s left.
An aide emerged from the flickering shadows of the torchlight with a large food tray and laid out the bowls of food before disappearing silently. Oropher reached for an apple and started slicing it quietly. Elrond wondered how the king could manage with so less sustenance.
Thranduil reached for a pear, but Thalion and Oropher gave him equally sharp looks and he meekly cut a chunk of roast venison and started industriously eating it. Elrond selected a slice of lembas and cheese.
“My son,” Oropher remarked, “You seem fatigued. Was it the journey?”
Thranduil shrugged saying, “Maybe, Ada, I seem to have lost my appetite.”
Thalion interjected, “You should have drunk my draughts instead of pouring it into the flowerbeds outside your room!”
Elrond muffled a smile as Thranduil muttered, “I think it is so because of my Adar’s aversion to medicine and food. Some traits are hereditary.”
Oropher leaned back in his chair and surveyed his son and healer lazily above his goblet of wine.
Predictably Thalion retorted, “If you had told me what exactly happened in that skirmish, I would have been able to prepare a more specific medicine.”
Thranduil smiled, but Elrond and Oropher noted sharply that this was not once of his usual smiles, there was a bitter quality to this and his voice was subdued as he replied lightly, “I prefer the Dorwinion to any of your draughts, you ancient healer,” he distastefully drank a glass of water all the while eyeing enviously the bottle of wine forbidden to him.
Erestor tiredly walked towards the training arena where Aldor was venting his spleen on an elvish warrior in a mock duel. Erestor grimaced, he had a tough day of councils and negotiations. Now, this was going to be the climax of his gruelling day.
He nodded slightly to the elvish warrior who retired hurriedly. Nobody in Lindon was keen to be Erestor’s wrong side and with good reason. He had a Fëanorian temper if truly provoked.
Aldor acknowledged him with a deep bow saying, “Good Day, Lord Erestor.”
Erestor pasted an unwilling smile on his face as he responded pleasantly, “Indeed it has been a fair day,” smart lying had won him many a council meeting, “Would you walk with me?”
Aldor looked at the Chief Counsellor closely. There were dark circles around those wise eyes underling the elf’s high work load and the toll it was taking on him. And obviously, Elrond’s and Glorfindel’s absence had added to the already overworked counsellor’s duties. And from what Aldor had seen of Gil-Galad, the human was quite sure that the Noldor King was not an enthusiastic administrator.
“I wish to talk of Glorfindel,” Erestor began abruptly, he was worn out, and wished nothing more than to sink into a bed and not get up for a week, he really did not feel up to using his diplomacy skills in this discussion, “I know that I have no right to question your private relationships. Nor do I presume to do so.”
Aldor said quietly, “I would never dream of presuming that what I had with him was more than a temporary arrangement. It was on my insistence that he did it. So I do not blame him for what happened. If anything, I regret that I caused unwitting trouble to your sister. I offer my apologies.”
Erestor said firmly, “My sister and Glorfindel have ended their relationship. There is nothing between them now, except the lingering past which will fade with time. Glorfindel is not accustomed to expressing his feelings openly. That is why he always seeks to stick to the known, safe paths.”
Aldor said seriously, “I have never asked him to make any sort of commitment.
Lord Erestor, since we have talked this frankly, let me tell you that I love Glorfindel. But I would never hurt him. I would not mind being used by him even for a lifetime. But I wish that he had been frank with me.”
“Frankness is an alien concept to those of the First Age,” Erestor murmured, “They take everything slowly and cherish each moment. It is not that Glorfindel intentionally meant for you to be hurt thus. He regrets it deeply and came to me after that conversation with Menelwen. I had a tough time coaxing him to find rest as he thought only of your grief at her words. Never had I in all our times together seen him thus broken, not even after the time he learnt that the Valar had denied him Aman.”
Aldor twisted his hands worriedly as he flinched at the thought that he had hurt his beloved Glorfindel so deeply. He could not even move his dry lips to answer Erestor.
“It is not your fault, Aldor,” Erestor said softly, “I have known him longer than anyone. And I know that he loves you, though I cannot say if that love equals yours. Maybe you should ask him that directly.”
Aldor nodded before saying tremulously, “He is still in his chambers, I hope?”
Erestor nodded and watched with a mixture of amusement, happiness and weariness as the human bounded across the gardens to the palace.
An aide, who had been following them at a discreet distance, approached him and said, “The traders from the Havens have assembled in the hall. They await you, My Lord Erestor.”
Erestor reluctantly straightened his drooping shoulders and trudged back to the council hall. If only Gil-Galad had chaired the meetings that the King should chair, then Erestor could have had a respite.
The aide respectfully continued, “My Lord, after this you have to meet Prince Amroth with regard to the winter games to be held in Lothlórien, then you have to make an appearance at the ball that the King is holding in honour of Lady Celebrían’s arrival. Then you have a midnight appointment with the Chief Healer of the palace to make sure that the miruvor is of good quality. Then…”
Erestor growled, “All right, all right! I am working yet another night! I give up.”
Oropher asked Thalion fearfully, “He is not yet healed, is he?”
Thalion shook his head quietly. He could practically feel himself drowning in the strong emotional current of fear and sadness that emanated from the King.
“He has been to Mandos and back,” Thalion sighed, “I doubt that he can be healed by any on Arda. Only Valinor can repair the damage.”
“So they have begun, my son’s trials and I am helpless to protect him from the wickedness that abounds. Ingwë’s letter should have been obeyed, mayhap now too it is not too late,” Oropher said despairingly knowing well that it was late. His son would not suffer a parting.
“He is strong, Oropher ,” Thalion said reassuringly, placing his hand on Oropher’s.
“Elbereth save him!” Oropher said in a trembling voice.
There was such a lost expression in his green eyes that Thalion, not for the first time, feared that the King had a gift of premonition. The healer shoved aside his thoughts and helped his friend to the royal chambers.
Thranduil mixed a sleeping draught in a glass of honey and downed it quickly. He was too weary to seek pleasure tonight, and all he wanted was a good night’s sleep. But the nightmares of his childhood would assail him again; he had resorted to a draught to prevent alerting his father, who was a very light sleeper. Oropher was already too much worried. And to make matters worse, there was Elrond, who was apparently searching for victims to try his foul sleeping draughts on, according to the tales Thranduil had heard at Lindon.
“Our daughter seems happy,” Galadriel observed as she looked up at her husband from the book she had been reading.
Celeborn stood before her, arrayed in a muted green tunic and leggings, his handsome features accentuated as his hair was neatly braided into a single plait. He had been about to go out with his daughter for a walk.
“I guess so,” he said carefully, “Mayhap she has found someone.”
Galadriel nodded sagely, “That may be so, husband, but the King and Amdir have decided on an alliance and what more than a marriage between his house and that of Lórien to strengthen it forever?”
“It would not be a marriage even in the least meaning of that word, Galadriel!” Celeborn retorted angrily, “You know well what folly you commit even if Amdir and Gil-Galad are ignorant of the truth. Yet you have taken this decision. I will not interfere as long as ‘Bria does not suffer. But if she utters a single word of regret, then wife dear, I will not be accountable for my actions.”
He walked out of the room and slammed the door shut behind him leaving Galadriel with her thoughts and fears.
Elrond Peredhil, she knew well, dreamt only of one elf day and night. Her daughter would not find happiness in his arms. Thranduil of Greenwood, she surreptiously tried to touch the Prince’s mind, but some power stronger than hers blocked her. She sighed, the Prince could be her biggest adversary in the coming days.
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.