Snippets by elwen of the hidden valley

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Author's Chapter Notes:

Here I have indulged my love of angst, angst and more angst.

Lost. Another friend lost. Another hole punched through his heart. There were days, like today, when his fea felt like a spider’s web caught in the storm . . . ragged and ravaged.

Frodo Baggins had lived a better life here but it was not as long as it could have been, had he not become enmeshed in the affairs of the mighty. Eighty years was not a great age for a hobbit. Elrond continued to stare at the newly planted holly bush . . . as he had been staring for hours. Long after the others had melted away he had remained standing beside this small bare earthen mound. Frodo had at least enjoyed his final years, finding peace at last. But Elrond would miss that merry giggle . . . the twinkling blue eyes.

Suddenly he felt a tightening of his throat, a burning in his eyes. Swallowing hard, he lifted his face to the sky as he battled to corral the threatening tears. Why was he on the verge of crying now? In six thousand years Elrond had seen much that would reduce most to tears but he had not cried since . . . since when?

He remembered crying when mother told them that father would not be returning. She had asked them to be brave. Later Elrond had taken some comfort in knowing that Father, Earendil, looked down on them from there but he had cried long for the loss of strong arms and gentle wisdom, nonetheless.

He had cried a little less bitterly when Mother left. In truth Elwing had been so bound up in her love for her husband that Elrond and Elros had often felt themselves secondary in her heart. For years she had been a distant figure roaming the sea strand alone. Elrond considered that she had abandoned her two boys long before actually fleeing to join her husband . . . leaving them to the whim of their enemies. Oh, the adult Elrond later learned that perfection is unattainable and that sometimes even wise people make unwise choices. Had Elwing foreseen that her children would be safe? He had hoped so and forgiven her, because that was the only sane way to move on. But young Elrond still wailed silently in a corner of his mind.

When Meadhros and Maglor had burst in upon the cowering Elrond and Elros the children had feared murder at the hands of these enemies. But Maglor at least was not the evil person they had expected. Elrond learned then that people were not always as others painted them. He learned that brothers sometimes loved each other even when they had opposing views. He learned that wrong was sometimes a matter of perspective.

Elrond looked down at his hands, where callouses were forming at the fingertips. He had taken up the harp once more only recently, after years of abstinence, playing it at Frodo’s bedside to ease his passage. Learning to play had been a gift from Maglor and Elrond smiled as he remembered sitting at his side as the elder showed him how to tune the delicate instrument. He had knelt for hours, entranced, as Maglor coaxed magical visions and feelings from its strings. He remembered, too, the day that his mentor had sent Elros and Elrond away, leaving the children to fend for themselves in a strange forest. The still young Elrond had wept briefly, before giving a final sniff and wiping his eyes. There was no time for crying if they were to live.

It was Gil-Galad who found the brothers and took them into his household, where Elrond turned his mind to study and vowed to guard his heart more closely. When his brother made the decision to become mortal, in order to take up the crown of Numenor, he wished him well. It was a choice the immortal Elrond had never understood fully, although he had his suspicions. From the days of Feanor the quest for power had run strongly through the Noldor. Although it was the Valar who had offered Elros the crown it seemed to Elrond that he may have simply decided to take a different path to the acquisition of that power.

Elrond cursed perfect Eldar memory as he brought to mind too clearly the night, a brief five hundred years later, that he had heard Elros’ heart flutter, heard it slow and falter. He remembered holding his own breath to catch just one more faint, distant thump. But it did not arrive and Elrond had gasped as he felt a sudden severing of the final thread that bound him to his twin. He had gasped but he had not cried, even though he felt more alone at that moment than ever in his life. Others had come and gone but his twin’s presence had been a constant in his fea from the moment of their conception in the warm haven of their mother’s womb.

There ended the last of his family. But to cry at Elros’ death would be folly. Mortals were mere butterflies in the span of an elven life. Elrond knew and had accepted the consequences of his brother’s choice centuries before . . . had he not?

Although Elrond grew up into a deep friendship with the High King, even he did not see the end until it was too late. They had been fighting together and then Gil-Galad had simply been swallowed by the melee. Elrond had helped to bury his body in a secret place. Older by then Elrond had, nonetheless, felt abandoned by his closest friend. Logic told him that in battle not all decisions were in their own hands but Gil-galad had seemed invincible. Then others were looking to Elrond for strength and leadership, so he buried his pain with his friend. No tears were shed that day. The loss set a last stone in the walls about his heart.

That was when Celebrian had glided quietly into his life. Theirs had been no sudden spark of awareness . . . at least upon Elrond’s part. His heart was held close and Celebrian spent patient years gently loosening his grip. Once Elrond had capitulated Celebrian spent many more years weaving gently at his tattered fea until it was whole once more. He had cried when their twin sons were born, unable to believe himself worthy of such a wondrous gift. When their daughter lay bawling and puce in his hands he did not know whether to cry or laugh so he did both. Here was his new family.

But when Celebrian was captured Elrond slammed shut the door on his anguish, afraid that he would drown in its depth. It was in those days of waiting that he gained some insight to his mother’s heart. When his sons returned Celebrian to him he locked away his horror and set about healing her body. When she told him she was weary of Middle earth and needed to sail west for the healing of her fea, Elrond saw her safely to the havens. Had he not borne one of the rings of power he would have sailed with her that day. Instead they kissed a last time and he turned away, damming his tears behind a wall of duty.

Once more Elrond focused his gaze upon his hands, turning them over. There sat his one- time duty . . . Vilya . . . ring of air and mightiest of the three elven rings of power. For centuries it had pulsed powerful and silent upon his finger. On occasion it had flashed too brightly to look upon. Now it was a simple gold band set with a sapphire as blue as high summer sky. A bee hummed past his spread fingers, briefly examined the holly bush at Elrond’s feet, and moved on to mine for nectar in a patch of pink clover.

Frodo Baggins had unwittingly brought more loss to Elrond. After Celebrian’s departure a terrible foresight had gripped his father heart and he had banished Arwen to what he hoped would be the safety of Galadriel’s realm. But it had not been enough to cheat fate. When the mortal lord of the Dunadain, Aragorn, had come seeking her hand, Elrond had set harsh conditions for their joining. It was a desperate final bid to save his child from the loss he had so often suffered. But Frodo’s success in destroying the One Ring had resulted in Arwen taking that bittersweet path of love and loss. And now the strong and beautiful presence of his daughter would die to them. Perhaps not for decades but, too soon, he would be forced to listen to his child’s final heartbeat. And what of his sons? They could yet choose to follow their sister for they had declined to sail with him. Would he cry at the loss of one or all of his children?

Elrond flinched as a hot tear splashed upon the back of his hand and he reached up in surprise to brush more from his cheeks. There had been no warning this time . . . no burning eyes or tightening of the chest . . . those feelings he had learned to recognise as a signal to shore up the wall. Lord Elrond was not in control and a wave of panic assailed him at the discovery that he could no longer dam such a deep lake of sorrow.

Slender hands settled gently upon his shoulders, slid down his trembling back and clasped about his waist. Celebrian’s steady presence enveloped him in love as she leaned in from behind; her chin finding its familiar resting place upon his shoulder. Warm lips feathered his ear as she whispered, “And so you finally let go. Now it is time for your own healing, my love.”




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