By Any Means Necessary
“Ada?” Legolas approached his father, careful not to startle Thranduil. Although Arien was still riding the sky, Sauron’s Shadow was once again gathering around Thranduil. When his father looked up, Legolas cringed at the sight of the dull and empty eyes that stared back. “The spiders are attacking the sentries. I am taking a patrol to drive them deeper back into the forest. They are coming too close to our talan.”
Thranduil was instantly overcome with guilt. It was *his* duty to keep their lands safe. *He* was the Ruler of Mirkwood, not Legolas… not yet. But in his current state he was no match for the spiders. “Take enough warriors with you, Legolas, and be careful.” He hated sending his heir on this mission when he should be dealing with the monsters himself.
“I will be careful, Ada,” promised Legolas. His feet had now carried him close enough to place a loving kiss on his father’s cheek. Did Thranduil realize that this mission meant that his son couldn’t sit with him tonight? /I hope you will seek out Erestor instead./ With the exception of Legolas, Erestor was the only other Elf who knew the truth about his father.
“Do not worry about me, ion-nîn. It is your task to keep our people safe. They depend on you now that their King is useless to them.” Self-reproach sounded clearly in Thranduil’s voice.
Legolas buried his father in a quick but tender embrace and then stepped back. He didn’t want to leave his father alone, but he had no choice. /Before joining my men I am going to talk to Erestor. Maybe he is willing to sit with you./
In Imladris, many things burdened Elrond. Galadriel had informed him that Estel and the Ringbearer were on their way to Rivendell and he had realized that a council must be held. Messengers were sent to all realms, including Mirkwood, but Elrond wondered if Legolas wasn’t needed more at home.
“Elrond?” Glorfindel entered his Lord’s study and seated himself on the windowsill. “You are brooding again.” Elrond had told him about the situation Erestor had encountered in Mirkwood and he also worried about Thranduil. If Thranduil succumbed to darkness then more realms would follow. “All invited parties sent word that they will arrive shortly, but there has been no reply from Mirkwood yet.”
“Legolas will come. We both know that. But what about Thranduil?” Elrond leaned his head back and massaged his temples.
“It is good to know that Erestor is in Mirkwood. Maybe Thranduil will allow Erestor to counsel him?” Glorfindel studied his friend. “Forgive me my curiosity, but I have never found out why Thranduil hates you that much.”
Elrond blinked at hearing his friend’s question and then tiredly nodded his head. “It is my fault.” He had never told anyone before, but suddenly he felt the need to confide.
“Your fault?” Glorfindel frowned and shifted uncomfortably on the windowsill. “How can it be your fault?”
Elrond’s dark eyes burned with returning memories as he recalled the incident that had caused such a deep rift between them. “Thranduil was attracted to me and wanted to court me. I rejected him.”
Glorfindel’s eyes widened. He had expected many explanations but not this one. “Thranduil was in love with you?”
“Aye, and he even wanted to bond with me, but you know whom my heart belonged to.”
Glorfindel nodded. He had always known about Elrond and Gil-galad. “And all this because you rejected him?”
“Not exactly.” Elrond drew in a deep breath. “You know how possessive Gil-galad could be, especially when he detected someone’s interest in me. One night, after discussing battle strategy, he sent for Thranduil. I was there when he threatened Thranduil. I will not repeat those threats here, but Thranduil was severely shocked and quickly left.”
“What happened next?” Glorfindel listened intently, spellbound by Elrond’s every word.
“Barad-Dur happened. Oropher, enraged that Gil-galad had treated his son so disrespectfully, had sent the High King a message in turn, telling him they would face one another after the battle had ended. This infuriated Gil-galad and when Oropher’s request for assistance came, Gil-galad hesitated too long in reaching a decision. Oropher and a large number of his people died that day. Thranduil never forgave Gil-galad for not aiding his father and suspected the High King had ulterior motives.” Elrond closed his eyes, remembering their last confrontation.
“After we defeated Sauron and lost Gil-galad, Thranduil sought me out. I was startled by the change in him. The first time we had met he had a gentle, caring disposition, talking about music and reciting poetry to me. When we met that last time, he was bitter and disillusioned. He vowed to kill me and any other Noldor that ever set foot in Greenwood the Great. That was the last time we spoke.”
“His love for you turned into hate,” said Glorfindel thoughtfully. “To be honest with you, Elrond, I always thought something like this had happened, but I did not know they were fighting over you.”
Elrond rose from his chair and walked toward his trusted friend. “After Gil-galad died I welcomed the chance to marry Celebrian. I did not want to be fought over anymore.” But that marriage had ended badly; Celebrian had left for Valinor.
“And she gave you three beautiful children, who are the very proof of your love.” Glorfindel rested a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “And you haven’t taken a lover since Celebrian left?” After Elrond had nodded, he continued, “Don’t you think Gil-galad and Celebrian would want you to be happy again?”
Elrond abruptly turned away from Glorfindel and looked out of the window. “Throughout the last centuries…” He wavered; should he lie or tell the truth?
“What?” Glorfindel watched Elrond’s body language with great interest. The half-Elf was obviously struggling with something.
“There is one… who warms my heart, but...” Elrond sighed deeply. “Let us stop talking about the matters of my heart.” Gathering his robes around him, he turned away from Glorfindel.
The expression on Elrond’s face was unreadable and Glorfindel wondered whom the half-Elf had been referring to. Apparently Elrond was in love with someone, but felt reluctant to act on it. Well, maybe he could help his friend. It might take some coaxing and manipulation, but he felt confident he would eventually find out this person’s identity.
“I need to concentrate on the upcoming council.” Elrond raised a hand, dismissing Glorfindel for now. “Tell me the moment our guests begin to arrive.”
Glorfindel inclined his head respectfully and left, but he was still set on uncovering the identity of Elrond’s secret love.
Elrond released a relieved sigh when Glorfindel had finally left. Why had he let that one slip? He knew of his seneschal’s curiosity and realized he had to be extremely careful around the blond now that Glorfindel knew he was in love. /Elbereth, let him be so busy focusing on others that he won’t figure out that it is he I was talking about!/
“Erestor?” Legolas marched into the quarters Erestor and Lindir were sharing. “Can I speak with you?”
Erestor had bathed and slipped into the clothes Legolas had asked to be delivered to them. He was now wearing the brown and greens of Mirkwood, instead of the formal robes he had brought with him from Imladris. They would only hinder him, moving through the branches of the talan. Lifting his eyes, he encountered Legolas’ worried ones.
“I have to leave for some hours. The spiders are growing bolder and have to be driven back,” explained Legolas, “I may not return in time to sit with my father when the nightmares come upon him. Will you take my place again?”
Nodding his head once, Erestor said, “I will take care of your father.” And now he had to address another matter that would weigh heavily on Legolas’ mind. “I far-spoke with Elrond today.” The fact that Elrond had resorted to far-speaking as well told him how grave the situation had become.
Legolas swallowed hard, realizing something bad had happened.
“Elrond is calling together a council of Men, Dwarves and Elves. The Ring of Power has been found and its bearer is on his way to Imladris. Originally Galadriel and Elrond wanted to ask Thranduil to attend the council, but as he is… indisposed, Elrond hopes *you* will attend in his place.”
Legolas felt conflicted. “I cannot leave my father; he needs me.”
“Would it help if you knew that I will continue to watch over him?” Elrond had told him how important it was that Legolas joined the council and he had to find a way to make the younger Elf see the wisdom of that decision. “Chase away those spiders and then head for Imladris.”
But Legolas shook his head. “I need to say my goodbyes to my father first.”
“You do not have the time to do so. You must leave for Imladris at once. You should let someone else deal with those spiders… but I know you. You won’t leave until this threat has been dealt with.”
“You know me very well, Erestor,” mumbled Legolas, “Will you tell my father that I would rather have stayed, instead of traveling to Imladris?”
“Your father is in good hands, Legolas,” said Erestor reassuringly, “Now go; time is of the essence.” Erestor smiled warmly when the younger Elf grasped his forearms and then pulled him into a quick embrace. /I wonder if the real Thranduil is as affectionate as Legolas. It might be that Thranduil has been hurt too deeply to still express himself in that way. Maybe I can render that./
Legolas inclined his head in a last greeting, and then he let go of the advisor and left the room. First he would deal with the spiders and then he would hurry to Imladris.
Now that dusk was coming over Mirkwood, Thranduil sought out the lake once more. He found some comfort in looking at the surface as it caught the last beams of sunlight. It wouldn’t be long now before darkness came over the lands and into his heart. Tonight he would fight evil again and he hoped he would survive a little longer, buying Legolas more time.
“Legolas won’t be able to sit with you tonight.”
Thranduil closed his eyes, hearing Erestor’s voice. He should have known the dark-haired Elf would continue to harass him. “Return to your quarters. I do not wish to deal with you.” /I do not have the energy to deal with you,/ was closer to the truth.
Not letting Thranduil’s words get to him, Erestor sat down next to the Sinda on the grass. “Legolas asked me to look after you tonight.”
“I am no Elfling who needs a minder,” said Thranduil frustrated. But part of him was relieved that he didn’t have to spend the night alone.
Erestor mentally prepared himself for a verbal fight. “Legolas asked me because he worries about you, not because he thinks you are incapable of taking care of yourself. He just wants to ease your burden.”
Thranduil released a bitter laugh. “Have you already informed Elrond of my sorry state?”
Unexpectedly, burning emerald eyes met his and their intensity made Erestor shiver. There was a reason for Thranduil’s hatred of which he was still unaware. “I told him,” he said, opting for the truth. If he really wanted to win Thranduil’s trust he had to be brutally honest with him.
“And did he gloat?” Thranduil hissed the words in a sharp tone. His eyes had narrowed and his features contorted.
Erestor frowned at Thranduil’s reaction. “Nay, he is rather worried about you.” He made sure he spoke in a calm, compassionate tone. “And he wants me to offer whatever support you find acceptable.” Erestor moistened his lips, catching a hint of disbelief in Thranduil’s eyes and realized this might be his only chance to get through to the blond. “I do not know where your hatred for Elrond comes from, but I am not him.”
Thranduil glared at him. “You are like him.”
Erestor raised an eyebrow inquisitively. Now what did that mean? “In what way?”
“I do not want to talk about this any longer. I am returning to my rooms… alone.” Thranduil slowly got to his feet, though the approaching Shadow was already pushing him down.
Erestor followed suit. “As I told you before, I am not yours to command. I answer only to Elrond.” For a moment their gazes met, waging war with each other and Erestor made it very clear that he wouldn’t back down. “Lead on, Sire, and I will follow you.”
Unexpectedly Thranduil swayed on his feet. His eyes rolled back in their sockets and he released a strangled moan.
Acting at once, Erestor reached for the trembling Sinda and enfolded Thranduil in his arms, giving the weakening Elf the support he needed in order to make it back to his rooms. Thranduil made a weak effort to fight him off, but failed. This strengthened Erestor’s resolve to take care of the other Elf. “Allow me.”
Thranduil growled softly, voicing his disapproval, but he needed to preserve his strength as another struggle was almost upon him.
Guiding Thranduil back to the royal chambers, Erestor took his charge to the bedroom, where he assisted the Sinda in lying down. Cold radiated from Thranduil’s body and Erestor wondered what to do. How could he best care for Thranduil? Last night the blond had clung to him so why not allow Thranduil to do so again? Maybe the realization that he wasn’t fighting alone would strengthen the other Elf.
Thranduil glared at Erestor when the dark-haired Elf seated himself on the side of the bed. “Leave me,” he panted softly, trying to regain his breath that was now coming in broken pants.
“Nay, I won’t.” Erestor made himself comfortable, lying down next to Thranduil and then pulled the weakly struggling Elf against his chest. Next he wrapped his arms and legs around the Sinda, ignoring the shocked expression that had appeared in the green eyes.
“What do you think you are doing?” choked out Thranduil, stunned. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had enfolded him in such a complete way. Although he had woken up with Erestor near this morning, at the time he hadn’t fully registered the raven-haired Elf’s closeness. Now that he was fully conscious, he realized just how oddly comforting Erestor’s presence felt. He had been alone for so long.
“I promised Legolas to keep you safe and I can only do that when you are close.” Erestor averted his eyes and looked outside. Arien had completely vanished and Ithil’s beams shone dimly. “Do you expect the nightmares to return?”
Despite his doubts Thranduil found himself answering Erestor’s question. “They grow stronger each night, so aye, I expect them to torment me tonight.”
Seeking out Thranduil’s wavering gaze, Erestor clearly saw the exhaustion in his dull eyes. “How much longer do you think before you will fade completely?”
Thranduil snorted. “Is Elrond that eager to get rid of me? Tell him I will fight for my survival, for when I die the Shadow will seek out Legolas, as he is my heir.”
Erestor’s eyes grew sad. “Elrond wants you alive as well.” But Thranduil’s words worried him. He hadn’t realized that Legolas would be the next victim. “Elrond and I discussed ways of aiding you.”
“No one can help me,” said Thranduil stubbornly, growing weaker with every passing minute. He shivered violently, knowing from experience that the nightmares were quickly approaching. He would fall asleep in a few minutes and then his torment would start again.
“You could bond with someone and draw strength from your mate,” suggested Erestor in the same calm tone that he used to discuss the weather.
“Bond with someone?” Thranduil laughed embittered. “And drag someone into Shadow with me? I think not!”
“You would have to choose someone strong,” remarked Erestor, continuing as if he hadn’t heard Thranduil.
“That would be folly. I do not wish to endanger someone else’s life.” He didn’t know how much longer he would remain coherent as darkness swarmed around his heart, clenching at it and forcing him to pant for breath.
Alarmed, Erestor sought out Thranduil’s eyes. “You are not alone. Draw strength from that. I give you freely all the strength you need.” Erestor tentatively reached out, trying to link his mind to Thranduil’s, much like he did when far-speaking with someone.
Thranduil trembled, feeling Erestor’s mind touch his and he reacted at once, throwing the raven-haired Elf out of his mind.
Erestor grumbled, displeased, but at least now he knew that Thranduil possessed the ancient power that was needed to link or bond with someone. He just had to bide his time. He would wait for Thranduil to be immersed in darkness and when the Sindarin Elf was battling evil, he could slip back in unnoticed and lend Thranduil the strength he needed.
“Stay out of my mind…” panted Thranduil. A moment later his eyes began to grow vacant; a sure sign that the nightmares were upon him. He whimpered softly, shook in Erestor’s arms, but the darkness continued to grow stronger, no matter how hard he fought.
Erestor waited a few more minutes and then whispered, “You are strong enough to cast me from your mind when you are awake, but you need all the help you can get now.” Acting instinctively, Erestor centered himself and then cast forth his spirit, joining Thranduil’s.
The spiders had been defeated and what was left of the pack was now retreating into the deep, dark forest. Legolas’ task here was done and now he turned away from his men, realizing he could no longer postpone traveling to Imladris. Especially now when word had reached him that Gollum had escaped his guards.
/Ada, I do not want to leave you, but maybe I will find the solution to our problem in Imladris. Who knows what this council will decide? The darkness -the Ring- must be destroyed if you are to stay alive. If they need my bow and sharp senses, I will join them. We must destroy the Ring, for then the Shadow will leave our lands… and your heart./
Determined to help in whatever way possible, Legolas called out his goodbyes to the sentries and pressed his heels into the flanks of his horse, urging it to make speed. He had to reach Imladris as quickly as possible.
/I wonder whom Elrond referred to…/ Glorfindel, inspecting the stables and the horses, couldn’t stop thinking about this riddle. Elrond had hinted at being in love with someone. /Why wouldn’t he tell me who it is? This is driving me mad!/
His curiosity had gotten him into trouble before, but he just couldn’t put this aside. Elrond was in love with someone, but refused to reveal that information. Now, who would know? Erestor, perhaps, but the advisor was out of reach. Maybe Elladan or Elrohir knew who their father was in love with? But no, that seemed unlikely as well.
He had reached Asfaloth’s stable and looked questioningly at his trusted horse. “Whom do you think Elrond has fallen for?” he asked rhetorically. Who could capture Elrond’s heart? And how could he find out this person’s identity?
By the Grace of the Valar, he wasn’t even sure if Elrond had fallen in love with a male or a female, knowing the half-Elf had no real preference. /I do think it is a male Elf. There simply aren’t that many she-Elves around with whom Elrond has dealings with. It must be a male Elf./
But that didn’t make things easier either. /Could it be Erestor?/ The thought came unbidden and he instantly dismissed it again. /Nay, I would have noticed any sensual tension between them. They are close friends, but I never detected any sexual attraction./ Maybe an Elf who had visited Imladris recently? Celeborn had visited briefly, accompanied by Haldir and his brothers. Had one of those silver-haired Elves caught Elrond’s eye? He hadn’t noticed any interest back then, but then again, Elrond was good at keeping his secrets.
Not getting any closer to solving this riddle, he pinched the bridge of his nose. /I have to know who Elrond is in love with! Maybe I should just ask him?/
It never occurred to Glorfindel that Elrond could be in love with *him*.
The half-Elf looked up, displeased at hearing Glorfindel’s voice. The cook had outdone himself today, having prepared roast duck with apples and prunes. The excellent taste had made him realize just how hungry he really was. Why couldn’t Glorfindel simply enjoy the food like he did?
“What is it, meldir?” Elrond briefly closed his eyes, as the tender meat seemed to melt against his tongue.
Glorfindel grinned. It was seldom that Elrond so openly showed his delight. “You shouldn’t forget to compliment the cook later.” He had to admit that the duck was exquisite. /He is in a good mood so maybe I should ask him now./
“I will.” Elrond gave Glorfindel a puzzled look, but then directed his attention back to the food, hoping the blond had forgotten he had wanted to ask him something. He wanted to savor these last few moments of peace. It wouldn’t be long before the first guest would arrive and in a few days he would be busy attending to the Ring-bearer.
There it was again, his name, spoken softly and with uncertainty. Resigning himself to any questions Glorfindel might have, Elrond placed knife and fork on his plate and then drew in a deep breath. “What is it, meldir?” Two could play this game.
“I cannot stop thinking about what you said earlier.” Glorfindel closely observed Elrond. Seeing the confused expression on the half-Elf’s face, he realized Elrond had no idea what he was talking about. “We talked about the matters of your heart.”
Elrond instantly became alert. “And I told you I do not wish to discuss them.”
“Elrond, you hinted at being in love with someone… and this has driven me mad all day long. I must know.”
Elrond arched an eyebrow. “”Tis private.” Why was Glorfindel pushing this matter?
“I cannot stand not knowing. Maybe I can help… mediate so to speak. Did you ever try to approach your love?”
Elrond’s eyes darkened. “'Tis not your concern, Glorfindel.”
“But it is! I want to help and… I need to know who it is. Is it Erestor? Haldir? One of his brothers?” Excited, he leaned in closer. “I can help. I can mediate, Elrond. There is no reason for you to remain alone.”
Elrond felt saddened, but was careful not to show any of his emotions. /And it never crossed your mind I could be in love with you?/
“Elrond?” Glorfindel drew in a deep breath. “Will you tell me and let me help?”
“You cannot help,” said Elrond in a gentle tone. “This Elf has never indicated he is interested in me in that way.”
/Ah, I was right! He is in love with a male./ Glorfindel felt slightly triumphant. “Does he reside here or in ‘Lorien?”
Elrond decided to play along. Glorfindel wouldn’t figure out the truth anyway. “He resides at the Last Homely House.”
Glorfindel’s face flushed with excitement. Did Elrond know he was being manipulated? Or maybe the half-Elf just didn’t care. He continued with his interrogation. “Pray tell me… What is his function in your household? Does he work as a healer? Or in the library perhaps?”
Elrond was now enjoying this little game. “He is a warrior.”
“One of the guards?” Glorfindel was surprised. He had expected Elrond to fall for someone with refined tastes, maybe a scholar working with him in the library.
Elrond nodded. “Aye, he guards Imladris.” So far he hadn’t lied once and he was curious to find out Glorfindel’s next question.
“Why are you attracted to him?” Glorfindel’s thoughts raced, mentally reviewing the members of his regiment, trying to assess if one of the guards was worthy of his friend.
“Why?” Elrond paused to tease Glorfindel. “He has a great sense of humor, a courageous heart and is breathtakingly beautiful.”
Glorfindel was growing annoyed. Why couldn’t Elrond just give him the name? “Does he know that you are attracted to him?”
“Most certainly not.” Elrond didn’t want to jeopardize their friendship. He was fairly sure Glorfindel didn’t feel the same way about him and he treasured the friendship they had built throughout the years.
“This is infuriating!” Glorfindel banged his fist onto the table. “Why won’t you tell me his name? I will talk to him to see if the attraction is mutual.”
“I know it isn’t,” said Elrond wistfully. “And I have grown weary of this conversation. Let us eat and then rest. We will be quite busy these next few days.”
Glorfindel grumbled, displeased. Although he had ceased asking questions, he continued to study Elrond, easily identifying the smug expression in the gray eyes. /I will find out who holds your heart and then I will make sure the two of you get together./
Additional note: My elves are not vegetarians. They look after the amount of game and where is too much of a certain species or there are old or sick specimens they shoot them and use them for consumption. LOL
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