Heart In Chains
Elrond’s hands shook, holding the sharp knife, as he was about to make the incision. Swallowing hard, he realized he couldn’t perform this surgery. He was too emotionally involved and he looked pleadingly at Camfael. “Would you do it? I…” The tremors that shook his hand increased and he nearly dropped the scalpel onto the floor.
Camfael – who had expected something like this to happen now that Elrond knew he was about deliver his own daughter – nodded and took the scalpel from the half-Elf’s hand. Camfael’s hand was steady making that first incision and he instructed Elrond to try to slow down the blood flow. Erestor was still unconscious, for which Camfael was grateful. Should the Elf awake during surgery, they would have to act quickly, slipping him healing herbs that would numb his pain.
Elrond cringed, seeing how much blood erupted from Erestor’s abdomen. Until now, he had never considered the possible complications that could actually take place, but now that Erestor had drained himself to pull back Elladan, those complications became very real. “I cannot lose him.” Elrond was suddenly reminded of Elrohir’s words, spoken just moments before when the twin had faced losing his brother. Now he understood what Elrohir had gone through and he worked harder on stopping the blood flow.
“Adar? Can I help?” Elrohir had silently entered the room, careful not to distract Camfael. He flinched at seeing the bloodied mess Erestor’s abdominal area had become.
“Be quiet and do not distract us,” whispered Elrond, grateful that Elrohir had set aside their differences and arguments now that he needed his son at his side. Elrohir was an accomplished healer and the Valar knew they needed all the help they could get.
Elrohir nodded and waited patiently in case any instructions would follow.
Although Elrond had delivered Arwen and the twins himself, this was very much different. For one, Erestor was a male and second, Erestor was exhausted. He prayed to the Valar, asking them to watch over the dark-haired Elf and to allow him to stay on Arda.
Unexpectedly, loud crying echoed through the room and Elrond looked upon his daughter for the first time. She was a bit small, but she was born four weeks prematurely. Erestor’s blood still clung to her and when Camfael handed her to him, he signaled for Elrohir to take his place at the healer’s side.
Elrond carried his daughter to a table, where two other healers helped him clean the blood from the baby’s body and to test her reflexes. “Thank you…” Elrond said, thanking the Valar. “Thank you for keeping her alive.” Looking over his shoulder, he watched Camfael and Elrohir work on closing the gaping wound, but the blood still flowed profusely. “Please do not let him bleed to death. Do not take him away from me. Not now that I know the truth!” He was torn between staying with his daughter and returning to Erestor’s side. But he knew that Camfael and Elrohir needed space to work and three pairs of hands was one pair too many.
“Here, my Lord,” said one of the healers, who had finished cleaning up the baby. After wrapping her in a warm sheet, she placed the baby in the half-Elf’s arms.
Entranced, Elrond stared at the small, crying baby in his arms. “I have become a father again.” After so many centuries, he held another baby in his arms, one he had fathered in Lothlorien when Erestor had comforted him. A song erupted from his heart and he would have given it his voice, if it hadn’t been for Erestor’s fragile state.
Carrying her in his arms, he came to a stand still at the foot of the bed, from where he watched Camfael and Elrohir work. The silver-haired healer had managed to close the wound and was stitching up the last bit of skin, but the pool of blood beneath Erestor made his heart falter. The robes were drenched in blood and the Elf was as pale as a corpse. For one moment, he was convinced Erestor’s fëa had left them and that the Elf’s essence was on its way to the Halls of Waiting, but then he saw the chest slowly rise and fall. The Valar hadn’t demanded Erestor’s life after all and Elrond dared release a sigh. “How does he fare?” He made eye contact with Camfael, who looked extremely worried.
“Erestor is alive, but barely.” Camfael carefully considered his course of action. “We need to get him into a warm bed.”
“I can help,” offered Elrohir, who felt deeply conflicted. He had heard Erestor’s words as well, and had instantly understood that the pregnant Elf was carrying his father’s child. The baby was his half-sister, and although he wanted to be angry with Elrond, it was hard to hang on to his hatred, seeing the fear and misery on his father’s face.
“No, *I* want to do that,” decided Elrond. “Elrohir, will you take care of your sister?”
Elrohir swallowed hard. He had wanted to correct his father, telling Elrond this was his *half* sister, but couldn’t do it. His father needed his support right now. “Of course I will.”
Elrond carefully placed his daughter in Elrohir’s arms. “Find a warm crib for her and make sure someone stays with her at all times. She seems healthy, but one never knows. She was not supposed to be born for another four weeks. Treat her gently.”
Elrohir nodded firmly, feeling a twinge of guilt, realizing his father wasn’t completely sure he would take good care of her. He couldn’t really blame Elrond, considering the way Elladan and he had acted when they had seen Erestor that first time. “I will make sure she is well taken care of.”
“Thank you.” Elrond watched Elrohir leave the room and his heart called out to him to go after them, as he wanted to hold his daughter, but Erestor needed him most. After exchanging a look with Camfael, they carefully removed the drenched robes, and then moved him to another cot. A healer brought bowls with tepid water and washing cloths and they tenderly cleaned their charge. The last thing they did was move Erestor to a warm and comfortable bed instead of a narrow cot and they covered him with warm blankets.
Elrond pulled up a chair and sat down beside Erestor’s bed. He gathered a cold hand in his and tenderly stroked the icy skin. “He must survive!”
Camfael’s mouth had gone dry, knowing there was a distinct possibility that Erestor would die. “He might lack the necessary strength to return to us.”
“I won’t give up on him!” vowed Elrond passionately.
“My Lord?” Haldir hesitantly shuffled into the room and his heart contracted painfully, seeing the state Erestor was in. Elrohir had shown them the baby when the half-Elf had passed by the waiting area, so they knew she was fine. Arwen had instantly offered to mother over her and had taken her into her arms, leaving Elrohir standing dazed. Luckily, Elladan had recovered enough to offer Elrohir a listening ear and the twins settled down on chairs in the waiting area, talking softly.
That had been the moment when Haldir and Glorfindel had decided to inquire about Erestor’s health. Their worst fear had been to find Erestor’s corpse beneath a sheet, but the dark-haired Elf was still hanging on to life. The chocolate brown eyes were closed and Erestor was completely motionless. “Will he survive?” asked Glorfindel softly.
“He must!” said Elrond, refusing to give up on Erestor. His stare briefly left Erestor’s face to meet Haldir’s eyes. “I want to know everything. Nothing, but the truth. And I want to hear it *NOW*!”
Glorfindel knew exactly what Elrond was going through. He had felt the same way after Haldir had told him about Erestor and he wasn’t sure he should reveal that he had known already of this to the half-Elf.
Elrond had been rendered speechless whilst listening to Haldir and he now squeezed Erestor’s hand – which still rested in his. “They forced him to bind himself to me?”
Haldir gave the Peredhel a look filled with understanding. “You can call it that. Erestor always maintained it was his choice, but after such a long imprisonment, he was dying inside. He wanted to walk in the open again and Galadriel offered him just that.”
Elrond bared his teeth. “And she called my sons bastards?”
Haldir flinched. Maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned that, but it was best to do away with all secrets. “She did. Hearing that hurt Erestor immensely.”
Elrond absentmindedly rubbed Erestor’s knuckles, hoping the sleeping Elf somehow sensed his presence. His mind spun with all of the new information and sorting everything out was hard. /It started at the foot of Mount Doom, when he pulled me back after I lost Ereinion. He bound himself to me and gave himself freely./ The blood stains on his sheets returned to haunt him. “I hurt him that night.”
Haldir understood. “You tore him badly and it took him days to recover, but he never blamed you, realizing you thought him to be the High-King.”
Elrond’s eyes filled with tears. “He returned to Lothlorien, found himself pregnant and lost my heirs?”
Haldir nodded. “He tried to keep his pregnancy a secret, as he was not sure what Galadriel would do to his sons. Later, after the miscarriage, Camfael told me about Erestor’s plan to find someone who would take his sons to Imladris, hoping they would be allowed to stay here.”
“He would never have told me,” realized Elrond in dread.
“He could not afford to take that risk. Galadriel was close and watching him.”
Elrond wished he had known from the start. Why Galadriel and Celeborn had sent Erestor to him in secrecy mystified him. “I would have accepted him as my official mate after I lost Ereinion.”
“But Galadriel did not want that, as she thought him a kinslayer, but you know better now.” Haldir met Elrond’s eyes and found them burning hotly. “He was taking care of Elros and you, helping Elwing raise you.”
“And he is related to Indis… He is much older than I thought. These last millennia were torment to him.” Elrond sighed deeply. “I do wish he had confided in me when he arrived. Did he not know he was safe here?” Elrond sought out Haldir’s eyes. “Why continue to keep this from me?”
“He was afraid you would take his daughter away from him. That you would be furious with him for being manipulated in such a way. He lost his sons and did not dare risk losing his daughter as well.” Haldir hoped Elrond understood Erestor’s motives to keep this a secret. “I never agreed with him, but… I had to honor his wishes.”
Elrond understood Haldir, but wished the guardian hadn’t obeyed Erestor. He still felt shocked, realizing he might have lost his daughter and his beloved. “I should have known,” he whispered eventually. “When I touched him unexpectedly, I would feel his energy flow into my fingertips.”
“You had no reason to suspect he was the healer Galadriel sent,” offered Glorfindel. “Try to look toward the future and not the past. Erestor will need you at his side when he regains consciousness and he will be terrified, knowing you found out the truth about him.”
Elrond nodded once. “But I am not through yet with Galadriel. She will answer to me for her actions!”
Haldir raised a hand, trying to placate Elrond. “Are you sure you want to draw her attention Erestor’s way again? She has left him alone since Celeborn demanded she stopped meddling in his life, but if you provoke her—“
“Haldir! Erestor lost our sons! If I had known he was pregnant I could have taken him to Imladris, could have watched over him and delivered my sons. She took something very precious away from me!” Elrond was finding it hard to control his raging emotions. “She used him, sent him to my bed and I hurt him, not knowing what was happening with me! Galadriel nearly ruined his life! If Celeborn had not sent Erestor here, I might have lost my daughter as well!” Speaking loudly, his eyes burned with rage, making Haldir avert his eyes. But Elrond then reminded himself that he wasn’t really angry with Haldir. He was furious with Galadriel!
“Erestor needs you! Your daughter needs you!” cautioned Glorfindel, recognizing an impending temper tantrum when he saw one. “You do not have the luxury of giving in to your rage when they need you so badly!”
Elrond was still unconvinced, but tried to calm down for Erestor’s sake. “He looks so fragile.” Rubbing his thumb over the inside of Erestor’s wrist, he wished the doe-like eyes would open and look at him. “I do not understand why I did not recognize him. Now that I know the truth, I recognize the haunted eyes, but…”
“Ada?” Arwen, carrying her half-sister in her arms, slowly entered the room. She had overheard their last sentences and knew she needed to ground her father. “Your newest daughter wants to see you.” Learning Erestor was carrying her father’s child had stunned her, but when Elrohir had placed the baby in her arms, she had forgiven Elrond.
“My daughter…” Elrond’s features contorted, looking at Arwen. “I did not know she was mine, Arwen, or I would have told you.”
She nodded. “Do not feel guilty for being kept in the dark,” she said, gently placing her half-sister in her father’s arms. “She is a lovely baby.”
Elrond’s breath caught, finding stormy gray eyes staring back at him. The first dark hairs showed on her head and he could already tell that she would take after him. /But this little one has Erestor’s nose and lips./ He loved seeing his beloved’s features in her. Cradling her close to his chest, he made soft, reassuring noises.
“She needs a name,” said Elladan, who felt strong enough to face his father. Elrohir was at his side, as always, and they had talked these last few hours, agreeing the bad feelings between them had to be buried.
“Erestor should name her.” Elrond gave his sons a defiant stare and suddenly wondered what Erestor’s sons would have looked like. But he shook the question from his mind, knowing better than to give in to the ‘what ifs’.
Arwen discreetly cleared her throat. “Erestor is… unable to do so right now. Maybe you should name my sister in his place.”
Elrond sighed dejectedly. Arwen was right; the little one needed a name. “She will be called Indlîrien, for a song formed in my heart when I held her in my arms that first time.”
“’Tis a beautiful name,” said Glorfindel approvingly. “Maybe feeling her close will help Erestor to find his way back to us?”
Elrond nodded, moved closer to the bed, and rearranged Erestor’s right arm so Indlîrien could rest there comfortably. “Please return to me, Erestor.” He forgot about Haldir and Glorfindel, Arwen and the twins, as his world momentarily existed solely of Erestor and Indlîrien.
Arwen wrapped one arm around Elladan’s waist and the other around Elrohir. “We should give them some privacy.” They also needed to talk. “Glorfindel? Would you please join us? My brothers and I have several questions where Erestor is concerned.”
Glorfindel exchanged a look with Haldir now that Elrond was ignoring them. Haldir nodded, giving his husband permission to tell the three half-Elves. “Tell them, but do it gently.”
“They need to know about Erestor’s twins…” Glorfindel caught Elladan’s surprised expression, hearing that.
“But be careful how you tell them,” cautioned Haldir. “Remember how shocked you were when you found out.”
“I will tread carefully,” promised Glorfindel, as he rose from the chair. He would tell them what they needed to know.
“My Lord? Elrond?” Haldir sat on his heels next to the half-Elf, trying to catch Elrond’s gaze. “Elrond?” The entranced expression in the stormy gray eyes worried him. “You cannot give in to despair. Erestor needs you to be strong.”
Haldir’s voice forced Elrond to let go of his musings, and he reluctantly shifted his gaze from Erestor to Haldir. “How can I be strong, knowing…” Indlîrien unexpectedly cried softly and Elrond gathered her in his arms. “I had hoped that knowing our daughter was alive would bring him back to me.”
“Erestor was catatonic for nearly three millennia after losing the twins,” said Haldir, reminding Elrond, “But I agree that we need to reclaim him as quickly as possible.”
Elrond’s eyes narrowed, realizing Haldir had a plan. “What do you suggest?”
“My Lord, Erestor is bound to you, which means that he can lend you his strength when you need it. I suggest you complete the bond, letting Erestor draw his strength from you as well.”
Elrond nodded. “I already thought of that…”
Elrond released a troubled sigh. “There is no ‘but’. Haldir, fetch me a small knife.”
Haldir rose to carry out Elrond’s order. A moment later, he retuned, placing the requested item on the bed next to Elrond.
“Take Indlîrien to Arwen and stay with them. I need to be alone in order to do this properly.” Elrond pressed a parental kiss onto his daughter’s brow and handed her to Haldir. “I will create this bond, and send word once I have completed it.”
Pleased, Haldir nodded. “Erestor loves you. He has loved you for quite some time, but never admitted it to himself. I know you can make him happy. He deserves some happiness after everything he has been put through.”
“And I love him,” whispered Elrond absentmindedly. “Now go and make sure no one disturbs me.”
Haldir left, hoping Elrond would succeed in forging this bond and bringing Erestor back to them.
“Haldir? Where is Ada?” Arwen opened her arms and accepted the baby into them.
“Elrond is going to bind himself to Erestor,” announced Haldir, concerned about the twins’ reaction to this particular fact. Their expressions hardened momentarily, but then softened. “I gather Glorfindel told you that Erestor is already bound to your father?”
“For the last three millennia, aye,” said Elladan in an unreadable tone. “He saved our father’s life twice?”
“Yes, the first time was after the Battle of the Last Alliance and the second time when your mother sailed for Valinor. If Erestor had not confirmed their bond, your father would have faded.” Haldir studied Elladan’s eyes and found them wavering. “Indlîrien is your half-sister, Elladan, why would you stop Elrond from binding himself to Erestor? By doing so the bond comes full circle and Erestor will no longer be condemned to a half-life. He has sustained your father for too long.”
“’Tis a lot to take in,” explained Elrohir when Elladan remained quiet. “We have suddenly gained a sister and we are trying to accept the fact that our father has found a new mate.”
“Erestor has been Elrond’s mate for three thousands years,” said Haldir softly, “’Tis new for Elrond, but not for Erestor.”
Arwen, who had been rocking her sister, now spoke up. “I want my father to be happy and knowing what I do now, I agree with his decision to complete the bond.”
Elladan looked thoughtfully at his twin. “What are your thoughts on this?”
Elrohir looked at Indlîrien, already recognizing some of Elrond’s features. “’Tis the right thing to do. And we have already gained a sister.”
Elladan sighed, giving in. “You think our father has made the right decision, then?”
“Yes, he is doing the only honorable thing by binding himself to Erestor. We should accept this – him.”
Glorfindel felt proud, realizing the twins had finally put aside their fears and self-loathing. “Erestor will be very happy to hear that.”
“If he wakes up,” warned Haldir. “I sincerely hope he won’t withdraw into himself for another three thousand years.”
“He did what?” Elladan’s eyes revealed surprise.
“You did not tell them?” asked Haldir, making certain Glorfindel had left out that part.
“You told me to tread carefully,” said Glorfindel softly.
Haldir drew in a deep breath. “After Erestor suffered a miscarriage he became lost to us for nearly three millennia. He needed that long to mourn his sons’ deaths… your half-brothers. They were still inside his body when they died, but they were very real, and very much alive to him.” Haldir walked over to where his husband was sitting and took a seat next to him. “All we can do now is to wait. Elrond promised he would send word if there was any news.”
Arwen continued to rock Indlîrien, finding comfort in holding her. Elladan wrapped an arm around Elrohir, sitting down as well, resting his head on his brother’s shoulder. They settled in for a long wait.
Elrond briefly balanced the knife in his hand. His mind was already made up, but he felt lost, looking at Erestor’s fragile form. What if creating this bond was too little, too late? Realizing he couldn’t afford to think like that, he placed the sharp tip of the blade against a fingertip and made a deep cut.
He didn’t need much blood to establish a bond; a few drops would do. Prying Erestor’s blue lips open, he slid the bleeding fingertip inside. He waited for a few minutes, until he was sure that several droplets had made their way down Erestor’s throat. Emotions nearly kept him from speaking, causing a lump to form in his throat, but then he took heart and finally took the step Galadriel should have let him take three millennia ago.
“I, Elrond Half-Elven, bind my fëa to yours. Like you did three thousand years ago, I do now. I will share my life energy with you, sustain and strengthen you. From this moment on, there will never again be another. You are my mate, lover and husband. We will raise Indlîrien together and we will give her all the love she needs. Your life of misery ends here, ends today. From this day on, I will stand at your side and defend you if necessary. No hurt will ever come to you. May the Valar bless this union and speed your recovery. Please return to me, melamin, for I do not want to live without you.”
Removing his digit from Erestor’s lips, he leaned in closer to seal the binding with a kiss. He tasted the coppery blood on his tongue and hoped the binding had been successful. He would know in a few minutes. The tip had stopped bleeding and he wrapped his fingers around Erestor’s. Slipping his other hand beneath Erestor’s neck, he drew in a deep breath and then concentrated.
For one terrible moment nothing happened and he grew afraid that he had done something wrong, that the bond had been rejected, but then pulsing energy left his fingertips, flowing into Erestor’s body and causing a soft glow beneath the skin. He knew he couldn’t exhaust himself, because Erestor would need him once he was awake, and pulled back when he began to feel drained. The energy transfer stopped and Elrond’s heart fluttered wildly, finding Erestor had opened his eyes. But the other Elf had not yet regained consciousness. It was merely a healing sleep he was in.
But it was a start.
Elrond tucked the blanket around Erestor’s form and sat with his beloved for long moments, before he felt strong enough to get to his feet. Realizing he wanted to tell Haldir, Glorfindel and his children that the binding had been successful himself, he slowly made his way to the doorway.
Looking over his shoulder, he watched Erestor sleep. When he came back, he would slip between the covers and hold his new mate until Erestor finally regained consciousness. But first, he needed to tell his loved ones that the binding had been completed. Closing the door behind him, he headed for the waiting area.
His hand twitched, missing its warm companion, and searched for it. Erestor blinked, waking up from his long, dark sleep.
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