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A Light in May  by Antigone Q

Elrond's world was shrinking to two tasks: working Legolas' lungs, and keeping his heart steady. Elrond could feel how poison was working its way through Legolas' nervous system, and Legolas fast was losing even the most rudimentary control of his muscles. Elrond desperately needed all his concentration for the task at hand, but he also needed Glorfindel to understand their situation.

"This poison - it is like that of a snake or spider - nothing I've seen in Imladris," continued Elrond, tilting his head slightly to meet Glorfindel's eyes and trying to communicate all he could without speaking aloud. Someone brought a poison here. This was not an accident. Glorfindel met the glance with a nod and rose.

"Elladan, let no one leave this area," Glorfindel ordered. "Search the green - start with our guests - see if you can find any trace of a poison here. Elrohir, take five or six that you trust and guard the paths from the valley. We do not know who has gone from here already, but no one must leave Imladris until we know how this was done. Erestor, take three or four servants-"

With relief that he need not worry about the rest of his people for now, Elrond turned fully back to Legolas, trying to calm the younger Elf with a confident gaze and a mild touch. It was not working, of course. Elrond found himself not only fighting against a poison and regulating a rapidly failing nervous system, but trying to reassure Legolas, as well. The natural reaction to injury for an Elf was to try and bring his own body under control, but in this case Legolas would not be able to do so.

Calen-Glad was pushing his way though the circle surrounding the two. He took off the mask he had been wearing. "Legolas! Ai, Legolas! It cannot happen again - Legolas, can you hear me?"

"Of course he can hear you," Elrond snapped, noting that Legolas' distress increased greatly and centered on Calen-Glad. "Get back!" That was all he needed - someone distracting him and worrying his patient! Elrond reflected it was typical of Calen-Glad that he could not be bothered to come to the halls of healing when needed, but would come to a patient at the most awkward time possible. Be at ease, Legolas, Elrond spoke without words, hoping Legolas would concentrate on the voice rather than other things around him. I am trying to help.

From somewhere near the edge of the glade, Elrond heard Medlin, in his usual ill temper, shouting something, but he could not hear the words over Glorfindel, who was still thankfully barking out the orders that Elrond could not give.

"Calen-Glad, step away, now!" Glorfindel was saying.

From the edge of the glade, another of the Mirkwood Elves, Nordheth, was shouting too. Did the courier now think she had some part in this affair, as well? Elrond wished everyone would simply be silent and go about his or her business.

While most scattered to obey Glorfindel, Calen-Glad refused to move. "I cannot leave him - he is my brother! Please, do not make me go!" he protested, looking desperate.

At these words Ilothuir came quickly to Calen-Glad and took his arm, tugging at him as if to make him leave. "Laegyrn, you must not!"

Even through his task, some part of Elrond was stunned. Had Ilothuir just called Calen-Glad Laegyrn? Laegyrn, the eldest son of Thranduil, for whom all of Mirkwood had been searching?

And now there was more loud confusion: the scouts from Mirkwood arguing loudly, Calen-Glad pleading to be allowed to stay with his brother, and Ilothuir suddenly bursting into tears so much noisier than were usual for an Elf that Elrond was appalled. Even Glorfindel sounded thunderous as he spoke to Calen-Glad. Elrond could not spare any of his energy to listen, for Legolas clearly was attending, and whatever he was hearing was greatly upsetting him.

"Legolas - Please, calm yourself," Elrond tried to soothe. This noisy drama was not doing the ailing Elf any good at all. Elrond could feel how he was struggling to move, to speak. "Come, look at my eyes…"

Elrond wondered if he should try to lift Legolas himself, and take him into the house, but he hated to have one more thing to think about. He looked up and around the green to find help.

Through her tears, Ilothuir was trying to explain, "My lord, it was not Laegyrn's idea. It was the Lady Galadriel of Lorien who told him to come here!" She gave a wet sniffle and a sob. "We could not yet tell you because in Mirkwood there was a terrible -"

"Not now!" hissed Elrond. "Glorfindel, please." In that moment while Elrond's attention was elsewhere, Legolas panicked. The result was that Legolas nearly stopped breathing. "Legolas? Let me …you must." Calm yourself, young one, Elrond tried tell him. Trust me.

Blessedly, Glorfindel stopped his tirade abruptly, bent, and lifted Legolas as gently as he could, while Elrond's hands stayed in place. "I must help get Legolas into the house," Glorfindel said. "Erestor, be certain this area stays secure. I will be back as quickly as I can."

Calen-Glad moved to go behind them. "Absolutely not!" Glorfindel said decisively. "Not until we know what has happened here."

Calen-Glad tried to follow in spite of Glorfindel’s order, but was restrained by someone. Elrond didn't care by whom and didn't look to see.

Glorfindel bore young Legolas down the path into the house and to the Halls of Healing - back, in fact, to the same place where Legolas and Elrond had first met. Glorfindel laid the Elf gently onto a bed.

Now that there was little to distract him, Elrond quietly worked to put the young Elf into a healing sleep. Legolas was fighting it, and his fear rose to a crest. Elrond could see tears gathering in Legolas' eyes.

Calm, calm. No need to fear. "I will not let you pass through the shadow," Elrond said firmly. "Be at peace. Sleep for a while, so that I can better work to heal you." Little by little, Legolas gave in, and at last grew drowsy and fell into a troubled slumber.

Glorfindel was leaning quietly against a column a few feet away, knowing better than to disturb a healer. Elrond was about to request Ilothuir be sent, and then realized that at the least, she had been deceiving him for months. And, in any case, she was probably still overwrought and crying out on the green.

"I cannot send for Ilothuir," Elrond mused aloud, removing one hand from Legolas' still form and looking up at his friend.

Glorfindel nodded in agreement. "Better not to send for any Elves but lately known to us," Glorfindel advised. "We do not yet know what has happened tonight."

"Nestwen, then" Elrond said, thinking of the only reliable healer he had left.

Glorfindel shook his head. "Better, perhaps, but she did not come to us so very long before the others. Until we have sorted out this incident, better I send you one of your household staff."

Elrond sighed deeply. "Until we understand - until we know -" he glanced again at Legolas, whose chest his hand still laid upon. "I would prefer too many precautions rather than too few. Yet I need not only someone who can fetch and carry, but a true healer." He paused, lost in thought, combing through the possibilities. "Where are Gilraen and Estel?"

"Estel was frightened of course. His mother showed some sense and took the boy back to his room." Glorfindel did not say so, but implied by his tone that Gilraen showing sense was a rare occurrence. "She is still with him, I would imagine." Glorfindel frowned. "Surely you are not going to invite a small child in here now. Perhaps Gilraen could help you, but Estel…"

"I do not know what Gilraen is capable of. I do know, however, that Estel has the gift of his forefathers. I need him only for a moment to make one infusion. It will strengthen Legolas' fëa, and then I need not stay so close to Legolas and can begin to deal with the toxin itself. Please go quickly, Glorfindel, and do not ask any more questions."

Glorfindel did as he was told and soon returned with Estel and Gilraen. Gilraen looked irritated, although Elrond did not know if it was because of the night interrupted or because she had had to bring Estel to him.

Elrond looked to Glorfindel. "Go back to the green," Elrond ordered quietly. "I feel more at ease knowing you are in charge there."

Glorfindel bowed. "When all seems in order, I will return, in case you might need me here."

As Glorfindel departed, Elrond looked to Estel. The boy was wearing his nightclothes, and was quiet, but his face was tearstained and he looked frightened. Gilraen, though, made no move to hold or comfort him. Couldn't she see he was in distress?

Elrond called to him softly. "Come, Estel, don't be afraid. Legolas will be well, but I need your help. I am sorry, but it is only for a moment."

Estel nodded. "I am glad to help you, Papa. I did not mean to be…only he looked so pale and still outside, and no one would tell me anything."

Elrond mentally berated Gilraen for not giving some small explanation to the boy, and continued, "That is understandable, but as I said, Legolas will be well. Have your mother help you heat some water, and then soak some athelas as you have done before."

Estel did this. When he crushed the leaves into the water a smell like forest and mountains blew into the room: even Gilraen's eyes sparkled for a moment. Estel brought the water to Elrond, who smiled reassuringly at the boy.

"Thank you," Elrond said sincerely. "You were very brave. I dared not leave him, even for a moment, and your help was much appreciated."

As he drew nearer, Estel's face filled with awe. "You are keeping him here," Estel said, gazing at Legolas’ pale form.

Elrond understood that Estel did not know how to voice what he was seeing. "That is his fëa that you sense. It is what makes an Elf himself; it is the part of him that is alive, even when his body dies. Yes, I anchor it here, but the athelas will strengthen his spirit, and then I will not have to." He reached for the bowl that Estel held.

"I want to help," Estel said, no longer sounding frightened. "I know I can."

Elrond hesitated, and then nodded. "When I hold the water close so that he may breathe of it, call him. He may well respond to you better than me."

Estel did as he was told. "Legolas," he said, firmly, sounding much older than his years. "You must come back. All your friends are waiting for you."

The change in Legolas was apparent within moments. A little color came back to the Elf's cheeks, and Elrond was able to remove his touch altogether, though the healing was far from being finished.

"Thank you, Estel," Elrond said, sighing in relief. "That was well done. But it is late for you: go back to your rooms now, please, and I will see you in the morning - or the afternoon, if I must be awake through this night much longer. Good night."

Estel threw his arms around his papa. "Good night," he said. "I will not worry any more, for I know you will make Legolas well."

Elrond hoped Estel's faith did not prove to be misplaced.

Gilraen, who had said nothing while she was in the room, did not respond when Elrond said, "Good night, Lady." Instead she threw him an accusing look as she led her son from the room. Elrond was not sure what had upset her. Was she disturbed because he had made use of Estel's abilities and reminded her of his heritage? Or was something else amiss?

When Glorfindel returned, exhausted, some hours later, he found that Elrond had moved from Legolas' bedside, though it was obvious the Lord of Imladris had not rested. He sat at the table with a large book open before him and was frowning deeply. Glorfindel sat by his friend "Lord Elrond?" Glorfindel asked with concern. "Is there aught I may help with?"

Elrond shook his head to the negative. "It was purposeful," he bit out angrily, gesturing at the open pages. "There is no poison that would act like this but that of Shelob or one of her children. The shadow spiders have two poisons: one that paralyzes, and one that kills, and Legolas has somehow ingested the latter. The spider must have been an old one to be so potent, but regardless, that is the source of the poison."

Elrond glanced at Glorfindel. "The spiders are shadow creatures. There is nothing like them in Imladris." Elrond's whole body shook with anger. "Someone brought that evil poison here. It was purposeful," he repeated. "Moreover it would not have been Gilraen or Estel, and there are no Men or Dwarves passing through here now, so it can only have been one of the Firstborn who did it. Ai, Glorfindel! I never wanted to see such a thing come to pass again!"

Glorfindel placed a hand on Elrond's shoulder. "I too, am disturbed by the thought of a kinslaying. It is an ugly, ugly thing that has happened here." He softened his voice. "But you could not have kept it from happening, and you have probably saved Legolas' life."

"It should not have happened in my valley," Elrond said, pressing his palms to his eyes as if he were in pain. "This was to be my sanctuary. Nothing evil can come here. Nothing evil should be able to make its home here!"

Elrond unexpectedly heaved the book from the table and threw it violently. It arced wide and hit a shelf with a heavy thump.

Glorfindel squeezed Elrond's shoulder lightly, surreptitiously glancing behind at Legolas, who still slept, undisturbed by the noise. "Many have been led to evil deeds with good intentions," Glorfindel said gently. "My Lord -" He paused. "My friend: you know that all the Valar together could not keep evil from coming into Arda. Did you think you could hold it from Imladris with only the help of a ring? You are wiser than that."

Elrond pressed his face harder into his hands. "Would I that could sail west and join Celebrian and my kin. I am so weary of this age, Glorfindel!"

"Soon," Glorfindel soothed. "All your duties will be completed soon, and you will be with your wife again." After few moments he changed his tone. "Elrond?"

Elrond tilted his head and wearily opened one eye. "Is there yet something else, Glorfindel?"

"A small thing. Nearly all the household has been drafted in one way or another to deal with the crisis. What would you have me do about the song?"

"The song?" Elrond repeated, confused.

"It is Nost-na-Lothion," Glorfindel prompted gently. "It is traditional to usher in the morning sun with a song."

"Aye. Of course. And celebrate for the rest of the day, as well." Elrond sat back in his chair and considered, glad to have at least a problem with a tangible solution. "You should appoint someone, I think, to sing in place of all of us," he said finally. "No one will feel much like celebrating after last night, I imagine. In fact, I ask you to sing the morning song yourself, if you would. There is little enough chance anyone else will feel like singing, either."

Glorfindel smiled. "I will be honored to do so."

Elrond sighed. "I do not yet know what you have done to keep Imladris safe, but I am glad to be certain that whatever you have done has been done well. Tomorrow, I ask you to gather in one room all the Elves lately come to Imladris. There can be no more secrecy; everything must be told."

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