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Glorfindel's Folly  by Nilmandra

For Blue (and Nancy) because it was a mandate.

Thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading this story.

Glorfindel’s Folly

Glorfindel stood on the plateau, his arms crossed over his chest and his face thoughtful as he considered the young half-elves standing before him. No longer children, they were gangly younglings, all arms and legs, now standing to his mid-chest. His eyes traveled over them slowly, considering the strengths and personality of each. Elladan’s face reflected his curiosity and enthusiasm – he loved an adventure and would gladly participate, to whatever end. He would be a good conspirator. Glorfindel’s eyes drifted to Elrohir, whose gaze was also curious, but more thoughtful. Elrohir would ask more questions, consider the finer points of their mission and its possible consequences. He might take more convincing.

“Glorfindel, tell us!” Elladan finally burst out. He bounced on the balls of his feet, unable to stand still.

Glorfindel smiled indulgently. “We wait for one other. There is little point in telling the two of you, only to have to repeat myself.”

“Glorfindel,” said Elrohir slowly, “does this have something to do with you standing in the courtyard fountain without any clothes on with that dove sitting on your head?”

“Yes, Elrohir, it does,” answered Glorfindel gravely. “However, I was wearing clothing. That a dove landed on my head speaks only to my perseverance in standing so perfectly still.”

“You were wearing only a loincloth,” Elladan reminded him. “Adar told us we could not bother you. Did you mind that so many people sketched you standing there? Some of the pictures were very good.”

“But Glorfindel, why did you do it?” interrupted Elrohir.

“Adar says we are not supposed to ask him that, Elrohir,” Elladan reminded him. He grinned suddenly. “But if Glorfindel wants to tell us, then I hardly think Adar would mind.”

“It was a matter of honor, Elrohir,” began Glorfindel.

“Honor?” squeaked Elrohir. He quickly cleared his throat. “What is honorable about standing naked in a fountain?”

“I was not naked!” retorted Glorfindel. “I was wearing. . . never mind. It was a matter of honor, for I had given my word.”

Elrohir carefully considered this, his head cocked slightly askew as he looked at Glorfindel. “Erestor says that honor is earned through deeds of valor without personal gain and is the crown of one found trustworthy and worthy of respect. I do not see, Glorfindel, how standing naked in a fountain with a dove on your head was any of those things.”

“I was not naked!” argued Glorfindel. He stopped abruptly and glared at the youngster before him. He sighed and softened his expression at the look of confusion on Elrohir’s face. He could not help but notice that Elladan had stepped a pace closer to his twin, ever the protector, and now he was also waiting for Glorfindel’s response, having found Elrohir’s question worthy. “Honor is also about facing the consequences of one’s actions or words, no matter how humiliating, with dignity,” he said gently.

“Oh!” answered Elrohir, and his whole demeanor changed. He stepped to Glorfindel, touching him lightly on the arm. “I did not know you were humiliated. I am sorry.”

Glorfindel burst out laughing. He squeezed Elrohir’s shoulder, using his touch to show he was not laughing at him. “I was not humiliated, though the situation may have appeared so. More importantly, I must determine a way to exact my revenge against the one who set me there, which is why I need your assistance.”

Elladan shouted to the air, then whirled around. “Follies! It is time for more Erestor and Glorfindel follies! Remember, Elrohir, when we were children and you learned about their follies and told me? Remember the pink dress? And Naneth! Naneth helped!”

Elladan’s grin had grown as the volume of his words had risen, and Glorfindel abruptly symbolized silence by moving his finger along his lips. Elrohir’s eyes had grown larger and larger, and now twinkled in memory. Suddenly, his mouth opened wide and he gaped at Glorfindel. “We will not help you get our naneth!”

Glorfindel roared with laughter. “No one, Elrohir, I repeat, NO ONE, gets your Naneth. Or your adar, for that matter.”

“Why?” asked Elladan innocently.

Glorfindel ruffled his hair. “I will trust that your logical brain will figure that one out without assistance from me, Elladan.”

“Are we excluded also?” asked Elrohir suddenly.

“Probably not after this,” laughed Glorfindel.

Elrohir grew very quiet and stepped back a few paces. Elladan moved to him quickly, and the two discussed in nearly imperceptible tones Elrohir’s concern. Glorfindel heard all of it regardless, and a wave of compassion flowed through him even as laughter bubbled up and threatened to overflow him. “You will never need to stand naked in the fountain, Elrohir, I promise.”

Elrohir’s look of relief was profound, and Glorfindel suddenly questioned his wisdom, or perhaps lack thereof, in involving them in his and Erestor’s ongoing silliness. Neither would Erestor have stood naked in a fountain. I was not naked, he corrected himself. I am starting to sound like the twins! The consequences of losing one of their games was never meant to truly humiliate the other elf, but to amuse and raise the spirits of each. And this was needed now, for Erestor had become melancholy after someone he loved had sailed west, and Glorfindel was determined to lighten his spirit.

“Why did you do it, Glorfindel?” asked Elrohir.

Glorfindel smiled at the memory. “Did you see people smile and laugh?” Elrohir nodded. “Sometimes we do silly things just to amuse someone, to make them laugh and fill them with joy. And that silliness did this, but now the person who challenged me will expect some form of retaliation, so I am honor-bound to provide it. Besides, while I have made this person smile, I have yet to make him laugh.”

Elladan brightened. “So that is what we must do? Make Erestor laugh?”

“Erestor has been very sad,” observed Elrohir. “Even Naneth is concerned.”

Glorfindel felt a smile tug at his lips. Elrohir was both perceptive and sensitive, and those qualities could turn into a real advantage on this mission.


Glorfindel turned at the call of the remaining conspirator, one eye on the twins to see their reaction. He took Celebrían’s hand, raising it to his lips and kissing it. “My lady! Welcome! We are honored you could join us.”

“Naneth!” the twins cried in unison.

“Hello Elladan. Hello, Elrohir,” she greeted her sons, kissing them each on the forehead. She laughed at their surprised expressions, then turned to Glorfindel. “You start down a path I fear cannot be retraced! Once you have involved them, they will be yours to contend with forever.”

Glorfindel had considered this, but concluded he could manage their youthful enthusiasm. He would curb any forays they planned on their own as well. “They will be an asset,” he replied, “and I will manage them, never fear.” For emphasis, he cast his most stern expression upon the twins. They laughed.

Celebrían sat upon a large rock, the twins automatically climbing up to sit on either side of her. Glorfindel smiled at the picture they made, for the twins dearly loved their mother and when she was in their presence, they were drawn to her like moths to a flame. He faced the three of them, arms clasped behind his back. “I thank each of you for joining me today and for your consideration in joining with me in Operation Laugh Erestor. I will henceforth refer to it as OLE, for both the sake of brevity and secrecy. Now, as everyone in Imladris has noticed, Erestor has entered into a state of melancholy, an unhealthy condition for any elf.”

“I will attest to that,” added Celebrían, nodding. “It is as if a shadow lingers over him.”

Glorfindel continued in a grave voice, but he no longer stood still, instead pacing and gesturing with a dramatic flair. “Attempts to cajole him out of his mood have been met with hostility or even ignored, to the point where he declared that the statue in the courtyard fountain had more use and cheer than me, his friend.” He clasped one hand over his heart in despair. “Grieved though I was at the comparison, I told him I would make him smile and he agreed to the challenge. Alas! I failed to do so in the allotted time and thus was forced to submit myself to Master Erestor and face what forfeit he would demand. He told me my silence was what he most desired. Since his office overlooks the courtyard fountain, I took myself immediately to that location, removed the statue and took up its position. Erestor occasionally looked upon me, and he even chanced to walk by on two occasions. I was thrilled to see his eyes twinkle as artists stopped to sketch me and musicians serenaded me. But the greatest gift to me was when the dove landed upon my head and Erestor finally smiled!”

The twins laughed and Celebrían nearly bubbled over with laughter, and Glorfindel wished he could make Erestor laugh as easily as he could these three. “So this is OLE: we must make Erestor laugh. Mid-summer feast is only one week away, and I plan to challenge him by making him laugh on that day. Will you aid me?”

“I will!” the twins chorused.

“And you know that I will,” confirmed Celebrían.

“But, Glorfindel,” said Elrohir suddenly. “You were to make Erestor smile and you did!”

“I did not do it in the time allowed, and that is of the utmost importance in a challenge,” answered Glorfindel. “We must make him laugh at the Mid-summer’s eve feast, or he will be able to demand another forfeit of me.”

“Of us, too?” asked Elladan, his eyes gleaming.

“Perhaps,” replied Glorfindel slyly. “Erestor may greatly enjoy that.”

Elrohir and Elladan turned to look at each other, grins on their faces. They didn’t speak, but Glorfindel knew full well that some sort of unspoken discussion was occurring. “He can demand a forfeit of us, too, except standing naked in the fountain like you did!” declared Elladan.

“I was not naked,” said Glorfindel, rolling his eyes. “I will extend the challenge to Erestor this evening. Consider your ideas for making Erestor laugh, and we will discuss them tomorrow.”

“Yes, Glorfindel!” cried the twins, and they ran down off the path that led back to the grounds of Imladris.

“You are either very brave or very foolish to include the twins,” said Celebrían as she and Glorfindel followed at a more sedate walk. “Though I imagine that you will succeed, for just your discussions with them are enough to make most laugh!”

“They are your sons,” Glorfindel reminded her sternly.

Celebrían laughed, the sound like chimes ringing through the trees around them, which responded by gently swaying their branches. “You must look to Elrond for the inheritance of Elrohir’s comedy! I was far more reckless,” she confided. She laughed again, then began to run through the woods, which seemed to laugh with her. Glorfindel shook his head and followed.

* * *

The sharp rapping on his door broke the reverie that Erestor had found himself in, and he carefully laid the framed likeness of his nephew in the top drawer of his desk. Closing his eyes, he drew in a deep breath and cleared his mind of the thoughts that shadowed it.

“Come in,” he called.

He closed his eyes again and drew in a second deep breath when he saw who his visitor was. Was he not to have any peace? “Suilad, Glorfindel,” he said politely.

“Hello, Erestor,” replied Glorfindel. He pulled a chair up to the front of Erestor’s desk and seated himself. Erestor sighed.

Silence fell between them. Erestor finally looked at the golden haired smiling elf and asked, “Is there something I can help you with, Glorfindel?”

“Yes, now that you mention it,” replied Glorfindel warmly. “My substantial ego has yet to recover from our last bet. I wish to challenge you again.”

“Glorfindel, there is no need. There was no need for you to stand naked in the fountain and there is no need for you to challenge me again. I do not wish to participate.”

Erestor saw the sorrow in Glorfindel’s eyes. Sorrow, and pity. Only that morning Elrond had come to speak to him, to express his concern for Erestor’s well being, for his melancholy was unhealthy. Even Erestor knew this, despite being caught up in his emotion. He had noticed excessive strands of hair in his comb and dryness to his skin, and even his fingernails were brittle and breaking.

In his mind’s eye he suddenly saw Glorfindel standing in the fountain, posed as the statue had been, and the inhabitants of Imladris poking fun at him - with him - for no one laughed harder at himself than Glorfindel. He had been serenaded and sketched most humorously, but what had finally broken through Erestor’s gloom that day had been the dove landing on Glorfindel’s golden head. He had smiled, and the memory of it had made him smile several times since. What kind of friend was Glorfindel that he would do such a thing? When he had smiled, he had felt the melancholy that haunted him lift, as if new life had flowed into him.

And now he would remove the sorrow and pity from Glorfindel’s eyes.

“On second thought, I think an additional challenge is in order. It is ungracious of me to not allow you another opportunity to lose to my greater self control,” he said suddenly. “What do you propose, Lord Glorfindel?”

Glorfindel’s smile lit the room. “I will make you laugh at the Mid-Summer’s feast.”

Erestor felt his brow lift without conscious thought. “That is it? I predict you will lose, for you are not nearly as funny as you think you are.”

“I agree!” agreed Glorfindel, laughing. “That is why I have enlisted the aid of two who are quite funny, usually when they do not intend to be. Elladan and Elrohir will aid me, and if we lose, you may claim a forfeit from each of us, although Elrohir has already excluded standing naked in the fountain as his forfeit.”

Erestor consciously forced his eyebrow back on to his forehead. “Are you crazy?” he finally blurted out. “If you involve them now, they shall be a thorn in your side for the rest of your existence!”

Glorfindel grinned. “Or in your side. I am confident I can manage them.”

“You open the proverbial can of worms, Glorfindel, but there is little point in arguing with you, as usual. I look forward to seeing how you manage to embarrass yourself at the feast,” replied Erestor. He suddenly felt tired, and he wondered if this was what it meant to weary of life in Middle-earth. Yet, he felt no call of the sea or desire to sail west himself.

“Would you like to come to the Great Hall with me for some wine?”

Erestor had almost forgotten Glorfindel was still in the room. He focused his gaze on the elf, noting the concern in his friend’s eyes.

“No, thank you,” he responded. “I find I am weary and in need of rest this night.”

Glorfindel smiled warmly and reached out to touch Erestor’s arm, squeezing gently. “Then I will have mulled wine sent to your room instead. Sleep well, Erestor.”

“Good night, Glorfindel,” he replied. He waited until the door was closed before pulling the painting of his nephew from his desk. He studied the likeness one last time, then tucked it into a lower drawer where he kept personal mementoes. His last relative in Middle-earth, his nephew had met an elleth in Lindon. Her parents were sailing, and Erestor’s sister and parents had already done so. His nephew had sailed with her, for they intended to marry. He had asked Erestor to come, but Erestor had not felt called, nor had he wished to leave Elrond. He was now alone in Middle-earth. But you are not alone, spoke a small voice inside. Your family is here in the House of Elrond, and they are waiting for you to rejoin them in living. Erestor smiled. Yes, he had friends here, and Elrond’s house was his family. He would pull out of this melancholy, but, he decided firmly, he would not lose to Glorfindel, no matter how well intentioned the elf was.

“I may have to find wax to bite down on to prevent laughing,” he said softly. “And I am going to think up particularly good forfeits for the twins.”

* * *

Glorfindel heard the twins long before he saw them. They had agreed to meet at the large rock on the cliff after mid-day meal again, and the two had barely sat through their meal. Whispers and notes were passed between them until Celebrían finally sent them on their way. Glorfindel grinned as he thought of how easily she managed her sons and husband: just as Elrond appeared ready to reprimand his sons, Celebrían decided they should finish their meal outside, saying only that the bright sun and warm air was too alluring to adolescent elves to keep them from it. Elrond had raised a brow at her, for she did normally expect them to be on their best behavior at meals, but she had smiled at him and Elrond seemed to quickly forget any objections.

“As I see it, we have only two options. We have to do something to someone that is terribly funny to make Erestor laugh – and either the person is in on the charade or they are an innocent victim,” explained Elrohir as he sprawled out on his back on the rock, his brother’s body shielding him from the bright sun. “I think it should be you.”

“Ha! I think it should be you!” retorted Elladan, squirming on the rock, his foot tapping impatiently against it. “Why should it be me?”

“Because you are funnier,” replied Elrohir. “Naneth says I am too serious.”

“Adar says I am not serious enough,” replied Elladan. “Maybe it should be Adar?”

“I think he might be untouchable,” said Elrohir thoughtfully. “There might be open war if something happens to him, and then we would be mucking out the stables until we come of age.”

“It might be worth it, if the prank were good enough,” said Elladan carelessly.

“You only say that now,” replied Elrohir dryly.

“Well, what would we do? Maybe we could make up a funny song or do a charade of some sort,” suggested Elladan. “I know some of the words of the Dwarven walking song. Naneth knows them all: she could teach us. That would make Erestor laugh.”

Elrohir considered the idea. “We would definitely be mucking out stalls, probably until we were one hundred.”

“Adar might even make Naneth help us, if he found out she taught us,” added Elladan.

Elrohir snorted. “Adar cannot make Naneth do anything. She just has to smile and kiss him and he forgets everything.”

Glorfindel nearly inhaled his hair as he clamped his lips together, trying not to laugh out loud. Elrohir was correct, but he was surprised the youngling had figured this out! Elladan rolled his eyes, but Glorfindel could not help but note that he reddened slightly. While Elrohir was very observant of behavior, Elladan failed to see any use for such things. Glorfindel stepped into the clearing.

“Erestor has agreed to the challenge,” he announced.

“Yes!” cried Elladan. “Now we just need to figure out what to do. Do you think Naneth would teach us the dwarven walking song?”

“No,” replied Glorfindel immediately. He ignored the looks the twins exchanged, for he knew they were hoping that he would teach them instead. “I have an idea.” He sat down in the clearing, the twins plopping down on either side of him, and began to draw his plan in the dirt.

* * *

“Naneth, is it time yet?” asked Elladan breathlessly as he skidded to a stop near his parents. He carefully avoided his father’s eyes, instead focusing on his mother. Erestor bit his lip to keep from smiling. The twins were too young and inexperienced to really be of much help to Glorfindel, he thought. If I wished, I could obtain all the details of their plan from either in a matter of minutes and ensure my victory. Glorfindel is fortunate I play fair.

“The feast will begin in an hour,” replied Celebrían smoothly. She smoothed her son’s hair back and he grinned at her before running down the hall. She must have smiled at him; everyone she smiles at leaves with a dumb grin on their face. Elrond appeared as if he were about to call after Elladan to walk, but Celebrían touched his arm and then tilted her head up to kiss him, and Elrond forgot all about their running child. He is still besotted after all these years, mused Erestor. “Erestor,” continued Celebrían, interrupting his thoughts, “you will sit with us this evening.”

“Yes, my lady,” replied Erestor with a quick nod of his head. “Thank you.”

He continued on his way, a spring in his step, and he found himself curious to know what Glorfindel had planned. He fingered the piece of wax in his pocket – he really did intend to bite down on it if needed, to keep from laughing. As much as he appreciated Glorfindel’s attempts to lighten his spirit, he had no intention of losing. He rounded the corner leading to the kitchens.

“Glorfindel!” he said, as the two nearly collided.

“Ah, Erestor, elf of the evening,” replied Glorfindel gleefully, a huge smile spreading across his face. “Prepare to laugh, my friend!”

“Only in your dreams,” responded Erestor as he forced his face into an impassive and arrogant mask. He stepped aside, then continued his walk down the hall. He heard Glorfindel start whistling as his footsteps faded, and smiled.

* * *

The lawn of Imladris was arrayed for a feast. Tables and chairs were set up in informal groups, and blankets were spread for those who preferred to relax on the ground as they ate and enjoyed the entertainment. Lanterns were strung on ropes hung between the trees, and the ropes were decorated with gaily-colored ribbons. Musicians wandered amongst people, playing joyful tunes as they went, sometimes stopping to serenade one that they loved, or another they wished to tease. A minstrel was making up songs about each person he met, sometimes praising beauty or strength of arms or creative ability, and sometimes teasing, especially the younger elves.

“Son of Elrond!” cried the minstrel as he came upon Glorfindel and twins, who stood one on either side of him. “Heir of Imladris and apple of your father’s eye,” he began to weave the words with a tune as he stood before Elladan, then he suddenly stopped and looked at Elrohir and leapt to stand before him. “You move quickly, son of Elrond, heir of Imladris and apple of your father’s eye! Hair of the raven and eyes of storm…” he paused again, suddenly seeing Elladan from the corner of his eye. He glanced from one to the other and back, then shook his head quickly, his hair flying about him. “I am ill, I am sick, an unheard of malady where one becomes two!”

“We are twins,” Elrohir tried to explain, confused as to how the minstrel could forget.

The minstrel spun in a circle, closing his eyes and then reopening them quickly to see if two still remained. He crossed his eyes and then straightened them, then folded his arms across his chest and glared at the twins. Elladan grinned and ran around him, tweaking a long ribbon attached to the end of the minstrel’s braid as it floated down. “We are two! We are two and you are one! If you chase one, the other will chase you. If you chase the other, the one will catch you first!”

Elladan grabbed Elrohir’s hand, pulling him away from Glorfindel’s side, and the two began to run in opposite directions around the minstrel, who began to sing a bright, upbeat tune. Soon the other children joined with the twins, and they all joined hands and danced in a circle around the minstrel as he walked away.

Glorfindel laughed as the children spun and twirled around the minstrel, most following him as he wound his way through the grounds. Elladan and Elrohir broke free after a few minutes and raced back to him. “Look, there is Erestor,” whispered Elladan loudly, as Erestor walked to the table where Elrond and Celebrían were already seated.

The elves milling about the grounds grew silent as Elrond and Celebrían stood, and all eyes turned to them. Celebrían welcomed everyone, and then Elrond pronounced the blessing on all who were present. Lifting his glass of wine, he led them in a toast of thankfulness for the peace they enjoyed. Clapping and singing followed, and soon tables were laden with food and the wine flowed freely.

Glorfindel escorted the twins to the table of their parents, one hand firmly on the shoulder of each, as they trembled with excitement. He had told them firmly they must eat first, and though they claimed a lack of hunger, the glorious smells that hung in the air soon had their stomachs growling loud enough for Glorfindel to hear, and they attacked their plates with enthusiasm. Glorfindel sat on the other side of the twins from their mother, then leaned back in his chair. Erestor sat on the other side of Elrond, eating sparingly and sipping his wine, while watching the crowd quietly. Glorfindel allowed his gaze to linger on Erestor until the elf sensed he was being watched and turned to meet Glorfindel’s eyes. Glorfindel grinned. Erestor merely nodded.

Glorfindel waited until the twins had finished their dinners, and was just opening his mouth to whisper that they needed to go when Cook rang his bell, calling all the young elves of Imladris to him. When Elladan and Elrohir did not immediately rise to join the other children, Elrond motioned for them to go. They rose, torn, looking from Glorfindel to their father, and Glorfindel nodded for them to go. He felt Elrond’s eyes upon him, and finally met his gaze. He watched the brow rise on the forehead of his lord, questioning why his sons waited for his permission to do what their father bade them. He smiled sheepishly.

“I think I will go aid Cook myself,” he said, rising from his place. Perhaps he could help speed things up, so that OLE could commence. He looked at Elrond, who frowned, for it was tradition that the children carry out the special deserts – cakes, ices and other delicacies – in celebration of the arrival of summer.

Glorfindel hurried to the kitchen, where the children were lined up to receive the platters and bowls. On a sideboard sat the crowning achievement for the feast: a splendid concoction of flavored and colored shaved ices, shaped like the Misty Mountains that towered above Imladris. The ‘mountains’ were decorated with fruit delicately cut and shaped to appear as flowers and trees, and a glaze had been drizzled over the peaks to give the appearance of snow.

“But the special touch,” Cook was saying, “appears when I do this.” He showed the children the special tray on which the platter would be carried. It had a trough around it that he had filled with water. He placed a small pellet of something into the water, and steam rose around the concoction, appearing as mist about the mountaintops before dissipating into the air. The children clapped and exclaimed their delight, and Glorfindel had to admit that Cook had outdone himself this year. “Glorfindel! Look, children, a strong warrior has appeared who can move mountains!”

Glorfindel laughed and bowed. “At your service, Cook! I will gladly carry your mountains.”

Cook clapped his hands with glee and then began to hand out other tantalizing treats for the children to carry. Each was assigned a dish and a table to carry it to, and other children were to carry serving utensils and bowls and plates upon which the treats would be served. Glorfindel knew that much more was stored in the larders and would be made available as the night went on.

“Elrohir, Elladan, you will carry the bowls and utensils to your table.” Cook tucked a small bag into the top dish of Elrohir’s bag. “When Glorfindel has placed the tray on the table, you may each add two pellets to the water. No more!”

Glorfindel grinned at his helpers as they each lifted their burdens, and the twins led the way. Cook followed at a distance, for he enjoyed watching the reactions of all those in attendance as his prize passed them. The tray was heavy and Glorfindel walked slowly, for he did not wish for the slightest misstep to cause any of the fruit flowers to fall from their carefully placed positions on the tall structure. As he walked he considered the fun he and the twins still had planned. Erestor’s melancholy had lifted somewhat, for which all were grateful, but he seemed determined not to lose tonight. I like competitive Erestor far better than melancholy Erestor, he thought.

Clapping and exclamations of delight followed him as he walked among the tables and blankets to the head table. He could feel Cook beaming in pride as he watched, and Glorfindel could not help but smile himself. The twins had already laid their burdens upon the table and were hopping about excitedly as he approached them. Neither Elrond nor Celebrían had been allowed in the kitchens while Cook worked, and their laughter and smiles of appreciation greeted Glorfindel as he walked forward. He was about to set the tray down when Elladan and Elrohir approached him on either side and dropped the pellets into the water.

A cloud of steam rose from the water, obscuring Glorfindel’s view, and he leaned forward to set the tray on the table so that all could see the effect. He felt his foot collide with something as he stepped forward, and he gasped. He felt himself falling forward, and then suddenly it seemed as if everything were happening much slower than he knew it really was. He saw Elladan jump forward, trying to steady him, and Elrohir, who was closer, grab the edge of the tray. Pellets slid from Elrohir’s hand on to the tray, causing additional clouds of steam to rise. Celebrían rose, reaching a hand forward in an attempt to help, but Elrond had been looking elsewhere for a moment and had not yet realized what was happening.

Then time sped up.

Glorfindel crashed to the ground, landing on his knees first. The edge of the tray caught on the table, and for a moment he thought that Celebrían, Elladan and Elrohir would be able to steady it there. The weight was too much for Celebrían to save from her position, half lying on the table, with only one hand on the tray. The tray began to fall back, the weight pushing the twins down with it. Ice and water landed on Glorfindel’s head as he slid forward to land on his belly, and he heard his own exclamation of surprise followed by squeals from Elladan and Elrohir as they landed on him and next to him, and were covered in ice as well.

Cries of disbelief from the watching audience were followed by silence. Glorfindel groaned as he rolled to his side, wiping the glaze from his face. Shaved ice was melting down his shirt collar and into the waistband of his trousers. He looked to one side and saw Elrohir, his head soaked, a large strawberry stuck to his forehead. On his other side, Elladan had fared better, his head and face spared, but his tunic covered in ice, which he was pulling away from his chest as the coldness seeped through and chilled him.

Glorfindel finally looked up. Celebrían was still sprawled on the table, disbelief on her face, along with a spattering of fruit and ice. Next to her Elrond was calmly seated, an amused look upon his face. Not a drop had made it on to him.

Glorfindel felt heat rise in his face as he ventured a look around the grounds. Every eye was on them, every face expressing disbelief…and amusement. The humor of it began to sink in as he glanced back at the twins.

Suddenly, laughter broke the silence.

Glorfindel felt laughter welling up in him as well, and he looked up to see who had given in to the humor first. Erestor! The dark haired elf was nearly doubled over with laughter. Others joined in, until laughter sounded throughout their valley.

Elrohir sat up, pulled the strawberry off his forehead and popped it into his mouth. “I think this would have been delicious,” he said bravely, despite looking rather miserable.

Another wave of laughter followed that, and soon even Cook had joined in. Glorfindel rose to his feet, brushing ice and fruit off of him; then he held a hand out to each of the twins, pulling them to their feet as well. The three looked around at the laughing audience, and Glorfindel bowed to them, leading to more cheers. They turned to face Erestor then.

“I win,” said Glorfindel smugly.

Erestor only laughed harder.

Glorfindel heard the crowd quiet, and he turned to see why just in time to be hit full in the face with a bucket of cold water. Cook smiled smugly. “You looked like you needed a bath.”

Glorfindel laughed. “Indeed we do! Cook, my deepest apologies for my clumsiness. Everyone will have to trust us when we say it tasted as good as it looked.” He looked at the shivering twins, deciding it was necessary to clean them up. Elladan only looked uncomfortable, having managed to brush most of the wetness from his chest, but Elrohir had received the brunt of his portion over the head, and ice was melting down his neck and back, as well as down the front of him. Elladan was still laughing with everyone, but Elrohir looked ready to cry.

“I will take them to the baths,” Glorfindel told Elrond and Celebrían. He grinned when he saw the Lord of Imladris picking fruit from Celebrían’s hair. He held her hands firmly in his other hand, and Glorfindel laughed again when he realized that Celebrían had attempted to share the mess with her husband.

“Come, meleth-nín, you need to change as well,” said Elrond as he pushed back his chair and stood, pulling Celebrían to her feet. Glorfindel noticed he did not let go of her hands, however.

Glorfindel led the twins through the crowd, which laughed and teased and clapped for them as they departed. Elladan gloried in the attention, and Elrohir managed at least to smile through chattering teeth. They entered the baths, Elladan stripping off his clothing and plunging into the warm water immediately. Glorfindel plucked the fruit from Elrohir’s hair and helped him remove his sopping tunic and leggings, which stuck to him doggedly. Pity filled Glorfindel as Elrohir moved slowly to the bath, hugging thin arms over his shivering body. He lifted the youngling by the upper arms and set him in the water.

Glorfindel joined them a moment later, a sigh of satisfaction escaping from him as the warm water melted away all traces of ice from his neck and hair. He closed his eyes, relishing the moment, then opened one eyelid to check on his helpers. Elladan was sitting next to a no-longer-shivering Elrohir, whispering in his ear.

“Glorfindel, we are not going to have time to make Erestor laugh,” said Elladan sadly. “The feast will be over by the time we are dried and dressed. There will not be time for OLE.”

Elrohir sighed. “I hope he doesn’t make us do anything too embarrassing for our forfeit.”

Glorfindel swept his arm across the surface of the water, the resulting wave covering them both. “Silly elflings! It was Erestor who laughed first! Erestor could hardly stand he was laughing so hard!”

Elladan and Elrohir exchanged looks, grins slowly spreading across their faces. “Ohhh!” said Elladan as it sunk in. “I was thinking we had to do what we had planned to make him laugh!”

“Oh, what we did made him laugh!” crowed Glorfindel. “Even if what we did is not what we planned to do. I wonder what I tripped over?”

Elrohir blushed the deepest shade of red and ducked his head slightly. “My foot,” he admitted.

Glorfindel reached under the water and pulled Elrohir’s legs out from under him, forcing the youth to hold on to his brother so he didn’t get pulled under the water. He inspected the youngster’s feet, and sure enough, found a bruise blossoming on the top of Elrohir’s right foot where he had stepped on it. Elrohir grinned at him. “I do not think we could have been funnier if we tried.”

“Oh!” cried Elladan suddenly. He sat up straight, letting go of Elrohir, who slid into the middle of the pool. Glorfindel released Elrohir, who turned to see what Elladan’s revelation was. “We get to demand a forfeit of Erestor!”

I get to demand a forfeit of Erestor,” Glorfindel clarified. He climbed from the pool, grabbing a towel and drying off. Someone had brought clean clothing for all of them, and he quickly dressed. “Hurry up, if you want to enjoy more of the evening.”

The twins scrambled from the water, drying off only minimally then pulling tunics and trousers on over still damp bodies in their quest to be fast. They quickly braided each other’s hair while Glorfindel did his own; then he shepherded them out of the baths. He watched them for a moment; then content that Elrohir was not limping, he raised his eyes to the lawn and beheld the merriment that was continuing on the greens. Dusk had come and the lanterns were now lit, sending flickering shadows over the dancers who filled the open expanse. Glorfindel found a blanket and flopped down on it, content to watch the activity before him. The twins joined him, watching as their parents returned from their rooms as well, their father spinning their mother gracefully into the dance. Glorfindel watched as an age fell from Elrond’s brow as he danced, and he thought Elrond and Celebrían looked like young newly bonded elves on their wedding night again.

“Glorfindel!” Glorfindel turned to see Erestor bowing before him, dark eyes twinkling and a smile tugging on his lips. “I have come to hear what forfeit you would claim from me.”

Glorfindel looked from Erestor to Elladan and Elrohir, who wriggled with excitement over what Glorfindel would ask. He leaned back on his elbows, staring up at the elf contemplatively. Erestor waited patiently, then suddenly smiled and laughed again. “You could not have planned anything more hilarious than what happened by accident!” he exclaimed.

A slow smile crossed Glorfindel’s face. “You have just given me the forfeit I wished for.”

Erestor’s brow furrowed for a moment as he considered Glorfindel’s words, and then he laughed yet again. “Thank you, Glorfindel,” he replied warmly. As he turned to walk away, he nearly tripped over Elrohir’s foot. He stepped over it carefully, glancing at the youth who reddened again in embarrassment, and another gale of laughter burst from him as he continued on his way.

Glorfindel lay back on the ground, watching as the stars began to appear in the night sky. Contentment filled him as his young protégés sprawled out next to him and the sound of Erestor’s laughter faded into the night. All was well in his world again.

The End.



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