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Discretion  by Bodkin

The End?

‘Thank you,’ Glorfindel pronounced bitterly.  ‘Thank you very much!’

Galadriel looked at him calmly.  ‘It could have been so much worse,’ she suggested.  ‘I could have introduced them to much more dangerous people than Lestanen.’

Glorfindel considered her point and rejected it.  ‘Do you think I appreciate hearing words casually dropped about the stuffed toy I took into the bath with me?’

‘I think that is sweet.’  The Lady of Light met his eyes.  ‘The ellyth of your acquaintance will love the story – and their hearts will be softened still further.’

‘I do not need more admirers!’

Despite his words, Galadriel noted the flick of his gleaming golden hair somewhat cynically.  There were times, she thought, when Glorfindel’s delight in being an elf of mystery was a little overdone – and actually suggested that the nervous elfling still persisted under the disguise of a great elf-lord returned to defend his king’s House.

‘I could do the same to you,’ he retaliated.  ‘There are many here who would relish the chance to talk of you to your grandsons.’

‘You could,’ she acknowledged amiably.  ‘But can they really say anything worse of me than many of the stories that have been repeated over the yeni?’

‘You would rather be suspected of bewitching the Aftercomers’ young in order to devour them than be known to have wandered into Lord Finwë’s council in your night shift demanding that he take you to the privy,’ Glorfindel said with certainty.  ‘You have a reputation to maintain.’

Galadriel laughed and shook her head.  ‘Everybody is young once, my friend,’ she said.  ‘Since my return I have spent enough time with my parents to have become inured to embarrassing tales of a very distant past.  I think they must have told every single one as I waited to discover if my lord would join us here.’  Her eyes sparkled.  ‘I believe they looked on it as a way of reminding me that, no matter what role I may have played in the history of Arda, I was still their daughter.  Have you shared your store of scandalous stories with Celeborn?  I have no doubt but that he would relish them more than most – and have the nerve to use them against me.’

‘That is true,’ Elrond murmured in his ear.  ‘My illustrious adar-in-law takes great pleasure in tormenting the Lady.’  He grinned at his friend.  ‘My sons are only teasing, Glorfindel.  And they are being less vindictive than I might have expected.’

‘That is all very well to say,’ Glorfindel scowled, ‘but you are not on the receiving end.’  He glanced towards the window to the garden where the twins’ laughter rang out.  ‘There they go again.  I am left constantly suspecting that I am the butt of their amusement.’  He pouted elegantly.  ‘It is unfair.  I am not the only one who was involved in the perpetuation of this matter.’ 

‘I am amazed how successful their technique has proved,’ Galadriel remarked conversationally to Elrond.  ‘I would not have thought that this great warrior and Balrog-slayer would be so sensitive to the sound of elven laughter.’

Elrond smirked, his friend decided resentfully.  There was no other word for it.  However he tried to shield it, the half-elf was enjoying watching him squirm.  Perhaps, he thought, a word with Elwing was required.  She had not spent long with her sons, but enough, surely, to be able to provide him with some barbed arrows.

‘They will grow tired of the game soon,’ the half-elf said with an effort at sympathy.

‘Do you really believe that?’ Glorfindel demanded.

‘No,’ his friend admitted.  ‘They will continue to play as long as you continue to react.’  He hesitated.  ‘Why do you not just apologise?  My sons are soft-hearted – and they do not, in general, bear grudges.’  He watched Glorfindel fold his arms defensively.  ‘I fail to see what is so bad about having people remind you of the idiosyncrasies of your childhood.’

‘It is not so much the childhood memories,’ Galadriel remarked with detachment, ‘as what might follow them.’

‘Just because your life is an open book, Eärendilion,’ Glorfindel said in a low voice, ‘does not mean that we all wish our past laid bare.’

Elrond rested an affectionate hand on his friend’s shoulder.  ‘It would seem that we all want what we cannot have,’ he remarked.  ‘I would like the chance to hear tales of my youth from those who cared for me.’

‘Make your peace,’ Galadriel suggested.  ‘You can provide at least as many tales of my grandsons’ mischief-making to entertain the audience – and they are unlikely to probe more deeply once they feel honour is satisfied.’

‘I do not like to let them think they have won.’

‘Consider it their recompense for a joke grown old,’ she said, extending her hand so that he automatically offered his arm.  ‘You know – we know – that in appearing to concede you are gaining far more than you lose.’

‘And besides,’ Elrond commented as he took up a place on his other side, ‘your apparent concession will frighten them at least as much as their smiles worried you.  They are not used to the idea of defeating the mighty Glorfindel in a game of wits.’

‘That is true,’ Glorfindel mused, as Galadriel and Elrond exchanged glances behind his back.  ‘And a defeat that does not appear to be a defeat is a form of victory, is it not?  And a victory that seems to be a defeat is still a victory.’

‘If you say so, my friend,’ Elrond said with some bemusement.  ‘Just avoid trying to say that in Khuzdul – I think we have had enough of the secret tongue for now!’


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