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Chapter 8: Creative Elves and Music Therapy
Erestor listened to the fading sounds of music drifting from the Hall of Fire as he walked to his rooms. Visiting Dúnedain made for a ready audience and many of Imladris' finest singers and musicians had gathered spontaneously to entertain their guests and each other. It was a beautiful spring night, and many elves were sitting or wandering under the stars, singing to Elbereth and praising the beauty she had created. Music spilled from the Hall into the moonlight, and a beautiful harmony resulted from the mixing of voices within and outside the house. Erestor enjoyed such evenings, enjoyed hearing the news brought by those who sought rest and refuge at the Last Homely House East of the Sea. Now, though, he wished for solitude, and the view from his room was as glorious as any. The waterfalls provided their own harmony with the murmur of the trees and singing of the crickets, soothing the body and soul, and Erestor envisioned appreciating that peace in the luxury of a warm bath.
Reaching his room he neatly hung his outer robes and carefully folded his trousers and tunic, placing them in the wardrobe. He turned on the water taps, and gave silent thanks for the hot water works. He added his favorite oils, then slipped with a sigh into the warm water. He felt his muscles relax and he soaked for some minutes with his eyes closed. He appreciated what his other keen senses brought him more acutely at such times: the smell of sandalwood and lavender in the oils; the fragrance of the lilacs growing near to his window; the crickets chirping and the water flowing from the mountaintops into the Bruinen.
At such times he contemplated life in Arda and thought of loved ones who had sailed West. The peace of Valinor, an end to the weariness long life wrought in Middle-Earth, and reunion with loved ones filled his mind. He wondered when the desire to sail would come upon him, as it had upon so many others. He would not go until Elrond left; that much he knew with surety.
With a small smile he slid until he was under water, wetting his hair, then resurfaced. He reached for the small jar of hair tonic and removed the cap. One sniff alerted him to the attempted revenge of a certain golden-haired elf. A grin spread across his face. So Glorfindel had discovered his little gift. He was not surprised; he did not underestimate the one who had been to Mandos and been returned whole and healed, strong and full of purpose. But did the Elf really expect him to fall for his own misdeed?
Erestor cautiously emptied the container, careful to leave no residue behind. It took very little to turn dark hair orange. He momentarily considered placing the substance into the baths of others, but decided that thwarting Glorfindel silently was more enjoyable than drawing others into their games. He stepped, dripping, to the wall cabinet, and removed another container. He sniffed it carefully and once satisfied he would not rue its use, returned to the tub and finished his ablutions.
Once dried, he retired to his bed and lay where his view of the stars was greatest. Sparring with Glorfindel was amusing - but they both had become predictable, as evidenced by this latest round of frivolity. And so he drifted into elvish dreams, a slight hope on the fringe of his thought that perhaps Lórien, Master of Dreams, would plant an inspiring idea during the night.
* * *
Glorfindel watched with amusement as Erestor entered the dining hall. The advisor appeared quite. . . normal. Even amused.
"Good morning, Glorfindel," Erestor smiled his greeting.
"Greetings to you, Erestor," Glorfindel answered politely.
The two stared at each other, both with eyes twinkling. Erestor laughed first. He clapped Glorfindel on the back, his hand lingering upon a braid he caught up in his fingers. "Have I ever mentioned how lovely I find the golden strands of your hair, my friend?"
"No, you have been remiss." Glorfindel reached for a handful of Erestor's dark hair, and rubbed it gently between his fingers. "Have I mentioned how enchanting I find your midnight tresses?"
"Nay, you also have been remiss," answered Erestor pleasantly.
"I think we grow old," Glorfindel finally sighed. "Are we so predictable?"
"I am afraid so," admitted Erestor.
"Have you any remedy to cure this malady?" inquired Glorfindel.
"I have requested aid from Valinor; but alas, Lórien has not yet responded to my petition."
"I may try this approach as well; perhaps I will be received more kindly?"
"Because of your previous sojourn there?" scoffed Erestor. "I should think that such experience would clearly sway Lórien to favor me."
Glorfindel arched an eyebrow at Erestor. "So, the terms of engagement must be set. Whatever folly is undertaken must not have been accomplished previously by either party. Only original plans may be considered."
"Challenge accepted, with conditions," answered Erestor, with a wise and knowing expression. "No harm may befall other residents or visitors of Imladris, or the establishment itself. Also, no elflings may assist in the planning or execution of any endeavor."
Glorfindel clutched his tunic over his heart. "You wound me, my friend. You think I would ask for aid from the sons of Elrond?"
"Yes," Erestor answered without hesitation. "I think you might even involve them without their knowledge. You may not use them, with or without their permission."
Hand still covering his heart, Glorfindel bowed to Erestor, who returned the gesture.
* * *
"What ever are they doing?" Celebrían leaned to whisper in Elrond's ear.
"I know not," Elrond replied, a furrow in his brow. "In times of peace they can become quite…creative. They seek amusement." He turned to face Celebrían. "I will assign them additional tasks," he said resolutely.
Celebrían laughed aloud, the sound like silver bells ringing in perfect pitch. "My father may enjoy such amusement!"
Elrond sighed as he considered the ramifications if Lord Celeborn became embroiled in their skirmish, and then turned to the two in question. He glared at them, causing them both to smile with amusement. Their smiles did nothing to hide the gleam in their eyes.
* * *
"Istuion, what is a folly?" Elrohir looked up from his assignment, his mind clearly elsewhere.
Istuion looked at the child in surprise. That was certainly not a word he had seen in the lessons he had assigned to the elflings. "A folly is an act of foolishness," he replied. "Why do you ask?"
"Ada says Glorfindel and Erestor are foolish," Elrohir answered.
Istuion nearly choked on the water he was sipping. He coughed several times and cleared his throat. A thousand thoughts raced through his mind as he contemplated responding to Elrohir's statement or simply moving on to a new subject. The recent scene of Lord Glorfindel growling and crawling on the floor as he chased the twins from his study surfaced in his thoughts and he could not help himself. "That would seem an…interesting…thing to call Lord Glorfindel," he finally answered. "Are you sure that is what your father said?"
Elrohir nodded seriously. "He said Glorfindel and Erestor and their follies are about to start again. He is going to give them more work to do to keep them busy."
Istuion was trying very hard not to smile and finally had to duck his head under the desk to retrieve an imaginary dropped item to keep from doing so in front of the child. He resurfaced once he had regained control of himself. "Your adar is very wise," he managed. "I am sure he will keep Lord Glorfindel and Erestor quite busy and out of trouble. Now, are you done with your assignment?"
Elrohir shook his head and bent back over his work. He wondered what his father had meant by 'again'.
* * *
"Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel shall arrive within the week," he said in exasperation. "Do I at least have your word that they shall not be engaged or otherwise affected by whatever it is you two are planning?"
"We have no plans, Master Elrond," Glorfindel replied innocently.
"None," Erestor confirmed.
Elrond closed his eyes for a moment. Anytime Glorfindel called him 'Master' in private meant that the games were about to begin. "Glorfindel, surely there are warriors to be trained, novices who should be taken into the mountains for some experiential learning?"
"No, my Lord," Glorfindel answered. "The patrol and training schedules are set for the next two months."
"Erestor, the planning for the spring planting surely cannot be completed? Is there not work you would wish to oversee yourself?"
"No, my Lord," Erestor smiled charmingly. "With the aid of the lovely Lady Celebrían, we are ahead of schedule this year."
Elrond watched the pair, standing so casually in front of him, hands clasped behind their backs, and innocent looks gracing their faces. How he had longed for peace, how happy he was in the Last Homely House with his wife and children, and all those who made up his household. But these two, his closest advisors and friends - tended to get very creative and merry when not otherwise occupied. Such times had produced wonderfully creative inventions, beautiful ballads and tasty concoctions from the kitchen. Such times had also produced green hair, broken limbs and gastrointestinal discomfort. For the most part their intentions were good, even constructive. He finally smiled. "I am most glad that I can count on you both to help make the Lord and Lady comfortable and their stay enjoyable."
"Of course, Elrond," they replied in unison. With slight bows to him, they left the room.
Glorfindel and Erestor walked several paces down the corridor in silence, both with slight smiles.
"I wish we did have something planned," Glorfindel finally said.
"I wish we did too," Erestor answered. "Elrond surely seems to think we do. Of course, doing nothing when he expects something is actually doing something, for if nothing else, we shall aggravate him with the suspense."
"That actually made sense," Glorfindel replied, raising an eyebrow at the advisor. "Maybe I do need to take novices into the mountains."
Erestor laughed. "I think you are needed elsewhere, my friend." As he spoke, the twins appeared in the hallway and Glorfindel was willingly dragged off for the midday meal.
* * *
The midday meal had just been served when a messenger arrived. The guard caught Glorfindel's attention, and motioned for him to bring Elrond and come immediately. A man, one of the Dúnedain who lived in the North, stood in the front hall.
"Lord Elrond," the man greeted him immediately with a bow. "One of our men has been injured in a mud slide in the Misty Mountains. I have been sent ahead to request your aid, to ask if we might bring him here."
Glorfindel left the hall before Elrond could respond, calling softly to the guard outside the front porch of the house to arrange for a rescue group, with litter, to assemble immediately near the stables.
"Of course. Please, come inside and eat while you tell me more of what happened, that I might best prepare for his arrival," Elrond replied kindly, his eyes noting the weariness in the man's eyes and the dust and dirt that covered him. "Are you injured?"
"No, my Lord. Just tired and dirty from the rescue and the ride here," the man answered quietly. He allowed himself to be led to a table in the kitchen, where he was immediately served hot tea and a hearty stew. He quickly told Elrond all he knew of the injuries, which appeared severe, and then the Elf-Lord left him to prepare for the injured man's arrival.
The tired man was surprised when his dishes were whisked away, and another elf appeared to escort him to a room. A steaming tub of water was prepared for him, and clean clothing was folded on the bed. Hot water for tea was set on a small table, with a variety of herbs available from which he could choose.
The elf bowed to him. "Word will be sent when the rest of your party arrives. Please rest and be comfortable until then."
The man nodded his thanks and the elf slipped from the room. He glanced at the sweet smelling soaps and oils, their fragrance already soothing his mind. Such luxuries were not afforded to those who patrolled the north. He wondered if he were dreaming, for his weary mind could not comprehend this welcome; indeed he felt as if he were a near relative returned home from a long journey. He shook his head to clear it, then removed his travel stained clothing and slipped into the warm water.
* * *
Elrond cut the tattered cloth from the injured man's leg, exposing a severe break and the subsequent tissue damage. The skin was filthy from the dirt and rock that had buried the man in the fall. Glorfindel worked across from him, removing the rest of the man's clothing and beginning the work of cleansing him of the grime while Elrond assessed his injuries.
His color was poor, his skin clammy and cool to the touch. His pulse was thready and fast, and there was evidence of much blood loss before the man's companions had managed to tie off the flow from the wounded leg. The light touch of Elrond's hands discovered a broken wrist and fingers on the right hand, broken ribs, and damage to the lung on that same side. He examined the lacerations and cuts as Glorfindel uncovered them, determining which would require stitching and which would heal without such intervention. A deep gash on his scalp had bled much, and the man's hair was matted, his face crusted, as the blood dried there.
The room was busy with elves moving quietly about their tasks, bathing and rinsing wounds and applying healing creams. Gentle hands worked swiftly to aid him, and there were several who took up positions near uninjured parts of his body. They laid their hands upon him, and raised their voices in soft melody. The song wrought peace on all in the room, and gradually the man's color improved. Soon the man was clean and his hair washed, wounds were stitched and bandaged as needed, broken bones set and braced, ribs bound, and after several hours work, the broken leg repaired. That wound they would not close right away, but packed instead in healing herbs and wrapped in soft cloths.
Erestor had seen to the other men, who had been quickly escorted from the room with assurances that their friend was in the best of hands. The same surreal sense of wonder was upon each of them, none previous visitors to Imladris, as they were fed, offered baths and provided comfortable beds in which to rest. Garments were provided for them while their own clothing was cleaned and repaired, and invitations extended to come to the Hall of Fire that night, if they so wished. The leader of the group, young himself in years and experience, stopped Erestor in the hall as he returned to his room.
"I thank you, on behalf of my men, for the kind welcome your have given to each us, as well as for tending to Albast. Tales of the hospitality and kindness of this house are more than proved true with that which has been shown us. If I may be so bold as to ask, why is your Lord so generous?"
Erestor smiled. "Master Elrond would treat any guest or one who came in need to Rivendell with such care. Yet you of Westernesse are special to him. To know why, you must seek your own history, that of your first King of Númenor. He paused as the man looked upon him in dawning recognition. Erestor laughed. "Yes, I see you do know of the tale. Tar-Minyatur was brother to Master Elrond." He bowed to the man. "Good night, my friend."
* * *
It was well past the dinner hour when Elrond finished tending the injured man. He left draughts for pain and sleep should they be needed, with instructions to seek him should problems arise, and then left the soldier in the capable hands of those who would watch over him.
He entered his chambers and saw the bath prepared for him, robes folded neatly on a nearby chair, and a glass of wine on the ledge that held the soaps and oils for bathing. He could hear Celebrían's voice from the sitting room, rising and falling in story, and he knew she read to their sons. Stripping off his soiled clothing, he slipped into the water and allowed the warmth to envelop and soothe him. He sipped the wine and noted she had chosen his favorite red. His eyes closed, he drifted in reflections and mostly considered how much he loved his wife.
"Your skin begins to wrinkle, meleth-nín." A soft voice whispered in his ear. He opened his eyes to see Celebrían perched next to him, warm towels in hand. < my love >
"You will look like an old prune soon," she teased.
"I fell asleep," Elrond blinked. The water had cooled to room temperature and he was wrinkling.
"Yes, you did," Celebrían laughed. "Come." She held the towel open for him, and wrapped it around him as he stepped into it, rubbing him briskly as she did so. She held his robe open, allowing him to slip his arms in, and then belted it at his waist. She smoothed out the folds and adjusted the collar, then wrapped her arms around his neck and drew his head down for a kiss. She broke contact all too soon. "Elladan and Elrohir are waiting to say goodnight. They would like you to continue the story, but I have told them it might have to wait until tomorrow."
Elrond pulled her close again. "I love you, Celebrían."
She started to answer back, but he held his fingers to her lips. "I have to use words this night for that which you have already said with deeds." He crushed her to him for just a moment, his heart and soul exposed, and Celebrían felt the rush of energy that was his feä, his love surrounding her, encompassing her, lifting her - the intensity so seldom fully shared with her that when he drew away she was breathless. With a final caress of her cheek, he went in search of their children.
She stood still for a moment, feeling weak in her knees. She touched her cheek, the tingle still present where he had touched her. She wondered, as she often had since she had met this half-elf, what blood a mortal must possess that their spirit contained such fierceness and passion. He had explained once that a mortal did not bind in the way of elven-kind; they did not share what elves did in the binding of their spirits. Being of both kinds, he still had some of the ferocity of the Edain and the ability to share it as an Eldar. She sat down carefully on the chair and allowed her mind to perfectly remember that which she had just experienced, storing it away that she might recall it at will.
* * *
"Ada!" Elladan and Elrohir jumped to their feet and rushed to greet their father. Each taking a hand, they led him to the couch and climbed up on either side.
"Ada, did you see all the soldiers here?" Elladan asked.
"Ada, did you take care of the one who was hurt? Did you make him better?" Elrohir spoke in quick succession to his brother.
"I did see them, and I did tend the one who was injured. He will need to stay with us for some time while he recovers," Elrond answered, pulling Elrohir into his lap and drawing Elladan into the crook of his arm.
"Ada, they were in a rock slide," Elladan informed him.
"They were," confirmed Elrond. "Melting snow and spring rains make the mountain passes treacherous at this time of year. The soil becomes soft, and sometimes it releases and slides down the slope without warning."
"Can we meet the man who is hurt?" Elrohir asked.
"When he feels better, you may," Elrond answered. The twins settled in comfortably, and he heard a yawn from Elladan.
"Ada, tell us more about when your brother Elros was hurt," said Elladan, a yawn interrupting his thought, "and Maglor helped him," Elrohir finished.
"Maglor was becoming very worried about us, particularly about Elros, for he would neither eat nor drink," Elrond continued. He smiled as Celebrían joined them, extinguishing some of the lights. "We had been traveling for several days……"
~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~
Maglor shifted the children against him, using his knees to adjust the blanket that helped prop them in place. Neither stirred, and he slipped one hand under the tunic of the injured child, Elros, who lay across his knees, and felt again the dimming of his spirit. The spark of the child's feä was fading slowly, a little more each day. The beat of the child's heart also slowed and grew faint. Elrond was slumped against him, his face pressed against Maglor's chest and his brother cradled in his lap. Maglor cupped the child's face with his large hand and turned the small face slightly. Dark circles under sunken eyes, the skin pale, and now his feä, too, had begun to fade. Maglor felt despair grow in him.
He reasoned he cared because they were kin, distant kin, but related nonetheless. He reasoned he cared because they were children, and did not the elves value their children? He reasoned he cared because to look upon them was to see Amras and Amrod - different in appearance, certainly, but they evoked in him the same emotion he had experienced the day his father had laid twin baby brothers, youngest of the sons of Fëanor, into his arms. Perhaps he cared simply because they gave him reason to care, to be responsible for the care of a helpless being.
Yet he knew they would die, and he did not know how to stop the fading that would claim their lives.
He heard the call to halt, and looking to the head of the line he saw Maedhros dismount and begin to organize the camp. The sun was yet high, and Maglor had hope this place might be a more permanent camp. Maglor continued to ride forward, the others in the line parting and allowing passage, until he drew near to the site. Hathel was at his back, and the warrior quickly jumped to the ground and relieved Maglor of his twin burdens.
"We will make camp here," Maedhros announced. He paused for a moment, noting the tension in his brother's frame. "How do Eärendil's sons fare?"
Maglor sighed wearily. "They fade, Maedhros. They will not last much longer."
Maedhros did not answer, but approached the bundle Hathel had just laid upon a blanket and knelt down beside the children. He gently uncovered them, pulling the blanket back that he might see them for himself. As his brother had done before him, he touched them softly and felt the fading of their spirits. The pity he had denied he felt for them for days surfaced in his heart again, and he felt troubled.
"Is there nothing that can be done?" he asked softly.
Maglor remained mute. He did not know how to stop such a process. Of those in this party who had children, none knew of a situation where younglings of this tender age were deprived of family. None knew of even a similar situation. And none knew how to revive a fading spirit.
"I will have water sent, and fresh food. Perhaps that will entice them," Maedhros answered his own question.
"Why did we take them? What purpose did you have for them?" Maglor hissed.
Maedhros grimaced. "I had hope that if Elwing returned with the Silmaril, we would have something she would desire for a trade, that she would give it up in exchange for her sons."
"We saw Ulmo rescue her! Why would he allow her to return?" Maglor demanded.
"You do not know that he would not," Maedhros replied sternly.
Maglor slumped. Maedhros was right. He remained ever true to their father, ever faithful to the oath. He saw an opportunity, a potential bargaining token and he took it. His decisions were not clouded by pity.
Maglor stroked the dark heads. "Hostages are of little use if they are dead. All these two will become is more blood on our hands."
"The blood of two more will not change our fate!" Maedhros snapped. He stood, and turned away for a moment to regain his composure. "Do what you can for them."
* * *
The camp was made in the Birchwoods of Nimbrethil, near the Cape of Balar. From here they would know of the voyages of ships from the Isle of Balar or the remnants of the Havens of Sirion. Perhaps from here, should Elwing return, they would know of her coming.
Maglor spread blankets out in the shade of the trees, near to the main camp but set apart enough that all would not witness the passing of the half-elven children. Hathel tossed his bedroll next to Maglor's, and Maglor appreciated the gesture of the warrior to watch over them with him. The children barely stirred as he laid them out, close to each other, for they seemed to become distressed if not in physical contact.
As promised, Maedhros had water and food sent other, including a broth, which Maglor painstakingly squeezed from a cloth into tiny mouths. Elrond awakened, but remained unresponsive, swallowing only when Maglor stroked his throat, opening his mouth only reflexively at a soft touch to his cheek. Elros did not even open his eyes.
"They will not survive," Hathel said softly.
"No, they will not," Maglor replied. He finished feeding them, and laid down beside them. Elrond had rolled to his side, wrapping himself protectively against his brother, the action unconscious, even in sleep. Maglor stroked the child's back, his hand on bare skin that the child might feel the warmth of his touch. He began to sing, softly at first, his voice then carrying across the camp, and all who heard him stopped and listened. He mourned the fading of young life, and sang of the desire to restore it; the strains of the Noldolantë woven into the melody, for the sorrow of the kinslaying was repeated at Sirion.
Hathel watched as the power and majesty of Maglor's song seemed to impart a glow from his hand to the child. As he continued to sing, the child stirred and cuddled himself snugly between Maglor and his brother. Hathel wondered if Maglor were aware, if he sensed a quickening in the children, when he saw Maglor cover Elros's chest with his other hand.
Maglor sang into the night, the strains imparting comfort to all who listened, and when he finally slept, the children were snug against him, in skin contact with him and each other, and their spirits held steady.
Maedhros sat near the campfire, listening and watching. When Maglor finally slept, he crept near and kneeled beside them. He touched each one, feeling the strengthened feä of each of the children and the power that still emanated from his own brother. He could feel that this had drained Maglor some, tired him, and resting his own good hand on his brother's forehead he concentrated on giving what he could of himself to replenish his brother.
"Is this a healing power?" Hathel asked softly, in awe, as Maedhros stood.
"I do not know. It is the power of the minstrel, perhaps, connecting to the music of the soul," Maedhros answered before walking slowly away.
He was drawn by the song of the sea, and the light of the moon shining upon the water. Maedhros crossed the distance to the cliffs and sat himself in a cleft in the rocks, and allowed Ithil and the sea to replenish him.
~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~
Elrond ended his story and began to sing softly, a lullaby, and in just moments both of his sons were fast asleep. Celebrían gently plucked Elladan from his side, and Elrond stood with Elrohir in his arms. They carried them to their room and laid them in their beds. Elrond stroked Elladan's back, resting his hand for a moment and closing his eyes in deep concentration. Celebrían watched as a slight glow transferred from father to son. Elrond moved to Elrohir and did the same; then taking Celebrían by the hand he led her back to their room.
They undressed in silence and slipped into the cool comfort of the sheets. Celebrían settled herself into Elrond's embrace, and laying her arms across his, she closed her eyes and concentrated deeply. Elrond felt her presence, felt her touch the fringes of his mind.
"Celebrían, meleth-nín, what are you doing?" he whispered.
"Trying to replenish you," she murmured softly.
Elrond rolled to his side, pulling her close to him. He gazed into eyes that held deep love, and then kissed her gently. "You replenish me with your love, and you give much in your mother-bond to Elladan and Elrohir. You give me much, hervess-nín, and I will not take more unless I need it."
"You would tell me if you needed more, if I did not somehow already know?" Celebrían asked as she traced the structures of his face with a delicate fingertip.
"Yes," Elrond replied as he caught her finger in his mouth and nibbled on its tip. He held her face in his hands and kissed her.
Celebrían felt a wonderful peace settle over her at the touch of her husband and she drifted asleep secure in his arms. Elrond smiled.
* * * * *
Authors notes: All ideas about the binding of the spirits, between spouses, and parents and children is based on Tolkien's writings in Morgoth's Ring (HoME v.10). The healing touch idea flows from that and is based on both what I have read in HoME and fanon.
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