Note: This is fanfiction and so very little of it is actually mine.
It was another crisp, clear morning in Imladris. The sun was rising over the snow-capped peaks of the mountains and down in the depths of the valley the Lord and Lady of Lórien and their daughter were being escorted on a morning walk by the Lord of Imladris himself. In the trees by the river, the High King was sitting quietly enjoying an early breakfast, and one Glorfindel of Gondolin, having just left the King's company was holding a sword inspection on the south training field.
Still dressed in the snugly fitting black suede leggings and shirt that he usually wore for informal weapons practice, and with his silver mail gleaming in the morning light, Gil-galad sat back against the broad trunk of a willow and watched the progress of his Herald along the river bank. Even through the mask of the overhanging leaves one thing was clear. However much the half-elf extolled the virtues of the beautiful views with which the valley had been gifted, if he wished to be in any way convincing he must at some point remove his focus from the equally fair face of the maiden at his side.
Nevertheless, things seemed to be going surprisingly well for the half-elf, and satisfied that he would manage to avoid steering himself into any further perilous situations in the next hour or so, Gil-galad turned to contemplate the newly finished spear practice.
Although Glorfindel was not overly skilled with the spear - indeed, Gil-galad suspected that had the famed elf even approached the Balrog with such a weapon it would have taken barely a minute before he would have been discarded as a great golden kebab, skewered on his own lance - there were distinct advantages in practising with him. For a start, the Balrog-slayer was brutal and cared little about the propriety of injuring the High King, and as such was one of the few people Gil-galad could rely upon for a good fight. Secondly, his style, although unorthodox, was curiously similar to that of orcs and fouler things themselves, and thus provided excellent practice. And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Glorfindel was quite capable of pilfering some hot apple pastries and a canteen of milk from the kitchens before breakfast.
Even High Kings did not enjoy duelling on an empty stomach.
It was whilst munching the last of these turnovers and enjoying the sweet spiced apple that oozed from the flaky pastry that Gil-galad strolled up through the valley, under the avenue of tall birches and up past the training fields.
"Psst!" There was a rustle in the leaves above him and a beckoning hand and a long golden braid became visible amidst the leaves of an oak tree. "Gil-galad!"
The High King paused and looked up at the solemn face of the Balrog-slayer, smeared with the green of lichen dust to help break up his outline among the trees.
"Glorfindel?" the High King failed to hide his grin and jerked the last half of the pastry away from the Balrog-slayer's outstretched fingers. "How may I be of aid?"
"I am being tracked." Glorfindel cupped his hand over his mouth and glanced furtively around, lest any of his over enthusiastic recruits be ready to pounce. "We have not got much time."
Gil-galad had met these young soldiers before, and had drawn his own conclusions as to why they had been assigned to Glorfindel's legion. Elrond did his best to ensure that all those who wished to fight for the valley did so under a commander whose inclinations matched their own. Glorfindel seemed to have attracted the young, the foolhardy, the reckless, the dazzled by fame and the downright stupid.
Fortunately he was still wearing armour, which should offer some protection against any stray arrows that they might let fly.
"The marchwarden is on the move. I have seen him!" Glorfindel spoke in a low and urgent voice, pressing his mouth so close to Gil-galad's ear that each warm breath tickled. "He must be delayed."
Giggling involuntarily, Gil-galad moved away, being far too ticklish for full High Kingly composure.
"And I suppose that I am the one to do it?" Gil-galad said testily, his eyebrows betraying much of his opinion on the matter.
The previous evening Elrond had finally seen no choice but to consent to the delicate invalid sitting outside the next fine morning. Unfortunately the next fine morning had dawned far too soon, and delicate though the invalid may be, it was doing little to slow his flight to the trees. Whilst such an escape might be put down to the peculiarities of concussion, the fact remained that Elrond and Celebrían were currently wandering happily through those glades and they were not to be disturbed.
"Oh, yes," hearing the crack of a twig behind him, Glorfindel tensed, ready to dodge, "I think he shall find himself quite enamoured..."
There was a terrible cry and a shape leapt from the treetops brandishing a dagger. Rather unfortunately for the shape and rather fortunately for Glorfindel, it had misjudged both the wisdom and the angle of such an attack and missed the branch altogether, instead landing with a heavy thump at Gil-galad's feet.
Gasping for breath, the young recruit struggled onto his knees only to have the not inconsiderable weight of the Balrog-slayer fling itself upon his slender shoulders and the cold edge of a mithril blade press against his jugular.
"One." Glorfindel scrambled back to his feet letting the sulky-looking young elf deposit himself grumpily against a tree trunk to sit out the fight, cheeks quite hot under the appraising stare of the High King.
There was a distant roar and a group of five elves could be seen charging towards them from further down the path. Their swords were being brandished wildly, they had left the archers behind and one of them kept breaking ranks.
Glorfindel looked at Gil-galad wearily and rolled his eyes.
"I do not suppose that you will require my aid." Gil-galad stood Aiglos upright and placed a hand on the smooth wood and inlaid metal of the shaft. In the distance the charging quintet quailed quite noticeably.
"Ai, do not scare them!" Glorfindel shoved Gil-galad aside and smiled encouragingly at the stampeding trainees, sword firm in his hand and golden braids blowing in the wind. "It took me quite three months to persuade them to stand against me."
"Indeed?" Crediting the young elves with a little more intelligence than he had initially reckoned on, Gil-galad gave the rampaging elves one last disdainful look and ambled off, intent on once more coming to his Herald's rescue.
"Haldir of Lórien!" Gil-galad's deep voice boomed over the rose garden as he ran swiftly after the scampering woodland elf.
It was imperative that he reached the elf before the elf reached the trees. Elves of Lórien could be tricky creatures, and if displeased had an unfortunate habit of disappearing into the treetops and sniggering from afar. He had discarded Aiglos on the terrace, deciding that the great spear would only hinder his progress, but on afterthought it would have been helpful in this hunt. Being an elf of fine strength and stature, Gil-galad could throw his spear quite a distance and his foes always fell.
Not that Haldir was a foe, he reminded himself somewhat belatedly.
Indeed he was a valued ally.
"My King Gil-galad," safely in the loving embrace of an ash tree, Haldir risked a pause and paid due reverence to the rather peeved looking King currently circling the trunk some twenty foot below, "My apologies, I did not hear you call."
"Quite understandable," Gil-galad forced a High Kingly smile and narrowed his eyes against the glare of the sun to peer up through the leaves at the bothersome marchwarden, "I was concerned for your concussion, I would not want you to slip."
"Your concerns are received with due gratitude." Haldir nodded his head with due respect and shot off into the branches, just a shadow and then a whisper among the leaves. "But do not fret for me. It is not the trees of Imladris that I fear."
"Well, I see that Imladris is not entirely without beauty." Celeborn spoke grudgingly, surveying the scene with an imperious air.
They had paused by a small glade at a bend in the river, where a pool of clear blue water was lingering on its descent of the valley. Tall irises with bright yellow flowers bordered the path at this point, and in the shelter of a small dell, crocuses and daffodils were beginning to bloom.
"Indeed." Elrond said dryly.
The overhanging leaves of ancient willow trees brushed the water, creating little eddies in the smooth mirror surface of the pool, and behind the leafy veil small balls of fluff in the shape of ducklings could be seen paddling frantically behind their mother.
"Oh, look at those!" entranced, Celebrían broke away from Elrond's arm and skipped closer to the water's edge. "Are they not perfect?"
"Aye," suddenly sounding less than sure of himself, the seasoned warrior moved to admire the little string of ducks, "In Imladris we breed our own ducks..."
Suddenly taking pity on the blundering half-elf, Galadriel providently trod on his toes before he could discuss stuffing and the sweet taste of a home bred roast.
"And look at that moorhen!" Smiling, Celebrian gathered up her skirts and hurried over the dew-laden grass to a curving tree trunk that had been laid across the river as a bridge, her silver curls bouncing against her back as she ran. "There are a whole family of them!"
Elated she scrambled up onto the highest point of the tree trunk to watch two little black puffs with ridiculously large feet paddle beneath her. But it had rained over night and the moss on the trunk was slippery and damp, and all it took was a sudden rustle in the leaves above her to send her teetering off balance.
"Celebrían..." Galadriel barely had time to sigh with resignation before her daughter plunged headfirst into the icy water and was washed several yards downstream.
And Celebrían knew there and then exactly why she liked this valley so very much.
In Imladris it was quite literally raining elves.
"My lady!" Glorfindel's fair voice called from afar, golden hair flowing behind him as he pelted down the meadow. "I come with aid!"
And indeed he did. Already stripping out of his training clothes ready for a suitably swift rescue, a flying shirt momentarily blocked Celebrían's view of the path, but as it fell an entire legion of soldiers could be seen following their captain. Two by two, they jogged down the steps, silver mail gleaming in the morning sun, braids swinging in time with the soft padding of their boots, and shining swords erect.
With quite fifty elves rushing to assist, any further attention was quite evidently far from necessary, but that did little to dissuade either the half-elf on the footpath or the elf in the treetops. Without even waiting to shed his outer gown, Elrond jumped into the stream and dashed through the water to his beloved's aid, only pausing as an almighty splash signified the arrival of Haldir of Lórien from the overhanging treetops.
For a moment it looked as if it would be Haldir who reached the maiden first, but today fortune was uncharacteristically sweet to Elrond Peredhil. Reaching the river, Glorfindel plunged bravely into its icy depths and if his collision with the Lórien marchwarden looked closer to a rugby tackle than a misplaced dive, all were too polite to comment.
"Go! Go!" Glorfindel hissed at Elrond, ducking a punch and attempting to submerge the marchwarden whilst still appearing to be practising a little breaststroke.
But Elrond had lingered a moment too long, and as he stepped forwards Haldir surged towards him with a ferocious battle cry. Landing with all the grace of a beached whale - perhaps due to the snarling Balrog-slayer attached to his ankles - and sending a great fountain of water up over the riverbank, Haldir grappled with Elrond's knees. Knocked off balance, the Lord of Imladris flailed desperately in the air - the loose velvet sleeves of his gown flapping in the wind, and plunged backwards into a somewhat grimy pool.
Quite safe and treading water most competently, Celebrían looked on in disbelief as her three most heroic rescuers appeared to get caught in some invisible whirlpool, tumbling and struggling to free themselves from what must have been the water, although it looked suspiciously like each others' grasps.
Eventually coming to the conclusion that rescue was unlikely to be either prompt or dignified, Celebrían reached the shore with a few strong strokes and found her feet in the shallows, lifting her sodden skirts up around her knees to ease the process. On the shore, Celeborn drew his breath in sharply.
Gloriously gallant, Gil-galad strode into the water and extended a cool hand.
"My lady." One dark eyebrow was raised.
"My King." Celebrían glanced back at the trio, currently wallowing in the rapids, and smiled with a tinge of alarm.
"My daughter." Celeborn muscled in between the pair, deftly jabbing an accidental elbow into the High King's midriff.
"My husband!" Galadriel's voice was heavy with disapproval and she placed a gentle hand on her beloved's arm and held him with a grip of steel. "I am eager to continue our walk. I am sure that Gil-galad..."
She gave the High King - currently doubled over with tears in his eyes - a look quite fearsome enough to cause him to straighten and offer Celebrían an arm.
"...that Gil-galad will be quite eager to escort our daughter to her chambers to change." Galadriel gifted the wincing King with a deeply meaningful look. "I am sure that they shall have much to discuss."
The High-King's grey eyes widened almost imperceptibly, his alarm at the Lady of Lórien's plotting and Elrond's predictably venomous glare concealed with High Kingly ease - although considering the events that would follow, perhaps a little too quickly.
"My Lady Celebrían." Gil-galad placed a warming arm around soggy elf-maiden's back. "If I may be of aid."
Please review! It was my birthday… um… three days ago! And I meant to finish this for then, really I did. Hobbit-style as it were.