Title: Wild Justice 37/37

Author: Rune Dancer

Rating: R

Paring: Thranduil/Celeborn/Elrond; Elrohir/Glorfindel; Haldir/Gildor; Elladan/Orophin

Disclaimer: I own nothing, except the plotline.

Warnings: BDSM.

A/N: This is a continuation of my previous Unspoken story arc. Read them in order--Unspoken/Revelations/Changes/One Last Time/Quid Pro Quo--or prepare to be confused.

* * *

Glorfindel glanced at Erestor as his friend stumbled over some small irregularity in the tunnel floor. It was surprising to see him clumsy, especially under the circumstances when stealth so important, but then, none of them was exactly at their best. He was in considerable pain from the wound in his side that, while no longer bleeding thanks to Elrohir's ministrations, was also far from healed. As far as he knew, Erestor had not been seriously wounded in any of their skirmishes, but then, it would be just like him to say nothing if he had. Glorfindel still did not know what had been troubling his friend for so long, but at the moment did not have energy enough to worry about it. His mind was consumed with finding the elves as quickly as possible and getting back to Elrohir, before his foolish lover did something very brave and very stupid.

Glorfindel sighed as the tunnel continued to wind its way inexorably downward. He didn't see what else he could have done about Elrohir, as he technically did not have the right to order him about or to keep him from coming on the expedition if he chose to do so. Locking him in a room in Lorien would doubtless have been a waste of time, as Elrohir would have freed himself within a short time and followed them anyway. Alone, he would have been at risk even more than with the company, and Glorfindel might not know where he was. Of course, that was likely true in any case, as it was almost certain that Elrohir had not stayed in the glade where they had left him. He might have done so for a few hours, of course, but when the attack on the mine took such a long time, Glorfindel had known he would follow them.

He was fairly certain that Elrohir would be sensible enough not to attempt to assault the main entrance alone, as none but an absolute maniac would try something so certain to failure. But, when he saw that it remained unmolested by their party, he would almost certainly begin looking for another entrance. They had to finish their business before he found one, or . . . Glorfindel shuddered at the very thought of his lover climbing about these dark passageways all alone, without even the small comforts of a company of fellow elves and a few lanterns. No, better not to think of that. It had taken them a long time to find the secondary entrance; with any luck, they would finish their business and be out again before Elrohir found a way in.

The slope on which they were walking made a sudden slant sharply downward, causing the elves to have to hold on to the crumbling walls in order to maintain their footing. It would have been a perfect place for an ambush, and Glorfindel kept his free hand on the knives at his belt to be ready at a moment's notice, but to his surprise and relief, nothing happened. A few moments later the steeply sloping corridor gave out onto a huge cavern, which was so dim that Glorfindel recognised its size more by the tiny echoes of their footfalls and the change in air currents than by actual sight.

The creature on Erestor's leash abruptly gave a small mewl of distress, having obviously sighted something in the darkness below, but Glorfindel could not see what had disturbed it. He nonetheless scrambled to keep up with Erestor, who was being pulled along by his guide at a dangerous pace down a narrow, crumbling pathway. A very long, harrowing time later they reached the cavern floor. Long before that, Glorfindel had grasped that something momentous was happening below, as flashes of light and orcish screams echoed through the cavern. The light, which he supposed came from wildly swinging lanterns, was not frequent enough to allow him to make out much of what was going on, but as his eyes slowly adjusted, he saw a mass of bodies that appeared to be nothing more than a confused bundle. Then he tripped over something on the floor and looked down to see an orc glaring up at him, its hand wrapped about his ankle. He had already severed its head from its shoulders before he realised that it had already been dead, its sightless eyes merely reflecting the light from the lantern held by the elf behind him.

Now he saw, in the dim puddle of light from the lantern, a carpet of orc corpses covering the ground like a blanket, all leading to where . . . "Elrohir!"

His lover never even looked up. Elrohir stood on the edge of a precipice that disappeared into darkness behind him, a shackled elf at his side. In front of him was a host of orcs and a tall, hooded figure that wielded a dark blade that did not glint in the lantern light as the other weapons did, but seemed to absorb any illumination that came near it into its darkness. Elrohir had his own sword in his hand and was somehow keeping the orcish blades at bay while also holding off the wide strokes of the tall figure. Glorfindel saw in an instant that, although Elrohir had positioned himself well with the precipice at his back to prevent attack from one angle at least, his position was ultimately hopeless. He must tire eventually and his enemies would overwhelm him. They did not even need to use their weapons, but just to force him into the abyss.

Glorfindel did not know where Elrohir's assistants were, but obviously he must have had some. The cave floor was almost covered in dead orcs, and no one elf could possible be responsible for so many all on his own. But the only other elf in sight was the dirty creature at Elrohir's elbow who was aiding him as well as his heavy chains allowed. Glorfindel hoped the others had not already been killed, but if they had, they must have disappeared into the abyss or were hidden under one of the piles of dead orcs, as no elvin bodies were in evidence. Glorfindel pushed aside such thoughts as irrelevant at the moment and began carving a path through the remaining goblins towards his lover. It was not until he had managed to get halfway across the cave that he saw something that almost stopped him in his tracks. Elrohir was fighting with his eyes closed.

There was something terribly familiar about Elrohir's actions, something that resonated with a horrible deadening feeling in Glorfindel's stomach. He had seen this battle before. The pose taken by his lover, the almost balletic quality of his thrusts and parries, even the abyss behind him. It was different in appearance, as the gloomy mines did not at all resemble Fountain Court except for the piles of dead orcs littered about, but the arrangement was exactly the same. And he knew perfectly well what would happen next; he had, after all, seen it in nightmares for years.

"No!" Glorfindel threw his knives at the figure facing Elrohir, but although they hit it squarely, they did little harm, passing through almost as if it wasn't even there. That answered the question of what Elrohir faced, at least. Only the Nazgul were so impervious to conventional weapons, being little more than spirits already. Glorfindel knew that killing one of the nine would not be possible, but getting it into that abyss would certainly buy them time.

He ran flat out towards the two combatants, ignoring the orcs that slashed at him as he dodged through their numbers. They thickened as he came closer to his lover's position, but by then, his own assistants had arrived. So focused was he on his goal that he barely noticed when Camthalion speared an orc that had aimed a sword at his heart, or when the rest of the Noldor set up a parameter around him. Their outer circle held back the pressing hordes of orcs with their swords while the inner one drew their bows and began picking off goblins that were hidden in crevasses in the rocks, aiming arrows at their company. Glorfindel ignored all of them, concentrating only on killing the orcs that lay between him and Elrohir.

He had not aided Elrohir on that day so long ago; he had not been able to do so, for the fight was almost over before he even reached Fountain Court, and the battle with the orcs outside it had prevented him reaching his lover's side. He had watched with disbelieving eyes as Elrohir dodged Gothmog's blows, much as he was doing with those of the hooded figure now. He had seen him seem to tire, heard Gothmog's victory cry bellow out over the court, then watched as Elrohir picked up one of the huge spears wielded by members of his household and use the balrog's moment of inattention to impel him back a final few feet into the waters of the great fountain. Glorfindel had not seen what happened next very clearly, as the billows of steam that resulted from Gothmog thrashing about as his very essence was consumed by the crystalline waters, had all but obscured the scene. But he had heard Elrohir's scream of rage, and seen that the balrog had managed to retain a tenuous hold on the very edge of the fountain, preventing himself from plunging to his death in its deepest depths.

Glorfindel had known a bare instant before it happened what Elrohir would do--had watched helpless as he launched himself from the safety of the fountain's edge directly onto the steaming body of the balrog, and seen with something far beyond horror his lover hack at the grasping hand with his sword until Gothmog's grip failed and they both sank to their doom, still slashing at each other on the way down. Now Glorfindel saw past his own battles to watch in deja vu at the way Elrohir slowly gave way, falling back to the point where his feet were a scant few inches from the edge of the precipice, forcing the hooded figure to follow if he wanted to keep him within range of his blows. He saw Elrohir suddenly seem to lose his balance, heard the hooded figure give an eerily familiar cry, then rush forward with his sword to attempt the final blow. In a movement almost too fast to be seen, Elrohir dodged the dark blade and grasped the figure's wrist. With one huge tug, he pulled it over the ledge and into the abyss below.

Yet Glorfindel knew it wasn't over, as the Nazgul did not accept defeat so easily. It was without any surprise at all that he saw a spectral hand grasping the very edge of the ledge beside Elrohir's feet. A second later, another hand emerged from the darkness, latching onto Elrohir's ankle and causing him to scream in pain and rage. Busy holding off the orcs with his blade, Elrohir could not free himself from the creature's hold. The elf at his side tried to assist, but his assailant was too strong and refused to let go. Elrohir was teetering on the edge, hard pressed from in front by orcs and from behind was being pulled slowly the last few inches toward darkness.

Glorfindel gave the battle cry of his house and launched himself over the heads of the remaining orcs, grabbing at his lover just as Elrohir lost his grip completely. They crashed to the cave floor together, Elrohir half on the ledge and half off it, Glorfindel using all his strength to counter the pull of the thing that still held onto Elrohir from below. An orcish blade arced down toward him, but was deflected at the last minute by Erestor's sword, which came out of the darkness to catch it scant inches from Glorfindel's chest. The ring of mithril on mithril was almost deafening at such close range, but Glorfindel refused to be distracted by it or by his close call. Erestor would have to manage the fight somehow on his own, for he was doing all he could not to allow Elrohir to disappear from his life a second time.

"Glorfindel--the princess--you have to get her out of here! Forget about me, just go!"

It took Glorfindel a moment to realise that, although his lover's eyes had opened and he met his gaze, he was still seeing another place and time. Erestor was also acting strangely, having stopped fighting to stare with a panicked expression at the filthy, emaciated elf at their side, who was managing to defend himself from the pressing orcs with what looked like one of Elrohir's knives. "Erestor!" Glorfindel kicked his friend hard in the shin and the pain of the blow seemed to bring Erestor out of his reverie. "Help me! I can't hold on much longer!" Two things happened at once: Erestor grabbed Glorfindel's leg and began to pull backwards, and the tattered elf looked up, huge green eyes fixing themselves on Erestor with an intensity that Glorfindel had rarely seen in any face. Then he launched himself, not at the surrounding orcs, but straight at Erestor.

Glorfindel heard his friend scream and saw Cam's head turn in their direction from where he was butchering orcs with great efficiency a few yards away. Then he suddenly found himself able to gain real purchase on the crumbling ledge for the first time as the captive elf's aid added just enough extra weight on their side to tip the balance. He scrambled inelegantly backwards, towing Elrohir along with him. The creature clinging to Elrohir's ankles gave a high-pitched shriek that grated horribly on Glorfindel's eardrums, but kept hold of its prize. Elrohir turned his head back to look at it, then kicked out savagely. "For Elbereth's sake . . . why . . . won't you . . . JUST DIE?" A second later, the hooded figure was caught squarely in the face by one of Elrohir's blows and lost its hold at last. The sudden lack of opposition caused the whole string of elves to tumble backwards into a confused pile, while the Elrohir's attacker scrabbled desperately at the ledge but failed to find purchase. Finally, it disappeared into the chasm with a horrible screech and Glorfindel clasped his lover to his chest, shielding his suddenly limp form from the hail of blows descending on them from all sides.

* * *

Elrohir awoke, finding to his disgust that he had drooled all over his copybook. Just great; Glorfindel would NOT be pleased, and he was already in enough trouble for that little prank on Elladan the other day. He scrubbed at the damp pages with his sleeve and glanced about fearfully, praying not to see his harsh tutor glaring at him with his usual antipathy. Luckily Glorfindel seemed to have taken a break from supervising his punishment, and Elrohir took the opportunity to scrub harder, hoping to repair the damage before he was required to show his work.

The old book he had been copying lay open to the story of Gondolin's fall, the once bright colours of its illustration now sadly faded after hundreds of years. After leaving his brother tied in the map room for an entire afternoon, Elrohir had been set the task of copying out the written passages in a clear hand, so that an accurate double of the book could be created by Imladris' artists before it faded too much to be useable. All his protestations that he had meant to come back and release Elladan, but had just forgotten, had availed him nothing. So now, on a bright sunny day, he sat in the dim library with only dull old Glorfindel for company. No wonder he had fallen asleep!

Elrohir sighed as he realised that the page was hopelessly smudged and would have to be recopied from the beginning. Great. Glorfindel would probably be back any time and expect him to show a good afternoon's work, and when he couldn't, no doubt he would be sentenced to some more taxing punishment. Elrohir's gloomy thoughts were interrupted by a strange sight that appeared beyond the library windows. A small figure dressed in leaf green clothes with a Lorien look about them was strolling among the flowers, her elaborate auburn braids cascading messily about her little face. Dwarves were not exactly thick on the ground in Imladris, although his father had never turned away any who sought refuge. Still, it was odd.

His copybook momentarily forgotten, Elrohir rose and went closer to the window for a better look at the small figure. She had been joined, he now saw, by an elf who looked vaguely familiar, although Elrohir could not immediately place him. Blond, obviously Silvan . . . oh yes. It was Rumil, Haldir's brother, whom he had met at . . . but no. He couldn't have met him in Lorien. He had not been there since he was a very small elfling, and yet, the images in his mind seemed fresh, as if they had just happened. But he could not grasp hold of any of them; whenever he tried, pain flared behind his eyes giving him the beginnings of a nasty headache.

Turning from the window, Elrohir resolutely began copying again at as swift a pace as he could manage and still have his writing remain legible. He ignored the two outside the window after watching Rumil pluck a small flower for the dwarf, which he gently tucked into her hair. Elrohir shook his head in disbelief; that was one for the storybooks. After they wandered out of view, he concentrated on getting as many words as possible down on a new, clean sheet of parchment before his tutor returned to castigate him for laziness. Of course, it was all useless, some part of his brain commented. No matter how fast he copied, he could never make up a whole afternoon's work in a few minutes, so punishment was a foregone conclusion. And if that was true, why not enjoy the day? He pushed the temptation away, but it was soon back, reinforced by the sight of two more elves who were not wasting a beautiful afternoon.

Elrohir was so surprised to recognise one of them as Erestor that he again abandoned his book and approached the window. Yes, that was definitely old Erestor in another of those hideously uncomfortable looking robes he preferred. This one was--surprise--black and made him look even pudgier than usual. Strangely, the tall, very attractive elf with him didn't seem to mind, but was looking at him with a ridiculously infatuated expression on his face. He had a Noldorin look about him, but oddly enough was dressed in Lorien attire. Two strangers in Lorien clothes in one afternoon? It was odd to be sure, but perhaps a delegation had arrived unexpectedly.

Elrohir moved reluctantly back to his work, wondering about the almost blissful expression Erestor had been wearing before the two passed along the garden path and out of view. True, Erestor was not involved with anyone that he knew about, and technically was free to take a lover if he chose. Yet Elrohir had to stifle a giggle at the thought of stuffy old Erestor in a romantic situation. He could only hope the Noldor was experienced enough for both of them!

Elrohir had barely resumed copying when he heard the door to the schoolroom open and felt rather than saw Glorfindel's entrance. He kept his eyes on his book, ignoring the feeling that he was being watched. It wouldn't be the first time, after all. Glorfindel had always watched him carefully, as if expecting him to grow another head or something. Elladan actually played far more pranks than he ever had, but did he get in trouble for any of them? No, and not because he was more subtle; Elbereth knew that had never been his brother's forte. No, it was because Glorfindel always seemed to know every thing he did, while almost ignoring Elladan's antics. He had lost count of the times he had looked up at dinner or at the stables or in the gardens, and seen that bright blue gaze on him. He knew why, of course. Glorfindel had never liked him, and was just waiting for an opportunity to catch him out in some new infraction of the rules, which would result in another long afternoon copying some boring old text while he was glared at by his tutor. It just wasn't fair.

Yet Elrohir had no intention of giving into temptation and throwing something across the room, preferably at his tutor's blond head. No, for Glorfindel would just love that. It would give him the excuse to extend Elrohir's punishment to weeks instead of days, and ruin all the fun of summer. Glorfindel was just jealous because he didn't have any fun, so resented anyone else doing so. He ought to follow Erestor's example and get himself a young lover, then maybe his temper would improve!

"Have a productive afternoon, Elrohir?" Glorfindel's hand snaked out and lifted the copybook before Elrohir could complain, not that it mattered. He couldn't very well have refused to show his work. "Barely a page? My, but that does seem rather a . . . limited accomplishment . . . for an entire afternoon, does it not?"

"I, er, I fell asleep, sir." Elrohir did not meet his tutor's eyes, not wanting to see the triumph in them. His little lapse was just the sort of thing Glorfindel had probably been waiting for--Elrohir could forget about getting any free time from here to the solstice. He would probably be busy copying over the entire library!

"You fell asleep?" The usual bite in his tutor's tone was absent, Elrohir noticed with surprise; instead, he just sounded thoughtful. "Then no doubt you need to rest. You can finish this tomorrow."

Elrohir looked up in disbelief. Was he really getting off that easily? No, it couldn't be. No doubt Glorfindel was planning something truly awful for the next day's punishment and needed more time to prepare. That had to be it. Still, Elrohir wondered if his old tutor felt all right, for he looked a bit pale and had an odd look in his eyes as he watched him leave the classroom. Oh well, maybe his lack of recreation was finally getting to him, or perhaps he was sick. Elrohir could not imagine why the thought that Glorfindel might be unwell upset him, but he decided to go find his father and casually mention it anyway. Just to shut his stupid conscience up, or he would be worrying about it all night. If a Lorien delegation had arrived, that meant presents from the grandparents at dinner and he wanted to enjoy them without guilt ruining everything.

He finally found his father in, conveniently enough, the healing chambers. Good, then mentioning Glorfindel's illness wouldn't seem so strange. Oddly, his father was laughing as Elrohir paused in the doorway--a strange enough occurrence in itself as Elrond tended to be surrounded by a faint air of melancholy, even on happy occasions--but it was even more mysterious when Elrohir noted that no one else was in the room. He watched his father warily without making his presence known, and a few seconds later his fears were confirmed when Elrond laughed again and spoke aloud.

"I quite agree, but you always said we should never be afraid to experiment. Besides, these inventions of Galadriel's are extremely uncomfortable. It should be possible to achieve the same effect without having to wear anything actually in my eyes. A potion of some sort should do it . . . " He trailed off, humming to himself, while Elrohir backed slowly out the door.

He paused in the corridor to regain his breath, which he had unconsciously been holding, and attempted to drive down his panic. So father was taking to himself. That didn't necessarily mean anything, right? He had never known him to do it before, true, but he was hardly with Ada every minute of every day, was he? This sort of thing could have been going on for years . . . somehow, he did not find that thought at all reassuring. He wondered what he should do as he walked back up the stairs to the main part of the house, his head in a whirl.

What he saw in the main hall was the strangest sight yet, however, for two handsome blond elves, one of whom he somehow knew was Thranduil of Mirkwood, were being greeted warmly by his grandfather. The Mirkwood ruler had never before visited Imladris, due to the somewhat frosty relations between the two realms. Stranger still, Celeborn seemed rather reluctant to release Thranduil from the friendly hug he had given him in welcome. "This is a truly wondrous day!," he enthused when he finally stepped back, after the other blond coughed slightly to let them know that the embrace had dragged on longer than was proper. "We shall celebrate our victory properly tonight!"

"Yes, well, we are delighted to be here." Thranduil straightened his elaborate moss green robes carefully as he answered, but he looked very pleased about something. The other elf caught sight of Elrohir then, and motioned him to join them. Elrohir reluctantly left the stairwell and went forward, wishing for a chance to go somewhere quiet and think, but knowing his duty to the household.

The usual courtesies were exchanged, but Elrohir barely heard them. The elf at Thranduil's side was introduced as Oropher, his father, and Celeborn did not so much as bat an eye when he said it. Elrohir regarded his grandfather in shock, and added another name to the suspect list. First old Erestor acquired a lover, then Glorfindel decided to be lenient, father started talking to himself, and now grandfather was introducing him to an elf everyone knew had been dead since Barad-dur. And no one seemed to find this at all odd except for him. Elrohir smiled faintly, remembering hearing somewhere that it was best to humour the mentally ill, but slipped away when Celeborn offered to show the visitors to their rooms.

There was no longer any doubt--something was seriously wrong at Imladris and it was up to him to save the day as he seemed to be the only one unaffected. Passing out the front door in search of somewhere quiet, Elrohir bumped into Gildor, one of his father's agents, who was looking far better than his usual bedraggled state. His hair was combed and properly braided for once and he was wearing a brilliant red tunic. At his side was a blond elf who looked vaguely familiar, also attired in red and also grinning broadly. Elrohir ignored him, however; Gildor had always been sensible, perhaps he could shed some light on all this.

"Gildor, could I talk with you a moment?"

The two elves exchanged glances, and for some reason Gildor looked suddenly worried. "Elrohir?," he said the name almost as if it was a question, which made no sense as Gildor had known him practically since birth. Apparently whatever madness was going about had affected him as well.

"Never mind!" Elrohir brushed past the two quickly and headed down the stairs, intent on reaching the quiet and saneness of the woods before anyone else demonstrated signs of madness. What could be causing this? Was it something in the water? Was this some elaborate orcish plot to make them vulnerable to attack? That must be it! Somehow they had to be snapped out of it before disaster struck. Elrohir looked fearfully at the sun, which was getting lower on the horizon with every passing minute. Everyone knew orcs preferred to attack at night; whatever he was going to do, then, he had to be quick!

Running back for the house, Elrohir was never so glad in his life to see his brother just dismounting from his horse. Thank the Valar! Elladan might be a bit dull at times, and somewhat lacking in imagination, but he was mercifully level headed and overall one of the sanest elves Elrohir knew. Before he could call out, however, another blow fell, this time in the form of the handsome Silvan at Elladan's side, who laughingly pulled him into a passionate embrace before they walked into the house, arms about each other. Elrohir felt the earth spin below him, and he put out a hand to a tree to steady himself. They had gotten to Elladan, no question about it. His brother had never even looked at a male elf in such a way, much less kissed one, when in his right mind! Was there no one left sane in all Imladris except for him?

He vaguely realised that the tree against which he was leaning was trying to say something, and he cleared his mind enough to be able to pick up its meaning. After all, if the people in Imladris were mad, perhaps he would have to rely on other types of aid. Within a few moments, however, he was backing away from the vegetation with a look of abject panic on his face. The trees had even caught it! The images it had sent of he and Glorfindel rolling around on the grass and . . . why, that was just . . . just . . . urgh! How awful! He would have those images in his head for days now; he might even be traumatized for life! He couldn't imagine why it would do such a horrible thing, much less why it was offering him congratulations. He was NOT bonding to Glorfindel! The very idea was, well, as mad as the rest of his day.

He ran up the stairs of the palace and made his way swiftly to his rooms. He didn't attempt to talk to anyone else, for what was the use? All of Imladris was obviously insane, and night was just hours away. The orcs would come and they would die, it was as simple as that. How had it come to this? What witchcraft could turn an elf's own mind against him? Elrohir flopped onto his bed and stared at his ceiling, trying to come up with a plan, but nothing seemed likely to work. Then suddenly it came to him. Of course! Grandmother would know what to do, and she always radiated calmness and sanity. Surely, together they could devise a plan for saving Imladris, and perhaps whatever had been done to all these poor elves could be reversed, or would wear off in time.

Praying that his grandmother had decided to accompany Celeborn to Imladris, and that he could find her before something happened to stop him, Elrohir crossed to the door of his room and put a hand to the handle, just to have it swing inwards on him. There in his doorway was what looked like a delegation: his father, grandparents, Erestor, and, standing behind all of them looking grave, was Glorfindel. "Grandmother!" Elrohir could have done without the others, but he was extremely relieved to see that Galadriel was, indeed, at Imladris. "I need to talk to you, alone." He looked pointedly at the rest of the party, but no one moved.

"Dearest Elrohir," Galadriel looked at him sadly. "You must be very confused."

"With all due respect, grandmother, I am not the one confused around here." He was wondering how to get her alone, as accusing her companions of madness in front of her was hardly diplomatic, when she stepped forward with a small vial in her hand.

"It is still too early for this," she commented, "and I would have preferred to put it off for another few years at least, but I fear that, under the circumstances, that might do more harm than good. Drink it, Elrohir, and things will become much clearer, I promise. After all, we can't have you like this, can we?" She smiled at him gently. "You have a wedding to attend, you know."

Elrohir backed slowly away from her, horror filling him. Oh Ulmo, oh Elbereth! No, no, no--this couldn't be! They had gotten to grandmother, too, and now were trying to get her to infect him. He regarded the vial in her hand with despair. That must be it--the concoction the orcs had used to distort everyone's perceptions. He had been right all along, and now he was the only sane one left! No! They were not getting that evil brew into him--he wasn't going to become one of them, no matter what he had to do to prevent it.

"Keep away from me," he warned, mildly surprised that his voice was so steady. The windows were still quite far away, but with luck he could reach them before anyone grabbed him. It was a long way to the ground if he should slip, of course, but that was just a chance he would have to take.

"He's going for the window--get him!" It was Erestor who cried out the warning, but Celeborn who managed to latch hold of him just as his foot touched the windowsill. He was efficiently wrestled to the ground by some of the greatest warriors of several ages and soon found himself staring up into his father's face. He must have already been infected, he thought dazedly, because Elrond currently seemed to have one blue and one grey eye. A second later and a noxious brew was being forced down him, despite his every attempt to avoid it. He was released as quickly as he'd been captured, as soon as all the drought had been swallowed. He regarded the group before him with sullen eyes, not knowing what to say.

"You've doomed us all. They'll come for us as soon as it's dark, and how are we supposed to fight them off now?" He saw the group exchange looks, but no one said anything. One by one they all filed out, except, he noticed when the door finally closed, for Glorfindel. Great, so he was to be left with a babysitter until he went completely loony. Why they thought it necessary he couldn't imagine; after all, even if he shimmied down the side of the house, where could he go? The orcs were probably already on their way, and it wasn't as if he could battle them alone.

"We're all going to die." Glorfindel just continued to regard him solemnly, not moving from his position by the door. "I guess this means I don't have to finish all that copying though." It was a poor joke, and Glorfindel had never been noted for his sense of humour, so Elrohir was not particularly surprised to receive no response. He sat on the edge of his bed and sighed, rubbing a hand across his eyes. His head hurt; probably that cursed substance was poisoned. Oh well, it would just save the orcs the trouble, he supposed.

Orcs. Elrohir blinked as a random thought meandered through his mind. Something . . . something about orcs. Why was it he couldn't . . . a flash of an image . . . orange and red and the black of smoke--a burning city . . .

He shook his head to clear it but it didn't help. Balrogs . . . dragons . . . where was Glorfindel? They must buy him time to save Turgon, to rescue the princess . . .

Elrohir gasped and fell back against the bed as a flood of images filled his mind all at once. Precipice . . . have to get to the elves . . . Tuor, you traitor! . . . must free the slaves . . . Gondolin! By the Valar, the White City has fallen! . . . have to tell Eirien, we must regroup . . .

He barely felt the arms that encircled him, or heard the murmured words of comfort and of love. Glorfindel . . . so beautiful, his golden flower . . .

"Glorfindel?" So perfect . . . but so angry at him . . . bright blue eyes flashing like sapphires in the sun. "I stole your sash. I'm sorry."

"Shh. It's all right. I have others."

"And your horse . . . and in your tent that time . . . I didn't mean to confuse you. I wasn't really laughing at you . . . "

"I know. Don't worry."

"I . . . what happened to the elves? Glorfindel, did we get them out? Are they . . . "

"Shh. They're fine. The ones you sent out of the caves have all recovered, and even Oropher is well on his way back to health. He and Thranduil are here to personally thank you when you are better. I must say I was surprised at the change--Oropher is not the elf I used to know."

"But he'll be all right?"

"Yes, in fact, I would say that he is . . . strangely improved after his ordeal. I almost didn't know him. Hundreds of years of introspection can make quite a difference, I suppose."

"Then, it all worked out." Elrohir could barely believe it. He wouldn't have given a penny for his chances--for any of them. The room still seemed to be spinning about him, and he had a hundred questions, but he felt safe in Glorfindel's embrace.

"Yes, everyone is fine. Celeborn and Thranduil trapped the orcish army in the Pallas Pass and diverted the river onto them. A force from Lorien helped with the mopping up--I would be surprised if a hundred orcs got out of that trap alive. You were the only one we were worried about. You passed out after we pulled you away from the precipice and didn't wake up for two days. When you did, you could remember nothing, and we were so afraid . . . " Glorfindel pulled him closer, hugging him fiercely. "I wasn't sure what to do," he whispered. "So we allowed you to think what you wanted until we had time to confer. It was hoped your memory would come back on its own, but when it didn't . . . "

Elrohir didn't want to dwell on the more depressing aspects. He had just realised that the mine slaves were all right and he and his lover were safely back in Imladris. He also grasped that what he had seen this day were signs of a huge celebration being planned. "So, who's getting married? Haldir and Gildor?"

"Er, no." Glorfindel looked a little shy suddenly. "Although they are planning a ceremony to take place soon. Apparently, you had Elladan and Orophin try to convince Thranduil that they were bonding as part of some scheme . . . "

"I remember. It was Erestor's idea. He thought we could substitute you and me at the last minute, and then Thranduil would have to marry us because he couldn't very well refuse in front of half of Lorien. Then he'd be the guarantor of the match and would have to leave us alone. But it didn't turn out to be necessary."

"But apparently no one bothered to inform the cooks and seamstresses about that, and quite a number of plans have already been made. Elladan and Orophin do not feel quite ready to, er, finalize things, so Haldir and Gildor will get quite an elaborate bonding when they return to Lorien."

"But who is getting married here then? Never say Erestor!"

"I don't think Erestor is exactly the marrying kind, although I received the impression that he is definitely off the market from now on."

"Then who?"

Elrohir watched in puzzlement as Glorfindel walked to his wardrobe and pulled it open, taking out a very familiar suit of bright mithril armor. He blinked at it, sure that his eyes were deceiving him. It should be residing at the bottom of a very deep fountain. Glorfindel cleared his throat. "We never recovered the original, as you were wearing it when . . . in any case, I had the artisans here make this long ago, shortly after your birth in fact. We had to adjust it a little, but it should fit . . . "

Elrohir looked at his lover's face, reflected in the shiny surface the armor, and smiled. Suddenly, everything seemed right with the world once more. "Just wait until I tell Lothion. He has a lot of work to do if his master is about to be wed!"

* * *

The End

Thank you to all who reviewed at any point in this process. Fan fiction is a collaborative effort, so many other people should really be listed as co-authors for all the ideas and encouragement they gave along the way. Special thanks to Alex, Meg, Larian, Celebrethil, Dis Thrainsdotter, Ithilessar, Blue, Crydwyn, Renee, and many more I probably forgot. I hope you had fun reading, as I did writing.