Disclaimer: If it even remotely resembles Tolkien, it's his, his estate, his heirs.
This is AU, a sequel to Until We Rise. Comments, suggestions welcome.
Cast My Soul to the Sea
"We should be doing something now, not waiting."
Glorfindel fiddled with the quill in his hand, watching Elrond pace in a circle the length of his tower room. It wasn't a huge space; a living area took up the most of the round tower with a bedroom off of that. He'd found it exploring the East Wing of the Palace one day while waiting for Elrond to come out of a very long meeting with Gil-galad. Better still, it was empty as none of the others inhabiting the Wing wanted it. Drafty and cold in the winter, too hot in the summer, it also was only accessible via a dark, horrendously narrow spiral stair that reminded too many of underground tunnels.
It suited Glorfindel down to his toes. The room was ringed with windows that allowed fresh air and sunshine in, and offered an unparalleled view of the sky at night. It was also private. A heavy oak door to the stairs ensured no sharp elven ears could listen in on conversations here. There were no other rooms near it, and only a storage space beneath. Glorfindel could retreat here and be as noisy as he liked without disturbing a soul.
Sitting in one of the windows, one leg propped up on the ledge, the other dangling out over the long drop to the gardens below, he listened to Elrond rant. A rare thing, that. Usually it was him doing the raving and the darker of the two listening. Glorfindel frowned. Gil-galad again.
The Noldor King was beginning to greatly annoy Glorfindel. Seeing Elrond this worked up only added to the simmering resentment. "Why does he wait?"
Elrond threw a hand in the air, retreating to a chair and dropping into it with a sigh. "I wish I knew, Glorfindel. We know it was Sauron who came here, attempting to cozen us. We warned the other havens." Slumping in the chair, he stared up at the high-beamed ceiling. "Celebrimbor is not a soldier, and yet we send only support to Ost-in-Edhil. We knew Sauron had designs four hundred years ago, we see them playing out now and yet we wait!" He rose from the chair, prowling restlessly to a window to stare out, and scowled.
Pursing a lip, Glorfindel twirled the quill. "While Sauron is no Morgoth, from all that I have read and you have told me…" He met his friend's troubled gaze. "He is a danger to all free peoples."
With a curt nod, Elrond turned to sit in the window. "His hatred for our people especially knows no limits." A bitter smile stole the light from his eyes. "Eärendil sailed to gain the aid of the Valar in defeating Sauron's master and has hated us boundlessly since."
All elves, but perhaps several families in particular? Glorfindel tucked the thought away. Eärendil's successful voyage to Valinor had finally rallied the Valar to Endorre. Morgoth's defeat, and the loss of power for Sauron, had been a result of Eärendil and Elwing's brave deeds. Their only living heir stood before Glorfindel now. The ways of the Valar were murky at best in his opinion, and he had some direct experience to back his view. "Too bad they didn't see fit to wipe out all the evil while they were at it, hmm?"
"You, of all, know that is not their way, Glor."
Glorfindel agreed with a shrug. His own rantings on the Valar had provided amusement for Elrond in the past. "Why do you think Gil-galad delays? I would think him eager to see this strife ended, his people united."
Shaking his head, half-turned to look out over the city, Elrond let his gaze wander. "I have only one theory; that the memory of the War of Wrath is too fresh in his mind to think of bringing it upon us again so soon." Pausing, he nodded to some inner thought. "He will not repeat mistakes of the past if he can avoid them."
Glorfindel's blue eyes narrowed. "Second guessing the past is dangerous." Frowning for the memories of his own first life, then shrugging them off, he waved the quill around. "This won't go away. Sauron will not go away. His power will only grow."
"I know, my friend." Elrond sighed. "I know." He stood, shaking out his cloak. "Do you have plans for the evening?"
"I am free for the asking." Glorfindel grinned, rising in one effortless motion and offered a sweeping bow.
Elrond snorted. "Save it for the ladies of Court, you vain peacock." At the mock affronted expression he gestured with his head. "I'm off for an evening with Círdan and Bronwe. Would you care to join me?"
"Is Bron cooking?" Striding over to a table, dropping the quill, Glorfindel looked around and spotted his cloak draped over another chair. "If Círdan is…I might reconsider."
"As if you have any room to speak!" Elrond laughed outright at the truly offended look on his friend's face. "What was that horrid concoction you called stew on our last trip?"
Eyebrow arched, he turned to face Elrond. "That guard house stove hadn't been used for well over a hundred years! How was I to know you needed to clean the flume?" He huffed at the remembrance of the clouds of ash and smoke that had all but suffocated him. "I do just fine over an open fire." Flinging the cloak around his shoulders and fastening it, he added, "And you shouldn't listen to tales from others." Blue eyes gleamed with good humour.
"Come." Elrond gestured for him to follow, shaking his head. "Bronwe is playing hostess. I think she's lonely with Taurion assigned to Eregion."
"I didn't realize she was back from Edhellond." Glorfindel's voice echoed eerily in the stairwell.
"From what she said we almost didn't get her back at all."
"She had family there she never knew of and was quite taken with them. Falathrim who crossed the mountains before Beleriand sunk." Elrond pushed open the tower door, stepping into the main passage of the East Wing. "To use her words, 'it was warmer, the ocean incredible, and had huge forests.'"
"She would abandon us for that?" Glorfindel caught the gaze of a passing page who appeared to be listening and arched his eyebrow, staring pointedly at the youth. The younger elf flushed and hurried on.
"From how she tells it..." Elrond smiled. "...yes."
"I suppose that's one thing to be thankful for Taurion then." Ignoring Elrond's pointed frown he swiped a handful of fragrant flowers from the Palace gardens and grinned at him. "Something for the hostess." Lifting them to his nose he drew in an appreciative breath.
Elrond rolled his eyes, well used to the other's ways. "You're just hoping she'll forget that you left your horse untethered last time and it ate the entire bower of herbs."
"That horse untied itself!" Glorfindel huffed. "He was too sneaky by half. It's just as well he ran off." He smiled suddenly, the sort of smile that usually signaled mischief of one sort or another. There seemed to be no end of schemes in the blonde elf's mind. "...She forgave me."
Stopping, Elrond cocked an eyebrow. "You're lucky it wasn't Ramë." With a smirk, he turned and continued walking.
Pursing a lip, Glorfindel nodded. The Lorien elf was a more temperamental creature, best treated with careful handling. Or several meads and a few bawdy jokes. "Ramë likes me," he insisted as he caught up. "We both revile Galadriel unashamedly."
That was true.
"Well…yes." Offering an unrepentant grin, happy to be the fool if it got a smile on his friend's face, and removed the brooding darkness for a time. "Tanthus said he has a new gelding he wanted to show me."
"He breeds sound horses." Elrond slanted a smile at the other. "One that might even put up with your temperament."
Glorfindel stopped walking to frown. "My temperament?"
Bowing to a woman who had to step aside to avoid walking into his companion's back, Elrond chuckled. "You can hardly expect me to compliment you, Glorfindel." Arched an eyebrow, and turned to continue walking. "As it is you have a veritable seraglio who would attend you."
"Truly?" He chuckled. "I like the sound of that… Imagine any number of females waiting upon my every whim."
"You imagine it." Elrond snorted. "Even one to attend and keep happy seems too much at times."
"You're too busy with the king's duties." A dark look said what he thought of that. How many times had he come upon Elrond slumped over a map, finally sleeping after days of non-stop responsibilities? He had threatened to sleep on the threshold of half-elf's quarters, warning off those who would disturb his sleep for some minor crises easily handled by another.
Just as well Elrond hadn't heard him chiding more than one of the king's advisors for running too quickly for the Herald.
"They use you, and I don't care for it one bit."
Smile mild, but clearly amused, Elrond clapped his shoulder. "Then it is just as well I have you around to remind me, isn't it?"
"Actually?" Glorfindel preened, blue eyes gleaming. "Yes." Which made the other laugh, just as he'd hoped, forgetting at least for a time about the worries that darkened their lands.
Another formal gathering, another excuse for the Court to dress up and try to impress one another.
Another night to be bored to a mind-numbing state.
"Wenna, wait here. I see someone I need to speak with." Taurion strode off, leaving Bronwe to frown at his back. Just once would it be too much to leave off being a soldier? Just one night, it was all she asked. One night to put aside all but the most pressing concerns, especially considering Taurion was only home for two days, charged with delivering plans to Gil-galad. He had already spent most of the time in meetings with senior officers and the King's advisors. Taurion was thorough in executing his duties, and the nervous feel of the court didn't help put him at ease. Darkness was growing, even the youngest of elves, those who hadn't lived through the War of Wrath, felt it in the air. There was a chill that came from the east and roused old fears in many. Sighing, she shook her head and turned to walk over to a bench, sitting with casual disregard for the intricate draping of her gown.
She looked up through the trees to the stars. A beautiful night, with a perfect crescent moon hanging as if placed there by some artistic hand. Warm still, as late summers typically were in Mithlond. And she was spending it sitting on a bench in a garden that was far too precise and planned for her sensibilities. A garden that, to her way of thinking, symbolized the whole formality of the Noldor Court.
How was it that she ended up at so many of these blasted formal goings-on when she truly wasn't part of the Court? Taurion insisted, when he was present, and Círdan persuaded her the other times. He had about as much love of them as she, possibly less, but by dragging her along he at least ensured someone who shared his sentiments.
Pulling the beaded gauze of her shawl up over a bared shoulder, she shook her head, wincing as a braid caught on the metal work of the bench. Berating herself for feeling sorry and pouting in a corner, she stood. "Wait here for him." Bronwe mimicked Taurion's Noldorin accent. "I could wait until the Valar come back before -" Seeing a couple approaching, at least one of the two familiar, she closed her mouth and tried to look happy.
"Bron!" Glorfindel grinned, taking her arm with an approving look. "Lovely as ever. Slipped the leash again, hmm?" He winked, pretending not to see her annoyed frown. "Have you met Meldisse?"
"No." She smiled at the raven-haired beauty, no doubt Glorfindel's latest paramour. They flocked to him like birds to a fruit tree and it seemed he was always introducing a new one. "Pleased to meet you."
"Bronwe is the second friend I made after returning, but I was wearing clothing by then." The blonde elf smiled warmly, eyes sparkling. "If I speak poorly, blame her." Ignoring the scornful huff, he looked around.
"Mistress Healer." Meldisse slipped her hand through Glorfindel's arm with a proprietary air, much to Bronwe's amusement. As if she was competition.
"Have you seen Elrond?"
"No, but I know earlier he was determined to speak to the king." Glorfindel's expression shifted as his gaze went over her shoulder, hardening to a hauteur he rarely showed outside of Court. "He's concerned about Eregion."
Bronwe startled as she was pulled back and held against another body, Taurion's voice speaking quite near her ear. "As is everyone else. I'm certain we all believe the High King is concerned for all elves in Middle-earth."
Ah, a favourite game. Glorfindel let a smile curl his mouth. "I'm not certain Amdír would agree."
"I meant his Noldor subjects."
"Ah." Blue eyes gleaming as Taurion clearly looked annoyed, Glorfindel let his gaze go to Bronwe. "Celebrimbor must be feeling that concern right now quite strongly as his city is overrun."
This was an old source of contention, one that Glorfindel had gleefully poked at since first meeting Taruion. His dislike of Gil-galad's method of ruling was far from secret.
"I'll have you know we leave in the morning, taking dispatches to Lord Celebrimbor."
"Dispatches." Disdain dripped off every vowel. "No doubt Celebrimbor will find the parchment of great assistance."
"He has brought this upon himself." Taurion was gripping Bronwe's arms tightly. Too tightly and she tried to ease away, unhappy at being between the two antagonists yet again. "It is his own fault! We warned him not to treat with Annatar."
"And what of his subjects? Or the Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn?"
"As if you care what happens to the Lady."
"She is my cousin, distant perhaps but I cannot say I have any desire to see her dead." Glorfindel was unruffled, speaking calmly even as Taurion's face and neck flushed red.
"And yet from all I have been told, for all your vaunted care, Lord Glorfindel, you will not even take up the sword and commission offered to you by King Gil-galad."
Bronwe winced at the taunting tone, and pulled away. "Enough, Taurion. Both of you. Enough!"
"I served my chosen lord to the consequences of my death." Glorfindel was every inch an Eldar lord as he pinned a cold gaze on the younger elf. "Don't speak to me of sacrifice when you are barely out of your second century and have yet to fight in a war."
"And yet now you will but rest on those laurels." Scorn dripped from Taurion's words.
Bronwe turned to put her hands on his chest as Glorfindel's eyes flashed. "Taurion! Enough. You will not agree. Let it go at that."
"And what of him, your great friend and once patient, what of that, Wenna?"
She flinched as if hit, letting her hands fall to her side. "I think it best if you left now."
One last furious glare at Glorfindel, and Taurion stalked off, leaving Bronwe to stare after him.
"Don't." She turned to face the pair, eyes silver in her anger. "You goaded him, Glorfindel, as you do every time you and he are in one place together. It is truly beyond me why two grown males cannot simply agree to disagree and let it go instead of turning it into a pissing contest, but I'm done with it tonight." A mocking curtsy and she turned, leaving the pair alone in the garden.
Glorfindel frowned after her, annoyed. Not because she wasn't right but there was just something about Taurion that rubbed him wrong. That air of Noldor pride and arrogance. And for what? What had he done to feel he could be so proud?
"That was unpleasant."
Meldisse. He'd forgotten her in the middle of angry words. Contrite, Glorfindel held out his arm. "Quite." A smile, a bit forced but he doubted she would notice. "Shall we stroll around the lake?"
A curt rap on her door the next morning was all the warning Bronwe got before opening it to see Taurion standing there. He was dressed in the silver and blue of Gil-galad's livery, a heavy grey cloak over his shoulders to ward off the rain. Black hair was pulled back so tightly she knew he would have a headache by the end of the day.
"I came to wish you well, Wenna."
Pursing her lips as he took off his gloves, Bronwe nodded. "You're still angry." And she was tired of it all. "I don't know what it will take to make you believe me, Taurion."
He reached for her hand, grasping it, grey eyes meeting her gaze. "Marry me when I return."
Bronwe stared at him, at a loss for words. How long now had they been betrothed, and he put off setting a date due to circumstances. Duty. Disagreement about her continuing to act as a healer once they were married. Now with a war pending, he wanted to marry? "I—"
"No." He put a finger to her lips and offered a wry smile. "Say nothing now."
He cut her off by pulling her against him, capturing her lips in a kiss that was more passionate than any they had yet shared. Bronwe was breathless when he pulled away and set her back. "Think on it, Wenna."
Gathering her scattered wits, Bronwe watched him mount his horse and ride off without even looking back.
Think on it. Think on it? What bad tales of gallantry had he been reading? You did not argue with your betrothed then simply ride off the next day as if nothing happened! "Blast it." Bronwe scowled at the street where only a few geese waddled down the lane, heading for the meadow. From the harbor she could hear the sailors singing as they set out for sea and the scent of freshly baked bread drifted in from town.
"As if he's just going to ride back and grab me up to wed me when he returns?" She snorted and grabbed the basket by her doorstep. "Oh, his mother and sisters would love that, wouldn't they?" There was no love lost between his very properly Noldor mother and herself. Far from welcoming her into the family, the woman had done all she could to discourage her son from wedding a 'dark elf'.
"Bloody Noldor." Bronwe pulled the cloak off the clothesline it was hanging on, and tossed it over her shoulders as a light drizzle of rain began to fall. "Think they're the only learned ones and the rest of us are a bunch of dirty savages." She was generalizing, being unfair, and knew it, but it felt good to mutter as she set out for the town. Some days, the kinslaying in Doriath was a bit too vivid in her mind, and she wondered yet again what kept her in the largely Noldor city.
Cresting a hill, she looked down at the harbor, and the swanships bobbing at the quays. Songs rose in the air as the sailors readied the ships, the words Teler, and it made her smile. This was why. The sea, the sea and those who loved it as she did.
Changing course, she headed for the shipyards, curious to see what Cirdan had to say about everything.
One could always count on the old shipwright for an acerbic answer, and that was exactly what she was looking for.
Commission or not, nothing was going to keep Glorfindel from riding at the side of Elrond. He needed neither oath or approval, only his sword, dagger and bow. Anyone who wanted to try and stop him was quite welcome to try.
It was almost a disappointment to see Gil-galad walking with Elrond, meet his eyes and get only a nod.
Well then. Patting the neck of his horse, he looked down the columns of elves behind him. They looked good, ready to ride out and face what could be very bad indeed. Most of them were strangers, and with a last pat, Glorfindel walked down the lines, speaking here and there with a soldier. It helped settle him, and calmed them as well. He was a survivor of the Nirnaeth, one of the bloodiest battles ever fought.
The Gondolin reputation didn't hurt either.
Glorfindel was just about to turn back when a familiar voice stopped him. Slowly turning, he blinked at the sight of Bronwe checking a saddlebag and his feet were moving before his brain had time to yell at him to stop.
"Just what do you think you're doing?"
She looked up, frowned and stood. "Making sure I have all my gear, same as many here I should think."
Hair braided tightly off her face, dressed in dark leggings and tunic, grey cloak over that, she looked ready to ride with them. "You cannot mean to hare off after Taurion." It was out of his mouth before he thought about it, but then that was all part of what he was famous for.
Bronwe's mouth tightened but she held his gaze. "No, I mean to ride with the other healers to Nîn-in-Eilph." Setting a hand on her horses' shoulder to settle it, she arched an eyebrow. "Healers will be needed."
"Yes, doubtless," Glorfindel said impatiently, "and yet I find it odd that you volunteered."
"You have all the tact of an Orc." Bronwe turned to pick up her saddlebag and slung it over her horses' shoulders, fastening it down. She rode as Silvan elves did, without a saddle. "I don't believe your approval is required, Glorfindel."
While she was technically right, it did nothing to stop his ire. "Mine, no. His," he pointed to where Elrond was walking towards them, having noted the argument, "yes."
The look she shot Glorfindel was not kind, but Bronwe resolutely waited for Elrond to join them, aware that he already looked harried. The last thing he needed now was a petulant argument.
"Is something wrong, Glorfindel?"
Bronwe could not stop her eyebrows arching upwards, but did manage not to smirk.
Glorfindel felt no compunctions to control his annoyance. "Elrond, you cannot think to let her ride into a battle."
"No." Calm, clearly in control, Elrond met the blue gaze of his friend. "The healers ride to Nîn-in-Eilph where we will leave them with a unit of soliders. The rest of us will ride on to Ost-in-Edhil." Sarcasm laced his tone. "I think twenty leagues plenty of distance to keep they and the wounded safe. Do you disagree?"
A clear challenge from one he did respect was not taken lightly. Glorfindel shot a look at Bronwe, then met the grey eyes of his lord. "I leave it to your judgment." A shallow bow and he spun to walk quickly back towards his horse.
Elrond held up a hand as Bronwe opened her mouth. "No, please, Bronwe. No more. I have heard enough arguing today." She closed her mouth with a snap, and nodded. "Stay with the others, and for the love of all the stars above, don't get hurt."
"I'll do my best, milord." Bronwe gave a sniff as he turned. "I should hope you do the same."
It made Elrond smile as he walked back up to the front of the column, even as he met the brooding gaze of his friend. "Anything else to say, Glorfindel?"
"No." A rather grim smile curved his mouth. "Except I am glad to be riding here at the front rather than the middle or rear. The mud is horrendous today."
Shaking his head as he mounted, Elrond signaled the column forward. Knowing his friend as well as he did, Glorfindel would drop back to ride with some of the other soldiers and get just as dirty and mucked up as they. But it suited him to be considered vain, which wasn't an untruth. Ai. Nothing was easy lately.
Elrond kneed his horse forward and set his mind upon what to expect when they reached his cousin's city. He only hoped it would not be as bad as they all feared.
Notes: So it's been re-written yet again. I have the rest finished and being beta'd, but if you see anything you wonder about, let me know. I love to hear what people think, good or bad.