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
"You're determined to leave."
"Yes." Bronwe straightened and turned to look around her cottage. It had been her home for a long time, once a refuge of comfort. "It's bearable now, but when all of you have gone I know the memories will be…" Images of what had been, of dreams unrealized played across her gaze. With a shiver, Bronwe left the room, Ramë following.
Back to the kitchen. The kitchen was cozy and small. Small enough to hold the world out for a time.
"I never thought you were the sort to turn and run when things got tough."
Bronwe stared at her friend, startled. She had survived Doriath. Sirion. Two kin-slayings. The death of her father, her siblings. Now she had to justify this? "What is there to stay for, Ramë?" She gestured around. "Elrond will soon be gone to his valley, Glorfindel with him. You'll leave for Lórien. Círdan will stay until we're all gone." She sighed for the shipwright's fortitude, wishing the sea was enough to hold her as well.
"None of us will be there either, Bronwe, and you can't change your mind once you've sailed. At least here there are familiar faces, people who know you, places you know. You know you'd be welcome to visit any of us." Ramë watched her friend pace, fingers twisting the silver ring on her right hand and shoved down the urge to grab her friend and shake her. "Taurion won't be there, you know."
Bronwe sat, and held up a hand to stop her friend's words. "Yes, I do know. I know, and it will be a long time before his release from Mandos." Looking out the window, at her garden, she rubbed the heels of her hands against her eyes. She was tired. Tired of arguing, and tired of defending herself to others. "But here reminds me of all the things that I've lost." Dropping her hands, she glanced at a corner of the larger room and shivered. Even with all of their disagreements, she wished her mother had stayed instead of sailing. Bronwe hated living alone, but her friends were married, with homes of their own, or lived in other havens.
"So make new memories." Ramë grabbed Bronwe's wrist, gripping tightly enough to get the healer's attention back on her. "Better ones. Taurion left you alone here plenty of times when he was off on patrol or--"
"I won't blame him when I was just as guilty of letting him go and never telling him I was lonely." Frowning, Bronwe pulled her wrist free. "I know none of you liked him." That hurt her now worse than it had when he was alive. Bronwe wasn't going to blame her friends, but to listen to criticism of him now, when his death was still so sharp in her mind, that was unbearable.
Ramë drummed her fingers on the table, watching her friend with an unhappy frown. "I didn't like the way he treated you, Bronwe, that's not the same thing as not liking him. He was tolerable enough. Nothing out of the ordinary, maybe a cut above the typical soldier, but more than once his casual disregard for what you wanted and your role here in the community made me wonder why you put up with him. He was arrogant and rude to your friends, Glorfindel notably, and probably would have been happier if you had left your life and gone to live with his mother."
"He worried about me being alone once Naneth sailed." Moving in with Taurion's mother had never been an option Bronwe had even considered. His mother did not like her. "You never saw how he could be, Ramë. I know he …he wasn't at his best around you and the others, but Glorfindel always did his best to annoy Taurion."
"And he always let himself be annoyed." Ramë shook her head, knowing it was useless, and far from the best time to confront Bronwe, but she was damned if she was just going to let it go and let Bronwe sail when they all knew it wasn't what was best for her. "Look, Bron. What will you do in Aman? They don't need healers in the Blessed Realm."
Rubbing at her wet cheeks, Bronwe shook her head. "Find my brothers, maybe my sister."
Bronwe grimaced. "There is supposed to be healing in Aman for all ills." Her mother had been bitter from all of her losses. Bitter and critical of everything, including her only surviving child. She had been difficult to live with.
Ramë snorted. "If the person wants it, yes." She sat back with a heavy sigh. "Bron, you're just running. You haven't even thought this through." She gestured towards the bay. "What of those you tend here?"
"There are other healers, Ra. Just as talented, if not moreso."
"None who will touch those you see." It wasn't quite a growl, but close.
Bronwe frowned slightly, uneasily meeting her friend's gaze.
Ramë shrugged, sitting back and readjusting her shawl. "I've seen them creep here when it's dark and they feel safe. Those who would be shunned otherwise. Even humans."
Enough. Tired of defending herself and the unending criticism, Bronwe stood, grabbed a cloak and threw it around her shoulders. "I'll be back."
Leaving Ramë to stare after her. Wondering if she'd pushed too far.
The sand was still warm and she kicked off her shoes, digging her toes into the warmth. Bronwe stared at the sea and let her thoughts wander, lost in the music of the waves and the play of light on the water.
She knew who it was who wandered up the beach to sit next to her without turning her head to look. No other elf on Arda had the glow Círdan did.
They sat quietly for a long time before she drew in a breath. "I'm torn, wanting to be two places at once." Bronwe shook her head, and lowered her chin to her drawn-up knees. "And neither."
"You're grieving still." Círdan sat close enough for her to feel his shoulder move as he sighed.
"The ship sails tomorrow."
Círdan nodded, noting the uncertainty in her voice. "Child, you know I'm not one to offer advice."
Bronwe turned to look at him and nodded. "Yes." She had certainly asked for advice enough times, especially once her mother had sailed, leaving her, a young elf, very much without family.
The silver eyebrows drew together as Círdan frowned slightly. She was so young. Too young sometimes. He reached up to push a long strand of hair out of her face. "You haven't lived yet, Bronwe. The sailing is for those who are worn down with living or already so dead to the beauty here they cannot stay. You've survived." He nodded, seeing the protest in her eyes. "Living is more than that. To live is to take some risks. Do something you might not have done normally."
"You're not going to remind me of my responsibilities?" Her tone was a bit peeved.
He chuckled, dropping his hand and shook his head. "No. I would tell you to forget them for a while, ignore that oh-so-serious soul of yours…" Silver eyes met hers. "And live." He winked. "Be irresponsible. Dance. Get drunk. Do something shocking." A smile as she huffed and frowned. "Bron…" Círdan reached out again to turn her face towards him. "In all seriousness I tell you…find joy. Once the joy is gone you might as well sail west."
She closed her eyes as silver hair filled her view and lips touched her forehead. Eyes still closed, she heard him rise and walk away, tears burning against her eyelids.
Shadows haunted her gaze as she opened her eyes and looked out, not seeing the ocean, but a green land of dense forests. "I was irresponsible once." It was just a whisper. Bronwe shook her head, grimacing as faces came to her mind's eye. Her mother, expression sad and so still. As if she couldn't believe…
That bitterness was her fault. If she'd …just watched a bit more carefully. Maybe looked back to be certain…
Her thumb rubbed over her fingers as she remembered seeing the small form lying so still. Unmoving, even when the healers were there.
And a small cairn raised for an elf that had barely begun to live reminded Bronwe every day of her carelessness. It was proof that while granted near immortality, elves were not immune to the natural laws. A fall could kill, as could injuries.
The light could be taken away.
Bronwe stood suddenly, shaking out her skirts. Banishing the ghosts of memory with a gesture, even as they followed her down the beach.
Her mother had never forgiven her for that momentary lapse. Never let her forget that cairn was there. Never mind that there had been older children present that day as well. It was Ada who had found her. Comforted her, though he'd said only that sometimes fledglings die.
And hadn't she done all she could from then on to protect them?
Not enough. Never enough to bring the one back and erase her mother's condemnation.
Bronwe stopped as her foot touched something. She looked down to see a child's toy lying in the sand, carelessly left behind; a carved wooden bird rolling back and forth with the waves.
She sighed, looking out to the waves, topped with silver crests as they crashed back down to sweep up the shore. Bending to pick up the toy, turning it in her hand, Bronwe smiled wryly as she set it atop a boulder where the tide couldn't reach. She left it to watch the waves roll in, whispering to the sands.
Wrapping her cloak around her, she smiled sadly as she walked. Who could say but maybe their loved ones still watched over them?
He hadn't spoken to her, not even when he'd escorted Ramë to her cottage. Bronwe hadn't looked at him then. Through and past, anywhere, but not at him directly.
For once Glorfindel recognized the signs and left her to Ramë. Death affected everyone differently. There was no right way to deal with it when it came. No sense getting mad at a grieving soul when they weren't even truly themselves.
Now they stood at the docks in the grey of the early morning mists. No sunshine. Grey Havens; so aptly named. No wind stirred the quays, and the fog was dense and grey, dampening spirits and clothing.
Ramë had refused to come see her off, and refused to say farewell, only shaking her head at her friend before marching away.
Bronwe stood with a group of other elves gathered around, each hugging her in turn. Friends from Mithlond. Some sad, others resigned, having seen so many others depart for the Blessed Realm. In the wake of Eregion, there was no shortage of those boarding to leave, both alive and dead. Groups arrived quietly, some going straight aboard, while others waited to see their friend or family off.
Walking over to stand next to Elrond, Bronwe opened her mouth and closed it without saying anything. What could she say? They watched as still forms, carefully draped and respectfully borne, were taken aboard the swan ship. Not all of those they had brought out of Eregion had survived, but at least they had been able to see their families one last time. To say…
Círdan spoke with one of the elves and nodded, his gaze going to her.
It was time to go.
Drawing in a deep breath, Bronwe hesitated before stepping forward and walking quickly up the wooden ramp of the ship. At the threshold of stepping down, she stopped. Stopped and frowned as some internal dialogue raged.
"Bronwe?" Círdan stepped in front of her, offering his hand. The rocking of the ships did tend to unsettle the healer's stomach. He read the indecision in her gaze and waited patiently. It was often this way. Leaving was hard for some.
There was no coming back. No returning to Middle-earth.
Bowing her head, brown hair caught up in the rising breeze, Bronwe finally shook her head. "I can't go." So softly said that he almost didn't hear it. Raising her head, she met the silver gaze of her friend. "Give this to Taurion's mother, please? She's on board. I…"
Círdan took the bag, leaning forward to cup her face with his hand. "I will child. Go on, now. I'll see you when I return." He smiled in true joy for none of these journeys were sad to him. "Go. Find joy." A wink, and he reached up to grasp her shoulders, turning and giving a slight push to send her on her way.
Bronwe stumbled slightly at the end of the plank, stopping on the solid wood of the quay. She closed her eyes as she heard Círdan ordering the ropes cast off and anchor weighed. Heard the snap of the sails as they caught the sudden gust of wind, and the creak of the wood as the ship was pulled out into the harbour.
The sorrow rose again, and with it the loneliness. Caught between the sorrow of Middle-earth and the promise of a someday….
Someday. The future suddenly loomed frightening and unbearably long.
Tears blurred her eyes and she drew in a shaky breath as she heard footfalls approach. Saw boots, a bit dusty, leather worn where stirrups would rest. Behind them, another pair.
They would be leaving soon. Had stayed only to speak with the king, see to those wounded who wanted to accompany them to the distant valley – and to see her off.
She'd spoken in anger. Said things, horrible things.
Yet they were there, here, for her.
She stepped forward, forgiving, forgetting. Accepting the comfort offered. The shelter for a time. Buried her face in his tunic, sank against him as his arms closed around her, gathering her close. Let the grief wash over her in this safe place, allowing another's strength to carry her.
Even the strongest needed a shelter.
He tucked her closer, cloak almost covering her, looking up as Elrond stood before him.
The other sighed and nodded. Protect and preserve, such strong instincts in them all.
Reaching out to stroke the brown hair, Elrond grimaced at the wash of emotions the contact brought. "Home is better than a cold, windy pier."
Nodding, Glorfindel guided Bronwe back along the quays, protecting her from the well-meaning gazes of the others, his bearing discouraging them from approaching or stopping him.
Elrond followed, musing on the loyalty of friendship and the bonds it forged.
Stronger even than those of pain it seemed.
The way it should be.
"You could come with us." Glorfindel rubbed the mint between his fingers, enjoying the pungent aroma. "Another healer would likely be welcome to all living there."
Elrond, copying a tonic recipe he'd never seen, snorted and looked up from the book. "Are you planning on being ill, Glorfindel?"
"Of course not! I am never ill."
Bronwe coughed quietly, and paused in grinding up leaves in a mortar to look up. "What of the night you were so ill from the oysters and mead?"
Eyeing the pestle, it wouldn't do to have that lobbed at him, Glorfindel did his best to look supremely unconcerned. "I was unused to my body, that is all."
Both healers chuckled while he pretended not to notice. Adding the abused mint to the pile of herbs, grinning as Bronwe reached over and plucked it out to add to the correct pile, Glorfindel wrapped his fingers around the mug of tea before him. He had a great many good memories of this cottage from his time as Bronwe's patient. The kitchen was the coziest room, and the one they always tended to gravitate to. "While waiting for Gil-galad today, I overheard that Lalaith is expecting a child?"
Bronwe looked up, hesitating, then nodded. If it was circulating around Court then it was no secret. "Yes. She asked me to confirm it several days ago."
The very quiet tone brought Elrond's head up, and he frowned. "Her husband is…"
"Was," Glorfindel corrected gently to save Bronwe from informing him. "Calminaion." One of the many who had died in the battle with Sauron in Ost-in-Edhil.
"Her sister has asked her to come live with her family, but if she wants she can certainly move in here with me." The cottage was too large for just one person and Bronwe hated racketing about all by herself. "She…she might not want to leave Mithlond so soon after Calminaion's death."
Glorfindel noticed Bronwe wasn't wearing the silver betrothal ring any longer; she had an unconscious habit of rubbing her ring finger, and he wondered what she had done with it.
"Where does her sister live?"
"In Lórien." Adding several more leaves to the mortar, Bronwe began grinding the mixture up before setting the pestle aside with a thump. "I don't want to leave."
Glorfindel arched an eyebrow as Elrond looked up. "Leave?"
Waving a hand, Bronwe gestured around them. "Mithlond, Ennor. I have had more unasked for advice lately telling me that I should leave and let the peace of Aman soothe my hurts and …it is not funny, Glorfindel!"
Holding up his hands to ward off her anger, he sat back and tried very hard not to smirk. "Bronwe! You know very well this is nothing new." There were always those quick to offer advice and criticism, especially when they thought a social edict had been violated.
"But normally they do not bite at you, do they?" Elrond set his quill down and looked at his one-time student. "This is a part of living so near a royal court, Bronwe. The gossips are always about, but when they are jockeying for position, trying to look better than the rest, they will grab whatever is the current topic to sustain their standing."
"I am not part of the court!"
"What was it this time?" Glorfindel didn't waste time with reasoning. Sometimes you just wanted to be angry, and damn the logic.
Face flushing pink, Bronwe picked up a sprig of rosemary and began to pick off the tiny leaves, furiously tossing them in a pile. "Oh, first it was how unseemly it was for me to be out and about as if nothing had happened and should not I have allowed more time to mourn my loss of Taurion? They moved on to how it was not right that I lived alone, apart from family, and that it was only the fact that Taurion's mother was here to watch over me that made it acceptable." Eyes shading to a light grey, a sure sign of anger, Bronwe tossed aside the rosemary sprig and grabbed another, larger piece, quickly defoliating it as well. "The kicker was telling me that I was deemed rather …fast."
"Fast?" He didn't quite flinch when she looked up and met his disbelieving gaze, but it was a near thing.
"Fast, Glorfindel. As in, inappropriate behavior with patients who are living in the very same home as myself."
"But that is ridiculous, Bronwe!"
"I realize that!" Standing so fast her chair almost fell over, Bronwe walked to the counter, grabbed the pitcher and then stopped, taking several breaths to calm herself. "But to have several court nobles stand before me and tell me to my face that they understand that it is an unfortunate fact that we Sindarin and Silvan Elves are merely ignorant and must be better mentored in the proper laws and customs of the Eldar…"
Elrond arched an eyebrow. He had a good idea which nobles had been on the attack; several stuck-up females with better breeding than sense. "You know they are not right."
"Yes." She turned, pitcher in hand. "But it hurts just the same." Opening the door, she hesitated then met Glorfindel's gaze. "You might want to speak to Meldisse and assure her that you never 'consorted' with a savage such as myself." The door snapped shut behind her, leaving Glorfindel to stare at empty space.
Shaking his head, he looked to Elrond with an annoyed frown. "Lalwendë was exactly the same, all claws and hissing if you even looked at whoever was escorting her. Why are some females so …."
"So like felines?" Elrond smirked and bent over his copying again. "Maybe you should ask yourself that, Glorfindel. Perhaps you engender expectations and when they are not met the disappointment turns to--."
"Catty behavior? Thank you, Elrond." Sour tone, sour look. Glorfindel huffed and stood. "I'm going to go check that the supplies are in order for our leaving."
"That would not necessitate a side-trip to see Meldisse, would it?" Looking up, smiling, Elrond noted the annoyed expression on his friend's face.
Glorfindel paused in fastening his cloak. "To further incite her anger on those we leave behind? No." A sly grin. "I think ignoring Meldisse would be a far better thing."
"And one bound to aggravate."
"Yes, well…" Glorfindel walked out of the kitchen, voice floating behind. "I would not want to further engender expectations in that empty head of hers."
Elrond rose and wiped his hands on an ink-stained cloth before going to the back door. Opening it, he followed the path to the well where Bronwe was drawing up water. Leaning his hip on the well, he let the quiet of the forest behind Bronwe's cottage sink into his senses. From beyond the dunes behind the small woods, he could hear the waves pounding the shore. A storm was probably moving in if the waves were any indication. "I am going to miss this." He turned his head to find her gazing down at the water in the well. "As well as you, my friend."
She nodded, hands tight on the bucket. "It won't be the same without you here, Elrond."
"No." He reached out to take the bucket from her, offering a wry smile. "I imagine it will be far quieter."
Bronwe held the pitcher as he poured the water into it, remembering how he had coaxed her into learning more about healing and encouraged her to use her skills to help others. She had always been very quiet and shy. Putting aside her own concerns to help others had gone a long ways toward ridding her of the shyness. "Your own haven."
"You are welcome to come with us. You know this."
"I know and…thank you but I'm not ready to leave here yet." She looked at the towering pines that lived behind her garden. They were just as much friends to her, familiar and beloved. "It's true the memories are painful but …" Bronwe shook her head. "I am not ready to give them up quite yet."
He understood. Part of grieving was letting go of past hopes and dreams that could never be, and learning to find new ones. "Ramë has said she will leave with us as well." Setting the bucket aside, he took up the pitcher full of water, arching an eyebrow at her amused smile.
Bronwe sighed. "She was furious with me for wanting to sail. To quit, as she said."
Elrond nodded as they walked back towards the cottage. "She wants you to be happy." He stopped and waited for her to meet his gaze. "We all do, Bronwe. Forgive me for speaking plainly, but you have not seemed happy for quite some time." Even before Taurion died, but that he would not say.
She stiffened and looked away, twisting her fingers together. He had told her before that trying to make others happy at the cost of what she wanted would someday come to a boil. Of course she had not listened, but… "I was happy. For a while but then…" No, she was not going to cry, not here, not now. Bronwe looked up, blinking rapidly and let the wave of grief roll over her before speaking. "I will be fine, Elrond." Now she looked at him, meeting grey eyes two shades darker than her own, full of concern. "I will." At his look, she laughed. "I will! I promise to write even and keep you up to date on court gossip."
As if he would ever miss that, but he gave a nod and set the pitcher on the counter as she opened the door. "Don't forget any new poultices that you come across. That one, with the seaweed…I've never seen that before."
"Old Falathrim secret," Bronwe intoned solemnly, eyes twinkling.
Healer humor. Reaching out to hug her, Elrond gently tugged a braid. "Don't forget to come see us off. Glorfindel will pout if you don't."
"Ha," she scoffed but followed him to the front door where he pulled his cloak from the peg. "He'll be too busy preening for Meldisse and her ilk."
She waved a hand and darted to the kitchen, hurrying back. "I know, I'm sorry. I shall be there. Of course." Pressing the book of recipes into his hands, she ignored his protests. "I have them memorized. Now go and make sure everything is in place so you don't have to fret all night."
"I will see you there."
She sighed as he walked off and wondered what mischief Ramë was up to. Grabbing her cloak, Bronwe set off for the quays, knowing it was the best place to find a Telerin elf.
Ramë and Elrond spoke in quiet voices a ways separate, leaving Bronwe to help Glorfindel settle the saddlebags on the horses. The supply wagons had already started out, along with most of the soldiers going with Elrond. Gil-galad had said his farewell, which had really been more for the Court and the community as anything he needed to say had already been said in private. He had asked for the blessing of the Valar and Ilúvatar to be on them as they set out to found the new haven, hugged Elrond and gone to stand next to Círdan. The old shipwright had little use for formalities, and was only waiting for the right moment to slip away and get back to his shipyard. All this fuss was a bit ridiculous, but he too had said farewell to Elrond and Glorfindel.
Which left just a few more good-byes.
"This is new, isn't it?" Bronwe lightly touched the bow strapped to the back of Glorfindel's saddle. "The one you competed with was a lighter wood than this."
The blond elf nodded, stepping over to lift the bow free with one light pull. He strung it and held it out to her. "The Galadhrim make these." His grin was a bit wicked. "I won this one from Haldir of Lórien."
Admiring the dark wood and the graceful, twisting design worked into the wood, Bronwe shook her head, shooting a smile at the other. "I probably don't want to know." Pulling it just enough to bend the wood, she eased the string back, smiling in admiration. "Beautiful work."
"When you come to Elrond's haven, I'll even let you shoot it." He grinned, taking it as she unstrung it and handed the bow back, retying it to the saddle.
"Kind, generous…" Bronwe snorted as the blond playfully preened, slanting a look towards the other two. Looked as though their conversation was a bit more involved. "I'm touched."
Glorfindel opened his mouth, clearly checked himself and smiled instead. He sobered suddenly. "Bron, are you sure you're –"
"I'm fine, "she insisted a touch too vehemently, grimacing as Elrond and Ramë looked over. Ignoring Glorfindel's sharply arched eyebrow, Bronwe stepped past him to take the horse's bridle, stroking the soft jaw. The animal leaned into the touch, nudging her chest in encouragement. She smiled at the horse. "I'll be fine." Looking at him, Bronwe smiled ruefully. "I'm sorry… Thank you for…" She shrugged.
"For caring?" Glorfindel finished, with a good-natured grin and he snorted. "Silly creature." Stepping over to her, he pulled her into a hug. "If you need anything, let us know." She nodded, fingers clutching for a moment at his tunic as if clinging to something secure. Just a moment and then she let go. His arms tightened around her briefly and then he stepped back, leaning forward to press a kiss to her temple. "Even if you don't need anything…let us know."
Bronwe smiled, blinking through a film of tears. She nodded, not trusting her voice at that moment.
Elrond and Ramë came over and Bronwe offered a bright smile for him. "My esteemed mentor, now to be lord of a haven…."
Shaking his head at her foolishness, Elrond embraced her. The act wasn't convincing, but if that was how she wanted it… "Yes, and see you aren't too long in coming to visit me, either." He stepped back as Ramë pulled the other woman into a tight, quick hug.
"Don't be stubborn and pretend you're fine." Ramë stepped back. "I expect you to write me. Keep me from wreaking too much havoc upon Lórien." With a wink, she accepted the reins to her horse, stepping lightly into Glorfindel's cupped hands and settled in the saddle.
Nodding to Ramë, Bronwe arched an eyebrow at Elrond. "I'll wait until it is habitable. The dust settled and rooms furnished."
Glorfindel chuckled. "There speaks a wise elf." Wry grin. "It will be a bit rough for a time."
Elrond frowned, feigning offence. "This from the elf who slept in the trees of Lothlórien and thought them passably comfortable?"
"I don't trust those flets and talain of theirs." Glorfindel wrinkled his nose. "The trees I trust."
"Trees don't lie," Bronwe chuckled.
"So speaks the Silvan, raised in the forest," Glorfindel nodded to her with a grin.
Elrond just shook his head, ever tolerant of his companion's whims. "Did you get enough to keep us from starving, old friend? Or have you forgotten we carry arrows and bows to hunt?"
With a cheerful grin in the face of Elrond's sarcastic wit, Glorfindel patted the saddlebags. "Bronwe insisted, milord. Would you have me insult our hostess?"
Swinging up on his horse, Elrond settled his cloak, and checked to be certain his weapons were at hand. "I'm sure it never even crossed your mind to do so."
"Not in this instance," Glorfindel agreed, lightly mounting and stilling his horse.
Bronwe laughed, pushing a braid behind her ear. "Safe journey, my friends. Send messages when you arrive."
Ramë quirked a smile, nodding.
"We will." Glorfindel nodded, meeting her gaze.
Elrond nodded. "Send word if…"
"Go!" Bronwe laughed, throwing out a hand. She started to turn, chuckling as Glorfindel offered a last smile and a sweeping bow before urging his horse after Ramë. Walked to the entry of her cottage and listened as the hoof beats grew faint, then were silent.
Stepping into the front room, she sighed, looking around.
Too many memories.
There were tasks that needed to be done. Mending, sorting herbs.
Find joy, Círdan had told her.
Walking through the room, out to the garden, Bronwe headed for the old forest, trees standing like guardians in the moonlight. Branches reached out to welcome her, whispering as the breeze flitted through their leaves.
A lifetime of habit soon had her up the tree and cradled in the crook of a branch, staring at the sky, softly humming songs older than the brightest star that sailed the heavens. The singing soothing to her soul as she walked the paths of the past.
The sound of waterfalls met their ears long before the sight of the silver ribbons plunging down the valley walls. Halting their horses at the rise of a narrow deer path to gaze in wonder at the beauty before them Elrond sighed. Quiet peace seemed to wrap around his soul, speaking to him.
This was right.
For once Glorfindel wasn't restless, eager to move on. Instead he had pulled one leg up over the front of his saddle and was leaning against his leg, staring up at the sky.
Neither of them in a hurry. Erestor had already led the last of the group in, able to pick up the path the others who had arrived earlier had taken. The Eregion survivor seemed to have a knack for organization and it gave him something to do that took his mind off his loss.
"If I close my eyes…" Glorfindel's voice barely carried to the other elf's ears. "I can almost see Gondolin in the sound of these waters." Shaking his head at his folly, he opened his eyes to look at Elrond, offering a wry smile.
"Will you be content here, my friend?" Elrond could already see where to begin. There. Could see it in his mind's eye. "Imladris, for that is what I have decided upon calling it, will be nothing as grand or towering as Gondolin."
Glorfindel's smile was genuine, lighting the blue eyes. "No walls here. No kings. Only a people willing to live the best of what life has given us?" He nodded. "Aye." Looked out again at the valley. "Content and then some."
Elrond smiled, a smile much happier, more carefree than it had been for decades. "Let us go and make it a reality, then."
There is more, another story that carries Glorfindel's returning to Middle-earth forward, but time and changes have made it necessary to re-write a great deal of that story. I'll be working on it, and try to post for anyone interested.
Thank you for reading! :-)