Disclaimer: I am not the King of Belgium. Oh! You mean literary disclaimers.... I'm not Tolkien, but I do love and respect his works, all of which I don't own. Not beta'd, all mistakes mine, all blame mine. Ha! Something is mine.

Fields of Gold

Chapter XV

By Levade

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Her greatest fear was that he would sacrifice himself yet again. Bronwe knew his character; Glorfindel would jest and tease, taunt and drive those around him mad, but all who knew him had no doubt he would willingly offer up his life if he thought for the merest moment it would save those he loved.

Was it a flaw to be so fearless? If so, it was one she both loved and loathed.

Pulling the hood of her cloak over her head, she shivered and leaned closer to her horse, reaching out to stroke his neck and whisper a word of encouragement. They were riding hard for Mithlond, as fast as the horses would carry them. The Shire was just ahead, and beyond that, home.

A snort from the side, and Nembrethil tossed his head, slowing first to a trot and then a walk. The stallion was normally tireless, eager and pulling at the reins to be off and away, but his neck was lathered, and his nostrils blown large as his sides heaved. The other horses followed his lead, slowing to a walk.

"We –"

"They need to rest." Failon's tone of voice was adamant as he slid off his horse's back to walk alongside. "They would run until they dropped under us if that was our will, Tarwatirno, but do not ask that of them."

Bronwe slid off to walk between her horse and Nembrethil, smiling as the stallion nudged her. Combing his forelock with her fingers, she dropped her hand to scratch under his jaw. He had run next to her since they had come down off Caradhras and found the horses waiting for them, joyous at their Elves return. The stallion had searched the faces of those returning, wuffling and butting his head against whomever would pay attention. Wondering where his master was. Bronwe had reassured him all was well and that Glorfindel was merely off on an adventure without him, something the stallion had snorted and tossed his head at, and he had remained at her side since.

It was rather amusing how alike the stallion was to his master. Both were capricious at times, yet unfailingly loyal.

"He thinks I am too careless."

Looking up as her friend dropped back to walk on the other side of her horse, Bronwe met Tarwatirno's gaze. He had been pushing the hardest of all of them to get home, certain that something horrid was going to happen if they did not.

With a last pat for Nembrethil, Bronwe ducked under her horse's neck to walk with her friend. "Failon has a stronger affinity for animals than either of us. He is anxious as well, Tarwatirno. We all are." With a slight smile, she squeezed his shoulder. "Círdan has held Mithlond for centuries, against the forces of Sauron and the Witch King. Have faith in him."

Drawing in a deep breath, he heaved it out in a long sigh. "I know, Bronwe! I just feel in my bones that we must hurry. I do not mean it as a slight on our lord." Tarwatirno offered a wry smile. "He quite alarms me at times. He can seem so mild and then transform into a fearsome power."

"Círdan holds Mithlond and will until our people have left Middle-earth," Bronwe answered simply. Her faith in the Elf Lord was unshakable. He had been a friend, a mentor and sometimes the only voice of reason she would listen to.

"There is a stream ahead." Failon appeared out of the darkness, startling the two Elves, deep in conversation. "We should water the horses, feed them and let them rest." Meeting Tarwatirno's impatient gaze, he added, "Then I believe they will be willing and able to push on to home."

The smile offered soothed over the tense feelings that had been roiling between the two friends. Tarwatirno nodded, letting his gratitude show. "That sounds good, Failon. Thank you."

One nod, pale blond hair shimmering in the darkness, and Failon moved ahead to direct the horses to a possible resting spot.

"We're almost home!" Tarwatirno's joy shone in his eyes, and Bronwe couldn't help but answer with a smile of her own.

She only hoped Glorfindel was faring as well.

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"There."

Glorfindel looked where the Mirkwood elf was pointing and grimaced. The forest had a heavy feel to it, as if the trees and very air was pushing down on them. Oppressive, and he again stifled the urge to stand and charge forward, screaming his defiance of the darkness.

Instead, he balanced on the tree limb, keeping a wary eye for the black squirrels so prevalent in the area that was wont to skitter past. More than once the blasted creatures had the audacity to attack, but normally they just alerted the rest of the forest to intruders – that was a far worse threat.

Mithrandir nodded, pursing his lips. Light blue eyes narrowed as he stared down into the hollow where a structure, all but swallowed in the inky shroud of night, and surrounded by a warped ring of trees, sat. "It has the feel of him." He glanced to his right where Glorfindel perched, a soft glow illuminating his form. "Do you agree?"

"Yes." The answer was hissed from between his teeth. Glorfindel was furious. They had driven this evil out once, and it was back. Back corrupting the once-beautiful forest, and a deadly threat not only to Thranduil and his people, but to all who still dwelt in Middle-earth. Eyes glittering, battle rage rising, he met the Istari's gaze. "Will you move against him?"

It was clear what the Elda wanted to do: attack and destroy the threat. Wipe him from the face of Arda as they had not been able to do in the battle against the Witch King. Glorfindel was still, at his core, in his heart, a warrior.

There was more at stake here than the golden-haired elf was considering at the moment. "No." Ignoring the incredulous stares of both the Mirkwood sentries and Glorfindel, Mithrandir returned his gaze to Dol Guldur. "No. The time is not yet mine. I will inform Sauruman." Arching an eyebrow, gaze imperious, he met and held Glorfindel's gaze. "You will tell Elrond. Círdan as well, if you go that way, but we will not move without first conferring."

From the rising of tension in the air, it was clear Glorfindel did not like the answer. Jaw tense, he gripped the branch he was resting on, and sent a baleful glare to the structure housing a hated enemy. Confer. Committees. He detested the necessity that now detained him from acting, even knowing it was the most prudent thing to do.

Glorfindel would far rather act than wait. "So we just leave." His whisper was harsh, and he caught the surprised expression on the Mirkwood sentries face. Few would speak to Mithrandir this way, and he rarely did himself, but this decision went against his every instinct. "Leave him here, to threaten and terrorize Thranduil's people."

It was not a mature thing to say, and he knew it, but oh...this goaded him. To be so near and unable to act!

"To come back another day and deal thoroughly with it, yes." Mithrandir's voice was terse and the Mirkwood sentry suddenly decided to move several trees over . "I know you do not like it, Glorfindel. I do not either." He sighed, shaking his head, grimacing as his beard caught in the bark of the tree. "We need the others. You and I could come against him here, but what if we only alerted him?"

Lips drawing back in a grim smile, Glorfindel's face was suddenly quite feral. "Trust me, I would do more than merely scare him."

"Use your sense, Glorfindel!" Mithrandir reined in his temper visibly, to speak in a calmer tone. "This is not our battle, my friend." He watched as the elf frowned deeply, gaze going again to Dol Guldur, crouched below them like some wary beast. "You must see that."

"I do." Shaking his head, golden braid dancing along his back, Glorfindel let go of his tension and offered a wry smile. "I know, but I do not like leaving him here, as a threat that I know will only grow."

"Nor do I."

The pair of old friends gazed together at the structure, both unhappy and brooding.

"We should not linger." Glorfindel dropped lightly to the ground, his movements soundless looking about, wary for any threat. His gaze went to Mithrandir, also perched in the tree, and reaching up a hand he drawled, "Do you need help or are you able to manage it...old friend?"

Muttering about disrespectful, smart-mouthed elves, Mithrandir ignored the hand and dropped to the ground. If his movements were not quite so light and graceful, nothing was said, for both knew he was far more than he appeared. "We should part now. You to Elrond and I to Thranduil's palace."

Glorfindel nodded. "You to a warm bed and good Dorwinion and I to a long journey over a cold pass infested with Orcs."

"Sounds like a fair trade to me." Mithrandir offered an innocent smile. "I am the elder of us, after all."

With a grimace, Glorfindel reached out to squeeze the Istari's shoulder. "Be careful. Stars light your path, Mithrandir."

"Elbereth guide yours, old friend." With a fond smile, the wizard turned and gestured for the Mirkwood sentry to precede him. When he glanced back briefly, just to see if the elf was watching or not, Glorfindel was gone.

Mithrandir shook his head and ducked a twisted branch, following his guides.

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TBC (or finished) soon! I promise.

Thank you for all of you still reading. It really means a lot that you've stuck with this! It's getting there, and I decided to just post as it came, otherwise it could be another six month wait. Almost to the end, and I am sorry if it's not what you thought it would be. Have to add I seriously hate this new formatting thing on