Disclaimers: Middle-earth, Aman and all their inhabitants belong to J.R.R. Tolkien and his estate. I intend no infringement of copyright and am making no money from this. I'll put them back in their boxes once I've finished with them, although I can promise nothing about their mental state.
Rating: PG-13 just to be safe.
Summary: Three elf-lords, serious inebriation and the choice of the Atani as husbands and lovers.
A/N: If Arwen looks like Lúthien and also like a female version of her father then Elrond looks like a bit like Lúthien in drag, right? You'll understand (or you would if you were a slightly odd elf-lord *g*).
Feedback: Oh go on, you know you want to.
Happy Birthday, KALURIEN!
The Elf who stood in the portico of the Half-elven lord bounced up and down on his toes impatiently. Patience had not rewarded him well when he had tried it, and after an eternity listening to his brother complaining in the Halls, he decided that he would rather not try it again. Fingon could be exceptionally annoying once his attention was diverted to the subject of the burdens placed upon his son, and, as a fëa, it is a little difficult to resort to the old stand-by of all siblings and pull hair.
Thus it was that when Elrond finally answered the door, his midnight tresses unbound, not lifting his eyes from his book, Turgon sighed dramatically, one hand over his heart.
"I see that I have dragged an unwilling scholar from his library." The velvet, charismatic smile was as prickly as a terrified hedgehog.
"Mae govannen, Lord Turgon." Elrond wrested his attention from the volume. "What brings my noble ancestor here?"
"Mae govannen indeed," Turgon said warmly. "I thought that it was bounden upon me to visit the latest of my endless relations to arrive from Middle-earth."
"How kind of you," the Master of Imladris replied distractedly. "If you…"
But he got no further. There was a high-pitched scream of panic which made him wince, so much akin it was to the fury of the Nazgûl, and a figure careened into them, tumbling them through the doorway, and slamming the heavy door behind them.
Elrond picked himself up off the marble, shaking his head dazedly, and snapped, "I believe you will find that this is a private house, not a sanctuary for wild animals."
"Who are you to call me a wild animal?" The fair-haired stranger sat upright. "I awoke before the waters of Cuiviénen eons before you were born, elfling. I am…"
"Elwë," Turgon finished sourly. "Well, might I suggest that even the first among us are not generally given licence to squash their descendants and their descendants' guests to the floor."
The former king of Doriath narrowed his eyes at his fellow monarch, before turning away and gazing upon the first dark-haired figure that loomed above him.
"You look suspiciously like…" he trailed off. "Lúthien, if that is you in disguise as a male, I shall not be best pleased. Of all the Valar-forsaken practical jokes to play…"
"Nay." Elrond suppressed the small ripple of pain which flowed across his noble features. "I am Elrond, her great-grandson."
"Oh yes. You are the one who caused rather some gossip by sneaking off from the welcome feast thrown in your honour, being towed behind your wife…"
"I do not believe that such speculations are appropriate." The response was stiff, formal, only marred by the faint blush staining his pale skin.
"But where is the Lady Celebrían?" Turgon inquired. "I had heard that you are quite inseparable…"
"I … well … I cast doubt upon her assertion that she would have followed me into death itself." Elrond had the grace to look sheepish.
"They never do," Thingol grumbled. "It is all 'of course, my love, I would go to the ends of Arda for you', but when it comes to the crunch, they decide that the gardens of Lórien are far preferable to sharing in your death."
"Well, I cannot say that of Elenwë," Turgon admitted. "But she punishes me." He gestured to the heavy furred cloak he wore, suitable for the depths of the cruelest winter of Middle-earth, despite the warm breezes which drifted through the streets of Tirion. "She says that if only I had not told her that it was folly to cart her entire wardrobe to Middle-earth, she would not have succumbed to the Grinding Ice, and so I must dress in clothes which are inappropriate for the weather. But what about you, Thingol? Unless I am much mistaken, those howls we heard issued from the throat of an infuriated Maia."
"I gifted her a necklace for our anniversary. I thought it would greatly adorn her graceful neck." He thoughtfully weighed the book which Elrond had dropped in the melee. "Of course, after she had tried to force it down my throat, I had a rather different perspective on the matter. Apparently, it was rather too much like the Nauglamír… And what is this? 'One Hundred and One Ways to Woo Your Maiden' by Ossë?"
Elrond blushed scarlet.
"I spent last night asleep in the bathtub. I thought it was prudent to ascertain how one might go about returning to the arms of one's beloved." He was twisting the rich silk of his gown between his fingers at the curious looks the two elf-lords were shooting him. "It seems that we are all very much in need of some liquid refreshment. May I suggest the wines of Middle-earth? And I believe I have a case of miruvor…"
"What are you doing here?" Elrond slumped further into the deep armchair as Turgon sloshed more wine into their glasses. "I am glad to offer you all my hospitality, but I rather presumed that you were still abiding in the Halls of Awaiting."
The two re-embodied elf-lords shared a glance.
"What mean you, 'practicalities'?"
"That accursed Fëanor will not cease his infernal howling, nor his altercations with his sons. Mandos, in his ineffable wisdom, decided that it would be easier to restrain him with fewer other fëar to care for. So here we are, like so many lonely bachelors at a wedding party."
"'Tis all about females," Turgon said suddenly. "If only Nerdanel had not bethought herself that it would be such a wondrous idea to leave the Spirit of Fire to his own devices after one spat too many, then mayhap things would not have come to the pretty pass they did. And then Elenwë would not be angered after so many yéni."
His discarded cape and over-tunic lay scattered around him, and he sat in the chair, stripped down to his under-tunic – of thick, lined, lambswool.
"But they all do leave. Miriel – who might have been more of an influence on that wretched boy than poor, besotted Finwë – Nerdanel, Melian, Elenwë, Celebrían…"
"She has not actually left."
"Ah, but she did before," Thingol said triumphantly.
"She had no choice," Elrond protested.
"…Amarië would not follow Finrod," The Sindar Elf continued relentlessly. Lúthien. Idril. Arwen."
"Thrice-accursed Men," Turgon growled, downing his wine and reaching for the bottle. "Came into my Hidden Kingdom, told me what I ought to do, and then married my daughter."
"Like a thief in the dark, straight through the Girdle," Thingol agreed.
They sat in silence as the moon rode higher in the sky, imbibing ever-greater quantities of the fine wine.
"I cannot comprehend what they see in them," Elrond waved his goblet around, tracing vague patterns in the air.
"Their bad taste in jewellery?" the former ruler of Doriath suggested. "Did you ever look closely at the ring of Barahir, Elrond? A monument to vulgarity, I tell you. It must be something in the jewellery. And I had thought that with a Maia for a mother my little Lúthien would have appreciated the finer side of aesthetics."
"I think…" Elrond tried to regain his train of thought. "I think that none of us has the right to talk about bad taste in jewellery." He pointed to the now powerless Vilya which graced his left hand.
"I at least am blameless in this," Turgon said sanctimoniously.
"Ha, as if you did not covert the Silmarilli for your own," Thingol snorted. "Kinslayer!"
"Desist!" the peredhel bellowed. "'Tis as bad as dining with my parents-in-law when they are in the middle of an argument likely to span the next age."
"Artanis scares me," Turgon admitted. "No maiden should be able to glow green when she is but recently out of the nursery."
"But Celeborn is such a little imp," Thingol chuckled. "Ah, I remember… Why could not Lúthien have chosen him instead?"
"He was already spoken for, and it has never been wise to cross my cousin."
"No … no … 'twas not that. She showed no interest in him, or any other until that manling arrived. I mean, she might have had the pick of the Elves of Beleriand – not that I would have been much pleased with any of them. Warriors, scholars, slightly psychotic minstrels…"
"Very psychotic cousins. D'you know that I even pushed Glorfindel of the House of the Golden Flower at her? A nice lad, tall, strong, a wonder to look upon…"
"You tried that one too?" Elrond asked. "He is my dearest friend, but all he would do was mutter about how he liked certain parts of his anatomy where they were. And instead … instead she chose some matted human…"
"Tuor needed a good bath. No, allow me to correct myself, he needed several hundred good baths. And a shave. That beard…"
"As if a particularly odious ferret had taken up residence on Beren's face." Thingol nodded rather exuberantly and then looked puzzled at the wine which had sloshed from his glass. "Will your lady wife mind about stains on her carpets, Elrond?"
"She … she will probably never allow me to touch her again … but, then, she already will not, so go ahead, throw the whole damn bottle on the floor." He tipped a generous portion of miruvor into each of their glasses, topping it up with the ferocious brandy he had long been hoarding. "What was I saying? Ah yes, grimy and grubby. A mere boy who could not keep his clothes in order for more than half an hour…"
"And completely lacking in any graces with which to attract a wife. No knowledge of women, my left foot! Just devoid of all manners…"
"Estel had manners," Elrond reproved him sternly. "I raised the boy myself. Sometimes I wonder if that was where I went wrong. Perhaps if I had allowed him to practise sword-fighting at the dinner table…"
"She would have swooned over his skill with a blade," Thingol added glumly. "'Ooh, Beren, did you teach yourself that?' 'Ooh, Beren, will you show me how?' No, I tell you, we were doomed."
"Not doomed, no siree," his host slurred. "There were … there were…"
His head fell to the table.
"The tolerance of the peredhil is quite appalling. Not a half-case inside him, and he is dead to the world."
"I heard that, my lord Turgon." Elrond opened one eye slowly. "I am not in a drunken stupor yet. I was listening."
The two guests found this inane statement quite unbearably amusing, and their laughter ran through the house.
"Can it be that the greatest of lore-masters knows nothing? You can only hear the Sea in the wood of elms." Thingol giggled suddenly. "I remember this one elm in Doriath. What fun Melian and I had in its branches…"
Elrond shuddered. "May I remind you that that is my great-great-grandmother of whom you speak. I do not want to know what 'special' memories certain trees have for you. Praise be to all the Valar that they are long since drowned."
"You have subjected us to a paean on the texture of your wife's skin, which I am sure your Noldorin great-grandfather will agree with me was well beyond anything we wished to know."
"She has very nice skin." A smile curved his mouth. "All silky against mine when…"
"It appears that Half-elves, wine and discretion are not words commonly found in the same sentence." Turgon filled a goblet to overflowing and pushed it into the unresisting hand. "Now, in the name of pity, drink this and praise no more the charms of your wife."
"But if I do not, she will never forgive me." Elrond looked doleful and picked up Ossë's guide to romance. "It says so right here…"
"That is it." Thingol scooped up the book and a lit candle. Crouching over the empty fireplace, he watched in satisfaction as the pages, curled and withered. The gaudy illustrations of how to set a seductive dinner table (albeit, it seemed, under the sea, decorated as it was with tendrils of seaweed) sent up violent blue and green sparks before crumbling into ash. "There. No more of that nonsense."
"At least it is better than Aulë's volume on what to do when a loved one deserts you," sighed Turgon. "I should have known better than to buy anything written by a Vala two of whose Maiar woke up one morning and decided that it would be fun to be evil dark lords. It has been no help at all with the Idril situation."
"Your daughter is counted among the Elven kindred, as is her unwashed husband," Thingol growled. "Whereas mine is dead, as the daughter of the elfling here soon will be. I see not what cause you have for complaint."
"Could you refrain from reminding me of Arwen's fate?"
"Aww … does our little elfling want to be coddled?" Turgon swayed slightly. "Your adar did. He was dreadful for running round Gondolin begging sweets off all and sundry. But Idril, Idril, my dear sweet barefoot Idril … I remember when she was little … but where was I … ah, yes, 'twas not as if she stayed in the Hither Lands to care for my people, my benighted Gondolindrim. No, no, Tuor wants, Tuor gets, even if it does mean taking ship into the West. 'Tis almost as if she is not my daughter any more. And … and … she did not know that he would be counted among the Elves when she married him. And then he would have died, and it would have been the poor forgotten adar who had to pick up the pieces."
"And you would not have been there."
"And I would not have been there, due to that little twit Maeglin."
"And they do such ridiculous things for these Edain idiots," Elrond interrupted suddenly. The others were too far-gone into drink to pay much attention to the non sequitur. "Take Arwen…"
"Apart from dying for them?" Thingol asked around the neck of the bottle he was holding over his mouth to extract the very last droplets.
"Apart from dying for them. Arwen, well, you see, Arwen is like her mother. Never touches needlework if she can help it, does my Celebrían." Elrond ferreted around for another bottle. "Is the world all fuzzy for you? 'Tis strange indeed, but it matters not. Anyway, Arwen never liked stitching. Not for nearly three thousand years. Even as a babe, she would wail if her mother brought her needlework out – mind you, that was probably because Celebrían used to drop pins everywhere. But, as I was saying, if anyone even so much as suggested that plying a needle was an appropriate activity for a young lady of rank, she would be off in the woods fencing with her brothers and none could stop her. But then along comes Aragorn, son of Arathorn, yadda yadda yadda … and there she is in her room, day after day, working on this damn banner as if there were nothing in all Arda she would rather be doing."
"And cutting off her hair," Thingol interjected.
"Arwen cut off her hair?" Elrond looked confused. "Oh, you mean Lúthien. But at least that was a cape of enchantment. This was just a flag. And I can only believe that it was the luck of the Valar themselves which kept it from falling apart halfway up the Anduin."
"And dancing in the fountains of Gondolin only wearing her shift, with Tuor sitting at her feet and giggling." Turgon noticed the peculiar looks the others were shooting him. "What? It was certainly ridiculous… Have you tried mixing wine and miruvor?"
"No. Have you?"
"No, but with the wine good and the miruvor good, it can only be good." The king of Gondolin proceeded to dole out equal measures of both.
"This is strange." Elrond wrinkled his noise.
"As strange as our daughters falling for the less bath-conscious Children of Ilúvatar," Thingol remarked with the tenacity of the very drunk. "And look what happens when you try to separate them. 'Go and get a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth himself', I said. Of course it was impossible. Yet there he was with the thing – and she had to have gone with him, did she not?"
"I asked him to become a king," the Half-elf said morosely. "Of course, I wished him all luck in the pursuit of his birthright, but to succeed against Sauron….! And of course I hoped that he would find some nice chit on the journey. He did as a matter of fact, a blond princess of the Rohirrim. But was he captivated by her charms? Oh no, he thought only of my daughter."
"And your daughter of him, I would guess," Turgon sighed. "If your daughter is anything like mine, she would not stop until she got what she wanted. What is it about the Edain? Perhaps this is where we have gone wrong in our dealings with our wives."
"Yesssss…" Elrond slurred. "Mayhap we should forget to bath … and … and dress like bears…" He slipped out of his long velvet robe, and pulled Turgon's fur cape on over his tunic.
"And wear our hair as if we had not so much as seen a comb." Thingol rather gleefully mussed Elrond's locks. "Yes, now you begin to look more like Beren."
"And walk through a city of Elves with dirt upon our faces." Turgon liberally smeared ashes across Elrond's countenance.
"But then we would have to get meddlesome grandparents to take up our cause," the peredhel pointed out. "Taking him in and clothing him as an Elven lord, and then sending him to her, sending him, I tell you. I could roast her on a spit. I could dunk her in her own mirror until she was green permanently. I could lock her in a room with Er … Er … thingamibob who used to be my advisor until he had bored her to death with taxation anecdotes."
"Valar are worse." Turgon nodded wisely – or it would have been wisely if had not had a silly smile plastered across his face, and if his hair was not dangling in his wine cup. "What do you say to the messenger of Ulmo when he asks for your daughter's hand in marriage? 'I am sorry, but your are rather below her. But that armour of yours is very shiny – is that because it was given to you by one of the Powers of Arda, or do you polish it every day?'"
"No, it will not do," Thingol piped up, having stared amiably into space throughout this exchange.
"W'will n't do?" The Lord of the Gondolindrim was fast catching up with the level of inebriation of his great-grandson.
"If he is going to win back the Lady Celebrían by pr'tending to be a 'Dain idiot, he needs a helmet which makes him look as if he has a soup tureen on his head."
The venerable Elf cast round for a suitable object, and lighted upon an elegant ceramic bowl standing on a low table. With a grin which belied any protestations of age or wisdom, and made him look like an adolescent who had just discovered where Oromë kept his stash of fiery liqueurs, he upended it on his host's noble head. Unfortunately, he had not noticed that it contained fragrant rose petals, which now drifted to the floor in a cloud of the palest pink.
Elrond laughed wildly, and then, just as suddenly, sank into a chair and covered his face with his hands.
"Th're th're do not cry." The King of Doriath patted him awkwardly on the back. "It will ruin your disguise and Cele … Cle … your maiden will know that she is bedding her husband, not a Man."
"I want her to know it is me." Elrond sniffed, his eyes stormy.
"And there are no Edain in Aman," Turgon added helpfully.
"But why did they leave us? It is our daughters I speak of now."
The other two collapsed gracelessly into their own chairs.
"Maybe they like the food? Although I cannot see why; Beren had this odd thing for vegetable stew."
"Or perhaps it is the clothes."
"Maybe I should have persuaded Glorfindel to fail to wash his hair for three weeks and she would have chosen him instead…"
So absorbed were the three elf-lords in inventing ever more absurd reasons for their daughters' choice, and in the consumption of the last of the wine, that they did not hear the slow creak of the door, nor the soft footsteps in the hall.
"What are you doing with the crockery on your head, El-nîn?" Celebrían asked in a dangerously low voice. "I bid you good evening, my lords."
Elrond leapt from his chair and made to kiss her soundly. Catching sight of his besmirched countenance, she was torn between laughter and furious exasperation.
"And what has happened to your face? Your clothes? Your hair?"
He furrowed his brow in an attempt to think up some plausible excuse and failed miserably.
"Well, we were talking of our daughters – d'you know Thingol of Doriath and Turgon of Gondolin?"
"Yes, Elrond, I do." She tapped her foot.
"You do? That is nice. So we were sp'king, and we thought that there must be something in the garb of the Atani which females f'nd alluring. So will you not make me sleep in the bathtub tonight if I promise to dress like this?"
"I do not wish you to dress like this." She carefully removed the bowl from his head and absent-mindedly smoothed his hair. "What else did you discuss in your wisdom?"
"Shiny things. And your mother's alarming greenness."
"And Ossë's guide to…" Thingol began before Turgon reached over and poked him hard in the ribs – well, he aimed for the ribs, but his hand was no longer exactly under his control and he got him squarely between the eyes.
"Ah, I see," Celebrían sighed. "I had not expected to find you all quite this drunken. Well, now to bed."
"I do n't bel've they are listening," Elrond whispered conspiratorially. Indeed, in the space between one word and the next, both former monarchs had fallen into a deep slumber.
"Then they will wake up tomorrow morning with very sore necks and even sorer heads," she said prosaically. "But now, herven, you need a bath."
"Will you bathe with me?" He grinned hopefully.
"Where would I follow you?" It seemed to Celebrían as good a time as any to extract an apology.
"T'death." One hand crept round her waist, and she no longer made any attempt to remove it.
"Then I may join you."
"Are you sure you would not prefer me to dress as I am?"
Herven – husband.
El-nîn – my star.
Adar – father.
Mae govannen – well met.
Fëar – spirit, soul (plural – fëar).
Yéni – Great Years.