He felt as if it had been eternity since his eyes had opened last. His mouth felt unnaturally dry. He opened it, hoping someone would see his plight. A cool glass of water was placed at his lips. He raised his hands, taking it greedily. A chuckle came.
" Slowly, Ereinion."
He opened his eyes, staring up at his cousin.
" Leave me be, Galadriel."
She leaned over, taking his hand with a sad smile.
" We nearly lost you, Ereinion." She glanced over her shoulder, before rising and closing the door.
Ereinion took the chance to look around. Other than Galadriel, only Glorfindel was awake. Elrond was curled into an uncomfortable position on the floor beside Celebhiril's chair, his sword drawn. Celebhiril slept soundly in the chair and in another beside it, Celeborn too slept.
" How long have I been asleep?"
Galadriel took his hand.
" About a week. Your herald, Glorfindel and Celebhiril faced charges of attempted murder, but the charges fell through yesterday. It seems no one will believe that Glorfindel acted to defend Elrond. The Kingdom is in an uproar. I am afraid for you."
" Why?" Ereinion ran a hand over his face as if to clear his mind. "What is going on?"
Galadriel rose. Glorfindel glanced towards them. He too stood, approaching.
" It is good to see you awake. If Elrond had not…" Glorfindel looked away, biting his lip. "Never mind."
Ereinion looked between the two, still clueless to what had happened.
" What in the Void is going on?" He exclaimed.
Galadriel tried to shush him, but two heads still groggily rose. Celebhiril was the first one by the bed.
" Ereinion." She gently caressed his cheek.
Celeborn just rubbed his eyes. Galadriel nodded and he contentedly closed his eyes again.
" Ereinion, I advise that you gather some things and leave Lindon." Galadriel said softly. " Say that you need an extended leave."
Ereinion shook his head.
" I have nothing to fear. I do not understand your reasoning."
Galadriel took his other hand, a pleading look upon her usually proud face.
" I have never led you wrong before. Please, Ereinion. Take Elrond and Celebhiril and Glorfindel with you to the Havens and stay there with Círdan for a while."
" Take Orodlin with you also." Glorfindel piped up.
" Ok, I will do as you ask, but I will rule from there."
Galadriel nodded, pressing her lips to his hand.
" Thank you. We will explain everything when we can, but now is not the time."
Elrond sat beside him silently, whittling a piece of wood. Ereinion glanced up at him; Elrond's face strangely lit by the campfire.
" What is going on, Elrond?" He asked softly.
Only Orodlin glanced at them, hearing a soft murmur. Elrond kept on carving, pretending as if he had not heard Ereinion until Orodlin turned away.
" Come with me on a walk." Elrond hissed as he rose.
Elrond took a few steps away before Ereinion stood, a half-pace behind Elrond. The two continued along the river until the fire could just barely be seen. Elrond unsheathed his sword, his senses scanning the area around.
" While we were away on our hunt, Galadriel was poisoned. Glorfindel just recently revealed that it seems someone wants Celebrimbor to relinquish any right to the throne if you or I fall. All evidence points to Orodlin, but there is nothing but hunches that we can pin him for. Someone tried to kill me, but they turned it on me to make it seem as if I tried to kill him." Elrond shook his head. " You nearly died because the poison was too advanced."
Ereinion briskly rubbed his arms before shaking his head.
" Orodlin may hate me, but he would never try to kill me."
Elrond just shook his head as Ereinion walked back towards the camp.
You can deceive yourself for only so long, Ereinion. The truth will open your eyes.
Celebrimbor greeted them outside with a grim face. He extended an arm to Ereinion.
" My lord, I welcome thee. Círdan sends his apologies. He is caught up with the leaving of a ship."
Ereinion just nodded. Glorfindel stepped forward. Celebrimbor sent him a smile before pulling out a letter.
" The carriers were not safe for the information it holds."
Glorfindel snatched it away, ignoring curious eyes. Orodlin crossed his arms casually.
" What is that? The newest recipe for a Silmaril?"
Celebrimbor forced a smile to his cousin. He shook his head.
" Nay, I have perfected the Silmaril." He rebutted sarcastically.
Celebrimbor then motioned them forward.
" Look at me being a rude host. Come. You must be weary after your journey. You most of all, Ereinion." Celebrimbor continued his bit of nonsense chatter.
Glorfindel took in the guards at the gates, noting their minuscule nods to Orodlin. Glorfindel fingered the letter in his pocket.
Is there no safe haven for the rightful King of Elves?
Ereinion moseyed about the gardens with Celebhiril on his arm. The two were quiet, relishing the sweet trickle of the river.
" I fear something ill is at work."
Ereinion glanced down at her with a shaking head.
" Come now, love. They can tell you what unhappy chance I have whenever I go hunting. This is not the first time I have nearly killed myself."
Celebhiril pushed away from him, walking off alone. Ereinion followed, a half step behind her.
" Those were Elves that tried to murder you. They tried to murder Galadriel and Elrond; and they will try again."
Ereinion gently pulled her to face him. He drew her close in an embrace. She buried her face in his shoulder, clinging to him tightly.
" I know these last few weeks have been trying, but-"
" It is not just a silly impulse, Ereinion Gil-galad. There is something at work here in this place. Something that forbears an even worse occurrence."
" I never said it was a silly impulse." Ereinion soothed.
" I just do not want to lose you."
Ereinion held her close.
" Ah, you will not be lucky enough to lose a stubborn old elf like I."
She sent him a small smile. He tipped up her chin.
" That's better. You are at least smiling a bit." He linked an arm through hers. " Let us return before your brother comes searching you out with his sword in hand."
Glorfindel, Círdan, Elrond and Celebrimbor sat in a dim-lit room. The room smelled musty; and apparent by the patches of dust everywhere, it was not used often.
" He will not believe the accusations." Elrond said gravely.
Glorfindel threw the letter across the table.
" I have proof that Celebrimbor wrote and he will not believe it? Come now, Elrond. Be serious. You do not know him as well as you say."
Elrond rose, flicking the letter back towards the golden-haired one.
" I tried to convince him that Orodlin is at fault, but he will not have it. He knows Orodlin hates him, but does not believe that his own cousin will stoop that low."
Celebrimbor put a hand on Glorfindel's shoulder.
" How about I speak with him? He knows that I feel no ill towards Orodlin, and maybe by that he will open his stubborn ears to hear me." Celebrimbor turned, glaring at Glorfindel to silence him. " I am not saying that I can persuade him, simply that we might as well give it a try."
Círdan rubbed his beard.
" Those Elves that are in league with Orodlin will be hard to pinpoint. Soronúmë was a counselor, but I have not seen hide nor hair of him for a while."
The council was silent. Elrond rubbed his forehead.
" I knew I should not have taken this job. It will make me old."
A titter of laughter went around, before is succumbed to silence again. Celebrimbor pounded the table lightly.
" I say we concentrate on keeping Ereinion alive right now and worry about Orodlin and his followers later."
Glorfindel nodded, lifting his half-filled wine glass.
" I drink to that."
Orodlin stood beside a couple Elves.
" He is in his room now. There is no sign of Elrond anywhere near him, nor Glorfindel, or anyone for that matter."
Orodlin rubbed his jaw.
" Make it look accidental."