Notes: see notes in the previous chapters once again I would like to thank my beta for another great chapter rewrite…. I would also like to thank all of my readers for sticking with me this for it took me to get this up ... Life and College got busy for me. Now I am back with another chapter I apologize for the long wait. I will try to get the next chapter up as fast as I can. However I make no promises…to that end enjoy this long awaited chapter.

Chapter 8

It had been two days since the onset of Tracey's illness and she was still stuck in bed. Much to her annoyance Elrond insisted that she stay in bed for a few more days to recover. Her fever had lasted well into the second day and it climbed higher before it finally broke. Elrond, the Twins, and Legolas never left her side… except to get some food or use the bathing chamber, but even then they did not leave often. After her fever broke, Elrond insisted that they take turns watching her while the others rested. When she finally awoke, it was to the sight of Elrond sleeping in the chair next to her bed. She noted that he looked peaceful when he slept and she liked it.

As her vision cleared and the sleep passed from her eyes, Tracey realized that she needed to go to the bathroom. She slid out of bed and felt a chill run up her spine as her feet hit the cold stone floor. Bending down, she looked under her bed for a pair of slippers. Spying them with a small grin of satisfaction, she reached under the bed…and miscalculated her reach. She let out a yelp when she smacked her head under the edge of the bed and hurriedly tried to back out the same way that she had slid under it. In the process, she smacked her head again. This time she just groaned, and cursed her stupidity…this was definitely not helping the headache that she already had from the cold.

Elrond woke instantly when he heard the first thud, and he wondered what caused this disturbance in his house. He became fully alert when he heard another thud and a muffled cruse. Looking around, he saw that Tracy was not in bed… 'She is definitely willful if nothing else.' As his gaze took in the room, he saw was a pair of naked legs sticking out from under the bed. Shapely, naked legs… slim but powerful, and they belonged to someone that he wanted to get to know better. He was then pulled back to the present when the legs moved.

Elrond stood up and laughed quietly as he bent down to pull Tracy out. Tracy reacted by letting out a startled yelp when she felt strong hands grip her ankles. The first thing she saw was Elrond's robes, then she saw his eyes, full of mirth and a playful smile on his face. She was desperately clutching one slipper to her chest and she looked up at the quiet healer forlornly because the other slipper was still under the bed. When he began to chuckle with his deep voice, she huffed indignantly while rubbing her head. "Great, all that pain, and all I was able to reach was one slipper…Great, just great!"

Elrond gave in to his laughter when she voiced her frustration. She was adorable when she had that look of fire in her eyes. He didn't understand why she was so frustrated over a slipper, but he suspected it was more because he had caught her out of bed. "You should be in bed, Tracy. It is much too soon to be up after your fever."

Ignoring his quiet reprimand, she said, "Lord Elrond, I have to go to the bathroom and I didn't want to disturb you. My feet were cold, so I tried to get my slippers. I managed to get one of them before you pulled me out." She crossed her arms and pouted quietly, "and now I have to go back under there and get it."

Elrond shook his head and reached down to pick Tracey up off of the floor. He admired her spirit, but was frustrated that she always had to be so independent. Even the Valar would shake their heads over this girl. He set her down carefully on the bed and then retrieved her other slipper. Looking into her eyes, he took the other slipper from her hands and placed them gently on her small feet.

Tracey was embarrassed to have a great Elf Lord place slippers on her feet. Looking at him shyly, she whispered, "Thank you."

Elrond responded by giving a small bow, and watched her as she stood up and walked weakly to the bathroom. 'Yes, she definitely had determination and spirit.' He thought as her form disappeared behind the door. While she was in the washroom, Elrond called one of the servants to serve a light breakfast to them. He was anxious to make sure that she had the proper nutrition after being asleep for so long.

A few minutes later, after Tracey finished her morning routine, she returned to the sleeping area to find Elrond standing at the table. He was pouring out two cups of what smelled like her favorite hot tea. 'Herbal teas are the best,' she thought. The ones in Middle Earth definitely had more flavor and character than the ones in her old life. She smiled with this thought and gratefully accepted a cup…feeling surprised when his fingers brushed lightly against hers. It was a small and fleeting touch, but it sent a spark through her body.

Elrond and Tracey both sat in silence for a few minutes while they sipped their Tea and nibbled on some toast and fruit slices.

Tracey then spoke, " Elrond, I want to thank you for taking care of me while I was ill. I truly appreciate everything that you have done…your kindness reminded me of my home and family."

Elrond smiled and responded warmly, " You're very welcome Tracey. You are family to all of us in Imladris." Then, once again they lapsed into a comfortable silence.

While the silence stretched, Tracey's mind started to wander. She looked out of the window and noticed that that leaves were changing colors. Most of them had already dropped off of the trees. She guessed that it must be getting close to winter, and then she was shocked because she had not realized how long she had been in Rivendell. Her thoughts moved to her family... she would miss the family traditions that she had known growing up.

Elrond noticed the sadness in Tracey's eyes and sensed the discord in her mind. He asked her what was she thinking about.

Tracy looked at him for a minute before replying… "Do you realize that it is almost winter?"

Elrond inclined his head in acknowledgement. He did not speak, knowing that she wanted to say more. Having the patience born through the ages and raising twins, he waited to hear where her thoughts were going.

She spoke again, "When I was younger, my family and I had some simple traditions for the Christmas season." Elrond rose an eyebrow in question to the word Christmas. Tracey blushed when she realized that they did not call it Christmas in Middle Earth so she clarified, "Christmas in my world is called Yule here."

Elrond nodded his head in understanding. The winter holiday had meaning for him and his family as well. He could sense her sadness and homesickness as she continued.

" In the weeks leading up to Christmas, my mom would bake the most wonderful candies and sweets. There were so many, that it would take her all that time to get them done." Tracey then got a wistful look on her face and smiled.

Elrond liked the look on her face as she reminisced. "What makes you smile so, Tracey?" he asked.

Meeting his gaze, she responded peacefully. "I remember the first time that I ever helped her make all of the treats. I was 12 years old and we were making potato candy… After we were done, we were completely covered in powered sugar and we looked like snowmen. It was so funny… When we walked out to the living room, my dad couldn't stop laughing. He had never seen use covered like that before." Then Tracey gave in to another memory, "On Christmas day I would wake up really early in the morning and sit on my bed, while I waited until mom and dad said I could get up. Dad would make Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast and we would eat them while we drank eggnog. Then we would open our presents. Christmas mornings were always the most special time for us."

Elrond frowned slightly as Tracey got up and walked over to the desk in her room. He watched as she opened one of the draws and she pulled out a leather bound book. It looked very old and well loved. His eyes followed her as she walked back over to the bed and crawled up into the blankets, before he could reprimand her for getting out of bed again.

Looking up at Elrond, she opened the book and leafed through it carefully. When she found what she was looking for, she pulled out a photograph and showed it to him. "This is a photograph or picture of my mom and dad." Elrond looked at the picture in surprise. Never before had he seen such a likeness with minute details, and there were no brush strokes.

Tracey continued to talk for a little wile about her family and her life before she came to Middle Earth. Elrond sensed that she avoided topics from time to time, but he knew that when she was ready she would tell him. As she continued speaking, he noticed that Tracey was starting to tire. Quietly he interrupted when she paused, " Tracey, why don't you try to get some more sleep? You are still recovering form you illness and your body needs to rest."

Tracey wanted to protest but she knew that Elrond was right. Looking at him, she smiled and nodded her head as she set her book beside her on the bed. Elrond tucked the covers around her as she snuggled down into the pillow. He watched as she succumbed to the sleeping herbs in the tea. When he was satisfied that she was sleeping well, he picked up the book and looked through it, taking care as he leafed through the worn pages. He was surprised that he could read the words that were inscribed on the inside cover, "To find our true nature all we need to do is look for the treasure that is hidden inside all of us." 'Tracey is indeed a treasure…if only she would see it in herself…' he thought. He then put the book back in the desk and strode into the hallway. He had some tasks that he needed to attend to while she was sleeping.

As he shut the door to her room, he noticed that Legolas and his sons were heading right for him.

Legolas greeted him quietly, "Good Morning, Lord Elrond, how is Tracey doing this morning?"

Elrond smiled at Thranduil's heir… "She woke for the break of fast and we talked about a few things that she did with her family for their Yule celebration." The three younger elves nodded their heads. Elrond continued briefly, "You can go in and watch her for me while I attend to some business, but please refrain from lively conversation as she is still healing from her illness and I want her to rest."

The three shook their heads in unison and proceeded to Tracy's room to watch over her sleep. Elrond then headed to his office to write down his ideas for a different, but new, kind of Yule celebration. Entering his office, he shut the door with a smile on his face and got to work.

End of Chapter 8