A Prank on Glorfindel

Chapter 12 – The Prankster

The clear, silver-blue eyes of the Lord of Lothlórien gazed at his grandsons with compassion and pride, giving them an encouraging nod before patting his knee.

"Come, elflings," he said kindly, reaching out to pull them closer.

Utter silence filled the room, a silence in which both twins could not help but fidget. But then, deciding he wanted to get it over with, Elladan threw himself forward to bend across his grandfather's lap…

A highly uncomfortable feeling overcame him as he lay down, vulnerable, exposed, not to mention deeply mortified to have disappointed his grandfather so. Elladan ruefully closed his eyes and focused on his breathing, determined to take his punishment bravely. Biting his bottom lip to prevent himself from crying out, the elfling clenched his fists about his grandfather's robe. Surely he was safe in his Daerada's hands? Even if it would hurt?

A gentle hand was placed on the small of his back, and the other slipped under his chest, slowly lifting him back into a standing position. Kind, silver-blue eyes met utterly bemused grey ones as the Sinda smiled down on his grandsons.

"I shall not spank you today, little ones," the Lord of Lothlórien spoke softly. "Your punishment is over now."

Elrohir stared up into his grandfather's eyes, his face as neutral as he could muster, silently willing Lord Celeborn to reaffirm his statement. Was it real?

"You have my word, Elrohir," the silver-haired Elf Lord smiled, touching his lips and heart in the Elven vow.

Breaking into sobs of relief, Elrohir flung himself around his grandfather's neck, hiding his face in the silver-blond tresses. "Thank you, Daerada," the elfling whispered over and over, kissing his grandfather's cheek where he could.

Shaken, torn and deeply confused, Elladan rigidly stood between Lord Celeborn's legs, unable to let go of his earlier feeling. Only a moment ago Daerada had been about to chastise him…and now they were let off?

Sensing the elfling's confusion, Celeborn pulled Elladan close.

"I fooled you," he whispered in the elfling's ear. "For punishment."

Not knowing whether to laugh or cry, Elladan bit back the angry tears that burned in his eyes and helplessly looked at his parents for aid...and answers.

"We knew that Daerada would do this, Elladan," Celebrían spoke kindly, stretching out her arms to embrace her son as she walked towards the divan.

"This confrontation with your fears – and with the embarrassment – is meant to be a lasting lesson for you, my sons," Elrond's gentle voice added, enveloping his wife and his elder son in his strong arms.

"But Ada…Daerada said he was going to spank us…" Elladan hiccuped, forcing himself not to cry. When Elrond's gentle hands caressed his son's brow, the oldest twin buried his head in his father's robes, clenching his fists and biting his lip to prevent his sobs from coming.

"You have made me very proud, Elladan," came Lord Celeborn's calm voice from behind. "And so have you, Elrohir, by your willingness to face the consequences of your actions. You have each shown courage and a humble heart. Both of you felt torn by the proposal I made, yet you overcame your first emotion and bravely submitted to the penalty I decreed. You have shown yourselves as worthy heirs of the House of Celeborn of Doriath."

Covertly wiping his eyes on his adar's robe, Elladan turned around to face his grandfather. "Thank you, Daerada," he mumbled with a humble nod and a bow.

Elrohir disentangled himself from Lord Celeborn's neck and repeated the statement. "I apologize, Daerada," he whispered, meekly staring into the silver-blue orbs.

"Me too," echoed Elladan. "And I apologize, Ada, for taking the Uruin from your apothecary. I will not do it again."

"At least not without asking," Elrond smiled kindly as his sons apologetically bowed their heads to him.

"We won't!" assured Elrohir, slipping down from Lord Celeborn's lap and following Elladan across the room to where Glorfindel had watched the interactions of his beloved family.

"We're sorry, Glorfindel," the elflings spoke in unison, each reaching out to grasp the Elf Lord's hands before stepping back and assuming their warrior's pose.

"I already know that you are," Glorfindel smiled fondly, ruffling their hair. "I am proud of you for accepting your punishments like true warriors, and I accept your apology."

With a smile of relief Elrohir turned around. But…wasn't there something they forgot? Of course! "We're sorry, Nana!" he piped, rushing over towards his mother to embrace her. With a jolt, Elladan slammed into them both and the elflings crushed their mother in a tight bear-hug!

"Sorry for giving you such a fright about Daerada, Nana," Elladan sang, pulling his mother's face down to give her a kiss. Elrohir smothered his mother from the other side, until she playfully pretended to gasp for breath.

"I love you, Nana," Elrohir whispered.

"And I you, Elrohir," Celebrían smiled, kissing her youngest.

Elladan hesitated at the thought of being kissed in front of his Captain and grandfather, and quickly chose not to repeat his brother's words.

"Aha! He does not want to be pecked anymore!" chuckled Celeborn, sending his daughter a knowing wink.

Little dancing lights appeared in Celebrían's eyes. "Oh, but he has no choice," she stated airily.

Elladan's eyes widened and he looked up with alarm.

"Run, Elladan," Elrond urged his son with a chuckle.

The clear, rolling laughs of the Balrog Slayer and the Lords of Lothlórien and Imladris, mixed with the Lady's tinkling giggles and a high-pitched, frustrated and often repeated "Nana!" lured the Seneschal of the Last Homely House towards the family sitting room.

When Erestor entered, Celeborn, Elrond, Elrohir and Glorfindel were all standing on the balcony, laughing, and Elladan was darting about – then indoors, then outdoors – across the balcony and around the divan and table, his face flushed from his efforts to stay out of his mother's reach!

Ducking behind Erestor in an attempt to avoid the pursuing pursed lips, Elladan hurriedly bolted towards the open door. A flash of black and a flash of silver shot away into the corridor, disappearing from view and leaving the room in a momentary silence. Mere seconds later the sounds of soft giggles and brief struggle were followed by a wail of protest and the unmistakable sound of a kiss being pressed onto elfling-skin.

"Nana!" came an indignant cry.

But the impeccable hearing of all five Elves soon picked up the rustling sound of tunic and dress in a tight embrace, and of little lips kissing a mother's cheek. "I love you, too, Nana," came the softest of whispers.

O-o-O-o-O

Lord Celeborn of Doriath and Lord Glorfindel of Gondolin leisurely walked around the enormous balcony connected to the sitting room. Below, in the Hall of Feast, servants were walking on and off to prepare the welcome feast for the Lord of Lothlórien.

Astute as ever, Lord Erestor had gone out of his way to change the plans for the celebration. He had ordered for the Hall to be filled with many round, high tables and for the chairs to be removed, for Lord Erestor was preparing a standing buffet! Though it had grated his nerves to ordain something so vastly informal in the House of his Lord – in the presence of such a noble guest, no less! – Erestor was nonetheless determined to make certain that Lord Celeborn would not suffer even the slightest of indignities while being the focus of this feast. The Seneschal felt mortified at the thought of the Elf Lord standing up, while the rest of the Elves in the Hall were seated to enjoy the banquet.

Staring out across the Valley, Glorfindel relished the warmth of the late afternoon sun. He softly sang a song of praise to the Valar, soon joined by the sonorous voice of Lord Celeborn, thanking the Lords of Valinor for their Gift to Arda when they had placed the vessels of the Sun and the Moon in the sky.

"Were you frightened, when Morgoth and Ungoliant destroyed the trees and their lights went out?" Celeborn asked his friend.

"We all were," Glorfindel answered with a barely perceptible nod. "For Ungoliant the Evil belched forth black vapour and she filled up all of Valinor with Darkness. It was more than a simple lack of light. This Darkness seemed a being of its own, made of malice, and it entered and filled the eyes, hearts and minds of all who beheld it. Not even Tulkas, the Vala, nor Oromë, were able to withstand it. Their wills were overcome by the deep Blackness, and they faltered in their pursuit of the Enemy and his evil companion."

Celeborn briefly touched Glorfindel's hand when he noticed the shiver that ran through his friend.

"I would have wet myself," the Lord of Lothlórien offered, instantly bringing the light back to Glorfindel's eyes. The Balrog Slayer chuckled and sent the silver-haired Elf Lord a highly amused grin. "You seem to do that rather often," he remarked with a smile.

"Don't you dare!" Lord Celeborn threatened, recognizing the pixie-lights that had appeared in Glorfindel's blue orbs when he spoke.

"There they are," Glorfindel distracted, pointing across the Valley.

Yonder, on the paths that twined beneath the trees, Elrond, Celebrían, Elrohir and Elladan were returning from their visit to the stables – and Laedros. The obvious looks of relief on the elflings' faces drew enamoured chuckles from the blond-haired Elves, especially when the twins began to skip, and entreated their parents to join them in their gambolling.

Could there ever be a more beautiful sight, Celeborn wondered silently, than seeing his daughter, son-in-law and his grandsons, all four skipping along through the forest, hand in hand?

The door of the sitting room opened and Erestor unobtrusively came in to collect the tray with empty glasses and the silver decanter, covertly glancing at the laces on the Elf Lord's boots.

'Still tied...' he noticed with a satisfactory smile. He passed the tray and decanter to the waiting servant outside the sitting room, and hastily swept off along the corridor to oversee the preparations in the Hall of Feast.

"Bless his heart," spoke Glorfindel softly.

"He is a remarkable ellon," Celeborn confirmed. "His mind ever trained on serving and pleasing, keeping the House of his Lord in immaculate order."

"He is Imladris' most prized jewel," Glorfindel mused. "Or one of them, I should probably add. I do not gainsay the love of all of Imladris for your daughter, her husband, and her sons."

Celeborn smiled knowingly. "Your point is taken, my friend," he answered soothingly. "I know what you mean. To tell you the truth: This morning I launched another attempt to persuade Lord Erestor to join the ranks of the Golden Wood."

"And as always, Lord Erestor refused," Glorfindel finished with a grin. Ah! Who could possibly know Erestor as well as Glorfindel did?

"You seem to be rather certain of your case," Celeborn chuckled. "What would you say if I told you that today, for the first time in all these centuries, I noticed a first, vague hint of doubt in Erestor's eyes when I invited him to come to Lothlórien?"

"Then I would name you a downright liar," Glorfindel smirked. "Erestor will not leave Imladris for all the gold and mithril in Arda – unless it shall be on an errand for his Lord. His home is here, where his heart lives."

"Do not be mistaken," Lord Celeborn boasted. "That little Seneschal of yours is beginning to warm up to me. The services he provides me with are more and more nearing a downright display of mollycoddling. He is pampering me to no end! Did you know that this morning he tied my bootlaces for me?"

Glorfindel snorted. "He did not, you old fraud!" he retorted.

"Are you suggesting that I do not tell you the truth?" Celeborn hissed indignantly.

Glorfindel nodded slowly, openly challenging his ancient friend with his eyes.

"I know my Erestor like no other. Whereas he might tend to your every whim and need, even Erestor has his limits. The only reason why he would tie your laces, would be if you were injured and could not do it yourself. But he will not humiliate himself to the point of tying the laces of a healthy, agile Elf Lord! You are a liar, Celeborn!"

"Mind your tongue!" glared the silver-haired Sinda. But Glorfindel did not miss the twinkling lights of delight that danced in the silver-blue orbs.

"A wager," Celeborn drawled, stepping a little closer to Glorfindel. "I shall untie the laces of my boot. The next time Erestor comes in, we will see what happens."

Glorfindel grinned. "You do not know Erestor the way I do, Celeborn. He shall not tie your laces. You will gain no profit from this bet. Be careful before you lose face once more," he added pointedly.

The nostrils of the silver-haired Elf Lord flared briefly as he was reminded of his humiliating entrance in the Valley…which had followed after the equally humiliating departure of his last visit!

"Wager with me," he hissed. "I feel a desperate need to see you lose, Findel. I am willing to risk much to see it accomplished."

Glorfindel grinned smugly. "I am warning you, Teleporno, I will demand a high payment should you lose."

Celeborn raised his eyebrows. Was that Balrog Slayer up to something again? "Name your terms!" he challenged.

"You shall jump down Aragond," Glorfindel stated, a victorious twinkle in his eyes.

Though he was confident that the Seneschal would 'aid' his case, the eyes of the Sinda nonetheless widened, and then narrowed as his mouth became a very thin line.

"You are a foul piece of work, Glorfindel," the Sinda spoke sharply.

The Chief of Defenses chuckled. "You will not be able to run from it forever, my dear friend. As I told you eighteen hundred years ago, and a myriad times since: There will come a moment when you will find yourself rapidly sailing down past the cliff, heading towards a refreshing plunge. I have given you my word that I shall not give up until you do!"

"Against my explicit wish!" Lord Celeborn hissed, pressing his nose almost against Glorfindel's in his anger.

He snorted in disgust when the Balrog Slayer flashed him a toothy grin and he shoved the Lord of Gondolin aside by his shoulders.

"You are a manipulative, shameless advocate of mischief, Glorfindel. Be warned that I shall demand high payment from you also!"

"Name your terms…" Glorfindel drawled pleasantly.

"Considering the farewell you gave me after the Spring celebrations, it would seem an appropriate retaliation to make you spill a glass of lemon juice down the front of your breeches, and make you walk across the length of the training fields during practice, don't you agree?" the Sinda hinted.

Glorfindel flashed his drollest smile, shrugging inwardly. Oh yes, that would be quite a sight! His warriors would have something to talk about for several days, in all likelihood tease him with it for weeks, or perhaps even months. But Glorfindel was an easygoing Elf, stable as a rock, and very much at ease with himself. Good-natured teasing did not bother him, for he did not place value on his image and reputation, at least not beyond the effect that it had on the image and reputation of his Lord. He was who he was, with lemon juice on his breeches or not, and his warriors knew that.

"Your smile confirms my suspicions, Findel," Lord Celeborn hissed, eying the Balrog Slayer closely. "You do not care! Wetting yourself shall not be a payment worthy of countering the outrageous demand that I leap down from Aragond."

Glorfindel chuckled as he stared into the blazing silver-blue eyes.

"I have a better idea," Lord Celeborn whispered ominously, in a futile attempt to scare the maddeningly unperturbed Elf.

"After Erestor kindly ties my bootlaces, you shall accompany me during the feast, tying my laces for me when needed and lifting up any items falling, or lying, below the hiplevel that should require me to bend down to retrieve them."

The eyebrows of the Balrog Slayer rose high.

"Might I inquire into the benefit this poses for you, seeing as you are quite capable of retrieving items from the floor yourself?" the Lord of Gondolin asked, mouth agape.

"Seeing you bending down for me, Findel! It seems utterly fitting to see you bowing your head in humiliation, after you required the same of me last Spring…" the Sinda smiled sweetly.

"You are a daring little Sinda," Glorfindel huffed, nettled at the mere suggestion! It was true, he did not mind losing face in front of his warriors. Not at all! But in front of this wily, foul-playing… No matter. Erestor would not play into the hand of the Silver Tree.

"Agreed," Glorfindel said evenly, relaxing as he connected once more with his inner Elf. "You will not have your entertainment, though. I know Erestor like I know my own sword. He shall not tie your bootlaces, and you shall leap down Aragond!"

O-o-O-o-O

Unaware that he had become the deciding factor in a wager, Erestor swept into the room to close a few windows. One quick glance told the Seneschal that the Elf Lord's left bootlace had come undone.

'Great! Now how to get Glorfindel from the room?' Erestor wondered. How to find a way to be alone with the Elf Lord?

The Seneschal's eyes found the blue orbs of the Sinda, and the silver-haired Lord conveyed with a barely perceptible nod that the presence of the Balrog Slayer did not matter. Hurriedly squatting down at the Elf Lord's feet, Erestor proceeded to tie the unruly laces…for the seventh time this day!

Above him, Glorfindel's eyes nearly dropped out of their sockets!

"Is there anything you wish for, my Lord?" the Seneschal asked politely, getting to his feet. He frowned at the golden-haired warrior, who was opening and closing his mouth like a fish on dry land.

"Lord Glorfindel, are you well?" Erestor inquired pointedly, conveying with unmistakable clarity that the Balrog Slayer was to stop this nonsense instantly!

"I am quite happy, Lord Erestor, thank you for your concerns," drawled the Lord of Lothlórien. "Is it time to prepare for the feast?"

"The bells shall sound early today, my Lord," Erestor said with a bow. "You will have plenty of time to arrange your appearance. I shall personally attend to your lordship."

"Ah, bless! Thank you, Erestor!" Celeborn smiled serenely.

The Seneschal glared pointedly at his blond friend, who looked as if he had swallowed a toad.

"Behave!" the Seneschal mouthed, after Celeborn had withdrawn to the balcony.

"Lord Glorfindel, a word?" came a drawl through the open doors.

Restraining the urge to fist his fingers in his golden mane and pull hard, Lord Glorfindel turned away from Erestor and miserably shambled towards his unavoidable fate…

O-o-O-o-O

The Seneschal of Imladris smiled as he watched Glorfindel stoop low to tie Lord Celeborn's bootlaces – for what had to be at least the twentieth time that night. The feast was well underway, and Erestor had seen Lord Glorfindel not only tie the Elf Lord's bootlaces, but he had also lifted fallen cutlery from off the ground, and had even handed up a napkin from a lower side table! Erestor had instructed one of his servants to follow Lord Celeborn around to pick up any items for him, if needed, but the ellon's aid was superfluous: The Chief of Defenses took care of it all.

"Glorfindel, you great big softy," Erestor smiled fondly, returning to his duties. "You are a true friend."

Elladan and Elrohir were playing with a few of their friends in a corner of the Hall. Celebrían walked over to find them, and escorted the twins to where their father stood enjoying his meal.

"It will soon be time for your apology to the Rivendell Guard and the warriors of Lothlórien, my sons," Elrond whispered softly, wiping his mouth on his napkin.

Elladan felt a familiar red tinge invade the skin on his cheeks. Even merely appearing in front of an audience, by his father's side, already made him blush. The thought of having to actually speak to this enormous crowd filled him with a deep sense of unease. He winced nervously.

"We can do this, El," came an encouraging whisper from his brother. "I will be by your side."

"And I," said Elrond kindly, placing a hand on his eldest son's back. "I shall not require of you to make your apology alone."

The Lord of Imladris led his sons towards the dais, where Lord Glorfindel and the March-Warden of Lothlórien stood waiting with their warriors.

Elladan kept his eyes firmly on his Adar's back as he walked up the few steps, but when they took their pre-discussed positions, Elladan and Elrohir standing between their father and grandfather, open to the gaze of the Hall, he could no longer avoid the inevitable.

'Ai, Elbereth!' he gasped inwardly when he looked up at the audience. There were so many warriors! Behind the endless ranks of the Rivendell Guard, there were even more Elves, the remaining guests of the feast. The entire Hall was a sea of faces!

Elrohir spotted a few of the warriors he knew from his morning training, right in the front row of the Rivendell Guard. He smiled when they sent him encouraging nods and winks, giving him the secure feeling that he was one of them, a brother in arms. One of the warriors even crossed his eyes and made a face for him! It was all Elrohir could do not to laugh and wave at them.

Beside the ranks of the Rivendell Guard, to the side, stood the eighteen warriors of the Lothlórien Guard with the March Warden. Several of the Galadhrim smiled kindly when Elrohir met their gaze, but not the March Warden. Elrohir briefly felt his courage sink when he looked into Haldir's cynical eyes. Hastily looking away, he searched for the eyes of his mother, who stood to the other side of the Imladris Guard.

The crowd grew still.

"…My sons wish to make an announcement," came the clear, calm voice of Lord Elrond.

Elladan felt his father's encouraging hand in the small of his back. Elrohir's hand squeezed Elladan's hard as the youngest twin took a deep breath.

"We have caused you all great anxiety and fear," began Elrohir's high, clear voice, exactly as they had rehearsed, "…through our actions, which gave the appearance that our grandfather was wounded. We regret that we have led you to believe that the safety of this Valley might no longer be taken for granted."

Elrohir squeezed his brother's hand twice. His twin, however, remained silent. The Elves in the Hall waited patiently, some of them with smiles of endearment and amusement on their fair faces.

"Elladan..." whispered Elrond gently, placing his hands on his son's shoulders. "Come, ion nín…take a breath. Many of you…"

"Many of you have searched the Valley to find the suspected source of danger," Elladan whispered, mortified at the burning heat in his face and neck. But then, taking courage from Glorfindel, who stood mouthing 'warrior' before the dais, Elladan continued in a more confident tone: "All warriors were called to arms and stood on highest alert, until the source of the harm done could be identified."

"Good!" whispered Elrohir, before continuing: "By the risk we took, using a dangerous, invisible substance and allowing it to leave our sight and control, the warriors of the Golden Wood fell victim to agonizing burns. It was the poorest imaginable reward for their loyalty when they aimed to protect our grandfather."

"We are saddened and embarrassed by the results of our actions," Elladan took over again, "…for we had merely intended an innocent prank and we meant no harm."

"We therefore wish to express our apologies and deepest and sincerest regret to you all," Elrohir finished.

The Elves of the Rivendell Guard and most of the Galadhrim nodded in appreciation. Some of them even in respect. They admired the young sons of Elrond for making their statement in front of such a large audience.

Elrond now took his sons down the dais to the warriors of the Lothlórien Guard. Stopping in front of the March-Warden, the dark-haired Elf gave his sons an encouraging shove.

Elladan and Elrohir placed their right hands on their hearts and bowed slightly. "We have done you needless harm and caused you undeserved pain," the twins spoke in unison. "Goheno men."

Surprised by this unexpected display of – rehearsed – twin-speak, an amused smile appeared on the March-Warden's face as he nodded solemnly.

"The Personal Guard of Lord Celeborn of Lórien accepts your apology," Haldir answered formally, and then added: "We shall hope that our future encounters with the sons of Elrond will be more gratifying."

Standing beside Celebrían watching the proceedings, Erestor gasped. See! There it was! He knew it! The Lothlórien Guards might have accepted the apology of the twins, but they would certainly not have forgotten by the time the twins would be sent to train in the Golden Wood, in a mere ninety years time. Erestor's little ones would undoubtedly be the target of many pranks!

Elrond now guided the twins to the ranks of the Rivendell Guard, where they stood before the Chief of Defenses. With their hands on their hearts they solemnly apologized to their Captain, which apology Glorfindel graciously accepted.

"You are forgiven," smiled the Lord from long-lost Gondolin.

Elrond and the elflings returned to the dais where Lord Celeborn still waited. Kneeling in front of their grandfather, Elladan and Elrohir bowed their heads, hands on their hearts in the formal Elven apology, until Lord Celeborn's hands gently pulled them to their feet.

"Le gohenon," he smiled, touching their cheeks. "I forgive you."

Turning to address the audience, Lord Celeborn took his grandsons by their hands and spoke in a clear voice:

"The act which has led to our grief has been punished. Discipline has been meted out and apologies have been offered and accepted. The Golden Wood shall not bear a grudge against these two young Elves. I request that all present here shall henceforth consign this situation to the past, where it belongs."

A hushed murmur of approval went through the Hall, and many Elves smiled and nodded. They had seen that the sons of their Lord were truly remorseful. The elflings had bravely apologized in public and repented their deeds. Who could possibly not forgive these children, these little ones, for a playful prank that had regretfully gotten out of hand?

They were waiting for the Elf Lords to continue their speech, when with a loud, clanging noise Lord Celeborn's formal mithril bracelet collided with the wood of the dais, rapidly spinning around and eventually coming to a halt in front of the Elf Lord's feet.

Looking down with a look of surprise, Lord Celeborn sent the Chief of Defenses an apologetic smile.

"Lord Glorfindel, I seem to have dropped an artefact of office. Would you please be so kind?" the Sinda entreated smugly.

Elrond restrained his eyebrows from rising upwards. The Balrog Slayer glared menacingly, his back turned towards the Hall as it was, and the Lord of Imladris surmised that whatever had inspired this unusual request, it had to be another aspect of the ongoing banter between these two. To his great surprise, Glorfindel actually complied! The Balrog Slayer climbed up the dais and hitched up his robes to bend down.

A swift flash of black and burgundy passed through his line of vision, a pair of gentle, restraining hands were laid upon Glorfindel's arm, and before anyone could move, Erestor had already scooped up the unruly mithril bracelet, and held it out to the Lord of Lothlórien.

"My gratitude, Lord Erestor," spoke the bemused Sinda, after which Erestor nodded politely and disappeared from the dais.

Glorfindel's eyes followed the raven-haired Seneschal to the back of the crowd and frowned. Never before in Glorfindel's long memory had Erestor publically humiliated himself like this.

He turned when the sound of barely audible whispers reached his ears.

"But Daerada! Why did you hold us back when we wanted to pick it up for you?"

O-o-O-o-O

"If you tangle your bootlaces in one more statue or other protrusion, I shall personally strangle you," the Chief of Defenses hissed to his silver-blond companion.

"Hush, Glorfindel! You have fairly lost our bet," the Sinda smiled smugly, clumsily dropping his spoon…again! The Lord of Lothlórien happily swept through the Hall, Balrog Slayer in tow, conversing with the many guests, then here, then there.

"Do not scowl!" Celeborn chided kindly. "This is a celebration!"

Glorfindel smiled morosely.

"…of my victory," the Sinda added in a whisper.

Focusing – stubbornly, determinedly, willfully – on his breathing, was the only thing that kept the Balrog Slayer of Gondolin from closing his hands about the regal neck! Smiling pleasantly at the ellith and occasionally nodding towards his warriors, Glorfindel dutifully followed his friend…the old fox!...through the Hall.

"Celeborn, may I have a word?"

Elrond expertly steered his father-in-law away from his Chief of Defenses. Erestor had alerted him that the Sinda seemed more than a bit clumsy this night. And indeed, after some covert observation the Lord of Imladris was able to confirm the unusual occurance of several small mishaps befalling the Lord of Lothlórien. The healer in Elrond had instantly raised its head, and now the Peredhel guided his patient through the crowd, off into a small alcove, for to inquire whether Lord Celeborn was well, and must the feast be ended early?

Seizing his chance, Glorfindel ducked between two pillars and practically ran out of the Hall, down to the kitchens, to find Erestor.

O-o-O-o-O

The door slammed open with a thud and the Seneschal spun around in alarm.

"Why did you do that?!" Glorfindel demanded angrily, towering above the raven-haired Noldo.

"And exactly what is your problem?" the Seneschal asked icily, irritated that the Balrog Slayer barged into his workspace like a bull.

"There was no need!" Glorfindel hissed.

"I only meant to help," the Seneschal snapped indignantly, rattled that the usually calm blond was raising the roof. "As is my duty in this House! Now move aside, I have fruit dishes to prepare!"

"Since when do you humiliate yourself beyond reason?!" Glorfindel raged.

Erestor's cheeks and eartips turned red…with fury!

"No wonder that the Balrog did not like you!" the Seneschal snarled. "You are as ungrateful as a scavenger during the plague! I did it for you, Glorfindel, so you would not have to kneel! I could not stand aside and allow you to humiliate yourself in front of your warriors and the Lothlórien Guard!"

Glorfindel momentarily grappled for words.

"Not the bracelet!" he fumed. "Not during the speech! Before! In the sitting room! Why did you have to tie his laces?!"

"Why, because it is my duty to see to the comfort of our Lord's guests!" the Seneschal spat, trying to shove the tall Balrog Slayer out of the way.

"Hold it! You are not shoving me aside until you tell me why you are crouching at Lord Celeborn's feet!" Glorfindel boomed.

Erestor's eyes narrowed dangerously.

"Jealous, Glorfindel?" he hissed. Did the golden-haired goon want to claim that no-one but the 'famous son of Gondolin' had the right to tend to Lord Celeborn's needs? His precious Silver Tree? Never before had Erestor seen Glorfindel this possessive!

"You are not making any sense!" scoffed the Chief of Defenses. "Unless you mean to say…"

"I have work to do, Glorfindel," Erestor interrupted loudly, impatiently walking around the Balrog Slayer and returning to his platters. "I must prepare the fruit dishes for Lord Celeborn's feast, you see?!"

'Valar!' the Seneschal raged inwardly. If Lord Celeborn was this important to Glorfindel, he might as well roll up his sleeves and help with the preparations, instead of hinder them! Erestor furiously worked on the proper placement of the dices and slices of fruit, refusing to listen to that little voice in the back of his mind, which told him that Glorfindel cared more about the Sinda than about him. He refused to give in to the piercing pang of grief that stabbed his heart.

Behind him, Glorfindel watched his friend go rigid. He could read the Seneschal like a book, and it was most obvious to him that Erestor felt torn, hurt, and was trying to hide his true emotions. The eyes of the Balrog Slayer slowly widened in shock. Had Celeborn been right, then? Was it true that Erestor was increasingly attentive to the Sinda, because he was seriously considering Celeborn's request for him to…

"Are you…are you planning on moving to Lothlórien?" Glorfindel asked hesitantly, all anger evaporating like steam in the wind.

Erestor spun around, stung. Did Glorfindel want to have him away from here?

"Of course not!" he snarled, catching himself when he noticed the grief-filled eyes of the warrior. Confusion battled in Erestor's mind with sudden concern for his friend. "What…" he began, but was interrupted when Glorfindel closed the distance between them and grabbed his shoulders.

"Not?"

Erestor bemusedly shook his head. "Glory, what…"

A broad, bright smile appeared on the Balrog Slayer's face and the famous son of Gondolin pulled the stunned Seneschal into a very tight hug. "Ai! Hannon le! Goheno nin!"

"Let go, you oaf!" camed the muffled gasp from the shaken Seneschal. "Glorfindel! What is wrong with you?"

The servants snickered and continued the preparations.

"Hush!" commanded Erestor. "No words spoken in this kitchen will travel beyond its threshold! Glorfindel, what in the name of Elbereth is happening today? Sit down!"

"Bless!" smiled Glorfindel gratefully, sinking down on the chair the Seneschal pointed him at. He felt immensely relieved that the old fox Celeborn had only been fooling him…again!

Erestor stood in front of his friend, hands on his hips, gazing down into the clear blue eyes, for he was not yet certain of the Balrog Slayer's mental state. He placed a gentle hand on Glorfindel's brow.

"You seem to be out of sorts today, Glory. Am I wrong to suspect that the Sinda is behind all this? I will make us some tea, and then you can tell me all that has happened."

TBC

Translations:

goheno men – forgive us

le gohenon – I forgive you (both singular and plural)

hannon le – thank you

goheno nin – forgive me

ellith – plural of elleth, which means elf-maiden

O-o-O

AN: Only one more chapter to come! Many thanks to Evendim for the use of 'inner Elf'!

Esteliel