Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be.
WARNING: nudity (mild); slightly AU
Written for the Naked Yule Fic Challenge and for Greywing for her birthday. (Kill as many birds with one stone as you can, I say!)
Greywing asked for: Glorfindel, Asfaloth and holly. Extra credit for including Erestor and Elrond and explaining why Glorfindel uses tack and how long elven horses live. Chapter 1 fits this criteria.
Naked Yule criteria - The fic must include: Aragorn, Legolas and Glorfindel; a naked Elf, a horse, snow, a confession, and a Christmas image such as a star, shepherds, a manger, wisemen, Yule log, little drummer boys, etc.
This story is part of the Undying Friendship Series and mostly takes place 13 Years Post-ROTK, 2 years after A Torturous Predicament Called Entertainment, and 2 years before Mortele.
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!
By Nieriel Raina
A Beautiful Day
Sneezing in Spring
Year 2007, 3rd Age
It was such a beautiful day; too nice a day to spend inside, working. The birds were chirping, the bees buzzing in the heather. A lovely breeze caressed the new blooms in the garden. It was his favorite kind of day!
He poked his head out of the door, glanced left and right, smiled wickedly and slipped out into the hall. With the stealth of a warrior who has eluded Morgoth's spawn for centuries beyond mortal recall, he evaded any and all who might seek to waylay his steps and mission. Ahead he could see freedom - the door leading outside away from the drudgery of duty, paperwork, council meetings and him. Just another twenty paces and he would make it.
He opened the door, with a sigh of relief and…
"Glorfindel, where are you going? The reports are not turned in, the duty rosters are not filled out and Elrond would like a word with you. Do not even think to escape this house until you have spoken with him."
Turning with controlled grace, he eyed the one who had caught him so close to victory. "Lord Councilor," he acknowledged with a nod to the dark-haired, stern-looking elf standing not a stone's throw from him. Too far away to impale with his sword, damn it.
"What is that smirk for? Or do I wish to know your thoughts?"
With a shake of his head, Glorfindel banished any desire to murder Elrond's chief councilor (after all, it wasn't Erestor's fault Elrond needed to see him) and closed the door. He felt his shoulders sag with disappointment, but could not bring himself to draw them back to their proud places. Gloomily, he walked beside Erestor towards their lord's study, his steps slowing any time they passed a window.
"Oh, by the shadows, Glorfindel! Do not sulk! You knew this would happen!"
With a sheepish shrug, he glanced at his friend. "Yes, I knew, but Erestor, I do not wish to do this! Not today, not with him! "
He didn't miss the slight upwards quirk of Erestor's lips or the gleam in his companion's eye. He glared back.
"My advice is to get it over with," Erestor said, as if he were not trying to fight back the laughter which Glorfindel could see shaking his shoulders.
"How do you stand it, Erestor? I will have to endure an hour or two at the most with him, but you…you must spend all day with him!" Feeling his breathing quicken, he stopped for a moment to steel himself, leaning against the closest wall. A snort caused him to open eyelids he was not aware of closing.
"It is not so bad, really. And it is only at this time of the year. It will pass, and he will return to his solemn and dignified self. In the meantime…" Erestor dug in his left pocket, frowned, and then reached for the right. "Aha!" With a grin, he pulled out a handkerchief and handed it to Glorfindel. "Your weapon, Captain."
"Oh, you cannot be serious!" But he took the offensive cloth, holding it away from his body between his forefinger and thumb.
"You look like a maid when you hold it like that."
Glorfindel quickly stuffed his only defense into a pocket of his tunic. Reaching up, he pinched the bridge of his nose in hope of relieving the imminent headache beginning to pound behind his temples. He inhaled deeply, then dropped his hand to his side. "All right, let us continue. I believe I am prepared now."
They refrained from any further speech as they wound their way through the halls of the Last Homely House, coming to a stop outside a large, ornate door. It contained many carved representations from the books of lore the owner of the door was so fond of. Glorfindel always enjoyed looking at the beauty of the rich wood so expertly detailed with scenes he himself remembered. But this day, he only cast a longing look at a panel which depicted himself fighting the balrog. Oh, those were the days! Open battle, sword ringing! Not…
He patted the pocket containing the square of folded white linen, and knocked on the door.
From within came a sneeze, followed by a muffled, "Cuhm eh," and the sound of someone blowing their nose. He grimaced, but pushed open the door anyway.
"Lord Elrond, you wished to see me?"
"Ah, yeth, Glowfinnel. Cuhm eh, cuhm eh. We ned to dithcuth the doo-ey rothter." Another sneeze, then a sniff, and one more honk of the Peredhel's nose. "Haf a theat."
With resigned obedience, Glorfindel crossed the room and sat in the chair facing the desk, behind which his lord sat. He tried to angle himself away from the line of sneezing, but with Elrond, one never knew. He reassured himself one more time of the handkerchief in his pocket after noticing the open windows letting in the fresh spring air.
"Don fwown at me. Leth juth geth thith ovah wid."
"Sorry, my lord."
Oh how he used to love Spring! Spring was a time of renewal - a return of all things green and the warmth of the sun. With dismay, Glorfindel noticed the fine layer of yellowish-green dust on Elrond's desk. Plastering a false smile on his face, inwardly he screamed. Why did the Peredhel insist on keeping his windows open at this time of the year? Why did he not just remove the offensive trees planted all around the Last Homely House?
Holly! How many times had he told his lord that holly trees would be just as beautiful? And better yet, NOT cause the allergies Elrond was subject to.
"Ahhhchooo! … Sowwy."
With all the dignity he could muster, Glorfindel pulled the handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his face of the offensive droplets of moisture. And it had started out such a beautiful day.
The door closed behind him with a thump, and Glorfindel sagged against the nearest wall, dropping his head into hands. Two and a half hours, that was how long it had taken them to communicate with Elrond's sneezing and honking. GAH! He needed to get out of the house and outdoors. Find a stream to bathe in to remove the lingering saliva and other bodily fluids he'd rather not consider from his face.
"Surely it was not that bad?"
The voice caused him to look up with a glower. "You knew it would be, or you would never have given me the handkerchief!" He threw the offensive cloth towards Erestor, but the councilor let it drift to the floor.
They both eyed the linen, until a passing maid stooped and added it to her basket of dirty laundry. She continued on her way, mumbling under her breath about the untidiness of males. Both Erestor and he smiled at the deprecations coming from the slight girl.
"Can I assume you will now seek solace in the outdoors? You look as if you could use a ride."
Glorfindel straightened with a grin. "Yes. That is exactly what I plan to do." He passed Erestor, who was pulling a clean handkerchief from a pocket and heading towards Elrond's door. "How many of those do you have, anyway?"
Erestor just shrugged. "At this time of the year? A dozen at least." With determined steps, the dark-haired elf disappeared into the study.
Glorfindel made his way to the nearest doorway leading outside, his long strides eating up the distance to the stable, where he was greeted with a friendly nicker. He rubbed the soft, white nose reaching for him over the stall door. "Ready for a run, my friend?" Asfaloth bobbed his head up and down, snorting in his master's face. "Not you too!" he complained, wiping his face on his sleeve, but this time he grinned. For some reason, horse snot was not as offensive as Elrond's had been.
Opening the stall door, he let the stallion out of the confines of the stall. He left the horse's tack on the rack nearby. Saddles and headstalls he only used when traveling long distances, which required having something to tie his pack to other than his own back. The headstall was more for decoration, anyway, and since he had no plans to impress anyone, except perhaps some fish when he bathed, there was no need for it.
Leaping upon Asfaloth's back once they were outside, Glorfindel gave the command. "Noro lim!" And they were off quick as a flash, the hooves clattering over the ground as the horses strides took them off into the valley and away from the Last Homely House and her moody, sneezing lord.
For over an hour they rode into the wilds. Glorfindel gave Asfaloth his head, and the horse set his own pace, slowing from his wild dash after a short distance and into a comfortable canter that ate up the miles. He needed little direction, for the horse knew where his master wished to go, and he paced beside a winding stream, following it on its course.
In due time, they arrived in a small meadow surrounded by a thicket of birches. Here, the babbling brook widened into a deep pond where a colony of beavers had dammed the flow of water. With a single word, he brought his mount to a halt. For a few minutes, Glorfindel just sat atop Asfaloth and took in the beauty of the scene before him.
The meadow grasses were green and not yet overly tall. Mixed with them were wildflowers of purple, yellow and red, decorating the field like a random carpet with occasional pockets of heather and broken by a couple of burrows and a few rocks. A hare grazed amid the grasses, sitting up to look at him a moment, before seeming to deem him harmless and hopping on to a new patch of clover. One of the beavers was swimming towards the dam, a tree limb firmly wedged in its strong teeth. In the thicket across the pond, came the sound of another chewing relentlessly away on another bole.
Glorfindel slid from Asfaloth's back and quickly divested himself of boots and clothing. He twirled; arms outstretched, he threw back his head and drank in the sunlight warming his naked skin. Asfaloth whinnied and wheeled on his back feet, darting across the meadow, bucking and kicking up his heels. Glorfindel's laughter echoed back to him, filling the glade with merriment. Then he took off running and dove into the still water, causing hardly a ripple as he dipped into its shining surface.
Though spring had visited them once more, and Arien soared overhead, the water retained some of its winter chill, and Glorfindel did not linger in it overlong. The fish would have to wait for a warmer day to be further impressed. He climbed up onto a rock, which made up part of the dam, and allowed the breeze and sun to dry his skin. Asfaloth trotted along the edge of the pond, stopping to paw at the water playfully from time to time. Glorfindel wondered if his horse could see the small fish darting beneath its surface.
When Asfaloth lowered his head and pressed his nose under, moving it quickly about, Glorfindel laughed aloud. Indeed, it appeared the young stallion had discovered the fish. The horse quickly brought his muzzle out of the water, neighing plaintively before casting confused eyes in his master's direction.
Shaking his head and getting to his feet, Glorfindel made his way back to where he had discarded his clothing. While getting dressed, he tried to ignore his pathetic beast so intent on catching the minnows and fingerling trout.
Asfaloth could not seem to accept that the fish were not toys meant for horses and continued to submerge his nose only to come up snorting and whickering, until the breeze picked up. Whirling so fast, Glorfindel jumped, the horse took off across the meadow, his belly flashing in the sunlight as he twisted and reared.
It was so good to see a young horse play, Glorfindel thought. Asfaloth's sire, Faerlain, had died over the winter, and Glorfindel, who had raised the old stallion from a newborn foal, missed the old horse terribly. For the Elves whose lives were as long as Arda herself, the brief lives of mortals, even horses, were too fleeting. How many times had he wished his steeds could be like Nahar, the mount of Lord Oromë, who died not? Too many to count, if he stopped to think about it.
Elven-bred horses were little different from horses raised by Men, at least as far as their life span went. On average, their horses lived to the age of forty or even fifty as Faerlain had proven. True the horses of Men rarely lived to see forty, due to not having the same knowledge in care as the Elves, but a decade was not much, in Glorfindel's mind, to differentiate the horses of Men from those belonging to the Elves.
The Eldar found it easier to train their steeds, having a closer bond to the animals than mere Men. Glorfindel could understand Asfaloth's manner of speech as well as the stallion understood him. Few surpassed the elvish steeds in speed or endurance, except perhaps those which belonged to the bands of Men the Elves had heard now roamed the plains to the south. It was rumored the newcomers had a line that lived much longer than the average horse. What had the messenger from Lothlórien said they were called? Mearas? Yes, that was it.
A bump to Glorfindel's back brought him out of his thoughts and back to the meadow. A head draped over his shoulder and he absently reached up to scratch behind the ears. He truly hoped he had many years with this delightful creature. Regardless, after this spring, Asfaloth's own foals would join them, and in time, perhaps one of the stallion's descendants would bear the same name if he proved to be worthy of it.
With a sigh and a last glance at the peaceful meadow dressed for Spring, Glorfindel mounted and urged Asfaloth to head back home.
The track back took longer as both he and his horse wished to linger, in no rush to return to stall or house. Detouring down a gentle embankment, Glorfindel let Asfaloth pick his way carefully down to an ancient riverbed, now a dry bed of stones. They followed it at a walk for a time, until rounding a bend. Glorfindel gasped, and then grinned.
About a hundred feet ahead of them stood a copse of holly trees, and scattered among them were many saplings.
It only took him a few minutes to shed his outer tunic and wet it in a small gurgling spring he found further into the grove. Using his knife, he quickly filled his tunic with young holly trees, and bundled them up in his tunic with enough soil to keep them happy until he could put them in the care of those who kept the grounds of the Last Homely House. This was the last year he would put up with a sneezing, grumpy Elrond!
Asfaloth returned them home in good time, and Glorfindel delivered his package to the amusement of the gardeners. They agreed to work the holly into the landscape gradually, and to find other plants and trees that would not cause the lord of the house such pains. It would take time, more than a year, but eventually, Spring could be a happy time once more, free of handkerchiefs!
To Be Continued...
Morgoth – The fallen Vala, brother to Manwë, master of Sauron and the Balrogs, maker of the Orcs.
Arien – the sun.
Asfaloth – This is not the Asfaloth of the books, but an ancestor to him.
"Noro lim" – Ride fast
Faerlain – OC, horse, sire of Asfaloth (not book Asfaloth)
Nahar – mount of Oromë
Oromë – Vala, husband of Vana, the great Huntsman who first found the Elves in starlit Cúivenen.
Mearas – strain of horses said to have been given to the Rohirrim by Oromë himself and supposedly are descended from Nahar.
Holly – a tree that is good for gardens of those with allergies.
Translation of Elrond's allergy induced mumbling.
"Cuhm eh," – Come in.
"Ah, yeth, Glowfinnel. Cuhm eh, cuhm eh. We ned to dithcuth the doo-ey rothter." – Ah, yes, Glorfindel. Come in, come in. We need to discuss the duty roster.
"Haf a theat." – Have a seat.
"Don fwown at me. Leth juth geth thith ovah wid." – Don't frown at me. Let's just get this over with.
A/N – Elrond having allergies can be considered AU if you disagree that Elves could suffer from allergies or Elrond could due to his mortal blood. I personally think any Elf can have an allergic reaction as they are of the same race as Humans (otherwise, they could not reproduce with Humans) and have the same internal systems. Their immune system is just stronger and thus it can also go haywire, IMO. You are free to disagree.
Thank you for reading! Comments are greatly appreciated! And make great presents!