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Beta: Aranel


Chapter 13: The Healer's Choice

Imladris

Glorfindel spent the days away from Lord Elrond; he did not wish for the healer to see him as a convenient target, considering that everyone else had left him. Did the elf-lord ever stop to reflect on this issue? How had his wisdom disappeared? Elrond had blamed everything on Prince Legolas even before hearing all the facts to know what exactly had happened between Legolas and his son. And now that all his three sons were gone, was Elrond still persuaded that Legolas was entirely to be blamed?

The Balrog slayer was not feeling particularly of help but in any case, he would remain safe within the borders. It was a beautiful day, calm and peaceful, with the sun rays dancing through the trees; watching nature revealed in all its glory always brought a smile to his face. Too bad Elrond was no longer doing that lately.

Lord Glorfindel would never admit it but he missed the twins and Aragorn – a lot. True, they never ceased to bring him trouble and yet he was always thinking of them, and worrying. He joined the guards along the border. Perhaps someday soon, those children would return home.

He heard a very pressed gallop of a horse and looked up sharply. Someone was approaching as though being chased.

"A messenger from Lothlórien…" Glorfindel announced to the guards as he identified the insignia on the rider's cloak.

"I do hope that nothing has happen to Lord Elrond's sons," one of the guards said.

"Let's hope our lord would not do something as foolish as cutting off ties with Mirkwood," another guard spoke.

Glorfindel nodded. They had certainly voiced what was on his mind and he would certainly do all that was within his power to stop Elrond's destructive folly.

"I will lead him to Lord Elrond," Glorfindel decided.

"Thank you, Lord Glorfindel, for your assistance." It was clear that no one was particularly keen on this task.

"Thank you for your company," Glorfindel replied and approached the messenger.

"Mae govannen," Glorfindel welcomed the messenger as the guards attended to his horse. "What errand brings you here?"

"I bring a message. It is to be handed personally to Lord Elrond, in private," the messenger told him.

"I thought as much. I will show you to the halls."


Erestor missed having Aragorn around. The man enjoyed giving him advice, and he had to admit that very often, they were good, very good indeed; the man certainly had what it took to be a king.

From his study, he thought he had heard the steady beat of horse hooves. But he did not sense the presence of the human and the twins. Or perhaps that was a sole horse at full gallop? He slipped in a piece of parchment to mark the page of the book he was reading. Something had told him that this was important than checking the little details in the historical account of Glorfindel's triumphs.

The breeze ushered in Glorfindel and another elf, approaching in great hurry. He stepped forward to greet them.

"Messenger of Lórien, how may I help you?"

"I have a message from my lady for Lord Elrond," The messenger replied. "She bids me to hand it to him personally, and in private."

Erestor nodded. "He is in his study. I will announce your arrival and he shall meet you shortly, after which you would do well to refresh yourself," Erestor told him.

The messenger nodded and followed Erestor down the hallway. They stopped at the door. Erestor knocked, opened, entered and spoke briefly to the elf-lord; the messenger entered and left in no time.

The door remained closed.


"That damned elf, it was entirely his fault," Elrond cursed right away.

He had been surprised to receive a messenger from Lothlórien, and all the more so when he realized that it was a letter from the Lady Galadriel herself. And he had known at once that it would concern Legolas. He flung the parchment onto the ground. He had no wish to touch it.

How dare she request his presence at Lothlórien? By suggesting a fair hearing of the matter, was she insinuating that he had not handled it justly? Were the facts not clear enough? Even after all that the Mirkwood elf had done to his son? Was he not justified in acting in the interests of the future king of Gondor upon whom hinged the fate of Men?

He paced frustrated in his study, then gave up and retired to his room. He was not going to be able to get any work done. Ever since this had happened, he had never been able to get anything done. It was certainly weighing on him.

And she was not even expecting a reply from him. What audacity! While he fully respected her, surely he should be allowed some freedom to act in the way he saw fit. He stopped abruptly and hurried back to his study. He picked up the letter and read it, carefully. Then he brought it with him into his room.


Glorfindel knew that something was happening. It was not like Elrond to be hasty, and from the way the elf lord had returned to the study for the parchment, Glorfindel could tell that something in his demeanor had changed. He turned around in the hallway. Erestor was there, scribbling a few notes but their gazes met.

"So?" Glorfindel prompted.

Erestor shook his head. "It is too early to be certain. We can only hope."


Lothlórien…

Aragorn jolted awake. How had he fallen asleep? Was he supposed to be on guard? Was h- Legolas! What had happened? Wha-

"Shh..."

He blinked. It was night but the forest was illuminated by faint glows of light. Lothlórien. He turned to see the lady of light standing in the glade.

"My lady," he greeted her politely. "How are the others?"

"They are resting," she answered, "unlike you."

He frowned. But of course he had been resting. Had he not been roused from sleep?

But no.

What had awoken him?

"You have much on your mind," Lady Galadriel said, approaching.

That much Aragorn would not deny. After all that had happened the past few days or perhaps, weeks, it was only to be expected. Just how much time had passed?

"They need a healer," he said pensively.

Lady Galadriel shook her head. "That is not your main concern, is it?"

Aragorn sighed. He was not sure of anything anymore.

"He will come, your adar," she said, "and all will be well."

Aragorn could only hope that her assumption was right.


Imladris

Lord Elrond found himself reading the parchment over and over, finally understanding what the Lady Galadriel was asking of him.

She had not asked for his presence in his capacity as a father or friend or family; she was asking for his aid as a healer.

What did he do wrong? He had done nothing but act as a father would after he saw Aragorn so gravely hurt that he could have been dead – the pallor of his skin, his loss of blood – and it had been Legolas's fault, from what his sons had told him.

But he had known, had he not? Elrond sighed heavily, and cursed himself for that thought. His mind had tried to tell him that his sons could have been wrong, and yet his heart saw only Aragorn on the verge of death because of Legolas.

He tried to recall what had happened the moment he had banished Legolas. What had he missed in his rage and his zeal to put the blame on someone? He saw only a shocked elf, staring at him. What more could he recall? Nothing but that blank stare. And the drying blood glistening on his sword.

Something was wrong and he had ignored it.

After all, everyone blamed Legolas; Legolas would have started to believe it too even if that had not been the case. And of all the things that he could have done, Elrond had evoked his father, Thranduil.

No wonder Thranduil himself had been so furious at him. What friendship they had nourished over the many years might have now been destroyed.


Lothlórien

Legolas was as pale as the cold moon above him, blood was gathering under his body. His son was dead.

He was staring at his son's body, the blood was flowing endlessly from an unknown source. But if he was dead, no, he was not dead, there was a twitch of movement. Thranduil stood rooted to the ground, a cold chill running through him.

Aragorn came to stand near him, looking at the body of Legolas. Then he mumbled how sorry he was and he walked away, vanishing in the shadow of darkness.

A strong gust of wind whipped across his face. Thranduil turned away instinctively. His son's body disappeared.

"LEGOLAS, NO!" Thranduil shouted into the night, the echoes of his voice ringing in the darkness.

He stood alone, watching as the blood soaked into the ground.

Galadriel's light and mocking voice whispered that Legolas's death solved all problems. He ought to be happy, after all it had been Legolas's fault.

Elrond walked over. "I am glad that he is dead; he got what he deserved."

Thranduil bolted up awake in fear, his throat seized by a choking breath. He looked around frantically, looking for his son. Legolas was still near him, He sighed in relief, there was no blood around him.

He leaned over and whispered in his ear, hoping that his precious child would not enter the Halls of Mandos but return with him to live. He ran his hand through Legolas's hair, brushing it away from those blue eyes so void of life.

The loss of his son would resurrect nothing but evil, nothing but that which he had hidden a long time ago in the darkest shadows of his heart.


Imladris

The questions were flooding his mind. Elrond could not believe that he had been so blind. His sons had left him, his friend Thranduil was gone, and the anger, the blame…

Elrond tried to soothe the pain emanating from his forehead. His mind saw nothing but Legolas's pallor, the scars hidden behind his eyes, the smell of blood as it dripped from the sheath of his sword.

Why did he not see that Legolas was in pain? He should have. He was not only a father but also a healer.

He stopped.

'Is that what you want me to see, Galadriel?' Elrond thought.

But how could he face them now after everything that he had said? How could Thranduil rebuild his friendship with him?

Being a healer asked for much more than what anyone thought; the greater the expectations thrust upon him, the greater could be their disappointment.

What if he could not heal Legolas? What if Thranduil did not want him to heal him? All that he had done was destroy the soul. What if he had lost the power to heal?

Someone was knocking on the door. Elrond sighed and opened it.

"My lord?" Erestor asked as he stepped in with Glorfindel following him.

"What is it?" Lord Elrond asked.

"We wish to ride to Lothlórien," he replied.

"Why would you wish to ride to the Golden Forest?" Elrond asked. What did they know?

"The messenger said that your sons are there, and that Thranduil and Legolas have been found…"

"We will ride together at first light. I shall need your advice, Erestor," Elrond decided.

"I shall do what I can, my lord Elrond," Erestor replied with a respectful bow.

"And Glorfindel," Elrond continued. "I shall need your help should I wish to help Thranduil's son."

Glorfindel nodded. What Elrond needed was an army, not a sole guard.

"I can only hope that this is the right decision, and may the Valar help us," Elrond finished. His thoughts flitted to his sons. What could he do if he lost them?

And what would Thranduil do if he lost his only son?

"Oh, Valar, what have I done?" Elrond breathed.

End of Chapter 13.