Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
A/N: Oh my goodness! I am so sorry about the long delay in my updating. Student teaching, school, subbing, work, and life just came crashing down on me. I also lost my creative ingenuity in my novel, the characters stealing away any thought of my fanfiction. I plan to finish this so don't worry. I am going to work on this as much as possible. I promise! Thank you for the wonderful reviews and I hope you are still reading and enjoying it. Here's a new installment, short, but I really like this chapter. Enjoy!
Elrond stood out on the balcony overlooking the raging falls. He watched the water crash and churn, as chaotic and uncontrollable as his emotions. He was anxiously gripping the railing, sending silent prayers to Illuvatar that Elladan and Elrohir would be able to bring their brother home. His heart ached in his chest at the prospect of Legolas leaving this world without his best friend ever having the chance to find closure. But despite the pain, he welcomed it. He knew what Aragorn was dealing with was much worse and that broke his heart even more. To know that his child was in pain, one he would gladly take on himself, was beyond anything imaginable.
"If you grip that railing any tighter, you might actually break it," a familiar voice commented.
Elrond allowed his hands to unclench the white banister as he pushed himself away from the edge.
"Any news of my sons, Glorfindel?" Elrond asked hopeful.
"You know as well as I, my friend, that you would be the first to know when they returned. As of now, it is their task to find Estel and bring him home. Unfortunately, no wishful thinking will change that."
"Iston. I know." Elrond closed his eyes and wiped a hand across his head wearily. "How fares Legolas?"
"He is…content for the time being. I have seen him smiling more often than not. But when he is alone…" Glorfindel trailed off.
"His eyes look to an unseen haven in the west," Elrond finished. He knew that look quite well in the final days of his wife's presence in Middle Earth. No amount of coaxing could change the fact that she was no longer the same woman he married. She had been forever altered by her experience. Not all wounds were visible and not all of them could be healed. That was a lesson he learned that day, and no matter how much he prayed, wished, and hoped, he could not help Legolas either.
"I know this brings up painful memories, but you have to accept what may come to pass."
Elrond leaned on the railing again, his strength suddenly leaving him.
"I know that," he muttered weakly.
"Part of you might, but the stronger part believes that Estel's presence will change everything and that he will give Legolas a reason to stay." Elrond's silence prompted Glorfindel to continue. "Do not be ashamed to have such hope, but be cautious. Too much hope can sometimes be more damaging than no hope at all."
Elrond smiled sadly bowing his head.
"You sound like Gandalf."
"He is a wise wizard. I'm flattered."
"Don't be. His riddles are maddening. I find my head aching from their possible implications. Like right now." Elrond brought one hand up to massage his temple.
"Are they getting worse?"
"They are nothing I cannot handle with a little meditation and some tea."
Glorfindel eyed him worriedly. Ever since they found Legolas beaten and battered, Elrond had developed chronic headaches. They started off as irritants and slowly grew into throbbing aches. He kept it secret from his children not wishing to worry them beyond their concern for Legolas, but Glorfindel discovered his secret when he found him collapsed over his desk in the study. From then on, his friend had kept an annoyingly close eye on him to make sure that the pain did not worsen. Elrond did not doubt that this was the very reason that Glorfindel was in his rooms right now.
A soft hand on his shoulder brought him out of his musings. Elrond looked up into concerned eyes.
"You need to rest, my friend. I fear that you are losing yourself in this worry for everyone that you have nothing left for yourself."
Elrond shrugged off the comforting hand and walked back into his rooms.
"I am fine, or at least, I will be when everything is settled. Elladan and Elrohir will return with Estel and we will move along from there. The future is unclear but at least there remains a glimmer of hope."
Elrond sat down behind his old, mahogany desk in the corner of the room and began taking notes from a remedy journal. Focusing his mind on other things also helped to alleviate the pain. Some say that it was denial, but Elrond liked to think of it as mind over matter. His ignorance towards his companion caused the feathered quill to be forcibly removed from his grasp.
"What do you want from me, Glorfindel?" the weary elf stood up in anger.
"I want you to stop pretending that everything is alright. You are stretched as thin as sewing thread with the same fragile tendency to break. These headaches are from stress. You are running yourself ragged trying to keep Legolas' spirits up, worrying about Estel, and trying to make your sons see reason in their brother's decision. You may be an elf and you may be immortal, but you are going to have one long, miserable existence if you do not take time to see to your own needs."
"And what would you have me do?" Elrond asked, not missing a beat. "Would you have me let Legolas wallow in his sea longing? Well, that would certainly be a solution. He would depart these shores in a few days, I'm sure. And Estel? Why worry about my son whose mind seems to be as broken as Legolas'? He is a grown adult after all so there's no reason for me to worry about him. Elladan and Elrohir do have their whole immortal lives to come to terms with Estel's decision. I'm sure with maturity, many years after their brother is dead, they will forgive him. I see your point, Glorfindel. I need to take time for myself because apparently, I am making my own stress by worrying about such trifle matters."
Elrond was breathing hard by the end of his tirade. His hands were clenched into fists. He was staring at his best friend who looked at him in shock. It was then he understood just how much his patience was worn. He could not even accept the concern of a friend without perceiving it as a threat. His shoulders drooped and he staggered back into his chair, falling onto it as though the weight of the world were resting on top of him.
"I'm sorry. I am so very sorry. There is no excuse for my behavior. It is not like me to lose my temper so quickly."
Glorfindel held up a hand to stop him from apologizing any further.
"Stop, Elrond. You are quite correct. This is not like you and that is precisely why I worry about your state. Headaches, tirades, anger…what is happening to you, my old friend?"
"I don't know anymore. It has been too much these last few days. It's like I am building a sandcastle beside the ocean. I am desperately trying to hold everything together, but the ocean just keeps crashing on top of me destroying what I've built, bit by bit. I have been trying to hold everyone else together that I find myself unraveling. These are difficult times we find ourselves in. I just do not seem prepared to face them."
"You are," Glorfindel said, walking around the desk. He put a hand on his friend's shoulder and this time, Elrond let it remain. "We all are. We just need time to adjust to what is happening. The future is unknown to everyone and that is what is most frightening. We cannot see if the sun will shine through or if despair will linger. You have been coping the best out of everyone but you need to let yourself have time to feel and to understand what and why things are happening. Otherwise, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the need to make everyone else happy while you yourself suffer."
Elrond let the words sink in a moment before taking a deep breath. He felt a little lighter, sharing his burden, but he knew that he would never feel like himself until his family was whole again. But for now, he could live with it.
"When did you become so wise?" Elrond asked, trying to lighten the mood and lift his own heavy feelings.
"I have always been so."
"Why have I not been aware of it?"
"Perhaps you weren't listening."
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