The Treachery of Saruman
by SkyFire

For disclaimer, see part 1.

Sorry this chapter's taken so long- my plotbunnies got distracted by RL & other fic. *shrug*

This is the last chapter of this fic. I wanted to say a big, humongeous *thanks!* to everyone
who's reviewed it, as they really meant a *lot* to my plotbunnies and I! Especially I wanted to
say thanks to those who reviewed nearly every chapter; it's nice to know that people didn't just
lose interest after a while and go away! ;o)

Please review! ;)


*****
The Treachery of Saruman
by SkyFire

Part 13

Elrond awoke only briefly during the four-day ride back to Imladris, nothing that could be called
true consciousness. He woke only long enough to eat a few bites and drink a little before
sleeping once again. His memory of the long ride was confused, disjointed; he remembered the
feel of a horse between his legs, a strong arm wrapped around his middle, the smell of horse
sweat and leather oil. He *thought* he saw his sons there, as well as Glorfindel, but he couldn't
trust his memory, for he was also getting flashbacks from the last such ride he'd taken during
the Last Alliance; why else would he be seeing Gil-galad there, tending to him, poking at the
fire, eating beside Glorfindel? But if it *was* some sort of flashback, why did he see his sons
there as well? They were born after the end of the Alliance....

It was a small confusion that his tired mind could not unravel.

He slept again.

****

He awoke at last and knew himself to be nearly better. He blinked, for a short time disoriented
by the lack of movement and horse-sounds and -smells, then calming as he realized that he was
lying down not out in the wild but in his own bed in Imladris.

He stretched and yawned, blinking sleepily up at the ceiling, only then registering the fact that
he was not alone. He looked over, saw Glorfindel sitting there by the side of the bed, watching
over him.

"How are you feeling, my Lord?" the golden-haired Elf asked softly.

Elrond smiled softly. "Sore all over and a little tired, but nothing worse than that. I see you
survived your fall into the Bruinen."

"I had help," came the smiling reply. "Thank you for flooding the river."

Elrond shrugged. "There was nothing else I could have done. It didn't carry you too far, I
hope? You had no difficulty in walking back here?"

Glorfindel shook his head. "I arrived back in Imladris the same time you did, my Lord," he said.
"The river carried me as far as the ruins at Thorbad. I would have died had I not been pulled
from it and warmed."

Elrond stared. "You are well now, though?" he asked in concern. "Who rescued you? Is he here
for me to thank?"

"He was with us during the whole ride back," came the reply. "Elladan and Elrohir only managed
to pry him from your side a few hours ago to show him around the valley."

Elrond frowned slightly. "My memory of the ride back is somewhat scrambled, my friend," he
admitted. "I kept seeing times from the Last Alliance, when we used to camp with Gil-galad.
Though why I also saw Elladan and Elrohir there-"

The door to Elrond's bedroom chose that moment to open, admitting a trio of people.

The Lord of Imladris looked over at the opening door, saw his sons enter the room, accompanied
by-

He blinked, but the vision remained the same. "My King?" he squeaked, face flushing red when he
heard the sound of his voice.

Elladan and Elrohir looked to each other, then to their new friend. "King?" Elrohir asked.

Gil-galad moved to the bedside, looked fondly down at the Half-Elf. "Yes," he said simply. "It
is I." Seeing the questions in Elrond's eyes, he shook his head. "No, as I told Glorfindel, I
didn't die. I'll tell you the whole story later, but for now suffice to say that it was a few
centuries before I was well again, and by then...." He shrugged. "My time had passed. I am no
longer the High King, Elrond. Now I am merely Gil-galad."

The eyes of the twins almost bulged from their sockets upon hearing the name. They blushed then,
remembering how they'd been showing the other around, pointing out good spots for fishing,
sunbathing, berry picking... surely someone so mighty didn't do those things anymore and would
think them foolish?

Elrond caught sight of his sons and chuckled. "I think you've mortified my sons," he said to
Gil-galad. "What did they do to make them blush so?"

The other looked to the beet-red twins. A smile twitched upon his lips. "Nothing that I can
think of," he answered. "But perhaps they don't see it that way. Perhaps they are confused by
my former title." He chuckled softly. "As were a great many others who live here upon seeing me
ride in with your party. I fear my presence has made quite the disturbance throughout the
valley. It was all Glorfindel and I could do to convince them that I was not in need of grand
chambers, myriad servants and feastings. I've lived a simple life this Age."

Elrond chuckled again, looked back to his old friend. "You will stay here in Imladris, won't
you? At least for a little while?"

"Yes, I will stay for a time. It is peaceful here, or will be once the excitement has died down.
It has been long and long again since last I was among our people."

Elrond nodded. "You are welcome in my home," he said simply. Then he settled back into the
pillows as he was overcome by a yawn. "Tomorrow, I shall be entirely well," he said. "Then we
shall walk together in the valley and talk."

The former High King nodded. "I shall look forward to it," he said. "But now, you need to rest."

Gil-galad, Glorfindel and the twins quietly left the room, shutting the door softly behind them,
and left Elrond alone to rest.

Imladris' Lord settled in to sleep. He was barely a step away from slumber when a thought made
itself known to him: Everyone was safe and well again in Imladris, and yet still no one knew who
had sent the strange orc-kin in the first place. Who among their enemies bore the badge of white
hand and Elven 's'-rune?

With firm, if sleepy, resolve, Elrond decided to send out Elves throughout Middle-Earth seeking
the truth of the matter.

In the morning.

Then he slept.

END


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