! VSAN: Tolkien Estate owns the rights to these characters and such. There are original characters, which are creations of mine and Shaz's. This is part of an AU, and as such, does not necessarily follow "canon", but what fanfic by it's very nature can? It's not perfect, it took almost a year to finish this, and I thank any still reading. Big thanks to Shaz, co-conspirator and inspiration.

And finally...the end.

~*~*~

"Is that porcupine you claim as your betrothed competing?" Ramë ignored the frown shot at her for the comment, looking out at the field as those participating in the archery tournament filed onto the greens.

"No, Arantar is not."

Grinning for the pointed correction, Ramë lounged back in her chair, playing with the fringes on her shawl. "When will I meet this elf who cozened Mandos into releasing him from imprisonment?" Shook her head. "I hadn't realized getting burned to a crisp rated so high with the Valar these days."

Bronwe closed her eyes, almost dreading the meeting of this outspoken friend and Glorfindel.

Bad enough when it was just Ramë and Arantar. At least he just glared, retreating to silence rather than giving more ammunition to the one-time courtesan.

Glorfindel was shaping up to be as outspoken as Ramë.

That was saying something.

"I'm not certain, actually. He was with Elrond this morning."

Pursing a lip, gaze tracking a very familiar Elf Lord across the green, Ramë titled her head as she looked at his companion. "What does this slayer of the Balrog look like, Bron?"

"Tall as Elrond, built much like him, though not as broad. Hair is golden blonde to mid-shoulders. Blue eyes."

Tapped a finger on the armrest of her chair. "Handsome?" Flipped a hand up. "As in eye-catching, even when surrounded by elves?"

Bronwe snorted, her attention on the archers warming up for the competition. "He certainly turns enough heads in the marketplace, yes." Looked at her companion. "Why?"

"That him?" Gestured towards Elrond and the elf standing next to him.

"Yes."

Ramë shook her head, turning to look at Bronwe. "He lived in your home how long and you did no more than hug him I suppose?"

Scowling even as her face pinked, Bronwe held up her right hand, a silver ring glinting in the sunlight. "I'm betrothed!"

A snort as her gaze went back to the field. "Some days I think you're dead, Bron."

Huffing, the healer crossed her arms and shook her head. "Faithfulness is not dead."

"The one you're faithful to is as inspiring to lust as mud on a horse." Ignored the glare leveled on her and shook her head. "Don't argue, Bron. You already admitted he's your first and only." Turned her head to arch an eyebrow. "Unless that's changed?"

Bronwe rolled her eyes, fighting the colour flushing her face. "You're impossible."

"No," Ramë sighed. "I didn't think so. Pity." Snorted as the assembled stood, clapping for the entrance of a dark-haired elf. "And here comes Gil- galad." Remained seated even as Bronwe stood. "At least they'll start now."

Bronwe sat, giving her friend a long look. "You're truly considering going to Lothlórien? Where Galadriel reigns as queen?" She knew the other elf had no great love for the seer.

Ramë nodded, slowly smiling like a well-satisfied feline. "Oh yes. I imagine you'll hear her even here in this stuffy place."

Sitting back, Bronwe chuckled. "To be a leaf on a Mallorn tree…"

"Hmm." Ramë just smiled.

~*~*~

"Is he still telling that tale?" Ramë gave a sniff. "As if everyone hasn't heard it at least five times."

Elrond nodded. "He found a new audience in Glorfindel."

"And you haven't introduced me to him yet." Arching an eyebrow, she picked up a goblet from a table and took a sip. "Not bad. Gil-galad is pulling out the best to impress again, hmm?"

A rather thoughtful look as Elrond watched Gil-galad claim Glorfindel again, taking his arm and leading him over to another group of nobles to introduce him. Offered a polite smile and bow for Elava, Gil-galad's rather tightly- strung wife as she passed them. Looking not quite so sour as usual in the light of the full moon.

"Did you hear me?" Ramë tapped his arm with a feathered fan. Setting her goblet down she slipped an arm through his. "I might start to think you haven't missed me."

He turned to face her, lips curving slightly. "You know better." Running a hand up her arm to cup her shoulder as she stepped closer, Elrond stopped to truly look at her and his smile deepened. "You went all out tonight, didn't you?"

Dark hair long and flowing down her back, braided with threads of deep gold to honour both autumn season, and the Mallorn leaves of her soon-to-be new home. Her gown shimmered in the moonlight, the deep red reflecting threads of gold shot through. Somehow appearing both diaphanous when she moved while showing off the royal colour.

Lifting her hand to his lips, Elrond met her gaze as he placed a kiss first on the back of her hand, then the palm. "Your presence is as intoxicating as always, Ramë."

"Are you implying I'm going to your head, Elrond?" Dark eyes gleamed in the moonlight as she smiled, slipping one hand slowly up his chest. Standing close enough for him to feel the heat of her body, smell the subtle scent of an exotic spice she had dabbed behind her ears.

Watched as the grey of his eyes was almost swallowed by the widening black of his pupil.

Still, he was the High King's Herald for very good reasons. One of them the ability to deal gracefully with delicate situations and look indecently calm the entire time.

"Walk with me?" He indicated a deeply forested path with a nod of his head.

Arch smile as she graciously nodded. "And more…if you're lucky."

Elrond's smile didn't falter, but he was a bit quick in greeting a few Númenorean nobles as they passed.

Finally freeing herself from the paws of a Númenorean lord who had imbibed a bit too much of the mead, Bronwe caught sight of the pair sneaking off and chuckled. A quick look around showed Gil-galad still hanging onto Glorfindel's arm, looking intent upon making sure every single member of court was introduced to him.

"You should rescue him, you know."

She turned to find Círdan, bunch of grapes in one hand, mead in the other, watching his foster son. "Me? Why don't you?" She picked a leaf from the long cuff of a sleeve, twirling in her fingers.

"And end up having my ears talked off by Gil-galad?" The mariner snorted, shaking his head, silver hair spilling over his shoulders. "He's wound far too tightly tonight."

"Let's hope he doesn't break something then, eh?" She grinned, pursing a lip as she looked around, searching the many officers dressed in the dark blue and silver of their king for one elf. "Have you seen Arantar?"

Stuffing a grape in his mouth to keep from saying what immediately came to mind, Círdan shook his head. He swallowed the grape and nudged her with his elbow. "Go rescue the poor lad, Bron. He looks about ready to do something rash."

Looking to where Glorfindel was being led to another group, this one of matrons and their young daughters, she chuckled. "He might like this group."

"I never knew you to be cruel."

She arched an eyebrow, caught the twinkle in his eyes and shook her head. "Look again. He's flirting."

Círdan chewed on another grape, grunting absently as Bronwe stole several of them. "Yes, but look. Gil-galad is leading him towards –"

He startled as Bronwe suddenly darted off, heading on an intercept course. "Those Noldor lords." The mariner sighed. "He's a good king, but he really has no idea truly how deep old wounds go."

Watching as the healer almost appeared as if conjured before them, blocking their path. She smiled, speaking mostly to Gil-galad, but including Glorfindel in as well.

"That's how its done." Círdan nodded, chuckling to himself as Gil-galad left off the introductions to address whatever Bronwe was talking to him about. Frowned as he lifted his goblet to drink and realized it was empty. "Now that the crises is averted…" He went looking for one of the many elves roaming the clearing, bottles of mead in their hands.

She began to regret the impromptu rescue immediately. Fixing an interested look on her face as Gil-galad began to go on and on about Eregion and the work the stone smiths were doing there in conjunction with the Dwarves.

"The ithildin…have you seen it before, Glorfindel?" Gil-galad shook his head. "They were finishing one of the doors. Absolutely stunning."

"That gleams in star or moonlight?" The blonde elf nodded, gazing impassively at the king.

Almost looking bored.

"Well…they actually came." Gil-galad gave a nod to the two and turned on his heel, striding towards a group of Dwarves stomping into the clearing with suspicious frowns on their faces.

Glorfindel arched an eyebrow in silent commentary, and looked around. Nodded to one of the nobles who passed. "Have you seen Elrond?"

She stared at him for a moment. Who was this? This could not be the same elf who had repaired nets with Círdan and laughed so hard at the gather. He was… distant. Polite, but as if from a higher plane than anyone else.

Licking her lips, she shook her head. "No."

"Hmm…" Almost dismissively turned away, scanning the crowds in the clearing.

Bronwe took a step back, then froze as he turned again, not quite able to control the flinch as he frowned. "What? Is something wrong?"

Gathered her dignity around her like a cloak and raised her chin. "No." She gestured to the hall. "Look in the ballroom. He might be in there." Held her ground as he continued to gaze at her.

"Where is Arantar?"

She sighed, frowning at the ground. "I don't know."

Subduing a frown, Glorfindel suddenly smiled. Holding out an arm, he offered, "Accompany me? It could be he's in the main hall."

"Maybe." Unbalanced, a bit wary of this new persona, Bronwe lightly set her hand on his arm, falling into step with him.

He moved through the crowd as though he'd been at court for decades. Nodding to one of the Númenorean Lords as the man approached as if to stop him. Polite bow, even as he neatly stepped to block Bronwe from the man. "Pardon, milord, but I am on a bit of an errand." Disarming smile that the human responded to without even thinking and they were on their way again.

He ushered her through the arched entry before him, and she hesitated. The huge assembly room was crowded, full of elves, dwarves, men. Even several halflings. All talking, filling the room with the hum of conversation.

It was a relief to spot Elrond and Ramë just entering from the opposite side. Bronwe tapped Glorfindel's shoulder and gestured.

Ramë arched an eyebrow as they walked up, teasing smile curling her lips. "Bronwe, does your betrothed know about this?"

The flush that heated the healers face was interesting even as she frowned.

"I've been looking for him." Bronwe pursed a lip and searched the crowd. She vaguely heard Elrond introducing Ramë to Glorfindel. Spotting Gil-galad heading their way she groaned. "Oh no."

"Found Aran, eh?" Ramë smiled pertly as the healer pointedly ignored her.

"Glorfindel I –" Gil-galad glanced around the circle, caught sight of Ramë's gown, which under the diffusive moonlight had been demure enough.

In the light of torches however, it rippled as she moved, at times appearing almost translucent. Giving a glimpse of the lithe form beneath the cloth.

The King blinked, his face turning rather ruddy as he met Ramë's gaze.

She arched an eyebrow, smiling as she moved to set her goblet down.

Glorfindel arched an eyebrow as well, but merely smiled. Politely appreciative.

Clearing his throat, Gil-galad began again, pointedly not looking Ramë's direction. "Glorfindel, there are several –"

"Bronwe!"

A young elf ran up, pushing past several nobles, stumbling forward to grab the healer's arm. "You have to come now! Quickly! Naneth is bleeding all over and Ada doesn't know what to do!"

Slipping an arm around the distraught child's shoulders Bronwe shook her head as Elrond stepped forward. "I'm coming now, Lossë." Taking the child's hand, she grabbed up the skirt of her gown in her other hand and ran back the way the girl had come.

Elrond frowned, pursing a lip, but turned his attention back to the remaining group.

Gil-galad shook his head, grimacing. Child bearing was a messy business. "Do you suppose…" Shrugged one shoulder. "That they'll need help?"

Ramë snorted. "Are you volunteering?" Tossing her head as Elrond met her gaze.

"No." The king frowned, looking away from Ramë. They had never truly gotten along, even when she was still in his court. She was far too outspoken and fond of berating his opinion in public. "Glorfindel, if you'll come with me, I'll introduce you to Thranduil and Oropher."

Glorfindel shot a glance at Elrond who nodded. Bowing to Ramë, he turned and followed Gil-galad.

Waiting until he was out of earshot, Ramë snorted. "Thranduil. Of course he's here." She turned to look at Elrond, sighing at his brooding air. "Are you going to help Bron?"

"No." He shook his head, frown furrowing his brow. "Bronwe cautioned Meriel against having another child. The last one was almost too much for her."

Ramë slipped her hand through his arm. "Come, walk with me through the gardens. It's too stuffy in here and if one more of those Númenoreans stares at me…"

Elrond accepted the distraction, smiling for the beauty offering it to him. "No scenes, Ra. I don't think Gil-galad's composure can take another beating tonight."

"Oh…fine." With a grin and a sinuous wiggle that got more than one noble in trouble for noticing, Ramë strolled out into the moonlight.

~*~*~

Finally escaping Gil-galad's overly attentive handling, Glorfindel took a moment to simply stand in a quiet grotto and observe. Standing near a gently splashing fountain, he swirled the wine in his goblet, pursing a lip in thought.

Being center of attention had never been a problem. The middle of three children, he had been the one who sought the most laughs, the most hugs. Insecurity had never even really crossed his thoughts.

Not then, and not now.

Having people try to use him to an advantage though, that annoyed him. Nor was he fond of those who complimented simply to gain a better place in court.

Sincerity was a rare commodity in a royal court, as was honesty. He'd been known as a flirt, skilled at flattery. Any who knew him long enough knew he could also be horribly blunt, almost seeming callous.

He was honest, even if it meant offending someone who insisted upon his opinion.

Looking up to gaze at the moon, he sighed. So many changes and yet Elves themselves were still basically the same. As were Men and Dwarves.

"Bloody stars of Varda, I must be truly pished out of my gourd to see this..."

Glorfindel whirled at the whispered voice, eyes narrowing at the Elf staring at him with huge, owlish eyes. A devious smile curved his mouth and he raised his chin. "Gildor Inglorian, wastrel and prolifigate, what have you to say for yourself?"

Blinking, dropping the full goblet of wine, heedless of it spilling on the grass, Gildor took a step forward. "Glor... is it really you, old mate? Or have I mistakenly kicked off and been played victim to a nosh whim of Mandos?" He sighed, bowing his head, raven hair spilling forward to curtain his face. "Surely I'm dead, and a sodding arse at that."

It started as a chuckle, but Glorfindel couldn't help the laugh that started low, throwing his head back. "Gildor, you old prat!"

"Glor?"

"In the flesh." A roguish grin lit his eyes as he spread his arms. "Again."

"Glorfindel!" Gildor bounded forward, tackling the blonde, knocking both of them into the fountain with a splash of water.

Laughing like idiots sitting in the shallow pool, the two grinned at each other.

Long-time friends, and co-conspirators in many hijinks that had landed them in trouble more often than not.

And of a few other affiliations that were well left out of most annals of history. "I can't..." Gildor grabbed Glorfindel's face between his hands, leaning forward to plant a hearty kiss on his lips before drawing back for a cracked laugh. He sat up a little, fountain water ending just below his waist, even as he slapped the thigh next to him. "I should've known you'd connive Mandos into releasing you back!"

A glint of mischief, the now soaked layers of clothes and drag of his thoroughly wet hair only inspiring him more, glittered in Vanyar eyes. "Not quite like you might think to beg out, wily dog."

"But to welcome old friends back?"

Glorfindel chuckled low in his throat, and shoved the Exile backwards into the fountain with a resounding splash. Then, waiting a moment, he dived in after.

"Why doesn't it surprise me to see that they know each other?" Ramë chuckled, leaning against her escort, slanting him a smile as they stood back and watched the two Elves tussle like cats in the water. "You're in for trouble, Elrond."

"Oh..." He smiled, shaking his head in amusement, ignoring her own wandering hands. "I already gathered that."

~*~*~

Wrinkling his nose for the squishing noise his boots made, Glorfindel stopped, bending to yank them off and dump the water out of them.

Gildor snickered, shaking his head. Still amazed, reaching out to touch the blonde's arm again to be certain it was real and not some drunken imagining. "Here." Grabbing the very solid arm, he pulled the blonde after him. "A nice quiet place to catch up, eh?"

Allowing himself to be towed along, Glorfindel ducked through the long, trailing willow branches, almost running into Gildor as he stopped suddenly.

A blonde eyebrow rose as Gildor turned to stand a hand's width apart, staring at him. They were of a height, one light, one dark. Both with a quirky sense of humour and a disdain for the common opinion.

Glorfindel smiled as the dark blue gaze remained glued on him. Waiting out the shock, mildly amused and showing it openly. It wasn't often Gildor Inglorian was caught speechless.

"You died. I saw it. Watched you..." Gildor grimaced, trying to forget the sight of a friend burned beyond recognition, tumbling off the pass, to fall with the Balrog. "Thorondor carried your body up. Did ye know that?"

"No." Glorfindel closed his eyes, drawing in a deep breath. "I always did like them."

Gildor nodded, smiling again. He'd never been overly fond of the 'squab' himself, but the blonde had climbed the peaks many times to visit the Great Eagles. "They wrote some of the worst bloody songs I've ever heard..." He laughed, looking up, shaking his head. Silent for a long moment before looking to him again, fond smile curving his mouth. "You definitely left an impression."

"Of course!" Glorfindel preened playfully, trying to distract his friend from the overly somber memories.

Snorting, the raven haired elf poked a finger into the other's chest. "So, yer back. No scars, no curses from the Valar tainting the body?"

He shook his head, grinning. "None."

"Got off clean an' free, did ye?" Gildor's eyes narrowed at the telling hesitation. "Glor?" He stepped closer, lifting a hand to grasp the back of the blonde's neck. Frowning as a shudder ran through the body. "Glorfindel -"

Eyes closed, he shook his head. "It's all just...new." A hoarse chuckle. "Rather overwhelming actually."

"Ye don't have to hide anything from me." Gildor snorted. "Remember me? Ever seen me offended by an honest desire?"

"Gildor..."

He shook his head, stepping closer. "Shut up, ye noff blonde." Close enough to touch. "Always did talk too much."

~*~*~

It happened, even to immortals.

Sometimes even apart from times of war. An elf died. After all, while they were resistant to disease and the weaknesses that plagued men, they weren't omnipotent.

Where men mourned, buried their dead and moved on, it could be more difficult for elves. Death was not common to them.

For a healer, one used to treating wounds, stitching up children, tending to the odd ills and births of a community, the death of a patient was devastating.

Especially for her to die giving birth.

Giving life.

Bronwe sat on the pier, arms wrapped around her legs, and just stared. Stared at the west as if she could trace the path of Meriel's fea to Mandos' keeping.

Círdan found her sitting there as he took his morning stroll to the shipyards. Startled to find anyone out before him. The festival had gone well into the morning hours, some just taking to their rest.

"Did you come out here to watch the sunrise with your old…" Círdan's jovial manner dropped as he saw her gown and arms, her hands, covered in blood.

Dried blood.

"Bron." He knelt. "What…"

She stared ahead, grey eyes unfocused. "She's dead. Just…" Furrowed her forehead and tilted her head a bit. "…the baby was turned wrong. We were trying to delay her contractions, to turn the baby." Blew out a breath in a puff of steam. "The blood. So much blood. I couldn't stop it and…she wasn't listening to anything, wouldn't…."

He clasped her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Bron." Cleared his thoat. This was not his arena. At all. "The babe?"

Grimacing, she rested her head on her knees. "I took him from his mother after…." Voice muffled as she pressed her face against her knees. "He's fine. Healthy."

What should he do? Leave her here? If she started crying… Círdan stroked a hand down his beard, looking around for another person. Gestured over one of his workers. "Go fetch Elrond-"

"No!" Bronwe uncurled, rolling to her knees. "No," she repeated, calmer, seeing how she'd startled Círdan. "I'm…" Rose to her feet, pressing her hands together and grimacing. "I'm going home."

"Bronwe…"

She shook her head, and slipped past.

Leaving him frowning, watching until she left the docks, heading up the shore.

~*~*~

"Moving again, hmm?" Círdan watched the blonde gather his belongings. "Keep this up and I'll believe it when Gildor tells me you're thinking of joining that insane lot of Exiles."

Glorfindel chuckled, shaking his head. "Nothing so extreme." He straightened. "Just taking quarters in the East Wing of the Palace."

Silver hair slithered down a shoulder as Círdan nodded. "Back to the court life."

"Yes."

"Though I think you're as fond of it as Elrond." He shook his head.

"It's a game I'm quite familiar with." Smiling, the blonde looked around the room. "Thank you for letting me stay here."

"Any time, Glor." Círdan chuckled. "And if you get a yearning to mend nets instead of casting snares in court...come see me."

Clasping forearms with the older elf, Glorfindel nodded. "I will." He picked up his bag and nodded, pausing in the doorway. "Or if I have a yearning for mead?"

The rather hopeful expression made Círdan laugh. "Yes, you scamp! Go on now, or I'll never be rid of you."

A bow and he was gone.

~*~*~

"...this then is the dangerous adventure most of the time."

Glorfindel grinned at the dry tone of voice, looking around the room full of books stacked on tables, shelves of books and desks with quills and ink. "The shelves are unstable?"

Chuckling, Elrond gestured for him to follow. "Not that I know of, but it seems I spend more time these days standing nearby as Gil-galad holds open court." He sighed, looking around. "Not exactly my first choice."

"You did understand the job of a herald before accepting?"

Droll smile. "Yes, but this king is overly fond of holding audience with any human or dwarf who enters town." Elrond frowned. "And there are secrets here that would yield information about our enemy. I know it. I simply don't have the time anymore to research."

Glorfindel nodded. "Tell me what I can do to free up some of your time then." He met the darker blue eyes, smiling slightly at the surprised expression there. "That is what I do, right?"

"Yes." Elrond's nod was slow. Thoughtful. "Among other duties to the court, but yes."

"Then, milord, I suggest we get to it." Glorfindel grinned, eyes twinkling. "I would not have it said I wasted my second life."

"Nor would I!" Elrond brought over a thick sheaf of papers. "You do read Quenyan?" At a nod, he patted the dusty stack, grinning. "Have at it."

Sitting, Glorfindel paused to draw in a deep breath and look around. No, nothing like his first life.

Nothing at all.

It looked to be a good one.

~*~*~

TBC in "Fragile Peace", series on The Last Pub in Arda, by Shaz...I dabbled in it. ;)
As for the song? I heard it and immediately thought of Glorfindel. Inspiration.


Take off my shield
Carry my sword
I won't need it anymore
Find me a sky
Give me my wings
Frozen and broken but free

Tell them I'm all right
I'm coming home
Tell them I'm all right
I am alone
This war is over
I'm coming home

Take off my shame
Bury it low
I won't need it anymore
Find me the sun
Give me it whole
Melt all the chains in my soul

Tell them I'm all right
I'm coming home
Tell them I'm all right
I am alone
This war is over
I'm coming home

Take off my pain
Carry me slow
I won't fight here anymore
Tell them I'm all right
I'm coming home
Tell them I'm all right
I am alone
This war is over
I'm coming home

This War is Over
Melissa Etheridge