Disclaimer: Not mine. Never will be. I can only play with them.
Rating/Warnings: K+. Rated K+ for mild peril and danger
Time frame: Arwen's probably about 24 or so. She's essentially a young teenager, so however that officially works out...
A/N: This is a two-part fic, the first chapter being the action/adventure and the second being more hurt/comfort. This was originally supposed to just be a oneshot, but I have to go to bed, and I only just managed to get to a good stopping place. Warning: I wrote this very quickly and so there will be grammatical mistakes in here. I am terribly sorry for them, but seeing as how it's nearly 4:30am, and I have to be up in 2 hours I don't particularly care right now. (and my beta's long in bed. Which I should be too). I would love feedback, and please feel free to make note of any typos. I'd absolutely adore hearing your thoughts on this, even an anonymous "I liked it" or "I don't like it." I can only improve if I know what people think! Most importantly though, enjoy!
Dedication: For Crookneck. While this won't make your life any better per se, I hope that this little ficlet at least manages to make you smile and feel loved. I'm terribly sorry that I didn't manage to get it finished tonight, and I know how you feel about two-shots...But I really wanted you to have something in your inbox this morning when you wake up. So I'm going ahead and posting the first half now. I hope you enjoy :)
One Bright Summer's Day
Elrond knew instantly that something was wrong. He could not explain the feeling – he never could – but the sudden rolling, twisting worry that flared in his gut was strong enough to draw forth a gasp. His quill froze in his hand, the tip hovering an inch above the page, a droplet of ink trembling, and then falling to splash onto the page, blotting out the figures he had been in the midst of writing.
"Elrond, are you well?" Erestor asked, glancing up from the ledger that he had been copying Elrond's calculations into at the sound of his friend's gasp. When he caught sight of the look on Elrond's face, Erestor frowned worriedly – rarely had he seen such a look upon his lord's face, and when he had in the past, little good had followed. "Elrond?"
Elrond did not hear Erestor, a strange buzz filling his ears. Nor did he see his friend's anxious look for his vision darkened, a familiar sensation pulling at his thoughts.
The Valley was calling for him, the river crying out in fear. Yet it was not fear of approaching darkness or of evil that was brought by creatures of the Shadow that the Valley was afraid of, and it was not anger that filled the water's cries. It was something else – more of a warning or a sorrow, or perhaps the fear of a sorrow.
Tumbling and rushing the water hurtled down the stream, parting around jagged fingers of rock before throwing itself over the edge of the waterfall to free fall nearly twenty feet to the deep pool below. Spray hung suspended in the air, catching the sunlight and forming a hundred miniature rainbows in a glorious display of beauty and light.
A shrill scream shattered the illusion of peace. And then, "Stay there! I'm coming to get you. Hold on…just hold on…" The pleading voice was drowned out an instant later by the howl of the water as it valiantly fought to keep the fragile body pressed close to the jutting stone nearest to the sudden drop.
Elrond was on his feet even before the darkness had faded, the quill falling forgotten from his hand to dash a long line of black across the page of carefully printed calculations. He did not notice; indeed, he likely could not even have seen it as he rounded the desk and sprinted for the library's door.
Erestor watched with concern as Elrond's eyes glazed over slightly and his gaze lost focus, the only indication that he was listening to the wind and the voice of his valley. Erestor unconsciously held his breath, as if afraid that he could distract his lord from his thoughts.
Elrond snapped back into focus, but before Erestor could question him over what he had seen, Elrond had already risen from his seat and was sprinting for the door, practically shattering the thin wood in his haste to pull it open. Erestor hastily shut the ledger and then ran after his friend, toppling his chair onto its side in his haste.
Elrond sprinted through the House, taking the stairs down to the ground level two at a time and then turning down a side corridor that passed by the kitchens and ended with a door leading out to the gardens.
The two ellyth who had just been entering the House, baskets of freshly harvested fruit on their hips, stopped in shock as their lord hurtled past them, just narrowly managing to avoid slamming into them full-on, but clipping the taller of the two's shoulder with his own. She staggered slightly, and then turned to watch as her lord threw open the door and disappeared outside.
She turned to her companion. "Ereboth, did you…" She was cut off as another dark-haired figure ran past, again just narrowly dodging them.
The second elf hesitated as he reached the door and turned back to the two ellyth in the hallway, confusion and no small degree of shock written across their faces.
"Lord Erestor," the shorter elleth – Ereboth – exclaimed, and it was evident that her confusion grew all the more at the revelation of who this second elf was. Erestor was well-known amongst the inhabitants of Imladris as the calmest and unlikely to find trouble out of the three lords of the valley, so to see him running pell-mell through the halls was a shocking sight indeed, even more so than seeing their lord do the same.
"Did Elrond come this way?" Erestor asked sharply, silencing the questions that were sure to come.
"Yes my lord," Ereboth answered. "He passed by us but a few seconds ago," she added. "What is-" But Erestor had already turned and vanished outside, leaving the ellyth even more confused and taken aback.
Erestor took a second to gather his bearings, blinking away the blindness that accompanied the sudden change from the shadowy indoors to the brilliantly lit mid-afternoon sunlight. He glanced around, searching for Elrond.
It only took him a second to catch sight of his friend, but it was nearly a second too long. Elrond slipped into the trees and was almost instantly lost to sight among the shadows. Erestor frowned, trying to think of where his lord could possibly be going. He took up his pursuit nonetheless, his eyes fixed upon the place that he had seen Elrond disappear. He only hoped that he would be able to follow the half-elf even through the trees.
Elrond nimbly darted through the trees, ducking low-hanging branches and leaping over fallen and rotting logs and small stones. Taking the path would have been much smoother and easier, yet it would have taken nearly twice as long as it twisted and doubled back on itself. And time was something that Elrond knew that he did not have.
He pushed himself harder, his pounding heart keeping time with the thudding of his heart. Fear filled his throat, constricting his breathing, and he pushed it away relentlessly. He could allow nothing to slow him down, and especially not fear, which he knew would quickly give way to panic.
Erestor cursed under his breath as he followed Elrond, the flowing outer robe that his station dictated he wear tangling in a small, flowering shrub. Erestor abandoned the cloth almost instantly, pulling his arms free and allowing the bush to have its prize without contest. The thick trees that filled the outer parts of the garden barred any sight of his friend but a few glimpses of moving shadow, and even a second's pause on his part could mean that he would lose all sight of Elrond. It was already difficult enough to keep up with Elrond, half-elf though he was, his Sindar blood making him far more at home amongst the trees than Erestor would ever be.
Erestor burst from the trees and slid to an abrupt halt. He was at the top of a small hill that sloped away gently to the very edge of a wide, deep pool, thick grass carpeting the descent. The dull roar of a waterfall pounded through the air, and the water in the pool was shifting and eddying slightly from the force of the waves crashing into it. A faint mist hung in the air, causing the entire glade to sparkle as if the very air itself was encrusted in diamonds.
A panicked scream reached Erestor's ears, and he looked up to the top of the waterfall. Standing there, back-dropped by the cliffs rising beyond was an unmistakable figure, long black hair hanging wetly over shoulders so very similar to his father's.
And then the meaning of the scream reached Erestor's mind, and his blood ran cold.
Elrond too had hesitated as he had come to the top of the hill, and had glanced up the cliff toward the mouth of the waterfall. There, standing out starkly against the pale gray of the stone and the clear blue of the water, clung a small shadow.
The waters seemed to be parting more gently around the small shape, even the waterfall itself flowing less forcefully than was its wont. Yet the laws of nature could not be denied, and as Elrond looked up, his gaze latching onto the clinging figure, he watched in sick horror as the figure slipped away from the stone and plummeted over the edge of the waterfall.
Elrond acted without thought, plunging down the hill toward the water and diving head-first into the pool.
The water closed in around his head, embracing him and pulling him down. He swam for the far end of the pool, his instincts and long-forgotten habits taking control of his body as he fought the current pushing him back toward the shore.
Elrond neared the far end of the pool and kicked to the top, his head breaking the surface for just an instant. Drawing in a deep breath, he twisted his body and dove back beneath the water and kicked down toward the bottom.
The sound of water as it crashed into the pool pounded all around him, dulling his senses and causing his head to ache dully. He pushed himself down farther, ignoring the increasing pressure behind his ears and the stinging in his eyes.
He needed to get closer; he would need to dive beneath the waterfall itself if he was to hope to find his daughter. She would likely be pinned to the bottom, held down by the crashing waves, unable to break free of the crushing current.
Elrond dove deeper, angling his descent toward the violently seething water. Almost instantly, he began to feel a new current tugging at his body, drawing him in rather than pushing him away. This time Elrond did not fight the current, allowing it to pull him deeper and closer.
And then he was beneath the waterfall itself, and he could feel the thousands of stones' worth of weight crashing down over him. He was shoved relentlessly downwards, and then slammed painfully against the pebbled bottom.
Elrond opened his eyes and looked around, searching. It was nearly impossible to see more than a single pace away, the foaming water that mixed with disturbed pebbles and sand making visibility agonizingly poor.
Elrond grit his teeth and pushed himself off of the pool floor, then swam deeper beneath the falls. He fought the water with each stroke, and more than once he was slammed down against the sand. It took more effort each time to be able to force himself onward.
His chest was tightening with the need for air. How long had he already been underwater? Half a minute? A full minute? He was not sure. But he did know that his time was running out.
He was slammed back against the ground yet again, his head cracking against an embedded stone. Elrond clenched his teeth together, fighting away the pain, and then forced his eyes open once more. He looked around, desperation now beginning to taint his fear.
He would find her, he had no other choice. Elrond knew that he would stay beneath the waves until he did, or until the others would have two bodies to recover, not one.
He saw something then – a shadow; a blurred form that stood out against the white of the froth and the yellow of the sand and grit. Elrond pushed himself toward it, an unspoken prayer whispering in his heart.
Long, dark hair floated in the water, forming a halo around a pale, pointed face. Her eyes were closed and she shifted slightly as the waves pushed and pulled at her limp body, her dress swirling around her legs.
Elrond reached for Arwen, pulling her to him and cradling him against his chest, holding her tightly. She did not fight him, did not even move in the slightest as he touched her, but rather hung limp in his arms. Elrond pushed away the fears at what such a thing could mean, and instead focused solely on getting to the surface before he too lost consciousness.
Elrond pushed off of the bottom, fighting his way toward the edge of the waterfall. The waves pounded, shoving and pulling him down, throwing him back to the ground. He twisted, landing on his side rather than on his stomach, just managing to keep from crushing Arwen, who he still held securely in his arms.
His lungs began to burn, his body crying out for the need to breathe. He tried again to rise, fighting the waves with all of his might. Again they seized him and pulled him down, refusing to give up their victims quite so easily.
He fought, battling now with both body and will. But slowly darkness began to take him, his mind freezing as seconds lengthened into minutes, and his body, craving air, began to shut down.
Far above, Erestor stood at the edge of the water, the waves lapping at his feet as he watched the surface of the pool, waiting...