Summary: sometimes letting people in is the right choice
Disclaimer: Middle-Earth and its people belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.
Feedback: always welcome
Flickering candles cast shadows on the walls of the Last Homely House. A faint breeze blew through the open windows, carrying with it the scent of the rain that had been falling all night over Rivendell, and mixing itself with the scent of athelas in the room.
Sitting next to the large bed in the centre of the room was Elrond, the Lord of Imladris, his expression the typical inscrutable one those around him had grown to know. Ironically, what they considered the detachment of the wise was really his own distrust of people and fear of caring too much for them and then being left behind, for that was the fate of those who had been granted, or who like him, had chosen immortality.
Some he had lost to battles, other to their natural mortality. He had seen it often over the years he had dwelled in Middle-Earth, starting with his brother Elros and most recently the parting with his beloved wife, Celébrian. At some point he had decided that shutting people out of his heart would make it easier to bear this self-imposed burden. The fact that his children were not in Rivendell somehow helped him keep to his resolve.
The small figure lying in the bed stirred under the blankets, claiming the elf lord’s attention. Shifting around once more in his sleep, the young child’s face became visible in the glow of the candles. Dark locks of hair covered his closed eyes, his usually pale complexion coloured in the warm light of the embers crackling in the fireplace. The healer’s hand reached out and rested on the child’s forehead, moving the curls aside to find that, after so many hours, the fever had finally broken down, much to the elf lord’s relief.
He was going to rekindle the dying fire when a hand met his in mid air. Elrond shifted his gaze from the child to the blond woman lying next to him; eyes the colour of the most precious gems staring back at him.
“He will be fine, my Lady,” he said to her, closing his hand over hers for a moment.
A smile lit her face, and after pulling her son back into her embrace she let sleep reclaim her, the elf lord’s presence giving her the security to drift into sleep.
Elrond stayed a while longer, looking at the two figures lying in front of him. He remembered the day the two arrived in Rivendell some years before, like a breath of fresh air, as if it had happened only yesterday.
Thunder raged outside the walls of the Last Homely House as elves hurried back to the Elven refuge, finding shelter from the rain that had begun to fall. The Lord of Imladris gazed out over the valley from his chamber. As lightning crossed the night’s sky, he finally saw the company he was waiting for.
Finding their way through the last bends and turns of the narrow path, the travellers came into view of the House of Elrond. Feeble lights coming from the Elven refuge guided them as lighthouses guide seamen to safety. The wind blew forcefully through the woods, and the rain falling relentlessly from the sky over them soaked their garments rapidly.
“We are almost there, Lady Gilraen,” said one of the men.
The woman shuddered and pulled the small bundle she was carrying closer to protect her child from the increasing chill of the night. Her skin had turned numb after the many days of their journey, but as the House of Elrond finally came into view, she found in her heart the strength to manage the last steps to safety.
Refuge for her and her son, that was what Rivendell meant. It was the place where Arathorn had made her promise to take their son if something should have happened to him.
They crossed through the gates and as she met the elf lord’s gaze welcoming them it was as if the power that had kept her walking to Rivendell was suddenly gone. Her legs gave in and she would have fallen down right there and then if he had not caught her and her child in his gentle embrace.
She heard him talking to her but did not understand what he said at first, for her mind was as tired as her body was, if not more. Despite all of this, the words of this stranger were soothing and she rapidly felt secure and finally able to let even the last of her guard down.
“Do not worry, my Lady,” he said softly to her. “You are safe now.” Then he looked at the sleeping child she held close to her heart. “Suillanad na Imladris, Estel.” (‘Welcome to Imladris, Estel’)
The first rays of light had started to peer through the open windows and the sounds of the elven city awakening began to fill the room. Elrond walked to the balcony overlooking the lush gardens of Imladris and let his gaze wander over the valley.
He was far from imagining that so many people from all over Middle Earth would find refuge in Imladris at some time or another when he first arrived in these lands. The elf lord had quickly become the lifeline of those looking for counsel, healing or refuge, and he had not failed them. Putting aside the warrior he had dedicated himself completely to his new role, to his new responsibilities.
He could not deny that when he had first taken in Gilraen and Aragorn it was out of a sense of duty he had felt towards the late Chieftain of the Dúnedain. But it had been long since that sentiment had been replaced by a genuine affection for the woman and her young son. He had tried to fight it, not sure he would be able, or rather, willing to let anyone in his life again. But they had easily grown into the elf lord’s heart and he had to admit he was happy they did.
He turned around to look at the two figures peacefully sleeping in the large bed. They had find shelter form the outer world with him; he had rediscovered a companionship he thought he could not find anymore in this world, and the awareness it could not last forever made him cherish every moment even more.