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Crossroads of Time

Chapter 10: Chapter 10

by ellie

Author: Ellie
Betas: Fianna, Julie, Vicki, Marcia, and my husband GeorgiaPiper

Rating: PG for now

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs

Feedback: Please let me know what you think. This is quite a long tale I'm telling.

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Chapter 10

Over the next few weeks, Ariella struggled to maintain her new busy schedule. She healed both of Glorfindel’s legs, with each leg requiring its own healing session and a full day and night for her to recover afterward. Lhûnedhel assisted her, as he called it, though his assistance mainly involved getting her back to her room again afterward to sleep off the effects of the session. Each session also served to disrupt her education schedule for a while. She felt bad about this disruption since she knew that both Istadan and Lhûnedhel were very busy and were therefore being most generous with their time in instructing her.

In addition to healing Glorfindel’s legs, Ariella also assisted Lhûnedhel with Glorfindel’s daily physical therapy. On days when the therapy had been particularly exhausting for Glorfindel, she massaged his sore muscles, eased his pain, and gave him restful slumber when it otherwise eluded him.

Glorfindel seemed to be pleased with her abundance of activities, and she always had something new to discuss with him during their morning visits. He was also becoming bolder during visits at other times during the day and would sneak gentle touches or soft kisses when others in the room were not looking.

Unfortunately for her, the additional time she was spending with Glorfindel was making it more difficult to be away from him. She feared and delighted in the feelings she was developing for him, knowing full well that the time was rapidly approaching for Glorfindel to marry some lucky elleth so that he’d have sons to lose in battle when Gondolin fell.

Otherwise, Ariella was well content with her time divided between studies and her lord. That is she was content until one day a couple of weeks before the Mid Winter Festival when everything came to an end. She did not fully comprehend it at the time of course. It was only in retrospect that she saw it all for what it was.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~***************~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was a cold grey rainy day. She had enjoyed an extra long lunch and lesson with Istadan. They had returned to the library and he had just finished showing her some old scrolls containing the answers to questions that she had posed to him at lunch.

“I am impressed you were able to find these answers for me so quickly,” Ariella admired, truly amazed. She ran her fingers along the dusty shelves where he was replacing the scrolls. “This section is not used much, is it?”

“No it is not, however it is my job to know where everything is no matter how infrequently it is used. No one comes in this area very often and it could use some cleaning.” He returned the scrolls to their place on a shelf above Ariella’s head as she watched and a shower of dust rained down on her upturned face.

She immediately bowed her head shaking it in a vain attempt at removing the dust from her face. She blinked several times at the dust in her eyes.

“Oh, Ariella! I am so sorry!” Istadan apologized. Using the sleeve of his robe he brushed the visible dust from her face and neck.

“Ow!” She pushed him away and stooped over with her hand over her left eye where a particularly tenacious piece of dust had lodged itself.

“Ariella, I am sorry!” He sounded like he felt really bad about it. “Please let me help you.”

He gently put his hands on her face and said, “Let me see. Maybe I can get it out for you.”

“No! It will hurt! I cannot bear to have other people touch my eyes.” She tried to pull away from him. Like the rest of her race, her eyes were extremely sensitive to touch.

“Ariella, for a healer, you are a terrible patient,” he chided, “It will definitely hurt if you leave it in and only might hurt if I remove it. Please let me help you.”

It took incredible force of will for her to let him try to remove the particle from her eye, but she finally stilled, biting back a whimper of pain and frustration. It also did not help matters that she found it quite embarrassing to be a healer in need of medical assistance from a lore master, but she had little choice in the matter.

He pulled her hand away and tilted her head. “I need more light,” he muttered. “Elleth, it is a marvel you ever survived two arrows in the chest, when you cannot even handle a speck of dust in your eye.”

She was too concerned about what he was going to do to her eye to comment back.

He led her by the head over to the nearest sconce candle. He tilted her head again, but she grabbed his hands. Her eye hurt badly and was watering profusely.

“Stop it! Let go of my hands!” Istadan commanded loudly. He tilted her head some more dipping her backward against a wall, pulling at her upper eye lid.

She braced herself and grabbed two handfuls of the back of his robes. She couldn’t see very well for her right eye was now watering in sympathy with the left eye. He pulled at the lower lid and put his finger up to her eye. His finger looked huge that close up and she was sure he was going to jab her in the eye and cause her further pain. Instead he lightly dabbed at her eye. She hit him on the shoulder with her fist as he pulled his finger away, but the pain suddenly ceased.

He started to extend his finger to show her what had been in her eye when he was suddenly torn from her grasp and thrown up against the nearest shelves. He grunted as his head and shoulders impacted rather violently. Dust rained down on him as he slumped to the floor.

She blinked several times and wiped her tear-stained face with her sleeves trying to get a better view of what had happened. In shock, she looked up into the angry face of Lhûnedhel.

“What were you trying to do to her, Istadan?” he demanded, grabbing the front of Istadan’s tunic and hauling him to eye level once more. He slammed Istadan back against the shelves and pinned him with a hand around his throat. He started applying pressure to the arteries of Istadan’s neck.

Istadan’s bewildered face started turning a dark shade of red as he sputtered, seemingly trying to understand what was going on and respond at the same time.

“Lhûnedhel! Release him!” Ariella demanded. “What has gotten into you? He has done nothing! Let him go!”

There was blood lust on Lhûnedhel’s face as he responded, tightening his grip. “Ariella, you do not need to defend him. He will suffer for what he has done to you.”

Ariella grabbed Lhûnedhel’s arm, trying to release his grip on Istadan, but he was too strong for her. She once had seen another warrior with the same look in his eye and knew that Istadan was in peril. She applied her thumb to the pressure point above the elbow on Lhûnedhel’s out-stretched arm, causing him to gasp and release Istadan immediately. He grabbed his now sore arm while Istadan slumped to the floor gagging and rubbing his neck.

Ariella shoved Lhûnedhel backward. She could not believe this was happening. “What are you doing? You are supposed to be a healer! Why did you hurt him?”

Lhûnedhel stared at her incredulous. “By the Valar, Ariella! He had you pinned up against a wall! You were hitting him and crying. How was I supposed to take that?!”

“There was something in her eye that was hurting her!” Istadan responded in a cracked voice, rubbing his throat with one hand and holding the back of his head with the other. “I was trying to get it out for her.”

“That excuse is older than I am, Istadan,” Lhûnedhel responded venomously. “One would think that someone of your intelligence would come up with something better than that.”

Istadan’s expression turned angry as he stood up a little shakily, his hands balled into fists.

Ariella knew that they would fight it out if she let them, and considering they were both elves who had seen combat before, chances were one of them would not walk away from this. She would have to end it herself before it got that far. She planted herself angrily in front of Lhûnedhel with her hands on her hips.

“Lhûnedhel, he is telling the truth! What makes you think I need you to defend my honor? Not that it needed defending anyway. Why did you hurt him?”

He looked into her eyes with an odd expression on his face. His voice softened as he admitted, “I was only doing what any ellon who truly cared for you would do, Ariella. I was trying to protect you because I thought you were in danger…because I love you.”

She was shocked. For a few moments she just stood there staring at him with her mouth hanging open. Surely he did not just say that! This was not happening to her. This could not be happening to her.

She slowly shook her head as she backed up against the wall where Istadan had held her to remove the dust from her eye. “This is not possible. I never…” she whispered to herself disbelievingly, looking at the floor. “This cannot be happening to me.”

“Lhûnedhel,” Istadan’s voice sounded tight with emotion, “Why did you come here?”

She heard him respond as if from somewhere far away, “The midwife who delivered Elianna’s baby needs Ariella’s help with a set of triplets which are due any day now. The mother had difficulty with her first child, so the midwife wants Ariella to be ready when the time comes to assist with this delivery. I went to Glorfindel’s house to find her and was told that she was here with you for her lessons in lore. I had not realized there were other lessons going on as well.”

“You have delivered your message, Lhûnedhel,” Istadan’s voice was filled with disdain. “Now, leave before I have you forcibly removed.”

“Ariella, I…” Lhûnedhel started to plead.

“Did you tell Glorfindel that I need to help the midwife? He has to approve everything that I do,” Ariella asked woodenly.

“No, I did not. Ariella. Please let me…”

She cut him off. “Leave me, please,” Ariella said, her voice filled with bitterness at what he had done - what he had done for her.

He shot a menacing glare at Istadan before turning on his heel and marching away. When he was out of sight, Istadan went to her and gently put his hands on her shoulders. She looked up at him begging him telepathically to let this pass and not start another fight later.

“I will let it go,” he whispered. “But only because you ask it of me.”

She was so shaken by it all. Tears started in her eyes. She felt horrible. She was not worth this. “Istadan, I am very sorry for this. So very sorry.” He pulled her close and held her against his chest as she wept, her face buried in his shoulder.

She could not have people fighting because of her. She had never intended for this to happen; never intended for anyone to like her that way. How could he feel that way about her? How could he love her? She wasn’t even from this world.

Istadan’s arms were warm and strong, an anchor she did not deserve in this tumultuous sea of emotion upon which she was adrift. He did not deserve this either. All Istadan had done was try to help her, and he had gotten hurt for it. How badly was he hurt? It finally occurred to her that she had neglected his injuries.

She pushed back from the embrace a bit and reached up, touching Istadan’s face to establish healing contact. She shuddered as she inhaled audibly and he held her closer again, apparently not understanding what was going on. His head, shoulders, neck, and back were bruised, and there was a cut on the back of his head, but nothing more serious than that. She ran her healing hands over the exposed bruises and the cut. She lifted his hand and, pressing her hand to the back of it, passed his hand over the remaining blood on his head, removing all trace of injury.

“Do you want me to take care of the other bruises?” she asked, looking up into the surprised wonder on his handsome face. He looked at his hand which she had just released and brushed his fingers together examining them in awe.

“So this is how you heal,” Istadan whispered to himself.

“Yes,” she answered softly with a small smile, feeling a little amused and proud at his reaction to her healing. “Do you want me to heal the bruises on your shoulders and back? It is easier for me if I touch your skin.”

He just kept staring at her with a look of bemused wonder.

“You do not have to remove your clothes. Just unfasten your belt so I can get my hands under your shirt to the bruises on your back and shoulders. It will not take long, and I promise it will not hurt. I have already taken all of your pain away.”

“Yes, you have…” he responded still in a daze. He fumbled with the belt at his waist for a moment before it released and he removed it.

She slid her hands up his back, stopping on all of the bruised areas of his warm smooth skin. It did not take her long to finish and withdraw her hands. She smiled at him. “You can put your belt back on now.”

“Your hands are very warm,” he said simply as he fastened his belt. “It felt good.”

Ariella looked into his eyes. “I am very sorry that this has happened to you, Istadan, and that I had to heal you because of something foolish involving me.”

He smiled warmly. “If it had not happened, I would not have known your healing touch. I think it was worth it just for that.”

She bowed her head. “I am not worth suffering for, Istadan. I came here to learn from you, not to put you in any…difficult situations. I am sorry for what happened today. If there is anything I can do to make it up to you…”

“You have already made amends,” he interrupted putting a finger on her lips to silence her. “You chose to stay with me. You apologized. You healed me. For me, that says all I need to hear.” He embraced her again and she wrapped her arms around him to in a tight hug.

“So am I forgiven?” she asked, her voice muffled by his tunic.

“There is nothing for me to forgive,” he replied pressing his cheek to her head.

Feeling an incredible amount of relief, she pulled back from him and looked up into his dirty face. “You need to wash your face and hair, and I need to leave now. There is much I must do to prepare, as the mother I am to help lives on a farm and I will be gone for a few days. I also have to tell Glorfindel about it and make certain that he approves my leaving, which I am certain he will.” She thought for a moment before adding, “I do not think I will tell him about the incident here today. I do not want to lose my library privileges.”

Istadan laughed as he led her back toward the entrance of the library. “You need not fear losing your library privileges as long as I have a say in it.”

“Thank you,” she replied with a smile.

“You are most welcome.”

When they reached the door, she pulled her cloak about her and raised her hood as he opened the door.

“Farewell,” she said as she stepped out into the cold rain.

“Farewell,” he replied.

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Ariella hurried home as fast as she could. The cold rain whipped her face causing her to huddle into her cloak as she hurried down the slippery streets. The weather seemed to her to be a suitable punishment for the trouble she had caused Istadan today. She did not understand why Lhûnedhel reacted the way he had nor what caused him to confess his love for her. She liked him, but she certainly did not love him. She was glad of the opportunity to leave the city proper for a while to go help with the triplets. She did not want to have to meet with Lhûnedhel again any time soon.

In spite of the tight weave of the fabric of her cloak, the wind had succeeded in completely drenching her with rain by the time she arrived back home. Linanna smiled knowingly, shaking her head at her when Ariella entered the house. She hung up Ariella’s sodden cloak and ordered water for a bath.

As Ariella started up the steps, Linanna informed her that Lord Glorfindel wished for Ariella to join him for dinner that evening. Ariella nodded her thanks and slogged up the steps hiking her soggy dress up to her knees so she did not trip.

The hot scented bath water felt wonderful and helped ease the afternoon’s tension from Ariella’s body. She napped for a while before packing for her few days away with the triplets. She put on her lavender dress and wore her freshly washed hair unbraided - both to please Glorfindel.

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Ariella dined with Glorfindel in the same private dining room which they had shared the night before their judgment day with Turgon. He looked exquisite in his green robes embroidered with gold and the matching sling that supported his useless left arm. She kept reprimanding herself for staring at him during the meal. She was so used to seeing him in his dressing gown and lying down, that seeing him upright and fully dressed seemed a strange way for him to appear before her. This was the first time she had seen him so formally garbed since their judgment day. She had forgotten how breathtakingly gorgeous he was when dressed as a lord.

“Ariella, is something wrong? You keep staring at me and looking away when I look at you,” Glorfindel finally asked in mock annoyance.

“N-no,” she stammered. “I am just not used to seeing you dressed.” When she realized what she had said, she put her hands over her face and turned away to hide. She could not believe she had just said that. Glorfindel laughed and then she heard him threaten the snickering servant assisting with their meal with what would happen to him if he told anyone else about her comment.

“I am sorry,” she apologized. “That did not come out right.”

“Obviously,” he commented dryly.

“What I meant to say is that I am not used to seeing you dressed as a lord, considering how you have spent the last several weeks. Your current attire suits you well.” She hoped her careful phrasing could not be misinterpreted.

“Thank you,” he answered cordially, raising his glass to her and taking a drink of his wine.

Ariella remembered that she had not told him about the triplets yet and thought that perhaps changing the subject would be a good things to do right about now, before she further embarrassed herself.

“There is something I meant to mention to you before,” Ariella ventured. “The midwife who delivered your sister’s baby has asked me to assist her in the delivery of triplets on one of the farms. It will require that I be away for a few days. I am told that the mother had some difficulty with the birth of her first child, so the midwife is particularly concerned, considering there are three of them this time.”

For some reason, Glorfindel looked a little disappointed. “When do you leave and how long will you be gone?”

“The midwife said she wanted me to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice as the babies could come any day now. I do not know exactly how long I will be gone, other than it would be a few days.”

“I see. Certainly you may go.”

“Thank you, my lord,” Ariella replied.

Glorfindel suddenly grinned. “And might I suggest that you avoid contact with any hunters while you are out.”

It took Ariella moment to realize he was referring to their own rather unexpected first meeting when he was hunting while on an errand for the king. She laughed aloud and blushed.

They passed the rest of the meal in lively banter about Glorfindel’s resumption of some of his duties and his dread of returning to court soon. When they had finished eating, Glorfindel led her to his library where they sat side by side in two chairs in front of the fire. They were silent for a long time, just sitting and watching the fire. Finally Glorfindel let loose what seemed to be a nervous chuckle and looked over at Ariella, taking her left hand in his right. She turned to face him, trying to figure out why he was laughing.

“What is so funny?” she asked curiously.

He looked down at their joined hands, took a deep shaky breath then let it out. “Nothing ... I just … I have something to say and I really do not know how to say it or where to begin.”

She gave his hand a squeeze and couldn’t help noticing how large his hand was compared to hers. She wondered what he could possibly have to say to her that had him at a loss for words.

“Why not just say it? What is the worst that could happen? Just let the words go. I cannot believe you could ever be at a loss for words.”

Glorfindel shook his head. “Oh, Ariella, if only it were that easy.” His tone was quite serious now, his rich voice quiet. “If only it were.”

He took another deep breath and addressed their hands. “Ariella, I cannot begin to express my gratitude to you for what you have done for me over the last several weeks. The only reason I am alive is because of you.” He looked away shaking his head again and muttering. “You have seen me at my worst. This should not be so difficult to say.”

“Ariella,” he started again, now looking past her at the wall, “You are so good and kind. You cheered me and comforted me when I most needed it. You are lovely and intelligent. You have a delightful sense of humor and you make me laugh, sometimes without meaning to. Yet you have suffered much in life. You deserve to have great joy.” He glanced up at her face questioningly and she smiled at him encouragingly.

Where was this going, she wondered.

He continued once again, focusing on some point beyond her, “I have begun to realize that something has been missing in my life up until recently. I have realized how very alone I was before … this is so difficult to say.” He loosened his grip on her hand and tightened it again. He took another deep breath and slowly let it out again.
“Ariella, I do not know how to say this …” He looked down at their hands again and shifted uncomfortably. “I believe that I have finally met the elleth with whom I wish to spend my life.” He paused looking up into her eyes.

NO! She could not be hearing this! Not so soon. Not now. Why now? Why now? She really cared for him and here he was telling her that he loved another. He has met the elleth he will marry! He only said all of those nice things to her just now so she would not feel so bad about herself when he told her their relationship was over. She should have known that there had to be someone else in his life besides her. He was so handsome and so wonderful; it was no wonder that he had some other elleth who he fancied. He was probably just humoring Ariella in her naivety all this time. No, he was too sweet and kind for that. No, he just saw his part in their relationship as being nice to a lonely, displaced elleth who needed a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on. Ariella had read too much into the way he treated her, the way he kissed her.

She knew this day would come. She knew it was foolish for her to allow herself to have this relationship with him, to let herself fall for him when she knew he was to marry another. She felt the tears well up in her eyes, but she fiercely blinked them back. No, she would not cry in front of him. She would be strong. She would be happy for him. There was no way she could have him anyway. It would change history. It would change time. But it still hurt. It hurt so much more than she had thought it would. So very much more…

“Ariella,” he continued slowly. “I am in love …” But she never heard who he was in love with for the servant from dinner came rushing in at that moment. Glorfindel immediately dropped her hand and glared angrily at the servant.

“My lord, please forgive the intrusion. The midwife is here and needs Ariella to depart with her immediately.” He turned to address Ariella, “She said that the mother is in labor and you must depart now. A horse awaits you.”

“Th-thank you,” Ariella responded shakily. She looked over at Glorfindel who looked angry and frustrated.

“I-I am sorry, my lord. I must go now,” was all she could manage to say.

He mutely nodded to her as she rose quickly and curtseyed to him. She turned and fled from the room, racing toward the stairs. Her chest hurt with each breath. Her throat burned with each swallow. But it didn’t matter. Nothing seemed to matter to her right now.

Unfortunately, other things needed to matter. The mother mattered and so did her unborn babies. But, that was obviously something Ariella was never going to know about for herself: motherhood and children of her own, she thought bitterly. She had known all along. She had accepted the consequences of her actions. She knew this day would come. She could not harden her heart to others just because Glorfindel had found the one who completed his heart, even though she wanted to be that someone. But she knew she could not be that someone, not for anyone. This was her doom and she must accept it. She would accept it. She would be brave and she would go on. She would go alone, but she would go on.

She entered her room, changed clothes in a flurry of fabric, grabbed her bag, and flew down the steps. Glorfindel was standing by the door as she approached. The expression on his face was unreadable. There was something in his eyes though, something powerful.

“Farewell, Ariella,” he said softly. “Hurry back.”

She nodded to him courteously as she threw her cloak around her shoulders, pulled up her hood, and ran outside into the cold wet night. She could not allow herself to think about him right now. She needed to focus her energy on the task ahead.

The day’s rain had given way to snow; the flakes swirling about her as Ariella carefully traversed the slippery steps down to the street. The door closed softly as she mounted the waiting horse and made a brief greeting gesture to the midwife. Together they rode down the dimly lit street as quickly as they safely could.

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Chapter name
Chapter 10
Created
01 Feb 2005
Last Edited
01 Feb 2005
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