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Crossroads of Time

Chapter 17: Chapter 17

by ellie

Betas: special thanks to the most persistent Marcia and Vicki and to my resident 10 year old for his evaluation of the speech of the young ones in the story and for his amazed comment that his mom wrote something that is like a real story that you'd find in a book.

Author's Note: the telepathic communication is denoted by " * ". I still can't figure out how to do italics here.

Hope you enjoy this very long chapter!


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Ariella felt very relieved after her confession to Glorfindel. Explaining that she was a time-traveling alien from another planet and not a Sindarin peredhel from Doriath as everyone had assumed, had not been an easy task. In spite of Glorfindel’s professed acceptance of her revelation, things changed in their relationship. At first he behaved as if everything was as it had been before, however, he seemed to watch every move she and the children made as if seeing them for the first time. Then he started commenting to her, daily in fact, about every little thing that she or the children did that seemed out of the ordinary or could be construed as unusual for an elf. Initially she had ignored his comments, but after a while, she began to feel very self conscious about her actions and speech, questioning herself whether anyone still believed she was a peredhel. The servants and her friends still acted the same, so she guessed that her deception was still effective, but Glorfindel was not so easily convinced.

Fearing that someone would guess her secret, he began limiting her interactions with anyone outside of the household staff. All of her responsibilities as Lady of the House of the Golden Flower requiring social interaction were turned over to his sisters-in-law, claiming that Ariella was over taxed with the tasks of being both mother to the children and Lady of the House. Resuming his full duties as Chieftain of the Golden Flower, he adjusted his schedule and responsibilities such that most meetings and transactions requiring others to visit the house were conducted elsewhere, always explaining to others that he did not wish to further burden his busy wife with any more visitors to entertain than necessary. He was so very subtle that no one questioned the changes but her, and he was never in a mood any more to answer any of her questions. In fact, he would not even respond when she tried to speak with him across their bond.

She accepted that it was all her fault for deceiving him for so long, believing that she deserved this cold treatment. But it was hard watching him slowly sever his ties with her. He often departed early in the morning before she arose and worked late into the night, not coming to bed until after she was asleep, if he came to bed at all. For a while, he at least ate the evening meal with the family, but after a time he took to eating alone in his study, working all the while.

With the increase in Glorfindel’s workload, Ariella became the sole caregiver for the children. At first she could explain his absence from the breakfast table with “Ada is very busy now with the duties required of him as Chieftain of our House.” However, his continued absence from the evening meal as well became increasingly more difficult to explain away.

The older children attended their studies with Istadan and Lhûnedhel, while the two youngest still spent their time at their mother’s side. Glorfinion, Glorion, and Galanor continued to pursue fencing and archery, which Ariella saw as a positive sign, for Glorfindel instructed the boys daily and at least kept that contact with them. After a few months, the children stopped asking questions about their father’s absence, seeming to have accepted that he was too busy for them right now. Though she was relieved when the questions finally stopped, worry set in as their silence spread to other subjects as well, and it became a chore to extract from them how they spent their time each day.

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Late one chilly autumn evening as Ariella sat on the bear skin rug by the bedroom fire, brushing her hair, Glorfinion came to her.

“Naneth, may I speak with you?” he asked uncertainly from the doorway.

“Of course, Glorfinion,” she replied, patting an empty spot on the rug beside her. “What would you like to talk about?”
He quickly crossed the room and sat beside her. For a time, he silently stared at his long legs sprawled out in front of him, but she noticed he was rubbing the fabric at the hem of his tunic between his fingers.

“What troubles you, my son?” She quietly asked, setting aside her brush.

He looked up startled, his violet eyes wide in his handsome face which was so like Glorfindel’s.

‘Naneth…” He took a deep breath. “What have we done that Ada does not wish to spend time with us any more?”

It was Ariella’s turn to be startled. “What do you mean he does not spend time with you anymore? I know he is absent from meals, but he still teaches you and your brothers every day on the practice field.”

Glorfinion sadly shook his head. “He has not worked with us on the practice field for some time now.”

“What!” Ariella was shocked. Glorfindel loved training his boys. She could accept that he was avoiding her, but he had no right treating the children this way, too.

Glorfinion averted his eyes from her concerned gaze. “I do not think that he is pleased with us any more. I think he is ashamed of us. At first he started pointing out our mistakes more often than praising us for what we were doing well. We tried harder each day to please him, but we never seemed to be able to do anything the way he wanted us to do it. Finally he said he did not have time to teach us any more and handed our training over to Istadan because we already knew him as our tutor. My brothers and I have been working extra hard on the training field each day so that Ada may notice and be proud of us again.”

Anger ignited inside of her, but she kept it under tight control for her son’s sake.

“What has Istadan said of your skills?” She asked evenly.

Glorfinion placed his hand on her arm and exclaimed, “Oh Naneth, he is so very pleased with us and quite proud of us. He says that we are working at a level well beyond our ages, both in our studies and on the training field. Yesterday, he said that even if we were his own sons, he would know no greater pride in our skills.”

She smiled at that. Indeed Istadan had wished to be the sire of her children, but that was a bold statement for him to make to her sons.

Glorfinion continued in a more subdued tone, looking down and brushing the bear skin rug with his fingers. “We asked him how we could draw Ada’s attention and win his praises again, for he has been very busy of late and has had little time for us. Istadan suggested that we demonstrate our skills for Ada. Now my brothers and I are trying to figure out what we can do to show Ada what we have learned so he can be proud of us again.”

Guilt welled within her. ‘Oh, my precious child,’ she longed to say to her son, ‘it is your skills that have chased your father away from you,’ but she couldn’t tell him that. She couldn’t bring herself to tell him that she was the reason for his father’s behavior. She was an alien, her children were half alien, and Glorfindel simply could not cope with it.

Forcing a smile, she asked, “Have you and your brothers decided on what you will do to attract your ada’s attention?”

Still studying the rug and pulling on the hairs, he suddenly gave a small knowing smile. “Perhaps, Naneth, perhaps.”

“Are you going to tell me what you are planning?” She pressed.

He laid his hand flat on the rug, leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. “No. It is a surprise for you, too.” He threw his arms around her and she hugged him close to her. “I love you so much, Nana.”

She patted him on the back, noticing for the first time the extensive muscle development. He was only thirteen and a half years old. When did this happen? “I love you too, my little one. I love you, too.”

He pulled back at that, scowling, her hands sliding down his muscular arms. When did her little boy grow up?

Looking her in the eyes, he indignantly pointed out, “Naneth, I am nearly as tall as you are. You cannot call me ‘little one’ any longer.”

“Child,” she scolded, “I am your naneth and I will continue to call you ‘little one’ if I have to stand on a chair to look you in the knee caps to do it!”

Rich, musical laughter bubbled from him as he shook his head at her. How long had it been since she last heard him laugh? How long had he had his father’s laugh? How long had it been since she last heard that sound emanating from her husband?

Glorfinion gracefully rose. “Good night, Nana.”

“Good night, Glorfinion.”

She watched him stride purposefully from the room. Sighing heavily, she picked up the brush and finished attacking her hair. Glorfindel’s silence had to end soon. She would go to him tomorrow and they would talk. He could ignore her all he wanted to, for she truly deserved his anger, but he could no longer shirk his responsibilities toward his children. It was not their choice to have her for a mother, but it was his choice and it was time for him to resume some responsibility in their upbringing.

Giving up on her hair, she threw some more logs on the fire to keep her warm through the night. Extinguishing the candles in the room, she curled up on the large empty bed with her back to Glorfindel’s side of it. She laid there brooding for a long time before finally succumbing to sleep.

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The next morning, the only signs that Glorfindel had returned to their room the previous night were his discarded clothes neatly stacked with the other dirty laundry and a missing set of dress robes. She guessed he must have important meetings or be expected in Turgon’s court today. Checking his schedule after her breakfast with the children, she realized he would be elsewhere for dinner after the day’s business, so there was no way she would able to meet with him. The next day’s agenda was free from the family’s dinner time on through into the night, so she wrote herself in as an important meeting without listing her name. She also made arrangements for the servants to see to the children’s evening meal without her. That way there would be no excuses for him not to speak with her.

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When the time of the meeting arrived, Ariella went to Glorfindel’s study, garbed in her court attire which had not seen use for several months. Gathering her courage, she knocked and entered.

He looked up from a document he had been reading, setting down his half-finished glass of wine. He frowned when he saw her. “Ariella,” he said impatiently, “I am expecting someone for a meeting right now. I am too busy to talk to you, so whatever it is will have to wait.”

She smiled confidently and strode over to her usual chair by his desk. “I know, Glorfindel. I am the one who is to meet with you.”

Surprise flitted across his face followed by the realization that he was trapped in this conversation with her with no way to get out of it.

Sighing heavily in obvious annoyance, he asked with mock formality, “Lady Ariella why do you wish to speak with me?”

“Lord Glorfindel,” she responded copying his tone, “I have come to speak with you about your children.”

“What about the children?” he asked, still annoyed.

Dropping all pretenses, she replied. “Your children wish to know why you no longer spend time with them. Your sons feel you are ashamed of them and they do not understand why. They seek to please you in every way they know how. Yet it has all proven to be for naught, for you do not even speak to them anymore. You even turned their weapons training over to Istadan.”

“Have you told them why?” He asked coldly. “Have you told them that it is all because of you and what you are and what they are because of you?”

“No, I have not told them why,” she admitted quietly.

“What of your daughters?” He asked in the same accusatory tone.

“They stopped asking about you some time ago and appear to have accepted that you are too busy to have any time for them,” she stated matter-of-factly.

Genuine hurt flickered in his eyes at that. Good, perhaps she was finally getting through to him.

“Why have you not told them, Ariella? They have a right to know what you have done to them.”

Then again, perhaps not.

“What I have done to them?” She asked indignantly. “You do realize they are half yours too, do you not? They have a curse hanging over them because of you.”

“And they are equally cursed because of you,” he spat. “They will never be accepted by anyone of my race when they reach adulthood. The differences of your alien blood have doomed them just as surely as has my past.”

Oh, she was furious now. “Glorfindel, you do realize that you chose me for your wife and to be the mother of your children, do you not? You were intrigued by an alien. You loved and married an alien. And you had to contend with two other ellyn for the hand of that alien. I really do not think that I have doomed the children. If you would take the time to talk to their tutors, you would discover the high esteem in which each and every one of them is held. If you would take the time to talk to your children, you would see how much they are like you. If you would just take the time, you would realize how much they miss their ada and how much they love you.”

They sat in silence for a long time, glaring at each other. Finally he asked in a quiet voice, “Why have you not told them the truth about yourself yet? They have a right to know why they are different.”

She sighed and looked down, clasping her hands in her lap, and mustering her courage before meeting his gaze. “I have not told them because I believe, in all honesty, that it would destroy them to find out just now, especially our sons. They currently believe you are ashamed of them for displeasing you in some way. They think they are not good enough on the practice field to suit you. If the children find out now that you are ashamed of them for something that is totally out of their control, something that is a part of them they cannot change, I do not know what they might do.

“I do know our sons are planning something to try to prove to you that they are worthy of your time and attention. I do not know what, only that they hope to earn your pride in them again.”

Glorfindel looked down at his desk, idly toying with his quill. After a bit, he threw the quill across the desk. He leaned back in his chair, putting his hands on his face for a few moments before smoothing them over his hair. In a tired voice he said almost to himself, “By the Valar, what has become of me that my sons have to earn my pride? What have I become that I am ashamed of my own wife and children?”

“Glorfindel,” Ariella said in a soft voice. “I am so very sorry for my deception. I am sorry for the trouble I have caused you. Please forgive the children for what they are, even if you cannot forgive me. They need their ada and his love.” Her voice caught for a moment, but she cleared her throat and continued.

“According to the Statute of Miriel and Finwe, an elf cannot have two spouses both alive in Arda at the same time. I am mortal, doomed to die, and my fate after death will be different from yours. By the time you return from Mandos’s halls after the death you have foreseen, our bond will be dissolved. You will be free to remarry and sire proper elven children.” She bowed her head, blinking rapidly a few times, then looked back up. “If you would prefer it, we could begin the dissolution now and I could move my belongings back to my old bedroom and you could at least have your bedroom back again. You could simply tell the servants we have moved past the making of children phase of our marriage and have decided we need our own rooms.”

He chuckled mirthlessly. “The servants might accept that excuse if we had been married for several hundred years … but considering we have not even been married for twenty years yet and we still have so many young children … I do not think they would view that as a valid reason. Rumors of our marital strife would abound.” He propped his elbow on his desk, resting his chin on his fist, looking out across the room.

“The servants already know that something is not right between us, Glorfindel. It is rather obvious. Linanna has asked me about it many times, but I keep telling her it is something we must work through ourselves and that you are very busy with your duties. She had some opinions about that, but I am certain you do not wish to hear them.” She looked down at her clasped hands for a few moments, then quietly asked, “Glorfindel, what do you want of me? I have apologized. What more do you want from me?”

Still not looking at her, he replied, “I do not know what I want, Ariella. I honestly do not know. I do not know what I am expecting. I just … do not know. I do know I need time to consider what you have said this evening.”

A loud knock on the door startled them both.

“Enter!” Glorfindel called, sitting up in his chair.

Linanna entered the room and curtsied, a concerned expression marring her lovely face. “My lord, please forgive the interruption. My lady, your sons did not come to dinner and they are nowhere to be found in the house and gardens. Your daughters do not know where they are, either.”

“Did you try the practice field?” Ariella suggested.

“Yes, my lady. According to Istadan, they failed to attend their academic tutoring and missed their lessons on the training field as well. Lhûnedhel did not see them today either. He and Istadan both said that Arianna told them the boys were busy with something for their father today.”

Ariella slowly shook her head. “I have not seen them since breakfast.”

Another servant came running in, stopping abruptly to bow before Glorfindel, almost seeming surprised to see him seated there with Ariella. Turning to Ariella, he said, “I checked the stables and their horses are gone. The stable hand said they left early this morning garbed for hunting, carrying their bows and long knives. When he asked them where they were going, they said they were off to do something for their father, so he let them go.”

She and Glorfindel rose to their feet at the same time. “Ariella,” Glorfindel asked worriedly, “did they give you any indication at all of what they were planning or where they might have gone?”

Ariella shook her head. “No. All Glorfinion said was that they wanted to prove their skills to you with whatever it was they were going to do.”

“Linanna,” Ariella asked, “please go find my daughters and bring them here.”

“Yes, my lady,” she replied with a quick curtsey and hurried out of the room.

Turning to the other servant, Glorfindel commanded, “The House of the Tree is responsible for the city gate this month. Go to Lord Galdor and find out if my sons left the city proper and, if so, if they returned.”

“Yes, my lord,” the servant bowed and sped away.

Glorfindel leaned his hands on the desk, his head bowed. After a few moments, he pushed back and pounded the desk in frustration.

Arianna, Arienne, and Arlianna came running in, herded by Linanna.

“Nana, you sent for us?” Arianna asked timidly.

Fixing her daughters with the best no nonsense motherly glare she could muster, Ariella firmly replied, “Yes. Where are your brothers?”

The girls shifted nervously, looking around at their shoes, the walls, their father’s desk, anywhere but their parents’ faces.

“Well …” Ariella encouraged sharply.

Arienne squirmed and little Arlianna slipped behind Arianna.

Arianna responded meekly. “Are they in trouble?”

“They have missed dinner, what do you think?” Ariella asked.

“Oh,” Arianna fidgeted a bit, then took a big breath and blurted, “They went hunting in the hills to kill a bear and bring back the skin so Ada will be pleased with them and love them again.”

Ariella clapped her hand to her mouth. Oh, dear God, what had they done? Her babies would never survive that! They’re precocious, but they’re not ready for a bear hunt. She looked over at Glorfindel, taking in his shocked horrified expression, most likely the mirror of her own. Instinctively, she reached out to her sons telepathically and realized that they were unharmed, so far, but she had no idea where they were and they resisted her brief attempt at contact.

It took a few moments of stunned silence before Glorfindel found his voice and asked a little shakily, “Why did they think that bringing me a bear skin would please me?”

“Because you kept telling them all the things they were doing wrong on the training field and they thought if they could show you how much they had improved, then maybe you would be pleased with them and talk to them and spend time with them again,” Arianna explained.

“Ada,” Arienne asked timidly, “If our brothers just have to bring you a bear skin to make you happy with them again, what do we have to do? We have talked about it and do not know what you would like. Should we have gone with them on the hunt?”

Glorfindel seemed quite taken aback at that. He obviously was unprepared to face these questions. He glanced pleadingly at Ariella, pain evident in his eyes, but she just shook her head and looked away. She had no help to offer him, and she really did not think she would have aided him even if she could have. She was still angry about his treatment of the children and felt he needed to face them himself.

Taking a deep breath, Glorfindel walked over to the girls. Crouching down on one knee until he was eye-level with Arienne, he put one trembling hand on her shoulder and the other on Arianna’s.

Gently, he explained, “My thoughts have been elsewhere of late and I have been very busy and preoccupied … perhaps too much so.” He closed his eyes for a moment, inhaling sharply. Ariella watched as whatever had hardened his heart obviously began to melt. His eyes were over bright when he opened them again and continued in a soft shaky voice. “You should not have to do anything to gain my attention or my love.” He paused again. “I am so very sorry that I ever let you believe that you had to. You were wise to stay home and not go on the hunt. Your brothers may be in great danger right now.”

Arlianna crept out from behind her biggest sister and asked, “Do you like us again, Ada?”

Glorfindel smiled weakly, pulling all three girls into a big hug. “Yes, I like you again. I love you all very much.” Little arms surrounded him, entwining in his hair, wrapping around his neck, patting his back.

Tears came to Ariella’s eyes at the sight and she sighed, offering a silent prayer for the safe return of her sons and the reunion of her family.

After a long while, Glorfindel released the two older girls and stood, holding Arlianna close. Her golden head nuzzled his left shoulder while her fingers played with his braids.

“Linanna,” he asked, turning toward the servant. Ariella watched Linanna quickly smooth over the self-satisfied smirk on her face and regard Glorfindel obediently. “Has anyone spoken with my sons’ friends to see if they might be with them?”

“Yes, my lord,” she replied. “None of their friends have seen them today.”

Glorfindel cast down his gaze pensively. “It will still be some time before we hear the report from the guards at the gate.”

A few minutes later, he sighed heavily as if forcing himself to do something he did not want to do and met Ariella’s eyes. “Ariella, you are much more gifted in knowing minds than I,” he said quietly. “Can you locate our sons and at least determine if they are all right?”

Ariella gave him a small smile. “I have already tried. They yet live and are unharmed.” She reached out further toward the boys with her mind. “Their quest is as yet unfulfilled and they still feel confident and unafraid. I do not know where they are and cannot tell you any more than that. I am sorry.”

Glorfindel matched her smile. “Thank the Valar,” he whispered.

When the servant finally returned, Glorfindel and Ariella were not surprised to learn that the boys had departed through the gate early in the morning, riding into the fields, and had not returned. Glorfindel dispatched messengers to apprise his siblings and the king of the situation. Upon giving the order for the soldiers of the Golden Flower to muster for a search, Glorfindel left to change clothes and prepare himself to hunt for his sons. Within the hour, his brothers, their sons, and his brother-in-law were assembled with the warriors and waiting for orders.

After Glorfindel donned his cloak at the front door, he turned to Ariella, placing his hands on her shoulders, touching her for the first time in months. Why did it take something as horrible as this to bring him back? A tear slid down her cheek. He cupped her face in his hands, wiping the tear away with his thumb.

He whispered, “I am so sorry. I will bring them back alive, I promise. Listen for my call and you will know when I find them.”

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Across their bond, she tentatively ventured *I still love you.*

Giving her a half smile, he replied. *I know.*

She stood at the door, watching as Glorfindel and the large assembly of warriors rode out.

The cold night passed slowly. Ariella sent her daughters to bed at their usual time, but she sat at Glorfindel’s desk, staring at the fireplace and occasionally talking with her sisters-in-law and the servants who had remained behind and were keeping vigil with her. At some point, she drifted off to sleep.

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It was dark. Giddy anticipation surged through her as she soundlessly brought her bow around, drew forth an arrow and nocked it, aiming for the brown bear resting lazily against a tree. Glancing to either side, she saw Glorion and Galanor, flanking her as planned, bows drawn, arrows at the ready.

*Loose!* She cried telepathically, and all three arrows simultaneously released, speeding toward the unsuspecting prey. With a sickening thud, the arrows impacted and the bear fell.

She punched the air with her right fist, whooping in triumph along with Glorion and Galanor who had dropped their bows and were rushing in with her to examine the kill. A loud crashing sound from behind startled her and she spun around to see what it was. From out of nowhere, something huge slashed her across the chest and neck. Searing pain flew through her as she was slammed hard into a tree. She heard a cracking sound as her head and torso impacted, numbing her completely. From somewhere in the distance she heard one of the twins scream too late, “Glorfinion! Look out!” Then darkness enveloped her.

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Ariella woke with a start. Looking around in fear, she could not quite place where she was. A blanket cascaded over her shoulders with the corners tucked neatly under her arms. Linanna, Elianna, and the other two sisters-in-law were watching Ariella closely from nearby chairs, pity and concern clouding their lovely faces.

Linanna arose and came to her, placing a motherly hand on the side of Ariella’s head, smoothing her hair, stroking her face. “You were dreaming, child. Are you all right?”

Ariella slowly shook her head and burst into tears. Linanna pressed Ariella to her middle and held her as she wept.

When Ariella had calmed a little, Linanna quietly asked, “What did you dream?”

Sniffling, Ariella said, “My sons found a bear and shot it, but then something came up behind them. I … I think it was another bear, but I am not certain. It slashed Glorfinion’s neck and chest and slammed him into a tree. I heard something crack and do not know if it was his skull or his ribs. He was knocked unconscious by the blow. His brothers saw it happen, but I do not know what has become of them.”

“Ariella, you do know that foresight is not always to be trusted, do you not?” Linanna gently admonished.

Ariella looked up at that, blinking away new tears. “It was not foresight, Linanna. It was real. I saw it all through Glorfinion’s eyes.”

Wonder lighting her face, Linanna asked curiously, “Ariella, I know that your father was mortal, but what was your mother?”

Resting her head back against Linanna’s stomach, knowing the other ellith in the room were listening intently, Ariella quietly replied, “She was gifted as I am and as my children are.”

“Have you tried reaching out to your gifted sons again as you did when Glorfindel asked you to find them last evening? Perhaps it was merely a bad dream,” she gently suggested.

Ariella closed her eyes and sought them with her mind. “Glorfinion does not respond to me.” Her tears started again. “The twins are scared, but the danger seems to be over. They are both injured, but conscious.” Suddenly, she felt them answer her mental touch.

*Nana!* The twins called to her as one. *Please help us! We do not know what to do.*

*Stay calm, my children, you will be all right. *

The boys’ responses were so quick, she could not make out which one was speaking.

*My legs are hurt. I cannot walk.*

*My shoulder hurts and my arm is broken.*

*We dropped our bows after we shot the first bear and had to kill the other bear with our long knives.*

*Glorfinion is hurt, too.*

*What do we do?*

*Calm down!* Ariella commanded. *Your father and the warriors of the Golden Flower are searching for you. Do you know where you are?*

*I do not know.*

*We are surrounded by big oak trees.*

*Whichever one of you can move most easily, go to Glorfinion and tell me of his injuries.*

*Yes, Nana.*

Ariella looked up at Linanna. “The children were injured when a second bear attacked them after they killed the first one. They said they killed the other bear.”

The ellith gasped, eyes wide. Linanna clapped her hand to her mouth.

“Oh, Ariella …,” Elianna trembled, gripping the arms of her chair.

“I need to tell Glorfindel,” Ariella said and was already establishing the contact before she finished speaking. She felt him respond almost immediately.

*We are well into the hills following their trail, but still have not found them, my love.*

How long had it been since he had last called her his love?

*I just spoke with the twins. Our sons successfully dispatched one bear, but a second came upon them at unawares. Glorfinion is injured and unconscious. Glorion and Galanor are hurt as well though not as badly, I think. They said they are surrounded by big oaks, if that helps at all.*

Glorfindel did not respond for a few moments, but she could feel his sorrow, fear, and guilt quite strongly.

*Thank you. Tell them to make a fire. We will look for the smoke. Keep me updated.*

*I will.*

Ariella called to her sons again.

*Can you make a fire?*

*No.*

*Yes. Maybe. I think I can if he brings me what I need. I cannot crawl very far. It hurts too much. If I stay still, I can control the pain.*

*All right. You stay still while your brother brings you what you need to make a fire. That way the searchers will be able to find you sooner.*

*But you told me to check on Glorfinion.*

*Help with the fire first. Your father needs the smoke in order to find you.*

*Is he angry with us?*

*He loves you very much and he fears for you.*

*Are we in trouble?*

*Let us worry about when you are safely home again. All right?*

*Yes, Nana.* They answered together.

*Let me know when you have made the fire and do not forget to tell me how Glorfinion is faring.*

*Yes, Nana.* They said again.

When the room came back into focus again, Ariella asked, “Linanna, would you please bring me juice and some food?”

“Ariella, I am surprised you can eat at a time like this,” Elindir’s wife exclaimed. “If my husband were out searching for my injured sons, I would have no stomach for food.”

Ariella smiled in agreement and admitted, “I am not particularly hungry, but I will have much healing to do when they return home and I will need my strength.”

Celoril’s wife shook her head and smiled. “Always the practical one.”

“My sons are scared, alone, and injured. My husband is fearful and sad. One of us has to keep her wits and be reasonable.”

“Indeed, my lady. Indeed,” Linanna said with a smile as she walked away.

*Nana?* One of the twins called to Ariella again a few minutes later.

*Glorfinion is hurt very badly. When I turned him, he started bleeding a lot from his neck. The gashes on his chest are not bleeding as badly. He has four broken ribs and a concussion.*

*Stop the bleeding and clean up the blood the way I taught you. Then heal whatever else you can so he can travel when your father arrives. Has your brother started the fire yet?*

*He struggles with it still. No, wait. There, he got it going.*

*Good which one of you am I talking to?*

*Glorion. Galanor. * They said at the same time.

Ariella put her hands to her face and sighed exasperatedly into them. Rubbing her face for a moment, she gathered her patience, and began again.

*Which one of you is tending the fire?*

*Glorion.*

*All right. Glorion, are you the one with injured legs?*

*Yes, Nana. It is terrible and my legs hurt a lot if I move too much. I do not want to think about it.*

*Galanor, you have the broken arm and an injured shoulder and are the one tending Glorfinion?*

*Yes, Nana.*

*All right. Are you bleeding?*

*Not any more.*

*Good. Do what you can for Glorfinion. Glorion, are you bleeding?*

*A little bit, but not as badly as I was. I am too tired to heal any more though.*

*Glorion, you must stay awake and keep the fire burning. Do you have enough wood nearby to keep the fire burning for a few hours?*

There was a pause, before he replied, *I think so.*

*Good! Do not let that fire go out. Do you understand me?*

*Yes, Nana. But I am so tired. How can I stay awake?*

Good question. What would keep an eleven year old awake? Then it came to her.

*Sing to your brothers.*

*But what shall I sing?*

She thought about it for a moment.

*Sing the song about the Music of the Ainur and the creation of Arda.*

*But, Nana, that one is so long. It will take forever.*

*That is the idea, little one. Then you will stay awake forever.*

*Oh. All right.*

*Call me when someone finds you.*

*Yes, Nana, I will.*

*Thank you, Nana!* They said together.

*I love you my brave, warrior sons.*

A chorus of I love you, toos was the reply.

Ariella contacted Glorfindel, informing him that the boys had built a fire and telling him of their injuries.

At the same time, he told her that his soldiers had spotted the smoke and adjusted their search accordingly.

A short time later, Glorion contacted her.

*Nana, Galanor could only stop the bleeding before he fell asleep. There was an awful lot of blood. We are not used to doing this much healing and with no sleep.*

*Your father is on his way. He and his soldiers can see the smoke. Keep the fire burning and keep singing, my son, keep singing. You have to stay awake.*

*Yes, Nana. I will try.*

An hour past sunrise, he contacted her again.

*Nana, someone is coming.*

*Who is it?*

*I cannot see … ah. It is a group of ellyn wearing grey and brown. They carry swords and bows. I have to talk to them now.*

Ariella paced Glorfindel’s study, rubbing the fabric of her gown between her thumb and fingers, waiting for her son to contact her again. After what seemed an impossibly long time, Glorion’s tired voice called to her. She stood still to listen.

*Nana, Captain Sindedhel of the march wardens is taking care of us. I told him Ada and his warriors are coming. He said he saw them from afar last night and had wondered what was going on. He and his wardens saw the smoke from my fire and came to investigate. They have our horses. He is tending my injuries and said he wants me to drink something so I will not hurt so much. I told him I can make the pain go away on my own. He said he could see by my eyes that I am the son of Lady Ariella, the great healer from Doriath, so he did not doubt me. But, he said that HE would feel better if I were asleep during what he has to do to my legs. I recognize the herbs he used and he mixed them the same way Lhûnedhel taught us. May I drink it and go to sleep?*

*Yes, you may. Tell the Captain I send my most sincere gratitude.*

*I will.*

There was silence for a short while before Glorion sleepily spoke one last time, the pain-relieving draught obviously already taking effect.

*Nana, the captain said I was very brave staying awake all alone, keeping the fire burning. He said that my adar would be proud of me. *

Ariella smiled though her son could not see it.

*Yes, my son. Your ada will be very proud of you. I am proud of you, too.* But she did not know if he ever heard her.

An hour later, Glorfindel contacted her, saying he had found the boys and would return home with them as quickly as possible.

It was nearly sunset when Glorfindel and his brothers burst through the front door, each holding one of the boys.

Ariella had ordered an extra bed brought in to the twins’ room, so all three boys could be together and to make it easier for her to care for them.

After a couple of hours, she completed the last healing, leaving all three boys sleeping deeply. She sat propped up against Galanor’s bed, eyes closed, her cheek pressed to the hand of his newly healed arm. Glorfindel was kneeling beside Glorfinion’s bed, holding his hand.

“Glorfindel,” Celoril called softly but firmly from his perch beside Elindir on the edge of Glorion’s bed. When Glorfindel looked up, Ariella could tell he had been crying. “Glorfindel, Elindir and I will stay here with your sons tonight. Take your wife and go to bed. She is exhausted and so are you. Your sons will not wake tonight.”

Glorfindel made to protest, but Elindir walked over and took him by the arms, easily lifting him to his feet. It had never occurred to Ariella before just how incredibly strong Elindir must be.

“You may out rank us, brother, but we out number you,” Elindir admonished sternly, but Ariella could hear the loving concern in his voice.

Glorfindel glared at his brother, but said nothing.

Elindir released him and walked over to Ariella. “Glorfindel, do you feel up to assisting your wife to your bed or do you want me to carry her for you?”

Glorfindel answered quietly, “I will carry her myself.”

Elindir bent over, taking Ariella by the arms and helping her to stand. She swayed dangerously, but he caught her quickly. Glorfindel scooped her into his arms, carried her to the door, then stopped and turned to face his brothers.

“Thank you for all you have done. I am most grateful to you both.”

His brothers smiled affectionately. “Good night, Glorfindel. Now go to bed. We will call you if any of the boys wake.”

Glorfindel turned and left the room, walking down the corridor toward their bedroom. It felt strange to Ariella to be in his arms again. She rested her head against his chest, listening to his heart beat and inhaling the scents of unwashed husband, horses, and late autumn in his clothes. When they arrived in their room, Glorfindel closed the door with his foot, then gently placed her on the bed. After helping her out of her dress and into one of her night gowns, he quickly bathed and dressed for bed.

Naked from the waist up, he sat at the foot of the bed, staring at her, his weary face full of guilt and sorrow.

“Ariella,” he began quietly. “I think we need to finish the conversation we started last evening.”

Exhausted as she was from worry and healing, she propped herself against the pillows. At least he wanted to talk to her again. She looked at him expectantly.

“I have had a great deal of time to think last night and today.” He looked down at his hands idly picking at the quilt, then back up at her. “If you had not been an alien come here as you did from your world far away in time and Ea, my life and the lives of others would have been very different. I would not have served my punishment all those years ago and I would not have been near enough to save my cousin when the mine collapsed. Maeglin most certainly would have died from his injuries. My beloved sister would have died in childbirth.

“I would not have the children I have now and certainly not this many children, if I had married an elleth instead. I also would not have had unusually gifted, precocious children to treat so horribly that my despondent sons, desperate for my attention, would have ridden out and slay a bear to try to win my pride and love.

“It was because of your giftedness that we were able to find the boys before it was too late. It was because of the traits you passed on to them that they were strong enough to overcome the bears, survive the injuries sustained in that assault, and even attempt to heal each other.”

He paused, blinking rapidly and swallowing hard. When he finally spoke again, his voice was tight with emotion. “It is because of what you are that my sons sleep in their beds safe and hale this night.”

Ariella stared at him in disbelief. Was he really saying this?

“I believe,” he continued quietly, “before we were interrupted in our discussion, you had asked what you could do and what I wanted of you. I believe I know now.” He paused again, giving her a weak smile. “What you could do is forgive me for my inability to cope. What I want of you is for you to continue to be my loving wife and the mother of my beautiful children. I want life to be as it was before you told me of your origins.”

She was so relieved, and yet … She still hurt from the way he had treated her and the children. What if he could not really cope? Should she forgive this so easily? But then, has this been easy? Their sons could have died. No, this lesson was learned at great cost to them both. Still, she had to be certain he understood the situation.

“Glorfindel, you cannot pretend that the children and I are what you believed us to be before,” she said calmly.

“No, I cannot and I do not intend to,” he agreed. “But what I can do is understand and appreciate the differences instead of scorning them.

“The captain of the march wardens out there,” - he gestured in the general direction of where he found the boys - “marveled that our sons had survived this whole ordeal. He was also quite impressed with Glorion’s knowledge of herb lore. He told me that I had chosen wisely when I married you, for I was blessed with a very gifted wife and truly remarkable children of whom any father would be proud. I agreed and told him that I am indeed proud.”

Ariella smiled. “Now you need to tell your children that.”

“I swear to you that I will.”

“I will hold you to that.”

“Ariella, I am truly sorry for the way I treated you and the children. Even though I do not deserve it, would you please forgive me?”

She looked into his bright penitent eyes, seeing the guilt, the sorrow, and the suffering in them, feeling it across their bond, too. Indeed he did understand. With that, her anger faded. “Yes, I forgive you,” she whispered, not trusting herself to speak any louder.

His body relaxed noticeably and he sighed in relief. “Thank you.”

He sat for a time looking at his hands, then said. “Speaking of the children, Ariella, there is something I would know.” He looked at her curiously. “The healers have long maintained that the reason that we have had so many children added to us in so short a time is due to the influence of your mortal blood. They have said that mortals are so very frail that they must produce many offspring in order for the race to survive. Yet … Luthien only bore Beren one child and I do not foresee Idril bearing Tuor more than the son she carries in her womb now. Why have we had so many children when I only made the choice to give you our first one? You said that you are from a large family and that your race of Atani was bred to possess many special traits including greater health and strength. Why would such … fertility be a needed or desirable trait?”

She smiled at him, closing her eyes for a moment trying to think of the best way to explain. Regarding him again, she took a deep breath and began. “A long time ago, my race was at war with a very powerful enemy. This enemy had destroyed whole worlds full of my people. One of the weapons used against us was disease specially made to be deadly to our race. While some of our healers sought a cure for the disease, others worked with the men of science to develop our people into a race immune to the deadly infection, in addition to breeding into us the other traits about which I have already told you. Knowing that it would be necessary to rebuild our population if we wanted our race to be able to continue to fight against our enemy, the increased fertility was added to the mix of desired traits as well. By the time the men of science had achieved their goal of creating and successfully breeding the hardier version of our race, only about one twentieth of our population remained – if that.

“Both males and females have been required to serve in our military since in order to assure the protection of our race because our numbers were so greatly depleted. Our worlds with major cities repopulated first as they had been the hardest hit. Then gradually, the outlying “colony” worlds were repopulated. While we all retain the ability to reproduce easily and create large families, this really only happens on colony worlds now. The people on the more populated worlds generally exercise more control over the number of children they produce, usually through the use of medicines. I am from a less populated colony world, so my family was large.”

Obviously mystified, Glorfindel asked, “But how is it that you have given me children when I did not choose to make them?”

This question was harder to answer. How does one explain hormones and pheromones to someone whose technological advancement is such that swords are still a pretty interesting idea?

Choosing her words carefully, she struggled to maintain eye contact with him, fidgeting with the quilt as she spoke. “When two elves choose to make a child together, the female’s body creates her contribution toward the child at that time as does the male. The Atani do not really have the choice of whether or not to produce a child at a given time. The female’s body releases her contribution toward a child once a month whether she wills it or not, while the male’s body releases a viable contribution every time he creates seed. The unions of Luthien and Idril were each with Atani males who did not have the control over their fertility to direct conception, so the choice to create a child lay entirely with the females. I suspect that there is something different about our physical union during my fertile times that makes your body more likely to produce viable seed – even when you do not intend for it to do so. I believe that on some unconscious level, your body senses that my body is prepared to create a child and reacts accordingly, even though you do not make the conscious decision.”

He raised his eyebrows at her and nodded. “That does seem to be a reasonable explanation.” After seeming to ponder this for a few moments, he spoke again.

“There is something else I wish to know. You mentioned in our previous conversation that when I return from Mandos’ halls, I will be free to take another wife. First of all what makes you think Mandos will ever release me, and second, why will your death dissolve our bond? Are not mortals married forever as elves are?”

Looking at her hands, she tried to figure out how to answer him without saying too much about the future. “I know for a fact that you will return from his halls. As for the dissolution of our bond … When mortals wed, it typically is only for the duration of the life of their bodies. After death, the fëa go elsewhere and are no longer bound to their spouses they knew in life. Depending on culture and custom, a mortal could take many spouses in life, yet after death that mortal’s fëa is not bound to that of any one spouse. For elves, marriage binds the fëa as well as the bodies. When the elves return from Mandos after death, then they can be reunited with their elven spouses.”

Glorfindel’s voice filled with bitterness. “Lady, what makes you think that I would want to return from Mandos’ halls if it meant I could not be with you? Why must we be parted forever at your death?”

Now the conversation was heading toward something she knew she should not be discussing, but she could not deceive him, not anymore. “I do not believe that you will be given a choice as to whether you actually want to return or not because, according to the way history has already transpired for me, you did return. You cannot change your future in such a way that it changes my past or we would never meet and history and time would be changed.

“As for our parting at my death being forever … I remember once reading a similar discussion between Finrod and the mortal Andreth, a maiden of Beor’s house who was in love with Finrod’s brother Aegnor. Finrod speculated that at the time of the Second Music, mortals and elves will be reunited. So,” she paused and sighed. “You and I most likely will be reunited ultimately. It will just take a very, very long time.”

He gave her a brief smile. “Finrod was very wise. I have long admired and respected him. I hope he is correct.” With a strange gleam in his eyes, Glorfindel asked, “How do you know I returned from Mandos’ halls, unless you went to Valinor and found me? Or does news freely travel between Aman and Endor in your age?”

He just won’t let this go, will he? She sighed in exasperation. “I have never been to Valinor and I never knew you in my time. For about three thousand years, news did travel between Aman and Endor, however, in my time that is no longer the case.”

His eyes narrowed. “How could news travel between Aman and here when we exiles are forbidden to return to Aman?”

“The exiles will be forgiven when a supplicant goes before the Valar and entreats their mercy.”

Hope lit his features. “When will this happen? How long must we suffer and wait? Who will be the one to make it there?”

Ariella shook her head. “I cannot answer those questions for you in the detail that you would like. You already know that you will not live to see it, but please also know that the sacrifice of your death will help to assure his survival. I really do not think that I should say much more.”

Suddenly Glorfindel’s eyes unfocused, taking on a far away look. “Our supplicant will be but a child when Gondolin falls,” he said softly.

She marveled at him, watching him experience the vision. “Yes.”

Awe filled his voice. “He shall be a shining star for our people, a star of hope.”

“Yes,” she said simply. “He will be called Gil-Estel by the exiles here in Endor.”

Glorfindel looked around blinking and breathing deeply as if to assure himself that he was really still in the room.

Ariella gasped, as a wave of weariness suddenly washed over her. The healings and the emotions of the last few days, combined with finally having some sort of resolution to her marital difficulties had taken a great toll on her. Feeling she would lose consciousness at any moment in spite of the pillows propping her up, she slid under the covers, making herself comfortable.

Glorfindel continued to sit at the foot of the bed, shoulders hunched, head bowed once again, fingers fumbling with the quilt. “Ariella, may I ask one more thing of you?”

Sighing heavily, she wearily forced herself to sit up again, arms trembling with the exertion. “What is it, Glorfindel?” she asked tiredly.

Looking up at her shyly, he asked, “May I return to our marriage bed and hold you in my arms tonight?”

She could not help but smile in weary response. “Yes you may. I have been cold and lonely without you.”

He hurriedly crawled over to his spot and slid under the covers beside her. Gathering her in his arms, he pulled her close, her head resting on his shoulder, his arms protectively encircling her.

Kissing her lovingly, he whispered in Quenya, “My Ariella, my ‘noble maid of the stars'.” Pausing a moment, he added, “Did the elves of your age give you that name? It is most fitting.”

She whispered back, “Actually, my parents named me that. An ariella is a large yellow blossom from a tree with purple and green leaves. The Sindarin meaning, however fitting, was coincidental.”

“How appropriate for the Lord of the Golden Flower to be bound to a ‘golden flower’,” he whispered, tenderly kissing her lips. “I do love you.”

“I love you, too, my golden lord.” Nestling in, she fell asleep.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

A couple of months later, their family received two surprises: one was that Ariella was with child again, and the other was the arrival of two brown bear skins, tanned and ready for use as rugs, courtesy of Captain Sindedhel and his wardens.

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Chapter name
Chapter 17
Created
31 Jul 2005
Last Edited
31 Jul 2005
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