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Crossroads of Time

Chapter 7: Chapter 7

by ellie

Warning: Some description of child birth

Rating: PG for now

Betas: Fianna, Julie, Rianna, and my husband who doesn’t have a screen name yet though he really does need to get one.


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

Please let me know your thoughts on how this story is progressing. This is my first multi-chapter story.

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Ariella and Lhûnedhel labored far into the night trying to save Maeglin. His internal injuries were extensive: he had brain damage from a skull fracture in addition to several injuries to his arms and legs. Ariella had to draw energy from two other healers and Turgon himself in order to complete the healing of Maeglin’s more severe injuries. When she finished with all she could heal that night, Ariella gave her remaining strength to Maeglin. Neither she nor Lhûnedhel left Maeglin’s room conscious, and neither remembered hitting the floor.

Near dinner time the following evening, Ariella’s peaceful slumber was rudely interrupted by someone shaking her shoulders quite forcefully.

“Ariella! Wake up! Now!” A female voice was shouting at her.

“Stop!” Ariella whined. “I am exhausted. Leave me alone.”

“I cannot. You are needed!” The voice was quite emphatic.

Eyes still closed, Ariella rolled away from the direction of the voice, and pulled the blanket over her head. “You got along just fine without me for many years. There are other healers. Let me sleep. Please?” The blanket was pulled away from Ariella as was the pillow. “You are cruel, but I can sleep without them. I am so tired right now.”

Something grabbed Ariella’s hair and pulled it quite hard, drawing her head toward the speaker. She swore loudly and opened her eyes trying to retrieve her hair from the evil hands that were pulling it. She finally managed to turn and look at the speaker.

“Ow! Idril? You are supposed to be my friend!” she cried indignantly. “What are you doing in my room?”

“Good, now that I have your attention. I am your friend, but this is not your room. It is mine. You need to get up immediately. It is Elianna,” she said, the fear in her voice now evident.

“What is wrong with her?” Ariella asked, becoming concerned.

“She went into labor last night an hour or two before you arrived to help Maeglin. She has been in labor ever since. The midwife said the baby is breech, but she cannot turn it or shift it enough to be able to deliver it. Elianna is weakening and they cannot make her stop bleeding.” Idril’s voice rose in pitch the longer she spoke, as panic began to set in.

Ignoring her badly wrinkled dress, Ariella scrambled out of bed, and searched for her shoes. “Where is she?”

“At her house. Please hurry,” Idril begged, handing her the shoes. “I have already had someone awaken Lhûnedhel. He said you can ride with him.”

“Please get me something I can eat on the way there. Lhûnedhel might need something to eat too.”

“He has already requested that and is on his way to the stables to retrieve his horse.”

*~~~~~~*

A few minutes later, Ariella, arms laden with food and drink, joined Lhûnedhel on his horse. He looked about as tired and bedraggled as she felt. They ate and rode quickly in silence too preoccupied to talk much.

Two servants met them at the entrance of the house. One took the horse and the other led them to Elianna. Elianna lay naked upon her bed, partially covered by a reddening sheet. Her long golden hair was completely soaked with sweat. Her eyes were red and puffy, her face flushed and wet with tears. Celeg, her husband, sat on the bed beside her, holding her hand. His black hair was somewhat unraveled from the tenacious single braid trying to contain it. When he turned upon hearing Ariella and Lhûnedhel enter, his face was haggard and his eyes were full of fear. The very air of the room felt tired and afraid.

Tears came to Ariella’s eyes: she clapped a hand to her mouth. Lhûnedhel, standing beside her, briefly grabbed and squeezed her other hand. “There is so much blood,” she whispered to him.

“Be brave Ariella,” he whispered encouragingly. “Be strong for them.”

When they saw Ariella and Lhûnedhel, Elianna wearily pleaded with them, “Please do not let my baby die. I do not care about myself anymore. Just please do not let my baby die.”

Elianna gasped as a strong contraction came upon her. Celeg held her hand to his lips whispering words of encouragement to her as she raggedly breathed through the pain.

When the contraction ended, the midwife, amid mopping away new blood and fluid, informed them, “I have tried several times to turn the baby, but have been unsuccessful. She will not last much longer this way. I need to cut her and take the baby. Whatever you two can do for bleeding or pain would be most appreciated.”

The two healers set to work with Ariella sitting at the head of the bed controlling Elianna’s pain and Lhûnedhel helping with the surgery. Celeg, paling considerably, maintained his position beside his wife, holding her hand and watching her face. The procedure did not take long and soon piercing wails filled the room.

When Elianna heard the baby, she cried for joy. The midwife held the little dark haired boy for all to see. “He is so beautiful!” Elianna whispered. The midwife wiped him clean, swaddled him and was handing him to his father when Ariella realized something felt wrong. She looked down at her patient; the light in Elianna’s grey eyes was fading, her face a deathly white.

“I love you, Celeg,” Elianna whispered, her voice barely audible. “Take care of our baby boy for me. I love you both so much.”

Tears started from Celeg’s eyes. “No!” he choked. “Elianna, I love you! Please do not leave me. Do not leave us.” He ran to her side and took her hand in his, clutching the baby in the other arm. He laid his head on the bed and wept. The midwife put her arms around them and held them close.

“Lhûnedhel, what is wrong?” Ariella demanded.

“I have completed the delivery and am stitching her up as fast as I can, but I cannot stop the bleeding!” he cried in frustration.

Ariella deepened the healing contact with her now unconscious patient, then got up and moved down to where Lhûnedhel was rapidly stitching the incision. Ariella placed her hands over the cut and began healing it from the inside out. Lhûnedhel moved up to kneel beside Elianna’s head and placed his hands on her forehead and chest, lending her as much of his strength as he could.

It seemed to take forever to finally progress to healing the skin. When the last of the incision was healed, Ariella healed the other areas that should not have been bleeding as much as they were. She proceeded to lay her hand atop one of Elianna’s limp ones and place the hand on the blood-soaked sheet. The wet blood vanished from the sheet. The midwife helped Celeg get up and led him away as Lhûnedhel started feeding more blood-soaked sheet toward Ariella so she could continue replenishing Elianna as best she could. When they had run out of sheets, Lhûnedhel got up and prepared a blood replenishing draught which Ariella helped him administer to Elianna.

When the last drop of the draught was finally gone, Ariella sat on the floor beside Lhûnedhel, leaning back against the bed with a heavy sigh. “I think she will be all right.”

“Yes, I believe she will be,” Lhûnedhel agreed wearily.

The midwife was busy cleaning up Elianna the rest of the way.

Celeg, his tired face now dry, walked over to the healers and knelt in front of them. “I do not have the words to express my gratitude to you,” he said softly. “Thank you. Thank you.”

They both smiled. “You are most welcome,” Ariella responded kindly. She reached out and caressed the tiny face of his son. “He is so beautiful. What is his name?”

“Celegil,” the proud father replied.

“You should send word of his birth to Elianna’s family and to the king and princess. They have been awaiting this birth most anxiously,” Lhûnedhel advised.

“Yes, of course. I forgot with everything going on.” Celeg arose, kissed his wife’s forehead and lips, then left the room still clutching the now sleeping baby to his chest.

A servant entered a few minutes later with wine, bread, meat, and cheese. They graciously thanked him, but admitted to being too tired to get up and walk anyplace to eat. The servant obliged them by setting the tray of food on the floor and preparing them glasses of wine. He brought them a bowl of water, scented soap, and cloths to clean their hands and faces with before eating. The midwife left briefly to wash up more properly, then returned and joined them on the floor for a celebratory picnic.

When their dinner was finished, the midwife volunteered to sit vigil with Elianna and the baby, if Celeg could get him away from his new admirers, and sent the healers home.

*~~~~~~*

It was well past dark when they dismounted at the house of the Nestadain. Ariella wandered into the gardens, looking for a peaceful place to sit and look at the bright stars while Lhûnedhel saw to the horse.

She had hardly had any time to think for all of the excitement of the last few days. Coming to a place where her path intersected another, she realized she had done nothing but intersect other people's paths of life over the last few days. Only her intersections had not been with casual side streets where the chance meeting meant little to nothing. She had been meeting crossroads of a different sort where her choices affected the future; not just her own future, but the futures of everyone around her and beyond. She hoped to God that these crossroads of time had all been traversed now. Plopping down in a secluded area beside the fragrant white blossoms of moonflowers, she propped her elbows on her bent knees and thought about what she had done.

Leaning forward, she hid her face in her arms as tears came unbidden to her eyes. Helping Glorfindel had been an easy choice: she was saving him so he could save others. But, in reality, wasn't she just saving him so he could die in some other way?

Helping Elianna had been heart-wrenching. Ariella had nearly lost one of her two best friends and watched a new little family almost shatter in the process. Unfortunately, that whole little family would be dead in less than twenty-three years when the city fell. How much more would Elianna suffer later because Ariella had spared her now? Was it really worth it to give her twenty-two years with her family so they could all die together? It was such a short time in the reckoning of the elves, just a mere moment in time really. But...it would be a perfect moment, wouldn't it?

Ariella had not seen that many more than twenty-two years herself. Would she want the opportunity to spend twenty-two years with her family, if she ever had one of her own? What would that perfect moment be worth to her? Why bother contemplating it? She would never have a family of her own. Besides, she most likely would die too when Gondolin fell.

So, what gave her the right to judge if it was worth it to give others a few extra moments in time? She herself was mortal. For her, living in anticipation of impending death was normal: it was just the way life was. She just needed to let it go and stop worrying about the mortality of the elves.

But, what had she almost done in judging Maeglin? In a few brief moments, she could have destroyed all hope for elves and mortals of Arda alike, just because she did not like the way he would spend the last years he would have left.

"Please take me away from all of this," she begged amid her tears, not realizing she was speaking aloud. "I do not want to do it any more. I just cannot."

She felt arms envelope her as she was pulled sideways into a tight embrace. She nuzzled against the warm presence beside her, desperately needing the comfort only another living being could provide. Her comforter smelled strongly of herbs and horses and unwashed male, but she did not care. For some strange reason, she found the strong steady rhythm of his heart and the soft rise and fall of his chest with each breath oddly reassuring.

Lhûnedhel gently rocked her and whispered, “It is all right. You are unused to healing like this. We all find it traumatic the first time we experience days like you have had recently.”

“No, I am not used to it,” she sniffled back. “I have never done anything like this before…and I really do not think that I ever want to again.”

“Shhh. That is your weariness talking. Do not say such things.” He continued to gently rock her, holding her closer. “You have a marvelous gift and it would be wrong not to use it to help others. After all, is that not why such gifts are bestowed upon us? It does not matter where we are when we use them, so long as we use them to help others.”

“But what if we are only helping them for a little while? Only sparing them so something worse can happen later?” She had not really meant to speak what was in her heart, but the words apparently wanted out.

He loosened his embrace, pushing her away a little and tilting her head so he could look into her eyes. “So that is what this is about.” He took a deep breath. “Ariella, we have little to no control over the future paths and choices of others. All we can do is help them in the here and now. What they choose to do with any renewed life we have helped give them is their choice, not ours. If you save a person and that person goes on to do something terrible, then that was the person’s choice, not yours. You did your job in helping the person to live. You can only hope that the person will make good or better choices in life afterward.”

Ariella tried to blink away her tears as he looked away, blinking several times himself.

“What makes you so wise? How do you know so much about this?” she asked curiously.

Lhûnedhel chuckled a little, but there was no mirth in it. Looking down, he withdrew his arms, snatched a handful of leaves from a nearby bush, and began shredding them mercilessly. “I am not wise. I unfortunately am just experienced.” He took another couple of deep breaths before continuing. “When the Noldor were leaving Alqualonde after slaying so many of the Teleri - something I took no part in, by the way - two of Feanor’s sons were brought to me. Celegorm and Caranthir had been injured in the fight. I was horrified and angry at what had happened, what they had done. I was asked to tend to their injuries. They are the worst of the brothers, the most evil or at least the cruelest. I did as I had been asked, but I wondered the whole time what I was allowing to live. What further evil would they do and how much would I help it because I gave them their strength back? I ended up being a victim of their next evil when Feanor and his followers took the ships and abandoned the rest of the Noldor on the coast to die crossing the grinding ice of the Helcaraxe. Turgon lost his wife and nearly lost his daughter on that crossing. I lost my parents on it.”

He looked at Ariella again. The light in his eyes was bright with fury and hatred. Then he bowed his head and was silent for a time. Ariella was thankful she was not him, but realized she likely might benefit similarly from Maeglin’s evil in the years to come. She tentatively reached out and started rubbing his back consolingly. She could feel knots of tension in the well-developed muscles and massaged them accordingly.

He finally looked up, wiping his eyes with the cuff of his sleeve and said, “You must be gifted with foresight to be experiencing such misgivings about the healings of late. If you do not mind my asking, what have you foreseen?”

Actually she was hind-sighted and that was worse. She slid her hand across his shoulder blades, before resting it on the shoulder nearest her. There was no harm in being truthful so long as she was vague. “Something terrible that frightens me so much I do not wish to even think about it.”

“I have seen too much of that in my life as an exile already. I think we are deceiving ourselves to think that we will ever defeat Morgoth on our own. Cut off from the Valar as we are, I do not think there is much hope for us outside the walls of this city.”

“Speaking as one who recently has been outside of the walls…” And, she thought to herself, as someone who knows the history of the First Age quite well. Squeezing his shoulder gently, she whispered, “No, there is not.”

She released him and looked away. Would he die too when the city fell? She did not know. Her heart was sick with all of these thoughts of death. She was beyond tired and just wanted to go away for good. Fresh tears spilled from her eyes.

His arms engulfed her once again as he softly kissed her hair. He rested his chin on her head and gently rocked her until her tears finally stopped. His arms were strong and comfortable as she rested against his shoulder- perhaps too comfortable.

“What time is it?” she startled, suddenly remembering she had not been home for a long time now.

“It is late,” he commented into her hair.

She pushed back from him, wondering how much trouble she would be in for not having even sent a message of her whereabouts since leaving to come here after helping Glorfindel. “I need to go home. They will wonder what has happened to me. I have not sent word of anything since I left to come here…whenever it was that I did that.”

“Two days ago, I think,” he speculated, looking a little confused. “I cannot quite remember myself. The king can account for your whereabouts yesterday evening and most of the day today, and I am sure Celeg will mention that you helped with Elianna this evening. I guess that is only a day and half or something close to that. I am too tired to think anymore myself.” He arose and helped her up. They dusted dirt and grass off of each other’s clothes.

“Stay here tonight. I do not think you are up to the walk back home and I am too tired to take you, even on horseback. Besides if I let you go back this late and you did not make it back for whatever reason, I would be in serious trouble.”

She looked at him uncertainly. “Where will I sleep?” she asked uncomfortably.

He took her hand and laughed. “In a bed in a room on the other side of the house from my room, because that is where the guest room is.”

She took a deep breath and slowly let it out, which made her dizzy. “All right. Let’s go get some sleep.” She swayed a little in her weariness.

He put his arm around her to steady her, and took her inside the house and up to her room. He pulled back the covers for her, sat her down on the bed, and knelt to remove her shoes. She was already half asleep by the time her head hit the pillow. He sat beside her, tucking her in, then leaned forward and looked into her tired eyes.

“Thank you,” she whispered, closing her eyes as sleep overtook her.

“You are welcome,” he replied, gently kissing her forehead.

If he said anything else to her before leaving the room, she never heard it.

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Chapter name
Chapter 7
Created
02 Nov 2004
Last Edited
02 Nov 2004
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