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Crossroads of Time

Chapter 8: Chapter 8

by ellie

Rating: Still PG for now

My Wonderful Betas: Fianna, Julie (get well soon, girl), Rianna, and my cute cuddly 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 entered Glorfindel’s room wearing one of her new winter dresses. The cold weather had arrived early this year, considering it was only a few weeks into autumn. She waved to the servant sitting by the fire reading a book and he waved back at her with a relieved smile. Glorfindel called to her from his bed where he was propped into a sitting position and covered in an embroidered green blanket.

“Ariella! It is good to see you again. I had been worried about you when you were gone for so many days.”

She smiled warmly as she walked over to him and sat on a chair beside his bed. “It is good to be home again. I did not think they were ever going to let me leave the House of the Nestadain.”

His eyes darkened with concern and his voice held a mildly scolding tone, “From what I heard, the healers were afraid you would be leaving it via Mandos’ Halls. Lhûnedhel said you overextended yourself with so many healings in so short of a span of time. He said that in spite of him and a couple of other healers giving strength to you as you taught them, they still feared you were fading. You slept for four days straight before they could wake you.”

“I know,” she answered, looking down at her hands where she was fidgeting with the fabric of her dress. “But oddly enough, after they spent four days trying to make me wake up, they then spent another three telling me I needed to rest and trying to make me sleep some more. Where is the logic in that?”

“Ariella.” The commanding tone was stronger now. “Please promise me that you will not endanger yourself like that again.”

She met his eyes unflinchingly. “I can promise no such thing. I did what needed to be done to save lives that would have been lost otherwise. I will not rush in to offer my services unless it is necessary, but I will help if I am needed and to the extent that I need to in order to get the job done.”

He continued to hold her in his authoritative gaze for a time before commenting, “And I thought the Noldor were proud.” His demeanor relaxed. “So be it. I do however insist that you refrain from any more healing for a few more days as Lhûnedhel has recommended.”

“Do not worry. I intend to avoid injured people for a while.”

“Good. I suppose I am fortunate then to be graced by your presence considering my current state.” He nodded in the general direction of his splinted arms and legs.

“Well,” she commented dryly, “Your Grace requested my presence, so I thought I had better comply.”

“Yes.” He assumed the imperious tone and puffed up demeanor once again. “You should always comply with my requests.”

She cocked her head to the side and glared at him taking in his bandaged broken nose and wrapped appendages. “You look pitiful, you know that? I think I am more inclined to obey you because I feel sorry for you than for any other reason right now.”

He leaned his head back against the topmost pillow, rolled his eyes, and smiled. “Laughing still hurts, you know.”

“Well, you just forbade me to do anything about it, did you not?”

“Yes, I did.” He chuckled and grimaced painfully at the same time. “And though I wish you would do something about it, I do not ask it.” Concern filled his eyes as well as something else she could not name. “I was very worried about you, Ariella. And I still am. Please take care of yourself.”

She smiled kindly and started gently rubbing the back of his left hand with her left hand. “I promise I will try.” With her other hand, she lightly brushed the side of his head establishing a mild healing contact. He leaned his head into her caress.

“You are still in a lot of pain. Are they giving you anything for it?” Her voice was soft with concern as she started drawing the pain away.

He closed his eyes and sighed. “You are not supposed to be doing any healing.”

“I know. It takes very little, comparatively speaking, for me to control pain. You did not answer my question.”

He still did not meet her eyes. “They give me something at night so I can sleep. But I hate being unaware of what is going on around me, so I try not to take anything during the day.”

“Nothing is going on around you to be aware of,” she chided, continuing her caresses. “You are trapped in your bedroom unable to move. You would not miss much if you slept some during the day, too.”

“I know,” he conceded wearily.

“How many times have you had this conversation in the last few days?”

“Too many times with too many different well-meaning people.”

“Maybe they are just people who care for you and do not wish to see you suffer unnecessarily,” she offered.

“Go ahead! Make me feel guilty. It is not like I have anything better to do right now anyway,” he retorted testily. He turned away from her, trying to escape her touch.

She drew away more of the pain, watching his tense body grudgingly relax. “Someone sits up here with you all of the time whether you are awake or asleep. I do not think you would be so bored and irritable if you slept a little more.”

He looked back at her and licked his dry lips. “May I please have a drink of water?”

She looked around until she found the cup of water on the table beside his bed. Maintaining her healing touch with one hand, she held the cup to his lips with the other for him to drink. When he was satisfied, he leaned back into the pillows.

“Thank you,” he said, his voice quiet and small.

“You really hate being dependant on others, don’t you?”

He nodded apologetically.

“It is all right. No one minds helping you and you certainly deserve it.” She reached out with her other hand and gently began massaging his scalp with both hands. His loose unbraided hair felt wonderfully silky against her skin. He made noises of contentment as his body completely relaxed and his eyes closed. “Go to sleep, my Lord. Be at peace.”

Once she was certain he was completely unconscious, she broke the contact, brushing his cheek with the back of her hand. She waved to the servant as she got up and left the room. “Enjoy your book,” she whispered and was answered with a grateful smile.

*~~~~*

It was nearly lunch time when Ariella entered the city library. She hoped she would quickly find something to read for the afternoon and then go back to the house for lunch. As she headed into the section with books about Valinor, she was stopped rather abruptly by one of the lore masters.

“Where have you been, Ariella?” he asked, effectively blocking her path with his tall, dark-haired, grey clad form. “I have not seen you here for two weeks. I was beginning to think you had found a better source of reference material that what we have to offer here.” He motioned grandly around the room to the myriad of books and scrolls on the shelves.

“Who are you?” Ariella asked confused. “And what concern is it of yours if I have been away for two weeks?”

“I am Istadan son of Istadir at your service,” he replied with an elegant bow. “I always make a point of observing who is in the library and how often so that I may be the greater service in assisting with the selection of reading material.”

Ariella was perplexed. Who was this person? Had she even spoken with him before? Having previously been so intent on not interacting with people, she obviously had overlooked him completely. She did not want to offend him and did not want to lose her library privileges in case he was someone important, but she had no idea who he was.

“Hello,… Istadan. The past two weeks have been extremely difficult for me, so please forgive me if I do not remember previously making your acquaintance.” She hoped that was polite enough to not embarrass herself.

“You and I have never met before, but I noticed you the first time you came in here.” He looked at her knowingly. “I must admit I never expected to see one of King Thingol’s subjects willingly reading books in Quenya, let alone one of his subjects who knew how to speak Quenya. I have heard from our Sindarin brethren in Gondolin that Quenya is a difficult language for them to learn, far more difficult than it was for us to learn Sindarin.”

Why are these people so quick to judge? Do they never see the similarities? Why do they only focus on the differences? Calaquendi versus moriquendi. Noldor versus Sindar. Sindarin versus Quenya. Is this ALL borne from the Noldorin pride or is some of it also from the Noldor being the crafty, analytical, knowledge-seeking members of the elven race? Or were they that deeply offended by Thingol calling all Quenya speakers kin slayers, even though many of them are?

If only Elrond were here to debate this one with her. She would dearly love to hear his perspective on all of this, given his unique genetic and cultural heritage. Considering that he would not even be born for several decades yet, maybe she should get to know Istadan and see how his knowledge of lore compares with Elrond’s. And here she was comparing two totally different lore masters. She was just as guilty of whatever that annoying trait is that the Noldor are guilty of as well. She smiled broadly and shook her head.

Istadan looked quite surprised at her reaction.

“I fear I am never going to understand you Noldos and your need to judge and compare races,” Ariella baited him.

He took the bait. “OUR need to judge? Excuse me, but I believe it was YOUR King Thingol who grouped all of the Noldor together with the kin slayers, and condemned a richly expressive beautiful language to use in books and behind closed doors just because it is the language spoken by a few who transgressed against his kin! OUR need to judge indeed! Considering King Thingol’s ban on his people speaking Quenya, I am quite surprised that you, so newly come from his realm in Doriath, are so eager to immerse yourself in it. It seems most hypocritical to me.”

“When did I ever say that I agreed with King Thingol’s ban on the use of Quenya in speech or lore?” She countered. “You assume that just because one is the subject of a king that that one agrees with all that he decrees.”

“Ah, but if you are loyal to your king, then you should follow his decrees.”

“In whose realm do I currently reside? What are his decrees concerning the use of Quenya?”

“Turgon son of Fingolfin is the king of Gondolin and he decrees that we may use either language as we wish. However Quenya is to be the language of our lore.”

“Well, since I am in a library in Gondolin, do you think I will offend him if I read a book in Quenya?”

Istadan glared at her, his blue-grey eyes flashing in annoyance, while she gloated to herself over her victory.

He finally shook his head and laughed. “You are a most unexpected surprise, Ariella. You best our healers at their craft and now you take on our lore masters.”

“I hope you are up to the task. I never intended to “best” your healers, I only meant to help those patients who were in need.” She looked at him curiously, a little bit alarmed. “How do you know of the healings I helped with and that I healed what your healers could not?”

“I believe that by now everyone has heard that you saved the lives of Lord Glorfindel and Lord Maeglin. Some of us also know that you helped save the life of Lady Elianna, sister of Lord Glorfindel when she nearly died in child birth.” He spoke matter-of-factly. “However, I do not believe that many know that you know Quenya. You must have learned it while serving Princess Artanis.”

She looked down for a moment, unsure of how to ask the rest of what was on her mind. Perhaps the direct approach would be best. “What else do people say about me?” She looked at him uncertainly.

He clasped his hands together and sighed. “They say that you are peredhel. Your father was a mortal bound to a Sindarin elleth who served our Princess Artanis and Prince Celeborn of Doriath. They also say that you have the most remarkable eyes. None of us have ever seen violet eyes before.” He reached up and brushed a few stray strands of her unbound hair away from her eyes. “Your eyes are quite striking and, if I may be so bold, quite lovely, especially in combination with your beautiful golden hair.”

She felt her face flush with embarrassment and tried to look away, but his hand now rested on her cheek.

“You also apparently blush quite easily and quite nicely,” he observed casually.

She felt her ears grow hot as her face flushed even more. Oh, wonderful! Now she was embarrassed about being embarrassed.

“You are quite an interesting puzzle, Ariella. I would like to learn more about you. Would you care to join me for lunch?” He dropped his hand back to his side.

She took a deep breath hoping the extra blood in her face was returning to where it belonged. “Yes, I will join you for lunch. I have many questions for you.”

“Thank you.” He politely offered his arm, which she took. “What do you wish to know?”

“About Valinor, about your culture, basically your lore, lore master.”

“Then I shall endeavor to instruct you.” He led her out of the library and into the sunlight.

*~~~~~~~*

Lunch had proven to be interesting indeed. Istadan had seemed to be both a knowledgeable lore master and an excellent conversationalist. After lunch, he had directed her to some books he thought she would find interesting and asked her to join him for lunch again in three days to discuss the books. She had agreed.

She was already meeting Lhûnedhel for lunch in two days, per his request, when she had left the House of the Nestadain to return home that morning. It was good to finally be making more friends here. She had never had many male friends, so she hoped it would be interesting getting to know these two.

Ariella had just walked into the house with her books when Linanna stopped her.

“Ariella, I have been looking all over for you.” She sounded a little exasperated.

“I am sorry,” Ariella replied. “I was at the library and ended up having lunch with one of the lore masters. What do you need with me? Is everything all right?”

Linanna smiled. “Everything is fine. Elianna and the baby are coming to visit Lord Glorfindel tomorrow. Lord Glorfindel will not be able to hold the baby, but he can at least look at it. He has been quite concerned about his sister and the child, and did not want her to travel here to visit until she was strong again. I heard the child is quite beautiful. Oh, and Elianna would like to see you, too. Will you be available?”

Ariella smiled in return. “Yes, I will be here. That would be wonderful. The child was lovely from the moment he was born. I cannot believe he is a week old already! Is Elianna feeling well again?”

Linanna replied, “Yes, she is fine now, thanks to you.” She put her hand on Ariella’s arm and gave a little squeeze. “Ariella, thank you for saving this family. They are very close and very loving. I have served them for more than fifteen hundred years, and I know how much it would hurt them if they lost either Lord Glorfindel, Lady Elianna, or the baby. The other servants and I wanted you to know how grateful we truly are for what you have done for them and for us. Thank you.” She gave Ariella an awkward hug around her armload of books, then patted her on the side of her face. “You are a good person. Lord Glorfindel must have been foresighted when he brought you here.”

Ariella looked at the floor feeling the blood rise to her face again. She was quite touched. It had never occurred to her that anyone else might have been so concerned about Glorfindel and Elianna. “I do not know what to say other than you are welcome. Thank you, Linanna for being so kind to me.”

“Any time you need something, Ariella, you have but to ask one of the servants, and we will gladly do whatever we can for you.”

Ariella smiled, but could not meet Linanna’s eyes. She felt so unworthy of the kindness they were offering her. “Thank you,” was all she could manage to say.

On the way up the steps, Ariella began formulating a plan for how she could help make the visit tomorrow extra special. She left the books on her bed, then hurriedly departed for Glorfindel’s room.

She entered to find Lhûnedhel checking on Glorfindel’s progress. She was not thrilled to see him because he would object to what she was planning. But then again, maybe he could be of assistance to her in this. They both looked up as she walked into the room.

“Hello, Ariella,” Glorfindel said brightly. “This is an unexpected surprise.”

“Yes, it is,” Lhûnedhel agreed with much less cheer. “Why are you here?”

“I wish to help,” she replied simply.

“You are not strong enough to help today, Ariella. I am not meaning to be rude, but I am concerned about you. I do not think you are up to helping anyone right now.”

“Lhûnedhel, I am fine and I wish to do something for Lord Glorfindel to make tomorrow’s visit with his sister more enjoyable for him.” She walked over the bed and sat down on it to Glorfindel’s right.

Lhûnedhel walked around the bed and took hold of her arm. Glaring at her, he said sternly, “I do not want you doing any more healing yet. You nearly died from what you did before. I fear for you.”

She was glad she had started blocking her thoughts first thing every morning so that Lhûnedhel wouldn’t know how much of a stubborn ass she thought he was being right now.

“I promise I will not tax myself overmuch with this,” she sighed in exasperation. “Lord Glorfindel is strong enough now that I will not need to use as much of my strength as I did before, and I most likely will not need to use anyone else’s either. Is that good enough for you? You are not my keeper, so I do not know why I am bothering to ask you. I am tired of you mothering me so much.” She glared back at him angrily and yanked her arm back from his grasp.

“Lord Glorfindel,” he started in a pleading tone, but was cut off by Glorfindel.

“Even though this directly concerns me, I am not going to argue with her on what her limits are. She is feisty, but I think she knows what she is doing. Perhaps it would be better if you watched over her during whatever it is she is planning, so you could scold her for it later and have more arrows in your quiver to loose at her when she wears herself out,” Glorfindel offered diplomatically.

Ariella glared at Glorfindel for a moment trying to decide if she should be irritated with him, then glanced over at Lhûnedhel’s now smug face. She shook her head and gave an exaggerated sigh.

She motioned toward Glorfindel and said to Lhûnedhel, “Would you please help me position him so I can heal his nose first? I need him to lie flat with his head in my lap.”

“Why the nose first?” Lhûnedhel asked curiously.

“How much difficulty do you think he will have trying to nuzzle a baby with a bruised bandaged face?” Ariella asked in annoyance. Why did males never think of these things?

“Well, I had never really considered it before now,” Lhûnedhel chuckled. “I guess it would be rather difficult. Perhaps you should ask your patient if he wants you to do this right now.”

“Yes, please,” Glorfindel responded quickly. “This bandage itches horribly and I cannot even scratch it.” He glanced at Lhûnedhel. “No offense intended, Lhûnedhel.”

“None taken, my Lord,” he responded politely.

Lhûnedhel proceeded to gently remove pillows, with Ariella’s help, and managed to position Glorfindel’s head appropriately on her lap in her new position at the head of the bed.

She slid her hands under Glorfindel’s neck and supported his head while Lhûnedhel removed the bandage. She briefly wondered what it would be like to have Glorfindel’s head resting in her lap as they lounged outside watching the stars, but quickly quelled the thought. She needed to focus on the task at hand. Once the bandages were gone, she established healing contact and gently placed her hands on Glorfindel’s face on either side of his nose with her thumbs meeting near the tip of his nose. She immediately felt intense heat rise from her hands making his face sweat. Within a few minutes, the fractured bone was mended and the swelling was eased. When she moved her hands away, his face looked completely normal. She thought he looked quite handsome resting there with his eyes closed, but she squashed that thought too. He opened his eyes, and gently tried wrinkling his nose and stretching his mouth, making absurd faces because he could do so again without pain.

“Are you practicing for when the baby comes to visit tomorrow? I believe I just saw you make the “dirty diaper” face,” Ariella teased.

He laughed and shook his head. “It does not hurt to laugh now!” he exclaimed in wonder.

She smiled down at him and gently stroked the side of his face. “Any more pain anywhere on your face?” She gently glided her hand around different parts of his face applying pressure.

He smiled and responded in a joyful voice, “No pain.” He sighed contentedly as his warm grey eyes sought her violet ones. “How are you feeling? Does Lhûnedhel need to carry you back to your room or will you just camp on the floor in here?”

“I am fine! Do not worry about me. Besides, I am not finished with you yet.” She slid out from under his head, gently resting it back on the bed and moved to sit beside his right arm.

“Are you planning on healing his right arm now?” Lhûnedhel asked curiously.

“Yes. Could you please remove the splint?”

“It will hurt him when I do. You will need to numb the pain for him, if that will not deplete you too much to further heal him.”

Ariella moved back up to the head of the bed and caressed Glorfindel’s face and head taking the pain away while Lhûnedhel worked to unbandage the arm. The look on Glorfindel’s face spoke of utter contentment.

“This is just an observation, sir,” Lhûnedhel remarked teasingly while he worked, “but you look entirely too content, lying there receiving her ministrations.”

“Do not all of her patients respond so to her touch?” Glorfindel inquired peacefully.

“Well, I have only had four patients in Gondolin, and you are the only one to respond this way so far, although you also are the only one to receive my help more than once,” Ariella commented.

Glorfindel was quiet for a moment then responded, “Elianna, Maeglin, myself…Who was the fourth? One of the miners?”

Lhûnedhel squirmed uncomfortably as Ariella replied, “Nooo. It was one of the healers.”

“Oh? Which one? What happened that this person needed your help?” Glorfindel asked a little alarmed.

Lhûnedhel started turning red and hurried to finish his work. Ariella bit her lip trying not to laugh as she watched Lhûnedhel react. She finally giggled. “It was Lhûnedhel. He had an injury to his hand and to his head.”

Lhûnedhel became more agitated as she giggled, then replied through gritted teeth. “I cut my hand while chopping herbs when Ariella first came to visit the House of the Nestadain. Then I knocked a cup off of a table, hit my head on the table, and gashed my scalp while trying to pick up the pieces.”

Glorfindel inquired, “The pieces of the cup or the pieces of your dignity?” Then he burst out laughing.

“Yes, my Lord, quite. It was both and I did not succeed well at either,” he replied with a scowl. “My Lord, stop shaking. You are making it most difficult to finish removing the splint and you do not want me to hurt you, much as I would like to right now. Actually, it is Ariella I want to hurt right now, but I believe she is not available for retribution at this time.”

“I think you have already had your retribution by keeping her trapped in the House of the Nestadain for a week,” Glorfindel admonished. “I believe that was the worst thing you could have done to her. She apparently does not do well in confinement and was most irritable when she came back.”

Ariella commented sweetly, “You do not do well in confinement either, my Lord. Perhaps that is why you were so readily able to identify such behavior in me?”

“I am not going to answer that,” he said, closing his eyes, and returning to the expression of bliss.

Lhûnedhel nodded to her when he finished, and rose to give her space to shift to Glorfindel’s side and work.

When she was in position, she turned Glorfindel’s head toward her and looked into his eyes. “Glorfindel, I will be using your strength when I heal you. I need for you to tell me if you start to feel excessively weak or tired. If you are unable to get my attention, then tell Lhûnedhel. He will stop me so I can switch to using my strength to finish healing your arm. It could be bad if I deplete your strength too much. Do you understand?”

He nodded and said, “Yes, I understand.”

“Lhûnedhel, if his eyes start to glaze over, you might need to strengthen him. If necessary, ask him questions periodically to see how he is doing. You will not distract me.”

“What about you, Ariella? What signs should I look for in you?” Lhûnedhel’s voice was filled with concern.

“I will stop if it is too much for me. Is that acceptable?”

“Yes,” Lhûnedhel and Glorfindel both answered at the same time.

Ariella laughed and shook her head as she put her hands in position on Glorfindel. “You are both impossible.”

Glorfindel smiled and pointed out, “At least you know we care.”

She smiled in return and began her work.

Healing the bones took longer than she had expected and Lhûnedhel stopped her as she finished repairing the fourth break.

“He is weakening too much. It seemed to hit him suddenly.” He walked around to the other side of the bed and gave some of his strength to Glorfindel, who was muttering incoherently with his eyes closed. “Do not drain him further if you can help it, Ariella.”

“I will use my strength now. He was in worse shape than I thought,” she commented.

“Wait at least a week or two before you try healing his left arm. It is far worse. Unless you can do something for it, I do not expect him to regain full use of it. I do not believe he would even be able to lift a shield let alone draw a bow again.”

“Does he know?”

“Yes, I have told him. But I also told him that you healed a spinal injury and a brain injury both of which should have been fatal, so perhaps all hope is not lost. He said he would not go down without a fight, and I believe it. If we can keep his spirit strong, then we will have a better chance of healing his body.”

“Lhûnedhel, you really are an excellent healer. You think of more than just the body, and you seek to heal accordingly.”

“For elves, the body and the spirit are so closely tied together that great damage to one can cause great damage to the other. I am told mortals do not quite function that way.”

“That is true,” Ariella responded. “The connection is not great as it is with elves, but the connection is still there.”

She resumed the healing. It took her an hour to finish healing the other breaks in that arm and to heal the nerve and soft tissue damage. Exhausted, she finally broke her contact and stretched out on the bed beside Glorfindel, as there was sufficient room for her there, too. She only intended to rest there for a moment or two because she did not want Lhûnedhel to find out he was right about how draining this healing was for her.

“I am glad you decided to lay down to rest. You had that look in your eye which to me said that you would probably pass out if you got up,” Lhûnedhel said, his voice full of ‘I told you so’ concern.

“I probably could have gotten up and made it to a chair, but this was closer. I only intend to rest here for a moment. Glorfindel’s remaining injuries were and are far more extensive that I remembered them being. I should probably check on Maeglin again soon, too,” she added, stifling a yawn and placing her arm on her forehead. “Wake Glorfindel and have him move his arm. I need to know if there is any more pain and if he has full mobility.”

“I am sure he will rouse quite nicely once he discovers a lovely elleth lying in the bed with him.” He started trying to wake up Glorfindel.

“I was referring to waking his brain, not anything else,” she snapped back with annoyance.

“So was I, but now that you mention it, you might draw him to attention in that regard as well.”

Ariella felt herself go red again from her shoulders to the tips of her ears, madly cursing the overly fair complexion of her people which nicely showed the slightest rush of blood.

“You do blush quite prettily, you know.” This time it was Glorfindel who had commented.

She turned toward him. “How much of the conversation did you hear?” she asked darkly.

“Too much for your liking, I am sure.” He pressed his lips together, biting the corners of his mouth in an obvious attempt to suppress his intense amusement. He started shaking as did Lhûnedhel and failed miserably at containing his mirth. Lhûnedhel did not even bother trying not to laugh.

She put her hands over her face, rolled away and curled up, trying to hide, but the attempt was futile.

“I would say you are avenged, Lhûnedhel, but she did it to herself,” Glorfindel chuckled.

A few moments later, Lhûnedhel commented, “Ariella, he has full mobility of his arm and no pain.”

“Tell him I am very happy for him,” came her muffled reply.

“Ariella. Ariella, look at me,” Glorfindel pleaded, tugging on the back of her dress.

She grudgingly turned over. “What?”

Glorfindel reached out and caressed her cheek with the back of his hand. His voice was quiet and serious. “Thank you for this gift. I will hold my nephew tomorrow and it is all because of you.” Reaching over, he took her hand, lifted it to his lips, and kissed it. “Thank you,” he whispered again.

Her irritability completely melted at that point. She smiled back warmly but wearily and whispered, “You are welcome, my Lord.” He pressed the back of her hand to his face and smiled as she closed her eyes.

*~~~~*

The next time she was aware again, she found herself in her bed with Linanna sitting in the chair beside her, reading one of the books on Valinor.

“Did you rest well, Ariella?” she asked.

She looked around blearily at the daylight in the windows. “Did I miss Elianna?”

“No, silly elleth, but you did miss dinner and breakfast. Shall I have a bath drawn for you so you can freshen up before meeting with Lady Elianna and the baby?”

“Yes, please,” she responded, rising to her feet. “I cannot wait to see that baby again.”

*~~~~~*

An hour later, Ariella was on her way to Glorfindel’s room to await Elianna’s imminent arrival. Elianna had been in the house a while already, but, according to Linanna, everyone who saw her stopped her to look at the baby and have a turn holding him. Ariella arrived in Glorfindel’s room ahead of Elianna.

As she entered, Glorfindel looked up from the book he was reading and smiled warmly. He was alone in the room for a change.

“Ariella! It is good to see you. Are you quite recovered from yesterday?”

“Yes,” she assured him confidently, walking up to sit on the bed beside him to his right. She noticed that someone had rearranged him and the table beside his bed to accommodate his mobility on his right side.

“Thank you again for healing my arm. I have been enjoying greatly my newfound ability to do some things for myself again. I can feed myself and hold cups and books. I can read to pass the time.”

She smiled back at him, feeling a great amount of pride in her abilities and her patient’s progress. “You are most welcome. It will be a while before I can heal you any further, but at least now you have something to do to pass the time besides sleep. By the way, what are you reading?”

He held up the book. “It is a history of Vanyarin people in Valinor.”

She reached over eagerly and took the book, opening to the title page. “Oh! I have read this one. It is very well written. King Ingwe is a very interesting person. I would never have guessed half of the things I read about him in there.”

His eyes narrowed. “You can read Quenya?” he asked in disbelief.

“Yes. Of course. Why should I not be able to?”

“Ohhh, maybe because you are a Sinda from Doriath, and King Thingol made that little decree about Quenya being the language of kin slayers and banning its use and whatnot,” he answered sarcastically. “That is a rather important detail about yourself that you have managed to keep hidden from me.”

“I was not hiding that from you. How often have I even seen you when you were well enough to talk coherently for any length of time? I learned the language in my service to Princess Galadriel … Artanis…And just because King Thingol banned its use does not mean that I have to unlearn it. Besides, King Turgon allows its use and I am in his realm now. In fact, this is the second time I have had this conversation this week.”

“With whom did you discuss this previously?” Glorfindel demanded.

“Istadan, one of the lore masters at the library. Do you know him? He is very nice. We had lunch and talked about Valinor. I have a few books in my room that he recommended. I could bring them for you to read if you like when I finish with them. I am meeting with Istadan again in a couple of days, but I do not think that I have to return the books at that time. If there is anything you would like from the library, I could get it for you then.”

“I know Istadan, son of Istadir. He is the assistant to the chief librarian. You are keeping interesting company of late, Ariella, between the House of the Nestadain and the library. How did the subject of Quenya come up with Istadan?”

“He accused me of being a hypocrite for reading Quenya and of being disloyal to my king. I simply pointed out that a king’s subject does not have to agree with all of the king’s decrees and told him how I learned the language. I then asked him who the king was here in Gondolin and what his decrees were concerning the use of Quenya. Once he answered me, I pointed out that since Turgon is now my king and he says it’s all right to speak Quenya, then there was no problem with my being in the library reading, no matter what my lineage. He then accused me of taking on the lore masters of Gondolin now that I have already bested the healers.”

Glorfindel smiled in spite of himself and chuckled. “I feared I would have to protect you from the people in the city, but I believe instead I shall have to protect the people of Gondolin from you.”

Ariella gave him a big, gloating smile as she returned the book to him. There were a few moments of awkward silence during which they just stared at each other.

“You look lovely today.” His eyes appraised her in a very masculine sort of way. “When Linanna ordered the winter dresses for you, I asked her to be sure one was lavender. You look quite nice in that color. It compliments your eyes. I am glad you chose to wear that dress today. The ribbons in your hair match it nicely too.”

Ariella looked down at her hands where she had already started to fidget with the fabric of her dress.. “Thank you,” she said shyly, too embarrassed to look at him.

She felt his cool hand on her terribly warm face as he gently tilted her head to look at her eyes. “I cannot believe you can be so shy around me sometimes and so proudly bold at other times. It is most amusing and, at times, quite confounding.”

“Sometimes…” she stammered, “sometimes it is easy to talk to you, but other times you say things or do things that take my thoughts away, and I do not know what to say or how to respond.”

“When you respond by blushing and trying to hide from me, it only makes me want to say or do more of those things,” he responded matter-of-factly.

“My skin is very pale so I cannot help my blushes. But why do you do those things to begin with?” she asked curiously.

He caressed her face, shaking his head and smiling. “If you truly do not know, then I will not tell you because you should be able to figure this out for yourself. Are you really so unused to males exhibiting such behavior toward you?”

In truth she was not used to such behavior in males where she was concerned. Always immersed in her elven studies or busy teaching her classes, there simply had not been time for such distractions in life so far. She suddenly felt very stupid and naive. She thought Glorfindel kind of liked her romantically and she definitely felt that way about him, but this was so wrong. She could so easily mess up history by having a relationship with him. But then again, he has to get married soon so he can have a family to lose when Gondolin falls. Any relationship with him would be brief at best anyway in light of the other woman destined to come into his life soon to be his wife. What harm would there be in enjoying some time with him now until then?

She realized he had removed his hand from her face and was studying her closely. “You either led a very sheltered life in Doriath or you are very young or you had an extremely protective father. Otherwise, I would say you would have had many flirtatious males in your life.”

She started to look back at her hands, but he chastised her, “Ah! Do not look away, lovely one. I believe it was probably all three, and definitely two of those.” He sighed heavily as if searching for the words to say next. “You are my responsibility and I will look after you to the best of my ability. If my playfulness is ever unwelcome, please tell me. I do not wish to make you uncomfortable or make you feel like you must accommodate me or respond favorably toward me just because you are my ward. All you have to do is tell me to stop, and I will. However, please also know that if you do not mind my behavior or if you even like it, then I will gladly continue.” He paused a moment searching her eyes. Then he smiled. “Responding to the unvoiced question in your eyes, I do not behave like this toward everyone. You are one of very few who have seen me behave in such a manner. You are different, even exotic, and you intrigue me as no one else has before. I do wish for our playful relationship to remain discreet for now, as I will most assuredly be teased and tormented for it simply because of the manner in which we were first introduced. And, quite frankly, I am not up to dealing with that at this time. Do you understand all I have said?”

She blushed again, deeper this time, and nodded. “I understand.”

“Do you want me to stop my playfulness?” He was watching her intently.

Truthfulness would probably be best right now, but what was the truth? Did she want him to stop? No. Was she enjoying it even though it was embarrassing? Yes. Was there really any harm in it? No. Would it change history if she just continued as she had been? No, probably not, she convinced herself. She took a deep breath then admitted, “No. I do not want you to stop.”

He looked relieved. “Good,” he said and smiled mischievously. “Lean closer.”

“What?” she asked with surprise.

He reached out and gently pulled her head closer to his face. She leaned toward him uncertainly until their faces were nearly touching. She could feel his hot breath on her face. He closed the remaining distance with a gentle kiss. He started to draw back, but she put her arms around his neck and pulled him back to her lips. With a gleam in his eye, he willingly complied, burying his fingers in her hair. Their kiss deepened as their tongues met and intertwined passionately. They were both breathing hard when they finally parted. Their gazes locked for a long moment as they sat, gasping, still holding on to each other. A startled look crossed his face, probably the match of her own surprised expression as they heard sounds outside the bedroom door.

He leaned back against the pillows and she quickly got up and moved to the chair beside the bed, patting her hair back into order as the door opened. They both schooled their expressions to something innocent and publicly acceptable as Elianna entered.

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Chapter name
Chapter 8
Created
20 Nov 2004
Last Edited
20 Nov 2004
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