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Crossroads of Time

Chapter 9: Chapter 9

by ellie

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

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

NOTE: SORRY THIS TOOK SO LONG TO UPDATE! My betas had issues with the first and second drafts (and rightly so). I hope this chapter was worth the wait. Goodness knows it took me long enough to write and rewrite.


Feedback: Please let me know what you think. This is my first fan fic and the longest story I've ever written. I think this chapter is the longest chapter I've ever written, to tell you the truth.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


The morning sun that brightened her bedroom served as a welcome distraction from the dreams that had plagued Ariella during the night. She rolled over in the twisted sheets of her bed trying to squash the memories of the previous night from her mind by pressing her face into the pillow. Unfortunately, it didn’t help.

She knew she must be very homesick, for her dreams had been full of arguments with her furious parents and unsuccessful attempts at trying to explain why she had been away for so long and where she had gone. Then the head of her department at the Academy of Arts and Sciences towered over her in his office, threatening to discharge her for failing to show up to teach her classes. Finally, she dreamed that Elrond, Celeborn, and Galadriel viciously interrogated her in the Great Hall in Caras Galadhon. All of her arguments about how she had thoroughly convinced everyone that she was peredhil and really hadn’t changed time or the past were met with angry disapproving glares. The displeasure of her elven mentors hurt Ariella more than that of her parents or her superior at the academy. She had worked so very hard to prove to the elven leaders that she was worthy of serving as a protector of Arda and as a liaison between the people of Arda and her own people. In all of the endless hours of studying the languages, lore, customs, and culture of the Noldor, Sindar, and some of the Wood Elves, she had sought to demonstrate her prowess while pleasing and putting at ease those who taught her. Judging from their reactions in her dreams, it seemed she had betrayed their confidence and trust, leaving her feeling immature, young, and very stupid.

She arose and bathed, trying to physically scrub away the inadequacy she felt inside. Considerably redder outside and only slightly less unhappy, she dressed and made her way to the kitchen for breakfast. Perhaps a good long walk after her morning meeting with Glorfindel would help clear her mind.

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

As soon as Ariella entered Glorfindel’s room a short time later, he seemed to sense that something was amiss for he dismissed the servant who was clearing away the remains of breakfast, asking him to return in an hour. After the servant left, Ariella mutely sank into the chair beside Glorfindel’s bed with bowed head and fidgeting hands. The shame from her dream hung so heavily on her mind that she really did not want to be here this morning. After what seemed to be an impossibly long silence, Glorfindel, propped up on pillows as usual, quietly addressed her.

“Ariella, come sit on the bed beside me so that we may talk.”

She fidgeted in response, but did not answer him.

“Ariella,” he softly commanded. “I cannot reach you over there. Come sit beside me so that we may talk…Now.”

Reluctantly and without meeting his gaze, she got up and trudged the few feet over to the bed where she sat on the very edge. Reaching out with his right hand, he tilted her chin, forcing her to meet his bright eyes. He slid his hand up to cup her cheek.
“Please tell me what I have done that you fear me so,” he asked quietly.

A small smile flashed across her face before she could stop it. It was very sweet of him to assume that he had done something to upset her when, in her mind at least, he could never do anything to upset her.

She wrung her hands as she quickly responded. “It was not you. It was…” She looked away. Oh how could she explain this without betraying anything about her past or his future? He knows Elrond and her parents or would know them all after a few thousand years had elapsed. She took a deep breath and looked back at him. Perhaps a simplified explanation would be best.

“I had a dream last night that has troubled me greatly.” Well that was vague, but it was true.

“I see,” he replied, his right hand still resting on her cheek. “And what did I do in this dream that upset you so?”

“You did not do anything,” she assured him, her hands becoming more restless than before. “You were not even in the dream. You have nothing to do with what I am feeling right now.”

He grabbed her hands with his right hand. “Stop fidgeting! Please.” He drew her right hand to his lips and touched it with a gentle kiss. “Now, tell me about your dream. What happened that has you so distraught,” he whispered into her knuckles.

She sighed. How should she put this? “I dreamed about my parents and Prince Celeborn and Princess Galadri-- …Artanis. I was explaining to them how I came to be here and what I had done.” She took a deep breath. “And they were angry with me.”

He lowered her hand to his side and looked at her curiously. “Why would they be angry with you for being here and for what you have done? You have done nothing wrong.”

She bowed her head for a moment, then, taking a deep breath, she squarely met his gaze. “Glorfindel, I do not belong here. This not my home. These are not my people.” Her voice became very quiet as the real reason for the greatest part of her anguish accidentally slipped out. “This is not my world.”

She looked away, blinking back the tears that were escaping her control. There. She’d done it. She’d told him she’s an alien from another planet.

“Oh, Ariella.” He put his arm around her and pulled her close so that her forehead rested against his shoulder. Rubbing her back consolingly, he said something she did not expect. “I understand how you feel. I do not belong here either.”

Greatly confused, she raised her head and looked into his eyes. His features were filled with incredible sorrow. “What do you mean YOU do not belong here? This is your city. These are your people.” This is your planet, she finished in her thoughts.

His arm slid down her back. “Ariella, like you, I am an exile who can never go home.” His voice resonated with a sadness she had never before heard. His pain was so tangible that it clutched and tore at her heart as he spoke. “This city is but a mere copy of fair Tirion. The light of the sun and the moon is thin and meager in comparison to the radiance of the Two Trees whose glorious splendor permeated our very beings in Valinor. I am half Vanya and our way of life, our culture is so very different from that of the Noldor.” He picked up one of his golden locks and flicked it at her. “I do not even look like the people here. No, this is not my world either.” His voice cracked and he paused a moment before quietly continuing. “I miss the house in which I was born and raised. I miss my parents, too. My father and I were very close, and I hurt him deeply when I left. More than anything I want to go home and make my peace with him, but that is the one thing I can never do. Because of the curse on the Noldor, I can never go home again.”

A single tear trickled down his cheek and he quickly looked away, blinking fiercely.

She had forgotten how deeply and passionately elves felt emotion. She had forgotten that grief could kill them just as surely as any sword. She was so selfish for coming to him and voicing her feelings when they did not begin to compare to the depth of the grief he felt in his heart. How many others in Gondolin lived with this wellspring of sadness bubbling just under the surface? Her own grief and shame were not gone, but perhaps she could help him cope with his.

Ariella wrapped her arms around Glorfindel’s neck, holding him close. She felt his arm around her, clutching her to him. When they had both calmed, she pulled back and wiped his face with her sleeve.

He smiled sheepishly. “I am sorry. This conversation was supposed to be about you.”

“That is all right. I think you needed that as much as I did.” She smiled at him reassuringly.

He raised his hand to her face and inhaled as if to speak, when a knock on the door interrupted him.

“My lord, it is time I left anyway,” Areilla said as she arose, straightening her dress.

Glorfindel took her hand as it slipped off his shoulder and kissed the knuckles. “Come back to me this afternoon if you still need to talk. I am always here and I certainly am not going to be going anywhere any time soon. And next time, it will be my turn to listen to and comfort you.”

“Thank you,” she whispered. She straightened the sheets beside him, then walked away, nodding to the servant who entered as she departed.

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

After a pleasant stroll through both markets, Ariella found herself waiting in the herb preparation room of the House of the Nestaedain. The elleth who always met her at the door had said Lhûnedhel was busy with a patient and would return soon to join her for lunch. With nothing better to do, Ariella wandered around the room examining the dried herbs, recalling their various properties in an attempt at proving to the memory of the displeased Elrond of her dream that she could do so. It occurred to her that she could please the dream Elrond with the plans she had made for occupying her time here. She giggled to herself. Well, the time she was spending with Glorfindel and the manner in which she was spending it probably wouldn’t have pleased Elrond very much, but her desire to learn all she could while she was in Gondolin would have met with his approval.

Lhûnedhel entered, startling her from her reverie. He was once again dressed in blue and a brilliant smile lit his face when he saw her.

“Ariella! I am so very happy to see you today.” He reached out and caressed her cheek with his right hand, looking her over. “You look considerably better than you did last time I saw you, and considerably more awake.” His gaze seemed to lose focus and to turn inward for a few moments, his hand lingering on her jaw and the side of her neck. It felt strange to her to have someone using a healing touch on her.

Lhûnedhel refocused and nodded approvingly. “You must have avoided doing any more healing lately. You are quite hale and your strength has finally returned.”

She smiled, bringing her thoughts back to the situation at hand. “Yes. I am whole and completely renewed once again. I thank you for your assistance these last several days in helping me return to health.”

He smiled and raised his hand to smooth her unbound hair away from her face. “Your tenacity has been a great source of frustration to me, but I have found assisting you a pleasurable and enlightening experience.”

“Thank you,” she replied proudly.

He offered his arm which she took as they turned and left the room. They headed down the hallway, stopping briefly in the kitchen to fetch a lunch basket which was waiting on a table. “It is unusually warm out today, so I thought we could dine in the gardens. This is probably our last chance to do so until spring.” He led her through an archway and into the bright sunlight.

“That sounds quite nice,” she answered. Taking a deep breath, she finally asked that which she hoped would please the dream Elrond. “Lhûnedhel, would you be willing to teach me your ways of healing and herb lore? I know a bit of herb lore, but not much. Watching you work, I have realized that there is much more I could learn.”

He stopped and looked at her in surprise. “I would be honored to teach you what I know. Would you be willing to impart some of your knowledge to me as well?”

She thought about it for a moment, then replied. “That sounds fair to me. I will teach you what I can, but please realize that I was born with the ability to do much of what I do. It cannot all be taught or learned.”

He considered her for a moment and then resumed their walk, musing, “I wonder if we have all misjudged you. You have said that your father is mortal, but perhaps your mother is not an elf, but something else. What she might be though, I do not know. I do know that I have never heard of an elf who can heal others the way you do.”

Ariella was glad he was not looking at her when he said this as it made it easier to hide her shocked expression. So she apparently hadn’t tricked everyone about what she really was. Fear welled within her as she felt the blood drain from her face.

He had discovered her. But how? What had she done to reveal herself to him while no one else suspected anything? Idril knew her for what she was, but Idril had been able to read her thoughts from the very beginning. Elianna suspected nothing, or so it seemed in their frequent conversations together. Ecthelion and Glorfindel had admitted that she felt neither human nor elven, but both. So why had her healing ability seemed so “alien” to Lhûnedhel? Elrond had never questioned it nor had Celeborn, and neither of them ever hesitated to question her about anything, whether she wanted to discuss the subject or not.

Then something very scary finally dawned on her. She had based too much of her confidence in her ability to get around among elves on her experiences with those elves of her own time who had had years to get used to the concept of “aliens” and “alien” behavior before she was even born. What other blunders might she be committing without realizing it? Perhaps she shouldn’t have offered her services as a healer, but then history would have been changed. No, she was right to have healed where she had. But, now she’d have to watch her step as her healing abilities had put her in grave danger.

What if Lhûnedhel convinced others that she was something other than what she had claimed? A cold desolation filled the pit of her stomach. She could lose her friends. She could be put to death for lying to the king. Although she hadn’t really ever said anything untrue, she had lied by omission, which was just as bad. She swallowed hard. She could lose Glorfindel…

Lhûnedhel halted suddenly, surprising Ariella so much that she had to put her arms around him to keep from falling. She hadn’t been paying attention to her surroundings or to him. He clasped her close to him, the basket bumping her in the back, as he gently lowered her and himself to the ground. His embrace was warm and strong, but it no longer made her feel comfortable.

Setting down the basket, he lifted her chin, his concerned gaze meeting her scared one. “Maybe I was wrong. Perhaps you are not completely well after all,” he observed. She just stared at him, unsure of how to react.

Apparently they had arrived at the spot for the picnic for Lhûnedhel proceeded to spread a blanket that he had pulled from the basket and to place the food.

Mastering her panic, she began to reason to herself. She would have to be so very careful around him now. Unfortunately, she had just committed herself to spending time with him as a student. Perhaps if she kept the relationship strictly on the professional level, she would be safe.

Finally Ariella addressed him with something that she hoped would silence him on the subject of her origins. The annoyance in her voice intended to hide the fear. “I am well. I am just distracted by what you said about my mother. You do not know all elves and you have not met all of the elven kindreds of the Moriquendi. My mother was a gifted and accomplished healer. I am much like her.”

He looked up from where he was kneeling on the blanket, pouring their glasses of wine. She was surprised to see shame on his face as he sighed loudly and met her eyes. “You are correct. I have judged you based on my limited knowledge of the Moriquendi. I have made the assumption that the Calaquendi are superior in all ways to the Moriquendi. You have quite obviously demonstrated otherwise. Please accept my apology. I am sorry.”

“I would comment on the arrogant pride of the Noldor, but I seem to be guilty of some amount of pride myself.” She paused and smiled in relief. “I accept your apology and I ask that we not bring up this subject again.”

There was a knowing smile on his face as he handed her a glass of wine after she moved to settle herself on the blanket. “I may be arrogant and proud, but you are stubborn and proud and I am not quite certain which is worse. However, that will be my last word on it, for now at least.”

She nodded her thanks as they filled their plates in silence.

He comfortably reclined on his side, facing her while they ate. “I have garden duty every three days. Would you like to join me on those days? I could teach you all aspects of herb lore and you could accompany me to see any patients that I might have.”

“That sounds acceptable to me. I have to discuss it with Lord Glorfindel first to be sure he approves. I meet with him in the mornings to tell him where I will be for the day and to help with anything I can as he recovers.” She took a sip of her drink. “That reminds me. I need to begin healing his legs sometime soon.”

“I believe you are up to it, however I would like to be present, both to assist and to learn.” He smiled wickedly. “And to carry you back to your room after you pass out. And, might I add, that it would probably be best if you did not pass out in his bed again. Considering that you need contact with skin when you heal, it will look more than a little bit suspicious should the servants enter and find their lord half naked in his bed with a lovely sleeping elleth at his side.”

Ariella looked away in embarrassment. After Glorfindel’s comments about her blushes, she was trying very hard not to blush. This was quite difficult, however, considering her exceptionally fair complexion and the conversations in which she kept landing herself. She sighed audibly. Glorfindel had said he did not want anyone to know about their relationship, such as it was. “All right, you can be there. I do not want any rumors to start unnecessarily.”

“Oh?” Lhûnedhel arched his eyebrows in question and teased, “And what would be necessary rumors in that regard?”

She failed dramatically in controlling the rush of blood to her face as she placed her hands on her hips and stated emphatically, “There are no ‘necessary’ rumors in that or any other regard! Do I make myself clear?”

Lhûnedhel took a drink of his wine, fighting back a chuckle until he had successfully swallowed. “Yes. You do. So, is he the only one who has caught your eye or is there hope for the rest of us?”

She felt herself redden further as she watched the conversation spiral out of her control. With more anger in her voice than she had intended, she defended, “I never said that he had caught my eye. And, as much as you people keep insulting me, I am not sure that any of the rest of you will catch my eye for very long either.”

He looked affronted. “I, at least, have apologized.” In one smooth quick movement, he took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. “Besides, I think you enjoy the bantering back and forth and proving us wrong.”

She felt so terribly uncomfortable with the situation and the conversation that she tried to snatch her hand back, but Lhûnedhel wouldn’t release it. Instead he started caressing it.

“Yes I do enjoy proving you wrong,” she replied. She yanked harder trying unsuccessfully to get her hand back. “Now let go of my hand.” Apparently he noticed that she was really starting to get irritated, because he planted a soft kiss on her knuckles and released her hand.

“As you wish,” he acquiesced.

“Thank you. Can we please change the subject now?” she asked nervously.

“Yes, we can,” came his penitent reply.

“Good.” She tucked her hands in her lap to keep him from grabbing them again. Taking a deep calming breath, she asked, “When do you want to start my instruction and what time do you want me to be here?”

Lhûnedhel seemed to ponder her question a moment before answering. “How about if we begin three days from now? You could join me after breakfast and we could work until evening. You could have lunch with me on those days, and you would be home in time for dinner. Is that acceptable to you?”

She took a long pull of her wine and smiled. “Yes. That would be acceptable to me, if Lord Glorfindel finds it acceptable, and if you will behave.”

“I will behave as long as you do.”

“Good. Then you will always behave,” she said self assuredly.

He laughed and shook his head. They finished their lunch discussing the safe topic of the healings of the others who were injured in the mine collapse. Maeglin, she was relieved to hear, would make a full recovery without further assistance from her.

When the meal was finished, she helped Lhûnedhel clean up and refold the blanket. He offered his arm, which she took with trepidation, and he led her back into the house. He deposited the basket in the kitchen before escorting her to the door.

“I look forward to seeing you again in three days, Ariella.” He bowed to her cordially.

She smiled back, relieved to be leaving. “I will see you then. Farewell.”

“Farewell,” he said and watched her leave.

She was so incredibly thankful to be away from him. He was shrewd and terribly observant. She would have to be so very careful around him. His skills as a healer coupled with his keen awareness of what was going on inside of others would make him a difficult person with whom to work. She knew she would be able to learn much healing lore from him, if she didn’t run away in terror first.

*~~~~~*

Upon returning home after her unpleasant lunch, she found Glorfindel alone in his room and sound asleep on his back. She crept into his room, silently closing the door behind her and made her way to his bed. Kicking off her shoes, she lifted his right arm, laid her head on his shoulder, and wrapped herself safely around his arm like a toddler curled around a security blanket. Nestling her back against him, silent tears of fear and relief trickled down her cheeks. She felt a tender kiss on the back of her head as Glorfindel nuzzled her hair and drew her more closely against him.

“It will be a while before anyone comes in to check on me again,” he whispered softly. “Do you want to talk about it, or do you just want me to hold you?”

She sniffled loudly. “I just want to be held,” she replied into his sleeve.

“As you wish.” He kissed her head again and pressed his face against her hair.

When she calmed and her tears had finally stopped, she wiped her face on her own sleeve and rolled in his one-armed embrace to face him.

“I am sorry I woke you and I am sorry that I got your sleeve all wet,” she apologized.

Glorfindel smiled kindly, squeezing her briefly. “That is all right. Are you ready to talk about it or do you feel better now?”

She thought about it briefly. She was really too scared to talk to him about her nearly disastrous lunch with Lhûnedhel. On top of that, she felt very guilty for having woken him from his nap so presumptuously, but she did need to discuss her studying with Lhûnedhel.

“I do feel a bit better now, thank you. I really am sorry that I disturbed you. I should not have entered your room, let alone your bed like this,” she apologized again.

His smile broadened. “I am pleased that you feel comfortable enough with me to come to me when you are in need – even when you just need to be held.” He started rubbing her back with long soothing strokes. “We need to continue to use a considerable amount of discretion, but I do not mind your being here.”

She smiled weakly. “Thank you.”

He slid his hand up to her head and pressed her into a reassuring kiss. When he finally drew back, he moved his hand to her shoulder, squeezing her gently. “Now what else do you need to tell me?”

Ariella blushed self-consciously. “How did you know there was something else I needed to say?”

“Because sometimes you are very easy to read.” He leaned forward and kissed the tip of her nose causing her to blush even more.

Taking a deep breath, she replied, “I have asked Lhûnedhel if I may learn the healing arts and herb lore of the Noldor from him and he has consented. He wants me to join him every third day for instruction, starting three days from today. Is that acceptable to you?”

Glorfindel looked at her curiously. “I am surprised that you feel there is anything you could learn from him when you have healed what he could not, but, yes, you may study with him. However, I do expect to hear about what you are learning after each of these visits. Perhaps it will keep me from losing my sanity from boredom.”

“Thank you.” She smiled back at him and nuzzled deeper into his shoulder and chest.

He pressed her close to him and sighed contentedly.

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

After a dreamless night’s sleep, a brief visit with Glorfindel, and a few hours spent devouring a book, Ariella joined Istadan in the massive library near the section with materials on Valinor. She was thoroughly convinced that Elrond would have loved this place.

“Good day, Ariella,” Istadan greeted, smiling warmly as he put away a few dusty scrolls. He briefly wiped his hands on his brown robes, then offered her his arm. “Shall we go?”

Ariella smiled in return as she took his arm. “Good day to you, Istadan. I am ready to go.”

Istadan led her out of the library and down the chilly, windy street to a restaurant. They were seated at a table in a quiet corner by a fountain, piling their cloaks on a nearby empty chair. After he ordered their meal, he graciously thanked the waiter as two glasses of wine were immediately poured.

“So, have you had the opportunity to read any of those books yet?” Istadan asked after taking a sip of his wine.

“Yes,” Ariella responded. “I have finished two of them and have started the third.”

He looked very surprised, then frowned at her. “You have only skimmed them then,” he said disappointed. “That will greatly limit our discussion of them.”

“No! I really have read them. I swear it,” she defended.

“Ariella, that is impossible. Each of the three books is very long. It would be impossible for you to have finished two of them and be part way through the third unless you spent every waking minute of the last three days reading. And I happen to know that you spent a night and half a day sleeping after healing Lord Glorfindel’s arm.” Istadan propped his chin on his hand and glared at her dubiously. “Do you wish to tell me the truth this time?”

Ariella looked at him in confusion. Elrond never questioned how quickly she read. All of her people read quickly and retained the information extremely well. They were just made that way. “I have read “A Study of the Noldorin Culture” and “A Study of the Telerin Culture,” and I am part way through “A Study of the Vanyarin Culture”. Ask me a question about either of the ones I have finished, and I will answer you to prove that I have read them.” Elrond used to quiz her like this. This could be fun.

Istadan smiled smugly, then rose to the challenge. “All right. Name a trait in which Miriel Serinde took great pride besides her skill in weaving and needlework.”

“Miriel also prided herself on speaking with exceptional speed,” Ariella responded matter-of -factly. “I believe that is in chapter 9 in the discussion on the royal family focusing on the wives of Finwe.”

He raised his eyebrows in surprise, smiling shrewdly. “Very good. Okay let us try one from the Telerin book. What kind of jewelry did the Teleri usually make from the gemstones the Noldor gave them?”

“You are trying to trick me. The Teleri took the jewels the Noldor gave them and scattered them on the beaches. They generally did not make jewelry from the gemstones given them by the Noldor. I believe that is in chapter 6 right after the discussion on the Noldor helping the Teleri to build Alqualonde.” Ariella sat back, smiling smugly.

He nodded to her in approval as he raised his glass to her before taking another drink of his wine. “Very well then, either you do read quickly or you stayed up all night and day reading when you were not healing or recovering from healing. You did not have to do that to impress me.”

What nerve he had! She looked at Istadan in disbelief. “I do wish to learn from you, but I did not do this to impress you. I read with exceptional speed and retention. I always have. And, I do not spend every waking minute reading, either. I cannot learn from you if I do not endeavor to study the materials that you give to me.” She thought about the rest of what he had said and it occurred to her he had been keeping tabs on her again.

“How did you know that I healed Lord Glorfindel’s arm? You even knew that I rested for a night and part of the next day.” She was becoming angrier by the minute at his presumptuousness. “Are you having me watched?”

Istadan raised his hands in defense, laughing. “I am not having you watched, silly elleth. I have kin who serve Lord Glorfindel. I too am of the House of the Golden Flower and I have fought under Lord Glorfindel’s command more than once since leaving Valinor. I have only inquired after you to learn more about you.” He took another drink of his wine then continued. “You intrigue me and you know much for a Sinda. Your thirst for knowledge is something that I find quite admirable. You came here under difficult circumstances, yet you did not shrivel up and die of grief. Instead you have worked hard to become a contributing citizen of Gondolin. You have shown great strength overcoming adversity as you have; first in the loss of your kin, and then in the loss of your home. I merely seek to know and understand you better.”

First he insulted her, now he was complimenting her with genuine praise and admiration. She felt flattered against her will and fought hard to keep at bay the smile which was trying to cross her face. She was supposed to be mad at him.

He looked down at the table for a few moments and toyed with his wine glass. “I must sound rather arrogant. I am afraid that I am not very good at conversing with people to get to know them better. I can debate and lecture endlessly on subjects in which I have a great deal of knowledge or about which I wish to know more. However, I am terrible at casual conversation. I am sorry that I went behind your back to learn more about you. I heard that you were most uncomfortable discussing your past. I did not wish to cause you further grief, so I took other measures to learn about you. I hope that you will forgive me.” He bowed his head and sighed, continuing to play with his glass somewhat less enthusiastically.

The rest of her wrath evaporated in the warmth of Istadan’s sincere apology. There was something cute and endearing about him. Sighing in defeat, she shook her head. “I forgive you. I appreciate your concern for my feelings, but in the future, please ask me questions directly instead of going to others for information about me. If I do not want to discuss something, I will tell you. Does that sound reasonable?”

He stopped fidgeting with his glass and glanced up with a shy smile, “Yes. Quite.”

Ariella took a sip of her wine and looked at him curiously. “I cannot understand why you would be nervous talking to me. I am no one important. If anything, I should be nervous talking to you. You are so knowledgeable in lore and I am so lacking. You not only wrote the three history books you gave to me to read, but I have also read many other writings by your hand. Works about minerals, art, architecture… Your work comparing the etymologies of Quenya and Sindarin was fascinating.”

His demeanor had changed as she spoke. He had been smiling proudly until she mentioned the last bit. “The comparative was not my work.”

“Yes it was,” Ariella insisted. “I read it…” in Elrond’s library. Oh. Oh my. The realization that she was actually engaged in a conversation with THAT Istadan finally struck her. Istadan was one of the most respected elven historians and lore-masters of the First Age. Her mouth fell open as her mind reeled in surprise. Now she was the one who was nervous.

“I have been considering doing one,” he continued, “but I have not started it yet. I guess I should get going with it before the work of another on the subject becomes too widely known for my theories to be considered.”

Well, Elrond would be impressed with the company she was keeping! He had only managed to salvage a few of Istadan’s works which had survived the falls of various elven realms, but he highly prized them. Perhaps she should study under Istadan as much as possible. Elrond would be very jealous if he knew, and perhaps she could teach HIM a thing or two when she returned. IF she returned…But, she was never going to return.

She bowed her head putting her hands in her lap. She immediately started rubbing the fabric of her dress between her thumb and first finger. It was all so unfair. Here she thought she finally had the chance to give back to one who had given so much knowledge and insight and lore to her, and she could not. Would it be a waste of time for her to learn while here? Idril did say that she would return to her own time one day. Maybe it would be in her own best interest to learn from Istadan, if he would take her as a student.

“Ariella, are you all right?”

She looked up, placing her hands back on the table and met his concerned gaze. “Yes, I am fine,” she lied. “I was just thinking that I used to believe that I knew a fair amount about the peoples of Valinor, but after talking with you and indulging in your library, I have realized how little I truly know.”

Istadan reached out and took her hand almost reassuringly. “Do not underestimate yourself. You use your knowledge well and you strive to know more. You have sought books and a teacher. I admire your desire to learn.”

It was her turn to feel shy. “There is much I want to know. I am studying with the Nestadain every third day. Perhaps…” She suddenly felt very stupid for asking this. There was no reason why Istadan would want to take a student in addition to his library duties. Who was she to presume that she was worth teaching anyway, as they all figured she was some ignorant, backward Moriquendi? He was such a famous lore master and she knew she was unworthy of his time and attention.

He squeezed her hand encouragingly as a smile lit his face. “Would you like for me to teach you? How about the day after your studies with the Nestadain? I will give you books to read and we can discuss them over lunch or tea. If we need more time, then perhaps we could meet some evenings as well, or when I have free time during the day.”

The prospect of actually being able to learn from THE Istadan of Gondolin thrilled her. “Would you really?” she asked enthusiastically. “I would love to learn from you! Are you sure you want a student in addition to your other responsibilities?”

Istadan’s smile brightened even more. “It would be a pleasure to teach you.”

She squeezed his hand tightly in return, then withdrew it as their food had arrived. She felt like a child who had just been handed the keys to a very large candy store.

While they ate, they enjoyed a lively discussion of the books she had read. After lunch, they returned through the increasing cold to the library where he loaned her another book to read. He saw her to the door of the library, but when he opened it for her they discovered to their surprise that it was raining.

He promptly closed the door. “Please wait a moment,” he said as he disappeared into another room. He returned a moment later wearing his cloak.

“Where are you going?” Ariella asked curiously.

“I am going with you,” he explained hurriedly. “I do not want the book to get wet.”

She looked at him in confusion. “If you are so worried about the book, then keep it here. I can wait and read something from Lord Glorfindel’s library if I get bored.”

“Ah, but then we will not have as much to discuss when we meet again. Now, hold the book close under your cloak with your right arm.”

A little perplexed, she did as he instructed and he raised her hood for her. He raised his own hood, then held out the side of his cloak with his outstretched right arm.

“Now, put your left arm around me.”

She froze. “Excuse me. Why?”

He sighed in exasperation, “So I can hold my cloak over your head to be sure the book stays dry. I thought you were intelligent.”

She gave him a nasty look. “I am intelligent. I just do not see the wisdom of taking the book outside on a day like this.”

“Can you predict the weather? We endure a lot of rain this time of year and frequently the rains turn to snow. If we waited to transport books until the weather was dry, then we might well wait for many weeks,” he explained patiently. “May we leave now?”

Sighing in resignation, she tentatively slid her arm around his narrow waist. “All right,” she conceded.

The blast of freezing cold rain that assaulted them when he opened the door made her instinctively huddle closer to him for warmth. He gave her a squeeze with his right arm before raising the cloak against the weather.

“My accompanying you will also ensure that you do not freeze to death before you reach the house,” he declared loudly over the rain and wind. “You Moriquendi are not as hardy as we Noldor and do not bear the cold well.”

She was glad enough of his protection against the elements to consider ignoring his comment, but he was baiting her now and she couldn’t resist. “I understand that many of the Noldor died in the cold of the grinding ice of the Helcaraxe. Apparently not all of the Calaquendi are as great as you would like to believe.”

The door closed behind them.

“I’m sorry, what did you say? I could not hear you over the door and the wind.”

She knew full well he heard her, so she leaned away from him, withdrawing her left arm from his waist and restated her comment in a language he would have no trouble understanding. He grunted as she jabbed him hard in the ribs with her finger.

“Ow! That hurt!” Istadan stopped and winced, looking down and reaching around with his left hand to rub the point of impact.

“Did you have any trouble understanding me that time?” she asked in a loud, but innocent voice.

“No. I understood you quite clearly,” he responded making a face and rubbing his ribs. “I should not tease you when you are standing near enough to retaliate physically.”

She shot him an annoyed look, then melted in a fit of giggles. “Good. So long as we understand each other, we should have no further communication issues. Do you not agree?”

“Yes,” he responded tolerantly. “I quite agree and you are going to get my book wet. Back in you go.”

Smiling in amusement, he tucked her under his cloak and they resumed their walk. She slid her arm around him again, noting with her fingers the muscle development in his back. He had a lot of muscle for a lore master. Well, he did say he had fought under Lord Glorfindel’s command, and, considering he had lived to tell about it, he was probably as good with a sword as he was with a pen. Now she was even more impressed with him.

Her fingers found a knot under his right shoulder blade and instinctively began to rub it. She guessed it was probably from sitting and writing for long periods of time. Or, perhaps he still practiced with his sword in order to hone his skills in case they were ever needed again. Unfortunately, she knew his skills would be needed again when Gondolin fell. At least he would be one of the lucky few who did survive. Did he return to Valinor at the end of the First Age or did he go to Lindon and serve King Ereinion Gil-galad, Turgon’s nephew? She couldn’t remember… or did she ever even know?

Istadan groaned, shifting his arm, and she realized to her horror that she was rubbing the back of an ellon she hardly even knew. Thoroughly embarrassed, she quickly moved her hand to his waist. She really hated it when the healer in her took over control without her permission. It was all right when it happened with Glorfindel, but not when it happened with anyone else.

Neither she nor Istadan spoke as they made their way to Glorfindel’s house. She looked about them at the people they passed on the street, each wrapped against the weather. Occasionally, other couples huddled together sharing a cloak scurried past.

The wind was becoming fierce, painfully lashing her face with rain. She unconsciously tightened her arm around Istadan, bowing her head against the wind and rain. Reaching across with his left arm, he pulled her cloak closer about her as he quickened the pace. His body emanated welcome warmth while his clothes smelled of books and ink. Nestling her head against his shoulder, she contented herself with watching their feet splash in the puddles as they walked.

Ariella had completely lost track of time. She was rather surprised when she saw the steps to Glorfindel’s house and even more surprised when she realized that she was a little disappointed to be home so soon. They stopped just outside the door, where Istadan dropped his cloak to give her a parting squeeze with his right arm before opening the door for her to enter. He remained outside, now alone in his sodden cloak.

“Farewell, Ariella,” he said with an elegant bow despite the wind which was whipping his cloak about him in the rain. “Enjoy the book, and I shall see you at the library in three days to discuss the book over lunch.”

She smiled at him warmly, feeling just a touch of shyness. “Thank you for the assistance and for lunch today. Farewell.”

He turned and ventured back down the steps, splashing into the rain-washed street.

She closed the door and removed her cloak. The book was completely dry, but the hem of her cloak was soaked as was the hem of her dress. She turned and was startled to see Linanna standing there. Ariella had not heard her approach.

Linanna took the cloak, hanging it on a hook near the door to dry. “I see you were escorted back from the library. Who was the lucky ellon?”

Ariella looked at her in surprise. “How did you know I was escorted?”

Linanna smiled. “You cloak is only wet around the hem and your book is quite dry. I promise I will not tease you or pass judgment. I just want to know who he was.”

Ariella nervously clutched the book close. Why was she nervous? He was just a lore master – a very famous lore master with a hard muscular back and a warm cloak. She smiled weakly. “Istadan? Do you know him?”

Linanna’s smile widened. “Yes I know him, he is of our house. My, you do keep interesting company!” Gesturing toward the stairs, she admonished in motherly tones, “You should go upstairs and change out of that wet dress.”

Ariella started toward the steps. “Is the company I am keeping good or bad?”

“It is neither. Just interesting. Istadan is a good ellon and a fine lore master and Lhûnedhel is a fine ellon and a fine healer as well,” Linanna observed sagely.

Ariella realised that Linanna had something else going through her mind, but decided to ignore it for now. The new book was calling to her, begging to be read. Putting the pleasant walk with Istadan from her mind, she headed up the steps to her room in search of a dry dress and the opportunity to read.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Notes:
Helcaraxe – A grinding ice flow that connected Middle Earth with Aman far to the north. ellon – male elf
elleth – female elf

peredhil – half elven

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Chapter 9
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22 Jan 2005
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22 Jan 2005
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