|Author: Athea (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Title: Building the Future, part six
Summary: The King's messenger arrives with good news and bad.
Note: // denotes mind speech //
Date: 22 June 2002
The day after the thunderstorm brought the long awaited messenger from the King in Gondor. Gloin and I were breakfasting with Prince Legolas and his bonded when the knock came at their door. The black haired man was haggard with tight eyes that spoke of too much riding and not enough rest. He looked like he hadn't had a good meal in days and the first thing that my Prince did was command him to sit and eat. Once he'd devoured a plate of eggs and sausage, his brown eyes looked a little clearer.
A cup of the strong tea that Gloin makes and he became even more alert.
"Prince Legolas, I bring greetings from King Aragorn." His voice was hoarse and he swallowed a little more tea. "Have any other messengers arrived since the Yule?"
"None," Prince Legolas shook his head. "How many were sent?"
"I am the fourth." He sighed. "We know what happened to two of them. One was killed by a band of Orcs on the edges of Mirkwood. The second one got thrown from his horse and broke both legs. The third one disappeared somewhere between Lothlorien and Rivendell and we know not where he is. I was followed for some distance but shook them a week ago."
"What news do you bring besides the knowledge that Middle-earth is not yet safe?" Gimli asked him with a frown while he burped Glimmer on one shoulder.
"The Queen is delivered of a son. Eldarion was christened on April 21st. His grandfather, the Lord Elrond was in attendance as well as Mithrandir." He stopped and cleared his throat, taking another sip of tea. For the next hour he spoke of events in the outer world that brought both tears and laughter from those around the table. But he finally faltered, his voice hoarse and his eyes half-closed with exhaustion.
I quietly helped him to the clinic with Gloin on his other side to steer his stumbling footsteps. Rhea tucked him into one of the beds there and we left him to return to the Prince's home. They decided to wait to share the news both good and bad until the messenger himself could deliver it. We'd been blessed with peace and security and this was a reminder that the rest of Middle-earth was not enjoying the same.
Prince Legolas was especially concerned with the statement that Mithrandir had set off from Rivendell to visit Friendly in time for the births. He'd never arrived and I could see that disturbed him greatly. I'd met the mage once a long time ago and I wondered how he had changed over the centuries. Casting a quick look at the Dwarf by my side, I admitted to myself that I'd done some changing myself.
Gloin had gone quiet the night before and I tried to remember if I'd done or said something to disturb him. He'd been glancing at me off and on since our swim and I knew not how to interpret his gazes. And right now I couldn't take the time to ask. I had to make a check of the wards that protected this valley from invaders. It was not chance that we'd suffered none of the incursions that plagued other parts of Middle-earth.
My people had placed powerful spells tied to the valley crystals that delineated the boundaries we'd set up in the First Age. I usually reinforced them once a year but the last time was right after the birth of my Prince's children. The explosion of power their births released had sent the spells into flux and I'd had to journey to the four corners where the crystals grew to steady them.
It took much of my energy and I barely made it to the sacred center before falling into a healing trance. The bonded pair in front of me had no idea of the powerful mages they'd created. It was an honor to be present at the birth of such unique twins. The next few years were going to be interesting while they grew into their own. I might have despaired at the thought of teaching new talent at my age but I'd recently begun to feel younger than my true years.
I found Gloin glancing my way again and felt a tingle I'd not felt for two thousand years. What was it about Dwarves that this son should bond to my Prince and his father attract a decrepit Elf like me? But attract me he did and perhaps these glances meant the attraction went both ways. I wanted to stay and talk to him but duty called and I needed to get to the mountain to summon help to travel to the four corners.
But first I made sure that he knew that I would be back in two days. His gruff voice bid me safe journey and I left without looking back. Running lightly I made the peak of Ragnall within six hours. Resting on a ledge high on the north face of the mountain, I sent out my thoughts to my old friend. Breathing deep of the clear crisp air, I waited patiently.
Long moments passed and I found my thoughts turning once again to Gloin. His good humor, common sense and down-to-earth philosophy was refreshing after all the years spent alone with only my memories to warm me. The joy he brought to even the smallest of events had rekindled my own. Perhaps the children born so recently had contributed to my own rebirth but after centuries of silence and sleep, I was ready to rejoin Middle-earth.
Ready to begin to live again.
A rush of air signaled the arrival of my friend. //Old One, you have been long away.//
Rising, I brushed the soft feathers between the golden eyes. //Cloud-walker, I have been busy with the new settlers to our valley.//
//We smelled their fires and watched from afar.// The great head leaned a little harder into my caress and I made sure that my scratching hit the itchy spot.
//They are good people, Cloud, and twins of power have recently been born.// I stroked his head feathers and he fluffed them out a little more so I could get to the soft skin beneath. //Will you bear me to the four corners, my friend? Dire happenings are occurring and I fear one or more of the Guardians has been tampered with.//
He ruffled his feathers all over and his eyes flashed fire. //Mount, Old One. I shall fly you there and back again. We wish no evil for our nests.//
I ducked under his great wing and pulled myself up between his wings, hooking my feet in the tendons of his neck and making sure that I was firmly seated on his back scales. With a smooth glide from the ledge, Cloud-walker bore me up into the cold air currents that swirled around the mountain tops. I huddled closer to his warm body and wished that I'd thought to bring a warm cloak
Hopefully, we'd find nothing wrong and I would soon return to the Dwarf who so intrigued me.
I sat on the back step of my home and listened to the frogs croaking in the small lily pond that Sam had helped me create. The heat of the day had slowly passed and at midnight the stars shone clear and bright above me. I'd had my bath an hour earlier and now sat on the cool stone steps in just my short pants. Idly I scratched my chest and yawned wide. It had been an eventful day that saw Glimmer start to crawl and his sister right after him.
The fact that he'd been crawling towards a beetle, which he then tried to eat had made me laugh and Legolas cringe. Pretty soon now he was going to have to start my grandson on solid food or the boy would just eat everything he laid his baby hands on. If I remembered right, Gimli had tried the same thing about the time he turned one. Glimmer was just very advanced for his age.
Not that I was prejudiced or anything.
I snorted back a laugh and decided to head in to sleep. Standing up, I stretched all over and took another look at the sky. But it wasn't there, instead of stars there was only blackness and the sound of rushing wings. Before I could get too frightened, there was a slight thump in the darkness and I realized that something had landed in the tall grass. A flap of wings and the sky disappeared again. I tried to follow it but all I could see was a huge shape that seemed to span the trees before whispering away.
"Gloin," the sound of my name told me that Lorrin had returned.
But I'd never heard him stumble before and that was definitely what he'd just done. Heading for the sound, I found him kneeling in the grass with his head bowed almost to his knees.
"Lorrin," only then did I realize how badly I'd missed him. Crouching before him, I tried to see him clearly. "Are you hurt?"
"Tired," he managed to get out. "Cold."
He didn't even resist when I pulled him upright and got his arm over my shoulder. He was icy cold even in this heat and I dragged him towards the house so I could see what was really wrong. He tried to walk but the stumbling gait was so unlike him that my alarm grew. Once inside, I could see that he was asleep on his feet but the blue tinge around his mouth and ears told me that I needed to warm him up and quickly.
I don't know where he'd been but it must have been colder than a January day. Walking him back to the bathroom, I eased him down and started running a bath. He lay shivering on the floor as if he'd lost his ability to do anything but shake. I pulled off his soft leather boots then raised him high enough to slide his shirt off over his head. Then, with a stern admonition to behave myself, I peeled him out of his leather pants.
Sliding him into the hot water, I debated with myself. Get in with him or stay out?
"Gloin," the husky murmur decided me right then and there.
"Hold on, my friend." I left my short pants on although they were feeling a little snug and slid in behind him. He was shivering continuously and I began to rub all his skin within reach. Like Legolas he was almost completely hairless and my callused fingers felt too rough against the satin smooth skin of his chest.
"So good," he sighed near my ear and turned his head just a little, his lips grazing my beard.
I gulped once and kept on rubbing some warmth into his skin. "You'll be warmer in a few moments, Lorrin. Then we'll get some hot tea into you and tuck you into my bed."
A sleepy chuckle was his only answer and I just knew that he was going to fall asleep on me. Maybe that was all right for now, I thought. We still had some talking to do about what exactly was going on between us. While he was gone on his mysterious errand, I'd done some heavy thinking. Watching Gimli and Legolas together had made me rather envious. They'd grown so close that they often finished other's sentences now.
The babies had just brought that closeness to a whole new level of loving care. Seeing them touch each other made me ache for someone of my own to touch. My grandchildren were wondrous creatures but they couldn't calm the ache inside of me. I was beginning to think that the Elf in my arms just might be the one to soothe and torment me at the same time.
With a little sigh that might have been a kiss, Lorrin was out like a light. Just my luck, I finally decide to take the next step and he falls asleep on me. I chuckled quietly and pulled out the stopper with my toes so the water could drain out. Sitting up slowly, I propped him on the side of the tub and got out first. Drying him was almost impossible but I got some of the water off before picking him up and carrying him into my bedroom. Sliding him between the sheets, I watched him curl up around my pillow and smile.
Tomorrow morning I was going to ask him what he dreamed of. For now, I went back out to make sure all the lamps were blown out then I joined him under the sheet. I was going to get some answers tomorrow or know the reason why.
I was too warm and I tried to stretch but only one arm obeyed. Opening my eyes I found Lorrin tucked under my chin with his arms around me and his soft breath stirring the curls on my chest. His black hair was like spun silk against my skin and I took a deep breath to inhale its clean fragrance into my lungs.
"Thank you, Gloin." His voice said into my throat.
"You're quite welcome, Lorrin. You feel warmer." Hot, I thought, you feel hot.
He raised his head and those violet eyes of his stared into mine. "I need to rest some more to replace the energy I spent on the valley wards, which I know doesn't make any sense just yet. I promise to explain it after I finish sleeping. Will you be here when I awake again?"
My brain raced through his words while my body responded enthusiastically to the hard body against mine. "I'll be here, Lorrin."
That smile reappeared, the one that I'd only seen recently. "Would you do something for me, Gloin?"
Like I had a choice with my tiny little brain cataloging every inch of his sexy body against mine, I thought without even an ounce of regret. "Certainly."
"Kiss me and keep holding me close."
"Always," I said gently and pulled him closer. The first touch of his lips against mine felt so very odd that I had to stop and think for a moment. But when his tongue darted out to lick his thin lips, I just had to capture it in my mouth. He tasted sweet like some kind of berry and I sucked on his tongue for long moments until we had to part and drag some air into our lungs.
His eyes glowed with a fire that warmed me right down to my toes. "You have made me feel again, Gloin. After centuries of loneliness I have awakened to life again. That is such a beautiful gift you've given me."
"What time I have left is yours, Lorrin." I regretted my age for the first time in a decade. He had centuries left while I had at the very most another fifty years.
"There will be time enough, my friend." His smile was enigmatic to say the least. "I will not willingly lose you if I have anything to say about the matter." His eyelids closed and he dragged them open with an effort. "For now, I need more sleep. Three days should be enough. Don't worry if I do not rouse."
I leaned in and kissed him again, tracing his lips with the tip of my tongue. His parted and I slid inside to map my way around his delicious mouth. Pulling back, I began to scatter tiny kisses over his tanned face. "Rest, Lorrin. Regain your energy so we can spend it in mad, passionate lovemaking."
He chuckled once and fell asleep, just like that. I loosened his braid and finger combed the long strands of silk. He smiled and arched into my hand even in his sleep. He was a sensual Elf, I thought with a smile of satisfaction and he's my Elf.
My Elf - that had a nice sound to it. I smiled and closed my eyes again for a little more sleep. Hopefully, I'd find a way to tell the boys of the changes in my life before this went too much farther. But it was going to go further, I had his word on that. And his cryptic words? Well, we'd find out when he woke up.
I cuddled him a little closer and daydreamed myself right back to sleep.