Author: Athea (
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Title: Bindings of Love, part nine
Summary: They go scouting for the enemy.
Date: 11 June 2005
********* Sam *********

Frodo's hand held onto my weskit as if he was a-feared I might leave his side. That wasn't going to happen, not if I had any say in it so I slid my arm around him and cuddled him close. The look in those beautiful blue eyes of his made me feel five foot tall. Beats all how he can melt me with just a glance. But right now, we needed to plan how to get this bad elf out of our hair.

Why he could have hurt my sweet bonded and our children with his nastiness. I set my jaw and listened hard to the others talking around us. Bilbo was sitting at my feet while Elanor cuddled with Pharin over by Legolas. Frodo was stroking his stomach where our babies nestled safely away. He did that a lot when he was thinking hard and it always made me smile. Soon they'd be moving around and I'd be able to feel them, too.

Nothing was going to harm them. Not while Samwise Gamgee had Sting and a good right cross. I watched Gimli stroke his bonded's long blond hair and thought Legolas looked much better than he had right after he'd come to. Maybe it was the fire but he had his color back and that steely look he'd worn a time or two on our journey. Gazing around the big room, I had a sudden thought I'd like to see the whole place.

It surely was big and cold but I could see the strength in the thick walls. Still, stone isn't earth and I wondered how far down I'd have to dig to reach some good Rohan soil. Suddenly I missed my garden with a passion. All my lovely vegetables were sitting at home and we wouldn't get to taste a single one. Those onion sets had looked so promising, too.

And my Frodo's favorite roses were likely setting great crimson buds and we'd miss them sure as you're born. What about the lavender and thyme and all the other herbs we'd planted in the pretty spiral garden? If I say it myself, no one else had the light touch they needed. It would be an awful muddle if the other gardeners of Friendly didn't keep them weeded. Before I knew it, I was sighing out loud - a great gusty sigh.

"Sam, what's wrong? Do you feel ill?" Frodo's anxious tones broke me out of my wallow in things I didn't have no control over.

"It'll sound silly." I said a bit shame-facedly. "I was thinking about the garden and all the good onions that'll be harvested before we can finally get home."

He joined me with his own sad sigh. "I was just thinking about the archives and the set of scrolls I had to leave behind. I miss them so."

Bilbo jumped up and tugged on my pant's leg. "Up, Da."

I automatically picked him up and he pressed his little hand to my cheek. Elanor had squirmed around in Frodo's lap and was doing the same thing to him. And just like that, I didn't feel so sad.

Bilbo's eyes squinted a bit and his little lips frowned. "Bad man tried again. Nasty little thoughts 'stead one big push."

Elanor looked mad enough to set something on fire. "Need shields for everybody."

Frodo dropped a kiss on her flaxen curls. "Thank you, sweetheart." Then raising his voice, he got the Elf healer's attention. "Lorrin, he tried again."

The dark healer came over to us immediately and Frodo explained. The whole room had quieted while he spoke and it felt like a hundred eyes were on us. That could still make me blush a bit.

Lorrin nodded solemnly. "Shields, indeed, Elanor - we need strong ones that appear invisible to one who seeks them out. Several of you have crystals and we can anchor the shields to them but for the others, I'm not sure what we can use."

"Fire, Gampa Lor" Elanor said emphatically.

"Aiw around us, Gampa" Bilbo chimed in.

"Wate' below us in caves" Pharin said quietly.

"Stone" Glimmer said with a small smile.

And with those suggestions, the talk became about things I didn't rightly understand. Bilbo though, he did something that felt a little odd by touching my crystal and at the same time putting his little fingers to my temple. That must be the shield he was talking about, I decided because it did feel like there was something between me and the dark images that had tried to creep in.

It beat all what amazing children Frodo had given me. I kissed his cheek and let him go to help somebody else.

********* Eomer *********

Magic . . . or something very like it was going on and it felt right and wrong - all at the same time. The shock of the attack had brought a degree of darkness to this council that I hadn't seen since the horrible days of my uncle's possession. A tug at my pant leg sent my eyes down to the little Elf - Legolas' daughter. Pharin - that was her name.

"King Eo," her sweet voice made me kneel in front of her. "You 'ave shields alweady. This place con'nected to you because you is his king."

"His? I'm who's king, little one?" I was king of Rohan but she made it sound more personal.

"Helm's Deep 'as youw blood inside of it." Her pretty face wrinkled a little while she tried to explain it to me. "All kings belong to theiw land like Mama and Papa belong to Friendly. The walls of the Deep will pwotect you from danger."

Odd, how she'd spoken aloud what I knew deep in my bones. I had belonged to Rohan since I was a child, before I rode my first pony. Fanciful thoughts but I did feel connected to even these blood stained walls. "So, I carry a shield with me, Pharin?"

She nodded then moved in and kissed my cheek, leaving behind the sweet scent I'd come to associate with Elfkind. "Yes, King Eo, you be most pwotected of us all."

"Then I'll just have to seek out this 'bad man' and make sure he doesn't hurt anybody else." I was rewarded with the same beautiful smile I'd last seen on her mother's face two years before. And my heart gave yet another leap when I looked up and met the beautiful blue eyed gaze of Prince Legolas from near the fire.

Dear Gods, but he was beautiful.

Time for me to depart - before I did something stupid. If my shields were strong then I should be able to go visit the latest arrivals. "Everyone," once I'd got their eyes and attention I continued, "I go to check on those who have just arrived. Any words of wisdom?"

Glorfindel, mate to Lord Elrond, was on his feet instantly, followed closely by the beautiful Elf at Gandalf's side. The look on both their faces was almost feral and made my lips draw up to match them. We were fellow hunters - good.

"I will introduce you, King Eomer. They are my former comrades-in-arms." Perri, that was his name, spoke.

"And I'll just go along . . . in case," Glorfindel's voice was sweetly steel-like. It sang like a good blade tested before battle.

In unison, twin voices echoed, "Be careful." Elrond and Gandalf spared a wry glance to each other while their mates sported impish grins that promised mischief.

"I welcome your company, my lords." I bowed my head to them and we left the small banquet hall with light steps that sobered when we left their corridor. Turning my head a little to the right, I caught a grim look on the younger Elf's face. "Share your thoughts, my lord. Please?"

His blue eyes were like cold steel. "I grew up with Legolas in the halls of the Green Wood. King Thranduil has always been quick to anger with a long history of holding old hatreds close to his heart. He will stand for nothing but instant obedience from his subjects."

He sighed and told of his leaving the king's service at Rivendell. Glorfindel told of the same event but from a different perspective. Elrond's history with the elder Elf had stretched over two thousand years. My human mind could not conceive of such a time span and I marveled at their easy mention of it. It pointed up the huge differences between our races.

When we neared the rooms provided for the Mirkwood contingent, I felt a change in the air around us. It felt charged with . . . anger and . . . greed? Shaking my head, I put on a smile for the two guards standing rigidly outside the oak door. Introducing myself, one of them slipped inside while the other eyed Perri with a hesitant look.

"Greetings, Losinal, how goes the Green Wood?" Perri asked genially.

"Much as it always has, Perri. Are you . . ." he faltered.

"I am happily bonded to Mithrandir and a member of the nicest village in Middle Earth." Perri slipped two small pieces of parchment from his belt pouch. "Here are pictures of my bonded and our son, Jerdahl. He's getting so big."

The guard's eyes couldn't have widened any further as he took the drawings gingerly. His lips finally curled upwards in a small smile. "He has your hair, Perri."

"Yes, but he has Gandalf's eyes." He told a few stories about the wizard's pregnancy and the guard and I listened with a sense of unreality.

Men having babies - unbelievable. But Legolas had borne those sweet twins and gruff old Gandalf had produced a gentle baby with his beautiful Elf partner. The age of miracles had not yet passed. While I was musing on miracles, the door opened wide and a stern voice bade us enter the suite. A little growl sounded beside me and I cast a hasty glance over the tall blond on my right.

Glorfindel was a great warrior and I hoped he wasn't as hasty in temper as my sister accused me of being. The last two years had softened my hard edges quite a bit. My look seemed to help him focus and he nodded shortly to me, a bland diplomat taking the place of the warrior-Elf.

Walking into the room, I spied the tall Elf with a mithril circlet around his brow. Bowing to him, one king to another, I greeted him. "Welcome to Helm's Deep, King Thranduil."

********* Perri ********* It felt very odd indeed to be standing among Woodland Elves again after more than a year away from them. They had been closer to me than brothers, some of these Elves and yet now, it was as if I'd been away for decades. They seemed alien somewhat, diminished by duty to this madman.

But I kept a smile on my face while making sure I knew where everyone was. The great room was similar to the one in our suite except the fireplace was on the west wall instead of the east. The furniture was all of Rohan except for the imposing chair from the King's own halls. It would make him look even more imposing than he was already. And he didn't look mad at all, smiling genially at King Eomer with a short nod for Glorfindel.

He ignored me and that was fine since I'd found Negus lurking behind his chair and all my attention was focused on his threat. Strange, but I'd never realized how his features differed from the rest of the woodland folk. He must have worn an enchantment all these centuries to keep us from noticing the other-worldly cast to his face. He was an almost twin to our Lorrin, down to the hawk's nose and the dark sleek hair.

I felt a depressing thought cross my mind and I immediately reached behind me to touch the stone walls. My fingers brushed across the smooth granite and I felt the new shields Glimmer had shown me settle into place. A surreptitious brush of my other hand to Glorfindel's arm brought me a slight nod. He shared the element fire with my Gandalf and had told me all he had to do was envision the Balrog who'd originally killed him to bring all his shields into being.

Sturdy Eomer stood ramrod straight with his hands clasped behind him while he listened courteously to King Thranduil. He was less hasty than the stories about him would make him seem and his speech was slow and solemn - much like my former liege's. Oddly enough, there seemed to be an aura of serenity around the king, something I'd not seen before. Were we wrong about where the attack had come from?

From the corner of my eye, I caught a flicker of a hand movement from behind Thranduil and I immediately touched the wall again. A feeling of pressure began to weigh upon me. I swallowed hard and fought to keep my face from showing the increasing feeling of unease. This time, Glorfindel brushed my arm and between the two of us, the pressure popped like a soap bubble.

I wanted to follow that attack right back to the evil Elf but I reined in my feelings and concentrated instead on the warm thoughts flooding my mind. Somehow Gandalf was using our link to give me strength. The comforting babble accompanying it had to be from my small son. I was blessed indeed and that made my mental armor complete. 'Take that, Negus'.

Glorfindel shifted again and I saw the dark Elf behind the throne physically start. The smug little smile on the blond Elf's face was a dead giveaway that he'd done something more than shield, perhaps even struck his own blow. As soon as we were alone, I was going to quiz him and see if I could not do also. It wasn't right this battle had only pint sized warrior-babies in the forefront.

Pharin and Glimmer were too young to have to take on another enemy of our people. Bilbo and Elanor should be more concerned with raspberries and cream then with battling an ages old Elf. And sweet Bluebird should have never come this close to an ancient evil, let alone fighting it. Of course my main fear was that my little Jerdahl would be used as a pawn by this Elf who used his power so unwisely.

I barely kept a growl to myself. Glorfindel was trembling beside me and I knew not if he was fighting back another attack or if I'd missed something in the conversation. Luckily, an interruption occurred. Celeborn, eldest of my kin, appeared with his shining robes and glimmering hair. He brought with him the feeling of ancient mallorns with their roots sunk deep in good rich soil and their leafy green crowns reaching for the sun.

I relaxed with a sigh of relief. He and Galadriel would be potent weapons themselves now that they had arrived. And I must admit I was curious about their son who Lorrin said matched our Blue's gift of spirit. The elf lord's gaze caught mine and I bowed my head to him. That single glance told me we would be speaking soon together.

King Eomer greeted the great lord with the same bow he'd given Thranduil and between the two of them, we were soon on our way back to our wing of the fortress. I could hardly wait to get back to my loved ones and Glorfindel matched my stride so we arrived well before the other two. Dalf was on the floor with Elrond and Lady Galadriel equi-spaced on the woven rug with our youngest members lying in the middle.

"Beloved," I knelt by my bonded and accepted his kiss before bowing to she who I had always considered Queen of the Elves. "My lady, it is good to see you again."

"Perri, what a beautiful son you and Gandalf have created." Her smile was impish and I laughed to see it. "Jerdal and my little Cerri have become fast friends all ready."

Jer had rolled over and was patting the little blond baby by his side gently. Cerri's mouth was open but not even a breath of sound came out. Suddenly I realized what Pharin had meant about 'quiet Cerri' - he was mute. Celeborn appeared behind his wife and he hugged her close before sitting down beside her. Cerri recognized his papa and held out his little hands to him.

Celeborn tickled his tummy and Cerri grabbed hold of a finger to bring it to his mouth. I chuckled, all little boys liked to put things in their mouths. Glorfindel joined Elrond and little Faladel tried to roll over to get to her father. Instead she bumped into Jer and his giggles rose up immediately. When they began to crawl, we were going to be in so much trouble.

This should be a time of happiness, sharing and bonding with our friends. I leaned into Gandalf's side and buried my nose in his sweet smelling hair. But first we had to take care of the threat to our loved ones. A blue gaze met mine and I felt Dalf spread his love silently over my heart. If it took ruthless then I would be the most ruthless Elf at Helm's Deep. My word upon it.

********* Negus *********

Odd, the way my blows had skittered off the Elves. I recognized the natural shields the human king wore but the other two had crystalline armor that had blocked my every attack. Still, I'd been careful to keep myself from over-reacting. Whatever was protecting them couldn't be that strong. The crystals of my people were long buried beneath the mountains of my former home.

For a moment a memory of home made me catch my breath - the sun rising above the white capped peaks tinting the snow a delicate shade of rose. It had been millennia since I'd last thought of my morning ritual. Now I hated the open spaces. Things could get at you when you walked unprotected beneath the sky. I shook myself hard and realized Thranduil was looking at me with curiosity.

I sent a calming thought his way and his brow smoothed out. "My liege, we should get ready for our beds. It was a long journey and we will meet with the others tomorrow."

"Yes, yes, I am a bit tired." His eyes wondered around the room. "Odd how like our home this keep is. I feel quite comfortable within its stone walls."

"Yes, my liege, a most pleasing keep. Now let's let the servants bring in your bath water so you can relax before sleep. It was nice to see Celeborn again, wasn't it?"

My king nodded and let me lead him into the bedroom reserved for him. The human servants followed carrying wooden pails of steaming water for the porcelain tub with which Thranduil always traveled. A pinch or two of the bath salts I made up to send him to sleep and I could take a stroll around this fortress to see where the others were.

Legolas - I would see the pretty young Elf who belonged to me. I smiled while the king prattled on. Soon I would deal with the importunate Dwarf who had dared touch what belonged to me. Soon I would leave the shadows and walk beneath the sun with my golden elf.

It was time.

The end of part nine