“I heard you caused another of my staff to be sent home in tears last night.”
Glorfindel cringed slightly as he closed the door to the office and sat down for his ‘appointment’. “Sorry about that,” he mumbled, looking out the window instead of at Elrond.
The lord of the valley sighed and shuffled the papers off of his desk. In barely a week, Glorfindel had managed to alienate a good portion of the kitchen staff, many of the gardeners, and a few of the horse masters as well. At the rate things were going, Elrond feared he would need to hire an entirely new staff by week’s end. “Obviously, something is still the matter. And I have come to reason that it is most likely not trepidation regarding the possible entrance of a Balrog into the city.”
Crossing his arms over his chest, Glorfindel snorted. “Well, maybe it is. There ARE other Balrogs out there -- hiding in the caves and in the mists. You have inadequate protection to fend them off.”
“If one comes, I have no intention of fending them off,” explained Elrond. “I plan to do what any sane elf would. I will be running away – and I expect you to do the same.”
Glorfindel twitched, clamping his jaw shut. Elrond waited for the retort, for this conversation had been replayed three previous times. The first time the debate began, Elrond realized it was Glorfindel’s way of working out his past; coming to grips with the reality that his slaying of the final balrog to infiltrate Gondolin did not save the city, only the people, and that the people were infinitely more important than stones and mortar were. “Fine. Run away then,” he grumbled, twisting at the immovable carved eagle head that adorned the chair he sat upon.
“Twelve-hundred scattered in the forest and beneath the waterfalls stand a better chance than the same packed into one tidy little house,” finished Elrond, for he loved to get the last word in, and for once, Glorfindel did not fight him. “Now, no more about Balrogs. I want to discuss you.”
“Are not the two synonymous?” asked Glorfindel wryly.
“Nay.” Elrond poured tea for them from the pot that was sitting on a tray set up beside his desk. “Sugar? Honey?”
Glorfindel shook his head at both of these, and Elrond suspected his refusal was just to be a pain in the posterior. The ellon never drank more than a few sips, and scowled here and there. Then again, he may have not liked tea altogether, but Glorfindel was a difficult elf to deal with and Elrond suspected the blond merely refused the sweeteners just to annoy him.
“What are your plans for the day?” asked Elrond once he had handed the cup and saucer to the other ellon.
“I think I might take a closer look at your training fields. I noticed that they are rather small; you might want to consider an extension,” suggested Glorfindel.
“We have a very small army,” Elrond reminded him. “With only a hundred or so archers and a handful of cavalry, we do not have the need for a large training area. It saves space for planting crops and for gardens to relax in.”
With a snort, Glorfindel replied, “How you can relax with such a small number of soldiers is beyond me.”
“I get by,” answered Elrond, stirring the sugar into his tea. “But please, feel free to look at the training area and make suggestions as to improvements on the current design if you like.”
When Glorfindel did not respond, Elrond pressed him again. “What else do you plan to do?” These daily meetings were a way for Elrond to observe Glorfindel. He could tell that something was still amiss about the warrior, whose arrival from the Grey Havens days earlier had been quite unexpected. All Elrond could assume was that he had been as big an ass in the Halls of Waiting as he was here now, and that the Valar just wanted to be rid of him any way possible.
“I might take a ride to the river,” he said, after pulling a face from the bitter drink.
“Excellent idea. The water is just perfect for swimming this time of year, and downstream the fishing is very good,” said Elrond. “Shall I have one of the kitchen staff ready a lunch for you to take along? I often enjoy a summer’s day at the river myself.”
Glorfindel was looking at Elrond as if he had grown an extra head. “No, I do not plan to go to the river for frivolous reasons such as the ones you have suggested. I want to see what sort of fortifications you have there to guard against attacks.”
“I will save you the trip,” Elrond responded bluntly. “We have none.”
“What? Why not?” demanded Glorfindel.
“Because it would give us away. We are few, and cannot watch multiple posts here and there, so we guard mostly from the city.”
“Then you are more a fool than I first thought,” Glorfindel blurted out, slamming his cup and saucer onto the desk. “No one guards their city without outposts!”
“Well, I do,” argued Elrond, fighting to keep his calm the angrier Glorfindel got. “If it annoys you so much, you are more than welcome to found your own city elsewhere.”
Staring at the wall until he regained his composure, Glorfindel said, “That is not my desire. You have a perfect haven here; it reminds me much of the city I once lived in and loved. I just do not wish to see my home fall again.”
“It will not,” Elrond said with conviction.
Strained laughter issued forth from the warrior. “How can you be so sure of that?”
“Perhaps some day I will tell you my secret to that knowledge,” Elrond told him. “But now, our time grows short, and yet you have revealed to me what truly upsets you.”
Glorfindel drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair. “I am upset, truly, by the lack of defense.”
“There is something, though.” Elrond poured himself more tea to warm his cup and waited. “What can I do to ease your transition here? I told you that I will provide whatever you need, but I must know what it is. There is something you hesitate to ask me about.”
Running his finger along the finely detailed grooves of the eagle head, Glorfindel muttered, “I do not believe it in your power to give.”
“If you do not tell me what you want, I shall never know,” countered Elrond.
Sighing in defeat, Glorfindel said, “In my first life, my greatest love was my city. This time around, I want it to be something a bit more... tangible.”
“Ah... I see.” Elrond nodded. “If that is the case, you should perhaps be a little nicer to the rest of the residents. We have a small population here, and news travels quickly.”
“I know. I just thought – hoped, I suppose – that it might be more like things used to be,” explained Glorfindel.
“Arranged marriages are a thing of the past, if that is what you are referring to,” said Elrond as gently as he could. “I can introduce you to some possible matches if you like but I cannot force anyone in this valley, not even my own children, to marry someone they do not choose.”
“Mmm. I suspected as much.” Glorfindel rubbed his fingers over the eagle’s beak.
“Besides, I had assumed you would be waiting for your lover to return,” said Elrond.
“My what?” Abruptly, Glorfindel’s hand stopped nervously playing with the wooden adornment. “What? Who?”
Elrond looked taken aback. “The other Balrog Slayer, of course.”
“What?” Glorfindel blinked. “Thelion? He and I were never lovers – more like good friends, brothers perhaps. Where did you hear such lies?” he angrily demanded.
“I read it, in practically every history of Gondolin,” Elrond cautiously admitted. Glorfindel was standing in a flash. “Calm yourself; I do not need you burning every volume in the library with a chapter on Beleriand.”
Glorfindel clenched his fists. “I will not, but I want to see these books. In the library, you say?”
“Yes; one of the scribes can point them out to you,” Elrond called after the warrior, who was already leaving, striding purposefully down the hallway. With a frown, Elrond stood and went to a door to an adjoining office, and tapped on it. When beckoned to enter, Elrond turned the knob. “Lindir, I need someone to track Glorfindel. Make sure he doesn’t go near any candles or the fireplace in the library with anything.”
Chuckling to himself, Elrond’s second-in-command nodded. “I have a need to return a few books anyhow,” he said, picking up a stack from the corner of his desk before heading out to follow after Glorfindel.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Both het and slash found herein