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'Turn Down an Empty Glass'
The smell of
last night's wine was unmistakable. Glorfindel wrinkled his nose
slightly and made his way across to the windows to draw open the
drapes. The bedroom was furnished in warm though muted shades, its
simplicity softened by touches that suggested a woman's eye: a
woodland painting with flowers and butterflies, multi-coloured
cushions, the soft throw over one of the chairs, the comfy pillows.
The lord of Imladris lay sprawled across the bed, one arm flung over
his face, head thrown back. He was breathing deep and heavy; the
former warrior thought that were he mortal he would have been
snoring. He was still dressed in shirt, pants and house shoes,
although he had removed his outer robe.
An empty flagon and a cup stood on the nightstand beside him.
While Celebrķan fought her battle with the grey mists she said
surrounded her at every turn, Elrond had been strong. He held
himself together for the sake of his sons and young daughter, being
for them a pillar and a rock, the place they could go for comfort
should they so wish. Arwen had rejected that comfort, instead
seeking out her grandfather and his quiet wisdom, and the boys had
taken to grief as boys sometimes will, finding redress for pain in
action and blood-letting. That, Glorfindel thought, would pass, or
such was his experience.
Celebrķan had depended on him for a year, on the physical and later
emotional aid he could give her and the sharing of his considerable
strength. Once she had left, taking ship into the West to her
mother’s home in hope of healing or at least peace, the habit of
being needed had remained, unused. And so, on the empty nights
bereft not only of wife but of offspring as well, he had begun to
take a cup or two more wine after a meal than had been his wont.
Looking back, Glorfindel was unsure when it had escalated, but it
had. One cup led to two, two to many. Now it was a flagon in the
bedroom after dinner and time in the Hall of Fire, where his late
night conversation grew progressively erratic as the hours passed.
And it had gone on long enough, Glorfindel thought grimly. He had
been sent back for many reasons, some of the Valar's choosing, a
couple of his own, and then there were others he had found only
after his arrival. One of those latter was a care for the lord of
the valley where he had made his home and for the lord’s family.
This had begun in part due to his memories of Idril, dear to him as
a sister and the fact that Celebrķan was indeed blood kin through
Galadriel, his cousin, but later this had grown into a deep fondness
for the family themselves. Elrond in particular had become a close
friend, someone whose pain he took to himself.
Now he walked over to the bed and none too gently shook Elrond's
shoulder. "Time to get up,
he said firmly, raising his voice. "A good, brisk ride down the
valley before breakfast should clear your head. We need to talk
about events since Celebrķan sailed. And you’re welcome to resent me
all you like, but I would be a poor friend indeed to keep silence.
Come, life is calling. It’s time you gave thought to your answer."