Elrond entered his private quarters, unsurprised to see Celebrían sitting at her writing desk with pen in hand and studying her calendar.
“What are you planning, dearest? The twins’ birthday is past already.”
“Mother has written that they are sending the boys here. It seems their mother is due for her lying-in, and has asked for privacy.”
“I see.” Elrond dutifully replied. He had long ago given up trying to understand the intricacies of Silvan life that decreed Haldir and Orophin were Celebrían’s brothers, despite there being no close blood relationship between them.
“I was hoping that Meren would be able to send Legolas for a visit as well, but Thranduil has begun teaching the child archery.” She sighed in annoyance. “He seemed to enjoy his last visit here so much; it is a pity he will miss playing with all of his cousins.”
“Perhaps you could invite him anyway.” Elrond wished instantly that he had said nothing. In his opinion, having Legolas around, along with the Lórien boys, was guaranteed to bring havoc.
“What a wonderful idea, Elrond! I shall write her at once!” Celebrían turned and pulled him down to kiss him on the cheek. “She will be so thrilled; I think she thought you didn’t like Legolas.”
I like him just fine when he is at home, not here, Elrond thought with a rising sense of panic. And Thranduil is so touchy about things – I hope he doesn’t think I am interfering.
Glorfindel and Erestor were relaxing over a late morning breakfast in their room when a sudden knock interrupted them.
“Who is it?” Erestor called.
“Lindir,” came the hurried reply, as Glorfindel rose and opened the door. “Have you heard the news?”
“What news?” Glorfindel asked warily. Lindir’s unusually pale face was certain proof that they would soon have visitors, and young ones at that.
“The Lórien boys are coming for a visit, and possibly Legolas as well.” Lindir was a firm believer in getting the bad news over at once. He hurried over to their table and hungrily eyed the scones, while Glorfindel poured him a cup of tea. After a warning glance from his spouse, Erestor handed over a basket of scones. “I knew I should have asked Gildor for a ride when he was here last month.”
“How did you find this out?” Erestor looked distinctly annoyed at the news; he and Glorfindel had planned to enjoy a very private fortnight’s holiday since their schedules had finally coincided.
“I was following a new bird with the most enchanting song… it had finally settled in the mallorn… I think it might even be a new species, Erestor. It is the most striking blue color. You will no doubt want to sketch it for your latest treatise…” Lindir began, belatedly realizing that the unhappy couple did not want to know every single detail of his once-promising morning. “Anyway, I was just about to start transcribing its song when I heard the lord and his lady talking about their visitors...”
Glorfindel sighed quietly as he listened to Lindir continue his story. Having the youngsters visit was not exactly unwelcome, but it could not have come at a worse time.
“Thank you, Lindir. That will be all for now.” Glorfindel said at last, rising from the table. “Erestor, we had better find out just what Elrond has planned.”
Lindir nodded before he hurriedly finished his tea and left their room, disappearing in the direction of the kitchen.
“Well, this is just great.” Erestor was scowling openly. “After all of our plans, too!”
“But not unexpected,” Glorfindel replied as he pulled Erestor into a warm embrace. “They are growing up quickly; I doubt they will have much time to spend visiting each other before long. And it will only be for a little while.”
“Perhaps.” Erestor sighed, laying his sleek dark head on Glorfindel’s shoulder and nuzzling his neck. “In any case, I am going to reserve the hot springs tonight. I intend for us to have as much privacy as we can before the visitors arrive.”
“Do you have ideas for our new vacation?” Glorfindel asked Erestor. “Elrond owes us.”
“Yes, he does,” Erestor smiled back. “But we can decide that later.”
“I have the most wonderful news, husband.” Meren cried as she waved the new letter at her spouse.
“What news is that?” Thranduil asked in an even voice as he walked over to her writing desk and tried to read it for himself.
“Celebrían has asked if Legolas can visit when his cousins from Lórien arrive in Imladris. Think of it! All of the cousins together at once!”
Thranduil did think of it, and fought back a shudder. “And Elrond approves of this plan?”
“Yes! In fact, she says that he himself suggested inviting Legolas!” Meren beamed happily at her beloved as he began to read the delicate paper. “I told you that you were being fanciful when you thought Elrond didn’t like our sweet boy.”
Actually, Thranduil had a very good idea of exactly what Elrond thought of Legolas, especially after his last visit to Mirkwood resulted in Legolas teaching the twins how to lay a snare. The twins were quite enthusiastic about their new skill and practiced it often. The Mirkwood guard was used to finding snares in odd places; they considered it part of their training. But the Imladrians did not expect such things.
Elrond had wished to visit the meditation garden before bed. Instead, he spent a most unpleasant night hanging upside down and being bitten by a variety of insects, undiscovered until the next morning. When Elrond failed to appear at breakfast, a search party was ordered. As luck would have it, Thranduil was the one to find him and Elrond had given him a fierce glare and stalked off without a word. Later, Elrond suggested that he needed to return home, promising to visit in another yen or two.
This made Elrond’s sudden change of heart even more incomprehensible to him, but as his father Oropher repeatedly said, ‘the ways of the Noldor are strange indeed.’ But privately with his son, Oropher shared many less-than-charitable opinions of their Noldor relatives.
“… any objection? Well? Thranduil?”
Belatedly realizing that his wife was staring at him, Thranduil cleared his throat. “Of course not, my dearest. I think it sounds like a wonderful idea.”
“I can hardly wait to tell Legolas the news,” she exclaimed. “He will be so happy.”
“Excellent, my dear.” Thranduil leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “I will talk to the guards about making arrangements.”
As Elrond watched the two parties arrive from his favorite balcony, he once again wondered which Vala was prone to practical jokes before banishing the thought. The last thing he needed was to draw further attention to the situation.
Celebrían waited for her husband on the main steps, while Elladan and Elrohir had chosen to ride their ponies, joining Glorfindel’s honor guard. Taking a deep breath, Elrond quickly hurried down and wrapped his arm around her waist.
“They should arrive very soon,” he said quietly. “Is luncheon ready?”
“It is all arranged in the side garden,” she replied. “I am certain the boys will be hungry. Cook has baked her special pumpernickel bread to be used in their sandwiches.”
Elrond had no idea why pumpernickel bread was so special but Celebrían did, and that was all that mattered.
Several hours later, Elrond opened the door to the master suite, ready to enjoy some quiet time with Celebrían. Instead, he saw her walking silently toward him with a finger pressed to her lips. He slowly backed away and waited for her in the hall. Celebrían began to pull the door closed again.
“Why are we standing here?” he questioned in a low tone. “I wish to retire. It has been a long day and I have a great deal of work waiting in my office.”
“The boys wished to hear stories before bed,” she whispered quietly. “And when they finally fell asleep, I didn’t have the heart to wake them.”
More like you didn’t want to wake them and deal with another round of stories, he thought grumpily but wisely said nothing.
“Look, aren’t they sweet?” Celebrían eased the door open for a moment and Elrond had a brief glimpse of black, silver and gold hair peeking out from his blankets. “Come, we can sleep in my parents’ suite tonight.”
As they walked down the hall, Elrond could not think of a less romantic place to go. It was going to be a very long month.
~*~ Two Weeks Later ~*~
“Why are you lying on the ground, Elrond?” Erestor asked as he noticed Elrond in the middle of the path leading to the rose garden. “What happened?”
“I was hoping I was in Mandos,” Elrond replied in a tired voice. “Things were so peaceful for a few moments, I was certain I must have entered the realm.”
“Don’t be absurd,” Erestor said briskly as he offered a hand to help the elf-lord to his feet. “You’ve only slipped on a bar of soap.”
Instead, Elrond ignored the proffered hand and remained on the ground, staring up at the sky.
“I don’t know how so many things could go wrong so fast.” Elrond said at last. “Do you know, Erestor?”
Erestor knew a rhetorical question when he heard it and kept his lips firmly shut.
“It all started when Cook found that wretched donkey of Legolas’ in the kitchen garden eating the carrots that were supposed to be for lunch. She chased me with a broom through the side hall; I outran her but she is still waiting for me. I just know it.”
“How…” Erestor began, and then promptly trailed off. Cook would never believe that ‘those darling boys’ would leave a gate open; clearly it was someone else, some adult.
“Come, Elrond. You need to get ready for the evening meal.” Erestor said in a bracing tone. “After all, the boys will be gone in another two weeks.”
“Two weeks!” Elrond moaned. “Perhaps there is still time for me to hide in the wine cellar with Lindir and Galion.”
“Oh no, you don’t.” Erestor said as he pulled Elrond to his feet. “Besides, the boys are anxious to have you see the newest swing they have created.”
“Another swing?” Elrond groaned. “There all sorts of rope swings from the telain they built in the forest.”
“This one is different; it is called a ‘zip line’ and it stretches across the Bruinen.” Glorfindel said as he walked toward them. “At least they decided against diving from the top of the waterfall.”
“Only because they are in awe of you, ‘Fin,” Erestor snickered. “They seem convinced you are of the line of Finwë.”
“Just as long as they listen,” Glorfindel replied. “Elrond, why don’t you try the ‘zip line’ first? It would set a good example.”
Elrond moaned again and turned pale at the idea of the ‘zip line’. He supposed it might prove less risky than he imagined though.
Later that evening, Elrond was enjoying his third glass of Dorwinion. He had been the first to try the new ‘ride’ and he rather thought he deserved a small indulgence for doing something so suicidal. Everyone else seemed to think it was wonderful fun, and even Celebrían tried it twice, shrieking happily as she flew across the river.
“Wasn’t that fun, Elrond?” she said as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I wish you’d tried it again.”
“I wanted to make sure everyone else had a chance,” Elrond hedged. “I’m glad you enjoyed it, darling.”
When news arrived that Haldir and Orophin had a new brother, Rúmil, it was clear that the visit was coming to an end. There was a sudden flurry of packing and before long, Elrond and Celebrían were standing on the main steps, this time bidding farewell to their guests.
“I am going to miss them all so much,” Celebrían said as she dabbed her eyes with a fine linen handkerchief.
Elrond wisely said nothing, wrapping his arms around her waist and kissing her soft cheek as they watched the riders disappear down the trails.