Something was wrong.
Glorfindel could not quite tell what, but something was. He was escorting some of Imladris’ councillors back from a week spent negotiating with Thranduil, and so naturally on edge; a lot could still happen between here and home.
When nobody else moved, he got up from where he rested, grabbed his sword and tapped the guard designated as on watch on the shoulder.
“Did you hear something, my Lord?” the guard looked up at him from where he stood. “I have seen nothing.”
“Hm…” Glorfindel looked around, squinting a little. Whilst he trusted the guard’s words, something was still… unsettled.
He turned back to the camp, and his eyes narrowed into slits. The sword at his side would be useless, but he began focusing his power, twisting it into form.
Among the resting guards and diplomats, a form shimmered and moved. It passed from elf to elf, lips moving silently as it lent down to each ear. As it did so, and nobody responded, the form became steadily more frantic; Glorfindel could only guess as to what it was doing, but if it tried to possess anyone here…
The form, evidently sensing the shift in the music that came with his power, turned to look directly at Glorfindel. It had the face of an ageless elleth, wild eyed and frantic, dead and houseless and silently screaming.
She surged towards him.
Acting on instinct, however little it would help, Glorfindel raised his arms. She ignored them entirely, passing through them but still gripping Glorfindel’s shoulders as though her hands were cold and real.
Must… must…? Must get help! help baby…!
Her lips moved with the words, and they resonated with something inside Glorfindel. He stood frozen, considering, for a few long moments.
From the corner of his eye, Glorfindel noticed the watch change. He gestured to the elf just coming off duty to join him.
Having weighed up his options, and concluding that if he did not investigate, no matter the chance of a trap, he could not live with himself, he raised a hand to mimic resting it on the houseless elleth’s back.
At the raised eyebrow from the guard he shook his head, and instead said, “follow.”
Evidently hearing Glorfindel speak, Erestor stood up like a shot. A conversation passed in a single glance, and the chief counsellor won; he would be coming too.
Just as Glorfindel followed the spirit, the guard and Erestor followed him. He was not really sure how to feel about that.
It was a long walk to where the houseless elleth was taking them. The longer it took, the more certain that Glorfindel was they would find nothing living. The trio walked in silence, too concerned about the idea of orcs or trolls to dare being loud so late.
Eventually, they came upon a small, wooden cabin. All was silent and dark, except for dancing flickers of moonlight that managed to break their way through the branches of the great trees.
The houseless elleth passed into the cabin, and Glorfindel went to follow.
He was stopped by the quiet “sweet Eru” whispered by the guard, and the sight of Erestor darting off in another way.
To a small river beside the cabin.
Torn, Glorfindel followed Erestor instead. It only took moments for him to notice what the attraction was; a figure lay washed up on the side of the water.
Erestor reached the figure first, dropping to his knees beside it. After a few moments he looked up towards Glorfindel, and shook his head.
Glorfindel still joined him; the figure was an elleth, obviously dead and having lain out in the open long enough for animals to have begun nibbling her corpse. Her skull had quite clearly been shattered… Glorfindel looked around.
A little way upstream were the remains of a rope bridge. The frayed ropes hung limply, whilst two of the wooden slats were still trapped on the rocks beneath.
It did not take him very long to piece together the tragic accident.
“She would have died near instantly,” Erestor muttered the words.
The guard behind them whispered back the words, “at least she is with Mandos now.”
The houseless elleth had reappeared, and was now attempting to tug on Glorfindel’s sleeve. Looking between the two of them, it was quite apparent that she was once the corpse, and not with Mandos. Still, he would not break the little comfort his companions found…
Baby! Baby! Help baby!
“Could you see to the remains?” Glorfindel asked of the somewhat nauseous looking guard. “I want to check inside.”
“But sir? If the body is out here…?”
“It is unlikely she lived here alone, and that she lays unburied bodes ill for any companion’s health,” he replied.
Without waiting for a reply, Glorfindel slipped inside. It was hard to see in the darkness, but the cabin seemed almost pristine. There was very little dust, and the furniture was all well made. Maybe one of the inhabitants was once a carpenter?
He looked around, the houseless elleth now hovering near his shoulder. The fire was not lit, and the cabin cold. In a wooden crib beside the stone fireplace, something small was curled up beneath a blanket. An elven something.
Cautiously, Glorfindel approached. He reached out a hand, stroking the baby hidden with. They barely moved in response, but some was proof of life. Ever so carefully, he picked up the bundle and cradled it to his chest. At the sensation of being moved, the baby began to cry distressed tears.
Glorfindel carried the baby back out to where Erestor was keeping something akin to watch. He could not see the actual guard, but given the corpse was also missing, assumed he had taken her somewhere a little more secluded to bury.
Erestor immediately looked over on Glorfindel’s approach, eyes widening in surprise at the crying baby. His eyebrows then furrowed.
“Give them here,” he muttered, reaching out.
Glorfindel placed the baby into Erestor’s arms, who shifted his clothing about to hold the child beneath his coat. Once satisfied that the child was secure, he turned to Glorfindel and whispered, “How long have they been alone?”
His response was a gesture demonstrating the lack of idea, and an equally quiet, “I assume as long as she has been dead… Do we have means to feed them?”
“We should have some milk in the supplies...The father?”
It was a question that Glorfindel had also been wondering about, but had no answer to. Before he state as such, the guard returned with a grim face.
“There was a recent grave around the back. I put her to rest beside it.”
“The father, then,” Erestor and Glorfindel spoke in unison.
They looked at each other for another long moment. Then, Erestor found somewhere more comfortable to sit, taking out his waterskin and attempting to at least get some fluids into the child, whilst Glorfindel slipped back inside.
Making a more careful search this time, he found a few carved animals, a rag doll, and two baby-sized tunics. Nothing to feed them with, though. He wrapped the toys in one of the tunics, carrying the parcel back outside; something of their parents for the baby.
He was back outside within minutes, yet already Erestor seemed to have explained the basics of the situation to the guard. The houseless elleth hovered by his shoulder, attempting to comfort the inconsolable child. A child that could not see her.
“How unwell are they?”
“Were he mortal, he would already be dead,” Erestor looked up at Glorfindel, “we need to get him warm, fed, and to an actual healer. Preferably yesterday.”
“Is there anywhere closer than Imladris?”
Erestor shook his head, “not that can help.”
Glorfindel considered a moment before asking the guard to have everyone prepare to leave as soon as possible; said guard bowed and sprinted off.
With Erestor carrying the child and Glorfindel ready to protect them, they followed more slowly after.
Behind them, the houseless elleth’s face formed a content expression, as she drifted away.
Glorfindel turned to see his son running into his office, beaming. A few paces behind, Erestor walked calmly.
“Hello sweetie,” he stood and swept his foster-son into his arms.
Little Melpomaen giggled, bouncing excitedly in his arms, “Ada says picnic time!”
“Is that so?” Glorfindel took a look at the work on his desk, but pushed it aside to step outside with them.
Erestor gave him a small smile, even as he came close.
Glorfindel raised an eyebrow.
“He is yours after lunch.”
There was paperwork to worry about, but in light of everything, Glorfindel did not really mind.
“Of course,” he turned to the child. “Do you want to spend time with Atar after picnic?”
Melpomaen nodded, beaming with all his teeth.
Glorfindel pressed a small kiss to his forehead. Together, the trio headed out into the sunny afternoon, and to the picnic Erestor had arranged for them.
And there is the epilogue. I decided to have fun and make the fic a round number of words (ie 1500 total), and assign 10% to the epilogue and the rest to the main bit.