Translation of Elvish: Peredhel - half-elven. Mellonen - my friend.
Chapter 22 - The Plans of Elves
Now (1 F.A.)
It was the dawn of the Fourth Age, the Age of Men, an age of peace in Middle-earth. The old kingdom in the north was being rebuilt and both Rohan and Gondor were blooming under their new kings. Life in Arda was indeed peaceful after the fall of Sauron. Life in Aman, however, was not so. Especially not for Master Erestor, formerly of Imladris and currently of Erebor. Maybe he should tell King Thorin that he thought of himself like that. The dwarf's face would surely cheer him up. And oh, how he needed some cheering up.
For the second time is as many hours he wished he could sail back to live in Rivendell with Elrond's sons. Would Círdan allow him to? He knew it would only be temporary, but surely another century or so would see the end of Glorfindel's fight with Ecthelion. Maybe Ereinion would like to accompany him since he was hearing about it every waking moment as well, Erestor was certain. And it was not so much the fact that the two friends were fighting, it was what they were fighting about. More than once Erestor had simply wanted to throw up his arms and take things into his own hands. Because as things were at the moment, Ecthelion and Glorfindel surely would not act until the time to do so was running out.
It all began with Ecthelion's visit to Turgon's court. When the Lord of the Fountain reached Tirion to retrieve certain festival-related necessities, he all but forced his way into an ongoing council session. It was his right as an elven noble, but up until then he had never showed much...if any...interest in such meetings. Or so Erestor had been told. But he clearly had some time to spare while he waited for mirovar and other elvish delicacies to be made ready for the journey back to Erebor, and maybe the topic of the discussion was of interest to him as well. Turgon had apparently changed his mind in regards to the elvish settlement near Erebor. Or perhaps it had been Thingol who had changed his mind for him.
The blond Sindar had appeared in Tirion shortly after the small company of dwarves, elves and hobbits had left for Erebor and he had been anything but happy. Before long he had started to accuse Turgon of siding with their enemies and when he heard that the two Balrog slayers had joined King Thorin's party, Thingol was beyond livid. "The crown suits you ill, King Turgon. And I know that you will pay for this, eventually." A sneer on his lips, he had turned around then and left Turgon's audience chamber. And the High King had reached a point where he was actively seeking a way to live his days without the more than irritating Teleri elf.
And apparently he had found just the way to do that. Which was what that council meeting had been about. No longer would the elven settlement near Erebor be a rebuilt Imladris. Oh no. Very much like Dale had been on the doorstep of the dwarven kingdom in Arda, so would there be an elven city within eyeshot of the new Kingdom of Erebor. King Thorin would be elated, Erestor was sure. And it would not be a small city either. Turgon envisioned white towers and turrets, and silver bells singing joyously. Gondolin rebuilt, only not within a hidden valley, but within reach of the greatest dwarven kingdom in Aman. And Turgon would move the court of the High King there with the utter conviction that Thingol would not journey there to harass him any further.
Ecthelion had been stupid enough to voice his joy at this turn of events more than once with the result that he was chosen to bring the news not only to Lord Elrond but to King Thorin as well. And that was the cause of the argument between the Lord of the Fountain and Glorfindel. Foolish as Ecthelion had been to make his opinion known, he knew that telling Thorin of certain changes in the plans that had been agreed previously, well, it was a somewhat suicidal mission indeed. And somehow Ecthelion believed that Glorfindel should come to his rescue. At least he had stated as much the night of the Yule Festival.
Which had been two weeks ago. And during those two weeks, not much progress had been made, much to Erestor's dismay. At least Elrond had been informed. The former master of Rivendell had simply shrugged and wished them well...for telling the dwarven king would surely not go as smoothly as telling him had done. For days the two warriors had pondered Elrond's words, and then they had truly begun arguing. Initially Erestor had attempted to help his mate. After all, Turgon had tasked Ecthelion with this mission, not the blond Elda. But the Lord of the Fountain had given him a look as if he wondered when Erestor had become so dense and stated that, in Gondolin, if one of them was given a task, they both were expected to see it done. And for some reason, Glorfindel agreed with that.
Now they were discussing how to tell Thorin and whether or not to enlist someone else's help. Elrond was a prime candidate as, since he had taken care of Bilbo, the dwarven king grudgingly accepted the peredhel. Erestor had to admit that this idea had some merit, though why involve Lord Elrond if they could straight away approach Bilbo himself. The hobbit was an elf-friend after all and would probably love the idea of a truly magnificent elven city only a few miles away from Erebor. But once more both Glorfindel and Ecthelion gave him looks and stated that the halfling had been through too much already and they would not wish to bring Thorin's scorn down on his unsuspecting mate. The raven-haired advisor simply wanted to take them both and ram their heads into the nearest wall. Clearly they had no idea what Bilbo had endured and just how devoted the dwarven king was to him.
The hobbit had been a Ring-bearer, and somehow Erestor did not only think of the One Ring when calling Bilbo that in his own mind. The other ring, Thorin's ring, must have been weighing him down at least as heavily as Sauron's Ring of Power, if not more so. He had also faced down countless orcs, the creature Gollum, giant spiders and, above all else, Smaug the Golden. If he had been able to play at riddles with the dragon, telling Thorin of Turgon's new plans would be child's play. But clearly the great Balrog Slayers thought otherwise.
And when Glorfindel once again turned to him for advice, advice they would only ignore anyway, Erestor had had enough. He stormed out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him and sighing in relief. Despite the confused glances passing dwarves bestowed upon him. The advisor still marvelled at the shorter race and their ability to frown down at elves that were, in stature at least, so much greater than they were themselves. Their king had mastered this and even Erestor had been made to feel small on occasion. Though each time Bilbo had quickly reprimanded the dwarf for it, and in the end it had been Thorin who had looked rather sheepish. Such was the power Erestor's hobbit friend held over his betrothed, and it warmed the elf's heart to know that after all those long years of loneliness and longing, Bilbo was finally happy with the dwarf who had stolen his heart and who had held it during the time they had spent apart.
Smiling to himself, Erestor made his way from the guest quarters to the Royal Wing. He knew he would either find Bilbo there or in the Great Library with his nephew. Once more he found himself glancing around in wonderment. Despite the fact that they were in the mountain itself, the dwarven city was airy and both columns and walkways seemed as weightless as elven ones would. Gold and silver were wrought into the stone as if they were a part of it and Erestor could not deny the beauty of the dwarvish patterns that seemed to surround him; stark angles and straight lines were almost a welcome change from the filigrane architecture of his kin. And after he had seen the quarters Bilbo shared with the king for the first time, after seeing all the hobbit influenced furnishings and the garden, Erestor felt his heart swell for his friend.
And now those little things, unimportant apparently in the eyes of his beloved and Ecthelion, filled Erestor with conviction. If anyone could tell Thorin of the changed plans, tell him without any fear of being at the receiving end of one of those fabled dwarven rages, it was Bilbo. The dwarven king loved his hobbit, and every time Erestor saw them together, he was amazed again. How had two so different creatures found a common ground, and more than that, how had they not only opened their hearts for the other, but remained faithful over the cause of eighty long years? So far, Erestor had only ever witnessed such devotion amongst his own people.
Seeing Thorin with his future consort also forced Erestor to reconsider his opinion of the Children of Aulë. The dwarven king was overcoming his dislike of elves more and more with every passing day, and his kin were all but embracing the Firstborn like long-lost friends. Not at all like enemies of old. Before long, Erestor found himself sharing elven knowledge with Durin's Folk, especially with Ori and Balin. And for him this had been unthinkable up until...the Council. Only then had the advisor realised that to keep apart was to be alone. And no one could afford to be alone in those dark days.
Living within the mountain had further opened his eyes and he was now embracing the dialogue with the dwarven scholars. He had always believed that it was the dwarves who were the masters of grudges and misconceptions and only now did he realise that the elves were just as ready to think badly of the shorter race. And for the first time in millennia he thought back to Thingol and how the blond had found his end. Temporary though it was. Yes, it had been the greed of the dwarves. Or so it seemed on the surface. But Thingol had opened his heart to the same greed, had allowed the lust for the Silmaril to consume him. The Sinda should have known better, especially after the fate of Fëanor and his sons.
It was hard for Erestor to finally admit that he had been wrong in his opinion of the dwarves. Elrond, ever the advocate of all the Free Peoples of Eä, had once again been right. Only together they had been strong enough to overcome Sauron, and together they would build a new life in Aman. If Thorin ever agreed to Turgon's new idea.
The raven-haired elf had finally reached the Royal Wing and was greeted by Ragnar, one of the dwarven guards. "Master Erestor, may the Valar shelter you in their hands on this fine day." He bowed deeply, smiling as he straightened. "I'm afraid you will find the quarters empty. The King is in a council meeting with the two young princes and Master Baggins left an hour ago. For the Library I'd wager." Erestor's serene face nearly slipped at the mentioning of wagers. Dwarves were more than fond of placing bets on everything and nothing and some elves...not him...had lost quite a bit of coin to the Longbeards already. "You can wait inside, but I don't know when they will return."
"Thank you, Master Ragnar, but that will not be necessary. I am sure I will be able to find Master Bilbo in the Library as you said." The dwarf bowed again and Erestor turned towards another walkway. He should reach the Library, and Bilbo, within ten minutes.
"Ori found these maps of Ered Luin, Uncle. Oh, how I wish we could have seen the dwarven settlements there." Bilbo smiled to himself. It had been 'Ori this' and 'Ori that' ever since he had stepped foot into the Library an hour ago. The dwarf in question was nowhere to be seen and the older hobbit suspected that he, too, had been dragged to the council meeting. The only way he had been able to avoid such a fate was by assuring both Thorin and his nephews that he would use the time to speak to Frodo. Thorin had nodded at that, and Fíli had given him a broad grin. Only Kíli has seemed torn between glee and misery. The young dwarf hated any sort of official meeting, and the council was the worst thing ever in his eyes.
"You could always ask Thorin about it, my boy. He will be pleased indeed to tell you of it and answer any questions you might have." Which was true enough. Over the past few weeks, his nephew and betrothed had spent many an hour in each other's company, speaking quietly of Smaug and Erebor and the Ring. They were kindred spirits, Thorin and Frodo, and it warmed Bilbo's heart to know the two most important beings in his world got on so very well indeed.
Frodo nodded thoughtfully. "I think I will do that. If you're sure he wouldn't mind." Bilbo smiled and the younger hobbit continued, "I would like to write something about the Third Age, Uncle. So folks who weren't part of it, at least not in Middle-earth, can learn about it." That was a wonderful idea, Bilbo had to agree. And maybe it would give Frodo a chance to work through all he had experienced. While he had already put everything to paper before, back in Arda the young hobbit had still been plagued by nightmares. And by that wound that never fully healed. But the influence of the Morgul blade had fallen away. Frodo was truly happy now and could revisit his adventures without the old pains and hurts. Much the way that Bilbo could, though not quite. Frodo still missed his companions, especially Sam. But maybe, maybe Ori could fill that void...
Before Bilbo could comment, the door to the Library opened and Erestor stepped inside, smiling and bowing as he saw the two hobbits. "Ah, Bilbo. I was looking for you. Could I have a word with you?" Oh dear. So the day had finally arrived and he was about to be dragged into whatever was going on between Glorfindel and Ecthelion. Because, if Erestor had simply wanted to chat, he wouldn't have chosen those words. He motioned for the elf to follow him to a quieter area of the Library and they sat down on a bench. "I am sorry to trouble you with this, it is just...I am at the end of my tether."
And so Erestor told him all about Turgon and Thingol, and the new plans the High King had come up with. "So let me get this straight. You want me to tell Thorin because if Glorfindel and Ecthelion were left to their own devices, construction would begin before my betrothed ever heard of certain changes?" Erestor simply sighed and nodded weakly. "Could it be that the two Balrog Slayers are somewhat scared of Thorin? Scared of a dwarf?" Not that Thorin wasn't powerful and fear-inducing, no. But the two elves in question had always made such a show of their own feats, of their grandeur, that Bilbo hadn't thought they would be afraid of anything. But clearly...
"Not scared as such. They just...they do not want to be yelled at I suppose. Not when it really is Thingol's fault and Turgon's decision. Though I personally believe that it is a good idea. Just think, Bilbo. Trade will be blossoming sooner than we ever hoped for and, well, we can still learn much from one another." The elf was frowning somewhat as he said the last, and Bilbo had to keep from chuckling. So Erestor was finally getting over his own prejudices where the dwarves were concerned? Good. That was more than good. "Will you help? I am not asking the future consort of the King of Erebor, but my friend. Will you aid me so that I may read in my own chambers again without being disturbed by two arguing elves? So that I may sleep again at night without waking every so often to the sound of my beloved rambling about Thorin and Turgon and the unfairness of the universe?"
The hobbit did chuckle then. "I had no idea it was that bad. But I guess once they found a topic to debate, they won't let up until the issue at hand has been resolved...or it solved itself as it were." Erestor gave him a long-suffering look. "Fear not, you're not the only one who is blessed with a mate prone to doing just that. You should have seen Thorin on our journey to Erebor and later...the Arkenstone was all he talked about in the end." A warm hand came to rest on his shoulder and he smiled ruefully. "He wasn't himself then. And he never was the dwarf he is now. You didn't know him back then, mellonen, not really. But it should be apparent even to you...how much he's changed."
"He is happy. I do not believe he was truly happy before, Bilbo." The elf looked serene, eyes glazed over as if he was remembering something from a time long ago. "It is the same for my beloved...in Gondolin we lived in what we thought was safety, but there was always the worry that Morgoth would find us. And Glorfindel, he felt it keenly. Then in Arda...oh Bilbo, when he returned to me I thought I had died of grief and gone to the Halls." He signed, and the hobbit thought he even saw the glistening of tears in the corners of his friend's eyes. "But he was still so very worried. About Sauron, about what Morgoth pupil could and would unleash upon us all. Here in Aman..." Now Erestor's eyes were sparkling. "For the first time ever, he is truly content. At peace. And while he was here before, in Mandos, I know he was... As strange as it sounds, he was still fading. Because his soul was..."
"Wasn't complete. He was missing you." The Ñoldo nodded, and Bilbo laid his hand over the elf's. It had dropped from the hobbit's shoulder a while back and was clutching at the edge of the bench. "You are both at peace now, well, unless Thingol shows up again." Even Erestor had to smirk at that. "Well, I did what I came to do here, so why don't we both go and seek out our dearest king? I'm sure he won't react the way Glorfindel and Ecthelion believe he will."