Elrond falls in love - but will his dreams become real? AN: My first LOTR. Not beta'ed. Critics very welcome, I feel a bit insecure.
After all, Bilbo had been living in Imladris for years now, and he and I had gotten to know each other quite well. He had taught me to look behind the childlike appearance, the small frame; and led me to discover a sharp mind, a quick sense of humour, and a deep love of knowledge.
All this had not prepared me for him.
When I first met him, he was not at his best. He was bedraggled by his travels, and beside himself with worry over Bilbo's cousin, Frodo. Not that he should not be worried; the poor hobbit was in a distressing condition. The shard of the Morgul blade was hard to retrieve; my knowledge of the Healing Arts was tested to its limits. All the while he never left the patient's bed, refusing sleep, hardly eating, and trying to read my expression to know if he could be reassured, or should prepare for the worst. Though I feared the latter for a long time, I kept my face under strict control, not wishing to bring tears to his disturbing hazel eyes.
Those green and gold-flecked eyes were what caught my attention from the first moment I saw them. Never had I seen such eyes. They lit up what appeared at first to be a regular but not exceptionally beautiful face, and reminded me of sunlight playing on young tree leaves.
When I finally, aided by Mithrandir, succeeded to retrieve the poisonous metal, and Frodo at last took the road to recovery, I was relieved.
Firstly for the patient himself, of course, he was a most worthy person, and his own strength was not the least of the reasons he pulled through.
In my heart though, I rejoiced because a pair of hazel eyes lit up, and a smile lent his face true beauty. Thinking back, I realise this was the moment I fell for him, unexpected, completely and irrevocably.
I, Elrond Peredhil, Lord of Imladris, with all the wisdom of my many years, fell for a simple, young gardener from the Shire, a hobbit half my size. I fell for a smile, and two pretty, thankful eyes.
I knew my love was not to be. In his eyes there was love, but it was not directed at me, but at Frodo. For me, gratitude shone in his eyes. I accepted it, locked my own feelings away harshly, letting only a vague friendliness shine through.
Mithrandir and I at last were able to convince him to take a much-needed rest, promising to send for him the moment Frodo awoke. Knowing there was nothing I could do for the moment to further Frodo's healing, I indulged my desires and decided to lead him myself to his rooms. We spoke little, and that only to reassure him all went well, and he would surely be called as soon as possible. Still, I treasured each moment alone with him, memorized his words, his voice, his expressions. Such is the folly love drives us to, and I was not immune to it.
I made sure his rooms were to his liking and that he'd rest, and returned to my patient a happier elf. His hand had briefly touched mine in parting, and my skin still felt the touch of work roughened, strong fingers. They had hesitated, those fingers, as if afraid their touch would not be welcomed, or would somehow hurt my - what he perceived to be - softer, delicate skin. Still, short and awkward as the touch had been, it had happened, and now my mind spun me impossible dreams of having those hands dancing all over my body. I shuddered, forced those visions of bliss in a secret part of my heart, and resumed the vigil by my patient.
He would not yet awake for many hours, but his rest was fitful. I watched him closely, fearing his troubled dreams would disturb this restoring sleep. His mind left those worrying visions behind after a while, and he was peaceful then. I admit, once this point was reached, I let my mind wander. In dreams, I walked among an impossible forest of all kinds of tall trees with my love; and the mellyrn were not more golden than his hair, and the sunlight on the young leaves was not brighter than his eyes, and his kisses were softer and sweeter than the summer breeze.
I returned to this reality, refreshed and happy in a melancholy way. Oh, I knew my dreams were not to come true, yet it had been a long time since I had known this happiness. Even Celebrian, loved as she had been, had not inspired such feelings of belonging, of completeness. She had been as a pure, bright star; an ethereal beauty, radiant and inspiring, yet at the same time somewhat distant and cold. My love for her had been deep and true, and when she left for the West I had deeply missed her; but what I felt now was hard to compare with what I had shared with her.
Perhaps my mixed heritage was responsible for the attraction that I felt for this so earthly mortal being. A gardener he was, and he truly appeared to belong in a garden, surrounded by abundance and beauty; caring for it, nurturing it; and himself being the solid, giving, most beautiful centre of it all. I wished I could be a part of his garden; could be taken care of by those capable hands, seeing his face as it leaned over me, smiling when all went well, frowning in worry when it was not
I sighed, hopefully unnoticed, at the futility of my wishes. He loved another, and surely Frodo would not be so blind that he did not see his love, nor so stupid to not return those feelings when he knew of them. I could not help my jealousy, and yet wished his feelings were returned, as he deserved nothing but happiness.
When Frodo finally awoke, I immediately requested my aide to warn Sam. Meanwhile, Mithrandir was explaining the recent events to Frodo, and I spoke some words to him too. The greater part of my thoughts was still centred on Sam, though, and I looked forward to see him again. He stormed into the room, his eyes fixed on his beloved. And my hopes soared, seeing that the love, so abundantly expressed in his glorious eyes, was not returned. So, his love was as hopeless as I thought mine to be. At that moment, I would have tried to win him over, had I not already seen his stubbornness.
Yet I decided I would allow myself hope, hope that one day he would acknowledge the fact that Frodo was not meant for him. Friendship, mutual respect: those were possible, and to a degree, already there, but romance and love were not, and would not be. Still, seeing his hopeless affection, and knowing the hurt that would surely follow, I found it hard to face this situation.
I left them soon afterwards, other things claiming my attention. There were the day-to-day matters to arrange, and the council and everything that it brought with it.
All this helped to distract my mind from my, to call it by its proper name, infatuation. I saw him at meals, trying to be inconspicuous about my observing him; I met him fleetingly in and around the house, as he helped Frodo, or accompanied the other hobbits to the gardens, or kitchens, or wherever they were bound. I always greeted him slightly warmer than the others, but dared not press any further.
When he barged into the council, declaring he'd join the near-hopeless quest, I had great difficulty to keep a calm face, and an even voice to object. When Mithrandir rejected my opinions, I gracefully acquiesced, wanting nothing more than to grab Sam, shouting that nobody would endanger my beloved, and carry him to my quarters to keep him safe and close to me. I don't think anybody saw me clenching my fists.
I now knew our days together in this house were limited, and decided to take a chance as soon as I saw a possibility. Not to declare my love, knowing well that this would not, could not be accepted; but to give him an impression of a part of me few knew about. I wanted him to know there was more to me than the resourceful Healer, more than the austere Lord of Imladris. So when Frodo started spending more time with his uncle, I kept my eye on Sam.
One day when Frodo had disappeared into his uncle's quarters, giving to understand he would stay in there the rest of the day. Sam was at a loss what to do with himself, and I invited him to my private garden. That was something I had started when Celebrian had left, as something to lift my sorrow and occupy my mind; but it had grown from a pastime into a passion. My garden was not large, as I took care of it alone, but in it were gathered some of the rarest plants and trees of Middle Earth.
Sam was duly impressed, but soon we were talking as old friends, as one gardener to another. We discussed several plants, and he gave me some valuable advice on some of my more troublesome charges. Not that he knew each and every plant, but from what ailed them, he was confident to estimate their different needs. I followed his advice in the months and years that followed, by the way, and all those plants he had advised me about, thrived.
I witnessed the departure of the Nine. I had to keep up hope, and express it for all to see, but would have preferred to stay in my room, or in my garden, alone and not facing this painful goodbye watched by all.