Heart In Chains
In the healing wing, Camfael and Elrond exchanged pleased looks, which Erestor noticed at once. Well, seeing them smile was reassuring and he began to hope his daughter’s delivery would go well – not that he would survive the birth though – but that was a price he was willing to pay. “Everything is well?” He still sounded hesitant, afraid he might have misinterpreted their expressions. Or maybe they acted this pleased just to reassure him whilst in reality something was terribly amiss?
“We will deliver your daughter in four weeks,” announced Camfael, who had told Elrond about the births he had conducted, including Erestor’s miscarriage once the healer had realized that the half-Elf knew.
“Four weeks?” Mixed emotions swept through Erestor. His daughter would be born in four weeks and he would probably die before he’d had a chance to look at her. But he kept his fears to himself, not wanting to worry Elrond.
“Here, you are probably cold.” Elrond helped Erestor to slip into his robes again. One of the effects pregnancy had on Erestor was that the Elf was extremely susceptible to the cold. So Elrond had taken to keeping a warm blanket handy whenever Erestor was close and he now wrapped the soft fabric around the pregnant Elf’s form.
Erestor sighed blissfully, cocooned by warmth. The smile Camfael gave him made him blush. They had told the healer about the affection between them and Erestor had been relieved to learn that Camfael approved. It was important for him that the healer did, considering their shared past.
Camfael, who was putting away the medical instruments they had needed to ascertain the baby’s health, smiled at them. “My Lord, why do you not take Erestor back to his rooms? I am sure he would like to rest for a while.”
Erestor waited for Elrond to help him to his feet. He was eleven month’s pregnant and was now so big that he could barely move about by himself and needed someone to pull him to his feet and to help him sit down. And through it all, Elrond remained faithfully at his side. Aiya, if only he could tell the Peredhel they already shared half a bond!
“Will you join us for dinner tonight?” Elrond asked Camfael, walking Erestor to the doorway.
“Nay, I do not think so. I want to gather certain herbs that will be helpful during surgery.”
Elrond nodded gratefully. “We will see you tomorrow, then?”
Camfael nodded and watched them leave. Leaving the room himself, he headed for the woods to gather his herbs.
“Can we go into the nursery for a moment?” Erestor allowed Elrond to lead him, leaning heavily against the half-Elf.
“Of course we can.” They had reached Erestor’s bedroom, and Elrond now walked his charge into the nursery. When the pregnant Elf had first entered the room -- after Arwen had declared it ‘perfect’ -- Erestor had stood in silent admiration and his eyes had filled with tears. The artists had really outdone themselves. They had painted the walls with scenes from the sea. Dolphins, whales, seashells, seagulls and even sea horses were twirled in the gentle waves and Arien shone gently above them, watching over them.
Arwen had even had a rocking chair constructed and Erestor had fallen in love with it, rocking in it every evening before going to sleep. Elrond had caught him once, pretending he was rocking his daughter. He had wondered about the immense sadness in Erestor’s eyes, as they had stared at his empty arms. The sight had nearly broken his heart. “Do you want to sit down?”
Erestor nodded, knowing Elrond would lead him to the rocking chair. Elrond rearranged the pillows in it before helping him to sit down. Erestor sighed and began rocking contentedly. “’Tis beautiful. She will love it here.”
That reminded Elrond. “Have you already thought of a name for your daughter? The day of her birth is approaching quickly.”
“Nay, not yet.” Erestor sighed and briefly closed his eyes, trying to imagine what his daughter would look like; raven-haired and hopefully with Elrond’s stormy eyes. If only he could see her just once!
“You really should,” said Elrond, sitting on the windowsill and watching Erestor rock. The nursery was more than ready to receive its little inhabitant. Arwen had filled the closet with baby clothes and everything Erestor could possibly need to attend to his little daughter had been put in the wardrobes. “It won’t be long now.”
“Four more weeks.” His last four weeks on Arda and he was determined to make the best of them.
“Haldir?” Erestor gave the silver-haired Elf a thoughtful look. “Do you miss your brothers?”
The question surprised Haldir, who had helped Erestor bathe, and was now in the process of combing the dark, wet mane. “Sometimes,” he admitted, “but Glorfindel does not leave me much time to feel sorry for myself. And Rumil and Orophin have each other. I am not worried about them, but yes, I miss them sometimes.”
Haldir was braiding his hair into one, loose plait so the strands wouldn’t get in the way at night when he was trying to move his weight, tossing and turning for a comfortable position. “Do you think you will ever return to Lothlorien?”
Hearing Erestor’s melancholy tone, Haldir finished the braid and then sat down on the side of the bed. He made eye contact with the dark-haired Elf and answered him truthfully. “I don’t.”
“That must hurt you terribly.” In his last weeks of pregnancy he was also growing increasingly emotional and he felt guilty for causing Haldir to lose touch with his brothers.
“Do not blame this on yourself,” said Haldir, soothingly stroking the back of Erestor’s hand.
“But Celeborn ordered you! You never had a choice!” Erestor lifted dark, swimming eyes and stared helplessly at the guardian. “You commanded Celeborn’s army before we left.”
Haldir rubbed the knuckles of Erestor’s hand. “Aye, it is true that Celeborn ordered me to stay with you, but the three of us volunteered before he made his decision to send me. Rumil and Orophin were also eager to stay with you. It was not a sacrifice for me. They even envied me for being chosen.”
That brought a smile to Erestor’s face, forcing back the impending tears. “Thank you, I needed to hear that.”
Haldir leaned in closer and pressed a kiss on Erestor’s brow. “You cannot possibly be a burden to me, or my brothers. And Elrond has grown very fond of you, has he not?”
“Aye, he has,” replied Elrond, who had entered a few moments ago, but he had remained silent, watching them and listening to them instead. It was no secret to him that Erestor’s mood swings were unpredictable and often caused weeping fits. It was the very reason why he visited with Erestor every night. He had found that his presence had a soothing influence on the pregnant Elf and he would sit with his beloved until Erestor was sound asleep. On more than one occasion he had slipped into bed next to Erestor and held him close during the night. He still recalled that first morning when Erestor had found him in bed with him. That good morning kiss had been amazing and he tried to get a repeat performance as many mornings as possible. “I will stay with him tonight.”
Smiling, Haldir excused himself and left.
Elrond instantly moved into place and sat down on the bed, leaning his back against the headboard. Within seconds, he had a lap full of purring, pregnant Elf, and he wrapped his arms around Erestor. “You seem happy tonight, my love.”
Erestor gasped for breath. It was the first time ever that Elrond had called him that and he dotingly looked up at the half-Elf from his lap, which made a very comfortable pillow. “You would call me that?”
“Yes.” Slowly, Elrond bowed forward and claimed Erestor’s lips. He would never get enough of that sweet taste and every time he explored the other Elf’s mouth, it was like the first time all over again. “You are in my blood.”
Erestor’s happy expression briefly wavered. Aye, he *was* in Elrond’s blood, having shared his blood with the half-Elf over three thousand years ago. /And I wish you were in mine./ For then he would truly be whole again. “Will you stay with me tonight? Hold me?”
Elrond nodded and shifted on the bed to acquire a more comfortable position. Once he had settled down, he played with the end of the braid, twirling strands of hair even darker than his around his fingertips. “I will.” At hearing that answer, the baby kicked again and Elrond immediately realized why Erestor was grinning. He placed his hand on the swollen abdomen and felt the movement beneath it. “She is very strong.”
“She will need her strength,” whispered Erestor, being pulled under by the dark memories of losing his sons. “Can I go to sleep now?”
“Most certainly.” Elrond soothingly stroked Erestor’s back, just in case the pregnant Elf was suffering from cramps. “Go to sleep. There will be a new day tomorrow.”
“Four more weeks… Just four… more…weeks…” Erestor slowly drifted off into reverie, trusting Elrond to keep him safe and his nightmares away.
Arwen joined her father for breakfast in the Hall of Fire. Sitting down, she pouted her lips and tried to find a way to break the bad news to her father.
Elrond sensed that something was upsetting her, but knew of no problems. “What is it?”
“Elladan and Elrohir… They are close to Imladris’ borders.” She briefly bit her lip. “It would be a most inopportune time if they decided to pay us a visit, considering Erestor’s advanced pregnancy.”
“You are worried about the effect they might have on Erestor.” Elrond nodded his head. “You are right. If they do decide to visit, we need to keep them away from Erestor.” That wouldn’t be too hard, as the pregnant Elf had taken to spending most of his time in his rooms, asleep in the bed or rocking in his chair.
Then Arwen disclosed the really bad and possibly distressing news to her father. “Glorfindel and Haldir just left with a heavily armed patrol after Orcs were sighted hunting Elladan and Elrohir. It appears my brothers happened upon a pack too powerful for them to fight off alone.”
Elrond’s hands, resting beneath the table, changed into fists. “I told them!”
“Glorfindel will come to their aid,” said Arwen quickly.
But Elrond wasn’t that sure. “I pray to the Valar that he does!”
“Ada! Come quickly!” Arwen was running down the stairs after hearing the commotion in the great hall, but Elrond had been in Erestor’s rooms and she reached her brothers first. Her heart missed several beats, seeing Elrohir carry Elladan into the hall. “Aiya, no!”
Elrohir, who had refused to let someone else carry his dying twin despite being injured himself, now collapsed onto his knees, placing his brother on the floor in front of him. Hovering above him protectively, he told his twin, “Hold on, Elladan. Adar will help you.”
Arwen knelt beside him, trying to determine the seriousness of Elladan’s injury. The blood in her veins froze, finding her brother had sustained several, severe injuries. An Orc arrow – doubtlessly poisoned—had pierced Elrohir’s throat from front to back. Elrohir had left the arrowhead in place, obviously not knowing what to do when faced with such a grave injury. “Ada!” Arwen wept, offering her emotional pain a way out, when Elrond knelt beside her. “Look at the arrow!”
Elrond’s throat tightened with despair. Elladan was pale, and cold, old sweat still clung to his son’s brow, but Elladan had stopped sweating some time ago. “By the Valar…” As a trained healer, he recognized the mark of death upon his firstborn and seeing it broke his heart in two. “Not you too.” When would the Valar finally take pity on him? Wasn’t it enough that they had taken his parents, twin brother, Ereinion and Celebrian away from him?
“Adar? Help him!” Frantically, Elrohir stared at his father. “Why are you not doing anything? He is dying! In the name of the Valar, help him!” His big eyes released tears of despair, and he tightly clutched Elladan to his chest, no longer paying any attention to the arrow. “Do not give up on him!”
“There is nothing I can do,” mumbled Elrond. Had he ever uttered such dreadful words before? Raising his hands, palm upwards, he pleaded with Elrohir. “Give him to me. Maybe I can ease his pain in these last moments.”
“You cannot let him die! You cannot do that!” Elrohir, his face wet with tears, stared at his father. “Please save him!”
Elrond’s eyes had long since filled with tears of his own and they now flowed down his face. “I would if only I could, but the arrow has been poisoning him for much too long.” Elrond inched closer and folded one arm around Arwen, who was sobbing and tried to pull Elrohir close as well. “Let him die amidst his family.”
But Elrohir possessively pulled Elladan away from them. “He is my twin!”
“And my brother!” said Arwen pleadingly. “Please, Elrohir…”
A strangled sob escaped Elrohir’s throat, finally suffering an emotional breakdown. “I cannot lose him!”
Elladan’s eyes were open, and stared blindly at the ceiling. Not even Elrohir was sure if his twin could hear them. But he rocked the motionless body and finally allowed Arwen and Elrond into the embrace as well. “Please, Adar, help him.”
“There is nothing I can do!” whimpered Elrond in despair. “He is already on his way to the Great Halls of Mandos.” He was about to curse the Vala for taking his firstborn away from him, when he grew aware of Erestor, who had somehow managed to sit down beside him. “You should not be here.” He raised a hand and caressed Erestor’s face. Witnessing such a scene could evoke a miscarriage!
Elrohir had noticed Erestor’s presence as well, but decided not to act on it. Elladan needed him the most and he rocked his brother’s body, growing aware that Elladan’s skin continued to grow colder. “No!”
“Give him to me,” said Erestor calmly. He had watched the horrid scene unfold from the landing and had ordered Lindir to help him down the stairs. The white-haired Elf had protested at first, concerned for Erestor’s well-being, but in the end he had obeyed.
“Never!” hissed Elrohir venomously, possessively pulling his dying brother away from Erestor when the pregnant Elf reached for him.
“Elrohir, give him to me. I can heal him.” He had made his decision while standing on the landing. Seeing the pain in their eyes, he knew he couldn’t turn away from them and he had to offer them his help. Flashes of losing the twins due to healing Telu’s injury moved through him, but he pushed them away. He would give Elladan as much of his life energy as he could spare, but at all times he would make absolutely certain that this daughter had enough life energy to survive.
“Erestor! I…” Elrond stared at Erestor in disbelief, but the pregnant Elf was too focused on Elrohir to notice.
“I can bring him back from Mandos, if you will let me.” This was the scariest thing he had ever done, but he had to trust he knew how to protect his daughter from draining her. He owed Elrond, owed the half-Elf for losing his sons. Maybe if he managed to reclaim Elladan his debt would be paid
– not in full, but paid.
Elrohir’s eyes revealed his suspicion, but his need to be reunited with his brother outweighed any distrust he felt and he shifted Elladan into Erestor’s arms.
“Erestor, do not do this!” A terrible sense of foreboding swept through Elrond, but something in Erestor’s eyes rendered him motionless and he could only stare when the other Elf’s fingertips began to glow with healing energy. “What?” His eyes danced wildly in their sockets, realizing what was happening.
Erestor’s swimming eyes briefly fastened on Elrond. “I took two sons away from you. Now let me return one to you.”
Elrond’s heart raced upon hearing those words and suddenly all the missing pieces of the puzzle fell into place. His mysterious healer had been so close and he had never realized it was Erestor!
Erestor now lovingly caressed Elladan’s brow, whilst the fingers of his other hand curled around the arrow. “I am sorry, but this will hurt.” Now that his healing energy was inside Elladan’s body, he slowly pulled the arrow from Elladan’s flesh and flung it far away from him. The arrowhead landed on the floor with a metallic clink.
Elrohir stared at Erestor in shock, finally realizing what the pregnant Elf was doing. Looking at his father, he wondered what to do.
But Elrond was just as shocked as his son and could only stare at Erestor.
Erestor let his energy flow into Elladan’s fëa and body. It was only due to the bond which he already shared with Elrond that he managed to reach Elladan before the half-Elf set foot in the Great Halls of Mandos. Grabbing hold of Elladan’s fëa, he pulled him back to Arda with him.
But the effort was wearing him down, demanding too much of his life energy. And all he had done so far was pulling Elladan’s fëa with him; the half-Elf’s body still needed to be healed. This time, he did things differently. He set aside the life energy his daughter needed to survive and poured the rest –including his own life energy – into Elladan’s body. /I would not survive giving birth anyway. At least this way my death serves a purpose./
“Erestor, stop it! Elrond, pull him away!” Haldir ran into the hall, suffering a terrible flash-back. “I won’t allow it to happen again!” Apparently all of the half-Elves were paralyzed with fear and hope, and when Haldir reached Erestor, he pulled the pregnant Elf away from Elladan, who at that exact moment drew in a deep breath.
Dark gray eyes stared wildly at Erestor. Elladan was utterly unable to understand what had happened and reached for Elrohir, finding his twin near.
Elrohir broke out into hysteric sobs, finding the fatal injury was healing quickly. He pulled Elladan into his arms and released his agony, sobbing in misery.
Haldir wrapped his arms around Erestor’s trembling form. His hand instinctively settled on the distended abdomen, relieved to find the baby kicking. “Elrond, get over here!”
Haldir’s firm tone broke Elrond from the spell and he literally crawled toward Erestor, after seeing that Elladan was alive. “I…” Rendered speechless, he stared into Erestor’s eyes, alarmed to see the inner light fade.
“Remember… your promise…” whispered Erestor with his last breath. “Save… our daughter…” His eyes closed, his head lolled against Haldir’s chest, and he quickly lost consciousness.
Elrond doubled over. “Our daughter? OUR daughter!” The knowledge, which he had just gained, overwhelmed him and he shook his head in denial. “No…”
Haldir realized he had to take action. “Elrond, this baby needs to be born now. And you had better do your utmost to keep Erestor alive! This child needs both her parents!”
“Ada?” Arwen didn’t know what to make of their words, but she did know that Elrond needed to act now. “I will fetch Camfael whilst you take Erestor to the healing wing. Lindir and I will look after Elladan and Elrohir.”
“Elladan, is he…?” Elrond looked over his shoulder and a burden was lifted from his shoulders, finding Elladan sitting up and looking about disorientated. It was obvious his firstborn had survived. Arwen was right, he needed to concentrate on Erestor now. “Aye, fetch Camfael! Elrohir, Lindir, take care of Elladan.” Making eye contact with Haldir, he said in a soft voice. “Let me carry him.”
Haldir reluctantly gave in and placed Erestor’s limp form in Elrond’s arms. Elrond headed for the Healing House, angry with himself for not realizing the truth earlier. He’d had so many clues and had never connected them. He really should have known when his touch had caused those energy transfers. Walking down the corridor, he sensed Haldir’s presence behind him. The guardian was still at Erestor’s side. /Erestor… Erestor is carrying my child… My daughter!/ Unidentifiable emotions ran through him. He was going to be a father again! But that also meant… The twins! The boys, which Erestor had lost, had been *his* sons. Erestor had conceived when they’d had intercourse after the Battle of the Last Alliance! Fighting back his tears, he forced himself to focus on Erestor and his weakening breathing. /He saved my life twice, and now it is my turn to repay him – twice. Erestor and our daughter will both survive!/
He called out orders upon entering the Healing House and his healers hurried to obey. Carrying Erestor into the room where he kept his surgical instruments, he placed the dark-haired Elf’s body on the cot. “Where is Camfael?” He needed the other healer to assist him!
“I am here, my Lord!” Camfael, alarmed at seeing the state Erestor was in, hurried over to Elrond’s side, carrying out every order the half-Elf uttered.
“I can help too,” offered Haldir, feeling useless and hating that feeling.
“No, you will leave.” Elrond pointed Haldir toward the door. “Soon this room will be swarming with healers and you will be in the way.”
Haldir nodded in understanding, but before he left, he exchanged one concerned look with the Peredhel. “Do not let him die.”
“I will do my best!” hissed Elrond in frustration. “Do you really think I will let him die now that I know who he is and that he is carrying my child? Now leave me!”
Haldir stepped into the corridor where he ran into Glorfindel, whose strong arms suddenly enfolded him, holding him tight.
“What happened?” Glorfindel had lost track of the twins once they had entered the Last Homely House and one of the servants had told him Elrond had headed here.
“Erestor did it again!” Haldir knew it wasn’t fair to aim his anger at his husband, but Glorfindel was the one close to him. “He lost his sons when saving Telu and now he pulled Elladan back! What if he loses his daughter because of this? What if he dies himself? Why was I not there when he needed me to keep him in check? Erestor has always been impulsive, and now due to this pregnancy, it has grown even worse! Glorfindel, he lost consciousness after saving Elladan!”
Glorfindel tried to soothe him, rubbing the back of Haldir’s neck. He had to get his information straight. “Elladan is alive?” When they had come upon the twins, Elladan had already been wounded and they had helped the twins to get to the Last Homely House as quickly as possible.
“Aye, Elladan is alive. He was sitting up by himself when Elrond and I left.” Haldir shook off Glorfindel’s hand and paced the waiting area like a caged animal. “Erestor… he was…” Lost for words, he pleadingly looked at Glorfindel.
“History repeated itself,” said Glorfindel in horrid understanding. “And now they are fighting for the baby’s life and his.”
“Oh, Glorfindel, they cannot die.” Haldir needed Glorfindel close and returned to his husband’s embrace. “This time it was *my* fault. I should have hurried inside faster, knowing what he would do!”
“’Tis not your fault,” said Glorfindel soothingly. “Erestor decided to do this.”
“But I might have been able stop him! I had to pull him away from Elladan because he was still strengthening him. It must be due to the bond he shares with Elrond that he could so quickly pull Elladan back. Oh, Glorfindel, what if he loses the child and survives himself?”
Glorfindel swallowed hard. “What if the child lives and he dies?”
“Elrond will take care of her. He knows the truth now, having seen Erestor heal Elladan.” Haldir clung to Glorfindel, praying to the Valar to give Erestor the strength he needed to survive. “Elrond knows he is fighting for his daughter’s life.”
“But does Elrond also know that Erestor is bound to him?”
“I do not think so,” said Haldir softly. “But I am done with this secrecy. No matter what the outcome will be, I will make certain Elrond learns the whole truth about Erestor!”
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