Hope and Despair
"You cannot go on like this."
Elrond sighed, and pressed his throbbing temple. He stood before the bed, looking outside the glass window. Birds were singing sweetly, bees were droning, trees were dancing gently in the wind. Everything was beautiful, perfect. If only she had not been so thin and pale in the warm morning sunlight, Elrond could have believed her to be in a peaceful slumber.
"You have not eaten for days. I cannot force you to sleep, but you must replenish your strength somehow."
The golden-haired elf moved away from the door, and grasped his shoulder. Wearily, the lord of the valley felt his body being turned around to face the tall, stately warrior with gleaming eyes.
"Erestor has been telling the children that you are eating alone in this room, but they will soon notice."
At the mention of his children, Elrond's gaze dropped, hesitantly. He turned away from the blond elf. "I am well, Glorfindel."
The blond elf grasped his shoulder again and, this time, turned him around forcefully. The resistance was feeble at best.
"You have spent all of your strength healing her. Even now you continue to give away your energy. You will wither away before she opens her eyes."
The dark-haired elf made no answer. His gaze was averted, tired. He was not listening. Glorfindel's eyes hardened.
"Leave, Glorfindel." Elrond rubbed his eyes wearily, and moved out of his friend's grip. "Do not raise a clamor in here."
Wordlessly, Glorfindel turned his gaze toward the tray of food that rested on the table. The tray was clean – the food had been dumped outside the window. Elrond had been fooling everyone with this trick for many a day. That is, until Erestor's sharp eye noticed the haggard appearance of the lord that mismatched his seemingly healthy appetite – and beckoned to Glorfindel in the corner of the garden the previous day.
"All of Imladris know that you are starving yourself," said Glorfindel quietly, ever patient. His gaze returned to his dark-haired friend. The dark blue orbs were glowing resolutely beneath the calm. "Many have begged Erestor and I to knock sense back into your clouded brain. And I am not leaving this room until I see you eat or sleep, even if I have to knock you out or hold you down and push food down your throat."
Elrond turned away, and slumped onto his chair. Bowing his head, he covered his eyes with a pale hand. He was thinner than the apparition on the bed.
Glorfindel bit his lip. He determinedly strode toward Elrond, and reached out to grab his arm – and then stopped. His eyes grew wide. Instantly, he bent down and hovered over the lady.
"Dear Valar," he whispered, breath catching in his lungs. Elrond slowly raised his head. Glorfindel suddenly gripped his wrist with surprising force. "She has awakened!"
Dark eyes widened. Watching him with a feeble smile was a pair of pale blue eyes, a loving shimmer of his eternal star.
The late afternoon sun streamed in through the window, gently embracing the two figures on the bed. A quiet breeze tapped against the curtains. Birds were singing.
"Do not ask this of me."
The voice was breathy and hoarse, but it was her. Full of love, tender concern. Elrond closed his eyes and let out a quivering breath. His hand gently caressed his beloved's cheek.
"I cannot heal you completely unless you open for me. Please, Celebrian."
"Do not ask it of me."
Pleadingly, Elrond leaned forward onto the bed and grasped her shoulders. He gazed deep and long into the hollow eyes. They glowed with a strange luminance, some ghostly knowledge of a forbidden truth. It was frightening. But he had to see, he had to know. Had to know the depths of the torment that she had endured, the unspeakable agony from which he was unable to protect her.
The warm sunlight was suffocating.
"Celebrian," he pleaded. His fingers gently ran through her hair, which was beginning to regain its luster. "You know that emotional scars can heal if a healer shares them. Let me heal you."
His wife smiled, a haunting sadness in her eyes. She looked so much older than she did once. Her pale beauty was restored, but something about her pallid smile was not the same. Perhaps it would never be the same.
She reached out and gently ran her fingers down his face. Breathless, Elrond lowered his lids and leaned into her hand. Her touch was ever so tender. So loving. And sad.
"Elrond," whispered the lady, the ghostly smile surfacing onto her lips. "Who will heal you, my love, after you take away my pains?"
There was silence.
The suffocating sunlight managed to surround him from all sides. The world was still, silent. And he could not breathe.
Dark despair settled into Elrond's eyes. His gaze slowly dropped. His body slid off of the bed, and collapsed heavily onto the floor. On his knees, Elrond bowed his head, and did not move.
"Forgive me." The whisper was voiceless, hollow. Dead.
Celebrian reached down and raised his chin with her fingers. Her eyes were desperate as they looked into Elrond's hollow depths. "You are my heart, my life; you are what kept me alive," she whispered, caressing his cheek fervently. Her voice was hoarse and fierce. "If you blame yourself, I shall die."
Her beloved bowed his head.
The birds were singing. And the sweet lady continued to hold up his chin, smiling at him with love. And refused to open her scars to him. The scars that she had endured while he had not, the scars that she refused to pass on to him. Scars that he could not heal.
Tensed teeth tore savagely into reddened lips.
When the pale-haired lady once again leaned forward and took his face into her hands, forcing her husband to meet her gaze, a mournful trail of red trickled down from torn flesh. Gentle fingers removed the abused flesh from vicious teeth. A tender sparkle remained upon her smiling eyes as she wiped the blood with her hands. And she continued to wipe the blood, over and over again, until the skin was once more smooth and fair and the crimson had been diluted with a rain of tears.