Never Too Late by Keiliss

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Story Notes:

This was written for the July 2015 Fixed-Length-Ficlet-Challenge on the LotR Community. The theme was Arrivals and Departures and my element was 372 words.The site gives the length as 366 words and all I can say to that is either the site or MS Word is lying.

Author's Chapter Notes:

The little ficlet that wanted to be a much, much longer story. And maybe one day it will.

I have marked both of Elrond's sons on the header, but in fact only one of them features here. I'm not completely certain yet who this is so I'm erring on the side of caution.

Long-held curiosity led me to visit Rivendell. Elrond had sailed years ago, and word was Celeborn had finally left. This was important: even now I had no wish to face one of Dior’s kin so I paused when I reached the bridge, the last barrier between me and the house, searching for signs of life.

No smoke wafted from the many chimneys, leaves lay heaped where they had drifted, and stonework that withstood the ages lay where it had fallen, no longer protected by Celebrimbor’s ring. Perhaps elves remained in the valley, living quietly in well-loved corners, but not here in what had been its heart. Reassured, I crossed the bridge and went to explore the remains of my fosterling’s home.

Leaves lifted and settled in my wake as I walked through overgrown gardens and courtyards with once-pretty alcoves. The arched terraces and walkways looked cold and bare rather than airy and inviting as surely they once had. I was reluctant to enter the house, sure I would hear lingering whispers of laughter and merriment, the sounds of song: Elrond’s house when it was still a home would always remain closed to me.

For a moment I thought the silent figure was one of the Houseless. I make no excuses; I believed myself alone and had allowed my guard to drop. His hand went to his sword, but then he saw I was an elf. I recognised him the moment I saw that dark hair and those starlit grey eyes. Elrond’s children favoured his looks, and this could only be one of Arwen Undómiel’s brothers.

We exchanged greetings. He was strangely unsurprised by me. “I though Gildor’s people were all gone?”

I shrugged, smiled, let it pass. “I had a whim for adventure. You chose to stay, young lord?”

He opened his mouth, closed it, tried again. “My brother chose,” he replied.

“And not you?” I could feel the pain now, see the quiet fear.

“I have now,” he said grimly. “But I left it too late.”

“Nothing is ever too late,” I told him, though it was for me. “I have enough food to share. Let’s make a fire and talk while we eat. There are rumours of another, final, ship.”

Chapter End Notes:

Beta: Red Lasbelin, who pointed out all the dreadful repetitions.

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