Just A Thought
by Afrai

Elrond has a secret weapon, of which he does not speak, and it is not the ring he wears always upon his finger.

He is the son of Earendil and the lord of Rivendell, but the first did not necessarily make the second easy. Even with the help of Vilya, guarding the lore of Imladris from the ravages of evil is no light task, especially in these days of growing darkness. Building Imladris at all was a problem from the very outset -- trying to make a race inclined to waste their time dancing around in woods and singing songs about meeting each other while dancing around in the woods concentrate long enough to build an entire kingdom is even harder than it sounds. Galadriel herself, Lady of Light though she was, had evaded the problem by letting her people build their dwellings onto the trees. A cunning move, saving time and effort and setting the people of Lorien apart from the other Elves at the same time.

It seemed hard on the trees, though, having a lot of twee constructs shoved on top of them just because the Elves were too bloody lazy to bother about minor architectural details like foundations. Good thing no Ents lived in Lothlorien, really; else they would have made no end of a fuss about it.

Elrond had taken no such cowardly shortcuts. For one thing, there weren't quite enough trees in Rivendell to accomodate all the Elves who wished to dwell there. (In peace and happiness, they said, preserving the lore and gracing the land with their presence -- yeah, right. Bunch of slackers who just wanted somebody else, say the Dwarves, short ugly hairy people and they actually liked getting off their rumps and doing things, to do all the hard work, so they could move in and mooch off the son of Earendil.)

For another thing, it was a matter of principle. Elrond believed in honest industry.

The problem was that nobody else did -- no Elves, at any rate, and Elrond did not like the Dwarves. Lot of wankers, showing the Elves up with their artisanship and their passion for work and their fierce loyalty in times of need. Elrond wasn't going to them for the building of his precious realm, even if Elu Thingol himself had sold out and done so. Elrond solved his labour problem in his own way, using the secret source of his true power.

For though he does not have the power of Galadriel, who can see deep into the minds of Elves and Men and all races alike, and who can speak directly to minds without words even though many miles separate the bodies -- and who, incidentally, uses this power at the most inconvenient times, like lunch-time and privy-time and this-really- isn't-the-time-time -- though Elrond does not share the Lady's power in equal measure, he has power of his own. For he is Elrond, son of Earendil, brother of the sire of kings (although sometimes he wishes Elros had thought better of that, particularly when Estel visits and they have to sprinkle ammonia in the passages to hide the smell), and when he gives people a special look, thinks really hard, and wiggles his eyebrows in a specific way, people are very impressed.

It's not quite as elegant a power as, say, being able to suss out people's darkest secrets just by squinting at them, but it's served Elrond well enough in the past. He used his power then, in building Rivendell, and he will use it now, now so many have converged on Rivendell to discuss the fate of Middle-earth.

He knows his free peoples. Men are unruly and Elves are lazy and you can't do anything with Dwarves, and as for Hobbits, the less said about the way they'll stab you in the back for a crumpet the better. He knows his free peoples, and he loves them in spite of it, and this is why he's going to give these people a good mind whammy before giving them a good talking-to about their ultimate fate. It's going to be hard enough to stop them quarrelling about what their Elu Thingol said to our Durin the last Age, and turning the Council into a farce. Elrond's going to make sure they are fully aware of their positions before letting them talk to each other.

He starts with Gandalf. Olorin is all very well, but he's spent a little too much time in Middle-earth. It isn't that he's too big for his boots -- Olorin's boots are very big, figuratively speaking, and the only way he'd be too big for his boots would be if he decided to overthrow Sauron and usurp his position as Dark Lord with delusions of grandeur. Olorin would never do that, at least, but he goes around ticking ancient Elves off and throwing tantrums at silly young Hobbits, and while he's perfectly justified, it would be better for all concerned if for once he could just sit down and shut up for a moment. This is Elrond's hope, in giving Olorin his mind whammy.

He looks at Olorin hard, and he thinks,

"You have done well, my friend, but nobody's fooled by the grey robes and the splashes of mud. It is not necessary to dress like a complete tramp to do good, and the truth is you just embarrass everybody at parties when you swan around in your drab old things, with everybody knowing who you are and where you're from and the fact that they are nowhere near you in terms of importance despite their posh clothes. It's only a small offence, perhaps, but it's mean anyway and there's no need for it. It's only human to want such small joys, perhaps, but the point is, you're not. You should know better."

He waggles his eyebrows -- that part is important -- and Olorin blinks. He thinks it's worked. Satisfied, Elrond moves on to the others.

At Legolas, son of Thranduil, he thinks,

"Nobody was impressed by that silly trick with the arrow and the apple on top of Galdor's head yesterday. Nor were they impressed by that silly trick with Asfaloth and the jumping from three stories high thing the day before. Nor were they impressed by the juggling trick this morning, so you might as well get over yourself and stop giving Gloin's son those hostile looks spiked with repressed lust; it's positively indecent and I doubt he'd go for you anyway, you're far too tall for a Dwarf's tastes."

At Boromir, man of Gondor, he thinks,

"Your horn is very interesting, and the embroidery on your jerkin even more so, but those are the two most interesting things about you. Nobody wants that invisible orange you keep holding in your hand and shaking whenever you talk, and anybody can talk about their strange dreams in a poetic manner if they involve directions and lights and strange voices. Tell us about your strange dreams involving man-eating ducks chasing you around your bed when you're dressed in nothing but green paint, and then we might be impressed. Until then, shut up."

At Elladan and Elrohir, his twin sons, he thinks,

"If you do not take those obscenely satisfied looks off your faces right this moment, I am confiscating that interesting chest in the corner of your shared bedroom, young men. I am not kidding here."

At Frodo, the Ringbearer, he thinks,

"I'll grant you the charm of your eternally frightened blue eyes, but if you can't stop making strange hwerk noises and rolling your eyes like a stoned horse every time the Ring sends out its tantalising call of evil, you are not going to get very far. We all understand your shoulder hurts, and we're very sorry, but that is still no reason to go around looking like the perpetually fainting, interestingly pallid female protagonist of a gothic Victorian novel. Glorfindel died, and sure, he got better, but he never made as much fuss about it as you're making about a mere scratch on the shoulder that only very nearly turned you into a wraith."

At Gimli son of Gloin, he thinks,

"I admit it's hard lines on you to be short and hairy and ugly -- the addition of a bravely-wielded axe and a stout heart almost makes it even worse for you, really; no-one can help laughing at a hero with too much facial hair -- but the fact of the matter is that I can't be having with your tantrums, all the same. People are only a little amused at your bouncing around and threatening everyone, and if you and your father would stop trying to sell people secrets about what's really inside Thranduil's dungeons, I would be very much obliged."

At Estel -- Aragorn, his ward and his daughter's suitor, he looks, and he thinks,

". . . I don't even know where to start with you, pal."

He is not as specific here as he was with the others, perhaps, but it works just as well, because boy does he mean it.

He's done.

He looks at his people -- they are, all of them, his people, as long as they remain in Rivendell; and his heart swells with love for them, especially now they are looking so beautifully subdued and quiet. He's not kidding himself -- he knows in five minutes most of the mind whammy will have worn off and everybody will be fighting; what their Elu Thingol said to our Durin the last Age is going to be the least of their bones of contention. But now -- now his eyebrows and his hard looks and his very specific thoughts have given him five seconds of peace. He's not going to waste them.

He clears his throat.

"Strangers from distant lands, friends of old ..."


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