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Midwinter Hope

Beta: Eni
Rating: PG-13 at most
Pairing: None
Warning: The closest Uli will come to fluff… and another odd brainchild that just… jumped at me… Oh, and Mpreg
Disclaimer: Not in any way mine…not at all…
Author’s Note: Born as a challenge from an insane IM discussion with Tux, this one is your fault sweetie… ok the idea was mine.. the challenge was for her to write her insane bunny as well
Summary: The snow lay deep and gleaming under the dark sky at Midwinter.




The snow lay deep and gleaming under the dark sky. The Northern Lights sparkled merrily as they danced across the sky, twirling among the stars. The tall Elf leaned heavily on a tree, gasping at the intense pains running through him and cursing the one that had got him into this.

Rebirth they had offered him and he had gratefully accepted, no questions asked; he missed life, missed the emotions and the simple pleasures. Somehow they had forgotten to tell him of this. Most blessed among Elves, brighter and stronger than any other after his rebirth and this, this was what it came to? He straightened with great difficulty, leaning more heavily on the tree as he rubbed his swollen abdomen with his other hand. This, he decided, was not funny.

Once he managed to catch his breath he started walking, stumbling slightly in the dark forest where roots and rocks hid beneath the thick layer of snow. Never had he been this cold since crossing the Helcaraxë, nor had he been this utterly lost. He had hoped to be reborn into Tirion, or maybe somewhere in Arda where others dwelt, not in the middle of the woods, wearing only a thin robe and approximately eleven months pregnant. He felt like crying. He felt like curling up against a tree and sleeping until the cold claimed him and he returned to the Halls but something made him go on, step by stumbling step, as he slipped and slid over the icy stones.

In the distance a faint scattering of lights could be seen, like small glittering stars in the deep night. A strange sound of relief filled his throat; he was so very tired and cold. It felt as if someone had wrapped a blanket around his head - all sounds were muffled, distant as if they came from far away, and his eyes refused to focus for long. Another pain shot through him and made him fumble for something to lean against and his numb hands collided with a tree and slid away, offering no support as he fell to the ground. He cried out from the pain and confusion, frantically struggling to get up, to get to safety, but he was too weak, too tired and too cold. Throwing an arm over his face, he shuddered in despair before the world slid away.

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Restlessly, he cursed to himself, throwing the document he had been working on across the room before rubbing his tired eyes. He had been unable to rest well for too many nights now; there was a whisper in the wind of something happening even as the world shifted beneath him. He could taste the growing darkness, the oily flavour always present at the back of his throat, but this; this was something new, a whisper of sweetness and hope that he could not place. There was so little for them to be grateful about.

Strong hands settled on his shoulders, rubbing them firmly and he let his head fall forward on to the desk.

“Talk to me, Elrond. I can see that something is bothering you.” The warm baritone was exasperated and made him smile.

“Something is happening,” he said quietly. “Something good, but I do not know where or what.” He placed a hand over one of those kneading his shoulders. “Do not worry about me, meldir. There is enough to burden your days already.”

Gil-galad removed his hands, laughing softly as he crossed the room and bent down, carefully grabbing the carefully heated bottle of mulled wine from the fire. “How can I not worry when you do not sleep?” he asked as he poured the rich, spiced wine into crystal goblets. “You would do the same for me; you have done the same for me on several occasions, in fact.” He handed one of the goblets to Elrond before seating himself in the wide window seat, sipping at his wine. “We could all do with something good happening, by now. I do not know what Celebrimbor was thinking to trust to Annatar.”

Elrond snorted and looked over at his friend. “He did not think of anything but furthering his smith craft; he is the grandson of Fëanor and sometimes I think he inherited his grandsire’s insanity as well. Valar know what we will do with the cursed rings.”

For a moment the two friends sat in silence, both thinking about the darkness that was slowly spreading over their world again; a darkness they had hoped long gone.

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There was pain beyond anything he had previously known, no wound of sword, no burning. Not even feeling each bone break upon rocks had ever hurt like this and he screamed, in pain and fury. His raw voice rang out towards the thick velvet of the midnight sky; the Northern Lights had faded and died. He begged for mercy, pleaded, cried, and still the pain was with him. When his voice grew weak and his strength waned he cursed them: the Valar, Ilúvatar, all and any that had seen fit to restore him to suffering, to have his body tearing apart from the inside.

His consciousness was almost gone when the pain faded and a small, strange whimpering reached his ears. Numbly he tried to ignore it, his mind refusing to admit what had just happened but as the whimpering grew louder he forced himself to move, gathering the bloody, grimy infant in his arms as he tried to protect the little one from the cold.

Above them the light of the stars seemed brighter, but he was too tired, too worn and hurting too much to notice as he curled up, trying to find warmth for himself and his son. He had no blanket to wrap around the small one and he could feel the little body cooling in the winter night. He struggled to get to his feet, to find aid for them both but his legs buckled. Desperately, he unfastened his robe, tucking the infant close to his body before fastening it as well as he could again and waited, waited for his strength to return.

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“We are losing this war, Elrond,” Gil-galad said tiredly, breaking the silence. “There is no hope left in our people and so we will fall. It has been long since we stopped believing in miracles.”

Elrond rubbed his eyes again reluctant to admit that his king has assessed both their chances at victory and the resignation of their people correctly. Each day that passed another ship sailed west, never to return. Silently, he emptied his goblet and rose, walking over to the fire to refill it. The rich, fragrant scent of the spices made him breathe deeply, relaxing as the light falling over Gil-galad’s face suddenly seemed to brighten.

Elrond’s eyes unfocused suddenly and the goblet fell heavily to the floor, shattering in a cloud of crystal shards. “He has been born.” The Peredhel’s voice was deep and hollow as his eyes stared, unseeing, at his friend. “A gift of the One to give us hope, a flame in the darkness.”

Gil-galad turned in time to see Elrond sag to the floor, unconscious. Cursing, he lunged and caught the slighter Elf in his arms before he hit the floor and carried him over to one of the low settees in the room.

“Elrond?” he said worriedly, rubbing the cold hands between his. “Wake up, meldir.”

To his relief the grey eyes cleared quickly as the Peredhel blinked at him, confused. “What…?” His eyes widened. “I saw him, the child. He is out there in the cold somewhere; we have to find him!” Frantically he pushed his king out of the way, grabbing a heavy cloak as he ran from the room, calling for horses to be readied.

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The bright light of a star he did not know shone down at them. Never before had he seen a star shine so strongly but he was grateful for the light it gave him. Carefully nudging his robe away from his chest, he looked down at the small, bloody face and felt himself smile. A deep love welled up in him for this innocent little being and he lightly traced his calloused fingers over the delicate face. “My son,” he whispered in wonder.

His mind still shied away from the impossibility of a male giving birth, refusing to think of how an act that his body was not made to perform had taken place, but it no longer seemed important; nor did the dull ache that had settled into every piece of his body. Smiling, he looked down into the beautiful face of his child, wondering if all newborn were as perfect as this, as he seemed blind to the blood that covered the wrinkly, scrunched-up face of the infant. “So perfect.” His voice was hoarse from his screaming as he whispered soft endearments to the small babe. Under the bright starlight, lullabies from a long lost childhood came back to him and he sang softly in his raw voice, words of love and soothing and protection to the new life he had been given.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Círdan and Gil-galad hastened after Elrond; the young Peredhel’s horse was overloaded with blankets and robes of all sizes and shades, as were their own. Elrond had run through the keep of Lindon, shouting loudly for horses and blankets, for warm foods and wines in baskets and for soft toys for a child. As the items he had requested were delivered, he had loaded most of it on his friends before setting his horse to a gallop; and so here they were, following, from what they could see, the light of Eärendil.

The night was deep and dark and the lords shivered in their heavy robes as the cold air and snow whipped their faces. Gil-galad could feel Círdan’s gaze on him and he knew his lover worried about Elrond’s sanity. He had to admit that he did the same and yet a premonition of some kind had taken hold of his friend back in the study.

“Trust him!” he called over the wind and saw Círdan nod, bending his head to avoid the bite of the sharp snowflakes. Suddenly, the horse in front of them stopped by a figure huddled in the snow, resting against a tree. The two lovers looked at each other and reined their horses in, running over to where Elrond was kneeling, the scent of blood strong in the air.

“What happened?” Gil-galad’s voice was urgent as he knelt by the stranger, surprised to see deep sapphire eyes look back at him.

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He blinked and looked at the three strangers in front of him before his eyes narrowed; he recognized Círdan well and the other resembled his former High King too closely to be any but Fingon’s son. Who the third was he did not know.

“Please,” he said hoarsely, painfully, a hint of panic in his voice as he took the infant out from beneath his robe. “My son… he is cold… he stopped crying some time ago.”

Hands took the child from him, wrapping them both in warm blankets, but he was unable to concentrate on anything apart from his son who lay so limply in the hands of the strange Elf.

“Please,” he said again. “Is he…?” He found himself unable to form the question as he trembled. Hands ran over him, checking him for injuries and he winced as the pain flared up again.

“Your son? This child is newborn; where is its mother?” The stranger’s light voice was grim. “No babe this young should be removed from its mother.”

His eyes flared in sudden fury; he had faced a Balrog and died for his people and this insolent pup had the nerve to all but accuse him of having stolen his own child. “He is mine,” he said, his voice hard. “By whatever joke of the Valar, he is mine: I bore him.”

Grey eyes met his in shock. “You cannot have. Are you injured? See if he has a head wound, Círdan.

He pushed himself up from the ground, grinding his teeth against the pain as he awkwardly snatched his son back, relived to se the warm rosy glow on the small cheeks.

“I believe him, Elrond.” Círdan’s voice was low and firm. “I know who he is and the blood on his clothes proves his story as well as anything apart from a physical examination will.”

He turned, glaring at the bearded Elf. “There is no way that you will even put your hands on me for such an examination.”

Círdan smiled slightly at him, amusement running over his face. “I am a shipbuilder and sailor, Glorfindel, not a healer.”

“Glorfindel?” Gil-galad’s voice was shocked and he saw the shock echoed in Elrond’s silver eyes.

For a moment silence surrounded them, before a small squeak came from the bundle in Glorfindel’s arms. He lowered his eyes to his son, smiling lovingly as he once again traced the outline of the tiny face with his fingers. “So sweet,” he cooed. “My precious.”

Elrond stiffened, his eyes glazing over again. Círdan moved quickly, wrapping his arms around the Peredhel before he fell.

“A flame in the dark, a heart of light; love will he give to the firstborn, strength to walk the hardest road. Wise his council, hope in despair; he will be the one to name the dark, to see through lies.” The hollow voice rang out in the dark night before Elrond slumped in the ancient Elf’s arms.

Glorfindel looked up at them briefly before turning his attention back to the small babe. “One who names,” he whispered softly. “Erestor.” He bent his face, kissing his son’s head tenderly. “My son.”

The infant in his arms blinked and opened pale silver eyes as a smile spread over the small face. Glorfindel’s knees buckled and he knelt in the cold snow, lost in the utter sweetness of the smile of the one that had been born to give them hope.

He turned his face up towards the midnight sky, tears clinging to the golden lashes as his heart filled with gratitude to the One. “Thank you,” he whispered. “Thank you for this gift.”