Character(s): Lord Elrond, Lady Celebrian, and their sons
Rating: G – PG
Source: Pre LotR
Disclaimer: Tolkien’s characters… Kortirion’s just playing with them.
“How do I count these, again?” Celebrian frowned, but with a smile. Her hands full of the playing cards that Elrond had introduced her to – designs of kings and queens, each divided into suits, very like the old cards she knew, of cups and wands and swords…
Elrond watched her fan out the cards between her nimble fingers, knowing she was teasing him to take her hands in his.
“Here,” he said “...let me count. You have chosen hearts then?”
She nodded, surrendering her hands, displaying three painted court-cards.
“Then to your three... I will add my own.” Elrond whispered.
Think, think.... what lifts the heart? What dulls the pain? She screwed her eyes tight and willed away the world around her. Think of the births of her children, remember the pain, the agonised wrenching, tearing... only that, only that... Think think... think of their faces... think of her husband... think... that... It Will Pass!
And it does.
But later... it cannot be forgotten, cannot be forgiven. She will not let herself be touched, healing will not happen here. She turns the cards. Queen of Swords, and a long journey...
Behind her she leaves four hearts – torn apart and weeping.
Lord Elrond surveyed his son’s bloody booty littering the forest floor.
Elrohir and Elladan stood together, their eyes hot and red, their laboured breathing easing as they laughed in triumph, crowing their delight. Elladan lifted a gore-stained knife and buried it to the hilt in a dead orc’s chest.
“No!” commanded Lord Elrond, “I want no more trophies... Their hearts do not mend mine.”
The brothers glanced at each other. “And what of ours?”
“Kill, but let them lie... I would not have you tainted with their cruelty.”
They nodded reluctantly. Hearts taken or no... the deaths assuaged their suffering.
Lord Elrond and his son’s amused themselves with playing cards, games of skill and chance for small forfeits. Many packs of painted kings and queens had been worn-out and discarded since he’d first taught his wife to play these Edain games.
“Ah, you have chosen hearts?” said Lord Elrond, looking across at his youngest son. “Hearts should never be underestimated...”
The boy struggled a little to fan the cards between his still chubby fingers.
“Will you help me count them Ada?”
Elrond wrapped the small hands in his, “Always remember Estel... collect what hearts you need, and victory will follow.”