Practicing Diplomacy
by Lara
June 2003

This is an amateur effort and not intended to infringe on the rights of J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien or any other copyright holder. No monetary profit is being made.

Time: a few centuries into the Third Age

A little drabble which was supposed to lay the basis for a longer fic, but which never got beyond the first few pages. Not my best effort, but not my worst either, and I like this little drabble too much to leave it in the WIP folder any longer.

"But why not?" Erestor asked. "I know that it sounds absurd at first, but when you think about it, his idea is not quite that bad."

"Thank you," Glorfindel murmured dryly, though the smile he gave Erestor showed that he had taken no offense.

Elrond shook his head, sitting up straight in his chair. "You both know that I cannot just do that," he said. "This is a delicate issue, and someone with experience will have to be sent. I was thinking that maybe Lindir should go."

"My Lord, I am sorry to say so, but I cannot see why Lindir is qualified for this while the twins are not." Erestor took a seat opposite Elrond's and quickly sorted through some of the papers lying on the desk between them. "Besides, we planned to hand the command of the patrols to Lindir just this morning. We would have to reorganize it all again."

Glorfindel shuddered at the mere thought. They had been working on those patrols for almost a week now until a more or less useful result had been obtained. And with Lindir gone, the whole task would have to be begun anew. It was not something he would look forward to. Administration, in Glorfindel's eyes, was a necessary evil that had to be managed with as little effort as possible.

"Maybe one of you could go?" Elrond asked hopefully.

Erestor's eyebrows rose. "To Mirkwood? For this?"

"Elrond, think about it," Glorfindel said, coming to his friend's aid. "Erestor and I will be of more use to you if we are here. And while it might impress Thranduil if you send one of us, it really does not seem necessary. All that needs to be done is find a compromise for some small issues. The twins cannot cause much damage if they do not argue well, and they could use this as an opportunity to practice."

Sighing softly, Elrond looked first at him and then at Erestor. "I cannot help thinking that it is a bad idea to send them."

"But surely it is better to send them to Mirkwood for their first steps in diplomacy, and not to the kingdoms of Men. That way they will only have to deal with Thranduil outmaneuvering them. They won't have to worry about the unfamiliar surroundings and situations too much." Erestor finally seemed to have found what he had been looking for, and handed the small slip of paper to Elrond. "Those are all the issues they would have to discuss."

Elrond quickly scanned the list, relaxing marginally.

"You see, my Lord, the worst that can happen is that Imladris will have to supply more carrier pidgeons next year."

"Which is not something that will stress our economic situation overly much," Glorfindel remarked, trying to read the list in front of Elrond from opposite the desk. It was in Erestor's handwriting, however, and he had enough trouble with that even when it was facing the right way. "And as long as this is the largest problem they will have to face, I truly cannot see why the twins should not be suitable for the task."

Sighing, Elrond leaned back in his chair. "I do not feel comfortable with this," he said. "Why can we not send them to Lórien for practice?"

Glorfindel met his eyes. "It is your decision to make, of course. But do you believe that Celeborn will resort to all means to turn things in his favor if there is a case of conflicting interests?" It was mostly a rhethorical question, considering how unlikely it was that Celeborn would do something that displeased the twins. The Lord of Lórien was a tough negotiater, but he had a soft spot for his grandchildren.

Elrond sighed again. "No. But Celebrían will not like this."

It was difficult not to smile at this argument; if Elrond brought up his wife's potential opinion, it was a certain sign that he was beginning to run out of logical objections. Glorfindel exchanged a glance with Erestor, seeing that his friend was also very well aware of this.

"I will not like what?" came a voice from the door, making the three of them turn towards the sound. Celebrían stood in the doorway, a curious expression on her face as she surveyed the three elves before her. Erestor and Glorfindel did not even have to look at each other in order to agree to stay quiet.

"We were merely discussing a few issues," Elrond said, trying not to sound quite as flustered as he undoubtedly had to be feeling. "Nothing very important."

Stepping into the room, Celebrían came to his side and smiled down at him. "And yet you seemed to think it necessary to say that I would not like it. Are you so certain?"

At the sweet tone of her voice, Glorfindel couldn't help wondering whether there was a way to inconspicuously leave the room. When Celebrían sounded like this, it was always safest to watch from a distance as events unfolded. Elrond's wife was a gentle spirit, but if there was one thing she did not like, it was others assuming that they knew her mind.

"You do not have to be concerned with this, Celebrían," Elrond tried.

Glorfindel inwardly cringed. Next to him, Erestor shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

Elegant eyebrows rose. "You are making me curious. Why won't you just tell me what small matter is keeping you here? Perhaps I can help."

Elrond gave in, meeting her eyes. "We were discussing whether Lindir should be dispatched to Mirkwood."

"Lindir?" An expression of honest puzzlement crossed Celebrían's face. "And why would I not like that?" she asked.

"I thought you might disapprove of the alternative."

"Which is?"

Hesitating for a moment, Elrond shot Glorfindel a pleading look. Glorfindel ignored him, studiously examining the quill lying in front of him on the table. He did not quite see Elrond's worry that Celebrían would not like the idea of sending the twins, but he was not about to take the risk of upsetting her. Elrond was supposed to know her better, after all, so it was probably wise to follow his judgement of the situation.

"We thought about sending Elladan and Elrohir, my Lady," Erestor spoke up when the other two remained silent.

For a moment Celebrían did not say anything, then she shook her head. "I still do not see why you worried. I think it is not a bad idea. As long as they do not ride alone."

Glorfindel gave her a quick smile, glad for her support. "They will have a proper escort, of course. And the paths are not dangerous these days."

She returned the smile, then focused on Elrond again. "You know how eager they are to travel. If they go, they might calm down at least for the winter. And as you all have been assuring me, they know how to keep themselves safe."

"It's not the journey I am worried about," Elrond told her, not looking pleased at all that his wife and his advisors were teaming up against him.

"What then?" Celebrían inquired. "Surely this is not about Thranduil, is it?"

"I simply do not believe he is the most suitable opponent for Elladan and Elrohir to practice with."

Glorfindel had to concede that there was a certain reasonability behind this statement. Thranduil was hardly ever very forthcoming in negotiations, and it took quite a lot of skill to achieve satisfying results. But at the same time he normally knew where the limits lay for the other, and did not press beyond that point. Unless he was trying to be purposefully obnoxious, of course, which happened occasionally.

"Elrond, it is not the first time they are involved in discussions with Mirkwood. They know what to expect."

Elrond raised an eyebrow. "Why are you so eager to have them go?" he asked.

Celebrían smiled at him. "Perhaps because I know they need to learn. Or perhaps because Elladan has been begging me all day to talk to you about it."

So the twins had been speaking to their mother? Glorfindel could not say that he was surprised; Erestor had been visited by Elrohir today, and their conversation had centered around the same topic. They seemed to have planned this rather thoroughly. He was a little surprised that neither of them had come to enlist his help as well, but then realized that it would hardly have been necessary anyway. They knew only too well that Glorfindel would speak in their favor as long as it was not completely unreasonable.

For a moment Elrond closed his eyes, then nodded. "I know when I am defeated," he said with a deep sigh. "But I will blame it on you if we run out of pidgeons."


The End


La Casa