It was early spring when I decided to have a walk. I left the study and went down the Bruinen. Many flowers were blossoming and the fresh and sweet smell of spring was in the air.
Soon I heard giggling and laughter, the crystal voices of my two beloved twins. I was a bit concerned and followed the voices down to the riverbank. Quickly I hid behind a tree when I realised what was going on. Oh, Glorfindel was with them! Their clothes were spread across the beach and they were romping around in the shallow water between the bank and the island in the middle of the northern Bruinen arm.
I barley kept myself from drooling. Glorfindel was nearly naked! He had undressed down to the loincloth, and that was now wet and clung to his body, displaying his taut ass... Closing my eyes I swallowed. Back to composure, Erestor, or do you want to risk being caught gaping? My glare wandered over the muscular form, admiring the sinewy movement, the tanned skin rippling over well-carved muscles. His hair was damp and glittered like a golden waterfall. So beautiful. So horribly beautiful.
Elladan's merry laughter pulled me out of my musings and I frowned. The twins were naked and wet all over. They played and frolicked around happily, but I was concerned. My concern for them even quenched my longing for Glorfindel and made me able to step out of my hiding spot without blushing fiercely like an elfling in his sight.
He turned towards me, unashamed of his nearly-nudity. "Erestor? What do you do outside? Are you ill?"
"Ha ha. Very funny." I crouched down and dipped my hand into the water.
"It doesn't bite," teased Glorfindel. "But I suggest you better take off your robes before joining us."
Now I had it, my cheeks grew hot with a blush with the mere thought of being with him in such a state. "No, I was thinking about something else," I stated, trying to sound cool despite my embarrassing blush. "It is still rather cold, Glorfindel. And the twins are not only much smaller than you, keeping less reserves of warmth in their little bodies, but they are quart human. Have you asked Elrond if he thinks it is not dangerous to let them bathe in the Bruinen at this time of the year?"
He prettily bit his lip with guilty conscience. "I'm afraid I didn't. Oh, I'm sorry, my little ones, but I suggest we better leave now and warm up again, alright?"
They pouted, but I nodded and with my supreme authority of the one who goes against them sometimes they obeyed and hopped out of the water. I used my robe to rub them dry, because Glorfindel hadn't even thought of taking a towel with them. Then I quickly dressed the two little ones.
When I looked up again I froze in shock. Glorfindel had taken off his loincloth, wringing the water from it and turning his glorious backside towards me. I only managed to rip my eyes off of him when the twins started to giggle. How embarrassing! I quickly rose and said: "I'll take them to the house now."
He turned to me and nodded, looking down at the toddlers and leaving me the opportunity to stare at his naked body. "I hope I haven't done you harm. Do what Erestor says, he'll know what's best for you." They nodded eagerly and I abruptly turned away and marched towards the Last Homely House.
I took the twins to Elrond's rooms where Celebrian was stitching together with her friend Curuhargam.
"My Lady," I bowed slightly. "I just caught the twins and Glorfindel bathing in the Bruinen. I wonder if that was a good idea, it is still very cold."
Celebrian rose and knelt down on the floor to hug her beloved children. "Oh, I'm afraid I don't know, are such things dangerous for humans? Then I suppose it is better to get you dry and warm again, isn't it? Thank you, Erestor, I will take care for them now." I bowed and left, returning to the study. But pictures of a certain mighty warrior without many clothes on stressed my mind, distracting me from my work.
When I happened upon Elrond, I asked him what he thought of the twins' risk of becoming ill. He seemed to think. "Until now they haven't shown signs of that. But we can't be sure. They have not been in close contact with humans yet and were probably not confronted with infective illnesses. We have kept other possibilities to catch some kind of sickness from them. It may be that they haven't been ill yet because they simply had no reason for it and not because they are immune. We'll have to see. I very much hope they inherited Celebrians immunity and not my weak human tendency to become ill."
We were not that lucky. That same evening the little ones began to sneeze and complain about headache and tickling noses. Glorfindel obviously felt very guilty and tried everything to make up for his carelessness. But no amount of hot honey tea helped, soon we had two whining feverish ill little twins.
Elrond and Celebrian carried them around in the living room, trying to soothe them. I realised too late that this was another mistake. "Elrond, give Elrohir to me. I will take care of him and you take care for yourself." I took the feverish mumbling child from his arms, and as soon as he had let go he turned and sneezed. I sighed and Celebrian bit her lip. There we had it, two ill children and an ill peredhel.
"Stupid me!" cursed Elrond. "I guess it doesn't matter any more... I can take them into my bed and Celebrian, you can sleep in their room. There you will have peace to sleep. I'll probably wake up myself with sneezing through-out the night anyway."
Glorfindel hung his head. "I'm horribly sorry. I really must have forgotten my mind somewhere."
"You couldn't know. Now please, stop musing. We'll survive", said Elrond.
Probably the night Elrond had was rather miserable. When I went to visit them in the morning, he was having a frugal breakfast with his children and wife and he looked rather horrible. His eyes were swollen and sleepy, his nose red and his skin covered with feverish sweat. The twins unhappily munched on slices of apple, complaining that it hurt in their throats when they swallowed. I took Elrohir onto my lap while Celebrian held Elladan and Elrond was occupied with blowing his nose every two minutes. Our poor Lord. I had once seen how he had become seriously ill with pneumonia, some decades ago, and Lindir and I had to fight for his life to keep him on Arda. That would hopefully not repeat itself now.
To prevent such a thing I tried my best to convince my Lord that he should rest and not come to the study. I succeeded, but that meant taking on Elronds responsibilities as well as my own; taking care of the study, the writing of messages, reading of reports and greeting of guests. ... The last one was always the worst for me. I was not naturally open and friendly and I was afraid the people meeting me instead of Elrond had not so good an impression of Imladris' ruler at first. I only hoped Elrond would manage to improve that impression later on.
After a full day of handling both duties I was pretty groggy when I visited my Lord and his children. To my horror I found Lindir here and Elrond was not in the living room. "My Lady," I bowed towards Celebrian. "Lindir. How is Elrond?"
"He is rather exhausted and retired an hour ago. He's in his sleeping chamber. I just checked on the little ones."
"And how are they?"
"Stable. Even better than Elrond. They are sleeping with Lord Glorfindel as a living hot-water bottle. I think they will be alright."
I sighed. "I hope so. Can I be of help somehow?"
Lindir smiled compassionately at me. "Take rest yourself, Erestor. That's the best way to help Elrond."
He probably was right.
In the next morning I nearly over-slept in. That hardly ever happened to me. I cursed and jumped out of bed when I realised sun had long since risen when I woke. I took a quick cold shower, dressed in my favourite black velvet robe and hurried off. A quick check visit to my Lord's chambers told me that I could not count on his help for the day. He had developed an ugly fever and Celebrian was fussing over him while Glorfindel had all hands full with the whimpering twins. Well, he deserved it. Therefore my day consisted of work, work and more work again, not even leaving me time to eat properly. Yes, Elrond was an eager worker, just like me. We both did everything we could, always nearly touching our limits. And that meant it was impossible for one of us to make the work of both without breaking them.
I slumped into the plush chair when I paid my visit to the Lord's family this evening. My Lord came from the sleeping room with a blanket around his shoulders. He still looked very ill. His hair was loose, something you seldom saw on him, his eyes dazed and now he was coughing every two minutes. Valar it must be horrible to be human! To feel so miserable so many times in their short lives! Our Lord was at least half elven, meaning he did not become ill easily, but humans must have a bad time with their flues and colds.
"Elrond? Are you any better at all?"
"It changes," he sniffed, "First I couldn't breath due to my nose, now I can't because I get coughing fits from it. Not exactly better, but it will be over soon. Don't make such a face!"
I hadn't even realised that my shock was plainly visible in my features.
"I'll be back. Don't work too hard until then, do you hear me? Get yourself help. You don't have to manage that alone."
Nobody knew our study as I did, every other elf would only be in the way, but to reassure and keep him from worrying, I nodded. Suddenly a small form burst out of the sleeping room and I soon found Elrohir climbing onto my lap. "Ehestoa!" He sneezed. "Hello!"
"Hello my little one." I cuddled him to my chest. He gratefully savoured my body heat.
"My pretty one. I hope you're feeling better?"
"Bit. Not that head anymore."
"Not hot or no headache?"
"Ah. Very good. Would you please use a handkerchief to blow your nose and not my robe?"
I helped him to blow his nose. Then he quickly fell asleep on my lap. Glorfindel had entered the room with Elladan on his arms. He still looked rested and healthy. Had he the better job with looking after the twins than me with the study? Or was he always like that? I imagined him looking all radiant, clean and powerful in the middle of the Battle of the last Alliance and smiled to myself. Yes, most probably he had been a bright light for the alliance, striking down orc after orc. If only he had been near the High King he would surely have saved Elrond's lover and spared our Lord immense pain. Then again, if that had happened we would not have the twins. So even the fall of Gil-Galad had at least one positive aspect.
That was the last thing I thought about before waking in the morning, awkwardly lying on the sofa with a peacefully sleeping Elrohir on my stomach. I groaned when I moved my stiff neck. Now, I had fallen asleep in my Lord's living room! It was empty now, but I could hear Elrond coughing every once in a while in his sleeping room. I held the child to my chest and rose carefully. Elrohir mumbled and opened his eyes.
"Good morning my little one. I hope you have slept well?"
He yawned and gave me a beaming smile. "Yes."
"Good. You're probably the only one." I ignored that he had accidentally drooled all over my shirt. I went to the bathroom with him, cleaning myself up whilst he told and showed me very proudly that he had learned to go to the toilet all alone. The cold he had was obviously forgotten. Very well. At least it had not affected him too deeply.
We had the idea of preparing breakfast for the family and I carried him to the kitchens. I fetched a tray with food and drink and gave Elrohir the bread to carry. Fortunately my Lord had his own dishes and cutlery in his private rooms. I would not have liked to give Ely such. But he was obviously pleased that I included him in my task, giving him purposeful work to do. The longer I'm with them, the surer I am that it is most important for children to be part of the adult world. To let them do things the grown-ups did. That makes them feel accepted and important. And my trust was not disappointed, little Ely managed to take the bread to Elrond's chambers without stumbling or sneezing on it. That impressed me most, he even thought of turning his head away when he had to sneeze! I rewarded him with a proud smile when we had reached the living room. "Good one. Now spread the food on the table, will you?"
He eagerly climbed onto a chair and finally onto the table, too, for his arms were much to short to arrange the things properly otherwise. I fetched dishes and cutlery from the cupboard and when Celebrian came from the sleeping room, she found me with Elrohir on one arm and pouring tea with the other, explaining him where it came from and how it was made.
She greeted me, seemingly a bit embarrassed. "I hope you have slept at all?"
"Surprisingly well. I'm sorry, you really could have woken me up."
"Why should we? You needed rest. And Elrohir seemed to be really comfortable on your chest." She kissed her son good-morning and disappeared into the bathroom.
Soon afterwards Glorfindel emerged from the twins' room with Elladan. "Morning."
"Good Morning." Yes, really horrible. He looked like freshly bathed, all fit and smooth. No signs of sleep or mess on him. How did he do that? He just came from a bed shared with sneezing Elladan!
He went to the bathroom after Celebrian had returned. The Lady went to fetch her husband and soon returned with a still ruffled looking, tired Elrond. Poor lad! What did Glorfindel do to him by swimming in the Bruinen with the twins?
"Good morning, Erestor." He coughed. "I'm afraid the couch was not too comfortable?"
"It was alright, thank you. I fear your body was not comfortable for your fea tonight?"
"It's not like I'm complaining, but sometimes I really can imagine that it must be delightful to be without illness."
We sat down at the table and had breakfast. Our Lord really struggled with that, hardly being able to breathe and swallow. Yet the children were already remarkably better, what was a positive surprise for us. I managed to get Glorfindel and Celebrian into leaving for the library, garden, stables or anything, and they obeyed, Celebrian being obviously very happy about the option. Frowning I closed the door behind them when they had left. I found something odd. But I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I turned and smiled at my Lord, who still sat at the table.
"Thank you, Erestor." he said.
I chuckled. He had realised, in opposite to the great patrol organiser and seneschal who was supposed to guard Imladris' borders and the daughter of foreseeing Galadriel, that I had purposefully driven them away. "What do you need, my Lord? What would you like?"
"I think I'd like a bath. I can imagine a special medicinal bathing oil, but I feel too drained to mix it for myself."
"Give me the recipe and I will deliver it to Lindir."
He smiled thankfully and rose. After searching his bookshelf he pulled out a file with several loose papers in it and skipped through them. One paper he read and then gave to me. "I'd be most grateful."
"No reason for it. Will you wait here?"
"Yes. Should I fall asleep, please let me be. I believe I haven't had more than two hours real sleep tonight."
And Celebrian had woken him up for breakfast. Humph.
"Of course." I bowed and left.
The feeling followed me and I mused. My Lord seemed to be not only tired from the illness but somehow sad, too. Was it because he had realised his children were not safe from sickness? Safe from death?
I came to no conclusions as of yet. Reaching the healer's wing I searched for Lindir and found him in the herb garden outside. "Good morning, Lindir."
"Suilannad Erestor. How is Elrond?"
"Not better. I have a recipe here from him, could you please mix this bathing oil for him?"
Lindir scanned the paper. "Yes. One moment."
He finished tending to the herbs and afterwards I followed him to the cosy little salve kitchen Elrond had designed. It was a place my Lord loved very much. He dwelled here in contentment to be able to help, dwelled in the fascination for medicine. Quite ironic that the only one he could care for in Imladris was he himself. Well, the humans of course. And now unfortunately the twins. Lindir fetched some items, picked fresh blossoms from the camomile on the window-sill and ignited the flame of the little hearth. I watched him when he sat down and began to mix the oil. My thoughts were still in turmoil. A certain concern for my Lord held me here and urged me to ask the healer about it.
"Lindir, do you know if a light depression is part of the cold?"
The white-haired sindar turned to look at me and arched his eyebrows, but soon he turned back to his work, obviously thinking about it. "A real depression, no. Not necessarily. Bad mood, yes, of course. I think we full-elves can hardly imagine how frustrating it must be when your body fails you, when you have the impression it works against you. I have seen that on humans before, some get really angry when ill, and in a certain amount on my Lord, too. Do you have the impression the illness ails him much?"
"In a way. But it is perhaps better when you judge that for yourself. It may be that I'm wrong."
I was pretty sure I was not, but still I could use a reliable second opinion here. Lindir nodded. "I will. I will bring this to Elrond and take care for him. Don't be concerned, Erestor, he's in no real danger."
Oh, now he had accidentally manoeuvred me out of this, sending me back to my work. That was not what I had intended! Darn, these things often happen with Lindir. He's so damn innocent that you sometimes have the impression he walks in a white cloud, shielding him from the bad world outside. This was not true, of course, he had seen many horrible things and I knew that. But they seemingly did not affect him. Nothing could break Lindir's faith, he was always serene, contented and forward-looking. And with his innocent believing into the goodness of the world he often crossed my plans and cunning, being totally unaffected by my skill of careful influencing of other beings' minds. Just like now. Super-intelligent Erestor thinking he could skilfully manage to get Lindir into helping him in revealing what ailed our Lord was just being set aside by that very elf. Bah. With Lindir nothing helped but the direct way.
"I'd like to care for our Lord. I must admit I'm tired of the study and want to help him. Would you perhaps check on Elrond and leave the rest to me?"
I received a pure smile. "Of course."
Sigh. Sometimes I wondered why it was so hard for me to use that simple way. Erestor, you definitely enjoy influencing other peoples' minds too much.
Later we went to the Peredhel's room together. I quietly opened the door, but Elrond was not asleep. He had obviously stuck with the file and still read the recipes in it. "Having found something delightful to do?" I asked cheerfully.
He winced and raised his head, obviously hadn't even realised we had entered the room. "Oh! Erestor, Lindir! Yes, it is quite interesting what you can find here." He rose and had to blow his nose before turning back to us.
"I have made the bathing oil," said Lindir and gave Elrond the small bottle. "Here's the recipe, too. Is there anything else you could use? A salve of similar contents perhaps?"
Elrond chuckled to himself. "I would love to experiment with that. Unfortunately I'm not in the mood. So I leave it up to you. If you have the time..."
The same pure smile I had received earlier lit up Lindir's face. "Always, my Lord. Stop thinking you are the only one here who delights in working in your beautiful salve kitchen." He bowed to my Lord and in leaving winked towards me, showing me he intentionally left me alone with him.
Pah, innocent! Never! All fake! I had to smile. Sometimes you had the impression Lindir knew exactly what he did, and sometimes you were positive that he had no idea of anything. Really difficult to judge that one.
"Was that a private joke you shared?" asked my Lord and now I learned what the only thing was that could keep him from raising his eyebrows in such a situation. A horrible coughing fit.
I rushed over to him and kept him steady by his shoulder. When he had calmed down somewhat, I expressed my thoughts. "Not really. But I often find myself surprised about Lindir. You never know if he really is as innocent as he looks, or if it is all fake and his brain's in fact as sharp as yours."
Elrond chuckled again, but his amusement didn't cover the general sad look he carried at the moment. "I'm afraid I can't help you with that. I don't know either."
We walked into the bathroom and I poured hot water into the tub. Elrond had opened the bottle and sniffed at it, obviously savouring the effects of the healing herbs to his breathing system. When the bath was ready he sighed and poured an amount of the oil into the steaming water. Then he began undressing himself.
"Can I be of help somehow?" I asked, "Would you like a book or something?"
"Thank you, Erestor. I'm alright. I could even manage that myself!", he winked at me, signalling for me to calm down.
With raised hands I shrugged. "I know. Still it bothers me."
He had stripped and stepped into the tub. I observed him. It always surprised me how much human he was under that elven robes. I had seen him naked before, but still it was odd. His body was sturdy, his chest wide, and the legs seemed to be too thin and long in comparison to that powerful body. And a dark and curly hair covered his groin and crawled up to his navel. Some hairs had even found their way to his chest and legs. Sighing deeply he sank into the water. It obviously served him well.
"What bothers you?" he asked.
I sat down on a stool, thinking about how I could express my concerns. "I don't want to intrude into your privacy, Elrond, but it seems to me that this illness affects you not only in body."
He arched a questioning eyebrow at me.
"I mean... I have seen you suffer from that pneumonia centuries ago. It was much more dangerous, but still you were brave, even cheerful at times. You fought. Yet at the moment you look defeated. What ails you?"
He turned his gaze from me and I guessed that I hit a sore spot. Obviously he knew what I was talking about. First he didn't answer but occupied himself with washing his arms and legs. But to my surprise that action seemed to add to his depression and suddenly he let all his limps drop and his face showed his gloom openly.
"It's different things," he said evasively.
A musing frown was directed at me now. "I had hoped Elladan and Elrohir would be safe from illness."
"Well, that would have been nice. But still it is no catastrophe, either. As you said yourself, you survived that, too."
He nodded slowly, observing the circles his movements made on the smooth water surface.
"It has something to do with Celebrian," I guessed. The proof I had was small, but when he closed his eyes in pain and sighed deeply it confirmed that I was right.
"Yes," was all he said.
I cocked my head and waited. Things were ailing my Lord, tormenting his heart, and I wanted for him to share them with me. Perhaps that would ease his pain a bit. When he turned back to me, his eyes were sad. "You have sharp eyes, Erestor. I suppose you know Celebrian and I didn't marry out of a heart-consuming love."
I nodded serenely. Yes, I know that, my Lord, and I even know why you can't open up to her. Because I'm old and I have seen you then with Gil-Galad. I know you still love him. But you don't know me and I don't want you to. So I pretended that I had only guessed that from my observations.
"We are friends," he finally continued. "I trust her. She's adorable, yes, beautiful and intelligent. Every elf could be happy and honoured to have her. A shame, yes, quite a shame..."
I cringed. A shame? That he had her? Did he think so low of himself? "What shame, my Lord? You have just the same things to give!"
His brow knitted and he snorted wistfully. "Yes. Everything. Unfortunately a human heritage, too."
There was so much pain and anger in those words that it drove gooseflesh down my spine.
He leaned back and looked at the ceiling. "I don't know why I didn't exactly fell in love with her. But I do know that she was moved into this marriage mostly by her mother, by politics, by expectations of her people towards her and by her own desire to have a realm of her own. Not by me." He raised his arms and looked at it for a reason yet unknown to me. But soon I understood.
"Have you realised how uncomfortable she is around me at the moment?"
"Yes, that I have."
"She can't get along with it. I'm half human and she can't put up with it. In normal times she can overlook it, even best when I'm fully dressed. But now I'm ill. And everybody can see it. I'm peredhel. That irritates her. She can't handle it. Perhaps the thought that I could die from such illness frightens her, but I'm afraid it is more her natural loathing for the Edain that surfaces on such occasions."
"But my Lord, is there such a thing?! A natural loathing? By the stars, no! There were so many elves and humans who loved each other! And, if you would allow me to say, there are many elves who dream of you by night, too, I think. At least I would judge so by the uncountable flirting attempts you still receive despite marriage at feasts and gatherings."
He snickered tiredly. "Yes, maybe. But you have to be used to it. Or drawn to such extraordinary things such as pubic hair or a beard. But Celebrian is not. She is from the Golden Wood, a place far off from humans. All elves, and beautiful ones, her parents a most striking example for that. As a child she learned to savour elven beauty." His lips thinned. "She was wed to me before she saw me naked for the first time." He turned a quizzical look at me. "Perhaps that was a grave mistake?"
I hung my head. "My Lord. That is really a pity to hear. Most unfortunate. And that is what you are reminded of when ill and she is avoiding you."
I wished I could have consoled my Lord somehow, but there was hardly anything I could do about this. It made me sad to know the marriage of Elrond was so deeply affected by his human heritage. And it made me kind of angry at Celebrian, but I quickly discarded that thought. She was not to be held responsible for this. When you thought about it she even held herself bravely. She was just as entrapped in this marriage as was Elrond.
"Don't let it pull you down like that, my Lord. It's a sad thing, but it happened. You torture yourself for no use at all when you suffer from it. It is a shame, yes, quite a shame that both of you are now unavailable for others who could cherish you as you are." Yes quite, unavailable for example for the golden flower, who can swing his hips so enticingly for my Lord, or "unconsciously" drives his hand through his ocean of golden waves or winks his long, thick lashes in a very unmanly way at Elrond. Argh, no, Erestor, stop working yourself into another fit of jealousy! I quickly returned to the topic at hand. "But Elrond, are you not proud of yourself?"
A lazy smile curled his lips. "Now, don't panic, Erestor. I like myself. It is not like I stand in front of the mirror chiding my reflection: How ugly are you! Bah, this hair all over! Those long skinny legs, this raw and unshaped bones and those short ears! No, Erestor, don't worry, I can live with myself very well. But still it hurts when someone so near you feels a kind of disgust towards you. My first night with Celebrian was awful, I can tell you, and it took us years to try it again. But we will manage. As soon as I'm healthy again we will return to normal."
I made a face. "I didn't know things were so difficult between you. I'm sorry about it. I wish I could help, but I'm afraid there is not much one could do about it."
He shook his head. "I'm afraid no. But don't let that bother you, Erestor. It is not that bad, really. When I'm healthy and elven it's no problem. Only when my human blood shows itself so obviously it becomes tricky." Rising one leg out of the water he looked at it snorted scornfully. "Sometimes I shaved my whole body for her. It made it easier and I'm afraid the twins would have been impossible otherwise. But I'm tired of it." He dove under and then washed his hair. When he was finished he rose and stepped out of the bathtub. I was satisfied with the physical improvement he had made. He looked much more energetic and his coughing and nose-blowing had lessened. Elrond quickly dried himself and went to the sleeping room to dress into fresh robes.
I waited in the living room to check on him one final time. "Are you feeling better?", I asked when he came back in.
"Yes, much. Thank you, Erestor."
"I'd like to work a bit. My head feels lighter, I think I can concentrate."
"Very well." For me, work was the best thing to happen to me, and I imagined it was the same with Elrond. So I much appreciated that he came with me to the study not only for the help he would be but for his sake, too.
In the evening I found I had been right. My impression was that Elrond's state had finally improved, too. He had emerged in his work and regained some of his energy with it. When we went into the great hall for dinner, he was already nearly back to his own self.
During the meal I observed Celebrian closely. Yes, you could sense her discomfort. She was mainly fussing over her children. And when Elrond showed his illness somehow, by blowing his nose ore coughing or whatever, she showed an over-interest, always asking if she could help him or telling him she wished he would heal quickly. Yes, that she really did. For the "weakness" of her husband obviously embarrassed her. I sighed to myself. Mine was not the only life that was hard, loving someone I could never reach. Other elves had problems, too. And perhaps they were even more grave. I at least could masturbate in the night in peace, thinking of my secret love, whilst Elrond and Celebrian were both bound to the other and not open for showing interest elsewhere.
Yet eventually Elrond healed, too, after the twins had long become whole and healthy again. And the tension between the Lord and Lady lessened again until it was practically invisible - at least to those who didn't know what I now knew.
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