You nodded, “Of course, My Lord.”
Both Bilbo and Balin could see Thorin’s eye twitch at your use of the honorific but if you noticed you didn’t show it, keeping your eyes trained forward and your stance formal. You stayed quiet as your mentor argued with Thorin again, trying to get him to show the map to Elrond, who was one of the few in Middle Earth that could actually read it. Once he’d agreed to share his small scrap of ancient parchment, Elrond examined it closely, holding it up in the moonlight to give a curious hum, “Moon runes.”
A wide smile spread across your face and you held back the urge to squeal in delight as Gandalf breathed, “Moon runes… Of course.”
“Moon runes?” Bilbo questioned, looking to you for an explanation. You offered him a small grin, “Ancient runes written in an ink that can only be read when illuminated by the light of the moon and, the more complex ones, only by the light of a moon of the same season and shape.”
“Precisely.” Elrond stated, approving of your interest in the ancient language, and then stepped further into the room to more closely examine the map. You let the others follow him to listen to him talk, observing your surrounds with curiosity as you wandered a little.
You stepped forward to run your fingers along a railing that had a slight dip in its otherwise smooth surface, like someone had continuously worried at it with their hand. You raised an eyebrow at it and then stroked the dip with your fingertips, only to gasp and pull away like it had burned you.
The noise drew the attention of the others and Gandalf gave a little frown, “What did you see?”
You shook your head as you turned away from them, your expression sorrowful as your eyes brimmed with tears, and Bilbo wanted desperately to go to you and would have had Gandalf’s hand not rested firmly on his shoulder. You took a couple of deep breaths and then raised your face to meet Elrond’s, “I am so sorry for your loss My Lord. In time you will join her in Valinor, you should not let your grief weigh upon you so.”
Elrond startled, looking from you to Gandalf who was watching you closely, noting that you’d gone pale and there was a pain in your eyes that looked centuries old, far older than you were. Taking a moment, you better composed yourself, straightening your stance and raising your chin, “I have over stepped my place My Lord, please forgive me and say all is forgotten so that we may see what the moon has to offer.”
Elrond gave a final glance to Gandalf who was silently telling him not to push it, as the dwarves and Bilbo examined you with a new interest, and then nodded, “It is already forgiven and forgotten my child. Let us continue on to more pressing matters.”
He began to lead the group away and Gandalf released Bilbo’s shoulder with an upward nod in your direction indicating that he should go to you. You had already began to follow Elrond and the dwarves when he caught your arm and you turned to look at him before wrapping your arms around him in a desperate hug, needing some form of affectionate contact to temper the images in your head.
He didn’t hesitate to return it, holding you close for a moment before quietly beginning to ask, “What was-“
You pulled away and shook your head, pressing a finger over his lips, “Hush. Later. Now there are far more curious things to see.”
He nodded and then you turned to catch up to Elrond and the others, knowing he would follow you.
Elrond led you to a rock platform of sorts, whether it was carved out of the cliff face or naturally formed you did not know but it offered a perfect view of the moon through the many waterfalls around it.
Bilbo was glad to see an awed smile cross your previously sad face as you stepped to the edge of the area, reaching out to let the water from one of the rivulet waterfalls envelope your hand. He felt Gandalf’s hand on his shoulder and looked up at him, “Thank you my dear fellow. There are some comforts I can not easily offer her.”
He just nodded looking back to you, you had moved to stand next to Elrond as he pressed the map to a crystal pedestal that allowed the moon to light it up.
“It would seem you were meant to come to Rivendell as the same moon shines upon us tonight as the day these runes were written nearly two hundred years ago,” he stated as the runes on the map lit up when the crystal did, allowing him to read what was there, “Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the key-hole.”
The dwarves began to discuss this with Gandalf as you looked on and Elrond, discovering the true intentions of the dwarfs, began to walk off in a huff. You stopped him, skipping over to bow your head as you asked, “My Lord, if you will allow it I would very much like to remain here with my thoughts for a short while longer.”
He scrutinized you for a second and then nodded, “I will allow it. Though I ask that you not to stay longer than you must, your injury will heal far quicker if you allow yourself to rest.”
“Of course, My Lord. You have my gratitude.”
Elrond’s voice dropped so only you could hear it, “You should allow the Halfling to join you, he seems quite concerned with the way the moonlight brings out the beauty in certain things.”
You blushed, giving a small shy smile as you looked over at Bilbo who quickly averted his eyes from you, “A truly wonderful bit of sound advice, My Lord. I shall take it to heart.”
Elrond shook his head as he gave a soft knowing smile and continued his path off of and away from the platform, followed by Gandalf and the two dwarves who were quietly discussing the path ahead in light of the new discovery. Bilbo moved to join them but as you passed him to return to the crystal you offered, “You may join me if you like. The view of the moon is exquisite from this place.”
“Uhhmm… Are you sure? Didn’t you just tell Lord Elrond you wanted to be with your uh...thoughts or something of the sort?”
You tried to control the twitch of your lips as they threatened to turn up in a smirk when he blushed and opened his mouth a couple of times only to close it before finally responding, “Then I suppose I must stay to keep your thoughts here as well.”
Letting out that lilting laugh that he so loved to hear, you beckoned for him to come sit with you on the edge of the platform, sitting down to let your legs hang over it as you waited for him to join you.
When he did, plopping down next to you, you turned to look at him, “Thank you for staying with me, Bilbo.”
He nodded, looking up at the moon, “You were right about the view.”
The crescent moon loomed largely in the sky, its sharp curve and cratered surface clearly visible, and you hummed contently as you looked up at it, prompting him to ask, “Why is it that you cherish the moon as you do? You even knew about the moon runes. Our host seemed impressed.”
“It reminds me of my childhood and my parents. They both cherished the moon and its twinkling companions in the night sky just as I do. I suppose it is a love I inherited from them. As for the moon runes… when my mother was away, my father would often tell me a tale involving two lovers, forbidden to be together, who communicated through moon runes that could only be read as these were- on the night of the same moon and season as when they were written. They had to wait a year to read what the other had written and two to get a response. All to keep their love a secret. It was tragic and beautiful at the same time just like his voice was deep and gruff but gentle. I’ve never forgotten it.”
“Would you tell it to me sometime?” He asked, watching the way the moonlight made your fair skin glow and your eyes sparkle as he thought again about how well it suited you.
Turning to offer him a small smile, you replied, “If you’d like I will tell it the next time you find yourself unable to sleep.”
He gave you a shy grin, “I’d like that very much.”
You yawned softly and he chuckled, standing to offer you a hand, “Come on. It’s been a long day and I know you could do with a proper rest.”
Taking his hand so he could help you to your feet, you sighed, “Do you think Lord Elrond would be offended if I slept in the stable?”
He laughed, wrapping an arm around your shoulder, careful of your wound, “I’m sure Blossom will be just fine on his own.”
Humming softly, you leaned into his shoulder, “True… perhaps a change from his back will do my muscles some good as well.”
The two of you disconnected, padding along next to each other to your respective rooms with whispered good nights and increasingly frequent quiet yawns. You flopped down on your bed and realized you couldn’t even remember the last time you’d slept on an actual bed. It was nice but you couldn’t help but feel lonely without the dwarven snores and Blossom’s soft nickers to break up the quiet. Curling up into yourself, you softly began to hum the lullaby you’d soothed the horse with earlier as you drifted of into a deep sleep, knowing no danger crept along the safe halls of Imladris.