Tangled Tales

Glorfindel Unleashed 1-5














Entrance | Livejournal





Title : 'Glorfindel Unleashed'

Author: Eawen Penallion
Type: FPS

Beta: Beloved Nienna, so encouraging!

Disclaimer: all rights to the characters belong to JRR Tolkien – I’m only playing with them.
Rating: (G for this chapter, NC-17 overall)
Pairing: Glorfindel/Erestor in later chapters
Warnings: M/M, implied child abuse, angst, character death

Author’s notes: AU as in it is my idea, but canon where possible with regard to LOTR history.

 

Summary : When Glorfindel becomes a child’s protector, he does not realise what Erestor will be to him when he reaches majority. Can love survive the trials of death and destiny?

 

 

 

F.A. 469

The weather was fair and fine in Gondolin on the day when Glorfindel first met Erestor. Too fine to be cooped up within his council chambers, so he deferred one half of the agenda, delegating the rest of the tasks to his able advisors and set off through the halls of House of the Golden Flower to seek the sun. The house was almost deserted as he strode through the halls, for it seemed most of his household had had the same idea. Dust motes danced merrily on the beams of light that shone through the windows and doorways that he passed on his journey to the garden entrance to his house.

Glorfindel was proud of his gardens. Though space was at a premium within the Hidden City, his forebears had designed the little they did have to allow for a large expanse of lawn dotted with trees, whose spreading branches provided for those in need of cool shade. Fountains played their sweet tinkling song and the air was redolent with the sweet perfume of flowers, many of them golden. The golden warrior smiled, taking in the patches of celandine the gardeners had planted over the centuries. The sound of childish laughter drifted to his ears, and Glorfindel grinned. He followed the joyous cries to a hedged area set aside for the elflings.

The children swiftly spotted the brilliant sapphire eyes and braids of gold that peered round the edge of the hedges and with screams of delight fell upon him, tugging at his leggings, climbing his enormous frame and treating him as one of their own. For in as much as Glorfindel was beloved by the adults of the city, he was adored by the children of his House. With them he had no responsibilities, no stature or valiant history to uphold, but could be a fellow to them, a provider of sweetmeats and a teller of stories. There was a lot of the child within Glorfindel and the children recognised this. As he rolled around in the dust, pushed them on the swings strung from the trees or threw them high in catching games with his strong arms, he was watched with love and respect by the ellith of the household who took on the care of the children while their parents fulfilled other duties within the city.

Finally their other games called to them, and the children began to release their hold on their Lord and drift off to other pleasures, leaving the golden lord to talk to their nursemaids and parents. It was while in discussion with Mirieth, the wife of one of his lieutenants and a matron with two children of her own, that Glorfindel spotted what seemed like a bundle of black rags in the shadows near the wall.

"What is that, Mistress Mirieth?"

The elleth turned, her face fell in sadness as she saw what Glorfindel looked at. "Ai, my lord, there lies a sad tale. That little one is Erestor, son of Galwion."

Glorfindel was stunned to realise that the bundle was a child, and grieved when he realised whose child. Galwion was a sergeant of the house who had been killed on patrol in the mountains but a month earlier. Glorfindel had broken the news to the widow himself, and had ordered that all assistance and comfort be given to the stricken family.

"But what does he do? Why is he alone? Is his mother not near?" His tone was almost accusing, for he could not conceive of a grieving child being mistaken for a bundle of rags.

Mirieth shook her head. " Aerwithen is fading, my lord, and the child is in the care of her sister." Glorfindel started at the spitting fury evident in her tone, and gave her a questioning look. Mirieth blushed. "Aerwithen is from the House of the Harp, and her sister - well, I should not be uncharitable, but she is one of the foulest tempered beings I have ever had the misfortune to meet. Aerwithen can be difficult at times but I know that she is shy and covers her shyness with a sharp facade that she constructed to cope with the world. Aerwroth is simply mean! She disapproved of her sister’s marriage outside of her House, and has no love for the boy." The nursemaid softened as she tenderly looked at the still form. "Poor little mite, Erestor is afflicted with the same crippling shyness as his mother, and that witch is no help. His mother not yet dead and she swaddles him in mourning clothes and as a result no child will go near him! Not that he would respond even if they did. He is sweet and biddable though, little pet."

"How old is the child?"

"Oh, but a babe, no more than eight summers!" She looked keenly at Glorfindel. "Would you talk to him, my Lord? Your magic might just break through his barrier of solitude..."

Glorfindel needed no further prompting. Crossing swiftly over the grass he penetrated the shadows to seat himself quietly by the boy. Initially he had thought that the clothes shrouding the slight form acted as a hood, but saw instead that the darkness was a long curtain of hair, as black as the velvet of the night. Tiny pointed ears broke through the curtain but no face could be seen.

"Hello, I’m Glorfindel. And you must be Erestor?" The golden lord’s voice was as sweet as his countenance, soft in tone and temper and dulcet enough to promote a response from the most reluctant of recipients, but none came. Glorfindel was not disheartened. Instead he started to speak softly on the most innocuous of topics, the weather. He spoke of the warmth of the sun, the pleasures of a warm breeze and the delights of cooling oneself in the spray of the fountains, as his friend the Lord of the Fountain was wont to do. He did not touch upon the subject of the boy’s mother, for he judged that the little elfling would be too bewildered at missing the presence of his father to understand what was happening to other parent. He talked now without hope of response, intent only on taking the first step on the road to building a trust with the child. There was still no response when he bid his farewell, but he thought he sensed a tiny motion when he rose from the ground, and hoped that that minute recognition of his presence was a good sign. He returned to Mirieth.

"I will come again tomorrow. Do not despair, Mistress Mirieth, between us he shall learn that he is loved."

Mirieth nodded. "I hope so, my Lord. I hope so."

*********

After that morning, Glorfindel’s visits to the children’s garden became a daily occurrence. He gave orders that a new suit of clothes be delivered to the child’s aunt, with instructions that they must henceforth be seen on the elfling. Aerwroth obviously feared such attention from the Lord of the House, as Erestor quickly appeared in the russet browns and crimson reds that Glorfindel had chosen for him. Aerwroth had also experienced a visit from the Elda, who had paid his quiet respects to the ailing mistress of the house. By the looks the golden-haired lord bestowed upon her Aerwroth swiftly divined that she was not in his favour, and she simpered and fawned in an effort to avert any retribution for her treatment of Erestor.

 

The pen-neth did not change his behaviour. Though neatly dressed now, his extreme shyness severed him from his contemporaries and his sole companion was Glorfindel. The incongruous pair sat side-by-side in the shade, talking softly and sharing sweet treats that Glorfindel stole from his kitchens. Well, *Glorfindel* talked softly, for Erestor as always hid behind his curtain of hair, and the sweetmeats on the plate only disappeared when Glorfindel’s eyes were averted. Many would have given up with such discouragement but at last the day came when his patience was rewarded.

.

Normally during speech Glorfindel gesticulated to emphasise his points, but some empathy had made him realise that this would frighten the elfling so he had taken to placing his hands down on the ground to either side, unmoving. On this day they were sitting in companionable silence when he felt a soft touch on his fingers and he realised that Erestor had laid a tiny hand upon his own large one. He did not move, did not react in any way to this unforeseen movement, but remained still as the hand stroked the thick fingers, feeling each one in turn before retreating back into the folds of brown tunic.

The visit ended shortly afterwards and Glorfindel spoke his soft farewells, then rose and made his way back across the lawn to where Mirieth stood. The elleth’s eyes glittered with tears, and her welcoming smile told him that she had witnessed the exchange with rising hope in her heart. Glorfindel smiled back, and then frowned as he remembered something he had not told the boy.

"I go on patrol tomorrow and will not return for a ten-day. Please, reassure our pen-dhnen that I will return?"

Mirieth nodded. "Aye, my lord, though I wish you had told him yourself, for he might not believe me." Glorfindel realised this was true, and made haste to return to Erestor.

"Pen-neth, I will not be here tomorrow, or for a few days, for I must do my duty and protect our city on patrol I *will* be back and until then," he tugged a ring from his smallest finger, "I want you to hold this for me as a pledge of that promise." He laid the ring on the grass beside the head-bowed form, and saw the tiny hand reach out and take it. His heart swelled and in a moment of impulse he bent down and pressed a chaste kiss upon the raven hair.

"Till then, sweet Erestor."

********

Patrol passed slowly and Glorfindel could hardly believe how much he longed to see his little Erestor. On his return to the city he did not even delay to change his garb but hurried to the garden, knowing that the hour approached in which the children would return to their homes. He was relieved to see that some still remained, and that one was Erestor. Mirieth was also there and she rose from where she had been playing with another child to turn and greet him.

"Welcome back, my lord!" she called, and from her smile it was obvious that she had great and happy news. Yet she did not divulge it, but aimed Glorfindel to his little friend. "He has waited for you patiently, my lord. I think he has something for you."

Intrigued, Glorfindel sat beside the usual bowed form. "I’m home," he whispered, "just as I promised."

The little hand snaked out and dropped the ring back into his own. He heard a rustle of paper, and a crumpled ball was drawn forth from within the red tunic and placed beside the ring. Curiously Glorfindel opened the ball, smoothing the paper flat. Upon it was a crude child’s drawing, stick figures as young children do, of a golden-haired rider on a white horse. Moisture pricked at Glorfindel’s eyes.

"Thank you, Erestor. It is beautiful," he whispered.

A sudden movement and Glorfindel was shocked to find that the boy had wrapped his arms as far round his broad waist as possible in a hug that expressed deep affection. The raven head snuggled against his chest, then slowly lifted, deep chocolate-brown eyes finally meeting his own sapphire ones. The soft red lips opened, and for the first time Glorfindel heard his little one’s hushed voice.

"My Glo’fin’l."

Throat suddenly clenched with emotion, Glorfindel folded his arms around the sweet boy and the two sat for a long time, the outside world excluded.

"Always, pen vuil. Always."

F.A. 469

 

The summer waned and Aerwithen lingered. The children played less in the garden and instead moved to their designated teaching halls, away from any vagaries in the weather. The older children were ensconced with their tutors in the libraries; the younger were in rooms decorated in bright colours, containing toys and books suitable for their ages. It was a change for Erestor, but not an unwelcome one.

Having broken the barrier of speech, Erestor did not automatically become a garrulous child. He would now communicate with Mirieth in simple two or three word sentences, asking when he required something. He also learned to trust a new elleth, a niece of Mirieth called Dwen. Mirieth had discovered that Erestor’s previous nursemaid had been dismissed by Aerwroth and had suggested to Glorfindel that her sister’s daughter might fill the post.

"It may be of help to have a sympathetic eye within those chambers, for I do not trust that witch to care for our little one as we would like," she advised her lord.

Glorfindel agreed, and to forestall any dissension by the aunt he declared that he would pay all monies pertaining to the appointment. Dwen was a sensible girl and gentle enough to draw out the little boy and introduce him to the fun of play. She also found another shy child who would not be rough or boisterous and often the two played side by side with building bricks, or sharing their colours.

At last, with his growing confidence, Mirieth could see Erestor’s face and remarked often on his beauty. Erestor was a slim child with skin the colour of pale cream. His startling hair was like black velvet, falling unrestrained over his shoulders; the heart-shaped face framed the rose-red lips, which curled sweetly but shyly when he was happy which happened more and more now. It was his eyes, though, which drew the attention. Large, exotically almond-shaped, the depth of the chocolate-brown orbs exuded warm and purity of soul. And those eyes searched constantly for Glorfindel.

No one could replace the golden lord in Erestor’s affection. He listened for the heavy footsteps along the corridor leading to the teaching room and would wait at the appointed hour near the entrance. Only Glorfindel could cause the blinding smile that lit up the elfling’s face as he was swept up into the safe arms of his best friend.

"My Glo’fin’l."

And Glorfindel would laugh, and gently sway him in his arms. Not throw or swing, for somehow he knew that Erestor needed something gentler.

"And what today, pen-neth? More story?" At the enthusiastic nod, Glorfindel settled himself on the floor pillows and smiled his thanks when Dwen handed him the primer they had been using that week. Erestor snuggled further into his lap and the two heads, sable and gold, bent over the book spending the next hour entranced in the joy of words.

Erestor was ravenous when it came learning. Mirieth regularly claimed that his voracious intellectual appetite would exhaust her little library; so avid a reader was he. In the end she had implored Glorfindel to find other pursuits for the elfling. And so it was that one fine day the Lord of the House of the Golden Flower introduced Erestor, son of Galwion to one of Glorfindel’s closest friends – Asfaloth.

The huge creature was the finest stallion in Gondolin. A good seventeen hands high, he was strong across the back to take the weight of a fully armoured Glorfindel, who was an elf of no mean stature. Of the purest white, his mane flowed like Glorfindel’s, a shade almost like gold. He was truly magnificent, holding his noble head in proud position; highly spirited, he was a formidable challenge to the tiny elf.

"Look, Erestor," said Glorfindel, "He wants to be your friend." It was a hard task to coax the little elfling’s head from where it sheltered in the base of his neck, whilst simultaneously trying to loosen the stranglehold the said elfling had placed around the said throat. "He won’t hurt you, pen-neth"

"I don’t think he believes you, Fin," came a laughing voice from behind the lord. Glorfindel turned with the child in his arms, offering a wry smile to the newcomer. "So," continued the elf, "this is your little protg?"

"Aye, this is Erestor," The elfling was still silent, hidden beneath his veil of hair. " Pen-neth, this is Ecthelion, my very good friend. Look, sweet one, he has hair like yours. He has black hair too. Won’t you give him greetings?" He bent his head, trying to peer through the thick strands, finally spotting those brown eyes. "Saes, Erestor?" he added a twist of pleading.

The child finally raised his head, and a small voice spoke out. "Mae govannen, Ecthelion."

"Mae govannen, Master Erestor," responded the Lord of the Fountain. "Aye, but you are a pretty one. Are you here to see Asfaloth?"

The elfling nodded, deciding once he had seen this new elf that he liked him. There was nothing not to like. Ecthelion was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful of elves, dark of hair and fair of face. He always bore a look of innocence and joy upon his face, though Glorfindel knew that a wicked sense of humour lurked behind that faade. ‘Thel’s voice was also his fame for as well as being a renowned and fearless warrior, he had the sweetest voice in all Gondolin, and it was often said he could charm the birds from the trees. Glorfindel could see it had already charmed Erestor.

"Shall I tell you a secret, Erestor?" Another shy nod. "Glorfindel calls all his horses Asfaloth – do you know why?" A shake this time. "Because he is too silly and lazy to try and remember any other name! This way he doesn’t have to." Ecthelion chuckled, fully expecting Erestor to join in but his laughter stopped when he received a stern glare from those dark eyes.

" Glo’fin’l *not* silly. He *my* Glo’fin’l!" The child’s voice had deepened in his anger at the slur on his friend, and Glorfindel laughed aloud in pleasure.

"Ai, ‘Fin, you truly have a stout defender here! May the Valar help any who cross *this* elf when he is grown! I thought you said he was shy?" Glorfindel nodded, puzzled at his friend’s comment. Ecthelion continued. "No truly shy child would challenge a warrior like me," the dark lord smiled. "He’s Galwion’s boy, you said? Now *there* was a reserved elf, I never got more than ten words out of him on patrol. And if the mother was as shy as you say then I think this little one has simply followed his parents’ example. No, young Erestor has plenty of spirit."

Glorfindel pondered on this. Perhaps his friend was right, and the child had no more than mimicked his parents’ formidable reserve. Perhaps this would bode well for the little one’s future, for Glorfindel had felt that worry press upon him at times.

"Now, how about a ride?" Ecthelion was saying, and Glorfindel gasped to feel the boy lifted from his arms and placed upon Asfaloth’s broad back. Erestor squealed and Glorfindel made to protest when he registered that the cry had been one of delight. "Up you go behind him, ‘Fin. I’ll lead you out."

Glorfindel sprang upon the steed’s back, an arm quickly circling Erestor’s waist, and Ecthelion began to lead the horse from the stable.

"That’s it, pen-neth. Grip him firmly with your knees, and hold his mane with your hands. Asfaloth won’t let you fall, will you boy?" Ecthelion’s instructions were swiftly followed though the thin legs were unlikely to make any impression upon the stallion. Erestor leaned into the sway, perfectly happy in his beloved Glorfindel’s grip. "Ai, ‘Fin, Asfaloth’s in fine condition. He’ll bear you well on the journey tomorrow."

Glorfindel could feel the boy tense and accusing eyes turned swiftly up to him. He sighed. "I hadn’t told him yet, ’Thel," he said, and then looked contritely down at his little friend. "I am sorry, sweet one, I *will* be travelling from the city, and it is no short patrol. I must bear a message beyond the Encircling Mountains to Nargothrond and I will be gone for at least a month. Here," he pulled off his mithril ring, " I meant to give our token to you later but you had better take it now."

Erestor nodded disconsolately. "A promise," he whispered.

"Aye, pen-neth. A promise." Glorfindel dropped a kiss onto the soft black hair.

* * * *

Glorfindel knew that something was amiss as soon as he rode into the stable yard, and his heart clenched with foreboding. Mirieth was awaiting him, her face wet with tears and her hands wringing in anxiety. He leapt from Asfaloth’s back before the horse drew to a halt.

"Mirieth, what is wrong? What ails you?"

The elleth shook her head in misery, the words tumbling from her mouth.

"He’s gone, my lord. He’s gone! His mother died but three days after you left, and her pyre burned, then she took him and now he’s gone!"

Glorfindel gripped the distraught elleth’s shoulders, shaking her lightly in an effort to calm her.

"Where, Mirieth? Where has she taken him?"

The elleth took deep breaths. She had been waiting for her lord’s return for so long, repeating her tale over and over in her head, so fearing his reaction that she was almost overcome with hysteria. She took one last inhalation and tried to steady her voice.

"Aerwroth has taken him back with her to her own house, The House of the Harp. She said it was her right as Erestor’s only living relative. Oh my lord, she dressed him in that awful black immediately, almost with glee. And she has dismissed Dwen. She said she would hire a nursemaid herself, one who was not a spy." Mirieth looked directly into Glorfindel’s eyes. "I have attended upon her three times, my lord. She will not let me see him."

Glorfindel ground his teeth in anger. "She will let *me*," he growled and snatching at Mirieth’s wrist he strode from the yard.

They must have been quite a sight, the golden lord striding through the streets of the White City and the elleth being dragged behind, almost running in an effort to keep up with the long strides of the large elf. The twists and turns were many but soon they were before the House of the Harp, and its gates were open to them.

No one in Gondolin did not recognise the Lord of the House of the Golden Flower. His strength, bravery and formidable skill in the service of the King was renowned and the warriors of the Harp were among his many admirers; the more so perhaps because the same admiration could not be extended to their own Lord. For Salgant, it was rumoured, was no true warrior. It was to his chambers that Glorfindel and Mirieth were directed.

The Lord of the Harp was not impressed with the greeting he received.

"Salgant, you have a boy living in this house – a boy called Erestor – and I want to see him *now*!"

The lord of the house quavered inwardly, for Glorfindel unleashed was not a sight for the faint hearted, yet he maintained his outward faade of authority, an act he had perfected through the centuries. He slowly looked up and down the figure of his counterpart, noticing in disdain the travel-stained leathers. Salgant was nothing if not fastidious about his own appearance.

"Glorfindel, is your errand so urgent that you could not change before arranging a visit to a fellow lord? I must say your choice of garb is most … aromatic." There were a few titters from Salgant’s advisors. Glorfindel took no notice.

"The boy, Salgant."

Salgant placed one finger to his cheek, pretending to ponder upon the question. "Ah, yes, Aerwithen’s get. I know of this child, for the sister, Aerwroth has come before me asking for advice on this matter." He turned to one of the pages. "Please ask Mistress Aerwroth to come before me – and bring the boy." The page hurried to do his master’s bidding. Salgant turned back to Glorfindel who still held firm to Mirieth’s wrist, an obviously uncomfortable situation for the elleth as her face bore signs of the pain. A slight tug drew his attention to her discomfort and he released her.

"And what advice did *Mistress Aerwroth* seek?" asked Glorfindel, his opinion of the elleth clear in his tone.

"Why, a legal matter," Salgant declared, "That of custody of the child. In fact, I took counsel with Turgon, but it seems the law is clear."

At that moment the door to the chamber opened and Aerwroth strode in, followed by a nursemaid leading the small child clad in black. Glorfindel made to reach for the child but Salgant’s upraised hand stalled him.

"Hold, Glorfindel! For the counsel given to me was thus – in the absence of both parents, custody of an orphan child passes to their nearest relative, if that person is willing to give an abode to the child. Aerwroth is willing. Therefore," the lord smirked, "Erestor son of Aerwithen is now in her charge and is henceforth a member of the House of the Harp. The King has spoken."

Glorfindel did not move for a moment, did not blink as the news sank in. He felt hollow as if he had lost part of himself, and knew not what to say. Mirieth stood behind him, seeing her lord’s pain, silently weeping. Her lord raised his head, a bleak look upon his face.

"Please, let me hold him one more time. Let me say goodbye?"

Salgant was satisfied. For so long he had heard the sneering rumours about his own valour, had heard the unfavourable comparisons with this knight of high fame and virtue. It was good to hear the plea in the golden lord’s voice, to bring him to beg before him. He gestured to Erestor, nodding to the black-shrouded elleth.

"Aye, I am sure Mistress Aerwroth can have no objection to such a simple request, eh my lady?"

Glorfindel knelt and, at a gesture from Aerwroth, the nursemaid released Erestor’s hand. The child flew into Glorfindel’s arms.

Glorfindel clutched his little one close to his breast, and closed his eyes tight in a vain effort to prevent the tears from falling. How had such a tiny creature gained such a hold over his heart in only a few months? What power did Erestor possess that he felt so lost at this removal? How could he let him go? Yet he must. Pulling the child away from him he looked into Erestor’s eyes. His throat was choked, yet he must speak.

"Pen-vuil, it is not my wish but you- you must stay here with your aunt." The child wailed, a cry that formed a small fissure in Glorfindel’s heart. "No, pen-neth, listen! I will always love you, sweet one. I will come to see you as often as I may. I won’t forget you, Erestor." The tears were freely flowing now from both adult and child, Erestor wailing in the understanding that he would not be returning home with his Glo’fin’l. The nursemaid tried to take Erestor’s hand but he only clung tighter to his lord and finally she gripped him firmly and tore him away, bearing him from the room. Erestor’s screams could be heard resounding down the corridor.

Aerwroth approached the kneeling Glorfindel. "My Lord, I found this among the child’s possessions. I would not have one of my house said to be a thief, so I return it to you now." She held out her hand and upon it lay a mithril ring. Glorfindel groaned.

"It was a pledge, a promise," he whispered.

"Well, he will not need it now." The elleth dropped the ring, which bounced upon the marble floor, rolling to a final stop at his feet. "Goodbye, my lord".

The final shreds holding his heart rent into two as her footsteps echoed down the corridor, falling away to nothing.

F.A. 470

 

If you did not know Glorfindel well you would have noticed no difference in the golden lord’s demeanour. Ecthelion knew him well, and noted the changes with dismay. No more did he see that brilliant smile; or hear the resounding laugh; or feel the power and concentration in battle that Glorfindel normally imbued in his sparring sessions. All were gone, and the golden lord was a shadow. His outward face was the same but his heart was in the House of the Harp, in the keeping of a small boy called Erestor.

Why this should be so Ecthelion could not understand. Glorfindel had had many partners, light flirtations with ellyn and ellith, but had never shown the slightest inclination to settle down, wed and raise a family. At the age when most elves thought of love, the age that Iluvatar had appointed as shortly after majority, Glorfindel had been fighting for his life. Glorfindel and Ecthelion had been among the host that had traversed the Helcarax; that grinding, freezing waste of crushing ice and snow. Survival was all that mattered, and the survivors had rejoiced that they still lived. The centuries following had been times of starvation, toil and fear. The endless battles; the fall of Fingon; the constant attacks by Melkor’s minions had pushed aside the need or opportunity to procreate for so many warriors. Only the past three hundred years and the relative peace and safety of Gondolin had allowed the elves to resume that which might otherwise have been thought of as a ‘normal life’.

So far Glorfindel had not found that one, ellon or elleth, who was the other half of his soul. Yet he obviously wanted a child, one who would love him unconditionally and it seemed he had found him in Erestor.

Until he had lost him.

Glorfindel had not given up easily. He had tried to make good on his promise to Erestor, had visited the House of the Harp with books and treats and toys for the boy – but there had always been an excuse. The boy is sleeping. The boy is at his lessons. The boy is indisposed. Always he had been refused entrance until finally he had been called before the king and, after protest from Salgant, been told to stop his ‘harassment’ of the boy and his aunt. Thus he was effectively barred from that which he longed for most.

Ecthelion knew that Glorfindel wasn’t alone in his sorrow. Mirieth had taken hard the loss of the boy, for she saw it as a failure to her lord. Her niece too was saddened, for the sweetness of Erestor had endeared him to her heart. Thus they were a triad, feeding off one another in their grief so that none may heal; and Glorfindel was worst.

The Lord of the House of the Fountain had thus taken it upon himself to support his friend and to turn his thoughts elsewhere.

* * * *

Glorfindel sighed. He could cheerfully kill Ecthelion. Quickly of course, he wasn’t cruel. Still, death was on the cards for the dark-haired lord. Perhaps he could drown him in one of his own fountains? No, too long. Impale him upon the spike of his own helm? Now *that* was an idea. Very delightful to contemplate. Much more so than another of these interminable ‘entertainments’ Ecthelion had organised for him. Not that it was presented as such. Just lots and lots of eligible ellyn and ellith who would just *love* to become ‘friends’ with the golden lord, who flattered and pouted and wanted to… comfort him. Beautiful, desirable, elegant and utterly boring. On second thought, death was too good for ‘Thel. He’d just lock him in this room with these twittering idiots for a few days and see how *he* liked it.

"Thank you so much for your observations, you are very wise." Glorfindel didn’t know and didn’t care what the elleth had been blithering on about but from the look on her face as he strode away he hadn’t given the appropriate answer. Tough. He approached his friend through the milling throngs gracing the ball.

" ‘Thel, I’ll take my leave of you now. It has been a long day and…" His voice trailed off, for he didn’t even have the will to make an excuse. Ecthelion hesitated as if deciding whether to remonstrate with him, then simply laid a hand upon his shoulder.

"Maer d, meldir," he said simply, and watched with sad eyes as Glorfindel exited his halls.

The night air was brisk and laden with the promise of more snow as Glorfindel stepped out into the street. It was now late winter, and three months had passed since… Glorfindel shook his head as if trying to break the train of his thoughts. Was he always going to hearken back to that day in Salgant’s council chamber? It was over. It was finished. Life moves on.

The golden lord was startled when he saw where his feet had led him. Not to his bedchambers, warm with the heat from the open fire, aglow with the light from the many candles. Not to the large-framed bed, blankets with a green coverlet embroidered with the golden celandine of his House.

He sat heavily on the grass in the shadowed corner of his garden, playing with the mithril ring upon his finger, caring not that the snow was wet and cold. He did not look to his side but straight across the darkened lawns of his house. If he looked straight ahead he could pretend that a little bundle of rags sat beside him.

He doubled up at that thought, dry sobs escaping from his heaving chest. Stop it, he admonished himself. No more. How long he sat he didn’t know but he was pulled from his solitude when he heard shouts from behind him. He turned, surprised to see Mirieth running across the snow, long skirts flying.

"My lord!" she called. "I have news!" She gasped to a halt in front of him. "I have news – of Erestor!" Her tone was frantic and Glorfindel lurched in despair. He grasped at her shoulders to steady her but let her continue without prompting, for she needed none.

"I have been visiting with a friend in the House of the Hammer and he has a lady friend, a love who is of the House of the Harp, I confided in him of our troubles some months past. His beloved is a servant in her House and they have been passing onto me any news of Erestor."

"Why did you not tell me before?" asked Glorfindel. He would have given anything for news of his little one and Mirieth knew that full well. The elleth shook her head.

"There was naught really to tell. A child’s voice heard here, a sighting there – just enough to tell me he was well. Aerwroth is not a person to be crossed and this elleth did not want to jeopardise her position but – a week ago she heard cries from Aerwroth’s rooms. A child’s screams. She alerted her superior but was told to hold her tongue. She has passed these rooms again and heard whimpering, then - since two days ago – nothing. She did not see her lover until this morning, and I him tonight. Oh my lord, what has she done to our little boy?" Her face crumpled in torment at the thoughts that crossed her mind.

The rage was overwhelming. It was liken to the battle rage Glorfindel experienced in war and, as at those times, his instinct sharpened. The orders came quickly.

" Collect Dwen and send a messenger to Lord Ecthelion. Tell him to meet me at the House of the Harp, for I will be in need of a witness to my acts this night. Go, do as I ask and meet me at the main door."

Glorfindel raced to his rooms where he stopped only to collect his broadsword. No one would stand in his way tonight.

Their passage to the House of the Harp was swift, for the streets were almost deserted at this late hour, yet it was not so late that the doors of the house were barred. Nevertheless, an elf bearing arms was not to be borne. Lord or no, Glorfindel was challenged.

"Hold my lord, what disaster has happened that brings you here so armed?" cried the captain, motioning his men to cut off the entrance. Glorfindel growled, a primal sound that struck fear into the men’s hearts yet they moved to obey their captain.

"Let me pass, Tawaron, my business is with your master and with the elleth Aerwroth. Escort me if you will, for what I go to see must be witnessed by more than one. If you know the way to Aerwroth’s chambers I beg of your mercy, lead me there – at once."

Tawaron did not hesitate, for he knew of that which had passed between Glorfindel and Salgant at their last meeting, and he had no love for Aerwroth. Furthermore, he was a father and had felt for the boy.

"This way, my lord." Tawaron lead them through the darkened corridors of the house, Glorfindel following, and Mirieth and Dwen behind. They halted before an oak door, stout – but if looks could kindle fire, this would have been ashes in seconds. Glorfindel pounded upon it. There was noise as in the drawing back of bolts and the door slowly swung open. Glorfindel did not hesitate. Pushing past the servant he marched into the room. Aerwroth stood before him.

"Where is the boy?" he snarled. Aerwroth tried to stand firm.

"This is an outrage…" she began but got no further as the tip of the giant sword pressed under her chin.

"Now, where is the boy?" Glorfindel repeated. The elleth was too stricken with fear to answer, to respond in any way, but the servant pointed to a door in the right hand wall of the room and the corridor beyond. Glorfindel made his down the passage, flinging the doors wide in his search. He came to the last, which was locked. Not waiting for a key, he flung his shoulder at it, cracking the lock.

The room was cold, deathly cold for no fire was lit to salve the winter frost. Though bearable for an adult elf it would be bitter for a child combined with the dankness of the air. It was dark, and a stench permeated the chamber. Glorfindel called for a light. At that moment Ecthelion arrived, tumbling through the door in his obvious haste.

"I’m sorry, I was delayed - oh, Varda’s mercy!" he exclaimed in horror as the light was brought to bear on the room’s contents.

The cause of the stench was quickly obvious. A bucket had obviously been used as a privy, and was filled to overflowing. A dishpan was filled with water that was in no way fresh and a plate bore evidence of mouldy crusts of bread. Ecthelion turned to Aerwroth, who cowered at the entrance to the room, his eyes wide with disgust and amazement.

"Vile creature, what have you done?" he breathed.

Glorfindel took no notice as he turned to the mean bed, a threadbare blanket draped upon it and a black bundle upon that in turn. A stride and he knelt beside it, hand hovering over the tiny figure, dread binding his heart. He knew he could wait no longer and that every moment could count. Gently, as if stroking a butterfly, he lifted the lacklustre strands of hair from the boy’s face.

"Erestor?" His voice cracked, his throat clogged with sobs and tears he had no time to shed. "Pen-neth, can you hear me?"

The moment halted, time seemed to stand still as all held their breath, then the eyes opened, thick dark lashes sweeping upwards to reveal those brown irises. They stared, no spark of intelligence in them, then suddenly they focused. The parched red lips opened, trying to form a word.

"Glo’fin’l"

Swiftly the golden lord stripped the boy of the filthy clothes, checking him for any broken bones. There seemed to be none, but plenty of bruises, fresh and old.

"Quickly, Mirieth, find some blankets, clean and warm. Dwen, a cup of fresh water please."

The ellith hastened to do their lord’s bidding, horrified at the state of the child. Gently, Glorfindel coaxed Erestor to sip the water, soothing and cradling the child to his breast, who was now wrapped against the winter’s chill. A commotion in the outer rooms drew Ecthelion’s attention and he grimaced as he recognised the strident tones of Salgant.

"Glorfindel, you were warned - !" The Lord strode into the room then halted, his face screwed up against the noisome smell. The golden lord stood, holding his precious bundle against his chest.

"Aye," he said, his voice flat, "I was warned and now I warn *you*. If anyone *dares* to try to take this child from me again he will see my sword at his throat - and feel it go through. I declare that this child, Erestor son of Galwion, is now a scion of the House of the Golden Flower and under *my* protection. For you have failed this child sorely and have forfeited all rights of control over him. Ecthelion of the Fountain, do you bear witness?"

Ecthelion nodded grimly. "I do, and I will go now to Turgon and inform him of the events of this night. Tawaron, I call upon you to escort me, for you too have been a witness to these foul deeds. Bring the elleth for she must stand forth for these crimes." He leant down to retrieved Glorfindel’s sword, raising it high. At that Aerwroth screamed, fearing it was to be used against her. Tawaron only nodded to one of his guards to drag her away. He turned to Salgant, who had been protesting no knowledge of Aerwroth’s deeds.

"By your leave, my lord?" Salgant nodded, a cloth pressed to his nose. He looked nauseous and would put up no fight. Glorfindel pushed past him, intent on bringing his little one home.

* * * *

They cried that night, all of them, as they gently bathed and fed Erestor. Mirieth dipped sops of fresh bread into warm milk and Erestor took them eagerly, desperate for the nourishment. Dwen fetched clean clothes and salves for his bruises. Glorfindel cradled his boy, smoothing his hair, softly singing sweet songs. He turned his attention from Erestor only when Ecthelion arrived, followed by the king’s daughter, Idril Celebrindal. The ellith quickly curtseyed to the floor but Idril just smiled and waved for them to rise. Glorfindel did not move but simply nodded his head. He had known the princess for years beyond count and in private stood upon no ceremony with her. He turned to Ecthelion.

"What news?"

Ecthelion smiled.

"He is yours now, my friend. The King heard testimony from Tawaron and myself and has laid upon Aerwroth the punishment of imprisonment for at least fifty years. Salgant has received censure, though Maeglin argued that if Salgant didn’t know he could hardly be blamed. Rog pointed out that ignorance of the activities in his own House is hardly befitting a Lord. Meanwhile, our pen-neth is your responsibility from this night until the day of his majority."

The princess knelt before the tired child taking one small hand in hers, stroking his face gently with the other.

"He is lovely, Glorfindel. To know that he has been the victim of such evil I can hardly bear to contemplate. I offer my protection as well, if you will allow it." She looked up at the warrior, seeing gratitude and love for the child so evident in his eyes. "He will be the most loved child in all Gondolin, and probably the most spoilt too."

Glorfindel chuckled. "Too true, eh pen-neth?"

There was no answer, for a glaze had come over those chocolate eyes and, with a thumb in his little mouth, Irmo took him into his garden of Lrien in the Land of Dreams.

F.A. 470 - onwards

 

Children are resilient. Although it cannot be said that Erestor was not affected by his early trauma, he became a bright, though reserved, child as he blossomed in the care of those he loved. Within his immediate family there was of course Glorfindel, his shining light; Mirieth, who though she had to attend to the needs of her own family was looked upon by Erestor as a mother; Dwen, who was his nursemaid as a child and a sister as a youth; and Ecthelion, who (so Glorfindel said) was ‘a bad influence’, for he loved to tell tales of the mischief he and Glorfindel had gotten in to at their own majority. However amongst the other elves of Gondolin, other than with Idril Celebrindal, Erestor remained a quiet child. He often stood in keen observation of the world around him, seemingly separate from it. His chambers in the house were near Glorfindel’s and were a treasure trove of books and toys and other childish treats, for Glorfindel could deny his pen-neth nothing. Fortunately Erestor was greedy for nothing except his golden lord’s attention, and did not become spoilt as the princess had predicted.

Physically he grew slim and willowy, and bearing a grace beyond his years. He would not be counted amongst the tallest of his contemporaries but his bearing and carriage gave the illusion of a height which he did not possess. His beauty also grew and his waist-length hair soon regained its deep lustre, swaying as a black veil around his shoulders. He left it loose except on horseback when it was braided into a single plait, thick as rope down the curve of his spine. His eyes, rich and deep, were framed by luscious lashes of which many elleth could only dream. The exotic slant was much remarked on and drew many admiring glances as an elfling. His skin retained the hue of cream and the texture of silk and the rose-red lips curved in gentle smiles. As he became a youth both ellyn and ellith gazed upon him in desire and he was the secret target of lust of older elves.

His keen intelligence and thirst for knowledge thrilled his tutors, and their reports were overflowing with compliments. Often when he did not appear at the table for meals he could be found engrossed in books, scrolls or other tomes and had to be physically removed from the library by an irate Mirieth.

His weapons masters were not so gushing with their compliments. Erestor could only be regarded as competent in the use of sword, knife and bow even with the extra tutoring such eminent elves as Glorfindel and Ecthelion bestowed upon him. In truth Erestor would often neglect his swordplay for an extra hour in the library. He *did* excel in horsemanship for his delight at being upon Asfaloth’s back transferred into a deep love of all things equine, and he soon progressed from gentle ponies to spirited mares. Glorfindel would not let him exercise Asfaloth though, much to his chagrin.

Most of all the devotion of the two elves was obvious to all. They seemed to many as to be of one mind; one soul in a single body, though none could define why. They did not look alike. They did not act alike. It was more in their reaction to each other - if one prospered the other was elated; if one was hurt in mind or body the second ailed until the first was healed. A separation of yards across a crowded room was not an obstacle; if one turned to look for the other their eyes met without searching; if one needed the other within moments they were side by side. They were each dependant on the other, though of course as a child for Erestor it was more so. Glorfindel was like a bear with his cub, fiercely protective, his growl enough to cause fear in those who would have presumed or pestered the boy. No one was to harm *his* Erestor.

To Glorfindel the boy looked for all things - for sheer joy of life; for approval; to share a tale; to ride upon the plains of Tumladen; to stroll the market streets, Glorfindel’s arm flung across his shoulders, enjoying the delights of the day; for the touch of a gentle hand stroking his hair as they curled in conversation by the fire on long winter eves. Reprimands from his hero were few and far between and would make both of them unhappy for days. They were seen as father and son, though Glorfindel would not allow the use of those terms, protesting that he could not deny Erestor his heritage.

" His father was Galwion, a valiant warrior; his mother, Aerwithen, who loved him. I will not deprive him of his family. I am his guardian and he is my ward."

To those who looked, that was the relationship they saw and they delighted in the happiness evident therein. For only with Glorfindel did the boy seem at ease and only from the warrior would Erestor accept those physical symbols of familial love – a hug, a chaste kiss onto black head or a ruffle of dark hair in jest or joy. But some can see farther and deeper than others, and one worried observer was alarmed at what he could divine from those seemingly innocent touches.

 

* * * *

 

F.A. 502

Even after her marriage to the human Lord Tuor, the princess had kept her promise of protection and interest in Erestor. As he grew into a fine young ellon she undertook his education in the intricacies of the King’s court and the manners expected from a young lord, for Erestor was regarded as Glorfindel’s heir and drew much interest from the Houses in that matter alone. Idril began to introduce him at small gatherings she held in the King’s tower, where the youth of Gondolin could mingle under the watchful eye of their parents and guardians. Thus Erestor learned to build his public persona, bowing to the elves who cast longing glances at his beautiful, exotic eyes. Glorfindel often attended these soirees, lightly flirting with those unbound adults who sought his attentions. Although he had not abstained totally during his guardianship his sexual liaisons had thinned somewhat, ostensibly because he did not want to expose his charge to unseemly ideas. Yet recently he had found himself becoming aroused for no apparent reason, his appetites enlarging and needing release. This evening the Lord and his ward were in great demand.

Erestor had recently passed his forty-first birthday and was beginning to awaken to the charms and attractions of males and females, though of course he could take no action until his majority. He and his acquaintances among the juniors of the royal court mingled extensively with the young ladies within the salon. Yet he constantly looked to where the chaperones stood, secretly watching that golden head. His glances were noticed by the one who watched, who frowned when he saw a sudden change in the expression of the boy.

Glorfindel was seated amongst the older elves and the current focus of his attentions was a certain lady from the House of the Tree. He had been conducting a delightful dalliance with her for some months now which the elleth was sure would evolve into something more permanent. Glorfindel was tempted for she was very fair but, as he had found so often recently, there was something unsatisfactory, something lacking in the relationship; some distraction that called his attention elsewhere. A physical cause of distraction at this moment was the dark Lord of the Fountain who, making his excuses to the lady, drew his friend away, seeking a corner where they would not be overheard.

"What do you need, ‘Thel? For I will tell you, you have disturbed a very promising liaison."

"Nay, as always it would have come to naught," said Ecthelion cryptically. He nodded at the gathering of elflings. "It is to another that I draw your attention."

"Erestor?" Glorfindel turned to face the room. He did not have to search for the boy for the connection between them was such that he could feel his pen-neth’s direction. He studied the raven-haired youth. The lad had a sullen look on his face, swiftly hidden when he saw that he was being watched. Glorfindel frowned.

"What is wrong with him? He looks as a child would who has been deprived of his favourite toy. "

Ecthelion darted a startled glance at his friend, as if he had spoken a hidden truth. Glorfindel saw it and raised an eyebrow in question. The Lord of the Fountain hesitated, not knowing how to express his fears now that the moment had arrived.

"Not his favourite toy – his favourite Lord." Ecthelion realised that Glorfindel had no idea of what he was intimating. "He fears losing you."

Glorfindel laughed, confused. "What are you talking about? He’s not going to lose me!"

Ecthelion shook his head. "He saw you courting that elleth, mellon nn. He isn’t happy about it at all."

Glorfindel glanced over his shoulder at the lady in question. His attentions to her had been direct and she was watching him, flushed with obvious desire. Then he looked at Erestor, who too stared at the elleth. He was shocked to see the intense look of jealousy – no, hatred – upon his charge’s face.

"But I’m not looking for a mother for him!" the warrior protested. Ecthelion shook his head.

"He isn’t looking at her as a potential step-mother, ‘Fin. He sees her as a potential rival." He placed a hand on Glorfindel’s arm, trying to convey the strength of his beliefs and his fears. "He’s not a child anymore, my friend, it is but nine years to his coming of age. Erestor knows what he wants – and he wants *you*. Perhaps you’d better examine your own feelings too, ‘Fin, because I’ve seen you looking at him in eligible company, when you didn’t think anyone was watching. You have worn that same look upon your face. Not protective - possessive." He paused, considering his final words. "You’ve always said you didn’t want to be his father. Just what *do* you want to be to him, ‘Fin?"

With that he left, knowing that he had said all he could for the moment, hoping that Glorfindel would not hate him in the future for his warning.

Glorfindel stood stunned and silent at the edge of the room, as the full meaning of the conversation came crashing into his consciousness. It was if a veil had been torn down, a barrier had been shattered, and everything had a sudden clarity – the colours of the elves’ robes, the soft tunes played by the musicians, the clashing chatter of discussion, laughter, cries, shouts.

And in the middle of that stood Erestor. The raven-haired elf had turned, sensing his lord across the crowds - and Erestor smiled, a brilliant smile that had only ever been for him alone. In that moment, his heartbeat raced. He felt a fluttering in his stomach and a wave of heat swept from his groin as the blood began to pool there, as his desire began to swell. Glorfindel finally saw what Ecthelion had seen.

In every soft face he had touched recently, his hand had been searching for that creamy silk texture. The eyes that had met his own had all been dark, lustful, wanting – but he had seen only deep, warm, chocolate-brown pools of desire. As brunette hair had slipped through his fingers he had imagined those midnight tresses, as soft and as heavy as velvet. Lips had been plundered aplenty but he only sought those rose-red ones, petals parted in sweet surrender. All those willing bodies beneath his own; hot, slick, writhing and yet his thirst had not been slaked.

His heart and his soul had yearned only for that which could complete him.

The room faded and they were the only two elves who existed and the truth pounded in his brain.

Just when had Erestor fallen in love with Glorfindel – and when had he, Glorfindel, fallen in love with his sweet, precious pen-neth?

 

 

* * * *

 

They left the palace early, well before their usual departure time. Normally they would entertain each other during their walk home with titbits of gossip and news they had heard during their evening, but Glorfindel was silent and Erestor copied him. He could recognise that the golden lord was deeply troubled but mild cajoling did not bring the issue forth and Erestor knew better than to press him. Nevertheless he was worried. Glorfindel would normally by now have reassured him, saying ‘It is not you, pen-neth, fear not, all will be well.’ He did not, and now the youth felt a cold spasm cross his heart.

There were no suggestions of refreshments, of sitting by the fire in comfortable company. Instead Erestor was bid a curt ‘Maer d’ as Glorfindel shut the door of his bedchamber, and Erestor was left to make his way to his own room alone. Erestor washed and changed into his sleeping trousers but as he lay in his bed he could not sleep.

An hour later he heard Glorfindel’s door open, footsteps, then a short time after, the House door. Glorfindel was gone.

 

****

 

Ecthelion knew who stood silently at the door of his study, who waited for him to lift his head from the letter he was writing. He would not consciously prolong his wait, his agony.

The large elflord stood framed in the darkened doorway, the tension and anguish clear on his face.

"I love him, ‘Thel."

Ecthelion leapt from his seat, crossing the room in two strides to enfold the shaking lord in his arms. They stood there for long moments as Ecthelion waited for the silent, violent tremors to subside, then led his friend to the chairs flanking the empty fireplace. Glorfindel crumpled into the chair, head slumped forward into his hands. Finally he raised his head and Ecthelion winced at the despair in those sapphire eyes.

"What am I ‘Thel? What kind of loathsome creature am I that I feel such desire for one so young? I felt him at my side tonight, I walked beside him and I realised that all I wanted to do was to pull him into my arms, to hold him, to kiss him, to – take - him and make him my own…" The lord’s voice had risen to the point of hysteria and Ecthelion had to act quickly to break that train of thought.

"You are Glorfindel, an elf of honour and high morals, strong ethics and intense emotions. That you can even *think* of yourself in those other terms tells me that you still hold true to the values that bind you so." He took a deep breath, deliberately softening his firm tone. "You are a sensual, open-hearted, warm-blooded elf, Glorfindel, and Erestor is an astoundingly beautiful and enticing ellon. You are only feeling what many others do upon seeing him." He held up a hand to forestall Glorfindel’s threatened outburst. " Ai, I know my friend – that is not all that there is to Erestor. Do not forget, mellon nn, I have seen you with him. You rejoice in his intelligence, his wit and his humour. You revel in his kind nature, his depth of insight and his sweetness of temper. You *know* him, Glorfindel. There is a connection between you which is beyond the understanding of those who desire him. The difference, my friend, is that the others only covet that beauteous exterior where as you love him in his entirety, hra and fa."

Glorfindel started hearing Ecthelion say those words, words that were so integral to the elven binding ceremony.

"Surely you don’t mean…?"

Ecthelion nodded. "Yes, dear friend. I truly believe that he is the other half of your soul. Isn’t that what your own heart has been telling you? What drew you to him first as a child? Why did you protect him so strongly? What compelled you to rescue him at sword-point? The mind does not always recognize that which the soul knows so well."

Glorfindel shook his head, hardly knowing what to believe. His mind had been in a constant whirl since the soiree, trying to take in Ecthelion’s revelations. And if Ecthelion could see the contents of his heart so easily, who else knew?

"Gods – if anyone else knows – ‘Thel, they will take him from me!" The panic was rapidly rising; the elf was becoming agitated. "I can’t lose him, ‘Thel – I can’t lose Erestor! What can I do?"

Ecthelion stood, hauling Glorfindel up with him. "What *we* are going to do, mellon nn, is see Turgon – now."

Glorfindel wrenched his arm from Ecthelion’s grasp. "Are you mad?"

"’Fin, as beloved as you are amongst our people, there *are* some who would be delighted to see you brought low – Salgant included. He hates you and loathes Erestor for the humiliation he thinks you brought upon him. If he gets wind of this he’ll go straight to Turgon and you’ll never see Erestor again. Oh, and Maeglin isn’t exactly your greatest fan either – you supported Tuor and danced at his wedding to Idril. And he at least has some influence with his uncle. We have to get in first, and get the king on *your* side. Come on." Ecthelion started towards the door.

"Now? Ecthelion, it’s the middle of the night!"

The dark-haired lord turned at the exit. "’Fin, it is barely past midnight, Turgon is never in bed before three of the morn. Anyway he is expecting us – Idril and Tuor went on ahead to warn him."

Glorfindel hesitated. "You told them?"

Ecthelion shrugged. "You needed allies. Now, let’s go."

* * * *

It was a small gathering in the king’s private chambers. Turgon sat in an ornate chair, a strong impressive Lord wrapped in rich silk robes, his chin on his hand as he heard the dilemma facing him. He looked carefully at those ranged before him. Glorfindel, pale in his love and fear of loss, Ecthelion standing firm at his side; his daughter Idril seated near him, the swelling of her first pregnancy barely evident; Tuor, the human lord of whom he thought so highly that he bestowed his only child upon him, standing beside his wife’s chair with his hand on her shoulder. He sighed, knowing that this was a problem which could have no easy outcome.

"Ecthelion, you are an idiot. Your heart is good but this has not been handled well."

Ecthelion gasped, and Glorfindel made as if to come to his friend’s defence but the king motioned them to silence.

"If you had come to me without telling Glorfindel, we could have made light of the boy’s infatuation. All youths must have a hero, one they think they will love forever, and the devotion of the boy could have been passed off as such without much comment. In bringing this to Glorfindel’s attention you have revealed his own feelings towards his ward, which is a much more serious matter." He turned to the golden lord. Glorfindel was obviously dreading his judgement, and Turgon could only feel compassion for his friend.

"Glorfindel, I believe you when you say your love is true, and much of what Ecthelion had noted in your manner towards Erestor has been noted by myself and my daughter. You are one of my oldest and most devoted Lords, my friend, and although I allow my subjects freedom in their lives it does not mean I am unaware of their hopes and dreams. In other circumstances I would probably remove the boy from your care and place him out of perceived harm’s way."

This was Glorfindel’s greatest fear and he protested - loudly.

"Never! I will never let him be taken from me again, king or no king!" His tone changed, a plaintive plea entering his voice. "My Lord King, I know that he is yet a child and much too young for a physical love. I will *not* approach him. I will not hurt him. I *cannot* hurt him, for how can I hurt the one I love? If I can protect my pen-neth from the predations of others, how can I not protect him from myself?" He paused, catching his breath, desperate to change Turgon's mind. "Please my lord, please -"

"Glorfindel!" The king spoke firmly without increasing the volume of his voice, and the warrior subsided reluctantly. "I did say, ‘in other circumstances’. Both Ecthelion and Idril have offered to care for him if my decision had been so but that, I feel, will engender the scrutiny we are trying at all costs to avoid. Now, are we sure of the boy’s feelings? Does he truly love Glorfindel or is this just a crush? Is he your soul mate, my lord?"

Glorfindel hesitated, numbly nodding. "He is to me, sire. We have not spoken to him, but ‘Thel believes he feels it too - "

The princess leaned forward. "As do I father. It is very evident in Erestor’s eyes."

Turgon nodded. "Were he but one hundred years older, this conversation would be redundant. Lovers of disparate ages have been accepted since the Awakening of our people, for Ilvatar sends our souls into the world at the time He has decided. If it is meant to be, they meet and they bind. The situation here arises from the fact that Erestor is still a minor." He sighed, knowing this must be his final decision.

"So be it. Glorfindel, I will allow Erestor to remain in your charge under certain conditions. Tonight you will go to him and reveal to him your true feelings. Ecthelion will be your chaperone. If Erestor returns these feelings wholeheartedly then I place these restrictions upon you. You will both return here tomorrow night and in a private ceremony swear blood oaths that nothing improper will occur until the boy has come of age. No words, no touches, no kisses – nothing. He must be to you as he has always been, your ward. He must remain an innocent. And if on the day of his majority both of you still feel the same then I will, with all gladness in my heart, receive back those oaths in exchange for your betrothal vows."

Turgon smiled, and delighted bursts of happiness and relief swept the room. The king, once again serious, continued. "However if I hear in any way that either of you is forsworn then I will take the boy into *my* custody and lock him up so tight you will need Manw to break open his prison! Is that clearly understood my lords?!"

The fairness and compassion of the king was so generous that Glorfindel agreed without delay and, after many hugs from Idril and claps on shoulders from Tuor, eagerly swept Ecthelion from the room in his haste to return to Erestor.

* * * *

Erestor was still awake and quickly came to Glorfindel’s study when collected by Ecthelion. In the faint glow of the candlelight the Lord of the Fountain stood guard at the door so none would hear, as well as standing as chaperone for Erestor. The youth balked at first at discussing his feelings for he felt embarrassed and scared, but when he understood that Glorfindel returned his love he was overcome with ecstasy and flung his arms about his beloved, kissing him all over his face with wild abandon. Glorfindel too laughed with joy but then had to quiet his little love to put forth the restrictions placed upon them. Erestor was horrified.

 

"How could you agree to such a plan?" he cried, shaking in anger. "Nine years? Nine whole years we must wait and I can never say ‘I love you’, never hold you, never kiss you? I cannot bear to live that way. No, I cannot swear such an oath!"

"Then I hope you like the King’s Tower, pen-neth," said Ecthelion wryly from the door, "for that will be your new home from this night."

Erestor paled. Although he had been just a babe when he had first been torn from his beloved’s arms the pain which had twisted relentlessly in his heart then was still vividly remembered. He lifted his face to his love, seeking reassurance.

"Truly? If I do not agree then I must leave you?"

Glorfindel nodded, gripping his pen-vuil’s hands tightly, holding his eyes firmly locked onto Erestor’s. The youth slumped, defeated. Nine years without declaring his love was better than nine years separation. He nodded his acquiescence.

And so it was that the following night, in the presence of their closest friends, Glorfindel, Lord of the House of the Golden Flower and Erestor, son of Galwion took blood oaths of celibacy and silence before His Majesty Turgon, King of the elven realm of Gondolin.

F.A. 510

 

Glorfindel groaned as he breached the puckered opening of the elf beneath him. His breath coming in short gasps, Erestor fought not to tense against the invasion; chocolate-brown eyes wide open, trust and love for the golden lord shone through the pain. His grip on Glorfindel’s hand had clenched as the Elda embedded himself to the root of his shaft and the tight channel enveloped him in delicious heat. Though thoroughly prepared, Erestor was small and Glorfindel was not. Glorfindel grieved at the pain he knew he was inflicting upon his dear one and he leaned forward to kiss the parted lips, sweeping his tongue into the depths of the sweet mouth. The slender elf in turn reached up to welcome his lover eagerly. Glorfindel waited, not moving until the lithe body adjusted to his girth, and when he did move it was in gentle strokes, easing the angle of his motion until he obtained the reaction he yearned for.

Erestor cried out, his body arching. A flood of intense pleasure swept through his body as his lover’s shaft pressed against his prostate. Erestor pushed up again, seeking the touch which would repeat the ecstasy, clamping his legs firmly around Glorfindel’s waist in an attempt to make the Elda drive deeper into him; to claim him, body and soul. Glorfindel fought the urge to dive forcefully into his beloved’s tight chasm, knowing that the sweet Noldo would be more than sore in the morning anyway. He maintained the steady rhythm of his gentle thrusts, watching Erestor writhe beneath him, grasping fingers digging into the flesh of his shoulders. Black strands clung to the sweat on Erestor’s face and his musical voice cried out, pleading for release.

Glorfindel could hold back no more, needing Erestor as much as his darling needed him. His large hand reached between their bodies, pulling at Erestor’s turgid erection with firm strokes as he increased the pace and force of his thrusts.

Erestor screamed one last time as he came undone, the cream of his completion surged over Glorfindel’s fingers and smeared onto his belly in thick spurts. The clenching spasms of Erestor’s passage brought Glorfindel over the edge and he spilled his hot semen, filling his love as he released his soul.

"My love, my heart!"

 

 

****

 

 

"Elbereth!"

Glorfindel sat up in the bed, panting heavily in the aftermath of the intense orgasm, sweat covering his broad frame. The evidence of the reality of the dream stained the single sheet which was draped over his long legs and he grimaced in distaste at the mess. Using the corner of the sheet he cleaned himself quickly then flung the fabric off him, swinging his long legs over the side of the large bed. His breath had slowed almost to normal and he cast his mind back over his dream. He smiled grimly as he realised he had called out the wrong name on waking, for it was the Vala Irmo who controlled the world of dreams. He silently sent acknowledgement to the Vala but he did not know whether to send his thanks. The past eight years had been an extreme exercise in self-control for both him and Erestor. The reality of the dream would in no way help him to maintain his restraint in expressing the love he felt for his pen-vuil.

The sun had risen and looking through the open doors of the balcony he could see it had been up for some time. It had not disturbed his rest – no indeed, something else had done *that* - for his room faced west, not east. Glorfindel could hear the daily clamour of an awakened city and without thought for his nakedness strolled out onto the balcony. His nonchalance stemmed from the knowledge that the balustrade covered him to above waist height and also that this building, the House of the Golden Flower, was not overlooked by any other. Indeed the view was stupendous. Two streets away he could see the bustle of the Great Market, alive with activity as always – in fact more so today, the eve of Tarnin Austa. Beyond the Great Market, to the northeast, were the gleaming spires of the King’s Tower and the adjacent palace. Beyond that again he could see the Main Gate of the city and the long incline down to the road to the outer gates. To the south was the curve of the city wall against which Tuor and Idril had built their dwelling. Glorfindel smiled at the thought of little Erendil, the shining light in Turgon’s heart. The King doted on his young grandson and the little elfling was a frequent visitor to the House of the Golden Flower. Finally, on turning to the right Glorfindel knew he would be able to see the North Gate of the city, a warning that the North held the dangers of Morgoth and his evil hordes.

Glorfindel sighed thinking of the events of the past years. First the fall of Nargothrond to those hordes, a devastating blow to the Elven residents of Middle Earth; then only three years before, following the death of Elu Thingol at the hands of the dwarves, the final destruction of the royal family of Doriath. Fanor’s sons had descended upon that realm, destroying Menegroth of the Thousand Caves and slaying Dior, Nimloth and their sons in pursuit of their mad oath. Of their daughter Elwing there was no sign though it was rumoured that she had escaped to the south taking the Silmaril with her. Would that it had been found by Celegorm and his siblings, perhaps this insane kin-slaying would cease. Never had he thought when he grew up in the gentle city of Tirion that such devastation would be wrought for the sake of jewels yet he too, in a youthful desire for adventure, had hearkened to the call of Fanor.

Glorfindel passed his hand over his eyes in pain at the remembrance of Alqualond and the first kin-slayings. That his hands were free of the blood of his kin was a miracle but he, like so many others, had thought that no such could happen again. Still Menegroth had fallen. Would the Fanorans never be sated? Glorfindel tried to take comfort in the beautiful city which was now laid before him, but even that was poor solace. When Tuor had arrived in Gondolin from the outside world he had brought with him a warning for the king from Ulmo of death and destruction and of need to flee the Hidden City. Turgon had been reluctant to take such a step and Glorfindel could see why. In his remembrance of Tirion he could only draw favourable comparisons with this magnificent settlement the High King had sculpted. Glorfindel could hardly bear to think of leaving, but in the end he had voted with Tuor and Idril in favour of exodus. Unfortunately Maeglin’s influence was strong and Turgon had listened to his sister-son. At least Idril had taken the warning to heart. Glorfindel was one of only a few who knew of her secret way out of the city.

The calls from the streets below roused him from his musings and he smiled happily as he remembered again what day it was. The eve of Tarnin Austa – and Erestor’s forty-ninth begetting day. The significance was not wasted upon him. The time now until they could unveil their love would be counted in months not years, in days not months. Time had weighed heavily on them both and more so on Erestor, for his dear one was inflicted with the impatience of youth. It had been very difficult to convey their love to each other when there were so many restrictions. Only by the sweetness of smiles or chaste kiss upon forehead or cheeks could physical expression be given reign. They had developed subtle signs, looks or words which held meaning for their hearts alone and with these they must be content. Not even amongst their closest friends could they show their love, so strict was Turgon’s edict.

With that thought Glorfindel was prompted to move and make haste to bathe. The late morning awakening had been in preparation for tonight’s vigil but they were expecting company for a celebratory lunch for Erestor. He had better hurry if he was to have any time alone with his pen-neth before their arrival.

His ablutions, though somewhat hasty, were thorough and he dressed with care. A sky-blue tunic edged with gold-embroidered celandines was matched with form-fitting deep blue leggings. High fitting, highly-polished boots completed his ensemble. His hair shone like burnished gold and hung almost to waist length, with warrior-braids to hold it back from his face. His ornamentation was little, a solid gold ring bearing the symbol of his house and the mithril ring upon his smallest finger. He smiled at the thought of this little ring, a trinket he had brought with him from Valinor. It had been a gift from his parents and was engraved with the rune of the letter ‘G’. He planned soon to have a second ring made to fit his index finger, with Erestor’s initial emblazoned on it. Thus on this day next year he would place the first ring upon his beloved’s finger as a symbol of betrothal, to be exchanged to the right hand on their day of binding. Erestor’s fingers were long and slender and what barely fit on Glorfindel’s little finger would find a perfect home on his perfect elf. He looked at the ring again. It had been many years since it had been used as the pledge it had once been, for Erestor had grown sure of his returns before he reached the age of thirty and thus he had gently dropped the ritual.

So many memories. A young Erestor crying out for him in the night, needing to be held before returning to sleep; waking in the morning to find an elfling bouncing on his stomach; taking baths together using perfumes and oils which would foam in water, so that Erestor could place upon him a human’s ‘beard’. These gentle pleasures had ceased decades ago when Erestor was still an elfling, but they still brought forth sweet smiles. Of course, since their oaths such innocent intimacy had been totally forbidden. By mutual consent neither visited the other in their personal chambers but met only in rooms where their privacy was not assured, thus removing temptation - which was why Erestor would now be waiting for him in their dining chamber. Patting his tunic pocket to ensure that he bore a special gift, Glorfindel exited the room.

On his arrival in the family dining hall Glorfindel was struck dumb once more by his darling’s beauty. Erestor stood gazing out of the window, his face in profile. The arched brows, the piercing eyes, the high cheekbones and straight nose, all were strong features of his dark beauty. Erestor was dressed in his finest garb, a rich red waistcoat edged with silver braid worn over a crisp white shirt, and teamed with slim black leggings. The red of the tunic glowed in the sunlight streaming through the window and brought forth otherwise unseen highlights in the raven hair. Glorfindel’s heart leapt to see him thus framed in Anor’s glory.

"Blessings on your special day, pen-neth."

Erestor’s head whipped round and he immediately broke into a blazing smile, crossing the room in four strides to throw himself into his beloved’s open arms, pressing tight against that firm body. Glorfindel felt Erestor’s head next to his heart for the youth was a full head shorter than him, and he desired nothing more than to hold him there forever. But he drew upon his strength of will and held Erestor away from him, his large hands upon the young elf’s upper arms.

"So, do you feel one whole year older?" He joked. Erestor grimaced.

"Aye, I suppose I do – but I wish I were but one year older still." He glanced up, his brown eyes shining through dark sweeping eyelashes, tempting, teasing. "I know that then you would not hold me thus, would you, my lord?"

Glorfindel knew that look and also knew not to respond. Nevertheless a small smile broke through and a penitent Erestor laughed aloud.

"I know, I’m sorry!" he cried. Glorfindel again said nothing but patted his pocket instead.

"May I give you your begetting-day gift now, pen-neth?"

Erestor’s eyes lit up and Glorfindel laughed in delight. No matter how old an elf became, presents were always welcome.

"I don’t have to do a treasure hunt this year?" Erestor asked. The previous year Glorfindel’s gift had been a beautiful black gelding, and Glorfindel had set clues about the house for Erestor to follow to the stables. A delighted ward had named the horse ‘Hirnn’ in honour of his guardian, the guardian of his love.

Glorfindel produced the soft silk pouch from his pocket, placing it in Erestor’s hand. Curious, Erestor opened the pouch then gasped in delight. In his palm lay, hung upon a thick gold chain, an oval locket made of that most precious of metals, mithril. Emblazoned on the front was a flower wrought in gold, a celandine.

"It is beautiful!"

Glorfindel looked at him with eager eyes. "Open it," he urged. Erestor needed no prompting. Carefully releasing the clasp he opened the two halves to reveal a tiny portrait on each side, one each of Glorfindel and himself. Erestor lifted his head, mouth open in astonishment.

"I had them done at the same time as I commissioned our paintings for the main hall, pen-vuil. Do you like it?"

"Do I…?"

Glorfindel found himself enfolded in a fierce grip as Erestor expressed his delight in a physical manner. He allowed himself a moment, a vocal expression of his feelings – a statement which could sound innocuous. He pressed his lips to Erestor’s black hair.

"I love you, my dearest ward," he murmured. The grip tightened briefly before Erestor released him to fasten the locket about his neck.

There was a knock at the door then it opened slightly, a head draped in raven hair peeking round the wood. A mischievous grin punctuated his question.

"Is this a private begetting day or can we join in the celebrations too?"

The lord and his ward laughed in merriment as Ecthelion entered followed by Tuor, Idril and their little son Erendil. Erestor came forward quickly to take the elfling into his arms, for he had great affection for the young prince, and the child for him. Mirieth and Dwen joined them and Erestor was thus surrounded by those he loved most. The celebratory lunch was soon served and the servants released so that they could celebrate as a family, albeit an extended family. The presents came forth as the food was consumed, forming a large mound around Erestor. Tuor and Idril had given him a fine set of quills and ink; Mirieth gave him a new tunic of deep green, a colour he had only recently taken to wearing, and Dwen’s gift was leggings to match. Erestor opened Ecthelion’s gift, a mahogany box containing a pair of long elvish knives. Their handles were also wrought of the dark wood and were inlaid in silver. Erestor thanked Ecthelion profusely.

"Well, pen-neth, since you decided to concentrate on the knives your skill has improved – not that much, mind – but I hope that these will encourage you to apply yourself. I’ve given up on your wielding the sword or the bow to any great extent. The knives are very fine-edged and *very* well balanced. Use them with honour, mellon nn."

The two dark elves bowed to one another in respect. All knew that Erestor leaned to a more scholarly life. Indeed, Turgon had become aware of Erestor’s keen analytical mind and had invited the youth to sit in on many council meetings. It was a great honour to do so amongst the lords of the Great Houses and often afterwards Turgon questioned him on his opinions and understanding of the issues. Glorfindel could see the day when Erestor would become one of Turgon’s advisors. Talk now within the chamber turned to events within those council halls. Mirieth and Dwen understood the delicate nature of some of the discussions and had shown their discretion in the past, so the talk was not stinted.

"Maeglin is gaining too much influence over the king, " moaned Ecthelion. "Sorry, princess, but it is true – and I trust him not."

Idril nodded in agreement, not at all offended. "Since my aunt’s death my father has tried to compensate for his loss, but I fear that Maeglin knows only too well my father’s weakness – his love of riches. That he would not listen to my dearest love and Ulmo’s warning is proof of that." She squeezed her husband’s hand and received a grateful smile in return.

Erestor, who was still cradling Erendil, shook his head. "I fear that something is going to happen, and very soon. His trips to the jewel mines in the Encircling Mountains have been regular and frequent as we all know, but in the last few months especially I have noted a change in his demeanour. There is a tension, a secret that is either exciting or frightening him."

Glorfindel shook his head in bewilderment. "I have seen no such change in him pen-neth. He is still the manipulative little rat I have always known." Ecthelion laughed but Erestor remained serious.

"It is evident in the body movements, the way he holds himself. He knows something, something evil – and he gloats!" Idril shuddered and Tuor moved to comfort her.

"Aye," said the human. "His attentions to Idril have not lessened since our wedding or Erendil’s birth. He is untrustworthy. Our hidden passage is now finished in case some need arises."

All present were in agreement for Mirieth and Dwen had been entrusted with the knowledge of the tunnel only recently. They were in charge of any evacuation of the ellith and children of the House and had laid plans for such. Mirieth tried to lighten the discussion by turning the topic back to Erestor.

"What will you do for the rest of the day, Erestor? Have you any plans?" Erestor nodded enthusiastically.

"Aye, Glorfindel and I will ride on the plains to our favourite lake for a swim. I love riding Hirnn." He paused, schooling his face into a picture of innocent speculation. "I wonder what it feels like to be ridden by one who loves you - to feel that weight press upon you in excitement and exhilaration. It must be very - fulfilling."

Eyes widened in alarm and Ecthelion sucked in a breath. Fortunately Mirieth and Dwen did not notice.

"Oh Erestor, I am sure Hirnn loves you and is proud to be your mount," she smiled. She was so proud of her former charge and took as much pleasure in his achievements as in those of her own grown children. The awkward moment passed and the conversation took a more innocent bent and turned towards the imminent celebrations. Finishing the delicious repast, their guests took their leave in a flurry of hugs, embraces and, from Erendil, sloppy kisses. After waving their farewells Glorfindel and his ward were left alone. Erestor knew what was to come as Glorfindel turned on him.

"Are you mad? What was that in aid of? For so long we have held our oath - I will not be forsworn when the end is in sight and I will not allow you to be either!"

"I am sorry!" came the desperate cry. Glorfindel was not mollified.

"Aye, so you said before!" He was shocked when Erestor in an astounding fit of frustration picked up a crystal glass and threw it against a wall where it fractured in a satisfying crash. Erestor sat heavily on a chair, tears welling in his eyes.

"I cannot help it! All day I have felt this way, aroused and strained, for this morning I woke from a dream so intense and real -" He stopped as Glorfindel gasped, and looked urgently at him, seeing that the golden lord knew of that of which he spoke. "You too?"

The elf lord nodded slowly. "I too. Ai, pen-neth, to what end has Irmo tormented us so?"

Erestor winced. "It was indeed a torment. Glorfindel, I am a virgin. How could I dream so vividly of that which I do not know, have not experienced, if Irmo had not placed the dream in my head?" He looked up shyly at his beautiful love. "Is it truly so - wonderful - to lie with someone? For though I dreamt of a little pain, I also felt as though I reached the stars, and I tumbled with joy and rapture back to the earth when you - filled me." He reddened slightly at the last, knowing that it was something of which they should not speak. Glorfindel nodded.

"When you are with the one you truly love, yes, I believe so. I have pleasured and have been pleasured by many, but with none have I experienced that sharing of souls. Yet, it is a delight beyond reckoning. Only with you will I reach true ecstasy, ind nn."

Glorfindel was troubled by their shared experience. Was this dream a blessing or a warning? He could not decide, nor could he let this conversation continue. He stood abruptly, for he too had sat in shock.

"We should continue our day as planned, pen-neth, for we must return and be ready at sundown for the vigil."

And so they left, Glorfindel upon Asfaloth and Erestor upon Hirnn, galloping freely across the Plains of Tumladen. As they left behind the city a sense of wild abandon overtook them and they yelped with delight as they raced over the flat ground. Erestor had for once only partially braided his hair and the raven strands flowed behind him, whipping around in the strong breeze. Glorfindel could feel the sense of liberation in his beloved and both understood it and felt it himself. Out here they were not observed. Out here they could be themselves. Out here – if they wished – they could speak openly. But they wouldn’t. Oaths had been sworn.

They reached their favourite lake and spent the next few hours swimming, splashing, diving. They wore their loincloths throughout their sport. It was late afternoon when they returned to the city where they dressed themselves as befitting their House for the Festival. Strolling the streets as twilight fell Glorfindel walked beside Erestor, his arm draped across the youth’s shoulders, Erestor’s dark head leaning against his neck. Music played softly and the festive lights twinkled high in the trees. The stalls were bedecked with tempting wares, sweetmeats and fine wines yet there was none of the raucous calls that would assail the ears during daylight hours. Voices would not be heard until the chorus greeted the dawning light of summer. Glorfindel smiled at the thought of Ecthelion’s beautiful voice raised in praise. The finest vocalist in Gondolin, the Lord of the House of the Fountain was always the first to call the city to song.

They made their way to the eastern wall, to the section reserved for the House of the Golden Flower, and settled on the seats there. It would be a long night but it was a vigil no-one begrudged in their spiritual silence. Further to their left Turgon and his household were seated under jewel-coloured canopies, and Idril, Tuor and Erendil joined him in familial harmony. Time passed and the stars began to shine. Glorfindel sat, Erestor leaning against him, staring up at the gems of the sky. Suddenly a child’s voice called out into the silence, long before it should have been broken.

"Look, Nana! The sun!"

All turned to face the east, bewildered as the sky there remained dark. Then mutterings began against all precepts of the vigil. Erestor stood, turning to face the north and he urged Glorfindel to rise too.

"Look!" he whispered, pointing north. There, above the Encircling Mountains, was a glow; a red glow which could have been that of the rising sun, but which was obviously not. The mutterings became louder and a palpable fear ran through the spectators. It increased as the glow passed over the mountains as if the sun came down the slopes to the city. A voice cried out, speaking that which they all feared to say.

"Melkor! Melkor comes!"

A strong shout came from the left of them, cutting through the incipient hysteria. Turgon, High King of the Noldor, stood proud upon the battlements.

"Warriors of Gondolin – to arms!"

 
















 

Elvish:

ellith – female elves (pl.)

elleth – female elf (sing.)

pen-neth – little one

pen-dhnen - silent one

pen-vuil – dear one

saes – please

mae govannen – well met

maer d – good night

meldir – my friend

mellon nn – my friend

hra - body

fa - soul

ind nn – my heart

Hirnn – ‘My Lord’

ellon – male elf

ellyn – male elves
















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