Tangled Tales

Glorfindel Unleashed 11-16













Entrance | Livejournal





Title : 'Glorfindel Unleashed', 11/?
Author: Eawen Penallion
Email: cross_stitcherire@yahoo.com
Feedback: Yes please!
Type: FPS
Beta: Beloved Nienna, so encouraging!
Disclaimer: all rights to the characters belong to JRR Tolkien - I'm only playing with them.
Rating: NC-17 overall
Pairing: Glorfindel/Erestor eventually
Warnings: M/M; implied child abuse; angst; character death
Archive: Of Elves and Men; Melethryn; AFF.net

Author's notes: AU as in it is my idea, but canon where possible with regard to LOTR history. Please note - I subscribe to a very moral position and Tolkien's ethics regarding underage elves. There will be NO illicit carnal connotations in this story.


Chapter 11

T.A. 149

The shock lasted only a moment. Though his mind was still whirling from the disclosures and actions of his seneschal, Elrond's experience as a warrior and commander did not let him linger. Across the crowd of stunned elves still in the courtyard he spotted the one he needed.

"Andrann! Take a patrol and find him. Whatever direction, however he protests - get him back here!"

The elleth nodded curtly and responded as Elrond knew she would. He did not wait to see his orders carried out. He could hear her directions as he hurried back in to the House and to the residential wing - the family wing. Erestor would not have gone to the library or his office, not after such an emotional event. No, he would have retreated into his little world, his sanctuary - his bolt hole. Erestor was ever like a frightened animal, a fox or a rabbit, dashing to safety whenever his emotional shell was prodded. He was one of the bravest and most skillful warriors Elrond had fought beside, yet he hid from his emotions as if they would kill him. As if they *had* killed him…

Elrond did not know the cause of Erestor's retreat. But he *did* know that if he could not break through that protective shell then another elf would suffer - and die a second time.

****

Erestor knew who was at the door. Knew from the pounding, knew from the voice. He did not want to answer. He wanted to shut the world out. He wanted to shut Elrond out. He wanted - needed - to keep Glorfindel out. He also knew that he would not be able to, not this time. Reluctantly he drew the bolt aside and allowed the Lord of Imladris entry to his chambers. Erestor decided to take the offensive.

"I have no wish to talk, Elrond. I will hear what you have to say, but my life is my own. I would like to be left alone." Elrond looked at Erestor shrewdly, and the dark counsellor felt a shiver run through him. The Peredhel was not to be assuaged easily. Finally his lord spoke.

"Very well, Erestor. You need not worry any longer. Glorfindel is gone. He will trouble you no more." Elrond turned as if to leave.

"Gone? Gone where?" It was not relief that swept through the advisor, but panic. His Glorfindel would not give him up that easily… But that was what he wanted, wasn't it? Suddenly he realised that he was no longer sure.

"Do you care? You never wanted him here. What is he to you - Erestor of Gondolin?"

Erestor gasped, stumbling back from his lord. He tried to evade the question, and Elrond's probing eyes. "He - he means nothing to me."

"But he once did, didn't he Erestor? He was everything to you. He was your betrothed. There was no mysterious elf to whom you spoke, no witness save yourself. Glorfindel told you of the balrogs, didn't he? As you escaped from Gondolin. As you climbed Cirith Thoronath. Just before he died."

Elrond was relentless. His power of mind and mastery of healing of both fa and hra pressed on Erestor, giving him no chance to collect his thoughts, marshal his defences. The advisor knew he was breaking under this assault and his mind and heart twisted and turned trying to escape the elf-lord's attack. He fell back onto his well-worn mantra, fully conscious of the fact that Elrond no longer believed him.

"I am Erestor of Lindon. I am -"

"Lying."

Erestor began to shake. Of course he was lying. He had lied for millennia, to others, to himself - to Glorfindel. Didn't Elrond realise that it was the only way to carry on? It was his only succour? His way of surviving? He had locked the memories away for so long and now they were pounding at the door in his mind, demanding release. Some had already leaked through, and the rest were awaiting him, an impending flood ready to drown him in their intensity. He knew that he would not survive that moment, not with his sanity intact. Not again.

"Where is he going?" he asked again, proud that his voice held none of the fear and concern which coursed through him.

Elrond shrugged. "I asked him but he wasn't sure. He said that if Nmo didn't want him, he was sure Hell would give him a home."

"No!" Erestor screamed. No.no.no.no. Notagainnotagainnotagain…..

He started to run for the door. "No! No I won't lose him again. NO!!"

Elrond grabbed the hysterical elf in his arms, fighting to calm the struggling, weeping elf.

"Erestor, it's all right! Calm down!" The struggles increasing, the screams becoming hysterical, incoherent. "I've sent Andrann after him, Erestor! The warriors will bring him back!" The words did not penetrate and Elrond was fast losing his grip on Erestor. With a last frantic shake he forced the dark elf to look at him.

Erestor didn't see him, not really. He saw only flames and heard only screams. He saw sapphire eyes looking at him, pleading with him and he couldn't reach him, couldn't catch him. Always falling, always dying. The sapphire eyes accused and his heart shrivelled, understanding the reproach in that gaze. He had let him die. He had failed Glorfindel. And Ecthelion. And Turgon. And Rog. And Tawaron. And - oh, no, he could not think of them…

He had failed everyone. He was failing them again.

Elrond dropped to the floor with the collapsing counsellor, not relinquishing his hold on the weeping elf. He knew that Erestor was finally reliving his memories, was finally admitting his past life - and it obviously filled him with terror. He held him tight, trying to calm the hysterical elf. Elrond had to connect to Erestor, had to try to bring him back from the brink of insanity. From the emotions and visions he was receiving Erestor saw nothing but flames...

"What can you see, Erestor? What happened to Glorfindel?"

Erestor curled tightly into himself, screwed his eyes shut in the hope that the visions would stop. "I - I don't want to...I can't ...! Please, make them stop!"

"I can't, Erestor. Only you can do that." urged Elrond, stroking the soft black hair. "Talk to me, tell me and together we can break you free."

Erestor leaned into Elrond's touch, remembering another hand stroking him, holding him.

"I loved him. I loved him. I killed him, I killed him, I killed him..."

"No!" Elrond said sharply, desperate to prevent Erestor retreating down a dark path, the path to insanity. "Focus, Erestor. Tell me what happened!"

Erestor breathed deeply, eyes still staring into his past, into his nightmare. Every moment was etched on his brain and now that he had released the lock on his memories they were flowing easily, vividly. "He reached for me, and I didn't move, I didn't take his hand. I - I let him fall." Yes, it was his fault - he had killed Glorfindel.

"How far away was he, Erestor? Could you actually reach him?"

Erestor wasn't expecting that. It took him a moment to understand the question. He knew the answer but to say it would be too honest, too truthful.

"I - I don't know... It is hard to say..."

Elrond did not let it pass. "Think, Erestor. Tell me the truth. Could you have caught him?" Erestor did not answer. "Now, Erestor. Tell me now."

A cry burst from Erestor's throat. "I can't say it! I can't - admit it!"

Elrond gave Erestor a gentle squeeze of reassurance. "You were too far away, weren't you, Erestor? There was no way you could have caught him in time. It wasn't your fault he fell, Erestor."

Erestor began to shake, turning his head in denial. No, he *had* killed his love! He had cried out, and Glorfindel had turned, and he had fallen. It was his fault. He had known that for years, for centuries. For three hundred centuries. Of course it was his fault, couldn't Elrond see that?

"I'm sorry, Glorfindel! I'm sorry, I'm sorry...!" he wept, clinging to the blame he had laid upon himself two Ages ago. "I should have learned, I should have gone to my lessons. I was vain, I was stupid. I thought I knew it all. I didn't want to learn. I'm sorry, Ecthelion! I can hear the hiss, the steam. I can't reach you either! It's my fault! It is all my fault!"

Elrond could hardly understand his friend, the words were blotted by the sobs, the strain in his voice. This elf, so wise and brave, so knowledgeable and learned, so gentle and kind - he sounded like an elfling pleading for forgiveness after a misdemeanour. A thought suddenly struck him.

"Erestor, how old were you when Gondolin fell? How old were you when Glorfindel died?"

The words penetrated the sorrow and Erestor looked up, his tear-stained face showing his profound grief.

"Forty-nine, Elrond. I was forty-nine..." I was a child, a silly, stupid, selfish child, thought Erestor. Why did he love me so? I didn't deserve him; he was my brave golden warrior, and I didn't deserve him.

The shock showed in Elrond's face. Elbereth, Erestor was only a child! And yet betrothed?

"Erestor, how was it that you were betrothed to Glorfindel? You were so young..."

Erestor shook his head, knowing what Elrond thought. "We were chaste. We were to wait for my Coming-of-Age. He pressed the ring on my finger as we prepared for battle. It was his pledge, his promise. He promised he would return...he promised…he promised…"

"Oh, Erestor," said Elrond, softly. "You were just a child and you have taken this blame - this erroneous blame - upon your shoulders for too long, mellon nn. It wasn't your fault, dearest Erestor."

Erestor was not about to give up his self-blame, his self-disgust so easily. He knew that he was not worthy of his golden lord; not worthy of the praise heaped upon him by other elves - by Elrond. He was a fraud, a craven coward - a killer. He pulled himself from Elrond's arms, shuffled back across the floor, bent his head so that his raven hair formed his usual shielding shroud.

"Yes, it was my fault! And so was what happened later!"

Later? Yes, how did Erestor survive? "Later, Erestor? When? What happened after Glorfindel fell? Where did you go?"

Erestor lifted his head, his eyes dark with despair. He looked terrified. He stared at Elrond as if he didn’t understand the question. He was looking back through the ages, seeing only death and destruction.

"Where did I go?" he whispered finally. His hands were constantly clasping each other, constantly wringing in pent up emotion. "Into darkness. Into madness. They wouldn’t leave me. I was raving, a madman - yet they wouldn’t leave me…"

Elrond’s heart wept for him, yet he knew that they weren’t finished. He guessed that Erestor was talking about his family but he had intimated that there was worse to come, more deaths that he lay at his own feet.

"Your family? They would not leave you?" Erestor nodded, not seeing Elrond, seeing only the past.

"Mirieth. Dwen. Aradol. My family. Brglon died. One of Mirieth’s sons had died. Aradol didn’t. They looked after me, so I learned later. I couldn’t move, couldn’t react. I either screamed or sat in stupor. Tuor had to go, take Erendil, Idril, others to safety. To the Mouths of Sirion. My family stayed. Four of the guard of the Golden Flower - they wouldn’t leave me. I killed them! I killed them!" The crying, the frantic weeping started once more. Elrond pressed further, forcing Erestor to focus on him again.

"Who died, Erestor? Your family? Not all, for I have met them."

"I raved. Orcs came. I brought them. I betrayed them. More deaths. The guards…not all, but each is a stain on my soul…"

Elrond could only hold the sobbing advisor closer, tighter. The horror that the child Erestor had faced, the losses. Glorfindel. Ecthelion. His home. His heart and his soul. His sanity. How on earth had Erestor managed to survive? By retreating behind his faade, his mask. He had concentrated on building a new life to replace the old one, the one he had hidden in the recesses of his mind, and Glorfindel’s return had cracked that mask. Had blown it wide open. Oh Andrann, find him, otherwise I will lose both of them. Erestor, as strong in character and mind as he was, would not survive a second death.

Erestor lifted his head. "Let me go, Elrond. Let me go find him, please? I can find him, I know I can!"

Elrond looked closely at him. "And what would you say, Erestor? Would you tell him of your love? Would you give yourself to him as his betrothed?"

The retreat Elrond saw in Erestor’s eyes told him that this would not be so. Erestor did not feel worthy, did not believe he deserved the golden lord’s love. The self-recrimination had been brought into the light of day, but Erestor was not yet ready to let it go. Not ready to forgive himself.

Erestor, knowing what Elrond was trying to show him, drooped his head in defeat.

"Save him, Elrond. Save him from himself. He is too good to be lost to this world again. Save him for Imladris, for Middle Earth. The world needs him, my lord."

"And you do not?"

Erestor shook his head. Yes, he needed him. But he had forfeited all rights to him by his acts on that morning of Tarnin Austa, three thousand years ago.

"Well, he needs you, Erestor. Stop being so selfish."

Erestor's head shot up in surprise. He was not being selfish! He was being totally unselfish!

Elrond knew Erestor's thoughts, and berated his friend again.

"He came back for you, meldir. He came back to love you and you have rejected him at every turn. He needs you, Erestor. If he dies now, then yes, it will be your fault. You say that you don't want to lose him again. Well, prove it. Talk to him. Tell him what you have told me. Open yourself to him. He loves you, Erestor - and you love him. Let that love heal you both."

It was too much. Elrond was offering him hope, and he could not take it. Millennia of self-denial, self-flagellation would not let him. His voice was a whisper.

"How can I ask him to forgive me, Elrond? How *can* he forgive me?"

Elrond reached out his hand to touch Erestor’s face. "I do not think that he believes that there is anything to forgive, Erestor. He loves you. He will give you forgiveness if you ask it, but he sees no wrong in you, save the wrong you have dealt him in your denial of these past few months." He paused, wondering if Erestor would truly register his next words. "There is only one elf that demands that you beg for forgiveness. You. Yourself. You must forgive yourself first, Erestor. For it is only your guilt of survival that holds you back from the completion of your souls. Forgive yourself, and you will find your happiness in his arms."

The Peredhel saw that Erestor was trying to take in these words, and he hoped that it would be the start of healing. The elf before him was exhausted, both from the emotional outpouring they had just experienced and from the pressures of the months since Glorfindel’s arrival. His body needed rest just as much as his mind. There was no way that Elrond could let him go after Glorfindel. He would risk losing them both that way.

Elrond raised himself from the floor, and bent to lift the fallen elf. "Come, you must rest. You are weary from the trauma of your memories. Rest and sleep, Erestor. Take comfort in knowing that when he returns you will talk to him, hold him, love him again. Happiness is within your grasp, Erestor. Take this chance whilst you can."

Erestor shook his head, yet let himself be guided by his friend. "What if he returns whilst I sleep? I cannot sleep if I do not know that he is safe. I should go to him. Please let me go to him?"

"I will give you rest through my healing touch, Erestor. I will watch for him and bring him to you if he returns before you wake. I promise."

A pledge. A promise. Elrond led Erestor into his bedchamber and laid him upon his coverlet. Elrond reached his hands to Erestor but the counsellor forestalled him.

"Elrond, please? The box upon the dresser - please, may I have it?"

Elrond looked and saw a small dark wood box, lightly carved in elvish designs, which lay upon the dressing table. He carried it over to Erestor, who took it into his arms and curled round it. Laying his hands upon Erestor's forehead, Elrond concentrated, sending waves of healing, calming energy through his fingers. Erestor took a deep breath and his eyes began to glaze in reverie.

"My Glo'fin'l," he whispered and, as Elrond quietly exited the chamber, Erestor's rose-red lips curved into a sweet smile.

 

*****

 

The hours dragged on and Elrond was beginning to despair. Andrann had obviously sent out more than one patrol in search for her lord and now they were beginning to return, to straggle in from every direction. The golden lord had not been found. Elrond began to fear the worst, and yet - his inborn foresight had not spoken to him of tragedy. He had been sure that Glorfindel *would* return. Now he thought of that elf in the black robes of mourning, a mourning he had carried for millennia. He would never survive another loss.

The preparations for Tarnin Austa carried on around him. Celebran had taken on much of the workload to spare him to the search and to his care of Erestor. Erestor had not yet woken but with each hour that passed the moment drew near. If Glorfindel was not at his side when he opened his eyes in hope… Elrond looked up at the sky. Dusk was nigh upon them, and only Andrann remained on search. She was a tenacious elleth, she would not admit defeat of a task laid upon her.

Just as Elrond turned to go back into the house from his position on the portico there was a shout from the gates. Turning, his heart leapt when he saw the gleaming white coat of Asfaloth, and on his back the golden lord. Directly behind him was Andrann, and Elrond beamed at the captain in delight. Glorfindel was quick to dismount and Elrond stepped forward with open arms. Glorfindel bowed, hand over heart in salute.

"My Lord, I am sorry that I caused you such turmoil and grief. I am returned but I ask of you, do not ask me yet why I return. There is another to whom I must speak first."

Elrond smiled gently. "He is in his chambers, Glorfindel. He has opened his heart to me, and - he awaits you." He moved his hand to beckon the seneschal to go into the house and be reunited with his betrothed. Glorfindel shook his head.

"The time will come, Elrond - but not this night. The vigil of Tarnin Austa is upon us, within the hour, I suspect." He squinted at the failing sun. "I must groom Asfaloth and then I must prepare myself. There will be plenty of time to talk to him on the morrow. I would not rush the words I must speak to him." Glorfindel turned to lead the stallion to the stables, but Elrond spoke once more.

"Glorfindel?"

Glorfindel turned his head to look at the Lord of Imladris.

"Glorfindel, do you still love him? For he loves you - dearly."

The golden lord looked down at the cobbles of the yard, as if pondering the question. When he raised his head his eyes were glistening, and the smile was imbued with love - and regret.

"Always, Elrond. Deeply, and for always. However there have been - developments - of which I cannot yet speak. I must hurry else I will be tardy. Please reassure him for me, Elrond. I *will* tell him all, I promise." And with that he retreated to the stables.

Elrond was puzzled but knew that he had to be satisfied - for the moment. He turned with gratitude to the awaiting captain.

"You are very conscientious, dearest Andrann. My gratitude knows no bounds at this moment. I owe you much."

The elleth bowed but stated, "It was none of my doing, my lord. I, and my warriors, searched almost every corner of the realm without success. I too was beginning to despair when I spotted the seneschal on the road. He was returning of his own volition. He was coming home, my lord."

 

*****

The household of Elrond Peredhel had gathered on the east facing terraces of Imladris, awaiting the setting of the sun. Elrond stood with his wife and children, and with his chief counsellor at his side, leading the vigil. Erestor had been awake when Elrond had returned to his chambers. The dark elf was upset to learn that Glorfindel had returned and yet had not agreed to come with Elrond. It took all of Elrond’s persuasion to encourage the advisor and to bring him to the point of standing here, beside him, on this momentous occasion. The memories would hit hard tonight especially and Elrond wanted Erestor within arms length.

The crowds parted with the arrival of the seneschal, in awe at his presence - for he glowed. He was arrayed in the finest of clothing and bore the symbol of the Golden Flower upon his blue silk doublet. His in-born light as one of the Firstborn was enhanced, magnified as his face shone with the light that is only seen in those who have dwelt in Aman, within the graces of the Valar. He was a great and powerful Elf-Lord, who could exist in both the physical and spiritual realms. He could face, had faced, the forces of evil; could and had overcome them and sent them to the hells preserved for evil incarnate. He was Glorfindel, the vessel of the Gods. And he was at peace. He smiled beatifically at those who greeted him and came to stop before his lord and lady, bowing in graceful salutations. The twin boys stood and gazed at him in jaw-dropping awe, so magnificent was this friend, this playmate. Another gentle smile, then Glorfindel took his place, standing firmly beside Erestor. The sweetest smile was reserved for the dark elf and the small hand was taken within the large, calloused fingers and gently squeezed. In the dying light of the red sun, just before the silence was imposed upon them, that deep voice spoke softly to the trembling advisor.

"Be at peace, Erestor. Know that I have returned to you - to you all."

Long was the night, and soothing was the music played by Lindir and the minstrels. Small eyes soon shut in gentle sleep and the twins were carried to their room by their loving parents. Elrond and Celebran quickly rejoined the assembled elves to await the coming dawn.

Lindir’s voice soared in praise as the first rays of summer crept over the opposing ridge of the ravine, casting a golden glow over the inhabitants of Imladris. The glow intensified as Glorfindel raised his arms in greeting to the sun, his deep tones joining the song and acting as counterpoint to Lindir’s tenor. They sang the song of the morn. Joy, pain, sweetness and sorrow rolled forth from him as he sang and in his light the gathered elves sensed the presence of the past. He sang of his home, his people, and history lived in his chorus. The warriors of Gondolin were personified in his hymn. Their blessings and the blessings of the Valar washed over the household of the refuge of Rivendell and only as the song drew to a close did Glorfindel’s arms lower and his aura diminish. The Golden Lord still shone in the morning rays, his golden mane reflecting the brilliance of Anor.

In awe and respect the elves of Imladris withdrew from the terraces, un-noticed by the Lord of Gondolin. Elrond hastened the exodus, leading the elves to the celebratory breaking of the fast within the Dining Hall. He turned one last time to see the two elves left on the promenade, sable and gold, and prayed that Erestor would have the courage to cast aside his doubts and embrace his future - and welcome his love.

Erestor stood in silence, hoping and dreading the conversation that would surely ensue. His heart had swelled with Glorfindel’s song and never could he remember his lord enrobed in such splendour. He braced himself to face his fears, leaning heavily on the memory of Elrond’s encouraging words.

The Lord of the Golden Flower spoke first, still facing the rising sun.

"It should have been ‘Thel. Though Lindir sang well, I still expected to hear our friend."

Erestor’s courage failed him. In his haste to retreat he stumbled over his words.

"I believe - from records that - that the Lord Ecthelion had a fine voice -"

"No." The interrupting voice was soft but firm. Glorfindel turned to face Erestor, gentle reproof in his eyes. He shook his head in negation of Erestor’s poor response. "No, Erestor. Deny me. Deny our love. Deny yourself. But do not deny our friend. For when you do so, you dishonour the memory of all those who died that day. Duilin, Rog, Galdor. Even Salgant. And Turgon, who took you into his council. And Ecthelion, who loved you as a brother. Who held you as a child and taught you as a youth. And who championed your love. Our love. If you choose not to declare your prayers openly, so be it. Whisper them in your mind. Call them unheard into the roar of the cascades. Cast them upon the wind so only Nmo can catch them. Just say them, to honour the souls of our friends."

Glorfindel reached out suddenly to clasp both Erestor’s hands, causing the advisor to flinch. He held them both between them, caressing the soft dorsum with his calloused thumbs. He tightened his grip when Erestor tried to pull away, allowing him no flight.

"Nay, pen-neth. Hold. Listen to what I have to say, for I can and will only say this once, then I will give you peace." He looked directly into the chocolate-brown eyes, noting well the wariness of the other elf. He smiled reassuringly.

"Never try to bargain with the Valar, pen-vuin. They do not welcome a challenge to their authority and they will twist and turn any agreement to their own design. I tried, and am paying for it dearly. For I asked for you, Erestor. When the essences of the Valar called me forth from my reflections to inform me of my incipient rebirth, I placed a price upon my consent. That I would be free to find you, my love. I would only serve Elrond, I would only protect Imladris, I would only fulfil my doom if you were at my side." He smiled ruefully, releasing one hand so that he could raise his own to cup the dark elf’s downy cheek. Erestor stood still, not wanting to lose the touch yet still restrained by his reserve from revelling in the sweet embrace. Glorfindel’s words, his odd intent, frightened him. This was not the way he had envisioned this discussion and it boded ill, he felt.

"Manw has a very odd sense of humour," Glorfindel continued. "He has honoured the bargain - in a fashion. I have my love beside me - but I do not have his *love*." The words stung sharper than a needle, and Erestor opened his mouth to speak, to protest that it was not so. Glorfindel laid two fingers upon his open lips.

"Hush again, my sweet. Only a little longer. Only a little more." He tenderly stroked the rose-red lips, following their soft outline, tracing the path with his sapphire eyes. He ignored the excited breath which escaped from between them.

"Do you remember our dream, Erestor? Do you remember the clarity, the reality of it? The only time we ever made love, and it was a dream. I thought at one time that it was a generous gift from Irmo, to sustain me through the centuries of loneliness in the Halls of Waiting. They are grey, my love. Did you know that? Grey and quiet and peaceful. We don’t interact much, we doomed souls. There is no talk as such, no laughter. It is a place of reflection, of learning; of realising the mistakes and faults of our first life so that we will not repeat them in the second. Emotions are tamed, muted, so that the reflection is controlled and considered. Except for that dream. It did not lose its passion; nor the sweet longing; nor the sensation of fierce pounding of flesh upon flesh. I dwelt long on that dream." His face became bleak, haunted, and Erestor wept inwardly, knowing that he had caused the pain his golden lord was feeling. "The past few months, I have been dreading the repetition of that dream, for it has brought only pain. It is a reminder that what hope I had is gone, as are you."

Glorfindel glanced away for a moment, blinking back the moisture pricking his eyes. The gesture was if the needle had been replaced by a knife, which now twisted in Erestor’s chest. Glorfindel turned back to Erestor, his head shaking in self-reproof.

"I shake my head at my arrogance, Erestor. My sheer arrogance, that I thought that I could be reborn and walk into Imladris and find you - and expect us to pick up from where we left off. I never thought… I never thought…When I died you were so young, so innocent - and all mine. I had moulded you, loved you, and the pattern of you life was set by my love. You had not lived. You had nothing, nobody to compare me with. And then I died. We are the same age now, you and I. Despite my so-called ‘spiritual growth’, I am actually only a little older than when I died but you - you have lived. Oh yes, without even knowing the particulars, I know that you have lived a full and varied life. The battles you have fought. The kings and lords that you have served. The history you have witnessed. I can see now that you no longer are my Erestor. My Erestor died too, on Cirith Thoronath. I never asked, I never thought of what you must have gone through after my death, my love. Whether you experienced the same pain, the same desperate removal of our love. I am sorry, Erestor."

Erestor was overwhelmed by Glorfindel’s words. They were no comfort to him, for he could feel with each phrase, each syllable that he was losing his lord again. Something had happened to Glorfindel in one short afternoon, and Erestor had lost him once more. Glorfindel heard the hitch in Erestor’s breath, the sob in his throat.

"Oh don’t cry my love, don’t weep! All will be well, I promise! That is what I am trying to tell you. I rode out yesterday, an angry and frightened and lonely elf. I yearned for you, but the pain of your rejections had broken me. This last, the rejection of your begetting day, was the final stroke. The day had always been so special to us. I gave you Hirnn, three thousand years ago, and again yesterday. The first you accepted with delight, the second… It hurt, Erestor. It was at that moment that I knew I could take no more. There was no point in my being here, for I was too heartsick to take up fully the role for which I had been reborn. Life had no meaning without you. Lonely, tragic, drunk. Being driven insane by nightmares of my death…"

He shook his head in amazement of the depths to which he had sunk. He barely registered the tears that were now flowing freely down Erestor’s face.

"I rode to the highest cliffs I could find. I stood on the edge, seeing not the jagged rocks onto which I would fall but only blessed relief. The grey Halls were so tempting, so welcome. I turned so that my back was to the edge. I wanted the wind to push me, to blow me over just as the balrog had taken me. I could then picture you watching me, and though I knew I caused you severe pain, I could pretend that you still loved me, still need my love. But the Valar would not let me fall. I hung there as they opened my eyes. I saw Middle Earth, Erestor. It is so beautiful. They showed me that the world glows with the intent of the Song of Ilvatr. Purple mountain ranges; green meadows; the smallest bird; the greatest bear. A lion and her cubs; a sheep and her lambs. The long lives of our kin; the short lives of Men; the work wrought by the Children of Ale, miraculous in its design. Beauty, personified in the living creatures that walk upon the world. Yet all could fall. All could fail. Sauron is diminished but not defeated and he *will* rise again. So much in this world teaming with life could be dragged into darkness and the depths of his hells. And I knew that I could not let this happen, for the most beautiful thing that the Valar showed me was you, ind nn."

He leant forward, brushing the errant tears from the advisor’s face with his hands; cupping that sweet head. Erestor cried without restraint, finally letting his aching heart bleed for his erstwhile lover.

"I have made my peace with the Valar, Erestor. I have finally determined to do what I was sent to do, and they have calmed my soul. They drew me back from the cliff edge and gave me purpose. There is a darkness coming, Erestor, one that will sweep all Middle Earth and it will be soon. I have been sent to protect Middle Earth and to aid the Line of Erendil. I will serve Elrond. I will serve Imladris, serve elvendom and in turn all the children of Ilvatr. I have a task to perform and a role to play. To do this I must apply myself and not be torn apart by my personal desires. So I have laid them aside. In accepting my burden the Valar have given me the strength to bear it.

"I shall return you to your solitude, mellon nn. No longer will I pursue or harass you. You are free of my importunities, Erestor of Lindon. I cannot say that I will stop loving you. A true heart cannot change when it finds circumstances different to those it has hoped for. I hoped for your love and I have found different. So be it. The love is still there whether you want it or not. And yesterday… The eve of Tarnin Austa will still hold a strong place within me, and may escape at times but - no matter. I will not hurt you anymore.

"As you have renounced our past, now so do I. As of this moment I am no longer Glorfindel of Gondolin. Gondolin has fallen and the House of the Golden Flower is no more. I am simply Glorfindel, seneschal of Imladris, protector of the House of Elrond."

He took a step back, releasing all holds upon the distraught advisor. He placed his hand upon his heart in formal salute.

"Mae govannen, Erestor of Lindon. I am Glorfindel of Rivendell. I greet you as a fellow servant in this house and as a comrade-in-arms. May we work in peace and harmony in our common fight against the darkness."

With that, Glorfindel of Rivendell turned and walked away, resignation and resolve in his reborn heart, leaving the weeping Erestor alone upon the deserted terrace.

Erestor fell to his knees, realising in his pain what his actions had brought upon him. He had spurned his love, he had dallied in acknowledging the faithful heart of the golden lord. He had wasted his second chance at happiness. Glorfindel was now a vessel of the Valar and available to him no more. He had lost him.

Erestor acted upon Glorfindel’s advice but instead of praying, he cried his agony into the thunderous noise of the cascades, and sent his despair into the gusting wind, in the vain hope that Nmo would hear him.

And forgive him for his terrible, dreadful mistake.

 

 

 

 

Elvish:

Peredhel - half-elven (sing.)

Peredhil - half-elven (pl.)

pen-neth - little one

pen-vuin - dear one

ind nn - my heart

mellon nn - my friend

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 12

 

T.A. 150 - onwards

 

The elf refuge of Imladris had always been a blessed place, empowered by its lord - a descendant of kings, a healer, and one wise and deeply woven into the magics of Middle Earth. In his care Elrond held the elven ring Vilya, one of the rings of power, and he used that power to protect and promote his realm. Now Imladris was doubly blessed.

Glorfindel had returned from Valinor. His original arrival had brought a tortured, tormented, rejected soul full of anger and grief and pain. No more was that elf thought of; that return remembered. The reborn lord had been re-born anew on that morning of Tarnin Austa, and he was a different creature entirely. He was now filled with light and he exuded grace. His laughter was heard always in merriment and never in cruelty or self-deprecation. He eschewed the excesses of his first return and instead only partook of wine to enhance a meal or celebrate a happy moment - never to drown in dismay. He shone with the grace of Valinor and was filled with the blessings of the Valar. Now he was truly loved by all the inhabitants of the elven haven, who partook of his grace. His star waxed - yet Erestor's waned.

Elrond felt for his dark counsellor. On the morning of that traumatic deposition he had felt that Erestor had started to break free of his self-loathing and had begun to hope for redemption. Glorfindel's return and the golden lord's avowal to hold true to the Valar's tasks had slammed that hope into the ground, had cut off the counsellor from the love he had realised he needed. From the previous torment of the golden lord, now there was complete reversal and it was Erestor who was suffering. Elrond had tried to console his old friend but his inquiries were rebuffed by a patently fading elf. Always Erestor had been quiet, always reserved but now he became a recluse, withdrawn, paler - if possible - and thin. He was wrapped in a cloak of despair. He would not respond to the elf-lord.

"I am well, Elrond," the dark elf had said after another impassioned plea from the Peredhel. "I have nothing else to say."

Elrond had grieved to see the Noldo so gaunt within his trappings of black. Always Erestor had favoured this non-colour, the colour of mourning, and never had Elrond seen him otherwise. Now for the first time it endowed less of the refined dignity it had been before, enhancing the darkling beauty of Erestor's sculpted features. It had now become a shroud, a covering for the living dead. Elrond's heart was fit to burst in pain for his long-time confidante.

"Always we have stood side-by-side, in joy and in sorrow, and if you have kept to yourself trials that pain you, I have accepted your judgement and reserve. But I can take this no longer! It has been months since Glorfindel returned, recovered in body and spirit, and yet you ail still. What has happened between you, Erestor? Why are you not reunited? No word have I heard from either of you, save a brief notification by Glorfindel that 'All is resolved and I have returned to take up my duties'. I think I deserve more of an explanation than that!"

Erestor had shaken his head, drawing his robe tighter around his frail frame. Elrond now remembered how his chocolate-brown eyes had seemed haunted as he spoke.

"I am Erestor of Lindon. Glorfindel has accepted that now. I have prevailed." His voice had quavered. "I am Erestor of Lindon - and may the Valar have mercy on me…"

In a reverse to his relationship with Erestor, Elrond was now becoming closer to his seneschal. Glorfindel's new approach to life touched all who knew him and they felt the special grace of the twice-born elf. Though his grace had not diminished since the Gates of Summer, he now promoted a very comforting presence, less awe-inspiring and more approachable. He was still adored by his troops but they knew that he could still press upon them to work harder, to improve and they felt his tongue if he was dissatisfied with their work. He was no god, and he was not infallible. He was Glorfindel of Rivendell.

Now Elrond approached Glorfindel with his fear for Erestor. Glorfindel nodded in agreement of Elrond's assessment.

"Aye, I have seen it too and am of the same mind. I did not wish to cause such a reaction to my re-birth. It seems I am the cause and I thus must rectify the matter. I will talk to him."

"Please do, Glorfindel, for he will not listen to me." Elrond paused, as if he was trying to determine how to proceed. Finally he spoke. "My friend, although I am thrilled that you are well again, it is as I have said. Erestor is not. He has been fading since your return on the morning of Tarnin Austa, since your talk on the east terraces. I had such high hopes on that morning, that the two elves who have become so dear to me might at last be reunited in the love which is so apparent. That Erestor finally spoke to me of his grief, his torment, his deep love for you… Why did you reject him, Glorfindel? Why did you turn aside that for which you had so longed? Why did you hurt him, my lord?"

Glorfindel shook his head, his eyes pleading for understanding. "I did not mean to wound him so, Elrond. I wished only to give him the peace he seemed to need. I had no way of knowing that he had opened his heart to you. If he had been able to do that earlier, then my soul would have soared and my heart rejoiced. I love him with every fibre of my being. I want him and need him every minute of every day. Every sway, every motion of his raven locks is like a sweep across my brow, every pen stroke he makes is a touch on my flesh. I yearn for him - yet that day I forswore my right to him, until I have completed the job I was sent to do."

Elrond cried out in frustration. "They cannot ask this of you, Glorfindel! They cannot demand Erestor’s life for yours! How can the Valar deny that which Ilvatr has placed upon you - your divided souls crying out to be united?"

The golden lord waved his hand in annoyance, knowing that Elrond did not understand.

"And how many times can I defy the Valar and break an oath? I denied Manw’s edict and rebelled, leaving Aman to follow Turgon and Fanor in their defiant refusal of His wishes. I broke my sworn oath to Turgon when I kissed Erestor in love and need before the battle in Gondolin. I ran from the duty I had accepted when I stood on the cliff face and prayed for my second death. And now I have sworn to address my attention and focus upon my task, to protect you, Imladris and Middle Earth!" He checked himself, realising that his voice had become raised in a tirade against his lord. "Aye, I love him, my lord. I will talk to him, try to make him understand that I do not reject his love but must yet defer the time of our union. I long for that time, Elrond, with all of my heart."

And talk to Erestor he did, though none knew the nature of their discussion. Shortly thereafter it was noted at mealtimes that small plates of treats would be found near the advisor's place, or that a dish of strawberries or a plate of cookies would be brought to the office next to the library. Elrond knew who had done this and was heartened to see that Erestor looked less thin and worn. He thanked Glorfindel.

"I know you love him, Elrond. So do I. I wish him naught but well," Glorfindel said, but did not elaborate on his methods.

It was through this newfound friendship with Rivendell's lord that Glorfindel found the cause of Erestor's flight from the training grounds so long ago. Glorfindel had always preferred to bathe alone in the comfort of his room, as he was aware of the network of fine scars upon his body and the sheen that was peculiar to them. He did not wish to be the constant topic of conversation in this regard so he also refrained from sparring bare-chested as so many warriors preferred. He was always reminded of the effect the sight of his scars had upon his love on that ill-fated morning.

On this day however a fault had occurred in the plumbing to his bathing chamber, so he had been forced to go forth to the public baths within the grounds of the House. The baths were utilised by most of the elves residing in Imladris, for only a fortunate few had access to private bathing facilities. They were also popular as a recreational activity, when ellyn and ellith could relax and talk and bathe together. As well as the main pools there were smaller rooms, which catered to groups of two or three. All the baths were well-stocked and well-maintained by the dedicated staff, and were somewhat luxurious in their appointments.

It was very early in the morning when Glorfindel made his way to the baths. The tree-lined paths were deserted and he had hoped that he would be able to bathe alone, so he was disappointed to see that another ellon had arrived just before him. His chagrin was assuaged when he realised that the ellon was Lord Elrond. The dark-haired elf smiled in greeting.

"Maer aur, Glorfindel. You are an uncommon sight here."

Glorfindel bent his head in greeting, smiling in response. "It is hard to get clean when the bath is filled with cold, dirty water from my previous ablutions - my own will not empty. Saelbeth is to have it repaired but until then I have been forced to bathe elsewhere. And you?"

Elrond grinned, his eyes twinkling with a hidden joke. "Ai, my wife took a very long, very perfumed bath yester eve, and the stench still permeates the chamber. I have an early morning meeting with men from Gondor and they see elves as strange enough. I have no wish to add to their store of fanciful legends regarding our race!"

Glorfindel laughed heartily, enjoying the vision the description brought forth. Glorfindel now took part in many councils within Elrond’s office but fortunately trade agreements did not fall within his purview. Elrond led the way to a private pool and started to disrobe.

" Shall we bathe together, mellon nn? I find company and conversation a most enjoyable way to start the day." Elrond’s request was nothing out of the ordinary and Glorfindel knew that if there were any he could trust with regard to his scars it was Elrond. He agreed willingly.

When Glorfindel began to disrobe he was aware of the lord’s eyes upon him, and he was grateful that Elrond made no comment on the silver marks adorning his strong frame. However, when he turned to place his clothes upon the pine bench beside the pool he was disconcerted to hear Elrond’s sharp intake of breath. He spun round quickly, and was startled to see tears in the elf lord’s eyes and a look of pity upon his face.

"What? What is wrong, meldir?"

Elrond shook his head in disbelief, and the tremor of deep emotion was evident in his voice.

"Ai, dear friend - the scars…"

Glorfindel was nonplussed. Yes, they were extensive, he knew. He was a warrior who had fought for survival after the desperate Crossing, who had faced Melkor’s hordes numerous times up to, and including, his death. He did not think that a fellow warrior such as Elrond would flinch from a few silver marks. So what was marked on his back that repelled the Peredhel so? He was almost afraid to ask, and reluctant to know - yet he must know, for was this not why his beloved had run from him all those months ago?

"Are the scars not the same as on my front, Elrond? What - what are they that you would shed tears for me…?" he asked in trepidation. Elrond shook his head again, trying to formulate the words, trying to articulate the syllables that could possibly describe those terrible wounds. He came to a decision, and moved to stand behind his friend. His hand lifted to touch Glorfindel’s back.

"May I? They do not - hurt?" he asked gently. Glorfindel shook his head and shivered as he felt Elrond hesitate before placing his spread fingers on the skin at the nape of his neck. Slowly, he began to move them, caressing the rough skin there.

"They look like claw marks, a vicious tear down from the base of your neck to mid-spine. They are black, burnt and charred. The black is not dull, but shines with a darkness, a gleam, as if they still throb." He moved his hand to Glorfindel’s right shoulder, this time placing three fingers at the start of this new scar.

"This one," Elrond sobbed, "is a vivid red, dark as blood yet glowing as if it is a chasm in the earth, open to show the living fire within. Its edges too are black and burnt. They hold the chasm open, preventing any possibility of healing."

His fingers had traced a wide path from right shoulder across the scapula, down the spine and ending in the soft flesh of the left buttock. Elrond removed his fingers, stinging with an inherent cold that had emanated from the brutal wound. He clenched his hand tight, both to revitalise the circulation which had frozen therein, and in deep distress for his friend. These were not wounds such as he could heal. These were the work of evil and the Valar had chosen to retain them, for whatever reason. Glorfindel had not moved, was too shocked to move, and now Elrond circled to face his friend again.

"Glorfindel, I do not think - I have no power…"

Glorfindel knew what Elrond was trying to say, what he could not say - that these inflammations would have to be borne without succour. He smiled faintly.

"At least they do not hurt," he said simply. At these gentle words Elrond’s tears began to fall in compassion for the brave elf. He took Glorfindel into his embrace as the golden lord finally broke. Heavy sobs wracked the giant frame and broken words spilled forth in grief. There were not for himself, but for another. And though it was not stated, Elrond knew for whom the gentle lord cried.

"Oh, that he saw them… The pain he must feel - the memories they must invoke… He ran from them… He ran from *me*!"

Murmuring soothing words Elrond waited until Glorfindel wept no more. He asked no questions, but completed their disrobing and guided the seneschal to the sunken tub. In silence, a gentle quiet, he assisted Glorfindel through his bath, washing his hair, cleansing his skin. He stroked the washcloth over the dreadful marks, an act of reverence for the sacrifice the Lord of Gondolin had made, three thousand years ago. Once dry and clothed again, Glorfindel faced Elrond.

"My lord, I ask of you - please tell no one of what you saw today. I do not want pity from my friends, nor gawking elves who still look on me as a curious historical aberration. And I ask - I request -" he broke off, anguished eyes pleading with Elrond for understanding. "Please, do not tell Erestor. Please. I will talk to him, I will help him…"

Elrond nodded, placing a reassuring hand on the seneschal’s arm. "He will not hear it from me, mellon nn. Nor will anyone else, in this realm or any other."

Glorfindel smiled briefly in thanks. "Another boon, my lord. My duties today - I do not know if I can undertake them, if I can concentrate…"

Once again Elrond nodded in agreement. "You will be missed, my friend, but Andrann will manage. Go and rest. Perhaps take one of your potions to help you sleep?"

As Glorfindel left the chamber Elrond hoped that the potion would be all that the golden lord would take. He hoped indeed that Glorfindel would not return to his former source of comfort and forgetfulness. Yet he did not have much faith in this hope.

Elrond’s hope was not realised. No one saw Glorfindel again that day, and there was no answer from his locked chambers. Elrond wondered if he had lost the reformed lord and was witnessing a return to the wretched elf of a year past. He made no comment but he saw a worried look in Erestor’s eyes when he mentioned that Glorfindel would not be joining them for their morning briefing.

"Lord Glorfindel is unwell?"

"Yes," said Elrond softly. "He learned of something… He is not well."

Elrond heard later that day that his advisor had been seen hovering in the shadows near Glorfindel’s chamber.

****

The middle of the night was some hours behind them when Erestor heard a noise outside his room. He had changed earlier into sleeping trousers but he had not retired to bed. Instead he had curled into a comfortable chair in his living room, a rug draped across his knees. An open book was testimony to his intentions but unseeing eyes had stared at the same page for hours, the mind wandering elsewhere.

On hearing the noise outside his chamber Erestor tensed, though in the safe haven of Elrond's home he knew not why. In the silence following he thought that he had been mistaken, and was starting to relax when there came a thud, as if a great weight had fallen. Casting aside both book and rug he crossed to the door, undid the lock and flung the door open. No one was before him, but he gasped as he saw the crumpled form to the left of the doorframe, huddled against the wall. His golden hair was a matted mess, his clothes were askew and his shirt was wide open. He bore in his hand a bottle that tilted precariously, spilling drops of miruvor onto the wooden parquet.

"Glorfindel!"

The elf looked up with bleary sapphire eyes, which he had difficulty in focussing.

"Pen-neth?" he slurred, his tongue seemingly refusing to co-operate. "It is my pen-neth, my sweet, my darling one," Glorfindel hiccupped. "So many names - but I can't call you mine anymore, can I? They won't let me. You won't let me." The lord began to cry, drunk and pathetic. Erestor felt his heart twist.

"Come, hir nn," he said softly. "Let me help you back to your chambers." He reached under Glorfindel's arms, lifting his large frame upright with difficulty. Placing one long arm across his shoulder, the advisor coaxed Glorfindel into staggering down the corridor to his rooms.

It was the first time Erestor had entered Glorfindel's chamber since he had prepared them before the reborn lord's arrival. Little had been added to them save a few cushions, rugs and books to personalize it to the golden lord. Passing through into the bedchamber, Erestor reached the huge four-poster bed and almost collapsed on it, dragged down by the weight of the drunken elf. He had some difficulty extricating himself from Glorfindel's grip as the golden lord was reluctant to release him, but finally he succeeded. Erestor knew that Glorfindel was more likely to suffer from his recurring nightmares in this state, and so he turned to the bottle of herb potion on the small bedside table. He was familiar with the dosage prescribed by Elrond for he himself had written out the order to the apothecary. As he lifted the bottle to pour the dose he heard the golden lord speak. He turned his head, startled to see the sapphire eyes watching him, perusing him. Devouring him.

"Meleth. Meleth-nn. Ind-nn. Fa-nn."

Erestor quivered, a heat sweeping through him as he registered the desire, the longing in those worlds. He fought for control of his body, concentrating on pouring the potion into the glass. He leant over the golden elf, raising his precious head, tilting the glass so that the liquid poured into Glorfindel's mouth. The elf swallowed the medication.

"They don't hurt, you know. They may be ugly but they do not hurt."

Erestor was puzzled. What didn't hurt? He was paralysed at the next words, shock hitting his mind and body.

"The whip hurt me when it hit, pen-vuin, but I ignored - ignored the pain. It didn't matter. You did. I saw your eyes when I fell and I saw the hurt I caused you. I…am sorry, my love… I am …sorry that I … upset you…"

The words trailed away and Erestor stood, dumbfounded. He was sorry? Glorfindel was sorry? *He* was *sorry*?

With a cry Erestor collapsed to his knees by the bed, casting caution and reserve to the wind.

"No, no!" he wept, the sorrow in his heart finally bursting forth in the presence of his love. "Do not apologise to *me*, my lord! My dearest lord!"

In a moment Erestor was grasped tight, lifted and rolled in one swift movement, pinned onto the bed under the weight of solid muscle. Hs mouth was claimed in a brutal kiss, demanding, determined. He had no way to move, no power to break free. He was helpless. He was trapped. He was -

A strong tongue pressed against his teeth, demanding entry, demanding control and Erestor relinquished that control with little demur. His breath was taken from him by both the strength of the raid upon his senses and the weight of the elf above him. He could not resist. Did not want to resist.

Did not resist.

Erestor's defences collapsed as he relished the pressure of the longed-for body upon his. His hands eagerly swept across Glorfindel's chest, stroking those powerful muscles, feeling that supple skin, kneading and revelling in the flesh pressing against his lean body. His lips pressed tight against Glorfindel's, feeling the sinuous muscle delve into the warm crevices of his mouth; his own tongue dancing, tangling with his love's, revelling in the sweet taste of his lord. Finally he was touching, holding Glorfindel in the way he had dreamed of for millennia. His Glorfindel.

The seneschal moved his lips from that rose-red mouth, dipped them to that creamy white throat. He proceeded to nibble at that flesh, feeling the pulse that Erestor knew had speeded beyond counting. His lord was licking him, tasting him, owning him. His mouth suckled fiercely, marking Erestor as the true possession of his golden lord. And Erestor wanted to be possessed.

He lifted his chin, arching into the contact; gasped as a hand moved from shoulder to bare chest. It brushed the roseate nipple, teased, pinched, hardening the flesh as his own member had hardened. He could feel Glorfindel's shaft pressing against his thigh and Erestor rotated his hips to increase the friction, causing Glorfindel to growl in rough desire. Erestor was aching for this ellon, aching for his touch - aching for *him*, body and soul. The logical part of Erestor's mind cried out in warning but was beaten into submission by his heart. By his love for Glorfindel. There was only love and lust and Erestor and Glorfindel.

Sensation was all. He barely registered when Glorfindel’s hand abandoned his nipple, when it slipped lower to fumble at the laces of his sleep pants, then at the front of Glorfindel’s own leggings. The fingers were unsure, controlled as they were by a brain fogged by drink and lust, but eventually they were successful. His arousal was finally free of its trappings, and lustfully collided with Glorfindel’s - two hot, swollen rods rubbing in a long-awaited welcome.

Glorfindel’s mouth swiftly found the fondled nub, and the moist lips elicited a strangled cry from Erestor as they clamped over the swollen nipple. The golden lord’s tongue was expert, the pink tip licking lightly and constantly over the excited flesh as the lips applied tight suction and pressure in turn. Erestor was overwhelmed, writhing eagerly in response to the darts of joy flaring from the teat, spreading like a lightning strike through the rest of his over-sensitive body. His stiffened, swollen shaft jerked in response, its tip dripping the evidence of his need. Some small part of him wept, pleading that this feeling was wrong, that this act shouldn’t be this way, in drink and in violation of his self-imposed denial. He didn’t deserve this bliss. He didn’t deserve this love, he didn’t deserve Glorfindel. It shouldn’t be happening.

His neglected body would not be denied, not now, not when he was so close to uniting with the other half of his soul. He could feel Glorfindel’s erection pressing hot in needy pressure against his belly. He lifted his pelvis, increasing the friction on his own lusty member, pleading with his body and with Glorfindel for fulfilment. Glorfindel answered his unspoken prayer, wrapping his large hand around both slick shafts and gently stroked the velvet flesh together. Perhaps he too realised that their union should not be completed in a drunken tumble.

His strokes were sure, even. His thumb slipped across the weeping slits, causing Erestor to arch in ecstatic shock and the dark elf pushed into the grip, trying to increase the strength and pace of the strokes, desperate for release. His mouth pressed against Glorfindel’s neck, sweet kisses and licks lapping at his firm skin. From Glorfindel’s lips poured sweet endearments, slurred by desire and alcohol.

"My Erestor. Mine. My love, My heart. Mine. Melin le, Erestor-nn."

The longing and love evoked in those words served to spur Erestor on, and he reached for his lord, pulling him by the shoulders, lifting the glorious mouth to his own rose-red lips. He plundered the depths of his lord’s sweet cavern, floating on a haze of uncontrollable ardour. Erestor’s slender fingers entwining in those golden tresses of silk and sunshine in heated frenzy until he could withstand the escalating sensation no more. In his passion he cried out to his love and his lord.

"Glorfindel! My love, my lord. I am yours, I am yours!"

Tears rolled down Erestor’s cheeks when he saw the ecstasy on his lover’s face as he came in a roaring shout. Erestor cried out too in sweet rapture, reaching that same zenith in tandem with his golden lord.

"Glorfindel!"

He gripped tight to that treasured body, the melethron he had ached for through three thousand long, lonely years. The heat of his seed, the mingled seed of their completion, spread across his taut stomach, and he rode the turbulent waves of intense sensation crashing through his body.

In the dazed aftermath, the pressing weight and soft snores told Erestor that the alcohol and the medicine had finally taken their toll upon the golden lord. As much as he wanted to stay there, to be enfolded into that warm embrace, he knew that he could not. He pressed upwards, using weapon-honed muscles to slide his shaking body from under the dozing elf, and made his way to the bathroom to collect a washcloth. Cleansing himself he noted absently that the repairs he had authorised via Saelbeth had been completed. He returned to the bed and Glorfindel, and cleansed his darling lord then disposed of the cloth in the laundry basket. The cool, composed counsellor was now in control, sealing the medicine bottle, smoothing the sheets, removing all traces of the torrid lovemaking that had occurred. Finally he positioned Glorfindel onto his side, the safest position for sleep in his drunken stupor.

Erestor looked down at his golden lord, and could not resist sitting on the side of the bed, stroking softly that shining mane. He bent over Glorfindel, pressing his lips to the golden tresses, savouring the texture, memorising the sweet scent.

"I love you, my Glorfindel. I will always love you. Perhaps - perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps you *can* forgive me. Perhaps I can forgive myself…" Silent tears began to flow down the pale cheeks as Erestor smiled wistfully. "One day, my love. One day I will prove myself to you and then, if the Valar will permit it, I can be in your arms once more."

He stood and quietly crossed the floor, turning one last time to look at his soulmate, before returning to the solitude of his rooms, his heart soothed by the memory of this special night.

 

****

It was in trepidation that Erestor entered the dining hall that morning, not knowing if the events of the night had been overheard. The greeting from Elrond and Celbrian was cordial, no different to any other morning. Erestor took some items from the food arrayed before him, but could only toy with it.

What had he been thinking? So many barriers built, so much denial and doubt - yet he had tumbled into bed with Glorfindel with such ease. Erestor felt his face beginning to flush. No, that was not quite true. Glorfindel had pulled him into bed, and if the golden lord had not been drunk then Erestor *would* have resisted - forcefully. It was the intoxicated state of the seneschal that had caused him to abandon his resistance, for surely Glorfindel would not remember the events of the night in his alcoholic haze. But now, in the light of day, Erestor was filled with dread for he believed his assumptions unsound and that he faced a declaration, here, in front of the Lord and Lady of Imladris. He was not ready for this, not ready for Glorfindel's love, not ready for *his* love to be known. He did not want to face this moment.

A movement at the door behind him and a hearty "Good morning" told Erestor that the seneschal had arrived. Steeling himself he raised his head and nodded to Glorfindel in greeting. The nod was returned warmly.

As the seneschal took his place Erestor observed him closely. In the bleary eyes and pale complexion there was evidence of Glorfindel's excessive intake of the day before, but he had obviously taken care with his appearance, and his clothes were fresh and neat. His movements were careful and the odd wince indicated that the effects of the miruvor had not yet worn off fully, but still he seemed mostly recovered. As the conversation at the table turned to daily events Erestor slowly realised that, between the miruvor and the medication, Glorfindel had categorised their tryst as a drunken dream.

In contrast to his earlier thoughts, Erestor did not know whether he was relieved or not. He only knew that he would long hold the memory in his heart, in blessed hope for a sweeter future. A future that would perhaps be brighter for them both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elvish:

ellyn - male elves (pl)

ellith - female elves (pl)

ellon - male elf (sing.)

meldir - friend

mellon nn - my friend

pen-neth - little one

meleth-nn - my love

ind-nn - my heart

fa-nn - my soul

pen-vuin - dear one

melethron - lover (male)

melin le - I love you

Erestor nn - my Erestor

Chapter 13

T.A. 160 - 1300

The years rolled by, swiftly for some, slowly for others. Imladris stood calmly in the eye of the storm as the world of Men swirled around them, and it seemed that barely had one king of Men been crowned that he died, and his successor was raised to the throne. Elrond Peredhel watched the progression of Kings, of the Lords of Arnor and Gondor, carefully. For indeed, through generations untold, they were kin to him - his beloved twin had chosen the fate of mortal men, and these lords of the Secondborn were his descendants, and thus vital to the future of Middle Earth. It had been an Alliance of Elves and Men that, in accord with the Valar and the Naugrim had fought in the War of Wrath, causing the expulsion of Melkor beyond the bounds of Arda, thus signalling the end of the First Age. Similarly the end of the Second Age brought the downfall of Sauron - but there the strength of Men had faltered and Isildur had succumbed to the power of the One Ring. This Ring was now lost but Elrond was, as always, wary of relaxing his vigil. There were already signs that evil was on the move once more, as Glorfindel’s presence in Imladris showed. Thus the fates of both lines of ancient Nmenor were watched with keen eyes and fearful heart.

The turning years brought changes for Glorfindel too. His power, position and prowess as seneschal of Imladris became renowned throughout elvendom and he soon became familiar with most of the realms of the Eldar. He travelled across the Misty Mountains to enter the enchanted realm of Lothlrien as escort to the Lord and his Lady, on visits to Celebran’s parents. His sojourns in Lrien were entertaining and informative, and soothing to his soul. He found delight in his converse with the rulers of that realm, for he had known the Lady Galadriel from his first life in Valinor, then later when she wed Celeborn, Prince of Doriath. As a Noldor Glorfindel had never been admitted past the Girdle of Melian, but he had encountered the Lord and Lady in councils outside of Thingol’s realm. His thirst for contact with those he had known in the First Age, *his* Age, was sated whenever he entered the Golden Wood, though he resisted all persuasions of Galadriel to view her blessed mirror.

"It is no longer my place to question the will of the Valar. They forgave me for my misdeeds in the rebellion and allowed me to be reborn. They forgave my recalcitrant behaviour on my return to Imladris. I will not seek out knowledge of my future but instead treasure what joys I have at present."

In a different wood his dealings were not so calm for Thranduil, King of the Greenwood, was the son of that Oropher who had defied Gil-galad and the Lords of the West to make that ill-fated charge at the Battle of Dagorlad. The ruler of the Sindar elves was an edhel who bore a mistrust of the Noldor as his father had done, yet he knew that one realm could not stand alone against possible evils, especially when not protected by a magical ring. He thus had entered into an alliance with the other elf-havens. He would never break a treaty but it did not mean he had to *like* his fellow lords - yet he liked Glorfindel. In him he saw a warrior of great deeds and mighty stature - and a strong head for drink. Glorfindel did not truly indulge in the way he once did, in the dark year of his rebirth, but he knew how to make it look as if he did, and he thus won the admiration of the golden king, who lived a lusty and luxurious life. Everyone knew that negotiations with the Greenwood always went smoother if Glorfindel was there.

For Crdan and the Havens, Glorfindel always held the strongest affection. Crdan had been the first to greet him on his return and had promoted his resettlement in Middle Earth. There was a keen understanding with him and so Glorfindel revelled in his trips to the coastal port. For the golden lord did not feel the call of the sea. No indeed, not until his work was done and his destiny run its course would he feel the pull of the true home of elvenkind. Instead he could tread the cliff paths and imagine himself back to the time of his arrival - the time when had such hopeful dreams of finding Erestor.

Erestor. The love he felt for the dark elf had not diminished. Oh no, in no way had he relinquished his pen-neth’s hold over his heart, or the call of his own. The overwhelming grief of separation from the other half of his soul was, however, somewhat soothed by the gift of peace laid upon him by the Valar. In his travels through Middle Earth his only regret was that Erestor did not always travel with him. He rejoiced in the company of his dark darling when the counsellor was a member of a diplomatic party or an ambassador on a state occasion. He missed him dreadfully when Erestor’s talents were required in Imladris. Separations, be it for a day on patrol or months or years in missions, were always a trial to Glorfindel. For Erestor had become to him something that he had never been before.

A friend.

It had started slowly - very slowly. He didn’t know when the tension had started to fade, when Erestor had stopped flinching whenever he approached him. Never again had Glorfindel indulged in miruvor to the point of insensibility, as he had done on the night of the second dream. Why Irmo had bequeathed it upon him he did not know, but it was even more real to him than the one in Gondolin, for he could still feel Erestor writhing beneath him, panting, pressing their sleek and demanding members together in lustful need. He could still hear Erestor’s voice calling out his name in his rapture, declaring his love, over and over. Ai, as much as he longed for that dream to have been repeated, he would not disrupt the newfound respect and rapport he had felt with Erestor by living through the haze of alcohol.

It was only the little things at first - a gentle greeting, a quiet remark; a simple comment upon the clemency of the weather. The day when Erestor turned, a genuine smile on his face at seeing the seneschal approach, was one that Glorfindel treasured in his memory, for he had longed to see once again a certain brilliant smile, one that was meant for him alone. Small steps had been taken towards a calmer relationship than that which had torn their sanity apart in that first year of Glorfindel’s return. Over the centuries both had striven to support Elrond and supply Imladris with that which it needed most - two devoted and determined chief officers. They worked, apart and together, to promote the relationships between the elven realms with those of dwarves and men. They combined their expertise to maintain the safety and security of the elven refuge, and they had united to provide the twin heirs with a full and rounded education. The twins learned of politics and arts, healing techniques and the skills of diplomacy. They also learned the art and application of the martial skills of hand, sword, knife and bow. Of the first two Glorfindel was the undisputed master; of the third, Erestor led the field; and for the last, the Lady Celebran’s parents had provided and sent one of their finest archers to teach them - Haldir Lrien.

Thus it was at the Coming-of-Age celebrations for the twins that the three tutors stood together in satisfied accomplishment and pride when the young princes received their Blessing from the hands of their father. In joy and unity Haldir had grasped a hand of each of his fellow educators and pronounced them an unequalled fellowship.

"For if we can survive the teaching of those two young hellions, we can survive anything!" he laughed, joined in merriment by both sable and golden edhil. When the blonde archer left them to partake of the fine wines on offer Glorfindel realised that Erestor had not released his fingers from his grasp. He smiled down at the dark elf who was standing quietly, unconscious of his continued hold on the golden lord.

"I am sorry I missed your fiftieth begetting day, Erestor," he murmured softly, Erestor looked up quickly, an automatic rebuff on his lips, but he saw the honesty and sadness in the sapphire eyes. Instead he squeezed the large hand.

"I am sorry too," he said, lifting those expressive brown eyes. "Yet we are both here now, for Elrohir and Elladan. Let us take some comfort in that."

And so they were at peace. An overjoyed Elrond watched them from across the Hall of Fire, delighted to witness the beginning of a new phase in his friends' relationship.

Similar happiness was found in the next century when Celebran was delivered of a girl child, Arwen. Inheriting Elrond's dark hair and her mother's beauty, the sweet baby found willing protectors in the Chief Counsellor and the Seneschal of Imladris. They took it in turns to hold the smiling babe, rocking her and uttering sweet inanities in their besotted enchantment. They each envied the other when it was not their turn to cradle her, and the jealousy became totally irrational and aimed towards her father when they had to return the little elleth to his arms. They did not reminisce in speech but instead communicated through knowing glances their memories of Elrond's father as a baby in Gondolin.

 

Time brought another joy to Glorfindel - the arrival at the end of the first millennium of the Third Age of the Maiar lorin, whom he had known on his rebirth in Valinor, now embodied in the guise of an aged human male. lorin was one of five Maiar who came to be known as the Istari, and they were led by Curumo, Curunr in Sindarin - the 'Cunning One'. In the speech of Men he was called Saruman. lorin was given the name Galdalf the Grey for his habitual garb of mid-grey tones; his elvish name was Mithrandir, the Grey Pilgrim.

"And that is the name you must call me by, young Glorfindel!" the Maiar laughed, lifting his glass of ale in salute. "If we are to be effective against the Dark Lord then we must hold back the knowledge of much of our powers - including knowledge of our origins. The darkness is rising again, meldir. Already there is movement in the southern ranges of the Greenwood. Thranduil will find it difficult to maintain hold of his realm against the regrouping forces of Sauron."

Glorfindel nodded, his hands cradling the glass of wine he had held for near on an hour of their talk in the Hall of Fire. His need for liquor had diminished greatly since that dark year of his return, and he partook only to give appearance of camaraderie with his troops. He glanced at Gandalf, his face disbelieving of the old man before him.

"Ai, lor - Mithrandir. I understand the need for subterfuge but this - disguise - that you have adopted… You were so bright, so pure and beautiful on Taniquetil!"

Gandalf grinned, his lips not hidden by the straggling beard nor the twinkle in his blue eyes diminished.

"Needs must, my dear Glorfindel. And speaking of beauty, how fared your quest? I see that you found your Erestor, but I dare say that Vair had the right of it? That your return was not necessarily welcomed by him?" His smile gentled, knowing full well what had passed between Erestor and Glorfindel. Glorfindel smiled ruefully.

"Aye, Vair was truthful in her warning. As always, I had to be the one who was right, the one who would prevail. I did not, but since my revelation on the cliffs of Imladris my relationship with Erestor has become more - settled. I will never give up my love for him but I will abide by the creed of the Valar. My life, my soul is in their hands until I have fulfilled my duty."

Gandalf nodded and laid a hand on Glorfindel's shoulder, squeezing it hard.

"Take comfort in this - the Valar are not cold-hearted. They can lay restrictions upon you - but they can also promote great joy. Have faith, my golden friend."

****

Another happy reunion took place in the most unexpected way. The one leader of an elven community that Glorfindel had yet to meet was Gildor Inglorion, Prince of the House of Fingon. His principal home was in the elven port of Edhellond, a coastal town in Gondor near to the settlement of Dol Amroth. His was an active spirit though, one not meant to stay in one place for long. Thus he had set up a travelling community, a Company of Elves who wandered throughout Middle Earth, maintaining contact between the settled realms of the Eldar. That Glorfindel had not met him earlier was amazing, but sadly Gildor's previous arrivals in Imladris always seemed to coincide with his own journeys to the other realms of the Havens, Greenwood or Lothlrien. And so Glorfindel was delighted when he stood beside Elrond in the courtyard of the Last Homely House and saw the procession of colourful elves make their entrance.

Gildor Inglorion was a bright lord, light of spirit and beauty. Fair of countenance, his fine-boned face was framed by delicate light-gold hair. Whereas Glorfindel was the epitome of Anor aflame at the height of the day, Gildor's tresses reflected the pale yellow of a hazy early-morning sun.

The greetings were joyous, the introductions informal and the gathering was welcomed into the house for a midday feast. As the throng dispersed, Glorfindel spotted Erestor moving aside to greet an elleth who had arrived in the Company. The greeting was enthusiastic, at least on the elleth's part, as she enfolded Erestor in her embrace. Glorfindel watched in amazement, then his mouth flew open as he realised who she was.

"Dwen!"

The cry was loud and the elleth turned in shock, a shock that was compounded when she realised who had called her name. She immediately tried to drop into a curtsey but Glorfindel would not allow it, scooping the slight figure into a bear hug.

" Dwen, as I live and breathe! Ai, this miscreant did not tell me of your coming, nor indeed that you still resided in Middle Earth!"

The elleth breathed deeply and rapidly, trying to reclaim the breath that had been squeezed out of her by the elf lord, as well as trying to slow her speeding heart.

"Ai, my lord, praise to the Valar for granting the mercy of your return to us!" She looked at the two elves, Erestor and Glorfindel, and grinned widely. "I wager that the reunion was an occasion of delight and wonder!" She laughed at seeing the discomfort on their faces and misinterpreted it as embarrassment. "We were never fooled, Mirieth and I. We knew of your love long before you did, I am sure. I am so happy that you are together again."

Erestor hastened to change the subject, to avoid awkward questions.

"How is your family, Dwen? Are they not with you?" The elleth smiled fondly.

"Nay, for Pathon sails with the fishing fleet now, having taken to the life of a mariner with great enthusiasm. And Nienna is married and had her first child some fifteen years ago." She turned to Glorfindel. "I am a grandmother now, my lord."

"Then you are truly blessed," responded Glorfindel, smiling. "Though I wish that you would not call me 'my lord'. I am Lord of the Golden Flower no more, but simply Glorfindel of Rivendell."

Dwen shook her head. "You will always be *my* lord, as Erestor is my gwador, but I will try - Glorfindel."

The golden lord hugged her again, though this time her ribs did not feel as if they would crack. Erestor coughed lightly behind them. Glorfindel grinned.

"I think that is a warning that we are expected at the festivities." He looked into her eyes, a more serious mien on his face. "I need to talk to you later, Dwen. Please."

Dwen glanced at Erestor who looked somewhat alarmed, but then nodded in resignation.

"Very well, my lord - Glorfindel! Later."

Another hug in farewell, then the counsellor and the seneschal walked slowly towards the dining hall. Glorfindel looked carefully at his companion, considering what to say. Finally he spoke.

"I will not ask her," he said softly. "If you do not desire it, I will not ask her. I will abide by your wishes, mellon nn." Erestor sighed and shook his head.

"No, you need to talk. And ask. Ask Dwen, she will tell you what happened after-"

The pain lanced across his face and Glorfindel took his hand.

"Oh pen-neth, I never wanted to hurt you so."

He stroked his thumb over the back of the creamy skin, marvelling at its softness. He ached to pull Erestor into his arms, to just hold him and comfort him. He looked into those chocolate-brown eyes, fearing to see rejection again. Instead, he saw gratitude and also acceptance of the divide that had been placed between them by the Valar. And the same ache he felt? Perhaps. He would not, could not dwell on that thought, for it would bring forth all the longing that he had hidden for centuries. Just to know that Erestor had started to accept their former relationship, even in a minor way, brought tears to Glorfindel's eyes. Erestor reached up and stroked Glorfindel's cheek hesitantly.

"That the Valar gave you back to us is a miracle, meldir. I will abide by their ruling. As long as you are back in my life again, as a friend if nothing more, then I will abide."

As their eyes met so did their hearts and in this moment of sweet acceptance Glorfindel knew that one day Erestor would be his again. Another gentle smile from those rose-red lips and a final pressure on his fingers, then their hands parted and they walked, side by side, into the awaiting feast.

****

The morning light shone down upon Glorfindel's meeting with Dwen. He had quickly performed his morning duties as seneschal, delegating some of the tasks to Andrann, and he knew that his meeting with Gildor and Elrond regarding security matters was yet some hours away. Now he took Dwen to one of the summerhouses in the extensive gardens, where they could be alone.

Dwen studied Glorfindel's face as he searched for the right words in which to frame his questions. In the dappled light which filtered through the traceries of the elegant framework, and the green ivy twining around the graceful arches, Dwen could see that her original hopes had not been fulfilled. She leaned across to the golden lord and placed her hand on his knee. He raised his head in inquiry.

"I was wrong, wasn't I?" she asked. "You are not united with Erestor."

The ellon shook his head slowly, his shoulders dropping slightly. Yet there was a slight smile on his face.

"No, not in the way you mean, though it was not without want or need on my part. I love Erestor and always will, but Erestor was not ready. And now I am bound to await my destiny."

Dwen did not fully understand his meaning for she knew little of the reasons for his return. Her heart bled for the elf lord.

"You wish to know what happened on Cirith Thoronath after you - fell? What happened to Erestor?" She was hesitant but Glorfindel's determined face urged her on. Her mind sped back to that fateful night.

"I was not beside Erestor when you fell, my lord. I was still caught in the crowds, the press trying to flee from the balrog - but I heard the screams. We all heard the screams. They echoed through the mountains, crying out in loss and despair. When I reached Erestor, Mirieth was trying to pull him up, to drag him away from the cliff edge and up the mountain track. He would not move. He was transfixed, staring only at the point where he last saw you. We were terrified, terrified that the orcs would take us, kill us. Then the eagles came. They fought the orcs, driving them over the cliffs, tearing them apart with their vicious talons. The filthy creatures were no match for those majestic eagles. We were safe. Then the king of the eagles came. He bore - he bore your body, Glorfindel."

Glorfindel nodded. He had heard of this before and he patted the trembling Dwen in encouragement. He said nothing for he wanted - needed - to hear more.

"The remaining warriors of our House carried you with reverence and, with the aid of many, raised a cairn over your resting place. Lord Tuor led a brief eulogy. Erestor - Erestor had stopped his screams but stared only ahead of him, unconscious of the crowd around him. Some of the guard, some of those who had been his tutors, his weapon-masters, his friends…They carried him in turn, over the rocky scree, over the mountains. Every so often, unexpectedly, Erestor would rave. Screaming, shouting, calling your name. Always your name, my lord. And a few words, over and over again. 'My fault'. 'I killed him'. 'My fault'. Nothing, no one could break through his barriers, could reassure him or console him. He was locked in his own world, the pain coursing through him in cycles. He often went into spasms, becoming rigid. They were the most frightening of times, Glorfindel. We feared that we would lose him too."

Glorfindel could make no response. He had felt the blood drain from his face at the horrific description of his beloved's broken heart and broken mind. He knew he must look pale for Dwen's glances at him were full of concern. Yet he could not articulate, could only plead with his eyes for her to continue the tale. She read and understood those pleas.

"We walked with our fellow refugees to the banks of the Sirion; to Nan-tathren, the land of Willows, where we were able to take our rest for a short time. Here we grieved, here we wept - for our lost loved ones; our beautiful home; our shattered sheltered peace. We grieved for our king and our fallen defenders - and we sang for you, Glorfindel. Our shining Lord. The ragged remnant of the House of the Golden Flower led the dirge but every House sang for you. And we sang for Erestor, for he was your pen-neth - and our new Lord.

"Yet he did not know and could not respond, and as the days passed we realised that when the exodus moved on in its journey, we could not go with them. Erestor was no better, if anything he was worse for when he raved he also ran. He ran to the river to try to throw himself in; he ran to the forest, determined to climb the highest tree and throw himself down. By whatever means, he was determined to follow you, my lord. He wanted to die."

Glorfindel closed his eyes, the grief for his pen-neth's sorrow twisting his heart. He didn't know, hadn't known the extent of the madness that Erestor had faced. How could he have survived? How *did* he survive? Dwen continued, her own voice trembling in the enforced remembering. They had all been torn, all wounded by the horrors they had faced, Glorfindel realised. Yet they had stood firm by his bereft beloved. Gratitude swelled within his heart for the gentle elleth.

"Finally Mirieth made the decision. We had learned by that time that her husband and her eldest son Brglon had fallen in the battle, though Aradol had been found. She refused to fade, she refused to leave her third son - Erestor. He was her son too, he was unwell and she would not leave him. Nor would I."

Glorfindel leaned across in gratitude. "Ai, Mirieth truly loved him as did Aradol and Brglon. I never understood how they were not jealous of the attention their mother paid to him," he said with a smile. Dwen clasped his hand in return.

"He was but a babe when he came into our lives and they were near grown. He was their baby brother, even though he looked to you and not to them so much."

Glorfindel pressed her fingers. "And to you. He looked to you too, Dwen." She smiled.

"My gwador. Such a sweet child, such a devoted brother. I could not leave him, my lord. Not my little Erestor. So we were to stay, whilst the others moved on. Erestor, Mirieth, Aradol and I. Lord Tuor asked for volunteers for a small escort. The entire guard of the Golden Flower stepped forward, my lord, in honour of you and of Erestor. Finally four were chosen, a small group preferable to a large force. We would hide, set up a small encampment, hunt through the winter and wait for Erestor to recover. The warriors were chosen because they were either unbound, or had lost their kin and had no other ties. Laindir, Orthored, Galudirn and Eruant."

The golden lord nodded. They were all experienced warriors, masters and tutors to Erestor in his youth. They all had fought alongside Glorfindel for centuries, in the Battles of Beleriand. He sent a silent prayer of thanks to his friends for their care of his beloved Erestor. He focussed upon Dwen again. She was becoming distressed by these recollections and although he did not want to stop her - no indeed, he *needed* to know all - he would not prolong her distress by endless questions.

"That year was hard, Glorfindel. We had to take shelter in caves, hunt for food and for furs to keep us warm. Mirieth and I searched for herbs where we could, having been instructed in simple draughts by an apothecary who had escaped the city. In this way we kept Erestor calm and reduced his ravings to a minimum. At one point we thought that we would lose him, for he refused to eat. I think that he forgot *how* to eat. In the end Mirieth persuaded him, settling his frame upon her lap whilst she fed him sops. It reminded me - it was the night you rescued him, my lord! It was that night once again and, when he finished eating, Erestor curled against Mirieth and his eyes glazed in sleep, one thumb in his mouth. He, a grown elf! He murmured your name. He said - 'My Glo'fin'l!'"

Dwen burst into heavy sobs, the memories overwhelming her as she fell into Glorfindel's arms. Finally the lord succumbed to his own pain, aching with sadness at the trials that Dwen and Mirieth had borne. He felt that he could ask no more of this faithful sister, but she dashed the tears from her eyes, determined to finish.

"It was more than a year later when tragedy struck again. Erestor had seemed to improve, so we had reduced his medication. He now fed and clothed himself, though he did not speak, and his cycle of stupor and storm had abated somewhat. However our danger had increased. Orcs now regularly delved into the forest near to our encampment and though we stood watch, we chose to keep silent in the hope that they would pass us by. We forgot about Erestor - forgot about how he might react. He heard them, their screams and their cries. It sparked something within him. He picked up his knives, the ones given to him by Lord Ecthelion and neglected by him for so long. He picked them up and ran out of the cave into the forest. He was swearing, cursing, damning them for killing you, for killing Ecthelion. He cried out for them to kill him too. And they tried.

"It was only a small patrol, twenty at the most, but we only had five warriors. Odds of four to one. In the aftermath the evil ones were all dead but so were Laindir and Galudirn, in defence of us and defence of Erestor. Erestor sat, looking at their bodies and his eyes focused, they truly *saw* for the first time in a year. He lifted his head and spoke, intelligible yet terrible words. 'Why must I kill all my friends?' he said, and his voice was hollow. 'Everyone that I love, dies.'

"We held him, we reassured him in our sorrow, yet our hearts rejoiced that his sanity had returned. He helped us to bury them, for we could not risk the fires of a pyre. He said the prayers of the dead for them, and then he fell beside their graves and wept.

"Erestor improved very quickly then, at least physically. He started to interact, ask questions about his missing year. He did not mention your name once, and ignored us if we tried to introduce your name in conversation. It was as if he refused to acknowledge that you had ever lived. He frightened us again when he started to disappear before dawn, taking his knives with him, but he always returned before breakfast. Orthored found him one morning, practising with his knives. He was in tears of frustration, for he handled them poorly and had forgotten much of what he had been taught. He was angry at first at being discovered but then he asked Orthored for aid and soon he was sparring with them all. Erestor, who had never taken to a warrior's life! He told me later that he would never let anyone die for him again.

"Now that my brother had recovered, there was talk of leaving, of moving south to rejoin the rest of our people. Erestor remained quiet, not joining in our plans. On the night before our journey he made his declaration. He would not come with us. He would not take up the lordship of the House of the Golden Flower. 'Its Lord is dead. I am dead. I will not go, though I urge you all to follow your hearts. I love you all, most dearly, but Erestor of Gondolin is dead and I will not go.'

"Mirieth pleaded, and he sat beside her and comforted her through the night. She thought that her pleadings had succeeded and she fell asleep in his arms, sure that her third son would be beside her on the long road to the Mouths of the Sirion. When we awoke, Erestor was gone.

"We searched the whole day but he has truly gone, taking his knives with him. In time we knew we had to go too and so we left, our hearts heavy once more with loss. We settled in the Haven of Sirion and Orthored and I wed, for we had discovered in our life in the wilderness that our hearts and souls were one. Mirieth and Aradol lived with us. Mirieth grieved ever for her lost Erestor and she said prayers every night for his safety. Then war returned once more, first with the attack of the sons of Fanor, then the War of Wrath, in which Aradol died.

"Mirieth took this hard, and she determined, when the call came, to sail for Valinor, for she hoped one day for her sons return from the Halls of Waiting into the Blessed Realm. A hundred years after the War, Orodreth and I escorted her to the Grey Havens. I do not know why she wished to leave from there rather than the Haven of Sirion. Perhaps she had faith that Erestor still dwelt in the north. On our way we passed through Lindon and the Court of Gil-galad. Imagine our surprise and happiness at finding Erestor, alive and settled.

"The reunion was emotional beyond belief as Mirieth fell into his arms and wept for all her children. The Lords Elrond and Elros, and the High-King, were most kind and freed Erestor from his duties so that he could spend time with us. We spent days walking the gardens, sitting by the fountains in memories and reminiscences - at least on our part. To Erestor, Gondolin was no more and you had never existed. He would not speak of you, would not say or hear your name. He had built his own world, his own history and he would admit no other. He was Erestor of Lindon.

"The parting of foster-mother and son was painful yet peaceful and Mirieth was calm when we placed her onboard her ship. She carried her son’s love with her. Orodreth and I joined Lord Gildor’s company later and since then we have been reunited with Erestor many times, both in Lindon and here, in Imladris. Orodreth fought beside him at the Gates of Mordor, and said that there was no reconciling the skilled warrior that day with the Erestor of his youth. Erestor of Gondolin was dead, and Erestor of Lindon prevailed."

Dwen trailed off, her tale told and centuries unfurled for Glorfindel’s edification. The golden lord sat in stunned amazement, wondering how in Arda they had all survived such a traumatic experience. Then he thought of the trials and torments of the Firstborn since their Awakening on the shores of Cuivinen. The Eldar had never chosen easy paths in their lives; the history of the Firstborn was littered with stories of great pain and great sacrifice. Thank Eru that they had been given the fortitude to face such obstacles.

He turned to Dwen again, gratitude and sympathy for her shining from every fibre of his being. He thanked her, embracing her as kin, as Erestor’s sister.

"Be always welcome in my home and my heart, gwathel. You are my kin, now and forever."

Dwen accepted the offered kinship with grace, but released him soonest, knowing that Glorfindel need to return to Erestor.

"My love and my prayers go with you both, my lord, and may all your dearest wishes come to fruition.

 

****

 

Glorfindel found Erestor alone on the east terrace, staring at the tonnage of water falling in the Great Cascade, falling in its endless descent over the cliffs of Imladris. The golden lord halted, entranced for a moment by the glorious profile Erestor presented to him. His beautiful, most beloved, most elegant Erestor. The advisor sensed him there and turned, a gentle smile welcoming Glorfindel to his side. He reached up his hand to stroke the golden lord’s face.

"No tears, Glorfindel. There have been too many shed for me. Too much blood, too many tears. I beg of you, no more."

Glorfindel looked into those chocolate-brown eyes, so exotic, so gloriously framed by dark silken lashes, and saw only peace and acceptance - and love - there. His heart swelled with the knowledge that his love was finally accepted and returned. He gathered Erestor into his arms, pulled the raven head to his broad chest. His hand stroked the fall of black strands and he pressed his lips to the velvet locks.

"No tears," he promised, murmuring against that sweet head. From his love he heard two soft words spoken.

"My Glorfindel."

Throat suddenly clenched with emotion, Glorfindel tightened his arms around his love, and the two stood for a long time, the outside world excluded.

"Always, pen-neth. Always."

 

 

Elvish:

edhel - elf

pen-neth - little one

edhil - elves

elleth - female elf (sing.)

mellon nn - my friend

pen-neth - little one

meldir - friend

gwador - sworn brother

gwathel - sworn sister

Chapter 14

T.A. 1409

Imladris was preparing for war. Glorfindel, seneschal of Rivendell, looked down from his vantage point at the bustling forecourt, watching as the warhorses were brought forth from the stable yard, seeing elves in bright armour preparing for combat. Saddlebags were lifted and placed behind the leather saddles, so unfamiliar in calmer days but so necessary as an aid to grip the horse when letting fly with sword or arrow in the midst of battle. The long curved swords were lashed to the forward straps, the dark wood bows to the rear, and quivers of arrows hanging next to them. Above the natural noise of whinnies and snorts from the patient beasts came the clamour of instructions of the troop commanders, the cries of the supply masters and the orders of his captain, Andrann.

Glorfindel grinned as he saw the twin princes align themselves with his captain, for Elladan and Elrohir had a strong warrior bond to the capable elleth since the first years following their majority. Glorfindel did not know the particulars, nor did he wish to, but he did know that it had involved false presumption on the twins’ part, with sensual, bawdy correction by the experienced elleth. Once, when asked about it, Andrann had coloured and had muttered something about being the ‘spicy meat between two slices of freshly-hewn bread’. Since that time the three had ever joined as a favoured team on patrol, even if Andrann was the titular leader.

Glorfindel’s smile faltered as he thought back to the events leading to this morning; events precipitated by the return in 1050 of Sauron the Necromancer to Dol Guldur; and of one of his servants to the wintry lands to the North, the one now known as the Witch-King of Angmar. In the year 1300 of this Third Age he had appeared and had established the stronghold of Angmar on the northernmost peak of Carn Dm, in the divided realm of Arnor. Glorfindel shook his head at the lack of foresight of the Dnedain, those remnants of the proud race of fallen Nmenor. In 861, following the death of King Erendur, his dissenting sons had divided the one kingdom into three, the realms of Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur. Thus divided, the strength of men had also faded for the division was too deep and acrimonious to ever recombine against a common enemy from without. The creatures of Sauron were thus seen to roam over the Misty Mountains, and orcs had come down as far as Bree and then - Glorfindel shuddered when he remembered the first time that he had killed an orc in this reborn life. They had returned, the evil creatures he had fought against four thousand years ago. The remembrance of the stench almost made him gag, here on the balcony overlooking the courtyard of Rivendell. From that day on he had increased the numbers in the guard and his patrols were ever vigilant, encountering and destroying any incursions against the boundaries of his protectorate.

Glorfindel and Imladris had thus far been able to resist against the besieging forces, augmented by Galadhrim sent from Lrien. The Dnedain had not. The race had diminished; the direct line of Isildur was broken in Cardolan and Rhudaur. King Argeleb of Arthedain had thus claimed kingship over all three nations but Rhudaur had resisted, being threatened themselves by the Hillmen, allies to Angmar. They slew King Argeleb and only his son, Arveleg, in union with the fellow Dnedain of Cardolan and a force from Lindon, had held the line, driving back from Rhudaur the invading hordes of Hillmen. This defensive line included the Weather Hills, protecting the disputed Nmenorean fort of Amon Sl and the palantir therein. The line was drawn, but it also drew the greedy eyes of Angmar to the hidden elven refuge of Imladris, and their forces had besieged Rivendell for the past thirty years.

Glorfindel glowered in rage when he remembered all the injuries his troops had taken in the violent clashes - and all the deaths. Elves had fallen in defence of their home and each loss had been as a knife thrust into the hearts of Glorfindel and Elrond. Glorfindel clenched his fist in anger - then winced as the pain from his broken forearm lanced upwards to his shoulder. Imladris prepared for war - and Glorfindel could not go with them. He recalled the events of two days past…

…..

The most recent clash had taken place during Glorfindel’s watch as he and his patrol had guarded the most northern borders. A large band of orcs and hillmen had crashed down upon them as they entered a narrow passage in the hills. Scouts had gone ahead so they were not without warning. The battle was fierce and Glorfindel had, as usual, thrust himself into the middle of the fray, sword whirling and hacking down upon the foe from the imposing height of Asfaloth’s back. He was staunch and swift in his attack, spurring on his troops - then an orc arrow struck the stallion side-on, causing the poor beast to stumble and fall. Glorfindel was thrown, crashing onto his sword arm, breaking it in two places. The adrenaline rampant within him, and the need to repel the attack, kept the reborn lord upon his feet, wielding the broadsword with his less-favoured hand with a greater accuracy than any lesser warrior could have managed. Rough splinting had supported the arm until their return to Imladris, though Glorfindel had to use the horse of one of his fallen troopers as Asfaloth’s injury had precluded his being ridden.

Erestor had flown down to the courtyard on their arrival, for he had seen only the riderless Asfaloth at first, and his heart had clenched in unspoken fear. It was only when he had reached the yard and had seen Glorfindel dismounting painfully from his borrowed horse that the dark advisor could be consoled.

"Ai Glorfindel, your timing could not have been worse," Elrond had mourned as he examined the broken arm in a room in the Halls of Healing. "For we have received envoys from both Crdan and from Arthedain. The forces of Angmar have massed and attacked Amon Sl. They passed through Cardolan, razing the country to the ground and devastating the Dnedain. Those remnants now seek refuge in the Barrow-Downs and in the Old Forest. Arveleg is slain and only by the fortitude of the remaining men was the palantir saved."

Glorfindel had hissed as the arm was set, then nodding in regret.

"The news is grave indeed. When Rhudaur fell we lost a lot of ground to the dark forces. To lose Amon Sl… I presume that we will go to their aid? Send a stout force?"

"Yes." This had come from Erestor, who had remained at his beloved’s side during his treatment at the healer’s hands. "The Lord and Lady of Lothlrien have sent more Galadhrim to reinforce the troops already here. We will be ready to ride within two days."

Glorfindel had looked at Erestor with wide eyes, surprised at the speed of the preparations. Erestor’s eyes were shielded and Glorfindel became suspicious. What had Erestor to hide? They had remained so close since the time of Dwen’s visit, though of course they had not consummated their renewed relationship. He had looked at Elrond, who had finished binding his arm.

"I hope that support is strong, for although I can use either hand to wield a sword, I do prefer both."

Elrond had looked alarmed, then he had turned to a sniggering Erestor.

"All right, I concede - you *do* know him well enough to predict his actions." The elf lord had turned back to his seneschal, who was bewildered by the exchange. The infamous eyebrow had risen. "Glorfindel, there is *no* possibility of your leading this campaign. Even with the speed of elven healing, that arm will not mend to any extent for at least three weeks. No, you are staying here, meldir."

Glorfindel had exploded. "Then who will lead the troops? Andrann? She is good - very good - but the warriors need a lord to lead them. They need someone to inspire them, someone with experience. Someone who has faced the dark forces before and defeated them!"

Elrond stood patiently, letting the golden lord run his course. Erestor had foretold this precise reaction from Glorfindel and had counselled Elrond to allow Glorfindel a chance to rant. Now it was his turn to speak.

"They will have their lord, Glorfindel. *I* will lead them. As a veteran of many wars and as Gil-galad’s former herald, I cannot be thought of as unqualified, can I?"

Glorfindel had been at a loss for words. No, Elrond was certainly not unqualified. In fact, he was the ideal elf to lead this mission - but pride would not let Glorfindel admit this.

"It is too dangerous!" he had expostulated. "You are ruler of Imladris, and all of Elvendom looks to you as a leader in the fight against the darkness - but from here, not getting yourself killed on a battlefield. You need someone beside you as your protector. I should be there!"

Elrond had looked odd at that moment, had lifted his head and looked directly at Erestor, a questioning gleam in his eye. Glorfindel turned and looked at his meleth. Erestor sighed.

"He will not be alone, Glorfindel. I am going with them."

"And *that* is supposed to make me feel better?" Glorfindel had regretted the words as soon as they had left his mouth for immediately Erestor had paled, then coloured, a shuttered look on his face. Without a word the dark elf had turned and marched from the room.

"Ah, blast it!" Glorfindel had made to rise but Elrond had tried to stop him.

"Where do you think you are going?" he had snapped. "That arm is broken and you have to rest to give it a chance to heal."

Glorfindel shook his head. "My arm hurts, but not as much as Erestor’s heart. We have been reconciled for so long, Elrond, and I have jeopardised it by my foolish words. I will not risk a rift between us, not if he is determined to embark upon this dangerous path."

Elrond did not resist and had helped the golden lord to rise from his sickbed and go to his love. Erestor had not gone far. Glorfindel found him staring out of a window at the end of a corridor, wrapped tightly in his dark red robe. Glorfindel had, thank the Valar, persuaded him out of the gloomy blacks into less sombre colours, ones that enhanced his dark beauty. The elf lord now laid his hand upon Erestor’s shoulder.

"I am sorry, pen-neth, " he had whispered contritely. "I did not mean to imply that I did not trust you, nor that I had no faith in your abilities. It is just that I love you so, and I cannot bear the thought that you will ride to war without me at your side to protect you."

Erestor had turned his head, kissing Glorfindel’s hand and covering it with his own.

"I know, Glorfindel. And now you know how *I* feel every time that you leave on patrol or on a mission. I shake with fear each time that you ride, and I tremble with relief when you return. Today, when I saw Asfaloth without a rider…Ai, hir nn, my heart stopped beating until I spotted your golden head further back in the patrol. Yet now I must do my duty, and I grieve for you, for I know how you feel."

Glorfindel had turned the advisor, had held him against his breast with his one good hand. He had kissed the beloved brow.

"Just promise that you will return to me, safe and whole, meleth-nn. Promise that you will return."

"I will, Glorfindel, I promise."

…….

And now he stood, overlooking this courtyard, for once the observer, and it hurt. He was the seneschal, the lord to these troops and he felt that he was letting them down by not being with them. In his gloomy ponderings he did not notice the new arrivals.

"It is hard, is it not, Glorfindel?" said the gentle voice. "To see those we love prepare for battle, and to know that we can not, should not restrain them?"

Glorfindel turned and bowed to Celebran, accompanied by Arwen. They had come to watch the leave taking and in their compassionate eyes Glorfindel saw the hurt that they too felt. "Aye, it is more so for you, my lady. You see your husband and sons go to war, whereas I only have…"

He trailed off, barely able to think of his beloved’s name, never mind articulate it. He had never thought that he would be the one left behind. His eyes searched the yard once more, finally falling upon the one who held his heart. Celebran knew, of course, to whom he referred.

"I have faith in my husband, as you should have in Erestor. Elrond has praised Erestor’s skills as a warrior many times to me. They will protect each other."

Glorfindel nodded, not wanting to speak further. His farewells to Erestor had been said this morning, in the quietness of Erestor’s office. He had nearly repented of his vow, had so nearly gone to the dark elf’s chambers during the night, but Erestor had forestalled his thoughts before retiring the night before. He had spoken of their duty, and Glorfindel had seen the wisdom in his words. Yet, in that office, he had folded Erestor in his arms and had kissed him with all the power of his love and devotion, pouring into the kiss the enduring passion of ages past. When Erestor returned, Glorfindel did not know if he would still be able to hold back all the emotions he sought to bestow on his beautiful, wonderful pen-neth.

The order to mount had been given, and once more Glorfindel’s eyes were trained on that raven head. The dark elf turned in the saddle, and saw Glorfindel and he smiled. A brilliant smile, one meant for him alone. Then they were gone.

The weeks that followed went slowly, and each approaching horse, each striding messenger, was greeted by an urgent enquiry from a golden-haired lord. News filtered in slowly, speaking of successes and falls, yet the positive seemed to prevail until finally, the troops came home, tired, ragged, yet flush with victory. The joined forces of the elves of Lindon, Rivendell and Lrien had fought alongside the remaining Dnedain, repelling the enemy from Fornost and the North Downs. Some of the faithful Dnedain of Cardolan had also held out in Tyrn Gorthad, the Barrow-Downs, and in the nearby Forest. They had not defeated Angmar, but had subdued it so that, at least for the time being, there was peace returned to the northern realms of Men.

And when a weary raven-haired elf dismounted, it was into the welcome and healed arms of his golden lord.

****

The centuries rolled on and Rivendell still stood vigilant against the darkness. Yet it was another insidious darkness that next took its toll on the realms of Men. In 1636 a plague was sweeping Middle Earth. It had started in the lands of the Easterlings, and had been carried south by those who foolishly thought that flight would defeat it. Gondor had been ravaged and it had thence spread north through Eriador. Cardolan had been devastated, the last of the faithful Dnedain succumbing to disease as they had not done to the dark forces. Thus the malign spirits of Angmar and Rhudaur had found free reign amongst the Barrow-Downs, imbuing that hallowed place with an evil that had not been there before.

Imladris had been inundated with requests for aid, and Elrond of course had pledged his help where he could. He first, however, had to get past the two elves guarding the entrance to the Halls of Healing.

"Really, Glorfindel, how am I supposed to help the sick if you will not let me in? There are humans and periannath who need me!"

The seneschal growled, his folded arms and firm stance gave warning of the unlikelihood of any movement away from the door. Andrann looked up at her commander in concern, perhaps wondering if a wild beast had taken over his fa.

"This plague is affecting all creatures but elves, Elrond - but no one has said what effect it has on the half-elven. So until it has run its course, the Peredhil are excluded from these rooms. It is for your own safety, mellon-nn."

Elrond snorted in exasperation, yet somewhat soothed by the golden lord’s genuine concern for him. "I made my Choice two Ages ago, Glorfindel. I am of the Firstborn, and when I chose that path I was endowed with all the gifts of the Eldar, including that of immunity to disease. Have you ever known me to take even a cold, meldir?"

Glorfindel had to concede that he hadn’t, but as yet Elrond’s children had not made their choice. Finally it was decided that though Elrond could pass, the children could not.

And so it was that the elves of Imladris played their small part in aiding the stricken realms of Middle Earth.

****

By the year 1974, the Witch-king was rising to power once more. In the depths of winter the evil lord had unexpectedly sent a force down upon Arthedain, capturing its main city of Fornost and driving the remaining Dnedain over the River Lune. The princes of Arthedain were amongst the fleeing humans, but their father King Arvedui held out with his remaining guards upon the North Downs until they were finally driven to flight. For a while the King and his men hid in the tunnels of the old-dwarf mines near the far end of the Mountains, but he was driven by hunger to seek the help of the Lossoth, a strange people who lived in the snowbound wastes of Forochel. They had pity for Arvedui and his men and gave them what they could in the way of food and shelter and thus the humans waited, praying for help to come.

The help came, in the form of a ship sent by Crdan on hearing of his plight, but the ship foundered on its return journey and the King and his men perished in the freezing, ice-ridden seas, along with the two palantiri he had in his possession. The men of Lossoth had counselled the king not to sail, but he had declined their advice, giving instead into their keeping a ring of his house, and thus the Ring of Barahir was saved for future generations.

Arvedui may have perished, yet before his death he had set in motion a reunion with his kin of the south. On the death of Gondor’s king Ondoher, a direct descendant of Anarion and Elendil, and his childless sons, Arvedui had placed a claim to the throne of Gondor. This had been rejected and the crown was granted to Ernil, who was of the royal house. Ernil held no grudge against Arvedui, but had sent messages of friendship and promise of aid in need to his northern kin. Thus when word came to Gondor of the attacks of the Witch-king and the invasion of Arthedain, Ernil sent his son Ernur north with a fleet, to aid Arvedui. They arrived too late, for Arthedain had fallen and Arvedui was dead.

The arrival in 1975 of the Prince of the Southern Kingdom brought great wonder to the Grey Havens, for their ships were many and great in draught, and took up all the berths available. Great praise too there was for the tall and fair riders of horses of unparalleled strength and beauty from the land of Rhovanion. Crdan greeted them with great joy, and they sent out riders throughout Lindon and Arnor, calling all who would come to aid in the upcoming battle against the Witch-king and his evil forces of Angmar, now resident in the city of Fornost.

And Glorfindel of Rivendell heard that call.

Imladris prepared for war once more, and this time it was Glorfindel who would lead them. He brooked no opposition from Elrond and for once, Elrond gave him none.

"I have had no foresight, meldir, yet in my heart I know that this is right. You are the one to lead the elves of Imladris into battle, Glorfindel. All aid will be given unto you."

Glorfindel bowed, hand upon heart. "I will serve you and our people to the best of my ability, my lord. I will not leave Imladris unprotected though. There will be a strong force left to patrol our borders. I wish to take Andrann as my second-in-command."

"And I am going too." The voice was soft yet determined, and Glorfindel and Elrond turned to face the door, where Erestor stood. "I am going too," he repeated, a hand raised to stave off any opposition from his golden lord. "As I protected Elrond in our previous campaign, so I will act as your aide-de-camp. I know the territory and I know the foe - you will not find me a burden, Glorfindel."

Glorfindel looked at his dark love bleakly. "Ai, meleth. You will only serve me as a distraction, I fear, and take my mind away from my sword and to my destruction. I would fight better knowing that you were safe."

Erestor shook his head, reaching up to cup that firm cheek. "You have said those words to me once before, hir nn, but then I was a spoilt and untried child. I am a warrior, tried and tested. I will not allow you to go without me. I am a warrior," he repeated. The strength in that voice would allow no dissent, so when the warriors of Imladris mounted their horses in the courtyard for the second time in a millennia, the golden hair of the seneschal of Rivendell was joined with the sable tresses of Imladris’ counsellor.

The road north was long and hard, and Glorfindel and Erestor felt reassured by their mounts, for Asfaloth and Hirnn were direct descendants of those two stallions who had graced the stables of Imladris on Glorfindel’s return. In each generation of each line, there had been a colt born who had carried the colour, stature and nobility of its sire and the seneschal and counsellor had continued the tradition of repeating the name of their favoured horse. When asked about it by the young twins once, Glorfindel had smiled when he heard Erestor’s answer - "We choose the same name, pin-nith, because Glorfindel and I are too old and too lazy to remember any other names!"

In this remembrance he turned to smile once more at the elf riding by his side. Although his love for the dark elf never wavered, at times they seemed especially close. There was a - foresight - in this moment, a feeling of destiny in this quest. He felt a great need to peruse the features, the beautiful sculpted outlines of his love, to memorise them forever. The fine straight nose, the arched eyebrows and those eyes… The eyes turned to him at that moment, a query in them, but he could only stare at the chocolate-brown pools and he felt as if he were drowning in their sweet depths.

"Glorfindel?" Erestor reached out to take his hand, and Glorfindel gently squeezed it.

"I love you, Erestor. Always remember that. I love you - forever."

Erestor’s heart lurched at those words and he opened his mouth as if to question him but Glorfindel just shook his head and relapsed into silence.

The road was long but the elves were swift in their passage. As they drew nearer to the battlefield news came to them through outriders, news of the Witch-king’s arrogance in his plans. He did not fear the approaching armies but had left his stronghold within Fornost and was riding forth to meet them, no doubt thinking that, as before, he would sweep them into the river Lune. Glorfindel’s jaw clenched, and Erestor could see the tension and passion build up in the golden warrior. Always Glorfindel had shone in battle, always he had seen the battle lust arise in him. The anger at the presumption of this creature of Sauron was fermenting in the re-born warrior. The Witch-king would regret his arrogance this day.

As the host from Rivendell crested the rise they saw the action laid out before them. The Host of the West, led by Ernur and Crdan, had swept out of the Hills of Evendim and now fought the black hordes upon the vast plain which lay between Nenuial and the north Downs, the same downs where King Arvedui had stood but the year before. The Witch-king was not in control this time. Already the Host of the West had driven back the orc army, with its support of wargs and trolls - the forces of Angmar were giving way and retreating towards their own home in the hills of Carn Dm. The cavalry of Gondor would not allow them leave, and had chased them with a speed that made fear course through the dark creatures.

Glorfindel gave the signal, and raised such a battle cry as had never been heard on Middle Earth. The forces of Rivendell swept down the slopes onto the retreating hordes, cutting a swathe in the black ranks. Black blood spilled all about them as white arrows flew through the air from the archers of the Periannath of the Shire, finding their marks in the twisted remnants of tortured, elf-spawned orcs. A sadness always echoed through Erestor at these times, knowing that at the dawn of time his brothers had been taken and tortured to produce these vile creatures. Although these orcs were now truly beasts of the dark, yet somewhere within him the dark-haired elf could always find a prayer of regret for the damned souls who had been twisted into these forms. His twin blades raised, Erestor swung, decapitating the orcs clustering about Hirnn, cutting a path through the vile forms. He could hear the screams of orcs, men and elves, yet it seemed that the blackness lessened under the onslaught of shining mail.

Always he took a moment in twenty to feel the whereabouts of Glorfindel through their special bond, and always he felt the bond pulse with life. It had become second nature to him and he did not need to look to know that his lord was safe. It was at one of these moments that Erestor faltered, feeling not a fracture in that bond, but a threat. Breaking off from his attacks, he looked around frantically for Glorfindel. His love was in the midst of his own battle but - oh gods - a troll approached him from his blindside, and that enormous hand was lifting a giant mace, ready to crash down on the unsuspecting lord. He did not think, but reacted instantly. Spurring hard into Hirnn’s flanks, he rode straight at the monstrous beast.

Glorfindel did not hear the commotion behind him, but could see Elrohir nearby, rising up in his stirrups in alarm. Turning in his saddle, he was just in time to see the mace swinging down not upon him, but pounding into a figure interposed between the weapon and his body - Erestor. Glorfindel screamed as Erestor’s body flew from the saddle, hit as a ball in a child’s game, bouncing to earth amidst the torn bodies on the rocky ground. The horse that had been beneath him was dead, its skull crushed by the force of the blow. Time slowed, crawled and he looked as the foul troll stood, a satisfied smirk on its otherwise vacuous face. Glorfindel rose, his sword circling through the air and in one motion sliced through the thick hide, cutting the beast wide open. A stunned look crossed the face of the troll, as its body crumpled to the ground in two pieces. Glorfindel took no notice but flung himself from Asfaloth’s back, speeding to where his fallen love lay.

"Erestor!"

Elrohir reached Erestor at the same time, falling to his knees at the advisor’s side with tears pouring down his face. He held a hysterical Glorfindel back from his love, crying out a warning to him.

"Do not touch him! See, Glorfindel, he yet breathes, but he may be badly hurt! Let me examine him as best I can." Quickly he ran his hands over the crumpled form, seeing blood pouring from a head wound, feeling for broken limbs. Glorfindel grabbed one of Erestor’s hands and stroked it, crying copiously, begging his loved one to wake.

"Don’t die, pen-neth! I need you! Melin le, Erestor!"

He shook in terror of losing him, losing his little Erestor as the youth had lost him. He now knew the pain, the horror Erestor must have felt in seeing him die. Was it always going to be this way? Had the Valar brought him back only to torment him? Was this his punishment again, for his attempted suicide?

Andrann by this time had arrived, and tried to pull the elf lord to his feet, shouting out the need his men had for him. Elrohir nodded, gesturing to the unconscious Erestor, feeling the press of bodies, the wrath of war coursing around their position.

"I cannot swear fully, but although I can feel some broken ribs, I think the head wound is more a surface cut. Go, Glorfindel. I will gather some men and take him to a place of safety. There are healers with us. I will not let him die, meldir. You are needed on the battlefield. Your men need you, Glorfindel of Rivendell!"

This last cut through the shock and terror of loss, and Glorfindel nodded, acknowledging his duty. Always his duty. His hated duty. One last look to reassure himself that Elrohir would look after his dark love, then he swung upon Asfaloth’s back, rage filling him once more. This time it was personal.

The battle had continued around them as Glorfindel swung back into the fray. From the cries around him it was evident that the alliance of elves and men was triumphant. The black creatures were scuttling away, trying to fly beyond the reaches of the swinging weapons which cut them down. Dusk was upon them, and these beasts which so hated the light were now frantic to reach the shadows and escape to safety. A shout went up, and Glorfindel’s heart lurched in cold dread. Upon the rise, the Witch-king himself had now appeared. Immediately Glorfindel knew him, this creature in black robes and black helm masking his face, seated astride a black destrier. Glorfindel knew him, and hated him, for this was an lairi, a Nazgl, one of the fallen kings of men; one of the weakened leaders who had fallen prey to greed and the magical rings wrought by Sauron the Deceiver. And now a man rode up to face him, to face down this foul servant of the servant of Morgoth. Prince Ernur, stout of heart though foolish to think he could prevail against the evil emanating from the Nazgl, was urging his horse forward to challenge the foul creature, a fierce cry emanating from his throat. Ernur’s heart may have been strong, but the horse he rode was not, and it shied away, fleeing from the evil therein. And the Witch-king laughed, a cry that pounded fear into the hearts of all who heard it.

Save Glorfindel.

In his heart rose anger and rage beyond any that the elf lord had experienced before. A power began to flow through him as he dwelt on the horror and devastation this creature before him had wrought upon the realms of men, upon elves - upon Erestor. Now, knowing that his love lay injured, perhaps dying behind him, Glorfindel rose up in his stirrups and pressed forward, meaning to meet the Nazgl in full battle. Asfaloth was no human-bred horse, but had the heart and soul of a Meara, and did not shy from the charge but instead brought Glorfindel forth in all his majesty.

The light that shone from the Golden Lord was bright and pure, and was born of the grace imbued him by the Valar upon his rebirth. He stood tall in the saddle, raising his broadsword high, and a flame shot through the weapon, setting it ablaze with white fire. White light shone from his sapphire orbs as Glorfindel fulfilled his destiny. Glorfindel, seneschal of Rivendell. Glorfindel, Lord of the Golden Flower. Glorfindel, Re-Born Warrior of Gondolin.

Glorfindel Unleashed.

"Hear me, thou spawn of evil! Know now, this day, that thou and thy evil master will *never* prevail within this world. Ultimately your reign will fall, and you will be cast down lower than the stones and rocks that abound this place. For we are the Children of Ilvatar, Eldar and Edain, true children of the creator of Arda, and thou art but the misbegotten slave of his fallen servant. We will *always* stand against thee, we will *always* hold back the dark. For darkness is but the absence of light and behold, we shall bring the light, and there will be nowhere left to hide!"

At that the Witch-king was filled with fear, seeing in this mighty elf-lord the power and light of the Valar, and with a cry he turned his beast and fled the field into the looming dark, bringing his cringing minions to despair. When Ernur would have pursued Glorfindel held him back. White light still shone from his unseeing eyes, and his voice resounded with the force of the Blessed Ones.

"Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall."

The prince had to obey, for the elf before him was no elf at this moment but the Vessel of the Valar, and Glorfindel carried within him the power of the faithful of Ilvatar. Ernur, though, felt strongly his disgrace and swore to be avenged upon the Witch-king - but that battle was for the future.

This battle was over and the forces of elves and men cleared the field of the remnants of the crushed forces of the Nazgl. Yet Glorfindel could not leave, could not return to his love, for he needed to meet with the leaders of the other armies, to ensure that all duties were fulfilled. Ernur glowered in his anger against the reborn lord.

"I could have taken him! It was my right to kill him."

Glorfindel looked straight at the man. Though his sapphire eyes had regained their original hue, he still felt the presence of the Valar within him. He shook his head slowly.

"You could not have killed him, hir nn. There was no one on this field today who could have killed the Nazgl, not even I. Do not take more sorrow on your soul, Prince Ernur. There has been too much death and destruction within this realm. Too many injured, dying…"

The pain was obvious in Glorfindel's voice and Crdan reached to grasp his arm in alarm.

" Mellon-nn, do not tell me… Ai, is Erestor…?"

Glorfindel shook his head, unable to articulate his fears. "He took a blow meant for me. He sacrificed himself for me. Elrohir was with him. I know not if he still lives…" The tears began to flow and the depth of the love that had spanned millennia humbled the human prince. Crdan patted Glorfindel helplessly.

"I have no words to say, meldir, save that my prayers are with you both. I will delay you no longer except to ask a boon. Arvedui's son, Aranarth, has said that he will not take up his crown and rule from Fornost, for the Dnedain are now too few in number. He has taken the title of Chieftain and will lead his people in exile. Yet he has a young son, and he longs to find for him a place of safety. Will Elrond accept Arahael as a fosterling in Imladris? For there too we must deposit the heirlooms of the realm of Arnor; the ring of Barahir; the star of Elendil; the sceptre of Annminas - and the shards of Narsil, the sword that cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand."

Glorfindel bowed his head, feeling the weight of history and the heaviness of his fears bear down upon his now drained body.

"Never will Elrond of Imladris refuse succour to the descendants of his brother. I will take the child and the heirlooms of which you spoke. They will find a home in Rivendell for as long as they wish, and perhaps one day a King of Arnor will rise again."

They would delay Glorfindel no longer and, with a last embrace, Crdan sent him back to his warriors, back to Elrohir - and back to Erestor. Wherever crowds stood in his path they parted, both elves and men bowing acknowledgement of the grace of this servant of Valinor. Yet Glorfindel could pay them no heed. Instead he focused only on his bond with his soulmate, and despaired to feel the weakness of the pulse of life. It was so weak at times that he wondered if it was only an echo or a wishful thought, and that perhaps in truth Erestor was gone. Tears rolled down his anguished face without heed as he trod across that plain, until at last he stood outside the healing tent, which was guarded by Andrann.

"He is within, my lord," she said, and there was a trembling in that voice which told of her empathy for her beloved commander. "Lords Elrohir and Elladan are with him." She pulled aside the tent flap and Glorfindel entered.

There were many lamps lit, and they shone on the multitude of elves lying within, all having sustained various injuries in the battle. The healers were at work amongst them, but Glorfindel had eyes for only one. Erestor lay on a cot, paler than the snows of winter. His torso was bared and his raven hair was unbound, spread like a velvet cloth over the rough pillow. Black bruising was starting to appear on his face and body, and his ribs were bound. At the strangled cry of the golden lord, Elrohir rose from Erestor's side.

"Glorfindel, do not despair. All is not as ill as it seems," he said quietly, holding the trembling hand of the shaking lord. "We feel that the mace hit him in the same direction that Hirnn was travelling, therefore his momentum absorbed a lot of the blow. He has cracked many ribs, which is why his breathing is shallow, for the pain must be great. However…as yet he has not regained consciousness, therefore we can risk no herbs to relieve his pain. The bindings are not usual for broken ribs, but it would be best if he were to be returned to my father's care soonest, and so the bindings are to support him when we place him in a wagon." He paused, wondering if Glorfindel had heard a word that he had said, for the sapphire eyes had not wavered from their focus on the dark elf.

"It is not all bad news, Glorfindel," Elrohir urged. "There is no blood on his breath, nor swelling of his belly to indicate bleeding within him. His heart is regular. It is only…" He paused, not sure how to phrase the next part. "He has not woken, Glorfindel, so we do not know if his brain has been affected. See, he sleeps with his eyes closed, yet we cannot tell if it is a healing sleep. Only time will tell us that, mellon-nn."

Glorfindel nodded, understanding both the comfort and the warning. He knelt beside the cot, taking the small, slender hand of his love, cradling it softly within his own palm. Calloused fingers gently lifted the dark strands away from that fine-boned face.

"Erestor, pen-neth, will you not wake? Will you not look at me with your glorious eyes? I need you, Erestor. Melin le. Please, my love, come back to me."

No one within hearing could hold back the tears at the love and need so evident in the golden lord's plea. Glorfindel would not move from Erestor's side and so Andrann, and the twin Peredhil when they could be spared from the healing tent, took command of the troops of Imladris and prepared them for the long march home.

The night was long and Glorfindel alternated between reflective silence and quiet words, speaking aloud reminiscences of times past, shared times of love and joy with this elf who meant everything to him. It was near dawn when a moan broke from between those rose-red lips. Glorfindel was alert immediately.

"Erestor? Pen-neth?"

The lush dark lashes parted, and the soft brown eyes fell upon the golden lord.

"Glo'fin'l?"

Tears poured from Glorfindel's eyes, tears of happiness and relief that his love was awake, and recognised him. He hurried to reassure the dark elf.

"Hush, pen-neth, you must rest. You are hurt and need to conserve your strength, my love."

Erestor would not be calmed. "You… are not …hurt? I saw the blow… I saw it start to …fall…"

"No, pen-neth. You saved me. You saved my life, but I near lost you in return."

Glorfindel pressed the sweet hand to his lips, needing to feel that precious flesh against his own skin. Erestor smiled weakly.

"Then I am… redeemed. Now … now I may ask… for forgiveness…"

Glorfindel remonstrated with his love. "No, Erestor! There was never need for forgiveness! You did no wrong! I have always loved you, ind-nn. I always will!"

Erestor did not answer, for he had fallen back into a peaceful rest, a gentle smile curving on his rose-red lips. Elrohir came up behind Glorfindel, beaming with joy at the moment.

"Now we know he will mend, meldir. He will soon be in your arms once more."

"Aye," growled Glorfindel, possessive in his reclaimed love. "I have him, and I will hold him. And no one, be they Valar or not, will ever separate us again!"

 

 

Author’s Notes:

The premise for this chapter was taken from Appendix A, ‘The Lord of the Rings’, and the history of the Kings of Arnor and Gondor. I have embellished Glorfindel’s role in this chapter for the purpose of my story and placed my own twist on his actions. The speech to the Witch-king is my own work, but the prophecy of Glorfindel is taken direct from the text.

 

Elvish: (by Nienna and Andrannath)

meldir - friend

meleth - love

pen-neth - little one

hir nn - my lord

meleth-nn - my love

mellon-nn - my friend

pin-nith - little ones.

melin le - I love you

ind-nn - my heart

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 15

T.A.1975

The road home to Imladris was long, made longer by the slow speed of the wagons, but Glorfindel was not worried. Each day that he could spend by the side of his recovering love filled him with happiness, and he cherished every moment. Elladan and Andrann had gone ahead with the main body of the army, taking the young Dnedain, Arahael, with them to safety. Elrohir had stayed back with the healers and a small body of men to protect the wounded, and Glorfindel had simply refused to leave Erestor - though Erestor had chided him about it.

"I will be fine," he assured his meleth, from his cot within the slow-moving wagon. "Elrohir has given me plenty of medication to ease my pain, and my breathing has returned almost to normal. I would not have you neglect your duty for me."

Glorfindel gave a mock frown, looking down from his position on Asfaloth’s back. "Ai, Master Erestor, and do you not think it is my duty to give a fine escort to those most excellent elves who have been injured in a dangerous and deadly battle? Nay, I pay my respects to those who travel alongside you. You do not think that I would stay back just to comfort a half-blind elf who does not look to see whether he will blunder into an angry troll?" There was merriment in his voice and a twinkle in his brilliant blue eyes and Erestor could not help but laugh - then wince as his ribs made forcible complaint. Glorfindel immediately reached in anxiety for his love but Erestor waved him back.

"Nay, meleth, I will be fine - *if* you stop making me laugh!" His face softened, and those rose-red lips curved into a sweet smile. "Though indeed, seeing you smile is the best medicine I could ever possibly want."

Glorfindel reached across once more, stroking that creamy skin, cradling the soft cheek. " And *you* are all that I ever want, pen-vuin. Nothing and nobody will ever part us again. I promise." Those sapphire eyes had darkened and Erestor felt the desire emanating from the golden lord, desire that welled forth in him too. Yet Erestor hardly dared hope that they could finally be together, finally share their love in a physical and permanent bond.

"What about your oath, my lord?" he said hesitantly. " I would not want you foresworn -"

Glorfindel leant down, claiming those soft lips with his own, sending Erestor’s unfinished words into oblivion as the dark elf surrendered to the passion of that kiss. As the kiss ended, Glorfindel repeated his words with a ferocity that would have put a dozen Nazgl to flight.

"Nothing," he said. "And nobody."

****

Glorfindel had to eat his words on their arrival back at the Last Homely House Elrond had taken one look at Erestor and had ordered that he be taken to a room within the Halls of Healing.

"Erestor needs rest, mellon-nn. I know you, and I know that you will not give him that if you hover around him constantly. At least a week, I would say. His ribs are almost healed, but I want to check his lungs, and to give him some inhalants which may open his air passages more effectively. I should check his head injury too, but I can see that he is still madly in love with you - the emphasis being on the 'mad' - therefore I must assume he is otherwise recovered in that way."

The infectious joy seemed to have affected Elrond as well, and Glorfindel could only grin in feigned embarrassment. As his access to Erestor was somewhat curtailed, he resigned himself to taking up his duties as seneschal once more, to the relief of his captain. Thus his days were full, rising before dawn to take the early patrol, and then returning to lunch with Erestor. The afternoon was a time of prescribed treatment for Erestor and Glorfindel used that time to catch up on his hated paperwork.

"And no, Glorfindel, you *cannot* bring them into the healing rooms for Erestor to do!" Elrond had remonstrated when he had one day done precisely that.

"Oh, but I don't mind…" Erestor had tried to interject, but he was shot down by Elrond's elevated eyebrow.

"No! When you have recovered you will find plenty of work in your office. Poor Saelbeth has had to recruit a young assistant to try to keep the paperwork from toppling off his desk; it has piled up so high in your absence. Melpomaen is a fine young elf, but I think the scribes of this House have a new respect for your hard work, meldir!"

Every evening was a delight for them though. The cooks had always had a soft spot for the gentle counsellor and sent him all his favourite food in double quantities, so that they could both feast on the excellent cuisine. They whiled away their time playing chess, or talking and once, Lindir had come into the Halls and entertained all those recovering there with melodies and lyrics to ease their pains.

Happiness too came in the form of the arrival of Mithrandir, and Glorfindel was glad to see him. The Istar shared with the household of Elrond the relief at the fall of Angmar, but he especially seemed to want to speak to both Glorfindel and Erestor - privately. The time never seemed right, until late one morning at the end of the week when he spotted Glorfindel about to leave the main house to go to Erestor for their usual lunchtime meal.

"Glorfindel, my old friend! Will you not take a few moments to have a drink with me?" the grey wizard called from his chair on the veranda. Glorfindel turned but hesitated, and Mithrandir knew why. His blue eyes, like a lake in summer, twinkled with mirth, knowing full well the dilemma in Glorfindel's mind. "I saw Erestor this morning whilst you were gone and I think that he is now undergoing one of Elrond's interminable treatments."

Knowing the need that his beloved had for these breathing exercises, Glorfindel finally nodded in acquiescence. He quickly mounted the steps to the veranda, taking a comfortable seat beside his old friend. He took the proffered glass from the wizard with a thankful nod, sipping the refreshing fruit drink.

"So," began the Maia, "are you satisfied with the outcome of recent events? That it is all over?"

Glorfindel looked at him through lidded eyes.

"Is it over, Mithrandir? Was that my appointed task? I cannot believe that the Valar sent me back just to hurl a few insults at a fallen king. Four thousand years of loneliness, and loss, and separation from my soul, for that?"

His voice was scornful and doubting. As much as he loved this 'old man' in front of him, his heart was still filled with doubt where his use to the Valar was concerned. Mithrandir nodded, his visage taking on a serious if sad look, and Glorfindel saw in him the restrained power and wisdom of Ages uncounted. The Grey Pilgrim leaned forward.

"It was not only the words you spoke, but the force you gave and the meaning they held. The Valar are bound to their own oath, Glorfindel, not to interfere directly in the affairs of Middle Earth. Too many times they have taken that approach and first Melkor, then Sauron have worked against their well-meaning intervention. Even I, and my brethren, have been forced to restrain the use of the powers we could have brought to bear. This Age is the Age of Men and, to a small extent, of the Elves. It is your words and deeds that have shown the Dark Lord and his minions that the Light will never be defeated. *You* are part of that Light, Glorfindel - a physical representation of the determination of Eldar and Edain to prevail against the evil forces of Sauron. Upon that battlefield you carried the essence of Valinor, as well as the power of a Firstborn, and of a Re-Born Lord of Gondolin. The Valar to some extent spoke through you, but *you* had to formulate the words to be spoken and generate within you the force with which they were delivered. The Captain of Sauron ran from that power, Glorfindel, ran like a whipped dog with his tail between his legs. His personal downfall will come to him in the future; have no doubt. You have given hope to the Children of Ilvatar. As another will give them a new Hope, one day."

Glorfindel felt humbled by the speech, realising that his resentment of his duty had blinded him to the result of his confrontation with the Nazgl. Mithrandir leaned forward once more, but the smile on his lips did not cover the conflict that obviously still lay within him.

"And so, my friend - you have done your duty. Your oath is fulfilled, and yet - the Valar would ask more of you, if you will but hear it?" Glorfindel began to protest but the grey wizard raised a wrinkled hand to beg his peace. "No, my friend - fear not. It is only a request, not a demand, and it is one that you must discuss with your soul mate first. The struggle is not yet over. Sauron has returned, I fear, and will not go away just for our wishing it. By taking in young Arahael, Elrond has committed this house to the protection of the heirs of Isildur, their education and direction. There will be many, but ultimately they will lead to the One. The sword that was broken *will* be re-forged, and the young edain who must wield that sword will need your skill, as will the House of Elrond.

"You and Erestor are now free of all that has held you back. The choice of the direction of your future belongs to you both. You could travel, see Middle Earth, or return to the Undying Lands - but will you perhaps not consider staying here, in Imladris, and help Elrond in protecting this elf haven, this refuge, and the future king of Men?"

Glorfindel could not think. No indeed, he could hardly breathe. It was true! It was true and he was free! His mind whirled, settling on only one thought. Erestor. His beloved. His - melethron - at last? Glorfindel stood abruptly, knowing only that he had to go to Erestor, right now. They were free!

"Excuse me, Mithrandir - but I must - I have to-"

The wizard laughed, his heart lifted by the unleashed excitement his old friend was exhibiting.

"Go, my friend, go -"

He needed no permission. Glorfindel vaulted over the rail of the veranda and treated the startled elves below to the spectacle of the seneschal of Imladris running at full pelt down the hill, golden tresses flying in the wind. He scarcely slowed as he reached the entrance to the Healing Halls, flinging himself through the doors and down to the room where Erestor lay.

It was empty. The bed was stripped and the shelves were bare. His heart pounded as panic rose within him, only to be assuaged a moment later as a young apprentice came in with fresh bedding.

"Oh, are you looking for Master Erestor, my lord? Lord Elrond released him from the Halls but an hour ago, I think he has returned to his rooms in the main House…"

Glorfindel did not wait to hear the young ellon's words but continued his flight back to the house, mounting the stairs to the family wing two at a time. He finally came to a halt at Erestor's door.

What to do? How to proceed? Glorfindel realised that he had dreamed of this moment for nigh on two millennia, yet he did not know the words he was going to say.

'I have fulfilled my oath, my love. Now come to bed so that I can fill you' ?

Glorfindel snorted at the vision, so giddy in his relief and joy that his mind was filled with the most ludicrous thoughts. He now took a moment to breathe deeply, to calm himself so that this moment could be filled with the depth of meaning it deserved. He turned the handle on the door and walked in.

"Erestor?"

There was no answer. He glanced around, recognizing that today was the first day that he had set foot in these chambers. He looked around, trying to sense the presence of his beloved. Erestor was not here, he realised. He looked with increased interest at the dcor, seeing in the creamy walls and dark wood furniture a reflection of his love's colouring. The stark contrast was softened by the use of pillows of different textures - wool, silks, even soft white furs. Mixed with them were cushions of deep reds and golden hues. A glance into the bedchamber showed the same neutral colours, but he smiled when he saw, in a place of honour upon the dresser, the statuette of Hirnn. Elladan had returned the gift to Erestor with no little embarrassment some time after his majority, when the Peredhel had belatedly found it in a discarded box of toys from his childhood. There had been no real damage done during the boyhood games, and Glorfindel saw that it was lovingly polished and cherished. Erestor had been saddened when he had realised the fate of the poor horse of that name that had him carried on the field of Evendim, but was consoled to know that the noble beast had left a colt grazing in the paddocks of Imladris.

A quick glance around the bathing room showed a similar starkness, though Glorfindel was pleased to find sandlewood as one of the perfumed oils at the side of the bath. Erestor's study was as neat as his office, filled with scrolls and books revealing his preferred pastimes and studies. Returning to the main drawing room Glorfindel began to feel worried when he suddenly noticed the two items on the side table - an open carved wood box, and a cream parchment - folded, sealed - which rested upon it. His name was inscribed on the parchment in Erestor's hand.

A tremor of fear suddenly ran through Glorfindel. What now, when all was resolved? Why this message from Erestor? A faint heart had never won any battles, and so Glorfindel picked up the letter and broke the seal.

'My love,' he read. 'Do not fear, for I am not gone far. Mithrandir came to me this morning when you were on patrol and told me all. At last we are free. At last we can be together. I find that I am suddenly overwhelmed and so I have gone for a walk, gone to sort my jumbled thoughts. I have few secrets left, my love - yet I have one more to confess to you, one that I hope that will help you will understand the events of the first year of your return. You have heard my story, from Elrond, from Dwen. This last *I* must speak to you.

'If you will it, I will come to your chamber this evening. As a signal that you wish for this meeting, please take the ring that you find in the box. Yes, my heart. It is our ring. I never lost it, never gave it away. I could not, for it was one of my last links to you. The other object that used to lie beside it I have taken and placed around my neck. Finally, I feel worthy to wear it.

'You hold my heart, Glorfindel. You are my soul. Melin le, Glorfindel.'

There was no signature. It did not need it. Glorfindel lifted the parchment, pressed it to his lips, then laid it aside. He looked at the box and saw the ring within. The mithril ring, the ring he had placed upon Erestor's finger on that last fateful day. Gently he stroked it, then grasped it lightly and lifted it, examining the unblemished shine with loving eyes. He hesitated then placed it in a pocket in his tunic. He would not wear it, for only one elf could do that now. Looking one last time into the box he saw an empty indentation in the velvet lining, oval in shape, and a pattern beside it that looked like the links of a heavy chain. He gently closed the lid, then with a happy smile left the room, quietly closing the door behind him.

****

The time passed slowly and Glorfindel prowled through his rooms like a caged lion. He checked every last detail - the flowers in their bowls, the candles lit and ready for the dusk, plates of sweetmeats scattered on tables, wine opened and glasses polished. The phial of oil by the bed. He looked at his own garb, a simple white tunic over blue leggings and soft house shoes. His hair was brushed and brushed again, burnished gold, unbound and swaying into the curve of his back. Oh, and one last item.

The ring, placed in the centre of a small circular table of dark wood, shining bright in its contrast. Perfect.

Now, the only thing - the only *one* - missing was Erestor.

There was a small tap at the door, and Glorfindel crossed the floor in two strides and flung it wide, a smile of welcome and relief to see the elf standing there. Erestor was beautiful. No, he was more than beautiful. He was stunning. His waist-length raven hair was unbound, and shone with the lustre of burnished ebony, red highlights reflecting the candlelight. He wore a tunic of deep forest green, embroidered at collar and cuffs with copper braid, warming his creamy skin. Dark brown leggings gave the contrast of earthy colours and his delicate feet were shod with forest green slippers also embroidered in copper. He was beautiful. He was stunning. He was unearthly. He was perfect.

Glorfindel found it difficult to restrain himself, to stop himself lifting and carrying this most perfect of Ilvatar’s children to the huge bed within, to lay him upon it and ravish him with all the love and lust and desire and want of more than four thousand years. So near, so near, yet Glorfindel *did* restrain himself, for within those chocolate-brown pools he saw a hesitation, and he knew that there was one last thing for Erestor to tell him, one last obstacle in their path - then he would have him forever. He stood back and allowed Erestor to enter.

The dark elf glanced about the room, seeing the devotion and care that had been put into the preparations for this evening and his heart rose in spirit. With a gentle smile on his face he turned to face the elf that he had loved, and lost, and loved again.

"Thank you, Glorfindel," he said softly, and to Glorfindel it was as if a bird had trilled a sweet tune. "Thank you for understanding that I need - I need to tell you something. To tell you one last thing."

Glorfindel sensed that Erestor was uneasy, and gestured to the nearby day bed. "Please Erestor, seat yourself, and I will sit in this chair over here. I will listen to what you need to say." He moved slowly, as if he were afraid of frightening this delicate bird. Erestor followed his motions, and sat carefully on the edge of the daybed, his hands in his lap, gently ringing them together. Glorfindel saw the action. What was it that Erestor feared? He waited silently, knowing that whatever it was, the outcome of the night would be the same. Nothing that Erestor could say would ever change his feelings for his pen-neth.

"I know that Elrond told you of my history from the time I arrived in Lindon," the soft voice began, "and Dwen told you of my time of grief and madness. What they did not tell you they could not tell you, for until this night I have spoken of it to no one. I could not, for it was something that was seared on my sight and my heart forever." The voice faded slightly, and the anguish of millennia resonated in those soft tones. Glorfindel maintained his silence, for the moment seemed to demand it.

"After you fell, on the cliffs of Cirith Thoronath, I screamed until I could scream no more. You were gone, and so was my soul, my heart, my mind. I was a shell, empty, unseeing - yet I saw. I did not recognise that what my unseeing eyes saw that dawn I would see forever, for my sight recorded those moments unknowing to my mind." There was a pause, a hesitation, and then Erestor began once more. "The eagles came. Thorondor came, and lifted your body from the abyss. It was unrecognisable. It was black, burnt, charred. The heat twisted into horrific contortions what were once your strong limbs; your broad chest was shrivelled and burnt, as the breast of an ox charred on the turning spit. Your golden hair was no more, save for black strands of stubble on the malformed head. And your sapphire eyes, once shining like the fabled jewels of the Noldor, naught but blackened holes. All that was you, was gone. And I had caused that."

Glorfindel choked, tried to protest but a pleading look from Erestor stalled his attempt.

"I know. I understand now. After I broke down in Elrond’s arms on the anniversary of Tarnin Austa, he told me that it was not my fault and, after we made our peace, you and I, Elrond counselled me many times over many months. It was not my fault, but still my heart would not forgive me. I have despaired of ever ridding myself of this guilt, of ever truly entering the fold of your arms with an open and unburdened heart and yet - now I feel I have a chance. Now I have found a way.

"When I saw that troll attack you on the plain of Evendim I reacted instinctively. I could not stand by and let harm come to the one who I loved above life itself. I spurred Hirnn on, and I took the blow that would have ended your life for a second time. When I woke and saw you beside me, your face so taut with fear, I knew that my action had succeeded and I had saved you - and perhaps saved myself. In saving you I felt that my action had redeemed me, redeemed my worth in your eyes so I ask you now, Glorfindel. Can you forgive me? Can you forgive the foolish, selfish youth I was then? Can you forgive me for not saving you then, since I have saved you now, here in our new time?"

Glorfindel bit back the response that had flown to his lips. Erestor was never to blame. There was nothing to forgive. But those were not the words that his little love needed to hear. He gathered the strength and the will to speak those words now.

"I forgive you, Erestor. I love you and I forgive you, and I beg you to forgive yourself, meleth-nn."

It was gone. The guilt was gone. It had flown and Erestor’s heart and soul were clear. The sobs came out suddenly, heavily, with thousands of years of pain and self-reproach expelling their darkness from his body. Erestor barely felt Glorfindel’s arms close around him, barely recognised the soothing words of love in the heaving, sobbing joy of his release. It seemed to last forever, but finally it faded as Glorfindel pressed those beloved lips to forehead, hair, cheeks, lips, stroking his unbound locks, rocking him, soothing him. Finally it faded, and Erestor was cradled in peace in his beloved’s arms.

"Ai Erestor, I love you so, my pen-neth, my sweet love."

Erestor turned in his arms, turned to face those eyes, so brilliant and blue, and he knew that he would never see those blackened holes again. "I love you too, Glorfindel."

Glorfindel smiled. "Then there is one last thing I ask, my love. What of our ring? What do you want to do with it?" He gestured with his head, glancing over at the table where it lay, solitary in its splendour. Erestor blushed.

"I had hoped… I prayed… that you would place it on my finger again, as symbol of - of our joining?"

Glorfindel shook his head, but smiled to forestall the shock he knew he would engender in Erestor.

"Go pick it up pen-neth. Go on," he encouraged. Erestor rose, uncertain of Glorfindel’s meaning, but he picked the ring up from the table. "Now," continued the golden lord, "place the ring on the index finger of your left hand, Erestor. The betrothal finger." Hesitantly the dark elf did as he was instructed, gazing uncertainly at the ring which was upon his finger for the first time in four millennia. Glorfindel rose, came to him and gathered Erestor firmly into his arms. He looked down into those chocolate-brown eyes, certainty and love abundant in his gaze.

"I swore, when I last placed that ring upon your finger, that the next time I would do so would be on our binding day. I would wed you, Erestor of Gondolin, of Lindon and of Imladris. I would bind with you in all honour and light and in the presence of our friends and family. Will you, my love? One year hence, will you take me as your bound mate, until the world’s end?"

There was no hesitation now, no demurring.

"I will, Glorfindel of Gondolin and Rivendell. I would be bound to you, forever."

That was enough. They were the words that Glorfindel had longed to hear and he would wait no longer.

"Then we will bind, my love, in one year. But tonight - tonight I claim you. Tonight, I make you mine."

Bending his head he placed his lips on those rose-red ones, brushing them lightly, teasing and tantalising in their soft exploration. His tongue flicked out lightly, tasting the sweet salt of Erestor’s skin, prising the willing lips apart so that he could delve into the moist cavern.

Erestor could bear the teasing touch no more and pulled his lord close in a tight grip, increasing the pulsing pressure of that mouth, claiming it fervently. He welcomed that sweeping tongue, revelled in its motions, and his hands crept up to Glorfindel’s neck, lacing at the nape, entangled in the soft strands of sunshine. Erestor pressed the length of his lithe body forward against the giant frame, begging for its domination by the lord of his heart.

Despite their desire, so long delayed, the two elves did not rush. No, this was a time to be savoured, every moment etched on their memories; mapped on their skin; writ upon their hearts; seared upon their one soul. Hands wandered, stroked, pulsed in their explorations. Each curve was counted; each pulse was paced. Light touches to the tips of sensitive ears elicited breathless gasps; soft suckling at the base of a throat brought forth red marks of possession and yearning groans of desire. Careful fingers undid yielding clasps - gently, efficiently - exposing creamy throats, golden muscles. Glorfindel smiled, blinking back unbidden tears when he recognised that mithril locket, emblazoned with a golden celandine. He leaned forward and kissed that precious gift, glowing in the knowledge that the keeper of his soul had kept this little trinket given with such love.

Erestor wrapped his arms around the generous torso, feeling the strong sinews of a well-honed physique - and feeling those scars. Never again would he run from them, for now they were part of him as he was part of Glorfindel. He accepted them, luxuriated in their rough texture and stroked them soothingly. They were one, they were nearly one, and now nothing could come between them.

Their desire was rising beyond tolerance; the urge to unite was overwhelming. Shoes had been slipped off, leggings unlaced and discarded and their revealed members pressed hard and firm in eloquent need against their exposed flesh. The two elves stood, revealed in all their glory in the dying rays of the sun. Glorfindel let one hand slip down, hold tight underneath the firm buttock and lifted his love easily, cradling him against his body. Erestor lifted his legs, wrapped them around Glorfindel’s waist and rested his sable head against the strong shoulder as the golden lord brought him into the bedchamber and laid him gently upon that waiting bed.

"Magnificent," Glorfindel breathed, his fervent eyes devouring the beauty of his little love as he lay against the pure white cottons and deep green velvets. The sun had followed them, pouring in homage through the open casements and the roar of the cascades were but a murmur as tribute was paid to the exquisite beauty of this elf. His elf.

Erestor raised his arms, his hands beckoning his love forward, down, laying his heavy form over him.

"Make me yours, Glorfindel. Melin le, melin le."

There was no hesitation as the golden elf growled his response.

"You *are* mine. Mine, Erestor. All mine…"

There was no escape, though he wanted none. There was no ease, though he begged for none. Glorfindel devoured him, ate him, swallowed him whole. The hands and lips moved without ceasing, every inch of flesh was touched, taken, used. Erestor writhed, gasping for air in the heat of lust and love. Nipples were teased, licked, touched, suckled, swathed in moisture and want. Arching bodies entwined in rapture and Erestor cried out in his ecstasy, then screamed as his swollen member was taken into a hot mouth. His hands flailed, grasped and twisted the golden strands as the mouth moved slowly, quickly, taking the whole length of purple need to the back of Glorfindel’s throat; then slipping back to the throbbing head, licking at the slit, tongue tasting the copious pre-come weeping from its tip. Up and down, its rhythm increasing, Erestor thrust up again and again, crying out in rapturous torture. He barely noticed when a slick finger slid between his cheeks, explored down the cleft to rest against the puckered opening. Gently it pressed against the pink rose and unconsciously Erestor raised and widened his thighs to permit its entry. He did not know what to make of the feeling; for though there was no pain the pressure was - unusual. A frown creased his forehead and he resented the pressure for it took away from the delirious pleasure that wet warm mouth was bringing him. He squirmed away from it - and yelped in shock as the finger stroked against a spot inside him. The warm mouth curved in a wicked smile on his engulfed member and the finger moved again.

Yes! Oh gods, yes. Yes. Hot darts of pleasure shuddered through him. Yes. He pressed down, wanted to feel it again. Yes! It was too much. Yes! He couldn’t take it. Yes! He lurched, rocking between that moist heat and that pleasing digit, overcome, sobbing with need.

Yes!!

"GLORFINDEL!"

Erestor soared like one of Mithrandir’s sky-rockets and detonated in an expanding orgasm of exploding stars; shooting his bittersweet completion into Glorfindel’s mouth, down his welcoming throat as he whirled in a plane above that of the heavens. He could not sense as his love licked him clean, did not feel that finger leave his body, could hardly comprehend when it returned with an oiled companion and started to stroke, stretch him, twist within his puckered entrance. Glorfindel leaned over him and claimed his gasping mouth, taking what little breath he had left. He felt the hardness of Glorfindel’s unrelieved member pressing against his thigh.

"Meleth… you have... not come," he gasped when he could breathe again. Glorfindel’s sapphire eyes shone down in to his, a glorious smile curving the firm lips.

"I will, my love, I will. May I take you, melethron? I long to fill you, I long to join with you, to be complete…"

A thrill of nervous pleasure ran through Erestor. This was it! He nodded, his desire tempered with apprehension, but Glorfindel reached down to claim his lips once more and he knew that he wanted this, wanted it more than anything, and he gave himself completely into Glorfindel’s hands.

Glorfindel leaned back and took Erestor’s now-flaccid shaft into his large hand, and started to stroke it gently whilst he turned his large fingers within that precious hole. He removed them and dipped them in the oil, smiling as Erestor groaned in complaint, then reinserted them, three this time. He was thorough, and he used the varying speed of his stroke to distract Erestor from any discomfort his large fingers might bring in their widening of the heated passage. For Erestor was small and Glorfindel was not. In only a short time he knew that he had done what he could, and that he would have to take care in his penetration of his love. He removed his fingers from the body and instead lifted and parted his lover’s legs, bringing them wide and high around his waist. He took a copious amount of oil and coated his bulging, neglected shaft, then placed his large hands on either side of Erestor, leaning over that beloved body. As he pressed forward he felt a resistance in the surrounding guardian ring, but Erestor simply smiled up at him, total trust and love emanating from the liquid chocolate eyes. Glorfindel groaned as the swollen head of his member slipped past that ring and into Erestor, his heart bursting with joy at finally, finally, being in his love.

He rested for a few seconds, allowing Erestor to grow accustomed to the penetration, and then delved slowly forward until he was totally engulfed in moist heat. Erestor was gasping beneath him, his slender fingers gripping tight into the muscles of his shoulders. He paused, revelling in the moment, allowing Erestor to adjust to his wide girth. When he felt the tension of Erestor’s inner muscles relax, Glorfindel started to move, slowly, deliciously, in tiny rocking motions; adjusting until he felt Erestor buck beneath him as he once more stroked that tiny gland from within. He maintained the angle, increasing his pace only when his little love started to press back, to seek his strokes avidly in his desire to attain that height of pleasure once more. It was almost too much for the golden lord, this combination of heat and moisture embracing him and it took great restrain not to thrust wildly into this body for which he had yearned. Sweat beaded his body, dripping down his forehead but he took no notice, his moans of pleasure expressing his need. His golden hair swirled forth between them, stroking Erestor’s chest and adding to the sensations shuddering through the dark elf’s frame. Erestor was moving, shifting, thrashing his head from side to side, his raven locks flying in the power of the vibrations thrumming along his nerves. The little cries grew loud, yelling, calling his name, pleading for release as those slender hands gripped and tore at the white sheets in his exquisite torture. Glorfindel could not resist those calls and he curled his hand around Erestor’s demanding cock, weeping once more, and stroked it. Deep, strong, firm strokes; deep, diving, demanding thrusts.

Glorfindel unleashed all that he was, all that was contained in his soul, all his repressed love of four millennia in his frantic lunges. Unleashed it and freed it as his soul soared. Erestor let go too, let go with all his passion, all his desire for this wonderful elf - and his soul soared too.

Though neither had said the words of binding, though neither had quoted those phrases normally needed to unite two souls, the Valar had heard them. Erestor screamed his soul-mate’s name once more as the hot cream spilled over Glorfindel’s firm hand. The contractions of inner muscles gripped Glorfindel’s shaft and he was taken over that edge, he flung himself into the flight of fulfilment, crying out for the only one who had ever held his heart - his pen-neth.

"Glorfindel!"

"Erestor!"

Their souls soared, divided, then recombined as they fell, gently cradled in Varda’s hands, back down into their replete bodies. Neither noticed the tiny stars that fell with them, sparkling in acknowledgement of the true love that had finally been expressed, acknowledged, and completed.

Their souls were one, and they were united.

Forever.

 

 

 

 

Elvish:

meleth - love

pen-vuin - dear one

mellon-nn - my friend

meldir - friend

melethron - male lover

pen-neth - little one

meleth-nn - my love

meleth - love

Chapter 16

T.A. 1975 - 1976

 

The presence of daylight was beginning to impinge upon Glorfindel's reverie. In an attempt to deny its arrival, Glorfindel shifted to turn away from the light - then winced as a sharp ache emanated from his lower body. What the -? He paused in his movement, then a slow smile spread across his face as he remembered the events of the night before. Their lovemaking had not stopped with that first and most wonderful union, for the repressed passions of millennia could not be satisfied in just one intercourse. No indeed, there had followed numerous enthusiastic re-unions, until Glorfindel had finally expressed a concern for the safety of his beautiful pen-neth. At which point his insatiable melethron had climbed upon *him* and had insisted on 'completing the circle' - and returning the copious favours that Glorfindel had bestowed upon him that night. Glorfindel's grin widened, and he heard a melodious chuckle beside his ear. Vision focussing, he turned his head to see glorious chocolate-brown eyes twinkling in that sweet face. Erestor lay turned upon his side, his head propped on one hand, his raven hair tumbling wildly over his shoulders.

"Maer aur, pen-neth, how are you this morning?" Glorfindel said softly, rising up on his elbows - then wincing once again as the twinge of pain shot through him. Erestor laughed.

"Good morning, meleth-nn. I am well - though I *really* don't think that you can call me 'little one' any more, can you?" he finished with a self-satisfied smirk.

Glorfindel's eyes widened and he was at a loss for words, his mouth gaping as a fish out of water. Stunned, he fell back onto the pillow.

"Elbereth!" he groaned, "I took to my bed the cool counsellor of Imladris, and I have woken to my bawdy brat of Gondolin!"

Both laughed merrily at this, and Erestor rolled on top of his mate, kissing him wildly across his face. "My love. My lord." He paused looking down into those shining sapphire eyes, his gleeful expression softening. "*My* Glorfindel…"

"Aye," whispered the golden lord, stroking that soft cheek. "Always yours, ind nn." Erestor brought his head close to Glorfindel's ear, breathing lightly across the gentle peak. Glorfindel shuddered at the hot breath, his morning arousal reacting emphatically to the spasm of pleasure that shot through him.

"Prove it."

The erotic taunt, breathed into that pink ear, broke any self-restraint the seneschal may have had. Erestor's eyes had darkened to black and desire was rampant in his face. Glorfindel grasped him by the shoulders and moved swiftly to roll on top of the dark elf. He gazed down at this most beautiful elf - *his* beautiful elf. Glorfindel growled possessively.

"With pleasure…"

Then he claimed those rose-red lips in a kiss that bespoke of love eternal.

And so the dance began once more, the broad frame of the golden lord overshadowing yet sheltering the slim figure beneath. His thick arousal found a welcome embrace within that elf and the lord thrust languorously in and out of the velvet sheath, listening with pleasure to the unrestrained cries of Erestor as he stroked repeatedly against that small but effective gland. He came with a shout, spilling his essence deep within that precious channel as Erestor's semen splashed hotly against his stomach. Breathing heavily, he dropped his head so that he lightly touched Erestor's forehead, trying to support his strong body so that he would not crush his lover.

"Erestor, oh gods, Erestor!" he grinned down at the panting elf. "Ai, I feel as if I had faced a hundred Witch-kings, so well have you used me this night!"

Erestor pushed back the damp raven strands from his moist face, smiling widely even as he caught his own breath.

"Oh, but my lord," he said with a practiced innocence, sly shyness creeping onto his face. "That was last night - and it *is* morning now…?"

Glorfindel looked up in alarm. "No, no, no! At least let me empty a certain part of my anatomy before you ask me to fill you again, my insatiable counsellor."

Erestor grinned. "Brat. I'm your brat."

"Whatever!"

Glorfindel ignored his pouting pen-neth and withdrew from that oh-so-lovely sheath, determined to make use of the privy in his bathing chamber. As he began to rise he heard Erestor's sharp intake of breath and groaned inwardly. He had truly forgotten about those damned scars, and he turn penitently, expecting to see the pain once again on Erestor's face. Instead his love looked up at him with awe, tears of wonder trickling down his face.

"They are gone, Glorfindel!"

"What?!" Glorfindel asked in shock. Erestor knelt up on the edge of the bed, turning Glorfindel away from him so that he could stroke the smooth back.

"They are gone, my darling lord, as are the silver scars." Erestor smiled through his tears of happiness. "Your skin is as smooth and as clear as on the day of your birth." And he kissed that tender skin gently, with reverence and with love.

Glorfindel turned once more, gathering his pen-neth into his arms, wiping away those tears. "I thank the Valar at last, pen-vuin, for they have returned my love and my life to me."

"And you to me, my soul."

****

After completing their necessary ablutions, the two elves returned to the haven of their bed, determined not to waste the blessings that their love had brought to them. They talked softly, and laughed merrily, and mated gently, whiling away the morning in total love and harmony. It was after the noon hour that Glorfindel heard the outer door of his chambers click open, and soft murmurs of trespassers in the outer room. He looked down at the elf sleeping softly in his embrace, pleased that Erestor had not been disturbed by the incursion. He was annoyed two-fold; first, that someone had dared to enter his chambers, and second, that they had not announced their presence. He lay still, listening to sounds that denoted the moving of objects, and the slight clink of glass, and further murmurs, until he finally heard a second click, then silence. Glorfindel’s curiosity got the better of him and, with care to move slowly so as not to wake his love, he slid from the bed and padded lightly to the door to the drawing room. What he saw made his mouth drop, then a gentle smile curved on his lips.

"Glorfindel? What is wrong, my heart?" came the sleepy voice from the bed behind him. The golden elf turned, beckoning to his love. He grinned.

"Come, Erestor. Come and see."

Erestor rose, moving carefully in his exquisite discomfort, and slid into the welcoming arm.

"Oh my goodness!"

The room was changed from the night before. Gone were the stubs of burnt-out candles, the dishes of untouched sweetmeats and the bottles of un-poured wine. Instead the round dining table had been covered with a snow-white cloth, and two place settings of silver and fine porcelain were laid upon it. Fresh glasses of crystal were to be found next to the light golden wine in its decanter, and dishes of assorted breads, meats, cheeses and fruits waited for them. A bouquet of spring flowers was simply arranged in a porcelain vase.

"Elrond or Celebran, do you think?" mused the seneschal. Erestor pointed to two posies of celandine, carefully bound with silver ribbons, which lay upon each plate.

"Arwen, I should think, judging by the clever braiding of the ribbons," he said. Glorfindel laughed, and pointed to two soft cushions placed pointedly on the dining chairs.

"And I spy the handiwork of the twins!" he guffawed.

To ignore such a thoughtful gift would have been churlish and, after donning light dressing gowns, the two elves indulged lightly, and toasted their affirmed love and new-born unity of souls. The lunch made them realise that the outer world still existed, and that their dearest friends probably wanted to share their happiness, so they decided to dress and join Elrond and his family. Indeed, Glorfindel was eager, for to declare the renewal of their betrothal meant that the preparations for their binding day could begin all the sooner. To dress meant to bathe first, however, and in the balmy water of the sunken tub they found that heat of another kind rose, and so it was that the sun had begun its descent in the sky when the seneschal of Imladris and Elrond’s chief counsellor finally emerged from Glorfindel’s chambers.

The two elves were greeted with great cheer, with open arms and delighted smiles. Elrond and Celebran embraced them in turn, as did Mithrandir, and they received more vigorous and excited hugs from the Peredhil siblings. Thanks were given to the children by the couple, for the charming surprise they had found earlier that day, and much laughter abounded in the room at mention of the thoughtful pillows.

"Ai, I believe poor Lindir had to beg a bed from Saelbeth last night," grinned Elladan. "He mentioned that a herd of oliphaunts had moved into the chamber next to him, and roared in play all night!"

Erestor blushed, for he knew that Lindir was neighbour to Glorfindel’s rooms, but his melethron simply laughed once more and tightened his endless hold on his little love.

"Well, as for that, we must see about getting us larger chambers, pen-vuin. Mayhap Lindir would exchange with you, then we could expand mine into his, and make them ours?"

It was a good idea, for Erestor had no especial attachment to his own chambers, they having been but a refuge from the world in his loneliness. He much preferred Glorfindel’s, for there he had united his fa with that of his true love. However, it was a topic for another time.

Talk turned to their binding day, and Elrond was surprised when they both declined the suggestion of the day of Tarnin Austa, just over twelve months away.

"Nay," said Glorfindel, shaking his head. "There are so many reasons that it should *not* be that day. There are too many sad memories for us both, never mind that Erestor’s begetting day has always been overshadowed by the preparations. As an elfling I always hated my begetting day for that reason."

Elrohir’s eyes widened. "Ai, I don’t think that I have ever known your begetting day, meldir? When is it?"

"Yuletide Eve," said Erestor softly, and looked at his beloved with warm eyes, for their little tradition of exchanging gifts on their conception day had restarted during their long years of reconciliation, unbeknownst to the others. Small gifts, left in desk drawers, with no name but much love. Glorfindel smiled and lifted his dark love’s hand to his lips, kissing it with all his love and devotion.

"And now, I have received my best gift of all."

****

The date had been set for a late spring day yet, although it was still a year away, the preparations had already started in earnest. Erestor had bemoaned that fact that he had no betrothal ring to give to Glorfindel. They ordered from the jewel-smith a ring to be made in accordance with the specifications Glorfindel had designed so long ago - a simple mithril ring to be emblazoned with the rune ‘E’, for Erestor. In the meantime Arwen, with her clever fingers, had taken some strands of hair from both their heads and had twisted and braided them into a ring, sable and gold, preserved and strengthened with layers of varnish. Glorfindel wore this ring with pride and, when the mithril ring was ready and finally placed on his finger by his soul-mate, it was retired with honour to the little carved box that had held another ring for four thousand years.

In the weeks that had followed the announcement of their betrothal the inhabitants of Imladris had, with their usual eloquence, discussed this union in depth, and the gossip mills had run rampant. For those who remembered the initial strain of Glorfindel’s arrival this announcement was no surprise, for was it not often the case that the course of true love did not always run smooth? The younger elves could hardly believe the tale that the chief counsellor had once been a black, dour, stern elf, for in the years of reconciliation Erestor’s dark outer shell had been tempered much at Glorfindel’s insistence. What none of them were prepared for was the dramatic change in Erestor’s behaviour in the throes of love revealed.

In council meetings Erestor was much the same - be-robed in dark colours, his hair in stately braids, his demeanour that of the regal advisor all had known. Once duty was over however, the change was evident. Erestor had retained the use of Melpomaen as an assistant to Saelbeth, for it freed him from the many menial tasks he had once undertaken to fill his long, lonely dark days. Now his days were dark no more and the off-duty Erestor was as a youth again. Gone were the robes, instead he wore tunics and leggings, or crisp white shirts with jerkins of reds, russets or greens. His hair was unbound, brushed and burnished so that the red highlights shone under Anor’s rays. His face always carried a smile - mostly a gentle, shy smile, for he still retained some of the reserve and shyness that had been his from his birth. But when he was with Glorfindel it was as if the golden lord was his sun, and he glowed in the beatific rays bestowed only upon him - and he smiled, that brilliant smile that was meant for his beloved lord alone. Even those who had once lusted and longed to break the councillor’s icy crusting could now only stare in astonishment at this glorious creature, and jealous envy of the seneschal was rife.

They went everywhere together, for neither was happy unless with the other. They walked the pathways of the extensive gardens, and were often seen lounging beneath a shady tree, Glorfindel’s head in Erestor’s lap as his betrothed read to him. They rode out upon their fine mounts, and galloped on the hills for miles around, revelling in the freedom it gave them. They swam in the Bruinen, playfully splashing and diving, bare of clothes, as Ilvatar had intended. And loving, always loving. Kisses and caresses were bestowed without restraint, and their love shone as a beacon of hope.

In private Erestor had no hesitation in expressing his love to Glorfindel in every way. Their passion within their bedchamber knew no bounds, though the reversal of roles initiated by Erestor on that first night was not often repeated. Erestor was happier being the recipient of his beloved lord's attentions, but Glorfindel's needs were in no way neglected. Indeed, Andrann saw this lightness of heart even on the most dangerous of patrols, and found it eerie that the golden lord would grin even as he sliced open an orc's belly.

Many letters were sent as part of the preparations for the ceremony, both as announcements of the nuptials and as invitations to the event. Time was passing swiftly now and barely had the Yuletide observance passed when the day was upon them.

****

The guests began to arrive some days before the nuptials, to allow them time to rest so that they could partake of the festivities more fully. First to arrive was the Wandering Company and their lord Gildor Inglorion. Erestor and Glorfindel waited eagerly on the steps of the house as the procession of elves rode into the courtyard. Erestor was unrestrained in his welcome.

"Dwen!"

He flew to the now-dismounted elleth, folding her into a tight embrace. The dark-haired elleth laughed and rejoiced in her brother's happiness, delighted to see all trace of sadness erased from his face. Dwen would be standing at Erestor's side at the ceremony, acting as his family witness - Elrond would be his friend-supporter. Introductions were made, for her husband Orthored, her son Pathon, and her daughter Nienna and her spouse accompanied Dwen.

A second family reunion also took place. Erestor had researched into Glorfindel's background intensely in remembrance of an obscure reference he had once seen. Sure enough, he had discovered kinship between his betrothed and Lord Gildor, through their common lineage to Finarfin and his mother, Indis of the Vanyar. Glorfindel was glad of this connection, however slight, for he had great respect and friendship for the southern lord following their meeting centuries before. Gildor had been delighted to receive the invitation for him to stand as Glorfindel's kin-witness, doubly so when he learned that Crdan would be the golden lord's friend-supporter.

Crdan soon followed, as did representatives from Mirkwood and the Golden Wood. Neither of the latter rulers felt able to leave their respective realms with the darkness yet growing, especially Thranduil. The fortress of Dol Guldur was inhabited, and releasing into the depths of the wood such creatures as would make the blood run cold. Nevertheless his son, the fair Prince Legolas, came in his father's stead much to the delight of the twin princes of Imladris, who had known him since his birth. From Lothlrien came Haldir, who recalled their days as teachers to the young princes.

"Ai, what trouble we had then, eh my friends?" the Marchwarden said warmly. "I am so happy that you have found each other, and may your days be filled with light." And they had embraced in joy and happiness.

Glorfindel greeted Crdan with great warmth, and expressed his thanks to his dear friend for his agreement to his part in the binding ceremony. The bearded lord gripped Glorfindel's forearms in a warrior's greeting, returning the generosity of his sentiments.

"You are most welcome, mellon-nn. The strength that you showed both in your resolution to complete this task, and upon the battlefield itself, make me honoured to be counted as your friend. Yet tell me, have you decided whether I need to build a new ship? Will you be travelling to the Undying Lands?"

"We have made that decision, and the answer is ‘No’." Glorfindel replied. "We are happy here, but one day we will wish to travel. Just not yet."

Indeed, they had determined not to leave Middle Earth, but to stay in Imladris. This they had told to both Mithrandir and Elrond, and the Istar and the Elf-lord were glad.

"It is as I said, young Glorfindel," said Mithrandir. "The world is darkening, yet by your deeds you have brought some light. The strength of many will be required before this Age is done, and yours is a strength that has been revealed and will give much heart to those who face the evil in the future. And you Erestor, your sage advice and extensive knowledge will be a blessing to Elrond in his work."

Erestor nodded, glancing up at his love before he answered. Glorfindel squeezed his hand, reassuring him.

"Elrond," the dark advisor said, "you have always been the most sympathetic friend, and you and Celebran have cared for Glorfindel and I through the darkest moments of our love. How could we desert you now, as the Age moves on into what we have been told will be a time of great disturbance? You have our support and our friendship at all times. Imladris is our home, and we will defend it, you and your family with our lives."

"Aye," added Glorfindel. "The deed I undertook was the will of the Valar, but at my return I also swore to protect the line of Turgon, Idril and Erendil. You and your family are mine to protect, Elrond. I will not fail you."

And so that decision was made, and there was amity between the House of Elrond and the House of the Golden Flower.

****

And so it was the night before his binding day that Glorfindel lay alone his large bed, listening to the thunder of the water tumbling endlessly over the cliffs into the pool far below. Ithil shone her cool rays into the bedchamber, but it was not that which kept the golden lord awake. It was the empty space beneath him. Erestor was gone.

Celebran and Arwen had insisted upon it, upon the tradition of the betrothed to spend their last night in solitary contemplation and rest for, tittered Arwen, ‘you will get none tomorrow night!’ Little Arwen was not little any more, and could jest as well as her brothers. Erestor had coloured but then laughed, and they had both agreed to abide by tradition. Erestor had retired to a guest bedroom after a family dinner in Elrond’s quarters, though the family had been extended somewhat. The four supporters of the to-be-weds were present as were their families, and a cheery party had ensued.

Now it was quiet. Too quiet. With a final sigh Glorfindel got up from the bed and dressed in sleeping pants and a dressing gown, soft slippers on his feet. He took one last look around the room in the moonlight. His robes for the following day were on a stand near the bed, rich blue silk emblazoned with exquisite flowers embroidered in golden thread at collar and hem. The flower was the celandine, of course, at Erestor’s insistence. Erestor would wear matching robes of teal-green silk, with the same motifs. Tomorrow they would reclaim their heritage as part of the ceremony and deny no more their former lives. One last look, then Glorfindel left his chambers, happy in the knowledge that from tomorrow night Erestor would be with him here, until the end of their time in Middle Earth.

The corridors were deserted, and Glorfindel’s progress was unimpeded. He made his way to the entrance to the gardens, enjoying the mystical shadows of the flora in the unblinking moonlight. All colour was leached from the vibrant flowers, and shades of white, black and grey were all that were left. He looked across the lawn, admiring the wedding portico that had been set up that day, supervised by Celebran and Arwen; though it was Elrohir and Elladan who had done most of the work. It was beautiful, covered with white spring blossoms twisted with ivy, and highlighted once again with the flower of his house. Underneath that canopy of flowers he and Erestor would stand and speak their vows in love and joy. Mithrandir was officiating tomorrow, and behind Glorfindel would stand Crdan and Gildor, whilst Elrond and Dwen would support Erestor. Mithrandir would raise their hands and join them, wrapping around their joined wrists the white satin cloth that would symbolise the blessing of the gods. Then Glorfindel would gather his pen-neth into his arms, and kiss him deeply, with a heart fulfilled…

A clearing of the throat alerted Glorfindel to the presence of another in the garden, and he turned to see a shape in the shadows, looking for all the world like a sack of black rags. His heart skipped a beat, then the black velvet veil lifted and the midnight hair was pushed off the creamy-white face.

"I knew that you would come," Erestor said simply, holding out a hand to beckon his love. "I could not sleep either, and I knew where you would be."

Glorfindel crossed the grass to sit beside him, taking that hand and raising it to his lips.

"I missed you," he said. Erestor nodded.

"I know."

Glorfindel looked across the grass, his loved one beside him. He knew that Erestor was seeing the same thing.

"They are very like our gardens, eh pen-neth? So long ago, so far away…"

Erestor’s hand snaked into his, and Glorfindel felt that precious ring upon his finger. It would be on a different finger tomorrow.

"Aye, hir-nn, I remember. So much do we forget from the beginning of our lives, so that our childhood only comes back in small flashes of memory. So much forgotten. I did not forget that. Our first meeting, when you sat by a grieving boy and tried to comfort him. You were so big, so strong. I knew instinctively that I could trust you. That you would always protect me. I remember your hand stroking across my face when I was desolate, awaiting rescue. I remember you holding me close in that dark, dank room, and I knew that you would never let me go again."

"No, I would never let you go," Glorfindel whispered. "I never will."

There were no other words spoken as Glorfindel bent down to claim those rose-red lips, now a non-shade in Ithil’s light. Pushing down gently he lowered his darling Erestor to the grass, slipping that deep black-red robe from the advisor’s shoulders. Erestor was naked beneath them, his beautiful body like a perfectly sculpted statue. But he was warm and welcoming, his fingers undoing the tie on Glorfindel’s dressing gown, and then turning so that he could kneel over his lord to remove the sleep pants from his hips. Glorfindel’s glorious mane lay tumbled on the grass, and Erestor bent down to take a few strands, lifted them to his nose to savour their fresh scent. Lazily he dropped them as his mouth moved nearer to Glorfindel’s peaked ear, his breath hot upon their points; he licked them lightly and grinned at the hiss he elicited.

It was an exploration of body and soul, both of which they knew so well but which would never cease to reveal new nuances in their years together. Each exploration was as if of virgin territory, full of pleasures found anew. Lips slowly tracked their way across the skin’s surface, tasting the salt within, luxuriating in its tenderness. A throat was massaged, a breast was tasted, nipples suckled. Slowly, slowly. Short gasps ensued from both as their heat rose, as the plunder took more strenuous form. Hands roamed across silken backs, curving down the spine, squeezing the firm buttocks, lifting and opening them to expose that tender aperture. Glorfindel started as he felt the precious rose-bud, slick with oil.

"My love -!"

Erestor kissed him deeply, allowing no speech as he plunged into that sweet cavern, his tongue delving, possessing all those dark places; possessing Glorfindel. He panted as he broke off the urgent devouring, smiling knowingly when he saw the open lust and love on his lord’s face.

"I told you," he breathed, "I knew that you would come." He leant forward, stroking that beloved face, words wanting to be spoken, yet he wondered if he should say them, for they seemed ungrateful in their sentiment.

"I want tomorrow, Glorfindel, I want the joy of our wedding to be open, under the sun, in brightness and honour but… I wish that it could be just the two of us, saying our vows in a softer light."

Glorfindel smiled gently, stroking the soft arms of the elf, his most beautiful elf, who straddled him. Erestor’s body shone, reflected Ithil’s beams with a glow that made his dark beauty luminous.

"I think it is too late to elope, my love." Glorfindel’s saw Erestor’s lips curl slightly, then realised just what Erestor *did* mean. "Here, my love?"

Erestor nodded. "Then we can still have tomorrow, and we could repeat our vows tomorrow night, but tonight - I want this, Glorfindel."

There was no hesitation. "Then you shall have it, ind-nn." The golden lord reached up as if to roll them over, but Erestor pushed him back. Instead he took Glorfindel’s swollen shaft in his hand and stroked it, pressing his fingers over the weeping slit, milking it of its essences. He stroked the fluid over the velvet skin, making it slick and moist. Rising gently, he positioned his opening over the demanding member; lowering steadily, he relished the feeling of his channel taking the whole length in as he impaled himself upon his love.

Glorfindel grasped Erestor’s hands, steadying him as his love grew accustomed to the sensation, then slowly began to move, thrusting gently upwards. Erestor began to move, using his strong thigh muscles to raise and lower himself. The dark elf was panting already, moaning with delight as the thick flesh within him brushed against that tender gland, revelling in the darts of ecstasy shooting through his body. His head was raised, bathed in Ithil’s light. Pure, untainted love glowed from every pore. Erestor looked down once again at the golden lord, and both sets of eyes burned black with lust in the absence of colour. Erestor nodded to Glorfindel, and Glorfindel spoke.

"I, Glorfindel of Gondolin, Lord of the House of the Golden Flower, do bind myself to you in love eternal. Heart to heart, body to body, soul to soul; I am yours forever. Let the Valar witness my oath, and send their blessing upon us."

Erestor smiled, gaining enough control of his breath to complete his own vow.

"In Erestor Galwionion, uin Herth-e-mallos, gweth mi meleth uireb anim allen. Gur na r, rhaw na thraw, faer na faer; nathon ah len an uir. Valar, lasto ‘west nin, a toltho il lin am ‘wethed vin."

Glorfindel could hold back no more. Erestor was his. His thrusts became lunges, his body arching to drive deeper into his soul-mate, and Erestor pressed down to meet him. They both felt a tingling across their naked bodies, as if the fire of lightning crawled across their skin. The inborn glow of the Firstborn flared into life, encompassing them both and shone brighter as their bond was affirmed. It shone between them; it snaked around them, joining them in total unity. In this most perfect of unions their souls spoke to one another and the ecstasy flooding their bodies reverberated through that bond, setting up such an echo that they could scarce abide. It was intense; it was immense. Nothing had felt like it ever, in the history of Arda.

They were no longer in their bodies, those bodies were but shells, writhing in the physical plane below them. They danced amongst the stars, their souls, their *one* soul expanding to fill the universe. Tilion greeted them as they passed Ithil; Erendil saluted them from the deck of Vingilot, his brow bearing that precious Silmaril; then Varda caught them, as she had caught their souls on their first union of body one year ago. She held their souls, and with one gesture the heavens shook, releasing shooting stars across the firmament in blessing of this unprecedented completion of bodily and spiritual rapture.

Erestor fell upon his melethron’s body, drained from the intensity of that climax, the completion amongst the stars. Glorfindel, with effort, wrapped his arms about his sweet love, feeling his body accept once again his spirit, now doubly bound to Erestor. For he could feel his drained emotions, he could sense his love’s whirling thoughts through the bond. Never again would he be alone in his world, for Erestor would always be with him. They were One.

Glorfindel recovered first. Although he would wish to lie here all night, it would occasion too much talk in the morning. It would seem that their lovemaking had been rendered silent by the will of the Valar, for none stirred to witness their rising from the grass, to see them slowly enrobe themselves. Glorfindel held his pen-neth in his arms, feeling his soft breath against his chest, then he lifted him. Erestor wrapped his arms around his neck and kissing him lightly on the lips, snuggled further into the arms of his husband, his lover, his saviour, his lord. Glorfindel carried him over the grass, into the house, where their destination was their chambers, there to sleep entwined until Anor rose.

They would have their day in the sun, they would enjoy the binding with their loved ones - but they would already know that they were now complete, and blessed beyond measure. Their love was would last forever. Until the end of Arda.

And beyond.

 

 

THE END

 

Author’s Note: I would like to extend my most grateful thanks to my brilliant beta, Nienna, who really pushed me to get this perfect and, with help from other elvish speakers, got my Sindarin right! And to all those who have read this story and sent me feedback -it really kept me going.

 

 

Elvish:

melethron - beloved, male lover

Maer aur - good morning

pen-neth - little one

meleth-nn - my love

ind-nn - my heart

pen-vuin - dear one

meldir - friend

hir-nn - my lord

Erestor’s oath:

** I, Erestor son of Galwion, of the House of the Golden Flower, do bind myself to you in love eternal. Heart to heart, body to body, soul to soul; I am yours forever. Let the Valar witness my oath, and send their blessing upon us. **

 

A/N: AU as it is my story, but canon to LOTR where possible. The possible relationship of Glorfindel and Gildor comes from a number of sources. Gildor is said to descend from the House of Finrod, and Glorfindel is a ‘Prince of a Royal House’. I have back-tracked that to a possible common ancestor - Indis, wife of Finwe.

 
















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