Abandon by Crista
Summary: Erestor gave everything to save Glorfindel, but can he return the favor? Sequel to Breaking Point.
Categories: FPS, FPS > Ecthelion/Glorfindel, FPS > Elladan/Elrohir, FPS > Elrohir/Elladan, FPS > Erestor/Glorfindel, FPS > Glorfindel/Ecthelion, FPS > Glorfindel/Erestor, FPS > Haldir/Legolas, FPS > Legolas/Haldir, FPS > Lindir/Rúmil, FPS > Rúmil/Lindir Characters: Ecthelion, Elladan, Elrohir, Erestor, Glorfindel, Haldir of Lothlórien, Legolas, Lindir, Rúmil
Type: None
Warning: Angst
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 11135 Read: 4729 Published: January 25, 2009 Updated: January 25, 2009
Story Notes:
Things in italics are thoughts, memories, or flashbacks. Italics indicate emphasis, silent/mental communication is --rendered like this-- For the purposes of this story, Elves can be bound by blood as well as by marriage, but these are different, the former being more powerful, and for my purposes, Elves can fade in Valinor. This fic makes infinitely more sense if you read "Breaking Point" first. Timelines are messed up, deal with it.

1. Chapter 1 by Crista

Chapter 1 by Crista
Glorfindel watched silently from the balcony as Erestor rode in at a gallop, and the blonde Elda sighed. Erestor had been away from the Last Homely House more often than not of late. In years passed, the quiet, dark-haired Elf had simply retreated to the library or his study when he wished for solitude, occasionally even the gardens, but now he spent nearly all his time riding. Glorfindel hardly saw his mate anymore. He now watched Erestor slide gracefully from the back of his horse, a feisty black stallion named Amramath, and impatiently push his dark hair away from his face as he led his mount to the stables. Glorfindel sighed again and turned away, knowing he would almost certainly be spending tonight alone. Erestor had grown ever more distant after the fall of Sauron, almost to the point where Glorfindel only ever saw his lover when Erestor had no choice. Glorfindel knew Erestor still loved him; the dark-haired Elf could no longer mask the look in his eyes when he met Glorfindel's gaze, no matter how he tried. Lately, however, that chocolate-colored regard had been rarer and rarer. Strange that Erestor should be so unhappy, when the other remaining inhabitants of the valley had been in uncommonly high spirits of late. All Glorfindel could think was that Erestor did not want to make the journey to Valinor, but Glorfindel could not for the life of him think why. Besides, in the past, Erestor had always gone to Glorfindel when he was upset, even before they became lovers. Now all he did was draw further and further in on himself, to the point where even Glorfindel felt he hardly knew what Erestor was thinking anymore, much less what he was feeling.

Glorfindel frowned slightly pulled his cloak closer. He knew, on some level, that it was cold outside, and it translated itself into the soft shiver that shook his frame briefly. He didn't really need the cloak any more than he was genuinely cold, but wore it mostly out of habit. Erestor had never felt the need for one, Glorfindel knew; he almost never bothered with a cloak save in rain or snow. It followed, then, that Erestor perhaps had actually noticed the weather this evening; there was not a drop of moisture in the sky, yet Erestor, walking in the gardens below, nonetheless had a cloak of dark blue about his shoulders. Glorfindel once more found himself a motionless observer, watching as Erestor walked, his fair skin taking on a luminous quality in the moonlight, his dark hair gleaming with a bluish tint. It was late, near midnight, but sleep had evaded Glorfindel. His bed had simply been too large, too empty that night without Erestor there, but his lover had not been in any of his usual haunts, and so Glorfindel had resigned himself to a sleepless night and gone to his balcony. It was then that he found he old friend, but still did not yet reveal his presence to Erestor, who seemed distracted. Erestor was not yet so changed that Glorfindel could no longer detect his dark moods, and he knew without question that Erestor was distressed now. Glorfindel's thoughts were confirmed beyond doubt when he saw the silvery tracks of tears down Erestor's cheeks, yet still the blonde said nothing. If Erestor had wanted his comfort, he would have sought it; right now, he just wanted solitude. With a soft sigh, Glorfindel returned to his bedchamber, shedding his heavy cloak as he did so, and sat down on the bed to wait.

It was some time before Glorfindel's sharp ears caught the telltale sound of footsteps, followed by the sound of Erestor's door opening and closing down the hall. Of course. It was too much to hope for, that he would have sought Glorfindel. The blonde paused for a moment, then left his chambers and knocked softly at Erestor's door. "Tor? Are you awake?"

"You know I am." Erestor retorted. "Enter." Glorfindel did so and found Erestor sitting on the edge of the bed, the lacings of his black tunic half undone, his cloak and soft leather boots already off. "What brings you here so late?" Erestor inquired, and Glorfindel sat down beside him. "I needed you." he purred, finishing what Erestor had begun with the tunic.

"Needed me, or needed me?" Erestor asked, deliberately stressing the latter to mean the occasional physical need Glorfindel had for Erestor, his bonded mate.

"Needed you, you know that." Glorfindel said. "You can always tell."

"Yes." Erestor agreed, running his fingers absently through Glorfindel's blonde hair. "You haven't slept, have you." there was no question in Erestor's voice; he required none. Glorfindel nodded. "I haven't. I missed you, I was lonely...the bed was so empty..." Glorfindel purred, batting his eyelashes at Erestor, who smiled ever so slightly. "I am rather tired, 'Fin."

"Of course you are...out riding all day, then walking in the gardens until all hours of the night..."

"I know I shouldn't, you needn't remind me." Erestor said in mock irritation. "I just...I needed to clear my mind."

"You've been upset." Glorfindel murmured, resting his head against his lover's bare shoulder. "You've been upset, and you've been avoiding me."

"Must we discuss this now? I thought you were here for fun, not for a serious conversation."

"Can we not have both?"

"The latter rather ruins the mood."

"Then it shall wait, but not for long. I do want to talk to you, 'Tor, and I want your word you will stop running from me."

"I'm not-" Erestor began, then stopped short and sighed. "Very well. Now, if you are quite finished spoiling a perfectly good moment..." Erestor trailed off, and Glorfindel laughed softly. "I am, lirimaer. What say we get you out of these clothes?"

"Sounds nice." Erestor murmured, rubbing his cheek against Glorfindel, who lifted his head from Erestor's shoulder with a smile. "Mine are rather uncomfortable as well..."

"And we can't have that, now can we?" Erestor teased, ruffling Glorfindel's hair affectionately. Glorfindel's expression softened a bit; for now, at least, everything was the same between the two of them. And I shall enjoy every minute of it.

Erestor woke to the soft sound of Glorfindel's voice. It was a habit of the blonde's, Erestor knew, to talk to him in the mornings, even if he was still sleeping. Erestor often wondered precisely what it was that Glorfindel said, before the gentle tones of his voice woke him.

"It's a lovely morning, 'Tor, sweetheart. Arien is bright and warm, the leaves are turned to gold and bronze...you'll doubtless enjoy your ride today. Beautiful weather, and a way to avoid a serious discussion...what more could you ask? I wish you would let me ride with you, but I know better than to ask you. You seek solitude, or at least escape from me. Is it something I have done, I wonder? Or something I haven't? I doubt you would tell me if I asked. But do I not care for you as I always have? Do I not enjoy your company, do I not give you every attention you deserve?" he paused. "Then again, perhaps I do not. You love me, I know, yet in all these years I have never been able to say those words to you. It is only in these moments, when you are asleep in my arms, that I feel free to speak of these things, because you do not hear. I love you, Erestor. I only wish I had the strength to say it when you are awake, looking at me with those beautiful brown eyes of yours." Glorfindel sighed, and Erestor remained still , not wanting to alert the blonde to the fact that he was awake.

"My dear Erestor." Glorfindel murmured. "How much I owe you, how much I love you...how weak I am, that I cannot say it to your face. I can only hope you know it in your heart, for I treat you with every care, every affection that I would any lover. But you are so different...you were always the one I could talk to, the one I would trust with my life. I only wish you felt you could trust me that way, but that has changed, it seems. Would that I knew what weighs so heavily upon your mind, that you never smile anymore." Glorfindel fell silent then, and Erestor shifted, deciding this was as good a time as any to let his lover know he was awake. Glorfindel's arms tightened slightly around Erestor, as if Glorfindel feared that his dark-haired lover would try to escape. Then again, perhaps he does fear that. I have given him every reason to, lately. I would be here if I could, but every moment with him, all I can think of is how soon I shall loose him...has it not even crossed his mind that soon he will see Ecthelion again?

"No, Erestor. It hadn't." Glorfindel murmured, and he felt Erestor tense in his arms. "You were not supposed to hear that."

"No, I imagine not." Glorfindel replied. "But is it not better that I am more prepared? I would hardly have been more rational if I was surprised." Glorfindel's expression darkened, and he sighed. "And now I come to dread the day I once looked to with a glad heart. A cruel joke, to force me to choose between the two I most care for."

"You have thinking to do, I believe." Erestor said, and gently extricated himself from Glorfindel's arms and slipped out of bed. Glorfindel watched in resignation as Erestor dressed not in his usual robes, but rather in a tunic and leggings better suited to riding. He put his riding boots on and pulled his raven hair back with a single ribbon, nodded a brief farewell to Glorfindel, and was gone.

"Erestor, it is time."

"I am not ready."

"I do not think you ever will be," Elrond replied quietly, "but you must face it nonetheless."

"I cannot do this, Elrond."

"Ai, Erestor." Elrond murmured, wrapping one arm gently around his friend's shoulders. "Have you so little faith in your malthener?"

"Had you seen what he and Ecthelion shared, you too would have little faith. What reason is there for him to remain with me, when he could have Ecthelion back, when he could have everything he ever wanted?"

"You saved his life, Erestor. You gave everything you had for his sake, regardless of the cost you paid. Surely what you sacrificed for him is worth something?"

"I do not want him to stay because he feels he has to." Erestor replied. "He would only grow bitter, grow to hate me...I could never live with that. No, Elrond, he will leave me."

"He does care for you, Erestor."

"Have you ever once heard him say he loves me, Elrond? Have you ever heard him call me 'meleth-nin'? Has he ever decided to make our bond formal and wed me?"

"No." Elrond murmured, and Erestor nodded. "No. He has not.""Aiya, would that I could make this easier for you, Erestor." Elrond said quietly. "But we both let go of that chance long ago, I think."

"We did, and we have thus far been none the worse for that choice. I would not have you try to save me from this, Elrond. I have found saving someone, even someone you love, does very little good for the savior."

"No bitterness, Erestor. No regrets for what is done." Elrond whispered. "You acted bravely and honorably that day, and even knowing what you know now, I do not truly think you would have done anything differently."

"No," Erestor agreed softly, "I wouldn't have."

Glorfindel hugged Arwen tightly, and she buried her face in his blonde hair. "I shall miss you, Glorfindel. May your days be blessed, my old friend."

"We shall see, I suppose." Glorfindel said, and kissed the top of her head gently. "May your days be long and joyous, my dear Arwen." he said, and she smiled. "You know, I do believe they will be." she said, and smiled warmly at Aragorn, standing nearby with young Eldarion on his hip. Glorfindel smiled and spared a brief embrace for Aragorn and Eldarion, bidding each a fond farewell.

"Where are you going, 'Fin?" Eldarion inquired, and Glorfindel smiled sadly. "Over the Sea, Eldarion, to Valinor. If ever I see you again, it will not be for a very, very long time."

"Why are you going?"

"Because his time to go has come." Erestor replied quietly, and Eldarion pouted.

"But I want him to stay here."

"You speak for me, pen-neth." Erestor said quietly. "Goodbye, Eldarion."

"You're leaving as well?"

"They all are, ion-nin." Aragorn said. "All but us and your uncles."

"All of them?" Eldarion said in disbelief, and his wide blue eyes filled with tears. "But I don't want them to go, Ada!"

"We must, Eldarion. It is the fate of our kind, to pass over Sea. Only your mother and uncles are not eventually required to do so, by their hearts if nothing else." Erestor said.

"Your blood uncles." Legolas amended. "I too shall take my leave, Eldarion, but not for many years. I have been granted, shall we say, a minor exception. Gimli and I shall remain for many years yet."

"Good." Eldarion said, and Legolas smiled sadly. "Yes, I suppose." he nodded at the other Elves assembled on the shore. "Namarie, my friends. I shall see you again, and in not so very long a time by the reckoning of Elves. Safe voyage."

"Legolas, come with us." Haldir said softly, but the blonde Prince shook his head. "No, Haldir, I cannot. You will wait for me?"

"I will always wait for you, melethron." Haldir replied. "One last kiss, Legolas?"

"You know I would not deny you." Legolas replied, and Haldir smiled slightly. The others all turned away politely, leaving them to their farewell.


"Namarie, Glorfindel." he said quietly, clasping his former tutor's hand in his own. "I suppose this is it, then?"

"So it would seem. I shall miss you, Ell, even all of your mischief! How long ago it was that you and your brother got into such trouble. The years pass like dust on the wind. May your days be blessed, pen-neth."

"It would be nice." Elladan said with a smile. "Take care of Ada and Erestor for me."

"Of course. Namarie, Elladan."

"Namarie, 'Fin. Have a good voyage." Elladan said, and gave Glorfindel a quick, tight embrace.

"My turn." Elrohir said, and Glorfindel felt the younger twin's arms around him, though it was a moment before Elladan let go. "Take care of yourself, 'Fin."

"I will, pen-neth. Keep an eye on your brother for me, don't let him get into too much trouble."


"Someone must watch you, without me, 'Tor, or your father here." Glorfindel replied with a smile. "Your days may be shortened, dear Elrohir, but I think they shall be fulfilling."

"They already are." Elrohir said, casting a knowing smile in Elladan's direction. "Namarie, dear Glorfindel. I hope you at last find some measure of peace. Safe journey."

"Thank you, El. I shall miss you."

"And I you." the younger twin agreed. "But let there be no sadness between us this day; who knows the fate of Men when their days are ended? Perhaps I shall see you again, ere the breaking of the world."

"Time will reveal that, won't it?" Glorfindel replied. "I had best take my leave." and so saying, Glorfindel turned away. With one last nod at the Hobbits, he boarded the ship.

"Farewell, Arwen." Erestor said quietly, and she smiled sadly. "Farewell, Erestor. May you find joy, my friend. You deserve it."

"Hannon le, my dear little n's. May you walk ever in grace."

"As though she could avoid it if she wished." Aragorn said. "Namarie, Erestor. Have a safe journey."

"I shall. May your lives and reigns be long and prosperous, my friends. And farewell once more, Eldarion. I shall miss you."

"And I you." Eldarion said. "Bend down." Erestor did so, and Eldarion threw his arms around Erestor's neck and kissed his cheek. Arwen smiled at that; Eldarion had always shared her old childhood preference for Erestor. The somber counsellor smiled and embraced Eldarion tightly before turning to the twins. "My best to both of you, gwyneth. May you never regret your choice."

"I don't believe we shall." Elrohir said with a smile. "Keep an eye on 'Fin and Ada for me."

"Of course." Erestor said with a slight smile. "Ell, watch out for your little brother."

"Little brother indeed." Elrohir retorted. "By a half an hour."

"You are still younger." Elladan said. "Don't worry, I wouldn't let any harm come to him."

"I know. Namarie, gwyneth." Erestor said, and all three pulled each other into a tight embrace. Erestor turned away and smiled at Legolas. "I shall see you again in a few centuries at the latest, Legolas. Farewell."

"Namarie, Erestor. Safe journey." Legolas replied, and Erestor turned to face the Hobbits. "Farewell, my little friends" he said to them, and followed Glorfindel onto the ship. The blonde came and stood behind him, wrapping his strong arms around Erestor's slim waist. "I never thought we would leave them behind on these shores."

"It was their choice." Erestor murmured. "These are the days of Men, now. They were born in the age of the Elves, but that time is now past. I think perhaps they will not find death so very bitter. Already they have lived long, full lives. I think they are ready for this fate they have chosen. Besides, look at them. There is no grief in their eyes any longer."

"Would that the same could be said of you, Erestor."

"Speak not of this now, Glorfindel." Erestor said, and both fell silent.

"So it ends." Erestor turned and saw it was Frodo who spoke, looking out over the ship's rail. "I don't suppose I shall ever see them again."

"You may yet, Frodo." Erestor replied, and the Hobbit looked up at him. Erestor was struck by the depth of his wide blue eyes, full of a bittersweetness more Elven than Hobbit.

"We cannot know, can we?" Frodo agreed quietly. "We can but abandon our old lives and hope for the best."

"You speak for us all, young Hobbit." Frodo smiled slightly at that. "Young...I have not felt young in a very long time, it seems....but I suppose to an Elf most creatures are but tiny babes, most plants but small green shoots."

"It is often thus, and certainly I am older than many." Erestor said. "Many centuries Lord Elrond's senior, only a few years younger than Glorfindel."

"What is a few years, to an Elf?" Frodo asked with a slight smile. "A lifetime for other folk, doubtless."

"I spoke in your terms of time, Master Hobbit; I am only three years younger than Glorfindel."

"In all your years, did you ever tire of Middle Earth?"

"Of the place itself, no. Indeed, I am rather reluctant to leave it now, though my reasons are many. But Lord Elrond wished to sail, and where does my allegiance lie, if not here? So I too take the ship into the West." Erestor sighed, and his gaze strayed briefly to Glorfindel.

"What is Lord Glorfindel's role in this?" Frodo asked, and Erestor raised his eyebrows. "You are an astute creature, Frodo. Indeed, it is because of him that I would fain remain in Middle Earth, with or without him."

"I thought him your friend, but now I begin to think there may perhaps be more to this than is apparent at first glance."

"Indeed, he and I are friends of old, and bound lovers for some time now." Erestor said quietly. "But there is another in Valinor whom I know he longs for."

"Lord Ecthelion." Frodo murmured, and Erestor looked at him in surprise. "How did you know?"

"Have you never read your own histories, Lord Erestor? One is never mentioned without the other."

"That is not far from the truth." Erestor agreed. "Quite a pair they were."

"Then why would he be bound to you?"

"He was dying." Erestor murmured, his face darkening. "I could not let that happen."

"A blood bond."


"I see now your dilemma." Frodo paused. "Does he not love you?"

"I..." Erestor paused, glancing once more at Glorfindel, who seemed to sense his mate's gaze, for he looked up and met it for the briefest of moments. "I do not know."

"Tor?" Erestor turned, and Glorfindel smiled slightly. "The hour grows late."

"I am not tired."

"You are exhausted. Come." Glorfindel replied, and offered Erestor his hand. After a moment's hesitation, Erestor took it and allowed the blonde to lead him below the deck to the cabin they shared. Glorfindel let go of Erestor's hand and began unbraiding his hair, but Erestor stopped him with a gentle hand on his wrist. "Let me." Glorfindel nodded and sat down, and Erestor set about the task of undoing the slim plaits that held Glorfindel's hair back. Erestor had always enjoyed braiding and unbraiding Glorfindel's hair; he liked the way the silken stuff felt between his fingers. Glorfindel sighed softly and titled his head back, leaning into Erestor's gentle touch, content for now not to think of the upcoming arrival or worry over the future, to merely enjoy what he had now.

"Don't stop." Glorfindel murmured, when Erestor let go of his hair. "That felt nice." Erestor smiled slightly and began running his fingertips through Glorfindel's golden tresses. They remained thus for some time, until finally Glorfindel sighed and rose. He turned to face his dark-haired lover, pressing a quick kiss to Erestor's lips. "We should get to bed, lirimaer."

"I know." Erestor replied, and raked his fingers quickly through his own hair, pulling his own braids loose. Glorfindel smiled slightly to himself and sat down on the edge of the bed and kicked off his boots. Erestor shook his head slightly; after all these years, he had still failed to convince Glorfindel that leaving them in the middle of the floor was not a good idea. The blonde caught his lover's expression and chuckled softly to himself, but did nothing about it, merely unpinned the brooch at his throat and began opening the clasps of his tunic. Erestor rolled his eyes and tossed a sleeping robe at Glorfindel, who, without looking up, caught it deftly with one hand while the other was still undoing the fourth clasp of his tunic. Erestor ignored this; Glorfindel was unusually coordinated even for an Elf, and what some might consider showing off Glorfindel did without even thinking.

"Why must everything you do be complicated?" Erestor asked in exasperation, finding Glorfindel only half undressed by the time he was ready to get in bed.

"Either hurry up or move over."

"You are easily upset when you're tired." Glorfindel observed, and quickly finished shedding the rest of his clothing and put on his sleeping robe.

"There." he said, and crawled under the covers, leaving just enough room for Erestor. "Sleep well, my dear one."

"Goodnight, 'Fin." Erestor replied drowsily. Glorfindel smiled and pulled his lover closer. "You're a bit cold tonight."

"Am not."

"Physically, 'Tor."

"Oh....well, you'll keep me warm."

"Yes," Glorfindel murmured, "yes, I will."

Erestor stepped onto the shore with reluctance and looked at the faces gathered to meet them on the shore. There was sweet, even-tempered Rumil standing beside his elder brother Orophin, the latter watching his youngest brother, the former with his eyes fixed upon Lindir's slender form. Beside them was Galadriel, watching as her husband, son-in-law, and favorite Marchwarden stepped onto Valinor's sands. Gil-Galad and Celebrian stood side-by side on the edge of the group, and off to the side was a small gathering of faces Erestor had once thought he may never see again. Duilin was there, and Eglamoth beside him, and Rog stood hand-in-hand with Penlod, but there was no sign of one other Lord of Gondolin; the dark-haired Fountain Lord was nowhere to be seen.

"Erestor!" cried Duilin, spotting his old friend among the new arrivals. "It is high time, meldir!" he said, and laughed warmly. "It is good to see you again."

"The pleasure is all mine." Erestor replied with a warm smile. Glorfindel aside, it was Duilin with whom Erestor was best acquainted of all the Lords of Gondolin.

"Nice to see a familiar face again." Eglamoth agreed. "And where is Glorfindel?"

"Right here, Eglamoth. Mae govannen, mellon-nin."

"Indeed!" Rog exclaimed. "Some things never change, Glorfindel. You still have a habit of sneaking up on a person."

"And I would imagine he still leaves his boots lying about." added a familiar voice. Erestor froze, and Glorfindel tensed slightly. "Ecthelion?"

"Did you think I would not come to greet you?" he questioned, moving into view from where he had been conveniently obscured by a tree. "Meleth-nin, it has been too long."

"Yet not so long that he has forgotten." Erestor said quietly, bitterly, and turned away.

"Erestor-" Glorfindel began, but Erestor cut him off. "No, Glorfindel. Bonds can be broken and reforged, we both know this. Go to him. I saved you that you might live, but what is life without happiness? Go, you have waited long enough, and I am done waiting for you." with that, Erestor left them, going instead to Elrond's side. Glorfindel watched as Erestor greeted Celebrian, who embraced him tightly. "Erestor! It is wonderful to see you!"

"My Lady, you are fair as ever." Erestor replied with a smile, and Celebrian laughed. "Dwelling here has made me whole once more. One cannot always be torn in two."

"That is arguable, but you certainly seem the picture of contentment."

"I am now." she said and took Elrond's hand.

"Glorfindel?" Ecthelion's mellifluous voice caught the blonde's attention, and he turned to face his former lover once more. "What, may I ask, was Erestor speaking of?"

"We...we are bound, Ecthelion."


"By blood." Glorfindel murmured, and Ecthelion sighed. "Fin...I do not know how to ask you this, but did Erestor ever tell you of his...regard for you?"

"His love for me, you mean." Glorfindel corrected. "Aye, after we were bound."

"We had best take our leave." Eglamoth murmured, and the other Lords quietly departed, leaving them alone.

"What happened?"

"I....I died." Glorfindel replied quietly. "That is a longer story best saved for later, out of easy earshot of others. I died, and he saved me."

"And I'm certain his motives for choosing to do so by binding himself to you were entirely selfless." Ecthelion retorted sarcastically.

"I was dead, 'Lion. There was no other way, and if he had not done what he did, I might not even be here now. He had no time, Ecthelion, he acted on instinct. He was almost too late. Besides, when is the last time you can recall Erestor ever acting selfishly? He never does, you know that. And, might I add, he just gave up our bond without hesitation, so do not be angry with him. He acted for the best." Glorfindel asserted defensively, and Ecthelion frowned. "Glorfindel, do you love him?"


"Do you?!?" Ecthelion demanded, and Glorfindel hesitated, looking over at his old friend, his mate. Erestor seemed aware of the scrutiny, for his slender frame stiffened visibly, but he did not meet Glorfindel's eyes, just kept his head down, letting his raven hair hide his face. "I do not know." Glorfindel whispered at last, and Ecthelion's eyes narrowed. "You are lying to me."

"I do not lie."

"You are this time. I can see it in your eyes, 'Fin! Longing for your precious little Erestor-"

"And is longing the same thing as love?" Glorfindel interjected. "Perhaps I do still want him, 'Lion, but that is not the issue."

"Somehow I find it difficult to believe that Erestor is such an excellent lover you would ache for his touch regardless of other circumstances."

"And how would you know? He is less experienced than I, true, but-" Glorfindel broke off and looked down. "Why are we even discussing this? Jealousy, envy which suits you not. Forget about it, Ecthelion."

"Can you forget?" Ecthelion questioned. "You knew you would meet me here again, 'Fin. Why-"

"Because he was grieving." Erestor said quietly, and both Elves jumped, neither having marked Erestor's approach. "He was not eating, he was not sleeping, he was despairing, heartbroken, drinking, hurting himself...I found him with a dagger in his hand and a cut at his throat. That is why; neither of us requires any more of a reason." that said, Erestor disappeared as abruptly as he had come with a soft swish of black silk and raven hair. Glorfindel sighed and shook his head. "If you cannot trust me, 'Lion..."

"Forgive me, 'Fin...I spoke rashly." Ecthelion murmured, bowing his head. Glorfindel lifted his former lover's chin gently with his fingertips. "Do not fret, meleth. Come, we have much to discuss."

"Only discuss?" Ecthelion inquired, and Glorfindel chuckled. "We shall see." he replied. "Let us start slowly."

"Fair enough." Ecthelion agreed, and he looped one arm loosely around Glorfindel's waist. The blonde tensed briefly, the once-familiar motion suddenly feeling alien; always, even at his most affectionate, basking in the afterglow of time spent in bed together, Erestor had put his arms around Glorfindel's shoulders rather than his waist. Perhaps he had done so precisely because Ecthelion never had. After a moment, Glorfindel willed himself to relax and mirrored Ecthelion's motion as they walked away from the shore.

Erestor, standing obscured by the shadow of the tree Ecthelion had been hiding by, turned and walked away.

"Elrond? Meleth-nin, are you well?" Celebrian asked, and Elrond sighed. "I am fine, Celebrian."

"You look troubled."

"I am." Elrond admitted. "Worried, rather."

"About Erestor." she said, and Elrond regarded her with mild surprise. "Aye."

"There has always been a shadow in his eyes, but the darkness deepens."

"How very poetic, lirimaer. I would merely say that he is grieving."

"You think he is so far gone?"

"If he is not now, it is but a matter of time." Elrond replied. "He was completely correct in his prediction of Glorfindel's actions...that should not surprise me, I suppose, for they have known each other since Gondolin...but I had hoped Erestor was wrong. I thought Glorfindel was more loyal than that, I thought he valued Erestor more than that, I thought-" Elrond abruptly broke off, trying to suppress the sudden burst of fury he felt. Celebrian laid a gentle hand on Elrond's arm, and he calmed slightly. "Does Glorfindel even realize the consequences of his actions?" she asked.

"One can never tell, with 'Fin. I doubt it has occurred to him that Erestor will die of this. You know how strong despair must be, for the Elven sickness to take hold."

"Yes." Celebrian whispered. "Do you think he will die?"

"Yes." Elrond murmured. "I do. Who is there now to save him? Glorfindel will not, Duilin cannot, for I am told he is now otherwise attached...who is left?" he said bitterly. "I would have, once...there was a time when I loved Erestor much as he loved Glorfindel, then...from afar, with a longing and a knowledge that I had no hope...for he is beautiful without being vain, sympathetic without being pitying, intelligent and clever without being conceited, giving without being obsequious. That time is now passed; my affection for him is no longer any more than the regard of a friend. Still..."

"You would save him if you could, but I am here." Celebrian said, when her husband trailed off. "I do not blame you, a'melamin. I too am fond of Erestor."

"Even if there was something I could do...he would not want my aid."

"Perhaps it is better that we let him go." Celebrian said softly. "Not all adapt to such bonds as well as Glorfindel did...death may be the kindest fate. No more pining for love unreturned, not having to see them together...would it not be easier for him?"

"I do not want to let him go." Elrond whispered, and there was a gleam of unshed tears in his eyes. Celebrian swallowed hard and wrapped her arms tightly around him. "Do we have a choice?"

Elrond found Erestor in his bedroom, sitting on the center of the bed with his head resting on his knees, trying to suppress the violent sobs which shook his slight frame.

"Erestor?" Elrond murmured, sitting down beside his friend. "Aiya, mellon-nin...." he murmured, and wrapped his arms around Erestor's shoulders.

"Is it done?" he whispered, and Erestor shook his head. "He has not broken it yet...he doesn't even have the courtesy to do so before falling back into Ecthelion's arms....not to mention his bed." Erestor spat bitterly.

"You...saw them?"

"I do not need to see them to know it. Glorfindel and I are still bound."

"Of course." Elrond murmured, berating himself for his foolishness. Of course Erestor would know, instinctively, the moment it happened. "Ai, my dear Erestor, I had hoped this day would never come."

"I am not so fortunate." Erestor squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head as if to clear it. After a moment, the chocolate eyes opened again, and he impatiently wiped the tears from his cheeks and pushed his dark hair back from his face. "I know what is going to happen to me, what is already starting to happen. I will start to feel cold constantly, I will loose my strength, concentration, and appetite, I will start sleeping a great deal. I will loose weight, I will become pale, I will have nightmares. When I am awake, I will start going unconscious; not often and perhaps not for more than a few seconds at first. I probably will not even notice immediately. It will start happening more often, and lasting longer, and eventually I simply won't wake." he said, with an air of resigned acceptance. "Some of it already begins....some of it began even before we passed over the Sea. You and he may have noticed, I started wearing a cloak much more often, my skin felt cold to the touch. I have not felt hungry for some time, and lately I tire easily, and I find it hard to keep my mind on anything for very long."

"Erestor...." Elrond whispered, tightening his hold. "I do not want to lose you."

"I am already lost." Erestor murmured. "Is it such a dark fate? Is it so terrible, never to have to think of it again, never to see them together again, never to feel like this again? I never wanted to live like this. I did it for him, I did everything for him, gave everything for him. Now he has left me, and I shall do something for myself, just this once. Elrond," Erestor sighed and smiled sadly at his friend, "there are some here who would mourn my death, but they have lived without me for thousands of years. It will pass, I know. You would feel it more keenly, I know this....you care for me, and I for you...but just this once, Elrond, I shall be selfish. Just this once, I shall disregard all else but myself. If it feels like I am abandoning you, or anyone, well, perhaps I am...but just this once, I will not feel guilty about it. I...I want this, Elrond." Erestor finished, and now it was he who wrapped his arms around Elrond. "Do not weep for me, Elrond...this is my choice."

"I know." he managed to whisper. "I will not stop you."

"Hush, meldir." Erestor murmured, smoothing back Elrond's raven hair and gently wiping the tears from his cheeks. "I have some time yet. Not much, perhaps, but some. Enough."

"With you leave, Erestor, I would spend as much as I can by your side ere the end."

"There is no friend I would rather have with me." Erestor murmured.

"Not even him?"

"He is no longer my friend." was the reply. "A friend would have ended this bond before bedding another. A friend would have given a moment's thought, just a moment's thought to my pain. Glorfindel is no friend to me." Erestor spat bitterly, though whether the hatred in his tone was for Glorfindel or himself, Elrond did not know.

"He owed you that much." Elrond said softly. "If he could not love you as a mate, he could have continued to love you as a friend."

"I do not know what he felt for me." Erestor admitted. "He would talk to me when I was sleeping...I would wake and hear only the last few words before he stopped, but one day he did not realize I was awake. On that morning, I heard him say he loved me, that he could not say to me when I was awake...and I think perhaps that was because he was lying to himself. He wanted to love me, because I loved him; he felt he owed it to me."

"You do not believe his words?"

"I do not. Ai, Elrond, does this look like love to you? If this is how Glorfindel treats one he loves, I think would rather simply be his friend who loves him from a distance. I was not perfectly content then, but I was happy enough. It was enough then that he was my friend, that he cared for me at all. I miss that."

"Did you ever love another, Erestor? Or was there never anyone but him?"

"There was one other." Erestor said, with the slightest, bittersweet smile. "For eighty-four years we were lovers. He was but eighteen when we met, and in that same year our romance began."

"Eighteen? He was a child!" Elrond exclaimed, scandalized. Erestor shook his head. "A child in the eyes of Elves, perhaps, but an adult in the eyes of his own people. Eighty-four years is hardly any time for our kind; it was the better part of his life. I was with him until his death...the gift of Men is bitter to those who remain living."

"You loved a Man?" Elrond asked, and Erestor nodded. "Very much."

"What was his name?" Elrond inquired, and Erestor smiled slightly. "His true name I never used; always I called him by the name I had given him: Faireblaith, or 'free spirit' in the Common Tongue. It suited him well."

"Did you ever regret it?" Elrond asked, curious. Erestor smiled and shook his head. "Never. Not for a moment. I loved him too much to ever do him such a dishonor."

"I never knew."

"I keep it to myself, mostly. Many do not understand."

"I do not, not entirely." Elrond admitted. "But both you and my daughter seem to feel it is worthwhile...perhaps you are right."

"You are of mixed blood, Elrond." Erestor pointed out. "Such love is not common, admittedly, but it is far from wrong."

"A fair point." Elrond sighed and fell silent, looking thoughtful. After a moment, Erestor said, "Elrond?"


"Forgive me, but I need some sleep. I am quite tired."

"Yes," Elrond murmured, "yes, I suppose you would be."

Glorfindel sighed softly in contentment, and Ecthelion smiled. "I have missed this."

"As have I." Glorfindel admitted, and Ecthelion smiled slightly. "It will not be so terrible, leaving behind your bond to Erestor. If it is as you say, there was never more than a friend's affection on your part."

"Do not speak of it now, 'Lion." Glorfindel said quietly, and Ecthelion sighed.

"Forgive me, I do have a habit of spoiling a perfectly good moment."

Now, if you are quite finished spoiling a perfectly good moment...


"I said, forgive me, I do have a habit of spoiling a perfectly good moment."

spoiling a perfectly good moment...

"Yes." Glorfindel replied.

"Erestor?" Celebrian called. The raven-haired counsellor was sitting against a tree, his profile barely visible. When there was no answer, she sighed to herself. Either he was deep in thought, or he had fallen asleep. Elrond had told her some of Erestor's words, and she knew a bit from personal experience.

"Erestor?" she said again, and moved closer, only to find the mahogany eyes shut. She drew in a sharp breath and pressed two fingers to his neck, relieved to find a pulse, though the skin was much too cold. "Erestor, wake up." she said, and shook him. "Erestor?" she gently pinched his arm, worried to feel just how much weight he had lost since she had seen him last; he was naught but skin and bones. "Erestor!"

"He will wake soon." Celebrian jumped and spun around, finding herself face-to-face with her husband. "He isn't very far along yet, this should not last more than a quarter of an hour at the most."

Elrond was proved correct; about ten minutes later, Erestor opened his eyes. Both Celebrian and Elrond breathed a soft sigh of relief, and Erestor smiled ruefully. "I was unconscious, wasn't I?"

"Aye." Elrond confirmed.

"You have lost too much weight, Erestor."

"Of course he has." Elrond replied. "He won't have been eating."

"I tried once or twice, but I couldn't keep anything down." Erestor admitted.

"It does not surprise me." Elrond said with a shrug. "When did you start to notice you were going unconscious, Erestor?"

"Yesterday, it lasted about five minutes."

"This one went at least ten." Elrond said. "That was when we got here. In that case, it should be relatively quick. The Elven sickness has taken you, of that there is no question, and I think you have perhaps two weeks at the very most."

"Good." Erestor said quietly. "I do not like feeling this way. Weak, unfocused, tired..."

"Grieving." Celebrian finished softly. "It took me much longer."

"He has fought it longer than you." Elrond said to her. "I do not think it began here in Valinor. If I had to guess, I would say Erestor has fought it in his heart since Gondolin. It perhaps left him for a time, with Faireblaith, and returned after his death. It was only as the time to sail drew near that grief won the battle with Erestor's will." Elrond fell silent, and Erestor laughed softly. "And to think I thought myself difficult for you to fathom! You know my heart, Elrond. Better than he ever did."

"Laughter." Elrond said quietly. "I have not heard you laugh in a very long time."

"I may grieve, Elrond, but I am at peace with this end. Laughter comes easier when there is a certainty of a future one accepts."

"It banishes the darkness, for a moment." Celebrian said quietly. "And it does good for those who care for you."

"My Lady," Erestor smiled and took Celebrian's hand, feeling the warmth and vitality of it against the chill of his own skin. "do not fret. I want this, Celebrian. I am happier this way." Celebrian nodded and smiled wistfully, though tears spilled from her blue eyes. "I know. I just wish I could have been there, known you...I thought I had another chance, but it is taken from me...and I am left to mourn the loss of an Elf who was a close acquaintance, but whom I never really knew."

"You have known me, Celebrian. How many years younger than Glorfindel am I?"


"What is my favorite color?"


"My horse's name?"


"Where did I get the name?"

"You like to ride in the evening when you get the chance. Thus, 'Dusk-wanderer."

"My sister's son's name?"


"So named because...?"

"He was born in the top room of one of Gondolin's towers.."

"Favorite thing to read for pleasure?"


"Favorite instrument?"

"Gondolin harp."

"Where do I hide when I don't want to be found?"

"The north tower, the room that is hidden by the tapestry over the door."

"My two most carefully guarded secrets?"

"Your love for Glorfindel, and that you were badly hurt by your father as a child."

"Tell me, my Lady, why do you think you do not know me?" Erestor asked, and Elrond smiled, and Celebrian shrugged. "I always feel as if there is something I do not know or understand about you. It is as if I am missing a piece of a picture."

"Everyone who speaks with Erestor feels that." Elrond said. "I do. Perhaps Glorfindel did not, but no other."

"You do know me, my Lady. Does that ease your heart?"

"It does." she replied, smiling.

"Erestor?" Elrond asked quietly. "I have a question for you, and I need your answer now."


"I will be dining with Glorfindel and Ecthelion tonight, and I need to know if you want me to tell them." Erestor hesitated, then said at length, "I leave it to you to decide, Elrond. I care not if they know, so long as they tell no one else if they are informed."

"A fair stipulation." Elrond agreed. "I probably will."

"If you think they should know, by all means, tell them." Erestor said with a shrug. "I will not stop you."

Elrond found himself hard-pressed to make any sort of amiable small talk at dinner; he knew it was not entirely anyone's fault, but he was nonetheless angry with both Glorfindel and Ecthelion. It seemed oddly presumptuous to be irritated by the conduct of the Lord of the Fountain, but then, Elrond reasoned, they were both Lords, and it was his friend's life at stake. Celebrian did most of the talking, which was fine with everyone at the table, and finally, at the end of the meal, Elrond stood. "Glorfindel, a word before you take your leave?"

"Of course." Glorfindel agreed, and followed Elrond from the dining room to the sitting room.

"This is about Erestor."


"If you are going to chastise me-"

"No." Elrond interrupted. "Glorfindel, I took you aside to tell you one thing, and one thing only. Do with it what you will, but Erestor is dying."


"Come now, Glorfindel, I am sure your hearing is as good as it ever was. Does it surprise you?"

"I...I suppose it does. It's Erestor, after all."

"You think him so incapable of feeling? You know he loves you as you were never able to love him, no matter how much you felt you ought to. Think what you like, do what you like, Glorfindel, but the fact of the matter is that he is fading, and content to do so. He has no more than two weeks at the most."

"What do you want from me, Elrond? You would have me give up Ecthelion for him?"

"I would have you do what you think is best." Elrond replied. "If that is the course you take, so be it, but do not dare try to save him if you do not truly love him both as a friend and as a lover, with all your heart. He will accept no less from you if you make that choice, you know that. Save him, speak to him, or do nothing, the choice is yours. I merely give it to you." Elrond fell silent, and Glorfindel paused. "How bad is it?" he finally asked, and Elrond sighed.

"Are you familiar with the symptoms?"

"I know something of them."

"He is not eating, so he has lost much weight, and he tires easily...he tells me he has trouble concentrating as well, and the blackouts have started. He noticed it yesterday, about five minutes; he had another today that lasted at least ten. And he is always cold, of course."

He almost never bothered with a cloak save in rain or snow. It followed, then, that Erestor perhaps had actually noticed the weather this evening; there was not a drop of moisture in the sky, yet Erestor, walking in the gardens below, nonetheless had a cloak of dark blue about his shoulders.

"You're a bit cold tonight."

"Am not."

"Physically, 'Tor."

"Oh....well, you'll keep me warm."

"Yes," Glorfindel murmured, "yes, I will."

"I should have seen it. He started wearing a cloak, and he was cold when we were sailing..."

"You should have seen it," Elrond agreed, "but you did not." he sighed. "Go on and take your leave, Glorfindel. You have thinking to do, I believe."

You have thinking to do, I believe.

"Aye," Glorfindel agreed quietly, "I do."


"What is it, meleth-nin?"

"There is something I need to tell you."


"Meleth-nin, there is no way to put this gently...Erestor is dying." Ecthelion was silent for a moment, digesting this, until at last he finally murmured, "And will you go to him?"

"He does not want what I would offer him. He would be content to fade, Elrond told me. He does not want what we had before."

"You have been given conditions, should you wish to save him."


"What are they?"

"Tor would not suffer less than my complete, wholehearted love, both a friend's and a lover's, were I to try to save him."

"I can hardly blame him for that. It is all any of us wants."


"Do you have that love for him, 'Fin?"

"I don't know."

"You do know." Ecthelion retorted. "Tell me the truth. I will not hold it against you."

"I...I think I do." Glorfindel said at length. "I know I have the love of a friend..."

"You also know that is not enough to save Erestor if you wish to do so." Ecthelion replied. "Your friendship is not what I question, I know that well enough. I ask rather if you also have a lover's regard for him."

"And I find myself uncertain, for the feelings I experience when I am with him are different from what I have known with you. There was never so much pain or so much uncertainty with you."

"The love is flavored by the lover." Ecthelion said pensively. "If you do indeed love him, the difference is likely simply that he and I are not the same person. Erestor has always had his own private demons, more so than I, and one always feels there is something he is not saying, even when he is being completely honest."

"I have known that feeling only rarely."

"The point still holds."


"What are you going to do?"

"I do not know."

Glorfindel found Erestor's door open, and he slipped quietly inside. The Elf in question was asleep on the bed, his dark eyes expressionless. Glorfindel frowned to himself; Erestor was changed almost past recognition. The stern lines of his face were not relaxed in sleep, but harsher than usual, and he seemed to have lost every ounce of fat on his body, and most of the muscle as well. His skin was so pale as to be almost translucent, and his breathing was too shallow for comfort. Glorfindel watched as Erestor rolled from his left side onto his back, then returned to his previous position and reached out one pale hand, searching blindly for someone who was not there. Finding himself alone, Erestor made a distressed noise in his sleep and curled up in a tight ball, shaking violently.

"Glorfindel!" he cried in his sleep, and the Elf in question squeezed his eyes shut. This is my fault. I have done this to him...

Glorfindel left as silently as he had come, and a single strand of golden hair upon the floor was the only sign he had ever been there at all.

"Walk with me, Erestor." Elrond said, and Erestor rose from his seat on one of the garden benches and took his friend's hand.

"You are cold."


"Here." Elrond said, and unclasped his cloak, then draped it about Erestor's shoulders.

"Hannon le." was the quiet reply, and Erestor refastened the brooch that held it shut with his free hand. They walked together in silence for a time, until at last Erestor said quietly, "I would have said yes."

"To what?"

"To you. Had it not been for him, I would have said yes, for what that is worth."

"It is worth more than I think you know." Elrond replied pensively. "I no longer desire you as I once did, but you are dear to me...it is nice to know you care."

"The only thing I fear is that I will leave words unsaid that should have been spoken long ago." he paused. "I would have said yes to him, too."

"About what?"

"If he had come to me after you told him, knowing I would accept nothing less than all his love, both as a friend and a lover...if he had come to me, willing to give me that...I would have said yes."

"He did not even try to speak to you?"

"I do not think he dares." Erestor said with a slight shrug. "None has ever called Glorfindel of Gondolin a coward, but he is. Brave almost to the point of madness on a battlefield, perhaps, but too frightened to speak his mind to those who matter to him. He has not been entirely honest with Ecthelion, either. Do not mistake me," Erestor added, off Elrond's surprised look, "he has not lied. But he has omitted certain details from the moment they me on the shores of this land. I heard all that was said at that meeting."

"That hardly comes as a shock. If there is one thing you are good at, it is listening and not being noticed."

"That is really more like two." Erestor remarked with a slight smile. "I take your point, however." they fell silent once more, and Erestor was content to listen to the soft rustling of the wind in the leaves, the melodies of birdsong, the gentle sound of the waves, the voices of the trees, the whisper of silk from their robes, the quiet rhythm of Elrond's breathing.

"He is watching us." Elrond whispered, and Erestor nodded. "The trees speak of his presence. They are fond of him, they like it when he is near. He has been in the branches for some time now, watching, listening. Let him." Erestor sighed.

"It is a beautiful morning. It is always beautiful, here."

"A bittersweet sort of beauty for you, I would imagine."

"No." Erestor replied, with a smile and slight shake of his head. "No, I am content. I will be dead by tomorrow, but I am content." Erestor stopped walking, as did Elrond, and the former Chief Advisor embraced his friend tightly. "Lest I never get another chance to say it, Elrond, farewell. I have no words for what you have meant to me, so suffice to say you were my friend. Bid Celebrian namarie for me, meldir. I will not tell you not to weep for me; I see no need to make you feel guilty for your grief. Only remember that I am content with this end, and I pass now as my dear Faireblaith once did, and I am not afraid. Live, Elrond. Namarie." and then Erestor pressed a gentle kiss to his friend's brow, and his eyes closed. Elrond caught Erestor before he fell, finding the weight barely noticeable. Gently, Elrond laid Erestor on the ground and checked his pulse. It was there, but faint, and Elrond knew in his heart that the was the last time Erestor would ever go unconscious. He would not wake. Not this time.

"Namarie, Erestor." Elrond whispered, running his fingers lightly through the sheet of raven hair. He blinked back the tears that clouded his sight and took one of Erestor's cold hands in both his own and brought it to his face. "I will miss you, mellon-nin." he murmured, and gently kissed Erestor's hand.

"Elbereth." Glorfindel's voice did not startle Elrond, who said without turning, "He will not wake from this. This is the last sleep Erestor will ever know."

"Not if I can help it." Glorfindel said fiercely, pulling a knife from his belt. Elrond grabbed Glorfindel's wrist, stilling his hand. "Do you realize what you are doing?"

"Saving the one I love." Glorfindel snapped. "Let me go, before it is too late!" Elrond met Glorfindel's gaze, stormy grey eyes challenging glittering green ones, until at last Elrond nodded slightly. "Your heart is true." he murmured, and let go of Glorfindel's wrist. Glorfindel quickly sliced his palm open and did the same to Erestor's free hand, then pressed them together. Glorfindel instantly felt cold beyond what he had ever known, a sense of calm acceptance and resigned unconcern, and what could only be described as a push.

"No." Glorfindel muttered fiercely. "I will not loose you." a sense of resistance, and Glorfindel wondered briefly if Erestor had felt this when saving him.

"Let me go." Erestor whispered softly.

"Not this time." Glorfindel vowed.

"Yes." Erestor whispered, and Glorfindel felt everything save Erestor simply fall away.

It was dark. Dark and cold, and Glorfindel knew he had been here before. "Yes. You have, and so have I. You know this place."

"Erestor, it doesn't have to be this way."

"You left, Glorfindel. You abandoned me, and you know that. I will not go back."


"I am done playing games. This is my choice. You said I am never selfish, but just this once, I shall be. Just this once, I will do what I want."

"Erestor, saes, melet-"

"Be careful what you say." Erestor interrupted. "This place is between worlds, and veils fall away, here. I will know any untruth you speak."

"I love you, Erestor." Glorfindel answered, without hesitation. "I love you, as a friend and a lover, and I want you, need you in my life. I will not go back without you."

"Ai, Glorfindel, you stubborn, headstrong creature." Erestor said in exasperation. "Only I was ever your match."

"You are my equal in every way. Erestor, you are a fighter, do not give in so easily!"

"Easily? Do you have even the slightest concept of how long I have fought this? Years beyond count."

"So what do you say to winning this battle once and for all?"

"I already have. A part of me, at any rate. I was fighting myself, 'Fin."

"And now you are rather outnumbered, 'Tor."

"Glorfindel and the balrog all over again. 'Fin, do you never learn? You are the one facing hopeless odds."

"When has that ever stopped me?"

Elrond was silent, simply kneeling beside Erestor and Glorfindel, who were by now locked in a fierce battle of wills, when Celebrian came rushing to his side. "Elbereth, no." she whispered. "This is it, is it not?"

"It is. Should Glorfindel fail..." Elrond trailed off. Celebrian choked back a sob and clasped her hand around her husband's and Erestor's.

They waited.

"It never has. That makes you either very brave or very foolish."

"They are often one and the same."

"Bravery or foolishness alone will not stop me, Glorfindel."

"I am more than the sum of my traits, 'Tor."

"Let me go, 'Fin. This was my choice."

"And this is mine. I heard you in the gardens, you said you would have let me save you, if my heart was true. I am here to save you, 'Tor, and you know my heart."

There was a very, very long pause.

"I never should have left." Glorfindel murmured in Erestor's ear, and Erestor sighed. "No, you shouldn't have."

"I love you, lirimaer."

"I love you too, 'Fin." Erestor replied. He pressed a quick, gentle kiss to Glorfindel's lips, and both were soon asleep.

Elrond smiled to himself. "Let's get them to Erestor's home, it is closer. I will carry Glorfindel, he's heavier."

"Erestor will gain the weight back soon enough, though." Celebrian said, as she and her husband carefully picked up the two sleeping Elves.

"I imagine he will." Elrond replied with a smile.

It was not a very long walk back to Erestor's house, though Elrond was tired by the end of it. Carrying Erestor was not terribly difficult for Celebrian, but Glorfindel was muscular from long years of active duty as a warrior and border guard, and he had lost none of his weight. Elrond was relieved to finally set him down beside Erestor on the bed, and Celebrian laughed softly. "Tired already?"

"It's all very well for you, meleth-nin, carrying Erestor; he hardly weighs a thing right now. Glorfindel, however, is in the bloom of health, and he is strong, and he is heavy."

"I do not doubt it." she replied with a smile, and took her husband's hand. "Come, Elrond, let us leave them to their rest."

Erestor woke to the feeling of warmth, and he smiled to himself. It had been a long time since he had felt warm. Glorfindel shifted beside him and murmured, "Tor? Are you awake?"

"Aye, meleth. Good morning."

"Good evening, actually. You have not slept that long."

"Just in time for some food, then." Erestor replied, and Glorfindel laughed.

"Aye, and a good thing, you are much too thin."

"Ai, well, you know how it is." Erestor replied. "Did you sleep well?"

"Well enough." Glorfindel said. Erestor smiled at him and ruffled his blonde hair affectionately. "I am glad to hear it. Come, let us see what I have in the way of food."

Elrond saw nothing of Glorfindel or Erestor for several days, until he at last decided to stop by Erestor's house. He found them lying outside on the grass, Glorfindel cradling Erestor against him. Erestor looked much better; he had gained back a great deal of the weight he had lost, and there was color is his skin once more, and light in his eyes. He smiled at Elrond when he marked his approach and elbowed Glorfindel in the side, drawing the blonde's attention from his quiet contemplation of his lover to Elrond's approach.

"Mae govannen, mellon-nin." Erestor greeted, and Elrond smiled. "Good afternoon, my friends. You seem greatly improved, Erestor."

"He is." Glorfindel said. "I was afraid I would have to coax him to eat, but the problem has been getting him to stop."

"I was hungry." Erestor retorted. "Look on the bright side, I am no longer quite so bony when you hold me."

"That is nice." Glorfindel conceded, pulling Erestor a little closer. The dark-haired Elf just smiled and shifted a bit, making himself comfortable in his new position. Elrond smiled warmly at his friends and sat down beside them, neatly arranging his light blue robes around him. "You two are content, then?"

"Very." Glorfindel said and Erestor nodded his agreement, "Aye, we are."

"You certainly seem it."

"Yes, and Erestor is recovering nicely. He certainly seems to have regained his energy." Erestor chuckled and elbowed Glorfindel lightly once more. "Now, 'Fin..."

"Mm, I know. Wouldn't want to make our Lord uncomfortable." he smiled wickedly.

"Though it is endlessly amusing." he added, and Elrond rolled his eyes. "You would think so." he replied, and paused for a moment. "Ecthelion has been worried about both of you. He might stop by to check on you at some point."

"That's fine." Erestor said, unconcerned, and Glorfindel dropped a reassuring kiss on Erestor's cheek.

--It will be alright, 'Tor. I will stay with you.--

--I know you will.--

"Am I interrupting?"

"Not at all. We were just talking about you." Glorfindel said, and Ecthelion raised an eyebrow. "I'm not quite sure what to say to that."

"Understandable." Erestor replied. "Mae govannen, Ecthelion."

"To you as well." Ecthelion gave Erestor an appraising glance and nodded. "You look well."

"I am well, more or less. I am still a bit lighter than I was, and I tire a bit more easily, but I am quite alright."

"I am glad to hear it. And 'Fin, what of you?"

"Quite well, 'Lion. I am content."

"I thought you might be." Ecthelion said with a smile. "Erestor, I have something for you. It was left in my keeping before Gondolin fell, but for reasons unknown to me, the Valar returned it to me upon my rebirth in this place. If you wonder why, well, take it up with Varda. I want you to have this, Erestor." and so saying, Ecthelion unclasped a gold chain from around his neck and fastened it around Erestor's. The pendant, which had been hidden under the silken folds of Ecthelion's robes, now gleamed in the afternoon light. It was a small orb of green stone much the same shade as Glorfindel's eyes, held in a sort of cage formed of delicate, gold filigree flowers.

"Tis beautiful." Erestor said, and Glorfindel smiled. "It was mine, once. I gave it to him, many years ago."

"It does not seem to be rightfully mine any longer. Keep it, Erestor." Ecthelion said, and Erestor smiled. "I shall treasure it. Hannon le, Ecthelion."

"That reminds me," Glorfindel said, "I have a little trinket of my own for you, 'Tor, if you would accept it. If you will excuse me, I shall only be a moment." with that, Glorfindel left, and Erestor shrugged. "He has already given me all I could wish."

"He is a precious gift himself." Ecthelion agreed. "It was hardly any wonder that the better part of Gondolin lusted after him."

"No, though he always seemed vaguely puzzled by it."

"It was rather charming, really." Ecthelion replied. Elrond broke his long silence, saying, "It was thus in Imladris, as well. I never could decide if he sincerely didn't understand it or was merely being modest."

"Glorfindel is rarely modest, but he does not have an overlarge ego." Ecthelion said. "I think he was being quite sincere."

At that moment, the Elf in question reappeared, bearing a small, carved wooden box, decorated with a flower on the lid. "Tor," he said, "I know it is soon, and you may put off accepting this is if you wish. Open it." Erestor took the box from him and removed the lid, and was silent for a very long moment.

Inside was a delicate gold ring in the shape of a flower's stem, and it was set with a single emerald in the center, surrounded by finely wrought gold petals. "Glorfindel," Erestor finally said, "are you asking what I think you are?"

"I would be wed to you, Erestor, if you would have me." Erestor made no verbal reply, just pulled Glorfindel close and kissed him deeply and passionately, with wild abandon. Elrond and Ecthelion glanced at each other and chuckled softly, but if either of the other two noticed, they gave no indication of it. No one spoke until at last Erestor and Glorfindel were forced apart by mutual need for air, at which point Erestor simply murmured, "Yes."
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