The Linger of Eyes by Erviniae

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Story notes: Beta: Nikkiling; all other mistakes are mine and any extra commas!

This may not have the desired ending for everyone.

Feedback: If you would be so kind.
The evening was spent in the company of others in the Hall of Fire this night. Lindir was happily plucking away on his harp while a beautiful elf maiden sang a song of unrequited love to all who deemed to listen. Others were chatting, a few were dancing, and some, including the Lord of Imladris and the chief advisor of the valley, were engaged in a game of chess. This particular game was going on for the third night, with each player making only one move this night. Well matched in skill and wit they were, Elrond and Erestor. Their patience in this game was legendary.

The hall was supplied each night with a lush tray of desserts of every kind imaginable. There was literally a rainbow of culinary delights to be had: red, blue and purple pies, cakes of lemon and orange zests bursting with flavor, golden biscuits dripping with honey, and lime cookies with vanilla frosting. All of this was accompanied by an assortment of punch, ales and wine.

Elrond looked about the hall and smiled; life was good and he was most happy. Twin heads appeared next to him as they hugged their father goodnight, inadvertently wiping sticky, white powdered fingers along his burgundy robes. Celebrían suppressed a chuckle at the scene and kissed the top of her husband's head whilst whispering into his ear, "Do not be overlong my love, for I am not tired and shall be reading in bed."

A shiver ran through Elrond's body at her words. "I shan't be overlong," he promised into her twinkling eyes.

Trying hard not to appear to have overheard the intimate conversation before him, Erestor sighed as he watched Elrond watching his family leave the Hall of Fire. "I fear I cannot think of another move this night, Elrond, perhaps after a good sleep I will be able to think clearer."

Happy for the escape, Elrond stood and stretched. "Yes, that is a sound idea. Goodnight my friend, and sleep well." Erestor nodded the same to his lord and friend of millennia. Moving towards the dessert table, the chief advisor systematically took two cookies and a mug of ale and sat in an overstuffed chair near the balcony. Enjoying the music and "Elf" watching, his eyes fell on the captain of their valley who was laughing heartily with some of his fellow soldiers. His latest companion sat close by him. The maiden was looking around her to see if any were envious of her position with the famed Balrog Slayer. She caught Erestor's gaze and gave him a look of both disdain and smugness. All in the valley knew of Elrond's chief advisor's eye for those of the same sex. Though no longer an offense punishable as in the second age, it was still looked upon with much disgust by many Elves; so much so that most who shared their tastes as Erestor did remained hidden in the shadows, meeting each other in obscure places or denying themselves outright Once, about fifty years past, Celebrían and Elrond commissioned a social for both maidens and male Elves alike who shared this uncommon desire to get together and meet in an effort to make this wrong prejudice more acceptable in Imladris. The only Elves brave enough to show up were Elrond, Celebrían, Erestor and Lindir; the latter two of whom were already known as out in the open about their sexuality. There were some who wanted desperately to go, but fear of being ostracized kept them away. So the four tried to make the best of it and spent the evening dancing and enjoying each other's company.

Lindir watched Erestor pining for what he could not have and sighed heavily. They had shared the delights of their bodies on numerous occasions, and though there was respect between them and affection, there was not love. Lindir had recently become enamored with his newest love, another minstrel who had stopped in Imladris last summer with Gildor's Wandering Elves. The two immediately became smitten with each other and a heated romance has since ensued. The Elf, named Silril, had decided to stay in their valley and join with Lindir's minstrels. They became inseparable lovers and Erestor was very happy for his friend.

Lothiel let out a sound of wicked mirth that brought Glorfindel's attention to her, "What has you so amused pretty one?" He leaned closer towards his companion of the past four months as his large hand gently rubbed her back. Leaning into his touch she said into those impossibly blue eyes of Glorfindel's, "His eyes are forever on you. Does it not make your skin crawl? It does mine."

"Of whom do you speak?" Glorfindel asked only half interested, for he was not an Elf who favored gossip.

"Why our chief counselor, of course." She smirked.

"Erestor?" Glorfindel frowned in disbelief.

"Aye, his eyes ever linger towards you."

"Nay Lothiel, you think everyone is looking at me. Besides, it is Erestor's job to observe all around him, silly one." He kissed the top of her chestnut hued hair and as he did so he let his eyes drift over towards where Erestor sat. In doing so, he caught Erestor off guard, for his eyes were indeed directed his way; yet the counselor then nonchalantly scanned the rest of the crowd. Glorfindel thought nothing of it at all.

Lindir however, watched his friend and excused himself from playing to go sit next to Erestor. "One of these days your eyes will betray your heart, my friend; it is folly to pine after what can never be." Erestor gave Lindir a sideways glance.

"No harm befalls looking, does it not?" Erestor sighed heavily, "and my eyes are but a set of many that do the same, are they not?" Lindir laughed, shaking his head and kissed Erestor's cheek at the same time as he stood to resume his playing. He would not win when Erestor was set in these moods.

Lothiel watched the interaction between Lindir and Erestor and smirked once more. "I have heard that they have shared a bed for more than sleeping."

Glorfindel inwardly groaned. "Lothiel, truly, I do not care who sleeps with whom, unless it concerns me." Here he hefted his eyebrows and she blushed, her cheeks turning red.

The next day was a day of rest in the valley, though not mandatory, and all those who wished to relax were given leave to do so. Erestor had taken Elrond's twin sons with him on a walk through the herb garden, effectively teaching them; though they were unaware they were being taught. Elladan and Elrohir just thought they were given leave to be in the "forbidden" garden with Erestor this day.

Celebrían and Elrond had a picnic assembled for their return. From where they were relaxing munching on cheese and fruit, they could see the three traipsing through the herbal gardens happily. Glorfindel and Lothiel had joined their lord and lady per an invitation to do so the night before. Both half bowed to their lord and lady as Elrond gestured for them to sit and partake of the beautiful afternoon.

All eyes were drawn to the sound of raucous laughter and giggling. They were just in time to see Erestor take a tumble over a low fence near the entrance to the gardens. He effectively landed on his rump and was immediately tackled by two impish and giggling elflings.

"I do believe that our sons meant to do that," smiled Celebrían as she shook her head in mirth.

"Yes, I do believe you are right my dear," Elrond began to laugh at the antics going on by the three.

Glorfindel joined in on the laughter for he knew first hand just how mischievous Elrond's twin sons could be. Lothiel refused to laugh but spoke softly to all in attendance. "My lord, are you not worried about leaving your sons with the likes of him." She gestured with her head towards Master Erestor. Before any had time to respond from their shock that her words caused, Erestor was walking with a twin on each leg as he came to stand before all who were picnicking.

"My lord and lady, I do believe we have varmints in the herb garden, and they seem to infect the other plants by successfully latching onto something unexpectedly." Erestor gave his most serious voice to address this most pressing and giggling problem.

"I will save the herb garden!" bellowed Glorfindel as he leapt forward to tackle the twin closest to him. Elladan giggled heartily and not to be left out, Elrohir leapt onto Glorfindel's back to save his twin. The three rolled around the grass as Erestor nodded in respect to Glorfindel's companion, who just glared at him. This did not go unnoticed by any of the adults there, including Glorfindel.

Erestor sat down next to Celebrían, who handed him some iced tea. After smiling his thanks, he turned to speak. "Your children are such a joy to Imladris. They keep me feeling young."

"Thank you, my friend. I feel so blessed to have them." She squeezed Erestor's hand in a gesture of warmth.

"Come my sons, leave dear Glorfindel be and eat your lunch," smiled Celebrían as Elrond and Erestor were engaged deeply in conversation. All ate and soon Elladan and Elrohir were lying on the blanket curled next to each other and falling into a light reverie. Glorfindel leaned back against a tree with Lothiel sitting close to him, and Celebrían and Elrond reclined similarly except that Elrond had his head on his wife's lap. She smoothed his hair back with affection as he started to drift into a light sleep as well. Feeling a bit like a fifth leg on a horse, Erestor bid all a farewell and went back towards the house.

"He is a special one, our counselor," smiled Celebrían as she watched him leave.

"Aye, I could not run Imladris without his counsel," yawned Elrond, adding, "Or without his friendship."

Lothiel snorted and Celebrían had had enough of her, "Do you not agree with something Lothiel? Please... enlighten me. I am always open to new ideas." Celebrían smiled, though Elrond recognized her tone of voice. It was the one she used when defending something she believed strongly in.

"I...I...just don't understand how you can defend his proclivities for ellon. It is wrong, and perhaps his ill ways will rub off onto your sons."

"Lothiel," Glorfindel rolled his eyes.

Elrond sat up before he was pushed from his wife's lap. "Lothiel, Erestor's proclivities, as you call them...are very natural to him. How dare you say anything unkind of him. He not only helped found Imladris, he fought for us all in the Last Alliance. And...and "if" who he is rubs off on my children, then I welcome it gladly!" Celebrían was now standing, with her hands clenched to her sides and her face turning a pretty shade of pink. Lothiel found herself speechless. She was never witness to her lady's wrath before. "I...I do not wish to upset you my lady, but I do not agree with his choice of ...of... partner."

Glorfindel was embarrassed and pulled Lothiel by the elbow, " Forgive us Lady Celebrían, Lord Elrond, but I fear we have overstayed our welcome," bowed Glorfindel.

"Nay, YOU have not!" hissed Celebrían as the twins stirred from their sleep by the tone of voice their mother was taking. Elrond came to his wife's side, "Come love, the children are stirring," Celebrían immediately stopped to tend to her sons.

The walk back to the house was difficult at best. Glorfindel was embarrassed and Lothiel was fuming. "Unhand my arm, Glorfindel!" She pulled out of his gentle grasp with an exaggerated motion.

"Lothiel, why must you adhere to old values?" Glorfindel was truly at a loss. Her beauty began to lesson considerably in his eyes.

"I have no tolerance for his kind!" She sneered, her cute rosebud lips turning into a fetid snarl.

"I have no tolerance for your kind," added Glorfindel in disgust, "good-day Lothiel." He strode away from her in large steps, getting as much distance as possible between them. Truly, he had never felt like hitting a maiden before, but she raised such feelings within him that needed distance quickly. Scaling the main steps to the house two by two, he heard her yell after him.

"How dare you walk away from me!" She huffed, stomping her foot. Glorfindel stopped, pivoted on one foot and scowled at her. This look quickly made her change direction and go into the house by way of the South entrance-far from where he was.

That night found Erestor once more in the Hall of Fire, admiring his friend's talent with the harp and reveling in the joy that exuded between Silril and Lindir. He was so happy for Lindir, and glad that he was able to openly show his affection for his lover. Sitting upon the balcony of the hall, Erestor gazed at the bright stars twinkling in the darkness. He quietly recited a poem into the evening sky:

I cease not from desire till my desire Is satisfied; or let my mouth attain My love's red mouth, or let my soul expire, Sighed from those lips that sought his lips in vain. Others may find another love as fair; Upon his threshold I have laid my head, The dust shall cover me, still lying there, When from my body life and love have fled. My soul is on my lips ready to fly, But grief beats in my heart and will not cease, Because not once, not once before I die, Will his sweet lips give all my longing peace. My breath is narrowed down to one long sigh For a red mouth that burns my thoughts like fire; When will that mouth draw near and make reply To one whose life is straitened with desire? When I am dead, open my grave and see The cloud of smoke that rises round thy feet: In my dead heart the fire still burns for thee; Yea, the smoke rises from my winding-sheet! Ah, come, Beloved! for the meadows wait Thy coming, and the thorn bears flowers instead Of thorns, the cypress fruit, and desolate Bare winter from before thy steps has fled. Hoping within some garden ground to find A red rose soft and sweet as thy soft cheek, Through every meadow blows the western wind, Through every garden he is fain to seek. Reveal thy face! that the whole world may be Bewildered by thy radiant loveliness; The cry of man and woman comes to thee, Open thy lips and comfort their distress! Each curling lock of thy luxuriant hair Breaks into barbèd hooks to catch my heart, My broken heart is wounded everywhere With countless wounds from which the red drops start. Yet when sad lovers meet and tell their sighs, Not without praise shall his name be said, Not without tears, in those pale companies Where joy has been forgot and hope has fled.

Letting out a soft sigh, Erestor lifted the cup of mead to his lips and drank deeply. The brew infused warmth throughout his slender body. A voice behind him startled him out of his dreaming. Turning his head, his heart skipped a beat; it was Glorfindel standing upon the threshold of the balcony. "What a sad tale, I fear I have not heard this lay before... who is the maiden speaking of?" Erestor nearly choked at those words said as his friend, captain. and unrequited love came to sit upon the edge of the balustrade, his own mug in hand.

Deciding not to mince his words, Erestor sighed, brushing an elegant hand through silken hair. "I...I...wrote it Glorfindel." Erestor watched as his friend's eyes widened upon hearing that revelation.

"It is about a longing for a love unattainable, a love between males." Here Erestor's eyes faltered. He found he could no longer look directly into the captain's eyes; which was just as well, because neither could Glorfindel look upon his. Clearing his throat nervously, Glorfindel downed his mug of ale in one breath.

"I cannot pretend to know what it is you feel for males my friend, though I imagine it is the same as how one feels for the opposite sex, if one is so inclined." Glorfindel gave a little smile, trying his best to understand Erestor. They had known each other since before the Last Alliance and had become fast friends. Though he knew of Erestor's preferences, neither had talked about it before with the other.

Erestor felt his stomach drop upon hearing what he always knew to be true within his heart, that Glorfindel only preferred maidens. His love was unrequited, never to be returned in such a manner. Of the love of friendship, he knew that he had such in Glorfindel and that would be the balm to soothe his ache. To realize that he could never have his heart's desire was almost unbearable to the counselor.

" did you know?" Asked Glorfindel quietly.

"I suppose it is much the same as you...only my elfling crushes were upon either my parent's male friends or my male teachers." Erestor answered with sincerity.

"Aye," Glorfindel nodded in understanding.

Lindir kept glancing to the balcony, seeing if Erestor was in distress or not, but all he could ascertain is that the counselor and captain were engaged in a friendly discussion. Silril came to stand beside his beloved whilst wrapping an arm around his waist, drawing him closer. "What is wrong my heart?" He glanced to where Lindir's eyes were gazing. "You do worry about him."

"I cannot help it. He is such a good Elf, and he is lonely. He deserves love..." Lindir turned to face Silril and gently touched a warm, soft cheek as he placed a soft kiss upon softer lips. "I wish him a love like I have ..."

"Correction," smiled Silril, "a love like we have." They kissed sweetly to a few sneers of those still unable to accept such liaisons. They did what they always did.... ignored them.

Glorfindel had been scanning the hall as he witnessed the embrace and affection between Lindir and Silril, and felt himself moved by their love. Love to him was never wrong, just often unachievable.

"So, who is the Elf the poem was written for?" asked Glorfindel, suddenly curious.

Erestor actually blushed, "That, my friend, is a secret." He answered nervously, as a slender finger played with the edge of his mug.

Glorfindel laughed heartily as he stood, his golden hair curling behind him as he leaned closer to clasp Erestor on the shoulder. "I shall bid you goodnight. Sleep well my friend." The scent of warm honey permeated Erestor's senses. It was Glorfindel's unique aroma, a fragrance he longed to bury his face into. The air around him seemed filled with it.

"Aye, you as well." Smiled Erestor into tired blue eyes.

Glorfindel strolled past the happy minstrel couple and nodded his farewell; Erestor turned at the last minute to watch the beautiful captain of Imladris leave the hall. As he did a single tear fell down the counselor's face.

The years passed. Imladris grew. Elrond's family grew to welcome a daughter: a child who brought light and laughter wherever she went. Lindir and Silril became Imladris' first male bonded couple. Their love was a beacon of light to all, even to those opposed to their coupling.

Glorfindel continued to search for love with maidens from all over Arda...Mirkwood, Lothlorien, and Imladris. All had maidens that had but a taste of the affection that the mighty warrior had to give, though none claimed his heart for long.

Erestor worked diligently so that Imladris ran as smooth as honey...honey, his love's unique scent...
Chapter end notes: Poem written by Hafiz, translated by G. Bell (1897)

Silril-Brilliant shine
Lothiel-Flower maiden
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