So they passed into Eregion, and at last a fair morning dawned…Here now for seven days they tarried, for the time was at hand for another parting which they were loth to make. Soon Celeborn and Galadriel and their folk would turn eastward….They had journeyed thus far by the west-ways, for they had much to speak of with Elrond and Gandalf, and here they lingered still in converse with their friends. Often long after the hobbits were wrapped in sleep they would sit together under the stars recalling the ages that were gone and all their joys and labours…If any wanderer chanced to pass, little would he have seen or heard…For they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind; and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts went to and fro…
~ROTK, Many Partings
Orophin stood leaning against a tree, watching as his traveling companions settled around him. His lord and lady sat conversing with Lord Elrond and Mithrandir: they would talk long into the night. The hobbits were just rolling themselves into their blankets for the night. Elves took their leave of friends and sought out their mates. Guards silently stood watch on the perimeter. There was hardly any need for watches to be set since Sauron and his minions had been defeated, but old habits die hard and there was still the danger of wild animals.
Rúmil murmured his apologies to Glorfindel as he reached for Erestor’s hand and stole his husband away from the golden-haired captain. Rúmil would not be returning to Lothlórien with the rest of the Galadhrim, but was headed instead for Imladris. Orophin rejoiced that his older brother was finally able to stay with Erestor. Haldir sat at the far edge of the encampment speaking with one of Elrond’s advisors, Melpomaen, their smiling faces lit in the firelight. The lovely scribe had captured his eldest brother’s eye in Minas Tirith when they had first met, and Orophin suspected the attraction was mutual. He wondered if Haldir would go to Imladris or if Melpomaen would join the Lórien Elves. Haldir had never allowed himself the luxury of thinking of a relationship before this, let alone a mate; guarding the safety of Lórien had always come first. Orophin did not think he would ever have a close relationship or mate. The one he loved was unattainable, but he was happy for his brothers.
Glorfindel remained in his place, sipping his tea. His tasks were complete and he could finally rest. He felt tired, old, and at the same time, lost and astray. For the first time since he returned he did not have a purpose and he found it most unsettling. He was alone. His eyes happened on the Galadhel. Cocking his head, he watched Orophin as the Lórien Elf observed the movements of their companions. “Will you not take some rest, Orophin?” he finally asked softly, his heart commiserating with the melancholy look on the younger Elf’s face.
Orophin shook his head. “I am not tired,” he said.
“Then come and sit with me a while if you will,” Glorfindel said with a smile. As Orophin joined him, he asked, “Now, what is it that keeps you from resting?”
“Just thinking,” the Galadhel answered. “Rúmil will go to Imladris with Erestor. Haldir…it looks as though Haldir will either go to Imladris or you will lose one of your advisors to Lórien.”
Glorfindel nodded. “Neither of our homes will be the same and it will not be long before most of us sail.”
“What will we do with ourselves, Glorfindel?” Orophin asked forlornly. “What need will there be for captains and marchwardens now?”
Imladris’ captain responded with a question of his own. “Will you stay with Celeborn or sail with Galadriel when she leaves these shores?”
Orophin shook his head. “I do not know. I would choose to stay with my brothers instead. Rúmil will sail with Erestor, but Haldir has not yet decided. It matters not to me where I am – what matters is that am with those I love.”
“So wise for one so young,” Glorfindel said with a soft smile. “Do you know I once despaired that you would ever grow up?”
“Hmmm. Would that have anything to do with a thin rope bridge I ‘accidentally’ jiggled and you falling into the icy cold Nimrodel?”
“It might,” Glorfindel chuckled. “And I thought you liked me.”
“I did,” Orophin said, grinning. “I still do. I was just trying to get your attention, you know. The mighty Balrog slayer, come to Lórien. I thought you were one of the Valar when I first saw you. I was just a small elfling, and I wanted you to notice me.”
“I did notice you,” Glorfindel said in reply, “especially as you got older.” He swirled his tea in the mug and stared at the fire.
Orophin looked at Glorfindel closely and then threw caution to the wind. What did he have to lose after all? He had never seen or heard that Glorfindel was interested in anyone in particular, and Erestor had told him that the Imladris captain had no mate waiting for him in Valinor. “Glorfindel, may I ask you something?”
The captain looked up. “Yes, of course you may.”
“Are you ever lonely?”
Glorfindel gave a small, caustic laugh. “Odd you should ask me that,” he said. “Before now – before Sauron’s defeat – I was always too busy to be lonely. I had my duties and the company of my men, and it was enough. Now, for the first time, I feel alone. Adrift.” He sighed. “I suppose it is time for me to sail too.” He turned and looked at Orophin. “But why do you ask me that?”
Orophin took a deep breathe, swallowed his fear, and jumped. “BecauseI’vebeenfeeling lonelytooandI’vealwayslovedyouandIwondered….” A hand closed over his mouth.
Glorfindel removed his hand and smiled. “Take a deep breath and start over – slower. I promise not to bite you.”
The Galadhel knew how to follow orders, and so he did. He took a deep breath and started speaking again, slowly and softly. “I have been feeling lonely too. I have always loved you, ever since I was a little Elfling and I saw you for the first time. I would like to go to Imladris with you, if you are willing. If it turns out that you do not have any feelings for me – well, at least we could be friends and companions so neither of us will be as lonely?” When he finished, Orophin stared at the ground, feeling his face flush with color. He had to be the biggest fool in all of Arda.
Glorfindel was stunned. “You love me?” he whispered.
Orophin nodded, too embarrassed to look up at the elder Elf.
Glorfindel placed his hands on the Galadhel’s shoulders and pulled him closer, forcing Orophin to look at him. On the captain’s face was a surprised smile. “You love me,” he whispered. Leaning his head down, he placed a chaste kiss on Orophin’s lips, and a warm feeling filled his heart. Someone loved him. He didn’t have to be alone. And Orophin seemed to fit so very well in his arms.
Orophin thought his heart was going to pound out of his chest as Glorfindel pulled him closer, and then the older Elf kissed him gently and his heart forgot to beat. “Does this mean you will let me go to Imladris with you?” he asked dreamily.
Glorfindel nodded. “You will come to Imladris with me, and then we will see how we get on together,” he said softly. “But I think we will get on together very well.” His voice trailed off as his lips again found Orophin’s in a long, heartfelt kiss. They would get along very well indeed.
Four silent figures sat at the edge of the camp, their shining eyes stirring. Galadriel smiled, Elrond raised an eyebrow, and Gandalf had a definite smirk on his face. Celeborn, however, frowned as he handed his wife a jeweled collar. He should have known better than to take her bet about Glorfindel and Orophin. He had to be the biggest fool in all of Arda.
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