2. news; letter
When Imladris was first founded by a group of rag-tag refugees, led by one Elrond Peredhel of Lindon, it was a regrettable fact that those who followed him from Gil-galad's city were forced to leave behind a number of their accustomed creature comforts. Erestor, late of Lindon, found that the one thing he missed most of all, far more than exotic dinners or seamstresses to mend his fancy dress robes, was his desk. The carpenters were so busy making houses and beds and cabinets that no one had yet gotten around to making furniture for Erestor's office, so at the moment his "office" was merely his bedroom. He read official correspondence in bed, and on the occasions when he needed to forge Elrond's signature on some document or other, he did so on the cold stone floor. All in all, he found this a highly dissatisfying arrangement.
Thus it was that he learned of the arrival of an unusually large, golden-haired elf to the valley not behind the desk where he was to spend the better part of the next millennium, but rather on his way to the simple supper served every night in the Fire Hall. Upon receiving this tidbit of news, Erestor blinked owlishly at its carrier, Lindir the minstrel, and asked, "Has he given his purpose for his visit?"
Lindir fidgeted slightly, anxious for his supper. "He said he was looking for a place in the guard here."
"Can he fight?" Erestor inquired, already paging through the guard roster in his head, looking for openings. There were too many; Imladris was, as of yet, sadly underdefended.
"He wears a sword across his back that I couldn't lift," Lindir replied with a shrug. "I really don't know, Lord Erestor."
"Well, tell him to come to me if he is seeking a position," Erestor instructed the minstrel, and glided away, his mind already occupied by greater worries.
The next day, Erestor's breakfast was interrupted by Lindir, followed by a very tall, muscular, blond elf. The stranger's head was bowed and his hair was loose, so Erestor couldn't tell if his face matched his highly attractive body. "Lord Erestor, this is Glorfindel," Lindir introduced him hurriedly. "He wants a place with the guards." His task completed, the minstrel scurried off in search of food.
"Glorfindel of Gondolin?" Erestor laughed softly, amused by the effrontery of whatever mother had named her child after the famous Balrog-slayer.
"I was of Gondolin once," Glorfindel agreed quietly. "Now I hope to be of Imladris."
Erestor looked up at him sharply. Glorfindel had lifted his chin, so the advisor could now see the shy smile flickering across the stranger's face. "All who wish to join our lord are welcome here," he said, neither coldly nor warmly. It was simple statement of fact. "And we are perilously short of competent swordsmen, so if you are as good with yon table-knife as the tales would claim, then you are well come indeed, Glorfindel of Rivendell."
Glorfindel's smile widened and solidified, and without warning he seized Erestor's hand, placing a firm kiss in the center of his palm. Erestor coughed, and Glorfindel flushed, dropping his hand like a hot coal as he realized that the entire hall was staring at him. "I know not how gratitude was expressed in Gondolin," Erestor said mildly, "but here a simple, 'thank you,' is sufficient. Perhaps a bow, if you feel very deeply. A kiss is unnecessary."
To Glorfindel's credit, he bowed with startling grace, despite his crimson cheeks. "I thank you, then, Lord Erestor."
The next few months, as Glorfindel settled in enough to become thoroughly cheerful and obnoxious, provided enough friction between the two to wipe away their first observations of each other, but nonetheless, Erestor did once note that Glorfindel was truly adorable when he blushed, and Glorfindel that Erestor's eyes sparkled beautifully when he was trying not to laugh.
Glorfindel crept down the hall with unusual stealth, given that he generally announced his arrival from a good thirty feet away with loud, off-key whistling. He'd sustained what he had indignantly informed Elrond was nothing even close to a serious injury and had been confined by his mother-hennish lord to a week's worth of bed-rest. Glorfindel hated bed-rest. It was dull. Thus, as soon as dark fell, he made his escape from the Halls of Healing (which, aside from being boring as Erestor's minutes of council meetings, also smelled unpleasantly of some pungent herb) and headed for his rooms, from whence, once ensconced, nothing short of a siege could remove him.
The sound of an almost painfully tuneless lullaby distracted him from his quest, and Glorfindel paused outside the doorway of the twins' nursery, wondering which of the chamber maids could possibly have such a poor sense of pitch. It certainly wasn't one of Celebrian's ladies-in-waiting; they were all frighteningly accomplished and could sing beautifully, embroider tastefully, paint pretty little pastoral scenes, and speak several languages. On the whole, Glorfindel found ladies-in-waiting to be useless wastes of space (except, naturally, bedspace), and preferred the chambermaids, who at least possessed some sort of viable skill. He doubted any of the fine elven ladies of Rivendell could scrub a floor.
Even for a chambermaid, the voice was low, and unfamiliar. Glorfindel's eyes brightened at the thought of a new chambermaid (and thus one he had not already despoiled, in the friendliest possible fashion, of her virtue), and pushed the door, left slightly ajar, open wider. He took in the sight before him, and his jaw dropped.
Erestor, Erestor the Dull, Erestor the Heartless, Erestor the Horrendously Supercilious and Annoying, was rocking one of the infant twins in his arms with an expression of outright adoration on his face. Even as Glorfindel watched, agape with shock, the dark-haired Counselor finished his lullaby, kissed the sleeping baby's forehead, and gently tucked him back into the cradle beside his twin. "Shh," he murmured, when the baby whimpered and made as if to stir, "you don't want to wake your brother, do you, Elladan?" He settled into a chair beside the cradle and began to swing the twins' bed slowly back and forth. The cranky twin - Glorfindel couldn't tell them apart, to tell the truth, but if Erestor said it was Elladan he was probably right - quieted down and began sucking his thumb, fast asleep.
Erestor smiled. He had a beautiful smile, really, Glorfindel observed. It was almost a pity he used it so seldom. But then, it was all the more attractive for its rarity, especially if Glorfindel and the baby twins were the only ones to have seen -
Glorfindel cut off this train of thought with a shake of his head, amused by his own flights of fancy. He crept off down the hall once more, as Erestor began singing once more.
He really needed to find a new chambermaid. That would stop him from having strange ideas about how pretty Erestor was when he smiled.
3. jolt! Note: Glorfindel's song was written by Sir Walter Raleigh, not me.
Glorfindel wandered down the halls of Rivendell in the general direction of his room. It was some obscenely early hour of the morning, a well-earned headache throbbed dully behind his temples, and a disgustingly smug grin had taken up residence on his lips. The latest in his series of conquests among the ladies-in-waiting had thrown him out for making one too many suggestive comments in his drunken haze, but it did little to dampen Glorfindel's cheer. He did so enjoy a challenge.
"If all the world and love were young, and truth in every shepherd's tongue," he sang softly to himself, "these pretty pleasures might -Good morning, Counselor Erestor!"
"Hmmm?" Erestor turned to stare at him blankly, and Glorfindel felt his good mood slipping away, replaced by worry. Erestor's cheeks were flushed, his hair disheveled, and his eyes strangely glazed over.
"Sweet Eru, Erestor, are you drunk?" Glorfindel demanded in disbelief. He'd never so much as seen Elrond's advisor slightly tipsy.
"Oh... good morning, Glorf..." Erestor swayed once and crumpled to the floor.
"Erestor!" Glorfindel immediately dropped to his knees beside the counselor. His breath was coming shallowly and too rapidly for comfort, and his forehead, when Glorfindel laid the back of his hand over it, was warm. Glorfindel cursed, all ladies-in-waiting forgotten, and scooped Erestor up into his arms, intent on carrying him to Elrond.
"Lord Elrond, are you awake?" Glorfindel yelled, pounding on his door. He was forced to stop briefly as his precarious one-armed grip on Erestor started to slip, and Elrond opened the door, sleep-tousled and furious.
"Strange as it may sound, Glorfindel, I was asleep... is that Erestor?"
"I don't know what's wrong with him," Glorfindel explained, biting his lip. "He collapsed in the middle of the hall. I thought he might be drunk..."
Elrond placed a slender hand on Erestor's flushed cheek to check his temperature, and rolled his eyes. "He's not drunk, Glorfindel, he's sick. Carry him into my spare bedroom, please. I keep most of my medical supplies in there."
Glorfindel obediently followed Elrond into the next room and set his light-weight burden down on the bed. Erestor tossed his head on the pillow, his hair tangling around his face. Feeling oddly compassionate, Glorfindel smoothed the messy locks behind Erestor's ears. "Will he be all right?" he asked, still looking down at Erestor instead of Elrond.
Elrond made a low sound of disgust. "In a week or so, if he rests properly. He always overworks, and he always gets sick, and then he always ruins his recovery trying to go back to work too soon." He sighed, and came to sit on the edge of the bed beside Glorfindel, gazing down at Erestor worriedly. "He never listens to me." He pressed his lips together, then leaned forward to kiss Erestor's forehead gently.
"More to you than to anyone else," Glorfindel laughed, an unfamiliar sensation building in the pit of his stomach. "But if you're sure he'll be fine, I should go get changed and get to work." Elrond glanced over at him, finally noticed that he was still wearing the previous night's outfit, and raised an eyebrow in eloquent silence. Glorfindel grinned sheepishly and turned to leave.
When he reached the doorway, he looked back. Erestor's eyes had opened, although they were still dazed, and he was mumbling nonsense - probably about the cleaning budget, Glorfindel thought uncharitably, annoyed for no real reason. As Elrond tried to press Erestor back down on the bed, the counselor's fever-bright eyes met Glorfindel's. Erestor smiled suddenly, and allowed Elrond to push his head down to the pillow. Glorfindel, abruptly aware that his heart was pounding, hurried out of the room.
18. "say ahh...."
"Um... Lord Elrond?"
Elrond looked up from his desk and smiled. "What can I do for you, Captain?"
Glorfindel twisted his hands together behind his back. "How is Erestor doing?" he blurted
"He'll be back to work in no time at all," Elrond said reassuringly. "You've seen him at meals yourself. He's as cranky and crabby and self-sufficient as ever."
"Oh. Um. Good."
Elrond waited, but Glorfindel did not continue. "Was there anything else you wanted to talk to me about, Glorfindel?"
"No! I mean, um, yes, sort of." Glorfindel took a deep breath, and finally rushed out, "I think I'm sick."
Elrond looked down to hide his smile, then got to his feet and walked around his desk to stand in front of Glorfindel. "What are your symptoms?"
"Well, I keep feeling short of breath, and my heart starts beating really hard, even when I haven't been exercising. And I feel dizzy sometimes, and I feel hot even when I know the temperature is perfectly normal. Oh, and one of the maids told me I look flushed a lot of the time, like I have a fever."
"And those are all your symptoms?"
"I think so," Glorfindel said, puzzled by Elrond's stern look.
"Is there any common thread linking them together? Say, they all happen whenever you see a certain person?"
"How did you - " Glorfindel caught himself, went red, and looked at the floor.
"I can't diagnose you properly if you don't tell me everything," Elrond reprimanded him mildly. He placed his hands on Glorfindel's shoulders firmly and gazed straight into the blond's eyes. "Hmm. Well, do you want my professional opinion?"
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't," Glorfindel muttered sulkily.
Elrond's mouth twitched, and he stood on tip-toe to kiss Glorfindel's cheek. He would have aimed for the forehead, but even when Glorfindel was slouching, as he was at the moment, he couldn't reach. "I'm afraid it's a rather serious condition, although it's not fatal. I've no cure for you, my dear Captain."
"Hey! You're just going to say I have a serious condition and then tell me you can't treat it?"
Elrond laughed. "Oh, Glorfindel. I can't treat you for this." He caught Glorfindel's face between his hands, forcing the captain to look him in the eye. "Glorfindel, you're in love."
15. perfect blue
"Oh, Erestor," Glorfindel sing-songed cheerfully, poking his head into Erestor's office to peer at the harassed advisor. "I'm back from Lothlorien! Did you miss me?"
Erestor gritted his teeth and did his best to ignore the blond menace.
"Of course you did!" Glorfindel answered his own question, waltzing in without a care in the world. "And - let me see. I might have brought you a present."
"I don't want anything your filthy paws have touched," Erestor snarled, glaring at the parchment in front of him fit to burn a hole in the paper.
"Hmm? Not even... trade agreements?" Glorfindel waggled a slightly crumpled scroll, bound with a bedraggled red ribbon. Erestor's head snapped up.
"I told Celeborn not to let you have that!"
"Well, he gave it to Lindir," Glorfindel admitted good-naturedly. "But then Lindir gave it to me, since I said I would drop by to see you. So you don't want this, now that my 'filthy paws' have defiled it?"
"Give. Me. The. Scroll," Erestor hissed, his face going crimson with fury. "NOW."
"Well, I wouldn't be much of a negotiator if I let you have it for nothing, would I?" Glorfindel mused. "We need an even trade. I don't need the scroll, but you do. I should get something I want, that's of no use to you. Such a dilemma..."
Erestor, no longer listening, made a lunge for the scroll. Glorfindel immediately held it out of his reach. "Ah, ah, ah, Counselor. No grabbing. And I have it!"
Erestor stared warily up at him. "What?"
"A kiss! Valar know you aren't giving them to anyone else."
As Erestor gaped at Glorfindel in a combination of shock and fury, the blond elf leaned down, sealed his mouth briefly over Erestor's, and dropped the scroll into his nerveless hands. "There you go. A satisfactory deal on all sides, wouldn't you say?"
He had turned to go when Erestor caught his breath and began screaming in outrage. "I HATE YOU! I WISH YOU WOULD CURL UP IN A GUTTER AND DIE, YOU - YOU - YOU'RE OBNOXIOUS AND STUPID AND YOUR EYES ARE TOO VALAR-CURST BLUE!!!"
Glorfindel stopped, blinked, and turned around. "Wait, what?"
"Well, they are," Erestor said defensively. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked slightly confused. "They are! They're idiotically blue! That color doesn't exist in nature!"
"Have you spent a great deal of time contemplating the color of my eyes, then, Counselor?" Glorfindel asked slowly.
"Oh, just get out!" Erestor snapped angrily. It was not, Glorfindel noted, an answer to his question.
He likes me, Glorfindel thought to himself as he wandered down the hall, nursing yet another sore cheek from the slap Erestor had delivered when he refused to exit swiftly enough to suit him. Disturbingly merrily, he began to whistle.
5. "ano sa" ("hey, you know....")
"Glorfindel, if you don't stop following me around, I'm going to start thinking that you're stalking me."
"Oh?" Glorfindel stepped out from behind the shadow of a pillar, where he had been hiding from view while he was, indeed, following Erestor. He looked mildly curious. "And if I were?"
"Then I suppose I would have to report you to the Captain of the Guard as a threat to my well-being and peace of mind."
"Hmm. Erestor, I am the Captain of the Guard."
Erestor cocked one head to the side. "Why, so you are. Then it would be in everyone's best interests if you stopped following me, wouldn't it?"
"I'm afraid I don't follow your logic, Counselor."
"Well, if you were to continue following me, I would conclude that you were stalking me. But my next action would be forestalled, and I would have no choice but to defend my virtue by means of violence."
"That would indeed be regrettable. More so since I am Captain of the Guard, and you are a skinny stick of an Advisor who couldn't even lift a sword, let alone swing it well enough to inflict damage upon my battle-hardened body."
"Ah. You might be correct, at that." Erestor fell silent, contemplating his next course of action. Glorfindel interrupted his train of thought.
"Hey, you know something?"
"I know many things, Captain."
"You're the prickliest, most annoying and stuck-up elf I've ever met."
"Is that so," Erestor replied coolly. "Remarkably, I was aware of the fact."
"Ah, but I'm not done. You're also obnoxiously superior, catty, under-muscled, and ridiculously pale, and," he continued, stepping ever-nearer to Erestor, until he had the Advisor trapped up against the wall, "I am absolutely, totally, one-hundred-percent crazy in love with you."
Erestor's infamously swift, well-trained mind stuttered, stalled, and ground to a complete halt. "I - what - you - " he stammered.
Glorfindel grinned at him, and swooped down for a kiss. About five seconds later, Erestor came to his senses at the unfamiliar (and not entirely unpleasant, added a traitorous corner of his mind) sensation of Glorfindel's tongue slipping between his lips. Erestor immediately jumped away and slapped Glorfindel full across the face. "You PERVERT! MANIAC! SLOBBERY UNRESTRAINED STALKER - "
Glorfindel walked off, whistling, completely undeterred by either the bright red handprint on his right cheek or the torrent of abuse Erestor sent after him. It was a start. And he had several centuries at the very least to wear the Advisor down.
"Well?" Erestor demanded.
Glorfindel shoved at the door one last, futile time, then shook his head. "It's locked," he explained belatedly, realizing that Erestor wouldn't be able to see his gesture.
"When we get out, I am going to tan Lindir's hide," Erestor snarled. "Of all the infantile pranks...!"
"Don't beat him too badly," Glorfindel sighed. "I'm pretty sure this was Melpomaen's idea to begin with. Lindir would have just dumped something wet and slimy on you and run."
Erestor stopped grinding his teeth. It was an open secret that Melpomaen was his favorite of the youngsters running loose in Rivendell, and could consequently get away with things even Lord Elrond (should his dignity allow him) would think twice about doing. "I'll beat Lindir for being a bad influence," he said at last. "You can beat Melpomaen for not choosing his accomplices better when Lindir tells me whose idea it was."
"Fair enough," Glorfindel said, grinning in the total darkness of the linen closet when he and Erestor were trapped. He was fond enough of Lindir, but he had no reservations about using him as a lightning rod for Erestor's displeasure.
"Hey, Erestor, I'll tell you a secret if you'll tell me one," Glorfindel finally offered, as much to break the uncomfortable quiet as for any ulterior motive.
"I'd rather play chess," Erestor replied.
"We seem to be lacking a chessboard. As well as light to see it by."
"Can't you picture it in your head?" Erestor asked, surprised.
"Well, I could," Glorfindel admitted cheerfully, "but I would cheat, and we'd spend more time arguing about where my pieces were supposed to be than moving them."
"You could just not cheat this time," Erestor suggested dryly.
"Then you'd win. I'm terrible at chess."
"You beat me about half the games we play," Erestor pointed out.
"Yes, because I cheat."
"And that doesn't bother you?"
Glorfindel shrugged, forgetting that Erestor wouldn't see it. "You're a better player, so I cheat. It's just leveling the playing field."
"Hmm." Erestor actually sounded amused, rather than annoyed. Glorfindel perked up slightly at the first hopeful sign he'd had in weeks.
"So, who was your first kiss?"
"We're sharing secrets, remember? I'll tell you who mine was," Glorfindel coaxed.
"That's none of your business!" Erestor huffed.
"Wait. You have kissed someone before, right? I mean, I wasn't trying to rub salt in the wound or - "
"Yes, I have kissed, and been kissed, before," Erestor hissed.
"Oh, good. Mine was Ecthelion. It was my forty-fifth birthday present. He always was a cheap bastard."
Erestor snorted with laughter before he could stop himself. "Elrond."
"I'm Glorfindel, darling Counselor. If you confuse our names in bed, too, I'll be quite put out."
"No, you idiot, my first kiss was from Elrond. The first night I spent at Lindon. We met in the gardens while my parents were paying their respects to Gil-galad."
"Oh." Glorfindel carefully shut his mouth, grateful to the darkness for concealing the look of shock on his face. "Wait, so you and Elrond - "
"It was quite the whirlwind affair," Erestor said mildly. He waited a beat, then snapped, "Oh, for goodness' sake, I can hear your teeth clacking together from over here. I was curious, and Gil-galad wouldn't touch Elrond until he turned fifty, so he was looking for someone to experiment with."
"Until he turned fifty... how old were you?" Glorfindel yelped.
"Forty-three," Erestor replied smugly. "I was an early bloomer."
"You'd never know it to look at you," Glorfindel muttered under his breath. Erestor made an ominous-sounding cough, and he hurriedly continued, "First kiss from a female?"
"Galadriel," Erestor sighed, resigned.
"Galadriel? You lucky dog. She wouldn't give me the time of day."
"She used to come read over my shoulder in the library at Lindon when she wanted to make Celeborn jealous."
"Mine was Aredhel. She told me I reminded her of Celegorm," he added, disgruntled.
Erestor laughed. "It could be worse. You could have reminded her of Maedhros."
"Unlikely, considering his... 'attachment' to Fingon."
"That's my point."
"Oh." Glorfindel thought for a moment. "Most recent kiss?"
"Gildor. Not long after we first arrived here, before he decided he wanted to go wandering. You?"
"Celebrian's latest lady-in-waiting. Um. I can't remember her name."
"Minuial. I thought you gave up on her two years ago."
Erestor heard a soft rustling, and then he felt Glorfindel's arm slide around his shoulders. "Hey, Erestor - "
"Did you mean it?" he asked abruptly.
"Did I mean what?" Glorfindel asked, confused.
"What you told me last year. About being - "
"Absolutely, totally, one-hundred-percent crazy in love with you," Glorfindel finished. "Yeah."
"Yeah." Glorfindel leaned over, feeling the warmth of Erestor's breath on his nose. He tilted his head a fraction of an angle, and moved the last few inches to seal his mouth over Erestor's.
Erestor sighed into the kiss, putting up remarkably little resistance. Just as his arms started to reach up to wrap around Glorfindel's neck -
"MERCIFUL MANWE!" came a shriek from the now-open door. "I'M SCARRED FOR LIFE!"
Glorfindel jerked back, then relaxed at the sound of footsteps rapidly heading away. "Look, Erestor, I'm - "
"CAPTAIN GLORFINDEL WAS KISSING COUNSELOR ERESTOR IN THE CLOSET!" echoed down the hall. The sound of a maid's gasp followed promptly after.
" - off to hold Lindir down so you can beat him to a bloody pulp," Glorfindel sighed, resting his forehead against Erestor's. "You don't have to say anything, I mean, I know we were in a closet and it was dark and you probably wouldn't have let me do that if you could see it coming - "
Erestor leaned up and kissed Glorfindel quickly. "It's all right. Go find Lindir. We can trade off holding him down. I'm sure you want to get a few punches in, too."
"Um. Right. Beatings." Glorfindel got to his feet and staggered off. "Oi! Lindir! Get back here! I need to kiss you! Dammit, I mean kill you! Or, wait..."
Erestor leaned back against the closet wall, eyes sparkling, and began to laugh.
24. good night
Glorfindel lay quietly in his warm, comfortable bed, thoroughly reveling in the afterglow and the resulting lassitude that weighed down his limbs. He was unhappily jolted out of it only when he felt his bedmate stirring in preparation to rise. "Where are you going?" he yawned, too relaxed to muster up a proper show of indignation.
"To bed," Erestor replied, in tones that implied that only a total idiot (which Glorfindel clearly was) would have needed to ask.
"Erestor, you're already in bed."
"My bed," Erestor specified, sighing. "We do have to get up tomorrow morning, you know."
"Um... so?" Glorfindel was genuinely confused, but when dealing with a creature as contrary as Erestor, he'd grown accustomed to it.
"So, I need sleep, which I won't get if we end up going another round. So I'm removing you from temptation. And I didn't bring a change of clothes with me." He paused, then looked pointedly down at his wrist. "Glorfindel, you can let go now."
"I... look, I'm not good at explaining these things. But I don't want... this... to be something where you can't stay the night. I realize you don't have much reason to believe me yet, but I love you, and I want you to stay, even if it's just to sleep - "
Erestor, losing patience with Glorfindel's rambling monologue, leaned down to cut him off with a kiss. "Good night, Glorfindel."
"You can borrow one of my robes in the morning," Glorfindel continued, not having quite processed yet the fact that Erestor was wriggling back under the covers.
"It wouldn't fit. Good night, Glorfindel." Erestor's voice was sharp, but he pulled Glorfindel's arm to lie across his chest with unaccustomed gentleness. Glorfindel nuzzled the back of his neck briefly in reply.
"Good night, Erestor."
Erestor woke with the sun shining directly into his eyes and a warm, wet sensation tracing patterns around his belly-button. "New curtains," he muttered, still half-asleep. "Any curtains. And - " Then the warm, wet feeling dipped into his navel, and he jerked upright, yelping. Glorfindel grinned up at him, a mischievous light in his eyes. "Glorfindel! We have a meeting to prepare for, so get your tongue right out of there and - SWEET NIENNA PUT IT BACK AGAIN."
Glorfindel happily obliged, and by the time Elrond came looking for his wayward Captain, both he and the good Counselor were fast asleep once more in the sun-bathed, messy sheets. Elrond smiled and locked the door as he exited, since there were, after all, many things in life more important than meetings, leaving behind the aftermath of a very good night indeed.
13. excessive chain
Erestor sat quietly in a corner of the banquet hall, nibbling on bread and cheese as he mowed through an immense stack of paperwork. Elrond had ordered him to attend the feast held in honor of Lady Galadriel's visit, but he had neglected to specify that his anti-social advisor participate in the festivities in any way beyond his presence; hence the pile of work. Every once in a while he would look up and glance around for the source of a particularly good-natured laugh, but otherwise he might as well have been holed up in his office.
"Why, Lord Glorfindel!" exclaimed one of Galadriel's ladies-in-waiting, loudly enough to be heard across the hall. "You are excessively charming, my good lord, and as a penalty for your outrageous compliments, I must demand the favor of a dance!"
"The favor would be granted to me alone," Glorfindel declared gallantly, and swept the chatty she-elf off to the dance floor to the accompaniment of much giggling from her friends. Erestor bit his lip and tried to concentrate on his work.
"Erestor?" Melpomaen sat down beside him. "You don't have to do that right now, do you?"
"I suppose not," Erestor sighed, "but it's better than making polite conversation."
"There is that," the younger elf agreed softly. He scooted closer to Erestor and placed a hand over his - the one not holding a pen. "I'll help."
"It's not necessary, child," Erestor said, smiling fondly at his assistant. "Go enjoy yourself. Surely one of the ladies of Lorien would like a dance?"
"I'd rather stay with you," Melpomaen replied firmly, and took a piece of parchment from the top of the stack. "Dinner menus? You must be desperate for an excuse to escape from company if you're reviewing these."
Erestor laughed. "Only a little."
Glorfindel glanced over at the two dark-haired elves sitting together in the corner as he returned the blond lady - he couldn't recall her name to save his life - to her friends. Erestor patted Melpomaen on the shoulder, smiling, and bent over a scroll with him. An inscrutable look flashed across Glorfindel's face, and he turned his attention back to his flock of female admirers.
"Well, that's done," Erestor proclaimed, rolling up the last scroll. Melpomaen yawned, and then blushed furiously. "And not a moment too soon, hmm, child? Off to bed with you."
Melpomaen smiled shyly. "Good night, lord Erestor."
"I've told you a dozen times, call me Erestor. Sweet dreams, young one." Erestor kissed Melpomaen's forehead gently and shooed him away.
Glorfindel's eyes glinted, and he bowed abruptly to his cooing coterie. "I fear I must bid you all good night, my ladies." He walked off without waiting for their farewells.
Erestor was still gathering up his armful of parchment went Glorfindel came up behind him. "Let's go, Erestor." Erestor jumped, and dropped a scroll.
"Oh! Glorfindel. Could you pick that up, please?"
Glorfindel scowled, snatched up the scroll, and seized Erestor by the arm, all but dragging him out of the room. "We're leaving now ."
"Glorfindel - Glorfindel! What's gotten into you?" Erestor demanded crossly, forced to trot to keep up with the blond elf's longer legs.
"Nothing," Glorfindel gritted out, and hauled Erestor the rest of the distance to his suite. He threw the door open, shoved Erestor inside (scrolls and all) and slammed the door behind them.
"What is wrong with you?" Erestor snapped, carefully placing his documents on Glorfindel's never-used desk.
Glorfindel, still standing by the doorway, spun around to face Erestor. "Do you even care at all?"
"What? Glorfindel, have you been drinking?"
"Answer the question! Do you care at all about me?"
Erestor stared in shocked silence.
"Never mind. Of course you don't. If you did, you would have cared what I did with all those stupid ladies from Lothlorien. Instead you went off to flirt with Melpomaen. Why would I think you cared?"
"I - flirt? With Melpomaen? He's a quarter my age - if that! How could you even think I would - "
"Because you were!" Glorfindel shouted. "Do you think I'm blind? I've seen the way he looks at you! And you! Kissing him good-night! Did you even notice that I was trying to make you jealous?"
Erestor pressed his palms to his eyes. "I noticed you were off making friends with attractive ladies, which seems to be your second-favorite occupation in life. Are you saying that you want me to be jealous?"
"Mordor! Of course I do! I want you to rant and scream and tell me if I touch another woman you'll chop off my hands! At least then I'd know you had some slight interest in continuing this whatever-this-is with me!"
Inhalation, exhalation, inhalation. "Glorfindel. If you touch a woman while you're sleeping with me, I'll bypass your hands and chop off your balls. If you so much as look at someone who isn't me, male or female, with lewd intent, I will put out your eyes with a writing quill. Happy now?"
Glorfindel blinked. "Ah. Yes. Very. Thank you."
"Lovely. Shall we proceed straight to the make-up sex, then?"
"Mmmm..." Glorfindel swayed slightly on his feet. "I would, except I feel rather dizzy. I'm afraid I might be a trifle drunk..." With that, he collapsed into a heap on the ground.
"Considering all I put up with, you should have no doubt this is true love," Erestor muttered, and helped Glorfindel stumble into bed.
Glorfindel looked up, only mildly curious, at Erestor's furious howl and the slam of the door as it was shut behind the advancing advisor. "Yes, dear?"
"YOUR MINION HAS SEDUCED MY SECRETARY! PRODUCE HIM FORTHWITH SO I MAY GUT HIM LIKE THE SNAKE HE IS!"
Glorfindel blinked. "I have minions?"
Erestor made a sound normally only emitted by boiling teakettles. "Get your blond minstrel friend out here this instant. I will discuss semantics with you after I castrate him."
"He's Elrond's minstrel when he's doing something useful, he's my minion whenever he annoys you," Glorfindel muttered under his breath. "I don't know where Lindir is, Erestor. Have you considered checking with Melpomaen?"
Erestor's face went red with badly suppressed rage. "How long have you known about them?"
"If you mean by 'them' the fact that they're sleeping together, about a week. They've hardly been the souls of discretion, darling."
"Very well," Erestor hissed. "But if that wretch of a hack songwriter breaks Melpomaen's heart, you are not sleeping in my bed, Glorfindel, do I make myself clear?"
"If Lindir breaks Melpomaen's heart, I will go and smash his fingers myself," Glorfindel said soothingly.
Erestor glared. "I am going to go find Melpomaen," he announced coldly, and stormed out of the room.
"Is he gone?" came a voice from under Glorfindel's desk.
"Yes, you half-wit," Glorfindel replied wearily. "Get out, please."
"You could have been a little more protective of your friend, you know," Lindir said as he crawled out from beneath the desk. "Offering to break my fingers wasn't very nice."
"I said I'd hide you from Erestor today. I never said anything about sacrificing my love-life for yours. Did you have to go and sleep with Melpomaen?" Glorfindel demanded. "Anyone else in the Valley would have been a safer choice. Mordor, Elrond would have been a safer choice."
"Yes," Lindir said dreamily. "His hair is like the night sky when the stars are out, and his skin is soft as silk and pale as cream. His eyes are bright as gemstones - I composed a song to them - "
"Shut up. Please. Hiding you from Erestor's wrath is one thing; listening to your trite love-ballads is another. And Melpomaen's eyes are brown."
"Such a plebeian word could never describe his orbs of delight!" Lindir protested passionately. "Say rather chestnut, mahogany, mere shades warmer and lighter than ebony..."
Glorfindel put his head on his desk and his hands over his ears. The things he went through for friendship.
Erestor slipped into bed beside Glorfindel long after his lover had turned in. Glorfindel nuzzled at him, half-asleep, before opening his eyes. "Did you talk to Melpomaen?" he asked, yawning.
"Mmm. Yes. For the moment, I shall leave Lindir's elfhood intact."
"Oh, good," Glorfindel sighed. "Imagine how much more unpleasant all those high-pitched love songs would be if he were singing soprano."
"Be quiet," Erestor ordered, and kissed him to enforce it.
"Is this going to be a problem?" Glorfindel mused, some time later, his arms wrapped securely around his lover as they curled up on messy sheets. "That my friend and your student are together, I mean."
"I don't think so," Erestor replied sleepily. "I was overreacting today. I'll try not to let them affect us too much."
"I like it when they affect us like this," Glorfindel remarked suggestively. Erestor groped behind his back for a pillow, whacked Glorfindel with it half-heartedly, and cuddled up against the blond as he dozed off to sleep.
1. look over here
"Hey, Erestor." Glorfindel perched on the edge of Erestor's desk, peering down at the various papers scattered all over. "What are you writing?"
"Work," Erestor mumbled. "Go away."
"E-res-tor," Glorfindel whined, pouting. Erestor ignored him. "Erestor!"
Silence, save for the scritching of Erestor's pen.
"Well, fine." Glorfindel jumped down and stormed out of the room. At the sound of the door slamming shut, Erestor finally glanced up.
"What?" He looked around, puzzled. "Where did... oh well." He shrugged, and went back to work.
"...and he never pays attention to me, I might as well be involved with his bloody desk for all the affection I get -"
Arwen, age three, gurgled sympathetically.
"Well, at least you understand," Glorfindel sighed, placated. Arwen eyed him in consideration, then hurled her favorite stuffed toy at his head. Glorfindel caught it with the reflexes of either a battle-tried warrior or an experienced parent. "No, I don't think starting a fight would work," he told her, frowning. She blew spit-bubbles at him, and he laughed softly. "Well, maybe that might do it. I bow to your feminine perspective." Glorfindel exited the nursery, whistling. Arwen yawned and curled up for a nap, sucking firmly on her thumb. Relationship counseling was so tiring.
Glorfindel bided his time through dinner, while Erestor picked sleepily at his food. Even the twins seemed too tired to manage any spectacular mischief, much to their mother's relief, so all in all it was a fairly boring meal. By the end of it, however, Elrond was staring suspiciously at Glorfindel, disturbed by the blond's air of suppressed excitement.
As the dishes were cleared away, Erestor shuffled off to his room, and Glorfindel bounced along after him. "Erestor!"
The dark-haired elf kept on walking. "What do you want?"
Glorfindel wilted. Shot down again. "Um... well, I just thought, maybe, if you aren't busy, we could play a game of chess after dinner...?"
"You hate chess, and I'm tired."
Double strike out. "Well... then maybe we could have a glass of wine in my rooms?"
"Some other time."
Third time was clearly not the charm, and Glorfindel had exhausted both his planning facilities and his patience. As Erestor fumbled in his pocket for his key, Glorfindel flung himself, arms spread wide, in front of the other elf's door. "Look at me!" he begged passionately. "Pay attention to me! Look me in the face when you talk to me, for the love of all the Valar! Am I invisible?!"
Erestor looked at him calmly. "Is this why you've been pestering me all day?"
Glorfindel deflated. "Um... yes."
"I see. Glorfindel, I've been busy and I'm tired. If you're feeling neglected, it would expedite the process of apologizing and making up if you would just say so." He stood on tip-toe long enough to press a light kiss to Glorfindel's mouth. While the blond was still gaping in shock, he slipped past him, entered his room, and shut the door. The sound of the lock snicking shut snapped Glorfindel out of his reverie.
"What? That's it? One kiss? Erestor, that's not fair! I've been upset all day - I should get more than just one kiss!"
He could just hear Erestor's low, rich laughter through the thick door. "Some other time, Glorfindel."
8. our own world
"Erestor, you can't possibly need all these books," Glorfindel protested, staring at the vast stacks of scrolls and volumes waiting to be packed up and transferred from the North Wing (where Erestor's apartments were located) to the West (Glorfindel's residence).
"Yes, I most certainly can," Erestor snapped. He'd been getting progressively edgier as the day of the Big Move approached. Even Glorfindel (notoriously oblivious) had noticed. "And if you don't want to move them, well, you can always move in here instead."
"Erestor. Darling. I love you. But you live in a cave. I'm surprised you didn't transform into a dwarf in those long years before I met you and brought sunshine into your life." Glorfindel beamed and swooped down on his lover with the intent of bestowing a kiss upon him. Erestor batted him away with a snarl.
"Just go away, you useless, brainless sack of muscles! I'm trying to work!"
Glorfindel backed away, eyes wide. Erestor went off on tears less frequently now than he had prior to his relationship with Glorfindel, but when he did, the only strategy that ensured survival was still running like all nine Nazgul were after you. Even Elrond fled from Erestor in a temper. "I'll be in the bedroom," he said very quietly, and made his escape.
Erestor finished packing up and labeling about half his collection in record time. He always worked faster when he was angry, and he was absolutely furious, for no especial reason, with Glorfindel.
But Erestor did have an awfully large number of books, so by the time he was half-done packing, supper had come and gone. There were no windows in his study, but he sensed - from the guttering candles and his aching back - that had been working for for about eight hours, which made it, by Erestor's ever-precise calculations, about 10 o'clock at night. He emerged from the study fully expecting to find his bedroom empty; Glorfindel usually had enough good sense to get away from him when he was in a mood.
Erestor's predictions, never as accurate with people as they were with numbers, failed him with Glorfindel once again. The blond elf was curled up on top of the bedspread, fast asleep. His hair was a mess, and his nose was scrunched up. Erestor looked at him, and felt any residual anger melt away.
He climbed onto the bed and leaned over Glorfindel. His bed was considerably smaller than Glorfindel's; they always had to sleep squashed together when Glorfindel stayed the night in Erestor's room. Erestor had always liked sleeping so close to Glorfindel, though he would never admit it. Glorfindel's bed had enough room for both of them to stretch out comfortably, which had featured second in his summation of why Erestor should move in with him (immediately following the "cave" argument).
Even before he woke up, Glorfindel rolled over towards the fresh source of heat and flung an arm over Erestor. The dark-haired elf smiled helplessly and ducked down to press a quick kiss to Glorfindel's cheek. The arm around his shoulders tightened, pressing him to Glorfindel's side. "'Morning," Glorfindel mumbled, nuzzling Erestor's neck.
"It's still night," Erestor corrected mildly, squirming slightly at the ticklish sensation of Glorfindel's cold nose rubbing against his throat.
"Blargle," Glorfindel muttered incoherently in response. He rolled over again, this time taking Erestor with him, so that the slighter elf rested firmly trapped beneath him. Bright blue eyes focused and stared down into Erestor's dark ones. "You don't have to move in with me if you really don't want to," he said abruptly. "I don't have all that much stuff; I can move in here. Really," he added, rushing on when Erestor made as if to interrupt. "I don't care where we live, so long as we're there together." He paused to consider the utter sap content of his last comment, went dull red, and buried his face in Erestor's shoulder to hide his blush.
"It's all right," Erestor said softly, stroking Glorfindel's hair soothingly. "Your rooms are nicer. And we can move my books in installments." Now that he thought about it, Glorfindel always snuggled up to a warm body, no matter whose bed they were in. And even if it never would have occurred to him to want one, the balcony in Glorfindel's apartments was pleasant to relax on during warm summer nights. And, well, he would be living with Glorfindel. It would work out somehow.
"Erestor, love of my life, if you think I'm moving those books for you, you're insane." Glorfindel leaned down to kiss any indignant objections from Erestor's lips, and added thoughtfully as he pulled away, "That's what servants are for."
"Hmm?" Erestor yawned and sat up, glancing around the bedroom for his lover. Glorfindel was nowhere to be seen. "Glorfindel, did you say something?"
"Yes." The blond elf emerged from their closet, dressed only in a shirt. Erestor's stomach flipped as he took in all the bare, muscled thigh on display, and he stretched languorously, hoping that Glorfindel would take the hint and come back to bed. "Erestor, why is every single item of clothing you possess black?"
Erestor suppressed a snarl and settled for a brief glare. Glorfindel was not going to ruin his mood. "Does it matter?" he asked, climbing out of bed. He neglected to take the sheet with him, revealing that he was not wearing black at the moment. Or anything, for that matter. A quick toss of his head sent his hair tumbling out of its loose knot to frame his face as he pouted seductively at Glorfindel.
"Well, not really, I suppose," Glorfindel admitted. Yes! Victory! Erestor thought triumphantly. "It's just a little odd that you wouldn't even have any blue. It seems rather morbid to walk around dressed in black all the time."
"Do we really need to discuss this now?" Erestor forced out from between gritted teeth. If Glorfindel didn't stop talking and put his mouth to better use very soon...
"But we'll have more important things to do later. We always do. And - "
Glorfindel was forced to break off his remark as Erestor, out of patience, launched himself at his half-naked lover and latched onto his mouth. "Bed. Sex. Now," he growled, taking advantage of Glorfindel's distraction by ripping off his shirt.
"Huh? Oh. Oh! Right!" As Glorfindel scooped him up and carried him the short distance back to bed, the tiny corner of Erestor's mind that was not yet wholly distracted by the potential of any situation that contained a completely naked Glorfindel and a bed smugly considered the topic well and truly dropped.
A few weeks later, however, it resurfaced in the form of a neat package on their messily made bed. "I, um, thought you might like to try a different color for once," Glorfindel explained awkwardly.
"Like what?" Erestor asked warily.
"Right." Shrugging, Erestor untied the wrapping and took out the contents. There was a long pause as he examined it, eyebrows inching ever higher. "Glorfindel," he said finally, "there is no way I am ever wearing this in public."
"I kind of only wanted you to wear it in private, anyway," Glorfindel admitted, turning violently crimson.
"Well, then." Erestor folded up the little red number and looked over at his lover, smirking. "Why don't you convince me?"
12. in a good mood
Elrond looked out the window of his office and sighed. The sky was a miserable shade of gray, and precipitation that couldn't decide whether it wanted to be fog, drizzle or a very light snow-flurry only added to the general gloom. Glorfindel, unsurprisingly, was late for a meeting. Glorfindel hated rain - hated any weather that wasn't sunny, really - but worst of all, he loathed the uncertain, waiting feeling that accompanied wet, cloudy days. Better an honest thunderstorm, he would always say, scowling. Working with him in bad weather was an unholy bitch.
Just as Elrond began to contemplate the wisdom of adjourning for a very lengthy lunch break, Glorfindel wandered into the office, whistling the tune to an extremely bawdy drinking song. He was even in tune. Elrond stared. "Ah, good morning, Glorfindel."
"Good morning, Elrond!" Glorfindel replied genially. "Shall we get to work on that armory budget?"
Now Elrond was starting to suspect that Glorfindel had either been kidnapped and impersonated, or possessed. He practically needed to hold the blond warrior at swordpoint to get him to so much as look at a ledger sheet. He claimed that the numbers gave him a headache. "You seem rather... chipper... this morning, Glorfindel."
"And why shouldn't I be?" Glorfindel asked merrily. "It's a beautiful day!"
Elrond glanced out the window again, just to check whether he had hallucinated the view earlier. It was still gray, wet and cold.
Before he could test his captain of the guard for fever or demonic residue, Melpomaen, Erestor's assistant, burst into the room. "Lord Elrond, you have to come now! Master Erestor is sick!"
Elrond immediately rose, alarmed. "Whatever is the matter with him?"
"He was late this morning - late! Master Erestor! - and now working on the correspondence with Lothlorien, he just keeps staring out the window and sighing! He must be sick!"
Glorfindel looked up from the budget sheet in front of him. "He was perfectly healthy earlier this morning... even energetic, I'd say." One eyebrow tilted upwards suggestively.
"Ah," Elrond said eloquently. That solved a number of mysteries, really.
"Here's your budget," Glorfindel added, dropping the scribbled-out sheet of parchment in front of Elrond. "I think I might go visit Erestor for lunch." He kissed both Elrond and Melpomaen on the cheek in an overflow of excess affection, and waltzed out, singing to himself.
"Lord Elrond?" Melpomaen asked, gazing after Glorfindel in confusion.
"Just sit down and don't think about it," Elrond sighed. He picked up the budget and scanned it quickly. All seemed to be in order, wonder of wonders... wait, since when was scented massage oil part of the armory stock? "GLORFINDEL!"
"What in the name of Iluvatar...?" Celeborn muttered to himself as he looked over the latest packet of official documents from Rivendell.
"What's the matter, dear?" his wife inquired, leaning over his shoulder to examine the letter in his hands.
It was a sheet of paper completely covered with doodles of Glorfindel's name inside hearts of varying sizes.
"It looks like Erestor's handwriting, but..."
"Oh. That," Galadriel interrupted. "Don't worry about it, darling. It's not important."
"But - "
She cut him off with a kiss. "Really, darling," she repeated, settling into his lap. "Don't worry about it."
As he generally did in such situations, Celeborn decided to simply take his wife's advice. After all, he had more pressing matters to attend to.
"Stop being such an enormous baby about this, Glorfindel."
"Well, it will hurt worse if it gets infected, so sit still and let me stitch it shut!"
"You could be a little gentler, you know!"
"I would be gentler if you would stop moving the cheek I'm trying to sew up!"
"Well - "
"Shut up. Both of you. The sooner this gets done, the sooner we can all go back to our rooms and forget that this little temper tantrum ever happened."
Both Elrond and Glorfindel glanced back at Erestor, suddenly reminded of his presence in the otherwise-empty Hall of Healing. Glorfindel began to protest, but it wilted under Erestor's glare.
"There, all set," Elrond said a few minutes later, after stitching up the slice in Glorfindel's cheek as quickly as possible. "Use this salve on it three times a day, and if it feels at all hot or swollen, come right to me. I'm going to bed." He nodded to Erestor and left the room before either of them could wish him a good night.
Glorfindel sat quietly and waited. He was not long in suspense. "You're an idiot. You've killed more orcs than anyone can count, frightened off a Nazgul, defeated a Balrog, for pity's sake, and you can't duck a swing in a practice match?"
"I'm sorry," Glorfindel sighed.
"Well, you should be," Erestor sniffed, but most of the wind had been taken from his sails by Glorfindel's easy acquiescence. "Come on, let's go to our rooms. I hate this hall. It's depressing."
Glorfindel followed Erestor obediently, seeming lost in thought. Erestor glanced back at him worriedly several times, and when they finally reached their bedroom, he asked, "Is everything all right?"
"Are you angry?"
Erestor blinked. "I'm angry that you frightened me."
"No, I mean, are you angry that my face will be scarred now? It'll probably be ugly."
"Don't be ridiculous," Erestor said dismissively. "Elrond's an excellent healer, and I'm sure any scarring will fade eventually. And anyway," he added, pressing a gentle kiss just to the side of Glorfindel's stitches, "I think it'll look rather dashing."
4. our distance and that person
The blond warrior stared out the window.
He heaved a deep, broody sigh.
"Hmm?" Glorfindel finally looked up. "Oh, hello, Lord Elrond. What is it?"
"Sweet Eru, you're impossible," Elrond muttered in disgust. "Reports, Glorfindel. That were due on my desk a week ago. Where are they?"
"Oh..." Glorfindel looked drearily down at the mess of scrawled-upon paper on his desk as if he expected the reports in question to suddenly materialize. "I don't know, Lord Elrond... I might have forgotten them."
Elrond exhaled on a count to ten. Then he inhaled on a count to twenty. In Dwarvish. Then, because all the counting had done nothing to cool his temper, he started shrieking like a Nazgul out of Mordor. "FOR THE LOVE OF VARDA, WHY DOES NOTHING GET DONE AROUND HERE WITHOUT ERESTOR? I WANT MY THRICE-BE-DAMNED REPORTS AND I WANT THEM NOW!"
"Erestor," Glorfindel murmured mournfully.
Elrond turned from bright red to deep purple. "Then go," he hissed. "You are worse than useless here. So just go to Mirkwood, and see your precious Erestor, and HAVE HIM TEACH YOU HOW TO FILE A VALAR-CURST REPORT ON TIME!"
Glorfindel's face lit up instantly. "Thank you, Lord Elrond!" he said cheerfully, and almost skipped out of the room. Elrond stared after him, gritted his teeth and manfully (half-elf-fully?) refrained from having an apoplexy.
"Really, Counselor," Thranduil said expansively, gesturing with his (several-times-refilled) wineglass. "You should loosen up a little. Have some wine."
"No, thank you," Erestor replied tightly, amending a clause on the twenty-sixth draft of the mutual-defense treaty between Mirkwood and Rivendell. He used red ink. Hopefully Thranduil's would catch the implicit threat, because if he had to revise draft twenty-seven, he was going to be extremely cranky. Ungoliath herself had nothing on Erestor when he was extremely cranky.
"Come, now!" Thranduil exclaimed. "Relax! The wine is good, negotiations are going well, and you have access to admire my unparalleled beauty! What's not to enjoy?"
"Erestor never relaxes," Lindir giggled tipsily at Thranduil's elbow, where he'd been matching the Mirkwood king sip for sip. He leaned over, and added, in a very loud stage whisper, "Except when Glorfindel's on top of him."
If there had been any justice in the world, Lindir would have died from all the poison in the glare Erestor shot him. He'd told Elrond he didn't want Lindir along on this mission. But no. "I don't want you to get lonely," Elrond had said. If it came down to that, Erestor would have preferred to have Glorfindel along. Diplomatically challenged as he might be, Thranduil's advisors would have probably been less obstinate with an armed Balrog-slayer breathing down their necks. Erestor began to fantasize about the expression on Thranduil's prime minister's face upon being threatened with Glorfindel's largest battle axe. His eyes were probably going dreamy, but Lindir and Thranduil were both too drunk to notice, anyway.
"Your majesty!" boomed Thranduil's herald. He was short and fat and Erestor suspected that he was secretly part-Dwarvish. "Lord Glorfindel of Imladris requests an audience!"
"Send him in!" Thranduil proclaimed loudly. "I want to see the elf who can get our dear frigid Counselor to unwind!"
Erestor stared at the door, frozen in shock. He wasn't sure if this was a dream or a nightmare.
Glorfindel sauntered in, ragged and dirty and looking better than anything Erestor had seen since he left Rivendell. "Hi, Thranduil," he said casually, with a very perfunctory bow. "I'm just here to pick up my little snuggle-bunny, if that's okay with you. I'll bring him back when I'm done with him. Um, say a week." Erestor's jaw dropped. Definitely a nightmare.
"Glorfindel, you - you - " he sputtered.
"Sure," Thranduil replied magnanimously. "Try the sandalwood oil in the bathroom, it smells better than the peppermint."
Erestor was making wordless, whistling sounds of inarticulate rage. Glorfindel unceremoniously picked him up, tossed him over his shoulder, and left the hall, Erestor's shrieks echoing behind them until the door slammed shut. "Glorfindel, you OAF! Let me GO! GLORFIN - "
Lindir staggered over to the table where Erestor had been working and picked up the sheaf of paper, neatly annotated in red ink. "Y'know, this is probably fine as it is," he suggested, bringing it over to Thranduil. "Why don't you just sign it?"
Thranduil frowned the frown of a thoughtful drunk. "But then Erestor wouldn't be around to tease anymore," he complained.
"Glorfindel would probably kill you if you tried, anyway."
"My advisors are getting a little annoyed at having to stall for so long," he admitted reluctantly. "I'll sign it if you make it worth my while."
Lindir smirked and straddled Thranduil's lap, and proceeded to give him a lengthy, sloppy kiss. "How's that?"
"Good enough," Thranduil replied. He signed the much-revised treaty in Erestor's red ink, then stood, Lindir still wrapped around his waist. "Come on, let's go try out the sandalwood oil before Glorfindel and Erestor use it all up."
Lindir giggled, and allowed himself to be carted out of Thranduil's throne room. And Erestor always said I had no talent for negotiation.
"Do you suppose they're really watching us?"
"Hmm?" Erestor cuddled up more tightly against Glorfindel's side. He was distinctly not used to sleeping outdoors, and it was cold.
"The stars," Glorfindel said, gesturing upwards with the arm that wasn't wrapped around Erestor. "Do you think they're watching us?"
"I'm sure they have better things to do than pay attention to everything going on down here," Erestor replied, smiling a little at Glorfindel's whimsy.
"Well, what if they got bored, and just happened to look down, right now?"
"Then they'd see, among other things, two elves camping out on the road to Lothlorien."
"It must be nice," Glorfindel mused. "To be able to see everything. We used to look up at the stars, when we were crossing the Ice, Ecthelion and I. He'd make up the most ridiculous stories about what the stars could see, to distract us from the cold..." His voice trailed off, and his arm tightened convulsively around Erestor.
"Maybe they are watching," Erestor said gently, nuzzling Glorfindel's neck. "The same stars, even. But they're probably happier to see you happy than sad, don't you think?" He leaned up a little, in spite of the cold, and kissed Glorfindel softly.
"See that star, right there?" he asked Glorfindel, pointing upwards. "That's Elrond's father. And right now, he's looking down a few miles further along the road, where the Galadhrim are having an orgy. And..."
And Erestor proceeded to make up the most ridiculous stories about what the stars could see, for no real reason at all.
14. radio-cassette player
"You know, if you just listen to the melody and try not to notice the words, it's really not that bad."
Erestor twisted around in Glorfindel's arms to give his lover a cold, level stare. "Your eternal font of optimism never fails to astonish."
"Oh, come on. I think it's rather sweet."
"Well, yes, that too. It's not Lindir's fault that he's in the throes of puppy love. Again."
"It's his fault that he wrote and then decided to inflict upon us, his long-suffering audience, the most trite love-ballad it has been my dubious honor to hear."
Glorfindel sighed. "Erestor, you don't have a romantic bone in your body."
"You would call that caterwauling 'romantic'?"
Glorfindel opened his mouth to answer, thought for a moment, then shut it again. "Once again, you shine the cold hard light of logic on places best left unilluminated. Such as Lindir's bizarre courting rituals."
Erestor smirked, pleased to have been proven right once again, and snuggled closer to Glorfindel. "I wouldn't mind so much if he wouldn't insist on singing so loudly, or at such an ungodly hour of night," he conceded.
"Ah. Well, it's about time for the object of his affections to-" The song was cut off by a splash and a loud yelp. "There we go. A bucket of cold water dumped on one's head does wonders to cool the passion of unrequited love."
Lindir's protestations of undying adoration resumed, even louder than before. After a few moments, there was another splash, and Lindir's singing dissolved into incoherent gargling.
"Or not," Glorfindel sighed.
"Mmm," Erestor replied. "Well, as I see it, we have two possible situations on our hands. In scenario one, Elrond gets sick of Lindir's singing, goes down to the courtyard, and beds him then and there just to shut him up. In scenario two, he retains enough patience to continue dumping water on him until he drowns. Neither is likely to actually occur tonight."
"You forgot scenario three," Glorfindel remarked morbidly. "Elrond stuffs his ears with candle wax."
"Fair enough. Either way, I doubt we'll get back to sleep anytime soon."
Glorfindel raised one eyebrow and bent his neck just enough to retrieve a slow, lingering kiss. "Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?"
"We might as well find something more - mmm, productive to do with the evening," Erestor answered, pausing for another lengthly kiss.
"Good idea..." Glorfindel murmured, running a fingertip over the tip of Erestor's right ear.
"Hmm... I do have all that correspondence from Mirkwood to go over," Erestor purred, making as if to slide out of bed.
Glorfindel immediately caught him by the shoulders and rolled over so that he was lying on top of his recalcitrant lover. "Oh, I can think of much more productive things to do."
"Can you now?" Erestor asked, the last word getting slightly lost in a gasp as Glorfindel began sucking on the soft skin right under Erestor's jaw.
In the distance, both elves heard Lindir start yet another appallingly sappy love song, but by then they were both far too involved in each other to care.
Glorfindel watched Estel bounce out of the suite he shared with Erestor, after his third bedtime story, with an exasperated sigh. "You know, you're half the reason that child is getting fat," he remarked.
"A little candy never hurt anyone," Erestor said defensively.
"A little," Glorfindel agreed. "You're constitutionally incapable of saying 'no' to him, so you let him have all the candy and stories and attention he wants, and if he weren't a generally good-natured child he'd be spoiled rotten by now."
"Well, he doesn't have a mother to fuss over him," Erestor replied softly. "I'd rather overcompensate than have him feel lonely, if it's all the same to you."
Glorfindel got up to stand behind Erestor, rubbing his shoulders. "No one's saying he doesn't deserve a little fussing over. But he's gotten so attached to you that he skips all his athletics to sit with you in the library, which is the other reason he's so pudgy, by the way, and he throws tantrums whenever you can't read his bedtime story, and... Erestor, I'm sorry, but you aren't his mother."
"It's not like I'll ever have children of my own," Erestor said, in tones that would have been sharp if they hadn't been so tired.
Glorfindel blinked. "Do you... want children?" He would have given Erestor anything he wanted, if he could, but this might prove problematic.
"No, not really," Erestor sighed. "But..."
Glorfindel pulled Erestor around and bent to kiss him, smiling at the taste of candy that lingered in his mouth. "If you want to be Estel's mother, go ahead, Erestor. Just bear in mind that mothers have to discipline their children, as well as fuss over them."
Erestor tilted his head back for another kiss, sugar-stained lips curved upwards. "All right."
"Estel? Sweetheart, don't you have lessons with Glorfindel now?" Erestor asked gently of the child reading quietly at his feet.
"Wanna stay here with you," Estel said, pouting.
"Well, you can't, little one," Erestor said firmly, picking up the child with the intention of carrying him to Glorfindel. His arms protested immediately, and he began to entertain the thought that his lover might have been right about the candy. As he staggered his way to the door, it opened of its own accord. Glorfindel, with his usual masterful grasp of the obvious, had determined his wayward pupil's location and come to retrieve him. "Oh! Glorfindel, thank you." He handed over the child, who immediately began to shriek.
"NO! WANT ERESTOR!"
Glorfindel glared at Erestor, mouthing a silent, "You see?" Erestor pinched the bridge of his nose, attempting to think through the rising volume of Estel's wailing.
"I'll come with you, all right?" he said at last, desperate to stop the screaming. "Would that be okay?"
Estel hiccuped, his face red and blotchy. "...I guess."
Erestor retrieved his book and followed Glorfindel down to the practice yard, musing as he went that perhaps Estel was a little spoiled.
28. Wada Calcium CD3
"I hate milk," Estel complained, scowling at the glass of white liquid in front of him. "I don't want to drink it."
"Ah, but milk makes you grow big and strong, like me!" Glorfindel chuckled. "Look at Erestor - he didn't drink his milk when he was little, and now he's short and skinny as a girl!"
"I wanna be just like Erestor when I grow up," Estel declared defiantly. "If he didn't drink milk, I won't either!"
"That one backfired on you," Erestor murmured in Glorfindel's ear, looking amused. Out loud to Elrond, he announced, "I'm going to go work in the library for a while. Send a messenger if you need me for anything."
"Can I come? Can I come?" Estel begged hopefully. "Can I come to the library with you, please, Erestor?"
Erestor laughed softly. "You have lessons with Glorfindel this morning. If you're good, you may come visit me after lunch." As he exited the hall, he paused and pressed a quick kiss to the top of the human child's head. "Drink your milk, Estel. It's good for you."
Estel watched Erestor leave with stars in his eyes, and obediently gulped down his milk. Glorfindel wondered vaguely if he ought to be jealous, and was forced to suppress a most un-elflike giggle.
Erestor was humming. Happily. It was beginning to get on Glorfindel's nerves. "Oh, honestly!" he finally burst out. "It's just a birthday! It's not like he'll never have one again!"
Erestor stopped humming, but Glorfindel's respite was short, for his dark-haired lover then pinned him with a paint-stripping glare even more unpleasant than his vaguely tuneless subvocalization. "He's only ten, Glorfindel. He's entitled to a bit of fuss. He's a mortal, after all - he won't have as opportunities for it as we do. And anyway, I'm certain you were rather more excited about birthdays when you were his age."
"When I was his age I was still running around in diapers," Glorfindel muttered rebelliously.
Erestor arched an eyebrow. "I wouldn't consider that something to brag about, you know."
"Whatever," Glorfindel grumbled. "I still don't see why he gets to pick his own presents."
"Oh, for the love of - if you want to choose your next birthday present from me, go ahead! But if you won't stop acting so childishly you won't be getting one."
"Perfect," Glorfindel purred immediately, his mood doing a prompt 180-degree spin. "I know exactly what I want."
Erestor looked at him warily. Finally he sighed. "You're going to tell me whether I want to know or not, aren't you."
"Well, how are you supposed to give me what I want if I don't tell you?"
The dark-haired elf frowned to himself for a moment, clearly trying to find the hole in the blond's logic, but failing. "All right, fine, what do you want?"
Glorfindel leaned in very close and whispered something in his ear. Erestor promptly went bright red and started to splutter. " Glorfindel! You - you - "
"Pervert?" Glorfindel inquired mildly. "A bit late for that, seeing how you already told me I could pick my present. That's what I want from you."
"But - there is no way I would ever do that, you sex-obsessed fiend - "
"Erestor!" They were interrupted by a plaintive, childish cry from outside the door. "Erestor, are you in there?"
Startled, Erestor paused briefly before replying, "Ah, yes, Estel. What's wrong?"
"It's midnight, and you promised me you'd spend my birthday with me!"
Erestor was already on his feet and moving toward the door when Glorfindel realized exactly what was about to happen to his romantic evening with his lover. "Oh no you don't - "
"The sun isn't even up yet, child; you should be asleep," Erestor gently chided the future King of Men. He was sucking his thumb. Glorfindel reflected in resignation that he'd never seen a less imposing figure - or one more likely to sway Erestor.
"But it's my birthday, Erestor! You promised!"
Erestor chuckled softly. "Well, and so I did. If I come with you will you go back to bed?"
Estel contemplated this solution with as much seriousness a ten-year-old with his thumb in his mouth could muster. "You have to stay with me, even after I fall asleep," he bargained.
"Very well, Estel." Erestor smiled indulgently down at him. "Since it is your birthday." He stooped and hefted the human child up in his arms with an audible grunt of effort. "Off we go."
"Ahem," Glorfindel coughed, giving Estel an extremely unfriendly look. "I believe you owe me something, Erestor."
"I do?" The slim elf blinked, and staggered slightly under the weight of the rather pudgy Heir of Isildur.
Glorfindel was across the room before he could even think about it. "Look, give him to me. I'll carry him."
"No! Want Erestor!" wailed Estel.
"It's just until we get to your room, brat; I have no desire to spend the night with you, trust me." Estel glared at him sulkily.
"Ah... thank you," Erestor said tactfully, and led the way to Estel's room. The child was soon tucked in with a minimum of fuss, and Erestor walked Glorfindel to the door to see him off.
"So... what did I owe you, again?"
"Hmm? Oh. Good-night kiss," Glorfindel replied, running his fingers through a loose lock of hair hanging in Erestor's face. "I don't suppose I can convince you to come back to bed with me?"
"No," Erestor answered wryly. "You can have the kiss, though."
"Well, I'll take what I can get." Glorfindel bent down to retrieve his kiss, perhaps with undue urgency. He bumped first noses, then teeth with Erestor; things were just starting to heat up when they were rudely cut off, once again, by Estel's summons.
Glorfindel headed back to the suite he shared with Erestor, humming softly (and tunelessly) to himself. At this rate, Erestor was going to owe him two birthday presents.
26. if only I could make you mine
Estel was sitting out in the garden, waiting for someone to notice that he was missing. Since he was supposed to be at sword-lessons with Glorfindel, and Glorfindel was busy, it was highly unlike that anyone would miss him until dinner, but he stayed put all the same. That way no one was likely to notice his red nose or periodic sniffles. He was a thirteen-year-old boy, and he wasn't crying. It was just a hay fever attack, but he didn't feel like explaining that to anyone at the moment, especially to an elf, who wouldn't actually know what hay fever was, since the species was completely immune.
It shouldn't have been a surprise. Glorfindel had been sniffing around Erestor for as long as he could remember. He'd just thought that Erestor was above that kind of stuff. And above people like Glorfindel.
Judging from the breathless way Erestor had been laughing between kisses, Estel had been wrong on both counts. But Estel didn't care. Really. Not at all. If Erestor liked having that blond dog slobber all over him, that was his business.
"Whatever is the matter, dear? You look so unhappy, and it's such a lovely day."
Well, that wasn't exactly the person he'd wanted to come find him, but any port in a storm, and any sympathetic ear in a fit of teenage angst. "The person I'm in love with doesn't love me back," he said to the strange elf-maiden, bravely holding off tears.
"Well, I'm sure it can't be as bad as all that," the girl said kindly. "Maybe she'll change her mind?"
"It's a he, and he's in love with someone completely awful!" Estel cried. "Someone who'll never deserve him or love him as much as I do..."
"That's no reason to give up," she told him encouragingly. "Fight your rival for his affection! Nothing is hopeless, after all."
Estel's face brightened, and he beamed up at her. "You really think so?"
"Hmm... yes, but..." She reached out and gently wiped his face on her long, trailing sleeve. "Perhaps you ought to wash your face first."
"Thank you!" He flung both arms around her waist and kissed her cheek in a sudden fit of happiness, then hurried off.
"Oh! Who is your beloved?" she called after him, smiling uncontrollably.
"Erestor, Lord Elrond's chief advisor!" Estel shouted back to her. He vanished into the house, and she dissolved into helpless laughter.
"Well, good luck then, my little friend... you'll need it." She turned and headed towards her father's house herself, unaware that she and the boy she'd just given such useless love advice would meet again, not too far in the future by elven standards, in the woods of Lothlorien.
21. violence; pillage/plunder; extortion
The day that Lord Elrond's wayward foster son returned from his travels in the wild was one of great excitement in Rivendell, but it began quite slowly in the house of the half-elf. The previous evening had been a feast of some note, so many of the inhabitants of the fair valley had elected to remain in bed on that fine spring morning.
"Good morning to you all!" Elrond proclaimed brightly as he entered the feast hall. He alone of all those present was not suffering the unfortunate aftereffects of overindulgence. He was thus met with a variety of unfriendly looks.
"Good morning my - " Glorfindel began, but was cut off before he could voice whatever foul obscenity was lurking on his tongue.
"And where is our dear Master Erestor?" Elrond inquired, his usually solemn expression lit with the sparkle of mischief.
"Sleeping off his hangover, like a sane person," Glorfindel muttered.
Lindir raised his head off the table to fix his blood-shot gaze briefly upon the blond warrior. "That lightweight. He barely drank a full bottle."
"There may have been hard liquor licked off of various body parts after we retired to our rooms," Glorfindel admitted without the faintest trace of shame.
"He'd kill you if he heard you say that," Melpomaen remarked, his voice muffled, understandably since his face was hidden in his arms from any adventuresome ray of light.
"Then it's a good thing he isn't here, isn't it?" Glorfindel contemplated calling over a servant and requesting breakfast. His stomach rolled unhappily, and he reconsidered.
The doors of the great hall crashed open. Every elf within hearing distance, except Lord Elrond, winced and covered his ears in pain. Glorfindel went one step further, and squeezed his eyes shut against the light let in - the servants, with their usual thoughtful foresight, had covered all the windows before retiring the previous night, but the sun was in full evidence beyond the open door.
Thus he was completely unprepared for the slap of leather across his cheek. Without reopening his eyes, Glorfindel sighed, "Look, I haven't seduced an elf-maiden in centuries, so whatever your daughter or sister or wife says I did, it wasn't me - "
"Lord Glorfindel of the House of the Golden Flower," proclaimed the man, who was standing far too close for the comfort of Glorfindel's ears, "I, Aragorn son of Arathorn, do hereby challenge you to a duel, for the honor and affection of one Erestor of Rivendell."
Now Glorfindel cracked his eyelids slightly. "Excuse me, what?"
Estel glared down at him. "I swore to reclaim Erestor from your evil clutches, you lecher, and I will, as soon as I utterly humiliate you with my skill with the sword."
Glorfindel twitched. "If I agree to duel you, will you go away and let me nurse my hangover in peace?"
"You may have until this afternoon to prepare yourself," Estel agreed magnanimously.
"Oh, joy," Glorfindel muttered, and let his head fall down onto his folded arms. Estel stalked out of the hall, thankfully shutting the door behind him, although not without slamming it loudly enough to make all the elves in the hall cringe again.
"So," Lindir murmured to Elrond, "who wants to break it to Estel that dueling for another elf's lady is no longer considered valid legal practice and can lead to prosecution for rape?"
Elrond snorted. "If he'd paid attention to his books during his history lessons instead of staring at Erestor, he'd know that already. Besides, this is even more amusing than watching all of you flinch at loud noises."
"I'm glad my pain is serving you as entertainment, my lord," Glorfindel groaned sarcastically. "What would your medical advice suggest?"
"Hair of the dog that bit you," Elrond replied promptly, and raised his voice to shout, "Someone bring Lord Glorfindel a goblet of mead! We have to get him in top form for his duel this afternoon!" He took a certain sadistic pleasure as everyone around him went pale(r) and clutched at their ears.
Several hours later, Glorfindel was feeling considerably less pain. Lindir, who had partaken almost as heartily of Elrond's "medicine," and Melpomaen, who had exercised a bit more restraint, finally stopped drinking in favor of watching Glorfindel. "Should you really be drinking before you fight?" Lindir asked curiously, if a trifle belatedly.
"I would think the alcohol would dull your reflexes," Melpomaen chimed in, frowning.
Elrond chuckled. "Ah, Glorfindel fights beautifully in a drunken stupor. The brawls in the Men's camp the night before we stormed Mount Doom... a sight to behold indeed."
"I wouldn't say beautifully," Glorfindel sighed, "but better drunk than hungover, at any rate." He gazed mournfully down at his empty goblet, then set it aside. "Enough of that. I want to be able to move tomorrow morning."
"Tomorrow morning, you'll be too dead to worry," Estel proclaimed grandly. He had entered the hall just in time to catch Glorfindel's last comment.
"Estel!" Elrond said sharply. "There will be no killing, or talk of killing, in my home!"
"Sorry, Father," he said sheepishly, any trace of menace instantaneously gone. "First blood?"
"Acceptable," Elrond replied snippily. "This is nonsense and both of you know it."
"It is not nonsense!" Estel protested passionately. "Erestor is far too good for a brainless, muscle-bound idiot like Glorfindel!"
"And Erestor would probably be the first to agree with you," Elrond sighed, "but it was his choice and not yours and you really aren't listening to me, are you?"
"No, Father," Estel answered automatically. Elrond buried his face in his hands.
"All right, let's get this over with," Glorfindel suggested in resignation, climbing to his feet. "Does anyone have a sword I can borrow?"
Estel spun around to glare at him. "You mock the gravity of my challenge!"
"No, I just don't have a sword," Glorfindel replied patiently. "I was eating breakfast when you stormed in to demand a duel. Well, I was thinking better of eating breakfast. Since then, I have been steadily drinking in the hopes that this idiocy will all disappear in a haze of alcohol. Thus, I have not had an opportunity to retrieve a weapon. So, either lend me one, or prepare to fight bare-handed."
Estel scowled, tried and failed to find fault with Glorfindel's explanation, and then unsheathed a long hunting knife from his side. "I don't have two swords. We'll have to use knives."
"Fair enough," Glorfindel said agreeably, and took the blade from Estel. He hefted it. "Nice knife."
Estel eyed him suspiciously. "It was a parting gift from the Dunedain."
"I'll do my best not to damage it, then." Glorfindel settled back into a fighting stance, as naturally as breathing, in the open space that had been cleared between tables. Estel matched him with a more conscious grace.
As Estel began his first swing, and Glorfindel started to shift into a parry, they were both distracted by a shriek from the doorway. Glorfindel jerked around to look; Estel completed his motion and sliced into the blond warrior's arm. "Glorfindel!"
Erestor bolted across the hall in a flash, seized Estel's knife by the blade, and threw it aside. "You idiot!" he shouted furiously, his voice cracking. His face was a sickly shade of white, and he appeared not to have noticed that his palm was bleeding profusely. "You STUPID, HALF-WITTED - "
"Don't EVER do that again!" Glorfindel screamed back at him. His face was ever paler than Erestor's. "Running into the middle of a duel, you could have been KILLED, what in the name of all the gods were you THINKING!"
"What was I thinking? What were you thinking?! You moronic twit, what were you doing, fighting in the middle of the hall - " Erestor scrubbed impatiently at the tears tracking down his cheeks, leaving bright red smudges of blood from the slice on his palm.
"Erestor. You're bleeding." Glorfindel grabbed his hand, any remaining trace of color draining out of his face. "Erestor. Erestor!" He pulled his lover into a strangling embrace, burying his face in Erestor's tangled dark hair. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Erestor, I'm sorry, please, just let Elrond look at your hand, all right?"
"You scared me half to death," Erestor whispered into Glorfindel's chest.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Glorfindel kept murmuring, pressing frantic kisses to the top of Erestor's head. "Please, let Elrond make sure you're all right?"
"It's just a scratch," Erestor said gently, holding up his hand for Glorfindel to see. "I'm fine. What about your arm?"
"What about it?" Glorfindel asked, distracted, as he examined the cut on Erestor's palm.
"That's rather more than a scratch," Elrond interrupted, gazing at the wound over Glorfindel's shoulder, "but you don't really need my help with it. It's a clean slice. Glorfindel, you're certainly competent enough to take care of it. And have Erestor wash off your arm before you bandage it up."
"Thank you, Lord Elrond," Erestor replied for both of them, as he and Glorfindel supported each other out of the hall.
Estel stared after them. "But I won."
Elrond started to laugh, still shaken by all the sudden action. "Try telling Erestor that."
16. invincible; unrivaled
"Look, Erestor, it really isn't that hard," Glorfindel sighed wearily. "You hold the sword. By the handle. It's also called the hilt. You lift the sword into the air. You then swing it at your opponent. You don't swing it at yourself. There's no way you could hurt yourself. The hurting comes when your opponent swings back. I won't attack you. I'll just block. You'll be fine."
Erestor glared suspiciously at the practice sword Glorfindel had pressed into his hand. "Do you remember what I told you about me and weapons, Glorfindel? They result in blood and pain. My blood and pain. Every weaponsmaster in Lindon tried and failed to teach me how to use one of these things. Gil-galad tried to teach me how to use one of these things. I broke the sword, sprained my ankle, and destroyed three mirrors in his practice salle in one afternoon."
"Erestor, the sword is made of wood," Glorfindel replied unsympathetically. "It is dull. There will be no blood, and the only pain will be mine, if you smack me too hard. Now swing the damn sword."
"Don't say I didn't warn you," Erestor muttered, and swung. Glorfindel blocked easily.
"See? That wasn't so bad. Now, shift your stance to the one I taught you. Your feet aren't aligned properly." Erestor glared, and shifted his feet. "Good! Try again."
Erestor lunged, tripped over his own feet in their unfamiliar configuration, and fell hard. One arm got caught between his body and the wooden practice sword; his free hand hit the ground in exactly the wrong way, trapped beneath the thick wooden blade. There was a loud snap.
"Only you, Erestor, could break that sword without trying," Glorfindel chuckled, bending down to help Erestor up. As he pulled his slender lover into a sitting position, he couldn't help but notice that Erestor was a deathly shade of pale. Also, the practice sword was completely intact.
"Ow," Erestor said distinctly, staring down at his wrist. It was bent at a highly unnatural angle. He paused briefly to think, then added, more emphatically, "Ow."
Glorfindel, widely held to be the greatest warrior of all time, the only living Balrog Slayer in the world, went a sickly green. "Oh. Oh."
"OW," Erestor reiterated, in case Glorfindel had missed the first two times, and passed out. Glorfindel shrieked like a girl. Several of his men immediately ran out of the room to fetch Elrond. The rest backed away, wisely, as Glorfindel proceeded to have a full-blown hyperventilating panic-attack.
"Oh, honestly, Glorfindel," Elrond said disgustedly as he hurried into the room, much to the relief of the guards. He pushed Glorfindel out of the way and examined Erestor's arm quickly. "It's just broken. You'd think he'd died, the way you're carrying on."
"But - but - Erestor - "
"Shut up," Elrond replied absently. He set Erestor's arm swiftly and efficiently, and splinted it using the wooden sword and strips of fabric torn from his outer robe. "Make yourself useful and bring him to the Halls of Healing so I can wrap that up properly, and stop fussing like a hysterical girl-child. He'll be fine in a few weeks."
"Yes, Elrond," Glorfindel said quietly, and obeyed.
"I suppose that could have been worse," Erestor said upon waking in the Halls of Healing.
Glorfindel, who had fallen asleep while kneeling at his bedside, jerked awake. "Erestor, I'm sorry! I shouldn't have - "
"It's fine," Erestor replied, yawning. "I wouldn't have let you make me if I didn't want to try it. I suppose you'll have to fight my duels for me for a while, though," he added with a faint smile.
"I'll win every challenge for you," Glorfindel vowed, half-serious.
"Good," Erestor teased. "My champion must be undefeated. My honor hangs in the balance."
Glorfindel got to his feet and bent over Erestor, his eyes strangely intent. "I'll protect you and your honor with my life," he promised fiercely. "I'll never let you get hurt again."
Erestor would have said something light-hearted to break the odd mood that seemed to have settled over the blond warrior, but he immediately leaned down and kissed Erestor's breath away, and by the time their lips parted, Erestor had forgotten what he wanted to say.
17. kHz (kilohertz)
Erestor stared down at the document on his desk, his lips pressed together into a thin white line. He'd drawn the proposal himself, drafted it, and gotten all the signatures to put it into effect -except his own. But all the Valar in the Undying Lands knew he didn't want to sign it.
Resisting the urge to crumple up the accursed paper into a ball and hurl it into the fire, he dipped his quill into his ink-pot and carefully added his own name to the list of approvals at the bottom of the sheet. He dusted sand over the parchment to dry the glistening ink, folded it precisely into thirds, and set it down on the pile of out-going documents. Then he slammed his quill down on his desk, threw his ink-bottle at the fireplace, and stormed out of his office to the tinkling accompaniment of shattering glass.
Elrond found him several hours later, asleep and curled up in a window-seat with a good view of the road into the Valley. He sat beside his wayward advisor and woke him with the gentle press of lips on his forehead. "You missed dinner," Elrond said mildly, watching Erestor's eyes flutter open.
"I wasn't hungry," Erestor replied flatly, turning to stare out the window again.
"You still need to eat." Elrond scooted closer and gazed cautiously down at Erestor's angry expression. The cold moonlight threw all the sharp, bony edges of Erestor's underfed face into even sharper relief. "He'll be home tomorrow, Erestor."
"And he'll leave the day after." Erestor shifted away from Elrond and pressed his cheek up against the windowpane. His breath had fogged up the glass beyond all hope of seeing through it before he spoke again.
"One week every four months, when we met. I could never wait until he was gone, and I barely blinked and he'd be back again with something new to annoy me with.
"Twenty years ago we decided it should be one week every three months. It wasn't quite safe anymore. Then one week every two months, then a week every month, then two, and I just signed the Valar-curst piece of parchment that says he's to be away three weeks in every four." His voice caught as he choked down tears, and he made no movement to resist as Elrond gathered him in his arms, stroking his back soothingly. "I can't eat and I can't sleep and every second he's away I'm afraid he'll do something unbelievably stupid and heroic and Glorfindel and get himself killed and I just want him to come home - "
Erestor began to cry, the sort of graceless, inelegant crying expected of small children, full of gasping sobs and hiccups. Elrond held him helplessly, murmuring comforting nonsense that they both knew meant nothing. As his tears slowed, Erestor whispered miserably, "Why couldn't this have happened when I still hated him?"
6. the space between dream and reality
"GLORFINDEL!" Erestor screamed and sat straight up in bed. Immediately he turned to his left, but the space that Glorfindel usually occupied was empty. Erestor gasped for breath, and began to sob in mindless fear.
"Erestor? Erestor!" Glorfindel bolted in from the next room, eyes wide. He flung himself down beside his lover and wrapped his arms around him. "Erestor, it's all right. It was just a dream. Shhhhhh. It's all right." Erestor continued crying, his chest heaving as he struggled for air between sobs. "Erestor, do you want some water?" He started to disentangle himself from Erestor to go fetch a drink, but the dark-haired elf seized him in a grip tight enough to cut off oxygen and blood-circulation.
"Don't leave me," Erestor begged hoarsely.
"I'm not leaving you," Glorfindel murmured soothingly, pressing a kiss to Erestor's forehead. "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere. Erestor, it's really all right."
Erestor's arms eventually loosened enough for comfort, and his tears slowed. Glorfindel held him patiently, stroking his back and wiping his cheeks once he could free a hand. "It's all right," he whispered softly into Erestor's pointed ear. "It's all right, Erestor, it's all right."
"I thought you weren't due back from patrol for another two days," Erestor finally managed to get out, his voice rough.
"We got back early," Glorfindel replied, frowning. "I didn't want to wake you up, so I was reading in the study."
"Next time, you can wake me up," Erestor said with painfully dry humor.
"Next time? Has this happened before?"
"Often enough," Erestor admitted, pulling Glorfindel down to lie on the bed beside him.
"But you've never had a nightmare when I'm sleeping with you..."
"Precisely," Erestor answered wryly.
"...oh." Glorfindel ran his fingers through his lover's sleep-tangled hair. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"No," Erestor said fiercely, his arms tightening like a vise around Glorfindel. "Just... stay put, all right?"
"All right." Glorfindel kept stroking Erestor's hair, as much out of habit now as any desire to comfort. "I could ask Elrond to let me stay in Imladris for more of the patrols if -" he offered hesitantly.
"NO," Erestor cut him off, sharper and angrier than before. "I'm not stupid, Glorfindel. I helped draw up those patrol schedules myself. I know you have to go." He shivered involuntarily. "It's more dangerous now. That's why you have to go."
"Erestor, I'll be fine, I pro-"
"Don't promise me that," Erestor snapped. "I don't want to hear it. Ever. Don't make promises you can't keep."
"All right," Glorfindel replied quietly.
Erestor squirmed in his arms, cuddling closer. "Just stay there, all right?" he asked, more softly. "I'll be fine in the morning."
"I'm not going anywhere," Glorfindel told him. He waited until Erestor's eyes had glazed over with dreams before he added, in a whisper of breath as he pressed his lips to Erestor's, "I promise."
20. the road home
"Er... Sam," Merry said nervously. "Do you get the impression that Mister Strider and his elfy friend don't get along too well?"
Sam glanced up the path to where Strider and the blond elf he had introduced as Glorfindel were engaged in a rather... spirited debate. But it was in Elvish, and with Master Frodo gone with the elf-lady, none of the hobbits could understand what was being said. Maybe Elvish always sounded angry.
"I'm sure Mister Strider and Mister Glorfindel would never endanger us by fighting on the road," he reassured Merry firmly. Then he looked back at Strider, hoping that his anxious gaze would somehow prevent the violence hanging over the two warriors from exploding.
"When this is all over, you insolent whelp, we shall have this out once and for all, and I shall render you of considerably less use to darling Arwen before I am through," Glorfindel hissed from between gritted teeth, glaring at Aragorn.
"Only in your wildest fancies," Aragorn retorted. "I beat you once; I'll beat you a second time."
"I was bloody well distracted and hung-over, and I taught you everything you know, you ungrateful brat."
"Is it not a fine day when the student surpasses his teacher?" Aragorn asked innocently.
Glorfindel snarled. "I should beat you unconscious and have your horse-thieving lady sew your braggart mouth shut, and were Erestor not so misguidedly fond of you, believe me, I would."
"Horse-thieving?" Aragorn repeated indignantly. "Arwen is not a thief!"
"She stole my horse!" Glorfindel replied with considerable frustration. "An entire stableful to choose from, and she had to steal mine!"
"Asfaloth is the fastest horse in Father's stable, and how did you get here anyway, if she took your horse?"
"I stole Erestor's," Glorfindel answered promptly.
Aragorn stopped dead and stared at him.
"What? Erestor can't ride her. Isn't that right, Firesnap?" Glorfindel crooned, stroking his stolen mare's nose. The horse immediately attempted to bite off his hand; Glorfindel pulled it back just in time. "Bad Firesnap," he reprimanded the mare mildly. "No apples for you."
The horse whuffled, and tried to step on Glorfindel's foot.
"Here we are in Rivendell, young master hobbits," Aragorn said encouragingly. He'd dropped back some time ago to walk with the drooping halflings, after he and Glorfindel had decided to press on after dark.
"Oh, good," sighed Merry.
"Can we see Master Frodo?" Sam asked anxiously.
"And is there anything to eat?" Pippin added.
"After we get inside the house, young master hobbits," Aragorn laughed, and led the three weary halflings up the path to his father's house. He paused when Sam tugged on his sleeve to hold him back. "Yes, Samwise?"
"Mister Strider, is that Master Glorfindel's lady?"
Sam pointed back at a slim shadow that had detached itself from the general darkness of the night and come out to meet Glorfindel. The black-cloaked figure now stood wrapped in the circle of Glorfindel's arms, face hidden in the blond warrior's neck.
Aragorn chuckled. "I suppose you could say so, in a manner of speaking. Come along, young master hobbits; your midnight snack awaits you."
"You should be in bed," Glorfindel murmured into Erestor's hair. "You'll catch cold waiting out here."
"I couldn't sleep," Erestor replied indistinctly, into the fabric of Glorfindel's cloak.
Glorfindel's arms tightened instinctively. "Nightmares again?"
Erestor didn't answer, which was answer enough. "Erestor..."
"Elrond said you'd be home tonight. I wanted to wait for you." Erestor pressed himself closer to Glorfindel's body, clinging to him almost. Glorfindel wrapped his cloak around both of them and leaned down for a soft kiss.
"I'm home now," Glorfindel said gently, when he drew back. Erestor settled into the warm circle of his arms and cloak with a quiet sigh. Despite the chill in the air, they remained out in the gardens for a very long time.
The lord of Rivendell looked up from his evening reading at his advisor's soft voice. Erestor was standing in the doorway, gripping the doorknob so tightly that his knuckles were white. "Come in, Erestor," Elrond invited gently. Erestor ghosted into the room and settled into the chair opposite Elrond's.
Elrond sat back and examined his friend with an objective eye. Erestor kept getting thinner and paler, which only made the shadows under his eyes stand out more. It was hard to get him to eat while Glorfindel was away on patrol, and he was even worse than Arwen when it came to staying up all night staring out the window. On the other hand, the paperwork involved in running the household had never been so well kept-up; Erestor always worked better when he was unhappy. Elrond suppressed the uncharitable wish that his daughter be half so useful in her lovesickness, and brought his attention back to the present moment. Before he could organize an innocuous but leading question to get Erestor talking, the advisor spoke.
"There's going to be a war, isn't there? That's why you had the weaponsmiths reforge the shards of Narsil."
"Yes, there will," Elrond confirmed, sighing inwardly. "Glorfindel and the twins will be bringing a contingent - some Dunedain, some elves who have not yet sailed - to help Estel."
"I want to go," Erestor said firmly. Elrond stared.
"Erestor - "
"I don't care what you need me to do. I'll organize camps, I'll look after the supply train, I'll nurse the wounded. But I need to be there. I can't just stay here in Rivendell. Not this time."
Elrond was silent for a long moment, while Erestor kept his gaze fixed on his liege lord, looking more determined than he had in months. "I won't send you with them," he said at last, raising a hand to forestall Erestor's protests. "But I'll bring you with me when I go to Gondor. You'd only slow down a small group of soldiers, but if this goes the way I suspect it will, we'll need your expertise with large armies before we're done."
"But - what am I going to be doing?" Erestor asked, puzzled. "Quartermaster, or military liaison, or..."
Elrond raised an eyebrow. "We'll call you my strategic advisor and leave it at that. I've never yet won a chess game against you; you'll be a natural."
Elrond, Erestor and their very small train of attendants arrived in Minas Tirith the day after the battle ended. They were ushered into Aragorn's presence immediately, although Erestor could see Elrond's healer's fingers twitching with the urge to tend to the wounded. Elrond was greeted with all due affection and ceremony, but as soon as Erestor shoved back his hood to reveal his face, Estel swept him up in a tight bear hug and swung him around several times, murmuring in Elvish the whole time.
"Oi, laddie," Gimli muttered, elbowing Legolas. "Is that the elfy lady he turned down Eowyn for?"
Legolas doubled over, laughing so hard he nearly choked to death. "Gimli, you twit," he gasped out, keeping his voice low in an attempt not to interrupt Aragorn's reunion with his first true love. "That's Master Erestor. He sat on the council at Rivendell, remember?" Then he started laughing again, stopping only when he needed to wheeze for breath. "I can't believe you thought he was Lady Arwen!"
"Well, I only saw either of them from a distance!" Gimli said defensively. "They both have the hair, and all your elf-ladies are skinny as boys, anyway..."
Legolas rubbed a hand over his eyes, wiping away tears of amusement. "Better not tell Glorfindel that," he remarked, still grinning fit to split his face in half. "Oh! Speak of the devil..."
Glorfindel came storming into the room, his expression dark as a stormcloud. "Elrond!" he snarled. "What in the name of all the Valar is he doing here?" Erestor, still in Estel's arms, stepped back and stood up straight, his chin lifting defiantly.
"Erestor is currently serving as my strategic advisor," Elrond replied mildly.
"Well, send him home now!" Glorfindel demanded furiously. "He has no business anywhere near a battlefield!"
"No," Erestor said flatly, stepping between Elrond and Glorfindel. "I have duties to perform here."
"You have duties to perform at home, where it's safe!" Glorfindel snapped.
"This is more important. I served in the war of the Rings, Glorfindel," Erestor added, more gently. "I know what I'm doing."
"What you're doing is riding straight back to Rivendell as soon as I can tie you into the saddle!" Glorfindel shouted, and stalked out of the hall, looking even angrier than he had when he came in.
"Erestor," Aragorn said softly, wrapping an arm around the elf's skinny shoulders.
"Hmm? Oh, don't worry about it, Estel. I knew he'd react like that. It's not important." He shrugged Aragorn's embrace away, and glanced over at Elrond. "House of Healing, right?"
They did spend the rest of the day caring for wounded soldiers, but after one disastrous attempt at bandaging, Erestor was relegated to holding water basins. His arms were very tired by dinnertime, and even under Elrond's eagle eye, he couldn't bring himself to eat much. Glorfindel declined to attend the meal.
That night, Erestor was awakened from a fitful sleep by the creak of his door. "Hello, Glorfindel." he said, too weary to play games.
"Please go home," Glorfindel begged, coming to kneel by Erestor's bedside.
"Erestor, I don't want you here."
"Well, believe it or not, not everything in this world is about what you want!"
"Erestor, please! Do you even understand? You could get hurt, you could die, and if anything happened to you it would kill me!"
"Glorfindel..." Erestor leaned down and pulled Glorfindel up to sit beside him. "Glorfindel, I need to do this. This is a part of your life, and I won't let you keep me out of it anymore. Either you can love me as your equal, and trust me not to do anything stupid and get myself killed, or I can't love you. Can you understand that?"
"Please tell me you didn't do all this just to prove a point."
Erestor rolled his eyes, annoyed at Glorfindel's evasion. "Of course not. That falls under 'trusting me not to be stupid.' I wasn't about to let Elrond ride off alone to make an idiotic hero of himself, and I'm the best damn military organizer in Rivendell. Proving a point was just a nice bonus. And anyway..." His voice wavered the tiniest bit. "I've missed you."
Glorfindel sighed, burying his face in Erestor's hair. "I've missed you, too."
Erestor tugged Glorfindel's head down for a fierce kiss. "Then since I think this is the last bed we'll have for quite a while, now would be a good opportunity to make up for lost time, wouldn't you say?"
Glorfindel would have agreed, but he was too busy obeying Erestor's suggestion to talk.
Glorfindel had been looking for Erestor for nearly three hours by the time he finally found him, out in the gardens. He was staring at a tiny sprig of greenery as if it contained all the secrets of the universe.
"Ah, Erestor? Are you all right?"
"Do you suppose these grow in Valinor?" Erestor asked abruptly, twining the flower stem into a ring around his middle finger.
"There are plenty of flowers in Valinor," Glorfindel replied, puzzled.
"Oh, I know. But do they have these flowers?"
Glorfindel looked more closely at the little white flower, and suddenly recognized it. He and Erestor had helped Arwen make her wedding circlet from them. "I don't know. Does it matter?"
"Maybe," Erestor sighed wistfully. "It just won't be the same."
Glorfindel stared at the distant look on Erestor's face with a sinking feeling in his stomach. "You know Elrond would never force you to go, if you wanted to stay."
"I would hardly let him sail alone," Erestor said, insulted, "and he has no choice. Everyone is leaving, anyway. Most of us are probably a little unsettled about it."
"Not everyone," Glorfindel contradicted softly. "Celeborn is staying. And the twins, for now. Erestor - if you don't want to go -"
"It's funny, really," Erestor interrupted. "That after the life I've had, I would be afraid of change." He pulled the circle of greenery off his finger and placed it in Glorfindel's hand, looking up at him for the first time that day. "Promise me you won't be different?"
"I can't. I'll get older, and hopefully wiser, and probably fat, with all the food and lack of exercise I'm about to get. But I promise you, the way I feel for you will never change." Glorfindel caught Erestor's chin with the hand that wasn't holding his flower-ring, and pulled him nearer for a kiss.
"You certainly have changed, now that I think about it," Erestor sighed, resting his forehead against Glorfindel's shoulder. "You would have sooner slit your wrists than say anything so sentimental, a thousand years ago."
"And you would have sooner sliced your ears off than listen to me say it," Glorfindel returned, smiling now that Erestor's pensive mood seemed to have passed. "Change isn't always a bad thing."
"I don't know. Promise me you'll never write me love poetry?"
Glorfindel snorted. "I promise I will never change that much."
29. the sound of waves
Glorfindel had been running along the beach for hours looking for Erestor, but when he finally found him, he almost tripped over him. The dark-haired counselor was kneeling on the damp sand at the edge of the water, tracing characters in Tengwar and watching the waves wash them away. Glorfindel recognized Erestor's name, and his own, Elrond's, Galadriel's... name after name dissolved into the encroaching tide. "It's almost time to board the ship," he said softly. Erestor did not look up.
"I'm almost done." He wrote Arwen's name in the sand, and Estel's, and the name they had chosen for their son. He dug deeper for their names than he had for the others, and it took several waves before they vanished completely. When they were gone, Erestor got to his feet, brushing ineffectually at the sand all over his clothing. "Did Elrond send you to find me?"
"I would have come anyway."
Erestor sighed and rested his head on Glorfindel's shoulder, gazing out as the sun sparkled on the sea. "Let's go, then," he said at last. He tucked his gritty fingers into Glorfindel's hand and allowed himself to be led back up the beach, following Glorfindel's footsteps to the boat that would take them away to Valinor.
Hours later, Erestor sat in Glorfindel's arms, listening to the slap of waves against the side of the ship. "I'd never seen the sea before today," he remarked idly.
"Never?" Glorfindel asked, startled.
"I was afraid I'd start to pine for it, for Valinor. I didn't want to leave the Valley before I had to."
"Celeborn and the twins will take good care of Rivendell," Glorfindel said reassuringly.
"I know," Erestor sighed. "And I'm sure I'll love Valinor. Everyone says it's a beautiful land. It just won't be the same."
Glorfindel rested his chin on the top of Erestor's head. "There's no rule that says you can't miss Imladris when you're in Valinor. We're immortal, Erestor. We'd be strange creatures indeed if we could live with no regrets."
"Do you suppose you'll ever regret this? Us, I mean." Erestor leaned back into the warmth of Glorfindel's embrace, and pressed his nose into the hollow of Glorfindel's throat. "I'm sorry. I suppose the water makes me pensive."
Glorfindel smiled and shifted Erestor so that he could reach his mouth for a soft kiss. "No. No, I don't believe I ever will."
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