Glorfindel looked around his chambers, musing on their sparseness even after all the time he had been here. He shook his head and stuffed more clothes into his pack. He knew why he had not moved in, why Imladris was still no more than a House to him, and why he had not truly let himself live again. He longed for someone… someone that most likely did not even exist. How many lifetimes could one live before hope was completely extinguished?
He turned suddenly as the patio doors swept open, pushed by the quickening breeze. His reflection caught his eye and he looked again, hard, trying to see the elf others saw. It was not who he truly was, but few were concerned with seeing beyond the muscles, the position, the legend. Glorfindel remembered Ecthelion’s words well – he was too beautiful of face, too wistful of soul, too soft of heart to be a true warrior. Yet it was he the Valar had returned and not his erstwhile friend. At times like this, he questioned their judgment.
Shaking his head, he strapped on his weapons and threw on his cloak before striding from his rooms. Urgency colored his steps, even if no one understood the reason for his eagerness. Hope flared that he would at last meet the dark haired elf, the merest glimpse of whom had snared him.
Elrond stopped him at the top of the stairs. He pulled the golden warrior aside and handed him an oilskin pouch of diplomatic letters before meeting his eyes. “I am glad you agreed to lead the party, but do be careful. Things must be grave indeed for Thranduil to request aid, even if it was not couched as such.”
Glorfindel nodded, answering quietly, “Thank you, milord. I will be cautious.” He strode down the steps and the contingent of warriors quieted, the stragglers hurrying to mount before their captain.
As the Elda mounted up, Elrond was joined by Celebrían, and he placed his arm about her waist. “Are you as concerned as I that Thranduil made such a request?”
Celebrían waved at the departing warriors and turned to her husband. “More, I would think. It is not like him at all. He eagerly offers aid, but never asks. Do you think Glorfindel will be well?”
After the last of the guards had passed through the gate, Elrond turned and walked with Celebrían toward their rooms. “I know not, meleth. He seeks something, but will not reveal his heart to any.” He shook his head sadly, hoping that Glorfindel could find what it was that he sought.
Echuir, Mirkwood, 2090 T.A.
The door of the study opened and a little bundle burst into the room, leaping into Thranduil’s arms. “Ada! Ada! Guess what?”
Erestor and Galion looked up from the maps and parchments to smile as Prince Legolas regaled his father with his activities of the day.
The queen entered the room at a more stately pace and smiled lovingly as Thranduil listened raptly to his son’s stories. After too many yawns from the princeling and much shifting of paper from the elders, Saervain beckoned her son to come with her.
Legolas looked up and pouted. He stood and took his father’s hand. “Ada, you said that you would tell me a bedtime story tonight.” His lip wibbled and large blue eyes began to shine suspiciously brightly. “You promised!”
Before either royal could respond, Erestor nudged Thranduil, saying, “Go, Sire. There is nothing here that cannot wait.” He turned to Legolas. “Sleep well, ernilen.”
The prince rubbed his eyes and walked over to Erestor and lifted his arms. Erestor picked up the sleepy child and hugged him tightly, before kissing him softly on the brow.
“Night, night, Unca Res.”
Thranduil stood and took his son, allowing Galion to tousle the pale blond head as he moved to leave. “Ask your Ada to tell you one of the stories I used to tell him and Ressie,” Galion said, kissing Legolas’ head. “Sweet dreams, pen dithen.” He nodded to Saervain, “Goodnight, milady.”
Legolas fought to keep his eyes open and snuggled into his father’s arms as Thranduil and Saervain strolled from the room, holding hands. “Night, night, Grand Ada.” For a moment, his brow creased, and then his voice could be heard trailing down the hall after the royal family asking, “Why is Unca Res’ ada my grand ada but not your ada?”
Galion closed the door after them and chuckled. Erestor smiled widely and moved to the sideboard to pour them both a glass of light, fruity wine. “Do you not find it amazing how someone so small can fill everything with such light, Adar?”
The Seneschal of Mirkwood took the glass of wine and settled on the sofa instead of staring further at the situation report and maps. “Actually, I well remember two elflings that were equally endearing, iôn nín, but they grew up all too fast and became rowdy young mischief makers… and I still wait to see them grow out of that stage.”
Erestor laughed and leaned on his elbows on the back of the sofa beside his father. “Legolas seems to be taming Thranduil when even Saervain had despaired of that ever being possible.”
Galion turned his head to look up into the dark eyes of his son. “And when will you find someone to tame you?” It was a discussion they had had countless times, with the answer always being the same… if it is was meant to happen, it would, but Erestor felt no urge to go out and actively seek a mate.
“Adar. Leave it. There is no elleth that I want and I do not feel the need to sow my seed. I have a wonderful family, I need not manufacture one for myself.”
Erestor shook his head, “I am perfectly content with the family that you and Naneth have given me, Adar. Now that she is gone, you are all doubly precious to me and I have no desire for further change. Thranduil is like my brother and now I have an elfling to spoil… and then return. Just as it should be.”
Galion sighed. He wanted Erestor to be happy. He had promised his wife that he would look after both of them. The king had a wonderful life, but Erestor was being most stubborn, almost as though he did not want a family. Galion missed his wife, but would not leave Middle-earth until Erestor found the same happiness that Thranduil had finally gained. “Very well, I will drop it… for now.” His eyes sparkled as he smiled up at Erestor.
Leaning back against the worn standing stone, Glorfindel glanced about the efficient camp site. His guards were well trained and knew their duties, needing no reminder from their captain. Now that the crossing of the High Pass was behind them, the tension was notably lighter, with the elves in camp being more raucous than the nights before.
As the night grew dark, the guards settled in and voices grew hushed. Campfires were banked, watches were set, and even Glorfindel took to his bedroll. He usually kept to himself, and tonight was no exception. He enjoyed the solitude of the moonless night where he could look up into the expanse of the sky and commune with the stars. When at last his eyes clouded in reverie, his dream returned, flashes of dark hair flying, surrounded by a sea of gold, dark eyes glittering amongst a forest of blue. The dream changed on this darkest of nights. A fair face and lithe form, smiling eyes and a sunlit clearing gleamed brightly as he relaxed and gave in to the happy moments.
The next day as they were following the riverbank North, Glorfindel could not keep his mind from wandering. He knew that the one he sought had been at the Morannon, but until a century ago, he had been sure the dark-haired elf had perished there as had the majority of Oropher’s company. His thoughts turned to that day on the northern plains of Eriador when he had at last seen the oft-dreamed-of sight: dark hair almost lost amidst the gold, and dark eyes shining up at him as he rode past, chasing down the Witch King.
Though their company of elves was large, being forty-eight strong, they rode swiftly and soon came to Forest Gate. The day had grown late and Glorfindel wanted off the open plain, so they filed into Mirkwood. Soon all were swallowed by the dark forest. As they moved along the Forest Path, even the most hardened and jaded warriors quieted, sensing the forest was watching them. It was an unnerving feeling to be watched and measured by hostile, alien trees, and none could deny the feeling that they were under intense scrutiny.
After marching for almost an hour, the growing tension suddenly broke and the company found itself surrounded by silent guards in green and grey, arrows pointed at them. That the Silvans had surprised them so easily grated on all of his elves, but Glorfindel took the action for what it was and bowed. He held up his hand to steady his warriors, murmuring, “Peace.” Then he turned to the leader of Thranduil’s guards and said, “We are here at your lord’s request. I have papers, if you need to see them.”
The leader of the contingent shook his head and said, “We were expecting you… just not so many.” He turned and spoke quickly in Silvan and all but five of their company disappeared into the trees. “Our camp is not far. You should join us. It is not safe for those who do not know their way to travel unescorted.” His tone was brusque and almost condescending, but Glorfindel was unaffected. He quietly spoke to the heads of each patrol so that their elves would keep their heads. They were here to help, not antagonize.
The Great Gate slid silently shut behind them and the horses shifted, uncomfortable in the now closed in space. Glorfindel looked around, gauging their surroundings. They were in a large outer courtyard with only the gate at their back and two large double doors visible before them, one at ground level, the other at the top of a large, stone staircase. Their escorts had vanished, leaving them alone to wait for… what?
Just as the tension was growing thick, their patience worn thin, the large double doors at the top of the staircase opened and the leader of their escort stepped out with another blond ellon. The second ellon was undoubtedly the king. Even without the twining mithril circlet, his clothes and bearing would give him away.
“Your highness.” Glorfindel elegantly bowed, his grace belying his powerful appearance.
Surprised by the large contingent of Noldor, Thranduil turned and questioned his guard in rapid Silvan, his blue eyes flashing.
Glorfindel witnessed the exchange, but his Silvan was rudimentary at best and he could not follow the conversation, though he suspected he knew that their presence was not completely welcome.
Erestor had rushed to meet the arrivals, but he was not in time to prevent Thranduil from reaching them first. Quickly he stepped up and inserted himself between the king and the hapless recipient of his wrath. “Sire, hold up. They were requested to come. I sent the letter to Lord Elrond and am pleased that he sent so many.” He rested a gentle hand on the king’s upper arm, trying to keep the whole scene from turning embarrassing in front of the Noldor.
Thranduil gaped and, forgetting the arrivals, was about to tear into Erestor for his impudence, but Galion arrived at that moment, silencing the king with a mischievous smile. “It would not do to show such poor hospitality to our guests. Surely, berating us can wait until after they have been shown to their accommodations?”
His eyes flashed and his nostrils flared, but Thranduil relented. Turning on his heel, he hissed over his shoulder, “My study. I will be waiting.”
Erestor sighed, but had not expected things to go better. He smiled at Galion and finally looked towards the leader of the arrivals. His breath caught in his throat and he swallowed, suddenly forgetting the greeting and everything else he was about to say.
Glorfindel understood body language and easily read the king’s displeasure until the dark-haired ellon walked up and intervened. Shocked that he would encounter his heart’s desire before he had even set foot in the palace proper, he stood, staring at the most beautiful ellon he had ever seen. He could not pull his eyes from the elf who had haunted his dreams. Suddenly the dark-haired beauty met his gaze and the world stopped.
Galion’s attention was diverted by the guard, but he felt Erestor stiffen and he turned. He smiled to himself at the matching dazed expressions on his son’s face and on Glorfindel’s. Maybe there was hope that Erestor would find happiness after all. As neither ellon moved nor said a word, Galion cleared his throat and interceded, “Excuse our manners.” He strode down the steps, his arm lifted to grip Glorfindel’s forearm. “Glorfindel? I believe? I am Galion, Seneschal of Mirkwood, and…” he lifted his arm to indicate Erestor, “this is Erestor, Chief Advisor to the king, who has come… and gone.”
When he heard the cleared throat, Glorfindel snapped out of his daze and looked up in time to grasp Galion’s arm. He was pleased that no one commented on his lapse. He smiled at Galion’s comment about the king. “I take it we were not expected?”
Galion smiled as Erestor rushed down the steps to join them. He noticed that his son was unwilling to meet Glorfindel’s bright blue gaze, but before he could reply, Erestor did. “Nay, it is that we were more than pleased by the large numbers you have brought with you.” After gaining his composure, he looked up. “It is greatly appreciated.” The advisor felt himself flush under the tall blonde’s gaze and he found his tongue would not cooperate.
Glorfindel felt himself drawn in by those dark, soulful eyes, the same that had snared him so long ago, and he reached his arm out in greeting, hesitating when the gesture was ignored.
Erestor noticed the golden warrior’s outstretched arm and grimaced before taking it, clasping the broad upper arm tightly. He swallowed when he felt the hard muscle under his hand. The awkward moment stretched as neither was willing to let go. Galion’s chuckle caused them to pull away simultaneously, each flushed from more than embarrassment. “It will be good to have you here, Glorfindel. Now, I have duties to attend to, but Thonion will show your elves to the barracks while Erestor can show you to your quarters.”
Before Glorfindel could protest, the seneschal held up a hand. “I insist upon it. You are not merely a warrior, but a visiting dignitary. It would not do for you to share the barracks when we have plenty of guest rooms.” Before Galion turned away, he smiled, and rested a hand on Glorfindel’s shoulder adding, “I must leave you now, but we will meet again at dinner. I do hope you enjoy your stay. Welcome to Mirkwood!” He had to get away quickly, or his mirth would spill over and that would not do.
Stable hands led the horses away, the warriors followed Thonion through the double doors at ground level, and Erestor found himself alone with Glorfindel. He stuttered for a moment and then chided himself for behaving like a smitten youth. Clearing his throat, he turned and began ascending the stairs. “If you will follow me, I will show you to your rooms.”
Glorfindel picked up his pack and happily followed.
Galion stood above the practice arena and watched Glorfindel and his guards interact with the Mirkwood forces. Things had been stiff and slow going at first, but now the elves were working well together, their differences only enhancing their teamwork, instead of detracting from it. He had to give Glorfindel credit for the accomplishment.
The seneschal was contemplating the many mysteries that seemed to surround Glorfindel when movement caught his eye. He glanced quickly to the side and espied his son, hiding once again. Shaking his head, Galion rolled his eyes. Erestor was definitely enamored of the golden warrior, but refused to let Glorfindel know of his interest. Just as he was about to move and say something to his son, Legolas ran into the sparring arena. Thranduil following quickly on his heels, hoping to keep his son from harm, but there was no urgency as all the warriors had grown used to the little prince’s interruptions.
“Glorfinnel! Glorfinnel! Lookit! Look what I got!” Legolas was wildly waving a pint sized sword, causing everyone to take a step back to avoid being slashed or stabbed.
Glorfindel caught Legolas’ arm and gently restrained him. “Your highness, it is a beautiful sword, but do not forget that swords are dangerous weapons and should be treated with respect.”
Thranduil caught up to his son and apologized to the golden warrior. “He was so excited and got away from me before we could finish our conversation on responsibility.”
The golden warrior, the king, and the prince continued talking in the arena as Galion stepped quietly aside and silently neared his son’s hiding place. He rested a hand against Erestor’s shoulder and said, “Iôn. We should talk.”
Erestor startled at the soft touch. He had been so intent on watching the elves in the arena that he failed to notice his father’s presence. “Adar?”
Galion tugged his son with him as he began to walk away. “I want to talk to you about why the Chief Advisor to the king feels the need to spy upon a valued guest.”
Protesting, Erestor allowed himself to be pulled away. “I was not spying.”
“You might as well have been. You skulk in shadows, avoiding Glorfindel at all turns, and have even begun to skip dinner. What is the matter with you? Do you not like him? Or is it more that you like him too much?”
“Adar! Just stay out of it! I am an adult, I do not need my father playing matchmaker.” Erestor huffed and pulled away, storming off in the opposite direction.
Shaking his head, Galion sighed. Erestor had just confirmed his suspicion but was being most difficult about the entire affair. He stared after his son and wondered if there was more that he could do.
Ethuil, Mirkwood, 2090 T.A.
At the sharp knock on his half-open door, Galion looked up from the scattered papers on his desk. He did not see who was there. “Come in.”
Glorfindel paused in the doorway, “Am I disturbing you?”
Galion stood to greet the warrior. “Not at all. Please, take a seat. It will be a relief to stop hunting for where I have gone wrong in these calculations.” Closing the door he moved back to his desk. He hastily gathered the papers and slid them under a leather portfolio. “There. The offending ciphers are put away. Would you care for a drink? Water? Tea? I have a light, fruity white – the perfect foil for the rainy spring weather.”
Glorfindel nodded and accepted the offered glass of wine. His true reason for coming was delicate and he chose to discuss other things first. “I am pleased with the progress we have made. The spider attacks seem to be lessening.”
Sipping his wine, Galion nodded. “And our injured warriors have had a chance to rest and recover… not to mention the benefit we have gained from the Imladrin training techniques,” he said, raising his glass. “Though it originally angered the king, I am glad Erestor sent to Lord Elrond, and I know Thranduil is pleased as well, even if he might not actually admit it.” He took another drink and said with a smile, “We were too few in number with so many confined to the healing halls. You and your guard have made a huge difference in turning the tide. I think soon we will have the spiders rooted out and the woods around here will be safe yet again.”
Glorfindel sipped his wine and nodded. Things had gone better than he had expected. The Silvans and all of Mirkwood had made him and his guard feel welcome and at home, except for one. The one that he had been seeking. Dissembling was not his way, so he came straight to the point. “Have I offended Erestor? I feel that he is actively avoiding me. I have tried to see him, to have a simple conversation, but it has proved impossible. When I spoke to Thranduil, he was at a loss, having seen little more of him than I have.”
The seneschal frowned. He had noticed that Erestor was making himself scarce but thought that only he and Glorfindel were being actively avoided. Taking a slow sip of his wine, he savored the flavor as he pondered his son’s behavior. “I doubt you have offended him since you have had no chance to speak to him. Rather, I think it may be your mere presence… what you promise.”
The blonde’s brows creased in confusion. “Promise?”
“Forgive me, Glorfindel. I do not mean to speak in riddles, but I noticed from the first how you look at Erestor. Had it been mere lust, we would not be having this conversation.” He stopped, but held his hand up so that the blond would give him a few moments more as his mind began to plot. “I think we shall have to force his hand. You need to talk. You need an opportunity to get to know each other…” His eyes suddenly lit up, their blue twinkling with mirth. “I have it! A picnic. A family picnic, once this interminable rain clears… he will not refuse the prince. That settles it.”
Glorfindel had been unable to follow Galion’s words and sat there, blinking in confusion.
Galion looked up and laughed. “Forgive me. My mouth does not always keep up with my mind. I will plan a picnic for the day, have Legolas invite Erestor… as you are aware, none can refuse the prince, least of all his Uncle Res, but then it will only be the two of you. Of course, I and the rest will have our own picnic, but far, far away from yours.” He leaned back in his chair, his expression smug, “Do you think a day alone would be a good start?”
Finally understanding the plan, Glorfindel leaned back as well and smiled widely. “It sounds perfect.”
Erestor rushed to the gathering point, he was late and hated to keep the prince waiting. When he arrived he stopped and stared as the only one at the bridge was Glorfindel. “What are you doing here?”
Glorfindel had been studying a parchment and looked up. “I was invited by Legolas…” His voice trailed away as he noticed Erestor’s stern face.
“Where is everyone?” Erestor crossed his arms and glared at the golden warrior as though he was somehow at fault for the others being tardy.
Shrugging, Glorfindel simply handed Erestor the parchment. “I believe we have been left behind. The teams were chosen before we arrived, and now it is you and I.”
Erestor snatched the parchment and began reading. “A scavenger hunt? With you as a partner? What a…” he stopped suddenly when he saw the look on Glorfindel’s face, realizing just how horrible he sounded.
The golden warrior handed Erestor the basket and turned to leave. “I will not distress you any further with my company. Please explain to the prince why I did not join them.”
Erestor fumbled with the basket, blanket, and parchment before hastily setting them down. “Glorfindel! Wait!” he called. He caught up to the Elda and pressed a hand to his bicep. “Please? Forgive my rash words and thoughtless actions.” He gathered his courage and met the bluest eyes he had ever seen. Hesitantly, he continued, “Your company is not distressing to me. I… I believe we could be a formidable team and show my interfering father what’s what.”
Glorfindel was unable to stop a matching smile from gracing his face. Erestor’s dark eyes had snared him, but the combination of those eyes with a wicked glint and a bright smile left him helpless to the onslaught.
Erestor took the parchment and began directing them through the hunt, but no matter how rapidly they moved from clue to clue, they never caught up to the others. When they paused for water, the advisor watched from the corner of his eye as the water spilled over Glorfindel’s lips and traced a path down his neck. Stifling a moan, Erestor quickly looked away.
The blond felt eyes upon him and slowed his movements before pulling the waterskin away and stretching, the muscles of his arms and back flexing. He turned a mischievous grin to Erestor, “Should we take a break and eat? Or are you determined that we finish this?”
Erestor swallowed and shook his head. “I want us to catch up to the others and then we can share the meal together.”
Glorfindel nodded and tied the waterskin back to his belt. “Where to next?”
As each clue led them farther from the palace and was situated in a place special to Erestor, the advisor opened up. He soon found himself chatting comfortably with Glorfindel. Underneath the golden visage was a sharp mind and dry wit. The hours passed all too quickly and they came to the last location. By this time, Erestor was no longer annoyed with his father, but instead he shook his head as he read Galion’s note. Smiling ruefully, he handed the parchment to Glorfindel and spread out the blanket before dropping down on it.
The Elda read the note and looked down at the dark haired elf. Erestor was sprawled on the blanket his dark hair fanned out underneath him, his eyes closed as he let the sun’s rays warm him. When the sooty lashes fluttered open and dark eyes met his gaze, Glorfindel’s heart stuttered. The moment stretched until the tip of a pink tongue wet Erestor’s full lips, breaking the spell. “You do not seem upset?” Glorfindel asked the only thing that came to mind.
Erestor felt himself flush under the intense regard so he shut his eyes and lifted his face up to the sun once again. He replied with a smile in his voice, “I am not. Adar was right and I was wrong.” Without opening his eyes he patted the blanket next to himself. “Come and sit with me so that we can enjoy the fruits of my father’s plotting.”
They ate and talked and found they had much in common despite their disparate backgrounds. The time passed swiftly with neither noticing the gathering clouds. As Glorfindel reached over Erestor for the last chocolate pastry, their lips hovered enticingly close. Erestor lifted up his face, and sparks shot through them at their lips’ first touch. The dark haired elf gasped and wrapped his arms around Glorfindel’s neck, pulling him down for a long, lingering kiss, each exploring uncharted territory and reveling in the taste of the other.
The two elves were flushed from all the fevered kisses and neither wanted to pull away until a loud thunderclap startled them back to reality. Both blinked and looked up at the nearly black sky, heavy with clouds and sparking with myriad bursts of lightning. Erestor laughed aloud and pulled Glorfindel to stand. “It seems we lost track of time…”
Glorfindel’s answering smile lit the dim clearing. “And I believe we are going to get wet, but I will not be cold with you around.”
Erestor gazed at the Elda, and linked their hands. “Nor I. We should pack up and return.” He looked around and finally noticed where they had spent their afternoon. “It is a long walk from here.”
They were packing up when suddenly the entire clearing exploded into light and fire as the storm broke around them. Both elves were thrown to the ground, wood shards flew past them, and a nearby tree burst into flames from the lightning strike.
Glorfindel shook his head to clear the ringing, but he could not make it stop. He did not hear the pained groan of the elf he had landed on until he was punched in the side. Rolling off Erestor, he apologized, too loudly, and the advisor flinched. He blinked, trying to clear his vision of the bright spots.
Neither stunned elf noticed the black, oily goo oozing from the flaming tree.
It took long minutes, but gradually Erestor’s vision cleared and Glorfindel’s hearing returned. The expected rain had not yet arrived and they were both glad. Erestor reached for the folded blanket and hastily pulled back his hand as he noticed the black goo which moved on the edges of the cloth. Hissing, he stepped back and into Glorfindel’s solid form.
Strong arms steadied him, “What is it, Erestor?”
“Light a torch, Glorfindel!” Erestor’s pack appeared to be writhing in the dim light from the flickering flames, and he continued to back away, forcing the blond back as well.
Glorfindel grabbed his pack, thankful for the tinderbox and the dry torches his warrior’s instincts did not let him leave behind. Suddenly bright light flared around them and the Elda could not restrain a horrified gasp. What appeared to be black goo in the flashes of lightning and flickering flames was actually a roiling mass of spiders, thousands of shiny black bodied, red-eyed spiders. He shuddered and lifted his pack from the ground, handing Erestor his torch as he lit another one.
Erestor swallowed; even long years of fighting spiders did not prepare him for the horror of so many. He pressed the torch to those covering his pack and grinned with feral delight when the tiny bodies popped and burst, their vile essence boiling in their hardened carapaces.
Glorfindel watched as the flames were effective at destroying their enemies. He began laying the torch to the black flood, but soon a steady mist began to fall and his torch hissed. “Damn!” He glanced in horror at the advisor who had waded into the midst of the tide. Erestor was stomping and burning the evil creatures, but now his torch sputtered and the mass began gaining ground on him. The blond reached forward and dragged Erestor from out of the center of the spiders, his own boots and torch adding to the carnage. “We have to do something! We cannot let these live!” he shouted, his lips near the advisor’s ear so that he could be heard over the crash of the storm.
Erestor nodded and handed his torch to Glorfindel. He shouted back, “Try to keep them contained. I have an idea.”
Glorfindel nodded, his eyes never leaving the growing horde. He used his body to shield the flames of the torches which he began using to direct the spiders, trying to keep them close to the burning tree. As he stomped and burned, he began to slip on the ichor-soaked ground. Wet carapaces were treacherous in the steady downpour and he cried out as he slipped. The torch dropped, and the hand he used to stave off his fall met with the roiling mass. At the small stings, he stuck his hand in the guttering torch, grimacing as the pain of the burn overrode the spider bites.
Erestor did not hear him cry out over the storm’s fury and he continued with the pyre he was building around the tree. When he turned back to look at the golden warrior, his heart tightened when he saw Glorfindel’s hand in the flame. He rushed over and tried to take the blonde’s hand. Glorfindel shook his head and pointed at the tree. “Later. Finish your work.”
He was unable to hear the Elda’s words, but he understood their intent. Reaching into his now safe pack, he pulled out the lantern and proceeded to dump all the oil over the pile of wood, hoping that he had stacked everything well enough for it to survive through the rain. Without needing to ask, Glorfindel was standing with him and handed him a torch. The pyre flamed brightly and they pulled away. The horrifying squeals of the dying spiders were loud enough to be heard over the storm.
When they were certain they had flushed out all the survivors, both elves collapsed, sitting back to back on the soggy blanket. They allowed the soft rain to wash away the filth and stench as they watched the fire consume the black mass and the despoiled tree.
The storm’s fury spent, the two elves relaxed together and stared at the sky as Ithil’s light began to shine through the dissipating clouds. Being too caught up in each other, they did not notice the sudden hush overtaking the clearing or the malevolent eyes watching them.
Erestor sighed aloud. Even the gruesome fight had not diminished what a lovely day it had been. He and Glorfindel made a good team and he felt warmth coursing through his veins when he looked at the blond. “We should return. They will be expecting us.”
Glorfindel slowly stood and tugged Erestor to stand with him. As he gazed into dark eyes, his thumb ran over a soot-streaked cheek before he leant in and pressed their lips together in a gentle kiss.
Eagerly meeting the kiss, Erestor wrapped his arms about Glorfindel’s neck and kissed the Elda back.
Stiffening, his sharp cry was swallowed by Glorfindel’s mouth on his. Erestor pulled away and screamed loudly as a searing pain tore into his leg and he began to be tugged backward.
Glorfindel blinked for a moment and then the overwhelming stench and bright red eyes propelled him to action. The Elda quickly drew his sword and stabbed over Erestor’s shoulder, somehow connecting with the large spider’s eye. Howling in pain, she released Erestor.
Glorfindel glanced down at Erestor’s leg and grimaced. Green ichor oozed from a great gash on his calf. He pushed the advisor behind him and brandished his sword to protect Erestor. The giant spider advanced, the chittering sound of her pincers sending shudders down the Elda’s back.
Suddenly an arrow whizzed by Glorfindel’s ear, all too close for comfort. He chanced a moment to take his eyes from the enemy and he turned. Erestor stood, swaying, trying to nock another arrow. Cursing, he grabbed the bow. “Erestor! Can you climb?”
A pincer barely missed Glorfindel’s arm and he turned, swinging his sword in great arcs, driving the spider back, but his sword was ineffective against the armored carapace. With Erestor injured and woozy, needing his support, he could not mount an effective attack.
The warmth that had been pressing against his back left and he risked another glance over his shoulder. Erestor was slowly ascending the tree and Glorfindel sighed with relief. He began backing up, taking the bow and nocking an arrow, hoping to pierce between the armored plates. Two arrows flew in quick succession. One pierced a leg, rendering it useless and the other pierced the already destroyed eye.
Cursing again, Glorfindel sheathed his sword and slid the bow and quiver over his shoulder as he grabbed the lowest branch and swung up to follow Erestor. In his current state, the advisor could not be left alone in the trees.
Erestor gripped the thin trunk tightly as the branches swayed under him. His injured leg was no longer sending shooting pain through him, instead it was growing numb and becoming useless. Glorfindel soon joined him, and he reached for the golden warrior. As their hands met, Erestor looked down and red eyes gleamed up at them. She might be injured, but was beginning to climb the tree they were in!
“Erestor, can you lead us back toward the palace? I do not know these woods… “ Glorfindel’s voice trailed away as he noted how pale the advisor was.
The creeping numbness was worse than the fiery pain, but Erestor nodded and pushed away. Having lived most of his life in the trees, the dark-haired elf’s instincts kicked in and he began moving swiftly through even the smallest branches. Glorfindel struggled to keep up until Erestor’s entire leg went numb and his pace slowed.
Using his last arrow, the Elda shot at the demon that still chased them. His aim was good, connecting with the soft underbelly, but it was no killing blow. She closed in on them as Erestor faltered and, panting, slid to the branch, unable to go any further. “Go! Save yourself!”
Glorfindel shook his head fiercely. “Nay! I’ll not leave you here to that!” He pulled the advisor to stand and, wrapping his arm about the narrow waist, he slowly dragged them through the trees. Each move from one branch to another seemed to take an eternity, but they were moving.
Suddenly, there was no way forward. Glorfindel had taken a wrong turn somewhere and led them out onto a limb with nowhere else to run. Erestor was barely conscious and he was out of arrows. The chittering neared and he knew without turning that she had cornered them. Gently Glorfindel eased Erestor to sit on the branch and he brandished his sword, determined to shield his love. The giant spider reared up, ready to bite and destroy those that had killed her babies. Glorfindel’s last thought was that he had found his love too late. “I love you, Erestor.”
A deafening shriek rent the air and Glorfindel covered his ears, black and green ichor splattering his chest. The tree shuddered and the giant spider tumbled, the fatal arrow strikes being revealed to the Elda’s eyes as she fell. Hastily he reached to grab Erestor, to keep the advisor from falling, too. The spider was so full of both Noldor and Silvan arrows that her black body resembled a corrupted pin cushion. His eyes sought out their rescuers and met with Thranduil’s triumphant blue gaze. The forest around them was filled with both his guard and those of Mirkwood.
Glorfindel felt himself falter, and he lost his grip upon the advisor. “Erestor!” he cried out in panic, but soothing murmurs calmed him as the world faded away.
Iavas, Mirkwood, 2090 T.A.
Galion walked into Erestor’s office and sat down in the chair before his son’s desk. Erestor was standing, staring out the window. He was so lost in thought that he had not noticed his father’s presence. The seneschal shook his head and then cleared his throat to get Erestor’s attention.
Startled, the dark-haired elf turned. “Adar?”
Galion waved him to sit. “Iôn, sit down. Why are you not seeing Glorfindel off?”
“Please do not start… we agreed that we would write letters and get to know each other before any decisions are made.” He turned back to the window, “I have already said my good-byes. It is better this way…”
His brow creasing, Galion frowned. “What is? I think it is that you can not bear to face what Glorfindel has come to mean to you, so you hide in here instead of watching him leave.” Leaning forward, he hissed, “I thought I raised you better than this.”
“Adar! It is my life, not yours. I will not be ruled by your expectations or hopes.”
Galion sat back in his chair, his hands lifted, “Forgive me, iôn. You are right. I… I just want you to be happy. Even while you were still in the healing wing, you were happier with Glorfindel than I ever remember seeing you.”
Erestor sighed and moved to sit by his father. “My place is here as Glorfindel’s is in Imladris. If we are meant to be together, there will be time for us.”
Galion turned to his son and pressed his hand against Erestor’s shoulder. “Do not assume that you have forever. Sometimes forever is stolen from you.” He pulled a velvet pouch from his pocket. “I want you to have this.” When he opened the pouch and tipped it out, a large uncut amethyst dropped into his hand. He held it up to the light, the many edges caught the sunlight and lit the room with purple sparkles.
“It is beautiful, Adar, but why?” Erestor took the gem and gazed at it in confusion.
Sighing, Galion wrapped his hand around Erestor’s, enclosing the gem in their palms. “I gave this to your mother when you were born. The color matched her eyes. She was to have it made into a pendant and earrings, but never got around to doing so. She always said there was time enough.”
Erestor’s eyes widened. “Adar!” He stood hastily, “I need to go with him! But, I’m not ready! I’ll never catch him… not now.” He sat back down, defeated. “I have made a terrible mistake…”
Galion stood and walked out of the room, quickly returning with a pack. He handed it to Erestor, who looked at it in bewilderment. “I took the liberty of packing for you. Your horse is saddled and ready.” His eyes twinkled in amusement, “I think you stand a good chance of catching him.”
His family was standing at the top of the steps, waiting, when Erestor rushed up. Legolas launched himself into the advisor’s arms. “I knew Grand Ada would fix it!” He hugged Erestor tightly around the neck and whispered conspiratorially into his uncle’s ear, “I told Glorfinnel not to be sad… that you’d come. And I told him to ride slow.” He nodded and kissed Erestor on the cheek. “I will miss you Unca’ Res.” The little prince’s bright smile faded somewhat, but he did not give in to the urge to cry. He was a prince, and princes did not cry. As he was placed back on the ground, he stood tall and his hand reached for his father’s.
Saervain was not successful with keeping her tears at bay and she clung tightly when Erestor stood before her. “Do not cry, milady. I will return for visits.”
The queen wiped her eyes with the back of one hand and gave him a watery smile. “Things will be too quiet around here without you urging Thranduil into trouble of one sort or another.” She cupped his cheek affectionately. “I am so happy for you.”
Erestor gave her one last quick embrace and then turned to Thranduil. He reached out his arm, but was pulled into a firm embrace. “I will miss you, little brother, but I have a suspicion that you will set Imladris and all its formal ways on their ear.” He pulled away, giving a mischievous grin under suspiciously bright blue eyes. “I have already warned your golden warrior that he must answer to me if he hurts you…” Saervain elbowed Thranduil in the ribs to silence him, her other arm held Legolas.
Erestor stepped back and committed the scene to memory, each detail of his loving family at this moment would be forever etched into his thoughts. He picked up his pack and descended the steps where his father was waiting beside Morros. “Adar.” The lump in his throat grew so that he could not say anything else as he fought to keep the tears at bay.
Galion felt no shame at his tears and clasped his son to himself and held on tightly. “I am so proud of you, iôn, but more than that, I am happy for you. Glorfindel is a worthy elf and I do not doubt him, but if, for any reason, it does not work out, your home and family will always be here for you. Always.”
“I love you, Adar. Thank you… for everything…” Choking up, Erestor turned away and busied himself by tying his pack to the saddle. When he could speak at last, he gave his father one final hug, waved at the rest of his family, and mounted up saying, “I will keep in touch.”
Galion stepped away and waved, feeling both bereft and joyous at once as he watched Erestor urge his mount on faster through the path until he was no longer visible.
Glorfindel heard the approaching hoof beats and smiled. Legolas had been right. He nodded to his unseen escorts in the trees and stopped, turning Asfaloth on the path. Around a bend, Erestor came into sight, his long hair flying in the wind, a huge smile on his face as he spied his lover.
The Elda dismounted and waited the long moments until Erestor flew into his arms, just where the advisor belonged. “I hoped…”
“Shhh.” Erestor kissed Glorfindel, pouring all his love and devotion into the simple act before pulling away. “I love you!”
Glorfindel was stunned by the intensity of the kiss and stood motionless. He shook himself out of the daze and grinned, “I love you, too. Should we ride?” With Erestor’s nod, he scooped the advisor up and set him on Asfaloth before mounting behind him. “I want to enjoy this and Asfaloth does not mind.” The great white horse whinnied his agreement, with Morros trotting happily beside as they set out.
Erestor laughed and leaned back against the strongly muscled chest. He sighed happily when firm arms encircled him and held him tight. “I owe you an apology. I was wrong. I will not lose my family by going with you. It merely gains another member.”
“And I have a family at long last, meleth.”
Adar, Ada – father, daddy
Echuir – early spring
elleth – female elf
ellon – male elf
ernilen – my prince
Ethuil – late spring
Iavas – early autumn
iôn – son
iôn nín – my son
meleth – love
Morannon – the Black Gates before Mordor
Naneth, Nana – mother, mommy
pen dithen – little one