Author: Eremir (eremir82[at]yahoo.se)
Pairings: Erestor/Glorfindel (Erestor/Ecthelion, Glorfindel/Ecthelion)
Summary: Erestor was a young elf when Gondolin was fair, and fell madly in love with his lord. However, he was merely a servant and lost his love to another, worthier elf. Millennia later, he lives as an advisor in the House of Elrond when he receives the earth-shattering news. His nemesis has been brought back to life.
Warnings: Angst, character death (canon)
Feedback: Is enormously welcome
Disclaimer: Blatantly stolen from Professor Tolkien and twisted for my own satisfaction. I make no money and am but a speck of a crushed insect on the windshield of genius.
A/N: Written for the Eremir-needs-to-get-over-her-writer’s-bl
Chapter 7 - Descent
Erestor spent the most part of a day sitting on his bed and staring at the wrapped object standing in the corner of his chamber. The beautiful sword... Such a thing was not meant to be disguised and stored out of sight. It was meant to be wielded, used, loved and put on display for all to see. But the dark haired elf had conflicting emotions about giving it away. He certainly couldn’t keep it for himself. He had a perfectly good sword in his weapon chest under the bed, sharpened and polished not a month ago. The new blade was meant for someone else.
Finally the counsellor made up his mind. No matter how much he disliked the Noldo, he stilled owed him for the horse and didn’t want to remain in his debt.
It was a grey, chilly day, and the advisor wrapped himself in a thick black robe, concealing the package inside. A swift wind blew through the valley, and he held his robes tightly around him to keep the sword hidden from view. Greeting a few elves on the way, he walked towards the paddock beyond the stables. Glorfindel was always there this time of day, checking on Asfaloth and the other horses. Alagos whinnied as he approached, and Erestor stopped to pet his friend, keeping a look out for the blonde.
Soon enough the warrior appeared between the trees, carrying a bucket of water that he sat down by the fence. Erestor took a deep breath, held his head high and walked over. This was not going to be easy.
“Glorfindel,” he said, purposefully using the Noldo’s name to get his attention.
The blonde looked up, a bit startled, and stood to face him. “Erestor. I hardly noticed you. You’re like a shadow.” Glorfindel looked him up and down, no doubt referring to his dark clothing, but there was no jesting in his demeanour. On the contrary, he seemed sad.
“Is something wrong, seneschal? You look...weary.”
“It’s nothing,” he smiled tiredly. After a short pause he said, “You never let me apologise for my behaviour the other night.”
Erestor forced his face to remain calm. “Then why don’t you do so now?” The wind blew a tress of hair across his face, and he lifted a hand to tuck it behind his ear, noting how intently the blue eyes followed his actions.
“I am deeply sorry if I offended you, meldir. I was joking, I... I overstepped my bounds. Forgive me.”
“You call me friend?” Erestor asked, avoiding the question of forgiveness.
“Should I not?” If there was a possibility Glorfindel could look any sadder, the advisor could not conceive it.
“I am certain you and your captains call me worse things behind my back.”
Glorfindel started, shaking his head vigorously and holding his hands up in defence. “I swear to you, Erestor, no one speaks ill of you. No one.”
“No?” the advisor said sceptically. “So no one says I’m a wimp in fancy robes, who would rather die than get dirt under his fingernails?”
“Of course not!” Glorfindel sighed, bracing himself against the fence. “I was wrong to say those things, I know. When we rode to check on the patrol of the northern border yesterday, I asked some of my oldest warriors about you, and they were only too happy to tell what an exquisite fighter you are. They say you are particularly skilled with the twin knifes. It’s only...well, I’ve never seen you practise!”
“That’s because I never practise when I’m seen. It doesn’t mean I don’t practise simply because you have not seen me.”
“I know, I’m sorry...”
Glorfindel hid his face in his hands for a moment, and Erestor took this time to think whether the Noldo was sincere or if this was another act. He seemed remorseful enough. It was true the advisor owned a set of long twin knives, and he had some skill with them. There was a secluded glade where he would practise, sometimes in the middle of the night, which would not agree with Elrond at all if the half-elf only knew. Even though he could say honestly he did not enjoy fighting or take an interest in weaponry, it was in his own best interest if he knew how to fight when the time for battle came. Since that day in the Encircling Mountains there had not been one time where he had frozen before danger. Not one time where he had hesitated before the enemy. Not one time where he had not risked life and limb to protect his loved ones. In fact, had it not been for his skill with the blade, Elrond would certainly have perished beside his beloved King all those centuries ago.
“I did not come here to argue with you, Glorfindel. I’m tired of arguing.” Glorfindel looked at him questioningly. “I came here to settle a score.” Opening his outer robes, he reached inside and untied the leather wrapped bundle from his belt.
“What is that?”
“It is yours,” Erestor said, holding out the gift to the warrior.
The blonde gave him a suspicious look that turned to wonder, and slowly the Noldo stepped closer, taking the long package into his hands. Blue eyes wandered the length of the leathery surface, guessing the content, and then turned to Erestor. For some reason the advisor found himself smiling, encouraging Glorfindel to open the gift. Careful fingers undid the laces, folded the leather open and revealed the expertly crafted sheath. Erestor watched the blonde’s eyes widen and warrior hands easily withdraw the sword from its lair.
In a second all the sadness was gone from Glorfindel’s face. He smiled happily, stepping back to take a few practise swings, like a child with a new toy. The gleaming blade made a whistling sound through the air as he swung it, and he tested it for balance and edge. Erestor saw that he was pleased, and it gave him strange comfort. He was happy that Glorfindel was happy. Finally the Noldo returned, grinning at the counsellor while he sheathed the sword. He shook his head, speechless, and let his eyes wander over the gift. They stopped on the inscription.
“Ice-Flame,” Erestor said. “It is the sword’s name. May it aid you should any Balrogs cross your path.”
“Erestor, this...this is amazing. It’s by far the best gift I’ve ever received.” His gaze seemed torn between Erestor and the sword. “Is this what you had the blacksmith working on?”
“I owed you. For Alagos.”
“You didn’t have to do that... Besides, this sword is far more valuable than the one I gave for the horse.”
“I guess he means more to me than he did to that ranger, then.”
Their eyes met and there was a moment of silence. Erestor wasn’t certain that he truly wanted this to be the end of it. They were even, and if he wanted he didn’t have to deal with the Noldo again. But he still remembered the feelings he had once had for him. He remembered the arms around his chest, the lips on his ear, and the scent of the golden hair under his nose. Somewhere deep in his heart, Erestor wanted that back. He didn’t want it to be over and done with. He wanted to be loved again.
A hand on his shoulder brought him back to the present, and he looked up into deep, sympathetic blue eyes. “Why do you look so sad, Erestor?”
The warmth of the palm through his clothes spread in his body like fire in dry grass. He looked down at the strong fingers, calloused from centuries of handling sword and bow, just as they were more than three thousand years ago, as if death and rebirth had changed nothing. His eyes wandered up the muscled arm, the silvery tunic and the brown jerkin, both smelling of horse. An arm that had once held him close, a hand that had once touched him with such affection, and fingers that had once tangled in his hair to keep the wind from stealing it. The thought brought tears to his eyes.
Banishing all rational thoughts from his head, Erestor followed his initial instinct and fell into the arms of his lost lover. Wrapping his arms around the muscular torso, he leaned his head on the warrior’s shoulder and inhaled the scent of the long flaxen tresses. The smell was just as he remembered. Like a tree full of apple blossoms after a heavy spring rain. “Don’t say anything,” he whispered, “just let me hold you for a moment.” He felt arms wrapping around him in return, and a breath moved the hair at the back of his head. “Thank you.”
Erestor didn’t know how long he stood there, dreaming of a life that was supposed to be easier, where he didn’t have to be afraid or make difficult choices. He simply let himself be held and pretended that for those few precious moments he knew what it was like to be truly loved by someone, the way he used to think he was. But that life, that chance, was gone now. All that remained was this shell of the elf he used to love, and the shell of himself the way he used to be. They were both too different now, too far apart. It was no use dreaming. This was reality.
Slowly backing away, Erestor let go of the Noldo but refused to look at him. There were still tears swimming in his eyes, and he dared not meet the piercing blue gaze for no doubt it would drown him with pity. Instead he studied the grass and the colourful leaves, absentmindedly noticing a tiny brown spider trying to be invisible on a dried maple leaf, much like Erestor wished he could be. Change his colour and melt into the background, disappearing from the warrior’s view.
“Erestor...are you all right?” Glorfindel’s voice was ripe with empathy.
“No, I don’t believe I am,” he answered, turning around and drying his eyes on a dark sleeve.
Away from inquisitive stares he lifted his head and peered into the gloom. The sun had not been seen all day, but he could tell it would be setting soon. It was already getting darker and the wind seemed colder somehow, reaching through his robes into his very marrow. He shivered, wrapping arms around himself and letting his face be hidden behind ebony hair. Trying to think of something to say in explanation to Glorfindel, he was oblivious to the elf behind him, and before he knew it he was enclosed in a warm embrace once more. He unconsciously pressed back against the warm chest, and let himself be held one more time.
“If there’s anything I can do...” Glorfindel offered. “Anything at all...please, let me know. I want to be your friend, Erestor.”
“Are you sure?” It was barely a whisper, but Erestor felt the Noldo stiffen in response so he must have heard. “You don’t even know who I am.”
Feeling tears well up again, he untangled himself and hurried away from the scene. He felt confident the blonde would not follow. Knowing what a mess he must look, he hoped no other elves would cross his path on the way to his chamber. He had humiliated himself enough for one day. All he wanted to do now was crawl into bed and forget any of it had ever happened.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A few days of rain dampened the spirits of every elf in Imladris, especially one who was already miserable. Erestor felt his grip on himself slipping, as if he was losing himself in the dark. Sitting in the window of his chamber he stared out into the grey, the far naked trees hidden behind a veil of falling droplets. The wind carried them diagonally towards the ground, where they landed to a sound much like applause, as if the soil was rejoicing at their coming. With every puddle forming, with every passing minute, Erestor felt numbness taking over his soul. A strange sort of nothingness eating away at him.
Looking down at his hands, the advisor somehow thought they seemed paler and weaker than usual. Long, elegantly shaped fingers bore no calluses from war, but merely a suggestion of the preferred position of his quill. Sighing, he let his fingertips wander the back of a hand, sensing the tiny hills and valleys of muscle, sinew and vein. His mind was blank, and he could no longer come up with something to think about. It felt pointless. His existence felt pointless.
Finally submitting to his own uselessness, he stood and pulled on a robe. Perhaps walking through the house would ease his suffering. It was the first time he had left his chambers in two days. A servant brought him meals and anything else he needed, a reward awaiting the young elf’s discretion. Elrond was busy with his family, and Erestor hoped it would stay that way. He didn’t have the energy to stand against the Peredhel right now.
The long corridors of the Last Homely House were surprisingly quiet, considering there was not an elf outdoors, but every now and then Erestor heard giggling coming from one of the residences. Terrible weather always led to romantic escapades indoors. The counsellor tried not to let it get to him, and kept on walking. Passing an open door, he saw the twins playing a game of blocks on the floor by a balcony. The noise of the rain kept them from discovering him, and when the tower of wooden blocks collapsed an argument broke out as to whose fault it was. Erestor smiled and left them to the resolution.
When nearing the Hall of Fire, Erestor found out why the rest of the house was so quiet. Most of the elves seemed to have congregated there, gathered around the roaring fire, drinking wine and playing music. His eyes fell on the young servant, engaged in conversation with a beautiful maiden, and he didn’t know whether he should be offended or grateful. Offended that no one, not even the servant, told him there was going to be a party, or grateful that the servant had the presence of mind to know that the advisor was not in the mood to socialize. Either way, Erestor felt too empty to care.
He kept walking, relieved that the chances of running into someone annoying were slim, and set out towards his study. There might be a book in there worth reading simply to keep his mind occupied. But on his way he had to walk by Elrond’s study, and he was certain he had not seen the half-elf in the great hall. The door was open and a light shone from within. He was there then. Perhaps there was a chance the counsellor could sneak by unnoticed if Elrond was busy. Watching his step carefully, Erestor inched closer.
“I don’t know, Elrond...” It was Glorfindel’s voice, and Erestor froze by the door. “I don’t know what else to do. No matter how hard I try, it seems one mistake is enough to make him hate me forever.”
“Erestor does not hate you, Glorfindel. He’s merely confused.”
“Confused? About what? What is confusing? Do you know something I do not?” The Noldo sounded frustrated.
“Whatever he may have told me he did so in confidence, and I cannot not break that even for you. No, my friend, I think there is more to him than he’s told anyone. I believe he only granted me pieces of the truth. Why, I don’t know. Perhaps he does not trust me as well as I thought he did.”
“But...” Glorfindel sighed. “None of it fits. He is acting like...when he gave me the sword...”
There was a long pause, and Erestor could hear the Noldo take another frustrated breath. For some reason a flash of memory entered his mind, and he knew somehow that he would recognize the blonde’s breathing in a crowded room. He remembered the golden hair, floating over a white pillow in the dawn light. He remembered the naked chest heaving in sleep, the relaxed face tilted his way. And he remembered running his fingertips over that face, memorizing every hill and valley of flesh and bone, down the long neck, breastbone and stomach. “That tickles,” a voice had said, and blue eyes had smiled at him.
“Nothing. He acted odd, that is all.”
There was movement inside the study and Erestor backed away slightly, but then he heard a chair creak and felt safe to move closer again. He knew it was a bad thing to spy on his lord, but he reasoned that since they were talking about him it was not too large a betrayal.
“Now someone else is not telling me the truth.” If he was not mistaken, Elrond sounded amused. “Don’t worry yourself. He will be well eventually. Patience, meldir.” There was another pause and Erestor tried to peer through the hinges of the door to find out what was happening. “Shall we not join the others in the Hall of Fire?”
“Very well,” Glorfindel said, standing up. “I don’t suppose Erestor will be there.”
“I think not. But I am certain there are many others who would be happy to see you.”
The Noldo groaned. “As long as I don’t have to tell that damned Balrog story again. Dying isn’t very fun, you know.”
Elrond chuckled and the advisor heard them approaching the door. There was nowhere to hide, so his only option was really to turn and run, which he promptly did.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Winter was swift approaching and soon frost crept up the windows of the Last Homely House. The naked landscape grew into a cold and barren wasteland, its warmth and colour forgotten. Erestor was torn within himself. He felt his heart resemble the depressing vision of the once green valley, drained of life and joy. When he was not spying on the Noldo from afar he was avoiding him completely, keeping out of range of those probing blue eyes. Every time they looked at him he felt something new, something frightening happening inside, and he could not bear it. Yet he was drawn to the beautiful blonde by some powerful force, and he didn’t know how much longer he could resist it.
Giving in was not an option. He had made up his mind. Their ancient love could not be salvaged. It would be naught but torture to try and resurrect it. Glorfindel didn’t even remember him. What did that say about their love?
“What is the matter, meldir?” Elrond asked as he approached, coming to stand next to his advisor by the window. “Your spirits appear unusually low for the season.”
“This is the worst time of year, is it not?” Erestor stared at the gloomy outdoors. “That place where colour has left autumn, but snow has not yet fallen to illuminate winter, and all nature seems dead.”
“But it is not dead. It lays waiting for spring to waken it. Warmth will return. It always does.” Elrond smiled, placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“Aye, it does. But first it goes through the same thing all over again. The snow melts into dirty slush, and all is grey until the first budding leaves appear. No, my friend. Spring is just as bad as this.”
Erestor turned and walked over to the bookshelf behind his desk, scanning the backs for a particular book. It was a chronicle of the seasons, written by him and kept over hundreds of years, enabling him to keep track of the days and weeks that flew him by. He sifted through it, his eyes quickly picking up on important bits of information, and finally letting his fingertip come to rest on a page concerning winter.
“If we are lucky we’ll have snow in two weeks and be done with this weather,” he said, not even aiming his comment at the other elf in the room. “But since the summer was as long as in year 14 of the third age, we might not have much snow at all this winter. Though, we’ve had very little rain this year...”
“Records, Erestor?” Elrond stepped closer. “I could think of far more amusing activities than keeping track of the weather. In the end it doesn’t really matter, does it, old friend?”
Erestor closed the book and put it back on the shelf. “You quite appreciated my opinion on the matter when we were trying to decide on the best time to build the crossing bridge. Had we started too soon the floods would have washed the whole thing away. As I recall, you were quite grateful of my journal then.” He gave his lord a hard glare and sat down behind his desk. “If you will excuse me, I have work to do.”
Elrond sighed heavily, moving towards the door. Stopping before exiting, he turned to the counsellor. “I have tried having faith in you, Erestor, but you are making it very difficult for me. It is true, you do your work as no one else could and I am very grateful to have you in Imladris, but I don’t know how to talk to you any longer. I have barely seen you smile in months, nor heard you laugh or tell one of your clever jokes. The twins tell me you have stopped hugging them, and they ask me if this means you don’t love them anymore. I don’t know what to tell them, Erestor. It seems you love nothing anymore.”
The Peredhel turned away, taking a deep breath. “I want my friend back, Erestor. I miss him.”
Left all alone in his dark study, the counsellor broke down and cried.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The number of elves that had to be avoided at all cost kept growing. Erestor could no longer face any of the Peredhil family in honesty, and he had dismissed several of the house servants simply for being too cheeky. There were times when he feared visiting his horse, suspecting there might be other elves in the stables. He had also sent word to Elerin, the blacksmith, telling him that now was not a good time to send his son for tutoring. The counsellor made sure he was as unreachable as possible, always making himself scarce when he suspected he was wanted.
One evening Elrond knocked on his door, and he panicked. Jumping off the balcony he ran for the stables, spending the night at Alagos’ feet with hay in his hair and a throb in his ankle. He woke in the chilly morning with a wet muzzle on his face, and gently pushed the horse away. He didn’t feel like waking. He could hear other elves moving about the stable and hoped to the Valar they would not see him. Alagos nudged him in the chest and lightly tugged at his clothing, begging him to move.
“What about the big black one?” a voice said. “Alagos. Should we not take him out also?”
The horse raised his head when he heard his name called, peering out of the stall.
“It is Erestor’s horse.” This voice was definitely Glorfindel’s. “Let Erestor take him out.”
“My Lord, the Chief Counsellor has not been here in days. The beast needs exercise.”
There was a warm chuckle, and Erestor felt his face flush where he lay.
“Just because you have not seen him does not mean he has not been here,” Glorfindel said. “Here, take Asfaloth outside. I’ll put a blanket on Alagos to keep him warm until the counsellor sees to him.”
Erestor stiffened, hearing the other elf leave. It was only a matter of time before the seneschal opened the stall gate and saw him lying there in the dirt. In the end there was nothing else he could do than curl into a ball and pretend to be invisible, trying to keep his heart from thundering so madly.
“Here, Alagos,” Glorfindel crooned, and the stallion happily approached him. “Do you want an apple? It’s the last of the season I’m afraid, but I saved it especially for you.”
Peeking through the darkness of hair that covered his face, Erestor watched the blond elf feed the horse, gently petting the long face and speaking soft words in Sindarin. Alagos grunted delightedly and chewed on the fruit until foam appeared in the corners of his mouth. Glorfindel chuckled and kept stroking the stallion’s face.
“You are a fine horse, Alagos.” The Noldo looked thoughtful, and Erestor wondered what he was up to. “And your master knows it. He adores you. So why does he not come here anymore? I have barely seen him in weeks. Where is he now?”
The horse whinnied loudly and stepped back in the stall, giving Erestor a hard shove in the stomach with his head.
“Traitor!” Erestor told the stallion, and clutched his stomach groaning. The horse merely seemed happy to finally get a reaction from his limp master.
“Erestor?” The blonde looked quite shocked. “What are you doing down there?”
“Sleeping. What does it look like?” Pretending nothing had happened, he settled back in the hay. Alagos snorted and turned his back on the silly elf.
Erestor heard the stall gate open, and next thing he knew he was covered with a warm blanket that subsequently was tucked around him. It was rather comforting. A hand stroked the hair from his face, and when he looked up he saw Glorfindel sitting beside him. Apparently there was no escape.
“Do you want to tell me why you’re sleeping in horse filth?”
“That’s what I thought.” Glorfindel sighed and pulled the blanket up over Erestor’s shoulder. “Are you not cold?”
The Noldo petted his hair and stroked down his back, and it did warm him slightly. There was something immensely comforting in the touch, and should it go on much longer Erestor would surely be purring like a kitten under the blonde’s hand. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to enjoy it for a little while longer.
“Do you know how worried you have made everyone?” Glorfindel asked, his voice low and smooth. “They say you have been acting strangely for a year now. I thought it was only because of me, but...it would seem this odd behaviour of yours began before I even came here. From what I hear the entire valley is changed. A lot of people depend on you Erestor, and you have let them down.”
“Thank you. I sorely needed a lecture right now,” Erestor commented dryly, but still welcomed the soothing touches on his back.
“I don’t mean to cast blame. I am trying to tell you how important you are to the elves of Imladris. They have depended on you for two thousand years, they love you, and it hurts them to see you changed. Please, Erestor, I am begging you to tell me - to tell someone, anyone - what is not well with you. If you do not say, how can anyone help you?”
Finally the counsellor sat up, wrapping the blanket around his shoulders and leaning back against the wall. He looked at the Noldo, searched his infinitely blue eyes for any trace of recognition, but there was none to be found. He saw only sympathy and sadness, and it hurt him. The notion that he had brought sadness to this happy, carefree creature was more than he could bear.
“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I don’t know what is wrong with me or how to help myself. I feel like I’m falling constantly deeper down a dark hole, and there is nothing for me to grab onto. No means of escape. Nothing to pull me back up.” He shook his head. “I’m not like you. I cannot put on a smile and suddenly everything is well again.”
“You think that is what I do?” Erestor shrugged. Glorfindel studied him for a moment, and Erestor began to wonder whether he was going to say something more when the Noldo got a strange look in his eye. “When you gave me the sword...” he hesitated for a moment, “first you hugged me for no reason, and then...you said I don’t even know who you are. What did you mean by that?”
“I’d rather not say.”
Glorfindel smiled. “That’s what I thought you might say. It’s all right. I’m still hoping you will talk to me some day.” The Noldo stood up and extended a hand to the advisor. “Come on. Let’s get you indoors.”