Dinîf en Qualen
Erestor, who was panting hard, rested his hands and forehead against the cool brick wall. He was back in the safety of his rooms and could finally let go of his raging emotions. Tears dripped down his face and he slowly sank down onto his knees, hugging his waist in an effort to feel someone’s comforting arms around him. But the illusion never worked and again he was alone: he always was.
Angrily he wiped away his tears. He would not cave in now. Millennia ago he had managed to escape his father’s reign of terror, and he could do it again. He needed to stay calm and controlled, and then he could find a way to deal with Eridhren.
A knock on the door made his head snap back up and he stared, wary-eyed, at the doorway. Eridhren wasn’t here already, was he? Elrond had said Thranduil and Eridhren would arrive tomorrow! Then who was knocking on his door?
“Erestor? Can I come inside? I really want to talk to you.”
Glorfindel? Erestor frowned. Why had the blond followed him back to his rooms? He composed himself, wiped away all remaining tears, and slowly rose to his feet, straightening out his robes. Would he get away with sending Glorfindel back to Elrond’s study? Surely the Elda wouldn’t insist that they talked? “I am very tired and was about to go to sleep. Can we talk in the morning?”
“I would rather do this now. Erestor? Would you open the door?” Glorfindel was growing increasingly nervous now that Erestor wasn’t complying. “You seemed very upset when you left and maybe you need a listening ear? You can always talk to me.”
A lump of emotions formed in Erestor’s throat; no one had ever offered to listen before and he didn’t know how to react. He swallowed hard and wrung his hands. “I am not sure—“ Words eluded him. He didn’t want Glorfindel to see him this vulnerable. “Tomorrow?”
Glorfindel’s determined tone compelled Erestor to walk toward the doorway. He pushed down the door handle and slowly opened the door.
Glorfindel’s breath caught, seeing Erestor’s pallor and swimming dark eyes. “Thank you.”
Erestor averted his eyes and stepped aside to let the blond enter. After closing the door again, he remained standing near the doorway; why had he opened the door in the first place? Now he had to deal with Glorfindel as well as his out-of-control feelings. Fear and panic clawed at him whenever he thought about Eridhren’s upcoming visit.
Glorfindel came to a halt in front of the window and turned around to make eye contact with the dark-haired Elf. “You are still upset.”
Erestor determinedly shook his head. “You have a very vivid imagination. I have no idea what you are talking about.” Feeling defensive, he crossed his arms in front of his chest and glared at the blond.
Glorfindel considered his next move. He didn’t want Erestor to feel trapped or pressured; questioning the Elf was the wrong thing to do. He seated himself next to the fireplace and addressed Erestor again. “I am not here to question you, when you are already obviously upset. I am here to offer my support. Maybe having some company will help you to calm down. Loneliness can do awful things to someone.”
Gooseflesh formed all over Erestor’s body. He had been lonely his entire life and now Glorfindel had showed up, wanting to keep him company? His heart suddenly missed a beat; had he been so transparent that Glorfindel had figured out something was wrong? And maybe even –what- was wrong? Getting wobbly on his feet, he quickly sat down as well, closing his eyes and drawing in a deep breath.
Glorfindel respected Erestor’s silence and did not pressure the Noldorin Elf. Occasionally, when the fire threatened to die, he threw on new wood. They sat in silence and Glorfindel intercepted most of Erestor’s probing looks. /He is probably wondering why I am still here when he is not talking./
As the night progressed, Erestor’s eyes occasionally grew vacant when sleep overwhelmed him, but he always startled awake again and his first glance was for Glorfindel, making sure the blond was still there. Glorfindel interpreted that as Erestor’s mute plea to stay with him during the night.
Erestor was fast asleep when the first rays of the sun bathed the two of them in warm light. Glorfindel was still awake, watching Erestor closely. Thranduil and Eridhren would arrive in a few hours and he feared Erestor’s reaction to seeing his father. /I won’t leave him alone. I will be his personal guard and make sure that he is safe at all time./
When Erestor woke, it was because Glorfindel was moving about in his rooms. The blond had just left the bathroom and was now heading back to his chair. Realizing Glorfindel had stayed the entire night, Erestor wondered why. He had expected the Elda to leave when he had fallen asleep.
Glorfindel smiled warmly seeing Erestor awake. “Good morning. Thranduil will arrive within the hour and I assume you want to change your robes first?”
Erestor’s stomach contracted nervously, recalling Eridhren was accompanying Thranduil. Within the hour he would face his worst nightmare. “You are right. I should change my clothing.”
Erestor’s voice shook and Glorfindel immediately grew alarmed. “I need to change into my formal robes as well, but I could join you again later. We could greet Thranduil and Eridhren together.” He hoped Erestor accepted his offer, for then the Noldorin Elf wouldn’t have to face his father alone.
Erestor nodded slowly. He didn’t know how Glorfindel had figured out that Eridhren was the problem, but he was relieved the blond had. “I will come to your rooms then?”
Glorfindel smiled again. “I will wait for you.” Reluctantly he headed for the doorway, wishing he could stay with Erestor.
Erestor waited until Glorfindel had closed the door behind him and then released a strangled gasp. How was he going to survive the next hour? Could he face his nemesis without caving in? How would he react when being confronted with Eridhren? He hoped he wouldn’t embarrass Elrond, who would certainly want to introduce his chief counselor to Thranduil.
His hands shook whilst changing into velvet brown robes and brushing his hair. His fingertips involuntarily probed the back of his neck, still able to feel the scars his father’s fingernails had left behind so long ago. They were an ever-present reminder of his horrid past. He had hoped he would never see his father again, but now the dreaded moment had arrived after all.
After looking once more in the mirror, he draped a black cloak across his shoulders, pulling it tightly around his form. The shivers that shook his body weren’t due to the cold, but fear. Was there really no way out? No, Elrond expected him to be present. Slowly, he made his way to Glorfindel’s rooms, where he knocked softly.
Erestor opened the door and hovered near the doorway, hesitant to enter Glorfindel’s rooms. He had never been here before and didn’t want to intrude on the Elda’s privacy.
Glorfindel’s rooms greatly differed from his. They were spacious and luxurious, and breathed a warm and comforting atmosphere. The blond had just finished braiding his hair and was now heading toward him. A golden light engulfed the blond Elda, and the sight took Erestor’s breath away.
“Are you ready?” Glorfindel wondered about the stunned, almost admiring expression in Erestor’s eyes and smiled reassuringly. Reaching out, he slowly rested his hand in the small of Erestor’s back. He expected the dark-haired Elf to flinch and move away from his touch, but Erestor accepted it, whilst sending a puzzled look in his direction. Glorfindel answered the mute inquiry with a silent smile.
“We should go now,” said Glorfindel after a long moment in which they exchanged probing looks. His hand remained in the small of Erestor’s back, and he was pleased when the counselor didn’t move away. Maybe Erestor was finally beginning to trust him? He hoped so!
“Keep in mind that at least one of us stays close to Erestor whilst Eridhren is staying in Imladris.” Elrond waited for his sons to nod and then continued. “I will escort Thranduil to his rooms and, Elrohir, you will take Eridhren to his. I do not want Erestor anywhere near his father until we know what is really going on.”
“And Glorfindel?” Elrohir was surprised that his father wanted him to escort Eridhren.
“I want Glorfindel close to Erestor.” Elrond moistened his lips, seeing his sons’ puzzled expressions. “Erestor is beginning to trust him and I want to encourage their growing friendship.” Elrond straightened out his robes and his eyes became worried, seeing the tension on Erestor’s face when his chief advisor approached. Glorfindel’s expression was determined and Elrond knew he could count on the Elda to keep Erestor safe. That was one thing less to worry about.
Erestor forced himself to make eye contact with Elrond. After the half-Elf had nodded, he looked at Elrohir, who smiled at him. He weakly returned that smile. Hiding his hands in the sleeves of his robes, he tried to keep them from moving about. He shivered at the prospect of having to guide Eridhren to his guest rooms. The last thing he wanted was to be alone with him.
Elrond, sensing Erestor’s apparent discomfort, said, “I will escort Thranduil to his rooms and Elrohir will see to Eridhren. I want you and Glorfindel to make sure everything is prepared for lunch.”
Feeling nervous, Erestor wondered just how much Elrond had figured out now that the half-Elf wasn’t letting him attend to his father as a son normally would. He wasn’t sure how he felt about them knowing something was wrong. They were definitely trying to keep him away from Eridhren, for which he felt thankful. Noise coming from the courtyard attracted his attention, and, looking over his shoulder, he froze, seeing Eridhren riding next to Thranduil.
Glorfindel followed the direction of Erestor’s shocked stare and for the first time in his life he laid eyes on Eridhren. Eridhren had long, braided, dark hair, much like Erestor, a pale complexion, and the coldest eyes he had ever seen. The icy grey orbs made him shiver. /And this is Erestor’s father?/ His gaze shifted to Erestor and he found that the counselor had seemingly stopped breathing. Cold sweat formed on Erestor’s brow and his eyes had widened. His hand still rested in the small of Erestor’s back and he reassuringly rubbed his friend’s back, receiving a startled look from Erestor in return. “You are not alone,” he whispered softly, trying to reassure the upset Elf.
Elrond had also noticed Erestor’s reaction and moved until he stood in front of his counselor, obscuring him from Eridhren’s view. Forcing himself to concentrate on Thranduil, he addressed the Elf. “Welcome to Imladris. I hope your stay will be pleasant and that our conversations will lead to better organized border patrols.”
Thranduil inclined his head in approval and dismounted. “Elrond, I came here because Orcs and Uruk-Hai are threatening our borders and I too hope we will reach some agreement.” His eyes traveled from Elrond to the twins. The resemblance was incredible; they had really taken after their father instead of Celebrian. “Elrohir, Elladan…” he said in greeting.
Elrohir raised an eyebrow in surprise at the fact that Thranduil knew their names, let alone that he would acknowledge them. Elbowing Elladan in the stomach, he made sure his brother followed his example to bow slightly. “My lord Thranduil,” said Elrohir, trying to figure out how to read the other.
Elrond managed to hide his surprise at Thranduil’s mellow mood and risked a weak smile, aimed at the other Elf, who had been one of his best friends in the past, until… Elrond forced himself to stop thinking along those lines. It was not the time to discuss Oropher and Gil-galad’s deaths. He quickly changed his plans, embracing this opportunity to learn more about Eridhren, who hadn’t said a single word and was blatantly ignoring Erestor. “My sons will show you to your quarters, Thranduil.”
Elladan and Elrohir looked at each other in surprise. Weren’t they supposed to escort Eridhren? But they quickly adjusted to the situation and Elrohir signaled for Thranduil to follow them. “The journey must have tired you.”
Thranduil nodded once. “It was a long journey.” Following the twins, he looked over his shoulder at Elrond. After releasing a deep sigh, filled with regret, he concentrated on the twins again, trying hard to not look at Erestor. He didn’t want to draw any attention to the shaking Elf.
Eridhren had dismounted as well and stood now waiting silently to be shown to his quarters. “Let me show you to your rooms,” said Elrond, beckoning Eridhren to follow him.
Glorfindel intercepted one cold glare that Eridhren directed at Erestor and pulled his friend closer, trying to protect him from the menacing stare. “Stay with me,” he whispered into Erestor’s ear. The counselor nodded shakily.
Elrond waited for Eridhren to follow and then guided his guest to his rooms. Eridhren remained quiet and the half-Elf’s curiosity was piqued. What kind of father did not react to seeing his son for the first time in such a long time? He would be overjoyed to be reunited with Elladan and Elrohir! “I trust the rooms will be to your liking. If not, please let me know.”
Eridhren didn’t reply and shivers ran down Elrond’s spine, feeling the other’s eyes pierce his back. His instincts warned him to remain very cautious around Eridhren. “Lunch will be served in one hour. A servant will escort you to the dining hall. Our talks will start tomorrow morning, after Thranduil and you rested.”
Eridhren nodded and Elrond quickly excused himself. Just being near the Elf felt suffocating and he wondered how Thranduil managed to endure Eridhren’s presence. But then again, maybe the Elf wasn’t aware of Eridhren’s true nature. He drew in a deep breath and composed himself. Eridhren’s presence was unsettling. /And Erestor was exposed to this for… for how many years?/
Elrond started down the corridor, eager to check on Erestor. From this moment on, he wanted someone close to Erestor at all times.
Erestor slowly became aware of Glorfindel rubbing his back. Now that Eridhren was gone, he released the breath he had involuntarily been holding and looked at the blond. How was it possible that he hadn’t avoided the touch and instead leaned into it? How had Glorfindel managed to get through his defenses?
Glorfindel began to guide Erestor to Elrond’s study, wanting to get him away from the rest of Thranduil’s party. After steering Erestor to one of the chairs, he said, “Sit down, mellon-nîn.” He walked over to cabinet where Elrond kept his wine and poured Erestor a small amount. “Drink this.” Hopefully the wine would calm Erestor’s nerves.
Erestor’s shaky fingers curled around the glass and he downed it in one go, surprising Glorfindel. The Elda finally realized just how shaken up Erestor really was; usually the Noldorin Elf only sipped cautiously. He seated himself next to Erestor and cleared his throat. “Will you tell me why you are this upset?”
Erestor’s hand shook whilst holding the glass and Glorfindel reacted quickly, catching it when Erestor’s fingers lost their grip on it. “I have got it.” He placed the glass on the floor and slowly gathered Erestor’s hands in his, surprised when the Elf let him. Erestor’s eyes were swimming and he hoped the Noldorin Elf would finally confide in him. “It is your father, is it not?”
Erestor stared at Glorfindel in disbelief. Was the blond trying to get him to talk? He wasn’t sure he could open up after so many centuries of silence. Instead of answering Glorfindel verbally, he nodded.
“He is the one who hurt you in the past.”
Glorfindel’s determined tone surprised Erestor. Did he also hear anger in Glorfindel’s tone? Why would there be anger?
“How did he hurt you?” Fury was building inside Glorfindel.
“I cannot discuss this…” Erestor’s voice collapsed as he buried his face in his hands.
Glorfindel accepted that. “I will wait until you are ready to tell me. In the meantime I will stay close to you.”
“Why?” Erestor pleadingly stared at Glorfindel. Had the impossible really happened? Did someone really care enough to look beneath his mask and see the pain hiding there? He had feared this day would never come and now that it had, he was afraid to entrust his past to Glorfindel. “Why stay?”
“Because I can tell you are hurting. Last night, when Elrond told you that your father was about to visit, you were shocked.” Glorfindel gave Erestor a thoughtful look. “I do not know in which ways Eridhren hurt you, but I will prevent it from happening again.” Tears now flowed freely down Erestor’s face and the Noldorin Elf’s fingers tightened around his, holding on for support. Glorfindel squeezed them in return. “You can put your trust in me. I will not let you down.”
“I want to believe you,” whispered Erestor hoarsely. “But it is hard to believe that you really want to—“ Erestor’s voice faltered, seeing the disappointment in Glorfindel’s eyes; the blond was sincere.
Glorfindel, realizing Erestor needed time to accept his interest, remained silent and waited for the dark-haired Elf to reach a decision. /Please trust me--/
Erestor was afraid to make a mistake that would cost him dearly, but now that Eridhren had arrived he needed someone to stand by him. “He is not what he seems.”
“Your father is not what he seems? In what way?” Glorfindel felt relieved now that Erestor was talking to him. Now he needed to be patient and diplomatic.
Erestor moistened his lips and looked at their joined hands, wondering about the blond’s interest in him. “He is…” Erestor desperately searched for the right words. “Be careful around him.”
Glorfindel’s breath caught involuntarily when Erestor’s eyes widened impossibly. “What is it?” What had startled the raven-haired Elf?
“Elladan and Elrohir…” Erestor suddenly panicked, but then the feelings seemed to deflate again. “They are with Thranduil and they are together.” He squeezed Glorfindel’s hand hard. “Please make sure Eridhren is not left alone with them!”
“Why?” Glorfindel hated pushing Erestor, but he had to know why the twins were in danger!
“They are still so young and they won’t recognize the danger he presents.” Erestor was shaking like a leaf.
“In what way is Eridhren dangerous? How can he hurt them?”
But Erestor wasn’t ready yet to confide the horrible truth to Glorfindel. “Just make sure Eridhren does not catch either of them alone and off guard.”
Glorfindel realized that Erestor wouldn’t tell him more. It would take the counselor some time to work up to that. “I will tell Elrond.”
Erestor lowered his eyes. “Do you really believe me?” Only Thranduil and his wife had believed him when it came down to Eridhren.
“Why should I not believe you? I know you are serious.” Glorfindel smiled reassuringly. /I know you are scared and that you worry about the twins’ safety./
Erestor hesitantly made eye contact again. The look in Glorfindel’s eyes took his breath away. “You are really worried about me and you do believe me.” That realization warmed his scarred soul.
Glorfindel nodded once. “I am worried about you, and I do believe you.” /No one believed you when you told them Eridhren was dangerous? Is that the reason why you were incapable of trusting us for all these centuries?/ “Elrond believes you, and so do the twins. You are no longer alone.” Glorfindel wiped away Erestor’s tears before they dripped from the raven-haired Elf’s chin. “You have been alone for a long time, have you not?”
Erestor was only capable of nodding. He felt the insane urge to fling himself into Glorfindel’s arms to hug the Elda, but stopped himself just in time. He didn’t want to impose himself on Glorfindel like that.
Feeling Erestor’s hands twitch in his and seeing the Noldorin Elf sway on the chair, Glorfindel gave in to his instincts, and let go of Erestor’s hands so he could wrap his arms around him. “I am here. You are safe, mellon-nîn. Eridhren won’t ever hurt you again!” Erestor tensed, but then the other’s body sagged against him and he tightened his hold. “You can let go, Erestor.”
Like before in Elrohir’s arms, Erestor sobbed and clung to Glorfindel in the midst of this emotional storm. Feelings which had been denied for centuries now fought a way to the surface. Erestor blinked his swimming eyes and then buried his face in Glorfindel’s robes.
Glorfindel slid onto his knees and pulled Erestor along onto the floor, where he tightly embraced the raven-haired Elf. He didn’t say a word, offering Erestor silent support. Words became redundant whilst he rocked the Noldorin Elf in his arms.
After a few minutes, Erestor calmed down and felt embarrassed for losing control. Glorfindel must think he had lost his sanity! “I am sorry,” he whispered in a strangled tone.
“Do not be sorry,” replied Glorfindel, who refused to release Erestor just yet, even though the raven-haired Elf tried to move away from him. “You kept this buried inside for so long and now it finally found a way out. You might actually feel better now that you cried.”
Glorfindel’s words surprised Erestor, but he had to admit the Elda was right. “I do feel better.” The darkness had faded momentarily. “Thank you for…” For what?
“You can always count on me to be there when you need me.” Glorfindel smiled, soothingly stroked Erestor’s back and felt like he had really made progress. “You can trust me. Do you know that?”
Erestor smiled weakly. “I do… now.”
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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