Glorfindel’s Darkest Hour
Chapter 1 - Games
“Ah, you can do much better, pen-neth!” Glorfindel laughed, amused, as he disarmed Elrohir, who had accepted the challenge to best him. “I thought I had taught you better than that!”
Elrond chuckled softly, seeing Elrohir’s disappointed expression. “Maybe you can defeat him with the help of your brother?”
Elrohir decided he liked his father’s suggestion and signaled for Elladan, who was sitting on the grass, to join him. “Come on, brother, I do not want him to defeat me again!”
Elladan, who had already been bested by Glorfindel a few moments ago, wasn’t thrilled to be invited to join in the mock fight, but he couldn’t desert his brother either. Sighing deeply, he pushed himself to his feet and then stood at Elrohir’s side.
His eyes shifted from his twin to his father and Erestor, who sat in the shade beneath an old oak tree. Elrond was watching them with interest, whilst Erestor pretended to read. But he had seen the amused gleam in the advisor’s eyes. “Don’t give me that look, Erestor. You cannot hold your ground against Glorfindel either.”
Elrond raised an eyebrow and his chuckles grew louder, as his gaze traveled from Elladan to Erestor. “Aye, Erestor, you cannot even wield a sword properly.”
Erestor shook his head at Elrond’s words. It was best to play along. He had worked hard for the twins and Glorfindel to think of him as a scholar and Elrond’s taunting words weren’t going to change that. “My weapon is the quill, not the sword.”
At that, Elrond burst out into laughter, which earned him surprised looks from his sons and his seneschal. But he was nearly bursting with secret knowledge. He was the only one, apart from Erestor himself, who knew of the advisor’s hidden talents. He didn’t put it past Erestor to best Glorfindel.
Elladan simply sighed, drew his sword, and joined his brother when Elrohir charged Glorfindel. This time the sparring match lasted longer, and even a single drop of sweat appeared on the blond’s brow before he disarmed first Elladan and then Elrohir.
“Your performance is disappointing,” teased Glorfindel, mercilessly.
“Maybe Ada or Erestor will do better,” remarked Elladan, sarcastically. “What do you say, Ada? Would you like to put Glorfindel in his place? He is becoming too cocky.”
But Elrond raised a hand, declining. “It has been too long since I wielded my sword.” And he had absolutely no desire to be humiliated in front of his sons.
“What about you, Erestor?” Elladan’s eyes narrowed. “I cannot remember ever seeing you with a sword in your hand.”
“Well, why should I try now then?” Erestor directed a stern look at the oldest twin. “Never having fought before puts me at a distinct disadvantage, does it not?” Oh, he would play along as long as was necessary.
“Come on, Erestor,” said Glorfindel, enjoying tormenting the calm advisor, “I will go easy on you, and you should know how to defend yourself at any rate.”
“Aye, Glorfindel is right,” chuckled Elrond. It would be entertaining to see Erestor clueless when in reality the advisor had trained alongside him and Gil-galad. The annoyed glare Erestor shot him only made him feel giddier. “Go on, accept the challenge. Maybe Glorfindel can teach you how to defend yourself!”
Erestor was very much aware of the game Elrond was playing with him, and he decided to get even with the half-Elf later. First, he had to find a way out of the situation Elrond had maneuvered him in to. With mock defeat, he placed the book on the grass and rose to his feet. “Show me then.” He didn’t mind being the laughing stock for a brief moment, as long as his secrets remained just that.
Elladan grinned and handed Erestor his sword. His grin turned smug, hearing Erestor sigh at the weight of the metal in his hand.
Elrohir disliked his brother and his father’s tactics and moved closer to Erestor. “You do not have to do this.” Warm and caring eyes met his.
“It is all right, pen-neth. I do not mind being this afternoon’s amusement. Trust me,” he said, glaring at Elrond and Elladan before returning his gaze to Elrohir, “I will make them pay.”
Elrohir smiled and nodded his head once. “Be careful. I do not want you injured.”
Erestor felt touched by Elrohir’s concern, and decided Elrond and Elladan would pay for putting him in this position later. “Well, I am ready for my lesson,” he announced, facing Glorfindel, who was smirking.
“Raise your sword, Erestor… No, not like that! You need a firm grip… Deflect my blow… Ah, this won’t work.”
Glorfindel felt slightly disappointed when Erestor unsuccessfully wrestled to keep his sword arm extended. He didn’t meet any resistance when his sword collided with Erestor’s and the advisor seemed startled at the sound. “You are a pitiful excuse for a warrior,” teased Glorfindel, goodheartedly.
“Well, you are a poor excuse for a diplomat… and a teacher!” said Erestor, returning the teasing. He could never get cross with Glorfindel. Ever since the day the blond had joined their household he’d had a soft spot for the Elda. Over the years, his affection and interest had changed into love, but he had never revealed any of his feelings.
Glorfindel was way out of his league. The blond shared Elrond’s bed at times and although the two of them weren’t in love, they found great pleasure and some amount of happiness in this arrangement. Had Elrond and Glorfindel not been together in *that* way, he might have taken his chance and confessed to the blond. But that was out of the question now.
Glorfindel mockingly placed his hand over his heart. “That hurt! Aiya, your words *are* sharper than the blade of my sword!” Dramatically, he sighed, and his eyes sparkled with mirth. “We should abandon this lesson.”
“Aye, we should,” agreed Erestor, smiling brightly. Although he loved the attention Glorfindel had just paid him, he knew it would never be more than a teasing encounter. The blond only had eyes for Elrond. Averting his eyes, he looked at the grey sky. The clouds were darkening and rain was in the air. “We should return home. It will start to rain shortly.”
Elrond nodded his agreement and got to his feet as well. He had noticed the smothering look of desire Erestor had given Glorfindel and the half-Elf’s heart felt heavy, like it always did when he intercepted such a look. He had even briefly broken things off with Glorfindel to allow Erestor his chance, but his advisor had never tried to draw the blond’s attention. Sighing, he realized Erestor didn’t plan on ever revealing his feelings.
Erestor handed Elladan his sword and picked up his book. After closing it, he slipped his hands into the wide sleeves of his robes and followed Elrond, as the half-Elf headed for the Last Homely House. He was looking forward to taking a long, hot bath before turning in for the night.
Glorfindel took up last position, making sure everyone safely returned home. The smile remained on his face and he mentally replayed the scene that had just taken place. He had thought Erestor knew how to handle a sword, but apparently he had been mistaken. How was it possible that the Elf, who was Elrond’s chief advisor, didn’t even know how to defend himself? Well, luckily there were always well-trained guards close.
“I actually felt sorry for Erestor,” whispered Glorfindel, who was propped up against some pillows in Elrond’s bed. He had been looking forward to having sex with the half-Elf, but for some reason Elrond wasn’t in the right mood and had retreated to the chairs in front of the fireplace. “You are brooding.”
“Aye, I am.” Elrond tiredly rose from the chair and slowly walked toward his bed. The flaxen-haired beauty had been his bed partner for many decades now, but a deep sense of love had never risen between them, something he regretted.
Glorfindel extended his arm and curled his fingers around Elrond’s, pulling the half-Elf into bed with him. “What is it that troubles you? Maybe I can distract you for a while?”
Elrond knew what that offer entailed, but he shook his head. “I am sorry, Glorfindel, but I am not in the mood tonight.”
Glorfindel sighed, but nodded once. “Would you prefer to be alone?” Elrond guarded his privacy well and he knew when he was considered redundant.
“Aye, I would like to be alone. I need to think and you distract me.” Smiling, he pressed a fingertip across the blond’s lips. “I will make things up to you.”
Glorfindel smiled, saddened, also regretting that their relationship had never deepened. “You know where to find me in case you grow lonely.”
Petting the blond hair, Elrond whispered, “Don’t count on me seeking you out tonight. And tomorrow you will leave to take your turn at leading the border patrol. I will see you again in a few days.”
Glorfindel reluctantly left Elrond’s bed and gathered his tunic and leggings. After putting on his clothes, he headed for the doorway. He wished he could whisper words like, *I love you,* but he couldn’t, because it would be a lie.
Closing the door behind him, he soundlessly headed for his private chambers.
Erestor rested his head against the pillow he had placed on the rim of the tub, relaxing, as warm water surrounded him. He would probably turn into a prune one day, but he loved bathing. It had started when he had worked for Gil-galad, operating behind enemy lines at the Battle of the Last Alliance. Having to pass for an Orc had been challenging, but he had gathered all the information Gil-galad had needed. When he had finally been able to wash the dirt and grime from his body he had loved the sensation and had become addicted to bathing since then.
The only thing better than taking this bath alone would be taking a bath with Glorfindel, but that would only happen in his dreams. Sighing, his hand stole down to his groin. The mere thought of the blond’s smile had caused him to grow hard and he stroked lazily, closing his eyes and imaging it was Glorfindel’s hand that was bringing him to orgasm.
His breathing quickened, arching his back as he reached his climax. For one moment he felt blissfully at peace, but then realization set in; he was deluding himself. He was alone in the pool. A tormented sigh left his lips, as he forced himself to get up and dry his skin and hair. What good was clinging to a love that would never come true? He had to find a way to get over Glorfindel.
Erestor had retreated to the fireplace, reading, when a hesitant knock sounded on his door. Who would seek him out at this late hour? “Enter.” His hand moved to the small knife, which he kept hidden beneath the chair, but his hand returned to holding the book, seeing Elrond enter.
“Erestor? Can we talk?” Elrond, clad in his heavy velvet evening robes, waited for Erestor to nod and then closed the door behind him.
“Please sit down,” said Erestor, putting away his book. After Elrond had seated himself, he asked, “What is keeping you from falling asleep?” The brooding expression in the half-Elf’s eyes easily gave Elrond away.
“So many things,” said Elrond, sighing. He gathered his robes around him and stared absentmindedly at the fire. “For example why you won’t tell Glorfindel you have feelings for him.”
This topic had come up before and like previous times, Erestor reacted defensively. “Don’t meddle in my private affairs, Elrond.”
“I only want to help.”
Erestor privately cursed. Yes, he knew Elrond wanted to help, but the mere fact that the half-Elf occasionally shared his bed with Glorfindel wasn’t helping. “I do not wish to discuss this.”
Elrond gave Erestor an apologetic look. “I hope you are not still cross with me for playing along with Elladan and Glorfindel?”
Erestor shrugged once. “I did not mind.” It was the truth; he had gotten a few precious moments out of it when Glorfindel’s attention had been focused on him.
“You always were the perfect actor, Erestor,” said Elrond in a melancholy tone. “You always managed to fool people. At times, I wonder whom I am dealing with.”
“You know me,” said Erestor in a soft tone. “And you know why I am the person I am today.”
Elrond nodded. “I saw your pain when he died.”
“Don’t speak of him!” hissed Erestor, “In my dreams I see him die all over again. Don’t remind me of the loss.”
“We all grieved with you,” whispered Elrond, as he reached out and placed his hand on top of Erestor’s. “I wish you would try again.”
Erestor’s sharp glare softened. “I do not want to take away the comfort you find in Glorfindel’s presence and touch.” Rubbing Elrond’s knuckles, he added, “Maybe if he had not come to your bed, things would have developed differently.”
“But it is not love what we feel for each other. It is lust, understanding, and maybe some affection, but it is not love.” Elrond had only found love once before; in the arms of his wife. “I gave up on Glorfindel once before and I asked you to make your move, but you did not. How is Glorfindel supposed to know you love him?”
“He is not supposed to know,” said Erestor and his tone had gone from warm to chilly. “And you won’t tell him.” Erestor stared into Elrond’s eyes. “Is there another reason why you came here?”
“Actually, there is.” Elrond leaned back in the chair, disappointed that he hadn’t made any progress with Erestor. If only the stubborn Elf would admit to Glorfindel he loved him!
“What is it?” Erestor hoped Elrond had a good reason for coming here and disturbing his peaceful evening, other than meddling in his non-existent love life.
“There have been an increased number of sightings of Orcs near our borders. Some of them even crossed into our lands. I am sending Glorfindel to investigate, but I assume you would like to take a look as well.”
“Aye, I will. I do not want any of those creatures near Imladris. I will look into the matter.”
Elrond sighed and slowly rose to his feet. “I feel old tonight,” he whispered, wondering if Middle-Earth would ever know true peace.
Erestor got to his feet as well and rested a hand on the half-Elf’s shoulder. “That burden is ours to bear. With the passing of the millennia we grow weary.”
Elrond smiled and briefly covered Erestor’s hand with his. “You have always been a good friend and I regret not having been there for you when you needed my support.”
“You were trying to convince Isildur to destroy the ring. If anyone is to blame it is me.”
“No, it is Sauron.” Elrond moved closer and hugged Erestor momentarily. /I just wish you would let love into your heart again./
“Do not delude yourself, Elrond. We both know Glorfindel is not interested in me. I am content to steal a few moments of his time.”
“Like during the sparring match today. Mellon-nîn, your eyes were full of love. It was there for anyone to see.”
Erestor tensed slightly. “Then I must be more careful. I do not want them to figure this out. Not the twins and certainly not Glorfindel.”
Elrond released a deep sigh, feeling drained. “I wish I could change your mind.” Letting go of his friend, he headed for the doorway. “I want you to report to me when you return.” Like always, no one would notice Erestor’s disappearance and when he came back, the dark-haired Elf would have gathered all the information he needed.
“I will give you my report tomorrow evening.”
Elrond nodded and closed the door behind him, returning to his empty bed.
Erestor’s eyes glimmered as he stared into the dying fire. No Orc would threaten the peace Elrond and he had built here so many centuries ago. He would stop them.
Glorfindel was growing frustrated. For hours he and his escort had searched the lands for any raiding Orcs, but all he had found were deep footsteps in the grass. Why couldn’t he find them? Elrond trusted in him to keep the borders safe!
Unknown to him, a few miles south Erestor was observing three Orcs, which were giving their report to an Uruk-Hai. During these last few moments he had learned a lot. The foul creatures were searching for Elves. They had orders to take as many Elves prisoner as possible.
That was something he couldn’t allow to happen. He waited for the Uruk-Hai to leave and then followed the remaining three Orcs into the woods.
Before leaving Imladris he had slid his long hunting knifes into the scabbards, which he carried across his back. Uncovering them, his eyes narrowed. He couldn’t afford to make any mistakes and he had to take them out as quickly as possible. He couldn’t allow them to get away.
Sneaking closer, he hid behind the trunk of an ancient tree and waited for the Orcs to pass him by. When their backs were toward him, he acted. The metal swooshed through the air, alerting them. One Orc never realized what happened as Erestor buried one knife deep inside his chest. Swirling around, he aimed for the throat of the second Orc and kicked the third in the back of his knees, bringing him down. Within seconds, he had ended their lives as well.
Blood dripped from his knives and he cleaned the blades by running them along his victims’ tattered clothing. Considering his next move, he decided to head back for the Last Homely House. Elrond expected a report and once the half-Elf knew how serious the situation was they could take proper measures.
Sheathing his knives, he turned around and disappeared into the forest. He left the three corpses behind, hoping they would serve as a warning.
Hours later, Glorfindel and his men happened upon the three dead Orcs. Lowering himself onto his heels, he studied their wounds. A sharp knife had ended their lives; very sharp and very lethal. The blade that had ended their lives had to be Elvish. “Search for clues,” he ordered, as he rose to his feet again.
He walked a little away from the corpses, needing a moment to think. It was imperative that he found the Elf who had dealt with the foul creatures.
Erestor had hurried back to Imladris, urging his horse to gallop even harder.
Arriving at the stables, he dismounted and ignored Elladan’s surprised expression as he passed the half-Elf by. He wasn’t in the mood to keep up the pretence and would come up with a believable explanation later.
He headed for Elrond’s study, entered without knocking and told the advisors to leave. As they had seen Erestor in this state before, they left without voicing any protests.
“Is it that bad?” Elrond rose from behind the desk and joined Erestor, who was staring out of the window.
“They are under orders to capture as many Elves as they can.”
Elrond sighed deeply. “And how did you learn this?”
“I tracked down a party of three Orcs and one Uruk-Hai. The latter was to report to Saruman about the progress they were making. I let him leave as I did not want to attract any attention.”
“The Orcs?” Elrond already had a pretty good idea what had probably happened to them.
“I killed them.”
Erestor’s icy tone made Elrond shiver. He had heard it too many times before and he had hoped to never hear it again. But Saruman and his creatures were now targeting Imladris and Erestor’s old instincts were showing.
“What do you suggest we do?” There was a reason why he had made Erestor his chief advisor. Only a few knew that Erestor was millennia older than he was and he had even advised Gil-galad when the High King had been in need of wise counsel. And Erestor’s advice had been sound, for they had defeated Sauron. But the prize had been high; they had lost Gil-galad.
“Send out a large number of patrols. If necessary contact Celeborn and ask him for reinforcements. We must secure our borders. I will organize the patrols and make sure experienced warriors lead them. You in turn must inform Glorfindel of our plans.”
Elrond nodded. “He will want to take charge.”
“Let him. Keeping the borders safe is his duty. But make sure he knows how serious the matter is and how high the stakes are.”
“What will you do in the meantime?”
“I will mobilize my own guards and spies. Hopefully they will supply all necessary information so Glorfindel can deal with Saruman’s beasts.” Elrond’s hand settled on his shoulder and he probed the half-Elf’s eyes. “I have seen enough slaughter to last a life time. We will keep Imladris safe.”
Elrond heard the determination in Erestor’s tone and nodded once. “I know I can count on you, mellon-nîn.”
“We protect our own,” said Erestor grimly.
“Aye, we do.”
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