Glorfindel's Darkest Hour
Chapter 6 - Returning to Life
Glorfindel screamed in agony, returning to life, to consciousness. His entire body burned with pain and he was shaking violently, his fingers opening and closing frantically. Suddenly hands descended onto his body, and he reacted the only way he could, by kicking at the offending limbs. No one would touch him against his will ever again!
"Calm yourself, Glorfindel. It is I, Erestor." His heart bled, seeing the panic in Glorfindel’s dilated pupils. Mandos’ words returned to him; Glorfindel wouldn’t remember he had been reclaimed and that a bond had been formed between them. The Vala had taken that knowledge away from his friend. Erestor sighed; it was a sacrifice worth making, for it had brought Glorfindel back to Middle-Earth.
After Erestor had regained consciousness, he had found the wound on his throat closed and his body once more filled with blood, doubtlessly the Vala’s doing. Taking advantage of the fact that Glorfindel had still been unconscious, he had wrapped the blond’s still dripping wrists with stripes of his cloak. After grabbing a blanket from the bed, he had then wrapped it around the blond to give Glorfindel a sense of warmth and safety. But covering the Elda’s naked body didn’t seem to help much. The injured Elf pushed away from him and another keening wail ripped through the air.
Glorfindel tried to make sense of what was happening. The last thing he remembered was being ravaged by an Uruk-Hai. The memories seemed to be fading, but he still vaguely remembered the pain as the vile creature had forced itself on him.
Glorfindel’s face, which had been slammed into the wall, hurt, and he couldn’t be bothered to talk. He simply stared at the dark-haired Elf kneeling in front of him. It took him a moment to identify his savior. At first, he had thought Elrond had come to his rescue, but now he saw it was Erestor. /What is he doing here? And how did he manage to get here in the first place?/ He recalled the embarrassing performance Erestor had given when handling a sword, and he couldn’t believe the advisor had managed to sneak into Orthanc unharmed.
"Hush now, mellon-nîn, and calm yourself. You are safe. I won’t let anyone hurt you ever again." Erestor forced back his tears, seeing the battered and bruised state the blond was in. It was hard to reconcile this scared Elf with the loving Glorfindel he had claimed in the Great Halls, and he cursed the Vala for not taking away more of the blond’s pain and memories. "I will take you home."
"Ho…me…?" Glorfindel stuttered and wished he could pass out and forget this had ever happened. Why hadn’t Mandos claimed him? Suddenly a warm and gentle wave washed over him when Erestor wrapped an arm around his waist to help him onto his feet. He had expected to flinch away from the touch, but instead he found himself eagerly leaning into it.
Seeing the surprise in Glorfindel’s eyes, Erestor tried to comfort him. "I promise that everything will be all right in the end. Please trust me."
Glorfindel continued to stare at his friend. What in Elbereth’s name was the scholar doing here? /What if they find him…?/ He failed to finish that thought. He was afraid to think of what might happen if the Orcs and Uruk-Hai found the raven-haired Elf. "Leave… me… be…hind…" He would slow his friend down and they couldn’t take that risk.
"Oh, no. I just found you. I am not letting you go ever again." Erestor maintained a tight hold on the blond and then lifted Glorfindel, carrying him in his arms. The expression in the Elda’s eyes would have been comical, had their situation not been this serious.
"What… are you… doing?" Instinctively, Glorfindel rested one hand at the nape of Erestor’s neck, holding on for support.
"Carrying you out of here." Erestor soundlessly moved through the corridors, pausing occasionally to hide when he encountered Saruman’s creatures. Glorfindel was now clinging to him, shaking like a leaf. He wanted to soothe the blond, but knew he had to keep quiet instead, as he didn’t want to draw attention to them.
Pain coursed through his lower body and abdomen, but Glorfindel bit it down, realizing they needed to move soundlessly. He still hadn’t completely accepted the fact that Erestor had come for him. The scholar usually spent his days in the library or Elrond’s study. What had possessed Elrond to allow Erestor to come after him? It was amazing that Erestor hadn’t been caught yet!
Pressing both of them close to the wall, Erestor used his Elven cloak to hide them from view when an Uruk-Hai passed them by. He could easily have taken out the creature, but he preferred to remain unnoticed.
After the Uruk-Hai had vanished from sight, Erestor judged it safe to continue.
Glorfindel briefly closed his eyes, realizing with a sense of dread that he was too weak to defend himself, let alone Erestor, should they be caught.
"It won’t be long now," said Erestor reassuringly. "And once we have left Orthanc behind us you will feel better." The bond that had been established between them in the Great Halls would sustain Glorfindel and make him stronger. All he needed to do was to stay close. It didn’t matter that the blond didn’t love him back. All that mattered was that Glorfindel was in his arms.
"Better," whispered Glorfindel. After what Saruman and his creature had done to him, he would never feel ‘better’, but he was grateful that the memories weren’t that invading. Even the pain in his lower body faded somewhat, when he rested his head against Erestor’s shoulder.
"I know it is hard to believe, but I promise you will feel better." Concentrating on his love for Glorfindel, he briefly rested his chin on top of the blond’s head.
Glorfindel startled when a sudden warmth and a sense of deep comfort traveled through his body and he let Erestor’s words soothe him. For one moment he allowed himself to drift on the warm feelings. He had no idea where they were coming from, but he welcomed them nonetheless.
Feeling Glorfindel relax against him, Erestor headed for the concealed doorway through which he had entered. To his dismay, he found it guarded by an Uruk-Hai, who hadn’t been there when he had arrived.
Looking up to find out why Erestor had stopped walking, Glorfindel’s breath caught, seeing one of Saruman’s creatures only a few feet away from him. His eyes pleadingly sought out Erestor’s, begging him to leave this corridor. He gasped sharply when Erestor slowly lowered him onto the floor. What was that Elf thinking? Erestor was a scholar, not a warrior! He couldn’t possibly take out that monster! "Don’t… He will… kill…you." He wasn’t worth dying for; not any more.
"Stay here." Erestor made eye contact with Glorfindel and smiled reassuringly, seeing the fear in the azure eyes. "He won’t hurt you." His heart ached, seeing Glorfindel in such anguish. When Mandos had said he would take away Glorfindel’s pain, he had hoped the blond would stop hurting. But apparently the memories were still there. /Mandos could have shown mercy and let Glorfindel remember I love him. That might have comforted him./ But Mandos had decided differently.
"You… can… not…" Glorfindel could only think about stopping Erestor from carrying out this suicide mission. "He will… kill… you."
"No, he won’t." Erestor wished he could press a kiss on the tangled blond mane, but he knew instinctively that Glorfindel wouldn’t allow it. Once they were back in Imladris, Glorfindel would seek comfort in Elrond’s arms and not his. "Just be quiet and do not get involved."
Glorfindel stared at Erestor in obvious shock when the raven-haired Elf drew a hunting knife from its sheath. Why hadn’t he noticed before that Erestor was carrying weapons? That fact only registered now. He couldn’t recall ever seeing Erestor carry weapons before.
Erestor exchanged one more look with Glorfindel and then vanished from the blond’s sight, sneaking up on the Uruk-Hai, which he needed to take out quickly and quietly. He couldn’t allow the creature to alert others.
Glorfindel wondered if he was still caught up in some sort of dream when he saw Erestor appear behind the Uruk-Hai. Then the raven-haired Elf acted almost too fast for him to see, and a moment later a sharp blade had slashed the creature’s throat. The Uruk-Hai’s eyes widened and he seemed to gag on his blood when it erupted from his throat.
Erestor quickly attained a tight hold on the creature and eased it down soundlessly.
Glorfindel gasped, seeing the predatory and calculating expression in Erestor’s eyes. The raven-haired Elf no longer resembled the scholar and advisor, whom he had known for centuries. /Did I ever know him at all?/
Erestor cleaned his knife by running it along the Uruk-Hai’s chest and then sheathed it again before returning to Glorfindel’s side.
"I do not… understand," whispered Glorfindel, stunned by Erestor’s actions. His world was tumbling down around him and he felt lost now that not even Erestor was what he had thought him to be.
While gathering Glorfindel in his arms and lifting the blond, Erestor tried to explain. "I was originally trained as a spy. I served Gil-galad in that capacity during the Battle of the Last Alliance." There was no reason to lie to Glorfindel now that the blond had seen him take out the Uruk-Hai.
"I never… suspected… a thing," whispered Glorfindel in a drained tone, resting his head against the other Elf’s chest. It amazed him that he could still feel this comfortable with another close. He hadn’t thought that possible. Surprised, he realized he craved the contact.
"I did not want anyone to know. I made the decision to start anew and being a scholar suited me. When you joined Elrond’s household I saw no reason to change that." Carrying Glorfindel through the dark tunnel, he felt the blond relax further against him, which was an unexpected, but pleasant sensation. "I will keep you safe until you are strong enough to take care of yourself again."
Hearing those words soothed Glorfindel, whose mind was in an upheaval from what he had endured these last few days. "I…still wonder… why… I… am alive." He had always believed that an Elf who had been raped would travel to the Halls of Mandos. Or was it because they had forced him to come as well? He winced, realizing he was condemned to live out the rest of his life in shame.
"Maybe Mandos thought having you there once was enough?" Erestor tried to go for a teasing note, but failed miserably. He sighed relieved, finally fleeing the depressing darkness of the tunnel, but the sight that now awaited them was horrid as well.
Glorfindel’s heart clenched in agony, seeing the damage Saruman and his creatures had done to the once beautiful valley. The trees were gone and the Isen had been stopped in its tracks. "What a… terrible waste…" Nature had been raped as well.
Erestor pressed the trembling blond close to his chest and carried on with stern determination. He dodged a group of patrolling Orcs, and then headed for the safety of the forest, where he had prepared a cave for their arrival. He had left behind his horse and the supplies he had taken with him. He was fairly confident Saruman’s creatures wouldn’t find them there. They would expect him to keep running and to put as much distance as possible between them and that was just what he was counting on.
Glorfindel, who was still trying to cope with everything that had happened to him, couldn’t help being fascinated, seeing Erestor’s purposeful and stealthy ways. He had never expected to find a warrior hidden beneath the scholar. /But I can dwell on that later. First, I need to rest…/
"Hold out a little longer," said Erestor encouragingly, seeing Glorfindel’s eyes grow vacant. He might need the blond awake. "I know a well-concealed cave where we can rest."
Too tired to meddle with Erestor’s plans, Glorfindel allowed his friend to take charge. His head was still reeling from the revelation that Erestor had a hidden side, --one, which he had never suspected existed. It made him wonder what else the raven-haired Elf was hiding.
Erestor headed for the direction the cave was in, wanting Glorfindel to get a chance to rest. /And I need to sort out my thoughts and feelings. So many things happened since I left Imladris. Mandos truly upended my life./
And the amazing thing was, -something which he only now realized-, he had been in the Great Halls and hadn’t even bothered to call out for Gil-galad. His every sense had been reaching out for Glorfindel instead.
Looking at the charge in his arms, he found that Glorfindel had slipped into a deep sleep, which would hopefully aid his recovery process. "I will take good care of you, melamin."
Erestor settled Glorfindel on the blanket, cautiously laying the blond down.
Taking advantage of the fact that his charge was unconscious, Erestor ventured outside again and collected some spring water. Once he returned to Glorfindel’s side, he kneeled and attended to his friend’s injuries. First, he gently removed the blood and semen from the blond’s backside and then carefully washed the long legs. When he was done with his lower body, he moved onto the chest, arms and finally he uncovered the bandaged wrists. Relieved, he found that the wounds had closed and were healing. Mandos must have strengthened their healing ability for them to have survived.
After taking them off the horse’s back, he reached into his saddle bags and withdrew the shirt and leggings, which he had brought with him. Cautiously, he manhandled Glorfindel whilst sliding on the leggings. Glorfindel was a dead weight and Erestor was panting softly when he had finished with the shirt. All he had to do now was tend to the tangled, blond mess of hair.
Sitting down behind Glorfindel, he pulled the blond close to his chest. With grim determination he combed the dried blood clods from the flaxen mane. Searching his saddle bags again, he uncovered a few leather strings and used them to braid the golden hair. "I am sorry that I cannot offer you a decent bath, but I am sure we will reach Imladris within a few days and then you can take all the baths you want."
Glorfindel blinked once, hearing Erestor’s apologetic tone. He had been awake for a few minutes now and had remained motionless, enjoying the feeling of Erestor braiding his hair. The tenderness in the raven-haired Elf’s touches had kept him relaxed. He should have panicked, feeling a warm body behind him, but he didn’t. His reactions baffled him. He laid back his head, resting it against Erestor’s shoulder. He had never before realized that he trusted Erestor this much. "Thank you…"
Unexpectedly hearing Glorfindel’s voice startled Erestor, who had thought the blond sound asleep. "I regret being unable to offer you more comfort."
Glorfindel shook his head. His hands traveled down the shirt, which he was wearing and a shy smile surfaced on his face. "You came well-prepared."
Erestor was delighted to hear Glorfindel’s remark and handed the blond a small flask. "Drink the miruvor. You need the extra strength. It will take us a few days to reach Imladris; they will be searching for us."
Glorfindel’s hand trembled when his fingers closed over the flask, sipping slowly. The potion warmed his throat and then settled in his stomach, causing a pleasant sensation to spread through him. Next, Erestor removed the flask and pressed some lembas into his hand.
"Try to eat?" Erestor’s heart pounded with happiness now that Glorfindel seemed to accept his closeness and support. It was the best thing that could happen to them. His love for the blond easily slid over the invisible connection that now existed between them, strengthening Glorfindel.
After trying to nibble a few bites, Glorfindel gave up. "My… jaw hurts." He flinched momentarily, recalling that the Uruk-Hai had thrown him face first into the wall.
Suddenly fear clawed at him and his hand settled over his stomach. "Oh, by the Grace of the Valar… No…"
Glorfindel’s panic, traveling down the golden cord that bound them, hit Erestor, and he instinctively wrapped his arms around the blond, not considering how badly his charge might react to being held like that. "What is it?" Something terrified Glorfindel and he was determined to find out what it was. "You can tell me. Please confide in me. I won’t betray your trust."
Glorfindel closed his eyes, grateful that Erestor wasn’t looking at him. "I do not want to tell you." He had no idea how Erestor would react when learning the horrible truth. But in the end, he gave in. "Saruman… cast a spell on me…"
"What kind of spell?" Erestor kept his tone warm and reassuring.
"He wanted me to conceive…" Glorfindel tightly closed his eyes in an effort to keep the tears from falling.
"Conceive?" Erestor frowned; had he misheard?
"He wants to start a new race…" Unable to force his tears back any longer, they flowed down his face. Acting on impulse, his hand clawed at Erestor’s arm, which was folded tightly across his chest. "He… forced me and then… then… the Uruk-…Hai…"
Erestor whispered softly into Glorfindel’s ear, "Hush, mellon-nîn, your ordeal is over now." If he could, he would carry the blond’s pain and burden, but alas…..
"No, you do not understand…" Glorfindel cocked his head and reluctantly looked over his shoulder at his companion. "I am afraid that I… I conceived… and will have to… carry this… this…"
Erestor smoothed a braid away from Glorfindel’s face and held the blond’s gaze. "The spell might not have worked."
"But what if it did?" Glorfindel found he couldn’t look away from Erestor’s compassionate eyes. "Do you think Elrond knows of a way to end a pregnancy?"
Erestor nodded once. He wasn’t sure if herbs could undo this magic of the darkest kind, but he needed to reassure Glorfindel. "We will worry about that later. First I need to get you back to Imladris… to Elrond." At hearing that name hope blazed in the azure eyes and Erestor’s heart broke just a little further. /If only you would look like that when thinking of me./
"Elrond… Elrond can help me…" Talking had exhausted him and Glorfindel’s eyes slowly grew vacant again.
"That is it, mellon-nîn, go back to sleep." He waited until Glorfindel was sound asleep and then pressed a chaste kiss on the golden hair. "I will do whatever is necessary to see you happy again. You will always have my support, no matter what the future brings."
Glorfindel woke slowly, being moved about, and blinked sleepily. Looking about, his gaze immediately fastened on Erestor. The dark-haired Elf had led the stallion outside and now first folded and then draped the blanket over the saddle. Realizing he was just outside of the cave, lying on soft grass, he continued to observe the raven-haired Elf. Erestor then walked toward him and lowered himself onto his heels. Glorfindel appreciated it that they were level again; he felt less vulnerable now that Erestor wasn’t towering over him. "Are we leaving?"
Erestor nodded once. "A search party of Orcs passed by without noticing us. We can leave now."
Glorfindel nervously moistened his lips, staring at the stallion, which patiently waited for the Elves to mount. "I am not sure I can ride for a long period of time." His body still ached.
"I already thought so and we will stop when Ithil rises." That would be one, two hours at maximum. "But now we need to get you on Bronwe’s back. Do you think you can stand up?"
"I am not sure." Glorfindel drew in a deep breath and began to push himself to his feet. Erestor watched him closely.
Waiting for Glorfindel to get to his feet was one of the hardest things he had ever done. His instincts urged him to help, but he wanted Glorfindel to try first.
Glorfindel released a deep sigh after struggling to his feet, but then swayed. Still too groggy to balance himself properly, he suddenly felt Erestor’s arm around his shoulders, steadying him. /Why don’t I flinch at his touch? How is it that he can get this close to me? I never realized I trusted him that much./
Pretending not to see the puzzlement in Glorfindel’s eyes, Erestor guided his charge to his horse.
Glorfindel suddenly realized his predicament. There was no way he could mount that horse. The lingering pain in his lower body wouldn’t let him. "I cannot…" Lowering his eyes, he stared listlessly at the ground.
Erestor’s eyes swam with tears, but didn’t release them. Leaning in closer, he whispered softly into the stallion’s ear.
Glorfindel gasped momentarily, seeing Bronwe fold his legs beneath him, kneeling down on the grass.
"But now you can. Let me help." Erestor assisted the blond when Glorfindel cautiously climbed onto the stallion’s back.
Glorfindel now understood why Erestor had been fussing with the blanket. It served as a pillow and absorbed most of the impact once the horse got into motion.
"Slowly," whispered Erestor and the stallion carefully got back onto its feet. Erestor’s gaze shifted to Glorfindel and he questioningly searched the azure eyes. "Are you comfortable?"
"It will do," replied Glorfindel, blushing. He felt embarrassed that Erestor had to go through such great lengths to get him back to Imladris. Movement to his right caught his attention and now Erestor mounted as well, sliding into place behind him.
"Lean against me." Erestor reached past the blond and gathered the reins in his hands. Remaining alert, now that they were moving, he waited for Glorfindel to either accept his offer or refuse. His heart missed a beat, feeling his charge lean his back against his chest. "Tell me when you grow tired."
Glorfindel nodded absentmindedly. He still wanted to ask Erestor a million questions, but he didn’t have the strength to phrase them. He could ask Erestor everything he wanted to know once they were back in Imladris. "I am not sure I can stay awake."
"You do not have to," said Erestor reassuringly. "Sleep, then."
Glorfindel sighed tiredly, rested his head against Erestor’s shoulder and drifted back into sleep.
Erestor told Bronwe to stop, sensing a threat, which was closing in on them. Glorfindel moved in his arms and Erestor regretted that the blond’s healing sleep had come to such an abrupt end.
"What is it?" whispered Glorfindel, slightly disorientated. Feeling a warm body pressed against him, momentarily puzzled him, but did not scare him. /Amazing…/
"A group of Orcs has set up camp to our right," said Erestor, his sharp eyes now making out the enemy. "And we need to pass them before we can rest."
"You will need to take a different route then," whispered Glorfindel, afraid to raise his voice. He dreaded drawing their attention.
"I am not willing to add a few days to our journey just because they are in our way. You need to return to Imladris as quickly as possible." Erestor’s eyes narrowed. "I will deal with them and then we will continue on our way home."
Glorfindel looked over his shoulder at his companion. "How many are there?"
"Eight… No, nine." Erestor considered his options. "I want you to stay here." He slid out of the saddle and soundlessly landed on his feet.
"But you cannot take them out alone!" Glorfindel felt torn. He didn’t want to fight those Orcs in his current condition. He could end up badly injured.
Erestor smiled. "What do you prefer? Staying up there or resting on the grass?"
"Erestor," said Glorfindel in disbelief. "You cannot take them out alone!"
"Let me worry about that, mellon-nîn, and now answer my question."
"I will stay up here." Glorfindel didn’t want to tire himself by dismounting and then getting onto the horse’s back again. "We should detour instead."
Erestor wondered about Glorfindel’s expression. Was the blond worried about him or…? No, it had to be something else. "Wait here." After seeing Glorfindel nod, he leaned in closer and whispered softly into the stallion’s ear.
Glorfindel tried to catch the words, but they were in a language unknown to him. /Another mystery./
"Trust me, Glorfindel, I will be back within a few moments and then we will continue our journey."
"Whatever you do," said Glorfindel, hesitantly, "Do not get yourself killed." Erestor was his lifeline and he wasn’t sure he could survive without his friend’s support.
Erestor grew quiet momentarily, trying hard not to read too much into Glorfindel’s words. /He is just worried he won’t make it back to Imladris. This is not about me./ Returning Glorfindel’s concerned glance, he said, "Bronwe will take you to Imladris in case I do not return or if we get separated. He knows the way back."
"You are not leaving me, are you?"
The naked fear that shone back at him from the depth of those sapphire eyes worried Erestor. It would be some time before Glorfindel would be able to put these fears behind him. "I promise to return." Gingerly, he squeezed the blond’s leg.
Glorfindel stared at the hand on his knee, but didn’t feel the urge to shake it off. The touch was soothing, comforting, and he wished Erestor would stay with him, but those Orcs needed to be dealt with. "I will wait for you."
Erestor grinned, trying to do away with the tension that Glorfindel radiated. "You do not really have a choice, meldir. Bronwe will make sure you stay." He was overjoyed to see a hesitant smile on Glorfindel’s face. "I won’t be long."
Seeing Erestor draw his sword and disappear into the bushes still amazed Glorfindel. It would take him some time to get used to this new Erestor. /But I like him… I really do./
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