Glorfindel's Darkest Hour
Chapter 7 - Escape
Glorfindel shivered now that he was alone. He knew that Erestor had to take out those Orcs, but he wished his savior hadn’t left him. Glancing about, he hoped none of the creatures were hiding between the trees. Strangled sounds echoed through the air and shivers went down his spine, realizing what was happening several feet away from him. /Please survive, Erestor. I cannot do this on my own./
The sounds faded and involuntarily he held his breath, staring at the bushes in which Erestor had originally disappeared. /Come back, come back, please come back!/ He was trying hard to will Erestor to return! /Don’t leave me alone. Please come back./ His thoughts kept running in circles and he gasped for breath, never realizing he had been holding it.
Leaves rustled softly and Glorfindel sighed relieved, seeing Erestor emerge from the bushes. There were spatters of blood on Erestor’s clothes and some braids had come undone, but as far as he could tell, the raven-haired Elf was uninjured. /Thank you for coming back to me. I was so worried./ He caught himself just in time, making sure he didn’t speak the words aloud. He didn’t want to appear *that* weak and vulnerable.
The link told Erestor about Glorfindel’s apprehensive feelings and he regretted scaring his friend. That had never been his intention. "It is safe to continue," he announced, sliding back into the saddle behind his charge. Glorfindel instantly leaned his back against him, eagerly reestablishing contact. The fact that Glorfindel trusted him filled Erestor with a deep sense of respect. He rested his chin on the blond’s shoulder and felt how some of his life force traveled down the link to strengthen Glorfindel.
Glorfindel closed his eyes momentarily, feeling warm and secure now that Erestor was back at his side. Instantly, he felt better. "Did you get them all?"
Erestor nodded, relishing the sensation as Glorfindel’s hair moved against his cheek. "They were lax. I easily disposed of them."
Directing Bronwe to the right direction, they resumed their journey, which would take them past the Orcs’ corpses. Glorfindel stared at them empty-eyed. Several throats had been slashed and Erestor had used some of their own weapons against them, burying them in their backs or chests. Glancing over his shoulder, he only encountered a mass of black hair and inquisitive brown eyes. "I still cannot believe you managed to fool me for so many centuries."
"Elrond once told me I am a very good actor. Don’t feel bad about not having seen through the pretense." Erestor kept one arm tightly wrapped around Glorfindel, when the blond leaned heavily against him. "You are growing tired. We will rest shortly." Glorfindel nodded against his shoulder and Erestor’s worries increased. Glorfindel needed to be warm and resting, not traveling for hours.
"I am…" Glorfindel hesitated; he had wanted to say fine, but lying to Erestor didn’t feel right. "I am coping." And Erestor’s company did take off the edge of pain and suffering. "I will manage."
But Erestor wasn’t so sure. "We will rest when we encounter a suitable spot," he decided, concerned that Glorfindel was overestimating himself.
Rain came pouring down on them and Erestor steered Bronwe toward a small cabin, which he had spotted. "We can rest now." Cocking his head, he managed to look at the blond, who was almost asleep. "Just a little longer."
The wind grew stronger and the birds had stopped singing, a sure sign that a severe storm was brewing. He needed to get Glorfindel inside *now*!
Gently, he helped Glorfindel dismount, constantly keeping an arm wrapped around the blond’s waist. "Only a few more moments, mellon-nîn, and then we will be warm and dry." After pushing the door open, he guided his charge inside. Quickly scanning the room, he located a bed in a corner and led Glorfindel toward it. "Lie down. You must be tired."
Glorfindel wondered why he was shivering and feeling chilled to the bone. He had never felt cold before. Elves didn’t get cold!
Examining the state of Glorfindel’s clothes, Erestor found the leggings and shirt still dry and he quickly removed the wet cloak, which he had wrapped around the blond earlier on. Using a dry corner of his own cloak, he towel dried the golden hair. He helped Glorfindel to lie down and covered him with the blankets. "You should drink some miruvor. Let me get it."
Glorfindel, feeling confused and in need of support, grabbed Erestor’s hand and refused to let go. "Nay, stay… Please…" He didn’t care about the panicked tone to his voice. All that mattered was that Erestor didn’t leave him alone.
"I need to retrieve the saddle bags, mellon-nîn, but I will return quickly." Seeing Glorfindel in this distressed condition, Erestor reached out and eased a damp strand of hair away from the blond’s face. "Trust me, I won’t desert you."
Glorfindel released a deep sigh. "I trust you."
Hearing those three little words were very important to Erestor. He might have preferred to hear; ‘I love you’, but knowing Glorfindel trusted him was a huge step in the right direction. "Good," he said, smiling warmly.
Erestor rose from the bed, opened the door and quickly retrieved the saddle bags. Bronwe had found a secure spot behind the cabin and whinnied happily at seeing him. "You did well, Bronwe." The horse had trod extremely carefully, trying to make the ride go as smoothly as possible for the injured Elf. "I am proud of you." The horse whinnied again and seemed sorry to see him go, but he couldn’t leave Glorfindel alone too long.
Closing the door behind him, Erestor walked over to the bed, where Glorfindel was peeking from beneath the blankets. His eyes were big and haunted, and the blond immediately extended his hand, needing the contact.
Erestor came to a halt next to the bed. His clothes were dripping wet and he didn’t want to get Glorfindel wet now that the blond was growing warm. He sat down on the floor and uncovered their supply of lembas and miruvor. "Here, drink this." He handed Glorfindel the miruvor and drank some water himself. Next was the lembas. Looking at the blond, he found that a blush had settled on the cheeks, doubtlessly as a result from the miruvor.
"I feel better," whispered Glorfindel, his tone colored with surprised disbelief. "I never thought I would, but you were right."
Erestor indulged himself and brushed a stray lock away from Glorfindel’s face. "I told you so," he said teasingly. "Would you like to get some sleep? It will be a few more hours before the storm will settle down and we are stuck here until the skies clear."
"I think I can sleep…" His eyes were already losing their sparkle, as he began to doze off. Suddenly, they flashed alive again. "You will stay, won’t you?" He couldn’t be alone. Not yet.
"I will stay," said Erestor, experimentally resting his hand on Glorfindel’s brow. To his delight, the blond didn’t flinch at his touch. "I will watch over you. Know that you are safe, mellon-nîn."
That was exactly what Glorfindel had needed to hear. "Thank you… I can go to sleep now."
Erestor watched as the azure eyes grew vacant. His fingertips hovered above the bruises that Glorfindel’s face still sported and he wished he had Elrond’s healing skills. Maybe then he could have soothed the injured Elf. "I will lose you to Elrond again… No, that is not fair. I have never had you to begin with." Saddened, he wished Mandos had taken pity on him and had let Glorfindel remember that he was loved.
After getting to his feet again, he slipped out of his wet clothes and laid them out to dry. It took him a few moments to get a fire going, but then he settled down in front of it, whilst keeping an eye on his charge. He would keep his promise and watch over Glorfindel.
A keening wail startled Erestor awake. His first concern was Glorfindel, seeing the blond thrash on the bed. He hurried over to the bed and sat on the edge, feeling grateful that he had wrapped a blanket around him before going to sleep. At least now he wasn’t naked. He had no idea if seeing him naked would aggravate Glorfindel’s terror, but he had no desire to find out.
"Glorfindel, everything is all right. You are safe." He desperately wanted to reach out, but seeing the horrified expression in the Elf’s eyes told him that it would be a bad idea.
In his dreams Glorfindel had found himself back in Saruman’s rooms, back at the mercy of the Wizard and Uruk-Hai. The pain had returned and so had the humiliation that he had felt. His hand settled on his abdomen, scared of the new life that could be growing inside him.
"Glorfindel? Look at me. You are safe. I am taking you home." Erestor hoped that the sound of his voice would reassure the blond and it looked like it was working.
Glorfindel’s panic lessened somewhat, hearing Erestor’s soothing tone. Slowly, he became aware of his surroundings and with a relieved sigh, he realized that these weren’t Saruman’s rooms at all.
"Please, Glorfindel, I want to help, but I do not know how." His fingers itched to curl around the blond’s, but he didn’t reach out. If Glorfindel wanted to be comforted in that way, the Elda would let him know. "You had a nightmare, mellon-nîn, something which is to be expected."
His gaze finally focused on Erestor and Glorfindel gasped, remembering the advisor had come to his rescue. No, not an advisor, a spy and… His head reeled, unable to remember everything correctly. "A… n-ni..ghtmare…"
"Aye, you had a nightmare." Erestor smiled reassuringly. "You will suffer those for quite some time, I am afraid. You are still trying to deal with all that has happened to you. Is there anything I can do to help?"
Surprised, Glorfindel realized there was something Erestor could do to make him feel better. But that line of thought stunned him. "W-woul-d you… hold-d m-me?" His eyes widened, actually hearing himself speak those words. Trembling, he brought his hands up from beneath the blanket and opened them, palms upwards. For some insane reason he wanted to be touched, to be held, but only by Erestor.
Erestor’s heart contracted painfully, seeing the lost expression in Glorfindel’s eyes. "Are you sure that my closeness won’t trigger more nightmares?" That was provided Glorfindel succeeded in going back to sleep.
"I do not k-now," whispered Glorfindel, "but I d-do know that I can n-not be alone…P-please?" Why did he need Erestor this close? He didn’t understand the need. His eyes widened slightly when Erestor moved further onto the bed.
Erestor rested his back against the wall and then opened his arms, letting Glorfindel decide just how close he needed him to be.
Glorfindel realized Erestor’s intentions and gingerly moved closer. The blanket had slipped down and part of Erestor’s chest had been uncovered.
Seeing the look Glorfindel gave him, Erestor shifted and pulled the blanket back into place again. Then, he waited for his companion to reach a decision.
Drawing in a deep breath, Glorfindel moved closer and tentatively rested his head against Erestor’s chest.
Erestor was cautiously trying to remain motionless, as he didn’t want to startle Glorfindel.
Appreciating the fact that Erestor let him be in control, Glorfindel hesitantly wrapped one arm around the raven-haired Elf’s waist. "H-hold…
Erestor released the breath he had been holding and slowly returned the embrace, folding one arm loosely around Glorfindel’s shoulders. "Like this?" The blond nodded against his chest and Erestor allowed for a smile to surface on his face. /I love holding you. It is a pity it will stop once we reach Imladris./ Then, Glorfindel would doubtlessly seek out Elrond instead.
Being in Erestor’s arms felt amazingly well and Glorfindel relaxed. His tense muscles loosened and he was beginning to let go of the fear and pain. /How can I feel comfortable with someone close after all I have been through? I do not understand./
"Do you think you can go back to sleep?" asked Erestor, feeling equally relaxed and comfortable now that Glorfindel was in his arms. He barely refrained from rocking his charge when the blond snuggled closer to him. /Mandos, I will never forgive you for erasing his memories of us making love, but I am grateful that our pact resulted in him trusting me./
A relieved sigh fled Glorfindel’s lips, as a sense of deep contentment washed through him. "Maybe I do not w-want to go back to s-sleep," he mumbled, but his eyes were already filling with sleep. "I do not want to have n-night… mares…"
"I wish I could take them away; unfortunately I do not possess that power," said Erestor regretfully, "but I can make sure you are not alone when you wake up."
Glorfindel relaxed further, enjoying Erestor’s closeness. The realization still baffled him; he wanted Erestor near! "That w-would help… I think."
"I am always at your service," said Erestor sincerely, "And now try to go back to sleep. You need the rest to recuperate."
"I will try…" Glorfindel’s voice faded as Erestor’s closeness lulled him into sleep again.
"You are so brave," whispered Erestor, sensing his charge was finally asleep again. "And I love you so much…"
Erestor was growing frustrated with their low pace. This way, it would take them another day to reach Imladris, but he didn’t dare go faster. He could tell that Glorfindel was still hurting whenever Bronwe took a misstep. The blond would cringe, lean heavily against him and sigh relieved once the trod was reestablished.
Growing tired again, Glorfindel wondered when he would finally heal. The ache in his lower body had somewhat resided, but was still present. His hand moved down to his abdomen. Countless times he had already wondered if he had conceived or not. By Elbereth, he hoped he hadn’t. But Saruman’s magic was strong…
Through the link Erestor sensed that Glorfindel was brooding, but he didn’t have the heart to address the matter. The blond was entitled to his privacy. His right arm was once more wrapped around Glorfindel’s waist and his charge didn’t seem to mind, leaning in even closer.
"At least it stopped raining," said Erestor, trying to make conservation when Glorfindel’s brooding silence continued.
Tiredly, Glorfindel nodded. The journey was beginning to wear him down. Instead of getting better, he felt like he was growing worse. He was grateful for Erestor’s presence, but he longed for Elrond’s reassuring touch. The half-Elf ‘s healing skills would speed up his recovery process. "When do you think we will arrive in Imladris?"
"Tomorrow." Part of Erestor regretted that they were nearing the Last Homely House, for then he would have to hand Glorfindel over to Elrond. Looking at the horizon, he found that Arien was setting. He would have preferred to keep riding through the night, but he could tell Glorfindel needed to rest. After locating an acceptable spot, Erestor told Bronwe to halt.
The sudden stop confused Glorfindel, who looked at Erestor when the dark-haired Elf slid out of the saddle and onto the ground. "What are you doing?"
"We will rest here tonight. Don’t dismount yet, mellon-nîn, I need to build a shelter first." The clouds had taken on a gloomy, grey tint, but he hoped it would remain dry tonight. "It will only take me a moment." Making sure that he remained in his friend’s view, he gathered large branches with ample leaves and used those to construct a temporary shelter. It was not big enough to stand in, but after lying down they would be sheltered from any rain or wind.
With mounting amazement, Glorfindel watched Erestor. His companion continued to surprise him, displaying skills he had never seen before. Clutching his cloak tighter around his frame, he waited patiently for his friend to finish. Finally, Erestor walked over to him and helped him dismount. When his feet touched the ground, a small shock traveled through him, causing his lower body to ache in protest. /Why is it taking me so long to heal? I have been wounded before and it never took this long!/ But these wounds had also been inflicted on his soul, not just his body. Maybe that was why it was taking this long.
Having grown accustomed to feeling Erestor close, he allowed his companion to help him lie down. It felt good to be off his feet. Staring at the leaves and branches above him, he realized he liked sleeping this way. It made him feel cocooned by nature.
"Are you comfortable?" Erestor joined him, rolled onto his side and studied his secret love. "Would you like more miruvor? I have still got a little left."
"Don’t you want some as well?" Taking great care to move slowly, Glorfindel also rolled onto his side, wanting to look at Erestor. Although it was dark beneath their ceiling of branches and leaves, some star light made it through and enabled him to see clearly. "You have only drunk water these last few days."
"You noticed that?" Glorfindel’s observation pleased him, for it meant that the blond was more alert than he seemed. "Do not worry about me, mellon-nîn, I am fine." It was true. Mandos’ blessing seemed to have helped him recover quickly and whenever his fingers touched his skin, they didn’t find any scars where he had slit open his throat. He only wished Glorfindel’s recovery would speed up as well.
Glorfindel accepted the flask, filled with miruvor, and sipped from it. The liquid warmed him from the inside and made him relax. Erestor was studying him and for some reason he began to blush under the Elf’s probing expression.
That blush made Erestor smile. It amazed him that the blond could still blush at his age. The moment didn’t call for any words between them so instead he raised one arm, indicating that Glorfindel was welcome to snuggle up to him, if his friend desired so.
Glorfindel accepted the invitation and rested his head against Erestor’s shoulder. He carefully watched the dark-haired Elf fold his arm around him. "It puzzles and amazes me," he admitted after a moment’s thought.
Raising an eyebrow, Erestor asked, "What does?"
"That I long for your company. After what… what I endured… I thought that I would not want anyone close to me."
/It is because of the bond we share,/ thought Erestor, eternally regretting being forbidden to speak about it. /You trust me like I trust you./ Stroking flaxen hair that danced lightly against his cheek, he said, "I am grateful that you can allow me close."
"I find comfort in your closeness," admitted Glorfindel, his eyes already darkening with impending sleep. "Thank you…"
Erestor had a hard time stopping himself when he wanted to press a chaste kiss on the golden mane. "You are welcome…"
Glorfindel fell asleep with a smile on his face. /I trust you and I feel safe around you…/ If he was able to enjoy Erestor’s presence, then he would probably rejoice at feeling Elrond’s arms around him once they had arrived in Imladris.
The nightmares slowly crept up on him during his sleep and soon Glorfindel found himself back in Orthanc, being manhandled by the Uruk-Hai. Gasping in shock, he released a strangled scream.
"Hush, Glorfindel. Hush, mellon-nîn, you are safe. You are with me and we are on our way back to Imladris. It was another nightmare. Now calm down and breathe for me."
Drawing in a deep breath, Glorfindel shivered at the memories. The darkness that surrounded him almost made him panic again, but then Erestor’s presence registered and he sighed deeply. "E…res…tor…"
"Aye, I am here with you. You are not alone. I am here, just as I promised I would be." Smoothing back some damp locks, he found that cold sweat had settled on Glorfindel’s brow. "Try to breathe steadily, mellon-nîn." Oh, how he wished to whisper different words, words that would ensure Glorfindel that he was loved and that he had his undying love and support, but he couldn’t.
"Another… nightmare…" whispered Glorfindel shakily. And yes, Erestor had kept his promise to be there when he woke from a nightmare. Erestor’s arms were wrapped around him, holding him close and for one brief moment he panicked. But the panic quickly left and a feeling of security replaced it. Instead of pushing the raven-haired Elf away, Glorfindel found he was snuggling up closer to him. "Why won’t they leave me alone?"
Erestor swallowed hard. "It only happened a few days ago. Give yourself time to work through this."
"Why didn’t Mandos call me to his halls? I wanted to die…"
Glorfindel’s words tore at his heart. Erestor shivered, wondering if he had been selfish by reclaiming his secret love. "Are you serious? Would you have preferred to stay in the Halls of Mandos?"
"Aye," whispered Glorfindel, trembling. "Now I am doomed to bear this… ‘child’… that Saruman forced upon me."
Erestor’s world shattered. "You do not want to be alive?"
His heart stopped beating momentarily and Erestor forced himself to remain calm. /Oh, melamin, I thought I was doing the right thing when bringing you back. It never crossed my mind that you would have preferred to stay there./ Dark guilt shrouded his hurting soul and he was about to release Glorfindel from his embrace, when the blond tightened his hold on him. Defeated, his eyes filled with tears and he felt grateful that Glorfindel couldn’t see him, as the blond‘s head was tucked beneath his chin. /I *was* selfish in bringing you back. I should not have challenged Mandos. He warned me this might happen./
Sensing some of Erestor’s distress, Glorfindel acted on impulse, rubbing his companion’s fingers. "Thank you for being there for me…" Sleep was already pulling him under, knowing Erestor would be there the next time he woke. "Thank… you…"
Erestor released his tears, feeling Glorfindel go to sleep against him. "I am sorry, melamin. I am so sorry for being selfish…So sorry."
Waking up the next morning, Glorfindel felt surprisingly rested, even in spite of Erestor’s absence. But he could see his companion saddling Bronwe so they could continue their journey. Moving slowly, he managed to leave the shelter and to stand on his own two feet without any help from Erestor.
Seeing the blond on his feet pleased Erestor. "You *are* getting better."
Glorfindel nodded slowly. "Do you think we will reach Imladris today?"
"Aye, I do." Erestor helped Glorfindel onto Bronwe’s back and took up position behind the blond. His thoughts constantly drifted back to Glorfindel’s admission last night. Had he been wrong to challenge Mandos? Should he have let Glorfindel die?
Glorfindel was so lost in his own thoughts that he didn’t notice Erestor’s silence. "What do you think I should do?"
The question pulled Erestor from his musings. "Do what?"
"Upon our arrival in the Last Homely House." Glorfindel’s gaze darkened. "I do not want them to know what has happened to me."
Erestor cringed. "Elrond has to know if he is to help you."
"But not the twins! I could not bear the looks they would give me." Glorfindel bowed his head in defeat.
Erestor didn’t want to bring this up, but he had to. "But what if you *are* pregnant? Once you start to show you won’t be able to hide your condition." He cursed privately, feeling his secret love tense against him. "I am sorry. I am sure Elrond will find a way to terminate the pregnancy. It is still too early to think about that."
"But I do not want the twins to know…" whispered Glorfindel in a broken tone.
Drawing in a deep breath, Erestor chose his next words carefully. "You will need support in order to deal with this. Don’t shut them out. But I agree that you should not tell the twins about the… treatment, which you suffered at Saruman’s hands. We will tell them that you were seriously injured, even tortured, and that you are still recovering."
"And what if I am pregnant? What when I will start to show?"
Erestor’s heart twisted in agony, seeing the swimming tears in Glorfindel’s eyes when the blond looked at him over his shoulder. "We will decide what to do when that happens."
Not quite reassured, Glorfindel rested his back against Erestor’s chest. How foolish he had been to think that his ordeal was over. It had only just begun!
"Look," whispered Erestor, regretting he had to wake Glorfindel, but he was sure the blond wanted to see for himself that they had arrived. "We are home."
Glorfindel bleary-eyed stared at the Last Homely House and suddenly dread overwhelmed him. He had thought he had wanted to go home, but now he wasn’t so sure anymore. "How do I bear their glances? How can I go on?"
"By knowing that you are loved, mela… mellon-nîn." Erestor cringed. He had almost let that one slip. He had to be more careful in the future. "Elrond greatly cares about you and he will see you healed. Don’t fight him when he confines you to bed or makes you drink some vile potion," said Erestor, trying to lighten Glorfindel’s mood. "Elrond knows what is best for you. Let him fuss over you… and let the twins fuss over you… The three of them will lovingly take care of you." His heart ached, realizing that within the hour his services wouldn’t be needed anymore. He didn’t want to let go. He wanted to continue to take care of the blond, but rationally, he knew Glorfindel was better off in Elrond’s tender care.
As he directed Bronwe toward the Last Homely House, he cherished these last few, precious moments with his secret love.
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