Glorfindel's Darkest Hour
Chapter 8 - Reunion
Border guards had already informed Elrond that Glorfindel and Erestor were approaching. Instead of sending out an escort, he decided to wait for them in the courtyard. Had Glorfindel’s state been truly worrisome, Erestor would have let him known by sending ahead one of the guards.
"Ada? Is it true?" Elladan, -quickly followed by his younger brother-, joined Elrond. "The guards told us that Erestor and Glorfindel are approaching."
"It is true. I am waiting for them to arrive." A smug grin surfaced on Elrond’s face. "I told you Erestor would not give up until he had found Glorfindel."
"Aye, you were right," whispered Elrohir, as Erestor and Glorfindel finally came into view.
Elrond sighed dejectedly, seeing Glorfindel’s bowed head. The blond leaned heavily against Erestor, who had a stern expression on his face. "They have hurt him."
The twins had reached that same conclusion. "Then we should take him to the Healing House," suggested Elrohir.
Elrond considered their situation. "Elladan, you will stay with me and help to care for Glorfindel. Elrohir, make sure Erestor freshens himself up, rests, and only then will you escort him to the Healing House. I need to talk to Glorfindel without Erestor hovering over him." Now that he got a better look at the blond, he caught sight of the fading bruises, which must have been spectacular a few days ago.
The twins nodded and Elladan was relieved that he hadn’t been chosen to take care of Erestor. The fact that Erestor had so easily sneaked up on them still unnerved him.
"Erestor, it is good to see you made it back with Glorfindel." Elrond exchanged a glance with his old friend and instantly noticed the concern and love in those brown eyes. "Let me take care of him."
"He has fallen asleep again," whispered Erestor softly. "Help me lower him onto the ground." Immediately, two pairs of hands opened to gently guide Glorfindel down from the horse.
Elladan and Elrond made sure they had a tight hold on Glorfindel when Erestor handed the blond to them.
The movement woke Glorfindel. Blinking his eyes, he tried to get his bearings. The first thing he saw was dark hair and he automatically assumed it was Erestor, before leaning against the warm form.
Elrond smiled pleased, feeling Glorfindel lean against him, but suddenly the blond jerked away from him, eyes wide with terror. "Be at peace, Glorfindel. You are home."
Glorfindel stared first at Elrond and then at Elladan. Their touches made him shiver and he cringed, realizing they would find out shortly what had happened to him. Shivering like this would evoke questions, most certainly on Elrond’s part, and the half-Elf wouldn’t rest until he knew the truth.
"Where is Erestor?" For some reason Glorfindel yearned for Erestor to be close and wished he could get away from the half-Elves’ touches.
"I am here, mellon-nîn," said Erestor, quickly sliding out of the saddle. But he remained at a distance, knowing it was Elrond’s presence the blond really wanted. "I will check with you later. Let Elrond take care of you."
Glorfindel didn’t really like the sound of that. /But I want *you* to take care of me!/ That thought surprised him. He had also believed he would prefer Elrond’s touch, but that didn’t seem true.
"Come with me. We are wasting time when you should be resting." Elrond had seen the look of discomfort on Glorfindel’s face when Elladan and he had caught him, but he didn’t want to draw any conclusions yet. Glorfindel would inform him about the nature of his injuries once the blond was lying down comfortably.
Glorfindel forced himself to put one foot in front of the other. He had seen the worried look in Elrond’s eyes and he would do anything to prevent being carried to the Healing House.
Erestor watched them leave and with every step that made the distance grow between them, his heart ached just a little more. /But I will visit with him shortly. And Elrond will keep Glorfindel safe. He is not my responsibility anymore./ A responsibility which he had enjoyed and treasured.
"Erestor? You look tired. Come, let me prepare a bath for you and once you feel rested we can visit with Glorfindel." Elrohir, recalling the incident in the woods, tentatively rested a hand on Erestor’s shoulder. He felt insecure in dealing with the elder Elf, who had deceived them in the past by pretending to be someone which he wasn’t. And at the same time Erestor was all that, but also so much more! His head reeled. "I do not want to impose myself, but my father asked me to take care of you," he added in an uncertain tone.
Seeing Elrohir shuffle his feet and fidget with a corner of his shirt, Erestor realized only too well that the younger twin felt uncomfortable around him. That fact saddened him. After sending one look full of longing in Glorfindel’s direction, he sighed and placed his hand on top of Elrohir’s, which still rested on his shoulder. Shivers traveled through the half-Elf’s body and he intensely regretted disappointing the younger twin. "Aye, I should clean up. You are right." The dark blood of Orcs and Uruk-Hai still clung to his clothes.
Erestor walked toward the doorway, but then realized Elrohir wasn’t following. Sighing, he turned around and said, "Are you coming with me, pen-neth, or did you change your mind?"
"No!" Elrohir hurried over to Erestor’s side and fell into step beside him. "It is just… I do not know how to act around you."
Walking down the corridor, another sigh fled Erestor’s lips. He really had made a mess of things! "I owe Elladan and you an apology," he said sincerely, "I should not have startled you, but you were extremely careless, going to sleep like that. There are Orcs out there and trust me, they would love to get their hands on you." He shuddered at the thought of what could have happened had Orcs found the sleeping twins. Now that he knew what Saruman and his creatures were truly capable of, he found himself even more protective of his loved ones. "You should not venture into the woods for some time. Not even with an escort."
Elrohir realized Erestor was right, but, "We cannot leave them to roam Imladris!" Elladan and he had killed their fair share of the foul creatures and wouldn’t be denied now.
"Elrohir," said Erestor, coming to a halt in front of his rooms, which they had now reached, "Look at what happened to Glorfindel. And he had an escort."
Rendered speechless, Elrohir gave in. "You are right, but I still do not like it."
"Stay at home for a short while," said Erestor, "Promise me, pen-neth. Do not let that thick-headed brother of yours talk you into chasing those Orcs, for they will turn the tables and hunt you down instead."
"I promise," whispered Elrohir reluctantly. He knew Erestor had made a valid point, but it felt like he was being treated like an Elfling all over again.
"Trust me, not even your father will venture into the woods."
"And what about you?"
Erestor pushed down the door handle, considering Elrohir’s question. The twin already knew of his feelings for Glorfindel, so there was no reason to hide them any longer. "I will stay close to Glorfindel. That must take preference above killing any of Saruman’s creatures."
/You are right again,/ thought Elrohir, following Erestor into his rooms. He suddenly realized that he had never been in here before. As long as he could remember, Erestor had guarded his privacy closely, making sure neither he nor Elladan entered. And now he was allowed inside?
Looking about, Elrohir’s eyes searched the rooms. They were more luxurious than he had thought. Rich tapestries decorated the walls, a golden chandelier hung from the ceiling and a big four poster bed took up nearly one quarter of the room. Next, he walked over to one of the bookshelves, finding scrolls which even his father didn’t have in his famous library. Next to the bed, several daggers hung on the wall. "Your rooms are nothing like I thought they would be." And that was probably the exact reason why Erestor hadn’t allowed him in before. But now that his secret was out…
Erestor reverently placed his sword, daggers, bow and quiver onto the bed and then headed for the bathroom. He pulled the door ajar and peeled off his dirty clothing. Whilst letting the large tub fill with warm water, he undid his braids. Once he was naked, he stepped into the tub and released a pleased sigh.
"Uh? Erestor?" Elrohir knocked on the bathroom door, uncertain what to make of his former tutor’s behavior. "Can I come inside or…?"
Erestor’s eyes flashed alive after almost dozing off due to the pleasant warmth. "Aye, you can come inside." He had almost forgotten about Elrohir. Seeing the younger twin gingerly shuffle inside amused him. But it also made him realize that they needed to talk. He pointed at a chair and told Elrohir to pull it closer to the tub and sit down.
Elrohir seated himself and waited for Erestor to take the initiative.
"Pen-neth, I never lied to you or your brother when I said I love you." Erestor hoped Elrohir believed that at least. "Your mother and father, Arwen and Elladan and you are very dear to me."
"I believe you," said Elrohir thoughtfully, "But why did you keep so much of your past a secret? Ada told us that you are eight thousand years old and that you fought at his side at the Battle of the Last Alliance. Why would you want to hide such an honorable past?"
"You are young," whispered Erestor saddened. "You do not know yet what pains and sacrifices lay ahead of you. Please understand that I had my reasons to bury this part of my past." Erestor needed to get away from Elrohir’s inquisitive look and reached for the soap to wash his hair with. Busying himself, he waited for Elrohir to reply.
"It is… strange," said Elrohir eventually. "I always thought of you as someone who had dedicated his life to books and now I have learned that there is this whole side to you that I never knew about."
"Would it help if I answered any questions you have?" Erestor wondered if he had to do the same thing all over again when Glorfindel had recovered sufficiently to question him.
Elrohir nodded once. "Aye, it would."
"Then ask your questions." Now that he had finished bathing, Erestor reached for the towel and rose from the water, ignoring the blush that was forming on Elrohir’s face.
Elrohir quickly averted his gaze, allowing Erestor his privacy. "Why did you decide to bury your past?"
Erestor towel dried his hair and then moved on to his skin, carefully removing all dirt that might have remained. Walking into his bedroom, he signaled for Elrohir to follow him, which the half-Elf did. After slipping into a warm and soft robe, he seated himself in a comfortable chair beneath the window, where Elrohir joined him.
Elrohir wondered about the nervous twitch that had appeared near Erestor’s mouth. It told him that the elder Elf wasn’t looking forward to telling him.
"My lover died at the Battle of the Last Alliance. His death devastated me and I needed time to recover from the loss. I had seen enough slaughter to last eternity and decided on a different course. I became your father’s advisor."
"Ada…" Elrohir frowned. "What were you before becoming his advisor? A comrade in arms? Did you fight alongside each other?
Erestor slowly shook his head. "I worked behind enemy lines, supplying the army with information on the enemy’s movements."
Looking over at the bed, Elrohir frowned. "I never knew you possessed any weapons." The sword looked magnificent and suddenly his feet were carrying him toward the bed. Looking at Erestor, he asked, "May I?"
Erestor wavered, but in the end, he nodded. He watched closely as Elrohir carefully lifted the sword, studying it, and he wished he had never taught his pupil to read Tengwar.
"You even named your sword," whispered Elrohir awed. The name carved on it, --Gil-galad,-- would have surprised him, but not any longer, not now that he knew Erestor had fought in the High-King’s army. "I have never before seen the likes of it."
Erestor swallowed hard, hoping Elrohir wouldn’t realize the truth, hoping the half-Elf wouldn’t figure out the identity of his lover who had died at the Battle of the Last Alliance. He wasn’t ready yet to tell Elrohir.
Cautiously, Elrohir placed the sword back onto the bed. Turning around, he asked, "Would you like something to eat? I can fetch something from the kitchens."
"I would like that," said Erestor, inclining his head. It would also give him a moment to sort out his thoughts.
"I will be back shortly," said Elrohir, walking toward the doorway. Looking at Erestor, he found that the elder Elf radiated a sense of authority, which he had never detected before.
He hurried to the kitchens, wondering how badly injured Glorfindel was. The blond hadn’t looked well.
"Elladan, fetch healing herbs, hot water for tea and washing up, and towels." Elrond wanted a moment alone with Glorfindel. He had to know what had happened to the blond and Glorfindel would feel more comfortable when it was just the two of them.
Nodding his head, Elladan decided to take his time to run this errand. He was intelligent enough to realize his father wanted a word in private with Glorfindel. Closing the door behind him, he hoped Elrond would know how to aid their friend’s recovery. Something about Glorfindel’s behavior worried him immensely.
Elrond made sure Glorfindel was comfortably resting on the bed, propped up against a pile of pillows. "I am so glad you are back."
Glorfindel managed a weak smile. "Erestor freed me." He had a million questions about his savior, but he knew they had to wait until after his talk with Elrond.
"Mellon-nîn, I need to know what they did to you. It is the only way for me to treat your injuries properly." His heart missed a beat when Glorfindel averted his eyes. "You know you can trust me, Glorfindel. I am a healer and I want to see you whole again."
"I do not think I will ever feel whole again," whispered Glorfindel miserably.
Elrond reached out and wanted to curl his fingers around the blond’s, but his hand remained hovering above Glorfindel’s, seeing his friend flinch at the expected touch. "Please tell me what happened."
Glorfindel closed his eyes and sighed nervously. "Saruman has this insane plan… He wants to breed a new race of Uruk-Hai, stronger and smarter…" He needed to pause and hesitantly sought out Elrond’s eyes. The half-Elf was listening closely, eager to help. Elrond’s warm and loving expression encouraged him to continue. "And he wants me to… to give birth… to the first one." His mouth suddenly went dry, seeing the shock in Elrond’s eyes. "He cast a spell on me… He wanted me to… conceive."
Tears began to flow from his swimming eyes. "I am s-so sc-ared… What if… what if his m-magic worked and… and now I am… I am…w-with child-d?" Shaking like a leaf, he wrapped his arms around his waist. "I s-slit my w-wrist-s, b-but Erestor f-found me and… we f-fled and… I g-grew
Elrond’s eyes were misted, listening to his friend’s horrid tale. He hated to ask this, but he had to make sure. "Glorfindel, how did Saruman work his magic?" He ached to reach out to his friend, but he began to understand why his touch provoked tremors.
Glorfindel raised his swimming eyes and pleadingly met Elrond’s. How he wished the half-Elf would enfold him in a tight hug like Erestor had done. He needed to feel safe, but Elrond kept his distance. Was it because he had flinched away from that first touch? "He… He… ra…ra…raped… me…" The admission was hard to make, but he still had to tell Elrond what had happened after that.
Elrond’s eyes had widened with shock. "But…" But then his friend had to be fading! Mandos would be calling out to him! But when he looked at the blond, he didn’t see any of the first signs of grief. Although Glorfindel’s eyes were swimming, they were very much alive and didn’t bear the shadow of death in them, like Celebrían’s had before sailing to Valinor.
Glorfindel suddenly needed to get this over with. "And-d then, Sa… he g-gave me to… to…to one of… his… c-crea…tures…" Raising his hands, he buried his face in them. He felt so ashamed at having to admit this to Elrond, but at the same time anger flared in his stomach. "He had d-drug-ged me… I could n-not fight him off."
Elrond sagged back into his chair, shaking his head in disbelief. "Saruman must have lost his sanity…" He needed a moment to compose himself. /Why are you still alive, mellon-nîn? Why can’t I see the first signs of fading on you? Having been raped twice should have set you free to travel to the Halls of Mandos, so why are you still with us?/
Glorfindel peeked at Elrond and cringed at seeing his friend’s stricken expression. "I w-want it-t g-gone… Can you a-… bort it?"
"I do not know," whispered Elrond, stunned after hearing Glorfindel’s tale. "I should examine you first." And he had to check if the blond was bleeding. There was a distinct chance that his attackers had torn him. "I need time to think about this." Lifting his hand again, he slowly let it descend onto the flaxen hair.
Glorfindel flinched at the touch and shifted in the bed, ignoring the aches that washed through his body. He didn’t want to be touched! Not even by Elrond! /But why do I crave Erestor’s closeness then?/ "Do not touch me… Please…"
Elrond’s heart contracted painfully, hearing those words. "Glorfindel, I need to examine you and I want *you* to decide if you want to be awake or asleep when I do that."
Glorfindel didn’t have to give the matter much thought. "I would prefer to be asleep." The mere thought of Elrond touching him intimately caused shivers to travel down his spine.
Elrond had stopped caressing the golden strands and looked concerned at Glorfindel. "Thank you for telling me what has happened to you. It cannot have been easy."
"It w-was the hardest thing I e-ever did. I do not want you to… to look at me with pi-pity in your eyes." Glorfindel fumbled with a corner of the blanket that kept him warm and glanced at the half-Elf.
"No pity," corrected Elrond quickly, "but affection, concern and admiration."
"You are coping extremely well for someone who has been… violated." Elrond saw Glorfindel cringe, but continued, "You are very strong and brave to remain on Middle-Earth."
"I do not know why M-mandos does not want m-me…" admitted Glorfindel in a shocked tone. "When I s-slit my w-wrists, I expected to… to d-die."
Elrond realized that something was wrong. "May I?" He reached out to examine the blond’s wrists.
Glorfindel forced himself to nod. Feeling Elrond’s fingertips touch his skin made him uncomfortable, but he managed to control his raging feelings.
"The wounds have nearly healed." It seemed Glorfindel’s healing ability was still intact, which puzzled him. An Elf, who was fading, lost his healing ability. "You are not fading, mellon-nîn."
Glorfindel bowed his head in defeat. "I know I am n-not f-fading, but I do not understand w-why."
Elrond patted Glorfindel’s hand, hoping the blond would grow accustomed to being touched again. /I definitely need to talk to Erestor. Either Glorfindel is hiding something, or he honestly does not know why he is not fading./ Glorfindel’s azure eyes pleadingly met his. "What is it, mellon-nîn?"
"Can I go to sleep now? I feel… I do not know… what I feel."
"Aye, you should rest. We will talk later." Elrond signaled for Elladan, who now entered the room, to hand him the hot water and healing herbs.
Elladan remained at a respectful distance, not wanting to infringe on the injured Elf’s privacy. He would find out what was wrong once they tended to Glorfindel’s wounds.
"Sip slowly, Glorfindel. The tea is hot." Elrond had added herbs to the hot water and now placed the cup at the blond’s lips. "You will be asleep for a few hours."
Between sips, Glorfindel nodded gratefully. "I do not mind… being asleep."
Elrond realized Glorfindel needed time to come to terms with what had happened to him, but he would not let the blond run away from his pain. They would face and discuss everything that had happened to the Elda together.
A few minutes later, Glorfindel had emptied the cup and was staring at the ceiling. He was content to lie there, slowly drifting asleep. Suddenly Elrond’s soothing voice reached his ears.
"Sleep, mellon-nîn. Elladan and I will take good care of you."
/Nay, not Elladan! I do not want him to know what has happened!/ He tried to voice his thoughts, but his vocal chords refused to cooperate. The sleeping potion was spreading through his body, luring him into a deep and healing sleep.
"Ada?" Elladan waited for Glorfindel’s eyes to go completely vacant before addressing his father. "How badly injured is he?"
Elrond shook his head. "I do not know, Elladan. Glorfindel should not be alive right now."
Elladan’s eyes widened with shock. "Not alive?"
Elrond released a strangled sigh. "I need your help, Elladan. Use plenty of water to remove dirt or blood from his body. I will tend to his injuries in the meantime."
Elladan nodded, feeling strangely numb, realizing what had probably happened to Glorfindel. /Ada said Glorfindel should not be alive, that can only mean…/ His gaze met his father’s. "Ada, was he… raped?"
"I am afraid so," admitted Elrond. Elladan would find out any way and it would help his son to know what they were up against. "We need to be very careful around Glorfindel."
"Will he fade? Or will he travel to Valinor like Nana did?" He still missed Celebrían every day of his life.
"I do not know," whispered Elrond, growing frustrated. "I cannot explain why there are no signs of fading on him. They should be there, but they are not."
Elladan couldn’t help feeling relieved. "Then Glorfindel will stay with us?" The Elda had always been one of his heroes –together with his father of course- and he didn’t want to lose his former tutor.
"Maybe," mumbled Elrond, "Let us hope and pray he will."
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