Glorfindel's Darkest Hour
Chapter 14 - Take My Hand
Erestor marched with grim determination. The rain had grown worse and the wind had picked up, tugging at his clothes, but still he struggled on.
Once he had reached the Bruinen, he sank down onto his knees and stared at the water, watching the wind whipping it around. Feeling the cold earth underneath his knees pulled him back into reality. Memories were trying to pull him under, and like the water, he struggled. But in the end, pain won.
Lifting his eyes to the heavens he searched the dark sky for stars, Ė one star in particular-, and sighed finding it shining brightly. "Aiya, gÓl-nÓn, how I miss you." Feeling miserable and lonely, he wrapped his arms around his waist, rocking himself. This night would pass slowly and he would suffer in silence like he had done these last few centuries. The dark of night resembled the darkness in his mind. He struggled to hold on to their happier moments, but there were so few!
The wind tugged at his hood and pushed it down, revealing his tear-streaked face to the heavens. His eyes, large and swimming with tears, stared at the stars and he raised his arms in an effort to touch them. At moments like these, Gil-galad felt so close, -- close enough to touch. He merely needed to whisper, as the wind carried his words for miles. "Oh, gÓl-nÓn, I have tried so hard to tell myself that you are goneÖ" How many lonely nights had he spent, trying to move on after his loverís death? Too many to count.
"But the pain Ė this pain Ė is just too real." Murmuring, he placed his right hand over his heart, remembering the love they had shared, honoring its memory. "And there is just too much pain that time cannot healÖ" His heart had never healed, Ė truly healed Ė, for only a love as dedicated and deep as Gil-galadís had been, would set his heart free.
"Aiya, GlorfindelÖ" The bliss Glorfindel and he had known in Mandos was now only a memory, -- one that cut his heart in two, and there wasnít so much left of it to begin with.
Bowing forward, he placed his hands on the wet earth and dug his fingernails into the grass, needing to connect to reality, as he was seeing Gil-galadís eyes in his mind.
At hearing his name spoken that hesitantly, he looked over his shoulder. His first reaction was to chase the one away who had dared to approach him in his grief, but seeing it was Glorfindel, he remained motionlessÖ and he waited for whatever was to come.
Glorfindel had struggled to get here. The wind was brutal and had stopped him several times. The gale lessened in strength and he gingerly approached the kneeling figure.
"Erestor?" He spoke in a gentle, soft tone, one which only Elven ears could pick up on above the wind. Erestor had heard and was now looking at him over his shoulder. His heart missed a beat and then sped up its rhythm, realizing that it wasnít just rain that was dripping from Erestorís face. /Why are you crying?/
"You should be inside, warm and safe, not out here." Erestor swallowed his pain and sorrow and slowly pushed himself to his feet. He felt heavy, like a tremendous regret was pushing him down Ė and wasnít that true? "Go back to Elrondís rooms."
Glorfindel shook his head. "Nay. I want to know what you are doing hereÖ And why you are crying," he added hesitantly. Erestor confused him. The raven-haired Elf had proven to be someone else than he had thought him to be and he still didnít know what to think about that.
Erestorís shoulders slumped forward. "Leave me here and go back to Elrond."
"Nay," repeated Glorfindel, inching closer. "What are you doing here?"
Looking at the blond, Erestor felt guilty. "You are wet, shivering." He couldnít help feeling protective of his secret love, especially now that he knew the blond was struggling to accept his pregnancy. Glorfindel didnít need this. "Please go back and get warm."
"Only if you come with me." Glorfindelís jaw set determinedly. "I am not leaving you out here in the rainÖ In the dark."
It was those last three words that caused Erestor to sob softly. "I have been lost in the dark for so longÖ" But, looking at Glorfindel, he saw the light that radiated from the Eldaís form. "Nay, I do not have the rightÖ" Glorfindel was already carrying enough pain; there was no reason for the Elda to carry his as well.
Glorfindel was worried about his friend. Erestor was acting strangely and he wanted the raven-haired Elf inside, out of the rain and nowhere near the Bruinen. The water was whirling savagely and about to break free from the river bedding. Considering the obvious emotional state Erestor was in, it was important to get him away from here.
Raising his right hand, Glorfindel brushed wet locks from his face and struggled to keep his eyes open when a particularly hard wave of wind hit his face. "Come with me, mellon-nÓn." Extending his hand, he hoped that Erestor would accept. "It is the only way to make me go back inside," he added, hating that he had to resort to emotional blackmail, but Erestorís behavior worried him. He had never before seen such an unfocused stare in those dark eyes. "Come with me," he repeated, taking another step closer toward the trembling Elf. "All you have to do is take my hand."
A bitter laugh escaped Erestorís lips. "All I have to do is take your handÖ Glorfindel, you have no ideaÖ Leave me be."
"Nay! By Elbereth, stop being stubborn and come with me."
More tears welled up in Erestorís eyes. "You have no idea what you are asking of me." This night, his sorrow belonged to Gil-galad.
"You are right. I do not know why this is so hard for you, but I refuse to give up on you."
Erestor stared at Glorfindelís hand, still extended and beckoning him. Large raindrops dripped from the fingertips and the wind seemed to caress the blondís skin, moving over the palm. Shakily, he raised his own hand and placed it in Glorfindelís, but the guilt, sorrow and pain didnít lessen.
Acting on impulse, Glorfindel wrapped an arm around Erestor. As always, the ease with which he reached out and touched Erestor, surprised him. With Elrond, he cringed when being touched, but Erestorís touch was different. "You are wet and shivering, so let us seek shelter and warm ourselves."
Leading Erestor away from the Bruinen, they started their way home.
Glorfindel decided on using Erestorís rooms, hoping the raven-haired Elf would feel less tense in his own chambers. During their way back, Erestor had been as tense as a bowstring and had seemed ready to bolt several times. It was amazing that Erestor had allowed him to take him home.
Erestor sighed deeply, feeling nervous and scared now that Glorfindel seemed determined to watch over him. He rested his hand on the door handle, turned about and looked into Glorfindelís eyes. "IÖ" He had wanted to thank and dismiss Glorfindel, but now he didnít want to part from his companion.
"You watched over me for many nights. I can do the same thing for youÖ I *want* to do the same thing for you," Glorfindel clarified.
"I should not burden you with my memoriesÖ"
"Your pain," corrected Glorfindel. He knew he was right, seeing the haunted expression in Erestorís eyes.
Erestor nodded once, wondering why he was giving in. He pushed down the door handle and stepped into his rooms. His heart contracted painfully, realizing he had left the chest open. His gaze traveled to his bed and he cringed, finding that he had forgotten to put some items back.
Glorfindel saw Erestorís peculiar reaction, but thought nothing of it. Erestor was acting strange at any rate. "Why donít you get out of your wet clothes?"
Erestor shook his head. "NayÖ I must wear them until sunrise." Emotionally drained, he sank down onto the floor, sitting cross-legged and rocking slightly.
Alarmed, Glorfindel shrugged out of his wet cloak and reached for the blanket at the foot of Erestorís bed. Sitting down next to the hurting Elf, he wrapped the material around Erestorís shoulders. He would have preferred for his friend to remove his wet clothes, but this had to do for now. "Why? Why must you wear them?" Curiously, his gaze was drawn to the items on the bed. A sword with inscriptions in Tengwar and a mithril circlet rested near an open chest. "Erestor?"
Glorfindelís voice pulled Erestor from his memories and he shivered, seeing the blond stare at the sword and circlet. Why did Glorfindel have to seek him out at the Bruinen? He knew the Elda good enough to know that Glorfindel would only settle for the truth. Was he ready to share his pain?
Reaching to take hold of the sword, Glorfindelís arm remained poised in mid air, seeing the sudden distress on Erestorís face. "I wonít touch it," he said reassuringly, wondering why his friend was reacting like that. "But it is magnificent." How many times had the steel been folded to create this perfect blade?
A sad smile appeared on Erestorís face and he made his decision that very moment. "It belonged to my lover."
"Your lover?" Glorfindelís eyes widened. That answer revealed so much! "You had a male lover then?" It was a manís sword, broad and heavy.
Erestor nodded once, but didnít speak. He was afraid his voice would betray just how emotional he was.
"And heÖ" Glorfindel didnít want to say the words, butÖ "He died?"
A large tear slipped from Erestorís eye and slid down his cheek. "Aye, he is dead."
"Is that why you are soÖ sad?" The right words didnít want to come to him and Glorfindel hoped that his presence didnít worsen Erestorís pain. He was beginning to understand why the raven-haired Elf had wanted to be alone.
"He died at the Battle of the Last Alliance."
Recalling something Erestor had mentioned during their escape from Orthanc, he said, "You were trained as a spy, if I remember correctly. Please forgive me if I am wrong, butÖ my memory is clouded when it comes down toÖ that period." He didnít want to address the state he had been in when Erestor had found him. It was best to focus on his friend for now.
"You are right again." Erestor averted his eyes, wondering what else Glorfindel wanted to know. The blond was getting too close to his pain. "You do not have to stay. I will be fine."
But Glorfindel didnít believe that. "Why tonight?"
"This is the night in which he diedÖ and he took my heart with him." Erestor bowed his head and stared at the floor. "I have done this each year since his death. This night belongs to his memory."
Glorfindelís heart twitched with pain. "Do you not think it is time to let go?" The enraged expression in Erestorís eyes briefly startled him. "I mean no offense, butÖ wouldnít your lover want you to move on?"
"I never asked myself that question," sighed Erestor, feeling drained.
"Why donít you tell me about him? Maybe that will help?" But what he really wanted was to get Erestor out of his wet clothes, into something dry and warm, and then to settle down with him in front of a fire with a glass of miruvor. Unfortunately, it didnít look like Erestor would cooperate, intent as the dark-haired Elf was on feeling miserable. "Why donít you start by telling me his name?" The look Erestor gave him made his heart miss a beat. Why was Erestor guarding this so passionately? "I promise I wonít tell anyone."
Erestor gave in; knowing very well that Glorfindel wouldnít go away before the blond knew what was tormenting him. Wringing his hands, he averted his eyes, unable to look at the Elf, whilst making his admission. "His name was Gil-galad."
Glorfindel gasped in surprise. "The High-King himself?" He briefly wondered if Erestor was making this up, but then his gaze drifted back to the sword and circlet. Reading the inscriptions, he realized it was the fabled High-Kingís sword. "I do not understand." Leaning back against the bed post, he tried to catch Erestorís evasive gaze.
Sighing deeply, Erestor opened up to Glorfindel. "It began a few years after I had reached majority. The Elders chose me to be trained as a spy and assassin. They realized the threat Evil presented and wanted to be prepared. I absolved the training and was then assigned to the High-Kingís personal guards."
Glorfindel couldnít help but stare at Erestor. "And yet you let us believe you were a scholar."
"I buried that part of my life after he died," offered Erestor softly.
"I am sorry I interrupted, please continue." Glorfindel saw how hard this was on the dark-haired Elf and tried to radiate calm and support. Erestor had been there for him in his darkest hour and he wanted to do the same thing for his friend. He extended his hand, offering it to Erestor and hoping the raven-haired Elf would accept.
Erestor stared at the offered limb, touched that Glorfindel wanted to comfort him. He knew how hard it was for the blond to touch and trust. Slowly, he placed his hand in Glorfindelís. The smile that now surfaced on Glorfindelís face made him smile weakly in return.
"Please tell me what happened next." Glorfindel hoped that Erestor would feel less listless after telling him.
"We fell in love," whispered Erestor as his memories took him back. "I fell in love the first time I saw him, but I did not dare think he would accept me as his lover, but he did." Seeing Glorfindelís questioning look, he added, "One night Orcs penetrated our defenses when Gil-galad was walking in the gardens. I saved his life. I took the poisoned arrow that had been meant for him. In my fever, I raved deliriously, telling him I was in love with him."
Glorfindel smiled brilliantly. "And he loved you back?"
Erestor gave the blond a weak grin. "It turned out that he had noticed me before that incident, but had thought the attraction was one-sided. Once he had learned differently, he confided in me."
Squeezing Erestorís hand encouragingly, Glorfindel waited for him to continue.
"We were happy for a while, until Sauronís power forced him to make a stand. I was working behind enemy lines, conveying information to our forces. When he faced Sauron, I was nowhere in sight." Erestor closed his eyes, but still tears escaped from them. "Maybe he would have survived, had I been there."
"You do not know that," said Glorfindel, tasting the guilt in Erestorís voice.
Erestor shrugged. "I will never know, but I find some comfort in the fact that Elrond tried to keep him safe, even if he failed."
"ElrondÖ" Glorfindelís eyes widened. "He knowsÖ I assume?"
Another sigh fled Erestorís lips. This emotional bloodletting was draining him. "Elrond supported me after Gil-galadís death. Without him, my soul might have joined my loverís in the Great Halls. But like you, Elrond pointed out to me that Gil-galad would want me to live and maybe find happiness again."
Something didnít make sense to Glorfindel. "Then why did Gil-galad give Vilya to Elrond and not to you?"
Erestor shook his head, trying to clear it of the painful memories. "I was not there. I was spying on the enemy, whilst Elrond was close. Elrond told me that Gil-galad wanted me to have the ring, but I have no use for it. I kept his sword and circlet instead. Those two things mean more to me than a ring of power. I care nothing for it."
Glorfindel was trying to deal with everything he had learned. It was so much information in so little time that his head reeled. "And after the battleÖ"
"I stayed with Elrond. Emotionally, I was crushed. I would stare at the stars at night and refused any nourishment. Only Elrondís healing skills kept me alive. I vowed to always stand at Elrondís side and to protect and guide him for he was the only friend I had left. I am no leader, mellon-nÓn, I follow Elrond. I needed his guidance in return. When we built Imladris it was *our* dream we created, not just his. We both wanted peace, Ė a sanctuary."
"I always wondered what made you so special that Elrond chose you as his chief advisor. Now I know." Glorfindel drew in a deep breath, feeling tired as well. It had been some exhausting days.
"You were right," said Erestor unexpectedly. "I do feel somewhat better now." But his voice belied that, sounding heavy and sad. "You are a good friend, but I can tell this is wearing you down and you need your rest."
"I said I would stay with you tonight and I will," said Glorfindel firmly, surprising himself at feeling this determined. "You are in no state to be alone tonight. Not this night."
Erestor didnít know what to say in answer to those words. He had been alone during this night for too many years and he felt that Glorfindel should not take on this burden. But at the same time, he craved the blondís presence. It was like Mandos had said; it worked both ways and tonight he needed to feel Glorfindel close. Sighing, he got to his feet. It was time to break with tradition. "We should remove these wet clothes. Do you want to change first?" He opened the closet, took hold of a sleeping robe and handed it to Glorfindel.
Glorfindel nervously moistened his lips, appreciating Erestorís thoughtfulness. He wasnít ready yet to undress in someoneís presence. Disappearing into the bathroom, he looked over his shoulder and caught one glance of Erestor, who reverently kissed the hilt of Gil-galadís sword before putting it back into the chest. Feeling like an intruder for watching that private scene, he closed the door behind him and changed into the sleeping robe.
Erestorís fingertips lovingly caressed the circlet before putting it into the chest as well. "Am I ready to move on?" But then the bathroom door opened and Glorfindel appeared, wearing one of his sleeping robes. /Oh, how I wish you knew I love youÖ/ But Mandos had erased Glorfindelís memories of the passion they had shared in the Great Halls. Another burden he had to bear.
After collecting another sleeping robe, Erestor disappeared into the bathroom to change, considerate of Glorfindelís feelings.
Reaching the bed, Glorfindel cocked his head in thought. Much of Erestorís actions made sense now. It explained Erestorís decision to live as a scholar and bury his past, but the pain was still there, barely buried beneath the surface. He slipped beneath the covers, a now familiar ritual. Maybe he should simply move into Erestorís rooms as he seemed to be spending most of his time here at any rate. Waiting for his companion to join him, his thoughts kept straying back to Erestorís admissions. /Gil-galad and he were loversÖ I never suspected a thing!/
Erestor announced his return by clearing his throat. Making eye contact with Glorfindel, he slowly approached the bed. He lay down on top of the covers, like he always did, but this time he wished Glorfindel would move just a little closer. During these past few nights he had held the blond during his sleep, and now he longed to be held close in return. But he couldnít possibly ask Glorfindel to hold him.
Some of Erestorís feelings seeped through the bond they shared and Glorfindel instinctively reached out, folding an arm around Erestorís waist and slowly, but insistently, pulled him close. "You can give in, mellon-nÓn, I feel comfortable around you. You know that."
Erestor gingerly gave in to Glorfindelís pull and rested his head on the blondís chest.
Sparkles of delight and joy tingled down their connection and both sighed blissfully.
Smiling, Glorfindel stroked Erestorís hair, just like the raven-haired Elf had done for him during those long and tiring nights. "Go to sleep now. You are not alone any more."
The words touched something deep inside him and Erestor repressed a strangled sob, pretending he was clearing his throat.
But Glorfindel knew better. While continuing to stroke the long, dark tresses, he listened closely and waited for Erestorís breathing to slow down. /Yes, sleep, mellon-nÓn. I have suffered great pain physically, but your pain is of the soul./ Privately, he promised himself to pay more attention to his friendís feelings and hopefully, he could ease Erestorís suffering a little.
Holding Erestor close, he savored the other Elfís closeness, --and lulled into a sense of safety--, he fell asleep as well.
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