Heart In Chains
Erestor stared at the ceiling. He had woken up a moment ago and now his head was filled with images, showing him what had happened at the feast. He had drunk miruvor and then… then Elrond had escorted him back to his rooms. He had made a big fool out of himself by throwing himself at the half-Elf and kissing him. By the Grace of the Valar, had he really told Elrond he tasted sweet?
Groaning, he turned onto his side, curling up in a fetal position. What had he done? And even more importantly, how would Elrond react to being kissed? Would the half-Elf grow distant or could he convince Elrond that it had been due to the miruvor and his emotional unbalance? Would Elrond believe that? And forgive him for being that forward? /Why did I do that?/ The answer was rather simple, though. He had been desperate to keep Elrond close, never wanting to let him go again. Elrond had paid him a lot of attention last night and he had loved it.
Growing uncomfortable in his robes, he slowly pushed himself into a sitting position. He was wearing last night’s clothes and Glorfindel’s hair clip was still holding his braids in place. Worried, he rubbed the bridge of his nose. How could he face Elrond today? Should he send a message saying he didn’t feel well? Nay, that wouldn’t work, as Elrond – the healer – would want to check on him. He didn’t have a choice. He had to face the half-Elf, but first he needed to decide on a strategy. Should he pretend he had forgotten about the kiss? Or should he bring it up at once, but blame it on the miruvor? The liquid had certainly contributed to him feeling bold enough to kiss Elrond. Surely the half-Elf knew that? At least his daughter was taking pity on him and not kicking for a change!
“Erestor? May I enter?”
Erestor groaned, hearing Lindir’s cheerful voice. “Let me be, please.”
“I cannot do that. Lord Elrond told me to check on you.”
Erestor sighed dejectedly. “Then come on in if you must!” Erestor was not looking forward to being prodded and questioned by the curious Elf.
Lindir entered and smiled at Erestor. The fact that Elrond had appeared even more rumpled than usual to eat his breakfast led him to believe that something sweet had happened between them. Briefly, he felt a pang of guilt. After all, Celebrian had only left for Valinor eight months ago, but like Arwen, he put his Lord’s happiness first and Celebrian had set Elrond free to love again. “I gather you do not feel well this morning?” Lindir pulled up a chair and sat down opposite Erestor. “Did the miruvor give you a headache?”
“Nay, it did not.” /The kiss did./ Erestor felt embarrassed for giving in to his feelings. If only it hadn’t been for that bloody miruvor!
“May I tell one of the servants to bring breakfast in that case?”
Erestor nodded once. “And would you help me out of these robes? I also need to return this hair clip to Glorfindel.” His fingertips moved over the mithril jewelry.
“Ah, I thought I had seen it before,” said Lindir, “It does suit you.” He rose from his chair, called out to a servant to bring Erestor’s breakfast and then returned to his charge. “What do you prefer? Leggings? Shirt? Robes?”
“Robes,” replied Erestor. Leggings would make his swollen abdomen stand out even more.
Lindir examined Erestor’s wardrobe and selected purple robes, made from the lightest silk, with earth-toned lining. “I trust this will do?”
Erestor frowned. “I have never seen those before.”
“Whilst you were at the feast the tailor finished another of your garments. I hope the color and design please you?”
Erestor smiled, genuinely pleased. “I need to thank Elrond for his generosity.”
Lindir smiled warmly. “Since your arrival Lord Elrond smiles a lot more. He was rather quiet and saddened because his wife had sailed for Aman, but it seems you have changed that.”
Erestor averted his eyes. “I have no intentions of taking the Lady Celebrian’s place in whatever way.”
“You could not, even if you wanted,” said Lindir thoughtfully. “She was unique and much loved by her family,” he paused, seeing the dejected expression on Erestor’s face, “but you can be a companion to Lord Elrond. You are your own person and he likes your company. I like to see my Lord happy and I even think he is looking forward to watching your child grow up here in Imladris.”
“That would be more than I could ever hope for,” whispered Erestor, a lump of emotions forming in his throat.
Lindir frowned at the comment, but then the servant bringing Erestor’s breakfast arrived and Lindir helped Erestor to the table, where the dark-haired Elf sat down. “Oh, before I forget; the Lady Arwen wondered if you are willing to spend the morning with her instead of in the library. She said something about creating a nursery?”
The truth was that Arwen had dashed into her father’s rooms when the half-Elf had been in the middle of eating breakfast. She had asked him permission to change one of the inner suites into Erestor’s own rooms and furnish one of the adjoining rooms as a nursery. Elrond had approved and given her a free hand. Upon hearing that, she had left smiling. Lindir had given Elrond a knowing smile; realizing the half-Elf had said yes because then she would be occupied, which left Erestor and Elrond with more time to spend together.
Erestor’s voice forced him to abandon his musings and he concentrated on his charge. Delighted, he noticed that the dark-haired Elf had eaten almost everything on the breakfast tray. “Your appetite is improving.”
“You are fattening me up,” mumbled Erestor, realizing he would quickly gain weight these last few months of his pregnancy, most certainly when they continued to make him eat in this way.
“So… may I inform the Lady Arwen that you feel well enough to receive her?”
“She is coming to my rooms?” Erestor wasn’t sure how he felt about Arwen. He had wanted to like her last evening, but still wasn’t sure she didn’t have a hidden agenda, given to her by Galadriel.
Lindir arched an eyebrow and waited patiently for Erestor to make up his mind.
“Aye, you can tell her that I will talk to her.” Erestor pushed away the tray and managed to get to his feet. Picking up the purple robes, he said, “I need help changing into them.”
Lindir smiled; only a few days ago Erestor had been too timid to make such a request. “I will assist you.”
“Erestor?” Arwen entered the dark-haired Elf’s rooms and searched his features for clues that would tell her what he was thinking. Seeing he was struggling to rise to welcome her, she quickly hurried toward him, saying, “Please stay seated, my friend!”
Erestor sighed and sat back down. “Thank you, my Lady.”
“My name is Arwen.” She seated herself on the couch next to him. “Did Lindir tell you about my plans for a nursery?”
“He did.” Erestor moistened his lips, feeling a bit uneasy now that she was this close. He still couldn’t rule out that Galadriel had sent her here for a reason. “Do you really think a nursery is necessary? Placing a crib in my rooms would suffice as well.”
Arwen’s eyes revealed her displeasure. “And what about the baby clothes? The toys? There are so many things to consider.” She smiled seductively. “We could pick a theme for the nursery and it would be finished before your baby is born.” She blushed weakly. “You may have noticed that I am looking forward to the baby’s birth.”
“I noticed,” whispered Erestor absentmindedly. “But why?”
“I was always the baby in this household,” explained Arwen patiently, “And now I won’t be the youngest any longer. And… I must confess I would like to play with her and sit with her when you need rest. I… I want to be a mother some day and this would help me prepare. I hope you will let me.”
Erestor swallowed hard. Could it be that she had no hidden motives and was just trying to be nice and help? Looking at her, he studied her features and was hard pressed to find any semblance of Celebrian or Galadriel. Arwen had inherited her father’s looks and disposition. Maybe allowing her in was a risk worth taking. “And where would you situate this nursery?” He looked about the bedroom, wondering if she planned to put in another wall to separate this room from the nursery.
“Not here,” said Arwen, realizing he had misunderstood. “I found some lovely quarters located in the north wing.”
The north wing? Erestor frowned. Wasn’t that where Elrond’s quarters and his children’s were located? “Are you sure we cannot use these rooms instead?”
Arwen cleared her throat. “These are guest quarters, Erestor. You cannot live and raise your child here. You need your own rooms.”
“Oh, I should accept your generous offer then,” mumbled Erestor, wondering why she was so determined to do this for him.
“May I show you the rooms I selected?” Arwen rose from the couch, rearranging her burgundy dress, decorated with lace and golden embroidery.
Even Erestor had to admit that she looked lovely. “I will join you.” Slowly, he rose from the couch and placed one hand beneath his abdomen. Briefly forgetting about her presence, he mumbled, “I cannot even see my feet.”
“How does it feel?” asked Arwen, hearing his comment. “What is it like? Being pregnant?”
Erestor gave her a weak smile. “Not counting the extra weight? Mood swings? Nausea followed by food cravings? Those terrible muscle cramps and being unable to do much without assistance?”
She rolled her eyes, smiling. “Aye, in spite of all that.”
“What makes up for all those things is the fact that I can feel her. I feel her presence in my mind. Also her kicks are strong and constantly assure me she is well.”
“You are convinced it will be a baby girl?” Arwen was delighted. “I always wanted a sister and—“ She stopped, shocked to see him flinch and turn away from her. “I meant no disrespect,” she said quickly, resting a hand on his shoulder. “I would look upon her as a sister, as I never had one but always wanted a younger sister.”
Erestor firmly wiped away the tears that flowed from his eyes, as he didn’t want Arwen to see him cry. But hearing her say that... “Thank you, it will help, knowing you will accept and love her.”
Arwen frowned at his words, realizing she was missing something important, but as she didn’t know what had upset him, she opted for distraction. “Maybe you already have certain ideas for the nursery?” Taking his arm, she guided him to the doorway.
“Nay, I never thought there would be one.” Erestor blinked. “Where are you taking me?” He suddenly found himself standing in the corridor.
“Well, to your new rooms of course. Lindir is already making plans to move your belongings to your new chambers while you are working with my father this afternoon. When you return from your walk, you will find the bedroom ready and we will start on the nursery tomorrow.”
Erestor allowed her to pull him along through the corridors, wondering how Elrond would react, learning his new quarters would be situated in the family wing.
Glorfindel watched Haldir sleep and leaned in closer to press a kiss on the bruised lips. Last night, Haldir had proven to him that he was very talented when it came to playing the flute and the memory brought an impish grin to his face. “Good morning, my love,” whispered the blond, having mercy on the bruised lips as he moved to kiss a silver strand of hair. “I trust you slept well? My bed is comfortable, especially with me in it.”
Haldir shook his head at such arrogance. “It would be less comfortable if I decided to seek out my own bed instead.”
“Ah, but you must stay with me now that we are married, melme.” Glorfindel pushed himself onto all fours and crawled atop his husband. Lowering himself, he blanketed the March Warden’s body. “Seriously, will you move into my rooms?”
“Would you like that?” Haldir raised his right hand and used a fingertip to trace the outline of Glorfindel’s lips. “Are you not afraid we would end up at each other’s throats?”
“Nay, meleth-nín, I think we will find other, more pleasant ways to entertain ourselves.” Nipping at Haldir’s bottom lip, he aligned their erections and began to thrust against him.
Haldir arched an eyebrow and Glorfindel, seeing it, explained, “I do not want to leave you sore, and we do have to join today’s patrol.”
“You are exhausting me, Balrog Slayer,” mumbled Haldir, closing his eyes and surrendering to the lovely sensation. They moved in unison and when Glorfindel licked his earlobe, Haldir found release.
Feeling the warm and wet liquid splash against his abdomen, Glorfindel reached orgasm as well. Grinning in a silly way, he licked a bead of sweat from Haldir’s brow, enjoying the salty flavor. “We should clean up and join the guards.”
Haldir groaned. “It will be an exhausting day.”
“You might be right about that. We are checking the southern borders and there has been some Orc activity, which we need to monitor. If we run into them…”
“Then we will have to kill them,” finished Haldir for him. “In that case, get off of me. I need to take a bath and get dressed.” Glorfindel moved off of him and Haldir sat upright. After getting to his feet, he marched into the bathroom. Seeing his reflection in the mirror, he growled at his husband, who had joined him. “You could have kept the marks beneath the collar!”
Glorfindel gave him an ‘innocent’ smile. “I want everyone to know you are mine.”
“That can be arranged,” growled Haldir, grabbing hold of Glorfindel. He first sucked at the skin of the blond’s throat and then bit playfully, leaving him marked in turn. “I won’t be the only marked one patrolling the borders,” he chuckled amusedly, releasing the Elda from his hold.
Now it was Glorfindel’s turn to stare at his reflection. He rolled his eyes and gave the silver-haired Elf a withering look, saying, “Oh, very original. I thought you would do better.”
But Haldir saw the sparkle in Glorfindel’s eyes. “I can do better,” growled Haldir. “I am March Warden of the Galadhrim. You might have slain a Balrog, but I might ‘slay’ you eventually.”
Shivers of eager anticipation traveled down Glorfindel’s spine. “I won’t yield to you, hervenn-nín. You will have to make me.” He hoped that Haldir would accept the challenge. The thought of Haldir assuming control aroused him.
“Ah, is that the way you want me?” Haldir’s eyes burned with mirth and lust. “That can be arranged, my dear husband. I *will* make you,” he purred, pressing himself against Glorfindel.
“Careful, we still need to clean up.”
Haldir laughed, removed his clothes and stepped into the pool. “Are you joining me?”
Glorfindel nearly drooled at the sight of his husband’s muscular, yet agile body. “Oh, how could I ever resist?” Within moments, he had joined him.
“*These* are the rooms you had in mind for me?” Erestor had thought his guest quarters spacious, but these quarters consisted of a large master bedroom, a study, a luxurious bathroom and a garden where a waterfall gentle splashed down the rocks. It was perfect for raising a child!
“Aye.” Arwen watched Erestor as he explored the already furnished bedroom. “We could use the room that was intended to be a study as the baby’s nursery instead.”
“I would like that.” The rooms were filled with warm sunlight and a gentle breeze entered through the windows.
“If you like the idea, we could have the walls in here painted,” said Arwen, entering the future nursery. “Maybe something soothing?”
Elrond had heard their voices and was now walking toward them, but remained hidden a little longer because he wanted to study Erestor. He still wondered about that kiss, and his eager reaction to it.
“The sea…” whispered Erestor absentmindedly. “Waves… seagulls, seashells and dolphins.”
In the bedroom, Elrond frowned. Now that was an odd wish. He had expected Erestor to request a forest scene, birds, maybe other animals, but never the sea.
“Dolphins?” Arwen had never seen these animals before. “Why the sea?”
“I lived in the Havens of Sirion for a short while,” replied Erestor, reliving happy moments with Elwing and the twins. “I liked it there.”
Seeing a genuinely happy smile on Erestor’s face, Elrond wondered just how old Erestor was. Had the pregnant Elf maybe even known his parents? If so, why had Erestor never mentioned it? Erestor became more of a mystery with every passing day.
“I think we can arrange for that,” said Arwen, “There are several artists here who have seen the sea and they should be able to paint some interesting scenes.” She lifted her hand and slowly rested it on his arm. “I gather you like these rooms?”
“I do.” Erestor nodded his head. “But are you sure no one will mind me moving in? This is the family wing and I… I am not family.”
Elrond took that remark as his cue to get involved in the conversation. “I welcome the idea of you moving into these rooms.” Originally, they had been intended for Elladan, but the twins had preferred to share quarters, leaving these perpetually empty. “I am sure you and your daughter will be happy here.”
Arwen nodded her approval at hearing her father’s words, but Erestor paled visibly. Elrond realized he had startled the pregnant Elf, who had thought he was alone with Arwen. “I overheard your conversation and decided to join you.”
Erestor trembled slightly, now that he unexpectedly faced Elrond. Images of kissing the half-Elf returned to him and the pallor made way for a crimson blush. He quickly averted his eyes, realizing he had been staring at the Peredhel. /Elbereth help me, what do I do?/
“I am on my way to my study, Erestor, would you like to join me? We can enjoy the noon meal together and then go for a walk.” He wanted Erestor to himself.
“Aye, that is a good idea,” agreed Arwen, “In the meantime I will start on the decorations for the baby’s room.”
Erestor sighed, nodded, and then walked toward Elrond. Feeling the half-Elf’s hand come to rest on his arm surprised him, but he didn’t pull away from the touch. “Arwen? Thank you.”
Arwen gave him a stunning smile. She watched them leave and then turned toward the walls, letting her imagination run wild with dolphins, waves and seagulls. She was determined to do her best to make this work.
Erestor waited until they had reached the privacy of Elrond’s study before addressing ‘it’. His stomach was tense, his throat dry and he was turning himself inside out, trying to find the courage to discuss this. “Elrond? I…” Erestor moistened his lips, looked away and fumbled the fabric of his sleeve. He stood in front of the window, wondering how there could be such lovely weather when he felt so depressed.
Moving closer to Erestor, Elrond came to a halt in front of the pregnant Elf. Erestor’s face was an open book to him; he knew exactly what the other Elf was struggling with. “Yes?”
“A-about… l-ast-t night-t… About-t… that-t ki…kiss.” Erestor wrung his hands, turning slightly away from Elrond. “It-twas-s… the mi.. ruvor-r,” he stuttered nervously.
Elrond’s heart thundered, seeing the emotional turmoil Erestor was in. He wanted to reach out and fold his arms around the nervous Elf, but he kept himself back. This was not the time for that… yet.
“I know… I w-was taking-g… liberties-s… I would never do that… normally.” Erestor swallowed hard, wishing Elrond would say something. /Yell at me, call me a fool, I do not care what you say, but say something!/ The tension became too much and he finally met the half-Elf’s stormy eyes. He was surprised to find a smile on Elrond’s face and a warm expression in the grayish-blue orbs. Elrond didn’t seem cross with him at all. Why was that?
Elrond carefully considered his reply before addressing Erestor, who obviously felt intimidated. “Did you want to kiss me or was it just the miruvor?”
Still wringing his hands, Erestor tried to look away but, unexpectedly, Elrond cupped his chin in the palm of his hand, forcing him to maintain eye contact.
“Well, did you want to kiss me? And please answer truthfully. I won’t be cross with you, no matter what you say.” Elrond hoped Erestor trusted him enough to be sincere.
Erestor felt inwardly torn. What was he supposed to say?
“The truth, Erestor, please.” Elrond gave Erestor a pleading look, hoping to convince the pregnant Elf to put his trust in him.
Erestor stopped fighting Elrond, lacking the strength to keep up pretense. “Aye, I did.” As Elrond was still keeping him in place, making it impossible for him to turn away, he closed his eyes instead. He just didn’t want to see the contempt in the half-Elf’s eyes at hearing his answer.
“Good, for I enjoyed being kissed by you.” Elrond carefully observed Erestor and smiled warmly when the large, dark eyes opened to stare questioningly at him.
“You did?” Disbelief echoed in Erestor’s voice.
“I did.” To prove his words, he tenderly caressed Erestor’s face. “So do not feel upset about the kiss. There is no reason to.”
Erestor swallowed nervously. Elrond had enjoyed the kiss? He had great trouble accepting that.
Realizing that Erestor’s emotional turmoil remained, Elrond deemed a change in subject necessary to reassure the pregnant Elf. Guiding Erestor to his desk, he helped him sit down. “Did you finish making those entries yesterday?”
Jolted back to reality, Erestor shook his head. “There were too many.”
“Would you continue working on them whilst I work my way through today’s correspondence?”
“Of course.” His skin still tingled, still feeling an echo of Elrond’s fingertips caressing his skin. /He liked being kissed by me./ Feeling relieved and somewhat giddy, Erestor focused on his task, determined to make those entries in his best handwriting.
They had continued to work longer than usual and when they walked into the gardens, Arien was already setting. Erestor was stunned when Elrond’s hand reached for his. Demurely, he allowed Elrond to hold his hand, wondering why the half-Elf was doing that.
Arwen’s excited cries quickly reached them and the she-Elf came to a stand still in front of them, panting slightly from running. “Ada, Elladan and Elrohir are here! They arrived with Haldir and Glorfindel! Apparently they were on their way back when they happened upon the patrol.”
Was it just his imagination or did Elrond’s eyes darken subtly? Erestor wasn’t sure, but felt Elrond tense next to him.
“That is good news indeed,” said Elrond calmly.
“They went to their quarters to freshen up, but they will join us for dinner,” said Arwen excitedly.
“Did they mention how long they would stay?” Elrond gave his daughter a thoughtful look.
“Nay, they did not.” Arwen’s enthusiasm suddenly evaporated. “They looked… angry, Ada.”
“They have not yet accepted their mother’s departure,” said Elrond, sighing. “They need more time to deal with the loss.”
“Because they blame themselves,” said Arwen in a melancholy tone. Realizing Erestor was staring questioningly at her, she explained, “They were on their way to meet our mother when the Orcs attacked and now blame themselves for coming too late to her aid.”
Erestor didn’t know what to say and stayed silent instead. He hoped dinner would go smoothly, but somehow he doubted it.
Erestor felt out of place, seated to Elrond’s right. Arwen had moved from the half-Elf’s left and now sat next to Erestor. He should feel safe, wedged in between them, but he didn’t. He worried about the twins’ reaction to seeing him seated next to their father. What conclusion would they reach?
Elrond sensed Erestor’s discomfort and soothingly rested his hand on the pregnant Elf’s, trying to reassure him that everything would be fine.
There was sudden commotion near the doorway and Erestor strained to see what it was about. He was promptly punished with a painful spasm in his lower back. “Ouch…” He grimaced at the pain.
Elrond, concerned, immediately inquired, “What is it?”
“Spasm… my back…” panted Erestor softly. He managed to raise his head and caught sight of two figures, dressed in dark colors with identical features. /The twins./ Suddenly he was shaken from his apprehension, feeling Elrond’s hand massaging his lower back to counteract the spasms. As the twins approached, goose flesh formed over his entire body.
It was the eyes. They were filled with potent, deadly rage, and they were aimed at him.
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