Authors Note: This story will be completely Alternate Universe and I won't follow Tolkien's writings when dealing with reincarnation!
Elrond, who was sitting behind his desk and going through today’s paperwork, was startled when a keening wail echoed through his rooms. “Glorfindel!” Alarmed, he pushed back his chair and headed for the blond, who was struggling with the sheets. Cold sweat had formed on the Elf’s brow, and a pleading expression crossed his features. “Hush now, Glorfindel, you are having a nightmare.” Elrond sat down on the bed and continued to speak in a soothing tone. When he rested his hand on Glorfindel’s brow, he found that Mandos’ cold had returned.
Glorfindel’s eyes slowly filled with awareness and he grabbed Elrond instinctively, holding on to the other’s warmth by wrapping his arms around his savior.
Elrond stroked the long locks, hoping to calm Glorfindel, but suddenly his door was flung open and Erestor entered, closely followed by the twins.
“What is wrong?” asked Elladan, reaching the bed first.
Elrohir joined his brother and stared at Glorfindel curiously. “Was it a nightmare?” asked the youngest twin.
Glorfindel had calmed in his arms and Elrond managed a weak smile. Seeing Erestor and his sons this concerned warmed his heart. “It was a nightmare alright.”
Glorfindel, who had fully awoken slowly, looked at the four of them in disbelief. What were they doing in here? He understood Elrond was here, because these were his rooms, but why were the others here? Because he’d had a nightmare? No, that couldn’t be it.
“Was your nightmare about Mandos?” Elrond lowered Glorfindel back onto the bed and studied the sapphire eyes. Glorfindel nodded once and Elrond signaled for Erestor to get him some water.
But Erestor felt hot tea was in order and headed for the kitchen. When he returned, Elrond was still sitting next to the blond, holding his hands, and the twins had seated themselves on the floor. There was a comfortable silence in the room, which he didn’t want to break, and he poured tea, handing Elrond a mug filled with the hot liquid.
Elrond allowed Glorfindel to place his fingers over his own, and touched the mug to the blond’s lips. “Sip slowly; it is hot.”
The warm liquid flowed down his throat, driving away some of the cold. Glorfindel nodded thankfully when, after long moments, he had emptied the mug. “I am sorry I woke you,” he said apologetically. “I had forgotten about nightmares.”
“Do not trouble yourself,” said Elrond goodheartedly. “I imagine they will continue to occur until your mind has dealt with all latest developments.”
“Now that we are all awake,” said Elladan, “maybe now you can tell us about that Balrog and how you killed it?”
Elladan’s question actually brought an expression of dread to Glorfindel’s face and his blue eyes darkened. “There is not much to tell, pen-neth. It chased me and I had to defend myself. With its last breathe of fire it knocked me off the rock and the flames burned me as I fell to my death.”
Elladan’s eyes widened, awed. “You really killed a Balrog!”
Elrond locked eyes with the blond. “You are his hero now.”
“Hero?” Glorfindel firmly shook his head. “I am no hero. If I had not been that arrogant in life I would never have challenged that Balrog and I would not have died. I am a bad example.”
Elrond shook his head. “It was due to your courage that Idril, Tuor and Eärendil, my father, could escape. My family never had the chance to thank you. Because of your sacrifice, they escaped.” Elrond raised an eyebrow, as if only now realizing something. “Maybe that is why the Valar sent you back. My family is greatly indebted to you.”
“There is no debt. I did what I had to do.” Glorfindel shifted nervously at hearing the gratitude in Elrond’s voice.
Erestor, who immediately noticed the growing tension, said, “Glorfindel needs to sleep peacefully. Elrond? Maybe a sleeping potion will help?”
Elrond left the bed, fetched some dried herbs and dropped them into the carafe filled with the remaining tea. After swirling the tea and herbs around in the carafe, he refilled the mug. “Drink this. It will help you sleep.”
Too emotionally drained to protest, Glorfindel sipped, ignoring the bitterness the tea now contained. Elrond took the empty mug from him and covered him with the furs again. “Thank you for taking care of me.” His gaze shifted from Elrond to Erestor, and then over to the twins. Elladan smiled at him and Elrohir nodded once, indicating he understood. “None of you had to do that. I know I am not the one you expected to return from Mandos, and I would understand if you—“
Elrond cut him short. “No more of that. You are here now and we will look after you. You can be my guest, for as long as you wish to stay. Gooseflesh formed on Elrond’s skin, seeing the gratitude in Glorfindel’s eyes. “Now sleep, and I promise that the nightmares won’t return.”
Glorfindel’s eyes were slowly losing their sparkle; he was falling asleep again.
“I never expected him to have nightmares.” Elrond made sure Glorfindel was warm and then returned to his desk. “This won’t be as easy as I thought.”
“You brought him back from Mandos, Elrond. The memory of death still haunts him.” Erestor slowly paced in front of Elrond’s desk. “One of us should sit with him at all times.”
“And tomorrow I want him sitting in the sun. On the balcony, perhaps, or maybe someone can help him into the gardens. He needs sunlight and fresh air.” Elrond looked at his sons and realized they were eager to take care of their hero. “Be gentle with him,” he said jokingly.
“We will.” Elladan flashed his father a charming smile and then pulled his twin back into the corridor. He was eager to return to their rooms so they could get some more sleep. After all, he wanted to be rested for tomorrow when they took Glorfindel to the gardens.
“I wonder about him,” whispered Elrond, looking at Glorfindel. “I wanted to hate him, to believe that he had tricked me and robbed me of Gil-galad’s presence, but I am beginning to realize that he is innocent. He had nothing to do with it.”
A warm smile appeared on Erestor’s face. “You are starting to care for him.”
“How can I not?” Elrond shrugged once. “Elladan is right; Glorfindel is a hero. When I first heard he had killed that Balrog I felt nothing but awe and respect for him. I hoped we would meet one day, but then he died. He is a mystery.”
“A mystery you want to solve,” stated Erestor. “Mellon-nîn, do you realize that last night you were victim to despair? What happened to your dark, depressed feelings? Your eyes sparkle with life and your touch is warm and caring.”
Elrond sighed, thoughtfully. “I was wondering when you would bring it up. But you are right. The darkness has left. It has fled, for blazing blue eyes and golden locks.”
Erestor stopped pacing and locked eyes with Elrond. “Glorfindel is having quite an effect on you.” He considered teasing Elrond more, but decided against it; this was not the time for it, not yet. But it did confirm his suspicions; the Valar had send Glorfindel for a reason. /You are falling in love with him, Elrond. Do you know that?/ Keeping his thoughts to himself, he headed for the doorway.
After Erestor had closed the door, Elrond rose from behind his desk and returned to the bed. He found himself pulled closer to the blond and sat down, taking hold of a delicately formed hand. His heart thundered in his chest, but he refused to label and acknowledge the sensation sweeping through him. No, he was –not- falling in love with Glorfindel.
Elrond gazed at the sleeping blond. Glorfindel had slept peacefully after drinking that potion and now that Arien was rising it was time to wake his guest. “Glorfindel? Wake up.” The blond’s eyes immediately regained their sparkle and met his. Seeing the disorientation in them, Elrond sat down on the edge of the bed and smiled reassuringly. “I trust you slept well?”
Glorfindel’s eyes flashed in their sockets, trying to understand what was happening. Where was he? Where were the Halls of Mandos and – Aiya, Elrond. Elrond had pulled him from Mandos and he was in Imladris now. He still had a hard time believing he was alive and expected to be called back to Mandos any moment now.
“It is time for breakfast. Do you want to attempt walking or would you prefer to eat breakfast here?” Elrond studied the blond. Glorfindel looked healthier, and most of the tremors had faded during the night. Maybe it would be best to get him on his feet as quickly as possible. “How do you fare this morning? You look stronger.”
Glorfindel nodded his head once. “I feel stronger.” But it still was strange, waking up in a bed after walking the Halls of Mandos for so long. Hesitantly, he made eye contact with Elrond. “I do not want to be a bother. I am sure someone can direct me to the kitchen and—“
Elrond cut him short. “We will have breakfast together.” He wasn’t sending Glorfindel to the kitchen to eat. “I will have breakfast served on the balcony. The sun will do you good.”
Glorfindel resigned himself to the situation. Sitting up, he expected to feel dizzy, but when he didn’t, he continued to swing his feet onto the floor.
Realizing Glorfindel wanted to rise from the bed, Elrond quickly moved in closer and reached for the blond. Glorfindel’s surprised gaze met his and he nodded encouragingly. “You can lean on me.”
Glorfindel wondered where Elrond’s anger and frustration had gone. When the Ruler of Imladris had realized his mistake he had been furious. Elrond seemed a lot mellower now. “I can manage.” But his words were proven wrong when his knees gave out beneath him. For many centuries he had been bodiless, and now he had to get used to moving about again.
Luckily Elrond had anticipated that problem and had one arm wrapped tightly around Glorfindel’s waist. He guided the blond onto the balcony and sat him down on a chair. “Stay here whilst I instruct the servants.”
Glorfindel nodded, but wasn’t sure what he had agreed to. He felt lost, staring at the sun. The orb of blinding, golden light radiated warmth, which he had missed for so many years that he had forgotten what it looked and felt like. Bathing in the golden glow, he smiled absentmindedly.
When Elrond returned, signaling for the servants to place their breakfast trays on the table, he found Glorfindel staring happily at the sun. The look of sheer joy and bliss took him aback and he quietly sat down, unwilling to disturb Glorfindel’s silent reverie. He had no idea what it was like for the blond, to be able to see the sun again after so many centuries of dwelling in the twilight. “The sun is warm, is it not?”
Glorfindel, suddenly realizing Elrond had returned, composed himself. “Aye, it is. I thought I would never see it again.”
A stabbing pain moved through Elrond; he had wanted Gil-galad to sit here with him, not Glorfindel of Gondolin. But maybe Erestor was right; maybe the Valar had sent Glorfindel back for a reason. He found he cared about the blond now that his initial anger had receded. “We could venture into the gardens later.” A giddy smile appeared on Glorfindel’s face and Elrond just knew the blond wasn’t even aware of that look. “Eat,” he said encouragingly.
Glorfindel reached for the tray and munched on some bread. That was another thing he hadn’t thought he would ever do again; eat and drink. He sipped his herbal tea and enjoyed some cherries and berries. Noise rose up from the courtyard to the balcony and he smiled, seeing Elrohir and Elladan chase each other toward the Bruinen. “How old are they?” he wondered aloud.
“Just five more years away from their majority. I sometimes worry about them. In one way they are still very young, but they have already experienced a lot of pain in their lives.” Glorfindel’s gaze met his and Elrond realized the blond wanted more information. “My wife was attacked by Orcs and severely injured. She sailed for Valinor, leaving us behind. It was grief and loneliness that made me challenge Mandos.”
Glorfindel’s eyes saddened at finding out about Elrond’s loss and he couldn’t help feeling guilty for returning in Gil-galad’s place. “I am sorry your plan failed. It was coincidence that I approached at that exact moment.”
Elrond sighed, regretting being angry with Glorfindel earlier. “I know it was not your fault.” He just knew the Valar had played with him. “And you are welcome to stay in Imladris as long as you want. You will always have a home here.”
Glorfindel grew melancholy. “A lot has changed since I last walked Arda and I find myself weaker than I remember. I will accept your offer and stay for a while.”
Smiling pleased, Elrond inclined his head in acceptance. “You will be my guest, then. I am sure my sons are looking forward to spending time with you.”
Glorfindel was at a loss for words. How was it possible that the twins thought of him as a hero? He would have to set them straight on that one.
“Would you like to rest some more?” enquired Elrond now that they had finished breakfast.
“I am not really tired,” whispered Glorfindel, not wanting to impose on Elrond. “I am content sitting here.”
Elrond considered Glorfindel’s answer. “I think that is a very good idea. The rays of Arien will strengthen you. Can I leave you alone for some time? I have to answer several letters but I will return within the hour.”
“I am fine here.” Glorfindel hoped he wasn’t keeping Elrond from urgent matters.
Elrond was having second thoughts about leaving Glorfindel alone. What if the blond fell asleep and suffered another nightmare?
“I will sit with him,” said Erestor, who had overheard the last lines of their conversation. He had been pleasantly surprised at finding the two of them sitting on the balcony, chatting amicably. Glorfindel looked better this morning; the sleeping potion had done its work.
Elrond smiled gratefully at his advisor, and when he looked at his guest, he noticed the warm expression in Glorfindel’s eyes. The blond had taken a liking to the advisor, and he couldn’t blame him. Erestor had taken care of him when he had just returned from Mandos. /Because I did not want him close. Erestor was there for him when I was not./ He rose from his chair, feeling abundant, and left after exchanging one last look with Erestor, asking him mutely to take good care of the blond.
Erestor inclined his head in understanding and then sat down in the chair Elrond had just vacated. Now that Elrond was gone, his gaze shifted to Glorfindel. The reserved expression he had seen earlier had now disappeared. “Are you enjoying life again?”
Glorfindel shrugged once. “I still have a hard time believing it actually happened. But one does not dream in Mandos, so I know it must be real.” Words failed him and he lowered his gaze, staring at the warm, long robes he was still wearing. “I always hated robes, especially formal ones.” Realizing he had spoken his thoughts aloud, he met Erestor’s gaze. The advisor was laughing warmly, and, reassured, Glorfindel joined him, laughing softly as well.
“I am not too fond of them either,” admitted Erestor, still smiling, but then sobered. “How are you getting along with Elrond?”
Glorfindel grew quiet. “He intimidates me, and I feel guilty for—“
Erestor gave Glorfindel an understanding look. “Elrond has that effect on many, but once you get to know him you will realize he is a very caring and compassionate soul. And do not feel guilty for returning in Gil-galad’s place. The twins told me they are secretly relieved you were sent in his place.”
Glorfindel frowned. “And from judging your tone I assume you do not like Gil-galad either?”
“I met him when I fought at the Battle of the Last Alliance, and you are right, I never liked him.” Erestor leaned in a little closer and poured some tea for himself. “I found him egocentric, even slightly arrogant. For some reason that attracted Elrond, but he has changed during these last millennia. Gil-galad’s return would only have made Elrond miserable… eventually.”
“You seem very certain of yourself,” said Glorfindel, thoughtfully.
Erestor smiled, confidently. “I know Elrond better than he knows himself, but you had better not tell him that.”
The smile returned on Glorfindel’s face. “I like your company best.”
“Ah, but that is because you still have to get to know Elrond. Give it some time.”
“Why would I want to get to know him better?” Glorfindel sounded puzzled. “I do not plan on staying here any longer than necessary. I do not want to be a burden. I can take care of myself.”
“Are you that eager to leave Elrond’s rooms? I think they are rather luxurious. Mine are much more Spartan.” Erestor’s eyes sparkled.
Glorfindel didn’t know what to make of Erestor’s words. It felt like the dark haired advisor was saying one thing, but implying the other. “I felt comfortable in your rooms. In Elrond’s, I feel like an intruder.”
“You only just arrived from Mandos and you need to grow used to being alive again.” Erestor’s gaze traveled to the gardens and the Bruinen were the twins were swimming in the river. “Would you care to join me for a walk?”
Glorfindel really wanted to, but wasn’t sure he had regained enough of his strength. Elrond had needed to support him earlier.
Erestor read that doubt in the sparkling blue orbs and rose to his feet, extending his hand. “I will help you.”
Glorfindel gave in, mumbling, “I do not like feeling this weak.”
“It will pass,” said Erestor reassuringly. Glorfindel swayed when he finally got to his feet and Erestor quickly steadied him. “We will go slowly.”
“Where are we going then?” Glorfindel looked about, realizing they were leaving Elrond’s rooms and stepping into a deserted corridor.
“The Bruinen. Elladan and Elrohir will be delighted to see you on your feet.”
“You should not encourage them like that. I am a bad example.”
“Because you dealt with a Balrog and died in the process?” Erestor led Glorfindel out into the open and they turned into the direction of the river. “The Valar might have misjudged you.” Glorfindel froze against him and Erestor halted, puzzled.
“I do not dare judge the Valar and neither should you.”
/But they returned you to Arda and placed you in Elrond’s path. It looks to me like you have been given a second chance./ But he didn’t say those words aloud. Glorfindel would never believe him, not yet.
Glorfindel let Erestor’s remark go by; he was too focused on staying standing and to not stumble over his own two feet. Being able to walk again felt awkward.
They walked in a comfortable silence, and when they reached the river, Elladan and Elrohir came rushing toward them. Their faces revealed pleasant surprise.
“Glorfindel!” Elladan extended an arm and signaled for Erestor to let go, which the advisor did, entrusting his charge to the oldest twin. “The water is warm. Why don’t you join us?” Elladan and Elrohir still wore their leggings, knowing from personal experience that the sun would quickly dry the garments.
Glorfindel was tempted, but the robes would hinder him. “Maybe another time.”
Erestor exchanged a look with Elladan and pointed out a nice spot to the oldest twin. “Sit him down there.” Glorfindel shot him an annoyed look, which made Erestor smile.
They settled near an ash and Erestor removed his boots and socks, letting his feet dangle in the water. “You should try it too. It is very refreshing.”
Glorfindel now understood and immersed his feet in the cool water as well. “You are right. It feels divine.” He looked at the twins, who had returned to harassing each other and were now trying to push the other beneath the surface. A wrestling match was the result.
“Elladan and Elrohir are pleasant company,” said Erestor in a thoughtful tone. “They might be a bit young, compared to you, but what they lack in age they make up for in enthusiasm.”
Glorfindel made sure the twins couldn’t hear them when he said, “Elrond told me what happened to their mother.”
Erestor raised an eyebrow, surprised that Elrond already felt comfortable enough to entrust something that personal to Glorfindel. “It is true that Celebrian was hurt in body and soul and left for Valinor. Her departure hit Elrond and his children hard.”
“He also said that grief and loneliness drove him to calling out to Mandos. I must admit, I was surprised. He seemed very much in control when I talked to him this morning.”
Erestor inclined his head. “You have not seen his despair growing over these last few months. It started a year ago when Celebrian left. Elrond tends to keep everything inside, and when he finally gave in to it, he challenged Mandos.” Erestor carefully considered his next words, keeping a close eye on the blond. “He seems less depressed, less angry, since you arrived.”
Now it was Glorfindel’s turn to be surprised. “Since my arrival? I do not understand.”
Erestor moistened his lips. “You are light to his darkness.” Seeing Glorfindel’s dumbfounded expression he grinned wickedly. “You will understand eventually.”
Glorfindel doubted he would. “I am glad Elrond is feeling better, but I doubt it has anything to do with me.”
Erestor remained silent, letting Glorfindel believe he had made a valid point and deliberately changed their subject. “Your expertise as a warrior would benefit Imladris; maybe you should offer Elrond your services as advisor?”
“But that is your task. You are Elrond’s advisor.”
“But I know nothing about warfare. You do.”
“I thought you said you fought at the Battle of the Last Alliance,” said Glorfindel shrewdly.
Erestor’s eyes sparked with mirth. “I did, did I not?” Well, he had let that slip accidentally.
“What is it you want, Erestor?” Old instincts were quickly resurfacing. These games had also been played at Gondolin’s court.
“I merely wish for you to find your place in Elrond’s household and I think your experience is very valuable.” Erestor realized that Glorfindel was much more cunning that he had initially thought. “And I enjoy your company. I would like you to stay.”
Glorfindel knew Erestor hadn’t told him the complete truth, but felt too much at ease to question the raven-haired advisor farther. The truth was that he liked Imladris, Erestor, the twins and maybe even Elrond. “I will offer Elrond my services, though I am not sure how can I be of service in my current state. I cannot even walk unaided.”
“But that will change in time,” said Erestor reassuringly. “Look, Elrohir managed to pull Elladan under. Children…”
Glorfindel caught the caring and fond tone in Erestor’s voice and realized for the first time that the Elves of Imladris formed a tight family and that Erestor was part of it. /I want that too. I want a family as well./
Erestor sensed some of Glorfindel’s longing and smiled knowingly. “Elladan and Elrohir like you and even Elrond enjoys your company.” Seeing Glorfindel was about to protest that last statement, he said, “It might not seem that way to you, but remember, I know Elrond best.”
Glorfindel shook his head in amusement and swallowed his protest. “I will trust in your judgment, then.”
“Excellent,” said Erestor, pleased, but then squealed in protest when Elladan splashed him. “Elflings,” he grumbled, but instantly forgave the twin. The sun would quickly dry his robes. Looking up, he found Elrohir rising from the Bruinen and reaching for Glorfindel. “Look out!”
But his warning came too late. Elrohir grabbed Glorfindel’s waist and pulled the blond with him beneath the surface.
Glorfindel never knew what happened until he was soaking wet. Elrohir finally released him and Glorfindel quickly surfaced again, spitting out water and trying to catch his breath. Turning around, he was about to chide Elrohir for his behavior, but seeing the mirth on the twin’s face he couldn’t say the words that would ruin Elrohir’s good mood.
“Children, behave.” Elrond had watched them from his study and his heart had led him here, wanting to be with his family. “Glorfindel is still recovering and the water of the Bruinen will feel cold to him.”
Elrohir’s smile vanished at once and a repentant expression appeared on his face. “Sorry, Glorfindel. Please forgive me? I was not thinking… You looked so sad, and—“
“I put him up to it,” admitted Elladan in a guilty tone, lowering his gaze. “I am to blame, not Elrohir.”
“You are both to blame,” said Elrond in a stern tone. His gaze shifted to Glorfindel and his heart missed a beat. The blond looked like a drowned cat. Droplets of water dripped from the long, golden hair and the robes snugly hugged the blond’s body. The usually sapphire eyes now burned hotly. Elrond quickly cleared his throat, trying to ignore these unsettling feelings, hoping they would go away again. “And I will think of a suitable punishment.”
Erestor’s snickering echoed through the air and Elrond’s blazing eyes fixed on his advisor. He was trying hard to remain mad with his sons, but then Glorfindel’s angry expression broke and the blond started to laugh as well. Now it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a stern appearance.
Elladan and Elrohir pleadingly looked at their father. “Ada, we are sorry,” said Elladan. “And it was my fault to begin with.”
“Nay, I let you talk me into it.” Elrohir was determined to accept his part of the punishment. “It was just— Glorfindel looked so lost… so…” Elrohir couldn’t find the right words and shrugged his shoulders instead. “We wanted to cheer him up.”
Elrond sighed and shook his head in surrender. Erestor was still giggling and Glorfindel had started his way back onto safer grounds. Water dripped from his robes and Elrond was worried to see him shiver. Glorfindel was far from being healed and this stunt could set back his recovery. “Come with me. You need to change into dry robes.” Worried, Elrond ignored the cold and wet sensation when he folded an arm around the blond’s waist.
Elladan and Elrohir had lowered their gazes, feeling distinctly guilty. “We will make up for it.”
“Let me deal with them,” said Erestor, who had finally regained his composure. “You should look after Glorfindel. I will arrange for some suitable punishment for these two.”
Elrond looked over his shoulder and nodded once. “Deal with them.” Now he could fully concentrate on Glorfindel. “We will build a warm fire and remove these wet robes. I apologize for my sons.”
Glorfindel smiled in spite of the tremors that rocked his body. “Do not worry about it. They are Elflings and these pranks should be expected. I was worse when I had their age.”
Elrond raised an eyebrow. “Worse? Is that possible?”
Surprised at Elrond’s tone, Glorfindel rewarded the half-Elf with a blinding smile. “Trust me, it is. Maybe I will tell you what trouble I got myself into as an Elfling.”
“I would like to hear it.”
Glorfindel blushed weakly at hearing Elrond’s genuinely interested tone and found himself thinking that maybe Erestor was right. Erestor had described Elrond as a caring and compassionate soul, and he was beginning to think that the advisor might be right.
Beta read by Ilye, thanks!
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