“Elladan? I need your expertise and healing skills.” Glorfindel marched into the room, relieved to have easily located one of the twins. Elladan arched an eyebrow and the Elda grinned. The twins had certainly taken after Elrond. It was hard to find any traces of Celebrian’s features in Elladan’s face. “Will you come with me?”
Elladan looked up from identifying bundles of dried healing herbs and questioningly looked at his former tutor. “Did you hurt yourself during sparring?” That would surprise him though. Glorfindel had yet to be defeated in battle.
“No, but I… I hurt someone else… accidentally, I might add!” Glorfindel gave Elladan a pleading look. “I ran into our chief councilor, literally. I knocked him off his feet and it appears he took a bad fall. He is unable to move.”
Elladan sighed. “Why does it have to be Erestor? He is probably the worst possible patient one can imagine!” He wasn’t looking forward to attending to his former mentor, knowing how deadly Erestor’s glares could be. As long as he could remember, Erestor had never set foot inside the Healing House. But he couldn’t really deny Glorfindel. If Erestor really needed his help, he should comply. “Let me gather some herbs.”
Glorfindel nodded, impatiently tapping his foot. “He appeared to be in a great amount of pain and he said he could barely move.” Recalling the pained expression in Erestor’s eyes, he added, “I think his injury is graver than he wants me to believe.”
Elladan had gathered his herbs and bandages and placed everything inside a bag. Signaling for Glorfindel to lead the way, he asked, “I wonder how he will react upon seeing me. I doubt he will be pleased. Does he even know you are bringing me along?”
Glorfindel’s brow furrowed. “I did not leave him a choice. I told him I would either take him to the Healing House, or bring you to his rooms.”
“Don’t tell me you are actually worried about him!” teased Elladan. Erestor had been a just and well-versed teacher, but the elder Elf had always maintained an emotional distance. Neither Arwen, nor he and his brother, thought Erestor cold or distant. But there had always been an air of authority to Erestor, which had made it hard to create an effective bond between them.
Glorfindel gave Elladan an awkward grin. “I would never admit to being worried about Erestor.” But in reality he was. Erestor had never shown any pain or discomfort before and the fact that the chief advisor had moaned in pain unnerved him.
Opening the door to Erestor’s rooms, he walked over to the bed, finding that Erestor hadn’t moved at all. Dark hair obscured part of the advisor’s face, but he could still tell the other Elf was in pain, seeing the fingers claw at the blanket. “Erestor? I am back and I brought Elladan with me. Are you still awake?”
Lowering himself onto his heels, he gingerly brushed some dark strands of hair away from Erestor’s face. Finding the eyes open and alert, he pulled back his hand, under the impression that Erestor thought him to be trespassing. However, he was shocked to find his fingertips come away wet with warm blood. “You are bleeding,” said Glorfindel when realization set in. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Erestor glowered at him, but this time Glorfindel didn’t allow the advisor to mentally push him away.
“Why should I?” Erestor briefly closed his eyes, feeling slightly dizzy.
“Let me examine you,” said Elladan, realizing Erestor’s injury was more serious than he had thought. Seeing Erestor’s glare shift toward him, he acted quickly, knowing his former tutor’s stare might make him reconsider this examination. “Glorfindel, we need to roll him onto his stomach.” That way Erestor also couldn’t glare at him any longer.
Erestor knew he was at their mercy and gnashed his teeth when the two Elves slowly rolled him over. The pain was still present, but numbing slightly. Vexed that he couldn’t look at Elladan and Glorfindel any longer, he sighed, letting the half-Elf proceed with his examination. Hands, which were surprisingly gentle, swept his dark hair aside to probe the injury.
Elladan frowned, finding the wound still bleeding. “Can you tell me what happened, Erestor? I know that Glorfindel crashed into you, but…”
“I fell,” whispered Erestor into his pillow, his voice barely audible. “My head hit something hard and sharp… The side table, I think.” He winced when Elladan’s fingers probed deeper.
“Glorfindel? Fetch me some tepid water? I need to clean the wound.” Elladan selected some clean bandages and began to wipe away the excess blood. “Where does the pain originate from?”
“My neck… and lower back…” Erestor bit his bottom lip, smothering a whimper that threatened to leave his lips.
Glorfindel returned from the bathroom, carrying a bowl filled with tepid water, which he placed beside Elladan on the floor.
Elladan, who had carefully seated himself on the edge of the bed, soaked one of the bandages in the water and began to clean up the blood in earnest. “The wound is deep and the paralyses probably very frightening, but your natural healing ability should undo the damage in a few days. Until then, you will be in some considerable discomfort. I would like to move you to the Healing House.”
“No… I want to stay here,” whispered Erestor, cursing his inability to shoo them from his rooms.
“In that case, I suggest someone sits with you until you are able to walk again.” Elladan had finished cleaning the wound and considered his next action. “I want to remove your robes so I can properly examine your back.”
Erestor cursed privately, for that meant they would have to roll him onto his side or back again in order to undo the buttons. “Why don’t you cut the fabric away? I refuse to move!” He didn’t want to go through that rush of agony again!
Glorfindel’s eyes widened slightly, stunned to hear Erestor’s remark. “What?” Erestor wore luxurious robes of thick, warm velvet, which were lined with cloth of gold. “And ruin a perfectly good robe?”
“I don’t care!” sneered Erestor. “I am not moving onto my back again!”
Glorfindel finally understood, realizing moving about would add to Erestor’s pain. “I will be careful,” he said, removing his dagger. Leaning in closer, he slid the blade down the long back, cutting the robes in two. He stepped back, giving Elladan space to work with.
Elladan pushed the robes aside, revealing a pale, yet elegantly curved back. Letting his fingers explore the damaged area, he had to apologize several times, hearing Erestor hiss in pain. “There is some considerable swelling down your spine. You need to rest, Erestor. You have to stay in bed for the next few days.”
“I will rest,” forced Erestor from between clenched teeth. He would do anything to aid his recovery. Shivers suddenly erupted over his body, making him moan in discomfort.
“What is amiss?” Elladan placed his hand palm down on Erestor’s back, but stayed carefully away from his patient’s injuries. The elder Elf felt cold to the touch. “Ah, my father once told me that an Elf who is suffering from an injury is sensitive to the cold.” Wondering how to get Erestor warm permanently, he grinned at Glorfindel. “You caused his injury, you keep him warm.”
“I am not joining him in bed!” said Glorfindel firmly. “And you are the healer. *You* take care of him!”
“I would never allow you into my bed!” sneered Erestor frustrated. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone?
Elladan decided to ignore Erestor’s comment. “I am expected back in the Healing House,” he pointed out to Glorfindel. “You caused his injuries, you take care of him.” Finding that Erestor’s shivers were growing worse, he covered the injured Elf with warm blankets. Opening his bag filled with healing herbs, he began to squeeze the juice out of some leaves. Gently, he brushed the dark hair aside and massaged the liquid into the skin, working his way down the damaged spine. “Glorfindel, you could fill several water skins with hot water. That would keep him warm. However, that does mean you have to refill them regularly.”
“I prefer warm water skins in my bed to Glorfindel,” said Erestor, trying hard not to cry out at Elladan’s touch. The half-Elf was gentle and cautious, but he still hurt.
Glorfindel’s eyes narrowed, wondering why Erestor had said that. Normally he would be tempted to react in a similar way, but he refused to play along. Now that he was going to look after the chief advisor, he wanted to keep the hostility to a minimum. “Elladan, is there anything else I can do?”
“Why don’t you make sure those water skins are filled whilst I sit with Erestor in your absence? I do think someone should stay with him at all times.” Elladan also wanted a moment alone with his former tutor.
Glorfindel nodded once, determined to carry out Elladan’s instructions. If Erestor needed to get warm, he would see to it.
“Erestor? Glorfindel is gone. Will you now tell me in how much pain you are really in?” Elladan moved strands of hair until he had a clear view of Erestor’s face.
Erestor stared at Elladan, grateful the half-Elf had waited to ask him until the Elda had left. “The pain is fading slightly, but I still hurt… badly.” He would never have admitted it to someone else, but he had helped raise Elladan and he had always trusted the twins. “Why did you make Glorfindel look after me? You know I don’t like him.”
Elladan gently tucked the blankets around Erestor’s shoulders. “I can help you out of your robes, if you want me to.”
Erestor had to admit he would be more comfortable without them, but… “I am so cold.” Shivers traveled down his spine, adding to his discomfort.
“The hot water skins will help and we can cover you with as many blankets as you want.”
“Do it now? Before he gets back?” Erestor didn’t want Glorfindel to see him naked. It wasn’t due to modesty; he just didn’t know how he could bear the blond’s gaze when looking upon him whilst he was in such a vulnerable state.
Elladan drew in a deep breath, knowing it was essential he didn’t jostle Erestor at all. It took him several minutes, but in the end, the cut robes slid onto the floor. “What position are you most comfortable in? Back? On your stomach? Your side?”
“Stomach, definitely,” whispered Erestor, slightly breathless after being moved about so much. Once he was settled as comfortable as possible, he looked at Elladan from over his shoulder. “Can’t you stay instead of Glorfindel?”
“I really think he should be the one looking after you. Maybe it will teach him that you are not as cold and haughty as he thinks. The two of you need to reach some sort of truce after millennia of giving each the cold shoulder. Seriously, Erestor, I have no idea why the two of you dislike one another that much.”
Erestor knew why, but kept silent. He couldn’t tell Elladan that he was in love with Glorfindel – actually had been in love with the Elda for millennia. “He just irritates me, Elladan.”
“Ah, I knew it!” Glorfindel stood in the doorway, precariously balancing several water skins in his arms. “I knew you found me irritating!”
“Well, you are,” teased Elladan, knowing he had to prevent an escalation. “Now bring those water skins over here.”
Shooting Erestor an annoyed look, Glorfindel deposited the water skins on the floor. One by one, he handed them to Elladan, who slipped them beneath the blankets, making sure they rested close against his patient’s body. “Better?”
Erestor sighed blissfully. “Yes, thank you.”
Glorfindel felt unappreciated. “I arranged for them!”
“Well, Elladan didn’t leave you much choice, now did he?” Erestor was growing tired of making these spiteful remarks, but seemed unable to stop himself. He just wanted Glorfindel out of his rooms so Elladan would have to stay instead.
Elladan, realizing what was going on, rose from the bed, gathered what was left of his herbal supply and walked toward the doorway. “He is all yours now, Glorfindel.”
Groaning, Glorfindel looked at Erestor, finding a stubborn – yet tired – expression in the dark-haired Elf’s eyes. “In what way did I ever offend the Valar? Why me?”
Erestor, too tired to react, closed his eyes and drifted off into reverie now that the healing herbs were taking effect. His last thought was how scary it was to have Glorfindel loose in his rooms.
Elladan decided it was best to inform his father that Erestor couldn’t perform his duties for the next few days and headed for Elrond’s rooms. Not bothering to knock – he never did – he entered the room and quickly located his father, who was standing near the window, looking outside. “Erestor will be indisposed for the next few days.”
Elros, taken by surprise by this young Elf who had entered so abruptly, turned to ask whom the other was, as he couldn’t envision Elrond being comfortable with people entering without knocking first. But when he looked at Elladan, the words remained stuck in his throat. Elrond’s features
– and thus his own – were prominently present in this Elf’s face and made it easier for him to reach the right conclusion. He was looking at one of his brother’s sons. “Indisposed?” He had no idea what the younger half-Elf was talking about, but he wanted this conversation to continue.
Elladan nodded once. “Apparently he took a bad fall and he needs to rest for several days. If you need someone to help you with the correspondence I am sure Elrohir or Lindir will be more than happy to assist you.”
/Elrohir… So this is Elladan./ He had envisioned their first meeting differently, though. “And where is your brother now?” Elladan gave him a questioning look and he hoped that he hadn’t aroused his nephew’s suspicion.
“He is leading today’s border patrol, but he should be back in a few hours.” Elrond was usually sharp and knew these things. Looking closer, he wondered about the odd expression in his father’s eyes. “Did you rest enough, Ada? You look—“ Elladan failed to finish his sentence when another dark-haired Elf entered the bedroom. His eyes nearly bulged from their sockets, seeing double. “Ada?” he said, but he wasn’t sure whom he was addressing.
Elrond stifled a smile, seeing the stunned disbelief on his son’s face. “Elladan? May I present my brother to you? This is Elros, my twin.” He moved to stand beside Elros, possessively claiming his twin’s hand so he could rub his brother’s fingers. “The Valar returned him to me.”
“I need to sit down…” Elladan swallowed hard, stumbled over to a chair and collapsed on it. “Your what?”
“My twin brother,” explained Elrond patiently. “Believe me, I was as shocked as you are now when I found him standing in my study. But this really is my brother.”
Elros stayed calm, although it was hard, as he wanted to reassure Elladan that it was the truth, but he judged it better for his twin to do so. He squeezed Elrond’s fingers in return, hoping his twin would find a way to convince Elladan.
“Your brother? Your twin?” Elladan’s big eyes continued to stare at Elros. “But he died! You told us that he had chosen mortality and died centuries ago!”
“I know I did,” replied Elrond, “But Elros returned to me.” Sighing, he leaned against Elros for support. “Imagine you losing Elrohir and then finding he has been returned to you.”
“I cannot imagine such a thing.” Elladan didn’t *dare* imagine such a thing. “Are you really… Elros?” He studied the elder Elf’s face and found it impossible to identify any differences in appearance between them. That was why he had assumed Elros was his father when he had entered the room.
“Aye, I really am he. Manwe allowed me to return to Middle-Earth – to my twin to be exact – and I am eternally grateful for his gift.”
Staring at Elros, Elladan wondered about the fact that even their voices sounded identical. He pushed himself onto his feet again and advanced on the two elder Elves. “You are my uncle.”
“Yes, I reckon I am,” said Elros, smiling smugly. Slowly, he raised a hand and caressed Elladan’s face. “I see a lot of my brother in you, Elladan.”
Elladan actually blushed when he smiled. “I will take that as a compliment,” he said, giving his father a wink. “My, this could become embarrassing. I never realized how hard it is to keep identical twins apart.” To him, there were great differences between Elrohir and he, but looking at Elrond and Elros, he was hard pressed to tell them apart.
“I realize this must come as a shock to you,” said Elros, lowering his hand again. “It was a shock to me as well. I never expected to be allowed to return to Arda – to my brother.” Elros took a step away from Elladan, returning his personal space to the younger half-Elf.
“Manwe? Manwe was instrumental in returning you to my father?” Elladan easily identified the expression in his father’s eyes, which was one of utter bliss and happiness. He had never fully realized how much Elrond had suffered when losing his twin, but he was beginning to understand now. “I swear I cannot tell you apart!”
“We’ve heard that one before,” said Elrond and Elros simultaneously. Looking at each other, they smiled warmly.
Elladan had never seen anything like this before; it almost seemed Elrond and Elros were… fusing together. He simply didn’t know how else to phrase it. There was confidence there and a complete understanding of the other, which he had never managed with Elrohir. He even envied them for it for a tiny moment, but then his common sense took over. “I cannot wait for Elrohir and Arwen to meet you.”
“I am looking forward to meeting them as well,” said Elros, genuinely interested in getting to know his twin’s other children. Realizing that Elrond still had a tight hold on his hand, he raised the limb and cradled it against his chest, not giving the gesture any thought as it came natural to him.
Elladan smiled, seeing the way Elros cherished having Elrond close. It had been centuries since he had seen his father happy. When Celebrian had left, their whole world had fallen apart and he had even feared for his father’s sanity. He liked what he was seeing now – this tight connection between them. “Uncle, may I welcome you properly?” Elros raised an eyebrow in the same manner his father did, noticed Elladan, when he slowly embraced the elder half-Elf.
Elrond laughed softly, seeing the surprised look on his twin’s face.
“They are as affectionate as you are, Elrond,” whispered Elros softly, returning his twin’s smile. “This feels like coming home.”
“You are home,” said Elrond, unable to stand back. The moment his son released Elros, Elrond moved in to hug his brother, determined to keep his twin close until the end of Arda.
Standing back, Elladan watched them and slowly a frown formed on his face. But it wasn’t a frown revealing disapproval or worry, it was a frown that signaled his surprise, seeing the affection and oneness when they held each other close. And it made him wonder if there was more to them than met the eye.
Glorfindel was bored. Now that Elladan had ‘sentenced’ him to sitting with Erestor, he couldn’t really do much. His glance therefore wandered over to the books on the shelves, thinking he might read one of those just to keep him occupied. Erestor surely wouldn’t mind, would he?
Soundlessly, he left his chair and began to look through the books. Some, he immediately put away, as they were on politics and warfare and he wasn’t in the right mood for that. Then he happened upon one about Gondolin’s history and he sat down and began reading it. He was surprised at finding such a volume in Erestor’s private rooms. Elrond probably didn’t know it was in his chief advisor’s possession or the half-Elf would have found a way to ‘acquire’ it for his library.
Feelings of melancholy awoke in him as he read about Turgon and the downfall of Gondolin. He had been happy in Gondolin, surrounded by his family and friends and being together with his lover Ecthelion. He had lost everything when the city had fallen – not to mention he had lost his life, courtesy of one very pissed off Balrog.
Putting the book down on the side table, he closed his eyes, remembering his past. He had been Captain of his house – the House of the Golden Flower – and had commanded part of the King’s forces. He missed that time – the adventure and fun he had shared with Ecthelion and his other friends. Oh, he enjoyed living in Imladris and had found a new home with Elrond’s family, but he still felt lonely at times – even out of place.
Looking at the volume on the side table, he wondered how Erestor had managed to get his hands on it. This was valuable documentation, worthy of being archived in Elrond’s library. His gaze shifted to his charge, finding Erestor’s eyes alert. When had the dark-haired Elf woken up? “I hope you do not mind me reading one of your books, but I was bored.”
“I couldn’t care less about your ‘activities’, Glorfindel,” hissed Erestor from between clenched teeth. He hadn’t wanted to sneer at the blond, but his discomfort was not improving his mood. He was cold again, but refused to ask Glorfindel for help.
Glorfindel’s eyes narrowed, as he was about to make a spiteful remark in turn, but he held back and walked over to Erestor’s bed instead. “Are you still warm or is it time to refill the water skins?”
Erestor briefly considered ignoring Glorfindel, but realized how foolish that would be. “They need refilling. The water has grown cold.”
Glorfindel arched an eyebrow at that mellow and honest answer, which he hadn’t expected at all. Erestor was already buried beneath a pile of blankets, but the fabric did little to keep the dark-haired Elf warm now that his healing ability was using up most of his energy. What Erestor needed was body heat, but he had already told Elrohir that he wasn’t joining his charge in bed. That was where he drew the line! “I will refill them,” said Glorfindel, sliding his hands beneath the blankets to extract the water skins. Erestor tensed up when one of his fingers accidentally brushed the raven-haired Elf’s thigh. Obviously his charge didn’t like being touched and he quickly pulled back, taking most of the water skins with him. “I will be right back.”
“No need to hurry…” Erestor bit his bottom lip, wondering why he had said that. Right now, he depended on Glorfindel to take care of him and the blond was making an effort to be sociable, keeping back his usual comments. “I apologize. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“I wonder why you did,” said Glorfindel, thoughtfully, giving Erestor a probing look before leaving for the kitchens to fill the skins with hot water.
Glorfindel’s words left Erestor with a bad taste in his mouth. Since the Elda had accidentally ran into him, Glorfindel had done his best to help. The blond had even held back from returning spiteful remarks, so why was he still being mean to the warrior? /I cannot allow him to see my true feelings. It is best to keep him at a distance. But that doesn’t mean I cannot act politely toward him./
Knowing it would take Glorfindel several minutes to make his trip to the kitchen and back again, Erestor had time to think about his past actions. If only Glorfindel liked him a little bit, then they might have been friends. But the blond had rejected him many millennia ago, and what hurt most was that Glorfindel didn’t even seem to remember doing it. Or was Glorfindel just pretending he had forgotten? Erestor wasn’t sure what would hurt the most.
When Glorfindel eventually returned, he found Erestor brooding and avoiding his glance. It made him wonder what had happened during his absence. “Did the pain grow worse?”
This time, Erestor thought his reply through before answering the blond. “No, the pain is mostly gone. I just feel numb and cold.” He could tell that his answer pleased Glorfindel, as a smile slowly manifested on the Elda’s face. “I still cannot move much though.”
Glorfindel was pleased with Erestor’s sudden change in attitude – and grateful as well. “I will slip the water skins back in. These should warm you properly.” He kept a close eye on the hurting Elf and his smile broadened slightly, realizing Erestor wasn’t flinching away from him when his fingers accidentally brushed his leg. “I never knew you owned that many books about Gondolin.”
Erestor bit his bottom lip, reminding himself to act carefully. “I am a scholar as well as an advisor and thus I am interested in history and lore.” He couldn’t tell Glorfindel the truth; that he had lived in Gondolin and had loved the blond from afar, before and after the warrior had rejected him. That he still loved him in silence, always craving a kind word or touch, but knowing he wouldn’t get it. “I have many interests and Gondolin’s history is fascinating.”
Glorfindel was under the impression that Erestor was keeping something from him, but he didn’t push his charge. Once the water skins were in place again, he took a step away from the bed. “Are you a bit more comfortable and warmer now?”
“A bit.” But the warm skins couldn’t do away with the cold in his bones. What he really craved was lying in Glorfindel’s arms, pressing his body against the blond’s. But he couldn’t have it – ever. “I regret that you are stuck with nursing me back to health.”
“No, Elladan is right. I caused your injury so it is only fair that I take care of you.” Glorfindel returned to his seat, sat down and studied his charge. “Have you ever been in Gondolin, Erestor?”
Erestor briefly felt lost. He didn’t want to lie to Glorfindel, but telling the truth was dangerous. “Yes, I have seen her beauty.”
Glorfindel’s eyes flared with pleasure. “And you never told me? We could have reminisced about the beautiful city and her inhabitants!”
Erestor swallowed hard, realizing he had said too much. “I only visited there for a short while.” Which was a blatant lie; he had lived at Turgon’s court as the King’s advisor. “But we can talk about Gondolin when I feel better. I must admit to growing tired again.”
Glorfindel nodded in understanding. “’Tis a healing sleep and I should not keep you awake. We will talk some more later.” He was surprised to find that he enjoyed talking to the advisor, something he had thought impossible. But then again, Erestor’s demeanor had changed since his trip to the kitchen, which made looking after him much easier. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Elrond should know that I will be bedridden for the next few days,” mumbled Erestor, slowly slipping back into reverie.
“I think Elladan already took care of that.” Glorfindel hoped Erestor was comfortable and would sleep for the next few hours. It would greatly aid his recovery process. “Anything else?”
Erestor, whose carefully engendered caution was slipping due to his near sleep, whispered, “Yes… you… stay…”
Glorfindel’s eyes widened at hearing that admission. /Stay? He wants *me* to stay with him? Me?/ Frowning, he wondered what had made Erestor say that. Picking up his book again, he continued to read, regularly checking on his charge to make sure Erestor remained sound asleep.
Return to Archive | next | previous