Elrond had disentangled himself from Erestor, and whilst the advisor was sound asleep, he used the opportunity to indulge himself by taking a bath and slipping into clean robes. He was braiding his still-damp hair when he returned to Erestor’s side, who was finally waking up.
Erestor immediately located Elrond and smiled warmly at the half-Elf, whose healing energy had sped up his recovery. “Thank you for mending my jaw.”
Elrond sighed, blissfully, at hearing Erestor’s melodic voice again. “I could not bear to see you in such anguish.” Elrond cocked his head and studied Erestor’s eyes. Now that his friend was feeling better it was time to make his first move to seduce Erestor. Slowly raising his hand, he let his fingertips gently caress the long, dark tresses. Erestor tensed and Elrond regretted being so blind, never seeing the love hiding in those dark eyes. “Today I will also tend to your back. I have a soothing balm that will decrease the pain.”
Erestor nodded absentmindedly. He was very much aware of Elrond’s caress, and he wondered why the half-Elf was touching him in this gentle matter. The look in those sea-blue eyes confused him even more. For so many millennia he had hoped that this particular expression would be directed at him, and now that it was, he didn’t know what to do. “Elrond?” His voice trembled noticeably and his good hand shook whilst clawing at the sheets. He couldn’t see what he thought he was seeing in Elrond’s eyes!
Seeing realization dawn in Erestor’s eyes, Elrond bowed down and pressed a tentative kiss on the Elf’s lips. A baffled moan escaped Erestor’s throat and his eyes widened. Elrond smiled reassuringly, hoping Erestor would let him explain. “Erestor? Nearly losing you made me understand how much you mean to me.” He would execute his plan step by step, never giving Erestor a chance to push him away. “I plan on keeping you close as long as I live.”
Erestor stared at Elrond with a flabbergasted expression in his eyes. This couldn’t be happening! He was still asleep, dreaming, delusional maybe, but this couldn’t be really happening! It was impossible! But then Elrond’s lips descended onto his once more, delicately kissing him until the only thing he was capable of was moaning softly.
Feeling Erestor relax, Elrond let his tongue trace the inside of the advisor’s lips. The soft sounds of delight Erestor was emitting made him hard within seconds, showing him how much he craved the other Elf. Fingering a dark lock of Erestor’s hair, he maintained eye contact, making sure the Elf knew this was no reckless act. He wanted to kiss him! Hold him and never let go again!
“What are you doing?” murmured Erestor, completely taken by surprise. “Is this a dream? It must be.” His large eyes stared at Elrond pleadingly.
“This is no dream, melamin. And it is no hallucination either. I greatly desire to kiss you again and again and…” His voice trailed off when shock registered in Erestor’s dark eyes.
”I did tell you,” groaned Erestor, distressed. “I vowed I would never tell you. When…?" Unable to finish, he averted his eyes. “I never wanted you to find out.”
Elrond gently cradled Erestor’s face in his hands and forced the other Elf to reestablish eye contact. Once he had Erestor’s full attention, he said, “You told me after one of those beatings. Your memory might have deserted you in order to keep the worst pain from you. But you told me, melamin, and for that I am eternally grateful.”
“Grateful?” stuttered Erestor. He still couldn’t believe Elrond had kissed him earlier!
“Aye, grateful. Erestor, you have been in love with me for millennia and you never planned to tell me? Why?”
“I dared not,” whispered Erestor, upset. “First there was Gil-galad, and then Celebrian. Gil-galad was a king, Celebrian, the mother of your children. I do not compare to them. I have nothing to offer.” Erestor closed his eyes momentarily, fighting back his tears. “Please do not play with my feelings. I would rather you did not kiss me.”
Elrond, saddened by Erestor’s words, caressed the other’s hair. “Erestor? Look at me?” A moment later the dark eyes opened and reluctantly locked with his. “I am not playing with your feelings. On the contrary, I am sincere and serious when I say I love you.”
“You cannot love me,” insisted Erestor. Tears flowed down his face and dripped onto the satin sheets. “I am only your advisor. I am not special.”
“Oh, but you –are- special, Erestor. You are loyal, friendly, intelligent, cunning and beautiful, and you love me. What more could I ask for? You helped Celebrian and I raise our children, and after she left, you took over that parental role. Glorfindel, you and I raised them. I could not have done that without you. And for so many centuries you served me wisely with your advice. Erestor, don’t you know how much I need you? Love you? I only regret that it took those Orcs torturing you for me to realize that!” Erestor’s shocked stare made Elrond’s heart miss a beat. “Erestor? Melamin? I am serious. I love you!”
Erestor shook his head in disbelief. “You are saying this out of guilt and pity.”
Elrond’s eyes widened. “Why do you think that?”
Erestor bit his bottom lip nervously. “I endured the pain willingly, Elrond. You are not indebted to me.”
Elrond was growing frustrated, but managed to control his raging feelings, knowing Erestor was still recovering from the trauma he had been through. “Guilt and pity have nothing to do with my love for you.”
Erestor tiredly turned his head away from Elrond. “I want to go back to sleep. Can I have more of that sleeping potion?”
“No.” Elrond placed his hands on either side of Erestor’s head. “Erestor? Do not lock me out like you did these past millennia. I will not let you push me away.” The large brown eyes opened and this time he read hope and fear in them; an odd mixture. “Melamin, I am not saying this out of guilt, or because I feel sorry for you. The truth is that I took your presence for granted for much too long. Can we start anew?”
Erestor frowned. “Anew?”
“I want to court you, win your heart. Will you let me?” Elrond involuntarily held his breath, waiting for Erestor’s answer.
“Court me?” Stunned, Erestor stared questioningly at Elrond. “Why would you want to court me?”
“Because I want to prove my love to you.” Elrond released the breath he had been holding. “Please say yes. Please say you will accept me.”
At a loss, Erestor could only stare at the half-Elf. “I do not know what to say. This cannot be really happening. It must be a dream. You cannot love me.”
“But I do,” whispered Elrond, warmly. “And I will convince you that my love is real.” Seeing the tears gliding down Erestor’s face, he kissed the Elf’s eyelids. “Let me love you. You suffered in silence for much too long.”
Erestor’s eyes were gaining a vacant expression, as exhaustion got the better of him. “Sleep now. We will talk later. I am here to watch over you, melamin.” Elrond covered Erestor with warm blankets and gently wiped the tears from Erestor’s face. One tear remained sitting on his fingertip and he licked it from his skin, tasting salt and eternal regret.
Glorfindel had talked to Celeborn and was now convinced that the Lord of ‘Lorien was in control of everything.
“Thank you for staying with him,” he said, helping Elrohir free himself of Rumil’s octopus-like grip. The youngest twin eventually got to his feet.
Elladan managed to rise as well, barely escaping Rumil’s hands when the ‘Lorien Elf reached for him at feeling him leave.
“I will look after him. You are free to go.” Glorfindel sat down on the bed, rested his back against the pillows and was about to pull Rumil close when the silver-haired Elf beat him to it by snuggling up to him. Rumil wrapped his arms around Glorfindel’s waist and possessively held on to him. Glorfindel smiled adoringly at Rumil.
Elladan winked at Elrohir and they quickly left Glorfindel’s rooms. “Those two are in love,” said Elladan, pleased. “I have never seen Glorfindel this happy before.”
Elladan nodded his agreement. “Love is in the air. Let us hope Ada and Erestor sort out their feelings as well. Which reminds me, Ada is probably expecting me.”
“And I need to join the patrol. I will see you in the morning.” Elrohir hugged his brother tightly, squeezed Elladan’s shoulder, and then left for his rooms to change his clothes and gather his weapons.
Elladan sighed, wishing he could accompany his brother. Walking down the corridor, he headed for Elrond’s chambers.
Elladan found Erestor asleep, but when he looked at the vacant, dark eyes he thought he saw tears glimmer in them. Had something upset the injured Elf? “Ada?” Frowning, his gaze traveled from Erestor’s sleeping form to his father, sitting behind his desk, catching up with his correspondence. “What is wrong with Erestor?”
Elrond placed the quill on the desk and made eye contact with his oldest son. “I told him I loved him.”
“Then why does he look like he cried?” Elladan walked over to the desk and studied his father.
“He did not believe me when I told him I loved him. He thought it was a dream. I am not sure I managed to convince him I was sincere.” Elrond leaned back into the comfort of the chair. “The next time he wakes up I will prove my love to him.”
Elladan considered what he had just learned. “Erestor probably convinced himself that he would never have your love. And at the same time he is also still recovering from torture. It will take him some time to realize you are sincere.”
Elrond sighed deeply, knowing Elladan was right. “I hate to wake him, but we should make sure he eats something.”
“I will bring warm soup from the kitchen.” Elladan disappeared into the corridor.
Elrond wanted to tell him that Erestor’s jaw was healed, and that the advisor could also eat solid foods but Elladan was already gone. Well, soup would do as well.
Elrond rummaged through his supplies of balms, dried herbs and potions and selected the balm he needed to soothe the angry lashes on Erestor’s back. He also needed to check the bandages around the broken fingers. He would do that whilst Erestor was still asleep.
Carrying the balm with him, he placed the jar on the nightstand. Erestor was sleeping on his side, so he pushed down the covers and flinched, seeing the angry red marks the Uruk-Hai’s whip had left behind. After coating his fingertips with a thick layer of the balm, he gently smeared the substance onto Erestor’s back, simultaneously releasing small amounts of his healing energy. He regretted being unable to release more, but he was still recovering from mending Erestor’s jaw and had to restrict himself.
Erestor remained blissfully asleep whilst Elrond tended to his back. Wiping his fingers on a towel, Elrond walked onto the other side of the bed and knelt. Erestor’s injured hand lay palm upwards on the bed and Elrond carefully probed the injury with gentle touches.
The broken fingers needed time to set and he didn’t have enough healing energy left to aid the recovery. The fingernails also needed to grow back. That was a process he couldn’t speed up at all. “Your recovery will take time, melamin.”
“But I will heal eventually.”
Erestor’s voice took Elrond aback. “I did not realize you were awake.” Looking into the dark eyes, he still found traces of disbelief in them. Trying to do away with them, he placed a kiss on Erestor’s brow. “And I will be with you every step of the way.”
Erestor moistened his lips, still afraid to believe Elrond was seriously confessing his love. A part of him couldn’t believe Elrond was interested in him in that way. “I am scared, Elrond. I am afraid to believe you love me and then to find out it was just a dream or a cruel hallucination.”
“I understand it is hard for you to believe I love you, but I really do.” Elrond brushed back a stray lock from Erestor’s face. “Elladan will return shortly with some soup. Will you try to eat some? After that you can go back to sleep.” Elrond’s heart fluttered madly, seeing Erestor smile. “I missed your smile, melamin. I never realized how much you mean to me.”
Erestor raised his good hand and tentatively touched Elrond’s face. The half-Elf took Erestor’s hand in his, brought it to his lips, and pressed a kiss on its fingertips.
When Elladan returned with the soup, he found them like that, gazes locked intimately. He cleared his throat to announce his presence and then carried the tray with tea and soup over to the bed. “Ada? Erestor?”
Elrond nodded his head once. “Thank you, Elladan.”
Elladan stepped back, pulled up a chair and watched them, amused. Erestor was blushing, which was quite a sight, considering the battered state he was in. And Elrond seemed strangely nervous whenever he touched Erestor. /Interesting./
“I healed Erestor’s jaw,” said Elrond, noticing Elladan’s surprise when Erestor ate the soup. Elrond supported Erestor, who had managed to sit upright, whilst the injured Elf emptied the bowl.
“Good,” whispered Elladan, thoughtfully. Suddenly Erestor’s gaze met his and he smiled warmly, seeing uncertainty in the elder Elf’s eyes. “I hope the pain has lessened as well.”
Erestor’s eyes lost their tension at hearing Elladan’s words. The advisor hadn’t been sure the twins would accept his love for Elrond, but apparently one of them did. That was one thing less to worry about.
He finished the soup and glanced thankfully at Elrond when the half-Elf lowered him back onto his left side. The balm had unfolded its effect and his back felt numb now; the burning sensation had left. The only thing that continued to hurt was his broken fingers, but that pain was bearable.
“I also checked on Rumil,” said Elladan, trying to start up a conversation.
“How does he fare? Elrohir told me Rumil was doing better,” said Elrond, refilling the bowl with soup.
Erestor frowned; he had completely forgotten about the grieving Elf!
“Don’t you dare feel guilty for not thinking of him,” said Elrond, reading the guilty expression in Erestor’s eyes. “Concentrate on your own recovery and leave Rumil to Glorfindel.”
“Glorfindel?” whispered Erestor, surprised.
“Rumil has taken a definite liking to Glorfindel.” Elladan grinned, wickedly. “They are in love.”
Erestor coughed and Elrond raised an eyebrow inquisitively. “In love?” repeated Elrond, astonished. “Why was I not told earlier?”
“We just found out, Ada, but it is helping Rumil recover.” Elladan shrugged once. “They seem happy. Much like you are,” he added teasingly. He loved seeing Erestor blush again.
“Elladan?” Elrond stared at his son. “Why don’t you assist Celeborn? I am sure there are countless matters to attend to.” He knew his son didn’t mean to embarrass Erestor, but the injured Elf had tensed and he wanted Elladan out of here now that his son couldn’t behave.
“Ah, I am being dismissed then?” Elladan rose from the chair, inclined his head in goodbye and walked over to the doorway. “Erestor? I hope you will recover quickly -- and Ada? Good luck seducing him!” Elladan rushed into the corridor, hearing Elrond call after him, cursing his insolence.
“Seduce me?” Erestor’s big, dark eyes fastened on Elrond. “Seduce me?”
Elrond actually had the grace to blush. “Elladan misunderstood when I said I wanted to court you.”
But Erestor wasn’t so sure Elrond was telling him the truth. Elrond was planning to seduce him? Why? Elrond already possessed his heart! There was no need to court or seduce him!
Elrond locked eyes with Erestor. “You must understand. I panicked when you could not remember you had confided your love to me. I was afraid you would push me away again and I—“ Lost for words, Elrond lowered his eyes. “I was afraid I would lose you again.”
Erestor nearly choked on his emotions, which caused a lump in his throat. Determinedly, he grabbed Elrond’s hand and waited for the half-Elf to look at him. “Listen to me, Elrond. I am stronger than you think and I will never leave you. You might tire of me eventually, but—“
This time Elrond interrupted Erestor. “I will never tire of you!” The mere idea was absurd!
Erestor’s soft gaze met Elrond’s. “You may think that now, but you will change your mind later.”
”Never!” vowed Elrond, passionately. “How can you possibly think that?”
“I am no warrior, Elrond. I am not Gil-galad. I am your advisor, dull and colorless. Always in the background.”
“Aiya, Erestor!” Elrond leaned in closer and touched his forehead to Erestor’s, looking deeply into the other’s eyes. “I do not want you to be like Gil-galad! I want –you-! And you are not dull and colorless! You are cunning and brave!” Elrond paused momentarily before making his next statement. “And you won’t remain on the background much longer. From this moment on I want you at my side. I want everyone to know I love you!”
Erestor hated being this emotional and tried to fight back the tears forming in his eyes, but he failed. Once more they flowed down his face. “Why would you settle for me? You could do so much better.”
“You are the best and I want –you-!”
Erestor was at a loss for words. “You already have me, Elrond. My heart has been yours for millennia.”
“And I was too blind to see,” said Elrond, regretting past mistakes. Realizing this conversation had tired Erestor, he stroked back the long hair. “You should rest now.”
“Will you…” Erestor’s voice trailed off, embarrassed.
“Aye, I will stay with you. May I keep you company in bed?”
Erestor nodded, shyly. “Please.”
Elrond lifted the covers and laid down, facing Erestor. Cautiously, he wrapped one arm around his new lover. “Are you comfortable?” Erestor’s eyes possessed an enchanting quality which made it impossible for him to look away. “I never fully realized how beautiful you are.”
“Beautiful?” Erestor’s tone was bitter. “I am scarred for life.”
“Those scars will fade and your soul will heal. All you need is time and we have plenty of it. And the best thing is we will spend that time together.” Elrond sent carefully dosed amounts of energy into Erestor’s broken fingers, encouraging the bones and damaged tissue to heal faster. “You should get used to me helping you heal.” He had felt Erestor tense when the healing energy had entered his body. “It is who I am.”
Erestor closed his eyes in bliss as warmth moved through the broken bones. “It seems like such a waste to spend that valuable energy on me.” Hearing Elrond’s sharp intake of breath, his eyes opened and he realized that Elrond was staring at him disapprovingly.
“How can it be a waste? Erestor, at times I do not understand you!” Mentally he made a note to work on Erestor’s self confidence. What had happened that Erestor held himself in such low self esteem?
Erestor averted his eyes, unable to answer Elrond’s question. The dark feelings had seeped into his soul during long and lonely millennia. The only one he had ever wanted was Elrond and the half-Elf had never shown an interest in him. Over the years he had begun to feel worthless, and changing feelings which had grown stronger for centuries was hard.
Elrond sensed some of Erestor’s distress and self-doubt. Gently, he stroked soft skin beneath Erestor’s collar bone, which had remained untouched by the Uruk-Hai. “You are my best council, Erestor. You guided me wisely and you created Imladris with me. You designed the Last Homely House, making my dream come true. Whilst I am Imladris’ soul, you are her very heart.”
Speechless, Erestor stared at Elrond, slowly beginning to understand that the half-Elf was sincere and truly loved him. “I will try to be worthy of you and I will never betray the trust you place in me. I will—“
“Erestor, no more. Stop doubting yourself. I want you at my side. It has always been your place, but I was too blind to see. Without you, Imladris would never have existed. Without you, the twins would have been spoiled mercilessly by Celebrian and me and…” Elrond paused, searching for the right words. “Without you, I would not be the person I am today.”
Tears still flowed from Erestor’s eyes, but Elrond thought he saw a difference now. The expression in those dark, swimming eyes had changed. “I need to thank you for always being there for me, melamin.” The tears leaving Erestor’s eyes were tears of joy, now that the injured Elf finally realized the truth. “When I lost Gil-galad you supported me unconditionally and you could have easily made your move whilst I was vulnerable, but you did not. Later, when Celebrian left, you were there for me again and yet you never spoke of your love for me. I could not have made it without you.”
A shy smile appeared on Erestor’s face. “Do you really mean that?”
“Of course I do.” Elrond pulled Erestor as close as his injuries allowed and claimed the other Elf’s lips again. The kiss was tender and full of emotion.
The truth finally sunk in and Erestor tentatively returned the kiss.
Delighted, Elrond cradled Erestor close and held his precious charge all through the night.
Elrond relished holding Erestor in his arms during the night. At times, Erestor would groan softly and then snuggle up to him even closer. Erestor’s good hand had settled in Elrond’s long hair, clutching the strands tightly and thus restraining the Lord of Imladris, keeping him close.
“I am so sorry, melamin,” whispered Elrond in a remorseful tone. “I thought I loved Gil-galad, but it was nothing more than infatuation and the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that it was his power that attracted me. And Celebrian? I loved her because she is the mother of my children, but there never was any passion between us. With you things will be different -- already are different.” Afraid the sound of his voice would eventually wake Erestor, he grew silent again.
A noise coming from the doorway attracted his attention. Glorfindel, with behind him Rumil, stood in the doorway. The blond seemed uncertain whether he was welcome and hesitated to enter.
“Glorfindel, I was hoping you would drop by -- and Rumil, please stay as well.” Elrond watched them approach and noticed the way Rumil was holding onto Glorfindel’s hand, which was hidden behind his seneschal’s back. Elladan was right; those two were obviously in love.
“I had to see for myself that Erestor was recovering.” Glorfindel slowly approached the bed, pulling Rumil with him.
“His recovery will take several weeks”, Elrond informed the blond. “But he will make a full recovery eventually.” His gaze shifted from Glorfindel to Rumil. “And you seem to have greatly approved as well, Rumil.”
“I am getting better,” said Rumil, softly. He wasn’t sure what to make of this situation. Glorfindel had told him about Erestor being tortured by Orcs, but he hadn’t expected the dark-haired Elf to be in such a bad condition. The fact that Elrond, Master of Imladris, was holding Erestor this tightly told him there was much love between the two Elves and it brought a smile to his face. “Master Elrond, can I ask you something?” Glorfindel tensed in front of him and Rumil gave the blond a reassuring smile.
“Of course you can,” said Elrond patiently.
“Can I stay in Imladris? I do not wish to return to ‘Lorien now that my brothers are gone. I want to begin a new life here… if I may.” Rumil’s grip on Glorfindel’s hand tightened, needing the blond’s emotional support. When Glorfindel squeezed in return, Rumil smiled weakly, hoping Elrond would allow him to stay.
“You can stay in Imladris as long as you want,” said Elrond, smiling, pleased. “And Celeborn will be glad to hear you desire to stay here, for he won’t return to ‘Lorien for some time either.”
Glorfindel smiled once more at Rumil, and then took another step closer to the bed. Erestor’s face looked battered and bruised and the Elf’s stare still held traces of the suffering he had endured. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“You can return later and sit with him while I take care of all formal matters. He will enjoy your company, and Rumil’s,” added Elrond, realizing the two of them would be inseparable for some time.
“Then I will return later,” said Glorfindel, pleased that Erestor was doing better. He was surprised when Rumil didn’t move along with him when he headed for the door. “Rumil?”
“Master Elrond?” Rumil hesitantly made eye contact with the half-Elf. “Thank you for pulling me back from the Halls of Waiting. When I first woke I wish you had not, but now I am glad you did.”
“Because of Glorfindel,” said Elrond knowingly.
“Aye, I love him.” Rumil blushed weakly. “I hope you approve. I do not want him to get into trouble because I am in love with him.”
Glorfindel drew in a deep breath, looking at Elrond. “I return his feelings, but we have decided to take this slowly. I do not want to rush this whilst Rumil is still mourning.”
“A very wise decision,” Elrond complimented them. “Take all the time you need, and know that you will always have a home here in Imladris.” His gaze came to rest on Glorfindel. “You are like a brother to me, my friend. We have been through difficult times, but we also share more pleasurable memories and I hope you will find happiness with Rumil.” Looking at Rumil, he continued, “Celeborn looks upon you as a son and therefore I will do the same. You belong to this family, and I hope you will be happy with Glorfindel.”
Rumil’s blush had deepened during Elrond’s speech. “Thank you for your kind words, my lord.”
“My name is Elrond.”
Rumil nodded. “Thank you, Elrond. Knowing you accept me is important to me.”
Seeing the fatigue on Rumil’s face, Elrond addressed Glorfindel. “Take Rumil back to your rooms and make sure he rests.”
Glorfindel pulled Rumil along until they reached the doorway. When he looked at Elrond over his shoulder, his eyes were filled with gratitude.
Elrond smiled warmly, nodded once and then concentrated on his charge again, suddenly looking into dark eyes, which were very much aware of their surroundings. “Awake again, melamin?”
“Their voices woke me.”
“You should be asleep, resting.” Elrond gave in to temptation and caressed Erestor’s face, relieved to see that his healing energy was working. Several of the bruises were fading. “If feels so good to hold you in my arms. It is right where you belong.”
A hesitant, shy smile appeared on Erestor’s face. He was finally allowing himself to believe that Elrond loved him and would never desert him. “Elrond? I have loved you for so many millennia…” His voice failed him, and he swallowed hard.
“Do not be afraid to believe in our love,” said Elrond encouragingly. He teasingly placed a kiss on the tip of Erestor’s nose. “Now go back to sleep.”
Erestor gave in to sleep willingly, knowing he would dream of Elrond.
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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