Title: Erestor of Imladris
Author: Morgana email@example.com
Pairing: Glorfindel / Erestor
Summary: Erestor and Glorfindel stay with the twins who made the choice to be mortal until their dying day. Standing at their funeral pyres, Erestor makes a startling admission, which leaves Glorfindel completely shocked. Now that the twins have died, Erestor is finally free to admit the truth and mourn the family he never had. Now, the time has come for Erestor to make his own choice.
Disclaimer: These characters are all Tolkien’s.
Warning: AU, character death (Elladan, Arwen and Elrohir) Angst?
Author’s Note: This story is completely AU. I had to give Erestor a different background for this story to work.
Erestor of Imladris
Heartbroken, Glorfindel listened to the soft web of melody and words that Erestor’s magical voice wove around the dying twins, making their passing much more peaceful. Never before had Erestor raised his voice in song like that. Never before had he seen such emotion on the dark-haired Elf’s features. Not *once* had he heard such pain in the beautiful voice and it saddened him, that he – a great and fabled warrior – could do nothing to stop this pain, for the twins had made their choices many decades ago. They had chosen mortality, never revealing their reasons for doing so.
Maybe Erestor knew, though. Glorfindel had seen the three of them grow close toward the end and he had found comfort in the fact that Erestor had managed to ease their pain.
The calming song stopped abruptly and a keening wail left Erestor’s lips. Glorfindel was pulled away from his trance and he quickly moved forward until he could slip his long and strong arms around Erestor’s trembling frame. The dark-haired Elf was kneeling at the twins’ feet, who had snuggled up on a chair together, holding each other tightly. One look at the twins told him that their spirits had gone and that they had left for whatever place Eru Ilúvatar had designated for the souls of Man to dwell.
Erestor shook in his arms and the dark-haired Elf released tears of bitter pain. Glorfindel wondered if his friend was even aware of his presence. Rocking Erestor gently, he began to whisper soothingly. He had seen the lights in the twins’ eyes die slowly during these last few days and he had known that death would come quickly for them now, but what he hadn’t foreseen was the effect their deaths would have on Erestor.
He cast a quick look at Elrohir’s face. The eyes had closed and a smile, revealing peace of mind, had settled on the features in death. Looking at Elladan, Glorfindel found a similar emotion on the other twin’s face. They had made their choices and had never regretted them.
“They have found peace now,” he whispered into Erestor’s right ear. “Let them go.” His friend, and former Chief Advisor to Elrond, had surprised him these last few years. It had started when Erestor had announced his decision not to sail for Aman, which had shocked Elrond, but the half-Elf had had no choice but accept Erestor’s decision. Then, Erestor had moved to Minas Tirith, spending many years with Arwen and Estel, whilst Glorfindel had remained with the twins.
Erestor had stayed with Arwen long after Estel had died and he had been the one to close her eyes in death. Only then had the dark-haired Elf returned to Imladris to spend every waking moment with the twins, making Glorfindel even feel left out at times. But all that seemed so irrelevant now as they were seated at the twins’ feet. “They made their choices, and they brought them serenity.”
But Erestor began to shake harder in his arms, sobbing brokenly, and Glorfindel judged the time had come for him to take charge of this situation. For the first time in his life Erestor needed him to be the strong one now that the raven-haired Elf was overcome with grief. Glorfindel gently slid his arms beneath Erestor’s knees and back and lifted him slowly in his strong arms.
Erestor’s pitiful whimpers almost made him reconsider, but in the end, Glorfindel carried him out of the twins’ rooms and headed for his bedroom instead. “They have found peace in death, Erestor. We should not disturb their rest.” Hearing Erestor’s sob almost broke his heart in turn, but knowing Erestor needed him made him push away his own pain so he could be there for his friend.
With one hand he pushed down the door handle and he then carried Erestor into his own rooms. He tenderly deposited his charge on the bed and slid into place behind the weeping Elf. His arms tightly encircled the trembling waist and he pulled Erestor close. “Weep and mourn their passing, though the twins would not want you to. Elrohir and Elladan died the way they wanted; holding each other and whilst having us close.”
Erestor whimpered softly and that sound brought tears to Glorfindel’s eyes. “Oh, Erestor, we knew this day would come!” Grief overwhelmed him and he released his own tears. Together, they wept and clung to each other.
Arwen, Elrohir and Elladan, Elrond’s beautiful children were no more.
Ithil stood high in the sky when Glorfindel finally awoke from a dreamless and restless sleep. Erestor was still in his arms and must have wept himself to sleep, exhausting himself. The twins’ demise had shaken them harder than he had expected. The two ancient Elves had had a long time to make peace with the twins’ choices, and he had been under the impression that Erestor had accepted their mortality as well, but maybe he had been wrong.
Nuzzling Erestor’s neck, he deeply inhaled the salty scent that surrounded the dark-haired Elf. /I wish I knew how to comfort you properly. But is there even a way to soothe you?/ Pain, regret, and grief demanded their own time and wouldn’t be rushed into healing.
These last few decades had been hard on them – Erestor especially. At least Glorfindel had been spared witnessing Arwen and Estel’s demise, but Erestor had been there, had stood at Arwen’s side after her husband had died. It was Erestor who had held Arwen’s hand on her death bed, lending all the support he could to Eldarion, who had openly cried when losing his mother. Erestor had seen more pain and grief than Glorfindel had and the dark-haired Elf had never let them down, had always been there for them to lean on. Now it seemed that Erestor needed a strong shoulder to cry on in turn, and Glorfindel was determined to be there for his friend. Weren’t they alone in Imladris now, still beautiful in her neglected state? Who else was there to offer Erestor comfort? No one, except for him, that was.
Glorfindel hummed a lullaby softly, which he had picked up from Erestor himself, who had softly sung it to the children. But never had that voice possessed such an unearthly beauty as it had when singing to the dying twins.
As he was facing the window, Glorfindel stared at the star-lit sky. Surprised, he noticed the shower of falling stars, which descended directly onto the Last Homely House. “Maybe it is Eärendil, coming for his grandsons to finally take them home.”
“I like that idea,” whispered Erestor, voice uneven with barely concealed emotions.
Glorfindel’s eyes widened, slightly, at hearing Erestor’s voice unexpectedly. “I thought you were still asleep.”
“Your voice woke me.” Erestor shifted closer to Glorfindel, relishing the warmth that surrounded him. “It is beautiful.” One star made its way toward them, almost touched the balcony and then exploded with light in front of their window.
Glorfindel tucked Erestor’s head firmly beneath his chin and continued the gentle rocking, surprised that Erestor allowed this. “I truly believe they are at peace now, my friend. We should let them go and not cling to their memory.”
“But memories are all I have now,” whispered Erestor in obvious pain before closing his eyes and locking out Glorfindel, the stars, and the deaths that had shaken his world. “And I need to cling to them or else I will lose my sanity.”
Glorfindel frowned at that, but didn’t question Erestor, who was weeping once more, and allowed his friend to mourn the terrible loss. In the meantime, he would be the strong one so Erestor could lean on.
/Glorfindel says they found peace in death, but how can I believe that? I know what motivated their choices and I should have been the one to talk some sense into them. But I did not, knowing they were entitled to making their own choices. If only I had known back then the pain their choices would bring for me, I might have tried to change their mind./
Erestor had woken just before dawn and now stared at the mirror, which allowed him to catch a glimpse of the rising sun. Arien’s reflections were radiant and seemed to mock the loss he had suffered that night. He had lost them all. Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir were gone now.
/What keeps me here now? I should join them in death./ But then Glorfindel was moving about, pulling him closer and the blond’s soft exhale of breath caressed his skin. /He will sail for Aman./ Glorfindel would leave Imladris now that the Peredhil he had helped raise had gone. /I do not want to dwell here alone…/
“Erestor? Are you awake?”
Glorfindel’s voice pulled him away from his thoughts and Erestor whispered, “Aye, I am awake, but I do not want to be.” Shortly, he would have to face the twins again and he would be confronted with the loss again.
“I will erect the pyre,” offered Glorfindel, truly believing that Erestor would want to be the one to see to the dead twins this last time. “Will you keep vigil with them until sunset?” The twins would be placed on the pyre then and be freed of their earthly bodies.
“I will,” said Erestor, swallowing convulsively. He could do this for the twins.
“Turn toward me? Please look at me?”
Erestor allowed Glorfindel to slowly roll him onto his back and then onto his right side until he was face to face with the blond. He closed his eyes, as tears threatened to spill from them once more.
“You are allowed to mourn,” said Glorfindel, softly, “You need not hide your pain for me, for I share your grief.”
/Nay, you do not,/ thought Erestor, saddened. /You cannot
possibly know what their deaths mean to
Glorfindel raised an eyebrow. “We are both hurting, my friend.”
Erestor moistened his lips, feeling nervous. “I ought to leave your bed and sit with the twins,” he swallowed hard, “for this very last time.”
“I won’t let you ago just yet. Look at me, Erestor, open your eyes. There is no reason to lock me out.”
Erestor’s eyes fluttered open and fastened on Glorfindel’s cerulean ones, clearly seeing pain and hurt there. They were already hurting and he was only making it worse by shutting the blond out. /But he does not understand my pain!/ And how could Glorfindel? The blond didn’t know the truth – only Erestor did... and Celebrían. “I can deal with this,” he said, finally realizing what his friend needed to hear. “I can do this for them – for you.” Unexpectedly, Glorfindel’s lips brushed his brow and Erestor’s breath caught at the sweet sensation, which seemed so undeserved, so out of place in the midst of his grief.
“I will join you after I finish their pyre,” said Glorfindel, reassuringly. “You are not alone in this. We shall support each other.”
Erestor nodded once, no longer seeking to avoid eye-contact. They would be there for each other in their darkest hour.
Erestor worked in silence. He had undressed Elrohir, bathed him, and had dressed him again in his finest robes. Tenderly, he had combed and braided the twin’s hair. His self-discipline had kept him going, but when he pulled Elladan toward him, the façade shattered and tears appeared in his eyes. His lips moved instinctively, singing the lullaby Glorfindel had hummed that night. He still recalled with startling vividness singing it to the twins, and later to Arwen. They had been such sweet babies and had always fallen asleep during that lullaby.
Now the three half-Elves slept their eternal slumber of death and were beyond his reach. He had lost Arwen first, beautiful and strong Arwen, who had given up her immortality to be with the love of her life. And although Estel had lived long, mortality had claimed him in the end, leaving her behind in sorrow and pain. He had stayed at her side – and her son’s – and had done his best to comfort them. But Arwen’s heart had been broken and never healed again. She had died shortly after her husband, leaving Eldarion alone.
/She was still so beautiful to my eyes, even grown old with age, but then again, she always was. She died much too young. She should have sailed with Elrond to Aman, but her love for Estel was too strong./ In the early days of Arwen and Estel’s love he had cursed the Dunedin for winning her heart, but even he’d had to admit defeat when they wed in Minas Tirith. And yes, her life had been happy after she had made her choice. But her death had been heart-wrenchingly bitter.
And now he was attending to the twins – in their death. Tears continued to leak from his eyes as he took care of Elladan, bathing him and dressing him in his favorite robes. He placed them on the bed and arranged their arms so they were holding each other. Oh, their lives had been tragic ones! More tragic than even Elrond knew! Hugging his waist, he shook with sobs, allowing his anguish a way out.
“Erestor?” Glorfindel had silently entered the room, not wanting to disturb Erestor, but seeing the dark-haired Elf’s pain made him reach out and he folded his arms around the other Elf’s waist. A lump of fierce emotions formed in his throat, looking at the twins now. “They merely seem asleep, holding each other as they did in their living days.”
Erestor stared hard at the twins, blaming himself for their deaths. “I should have done something! I should have talked to them! Should have been able to change their minds!”
Glorfindel immediately soothed him. “This was their choice, never yours.”
Erestor shook his head, firmly. “You do not understand! How could you! You do not know…”
“I do not know *what*?” Glorfindel tried to catch a glimpse of Erestor’s face, but the other Elf hid behind a curtain of raven hair.
“Did you finish building their pyre?” asked Erestor in a choked voice. He didn’t want to see them burn! But this was their way!
“I did… and the sun is setting. We should move them now.” Glorfindel no longer tried to hold back his tears, letting them flow freely. “Which twin do you want to carry?” Erestor finally looked at him with an unspeakable pain in the brown eyes. “Erestor?”
“I will carry Elladan, as he was the first born of the two.” Erestor gently disentangled the twins’ arms and pulled Elladan close to his chest. The twin was surprisingly light in his arms. Calling upon his inner strength, he left the room and descended the stairs, softly mumbling words of comfort to the dead twin.
Glorfindel gently lifted Elrohir in his arms, remembering a time when he had carried the twin to his cradle, delighted at finding the baby’s tiny hands reach for one of his fingers. That had happened a life time ago. Why? Why had they chosen mortality?
It took every ounce of his self-discipline to follow Erestor down the stairs and onto the courtyard. Arien was about to set and Ithil was already climbing the darkening sky. The pyre in the middle of the courtyard already awaited the dead.
Erestor climbed the pyre first and placed Elladan on the branches. “Farewell, my sweet one. May Eru Ilúvatar watch over you. You made me proud in life, but you broke my heart in death. May your death bring you redemption and understanding. I loved you so much.”
Hearing those words surprised Glorfindel, but he didn’t remark on them, placing Elrohir next to Elladan. He then stepped back, instinctively knowing Erestor needed this personal space to say his final goodbyes. His heart thundered with pain, seeing Erestor move the twins closer to each other until they rested in each other’s arms.
“Goodbye, my lovely Elrohir. I loved you and your siblings with my entire being, and having to say goodbye to you is killing me. I already feel dead inside. It won’t be long before I will join you.”
Erestor’s words startled Glorfindel and alarmed him. Did Erestor plan on taking his own life? He had to act now! Stepping up closer to Erestor, he folded an arm around the dark-haired Elf. “Come with me.” He began guiding Erestor down the pyre, but the other Elf struggled and managed to break free. Afraid for Erestor’s sanity, he followed his friend, but stopped dead in his tracks, seeing Erestor kneel and kiss the twins’ brows.
“Goodbye, my sons…”
Glorfindel’s confusion mounted, but this was not the time to explore this matter and he gently, but firmly, pulled Erestor back to his feet and he guided his friend away from the pyre. Erestor remained silent, and Glorfindel reacted to that by tightening his hold on his friend.
Standing at the foot of the pyre, Glorfindel reached for the burning torch, somehow sensing that it should be Erestor lighting the funeral pyre. Soft, swimming, brown eyes met his when Erestor accepted the torch.
“I do not want to see them burn,” whispered Erestor, waveringly, “They are beautiful, even in death.”
“Set them free, Erestor. Let them go.” Wrapping his fingers around the ones holding the torch, he guided the fire closer toward the pyre until the first branches caught fire. Erestor unexpectedly collapsed against him and the torch slipped from the shaky fingers. Glorfindel quickly placed the torch aside where it couldn’t do any harm and went down on his knees beside Erestor, who was shaking himself to pieces. Folding strong arms around the hurting Elf, he lent his friend all the strength Erestor needed.
Erestor lifted swimming eyes and watched the twins burn. Watched the flames devour their bodies until only ashes remained. “I cannot believe they are gone.”
“Neither can I,” admitted Glorfindel in a raw voice.
Erestor’s grief overwhelmed him and he screamed his pain into the dark night. The last thing he remembered before losing consciousness was Glorfindel’s arms catching him, and that golden voice trying to calm him. Then, only darkness remained.
Tiny, chubby feet trampled on his stomach, whilst eager, little fingers reached for a lock of his hair. Erestor smiled, brilliantly, and caught Elladan when the baby lost his balance and tumbled toward him. “He ought to become a scholar,” he said teasingly, “he lacks proper balance!”
“He is only a baby,” replied Glorfindel, good-naturedly. He made funny faces at Elrohir, who was chasing the end of his belt with his short fingers. The fabric eluded him and Elrohir’s eyes widened, alarming the blond. “Erestor, quickly! Help!”
Erestor immediately spotted the danger, grabbed Elrohir’s favorite stuffed animal, which happened to be a turtle, and quickly pushed it into the baby’s arms. Elrohir never got a chance to squeal his displeasure at failing to capture the end of the belt and wrapped his arms around the sea turtle instead.
“Thank you,” said Glorfindel, sighing in relief. Elrohir was only four years old, but already well- known for his temper tantrums. He prayed to the Valar that these tantrums would disappear in time. “How did we get stuck watching them in the first place? Remind me?”
“It is Elrond’s begetting day,” replied Erestor, amused to see Elladan trying to get to his feet again and he steadied the baby, who was learning to take his first steps these days. “And Celebrían wanted to spend some time with her husband.”
Glorfindel nodded and concentrated on his charge again. “I had almost given up hope that she would conceive, you know.” Elrond and Celebrían had been trying for decades, and yet her womb had remained empty. In the end, Glorfindel had been afraid that his dear friends would remain childless, but then Celebrían had come running to them one day, announcing her pregnancy. She had been radiant with happiness and fulfillment. Elrond had pronounced she had made him the happiest Elf alive and had declared his love once more.
Erestor managed to hide his own fierce emotions and pretended not to have heard. “The twins are adorable. How can you mind watching them?”
“Hum…This one is drooling on my tunic.” Glorfindel pointed a warning finger at Elrohir. “Stop drooling on me. Drool on your turtle instead.” But Elrohir had different ideas and began to climb Glorfindel’s leg, heading toward the blond’s knee. Once he had attained his goal, he chirped and swung his sea turtle at Glorfindel.
“Now that one *does* have the makings of a warrior,” chuckled Erestor, delighted when Glorfindel had to duck in order not to be hit. “Truly excellent aim!”
Glorfindel grumbled his displeasure. “Let us hope Elrond and Celebrían are not planning to have more children. These two are already a handful!” Erestor’s gaze darkened briefly, which puzzled Glorfindel, but he contributed Erestor’s reaction to the many sleepless nights they had suffered as the twins tended to be active at night as well. On those nights, Elrond and Celebrían would call on them to help. Erestor more often than Glorfindel.
“I hope so as well,” whispered Erestor, barely audible. His heart felt heavy, but the burden lifted momentarily as Elladan stumbled over his own two feet. The baby reached for him and managed to wrap his short arms around his neck in an awkward hug. “I love you too,” whispered Erestor, noticing his words drew a chuckle from Glorfindel.
“Definitely a future scholar!” remarked Glorfindel, teasingly, just before noticing Elrohir was still drooling on his tunic. “Oh no!”
“Erestor? Erestor? I am sorry to wake you, but…”
Glorfindel’s voice, raw with sorrow, pulled Erestor from his happy dream and his eyes blinked with loss, realizing he would never hold any of the children in his arms again.
“I took you back to my rooms after you fainted,” explained Glorfindel, carefully monitoring Erestor’s reactions, which seemed sluggish and slow at best.
Erestor pushed himself up onto his elbows and then rested his back against the pillows, which Glorfindel had placed against the headboard. Aye, he was in the blond’s rooms again, safely tucked beneath a warm blanket. Glorfindel sat on the side of the bed with a worrisome expression in his eyes. “What happened?”
Glorfindel delicately licked his lips, hoping Erestor hadn’t forgotten. “The twins…”
Erestor’s eyes closed hastily, hoping to conceal his raging emotions from his friend. He turned his face away from Glorfindel and wished he was dead as well.
“Your reactions worry me,” confessed Glorfindel, moving closer to his charge. “My heart bleeds for them, but you seem affected on a deeper level.”
/How very true,/ thought Erestor, /if only you knew…/ But Glorfindel didn’t.
“Is there anything I can do to ease your pain?” Glorfindel recalled Erestor calling the twins ‘my sons’ and he was curious to find out why the other Elf had done that, but doubted this was the right moment to question his friend.
“Nay, but thank you for your kind offer.” Erestor forced his eyes open and looked at Glorfindel. “Would you leave me alone now? I would like to mourn them privately.”
Glorfindel softly bit his bottom lip in frustration. “Are you certain you want to be alone?”
“Aye, I am… Please, Glorfindel.” Erestor was about to cave in and he didn’t want Glorfindel to witness his emotional breakdown. The warrior had his own pain to deal with and didn’t need more misery adding to his burden.
“I will take my leave then,” announced Glorfindel, “But… I want you to know that you can come to me if you need company.” He was about to rise from the bed, when he stalled for a moment, pulling something into Erestor’s view.
Erestor’s heart almost burst, seeing the sea turtle, which had been Elrohir’s favorite toy during his childhood. Glorfindel’s big hands tenderly rubbed the fabric and Erestor reached for it, frantically taking hold of those hands and pulling them toward him.
Glorfindel reacted instinctively; he inched closer to Erestor, pressed the stuffed animal into his friends’ hands and then wrapped his arms around the raven-haired Elf. Erestor no longer requested he should leave and he was content holding and rocking the crying Elf. /I do not understand why you are hurting in this way, but I will find out./
Glorfindel was forced to leave briefly to make certain that the fire had died. The pyre was now nothing but ashes, a sad reminder of what had happened here only a few hours ago. Erestor and he were truly alone now.
/I already miss them./ Elrohir and Elladan had become a part of them during these last few decades. The four of them had seldom been apart. The twins had become more immobile over the years, old age making their bones brittle and they had taken to snuggling up to each other in the Hall of Fire in front of the luxurious fireplace that spoke of happier times. Their once raven hair had turned gray with locks of pure white and their once perfect faces had born wrinkles, deep lines etched onto their brows. At times, Glorfindel had been thankful that Elrond had left for Aman, not having to bear this burden as well. Watching the twins grow old had been hard on him – and on Erestor as well.
But once the twins had made their choices there had been no way back and when Elrond had asked him to stay with Elladan and Elrohir until after their deaths, he had said yes, honored that his friend would pick him to watch over his children.
Glorfindel’s shoulders slumped, recalling the defeated expression on Elrond’s face the day the Elf-Lord had said his goodbyes to his sons. He had already said goodbye to Arwen in Minas Tirith, but what had really broken the Elf-Lord had been leaving his sons – his heirs -- behind as well. Elrond had been emotionally devastated upon his departure to the Havens.
And now only Erestor and he remained. What would become of them? /We should obtain a boat and sail for Aman./ They would always be welcome there and maybe their hurts would heal in the Undying Lands. Aye, he would suggest sailing for Aman to Erestor the next time they spoke.
Erestor… The twins’ deaths had affected the raven-haired Elf much harder than he had expected. But then again, they had known Elrond’s children from the moment they had been born. No, even before that, as Celebrían had allowed them to feel them kick. Now that Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir were gone, Glorfindel felt ancient – felt like he had lived too long and had seen too much. Maybe there was some sort of comfort in death, but he didn’t want that kind of comfort.
/Oh, Erestor, please accept that I am here for you…/
Erestor had moved to one of the chairs in front of the window and had taken to staring outside. The first flakes of snow descended onto the valley, announcing an early winter. When Elrond had still resided here winter had always been brief, but since Vilya no longer protected Imladris the winters had become much colder, longer and harder. /But this will be the last winter I will witness./
Although he didn’t feel the cold – yet – he had snuggled up beneath a warm blanket made of furs, which he had found at the foot end of Glorfindel’s bed. For a moment he had contemplated returning to his own rooms, but had then dismissed that idea. He could be miserable here as well.
He was grateful that Glorfindel had left, giving him a moment of privacy. Beneath the blanket, he hugged Elrohir’s sea turtle close, wishing he knew of a way to travel back in time and to hold the Elfling once more. His head rested against the comfort of the chair and he stared at the white layer of snow now slowly covering Imladris. He had been happy here – relatively happy.
“You do not look well,” said Glorfindel upon entering his chambers. He advanced on his friend and pulled a chair close so he could sit beside Erestor. “Why do you not share your burden with me?”
“You have no idea what you are asking for,” replied Erestor in a saddened voice.
“Then enlighten me.” Glorfindel moved closer still until he could look into Erestor’s eyes, which were hooded with sadness. “It is just the two of us here. There is no one else you can turn to for comfort and I want to be there for you.”
Erestor smiled, sorrowfully. “You always were my best friend, Glorfindel.”
Glorfindel blushed, weakly. “Then honor our friendship, Erestor. Do not lock me out. I am hurting too. They were as sons to me.” Glorfindel noticed the way Erestor’s eyes darkened and how pale his friend became at hearing those words. “I mean it. I loved them. All three of them!”
“I know you did,” whispered Erestor, remembering much happier times.
“Step out of Arwen’s dress this instant!” Glorfindel was at wit’s end. “Why would you want to wear your sister’s dress in the first place?” Shaking his head, he stared at Elladan, who had somehow succeeded in slipping into Arwen’s dress, which was way too small for him. To make things even worse, Elladan had also managed to fall headfirst into the Bruinen and was now dragging the fabric behind him.
Elladan pleadingly looked at his tutor. “Elrohir dared me!”
“You should know better than to let your brother trick you into doing these things!” A few days ago Elrohir had dared Elladan to put knots into their father’s hair whilst Elrond had been asleep. Upon wakening, the Elf-Lord had found his hair tied to the bed post. Elrond had not been amused, but Celebrían had calmed him.
“But…” Elladan shuffled his feet nervously and then sneezed – hard.
Glorfindel threw his arms toward the heavens. “By the Valar, do not tell me you caught a cold!” He recalled that one time when Elrond had had one. The half-Elf’s temper had flared and everyone had avoided dealing with the Elf-Lord until the fever had gone down. “Really, you should know better than…” Glorfindel didn’t get the chance to finish his sentence as a worried-looking Erestor dashed into the corridor.
“Did he sneeze? Does he have a cold? Glorfindel! Why is he still in those wet clothes?” Erestor pointed a finger at the blond. “Do I have to remind you of how much we suffered when Elrond contracted that cold? Do you want history to repeat itself?”
“Then you take care of him!” Glorfindel pushed the wet, still dripping Elfling toward the Chief Advisor.
“I will! And I want you to keep Elrond and Elrohir at a safe distance. Make certain that they do not come near Elladan!”
Glorfindel glared at Erestor. “It was your turn to watch them!”
“I was watching Elrohir! I had no idea Elladan was up to something. And why am I still talking to you? I should be taking care of this one instead! Elladan, come with me.” He took hold of the Elfling’s shaky hand, and as he looked at Elladan’s face, misery was written all over it. “First we need to get you out of those clothes and into a warm bed. You will stay with me for now.” After giving Glorfindel a last, stinging glare, he scooped the Elfling up in his arms and carried Elladan to his rooms.
Glorfindel burst out laughing, but then sobered, wishing Erestor the best of luck tending to Elladan whilst the little one was fighting his first cold. And then there was Elrohir, who needed to learn that he couldn’t manipulate his twin like that.
“I know you loved all three of them. You loved them enough to lecture them when it was necessary,” said Erestor, fondly.
“Well, Elrond was prejudiced where his offspring was concerned,” admitted Glorfindel, grinning cheekily, “All three of them could easily wrap their father around their little finger. Elrond adored them.”
“Do you remember that time when Elrohir dared Elladan to wear one of Arwen’s dresses? You lectured Elrohir, whilst Elrond merely worried about Elladan’s health.” Erestor smiled, dotingly.
“The children enriched our lives,” said Glorfindel, eventually, his right hand snaking beneath the furs in search of a counterpart. A weak smile surfaced on his face, encountering the sea turtle. “That always was Elrohir’s favorite toy.”
Erestor nodded. “It was a good way of keeping him calm and happy.” Elladan had never cared much for toys and had followed Glorfindel around the moment the Elfling could walk unaided. He had also been the first to ride a horse – with Glorfindel holding him tightly, of course. “And now they are gone from Arda.”
“I wanted to talk to you about that,” said Glorfindel, reckoning the moment had come to address their future. “We need to find a boat that can take us to Aman now that our time here has come to an end.” To his surprise, Erestor firmly shook his head. “What?”
“I am not leaving for the Undying Lands. I wish to stay here.” Determinedly, Erestor met Glorfindel’s eyes. “My time has come, but you… You should sail for Aman and join Elrond and Celebrían.” He could never sail for Aman, but couldn’t divulge the real reason for that to the blond. “I will stay here.”
Glorfindel’s eyes widened drastically. “But… But you will be all alone here! Why would you choose that fate?”
Holding onto the stuffed animal in his arms, Erestor managed a weak smile. “I have nothing left to live for now that they are gone.”
“But…” Glorfindel stammered, too shocked to form coherent sentences.
“I will stay here and fade.” Erestor smiled, warmly, “I have lived long enough, Glorfindel. It should end here.”
“Why?” Glorfindel’s mouth had gone awfully dry. “We have been friends for millennia and I thought I knew you!”
“You do not know me at all, Glorfindel,” admitted Erestor, saddened, “And it is best that way.”
“I cannot accept your answer, Erestor. You are obviously not thinking logically and still affected by the twins’ deaths so I will take charge and act in your benefit. When I find that ship, you *will* sail with me. I refuse to leave you behind here to fade!”
“To die, actually,” said Erestor, correcting himself, “I won’t fade. I will die a mortal death.”
Glorfindel stared at his friend in shock. “What? But?”
“You never knew I was half-Elven, did you?” A sad smile appeared on Erestor’s face. “Aye, I am half-Elven, and I postponed my choice long enough. It is time I reached a decision.”
“Half-Elven? But…” This didn’t make any sense! Recalling the time when Elladan had contracted that cold, he said, “But you… You never caught that chill!”
“I did, but you never knew as I locked Elladan and myself up in my room for a week. We recovered and then emerged again.” Erestor smiled, lost in happy memories. “I had him to myself for one week, and it did not matter to me that we were coughing our lungs out.”
“This makes no sense!” Glorfindel rose and pushed back his chair. “Erestor…” A growl lay hidden beneath the begging tone in his voice.
But Erestor realized he had already revealed too much. He had to be careful now. “Glorfindel, sail for Aman and tell Elrond and Celebrían that the children died peacefully and leave me here.”
“Nay! I won’t do that! Never!” Glorfindel angrily marched toward the doorway. He needed to put some distance between them as he was seriously tempted to shake some sense into the other Elf. “You won’t stay behind!”
Erestor’s eyes shone with compassion and understanding, recalling his own reaction upon hearing the twins’ decision to become mortal. He had raged as well, had denied hearing the words and had stormed out of the room. “I am half-Elven, Glorfindel, and I choose to be mortal. I will never sail for Aman. I will join them in death.”
Glorfindel was about to spin around and talk some sense into the other Elf, but then he saw the pain and anguish in the brown eyes, and seeing that made him change his mind. He would handle things diplomatically, allowing Erestor to believe he had succeeded in convincing him. But when the time was right, he would act. “We will discuss this later.”
“Glorfindel, this is not up for discussion. I made up my mind and you will have to accept that.” The sapphire eyes suddenly burned with an unholy fire, which made Erestor push back in his chair, squirming.
“Are you telling me that I will be called upon to set fire to your remains as well? Isn’t it enough that I lost Arwen? The twins? And now you are telling me that I have to go through that whole process of loss and pain again and watch you die? Nay! Never! I have had enough!”
Glorfindel forgot about handling this in a diplomatic way and exploded with emotion. He stalked back over to Erestor, placed his hands on either side of the trembling Elf on the armrest, and yelled, “I am *not* going to lose you too! I do not care if you are half-Elven, and why you chose to hide that fact from me your entire life! You will not choose mortality and you will sail with me! Do you understand? I cannot lose you too! Don’t you know I love you?” Tears erupted from his burning eyes and he went down on his knees in front of Erestor, who stared at him in obvious shock. “Please do not make me watch you die.”
Erestor had expected a whole range of emotions and reactions, but not quite these. Freeing one hand from the blanket, he placed it on Glorfindel’s head and stroked the golden hair. A moment later, Glorfindel inched closer and rested his head in Erestor’s lap, practically begging for the caress to continue and Erestor obliged him. “I am sorry if I have hurt you, but you must understand. I cannot stay here when they are all dead.”
“Then come to Aman with me! We do not have to stay here!” Glorfindel slowly turned his face toward Erestor, looking up, trustingly. “Please.”
But Erestor shook his head. “I can never sail for Aman, Glorfindel.”
“Why?” Glorfindel relished feeling Erestor’s fingers moving through his hair. “Why can you not sail? What keeps you here then?”
“Nothing keeps me here,” whispered Erestor, wondering why he was opening up to Glorfindel when he had already revealed too much. “But I can never face Elrond and Celebrían again.”
Glorfindel raised his head and captured Erestor’s hand in his, rubbing the knuckles. “Why is that? And why did you keep the fact that you are half-Elven from me?”
Erestor sighed, deeply, realizing Glorfindel deserved to know the truth. “Do you really want to know the answers to those questions? Even if some of them will cause you to look at me in disgust?”
“Disgust?” Frowning, Glorfindel shook his head. “I will never look upon you in disgust.”
Glorfindel’s earlier admission now returned to Erestor. “Because you love me?”
“Aye, because I love you.” Glorfindel suckled his bottom lip. It hadn’t been his intention for Erestor to find out, knowing the dark-haired Elf didn’t love him back.
“I never knew you did,” said Erestor, musing. Surprised, he found that their fingers had twined and that Glorfindel’s hold on him was becoming stronger. “Go to the kitchens, fetch some wine and return here. I will tell you everything you want to know and then you will let me go. You will allow me to make my choice.”
“I cannot promise you that I will do that. I do not want to live without you.”
Erestor, ruefully, said, “You will have changed your mind once you know everything. Now go and fetch wine.” Seeing Glorfindel’s sudden worried expression, he added, “I vow to still be here upon your return. I won’t run.”
Glorfindel slowly got to his feet, still reluctant to release Erestor’s hand. “I know you are an Elf of honor and that you will be true to your word. I will return here within minutes.” Eager to learn more of the one he loved, Glorfindel raced for the kitchens.
Now that the blond was gone, Erestor closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. What had possessed him to agree to this? He didn’t want to see disgust aimed at him in Glorfindel’s azure eyes, but the blond deserved to know why he had chosen mortality, no matter how much pain telling his tale would bring him. He would join his children in death shortly at any rate.
Glorfindel was pleasantly surprised upon his return to his rooms. He had expected Erestor to be still huddled beneath the blanket, but the dark-haired Elf had left his chair and had built a fire in the fire place. He had also moved pillows and the blanket of fur and had made himself comfortable. The eyes were still red-rimmed though and his body shook with emotion.
Glorfindel placed the carafe with wine on the floor, poured their glasses and handed one to Erestor before sitting down next to the other Elf. /Nah, half-Elf,/ he thought, correcting himself. It was strange to think Erestor as half-Elven.
Erestor accepted the wine and sipped slowly. The liquid warmed him from the inside and his trembling lessened significantly. “Thank you, I needed that.”
Glorfindel sipped his own wine and continued to study Erestor. “Who are you?” He had never pried on Erestor’s heritage before but now he found himself wondering.
Erestor smiled, sorrowfully, at Glorfindel. “My father’s name was Beren and my mother Lúthien. I daresay you know those names.”
“They are legendary!” Glorfindel sat up straight, searching Erestor’s eyes. “But I never knew they had a second child! I only knew of Dior!” Why had he never inquired after Erestor’s parents before? But then again, the dark-haired half-Elf had never volunteered any information either.
“Dior was my elder brother,” admitted Erestor, staring into the dancing flames as his mind traveled back in time. “I was born thirty-five years after Dior’s birth, in the same year that my father died.” Erestor’s eyes took on a distant expression. “I never knew my father, Glorfindel. I never knew Beren.”
Glorfindel swallowed hard in order to rid himself of his emotions. “I am sorry.”
But Erestor forced himself to continue and not to give into his emotions. “My mother died a few days after giving birth to me. My grand-mother, Melian, came for me and told me that my mother would have loved me, had her mind not gone insane with grief for her dead husband. Melian took me to live with Dior in Tol Galen. It was decided to keep my identity a secret to everyone except my close relatives. Fëanor’s sons were already searching for the Silmaril and they didn’t want to expose me to that threat. I grew up in Lanthir Lamar and was relatively happy there. I missed my parents terribly, but my brother, his wife and my grandmother loved me instead.”
Glorfindel didn’t want to interrupt, but had to know. “Did you ever set eyes on the Silmaril?”
“Aye, I did. It was magnificent,” replied Erestor, smiling saddened, “but I would have rather have set eyes on my parents just once.”
“So that is why you are half-Elven. I never knew – never suspected…” Glorfindel poured them more wine – and the Valar knew they needed it to pull them through this conversation. “What happened next?”
“We traveled to Doriath and the
Glorfindel reached out and stroked Erestor’s raven hair away from the pale face so he could look into the swimming eyes. “I am so sorry… I never knew…”
”I never told you… The only ones at this court who knew the truth were Elrond and Celebrían.” Erestor closed his eyes and savored feeling Glorfindel’s fingers move through his hair. It was a gentle and reassuring caress. “I need to finish this whilst I still have the courage.”
“Then go on.” At the same time, Glorfindel scooted closer until he was near enough to enfold Erestor in an embrace, and pulled the willing half-Elf against him. “I was smuggled to the Isle of Balar where I remained for quite some time. Almost two centuries passed by and I saw Gil-galad gather his warriors there and prepare for the upcoming war. That is also where I met Elrond and Elros. I knew of Elwing’s tragic fate and I also knew her sons had survived, but I had never thought I would actually meet them. Elros however, did not stay for long, but Elrond remained and friendship formed between us. It seemed I had finally found my place in life and I fought alongside Gil-galad and Elrond. I saw Sauron destroy the High-King and after the war I followed Elrond to Imladris.”
“You are much older than I thought,” admitted Glorfindel, surprised. Nuzzling Erestor’s hair, he said, “Why did you never mention any of this to me before?”
“Why should I?” Erestor couldn’t help it and leaned heavily against Glorfindel for support.
“And why would I loathe you? Nothing you told me gives me reason to look upon you in disgust.”
“That is because you only know half of my tale.” Erestor suddenly tried to free himself of Glorfindel’s embrace, but the blond warrior wouldn’t let him. “That was the easy part to tell.”
“Trust me, nothing you tell me will make me loathe you.” Glorfindel loosened his hold just enough to pour Erestor wine and to hand him the glass. “Sip, it will give you strength and courage, which you obviously need.”
“Is it that obvious?” Erestor began to tremble again and the wine almost sloshed over the rim. He quickly emptied the glass, wondering why he was even considering confiding in Glorfindel. “I should not tell you this. I swore an oath that I never would.”
“And who demanded that oath?” Glorfindel placed the glass back on the floor, before it could drop from Erestor’s unsteady fingers.