By Any Means Necessary
A suffocating darkness engulfed him.
Suddenly, Erestor wondered if linking with Thranduil had been a wise thing to do. But he hadn’t felt like he had a choice. After the Sinda had fallen into nightmares Thranduil had thrashed in his arms, calling out for Legolas and sobbing softly. But the younger Elf was not here; Legolas was on his way to Imladris, and couldn’t help his father now that the Shadow devoured Thranduil’s heart.
Erestor had reacted instinctively, diving into the Sinda’s mind and creating a solid link through which he could send part of his life energy to aid the troubled Elf. Holding Thranduil tightly in his arms, he rested his brow against the Sindarin Elf’s. He stared deeply into the vacant emerald eyes and found that the Shadow had even penetrated the irises.
“Draw from my strength,” Erestor whispered determinedly, hoping Thranduil had heard him, and could sense his presence. It was important that the Sindarin Elf didn’t give in, and Erestor lent the blond all the energy he could spare.
The night dragged on and seemed never-ending. During many hours Erestor soothed Thranduil whenever the Sinda shook violently. His concern for the other Elf’s well-being increased when Thranduil’s eyes closed and his charge stopped breathing.
“Nay, I cannot lose you! I promised Legolas I would watch over you.” And even more important, “We cannot lose you to the Shadow. Once Mirkwood falls, other realms will follow!”
Acting the only way he knew how, Erestor determinedly placed his lips over Thranduil’s and sent his breath into the other’s lungs, hoping it would bring the King back to him. The moment felt incredibly intimate and that instant a bond was formed. His life energy pulled Thranduil back from the brink, denying the Halls of Waiting their newest inhabitant.
“I won’t let you fall into Shadow. Breathe! Breathe for me!”
Thranduil unexpectedly surged in his arms, struggling to sit upright. The Sinda drew in precious air as his lungs began to function once more.
“Too close,” Erestor whispered shaken. He had come too close to losing Thranduil. He had managed to keep the Sindarin Elf alive tonight, but what would happen once Ithil rose again?
Concentrating hard, he closed his eyes and reached out to soothe any distressing wrinkles in Thranduil’s mind, ensuring the blond’s sleep would be undisturbed for the remainder of the night. The other Elf’s mind felt like quicksand, moving constantly and trapping him, and at its edges he sensed the presence of evil. Even now, the darkness refused to fully release Thranduil!
But they had won for now. Thranduil had been reclaimed and the Sinda now settled comfortably in his arms, pressing even closer. Erestor instinctively tightened his hold on his charge. /How much longer can Thranduil resist? How long before they pull him under? How many more times can I pull him back from the brink?/
He needed to far-speak with Elrond, and tell the half-Elf how grave the situation had become. But right now he lacked the energy to do so. Supporting Thranduil through the night had drained him.
Curling around his charge, Erestor caressed the long hair that had once possessed a golden glow, but was gray. “Elrond and I will find a way to deal with the Shadow,” he whispered, hoping that he could keep Thranduil alive until Elrond had found a solution to their problem.
When Arien rose in the sky and the first beams gently touched their heads, Erestor gave in to exhaustion and followed Thranduil into a peaceful sleep.
Thranduil blinked sleepily. Last night’s nightmares had been bad, but he had managed to fight them off more easily than usual. He had felt stronger, and better equipped to deal with the shadowy images and slithery voice. He had even managed to get some decent sleep once Arien had risen and now that he was awake, he didn’t feel as disorientated as he normally would.
Shifting slightly, he swiftly realized that there was someone in bed with him. Focusing his stare, he groaned softly, identifying Erestor. What was a Noldorin Elf doing in his bed? Hadn’t he confined Erestor to his quarters, or had he been imagining things? These days he wasn’t sure what was real and what was a dream.
Due to Erestor’s tight hold, he could barely move and was forced to watch the dark-haired Elf sleep. He could call for the guards, he belatedly realized, but dark circles had formed beneath Erestor’s eyes overnight and he didn’t want to wake the other Elf just yet. If his suspicions were true, Erestor had helped him last night. That would certainly explain why he had warded off the darkness more easily.
/Why did you aid me?/ He had never expected such support from a Noldorin Elf. But then again, he knew he was prejudiced because of the way Gil-galad had treated him when he had desired Elrond. It wasn’t fair to judge the Noldor because one Elf had mistreated him.
He sighed; Erestor was quickly forcing him to adjust his thinking. /You *are* much like Elrond. I was right about that./ When he had first met Elrond he had instantly been attracted to the half-Elf, recognizing a compassionate heart when he saw one. But Gil-galad had made his claim known and he had been forced to back off.
And now he found himself in the arms of a Noldorin Elf. Taking his time, he studied the sleeping advisor. Erestor’s long, raven hair had fanned out over the pillow and the ends tickled his skin. The Elf’s long legs were wrapped around his, making sure he couldn’t leave. Erestor’s arms were possessively folded around his waist. Large, brown eyes were filled with sleep and exhaustion. He would have been blind not to notice the other’s beauty, which easily matched Erestor’s dedication.
/As you said before, you do not answer to me. You do not have to support me, help me, and yet you do./ He didn’t understand Erestor’s motives.
Focused on Erestor as he was, he suddenly sensed something peculiar. A tendril of Erestor’s mind was still linked with his. He gasped, realizing he had been right. Erestor had shared his mind with him last night, lending him the strength he had needed to fight off the Shadow.
/But why is the link still in place?/ Erestor should have retreated by now. Instead, he still felt the other’s presence in his mind. Concerned for the dark-haired Elf’s welfare, he tried to push Erestor from his mind, but failed. Shocked, he realized that a solid connection had formed between them during the night. /Nay, I cannot drag him into death with me. Erestor, what did you do?/
Did Erestor know what had happened? That a steady connection had formed between them? He had to put as much distance between them as possible. Maybe then the link would fade. But his instincts told him that Erestor wouldn’t be chased away that easily.
/If necessary I will have him banished from Mirkwood./ He had to act in Erestor’s best interest. But first he had to wait for the Noldorin Elf to wake up.
Lindir was worried when Erestor didn’t return in the morning. He paced furiously, wondering if he should take action -- and what sort of action. He couldn’t simply march into the royal chambers to check on Erestor. And he couldn’t ask Legolas for help either, as the younger Elf had left for Imladris.
Sighing deeply, he came to a standstill. The only thing he could do was to wait for Erestor to return.
Erestor felt drained when he finally woke up. Last night had been exhausting and he sighed, fatigued, wishing he felt more rested. Was this how Thranduil felt each morning after battling the Shadow? Fully waking up, his eyes regained their sparkle, and he stared into Thranduil’s emerald ones. The blond was extremely close and the warm body in his arms felt incredibly welcome.
“Good morning, Sire,” Erestor said teasingly. He couldn’t help feel relieved, seeing the somewhat puzzled expression in the other’s eyes, for it meant Thranduil was alert again.
“I reckon you know that what you did was utterly stupid?”
Thranduil’s words puzzled him. “Would you tell me what you are referring to?” It was still early and he was too tired to play games.
Neither of them pulled away, but clung to the other, not even realizing the need to remain close.
Thranduil considered the Elf in front of him and then drew in a deep breath. “Why did you reach out to me last night?”
“You needed the support, my strength. I felt the darkness reach for you and I had to do something. You even stopped breathing at one point.” Erestor suddenly felt shy, realizing he had kissed Thranduil, sending his breath into the other’s lungs. “You came close to passing into the Halls of Waiting and I couldn’t let that happen.”
Thranduil carefully considered everything he had just learned. If Erestor was being honest - and he had no reason to doubt the other’s words - then a Noldorin Elf had saved his life. “In that case I thank you for reaching out to me.” Erestor’s closeness made him lower his guard and he mumbled, “I cannot leave Arda yet. I do not want Legolas to suffer the same fate. I must stay alive until the evil is defeated.”
Erestor suddenly realized that Thranduil didn’t yet know about Elrond’s summons. He had to tread carefully now. “The Ring of Power has resurfaced.”
Thranduil closed his eyes momentarily. “I know. At night it whispers to me.”
Moistening his lips, Erestor continued. “The Ringbearer is on his way to Imladris and Elrond decreed that a council is to be held. He asked Legolas to attend.”
“Legolas…” Thranduil sighed distressed. “I assume he is now on his way to Imladris?” His son was his own master; he had never been able to forbid Legolas anything.
“You do not oppose Legolas answering Elrond’s summons?” Erestor continued to wonder about the Sindarin Elf. Thranduil was a mystery to him.
“Look at the state I am in,” hissed Thranduil sharply. “Do you really think I am powerful enough to control anything? I am ruled by circumstances! All I can do is try to survive!”
Erestor suddenly grew very much aware of the warm body in his arms. Thranduil hadn’t moved away from him and allowed the embrace, which surprised him. But then again, maybe the Sinda needed the physical contact to reassure him that he wasn’t alone. “You must continue to fight. Evil cannot be allowed to win.”
Suddenly Thranduil’s eyes seemed to fill with unshed tears. “I do not know how much longer I can resist.” He drew in another deep breath to calm himself. “I almost succumbed to evil last night… but I cannot continue to draw energy from you. I would drag you into the Halls of Waiting with me!”
“Do not worry about that,” said Erestor soothingly. “I will make sure you won’t pull me along.”
“Oh, I will make sure of that! I won’t allow you close again! And what do you think you are doing holding me like this?!” Thranduil, realizing Erestor would offer him as much strength as needed, pulled away from the Noldorin Elf. He refused to be the reason of Erestor’s death. “I want you to leave now.”
Thranduil’s furious reaction totally surprised him. “Again, Sire, I am not bound to honor your commands.” Erestor grinned smugly, but allowed Thranduil to move out of his arms. “You can order your guards to take me away, but I will return tonight.” Erestor watched Thranduil closely as the blond failed to push himself to his feet. “Stay in bed. You need the rest.” He reached out and pulled Thranduil down again.
Protesting loudly, Thranduil had no other choice but to give in. What was it about Erestor that comforted him? He disliked all Noldorin Elves, had even hated them at one point, but now he found he was beginning to enjoy Erestor’s closeness. “Do you ever obey an order?”
“I obey Elrond’s… but only when they suit me best,” chuckled Erestor. Although his arms weren’t around Thranduil’s waist any longer, the Sinda settled close again, watching him. “I am not one to follow orders.”
Thranduil actually chuckled. “I had gathered that much.” Smiling, he continued to observe the raven-haired Elf. “But you expect me to carry out your orders.”
“Aye, I do,” replied Erestor smugly, “because I know what is best for you. I am chief advisor for a very good reason.”
“You are arrogant,” chuckled Thranduil. To his surprise he found that he enjoyed their banter.
“*You* are calling *me* arrogant? You are the one who has built a reputation of being haughty and unapproachable.”
Thranduil stopped protesting, knowing Erestor would win in the end - and strangely enough this was one battle that he didn’t want to win. “Do you ever do as you are told?”
“Sometimes.” Erestor stretched and enjoyed the sensation as Arien’s warm beams caressed his face. Thranduil was also immersed in liquid sunlight and for one moment they experienced peace of mind. There was an almost enchanting quality in the air. “Are you cross with me for venturing into your mind?”
“I had told you not to,” said Thranduil thoughtfully, feeling stronger now that Arien warmed him. “But I am glad you did. Or else the Shadow would be reaching for Legolas right now.”
“And you would have entered the Halls of Waiting,” Erestor pointed out.
“I do not care about my demise,” said Thranduil softly, “It is Legolas I worry for. I do not want the darkness to consume him as it is consuming me. He is so young.”
Erestor understood Thranduil’s worries. “We will make sure that the Shadow won’t get to your son.”
Thranduil cleared his throat, realizing he had to address an awkward matter. “I can still sense your presence in my mind. The connection is still there.” He wondered what Erestor would say about that. “I don’t think you intended it that way… Or did you?”
Erestor also felt the connection and assumed it was the very reason why Thranduil was this mellow. “Do you mind that much?” The connection seemed to keep Thranduil balanced, more emotionally stable, and it had ensured some peaceful sleep on the blond’s part. “I can let go of the link if that is what you desire.”
Thranduil gave the dark-haired Elf a long look. /Are you so sure you can still let go?/ After considering his next move, he said, “Release me from this connection.” Would his suspicion prove true?
Erestor reluctantly complied and let the link fade. To his surprise he found that it wouldn’t dissolve completely. A very faint echo remained. Frowning, he wondered why.
Thranduil sighed, still sensing Erestor’s presence in his mind. “It is as I thought.”
“What is?” Mystified, Erestor tried to terminate the connection, but the link refused to die. “I don’t understand. This has never happened before.”
Sighing, Thranduil stared deeply into Erestor’s brown eyes. “I assume you never pulled someone back from the brink before?”
“Nay, I linked with others, but they were never in danger of dying. But that shouldn’t make any difference.”
“It does,” said Thranduil calmly. “It does make a difference. When you pulled me back, your mind merged with mine for the briefest of moments and a permanent link was formed. I doubt either of us can break this connection.”
Erestor’s eyes narrowed. He sensed that the blond was telling the truth, but this was hard to digest and accept. “Are you saying our minds are permanently linked?” The serious expression in Thranduil’s eyes took him aback.
“It is even worse than that,” sighed Thranduil resigned. “We may consider ourselves bonded. Your fate is now linked to mine. I am still fading, but it is your life force that keeps me here.”
Erestor gave Thranduil a look full of disbelief, but then searched deep within himself. The connection was solid and permanent. His energy continued to flow into Thranduil’s mind, strengthening the Sindarin Elf and keeping him alive. “By Elbereth, it is true.” Big-eyed, he stared at the blond. Joining his fate with Thranduil’s had never been his intention. “What do we do now?”
“I do not know,” said Thranduil somberly, “But I do know that we will either survive together or die together.”
Glorfindel knew he was being sneaky and crossing the line, but he had to know! /It is Elrond’s fault! Why did he have to tell me he is in love? He should have known it would drive me mad…. Wait! Maybe that was why he told me? Would he be that wicked?/
Pushing the door to Elrond’s chambers open, he soundlessly tiptoed inside. The half-Elf was sound asleep in his bed and Glorfindel took a moment to take in his friend’s disheveled appearance. Elrond had undone the braids and knots in his hair before going to sleep and the long strands had become entangled during his apparently restless sleep.
The sheets had slipped down, revealing narrow hips and a flat abdomen. Glorfindel smiled fondly. Elrond possessed an unearthly beauty that had attracted him when he had first arrived in Imladris. Then Elrond had married Celebrian and he had smothered his feelings for the half-Elf. But Celebrian had sailed for Valinor and Elrond was ‘available’ again.
Moving soundlessly, he approached the bed and sat on his heels, studying Elrond’s face, which was utterly relaxed in sleep. He had only seen Elrond asleep a few times, and the fact that the half-Elf slept with his eyes closed still caused shivers to run down his spine.
Tenderly, he brushed a wayward lock away from Elrond’s face and continued to watch the half-Elf sleep. Over the centuries they had become more than friends, but Elrond had never shown any interest in him romantically, something which Glorfindel had eventually accepted. He had hoped that Elrond might become interested in him after Celebrian had left, but Elrond had buried himself in his books instead.
Carefully he leaned in closer and whispered into a slightly pointed ear, “Elrond, tell me who you are in love with. It is I, Glorfindel - you can trust me. I will keep your secret… Just tell me.” He disliked using such sneaky tactics, but his curiosity was killing him and he blamed Elrond for putting him in this position. “Tell me, meldir.”
Elrond shifted in the bed, sighed, and smiled affectionately. Glorfindel smiled in turn and ran his fingers through the long, dark hair. “Tell me.” He knew there was a chance Elrond could wake and would scold him, but that was a risk he was willing to take. “I must know!”
A blissful sigh escaped Elrond’s lips. Beneath closed eyelids, Glorfindel detected rapid eye movement and he realized the half-Elf wouldn’t wake up soon. “Elrond, who are you in love with?”
Elrond moaned softly and leaned into the touch when Glorfindel gently caressed his face. Glorfindel involuntarily held his breath, hearing that soft moan. “Elrond, I can mediate for you… Just tell me.” Seductively, he brushed his fingertips across the half-Elf’s lips. “Tell me his name.”
“Glorfindel…” Elrond breathed the name softly and smiled against the blond’s hand that now cupped his cheek. “Im mela lin, Glorfindel.” (I love you, Glorfindel.)
Glorfindel’s eyes widened. /What? What did you say?/
Elrond purred, moving his face against the palm of the blond’s hand. “Im aníraa lin, Glorfindel.” (I desire you, Glorfindel.)
Glorfindel fought the reflex to pull back his hand. Doing so would have woken Elrond. /Can this be true? Are you in love with me?/ He mentally reviewed everything Elrond had told him during dinner. He had a good sense of humor, was courageous, and many Elves had called him beautiful in the past. Those things could apply to him. “Are you in love with me?”
Slowly, he pulled back; easing Elrond’s head back onto the pillow after cupping it in the palm of his hand. He stared at the half-Elf in surprise, but then a huge grin broke through on his face. /Elrond loves *me*! He is in love with *me*!/ His greatest wish had come true! Elrond desired him!
After sneaking out of Elrond’s rooms, he closed the door behind him and leaned against the wall. His breathing had sped up and he grinned madly.
“But why wouldn’t you tell me?” Glorfindel frowned, wondering why Elrond felt it was necessary to keep this from him. “Or do you think I am not interested in you?” It was true. He had been careful not to send out the wrong signals, not wanting to embarrass Elrond. But that would change, now that he knew that the attraction was mutual.
Ah, he would have so much fun seducing Elrond!
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