By Any Means Necessary
“Is that Lord Elrond’s breakfast?” Glorfindel, who had awakened in a very cheerful mood, now approached the servant who was on his way to the half-Elf’s chambers. Glorfindel had slept extremely well, dreaming of Elrond. The half-Elf had been in his arms, feeling hot and sweaty after passionately making love with him.
The servant, surprised to hear Glorfindel’s question, nodded.
Wriggling an eyebrow, the Elda grinned. /Let the seduction begin!/ He came to a standstill in front of the other Elf, grinning wickedly. “Please hand me that tray. I will take it to Lord Elrond’s rooms.” A bowl filled with red cherries sat next to the plate filled with fresh bread and cheese, and he was dying to pop one of those red fruits into Elrond’s mouth. /I wonder how he will react to that?/
Dismissing the servant, he swept open the door, not bothering to knock. “Good morning, Elrond! And a splendid morning it is!” As he reached the curtains, he opened them, letting Arien’s rays enter. “Ah, it will be a beautiful day!” Turning to face Elrond, he stared into the half-Elf’s flabbergasted eyes. “And you are already awake! Good!”
Elrond stared at Glorfindel in shock and quickly pulled the blanket up to his chest. He wasn’t normally a prude, but the blond’s presence in his rooms was rather unexpected -- not to mention he was sporting a morning erection. He didn’t want the Elda to think he was lusting after him... even if he was.
“I reckoned you would be hungry, so I brought you breakfast!” Glorfindel dashed over to Elrond’s side, placed the tray on the half-Elf’s lap and teasingly raised an eyebrow, realizing the dark-haired Elf was aroused. “These cherries look absolutely gorgeous!”
Elrond could only stare at the blond vision that now dangled a pair of cherries in front of his mouth. He was still dreaming; that was the only logical explanation. Why else would Glorfindel be tempting him in such a way?
“Open up, meldir, they are sweet.” Glorfindel could tell Elrond was dumbfounded and used that moment to push a cherry past his friend’s lips. /Ah, this is only the beginning, Elrond. When I am through with you, you will beg for my touch, which I will gladly give./
Elrond instinctively closed his mouth and munched on the fruit, quickly disposing of the cherry stone. Staring at Glorfindel, he slowly realized that this wasn’t a dream after all. The Elda was really here, feeding him cherries! By the Grace of the Valar, Glorfindel had just pushed another cherry past his lips! He needed to compose himself!
Glorfindel grinned wickedly, seeing Elrond trying to gather his wits. “I will see you later. We are expecting our guests today.” It would be a busy and exhausting day, but he hoped to make Elrond’s life a little more enjoyable and exciting now that he knew the half-Elf was attracted to him. “I will be waiting for you in your study.” Not giving Elrond a chance to reply, he gently tapped a fingertip against the half-Elf’s bottom lip.
Swallowing hard, Elrond watched Glorfindel rise from the bed and leave his room. Stunned, he tried to sort out his thoughts. What had just happened? Why had Glorfindel done that?
He raised a finger to his lips and pressed a fingertip against the soft flesh that Glorfindel had just touched. The Elda had completely taken him aback. Sighing softly, he pressed deeper into the comfort of his mattress. He smiled giddily, unable to hide his pleasure at being touched in such a way. He wouldn’t mind Glorfindel doing it again. But then reality hit hard. /It is probably just a game to him. Glorfindel does not love me in that way./ Another sigh fled his lips and he closed his eyes, suddenly feeling miserable. He shouldn’t read too much into Glorfindel’s gestures. He would only set himself up for disappointment.
Elrond had composed himself when he entered his study moments later. Glorfindel was already at work, studying maps and working through some overdue paperwork. He fought down the sigh that threatened to spill from his lips and sat down behind his desk, trying hard not to stare at the golden-haired Elf.
Not looking up from his map, Glorfindel said, “The Dwarven delegation have already arrived and the sentries informed me that the party from Gondor will also arrive shortly.”
“Any word from Legolas yet?” Elrond forced himself to focus on the matter at hand.
“Aye, according to the sentries he is on his way to Imladris. I assume he will arrive in the evening.”
“Good,” said Elrond thoughtfully. “I far-spoke with Gandalf and he told me to expect the Ringbearer today.” Looking at Glorfindel, he said, “I want you to ride out and meet him.”
Glorfindel instantly rose to his feet. “It would be an honor.” He cast a look filled with longing at Elrond and then reluctantly left the room.
Elrond sighed, distressed. He wanted Glorfindel close, but at times his seneschal was needed elsewhere. The Nazgul were hunting the Ringbearer and his companions, and they needed to stop Sauron’s servants from entering Imladris.
/And then there is Thranduil./ He hadn’t contacted Erestor yet and he reached out, as he needed to know if his chief advisor was making any progress. Closing his eyes, he reached out mentally, trying to get in touch with Erestor.
Erestor felt Elrond’s probing at once. And by looking at Thranduil’s suddenly alert expression he could tell that the blond felt the half-Elf’s touch as well. It made him wonder if Elrond would feel the connection that had been formed between Thranduil and him last night. He hoped not.
/Erestor? Can you hear me?/
Erestor looked questioningly at Thranduil; could the Sindarin Elf hear Elrond as well? The blond nodded, and then looked away, confirming his suspicions. Erestor forced himself to concentrate and then addressed Elrond. /Aye, I hear you./
Elrond’s relief traveled down their temporary connection. /I was worried when you did not contact me this morning. I reached out myself to check on you./
Thranduil averted his gaze, giving Erestor some privacy and stared out of the window. Arien was high in the sky and he purred softly when her warm beams reached his heart.
Erestor appreciated Thranduil’s thoughtfulness and focused on Elrond. /The darkness is growing stronger in Mirkwood and I do not know how much longer Thranduil can withstand its pull./ Thranduil looked at him and Erestor raised an eyebrow. “Or would you have me lie to my Lord?”
Thranduil studied Erestor and then said, “Tell him the truth.” The Noldorin Elf was prolonging his life through their bond and had earned his respect. He didn’t want Erestor to lie for him. /And it is not likely Elrond will come to gloat. He is safely tucked away in Imladris./ He wasn’t sure he could bear the half-Elf’s smug grin when he saw the Mirkwood King wasting away.
Erestor caught an echo of that thought through their link and nodded thankfully. /Elrond? Thranduil is growing weaker each night./
Back in Imladris, Elrond’s worries increased. /Is there anything you can do to ease his suffering?/
Erestor considered his answer carefully. He wasn’t comfortable yet telling Elrond that Thranduil and he had bonded accidentally. /I am doing the best I can./
/What about the alliance?/ It was the very reason why he had sent Erestor to Mirkwood.
Erestor, aware that Thranduil had been following his conversation with Elrond, stared at the other Elf. “Will you accept Imladris and Lothlorien’s support?”
Thranduil was tempted to accept for his people’s sake, but just when he wanted to nod his approval, his pride got the better of him. “Where was Celeborn when Mirkwood first trembled under the influence of the Shadow? Where was Elrond when darkness began to claim my realm? Only now they offer their support.”
Ignoring Elrond’s questioning presence Erestor walked over to the Sindarin Elf and rested a comforting hand on Thranduil’s shoulder, taken aback by the misery in the dull eyes. “We did not know how much you and your people were suffering.”
Thranduil snorted at that, and was about to shake off Erestor’s hand when suddenly a ray of sun caressed his face, reminding him of happier times. Did he really have the right to deny his people this chance? “What are your terms?” He hung his head in defeat as he set aside his pride for the benefit of his people. When Oropher had died he had vowed to put his people’s needs first and he had to ensure his people’s safety at all cost.
“Terms?” Erestor frowned, suddenly realizing that Thranduil expected to be exploited in some way. “There are no terms.”
/Erestor?/ In Imladris, Elrond shifted uncomfortably in his chair, as another mind pleaded to be acknowledged. /Erestor, continue to talk to Thranduil. Try to make him understand that we want to help. I need to leave now…/ Abruptly breaking off the contact, he rose from his chair and hurried over to the window. In the distance, the Bruinen was a calm river, but the water wouldn’t remain calm for much longer.
Glorfindel’s distress now reached him clearly. Calling on the power of Vilya, he directed the water of the Bruinen at the Nazgul who were chasing Glorfindel and the Ringbearer. Sensing the Hobbit’s pain, he hurried to the Healing House.
Elrond felt drained after working on Frodo’s wound for hours, but in the end he had assured Gandalf and Aragorn that the Hobbit would recover. Once the remaining Hobbits had been brought to the Last Homely House, he signaled for Glorfindel to follow him to his study. His friend looked tired. Fighting off the Nazgul had taken a high toll on both of them.
Both Elves collapsed onto chairs, watching each other intensely. “That was close,” whispered Elrond in the end. “The Nazgul never showed themselves this close to Imladris before. They are getting bolder.”
“The Ring cannot stay here,” said Glorfindel, his heart heavy for the burden the Hobbit carried. “We are not strong enough to oppose Sauron in that way.”
Elrond reluctantly nodded his consent. “Gandalf and I discussed this matter whilst Frodo was asleep. We have a plan.”
Glorfindel arched an eyebrow inquisitively.
“A Fellowship will be formed and its members will keep Frodo safe on his travels.”
“You foresaw this?” Glorfindel leaned in closer, worried when he saw the deep lines appear on the half-Elf’s brow.
“Galadriel and I foresaw this, aye,” said Elrond in a somber tone. “The quest will demand lives.”
Glorfindel suddenly realized something else. “Who will be part of that Fellowship?”
“Dwarf, Man, and Elf… and the Hobbits of course. Gandalf is prepared to assume leadership.”
“Elf,” said Glorfindel thoughtfully. “And who do you have in mind?” He knew Elrond and Gandalf well enough to know they had already made plans.
“Legolas.” Elrond cringed, seeing the concerned expression in Glorfindel’s eyes. “I share your concern,” he said reassuringly, “but Erestor appears to be comforting Thranduil in Legolas’ place. We need Legolas. He will be the eyes and ears of this Fellowship.”
“What if Legolas rejects this idea? He will be eager to return to Mirkwood -- to his father’s side.”
“I hope to convince Legolas that the Fellowship needs him more.” He sighed, seeing Glorfindel’s skeptical look. “I hope that knowing Erestor is caring for Thranduil will make Legolas give in.”
Glorfindel still didn’t feel convinced, but he had to trust in Galadriel and Elrond to make decisions that were in the best interest of their people. “Did word from Erestor reach you yet? How does Thranduil fare?”
“Not well.” Elrond vividly recalled the unease and frustration he had felt when contacting Erestor. “Thranduil is fading and we cannot afford to lose him. He is a strong power on Arda and we need him.”
“Fading,” said Glorfindel thoughtfully. “What course of action did you advise Erestor to take?”
Elrond stared deeply into Glorfindel’s eyes, wishing this burden wasn’t his to carry. “Thranduil’s only way to stay alive is to bond with someone and draw from his mate’s life force.”
“I cannot imagine Thranduil would accept such a fate. And who would he agree to bond with?”
“His wife died giving birth to Legolas, and Thranduil is free to form a new bond. But I agree; I doubt he will want to be this dependant on someone.”
“Then we will lose him.”
Elrond shook his head. “The fact that Thranduil allowed Erestor to stay tells me our friend has gained some degree of influence on Thranduil. Erestor may be able to form this alliance after all.”
“Let us hope so.” Glorfindel continued to study the half-Elf and last night’s whispered admission returned to him. He could tell Elrond felt troubled and he wanted to ease that burden as much as he possibly could. Rising from his chair, he walked over to Elrond, who eyed him suspiciously.
Elrond tensed involuntarily when Glorfindel took up position behind him. Unexpectedly the blond rested his hands on his shoulders and began to knead the strained muscles.
“What are you doing?” Elrond failed to keep the surprise from his voice. Glorfindel had never done this for him before! But being touched in that way felt good, and the tension began to leave his body. Sighing, he closed his eyes, forcing himself to enjoy this gift and cherish it, not knowing if such a moment would ever occur again.
Hearing Elrond purr softly, Glorfindel grinned naughtily. He might not be able to seduce Elrond in the fashion he wanted, due to the Ring-bearer’s arrival and the attention Elrond had to pay to this grave matter, but he enjoyed the slow seduction just as well. Smiling warmly, he felt Elrond relax further.
He would take this slowly, and eventually reach his goal.
Legolas was escorted to Elrond’s study at once. He smiled, seeing the half-Elf and his seneschal, apparently relaxed for the moment and knowing only too well that this was the calm before the storm. “My Lords,” he said, inclining his head in greeting.
Elrond’s eyes flashed open and momentarily he felt embarrassed, realizing Glorfindel was continuing the massage. “Legolas.”
“Do not trouble yourself,” replied the younger golden-haired Elf, exchanging a pleased look with Glorfindel as he sat down opposite Elrond.
Elrond remained seated and sighed disappointedly when Glorfindel removed his hands at last. The Elda remained standing behind him and Elrond felt rather vexed that he couldn’t see the blond’s expression. “I take it you bear ill news?”
“Gollum has escaped,” Legolas started. “But I worry most for my father. The Shadow is sucking the life out of him. He was barely alive when I left.”
“I regret pulling you away from your father when he needs your support,” said Elrond sincerely, “But your presence is demanded here. You have an important part to play.”
Legolas probed Elrond’s eyes. “In what way?”
“You will learn more at tomorrow’s council. Please tell me more about your father.”
Legolas’ eyes darkened. “I left him in Erestor’s care. At first he did not accept Erestor’s closeness, but when I left Mirkwood my father was tolerating his presence: a victory which is not easily achieved, I assure you.”
“Erestor will act in your father’s best interests,” said Elrond reassuringly. “I do not want to lose your father to the Shadow, Legolas. I do respect him.”
Legolas inclined his head in approval. “I learned some things that surprised me. Apparently my father has been aware of my frequent trips to Imladris and the friendships I formed here.”
Now it was Elrond’s turn to be surprised. “And he did not stop you?”
“Nay, he did not. I would not go as far as to say that he approves, but…” Legolas shrugged his shoulders. “I thought I knew him well, yet he still surprises me.”
Momentarily, Elrond’s thoughts raced back to his first encounter with Thranduil. The blond had stared dotingly at him and had surprised them both by reciting poetry to Elrond. “I do believe Thranduil’s disposition is… friendlier than one would think at first sight. He has his reasons to be this… distant.”
Glorfindel, now aware of those reasons, gave Elrond a thoughtful look. “Did you ever try to end this argument between the two of you and start anew?”
Elrond shook his head. “I do not think reconciling is a wise thing to do. The last time we met he threatened to end my life if I ever set foot in his lands.”
Legolas cleared his throat, drawing Elrond’s attention to him. “My father is dying, Elrond. He does not have much time left to make his peace with you.”
Hearing it put that bluntly, Elrond reconsidered Glorfindel’s question and then addressed Legolas. “Must I take his threat seriously? Do you think he will try to harm me or my escort should I venture into Mirkwood?” He couldn’t believe he was actually considering traveling to Mirkwood to make his peace with Thranduil. But if what Legolas was saying was true -- and he had no reason to doubt the other’s honesty -- waiting much longer might prevent a reunion.
“I told Erestor the same thing,” mumbled Legolas. “My father is all bark, but he does not bite… Not any more, at any rate. He is too exhausted to oppose reconciliation. Just think of how much good it would do! It would heal both your hearts and be the base of a true alliance.”
“You speak wisely,” said Elrond after a moment’s thought. Looking at Glorfindel he made his decision. “Prepare for a proper escort. After the council has ended I will leave for Mirkwood.”
Glorfindel nodded once. “And I am coming with you.” Seeing Elrond’s troubled expression, he foresaw the half-Elf’s protest. “Elrond, I am accompanying you. I will not allow you to travel without me. What Erestor did, traveling without a proper escort, was folly, and I will see you safely to Mirkwood.”
“But what about Imladris?” Elrond shook his head. “One of us must remain.”
“Your sons are old enough to rule Imladris for a short period of time and they crave an opportunity to prove their worth to you. Why deny them this opportunity?” Glorfindel knew Elrond would give in when he saw a smile tug at the corner of the Half-Elf’s mouth.
“You are right; it is time for them to take on their responsibilities. Aye, we will both leave for Mirkwood.” Elrond’s gaze traveled from Glorfindel to the other blond. “Legolas, you might not see your father for quite some time.” He noticed the way Legolas frowned at that, but Elrond continued nonetheless, “Is there a message you want us to carry to him?”
“Tell him I love him.” Legolas smiled sadly. “I wish I could join you, but according to you my fate lies elsewhere.”
“It does.” Elrond rose from his chair, walked over to Legolas and placed a hand on the other’s shoulder. “It is important that you take part in this quest. Maybe you will find comfort in the fact that Erestor, Glorfindel and I will take care of your father.”
“That does lighten my burden,” replied Legolas, feeling somewhat relieved. “I will trust your judgment.” Getting to his feet, he briefly hugged the half-Elf and cast Glorfindel a knowing smile.
Glorfindel fought the blush that formed on his face. /Elbereth, this one knows of my love for Elrond./ Legolas had hinted at that knowledge when he had visited them in the past. The Prince had even wished him good luck with the chase. Well, the chase was afoot and hopefully he would manage to get closer to Elrond during their upcoming trip to Mirkwood.
Thranduil, who was closely watching Erestor, was being watched in turn. The Noldorin Elf had sent word to Lindir that the Elf didn’t have to worry about him and that he would stay in the royal chambers for now. Lindir had been surprised, but had quickly adapted.
“So… You are planning to stay here then?” Thranduil wasn’t sure what to think of that. He was partly relieved to have company during Legolas’ absence, but why did it have to be a Noldorin Elf? “I cannot remember asking you to move in.”
“That is because you never asked me,” said Erestor, smiling teasingly. “Remember, as chief advisor, I know what is best for you.” He was looking for a suitable spot to put his toiletries and the few garments that he had brought with him. After choosing a location, he turned to face Thranduil again. Their connection was still very solid and allowed him an insight into the Sindarin Elf’s emotions. “You are tired.”
Thranduil nodded resigned. “Too tired to argue with you.” He leaned his head back and continued to follow Erestor with his eyes, as the chief advisor acquainted himself with his rooms. It certainly looked like the raven-haired Elf was planning to stay.
“Night will be upon us shortly,” announced Erestor, seating himself next to Thranduil on the bed. “Do you wish to visit the lake?”
Thranduil shook his head. “Not tonight.”
Erestor swallowed hard and raised a hand, brushing gray hair away from Thranduil’s face.
“It used to be golden…” Thranduil whispered, seeing Erestor stare questioningly at a gray strand. “But fighting the Shadow takes its toll.”
Erestor fingered that strand of hair, whilst studying the other Elf. Wrinkles had appeared on Thranduil’s brow and the lips had turned bloodless overnight. The Ruler of Mirkwood was a mere shadow of his former self. “You have come a great way these last few days. You even allow my touch.”
“Do I have a choice?” Thranduil smiled, taking the sting out of his words. “Since you bonded yourself to me - accidentally, I might add - neither of us has a choice.”
“True.” Erestor cocked his head, smiled, and decided he liked this mellow, teasing side to Thranduil.
Thranduil, on his part, was surprised to see such a genuine smile on Erestor’s face. But then he forced himself to address another urgent matter, which he had avoided dealing with. “You do realize that when I fade I will take you with me to the Great Halls?”
Erestor’s eyes shone with determination. “Then we must make sure you do not fade, meldir.”
Hearing that last word brought a smile to Thranduil’s face. “You consider me your friend then? What did I do to gain that title?”
“You let me get close to you when you considered me a treacherous, unworthy, unreliable Noldorin Elf,” said Erestor teasingly, letting their bantering continue. He didn’t expect to see the hurt expression in those green eyes. “I did not mean it like that,” he hurried to say.
“I regret disrespecting you,” said Thranduil honestly. “It is just… My experiences with Noldorin Elves… They were not pleasant.”
Erestor probed the other Elf’s eyes and saw a sea of pain in them. “I am sure you will tell me in your own time. I can tell these memories are unpleasant and we should not dwell on them now that Ithil has risen. We should prepare for the night instead.”
“And for the nightmares…” Thranduil shuddered. “Aye, the nightmares… and the darkness.”
Note to the canon freaks: right, Erestor wasn’t at the council, yet he was in the book. I know that. Deal with it.
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