Dinîf en Qualen
Glorfindel managed to cock his head so he could look at Erestor. The Elf’s pallor worried him and cold radiated from the counselor’s body; a cold which he knew only too well. Erestor was battling Mandos. Reaching out with his right hand, he clasped Erestor’s in his, rubbing the skin. “Erestor, do not give up now. You must fight and emerge victorious. The Halls of Waiting are cold and lonely. You should stay here instead.”
Erestor didn’t react to Glorfindel’s voice, remaining deeply asleep, and Glorfindel desperately tried to think of a way to reach the dark-haired Elf. All he could come up with was holding onto Erestor’s hand and rubbing the knuckles, hoping the injured Elf somehow felt his presence. “Erestor, do not die!”
Elrond, having heard Glorfindel’s distressed tone, entered the room and hurried to the blond’s side. “There is so little I can do for him.” He filled the teacup again, lifted Erestor’s head slightly and slowly poured the healing tea into his patient’s mouth. Erestor swallowed instinctively and Elrond allowed a hopeful smile to break through on his face. “He has not left us yet. A part of him is still fighting.”
“What can I do to help? How can I make him stay?”
Elrond gave Glorfindel a look full of understanding. “I doubt you can make him stay. If he no longer wants to live, his soul will leave us.”
“How can I prevent that?”
Elrond smiled; Glorfindel appeared extremely determined to keep Erestor alive. “Talk to him. Tell him stories. Read to him. Just hearing your voice might help. And the other thing you can do, you are doing right now; hold his hand, touch him. Somehow you need to make contact with him and get through to him. Show him that you want him to stay.” It was the only advice he could give Glorfindel.
“Then get me some books to read from and push my bed closer to his. The Halls of Waiting are no place for Erestor and I will keep him from giving up.”
Elrond nodded once and then proceeded to push Glorfindel’s bed closer to Erestor’s, just as the blond had wanted. Elrond smiled as Glorfindel tightened the hold he had on the dark-haired Elf’s hand. During their trip something had brought them closer together. “You never expected him to dive in after you, did you?”
“And I never expected him to take care of me.”
Glorfindel’s determined expression filled Elrond with hope. “Let us hope that you are right and that you will succeed in keeping him here. I will bring you a book to read from, and my sons and I will sit with Erestor as well.”
“Thank you,” whispered Glorfindel. “I knew you would not give up on him without a fight.”
Glorfindel, feeling exhausted, put down his book and looked at Erestor. The sun and moon had risen and set once and still the dark-haired Elf remained unconscious. He had been reading nonstop for hours now, and Elrohir had brought him some tea, hearing his hoarse voice. The youngest twin had stayed, and was now sitting in a chair next to Erestor’s bed.
“Do you want me to continue reading?” offered Elrohir. After seeing Glorfindel nod, he reached for the book and began reading where the blond had left off, his soft, melodic voice pleasantly echoing through the room.
Even Glorfindel grew calm, and dozed off, listening to Elrohir’s voice.
Elrohir smiled, seeing Glorfindel’s eyes grow vacant. The Elda had fought sleep for a day now, but exhaustion had finally gotten the better of him. He continued to read, occasionally looking at his charges. When his father entered, he smiled warmly. “Glorfindel finally went to sleep. I probably bored him.”
“You did well, Elrohir. Glorfindel needs to rest.” Elrond came to a halt next to Erestor’s bed and cautiously pushed down the covers. Probing the bandages, he found no fresh blood on them and he sighed, relieved. “The bleeding has stopped.”
“Maybe there wasn’t any more blood left?” Elrohir’s voice sounded utterly miserable. “Erestor is so pale, Ada.”
“It is time for him to drink more of the herbal tea.” Elrond repeated the procedure, slowly pouring the tea down Erestor’s throat. After lowering his patient back onto the bed, he studied his counselor. “I was afraid his soul would leave us, but he is still with us.”
“Do you think he will survive?” asked Elrohir in a hopeful tone.
Elrond sat down on the edge of the bed and curled his fingers around Erestor’s right hand. Glorfindel was still clinging to the left. “His chances at survival are increasing.”
“Ada?” Elrohir put away the book and looked at his father. “Elladan and I were talking about Erestor. When we were little Erestor never seemed as distant as he is now.”
”True,” agreed Elrond, “He grew more distant after you reached majority. You might not remember, for Elladan and you were babies at the time, but he would hold you for hours, then switch to holding Elladan and usually ended up holding both of you before Celebrian would put you to bed. It was the same when Arwen was born. He adored the three of you when you were babies.”
“I do not understand him,” sighed Elrohir, worriedly. “When I was still an Elfling, and upset because Elladan had done something stupid, I would go to Erestor and he would hold me. Awkwardly, but it was obvious he cared. The affection he showed me when I was an Elfling has faded and when I look at him now, it is gone completely.”
“You might not be looking behind his mask,” said Elrond thoughtfully. “I do not think he ever stopped caring about the three of you, but he became better at hiding it.”
“Why would he feel like he needs to hide his feelings?”
“I was wondering about the same thing.” Elrond exchanged a look with Elrohir. “We should try to find out, provided he survives.” Elrond rose to his feet and headed for the doorway. “Call me, should Erestor’s condition worsen.”
“I will.” Elrohir sighed and picked up the book again, reading softly to the two sleeping forms.
Four days and nights passed and still Erestor showed no sign of waking up. Elrond sighed disappointedly; he had hoped the attention they were constantly giving Erestor would pay off. Now he sat on the bed again, feeding Erestor the healing tea. Glorfindel anxiously watched his every move, making Elrond nervous. “I told you before that you cannot make him stay.”
“But he is still alive! That must mean he chose to stay!” Even the cold had somewhat retreated from the counselor’s body. “We must continue to talk to him, touch him.”
Elrond gave the blond a worried look. “What has gotten into you, Glorfindel? I hardly recognize you. I also greatly worry about Erestor, but—“
Glorfindel cut the half-Elf short. “He saved my life, Elrond.”
“And?” Elrond directed an inquisitive look at the blond.
“And I want to know who hurt him so badly that he feels he can no longer show his feelings.”
“I agree that Erestor was hurt in the past, deeply, but I doubt he will confide in you, should he regain consciousness.”
“But I am determined to try. I won’t allow him to push me away again. Just before Elladan and Elrohir found us, he said he hoped some good was still left in Arda.” Glorfindel slightly shifted in the bed. His bruised knee was healing and no longer caused him any discomfort. His broken leg was bandaged tightly, but still throbbed painfully. He hoped to be walking on crutches in a few days. Being confined to bed was driving him insane. Realizing his thoughts had drifted away, he returned to their topic. “I always wondered why he called his horse Amdir.”
“Because there is still a sparkle of hope left in Erestor. Do you wish to make it blaze brightly?”
Glorfindel’s eyes widened, but he nodded firmly. “Why do you think I wanted to share this room with him? I need to know him close.”
“And when he wakes up? Will you leave or stay close? You do realize Erestor will try to push you away again?”
“He won’t succeed,” said Glorfindel grimly. “I won’t leave him alone until he has told me why he is acting in this way.”
“I wish you luck,” said Elrond skeptically. “I tried centuries ago when Erestor arrived in Imladris. I never succeeded.”
“Erestor was already part of your household when I returned from Mandos.” Erestor hadn’t been Elrond’s chief counselor yet, but he had already advised the Lord of Imladris in urgent matters. “Was he already that distant when you first met him?”
Elrond frowned, trying to recall his first encounter with Erestor. “I was not sure he had reached majority when he arrived and I was inclined to send him back to his family, but he begged me to let him stay. I wondered about that.”
“Why would he not want to go back to his family?”
“I do not know, but I allowed him to stay. He began working in the library as a scribe, and then became my personal assistant. I recall working on some road maintenance plans and becoming increasingly frustrated until Erestor timidly suggested a different approach. He was really quiet, hardly ever said a word. It took me years of coaxing him into expressing his opinions.” Elrond continued, “He hardly had any self confidence and always remained at the back, never drawing any attention to himself.”
“And when the twins were born?”
“Celebrian took a liking to Erestor, which surprised me, but I happily encouraged their friendship.” Elrond suddenly grinned. “One night, I found Celebrian sound asleep; the twins had kept her awake for several days. And Erestor was sitting in her rocking chair, one twin in each arm, rocking them and muttering softly.”
Glorfindel’s eyes grew big. “He was rocking the twins?”
“And they were finally asleep. They had been screaming and crying for days.” Elrond smiled brilliantly. “The babies adored him.”
Glorfindel laughed warmly. “Why do I have trouble picturing that scene?”
“I know it is hard to believe, but it is true; they went quiet whenever Erestor rocked them.” Elrond rested his right hand on Erestor’s brow and gently rubbed the skin. “I do not know why he forces himself to wear this mask; maybe you can find out.”
Glorfindel nodded his head once. “I will.”
Erestor’s soft groan startled Elladan, who had relieved his brother. It was six days ago that they had happened upon Erestor and Glorfindel, and although the blond’s legs were healing, the counselor remained unconscious.
Elladan reached for the cup. “It is time for another round of tea.” How many times had he made Erestor drink the concoction? And still it didn’t seem to help.
Glorfindel watched closely as Elladan placed the cup at Erestor’s lips, still hoping the raven-haired Elf would miraculously wake up.
The truth was they were losing hope.
Shifting in the bed, he pushed himself into an upright position. Earlier this morning Elrond had allowed him to walk; he had needed crutches, but had managed to walk from the bed to the bathroom and back again. He had wanted to share his happiness with Erestor, but the vacant eyes had quickly made him feel depressed again.
Elladan’s breath caught as another pain-filled groan escaped Erestor’s lips. “Erestor?” Studying the dark eyes, Elladan thought he saw a spark of recognition. “Glorfindel? I think he is waking up.”
Glorfindel leaned in closer, trying to lock eyes with Erestor, who was lying limply in Elladan’s arms. “Erestor? Can you hear me?”
Erestor blinked once and then released a keening wail, filled with agony.
Elladan acted instinctively, soothing the distressed Elf. “You are back in Imladris. You are safe. Please stay calm.”
Glorfindel quickly placed a hand on Erestor’s arm. “Erestor? Listen to Elladan. You are safe. You are at the healing house and Elrond has tended to your injury.” He held his breath when Erestor’s gaze suddenly fixed on him. “Aye, Erestor, it is I, Glorfindel. We are home again.”
“H-home?” stuttered Erestor brokenly. His eyes were still glazed and he seemed unable to focus his gaze.
A lump had formed in Elladan’s throat and he swallowed hard at Erestor’s helplessness. Realizing that Glorfindel was already holding one of Erestor’s hands, he took hold of the other, gently squeezing it. “Aye, you are home, and Glorfindel is here as well.”
Glorfindel smiled and rubbed Erestor’s knuckles. “I knew you were a survivor, Erestor. You battled Mandos, did you not?”
“It… was…cold,” whispered Erestor, fatigued. What was Glorfindel talking about? He hadn’t been to Mandos. He had just been cold.
“Glorfindel? Look after him whilst I fetch Ada?” Elladan rose to his feet and headed for the doorway, eager to alert Elrond that Erestor had finally woken.
Glorfindel warmly squeezed Erestor’s hand, wishing he was mobile enough to move even closer to Erestor. The dark-haired Elf lay on his back and stared blankly at the ceiling, but was nonetheless awake. Seeing that blank expression worried Glorfindel, and he gently tugged on Erestor’s hand, trying to gain his attention. “Erestor, please look at me?” He was determined to keep Erestor awake until Elrond had had a chance to speak with his patient.
Erestor struggled, but managed to cock his head to look at the blond. “Why are you… still here?” Talking drained him and he was tempted to fall asleep again, but something in Glorfindel’s expression urged him to stay awake and talk to him. Then he remembered Glorfindel’s broken legs. That explained why he was lying in bed, but it did not explain why Glorfindel was sharing a room with him. The healing house had many rooms; why would Elrond put them in the same room?
“Why I am still here?” repeated Glorfindel in disbelief. “I am here because you were unconscious these last six days; you greatly worried me. I was afraid you would not return to us. I could not leave you!” Glorfindel registered the bafflement in Erestor’s eyes and was moved by it. Erestor had never expected him to be there when he woke. “You saved my life, Erestor. You dived in after me and took care of me. How can I do anything less for you in return? I will watch over you until you have recovered. You won’t push me away that easily.”
Erestor, stunned, had silently listened to Glorfindel’s declaration, and felt now lost for words. What was he supposed to say to that? Breathing in too deeply caused pain to erupt from his abdomen and he was instantly reminded of his injury. He wanted to probe the wound, but found that Glorfindel had a tight hold on his hand, refusing to let him pull away. /Why is he holding my hand?/ Using his other hand, he probed the bandages.
“Your wound has finally stopped bleeding,” announced Elrond in a warm tone. “You had me worried, Erestor. I was afraid you had lost too much blood to survive.” Elrond walked over to Erestor and removed the probing hand from the bandages. “Don’t move too much; there is still the danger than the wound might reopen again.”
Erestor, who was still staring at Glorfindel and trying to figure out what the blond was talking about, now had to shift his gaze to Elrond. The worried expression in the half-Elf’s blue eyes took him somewhat by surprise. Elrond had always tried to be his friend, but he had pushed Elrond away just as hard as the half-Elf had tried to get to know him. He had hoped Elrond had finally given up on befriending him, but he had been wrong.
Elladan entered the room and joined his father, tentatively making eye contact with his former mentor. He’d had time to work through his confusion at finding out Erestor had saved him in the past. He felt like he needed to say something, but was at a loss for words.
“You should drink some water now that you are awake,” said Elrond, sitting down on the edge of the bed. He reached for the carafe on the nightstand and poured some water.
“Let me help,” said Elladan quickly, sitting down on Erestor’s other side and helping the injured Elf to lift his head.
Erestor was shocked at finding the two half-Elves tending to him. And then there was Glorfindel, staring worriedly at him.
“Erestor, drink,” said Elrond when the injured Elf’s lips remained tightly closed.
Erestor gave in and swallowed. The water was refreshing and he sighed contently. He hated to admit it, but lying in a warm and comfortable bed and being pampered felt good. He had never been fussed over before and wasn’t sure how to react when Elrond slowly lowered him back onto the bed, tucking the covers around his form. So he remained quiet, watching them instead.
Glorfindel’s voice reminded him that the blond was also present and he cocked his head to look at him. What did Glorfindel want from him? All Erestor wanted was to go back to sleep so he could forget about his pain.
“I am glad you came back.” Glorfindel smiled radiantly, still rubbing Erestor’s knuckles.
Glorfindel’s behavior puzzled Erestor, but then again, so did Elrond and Elladan’s. The twin was staring at him, a confused expression in his eyes. He was honestly surprised that Elladan was here; he knew the older twin usually avoided his company. Elrond suddenly stroked back a lock that had strayed into his face and Erestor nearly flinched at the touch, stopping himself just in time.
Elrond frowned, sensing Erestor’s distress, but had no idea what had caused it. “Are you still thirsty? Hungry?” He could tell by looking at Erestor’s glazed eyes that his charge was about to doze off again.
“Can I go back… to sleep now?” Erestor was very much aware of Glorfindel’s fingers rubbing his skin and wondered why the blond was keeping up the reassurance. Even more amazing was that he didn’t flinch away from the touch. That had never happened before.
“Aye, you can go back to sleep,” said Elrond soothingly, stroking Erestor’s hair. Tremors shook Erestor’s body and he pulled back, giving his patient more personal space. The counselor calmed down and his eyes grew vacant again. Elrond exchanged a worried look with Glorfindel, but smiled, realizing the Elda was still holding Erestor’s hand. He had expected the injured Elf to pull back, but Erestor surprisingly enough seemed to allow the caress. “You managed the impossible, Glorfindel. It certainly looks like you stopped him from entering the Halls of Waiting,” said Elrond, pleased.
Glorfindel smiled happily at Elrond. “-We- kept him here, Elrond.”
“Elrohir will be relieved to hear Erestor regained consciousness,” whispered Elladan.
Elrond looked at his oldest son, seeing an unreadable emotion in Elladan’s eyes. “I assume you are relieved as well?”
“Aye, but I also feel guilty,” admitted Elladan.
“Guilty? Why?” Elrond’s brow grew knitted. “Why do you feel guilty?”
Elladan sighed deeply. “Ada, remember I asked you about me nearly drowning in the Bruinen?”
Elrond nodded. “I do.”
“I always thought it was you who saved me, not Erestor.” Elladan lowered his eyes. “I also did not know it was Erestor who consoled Elrohir when he was upset because I had left with Glorfindel. I never knew Erestor cared.”
Elrond shook his head. “Do not feel guilty, Elladan. You were very young when this happened.” Elrond grinned. “Remind me to tell you about Erestor rocking you when you were a baby.” Elladan’s eyes widened and Elrond reassuringly placed his hand on his son’s shoulder.
“Will you tell me?”
Elrond nodded. “I will tell you, but we should leave now. Our talking might disturb Erestor’s sleep and he is in good hands with Glorfindel.” Addressing the blond, he said, “We will remain close. Call us when you need assistance.”
Glorfindel watched Elrond and Elladan go, eager to spend time alone with Erestor, even when the dark-haired Elf was soundly asleep, but he hoped the injured Elf would wake again shortly for then he could talk to him. Looking at Erestor, he wondered about the other Elf. He had also noticed the way Erestor had pulled away from Elrond’s touch; it strengthened him in his belief that someone had hurt the counselor in the past. /Who hurt you? And why?/ Glorfindel was determined to find out.
Elladan was perplexed after listening to Elrond. His father had told him how Erestor had befriended Celebrian, and usually watched the twins, rocking them when they refused to stop crying. “He rocked us?” He remembered his mother’s rocking chair, but couldn’t picture Erestor sitting in it, holding them.
“I think he still cares deeply about you and Elrohir, but feels he needs to hide that affection.”
“Then we must find out why he is hiding from us.” Elladan walked toward the doorway. “I will inform Elrohir that Erestor woke up.”
Elrond let him go and pondered Elladan’s shocked reaction. He had never realized how much a part Erestor had been of their lives when his children had been born, and the twins had apparently forgotten Erestor had loved them. Well, they had only been babies. Once they had grown older, Erestor had become colder.
/I wonder why?/
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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