Dinîf en Qualen
When Erestor awoke he felt warm and safe, and the first thing he noticed was Elrohir, whom he had cuddled up to during his sleep. Feeling embarrassed for invading the half-Elf’s personal space like that, he began to move away from him.
Elrohir woke and his gaze settled questioningly on Erestor. “Is something wrong?” The Noldorin Elf looked uncomfortable, but why? Elrohir released Erestor and stretched lazily. “I must have fallen asleep as well.” That had not been his intention; he had wanted to watch over Erestor, not join him in sleep.
“Why are you here?” Erestor slowly sat upright, pulled his knees to his chest, and wrapped his arms around them. After resting his head on his knees, he watched Elrohir curiously. He vaguely recalled pulling Elrohir into bed with him. Why had Elrohir let him do that? “Should you not be with Elladan?” He had warned Glorfindel to make sure the twins were safe, hadn’t he?
“I do not know where Elladan is,” said Elrohir, sitting upright as well. He swung his feet onto the floor and then rose from the bed. “You look rumpled,” remarked Elrohir in an amused tone. “Maybe a hot bath would help?”
Erestor shrugged. “I do not want to impose on you.”
Elrohir extended his hand, hoping Erestor would take it.
Erestor took hold of the offered limb and slowly rose from the bed, feeling slightly disorientated now that the emotional storm had passed. By Elbereth! He had actually told Glorfindel about the childhood abuse! Shaky, he looked at Elrohir. Did the young half-Elf know as well? He looked away; he didn’t really want to know the answer to that question.
Elrohir steered Erestor into the bathroom, pulled out towels and scented bathing oil, and filled the bathtub. “Do you need my help to remove that sleeping robe or can you manage alone?”
Erestor quickly nodded his head. “I can manage.” It was bad enough Glorfindel had seen him naked! The blond had already seen the scars at the back of his neck, and the last thing he wanted was for Elrohir to notice them as well.
Elrohir smiled understandingly and then closed the door behind him. Whilst Erestor was taking his bath, he instructed one of the servants to bring them dinner and hot tea. He knocked on the bathroom door to make sure Erestor was all right. “Is there anything you need?”
Erestor, who was just sitting down in the soothing, warm water, started slightly at the knock, but relaxed, hearing Elrohir’s voice. “No, I am fine.”
“Call if you need me.” Elrohir smiled, pleased that Erestor was relaxing slightly. He sat down in a chair and waited for the servant to return with their food.
Smiling, Erestor poured some of the scented oil into the water and a sweet, flowery fragrance filled the bathroom. He leaned back in the bathtub, closed his eyes, and simply enjoyed the peace and quiet, feeling rather drained after confessing his past to Glorfindel.
They thought they had succeeded in confining him to his rooms, but Eridhren had sneaked out through the window and climbed back into the house, ending up in the same corridor as his son’s quarters were. Alert, he listened to the voices that emanated from the rooms to his right and he immediately identified his son’s voice. Listening closer, he heard a second voice, which belonged to Elrohir, Elrond’s youngest son. When he had joined them for dinner he had admired the twins, developing a particular liking for Elrohir. /This way I can get them both!/
A servant, carrying a tray filled with delicious food items, suddenly appeared to his right. Realizing he was heading for the rooms his son and Elrohir were in, Eridhren moved quickly. He sneaked up from behind, slung an arm around the servant’s neck and squeezed hard, cutting off the Elf’s air supply. After catching the tray with one hand, he slowly laid down the now unconscious Elf behind a curtain. He headed for the door and knocked.
“Who is it?”
Ah, Elrohir’s voice. Eridhren was already having visions of making the young half-Elf submit to him, and then he would have his way with his beautiful body. “I am bringing you dinner.”
Elrohir, not suspecting any danger, walked over to the door and opened it. His eyes widened, coming face to face with Eridhren. He wanted to scream in order to alert Erestor, but Eridhren quickly placed his hand over his mouth, keeping him from calling out.
Eridhren grinned, seeing the shocked expression on the half-Elf’s face. “I think I prefer you to your father. I like them young!”
Elrohir, furious with himself for getting caught this easily, tried to shake Eridhren off, but suddenly a knife appeared close to his throat, digging into his flesh.
Eridhren kicked the door shut behind him and steered a struggling Elrohir toward the fireplace. “Fight me and I will only hurt you more.”
Elrohir refused to surrender and managed to kick Eridhren’s shin. But the tip of the blade suddenly dipped beneath his skin, cutting into his flesh and he instinctively froze in his tracks. Erestor was in the next room and he had to make sure his former mentor stayed there! He had to prevent Eridhren from getting to him at all cost. “We are already on to you! We know what you really are. My father will deal with you!” He hoped his words would enrage Eridhren so the elder Elf would lose his calm and make a mistake.
“I will get to Elrond eventually,” sneered Eridhren, “but first I am going to try you. And then I am going to teach my son to never run away again!”
Elrohir doubled his efforts to free himself, hearing Eridhren’s threats. “I will make sure you never touch him again!”
“Ah, he told you then?” Eridhren was surprised. “I thought I had taught him only too well what punishment awaited him if he ever confided in someone.”
Enraged, Elrohir struggled, but he managed to free himself when Eridhren lost his footing. His attacker then held onto him in an effort to break his fall.
Elrohir hit the floor hard and his head banged into a wooden chest. Panting, his vision darkened momentarily, and he realized he was losing this fight. /I have to fight back; I have to protect Erestor… He depends on me!/ But the room was spinning and every attempt at rising to his feet failed. When his vision cleared, he saw that Eridhren was quickly advancing on him with a malicious grin on his face.
The noises coming from the bedroom startled Erestor, who froze and listened closely, trying to determine if something was wrong. He knew Elrohir was still in the next room, but… His eyes widened, hearing his father’s slithery voice. Eridhren had finally made his move, as he knew his father would.
He rose from the water, ignoring the droplets that dripped from his body. He didn’t bother to wrap a towel around himself; instead he removed one of the ceremonial daggers he had hung for decoration on the wall. Tightly curling his fingers around its hilt, he sneaked toward the doorway, slowing pushing the door ajar.
The scene, which now unfolded in front of him, nearly froze the blood in his veins. Elrohir was on his back, looking disorientated, and his father was straddling the twin’s hips, dragging a knife down Elrohir’s throat. Finally getting a look at the half-Elf’s eyes, he realized they were glazed; Elrohir was injured. Now it was up to him to save the young half-Elf. Hiding the knife behind his back, he stepped into the room.
Eridhren’s grin twisted, seeing Erestor emerge from the bathroom. “Naked already? That eager, child?”
Elrohir was slowly regaining his sight and now stared at Erestor. /What is he doing? Why did he not stay in the bathroom?/ Eridhren’s knife was still positioned near his throat and warm blood was dripping onto his robes from where the Elf had cut him. “Erestor, lock yourself up in the bathroom!”
But Erestor, feeling entranced, shook his head. “I won’t let him do to you what he did to me. I will stop him.”
Eridhren laughed coldly. “You? You want to stop me? Child, you never managed to stop me before.”
“I am older now, stronger.” Erestor tried to decide on a strategy. He wanted to disarm Eridhren without Elrohir being hurt in the process.
“We will see about that. Come here, child, obey me.” Eridhren pushed the knife deeper into Elrohir’s flesh as a warning.
“Erestor, do not listen to him! Leave this room, now!” Elrohir was growing frustrated. Why wasn’t Erestor listening?
Erestor surprised himself, feeling calm and calculating. Coming to a stop in front of his father, he met Eridhren’s gaze. “Your face has haunted me my entire life. I want it to stop.”
Eridhren frowned; what was Erestor talking about? “You had better do as I say, or this young one will pay dearly for your disobedience.”
Knowing he would only get one chance to disarm his father, Erestor carefully chose the right moment to act. As his father looked down to gloat at Elrohir, he moved forward.
But Eridhren realized something was wrong and raised his knife to ward off Erestor’s blow. Glaring at his son in disbelief, he grew furious. “How do you dare to attack me? Your own father?”
Erestor used this opportunity to push his father away from Elrohir, making sure the half-Elf was safe now. “Don’t you dare touch him! You will never hurt anyone again!”
Eridhren’s eyes caught fire and he raised his hand to bury his knife in Erestor’s chest.
Erestor felt paralyzed and his eyes seemed glued to the shiny blade that now descended slowly, aimed at his heart. Maybe it was best this way. What kind of life did he have left now that Glorfindel, and shortly the rest, knew what his father had done to him? Maybe it was better to join his mother in the Halls of Waiting instead of hanging on to his life. His father had never wanted him, and, except for the last few days, his life had been misery. Waiting for the knife to end his life, he was stunned when Elrohir pulled his legs away from underneath him, causing him to tumble onto the floor. At the same time an angry scream echoed through the room.
Glorfindel pounced on Eridhren, pushed him against the wall and tried to take possession of the knife. When he had heard their voices he had run down the corridor, only arriving just in time to keep Eridhren from plunging the blade into Erestor’s chest. “You bastard!” How had Eridhren managed to fool the guards in the corridor? But he could worry about that later; Eridhren was now aiming the tip of the knife at his throat and he had to stop the disturbed Elf.
Erestor stared at Elrohir, who was dragging him away from the two fighting Elves. Still feeling paralyzed, he allowed Elrohir to take hold of his dagger, vaguely wondering what the young half-Elf was up to.
Eridhren’s blade now touched Glorfindel’s throat and was beginning to pierce his skin. The Elda knew this was serious; Eridhren was capable of ending his life. Suddenly Eridhren released an angry whimper and the Elf’s eyes widened.
Elrohir staggered back, sank onto his knees next to Erestor, and both of them stared at the hilt of the knife sticking out of Eridhren’s side. The half-Elf wrapped his arms around Erestor, dragging him with him as Eridhren approached.
Eridhren’s eyes flashed madly in their sockets as blood began to drip from his lips. “You… You really…” He couldn’t believe that Elrohir had stabbed him!
Hearing his father’s voice awoke Erestor from his trance-like state and he realized that he was on his knees with Elrohir’s arms tightly wrapped around him. His father was prowling closer. They had to get away from him before Eridhren could hurt Elrohir. All he could think about was protecting Elrohir from his father.
Glorfindel moved in quickly now that Eridhren’s back was toward him. Had the Elf gone truly insane, presenting himself as such an easy target? When Eridhren raised his hand, and aimed his dagger at Elrohir, Glorfindel acted. Pulling a knife from his boot, he raised his hand and buried the blade to the hilt in Eridhren’s back.
A keening wail left Eridhren’s lips as he hit the floor. His body suffered several rounds of convulsions, but then Eridhren grew motionless, Glorfindel nudged Eridhren with his foot to make sure he was dead.
Erestor gasped, seeing the pool of blood that was quickly forming beneath his father’s body. “Is he… dead?”
Glorfindel sat on his heels and searched for a pulse, which he didn’t find. “Aye, he is dead.”
Erestor blinked several times, trying to understand what had happened during these last few minutes. Everything had happened so quickly! Recalling that his father had attacked Elrohir, he quickly looked at the half-Elf and started to check him for injuries. “Did he hurt you? You are bleeding!” He encountered some drops of blood on Elrohir’s throat and checked the small wound with shaky hands.
“It is just a scratch,” said Elrohir reassuringly. Seeing the distant expression in Erestor’s eyes, he reached out and managed to grab a blanket, which he wrapped around Erestor’s naked body. “He did not hurt me.” Seeing Erestor’s big eyes brought tears to his. “It is true, mellon-nîn. I am unharmed.” Erestor’s fingertips still hovered above his throat and he repeated his words, hoping he would get through to the elder Elf this time. “I am fine, Erestor.” Elrohir signaled for Glorfindel to approach.
The blond sat on his heels next to them, taking Erestor into his arms. “It is over now. He is dead. He can never hurt you again.” Glorfindel buried Erestor in a warm hug, growing worried when the raven-haired Elf didn’t react. “Erestor? Can you hear me?”
Erestor blinked again, and this time Glorfindel’s voice registered with him. Staring at his father’s corpse, he shivered beneath the blanket. “How did… he… get in here?”
Elrohir guiltily bowed his head. “I let him in. I thought he was a servant bringing dinner.”
Glorfindel bit his bottom lip whilst tightening his hold on Erestor, who was now trembling violently. “The guards should have stopped him from leaving his quarters. You are not to blame, Elrohir.”
“What do we do now?” Elrohir got to his feet again and drew in a deep, steadying breath.
“Instruct one of the guards to take the corpse to the healing house,” said Glorfindel softly, “The healers will tend to the body.”
“Stay with Erestor,” replied Elrohir, who left Erestor’s rooms to instruct the guards. He also needed a private moment to sort out his thoughts. Then he would inform his father whilst Glorfindel took care of Erestor.
“Your hair is wet,” remarked Glorfindel, slightly puzzled.
“I was taking a bath when… when I heard him threatening Elrohir.” Erestor felt strangely calm now that his father was dead.
Glorfindel saw the shock in Erestor’s eyes and bestowed another warm hug on the shivering Elf. “We should leave this room.”
Erestor nodded once and allowed Glorfindel to help him to his feet.
Glorfindel made sure the blanket stayed in place whilst steering the dark-haired Elf into the corridor. “We will go to my rooms.”
Erestor hardly heard Glorfindel’s voice. He was still trying to comprehend what had just happened. His father was dead. Eridhren no longer presented a danger to him, and, for the first time in his life, he felt free.
Glorfindel had a vague idea of what was going through Erestor’s mind and chose to remain quiet during their walk to his quarters. He sat the dark-haired Elf down on the bed, searched the closet, and returned with a burgundy robe, made of soft, warm velvet. After pushing the blanket from Erestor’s shoulders, he dressed the absentminded Elf in the warm robes. “Better?”
Erestor finally pulled himself from his memories and looked at the blond. “Thank you,” he whispered, realizing very well that Glorfindel had probably saved his and Elrohir's lives.
Glorfindel pulled up a chair and sat down opposite Erestor, who extended his hands. Correctly interpreting that motion, Glorfindel clasped the dark-haired Elf’s hands in his, rubbing the skin. “Why don’t you tell me what happened? Maybe it will help you cope.”
Erestor nodded absentmindedly. “I was taking a bath when I heard his voice. I took one of your daggers and challenged him. I had to get him away from Elrohir!”
“You challenged him?” Glorfindel smiled proudly. “You stood up to him?”
“I tried to,” said Erestor, blushing slightly under Glorfindel’s proud look. “But I was no match for him. If it had not been for you—“
Glorfindel interrupted him. “But that does not matter. Don’t you understand, Erestor? You did not hide from him! You stood up to him and challenged him! You are much stronger than you think!” The look of surprise that Erestor gave him caused a sad smile to surface on his face. “You do not even know just how strong you are, do you?”
Erestor shook his head. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
And the sad thing was, Erestor really didn’t, realized Glorfindel. “When I got injured in that storm you set aside your own pain and took me back to Imladris. Do you have any idea how much courage and strength that took? You allowed Elrohir and I in; you finally put your trust in us. Again, do you even realize how courageous you are to do that? And now you defended Elrohir from your father.”
At a loss, Erestor simply stared at Glorfindel. What was the blond raving about?
Seeing the puzzled expression in Erestor’s dark eyes, Glorfindel settled for a warm, encouraging smile. “Do you want to go back to sleep?”
“I do not want to sleep. I cannot sleep, not after… He really wanted to hurt Elrohir.”
Glorfindel wisely held his tongue and kept silent about Eridhren’s attempt to assault Elrond. “But you stopped him. Elrohir is safe.”
“What do I do now?” Erestor nearly panicked as his feelings overwhelmed him. He felt adrift on a sea of emotions, helpless and without a beacon to guide him. He clung to Glorfindel instead.
The blond sucked in his breath when Erestor suddenly flung himself at him, enveloping him in a tight hug. He quickly brought up his arms behind Erestor’s back and returned the embrace. The fact that Erestor was no longer afraid to reach out encouraged him. Warm and fiercely protective feelings rose in his heart, as he hugged Erestor close. Suddenly, he recalled the dark-haired Elf’s question. “I will tell you what to do.” Erestor pleadingly looked at him, and he continued, “You will stay here, with me, and we will wait for your nerves to calm down.”
Erestor nodded slowly. That sounded logical.
“And then we will discuss the future.”
“What is there to discuss?” Erestor frowned, deeply.
“Things will change, are already changing,” said Glorfindel passionately. “I won’t allow you to hide any longer.”
Erestor sighed, dejectedly. “Things will go back to normal only too soon.”
“I do not think so.” Glorfindel placed two fingers beneath Erestor’s chin and lifted the dark-haired Elf’s head so they made eye contact. These warm and protective feelings, which he had identified moments ago, were blossoming, becoming stronger and more passionate. There was no denying that he greatly cared about Erestor, but there was more to it. He hadn’t felt like this for centuries. Was it really love that was blossoming inside his heart? And if it was, would Erestor ever feel the same way? Should he take the risk and reveal his attraction, which he suspected had been there for quite some time? This was hardly the right time. “You are afraid things will go back to normal then?”
Erestor, who had rested his head on Glorfindel’s shoulder, nodded. “I know they will, but…I do not want to be alone any more. I do not think I could deal with losing your friendship - or Elrohir’s for that matter. Having friends feels so… so warm. I never felt like that before. I do not want to lose that feeling.”
“You won’t,” vowed Glorfindel, passionately. Erestor’s face was only inches away from his, and he was overwhelmed by the urge to kiss the raven-haired Elf. He didn’t know if it was a wise thing to do, but he gave in, softly touching his lips to Erestor’s.
Erestor’s eyes widened and his breathing stopped momentarily, seeing Glorfindel lean in closer and then… then he felt soft lips against his for the first time in his life. The kiss was warm and gentle, and when Glorfindel pulled back, Erestor found he was panting softly. “Why did you do that?” He couldn’t think of a reason why the blond would possibly want to kiss him!
Glorfindel grew sad, seeing the confusion in Erestor’s eyes. “I do not know when it happened, but it seems I have fallen in love with you.”
“In love with me?” Erestor shook his head in disbelief. “Why do you say such a thing? Why hurt my feelings when I am already feeling miserable? I do not need you to lie to me.”
“Lie?” Glorfindel couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Why do you think I am lying?”
Erestor pulled back, freed himself of Glorfindel’s embrace, and folded his arms around his waist. “What is there to love? My sharp tongue? You cannot possibly love me. I do not believe it.” But the truth was that he was afraid to believe it. He had always hoped that someone would break through his defenses, but he couldn’t believe the Elda had developed feelings for him. “Look at you, Glorfindel. You are a mighty warrior, skilled diplomat and radiantly beautiful. Why would you love me?”
“You think I am beautiful?” Glorfindel’s smile grew brilliant. “Aye, you do.”
Erestor didn’t know how to react to that. It was the last thing he had expected Glorfindel to say.
“Erestor, you –like- me, do you not?” Glorfindel realized this would be tricky, but Erestor had just called him a skilled diplomat, so he figured he would manage. “Do you?”
“Aye, I like you,” whispered Erestor, averting his eyes. Why was Glorfindel doing this to him? “But I know you cannot love me and you do not need to pretend you do. I am more than happy to be your friend… if you will let me.”
Glorfindel slowly raised his hand and placed it against Erestor’s cheek, letting a fingertip trace the outline of the other Elf’s lips. “You never had a lover before…” he realized, wondering why he felt shaken when it was only logical that Erestor had stayed clear of relationships. “And you cannot believe I love you.”
Erestor nodded. “Glorfindel, I… I…” Lost for words, he bowed his head.
Glorfindel raised Erestor’s chin again. This time tears lurked in the dark eyes and he leaned in closer, gently kissing first one, and then the other eyelid. “Do not cry anymore, nîn amdir. You once said you hoped that some good was left on Arda, and I finally understand what you were trying to say. Will you give me a chance to prove myself to you?”
“What are you saying?” Erestor was trembling, feeling uncertain.
“I have fallen in love with you, Erestor.” Glorfindel stroked the long, still damp tresses. “I know this is new to you, but put your hope and trust in me, please.”
Erestor was at a loss for words momentarily and simply stared at the blond. “You cannot love me. No one ever has.”
Glorfindel’s gaze became stern, determined. “I do love you, nîn amdir. These feelings are new to me as well, but I want to explore them… with you.”
Erestor sighed, distressed. “I do not understand why you are doing this. No one has ever loved me. Why would you?”
Glorfindel realized that words wouldn’t get through to Erestor, so he leaned in and claimed the dark-haired Elf’s lips again, tender and patiently. When he pulled away, he saw a new, hopeful expression in Erestor’s eyes and he smiled, pleased. “I do love you and I will make you understand.”
Erestor quivered, hearing Glorfindel’s determined and passionate tone. “I wish I could believe you.”
His fingers now tangled in Erestor’s long hair and Glorfindel smiled warmly. “I will make you believe. I promise.”
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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