Glorfindel's Darkest Hour
Chapter 4 - Found!
Erestor stealthily moved through the long and dark corridors under the black tower. Using these passageways was dangerous, but as he was alone, he felt confident that he could easily hide should he happen upon Orcs or Uruk-Hai. Had the twins still been with him, moving about would have proven more difficult.
The corridor split, and he now had to decide what direction to head in. He had never been here before and didn’t have the luxury of a map, so he had to use his senses instead.
Each Elf possessed senses to detect evil, danger and impending disaster, but his were just a little stronger. It was one reason why he had been chosen to be trained by the Elders. Hiding behind a velvet curtain, he centered himself, casting forth his spirit, searching for Glorfindel’s presence. What he found startled him.
/He is in pain. What did these foul creatures do to him?/ Now that he had a general sense of direction, he chose the corridor to his right and climbed the stairs for many minutes. Finally, he came to a halt. Erestor hid in the shadows, biding his time.
Getting inside had been easy, but he doubted leaving Orthanc would prove just as easy. After making sure that the corridor was empty, he sneaked toward the entrance and pressed down the door handle. He opened the door and then quickly slipped inside, closing it behind him.
The room was dark, only illuminated by the light of the moon, and for some reason he shivered. It was a bedroom; the bed was in wild disarray and he startled, seeing the ropes tied to the bedposts. /Glorfindel, what did they do to you?/ Looking about, he saw a faint shimmer of flesh in a corner and a soft groan flowed through the room.
Another whimper prompted Erestor into action. Within seconds he had covered the distance between them and knelt on the cold floor. "Glorfindel?" Cautiously, his hands moved over the cold skin, rolling the blond onto his other side so he could look at the Elda’s face.
The sight that greeted him made him feel sick to the stomach. Blood clung to the golden mane and Glorfindel’s face sported several dark bruises. His bottom lip was split; droplets of blood still possessively clung to the soft flesh. What worried him most was that Glorfindel’s eyes were closed.
"Glorfindel? Please open your eyes?" Erestor was beginning to panic. Was Glorfindel shutting him out? Or had the blond lost consciousness during his ordeal?
Not receiving an answer, Erestor’s hands continued to move down the blond’s body in search of injuries. He hissed angrily, encountering blood and semen on Glorfindel’s buttocks and thighs. "No…"
Fear and helplessness suddenly overwhelmed him and he pulled the unconscious Elf close. Just when he thought he had settled Glorfindel against him, he found more blood. His eyes widened in shock, seeing the slit wrists. "Melamin, no…" At that moment it didn’t matter to him who had slit those wrists, may it be Saruman, an Uruk-Hai or Glorfindel himself. All that registered was that he was going to lose a love which he had kept hidden his entire life.
"I am too late…" stuttered Erestor in disbelief. "I should not have let the twins keep me. I am so sorry, melamin." Rocking Glorfindel in his arms, he pressed his lips onto the blood-stained locks, kissing the blond for the first time in his life. "Now you will never know I love you."
Tears left his eyes and dripped onto Glorfindel’s bruised skin. He continued to rock his charge, whispering softly. "I should have told you I love you… but you were never interested in anyone except Elrond… I am sorry he is not here to say goodbye to you…" His breath came in spurts and his vision had blurred due to his tears. Part of him realized he was making himself an easy target, but he just didn’t care. What good was life without Glorfindel?
"I have lived a long time," whispered Erestor, as determination took shape in his voice. "I have loved once before… and I lost him as well… Sauron killed him and now I have lost you to Saruman... I wish there was a way to reclaim you." Erestor brushed back a stray lock and finally looked upon the blond’s features, which were relaxed in impending death. "This is so unfair, melamin… You are not supposed to suffer like this… Or to die a second time."
Uncovering one of his daggers, he watched, fascinated, as a silvery moonbeam caressed it and reflected his face in the metal of the blade. "I do not want to lose another one I love... I nearly joined Gil-galad when he died, but knowing that he wanted me to go on stopped me… And it became so much easier when you arrived in Imladris… You never suspected how much I love you…" Grimly, Erestor placed the tip of the dagger against his throat, easily locating his carotid artery.
Looking at the blond’s peaceful expression, Erestor sighed. Glorfindel’s breathing, which had been shallow, now stopped. "I won’t let you travel to Mandos’ Halls alone, melamin." With one determined, swift flick of his wrist, he slit the blade across the skin, opening the artery. His death would be swift. He laid his head on Glorfindel’s chest, wanting to stay as close as possible to his love so he wouldn’t lose him when they entered Mandos’ Halls of Waiting. "I… love… you…"
A moonbeam carried his words to Mandos, followed quickly by their souls.
It was the strangest sensation, standing in the Great Halls of Waiting, whilst life was still leaving his body. Looking about, Erestor tried to find Glorfindel, but the blond was nowhere in sight. What was he to do now?
A dark voice boomed through the ancient hall and made him spin around. A raven-haired Elf, dressed in exquisite garments stared back at him. The grey, probing eyes seemed to pierce his very soul and read his every thought. "Who are you? What will happen next?" His eyes narrowed, as his senses told him that this wasn’t a regular Elf. There was a powerful and wise expression in the stranger’s eyes.
"Let us start with that first question. You wanted to know who I am. My name is Námo, but I am known to you by the place I dwell in. I am Mandos!"
Erestor gasped in surprise. "Mandos?" Well, he had to admit it made sense, being in the Halls of Waiting. But why would the Doomsman of the Valar want to talk to him personally?
Although Mandos was the Caretaker of the Houses of the Dead and the Summoner of the Spirits of the Slain, Erestor had never expected to meet the Vala in person. Taking the initiative, he asked, "Where is Glorfindel? Why did you take him away from me?" He had to find his love, had to be reunited with him. He wanted to soothe Glorfindel in whatever way possible.
"Glorfindel… This is his second arrival in my Halls and I had hoped not to see him again for several millennia."
Mandos walked toward him and Erestor barely refrained from shuddering at the Vala’s presence. He had never felt such power before. "Can I see him?"
Mandos shook his head. "Not yet."
Erestor’s heart thundered in his chest. At least he would be reunited with the blond later, if he had interpreted Mandos’ words correctly. "Is he in any pain?"
Mandos waved away his question and Erestor was growing frustrated with the Vala’s elusiveness. "Please… Tell me if he is in pain. The last time I saw him… he… he…" The look Mandos aimed at him made him tremble.
"Why are you here, Erestor?"
Erestor nervously cleared his throat and decided to be brutally honest with the Vala. "I am here because I love Glorfindel and I do not want to live without him. When I cannot be close to him in life, I will be in death." Erestor felt slightly relieved, seeing Mandos nod. Apparently his answer had pleased the Vala.
"What would you prefer? Having Glorfindel live out his life on Middle-Earth or for him to stay here in these Halls? And why?" Mandos aimed his piercing gaze at Erestor.
Erestor shivered under the intense probing glance and bit his bottom lip, trying to come up with a good answer. "Glorfindel is loved by many and we will support him during his recovery. He enriches our lives and…" Erestor bowed his head in defeat. All he had given Mandos so far were excuses, but not the real reason. "I would like to see him overcome this and live out his life on Arda."
"What if I refuse to give him another chance? What if I keep him here?" Mandos studied the brave Elf in front of him. Not many Elves dared to challenge him in the name of love.
Before confronting Erestor he had consulted his brother Irmo about this Elf who was so willing to follow Glorfindel to his Halls. As the Vala known to the Elves as Lórien, Irmo was the master of Dreams and Visions. During their talk his brother had told him some things about Erestor’s past, present and possible futures. In those futures Mandos had encountered a feasible way to send both Elves back to Arda. But first he wanted to know if this Elf was worthy of his help.
Erestor gulped, but stood his ground. "Then I would ask your permission to stay as well so I can keep him company. I do not wish for him to be lonely."
"You would dwell here?" This young one truly intrigued him.
"It would be a small sacrifice, knowing I could ease some of his suffering." Erestor’s hands became fists and he stared stubbornly into the Vala’s eyes. "I will do anything you want, but please, do not keep me away from him when he could be in pain."
Mandos slowly paced the hall, and occasionally glanced at the young upstart. "I will speak frankly. Sending Glorfindel back in his current state would only cause him to fade within weeks. Being violated stole his spirit, his inner light, and not even I am powerful enough to give that back to him. Nor will my brother’s wife, Este, who is the Healer of Hurts and Weariness, be able to prevent it. "
"Is there no other way?" Erestor took a tentative step toward the Vala. "I would do anything! Just ask and I will give it."
Mandos’ brow furrowed. He didn’t know why he was actually considering helping Erestor and Glorfindel. "You said you loved him."
"I do," said Erestor, firmly. "I would lay down my life for him."
"You just did," Mandos said, reminding Erestor that he had slit his carotid artery in order to come here. Studying Erestor, he reached a decision. "You are right; there is a way."
"What do I do?" Hope flared inside him and Erestor took another step toward Mandos, throwing caution to the wind. "Please tell me!" An insane urge to shake some sense into the Vala overwhelmed him, but he managed to keep himself in check.
"How much do you love him?" asked Mandos, cocking his head. "Do you love him enough to bind yourself to him?"
"Bind?" Erestor’s eyes nearly bulged from their sockets. "Please explain yourself."
"Your souls would become one and Glorfindel would draw his strength from you. Your love would be the one thing keeping him alive and strong. But it works both ways," cautioned the Vala. "You will need him in return."
"I will do it," replied Erestor within a heartbeat.
"It is dangerous," warned Mandos. "He might reject you. Do you think he cares for you as well?"
"As a friend, yes."
Mandos slipped his hands into his sleeves, and considered Erestor’s strength. "Physical contact is of the essence. There cannot be any distance between the two of you."
"I will stay close to him." Erestor sobered momentarily. "Or is it required that he loves me back?" For then the plan would fail. He doubted Glorfindel would ever feel that way about him. "I have loved him for centuries and I plan to love him for the rest of my life. I won’t desert him." Erestor meant every word he had said.
Mandos knew it was true. Erestor loved Glorfindel so much that the Elf was willing to die for him. "I hope I won’t regret this. It is folly to give in to you."
"Then why are you considering doing just that?" Erestor had never thought he would convince Mandos to give Glorfindel another chance.
"Because I can see you truly love him," sighed the Vala, "But I cannot send Glorfindel back with his memories completely intact. The memories of the rapes would cause him to fade at any rate."
/Rapes?/ Erestor swallowed hard. /He was violated more than once?/ Erestor nodded determinately. "Aye, take away his worst pain."
"But," Mandos started, turning to face Erestor again, "there is a price. He won’t remember you reclaiming him. He won’t know that you were willing to die for him and that you challenged me."
Erestor swallowed hard. "I will pay whatever price you demand."
"And your life will be in service to his. Do you understand that you can never take a lover? That Glorfindel depends on your love for him? If he does not feel the same way about you, your life will be a lonely one."
"I will say it again; I will pay whatever price you demand." He wasn’t discouraged by the bleak future Mandos painted. "I might never have his love, but I do have his friendship."
"I hope it will be enough," said Mandos dryly. "Then listen to my conditions, Erestor."
Erestor tensed slightly, but he was even more determined than before to follow through. "What conditions?"
"You must convince Glorfindel of your love. He must accept you." Mandos searched Erestor’s eyes. "He must accept your love."
Erestor frowned. "What do you really want from me?"
"You will bed him."
Erestor’s eyes widened. "How can you ask that of him after what he has been through? He won’t be able to bear my touch! And I refuse to hurt him in that way!" He hadn’t thought the Vala could be that cruel.
Mandos smiled momentarily. Erestor’s desire to protect Glorfindel pleased him, but he would insist they made love. "You must understand. Here, in my Halls, pain does not exist. His body is whole. It is his soul that is hurting and you can heal that hurt to some degree by showing him how much he is loved. The choice is yours."
"What will happen if I decline? Will I be allowed to stay?" Erestor couldn’t possibly imagine making love to Glorfindel after having seen the evidence of rape on the blond’s body.
"Nay, I will send you back."
"But my body is dying."
Mandos’ lips became a narrow line. "You took your life, Erestor. It is not beyond my power to undo that."
"You would make me leave him behind," said Erestor in a resentful tone.
Mandos’ expression softened. "Love is about sacrifices, Erestor. At least… in your case it is."
Erestor’s glare hardened as he stared at Mandos. "You want me to make love to him, form a bond and then you will erase his memories?"
Mandos nodded. "You said you wanted what was best for Glorfindel. Or are you doing this for yourself? In that case your selfishness won’t save him. Only your love will."
Erestor’s defiance broke, hearing the soft reprimand. "You are right; I want what is best for Glorfindel. But what if I fail and he won’t accept me?"
"Then at least you tried and you can live your life, knowing you did all you could."
Erestor shuddered at the choices presented to him. "You are correct again. I would never be able to live with myself, knowing I had not tried."
"Then convince Glorfindel you love him. Make love to him in order to prove that and I will restore life to both of you."
"I accept your terms." Erestor’s gaze met Mandos’, and the Vala nodded once.
"So it begins…"
Suddenly his vision darkened and Erestor felt himself falling… Falling toward the weak light that was left of Glorfindel’s soul.
Glorfindel stared at the floor, brooding, now that he had found himself in the Great Halls of Waiting. He had wandered about for some time and had then retreated into this desolate room.
The Halls were still a gloomy and lonely place, but this time he didn’t find himself fighting the prospect of having to stay here. The quiet soothed him and he tried hard to deal with what had happened to him at Saruman’s hands.
As a warrior, he knew that rape wasn’t about sex. It was about dominance and power. And Saruman and the Uruk-Hai had clearly demonstrated that. Their only goal had been to make sure he conceived and carried the first one of a new, stronger race. The thought appalled him and he wrapped his arms around his waist, rocking himself.
When he had realized that Mandos wouldn’t call his soul to the Halls, he had become desperate. Apparently Saruman’s sorcery was stronger than he had thought. The spell would keep him alive and in his despair, he had used a pair of scissors, which he had found on the Wizard’s dressing table, to slit his wrists. He had grown cold, when life had left his veins and he had eagerly accepted the pull, which felt familiar. Mandos was finally calling him to his Halls. He doubted he would have died, hadn’t he slit his wrists.
Now that he was in the Great Halls, he felt lonely and cold. His body, which he had left behind in the dark tower of Orthanc, had been recreated in a semblance of his old one. He felt whole and all aches had left his lower body, but the memories still lingered, though they had lost some of their intensity. He now felt detached and viewed everything that had happened to him in a distant way.
Saruman’s actions had left him little choice but to take his own life. He refused to carry the child Saruman wanted and preferred the Halls’ loneliness. Rocking himself, he wished he had said goodbye to Elrond and the twins; wished he had been allowed to hold Elrond and his children one last time, for they had grown precious to him and he loved them. But fate had denied him a last goodbye.
Erestor found him that way, rocking and mumbling softly. Listening momentarily, he recognized Elrond’s name and those of his children. He couldn’t imagine how badly Glorfindel was hurting, being left alone after centuries of shared affection.
He didn’t want to intrude on what was clearly a very private moment, but his need to comfort Glorfindel urged him on and he stepped into the room. "Glorfindel?" he whispered his friend’s name softly, trying to discretely announce his presence.
Glorfindel’s head snapped up, and he stared at Erestor in shock. "Erestor?" What was the dark-haired Elf doing here?
Erestor slowly approached the blond, giving Glorfindel a chance to grow used to his unexpected presence. "Aye, I am here." He sank onto his knees in front of the Elda and placed his hands, palms turned upward, on the blond’s knees.
Glorfindel frowned. "What are you doing here, Erestor?" He couldn’t believe the advisor was here with him. But when he looked into the dark eyes, he saw something he had never noticed before; love and dedication. "Let me rephrase that; *why* are you here?"
"I am dying," offered Erestor in a soft tone. He gathered Glorfindel’s hands, which now rested in the blond’s lap, in his, and rubbed the soft skin. "That is why I am here."
"Dying?" Glorfindel probed Erestor’s eyes, wondering why he was seeing such love in them. Focusing on Erestor provided him with a much-needed distraction. At least now he didn’t have to think about his own misery. "How can you be dying? What happened?"
Erestor first wanted to tell Glorfindel a lie, but then reconsidered. Mandos would not be pleased about that. So he decided on the truth instead. "I followed you to Orthanc and—"
Glorfindel’s eyes widened. "*You* followed me?" How could Elrond have let that happen? No wonder Erestor was dying! The advisor had no weapons’ skills and the Uruk-Hai probably had easily dealt with him! Part of him was also disappointed that Elrond hadn’t come after him personally. He had thought the half-Elf cared about him.
Glorfindel’s face was an open book to Erestor. "Elrond would have come for you, if he could, but Imladris cannot do without him. So I came instead."
"But why you? You are not a warrior…" But then something else registered; Erestor’s clothes and the warriors’ braids he was wearing. Freeing one hand, he tentatively touched the raven hair. "Why are you wearing these?"
"It is a long story," sighed Erestor, "And we do not have the time for it now."
Hearing those words made Glorfindel frown deeper. "We have all the time we can possibly need, Erestor. We are in the Great Halls of Mandos."
"But there is still a way for us to return to Imladris," said Erestor with fire in his eyes. Seeing Glorfindel’s puzzled expression, he added, "Mandos will allow us to return to Arda, if…"
"Erestor, you are deluding yourself. Aye, he let me return to Arda once before, but why would he extent that privilege again? And to both of us?" Absentmindedly, his fingers trailed down the braids, marveling at the fact that Erestor was wearing them. Many questions swirled in his head and he didn’t know which one to ask first. "How did you die, Erestor?"
Erestor bit his bottom lip. "I opened my carotid artery," he admitted, giving into temptation, and resting his head on Glorfindel’s knees.
Glorfindel gasped, hearing Erestor’s answer and then the most amazing thing happened; the dark-haired Elf rested his head in his lap. Involuntarily, he continued to caress the raven strands of hair beneath his fingertips. "You took your own life?" A distant part of him wondered how it was possible that Erestor even knew where his carotid artery was located. "Why did you do such a foolish thing?"
Erestor closed his eyes, savoring the momentary closeness. Glorfindel was stroking his hair and he sighed blissfully. "Because you took yours."
Glorfindel, stumbling from one surprise into another, gently cupped Erestor’s chin in his hand and then raised the Elf’s head. "You really ventured into Orthanc for me?" How else could Erestor know he had slit his wrists?
"Aye, I did." Erestor lost himself, staring into those heaven-blue orbs. He had never been this close to Glorfindel; had never felt such intimacy between the two of them and his hungry soul eagerly soaked up the attention the blond was giving him. "I wanted to rescue you."
Glorfindel raised an eyebrow inquisitively. "You are carrying weapons… Old and well-used by the sight of them."
"And I even know how to handle them," said Erestor quickly. "I pretended I was inapt at handling them when I am not. I fought alongside Elrond and the High King."
Glorfindel, too emotionally drained to question Erestor further on this subject, just nodded. "That explains how you managed to reach Orthanc. But it does not explain why you took your life."
Erestor swallowed the lump of emotions that had formed in his throat. Looking adoringly at the blond, he whispered, "Because I do not want to live without you."
"I do not understand you," mumbled Glorfindel confused. Resting one hand on the dark hair, he probed Erestor’s eyes once more.
"I love you," sighed Erestor, "I love you so much that I do not want to live without you."
Revelation upon revelation hit Glorfindel and his mind was reeling. "You… love me?" He had never noticed anything like that and had a hard time believing Erestor. But the ordeal he had suffered at Saruman’s hands had changed him and he now looked past the emotions that Erestor usually presented him with. It was true; a different emotion shone from the dark eyes. "I never noticed."
"I made sure you did not," admitted Erestor, averting his gaze. Glorfindel was still cupping his chin and he relished the sensation too much to pull away. "I did not want to take you away from Elrond. I know how lonely he has been since Celebrían left."
Rendered speechless, Glorfindel stared into Erestor’s warm eyes. "This is a lot to take in, mellon-nîn."
"I know it is, but… I had to tell you."
"Why?" After speaking the word, Glorfindel smiled briefly. "I do seem to be asking that a lot lately."
Seeing that smile warmed Erestor’s heart. "Because Mandos offered to restore us back to life."
The smile faded from Glorfindel’s face. "Why do you think I want to be alive again?"
Erestor suddenly wrapped his arms around the blond’s waist, and deeply looked into the azure eyes. "I know you are hurting. I found you; I know what Saruman did to you, but you are strong and I believe that you can overcome your pain."
Glorfindel, saddened, shook his head. "You do not know everything."
"I know he… violated you," said Erestor, breathlessly, when Glorfindel rested a fingertip against his bottom lip. "But you have Elrond’s support and the twins’, even Arwen, Galadriel and Celeborn will support you. And you have my love… if you want it."
Glorfindel couldn’t deny the ache in his heart, hearing their names. Oh, how he longed to return to them! To hold Elrond in his arms and find that the twins had gotten themselves into trouble again! But he couldn’t. The risk that he had conceived and would bear a child was too prominent. "I have to stay here."
"Why?" Erestor shook his head. "Is it because I, and not Elrond, came after you?"
Glorfindel slowly rubbed his fingertip against the other’s lip and caught the ripples of delight at the touch in Erestor’s eyes. "I no longer doubt you have feelings for me, mellon-nîn, but—"
"Will you not give me a chance to prove my love for you? Won’t you give us a chance?" Erestor pleadingly looked at Glorfindel, hugging him as close as possible.
Glorfindel absentmindedly wondered why he so easily accepted Erestor’s closeness and touch. After the treatment he had suffered, he had thought he wouldn’t be able to bear anyone’s touch. But for some reason, he was touching Erestor in return. "You have no idea what you are asking."
Erestor’s jaw set firmly, addressing Glorfindel again, "If you do not want to try for me, try for Elrond and yourself. I know you want to return to him."
Glorfindel sighed, dejectedly. He couldn’t bear the thought of Erestor learning the true reason why he was so hesitant to return to them. It was bad enough that he had been raped, but the possibility of having conceived terrified him.
"Glorfindel?" Erestor held his breath when the blond finally made eye contact again. "Let me love you? Let me show you there is a reason for you to return to life?"
Glorfindel moistened his lips. "Love me?"
Erestor suddenly felt shy after his courageous plea. "Mandos will only restore us back to life if you accept me… my love… and let me make love to you." Lowering his gaze, he waited for Glorfindel to deny him. After what he had heard he was certain the Elda would refuse him. /But Mandos was right; at least I tried./
Glorfindel shivered at the thought of having to be intimate with anyone, even Erestor. "That sounds just like Mandos." He had dealt with the Vala before.
Erestor’s despair had increased and he made one last effort. "Please? I have had a male lover before and I know how to make it pleasurable for you. There won’t be any discomfort, I promise you."
The tears that were now gathering in Erestor’s eyes deeply touched Glorfindel. His heart urged him to accept, but his mind told him to refuse Erestor. After releasing a deep sigh, he said, "You followed me into Orthanc."
Erestor nodded, feeling confused. He had already explained that to Glorfindel.
"You took your life when you found me dying."
Another nod, and this time the tears flowed freely from Erestor’s eyes. "Aye…"
"And you challenged Mandos for me?" At least, that was what he had gathered from Erestor’s words. The mere fact that Erestor had faced Mandos for him filled him with deep respect.
"I had no choice. He would not let me near you. I could not bear the thought of you being alone or in pain. I told him I would do anything to get you back."
"You must really love me," mused Glorfindel, cocking his head. In his heart, he already knew the answer to Erestor’s question. "Ask me again."
At first, Erestor didn’t know what Glorfindel wanted to hear, but seeing the yielding expression in the blond’s eyes, realization dawned. "Will you let me love you? Will you accept my love for you? Will you trust yourself to me? Will you return to Middle-Earth with me?" Now that he had asked his questions, he grew quiet, but this time he felt slightly more hopeful. "I do love you."
Glorfindel drew in a deep breath and then nodded his head. How could he possibly deny the love that radiated from Erestor’s eyes? "I accept."
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