Heart In Chains
“I must say I am curious,” started Glorfindel softly. “I never met a pregnant male Elf before.”
Haldir wasn’t sure how to respond. “Erestor is also the first pregnant male Elf I ever met,” he said eventually. Eager for Glorfindel to like Erestor, so the dark-haired Elf would have another friend here, he added, “He is also one of the kindest souls I ever met.”
Glorfindel nodded once, then gave Haldir a thoughtful glance. “I am surprised that Celeborn would send his Captain to attend to this Elf. I would imagine your men miss their commanding officer.”
“Celeborn is more than capable of leading his men himself,” said Haldir somewhat defensively, growing alert. Glorfindel’s questions seemed innocent, but they weren’t. “Sometimes we need to get our priorities straight.”
“And Erestor is more important than securing Lothlorien’s borders?” They had reached the corridor in which Haldir’s quarters were situated, and Glorfindel stopped at the appropriate door.
“In a certain way, he is,” said Haldir, determinedly meeting Glorfindel’s puzzled eyes. “Each child that comes to us is precious.”
Again, Glorfindel nodded his head. “You are right, of course.” Glorfindel opened the door and signaled for Haldir to step inside. “I hope to learn more about this unique Elf. It is rare for a male to be pregnant.”
“As you said, Erestor is quite unique.” Haldir inspected his quarters, knowing Glorfindel expected him to and then nodded his head. “These are very luxurious quarters.”
“They are to your liking, then?”
“Yes.” Haldir didn’t dare meet Glorfindel’s eyes, now that butterflies were tickling his insides. The Balrog Slayer was kind, intelligent and polite, but Haldir wondered what sides of his personality Glorfindel was hiding and found himself eager to find out. He was intelligent enough to realize he was considered handsome himself, as many Elves had tried to court him. Except for Erestor, he had rejected most of them, but Glorfindel would be worthy of him. The question was; did Glorfindel deem him worthy in turn?
“I hope the rooms are to your liking, Erestor,” said Lindir, confident that the spacious quarters would please his guest. He had selected a suite with a large balcony, offering a grand view of Imladris’ waterfalls. This suite was usually given to royal guests, but as Celeborn had seemed so concerned about Erestor, Elrond had decided to pamper their pregnant guest.
Erestor swallowed hard, looking about. The bedroom was large, held a desk, two comfortable chairs, a wardrobe and a luxurious four-poster bed with a star-speckled canopy.
Rumil gently pulled him into the bathroom to point out the pool, sunken into the floor. “Now you can turn into a prune,” said the silver-haired Elf teasingly.
Erestor grinned and gave Rumil a warm smile. He appreciated it that Rumil was staying close to him. But he still hoped that Haldir would join him later. He needed his protector close.
Lindir also smiled, realizing these airy and sunlit rooms were just what Erestor needed. His eyes dropped lower, coming to rest on the dark-haired Elf’s abdomen. Erestor was holding his hands protectively in front of him, but Lindir could still see the slight distention, revealing his pregnancy. When Elrond had told him about their guest, he had found it hard to believe that a male Elf could conceive, but he was seeing the proof now. Lindir cleared his throat in order to gain Erestor’s attention. Once the dark-haired Elf’s shy gaze was directed at him, he said, “Would you like to eat breakfast in the great hall or would you prefer it to be brought to your rooms?”
Erestor, feeling a tad nervous, let his dark hair fall in front of his face. “My rooms, please.” That way he didn’t have to face any judging eyes.
“As you wish,” said Lindir, making a mental note. “Would you like some light refreshments before going to bed?” Ithil had long risen, but he imagined a pregnant Elf might still be hungry.
“Nay, thank you.” The last thing Erestor wanted was to be a burden.
Lindir slowly walked toward the doorway now that his services were no longer needed. “A servant will take you to the Healing House in the morning where Lord Elrond will be waiting for you.”
Erestor nodded, his dark hair dancing in front of him. He felt relieved when Lindir finally closed the door behind him and then began to rave. “Why did I come here? What was I thinking? I cannot do this!” Panic was building inside him, but then a hand settled on his shoulder, reminding him that he wasn’t alone.
“You *can* do this, Erestor,” said Rumil firmly. “You deserve to be treated well, and not like Galadriel has treated you. She used you in so many ways. It looks like Elrond wants to pamper you, let him.”
Erestor sighed, distressed. “These are alien surroundings and these Elves…”
“They will get to know you and come to care for you. Give it time. And I think Elrond is right; you do need to rest. You are swaying on your feet.” Rumil gently took hold of Erestor’s arm and guided him to the bed, where he sat him down. He then lifted Erestor’s feet, not leaving his charge a choice but to comply.
Erestor lay down, looking at Rumil thoughtfully. “I do not want Orophin and you to leave.”
“Haldir will stay with you and Lindir seems friendly. I am sure you will quickly make new friends here.” Seeing the look of abandonment in Erestor’s dark eyes, he sighed and then lay down as well, spooning behind his charge. He knew from personal experience that Erestor wouldn’t be able to sleep in a strange bed when he was alone. “Rest now.”
“Will you wake me if Haldir joins us?”
“Of course,” said Rumil, soothingly stroking the long hair. “Now rest.”
Erestor was finally able to let go, now that someone was watching over him and his baby, and he drifted off into reverie.
The moment Glorfindel closed the door behind him, Haldir removed his arms and cloak and then left as well, heading for Erestor’s rooms. He hoped Rumil had managed to comfort Erestor, who had seemed distressed. Entering without knocking first, Haldir smiled, seeing Rumil holding Erestor in his sleep.
Rumil’s eyes immediately sought out Haldir’s. “He is worried.”
Haldir sat down on the bed and the two brothers traded positions. Now it was Haldir lying down and holding Erestor, who instantly moved closer.
“Worried about what?” Haldir instinctively placed one hand over Erestor’s abdomen, hoping the dark-haired Elf felt protected.
“He does not know how to act around them. He has been confined for too long.” Rumil bit his bottom lip, knowing very well that it would take time for Erestor to feel comfortable here. If only Orophin hadn’t drawn the wrong conclusion all those millennia ago! Rumil felt guilty for his brother’s mistake in judgment, knowing Orophin felt even guiltier.
“Go to bed, Rumil. Orophin and you still have a long trip back ahead of you and you need the rest. I will look after Erestor.”
Rumil got to his feet, walked toward the doorway and looked at Erestor one last time. He wasn’t sure if he would ever see the dark-haired Elf again. “Take good care of him *and* the baby, Haldir.”
“I will,” promised Haldir. “I will treat the little one as if she were my own child.” Then Haldir added privately, /At least until Elrond comes to care for you, lirimaer./
Erestor woke the next morning because Haldir was moving about in bed. “Lay still…”
“I cannot do that, lirimaer. I need to return to my room. I think it would be best if they did not discover just yet that I tend to sleep in your bed.”
The expression in Erestor’s eyes grew sad. Turning around in Haldir’s embrace, he made eye contact with the silver-haired Elf.
“I might not be able to come to you every night, Erestor,” said Haldir softly. “I might find myself tangled up with other engagements.”
“Like?” Erestor didn’t like the sound of this.
Haldir drew in a deep breath before delivering the bad news. “Glorfindel mentioned that Elrond is interested in learning more of Lothlorien’s defensive actions when it comes to securing our borders. Glorfindel asked me to occasionally patrol the borders with him and see if I can add to their guards’ training.”
Erestor’s eyes narrowed, hearing a certain note to Haldir’s voice when speaking the name of the blond. “Glorfindel?” His first suspicion was quickly confirmed when Haldir failed to stop his blush from spreading over his face. “Glorfindel?” The blush intensified and Haldir cleared his throat. “Glorfindel!” Erestor smiled sorrowfully. “You like him?”
“Not in the way that I like you!” Haldir averted his gaze. “I did not wish for you to find out when I am not certain of my feelings yet.”
“They seem very clear to me.” Erestor felt somewhat saddened, realizing that he would have to let go of Haldir shortly, which meant he would stay behind alone. But another part of him rejoiced. He had never been able to fully return Haldir’s feelings and the march warden deserved someone who could love him in return. “You are in love with him.”
“I am not,” said Haldir grumpily.
“You are.” Erestor’s voice was remarkably tender, speaking those words. Using one hand to raise Haldir’s face, the other’s gaze reluctantly met his. “I told you before that I want you to be happy. Pursue this. Find out if the feeling is mutual.”
“Erestor! Glorfindel and I met only last night! It is not like we are going to get married tomorrow!” The willingness – almost eagerness – with which Erestor was accepting this unnerved Haldir. But what other reaction had he expected? Erestor never threw tantrums. “No matter what happens, I want you to know that you will always hold a very special place in my heart.”
“I know that,” said Erestor sincerely. “I came back for you. I would never have done that if it had not been for your love.”
Haldir swallowed hard. “I do not want to hurt you, lirimaer.”
“We always knew that this day would come. And I am happy that you are falling in love. I just hope Glorfindel realizes what a treasure you are and that he will treat you right.”
“Erestor, this is so very new and you are talking like Glorfindel and I are already together. We are not.”
“Then make sure he becomes yours, meleth-nîn.” Erestor tenderly stroked Haldir’s brow. “Impress him, do whatever is necessary to make him notice you.” The smile that appeared on Haldir’s face made him smile in turn. “I am certain you are capable of seducing Glorfindel.”
“Seducing Glorfindel? Is that your advice on what course to take in this matter?” Haldir grinned.
“Yes.” Erestor rubbed Haldir’s brow with his thumb and then pulled away. The time had come to distance himself from the march warden. In that way he could give Haldir a chance to build a new life for himself here, hopefully with Glorfindel at his side. “And now go back to your room. I need to take a bath and see Elrond.”
Haldir refused to be rushed. “Are you nervous about that?”
Erestor sighed. “I would be lying if I told you no. I *am* nervous. But I also know I have to do this.”
Haldir tightened the hold he still had on Erestor, refusing to let go just yet. “Do you want me to accompany you today?”
Erestor was tempted to accept, but shook his head in the end. He had to stop being so dependent on Haldir. “I will manage alone.”
Haldir doubted that, but remained quiet, allowing Erestor to make his own decisions.
Elrond looked up from his plate when Glorfindel entered his private chambers. Normally he joined his staff for breakfast in the great hall, but this morning he felt some need for privacy and had decided to eat breakfast in his quarters instead. “Good morning,” he said, greeting Glorfindel, who looked remarkably pensive this morning.
Glorfindel, dressed in his usual silver and green attire, pulled up a chair and sat down opposite Elrond, who was already reading reports at his desk. “Just a word of warning.”
“About what?” His curiosity piqued, Elrond placed the papers aside and looked at Glorfindel whilst sipping his tea.
“I welcomed the party from Lothlorien last night.”
“Ah, how did that go?” Elrond leaned back in his chair and occasionally slipped a morsel of bread, layered with honey, into his mouth.
“Haldir of ‘Lorien seemed nervous for some reason I cannot label and he was remarkably eager to remain near his charge.”
“The pregnant Elf? What was his name again?”
“Erestor.” Glorfindel looked thoughtfully at Elrond. “He kept his face hidden behind his long, dark hair, making it impossible for me to get a good look at his face.”
“And Haldir’s brothers?”
“Rumil accompanied our guest when Lindir seemed to intimidate Erestor.” Glorfindel stole a slice of buttered bread and began to munch on it. In between bites, he added, “They are already on their way back to Lothlorien.”
“Yet Haldir remains?”
“Aye, it is beyond me why Celeborn would assign Haldir to minding this pregnant Elf. Haldir is a formable and cunning warrior, needed to command Celeborn’s men and yet he is sent here.”
Elrond nodded, contemplating Glorfindel’s words. “Erestor must then be important to Celeborn.” An absurd thought entered his mind. “Do you think Celeborn fathered the child?”
Glorfindel shrugged once. “I do not know about that, but I find it odd that Celeborn has a personal interest in this pregnant Elf.”
Elrond agreed. “I will examine Erestor this morning and see what I can find out.” Putting down his empty teacup, he asked, “Did you already make inquiries about my mysterious healer?”
“I did not get a chance yet, but I plan to ask Haldir. He is Celeborn’s confidant and might let something slip. Are your spies making any progress?”
Elrond shook his head. “All they gathered is that a healer did reside there, but they cannot seem to find him.” This vexed him. “I just want to know why he won’t reveal himself to me. I am greatly indebted to him and wish to express my gratitude.”
Glorfindel’s eyes narrowed. “What if he does not have a say in the matter?”
“’Tis possible,” admitted Elrond, “Though I do not know why anyone would force him to help me.”
“We will find out,” said Glorfindel, rising from his chair. “Ah, that reminds me. A word of advice, Elrond. Erestor seemed rather timid to me and easily frightened. I suggest you act with caution when you meet with him. You do not want to scare him off.”
“I will be cautious,” promised Elrond. He watched as Glorfindel ‘acquired’ another slice of bread and then left the room. Now that he was alone again, he surrendered to his musings. /Why are you so important to Celeborn that Haldir is ordered to remain at your side? And why are you so easily intimated?/
Elrond grew tired of asking himself these questions and rose from behind his desk to change into his formal robes. The only way to get his answers was to meet with Erestor.
Erestor gingerly followed the servant who was taking him to the Healing House. Once he had arrived there, his curiosity awoke and now that he was alone, he began to study the herbs that hung from the ceiling, drying, so they could be used in potions later.
One hand remained on his abdomen most of the time. He was nearly seven months pregnant and frightened he could lose his baby any moment now. The possibility of a miscarriage scared him witless and made him think that confining himself to his rooms was the safest way to ensure his child was born healthy.
“Erestor, I presume?”
Elrond’s voice startled him and he spun around, nearly losing his balance. When had the Peredhel entered the room and why hadn’t he heard? Acting on instinct, he let his hair obscure his face, whilst rubbing his abdomen in an effort to assure himself that everything was all right with his baby.
Elrond was taken aback, seeing the dark hair fall like a curtain in front of his patient’s face, obviously in an effort to shield himself from curious looks. “Peace, my friend, I mean you no harm.” Fear came rolling off his patient in waves. “I am Elrond Half-Elven and Lord Celeborn asked me to supervise your pregnancy.” Erestor remained quiet and his body posture told Elrond that his patient desperately wanted to flee the room. “Why don’t we sit down?” He pointed at the pair of comfortable chairs situated near the window. They would have a calming view of the Bruinen when sitting there.
Erestor realized he couldn’t defy Elrond and gingerly shuffled over to the chairs. Seating himself, he made sure his hair continued to hide his face. He couldn’t take the risk of looking at Elrond, afraid that the half-Elf would recognize him.
Elrond also sat down, telling himself to be extremely careful and patient with Erestor. “How do you fare this morning? Any nausea?”
“No morning sickness,” said Erestor in a barely audible voice.
A pleasant tingling sensation coursed through Elrond’s body at hearing Erestor’s voice. For some reason it sounded familiar. “How far along are you?” He had studied the information Celeborn had given him, but preferred to make sure all data was correct.
“Seven months now.” Erestor squirmed uncomfortable on his chair. He desperately wanted to look at Elrond, fling himself into the half-Elf’s arms and be held, but he remained motionless.
So Celeborn’s information had been accurate. “Cramps? Mood swings? Food cravings? Any physical discomfort?” He was working his way to his most delicate question; that of the miscarriage, which Erestor had suffered according to Celeborn’s letter.
“Not really,” whispered Erestor. “I feel… odd at times, but nothing I cannot deal with.”
Elrond didn’t know why, but that answer displeased him for some reason. Clearing his throat, he knew he had to be very tactful. “Celeborn wrote that this is not your first pregnancy.” From where he was sitting he could see Erestor tense up. “I regret bringing up painful memories, but I need to know your medical history.”
Erestor sighed, trying to calm his raging nerves. “Lord Celeborn told you the truth. I suffered a miscarriage three millennia ago.”
Elrond’s heart went out to Erestor. He had delivered his children personally, and the mere thought of Celebrian having a miscarriage and losing one of them filled his heart with pain. “I feel for you, and I will do my best to ensure this one will rest in your arms, sound and well.” Tremors racked Erestor’s body and Elrond wondered if his patient would accept his soothing touch. But when Erestor flinched away from him, he realized it was too soon. “Celeborn’s chief healer examined you before you left and he thought you were pregnant with one child?” Elrond had wondered why Camfael had felt it necessary to include ‘one child’.
“I lost twins…” Erestor choked up, wanting to tell Elrond that *they* had lost twins, but he couldn’t bring himself to confide in the half-Elf. “Boys.”
Elrond’s heart constricted painfully, imagining losing Elladan and Elrohir. That thought caused him much pain and he quickly pushed it away, but it did encourage him to give Erestor the best care possible. “My heart aches for you.”
Erestor sobbed softly, unable to contain his pain and so desperately wanting to share it with Elrond, the twins’ other parent, but he couldn’t. “Thank you. That means a lot to me.” More than he could ever tell Elrond.
“I would like to examine you now,” said Elrond, rising from his chair. He immediately caught the flinch that moved through Erestor’s tense body. “Would you remove your robes and shirt? You can leave your leggings on.”
Erestor’s mouth had gone dry at hearing that request and he prayed Elrond wouldn’t recognize the body that had received him three times in those long millennia. Slowly, he pushed himself to his feet and began to disrobe.
Elrond moved over to the large table that took up a quarter of the room. “Please lie down on your back.” Elrond studied Erestor’s body language and realized this was the last place the other Elf wanted to be.
Erestor forced himself to comply, but once he had lain down, he realized that his hair no longer offered him any refuge from Elrond’s probing eyes.
Elrond was surprised to see Erestor’s large, chocolate eyes, the refined, high cheekbones and luscious lips. The Elf was definitely handsome, beautiful even, and there was absolutely no reason for him to hide behind his hair. /And he reminds me of someone… It is the eyes… In the eyes… Those huge, chocolate eyes./
Pushing that thought aside for now, Elrond concentrated on examining his patient. Placing his hands on the swollen abdomen, he probed the area. “I agree with Camfael. There is only one child.” Trying to make eye contact with Erestor, he was disappointed to find that the Elf had closed his eyes. He continued the examination and encountered the scar the miscarriage had left behind and Elrond felt pity for Erestor, who had lost his twins. “There is some scar tissue.”
“Camfael already told me.” Erestor’s eyes remained close, knowing they could spark Elrond’s memory of other times when he had touched him. “Do you expect complications?”
Elrond rubbed his thumb tenderly over the stretched skin, considering his patient’s questions. “Complications are always possible.” Erestor tensed further and Elrond instantly regretted his words. “But I will do my best to prevent them.”
“May I get dressed again now?” Erestor felt ill at ease, being this vulnerable and partly naked.
“One more moment.” Elrond frowned, fully realizing how skinny Erestor was. Ribs showed clearly beneath the skin. “When was the last time you ate?”
“On the road. Orophin caught some game.” Erestor already knew what would follow.
“You need to increase your food intake, Erestor.”
“I will try,” promised Erestor. He would do anything if only his child was born healthy.
Elrond had finished his examination and stepped away from his patient. “You may dress yourself again.” The speed with which Erestor rose and slipped into his robes amazed him and once more the raven hair obscured the other Elf’s face. “I want to examine you again in one week and do not hesitate to tell me if you feel any discomfort. I am here to make this as comfortable for you as possible.”
“Thank you,” whispered Erestor from behind strands of dark hair. “May I leave now?” The truth was that he didn’t want to return to his room, his new prison. He craved being close to Elrond instead, but also knew the half-Elf was busy ruling Imladris.
“Aye, you may leave.” Elrond sat down and watched the silent and dark form leave the room. “Glorfindel was right,” he muttered privately. “You are easily frightened and intimidated, and yet there is something about you that tells me you are very strong. A true survivor.” Frowning, he realized something else as well. “And your eyes. They remind me of someone… who?” The answer was on the tip of his tongue, but he just couldn’t label it.
Dismissing the thought for now, he headed for his study to take care of his usual daily affairs. But being honest with himself, he had to admit that he was looking forward to having dinner with Erestor. Tonight, he would join the others in the Hall of Fire and partake in the evening meal. He would tell Lindir to assign Erestor a place at his table so he could talk with the mysterious Elf some more.
Return to Archive | next | previous