Heart In Chains
Elrond kept a watchful eye on Erestor’s food intake during dinner. Each time the other Elf tried to push his plate away – after just a few bites – he would raise an eyebrow, and that was enough to convince Erestor to continue eating, for which Elrond was grateful. He couldn’t and didn’t want to lecture Erestor on not eating properly in front of his entire household.
Instead, he tried to catch Erestor’s elusive gaze and when he did, he smiled warmly, hoping to reassure his obviously nervous guest. /Now what can I do to make sure he does not lock himself up in his rooms? I want him to explore the house a bit and maybe… Ah, wait. I will invite him to join me for my daily walk in the gardens. But not here and now, when he already feels uncomfortable./
Elrond looked at Lindir and saw an equally worried expression on his friend’s face. When Lindir leaned in closer, Elrond had to strain to hear the whisper, which told him Lindir didn’t want Erestor to hear his words.
“My Lord, Erestor is wearing the same clothes he wore last night. I thought he would have changed out of them as they are covered in dust -- and quite frankly, they smell of horse.”
Now that Lindir mentioned it, Elrond had to agree. It seemed a talk was in order later.
Erestor had managed to stay out of the conversation at his table and continued to hide himself behind his dark hair. He felt incredibly full, having eaten everything the cooks had prepared for him. Elrond’s arching eyebrow had a lot to do with that. He just couldn’t put down his fork when the half-Elf stared at him like that. The baby had also kicked him several times and he hoped she was glad he was eating this much. However, his huge food intake presented him with a problem when he tried to rise once dinner was finished. Embarrassed, he had to sit down again, as his stomach began to cramp up.
“Is anything amiss?” inquired Elrond, concerned at having seen Erestor struggle in vain.
“I cannot seem to get up,” whispered Erestor embarrassed.
“Let me give you a hand, my friend. I will escort you back to your rooms.” Elrond rose from his chair and extended his right hand, hoping Erestor would take it. Earning Erestor’s trust wouldn’t be easy and would take time.
Erestor stared at the offered limb for quite some time, but realized he didn’t really have a choice if he wanted to return to his rooms. Releasing a strangled sigh, he took hold of Elrond’s hand and allowed the Peredhel to pull him to his feet.
Elrond was reminded of Celebrian, who’d had similar problems when she had been pregnant with the twins and was eager to help Erestor. “Come with me,” he said, guiding Erestor to the doorway. His charge was probably happy to leave the crowded hall.
Erestor managed to keep up with Elrond, as the half-Elf guided him through the corridors. He felt heavy and desperately wanted to lie down, but they still had a few more minutes of walking ahead of them before they would arrive at his quarters. He still wondered why Elrond was taking care of him personally. Surely there was another healer who could take over Elrond’s task?
“Erestor? May I speak frankly with you?” Erestor tensed at his words, his reaction worrying Elrond further.
Those words nearly made Erestor panic, but he managed to control his raging feelings. “What about, my Lord?”
“There is no need for titles now. Please call me Elrond.”
Erestor felt slightly relieved, but still remained on guard, wishing Haldir were here to help him. He felt vulnerable and helpless now that he had to deal with Elrond alone.
“I was wondering why you stayed in your rooms all day long. I expected you to explore your new home and maybe walk in the gardens, where it is cool and shady.” Elrond peeked at Erestor and saw that pallor was spreading over the features.
Erestor wasn’t sure what to say. In the end, he opted for the truth. “I want to limit the chances of suffering another miscarriage.”
“And you think that confining yourself to your rooms will assure that?” Elrond slowly began to understand his patient’s fears, but there was something else he wanted to ask. “I also wondered if you required the services of my tailor, now that your… girth… will continue to expand.” He congratulated himself on that one. He hoped he had offered his services without embarrassing Erestor – not even mentioning the smelly robes.
“I…” Erestor gave Elrond a quick, probing look. “I would appreciate that.” They had reached his quarters and he rested his hand on the doorknob, knowing he owed Elrond an explanation as well as an apology. “I am sorry for bringing this horse’s smell to your table.”
“Aiya, you overheard Lindir’s comment.” Elrond wasn’t sure how to react to learning that.
“I did, and he is right. I do smell of horse, but… The truth is that I did not bring more clothes.”
“Why?” Puzzled, Elrond frowned. “I assumed you knew you were going to live here.”
Still opting for the truth, Erestor explained, “Nay, I did not. Haldir only told me a few minutes before we left Lothlorien. I did not have any time to pack.” Not that he owned much to begin with.
“I will find you robes to wear for tomorrow and I gather you would appreciate some underwear and a nightshirt as well?” Elrond suddenly realized what a poor host he had been. “I will see to it.”
“Thank you,” whispered Erestor, taken aback.
Elrond felt strangely shy, standing close to Erestor. For some reason he wanted to touch the other Elf and he gave in to that need, tenderly tucking a strand of raven hair behind a pointed ear. The sudden wave of energy that followed when his fingertips made contact with Erestor’s skin stunned him, but he pretended not to notice when Erestor flinched away from him. /What was that?/
The unexpected caress had taken Erestor by surprise, and he couldn’t explain the escape of energy either. Maybe it was because the touch had been an intended caress to make him feel better? But why would he react by sending Elrond part of his life energy? By the Grace of the Valar, he had to be more careful in future! Quickly, he took a step away from Elrond and let his hair fall in front of his face.
Elrond was tempted to address the energy transfer, but seeing Erestor’s reaction he realized it was better not to do so. There was no reason to pressure the pregnant Elf for answers; it would only upset him and they had time enough to talk about this, as Erestor would stay here for several years. “You should rest, but first I would like to ask you to accompany me on my daily walk in the gardens tomorrow afternoon. Will you join me? I would like to show you the Bruinen, the waterfalls and the rose gardens.” Slowly, Elrond’s plans were taking shape. “One of my servants will take you to my study.” That way, Erestor wouldn’t feel lost when heading there. /And once he is there, I can find some task for him. Ah, I know what he can do. He can catalogue Thranduil’s lengthy letters. That should keep him busy./ Elrond wanted Erestor to remain busy, as the other Elf struck him as someone who easily fell into depression.
“I do not want to be a burden, my Lo—“ Erestor cringed, seeing the disapproving glance in Elrond’s eyes. The half-Elf wanted to do away with titles. “Elrond,” he finished. The name rolled easily off his lips, but the mere fact that he was talking to Elrond made him nervous. He prayed to the Valar that Elrond wouldn’t uncover the truth about him.
“You are not a burden,” said Elrond reassuringly. His fingertips itched to make contact with Erestor’s skin again, but he controlled himself. “I find I enjoy your company.” Erestor’s big eyes stared at him in surprise.
“How can you enjoy my company?” He had hardly said anything, and the little he had said was because Elrond had coaxed it out of him!
Elrond was briefly rendered speechless, stunned by the expression in Erestor’s eyes. /You have a very low opinion of yourself, my friend. We will change that./ Determined not to get into a discussion now, he said, “Lindir will deliver some clothing to you later tonight and he will take you to my study after the noon meal, which you *will* eat.”
“I will eat,” said Erestor, sighing. He lowered his eyes and stared at the floor. Elrond was acting like his minder, which was a strange realization, considering he had taken care of the baby Elrond had been millennia ago.
“Go and rest, Erestor. You are probably tired.” Elrond was determined to take very good care of his patient. He waited until Erestor had closed the door behind him and then left the corridor, trying to think of more ways to reassure Erestor.
Erestor had wrapped himself up in large, soft towels after washing up. He had decided against bathing in the pool, as he felt tired and he was worried that he couldn’t get out by himself. He was drying his hair, when he heard the knock on his door. Looking about for his dirty robes, he realized he didn’t want to slip into them now that he was clean. He sighed, knowing he had to answer the door in his current state and shuffled toward the doorway. “Enter?” he called out timidly, hoping it was Haldir and not some Elf he didn’t know.
He pulled the towels closer to his body, seeing it was Lindir, bringing the clothes Elrond had promised. The white-haired Elf was struggling somewhat with the huge pile of garments he was carrying, and panted slightly, depositing the clothes on the chair. “Lord Elrond asked me to deliver these to you.”
“Please extend my gratitude to him,” mumbled Erestor from behind his damp hair, hoping Lindir would quickly leave again.
“Could I possibly interest you in some light refreshments before going to bed?” Since the cooks had found out they were preparing meals for a pregnant Elf, they were especially eager to please and they had already given him a tray, which now stood in the corridor. A servant had carried it whilst he had struggled with the clothes.
Erestor could tell by Lindir’s expression that the white-haired Elf hoped he would accept the offer. Unable to refuse, he nodded. “Yes, please, I would like some.” But he still felt full from dinner. Seeing Lindir step into the corridor and return with a tray, he realized Lindir had already brought the refreshments along. It did make him wonder why everyone was fussing over him.
“I will leave you alone now, but please contact me, or a servant, if there is anything you need. Lord Elrond wants you to be comfortable here.” Lindir smiled, bowed slightly and closed the door behind him when he left.
Erestor sat down on a chair and shook his head. Haldir, Rumil and Orophin had fussed over him before, but they had a reason to do so, as he had once saved Orophin’s life. However, he had done nothing of the kind for these Elves.
Realizing he was slowly driving himself insane by thinking this way, he chose a nightshirt from the pile of clothes and slipped into it. The fabric breathed a fragrance of roses, which made him smile.
The tray Lindir had brought still stood on the table, and he gave it a curious look. There was water in a beautifully crafted carafe, fruits and biscuits. He couldn’t resist temptation and slipped a piece of apple into his mouth, sucking on the slice of fruit and relishing the sweet and sour taste. He drank some water and then took the biscuits with him to the bed.
After lying down, he pushed the pillows behind him so they supported him whilst lying down and then nibbled on a biscuit. Aye, he was happy here, but happiness never lasted, at least not in his case. It made him wonder what would happen to ruin his bliss.
When he finally fell asleep, a frown was deeply etched onto his brow.
Glorfindel gave Haldir an amused look. After their ‘passionate’ escapade, they had enjoyed a quick bath and then the march warden had simply acquired his best shirt and most comfortable leggings, which the silver-haired Elf was wearing now. “Are you leaving?” Glorfindel had noticed that Haldir was making for the doorway, which puzzled him. He had assumed they would play some more chess and talk through the night before Haldir would finally leave.
Haldir smiled apologetically. “I need to check on Erestor. He feels out of place and that worries me.”
“Would you mind if I joined you?” Glorfindel slipped into his boots and walked over to Haldir. “I find myself curious when it comes to this Elf.”
“Only if you promise to behave.” Haldir said the words with a smile accompanying them, but the expression in his eyes said that he meant it. “Erestor is easily intimidated and I would love for the two of you to become friends. I do not want you to start off on the wrong foot.”
“I will behave,” promised Glorfindel, growing more curious with every passing minute. “I will be charming.”
“You had better.”
Haldir sat down on the side of Erestor’s bed, careful not to wake the sleeping Elf. He didn’t know when it had happened, but a healthy blush had appeared on Erestor’s face and there were even some biscuit crumbs in his hair. “He finally started to eat.”
“Did you worry about that?” Glorfindel studied Erestor closely when Haldir gently pushed a sleeve up, so he could see the skinny arms. “I understand.”
Haldir licked his lips, needing to confide in his new lover. “When he lost the twins he withdrew into himself for nearly three millennia. We were unable to reach him, but we always continued to care for him.”
“Three millennia?” Glorfindel’s eyes widened in shock.
“He was mourning their deaths,” added Haldir, whilst soothingly stroking the long, raven hair.
“And where was his bonded mate then?” asked Glorfindel, unable to keep the disapproval from his voice. What kind of Elf abandoned a mate in need?
“Unavailable. My brothers and I took care of him, as well as Lord Celeborn. Maybe now you understand why I am this worried about him.”
“I am beginning to understand,” said Glorfindel in a soft tone. “He has suffered much, then?”
“Too much, but he seems to be improving now. I always thought that getting him away from Lothlorien would help.”
“Lothlorien?” Haldir’s last comment slightly confused Glorfindel.
“Galadriel is not fond of him and we often had to protect him from her scheming. But now that he is here, she no longer has any influence on him.”
Glorfindel knew he missed several important pieces of this puzzle. Now that Haldir mentioned that Galadriel had some hold on Erestor, he realized he should connect it with something or someone else. But he felt lost.
“Ha… Hal… dir?” Sleepy eyes regained a mist of awareness, but Erestor didn’t fully awaken, as he felt safe, knowing Haldir close. “Missed… you.”
Haldir leaned in closer and pressed a chaste kiss on the top of Erestor’s head. He couldn’t tell if that action vexed Glorfindel, as the Elda’s face remained unchanged, but he hoped his new lover understood that he couldn’t just stop reassuring and touching Erestor when the other needed it so much. “That is why I am here now. How was your day? Did you leave your rooms at all?”
Glorfindel felt a brief stab of jealousy, seeing the care and affection with which Haldir stroked Erestor’s hair, but then he reminded himself that the pregnant Elf had suffered greatly in the past, and he assumed Erestor had only made it because of Haldir. In the state of half-sleep Erestor was in, the dark-haired Elf didn’t seem to notice him and he stepped further away from the bed, realizing he could scare Erestor if the Elf noticed him unexpectedly.
“Aye, I… did…” Erestor snuggled deeper into the pillows, relaxed and still half asleep. “Elrond… came for me…”
Haldir smiled, knowing the interest Elrond showed was more important than Erestor wanted him to believe. “And did you talk to him?”
“Nay… eat,” said Erestor, yawning. “He made me…eat…”
“That is good.” Haldir continued to stroke the long strands of hair, knowing more information would follow shortly, and Erestor didn’t disappoint him.
“He walked me… back to my…rooms. Had clothes… delivered… and more food…” A giddy smile spread over his face. “Wants me to walk with him… tomorrow… His study…”
Haldir gave Erestor a warm and hopeful smile, briefly forgetting about Glorfindel’s presence. “It sounds like he likes you, lirimaer.”
“Do you think… so?” Erestor’s smile broadened and he pushed deeper into the comfort of his pillows. “I would… like that.”
“I know you would. Now go back to your dreams, Erestor. It sounds like you had a tiring – and exciting – day.” Seeing that Erestor’s eyes were filling with reverie again, he smiled warmly and tucked the blanket tightly around Erestor’s form.
“He seems very fond of Elrond,” commented Glorfindel thoughtfully. That was something he hadn’t expected.
Haldir bit his bottom lip. He didn’t feel like he had the right to tell Glorfindel about Erestor’s secrets. That was something Erestor had to do himself. “Erestor has led a very secluded life and such kindness from a stranger is unfamiliar to him.”
“That must have been a very lonely life, considering he suffered a miscarriage and then withdrew into himself for such a long time.” He felt sympathy for Erestor and slowly began to comprehend why Haldir was this affectionate around the raven-haired Elf. “He has suffered much.”
“Aye, and I hope that now he is in Imladris that things will change. I hope he will be happy here, but he cannot accomplish that alone. He will need friends.”
“I would be more than happy to offer him my friendship,” said Glorfindel, nodding his head. “I mean it, Haldir. He will have a friend in me.”
Haldir carefully rose from the bed after making sure Erestor was still soundly asleep. “Thank you for extending your friendship to Erestor. It means a lot to me.”
Glorfindel gracefully accepted the kiss that Haldir placed on his lips. Working together with Elrond, they would find a way to make Erestor’s life less lonely and more enjoyable.
The next morning Erestor woke up feeling comfortable in his own little nest. He could get used to sleeping amidst these luxurious pillows. His eyes widened, hearing his stomach growl and one minute later, the baby kicked – hard. “I gather that means you are hungry?” Another kick seemed to confirm his question.
As on cue, someone knocked on his door. “Who is it?” His left leg was cramping badly and he struggled into a sitting position. When had his abdomen become this huge?
“’Tis I, Lindir. I bring breakfast.”
Erestor groaned his displeasure, unable to push himself to his feet. “I am sorry, but I cannot open the door.” At that moment, his lower back decided to cramp up as well, and he sagged into the pillows with a startled yelp.
Lindir heard the yelp and immediately opened the door. Worried for the pregnant Elf’s well-being, he rushed inside and placed the tray on the table before heading for the bed. “Is anything amiss? Do you want me to alert Lord Elrond?”
“Nay, that won’t be necessary. ‘Tis cramps. I cannot get to my feet.” Erestor knew he had to ride out the cramps before trying to rise again. So he lay back and hoped Lindir would quickly leave him again.
Lindir felt helpless. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“A massage would be nice,” the words escaped Erestor before he had thought them through. He was seldom sarcastic, but this was one of those times.
“I can do that. Where are the cramps located?” Lindir began to roll up his sleeves so they wouldn’t be in the way.
Erestor’s eyes widened in alarm. “No! I was only thinking aloud!”
“But I meant what I said. If it helps relieve the cramps, I will massage the affected areas.”
Erestor couldn’t stop staring at the white-haired Elf. Why was Lindir offering such a thing? He couldn’t accept the offer anyway. He wasn’t used to strangers touching him. It was only Haldir and his brothers, whom he would allow to massage him in such an intimate way. “I thank you for your kind offer, but I cannot accept.”
Lindir’s first reaction was to pressure Erestor into revealing why the dark-haired Elf was so uncomfortable with the idea of a simple massage, but reconsidered, seeing the startled look in the chocolate eyes. “In that case we will wait until the cramps have passed so I may help you to your feet.” Realizing Erestor felt embarrassed by the whole situation, Lindir walked over to the clothes he had dropped off the evening before and began to hang them in the closet.
Erestor appreciated what Lindir was doing and briefly closed his eyes. The cramps were already lessening, but his stomach continued to growl, and there was another kick of his baby, urging him to feed himself.
After five minutes – just when Lindir had finished putting away the borrowed robes – Erestor made another effort to get to his feet. Before he knew what was happening, Lindir had folded an arm around him and was carefully helping him to his feet. “Thank you.”
“No thanks are needed,” said Lindir, carefully steering Erestor toward the breakfast tray. He judged it important that Erestor ate.
“Bathroom first… please,” requested Erestor in a soft, embarrassed tone. It was getting harder for him to maintain control of his bladder, now that the baby was growing and pushing on his internal organs.
“Of course!” Lindir changed direction and safely delivered Erestor to the bathroom.
Erestor closed the door behind him, pushed the nightshirt out of the way and then… /I am growing so large that I cannot even see my feet, let alone my penis./ Overcome by self-loathing, he bowed his head, unable to face his reflection in the mirror. Camfael had warned him that there would be mood swings, but until now he hadn’t taken that warning seriously.
“Erestor? Is everything well?” Lindir, concerned now that Erestor was taking an awfully long time in the bathroom, knocked on the door.
“I will be out in a moment.” Erestor sighed sorrowfully, and after relieving himself, slipped the nightshirt back into place. Gathering his courage, he opened the door and faced Lindir.
“Now, eat.” Lindir eyed Erestor when he made his way over to the table, ready to steady him in case he swayed.
Erestor sat down and sipped his tea, cringing when he noticed that Lindir was preparing several slices of bread with marmalade and honey. Lindir even put honey in his tea when the white-haired Elf refilled his cup.
“May I lay out your clothes for today?” offered Lindir, eager to help.
Erestor swallowed hard. Not even his clothes were his own. “That would be helpful, thank you.”
“As I said earlier, there is no reason to keep thanking me. I like doing this for you.” Lindir opened the closet and selected burgundy robes, made from a light material that wouldn’t add to the weight Erestor was already carrying. He added comfortable shoes, gathering Erestor might suffer from swollen ankles before the day was through. He placed everything on the bed. “Is there another way I can be of assistance?”
“Nay, th—“ Erestor was stopped short when Lindir gave him a meaningful look, telling him to stop thanking him. “I do not think so. I will take a shower, get dressed and…”
Lindir realized Erestor had no idea how to occupy himself during the morning. “Maybe you would like to read in the library? That is until I come to fetch you to meet with Lord Elrond.”
“The library?” Erestor liked that idea. There would be books on herb lore and healing in the library. “Aye, I will do that.”
“Good. I will return in an hour. That should give you ample time to shower and dress. I will escort you to the library, where I will collect you when it is time to go to Lord Elrond’s study.” Lindir was pleased with himself. That way Erestor wouldn’t get a chance to brood.
Erestor realized he had better give in and comply. What was it that set these Imladris Elves apart from the ones in Lothlorien? They were kinder, more supportive. /Except for Haldir, Rumil, Orophin, Celeborn and Camfael that is. They always treated me well./
He suddenly realized that Lindir and Elrond had managed to fill most of his day with activities. And he didn’t really mind. Maybe that way, he would be able to get to know them better. He desperately wanted for them to like him.
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