Authors Note: This story will be completely Alternate Universe and I won't follow Tolkien's writings when dealing with reincarnation!
maethor-nīn = my warrior
"By the power given to me, I command you, release Gil-galad and return my love to me! I came here to reclaim him and I will not be denied!" Elrond swayed on his knees. He was in his study and had burned several of the sacred herbs and incense, which had taken his spirit to the Halls of Waiting in Mandos.
"I came here before you and demand you honor my request. Restore life to Gil-galad and let him go!" He called on his strength and challenged the Valar. "Gil-galad was my life, and I want him back!"
During the long nights he had carefully thought through his plans, but now that his spirit had entered the Great Halls, fear and doubt sneaked up on him. Was he strong enough to force the Valar to obey?
Celebrian's departure had driven him mad with grief. First he had lost Gil-galad at the Last Alliance when Sauron had ended his life, and then Orcs had hurt his beloved wife so deeply that she had chosen to sail to Valinor. Utterly alone, he had buried himself in his library, studying books filled with ancient knowledge. Eventually he had found a way for his spirit to travel to Mandos whilst his body remained safely behind on Arda.
A part of him realized it was folly to challenge the Valar, but he felt he had nothing left to lose. Losing a mate not once but twice had caused something to break inside him, and he was willing to risk his life to bring one of them back.
Looking about angrily, he wondered why the Great Halls were empty. Or maybe he just couldn't see the dead because he was still alive? It didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was bringing Gil-galad back to Arda with him.
"Answer me!" Growing frustrated, Elrond searched his surroundings. "Show yourself! Or are you afraid of me?"
Unexpectedly, a deafening roar echoed through the Halls and Elrond quickly covered his ears. Catching sight of some movement to his right, he reacted at once, opened his arms and grabbed the form that was now appearing in front of him. /It must be Gil-galad! The Valar granted me my wish!/ Elrond held on tight to the cold form in his arms and concentrated on sending his spirit back to his study at Imladris. His heart fluttered madly, holding his beloved in his arms once more. Gil-galad felt incredibly cold, but that would change once he got his lover back in his bed. He would quickly warm his long lost love!
"Hold on, maethor-nīn. You always fought bravely, do not give in now!" A whimper left the form in his arms and he tightened his hold. "I won't let you go again! I defied the Valar for you!"
Suddenly the stone floor of his study appeared beneath his knees. He had safely returned to his rooms. His eyes, which had been closed in concentration, now opened and stared at his much-craved prize. Elrond's eyes widened in shock; instead of long, dark hair, he found golden locks. They hid the Elf's features, but it was fairly obvious that it was not Gil-galad whom he had brought back. Elrond released an angry yell. "Nay, this cannot be!"
His anger rose and he rolled the Elf away from him and onto his back. "You tricked me!" he screamed in fury at the Valar. "I wanted Gil-galad, and this is not my beloved!" Furious, he rose to his feet and paced his study. His hands had turned into fists and he banged them occasionally into the wall, eager to release his anger. He had failed his beloved, had failed their love! The Valar had tricked him, sending a strange Elf in Gil-galad's place. He had been a fool to believe they would obey! No one commanded the Valar!
/Maethor-nīn, I failed you. I wanted to bring you back and instead they tricked me./ Images of nights filled with lust and passion swept through him, and he collapsed onto a chair. He had failed his beloved Gil-galad! /What do I do now?/ His fingernails dug into the wooden armrest and his gaze traveled to the blond Elf lying crumpled on the stone floor. The stranger was naked, and massive shivers shook his body.
/I cannot turn my back on him. I am the one who took him here./ He didn't want to admit it, but the blond was his responsibility. His shoulders slumped forward in defeat. It was hard to admit his failure. /Gil-galad will never return to me. I have lost him forever./ Even worse was the fact that he had brought back a stranger from Mandos. /Who are you?/
Elrond left his chair and returned to the shivering form. He knelt next to the blond and brushed away some stay locks. The first thing that struck him was the silk-like quality of the strands, but he pushed the lovely sensation away in anger. Searching the Elf's features, he was stunned to see how beautiful the blond was.
/What do I do with you?/
The tremors grew worse and turned into violent spasms. Elrond sighed dejectedly and picked up his cloak, draped over a chair. He covered the Elf with it and then took a moment to ponder his next step. /I should examine you, see what kind of state you are in./
He lifted the Elf from the floor and walked to his bed, where he placed the stranger in its center. /It should have been Gil-galad in my bed, not you./ He resented the blond for returning in his beloved's place and was tempted to simply leave him to his own devices, but the healer in him won the inner struggle.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, he slightly peeled back the cloak and checked the Elf's pulse. A little fast, but nothing to worry about. However, the cold that radiated from the Elf's body was. The smooth skin felt like ice and Elrond experimentally rubbed the cold flesh, hoping to generate some warmth, but the skin remained frozen.
He rose from the bed, threw more wood onto the fire and opened his closet, taking out a warm sleeping robe. Returning to the bed, anger and disappointment spread to him, reminding him of his failure. /Or maybe I did not fail and this Elf played with me?/ What if the blond had somehow manipulated him? He had grabbed the first form he saw and it could be that this Elf had approached him on purpose, hoping to be pulled back to Arda. /What if the Valar did not trick me, but you did?/ Now he aimed his anger at the blond, trying to hate him. It was easier to blame the blond and the Valar, than to look at his own actions as a failure. /Aye, you tricked me. If it had not been for you I would have been successful and my beloved would have returned with me./
He couldn't do this right now, couldn't tend to someone who had taken away his last chance at happiness. The Valar wouldn't allow his spirit to travel to Mandos again; he had wasted his last chance! He flung the robe onto the bed and marched out of his rooms, heading for Erestor's. The mere sight of the blond infuriated him and he had to put some distance between them before he did something he might regret later. It was safer to let Erestor tend to the reborn Elf.
The banging on his door woke Erestor and alarmed, he sat upright in bed. "What is it?" Had something happened to Elrond or his children? Why else would someone wake him in the midst of the night?
"Erestor! I need you, now!"
Erestor swallowed hard, hearing Elrond's tone. The Ruler of Imladris was obviously upset and angry. "Give me one moment." He quickly got to his feet, slipped into his robes and hurried to answer the door.
Elrond's appearance shocked him. The long, dark hair was in complete disarray and the blue eyes shone with a startling intensity. What had caused Elrond to become this upset? "What urgent matter has come up?" he asked, falling into step beside Elrond as they headed to the half-Elf's rooms.
"I made a terrible mistake," said Elrond in a tense tone. "And I need you to deal with the consequences."
His curiosity piqued, Erestor stepped into Elrond's rooms whilst the half-Elf remained near the doorway. Once it became obvious that Elrond wouldn't join him, Erestor awaited his Lord's instructions. His gaze swept through the room and his heart missed a beat, seeing a strange Elf in Elrond's bed. "What did you do?"
Elrond bit his bottom lip. "I called out to Mandos in an attempt to bring back Gil-galad." He pretended to not see the shock in Erestor's eyes and continued. "Instead of our beloved Gil-galad, this Elf returned. I do not want anything to do with him."
"Do you know who he is?" Erestor sat down on the side of the bed and studied the handsome features. Then he noticed the shivers. "How can he be cold?" Elves didn't feel the cold!
"It was cold in the Halls of Waiting." Elrond distinctly remembered that. "Tend to him, but make sure he does not come near me. I do not want to be reminded of his trickery."
Erestor frowned. "Are you so sure he tricked you? What if the Valar denied you Gil-galad? What if this Elf has nothing to do with it and his return is purely coincidence?" Erestor was startled, seeing the evil gleam in Elrond's eyes. /You are not mad with this poor Elf, but with yourself./ He knew Elrond well enough to know that the half-Elf would come to his senses in time, but now he needed to calm down. "I will look after him for the time being, but you brought him back and he is your responsibility, not mine."
At that brief moment Elrond hated Erestor for reminding him of the truth. "Take him to the guest rooms. I do not want him here."
Erestor gave his friend a compassionate look, knowing Elrond would hate himself later for treating the strange Elf like this, and decided to say nothing. After pushing his arms beneath the blond's arms and back, he lifted the shivering Elf. The motion caused the cloak to glide onto the floor and Erestor raised an eyebrow at finding the Elf naked beneath it.
A stabbing sense of guilt washed through Elrond momentarily. "Just take care of him." He turned about and waited for Erestor to leave his rooms.
"He will need your healing skills later," said Erestor in a neutral tone. "I suggest you quickly work through your anger. It does not become you."
Elrond wanted to lash out at Erestor, but stopped himself just in time. Erestor didn't deserve his anger. "Leave me alone."
Erestor headed for his rooms, where he could take best care of the reborn Elf. Shaking like a leaf in his arms, the blond emitted a strangled whimper, full of misery.
Erestor hurried into his rooms and placed the blond on his bed, which was still warm from when he had slept in it. He quickly covered his charge with blankets and then pulled up a chair. He sat down and studied him. The closed eyes worried him, and he was tempted to wake the Elf, but wasn't sure it was the right thing to do. Damn Elrond for being this stubborn!
His problem was solved when the Elf's eyes opened. Deep pools of sapphire stared at him in shock. A scream left blood-drained lips, which carried a blue hue. Erestor instinctively reached for the blond's hand, rubbing the skin soothingly. Now that the sapphire jewels were directed at him, he felt strangely nervous. /You are beautiful, my friend./
"You must be terribly confused, but let me reassure you that all is well." Erestor's heart missed a beat, seeing the terror in those blue orbs. "Rest for a while and I will answer your questions later."
Unintelligible sounds left the blond's lips and Erestor allowed his charge to grab his wrists and to pull him close. "You are awfully cold, are you not?" The pleading and lost expression in the sapphire eyes quickly made him give in. Lying down next to the frightened Elf, he wrapped his arms around him. "I will look after you." Erestor grew increasingly angry with Elrond for deserting the blond. /I will look after you until Elrond comes to his senses./
The blond clung to him, seemingly soaking up his body heat and Erestor stroked the long hair, wondering about the Elf in his arms. "Do you remember your name?" The tremors lessened little by little and Erestor cocked his head, hearing the other Elf whisper softly.
The voice was charming and melodic, even though the blond was stuttering. "Glorfindel?" repeated Erestor, smiling. "He was a great warrior once, who lived in Gondolin. His name was Glorfindel as well. He is famous among our people because he battled a Balrog. Did you ever hear of him?" Not receiving an answer, Erestor carefully placed two fingers beneath the blond's chin and lifted the Elf's head. "You fell asleep again." That meant he had to stay in bed as well, for he didn't want to wake the exhausted Elf.
"Elrond, what did you do? How can you desert this Elf when he needs a healer so badly? He just returned to life!" It was a good thing that he couldn't leave the bed, because he was afraid he might lose his temper when confronting Elrond with his behavior. "And what possessed you to try to bring Gil-galad back? You are so wise, and then you do -this-?"
Erestor slowly rocked his charge, trying to soothe Glorfindel when he whimpered softly.
Standing near the doorway, Elrond bowed his head in defeat and guilt, hearing Erestor's words. /You are right, my old friend, but I cannot face my failure yet. I should never have tried to bring back Gil-galad, but I feel so alone. Not even your company, or my children's love can change that. I miss having a mate, a partner, someone I can put my trust in. I need someone in my life and I hoped that someone could be Gil-galad again/
He glanced at Erestor and the blond Elf in his arms, and after making sure they were resting comfortably, he turned about and returned to his rooms. He had to find a way to come to terms with what he had done.
/Who did I bring back? What did I do?/ Elrond marched into his rooms, and collapsed in front of the fireplace where open books, revealing the incantations needed to travel to Mandos, still mocked him. "I did something terrible. I should never have tried to retrieve someone from Mandos. I should not have meddled with the dead and now one of them dwells among us. Is he a danger to us?"
Recalling the way the blond had clung to Erestor, he instinctively dismissed the thought that the Elf could present a danger. "I need to face him, tell him what I did. Must I return him to Mandos? How do I do that? Or should I allow him to stay here in Imladris? By Elbereth, what did I do? Why did not anyone stop me?"
Because no one had known of his plans. He had shut out Erestor and his children and had carried out his plan in secrecy. Feeling mentally exhausted, he stretched out in front of the fire and stared into the flames. /What is going through his mind right now? Does he realize he is alive again and back in Arda? Does he long to return to Mandos or--? Why am I doing this to myself? I will ask him in the morning. Maybe things won't look that bleak when Arien rules the sky again./
Whilst staring into the fire, Elrond surrendered to exhaustion and drifted off into sleep.
He had no idea where he was or what had happened to him. The last thing he clearly recalled was walking the Halls of Waiting and then something had grabbed him, pulling him along. Too stunned to act, he had allowed this force to pull him along and he had clung to the warmth in return. Then everything had turned to black around him, and when he had regained consciousness, someone had been holding him. Body warmth; he hadn't felt it in so many centuries that he had forgotten what it was like. He had desperately clung to it, hoping it would never leave him again. Mandos was so cold.
A warm, soothing voice then spoke to him, assuring him everything would be fine, and he had wanted to believe it so badly that it brought tears to his eyes.
Opening his eyes, his heart had missed a beat, finding that he no longer dwelt among the dead. The dark haired Elf holding him was full of life, and warmth. What had happened? How could he possibly have left Mandos? The Valar had told him that he would spend eternity in the Halls of Waiting, so how could this have happened?
He marveled at the sensation of feeling a body close again after so many cold and lonely centuries. His own body still felt terribly cold, but his heart was beating again and blood flowed through his veins. Tears left his eyes as he fully realized that life had been restored to him.
"Do not cry, Glorfindel."
The voice made him look up and he stared into dark eyes, filled with compassion. He wanted to ask the Elf where he was and what had happened, but his vocal cords refused to cooperate and he could only stare, hoping the other understood.
"I am called Erestor. I am a friend."
Glorfindel nodded slowly, indicating he had understood.
"You are in the heart of Imladris, the last Homely House."
He didn't know that name, or that realm, and hoped Erestor would continue.
"You... were... dead?" asked Erestor in a tentative tone.
Glorfindel nodded, for it was true. He had died many centuries ago and his soul had traveled to Mandos. Moistening his lips, he tried to speak again. "How... did... I get... here?" Hearing his own voice after so many centuries baffled him.
Erestor smiled kindly. "You were brought back to Arda by Elrond Half-Elven."
Glorfindel frowned, lost. He had never heard that name before. "Why?"
Erestor carefully chose his words. "You must ask him that personally. I do not know his motives." He refused to do Elrond's dirty work. Elrond had brought the blond back from Mandos and Glorfindel was now the half-Elf's responsibility. He wondered about the name the blond had given him, but then again, it was not uncommon for parents to name children after their heroes. "Elrond is probably recovering and will visit with you later."
Glorfindel nodded once, absentmindedly. Why was he here? Why had the Valar allowed him to return? He grew tired of these questions and briefly closed his eyes. They opened when the cold of Mandos sneaked up on him again, making him shiver. Instinctively, he hugged Erestor tightly.
"Why are you this cold?"
"Mandos... is... cold." He was still getting used to talking after being silent for centuries. "But... you are... warm." Erestor pulled him even closer and Glorfindel sighed, pleased. "Thank you... for... sharing your... body warmth." He wondered about Erestor's sad smile, but felt too drained to speak.
"You should sleep now. Once Arien rises we will talk."
Glorfindel felt like he could trust Erestor and he listened to his instincts, which had never failed him before. /For some reason I trust you. I like you./ In his life, arrogance had been his greatest flaw, and when he had entered Mandos the Valar had decided to punish him for it. His punishment had consisted of solitude. The other souls had been allowed to communicate, but he had been excluded. In time he had learned humility, but also desperation had come over him. Now that he had found warmth, someone whom he could communicate with, he never wanted to let go again.
Feeling content for the first time in centuries, he buried his head against Erestor's chest and deeply inhaled the other's scent. Soft strokes bestowed on his hair made him sigh blissfully. He fought sleep as long as possible, not wanting to return to the dark void now that had felt warmth again. What if this was a cruel trick and he would wake up at Mandos again? He couldn't take that risk!
"You must be exhausted, Glorfindel. It is safe to give in to sleep."
Glorfindel summoned his last strength. "Do not... want... to wake... up in...Mandos... again."
"You won't, Glorfindel. You will wake up in this room, in my arms. Be at peace and rest."
Tears escaped Glorfindel's eyes and flowed down his face. Clinging to Erestor, he gave in and dozed off.
During the night, Elrond was haunted by dark shapes, shadows that stood behind him, never speaking, but always threatening in their silence. Cold sweat formed on his skin and he woke with a start, immediately searching his rooms for the dark forms. But he was alone.
Then the blond's face appeared in his mind's eye and he propped himself onto his elbows. "I should never have ventured into the Halls of Waiting." But it was too late now. What was done was done.
Elrond rose to his feet, wrapped his robes tightly around his frame and walked over to the window. Morning was upon them and Arien was rising, spreading warmth all over Arda.
"What about him?" Elrond's thoughts returned to the blond and he realized he couldn't put this off much longer. They had to talk. But his movements were slow and reluctant when he left his rooms to seek out Erestor's.
He had to find a way to send the dead back to Mandos.
Beta read by Ilye, thanks!
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