“What are your plans for today?” Elros privately enjoyed the feel of Elrond’s fingers combing through his hair. They had already dressed and his older twin had eagerly loaned him some nice burgundy robes. Elrond was now catching wayward strands of hair in the mithril butterfly clip, making sure the dark locks wouldn’t hinder him during the day. “Any urgent matters to attend to?”
“Maybe. With Erestor injured, I should thoroughly study the latest reports. Orcs always try to penetrate our borders and I have to keep track of their movements. But maybe we can go for a walk later? Or would you prefer to go horseback riding?” Elrond moved until he was in front of his twin and lovingly looked into the calm gray eyes. Calm, always calm, not as stormy and restless as his. “You returned to Arda and are probably eager to explore the valley and I want you to see Imladris in her full glory.”
Elros thoughtfully nodded his head, rising from his chair to stand beside his brother. “You built a safe heaven here and I would love to explore the valley, but first you should attend to your duties. I realize that I am a distraction to you, but you cannot neglect your work. I will help you where possible.”
Elrond gathered his twin’s hand in his and rubbed the skin with his thumb. “How did I ever manage without you? You are my *life*. Why didn’t I see that so many millennia ago? Maybe then I wouldn’t have lost you.”
“The past cannot be changed, but we can shape the present and the future. Let us look forward, gwenneth. There is no use in dwelling on past decisions.” Elros smiled encouragingly at his twin and gently squeezed Elrond’s hand, promising, “And we will walk that path together.”
Erestor was utterly stunned when Glorfindel kissed him again, deeply, demandingly, and completely possessing him. The blond’s exploration of his mouth caused strange sensations in the pit of his stomach and he felt light-headed, just like when he had drunk too much wine. Aiya, he could easily grow drunk on Glorfindel – the mere taste of him! The blond was as sweet as honey!
And Glorfindel instinctively knew that. Erestor eagerly yielded to him, letting him do whatever he wanted. Erestor’s reaction surprised him, but once he realized how genuine the other Elf’s desire and affection were, he began to let go of his last suspicions. For one moment he had thought Erestor was playing him, manipulating him, but the eager expression in those dark eyes told him that the other Elf really wanted him. /He mentioned love. He loves me. How is that possible? Why didn’t I notice before?/ And what were his exact feelings for Erestor? The dark-haired advisor mystified him. Erestor was an enigma, a riddle he didn’t know how to solve. /Maybe I shouldn’t try solving it. Maybe I should just let it happen./
Glorfindel had only loved once – truly loved. Ecthelion had been the love of his life, but the warrior had died millennia ago and Glorfindel hadn’t loved again since then. No one had ever awoken the same feelings Ecthelion had so long ago. And now here was Erestor – professing he loved him.
Continuing their kissing, Glorfindel searched Erestor’s eyes, which were warm and open, hiding nothing. He had never seen Erestor this passionate before – this genuinely open. Should he take this risk? Could he? Did he want to love again? And what was the exact nature of his feelings for the raven-haired advisor? “You are beautiful in a dark way,” said Glorfindel thoughtfully, hoping he could sort out his feelings and thoughts whilst speaking them aloud. “You are cunning and intelligent, and you radiate a sense of authority which I seldom encountered in an Elf before.” As if to correct himself, he added, “But you don’t seem distant to me now. You are warm and willing. Even eager for my touch.”
Erestor wasn’t sure what to make of Glorfindel’s words. “Why are you telling me this?” Was the blond rejecting or complimenting him? “Be honest with me. I can take rejection, but I won’t allow you to play with my feelings.”
Glorfindel’s fingers brushed across Erestor’s brow. “You fit perfectly in my arms, like you were meant to be in them.” Delighted, he found that this remark was making Erestor blush. “I am surprised to find myself attracted to you, and if you are willing to continue kissing, so am I.”
Erestor felt at a loss. His instincts told him to accept this offer and keep Glorfindel close as long as possible, but his heart cautioned him, warning him danger lay ahead. The blond had rejected him before and would do so again. But then Glorfindel’s lips locked with his in another probing kiss and a warm hand slipped experimentally down his back, rubbing his skin. His eyes widened at the intimate contact, suddenly wondering if they weren’t moving surprisingly fast.
“Lord Glorfindel! The men are awaiting your inspection!”
Glorfindel groaned, his breath slipping past Erestor’s lips. “Why now?” Giving the dark-haired Elf a disappointed look, he added, “Can you manage without me for an hour of two? I will also ask Elladan to check on you later.”
“I will manage,” mumbled Erestor softly. “Are you certain you want to return to me after your work is done?”
Those words made Glorfindel realize just how insecure Erestor really was. “I will come back to you, I promise.” Pressing a last kiss on Erestor’s brow, he reluctantly left the bed. “Try to stay out of trouble, my dear.”
“Stop calling me that,” said Erestor, returning the bantering, privately enjoying hearing Glorfindel call him that.
Glorfindel walked toward the doorway, casting one last, probing look at Erestor. It was a good thing that his second in command had chosen that moment to remind him of his duties. Erestor had felt so good pressed against him that he had been tempted to take the next step as well. Now that he was regaining his senses and calming down he realized that they were in no way ready yet for that.
Erestor sighed regretfully when Glorfindel closed the door behind him. He had wanted the blond to stay, but it was already bad enough that Elrond had to do without his chief advisor. The half-Elf shouldn’t be without his Captain as well. Pressing deeper into the comfort of the mattress, he tested the range of his regained movement and tried to push himself into an upright position, succeeding eventually. Only a few more days and he would be back on his feet again!
“I gather you designed these gardens yourself?” inquired Elros, impressed at seeing such complex designs. Autumn was descending over the valley, but the trees were still green and the flowers carried luxurious blossoms.
“I did. Celebrian was very fond of gardens and these were my wedding present to her when she came to live here.” Elrond’s expression briefly grew pained. “I still miss her. She was a good wife, and the children and I adored her. I hope that she is happy in Valinor and that she has found peace of mind after what those monstrous Orcs did to her.”
“You loved her enough to let her go. A rare gift,” said Elros thoughtfully, walking next to his twin.
“I had no choice,” whispered Elrond, his thoughts returning to those pain-filled days. “But let us not dwell on the past,” he said, repeating words Elros had spoken earlier. “We live in the here and now.”
A fierce growl, unexpectedly coming from the bushes to their left, and the sudden movement of air, alerted them that something was wrong, but the warning came too late. A Warg suddenly leapt toward them, flashing his teeth ominously and reaching out for them with his sharp claws.
/How did that monster get past the sentries?/ Elrond reacted at once, knowing they had to run for their lives, now that they were unarmed and vulnerable. “Guards! Come quickly!” After calling out for help, he started to run, dragging Elros with him.
Elros realized the danger they were in and he sped up, grabbing Elrond’s hand to make sure they weren’t separated. There was no time to talk, or to voice a warning, as the Warg unexpectedly leapt closer, his sharp teeth ripping off a piece of Elrond’s robes. Elrond called out to his sentries again and suddenly Glorfindel appeared, flanked by three other warriors, but they were still too far away to help.
Seeing that the Warg was preparing for another attack, Elros quickly made up his mind. He pushed Elrond away from him, grabbed a large branch and turned around to face the monster. “Run, Elrond! Run!”
“I am not leaving you!” Elrond refused to desert his twin and broke off another heavy branch from one of the trees, running back to join his brother. But then the Warg acted, and Elrond’s heart froze in his chest, seeing the monster’s teeth bury themselves in his twin’s side.
Glorfindel ran as hard as possible, but the Warg was still too far away for them to attack. One of the guards shot an arrow at the wild beast and hit it in the back, but the Warg’s teeth were still deeply buried in Elros’ body, chewing itself a way up the half-Elf’s chest.
Horrified screams erupted from Elrond’s lips and Glorfindel cursed, seeing his old friend throw himself at the Warg, pounding it with a branch. The beast released Elros to snap at Elrond and the half-Elf managed to thrust the end of the branch into one of the horrific eyes. The Warg released a frantic growl and ignored Elros for now to focus on his attacker.
Elros had fallen onto the ground and was now clutching his side, losing blood rapidly. He had jokingly remarked to Elrond that he had no desire to find out if he was mortal or not, but this could well be a fatal wound and he wished he knew the truth now. If he was mortal he wanted to properly say goodbye to his twin before he died!
Elrond drove the end of the branch deeper into the beast’s eye socket, drawing maddened howls from the creature. From the corner of his eye he saw the pool of blood that was forming beneath his twin and his heart pounded madly. He couldn’t lose his brother – not after just having been reunited!
Glorfindel and the two guards had finally reached them and the blond hacked away at the Warg with his sword, quickly drawing its attention away from the Peredhil. “Elrond, leave him to us and look after Elros!” His men were rapidly firing arrows at the beast and his sword found its way into the Warg’s body to pierce its heart.
Elrond acted at once and threw aside the bloodied branch. He knelt at his brother’s side and his hands probed the injury, hoping it wasn’t a mortal wound. His heart sank into his stomach, realizing the wound would be fatal to a mortal. “Elros…”
“It seems… we will find out… after all… gwenneth.” Elros had struggled to remain awake, but now he had lost his battle and slipped into unconsciousness.
Elrond’s features became determined; he wouldn’t let his twin die. Pushing his arms beneath Elros’ back and knees, he lifted his brother and quickly carried him to the Healing House. Apparently the bad news had already spread and he found Elladan there, ready to assist him. “We need to stop the blood loss and get him stabile. We won’t lose him, do you hear me?” Elrond stared at Elladan, hoping his son understood how important Elros was to him.
“He will live,” said Elladan in understanding, helping his father to lay Elros down on one of the operating tables. He called for warm water, clean bandages and the healing herbs whilst helping his father undress Elros. “How did that Warg escape the guards’ attention?”
“I have no idea, but someone will be reprimanded for this!” Elrond had finally stripped away the last fabric of the robes and examined the wound thoroughly. “We need to close him up to stop the blood loss.” He didn’t even want to think of possible complications, like infections.
Elladan, who managed to stay a bit more emotionally unattached, remarked, “This makes Elros an immortal then, like you he is fully Elven, for a Man would never have survived such an injury.”
“I thought so too, but I was afraid to hope the Valar had returned him to us in immortal form.” Elrond accepted the needle and thread, which Elladan handed him, and began to close the wound with tiny stitches, hoping the scar his twin would carry away from this encounter would fade away eventually. “Why do you think they did that? Give him immortality when he chose to be mortal in the past?” Elrond needed to unburden his soul and was grateful that Elladan remained at his side, working on more bite marks closer to the shoulder.
“Maybe because *you* are immortal?” suggested Elladan, trying to stay focused on their patient. “That way you won’t be separated again. Had they given him a mortal life you would have had to say goodbye to him at one point.”
Elrond had finished closing the wound and placed the needle aside, reaching for a cloth, which he soaked in the tepid water, eager to remove the blood from his twin’s body. “I have lost so many I loved,” he whispered absentmindedly. “I wouldn’t survive losing one more.” His cloudy glance met Elladan’s. “I wouldn’t survive losing Elros --again.”
Elladan nodded once. He had finished cleaning and bandaging the wounds located on Elros’ chest and shoulder and now helped his father to wrap bandages around the elder Elf’s waist, covering the nasty injury in Elros’ side. “You didn’t lose him.” Elros probably was just as tough as his father, reckoned Elladan.
“I thank the Valar for that!” Together they lay Elros back down onto a cot. “Fetch me a sleeping robe, Elladan.”
Elladan obeyed, left the room and returned a few minutes later, handing Elrond a gray robe. Assisting his father, Elladan managed to hold Elros in place long enough for Elrond to put the robe on their patient. “He should stay here, in the Healing House, Ada. I pray there won’t be any complications, but one never knows.”
“I will stay as well,” decided Elrond. Determinedly, he sat down on the side of the bed, gathering his twin’s hand in his. “And I want to speak to Glorfindel, now!” His Captain was responsible for letting the beast penetrate their defenses! Somehow Glorfindel had failed to keep the monster out and he would make sure this never happened again!
Glorfindel stared in disdain at the dead Warg at his feet. Turning around, he saw the guilty expression on the guards’ faces. “Find out how this creature managed to pass our borders.” Someone had been sleeping or looking the other way. Normally these beasts were easily tracked down and killed before they could reach the Last Homely House. The Imladris’ guards had perfected this system centuries ago – or had thought they had perfected it! – when the twins had been born. The thought of a Warg, or any other dangerous animal coming across the children by accident had given him nightmares back then. Had his men become a tad lax since then?
The two guards hurried away and Glorfindel poked the dead monster with the tip of his boot. He still felt horrified, recalling hearing Elrond’s distressed calls for help. He had been on his way to Elrond’s study with the latest reports on Orc activity when he had heard the screams and he had acted at once, realizing their Lord was in danger.
Seeing Elros going down would haunt him for the next few nights. It was his duty to keep the inhabitants of Imladris safe and he took this as a personal failure. In future he had to make sure his men remained sharp and alert. This couldn’t happen again!
“Lord Elrond wishes to talk to you.” Lindir had been sent to deliver the summons and he could tell by the look in Glorfindel’s eyes that the blond expected trouble. “Please follow me.”
Glorfindel sighed once and then nodded his head. He had a pretty good idea why Elrond wanted to talk to him and expected the Peredhel to have one of his infamous temper tantrums now that his twin had nearly been killed. /And I do deserve that lecture. I was too busy attending to Erestor!/
Glorfindel nervously shuffled into the room. One look at Elros told him that the half-Elf would live, but when his gaze met Elrond’s, the Elda shivered at the expression in the restless eyes.
“How could this happen?” Elrond, trying to talk softly, so as not to disturb his sleeping twin, hissed the words from between his clenched teeth.
Glorfindel flinched, recognizing the upset tone. If it hadn’t been for Elros’ presence in the room, Elrond would be raving and ranting, maybe even screaming at him. At that moment he felt immensely grateful that Elros was present. Elrond, whilst in the clutches of a tempter tantrum, was *not* a pretty sight. /I cannot blame him for feeling this way though. I would be angry with myself too, if I were in his place. “I am trying to find out which sentry let him pass by. I promise that this will never happen again.”
“It happened once! That is one time too many!” Elrond glared at the blond. A distant part of him knew he was being unreasonable and too harsh on his Captain, but he had been scared witless, afraid he was going to lose his twin. And Glorfindel was going to get burned by his wrath. He already knew he would feel guilty later and apologize to his dear friend, but right now he needed to let go of these feelings.
Elrond reluctantly released Elros’ hand from his tight hold and marched toward Glorfindel. His normally gray eyes had darkened and glared at the blond. “Elros could have died and it would have been your fault! You should thank the Valar on your knees that he is an immortal now. Had he still been a Man he would have died! Where were you when that Warg crossed our borders? And why were you late when that monster attacked us? You failed to keep your Lord and his twin safe!”
Glorfindel tried to remain composed, knowing Elrond didn’t really mean any of this, but the words still hurt. By looking at Elrond’s nervously twitching hands, he could tell that his friend was in shock; they opened and closed involuntarily as if trying to strangle the Warg, killing the monster. He wisely held his tongue, knowing from personal experience that it was best to let Elrond rave. That way, the half-Elf’s negative energy burned itself out.
“Don’t you know that I cannot live without him? Do you want me dead too?” Elrond, feeling exhausted all of a sudden, collapsed onto a chair and regained possession of his twin’s hand. His gaze searched his brother’s face and he was stunned at finding the eyes open and alert.
“Gwenneth…” started Elros, gathering his strength, “It wasn’t… Glorfindel’s… fault.”
Elrond bit his bottom lip, but still looked defiant. “It is his task to keep us safe.”
Elros managed a weak smile. “I am still… alive, gwenneth… Let go.”
Elrond knew exactly what his twin was asking him, but he wasn’t ready yet to let go of his anger. Right now his anger was the one thing pulling him through. Once he faced his fears he would crumble and he wanted to spare Elros that miserable sight.
“Glorfindel? Leave us,” commanded Elros in a shaky tone. “And forgive my stubborn brother his thoughtless words.” Elros wasn’t sure how much longer he could stay conscious, as exhaustion and blood loss was pulling him under.
Glorfindel soundlessly left the room, closing the door behind him to give them the privacy they craved. Standing in the corridor, he wondered where to go and what to do. Although he knew that Elrond had spoken without thinking his words over first, they had hurt him.
/Erestor… I will go to him./ He didn’t know why the advisor’s name was the first to come to mind, but he turned around and headed for Erestor’s rooms.
“You were much… too hard on him… gwenneth.” Elros was growing increasingly tired, but managed to gently squeeze Elrond’s hand. “It wasn’t… his fault.”
Elrond refused to give in to reason just yet; his fears, anger and worry still overwhelming him. “I could have lost you.”
“But you didn’t.” Elros smiled weakly. “I gather… this makes me Elven… and no longer mortal?” Talking was draining him, but he needed to reassure his twin.
“Yes, it does… Elros! I was so afraid to lose you when that creature buried its fangs in your side.” Elrond nearly crushed the bones in his twin’s hand, so tightly was he holding on.
“Gwenneth… I am not… leaving you.” Elros managed to free his hand from his twin’s vice-like grip. “Relax… and calm down… for me.”
“Can I… Would you mind if… if I held you close?”
“Only… if you promise… not to squeeze… the life… out of me,” said Elros jokingly.
Elrond – who had been surprised to feel Elros pull away his hand – now understood. “I am sorry.”
Elros patted the space next to him. “Lie down and hold me, then.”
And Elrond did just that, holding his twin close and thus convincing himself Elros was alive and on the road to recovery.
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