Erestor woke slowly from a deep and peaceful sleep. During the night he had woken briefly and Elrond had been at his side at once, encouraging him to drink more of the herbal tea, which would restrain his nightmares. Trusting his friend, he had drunk and had returned to sleep within minutes.
He blinked once, twice, and located Elrond standing in front of the window whilst Arien was rising. The half-Elf’s back was turned toward him, and he took his time to study his friend. Elrond’s shoulders seemed slumped like he was carrying a heavy burden, and his heart went out to the half-Elf, wishing he could help carry that burden. Had something happened during his sleep? Worried, he tried to address Elrond, but only a groan escaped his lips.
Elrond heard that groan and turned around, quickly heading back to the bed. “Erestor? I did not know you were awake. How do you fare this morning?”
/I feel better, having you at my side, but my jaw hurts too badly to tell you./ Erestor swallowed, and instantly regretted it. His throat was awfully dry.
Elrond realized Erestor wanted to tell him something, and was frustrated his friend couldn’t. Then he recalled that his sons had fetched parchment, ink and a quill from his study; Erestor could write things down! “I will be back in one moment.”
Erestor tried to hold onto his composure when Elrond suddenly left his side. But the half-Elf was true to his word and returned quickly, placing parchment on the bed and putting the quill between the fingers of his good hand. Now he understood as well. Doing his best, he managed to write one word; thirsty.
“Of course you are thirsty!” Elrond called a servant and instructed her to bring clear spring water and hot broth. Erestor needed to eat something, but his broken jaw made solid foods impossible to manage. So they had to revert to soup and broth for the first few days.
The quill dropped from Erestor’s fingers as a muscle spasm traveled down his arm. Erestor sighed blissfully when Elrond’s fingers made contact with his skin, sending more healing energy into his arm.
Elrond, now seated on the edge of the bed, gazed dotingly at Erestor. “I am so glad we made it back to Imladris. When we were locked up in that cell, I—“ Elrond stopped talking, seeing shivers of remembered fear course through Erestor’s body. “I am sorry. I did not want to remind you of those pain filled hours!” Eager to ease his friend’s pain, he released more healing energy, sending it into Erestor’s body.
The maid returned with the desired water and broth and placed the tray on the table. Elrond was surprised to see Celeborn enter as well. The Lord of ‘Lorien had enquired about Erestor’s health only yesterday.
“How do you fare, Erestor?” asked Celeborn, approaching the bed. He had picked up the water, realizing Erestor was probably thirsty and handed Elrond the glass.
Erestor managed to write down another word; better. Celeborn nodded encouragingly, pleased with Erestor’s lucid state of mind. The advisor’s eyes were clear from horrid memories.
Elrond stared at the glass in his hand and realized he needed assistance. “Celeborn, I need your help.”
“Tell me what to do.” Celeborn waited patiently, all the while maintaining eye contact with Erestor.
“Sit down and let Erestor lean against you, but be careful not to make too much contact with his back.” Elrond noticed Erestor’s confused expression and gently squeezed his friend’s good hand. “Trust me. There will be as little pain as possible.”
Erestor allowed them to manhandle him into the desired position. In the end, his shoulders rested against Celeborn’s chest, and he felt relieved now that no pressure was being placed on his still-hurting back. Celeborn loosely folded an arm around him, steadying him, and thankfully stayed clear of his broken rib. /I never wanted to take up this much of your time./ Erestor felt guilty for being this dependent when Elrond and Celeborn had other matters to attend to. They needed to rule their realms!
Elrond sat down on the edge of the bed, next to Erestor, and placed the glass at his friend’s lips. “Drink slowly.”
Erestor managed a few sips, but then his eyes nearly bulged from their sockets when the pain in his jaw increased. Thankfully Elrond noticed his discomfort and removed the glass.
“You are still in an immense amount of pain,” said Elrond, thinking over his possibilities. “Is it your jaw?”
Erestor blinked once, hoping Elrond understood its meaning. Aye, his jaw throbbed painfully, and kept him from swallowing or talking.
Elrond considered his next move. “This is not acceptable.” Elrond’s gaze shifted from Erestor to Celeborn. “Continue to hold him. He might lose consciousness.”
Erestor’s eyes flashed with fear. Lose consciousness? Why? Suddenly Elrond rested his hands on either side of his head, setting off his alarms. No, Elrond couldn’t use his healing energy in that way. Healing an injury like his would exhaust the half-Elf!
Elrond correctly read Erestor’s expression and didn’t give him a chance to protest. He drew in a deep breath, closed his eyes and focused his energy.
Celeborn finally realized Elrond’s intention and held Erestor as tightly as his injuries allowed. “Accept what Elrond is giving you. He gives it freely.”
Erestor nearly panicked when warmth expanded in his jaw, dulling the throbbing. Elrond’s healing energy was at work, trying to repair the damage. His jaw seemed to shift slightly and a sickening popping sound could be heard as the broken bones connected again. Feeling drained, Erestor’s eyes lost their light and darkened as he lost consciousness.
Celeborn felt Erestor go limp in his arms and supported the unconscious Elf. One look at Elrond told him that the half-Elf was about to faint as well, and that realization urged him to act quickly. As Elrond’s hands slipped away from Erestor’s head, Celeborn quickly lowered the injured Elf back onto the bed and then moved to catch Elrond before the half-Elf tumbled onto the floor. Gently, he maneuvered Elrond into a lying position next to Erestor. The half-Elf’s hands instinctively reached out for Erestor, and Elrond’s fingers curled around the advisor’s good hand.
“Ata’da? What is wrong with Ada?” Elrohir stood frozen in the doorway. He had seen his father collapse and wondered what had happened.
“Elrond used too much of his healing powers and exhausted himself. He needs to recuperate now.” Celeborn pulled up the covers and tucked them around their forms. Even in their healing sleep the two forms moved closer, and Elrond ended up holding Erestor in his arms. Looking at Elrohir, Celeborn expected the youngster to be shocked, but instead he found that his grandson was smiling warmly at him. “You know about their… love?”
“Elladan and I found out just recently, but aye, we do.” Elrohir slowly approached the bed. “I am happy for them.” His eyes searched Celeborn’s, realizing his grand father might feel different, considering Celebrian was his daughter.
Celeborn saw the uncertainty in his grandson’s eyes and said, “I am happy for them as well.”
Elrohir sighed, relieved. “I was worried you would not approve.”
“Wisdom comes with the years, Elrohir, and I am old enough to recognize love when I see it.”
“Would you like me to sit with them?” offered Elrohir, knowing Celeborn had taken over most of Glorfindel’s duties and was busy reorganizing the patrols.
Celeborn nodded once. “Aye, sit with them. I think your father will wake up in a few hours. I do not know about Erestor.”
“I will look after them,” promised Elrohir.
Celeborn smiled at his grandson and then headed for the doorway. After looking at Elrohir one last time, he left Elrond’s rooms to check on Glorfindel and Rumil.
Elrohir tiptoed over to a chair and soundlessly sat down; he didn’t want to disturb their sleep. Erestor and his father looked so content, sleeping this close to each other. Picking up the book lying on Elrond’s nightstand, he began reading, occasionally looking at them to make sure they were still asleep.
Erestor’s eyes slowly became alive again and his breath caught, finding himself in Elrond’s arms. The half-Elf had wrapped one arm around him and the other rested near his face, its fingers almost caressing his skin. Why was Elrond this close? /And why is he in bed with me?/ Then the memories tentatively returned, and he remembered that Elrond had used a considerable amount of his energy to heal his jaw.
Cautiously, he swallowed, and when no pain followed, he whispered Elrond’s name. His heart rejoiced at the absence of the stabbing pain in his jaw. Elrond must have mended the bones! His jaw still felt a bit sore, but the discomfort compared in no way to the agony he had felt earlier.
Erestor smiled experimentally and felt relieved when the dull soreness didn’t grow worse. His smile brightened. When he wanted to raise his good hand to touch Elrond’s face in his sleep, he was surprised to find that the half-Elf had a tight hold on it.
“Why are you still here? Why are you holding me?” Words once more flowed from his lips now that his jaw had been mended. “I know you have urgent matters to attend to, so why are you spending your time here with me? Elrond, I love you, but you cannot neglect your duties because of me.” His whispers were barely audible and he smiled warmly, wishing he could kiss Elrond just once.
Fatigue overwhelmed him and his strength deserted him. He still needed to recover and gather his strength. What had possessed him to admit his love aloud like that? Luckily, no one had heard him. His eyes became dull again, slipping back into sleep.
Elrohir, still seated in a chair next to the bed, smiled warmly after hearing Erestor’s words. It was too bad that Elrond hadn’t been awake to hear them as well. But now that he had heard Erestor confess his love, Elrohir was determined to play matchmaker. /I will make sure they admit their love. I want them to be together./ Elrohir grinned and returned to reading his book.
Elrond woke a few hours later, wanting to stretch, but then realized he couldn’t because someone was nestled in his arms. Opening his eyes, he stared adoringly at Erestor, who was still soundly asleep. He let one of his hands hover above Erestor’s jaw and realized that the healing session earlier had been successful. The jaw was no longer broken. Good, that would aid Erestor’s recovery!
“Ada? Would you like something to eat or drink?” Elrohir carefully watched his father’s response. Elrond raised an eyebrow and then looked at him, obviously wondering what his son was doing here. “Celeborn had to leave and I offered to watch over you in his place.”
Elrond nodded once, and was then faced with a personal dilemma. Erestor had found a way to fold his good arm around him, and the hold was stronger than he had thought possible. Erestor didn’t seem inclined to let him go when he tried to wriggle out of the embrace. Elrond stilled in his movements, unwilling to wake Erestor from his healing sleep. “You will have to bring me that tea.”
Elrohir smiled warmly and handed his father the cup.
Elrond managed to sip his tea, but had to abandon his efforts when Erestor groaned, displeased, moving even closer. He signaled for Elrohir to take away the cup before the hot liquid could slosh over the rim and accidentally burn skin.
“He woke briefly when you were still asleep,” said Elrohir in a sweet yet manipulative tone. “Something about you neglecting your duties because of him. Erestor also said he loved you.” Elrohir grinned, wickedly, seeing Elrond blush. “When will you tell him you know the truth and that you return his feelings? And come to think of it, why did you not do it yet?”
“He forgot he ever told me he loved me. His memory has holes in it. It probably tried to protect him, by keeping the memories of those last beatings from him. Unfortunately he also forgot his admission.”
Elrohir’s widened in surprise. “What will you do now?”
“I will court him. Like I should. Courting him is the proper thing to do.”
Elrohir chuckled softly. “Court him? Don’t you mean seduce him?”
“Eventually,” admitted Elrond. He had never been able to hide much from his sons, and they knew him so well that his face was an open book to them. “I will not allow him to rebuild this wall between us.”
Nodding his head, Elrohir rose to his feet. “I will send Elladan to take my place -- or do you no longer need any assistance?” He knew Celeborn was scheduling patrols and he wanted to offer his help. He could lead the next patrol; during these dangerous times their men needed a leader they could put their trust in.
“Give me an hour alone with Erestor and then send in Elladan. It will be dinner time about then.” Elrond frowned. “I completely forgot about Rumil! How does the young Elf fare? Does he need me?”
“Do not worry about Rumil,” said Elrohir, heading for the doorway. “I think Glorfindel found a way into his heart. Rumil is doing better.”
Elrond was relieved to hear this good news. “But I should still check on him.”
“Do that when Erestor no longer needs you this badly,” advised Elrohir, closing the door behind him. He walked down the corridor and, hearing soft silvery laughter, he quickly hid behind a pillar, having already identified the voices.
Glorfindel and Rumil came around the corner, laughing softly and holding hands. Elrohir waited for them to pass him by, unnoticed, and stepped out of the shadows when the two Elves had vanished from view. He had to tell Elladan he had been right!
He broke into a run and tumbled into their rooms. “Elladan! I saw them! I was right!”
Elladan, amused, laughed at his bouncing twin. “Calm yourself first.” Elrohir enthusiastically grabbed his hand and pulled him onto his feet. “What did you see?” he asked eventually, wondering what had gotten into his brother.
“Glorfindel and Rumil!” exploded Elrohir in a giddy tone. “They were laughing and holding hands! I told you Glorfindel liked Rumil in that way, but you did not believe me!”
“Hum,” said Elladan thoughtfully. “I need to see them for myself before I can believe you.” Oh, he truly enjoyed teasing his brother. “You might be making this up!”
“Come along then! We might catch up with them before they reach the guest quarters!” Elrohir determinedly dragged a struggling Elladan along. “I thought you wanted proof, so start cooperating!”
Elladan laughed, warmly. “Elrohir, I believe you! I am just teasing you.”
Elrohir glared at Elladan. “Why do you always do this to me?” Elladan had numerous ways of driving him mad, and this was one of them.
“Because I can wind you up so easily!” Elladan raised his hands, palm turned up. “Peace, brother, I will come with you, but I believe you anyway! Glorfindel has had this look in his eyes for several days. I believe you!” he repeated, making sure his twin had calmed down. “I believe you.”
Elrohir still glared at his twin. “I will get even with you.”
“I know you will,” said Elladan sweetly. “Now come. We will visit Glorfindel and Rumil and then—“
“Then you will sit with Ada and Erestor and I will ride out with tonight’s patrol.”
Elladan was about to point out that he had wanted to lead tonight’s patrol, but Elrohir’s grin silenced him.
“I have already arranged for it. Ada expects you in his rooms and I already told Ata’da that I would lead tonight’s patrol. I told you I would get even with you, did I not?”
Elladan sighed, trying to act distressed, but in reality he enjoyed their bantering. “You beat me at my own game.” Meeting his twin’s gaze, he grinned.
Elrohir, unable to act serious and frustrated any longer, returned the grin. “Come on, let us check on Rumil and Glorfindel and then we will go separate ways.”
Elladan willingly followed Elrohir to the guest quarters.
Rumil yawned; he had overestimated his strength. He still hadn’t completely recovered from the attack of grief. “I have never tired this easily before.”
Glorfindel smiled indulgently, leading Rumil to their bed. “Lie down and sleep. I will be here when you wake up again. I want to speak with Celeborn.” He was worried that Celeborn wouldn’t know how to handle matters. Ruling Imladris differed from ruling Lothlorien!
Glorfindel’s heart tightened, seeing the suddenly lost and lonely expression in Rumil’s big eyes. It was obvious that the younger Elf didn’t want to be left alone, but Glorfindel didn’t have a choice; he needed to stay in contact with Celeborn! “I will be back shortly, I promise, Lirimaer.”
Hearing that endearment, Rumil smiled, but he still grabbed Glorfindel’s wrist and refused to let go. “Can’t you stay?”
“Aiya, Rumil,” whispered Glorfindel, regretfully. “You have to get used to being alone at some time. I cannot stay close the entire time.” A pregnant silence descended over the room, whilst the two of them were watching each other. Rumil still clutched his wrist, not ready to let go.
The voice took them both aback and Rumil’s eyes widened slightly, revealing surprise.
“It is the twins,” whispered Glorfindel. He slightly moved his hand, hoping Rumil would take the hint and let go. Rumil did, eventually. “I am sorry,” Glorfindel whispered ruefully. “But we will work through this together.” Antagonizing slowly, he touched his lips to Rumil’s and bestowed a promising kiss on the other’s lips.
Rumil’s heart thundered madly in his chest, feeling Glorfindel’s lips on his. “Do we have to let them in?”
“They can keep you company whilst I talk to Celeborn. You should not be alone yet.”
/But it is you whom I want close!/ thought Rumil, but he didn’t say the words aloud, realizing how childish they would sound. “I will survive,” he whispered in the end, trying to sound teasingly, but miserably failing.
“I will be back within the hour,” promised Glorfindel. He encouraged Rumil to lie down and then pulled up the covers. After making sure Rumil was resting comfortably, he opened the door and was nearly run down by Elladan and Elrohir, who pushed past him into the room.
“Rumil! What are you doing in bed?” Elladan raised an eyebrow inquisitively. “I was hoping we could talk, go for a walk or ride and—“
“Brother, be quiet, can you not see Rumil is tired?” Elrohir shook his head at Elladan’s rambling. “Remember, he is still recovering!”
Elladan gave Rumil a look filled with guilty regret. “I forgot…” Shuffling his feet nervously, he wondered what to do next.
Rumil yawned and shrugged apologetically. “Maybe we can talk later?”
Glorfindel addressed Elrohir in a soft tone. “I was hoping you could stay with him until I return.” Seeing Elrohir’s curious expression, he explained, “I need to talk to Celeborn. I will be back within the hour.”
Elrohir nodded reassuringly. “We will look after him. It is still too soon for him to be alone.”
“My thoughts exactly,” said Glorfindel, relieved they understood. Looking at Rumil, he found that the silver haired Elf was already falling asleep. “He needs to feel someone close or he will start dreaming about losing his brothers at Helm’s Deep.”
“That is not a problem,” said Elladan, smiling. He was used to sleeping close to Elrohir and lay down behind Rumil, wrapping his arms around the other Elf. Rumil pressed back, sighing contently, and the last lines of worry faded from his brow. “He smells of the forest. Did you go outside?”
“I took him for a short walk, which tired him,” explained Glorfindel. He watched, amused, as Elrohir snuggled up to Rumil as well. Rumil was now securely wedged between the twins, who were holding him close. “It is just for one hour.”
“Do not worry about it, Glorfindel. We can do with a little nap ourselves,” said Elladan reassuringly. “And we do not mind looking after him. We like him, don’t we, Elrohir?”
Elrohir grinned. “Aye, we do.”
Glorfindel drew in a deep breath. “That is good. He needs friends.”
“He is already part of our family,” said Elrohir, smugly grinning at Glorfindel. “I trust he will stay in Imladris?”
“We talked and aye, he will stay. Especially now that Celeborn has agreed to stay well.”
“Ah, another addition to the household,” mumbled Elrohir, pleased. “He will fit in just fine.”
“He is a handful,” said Glorfindel, smiling as well and finally heading for the doorway.
“Like us?” Elladan tried to give Glorfindel an innocent look, but couldn’t pull it off. “Most of the time we behave!”
“It was not always like that!” Glorfindel reminded them. He had finally made it to the doorway. He didn’t want to leave!
“We were Elflings back then!” said Elladan, slightly annoyed. “We have grown up since then.”
“Nay, Elladan,” said Elrohir, continuing their banter, “-I- have grown up. –You- still act like an Elfling.”
“Could the two of you argue softly? I am tired…” Rumil shifted and attained a more comfortable position. Resting his head against Elrohir’s shoulder he whispered, “Haldir and Orophin used to banter all the time… I like it.”
Elladan, Elrohir and Glorfindel smiled warmly. “We will be quiet,” promised Elrohir, stroking Rumil’s hair.
Rumil nodded his head against Elrohir’s chest and dozed off with a brilliant smile on his face.
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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