He was a good hour’s ride away from the palace when the rain started, but being wet had never been something to bother him. It was that kind of warm summer rain that feels more like a shower than anything else, however torrential; the kind that trickles down your face like kisses. The hot earth of the plain around him smelled musky and damp and rich, the blue-peaked backdrop of the Ered Luin hazed into a grey shadow, and the downpour crackled into the grass.
Glorfindel leaned backwards against his horse until his head was resting on the animal’s rump, and sighed. From this angle, it could almost be home – Gondolin-home, that was. Gondolin-home had been a sweep of grassy plains on which their horses roamed free, rimmed by the Echoriath like the lip of a colourfully-painted bowl. Glorfindel had often told the children tales of how the Valar had created the Tumladen valley like a potter shapes his wares, on a spinning wheel and then glazed green in the bottom, mingling with grey and lipped with white at the top. His Valinor-home had not been unlike it either, on the north-eastern outskirts of Valmar with the Pelóri mountains in view on a clear day. Here in Lindon-home, one had to ride a while with the sea at his back before the Ered Luin appeared, but still they would be there.
The mountains had seemed like the singular constant in Glorfindel’s history – much like the sea had been for Círdan. He had found much comfort in that fact as he tried to reconcile his two lives, until he had learned the story of the War of Wrath and then even the stones seemed changeable and inconsistent.
It had been Elrond who, perhaps having a better viewpoint than full-blooded Elves, had pointed out how immortals curiously tried to preserve that which they were meant to watch progress. Gil-galad, the epitome of animation itself, had agreed.
Lying flat against his horse’s back and watching the rain fall towards his face, Glorfindel could hear the king’s words even now: We move, or we stagnate. Stand still in time and it will erode you, like a rock in a river – or swim with the current and see what it passes, and you shall arrive at the sea shaped by the experience.
Glorfindel smiled; sighed. It was Gil-galad’s unprecedented wisdom that had anchored him when he’d struggled, as much as his calm and his strength. The fact that it was not usually forthcoming made it all the more touching.
This penchant for change, for progression, that he possessed had brought them together with such ease at first meeting: Gil-galad together and active and Glorfindel as a divided confusion. They fitted so well that, once they came together, there was no debating they would ever part thereafter.
Sitting up, Glorfindel thought what a shame it was that duty had yet again prevailed and prevented Gil-galad from joining him this afternoon. Such, sadly, was the disadvantage of being king, and Gil-galad had insisted that Glorfindel go anyway. He had enjoyed the time alone, admittedly, the freedom and the space what he needed after the confines of the palace, but the journey home was steady, meandering, and steeped in thoughts of company.
The rain followed him home just as surely as the smell of wet horse would follow him through the palace to his chambers. Glorfindel rubbed his mount down and tossed some hay into the manger, but made it no further than leaning on the stable door as he watched the animal have a good roll in the straw.
Footsteps sounded from further down the barn, accompanied by voices, but Glorfindel paid no heed until the voice from behind made him start.
“I always forget how letting you spend time on your own turns you into a brooding old hen. I must remember to make a law forbidding it.”
Glorfindel smirked as Gil-galad stepped up next to him, using the narrowness of the stable door as an excuse for their shoulders to touch. “One that ties me to your side all day, Sire? I should not object.”
“If only.” Gil-galad pursed his lips, and Glorfindel could almost see the wish that flashed across his face. “But enough of that. Tell me of the depths to which your mind has descended this time.”
“I was merely thinking,” Glorfindel replied without taking his eyes off his horse, “that being a horse must be something like being a king.” He paused, and Gil-galad made a small noise of interest, so continued, “You have people to clothe you, feed you, clean up after you and generally at your beck and call. You have a constant stream of admirers and those to decide with whom you may or may not breed. Ultimately, though, there’s only one person who really, truly loves you; one who is yours. And that--”
Glorfindel did not finish speaking before a large hand caught him around the back of the neck and he was pulled into a kiss that made his toes curl. His hands gestured in mid-air for a moment in protest that someone might see them, but when it became clear that Gil-galad had no intention of stopping, he surrendered to the firm and possessive exploration of his mouth and more or less forgot about his hands altogether.
Gil-galad’s eyes were practically simmering when he broke the kiss. “In there,” he directed with a nod of his head towards the nearest empty stable. Glorfindel cocked an eyebrow, although the involuntary lick of his lips lessened the effect somewhat.
“Or we can do it out here if you’d prefer,” Gil-galad continued, smirking at Glorfindel’s hesitance. He laughed as Glorfindel rolled his eyes, which soon turned into a groan as long fingers then tangled their way into the lacings of his breeches and he found himself drawn groin-first into the stable.
“I always knew it had to be highly overrated.”
Gil-galad looked up over his glass of wine at Glorfindel, sprawled in his usual leonine majesty on the bed. “That offends me, I’ll have you know. There is nothing about my splendid person that is overrated.”
“I was referring to tumbles in the hay,” Glorfindel elaborated. “I can still feel the prickles. And the only reason your splendid person isn’t overrated is because people don’t talk about it.”
“Oh, I beg to differ: I’ve heard you comment on it many times before, and all of them accurate.” Gil-galad grinned, set down his glass, and made his way from the sofa to the bed. “You, uh, have some straw in your hair still…”
He reached out to extract it from between Glorfindel’s probing fingers, laughing at the resulting grumble, and tickled his nose with it. “Come on, you seemed to enjoy it at the time – it’s one of those things everyone should try, like sex on the beach.”
Glorfindel snorted. “The only way you and I are having sex on the beach is if you play the mare,” he replied. Gil-galad’s head settled on his abdomen, those bright cobalt eyes looking up at him with the charm only a rogue could possess. “I’m serious – what, you don’t mean now?”
Gil-galad’s laugh rumbled through the bed and made his very bones vibrate with the sound. “Why not?”
“Because… Oh, damn it, why not now?” Glorfindel sat up, his hand suddenly in the firm grasp of Gil-galad’s pulling him towards the door, and the words of his earlier thoughts echoing in his head as he went.
And you shall arrive at the sea shaped by the experience.