It was early one morning when Erestor learned that the quiet haven of Imladris was going to have new residents.
“It seems that some of Gildor’s people plan to stay here,” Elrond announced after breakfast. “He writes that several families wish their older children to study more advanced subjects than can be learned by traveling.”
“Very well,” Erestor nodded as he sipped his tea. “It should be interesting to see what Gildor’s students bring to their classes. I know the twins will look forward to making new friends.”
Elrond winced at that, trying not to think of how ‘lively’ life had become when Thranduil sent his youngest son, Legolas, to study with the twins. The three youngsters had formed a deep friendship and – just perhaps – gotten along a little too well at times, for it seemed as though they were determined to discover if their antics could create grey hair in their elders. It had been a welcome relief when Thranduil had sent for the boy to return home, claiming that it was time for him to resume his training with the patrols. The crate of Dorwinion that Thranduil sent later in the fall, just as the High Pass was becoming blocked with snow, had Elrond wondering just how much his old friend had known of his youngest son’s high-spiritedness.
“Yes, well,” Elrond began reading once more. “Oh, one last thing of note. He says that one of his musicians, Lindir, will stay as well. He wants to build some new instruments and make copies of the music we have, as well as making copies of what they have collected to be stored here.”
“Lindir?” Erestor looked over at Elrond with a faint line of worry on his face. “I didn’t know there was anyone by that name with Gildor; the only Lindir I ever heard of was one of Gil-glad’s personal guards, who fell beside him at…”
“I know. It is odd but I suppose it is mere coincidence.”
“Perhaps.” Privately Erestor wondered at such a coincidence. While certain names tended to be fairly common (he personally knew almost three dozen girls who were named ‘Meren’, which was a problem in itself), it was extremely rare for anyone to reuse a famous name, unless they were a direct descendant of the person who first bore the name. “When will they arrive?”
“Gildor doesn’t say but I imagine at midsummer. He seems to like wintering as far south as possible. He believes the trading is supposed to be the best then.” Elrond rolled up the letter and stood. “I’d better inform Celebrían of our guests; she’ll have her own arrangements to make.”
Erestor nodded to Elrond as he left the breakfast room and walked down the long hall to the staircase. He still had several trunks from Lindon to finish cataloging, and he thought that perhaps he might find some further records of the Lindon families in them. There couldn’t be that many elves with the same name as his once-friend and occasional lover. Or could there?
“It can’t be the same one, though,” Erestor muttered to himself as he looked in the library’s reserved section for the battle rolls. “I copied the commanders’ notes myself; I could not have made such an error.”
But he knew all too well that such an error could have been made; confusion was rampant when so many of the commanders had been killed. Oropher had fallen first that day, along with nearly two-thirds of the Sindar-Silvans. And then it had been Gil – but Erestor forced his mind from that train of thought. There were very few survivors of either elves or men, and for a time it seemed as if Oropher’s son Thranduil was lost as well.
Glorfindel attempted to bring order to the scattered troops and organized the burial parties but it was Celeborn who managed to find the fallen Sindar prince and carry him off the field to the nearest healer’s tent, leaving only to find Elrond and demand his healing skills for Thranduil. Elrond had been angry at Celeborn’s interruption in the meeting of the remaining leaders of the Alliance, especially the Men. Only later did they learn of his failed attempt to reason with Isildur.
Later, Erestor thought that perhaps, if he were careful, he could discover more about this new musician before actually meeting him. Oddly, Erestor failed to remember that Lindir studied as a musician until he was appointed to the High King’s personal guard.
It had been midsummer when Gil-galad first laid eyes on Lindir. He took a keen interest in the young musicians, often hoping that at least one or two of them would be gifted enough to train as bards. If they were fair to behold, so much the better.
But Lindir surprised him, for as the High King read through the young one’s file, he discovered that while Lindir came from a soldier’s family, he showed a rare talent for music and so had been sent on to the court at Lindon.
I must meet him for myself, Gil-galad mused. Perhaps he is the one I have been waiting for all these years. Gil reached for a sheet of parchment and began to write.
Within minutes, one of his pages was off to deliver an invitation to Lindir and escort him back to the king’s private office.
Lindir was shaking as the page escorted him to the king’s office. He had no idea how he had caught the king’s eye and he could only hope he was not in some sort of trouble.
Opening the door, the page walked a few steps into the room and announced, “Here is Lindir, Your Grace,” and promptly stepped back to his position beside the wall.
“Your Grace,” said Lindir, who had belatedly realized he was still standing in front of the king. He quickly knelt and bowed his head. “What is thy will?”
“Rise, Lindir.” Gil-galad rose from behind his desk and walked over to stand in front of him. “There is no need for such formality here.”
As Lindir raised his head and looked up, Gil-galad was struck by his uncommon beauty. His hair was blond, but it was neither the deep gold of the Vanyar or the paler silver-blond of the Sindar and Silvan. It was a darker, richer shade that reminded him of his older cousins, while the lad’s eyes were a clear, light blue which was very like those of Celeborn.
And like Oropher’s eyes, too, an inner voice reminded him. With an effort, Gil-galad reminded himself that he was already in a serious relationship, even if it was a well-guarded secret.
“I understand you come from a soldier’s house,” the king began. “And I am told you are a skilled musician as well.”
“Yes, my lord.” Lindir replied.
“I wish for you to join my personal guard,” Gil-galad continued. “I have need of a musician who understands the life of a soldier. One day you will…”
Lindir watched as a distant look came over the king’s face, as if he were looking far into the future. He had heard of such a thing but he had never personally witnessed it. Almost as quickly as it happened, it seemed to disappear and the king’s full attention was back.
“So, will you take the job?”
“I will be honored, my lord.”
Lindir quickly discovered that he was expected to continue studying music in addition to taking up guard duty. While it was not merely a ceremonial post, neither was it as rigorous as that of the regular bodyguards. Indeed, Lindir scarcely knew what to make of it at first.
“He needs friends,” Erestor told him one night as they were leaving the king’s private study. Erestor was of an age with Lindir and they had become fast friends. Erestor was also part of the personal guard but his duties were those of a scribe and librarian. “But as high king, he can never truly have friends. It is our job to take that place.”
“I must admit I thought that personal guard was a euphemism for lover at first,” Lindir told his companion. “Not that I would be averse to the idea.”
“So did I,” Erestor replied after a moment. “After all, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone, even some of the council. But he… I think he feels we would not be able to refuse him if he should ask.”
Lindir nodded. There was some truth to that but he felt the king would have accepted a refusal; he was not the type to force himself on another. He knew that Erestor felt the same way too. In silence, they continued walking through the long halls until they came to their shared rooms and closed the door.
And so the years passed.
“You will enjoy Elrond’s home.” Gildor was saying to Lindir, trying to keep him awake for the older musician was beginning to sway in the saddle. “It is very beautiful, very peaceful…”
Yes I know, Lindir felt like saying. I was with Gil when he first saw it. He fell in love with the waterfall. He named it ‘Rainbow Song’…
“Lindir? Are you alright?” Gildor looked worriedly at him.
“Mostly.” Lindir was unable to hide a wince of pain. “I think maybe I’d better ride in the wagon now; my leg and back are bad today.”
“Of course. We should stop anyway for the midday meal.”
Less than an hour later, the travelers halted and made camp. Their midday meal was often a cold one so they could stay on schedule but today it was decided to make a full stop to rest the horses, check the harnesses and wagons and refill the water barrels before starting on the last leg of the journey to Imladris.
Gildor watched as Lindir cautiously climbed into their shared wagon, closing the door behind him. It seemed that Lindir had been feeling gradually worse in the past year and he hoped that Elrond could help the musician. Gildor often wished he had asked Lindir more about his background but at first there had been no time and then, there never seemed to be a good time to broach the subject, for Lindir had no wish to speak of his past, which Gildor understood. He too preferred not to speak of many things. If they had been a couple, that would have been different. But they were not a couple and there was nothing between them other than deep friendship. Furthermore, Gildor could offer Lindir a quiet place: one where he could work on his music and rest when needed without interruption.
Lindir lay down on the padded bench and closed his eyes. The injuries from the Dagorlad had never healed properly and nothing seemed to help the pain at times. Not for the first time he wondered if Gildor had truly done him a kindness by rescuing him where he lay crippled, trying to crawl away from the abandoned battlefield. But Gildor had, and his skilled healers had probably saved his life.
But I should have been left there; I deserved it. I failed to protect my king; it should have been me, it should have been…
His hope of a quiet nap was futile; instead he tossed restlessly as his troubled thoughts made their way into his dreams.
No-one had believed the war would turn into a stalemate so quickly, with neither side gaining any clear advantage. Certainly the elves had not believed it. It was hard to know the minds of Men, but Lindir imagined that they too thought it would be over quickly.
The dull sameness of the weeks and months were blurred in memory now until even the last battle was largely blank. Lindir did remember a few things though.
Gil-galad was in another meeting with his advisors when they received word Oropher and his followers had gone ahead, only to be slaughtered. His son Thranduil was thought to be lost as well. Gil-galad went white at the news and sagged in his seat before standing decisively.
They marched to the battlefield and then…
He saw Gil-galad fall. Lindir tried desperately to throw himself in front of the king but it was no use; he was too late. He didn’t remember being struck by an arrow in the back nor the sword that sliced into his leg. He must have fallen unconscious shortly afterward, for many of his injuries were exacerbated by the jagged rocks littering the field. At least, that was what Gildor’s healers told him and there was no reason to disbelieve them.
Lindir roused when he felt sharp nips on his skin so having a rough piece of canvas thrown over his body was surprising. It made no sense. Why would anyone do such a thing – unless it was to ward off the carrion birds. Slowly he began to hear voices in the distance, the dull sound of shovels against the bare ground. Worst of all, the smell of burning flesh filled his nose, yet he was unable to move, speak or gather his wits. Instead he simply lay there, forced to imagine the horrors around him.
Eventually, he slid into unconsciousness once more.
When he woke again, it was utterly still. Lindir couldn’t hear or see anything moving around; he was alone. But when he discovered he could move his arms and legs, he nearly cried with relief. He couldn’t stand though, so he began to crawl toward a faint tendril of air that was less foul. He realized the burning he felt in his back and his leg must be caused by poison and he needed to find help as soon as possible.
It was less than a fortnight to midsummer when Gildor and his company arrived in Imladris.
Elrond had only a small greeting party awaiting their arrival, for Gildor insisted on informality. A larger gathering would be held in a few days, when everyone was rested and settled in.
“Elrond! It is good seeing you again, cousin.”
“And you as well, cousin.” Elrond smiled as they clasped hands. “Come, we have some refreshments.”
“Where is your lady wife? I thought to see her here with you.”
“Celebrían is waiting with the refreshments, in order to make sure that there are refreshments.”
“Ah, so the twins are hungry as ever, are they?” Gildor winked at Elrond, who smiled despite himself as they began walking up the broad stairway and into the main hall.
“Yes, we have learned that it is easier for one of us to stand guard over the table than to ask anyone else.”
“I hear a story there; you must give me all the details.”
“In due time, Gildor. But where is the musician you spoke of? I am very anxious to meet him. You wrote that his name is Lindir, I believe?”
“Ah yes, Lindir. He will try to join us later. I am afraid that he has not been well these last weeks.”
“Not well?” Elrond’s curiosity was piqued, for elves were seldom ill.
“It is a long story, and I am not certain it is mine to tell. Perhaps later?” Gildor said as they walked toward the small dining room.
“Of course,” Elrond replied, just as the door swung open. The twins let out a squeal of ‘Ada’ and raced toward them and all else was forgotten.
Meanwhile, Lindir slowly finished dressing and hoped he was presentable. It seemed to take much longer for him to feel rested and he wanted little more than to find a room and sleep. He wondered if Elrond would remember him. Probably so, he decided, for the herald of Gil-galad seldom forgot a name or a face.
He looked out the window of the wagon and decided he had best try to arrive for the light tea Gildor said would be served first.
Erestor paused to lock the trunk holding the battle rolls before hurrying to join Elrond and his guests. He supposed he shouldn’t have taken the time when he was wearing his second-best robes but the riddle of a second Lindir plagued him. But the library was as spotless and well-kept as his own private rooms, and the worst that could happen was he would be late.
As he made his way along the hall to Elrond and Celebrian’s private dining room, he noticed a stranger slowly coming from the other direction. As he looked on, a shaft of sunlight caught the newcomer’s hair to reveal a rich, dark shade of blond and Erestor felt as if he had seen a ghost. He had only known one other to have hair that color.
“Lindir,” gasped Erestor in stunned disbelief. “It is you – but how? I thought…”
“You left me,” Lindir said, with deep bitterness. “You left me there. You didn’t even bother to look. What happened? Too interested in the pretty Vanya?”
“How can you say such a thing?” Erestor felt a unexpected surge of anger. Glorfindel was nothing more than a friend. “Gil’s Captain ordered me to start crating his official paperwork before we left that day.”
“You left me for dead,” Lindir growled. “Did you know I was almost burned alive, after being taken for a corpse? Then after, when Gildor got me to the healers no one came to look for me. *You* never looked for me.”
Erestor broke down. “There were so many, Lindir. I couldn’t bear the thought you were among them, yet I knew you must be. Others reported seeing you fall; they saw the arrow and the sword. Your name was not on the lists of the wounded. If I had believed even for a moment that you had survived, you know I would have done everything I could…”
“Save it,” Lindir broke in. “I would be dead now if not for Gildor. He was there when I needed him and I will always be grateful that there was one person who didn’t give up on me.” He winced and clutched a table for support. Erestor took a step forward, only to have Lindir wave him away angrily.
“Are you hurt?” Erestor asked, concerned.
“The wounds are old but they still sing,” Lindir answered grimly. “Do not concern yourself. You never have.”
Erestor looked as if he might speak but at last he drew himself up and gave a little bow. “Shall I tell Elrond you’re ready to meet him? He will be very happy to find out you’re the same Lindir he knew.”
Lindir gave him a sardonic smile. “Not the same Lindir he knew. The soldier is gone, only the musician remains and little enough of him.”
As Erestor opened the door, the room was quiet when he gestured for Lindir to precede him.
“Elrond, you remember Lindir, don’t you?”
Elrond looked startled but regained his composure quickly. “Yes, of course. When I first saw the name I wondered but I did not dare to hope you had survived.” Elrond rose and walked over to where Lindir stood. “Please, be seated. There is no need for formality here.”
“It is good to see you again, Elrond,” Lindir replied as he fought back a shudder. Those words were almost the same ones that Gil-galad had spoken to him when they first met. He carefully sat down in the nearest chair, breathing a quiet sigh of relief. “It has been a long time.”
“Yes, it has. Allow me to introduce my wife, Celebrían.”
“My lady.” Lindir watched as she brought a hot cup of tea to him, carefully setting it on a small end table beside his good hand. He wondered how she had known, then realized that she must have inherited some of her mother’s talent.
“I am merely Celebrían,” she said, smiling at him. “Would you like cream or sugar with your tea? Or perhaps a lemon slice? We have cake and sandwiches too, if you are hungry.”
“This will be sufficient, ma’am,” he said. “I prefer to save my appetite for later.”
“As you wish,” she replied as she left his side and sat beside her husband.
The small party broke up a short time later when everyone went to prepare for dinner. Lindir would have preferred to remain sitting in this pretty little room but when Gildor said that Erestor would show them to their suite, Lindir found that he could only hope it wouldn’t be a long walk.
Elrond had scarcely closed the door to their room when Celebrían turned to him.
“He is badly injured, isn’t he?” It was just like Celebrían to come straight to the point. “Can you help him?”
“Yes, he is.” Elrond rubbed his forehead. “And, if he asks for help, I will do my best. But to be honest,” he said with a deep sigh, “the only other person I have seen who was so grievously injured is Thranduil.”
“Thranduil recovered because Father found him so quickly and you were able to intervene,” Celebrían reminded him as she helped remove his hair ornaments. “Lindir is going to be a much more difficult case. I will help in any way I can, of course, but he seems rather shy.”
“You will find a way, my dear,” Elrond said with a soft chuckle as he placed his hand over hers and smiled up at her. “You often do.”
When Lindir woke the next morning, he felt slightly better. Then again, he usually slept better in a proper bed – not that he would ever mention such a thing to Gildor, of course. He wondered what was planned for the day and hoped it would be not be too tiring. Meeting Erestor had been a huge shock and now he wondered if his plans for copying the music held in the library would be possible. Unless Erestor had changed greatly – and Lindir was willing to bet that he hadn’t entirely – then access to the library’s record room would be guarded just as fiercely as any dragon’s hoard.
How Gil had loved to tease Erestor by arriving in the library with a cup of tea and asking to see some of the oldest reference books! Erestor’s panicked reaction amused Gil immensely, but Gil was not cruel so he always relented in the end and asked Erestor to reserve a table and place the needed material there, so he could return and study at his leisure.
Lindir felt himself smiling at the memory – it was something he had not thought of in nearly an Age. But, he reminded himself, he needed to bathe and dress. He noticed a bell pull near the bed and rang it. Almost immediately there was a soft knock at the door.
“Enter,” he called and was unsurprised when a dark-haired serving boy opened the door.
“How may I serve you, my lord?” the boy asked.
“Would it be possible for me to breakfast here, in my room?”
“Of course, my lord. It’s no trouble at all.” The boy replied with a ready smile. “Is there anything special I can get for you?”
“Something light, I think. Tea. Oh, and I should tell you that I do not eat meat. Ever. Other than that, anything you bring should be fine.”
“Very well, my lord.” The boy gave a quick bow. “I’ll be right back.”
Celebrían imagined that she would find Lindir in the gardens, and she was right.
“Good morn, Lindir. I hope you are enjoying yourself.”
“I am indeed, my lady.” He replied. “The gardens are quite beautiful, though I am surprised to see a mallorn growing on this side of the mountains.”
“You are very well-travelled, Lindir,” she said with a hint of surprise. “Very few realise that it is a mallorn, let alone that it is not native to this region. The riddle is easily solved though: it was a wedding gift from my parents.”
“A lovely present indeed.” Lindir smiled at her and she smiled back.
“Come, I would like to show you the gardens myself.”
“Very well. Lead on, my lady.”
They walked slowly while Celebrían told him how she had designed the gardens, taking care to not overwhelm the valley with non-native plants.
“… and this is my private garden,” she told him, indicating a small area that seemed to be made of small, perennial flowers. “It is actually a maze, so you must be careful where you step.”
“I thought a maze would be much larger and made of yew, perhaps,” Lindir replied. “So I am curious to know why this one is so different.”
“I love design and I love experimenting with different ideas. I have no interest in painting or sculpture but gardens, needlework – well, they are something else.” She paused and walked a short way in to study its progress. “This is newly planted and I need to make sure it is properly watered. Elrond offered to help install an underground water system but I prefer to water them by hand. It is very soothing.”
Lindir nodded in silent agreement. The little garden had its own unique appeal and it would be a shame to change it.
“Of course, there is a formal maze of yew elsewhere but that was to appease the head gardener – who is Elrond.” She winked mischievously and he coughed quickly to cover a sudden laugh.
“As you say, ma’am.”
“Now then,” she said. “How are you feeling? Do you wish to return to the house yet? Or do you feel up to a bit more walking?”
Lindir hesitated. He was tired and his back was starting to ache but he had no wish to return to his room just yet.
“A bit more walking, if it isn’t too far,” he said at last.
“Wonderful!” she exclaimed. “Now, this was originally meant to be part of the house but the plans didn’t work out.” She frowned slightly as she turned to walk along a well-traveled path. “Elrond hired the Dwarves to build much of the foundations and pools but they abandoned this for some reason. They never gave any explanation; it was nearly finished too. The main hot springs area is close by but Elrond decided to keep this one private for family and guests.”
They had reached an elaborate iron gate which Celebrían pushed open easily and gestured to the shadowed opening a few yards away. “Most leave their shoes or sandals near the entrance; you can see it is unoccupied now. The pool is large enough to hold several people and deep enough to stretch out easily. The water is nice and warm, which is perfect for a long, relaxing soak. There are bath oils and soaps on some open shelves beside the towel cupboard, and there are pegs for clothing.
“You have already noticed that there are very few locks here. As for these particular springs, Mithrandir cast a spell on it to keep out young children unless there is an adult with them.”
“It sounds wonderful, ma’am,” Lindir said. “I am certain I will enjoy it.”
“Shall we return to the house? It is nearly time for the midday meal. You are welcome to come to the main table or simply dine in your room again. It is all one, believe me.”
“I think I will dine in my room, ma’am,” he replied. “Perhaps I will join you and Elrond later on.”
“We look forward to seeing you then,” she said, smiling at him once more as she walked on to the house.
Unbeknownst to them, there was a perfect view of the gardens from the library and Erestor had watched Celebrían trying to make Lindir feel more at ease. Well, if anyone could do that, it was Celebrían, he thought tiredly.
Erestor hadn’t expected to ever see Lindir alive again – not until after he had sailed. And even then… the dark-haired elf turned away. He had been shocked meeting him in the hallway and he had been utterly stunned by Lindir’s bitter anger. Worst of all, he believed Lindir was in the right. He should have gone out and searched on his own and not just relied on the eyewitnesses’ reports. They had been right in some ways but so terribly mistaken in others.
For once, Erestor was at a loss. Lindir was expected to remain until his musical project was completed. Erestor had no problem with that; he just had no idea how he was going to deal with someone so antagonistic toward him. Erestor sighed, and looked over the list of journeymen for the library. He would assign one of them to help Lindir with his project, while *he* would continue his work of rebinding Gil-galad’s earliest journals.
A few weeks later, Gildor and his travelers left to resume their travels to the south. They would return eventually but whether or not Lindir would rejoin them was unknown.
In his office, Elrond studied the healers’ reports on Lindir. The wounds had been cleansed of poison long ago, and it seemed to him that the residual pain was in part due to the lingering emotional and spiritual distress Lindir continued to feel.
Of course, there was an undoubted physical aspect too. The rough battlefield medicine had saved Lindir’s life, but the constant rough movement of the wagons kept bone and muscle from healing properly. Elrond simply didn’t know how to address this issue after such a long time. His best advice would be to stop traveling (which was already done), try to move as quietly as possible (again, already done) and see if long hot baths could help ease the soreness.
Elrond heard soft footsteps approach and waited to feel his beloved place her arms around him and kiss him on the temple.
“So, what have you learned, husband? Can you help him?”
“There is little I can do now, my dear.” Elrond let out a heavy sigh. “There is no more poison and the physical injuries are long healed. What he needs is to find spiritual peace and healing first. Then, just possibly, the physical pain would begin to heal as well.”
“They are avoiding one another now,” she said cautiously. “I do not think it is wise.”
“Not wise but understandable, I suppose.” Elrond dropped his head in his hands for a moment before taking her hand and pulling her onto his lap.
“You worry too much, my heart. Things will work out, eventually. And we have time.”
“Yes, we do.” But how much, he wondered. How long before…
“Elrond,” she said in her soft clear voice. “The healing will begin once Lindir begins to write his own music again. There is a song...”
“Yes. A very special song. All will know when we hear it. In the meantime,” Celebrían said in a mock whine, “my poor feet ache most dreadfully. Can you do anything, healer?”
“Why yes, my dear,” he replied. “I think a trip to the hot baths is in order.”
“But I don’t think I can walk that far,” she whimpered, but with a playful wink.
“Not to worry, my love,” he said, lifting her into his arms and pressing his forehead to hers. “I will carry you myself.”
And so life continued on. Little seemed to change, yet change it did.
Gildor made occasional visits but Lindir did not rejoin them. He was still working on his project; such things could not be hurried.
Erestor began to leave materials in the library for Lindir, though they were not long in each other’s company and did not speak. They did however begin to leave copious notes.
But it was the unexpected birth of Arwen that signaled a deeper change in the hidden valley. There was much rejoicing in all of the elven realms. Galadriel made a rare trip from Lórien to see her granddaughter and Círdan left his beloved ships long enough to pay a visit. Even Thranduil made the long journey to see the baby (and to privately ask Elrond if there was a possibility to broker a marriage between Arwen and Legolas. Elrond had refused, claiming it was unwise to plan so far ahead. Thranduil, though disappointed, seemed to accept this. But when the Dorwinion shipments began arriving on each and every one of Arwen’s begetting days, Elrond was left wondering why Thranduil seemed to be pursuing it.)
Most importantly, Erestor and Lindir slowly, cautiously rebuilt their friendship – and Lindir began writing songs once more. He had continued to play and teach but never his own work. (Gildor had privately told Elrond he feared Lindir would abandon his music.)
It was late one evening when Erestor arrived at the hot springs just as Lindir did.
“I hope I am not intruding,” Erestor began. “I can come back later if you prefer privacy.”
“You are not intruding,” Lindir told him. “There is plenty of room for more than one, and it has been a long day.”
They placed their shoes at the door before walking into the starlit room. They undressed in silence and slowly slid into the warm water. They continued to sit quietly side by side.
“Do you happen to know how the lighting works?” Lindir had not meant to speak, but his thoughts ran ahead of him.
“It is a Dwarvish invention,” Erestor replied. “Elrond did ask their foreman, but he claimed it was a trade secret.”
They began talking of inconsequential matters then, and before long it seemed almost like old times.
“Would you like me to rub your shoulders?” Erestor asked.
Lindir looked away for a moment and Erestor was certain he would refuse; he could only hope that he had not rekindled the blond’s anger. But instead Lindir turned slightly with the words, “You may.”
Erestor slid over, and placed his hands on Lindir’s shoulders, frowning at the tightness there. But as he began to slowly run his hands over Lindir’s skin, he could feel the blond slowly relax as if he were releasing a breath he hadn’t known he was holding.
“That feels so good,” Lindir whispered. “So good.
Erestor smiled quietly to himself and continued the impromptu massage. Lindir had relaxed a bit more, letting his shoulders slump slightly when he hurriedly stood up and eased himself out of the pool.
“I have no wish to fall asleep here,” he said in a voice that was almost the same as it had been. “If you would be so kind, I would like to continue this somewhere drier.”
“There is a table over there,” Erestor began but paused as Lindir shook his head.
“I will be in my room,” Lindir said in a thoughtful voice. “You know where it is?”
“Yes, yes of course,” Erestor managed to say.
“Good.” Lindir pulled on a soft robe, belted it and walked outside.
Erestor followed behind for only a few steps but Lindir waited, and so they walked into the house together.
Lindir walked more easily after the soak in the hot water and Erestor’s heart was lifted to note that the regular baths and work with the masseurs had eased Lindir’s pain greatly during his stay in the valley. Yet a pain still remained that only he could ease.
They entered Lindir’s rooms and Erestor noted the jumbled desk with sheets of music covered in notations and strikethroughs. Lindir was working hard on his new composition. He was just fighting the urge to go through the mess and organize Lindir’s notes when he found himself confronted by Lindir’s piercing gaze.
He swallowed hard, not sure what to do or say. “Uh, where would you like to start?” he managed awkwardly.
“I suppose we should start where we left off,” Lindir said. There was sadness in his eyes but something else too, something Erestor did not recognize.
“We seem to have left off with me feeling at a loss by the anger you directed my way,” Erestor said. “An anger that while startling was also very much deserved,” he added quickly.
“Yes, well, I have been meaning to have this conversation since that first day, but I did not have the courage and after the things I said. . .”
“I would have spoken sooner,” Erestor broke in quickly, “but I did not want to add to your pain.”
“Why didn’t you try harder to find me?” Lindir asked.
Tears started in Erestor’s eyes and he blinked them back, steeling his resolve. “I was told you were struck by a poisoned shaft and finished off by a sword. I didn’t want to believe you were gone. Of course I studied the battle rolls, the lists of the wounded, every piece of paper I could find or scrounge. I never found your name so I knew you had to be dead. I was responsible for all of Gil-galad’s records and notes. They had to be preserved, and Elrond wanted to pull back quickly after Sauron’s defeat. No one wanted to be in the shadow of Orodruin for long after Isildur decided to keep the ring. If I had known you were alive, nothing would have stopped me from finding you. Please believe me.”
“You are a man of letters, Erestor. Scrolls, lists, notes, diaries, books, all these you cleave to, yet you cannot read between the lines. Gildor and his healers knew I lived, others of the company saw me as I healed, but you did not speak with anyone. You did not ask for or seek me after the war. You chose to believe in words when action would have told you the truth.”
Erestor hung his head. “My grief at losing you was insurmountable, Lindir. Of course you are right, if I had sought for you I may have found you, but I was lost myself. I carry wounds from the war too, invisible but just as debilitating, the greatest of which is failing you. How can I ask you to forgive me when I cannot forgive myself? He could no longer stay his tears and began to weep.
Lindir, moved, put a warm hand on his shoulder. “Oh, Erestor, we have both been living with our pain and guilt for so long. My guilt is in failing Gil-galad and yours in failing me. But this valley is a place of healing for those who seek it. The pain of my wounds is fading but the pain in my heart cannot be healed without forgiving you, and I have. I forgave you long ago but I have been too stubborn and afraid to face you and tell you so.
He dried Erestor’s tears with the sleeve of his robe and pulled him into a hug. “Let us speak no more of the past. I am sorry to have questioned you and opened your wounds but I had to know. Let yourself be healed now as I have been so we may look forward and leave the past behind.”
Erestor squeezed him as though he would never let go. His grip was so tight Lindir had to bite back a moan, but the pain of his body had never been sweeter to his soul.
Gil-galad was an elven king
Of him the harpers sadly sing…
Thank you to: IgnobleBard for patient and tireless beta work. Any remaining mistakes are mine.
Written for 20116 My Slashy Valentine, this story is also archived in that collection at AO3, under my alternate name of laSamtyr and with the same title.
Thank you to: IgnobleBard for patient and tireless beta work. Any remaining mistakes are mine.
Written for 20116 My Slashy Valentine, this story is also archived in that collection at AO3, under my alternate name of laSamtyr and with the same title.
Chapter end notes:
The flower maze and the hot springs in Imladris are my own personal head canon.
Gil-galad naming the waterfall in Imladris 'Rainbow Song' is also my own personal head canon.
Gil-galad naming the waterfall in Imladris 'Rainbow Song' is also my own personal head canon.