Chapter 1 - Between Us
It was good to be back home, doing what he was familiar with, Erestor thought as he entered Imladris’ library. He breathed deep, inhaling the essence of every book. The scent of sandalwood wafted past him and he smiled. Lastar, his assistant, had arrived early, and lit Lord Elrond’s favorite incense. Such an enlightened and dependable ellon, Erestor thought quickly, and then turned to a window. A beam of sunlight illuminated the dust particles that flew through the crisp morning air. Everything was as it should be. Yes, familiarity was bliss.
Erestor had recently returned from an unexpected journey with Glorfindel, a hunting trip. He had left Rivendell as nothing more than a trusted counselor for Lord Elrond, and guardian of his most prized collection of books, but he returned home as Glorfindel’s companion and lover added to his titles. Erestor was still adjusting to these newfound feelings for the golden warrior, and told Glorfindel that he was not ready to announce anything just yet.
“Just for a while, let it be between us,” Erestor proposed the night before, after making love to Glorfindel. He had learned quickly that the best time to make Fin do as he asked was when he was devoid of his usual arrogance and need for control, and Erestor had just finished luring him into that sated and euphoric state.
“Only because I love you, Erestor,” Glorfindel answered with a languid whisper, “but it may not take them long to figure out what has become of us.”
“I didn’t say forever,” Erestor said as he nipped at Glorfindel’s nipple, “Only until I get my business in order. I left so suddenly, though with Lord Elrond’s permission, but I’m sure things have been accumulating while we have been away. Let me straighten them out first so that my mind will not be overwhelmed by all that has happened.” Erestor’s dark hair brushed over Glorfindel’s chest as he moved to give attention to the other nipple.
Glorfindel pushed his lover away, abruptly, taking Erestor by surprise and roughly grabbing his chin, “Are you ashamed to be seen with me?” The words were spoken with a bitter edge.
“Of course not,” Erestor said, his own anger resonating in his answer.
Glorfindel’s blue eyes softened, and he gently pulled Erestor’s head back to rest on his chest, “I’m sorry. It’s only that … I love you deeply, and I want everyone to know what you mean to me. It has been a very long time since I’ve felt this way, maybe never, and definitely not with such longing and desire.”
Glorfindel sat up in his bed, and Erestor followed. They looked fixedly into each other’s eyes. What could Erestor say to such an admission … that he never could have imagined winning the heart of someone of such legendary notoriety … that it was like gaining the admiration of an untouchable god-like being … that it was sometimes overwhelming to think of it and accept it without worry of it all ending?
“You have my love,” Erestor answered. That was all he could say for now, and it had been enough, as Glorfindel proceeded to rouse him and return the favor.
* * *
Erestor stood in one of the many aisles of Imladrias’ extensive library, filing books that had not been put back in their proper place. There had been so much to do. Who would have ever thought that leaving for a few weeks would result in so much excess? It left him little time to spend with Glorfindel, and he was beginning to feel the emptiness.
And where was Glorfindel anyways? Since they talked the other night, Erestor had dined with him once, but not alone. They had shared the company with some of Glorfindel’s acquaintances, warriors with zealous stories of war and the brawn to match. Erestor felt out of place amongst them. He had fought in a war during his youth, and understood their battle terms, but these ellyn had made a career of it, while Erestor settled for a much quieter and safer life.
Glorfindel was in his element as he spoke sentimentally of the Twelve Houses of Gondolin, and of his own home in which he had been chief, the House of the Golden Flower. Erestor had heard all the tales before, most of them through stories passed down from one generation to the next, but there was something very powerful about hearing them first hand from the elf lord himself. Erestor beamed with pride for his lover.
As Glorfindel told tales of wars long passed, he would cast Erestor a hungry stare while the others were not looking. Erestor answered him with narrowed eyes of warning, not to make a scene and raise suspicions. Glorfindel would just smile though. This was his game, and Erestor had no choice but to play along.
Unfortunately, the night ended when a messenger approached Glorfindel, his attendance urgently needed to resolve some kind of problem. He gave his guests his most sincere apologies and bade them all a good evening, but his eyes lingered on Erestor longer than normal. The counselor knew that look well, knew the predatory meaning behind it, and felt his body react at the promise that it brought of a satisfying yet exhausting evening.
That had been the last time Erestor saw Glorfindel, and it was two nights ago. He was nowhere to be found in Imladris, not in his usual spots anyways. Erestor could not start asking of his whereabouts, for fear of others wondering why he was inquiring. ‘Oh, no reason … it’s just that we have recently become lovers and I am in need of his cock,’ said the impish voice inside his head. Erestor laughed at the thought of saying that aloud. It would feel good to tell all of Rivendell that Glorfindel was his.
He stopped to think about that for a moment. Was Glorfindel really his, or was he just a plaything to the gilded legend. It was not unusual for Glorfindel to disappear without word. Though he called Rivendell his home, he never stayed there for long intervals. Glorfindel was a wanderer. He did not stay in one place for long, though he always came back. With his sudden disappearance, maybe Erestor misjudged their relationship. Perhaps Fin had a lover in each of the places that he visited. Maybe Erestor was only his Imladris lover. Where else did the warrior wander? Whom did he keep in these other far off lands?
That was not part of the bargain, Erestor thought to himself, and he began to anger. When he allowed Glorfindel into his life, it was not to become another knot on his gilded rope. Erestor had been searching for years, looking for the one who would complete his world, who would take him for who he was, and not try to make him something he could not be. He definitely could not be put on a shelf like a trophy waiting for his conquering hero to come back and give him a good polishing, only to be forgotten about until he began to tarnish again.
Maybe it was not that at all, he thought as anger turned to worry and abandonment, Erestor’s biggest fear. What if Glorfindel had a change of heart? What if he decided the counselor was not a worthy prize? Seeing Fin with his friends, all of them cut from the same robust cloth, had Glorfindel decided that he needed something more than a glorified librarian. He was a warrior, always had been. Could he want someone who exemplified those same qualities? Erestor was no pushover. He had been a soldier once and had kept up his physique as best he could, but he was nowhere close to being like those warriors at the dinner table. Perhaps Glorfindel needed someone like that then. They hadn’t slept together that many times. In fact, Erestor could still count on one hand . . . Well, maybe a few fingers of his other hand too. Still, it was enough times that Glorfindel would have decided whether or not it was what he needed from an ellon. He suddenly thought that being a trophy wasn’t so bad, compared to complete erasure. At least a trophy held some value.
Then Erestor recalled all of the loving words Fin had said to him the last time they had made love. Glorfindel might be a philanderer —Erestor prayed that he was not— but he would not say things that he did not mean. Fin was always careful with his words, and the ones he’d chosen the other night were from his heart.
Erestor realized that he was being an insecure fool. There was no use torturing his mind with all of these ‘what if’s’. He had to trust that Glorfindel would be back soon, and with a legitimate reason for leaving without word. However, when he did finally show, Erestor would definitely give him a piece of his mind. No time to dwell on that now though, there was work to do.
The library was quiet today for a change, allowing Erestor to catch up on everything that needed his attention. Placing the last book in its place, he wandered down the aisle, daydreaming about his lover, and what he would do to Glorfindel upon his return. First, he would reprimand him for leaving and giving no word. Erestor did not need to know where Fin was every minute of the day, but leaving for days at a time without so much as a goodbye was intolerable. He was feeling quite perturbed with the situation after spending the day thinking about it. Then he smiled to himself, as he thought of how he could use this to his advantage. Surely, he could come up with a punishment that fit the injustice done to him, something that they could both be satisfied with. The anger that had been festering for most of the day gave way to salacious imaginings, “That one would do quite well,” he murmured to himself, “but would the other even be physically possible?”
Thinking about Glorfindel, he had absentmindedly walked through the library, and found himself standing in a rather scandalous area. At the end of this particular aisle, was a shelf that held a small number of erogenous books. There were seven in all, bound in red leather, and perfectly lined up on their shelf. Each one was filled with erotic illustrations and instructions of how to achieve each sexual position. Years ago, when he discovered the book’s existence, Erestor would secretly visit this section of the library, waiting until everyone was gone for the day. During their recent hunting trip, Glorfindel had admitted to catching him here once, and had secretly watched him study. Erestor had been embarrassed when Glorfindel told him this, but now it seemed to reassure his mixed feelings. Fin had noticed him all those years ago, and he was still interested. Erestor wished he were here now, as he felt something carnal begin to stir. He reached to touch one of the books, but stopped.
“Damn him,” he muttered quietly, bringing his hand back. Erestor needed flesh, not parchment. Where was he? He stood straight, shoulders squared, and he huffed, “Damn his disappearance when I need him—”
“Counselor,” someone said from behind, and Erestor jumped and spun around to find Lastar.
Erestor felt the rush of heat crawling up his neck, readying to spread to his face, but he quelled it with anger over Glorfindel’s vanishing act. Instead, he forced a smile, and ignored the books posed in the background, “Yes, Lastar, do you need something?”
Lastar was a young elf, born only in the Third Age. He was quite beautiful, but so were most of the Noldor. He had a lovely head of sleek black hair, braided loosely at the sides. His hair was in stark contrast to his light ivory skin, smooth and flawless as it was the day he was born. His eyes were a deep indigo, sometimes violet in the right lighting. Pale pink, generous lips smiled at Erestor, who was still a bit choleric as he waved thoughts of Fin away with the distraction.
“Actually, I was hoping to find you here,” Lastar whispered.
Erestor turned his eyes to the side, gesturing to the books behind him, “Here? Oh … yes … well, I was just … uh—”
Lastar took a step closer to Erestor, “I hope you don’t mind, but you are much wiser, and have much more experience. I was wondering if you could help me with something of a … personal issue.”
“Me?” Erestor said surprised.
Lastar smiled shyly and nodded.
“Does it have anything to do with the content of these red books?” Erestor asked reluctantly.
Lastar’s cheeks blushed pink, perfectly matching the color of his lips. He looked down and away, his long lashes waving seductively.
Erestor was becoming slightly suspicious of Lastar’s inquiry, “I … uh … I can’t say that anyone has ever thought to come to me for … well … matters of the heart, is it?”
Lastar looked up through those long dark lashes, capturing Erestor’s hazel eyes, and gave a slow and determined nod, “I know that you have been chief counselor for a very long time, and that you know each and every book in Lord Elrond’s library. Some, I am hoping, you know more than others?” The last sentence was meant as a question.
Erestor was flattered, a bit embarrassed, but truly flattered that Lastar came to him for advice, “Maybe if you tell me what kind of guidance you are looking for, I can be of some help.”
“Well, you see counselor, there is someone I have known for some time now, someone I secretly long for, but I am not sure how to approach him on the matter. I am not sure of his feelings for me. I do not even know if he has feelings towards … ellyn,” Lastar informed.
“Ah, I see. Well, what you might want to consider—” Erestor started to speak, but Lastar closed the distance until he was standing very close, eyes still turned down and watching Erestor rub his hands together nervously.
Lastar covered Erestor’s hands with his, stopping the restlessness, “You see, I have given it a lot of thought, and maybe if I touched him … like this … it would not seem too forward.”
Erestor had no more doubts. He was the object of Lastar’s affections. Aye, he thought, how do I get out of this one?
“Hmm, yes, perhaps just a hand rested on his forearm would be enough to gain his attention,” he said nervously.
“Like this?” Lastar asked, moving his hand up Erestor’s arm, his fingertips grazing along the warm flesh. Then the hand wrapped around his arm and squeezed.
Erestor nodded, “Yes, that is very nice … I mean, it is very good … uh … you seem to know what you are doing. Why ask me for advice?”
The Noldorin youth was quite alluring, and maybe the counselor would have considered him, had Lastar approached him a few months earlier before Glorfindel . . . Where was that arrogant ellon anyways?
“I just wanted your opinion, counselor,” Lastar said softly, as his free hand found its way to Erestor’s waist.
Erestor jumped at the touch, and Lastar laughed, “Is it too much?”
“Maybe a bit, since you do not know his intentions toward you. You don’t want to rush to any conclusions and frighten him off,” Erestor moved away from the young ellon, but found his back pushed up against the bookshelf, the red leather books looming behind his head.
“You are not frightened, are you … Erestor?” Upon finishing the question, Lastar cornered the librarian. His hand came up between them, resting on Erestor’s chest, “You see … it is you that—”
“Counselor?” another voice interrupted. This time Erestor knew who it was, and he released the breath he had been holding.
Lastar, startled, jumped away from Erestor, bringing his hand safely back to his side as he turned to see who the intruder was. His eyes widened, and his jaw dropped at the sight before him, “Lord Glorfindel! It is an honor.”
Glorfindel stepped forward, his eyes scanning Lastar peculiarly, “I see we have not been properly introduced before. And you are?”
“Lastar, my lord, I work here in the libraries with the counselor. I was just . . .” he paused and stole a glance at Erestor, “seeking some advice.”
Glorfindel kept himself in check so that nothing seemed out of place, but Erestor could see rage burning deep within the blue of his eyes, “Yes, well . . .” he finally turned to look at Erestor, “I have been summoned to find the counselor, and ask that he join me to discuss some official business. I’m afraid it cannot wait.” Those eyes could have killed Erestor, should they have produced daggers just then.
Erestor was not intimidated though. He had his own form of defense in the way of questioning Glorfindel’s whereabouts for the past several days, “Very well, wouldn’t want to keep anyone waiting, least of all a balrog slayer.”
“Wise choice,” Glorfindel answered. He peeled his glare away from Erestor long enough to regard Lastar once more, “Very nice to meet you.”
“The pleasure was mine, Lord Glorfindel,” Lastar returned the pleasantry.
Erestor gave Lastar a friendly smile and a nod of his head, and then walked alongside Glorfindel to some place private where they could speak freely. Erestor could feel the tension in the air between them. The sooner they got to their destination, the sooner they could hash out their differences.
Glorfindel led him to the Hall of Fire, which was unoccupied for the moment. They walked along the marbled floor, past the two grand tables lined with chairs, past the elvish statutes bearing the likeness of well renowned Eldar. Their footsteps echoed in the large hall with its high ceilings and arches. Neither one spoke a word until they came to the end of the hall, where an enormous hearth stood. There was always a fire burning within its elaborate mouth.
Erestor stopped and stood next to Glorfindel as they watched the flames jump and crackle. He wanted to be the first to speak, thinking that his concern for Fin’s disappearance was much more important than whatever the warrior had to say. Erestor took a deep breath, calming himself, and opened his mouth to speak, but Glorfindel stopped him by grabbing his arm, and pulling the counselor to his chest. The warrior’s strong hands framed Erestor’s face, and then his mouth crushed against the librarian’s. The kiss was full of desperate need after such a long time without. Glorfindel forced his tongue past Erestor’s lips, and tasted sweet bliss.
Erestor’s body reacted quickly, hardening and warming. The fire was not helping matters just now. His vexation was left forgotten as his senses swirled. Glorfindel’s mouth was demanding and warm. His long sweeping blond hair felt luxuriously soft where it brushed against Erestor’s neck. Fin smelled of pine and leather, of dirt and dust from travel, a clean sharp scent of an herb, and an intoxicating musk that was recognizably his desire. All of these aromas combined made him quite irresistible. Erestor would have let Glorfindel take him right there, on the cold marble floor—and damn anyone who might have walked in on them—if it weren’t for the niggling in the back of his mind. Just where had Glorfindel gone, and why hadn’t he told Erestor he was leaving?
Erestor found the will to resist Glorfindel’s ministrations, and pushed him away. Both elves were breathing heavily, making their blood rush through their veins at an accelerated speed. Finally, Erestor found his voice, “And just where have you been?”
“I was called upon by Lord Elrond to carry out an important errand.”
Erestor crossed is arms in a defensive stance, the slits of his eyes regarding Glorfindel accusingly, “And you could not have at least told me you were leaving?”
Stubborn ellon, Erestor thought as his blood began to boil from these short answers, “You have been gone for a week. Did you not think I would worry?”
“I thought you might have inquired about me.”
“Well, I didn’t,” retorted Erestor, about to tell him the reason why, but Glorfindel interrupted.
“Aye, I saw for myself just how worried you were.”
Erestor looked into Glorfindel’s eyes, seemingly turned to a stormy grey in the hall’s dim lighting, “What you saw was not what you thought.”
“What I saw was a beautiful, young, and desirous ellon with his hands upon you, and you were not resisting,” Glorfindel said, then he waited for Erestor’s response.
Erestor wished he could crawl into the hearth, and let the flames end his embarrassment. It was true, that was exactly the scene that Glorfindel walked in on, but nothing would have happened, “I had no idea Lastar held any sort of admiration for me, and I was about to set things straight when—”
Glorfindel took a step towards Erestor and glared, “Perhaps he would not have made advances upon you, had he already known that you belonged to me, but I allowed you to talk me into keep our little secret. Is this the reason why?”
Erestor felt that blood would shoot from his eyes, “How dare you suggest such a thing! And how clever of you to make this all about me. You seduce me with your words and your body, and then you leave without so much as a word, not even a note. Do you know how many scenarios have played out in my mind? I thought you were gone again, used me for your enjoyment, and then left Imladris to wander about.”
“Wander? Left you?” Glorfindel said confused, but Erestor poked him in the chest with his slender finger.
“You never stay in one place, Fin. You never have. How long has Rivendell been your home? I’ve lived here all my long life, and saw you so few times that I could give you exact dates of each time you arrived. Now you tell me you love me, and want to be with me, and in an instant you are ready to stay put?”
“I would not have told you I loved you if I hadn’t meant it.”
“And I should not have to wonder if it’s true when you leave me without saying goodbye,” Erestor’s voice turned to a whisper.
“I should not have to question your love for me by seeing you in the arms of another.” Glorfindel’s hand grazed Erestor’s waist and came to rest at the small of his back.
“I told you, I have no interest in Lastar, and I didn’t know of his longing until the same moment you came. Fin, I do love you. I may not tell you as poetically as you tell me, but I do … almost until it hurts,” Erestor admitted.
Glorfindel twisted one of Erestor’s black braids between his fingers, the back of his hand caressing the other’s cheek. The corner of Fin’s mouth curled into a half smile, and an eyebrow rose, “Almost?”
“Well, this past week has been nothing short of torture, and I must be adamant about this. Do … not … ever … leave without telling me again,” Erestor’s warm breath caressed Glorfindel’s face as he spoke. Their lips were only a hair’s width away from touching.
Suddenly, there were voices at the far end of the hall, many voices. A meeting had been called. Erestor started to back away from Glorfindel, but the warrior’s hand held him still. Erestor looked at the group of elves entering the hall, and then back to Glorfindel with panic, “What are you doing? They will see us.”
“I know,” answered Glorfindel with an arrogant edge.
“You knew they were coming?” Erestor interrogated him.
“You knew about this meeting, didn’t you?”
Glorfindel laughed, “Yes.”
Back to one-word answers, Erestor thought, “You’re supposed to be at this meeting.”
“Yes, and so are you. That is why I came for you at the library,” Glorfindel winked, “and I was anxious to see you again.”
Erestor’s gaze fell to his chest, “And you found me in a … compromised position. I am sorry, Glorfindel, but you must believe me when I say—”
“It’s alright, I believe you,” Glorfindel answered without letting Erestor finish. With his free hand, he took the counselor’s chin and lifted it. He didn’t speak or let him go, but just gazed hungrily into Erestor’s hazel eyes.
“You’re not going to release me are you?” Erestor said feeling defeated.
Glorfindel glanced sideways to the group of elves, and watched until Lord Elrond entered. Everyone was accounted for. Then he looked back at Erestor, “I’m going to kiss you now, in front of all your peers, and I don’t give damn what you want.”
Erestor could hear the light chatter begin to cease as the other elves witnessed the display of affection in front of the hearth. There was no more hiding, but there seemed to be no reason any more. Glorfindel did indeed love him. The doubts subsided, replaced with assuredness. Erestor brought his hands to Glorfindel’s waist and the two stood in an embrace. The counselor smiled, “If you’re going to kiss me while everyone watches, then make it count.”
Glorfindel laughed, “Oh, how I do love you, Erestor.” He kissed the blacked haired ellon then, with all his love poured into it. Erestor responded equally. They forgot about their audience, and let the spontaneity of the moment whisk them away to another world.
Someone whistled and another called out, “Is this what has become of Imladris?”
Surprised by the whistle and the voice, Erestor broke the kiss, and looked out towards the group of ellyn. He knew that voice and hadn’t heard it in a very long time, “Elrohir?” he called out.
The crowd separated as two identical elves walked down the center of the hall, the Imladris twins, Elrohir and Elladan, sons of Lord Elrond. They were difficult to tell apart at times, but Erestor knew. Both had the classic long black hair and fair skin of the Noldor, tall, handsome, and mischievous. They were fierce deadly warriors, and together they were unstoppable. They kept the lands of Rivendell safe from orcs and other enemies. Elrohir and Elladan spent most of their time out on patrol, living off the lands, and they always came back with new tales of their adventures. Erestor had been their friend for a very long time, and always looked forward to their visits.
Erestor smiled, but he did not release his arm from Glorfindel’s waist, “Elladan, Elrohir, you are back!”
Seeing that they needed this moment for each other, Glorfindel pulled away from Erestor, which did not go unnoticed by the counselor. He instantly missed the feel of his touch, but only for a moment as the twins embraced their friend.
“Erestor,” Elrohir sang, “It has been far too long.”
“We’ve missed you,” Elladan chimed in, “And all of your useless information.”
“I bet you have, you rascals. This is quite unexpected,” Erestor glanced over his shoulder. Glorfindel was gone, but not far. He was joining the others who came for the meeting.
Elrohir nodded with a gesture towards Glorfindel, “So, what it this?”
“What?” Erestor said mockingly.
Elladan reached out and straightened the collar of Erestor’s tunic, which had become rumpled from the embrace with Glorfindel, “He means, what did we just witnessed when we came in, the kiss … Glorfindel … in front of all these elves. Who are you and what have you done with Erestor,” he jested.
Erestor turned scarlet, “What does it look like?”
Elrohir put his hand on Erestor’s shoulder, “We will not harass you, but we have never known you to be affectionate in front of a crowd, least of all with an ellon, and surprisingly with Glorfindel. When did this happen?”
“Only within the past few months. It’s still new. He’s quite boisterous and arrogant. I like quietness and order. We disagree more than we agree. It will probably never work,” he said bluntly, as if it were no more than a fling. The twins would jostle him if he told them his true feelings for Glorfindel.
“Sounds like you were made for each other,” Elrohir said and patted his friends shoulder firmly.
That wasn’t so painful, Erestor thought. Sometimes the twins could be relentless. Time to quickly change the subject, “So, I hadn’t expected to see either of you for a while.”
“We weren’t expecting to come back yet,” answered Elrohir.
“We were on the trail of a group of orcs, and might have caught up to them if Estel hadn’t stopped us,” Elladan said, finishing for his twin brother.
Erestor looked surprised, “Estel is here, in Imladris? Does your father know?”
“Yes,” Elladan answered, “and he is none too happy, but tolerant.”
Erestor glanced past the twins. He did not see Estel within the group, though he did see many members of Elrond’s House, as well as Lastar. He wondered if his apprentice witnessed the kiss. Surely that would put an end to any misgivings.
Erestor drew his brows together, and brought his attention back to his friends, “Estel is not here for this meeting?” Estel was the adopted son of Lord Elrond. He was a human, a Numenorean, blessed with long life. He was also very much in love with Elrond’s daughter, Arwen, and the Lord of Imladris was not pleased with this predicament.
Elrohir nodded, “Today’s meeting is for Father’s closest advisors and chiefs, as well as the heads of staff. Estel is not needed until the gathering.”
“Gathering? Gathering of what?”
Elrohir nodded, “Father calls for a council in which all races will be represented.”
Elladan stepped forward, “Men, Dwarves and Elves, all shall congregate here in a month’s time. Erestor, something has been found, a weapon of the enemy. It is here, kept secret for now until the others arrive. This is the reason we are all here now. We shall say no more, but we thought you should know before the meeting gets underway.”
“Yes, thank you for telling me,” Erestor answered. Forgetting about the twins, he looked back towards the entrance where everyone gathered. Glorfindel was standing next to Elrond, but he was watching Erestor across the distance. The elf lord smiled slightly, and Erestor replied with his own. Funny, he thought, how Glorfindel disappeared for a week, and now all of this was unraveling. Perhaps now, Fin would tell him why and where he had gone. If he had had his doubts earlier, at least now he was positive, Fin was not a philanderer. He had indeed been out on an errand, but whatever he brought back with him may be far worse than anything Erestor could have imagined.
This is a sequel to The Hunting Trip, but can be read as a stand alone.
Chapter end notes:
Reviewing is a wonderful way to interact with an author. Please take the time, and leave a word or two.