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This Was My Choice. Chapter 1

Beta: Eni
Rating: NC—17 Overall
Pairing: Glorfindel/ Erestor
Disclaimer: No characters in this belong to me. I am just borrowing them for a short while and playing. No harm or insult is meant to come of this.
Warning: References to incest, not graphic. Angst
Summary: The War Of The Ring is over. Elrond is leaving Middle-earth and his sons has to make their choices. But as something unforeseen happens the power of choices is made even more clear


Elvish translations:
Meldir - Friend
Pen-neth - Young one




The War of the Ring was over. More than a year had passed since the fall of Barad-dûr. The power of Imladris and Lothlórien was growing dim as the power of the Vilya and Nenya waned. He felt weary, old as he looked out over his lands. He would see his daughter no more before the end and he did not even have the knowledge that they would one day meet in the halls of Mandos. She was lost to him due to the love of a ranger, last of a ragged house. Still, he could not blame her, how could he when he had always loved her husband as a son? Sons…it had come to this at last.

“My Lord, is all well? I just saw the twins and they both seemed upset. My Lord? Elrond?”

The soft tenor broke the peace and solitude of his office. With a sigh Elrond cast one last lingering look out of the window, seeing the receding snow and soft greens of the early spring, before he turned and faced Glorfindel. The worried frown that met him made he smile tiredly.

“I am weary, Glorfindel,” he said heavily. “The time of the elves has passed , the time for me to leave these shores is coming closer. Even now Galadriel is journeying to Imladris on her way to the Havens.”

He saw the look of concern that flickered in the sapphire eyes and shook his head.

“No, I am just tired, no need to worry.”

The blond elf nodded at him, alarm slowly fading from his blue eyes.

“I told my sons today that the hour of their choice is now upon them, to follow me across the sea or to remain and fade like my twin and my daughter. I told them to think carefully upon the years before them and to make their choices independently of each other, not to speak until both their minds were made up.”

He crossed the floor as he spoke and poured cold, clear wine into two goblets located on a side table by the fire. One he handed to his friend, who seemed frozen by shock, and the other he kept for himself. Elrond sank down into one of the lush chairs in his study and closed his eyes. The fire cast vague, dancing shadows across the room, spreading little light in the middle of the day.

”And so the bitterness of our choice is here.”

Glorfindel looked at the wine in his hand and took a deep gulp.

“Elrond,” he started hesitantly, “your sons…the twins…. They are close; to ask them to make this choice without talking to each other is wrong. One without the other…their closeness is… it is different to…”

Elrond raised a slim hand to silence his seneschal.

“I am very well aware of my sons’ preferences and the nature of their love, Glorfindel. Very little passes in Imladris without my knowing, and my sons are not always discreet.”

A sad smile flickered over the face of the Peredhel. “I foresaw it at their birth,” Elrond continued. “I foresaw their love and could do nothing, for the price to separate them was too high. And so they formed their doom and mine. They will remain in Imladris after my passing, for such a love between brothers is frowned upon in the west and they will not choose life over love.”

He opened his eyes and looked at Glorfindel; the pain in the grey eyes was raw and deep.

“I will lose my children, Glorfindel,” he whispered hoarsely. “I will lose all three of them. They will remain upon these shores and I, alone of the Peredhil, chose the life of the Firstborn. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice, if the price was not too high in the end.”

The pale golden skin of the blond paled slightly as Glorfindel leant forward, catching the eyes of Elrond with his own dark blue.

“Never feel you made the wrong choice, Elrond,” he said softly, sadly. “Arda would have been a poorer place had you passed as your brother, a place of less beauty in which the waning of our people would have come that much sooner and no hope of defeating the shadow would have remained. No, you chose well.”

Elrond closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the high seat of his chair.

“Thank you,” he said quietly. “Still, I have now lost all those dearest to me and it would seem that the choice of the Firstborn is far more bitter and harsh than that of mortality.”

“At least Celebrían will be glad to see you,” the soft tenor said. “She will rejoice in seeing you step upon the western shores and she will share your grief for those that are left behind.”

Elrond smiled bitterly and took a sip from his goblet.

“Do you think she will have waited for me, Glorfindel? There, in the lands of the west, I would be no more than a memory at best, and there are elven lords there of far higher linage and power than Elrond Peredhel, the half-blood. I loved her and I have no doubt that she loved me once, yet my surprise would be endless had she not found another in my stead.”

Glorfindel remained quiet; he knew well the grief of Elrond when Celebrían had left these shores, and he knew also that they had not parted on friendly terms. Celebrían had been bitter and hurting following the months after her attack, openly scorning her husband for his human blood and blaming him for the attack which had wounded her so badly.

“I see you are wise enough not to disagree with me,” Elrond said sadly. “And so my fate is to leave these shores and all those I love behind, both living and dead, and go into the west with no joy in my heart.”

Time passed slowly as the two sat quietly, drinking their wine and thinking about both past and future.

Glorfindel bent forwards and gently touched the wrist of his friend.

“You will find love there. If Celebrían has not waited for you, if her heart is still bitter, you will still find love and much happiness. Someone will come, someone worthy to share the life of Elrond Peredhel, great grandchild of Lúthien the fair, son of Eärendil.”

Elrond sighed.

“Perhaps you are right, Glorfindel, although I cannot foresee it. The future in the west is closed to me.”

Silence fell over the room again. Glorfindel cast his memories back through the ages to Gondolin before her fall, and to the beauty of Turgon and Idril Celebrindal. He had served the royal house of Gondolin for almost as many years as he could recall, being no more than a child when the Noldor fled from the west; he had served them in life and into death. It made him smile, knowing that he had stepped back into that service as soon as he was returned to the world of the living, this time serving under Elrond, grandson of Idril, during the war in Eregion. He had grown to count the half elf as one of his closest friends throughout the long years, and it had been with a heart filled with foreboding that he saw Elrond fall for Celebrían of the silver hair. Yet at their joining he had suppressed his feelings of dread, as he knew that Galadriel had done as well, and he had been truly happy for them and kept his peace.

When the twins were born he had rejoiced almost as much as the proud parents, taking them to his heart and loving them as if they had been his own. Only once, during all the years, had he lost that parental feeling for them. He took it upon himself to guard them and to teach them all that he knew, and had done the same when Arwen was born many years later. He had adored Arwen from the first moment, seeing in her the beauty of Lúthien, whom he had seen once and could still remember, and there was nothing he would not give her. His life had since been dedicated to the defence of the valley, the defence of the children that he loved so highly, as he guarded and tutored them through to adulthood. He had dried almost as many tears, calmed almost as many nightmares and treated nearly as many cuts and bruises as had Elrond when it came to the youngest of the Peredhil.

He thought through all the things he had taught them over the years, all the lessons and all the advice freely given and with their best interests at heart. He knew for a fact that nothing he could have done would possibly have changed the fate of Arwen, no words he could have said could have stopped her love; it was part of her heart and soul, her destiny written among the stars of Varda long before her birth. But maybe he should have done something different with the twins, separated their lessons, frowned upon their love and affection, encouraged their differences where they themselves only looked for similarities. Maybe he could have done something that would now save Elrond this heartbreak.

“Maybe I should have tutored the twins differently.”

He started, hearing himself speak words that had only been meant as private thoughts, not wanting Elrond to know that, to a certain degree, he blamed himself for their choice. He hid his discomfort by once again drinking from his wine. To his surprise, Elrond snorted with obvious amusement.

“You disappoint me, meldir,” the half-elf said dryly.

Glorfindel looked at him, suprised at the idea of having disappointed his friend, and confused as to the source of the Peredhel’s disappointment.

“After all your many ages in both Arda and Aman and your rather significant number of lovers throughout the years, you mean to tell me that you did not tutor my sons better than any other could have done?” Elrond continued to raise one of his eyebrows as he looked at the blond.

The seneschal choked on his wine and Elrond laughed, a surprisingly joyful sound amid his grief.

“The look on your face is truly priceless, Glorfindel! I did tell you that little passes in Imladris without my knowing. I could tell you, almost down to the very hour, when my sons seduced you into teaching them about lovemaking.”

He took the goblet out of the hand of his friend and refilled it, this time from a different bottle.

“Are you well?” he asked concernedly, as the blushing elf was still coughing and trying to regain his breath. Glorfindel nodded weakly; he could not believe that they were actually having this discussion, and quickly drank some of the miruvor, trying to calm his nerves.

“I was actually rather glad that they chose you, you know,” Elrond said quietly, his grey eyes open and honest. “That way, they were with someone who cared deeply for them, making the experience special. I was also quite relieved, knowing their liking of family, that they chose you and not me, as that would definitely have been…awkward. Although,” he said with a wry grin, “I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if they had chosen the beautiful Erestor over you.”

The two elves grinned broadly at each other, highly amused at the very thought of anyone – least of all the stubborn twins – attempting to seduce the regal councillor. Still, most elves of Imladris or beyond would gladly accept the challenge had it ever been offered to them.

“I was, however, surprised that you let them,” Elrond continued. “Neither are to your usual tastes.” He smiled briefly. “Your choice in lovers usually runs towards those as fair as yourself, either silver or golden.”

He ran a light, quick hand over the golden tresses before he walked back over to the window, the goblet still in his hand.

“I always regretted that night,” Glorfindel said. “But they had planned it well, plying me with more miruvor and wine than anyone should consume - not for the first time, I may add - and then one held me down while the other experimented. They were most stubborn when it came to hearing the word no, then I got carried away, and the next time my mind decided to work again, it was already morning.”

He shared a smile with his Lord, both of them thinking about two boys that had never taken no for an answer when it came to anything, much like their father. Then Elrond turned, looking out over the pale green of spring again, as the silence returned.

Suddenly, Elrond turned and threw the goblet across the room, shattering into small crystal pieces as it hit the wooden door. The grey eyes were as dark, openly declaring the storm of emotions raging within the Peredhel.

“I cannot leave my sons here to die!” he roared, his whole body shaking with tension and grief as the dark eyes met the sapphire blue across the room.

“I will not…I cannot leave them,” he whispered as his voice broke and the knees gave out under him.

The Lord of Imladris sank to the floor, his eyes closed against the the burn of tears. Glorfindel got up from his chair and crossed the floor to his Lord and friend, wrapping his arms around Elrond's shaking body.

He gathered up his Lord into his lap, as if he had been a small child in need of comfort, holding him close and letting him cry as his own tears started falling, from grief and pain over the children he had always loved as his own. He heard the soft knock at the door and looked over the dark head on his shoulder. The door opened quietly, as he had known it would, and Erestor glanced in discreetly, noticing the broken crystal on the floor and his Lord in Glorfindel's arms. Erestor raised an eyebrow in silent question as he looked at them. The blond shook his head slightly.

Giving him a wry smile, Erestor left, shutting the door as quietly as it had been opened, leaving the two elves alone to grieve.

****************


The twilight cast long shadows across the floor when Elrond calmed and his body started to relax. Glorfindel’s own tears had dried as he felt the change in the body he held. He carefully changed his hold on the Peredhel and got up from the floor, still holding the dark elf in his arms. Gently he carried his friend from the study to the bedroom that Elrond had once shared with Celebrían. He laid his friend on the soft covers and loosened the strict robes slightly before covering the relaxed figure with a heavy quilt. The grey eyes regained focus briefly and looked at him.

“Rest, Elrond,” Glorfindel whispered. “Take your rest; I will not leave you alone.”

The grey eyes grew calm and vacant, and with a soft sigh the last tension passed, as Elrond fell into sleep. Glorfindel remained on the edge of the bed for a while longer, his calloused hand stroking the dark hair softly, regaining the habit he had developed from calming the twins into sleep after nightmares. When he was sure that Elrond’s sleep was both calm and deep, he let his hand fall away and got up from the bed.

Soft footsteps approached in the corridor outside the Lord’s quarters and stopped without knocking. Glorfindel cast another look at his friend and slipped out of the room, quietly closing the door behind him.

“What has happened, Glorfindel?”

The rich, deep voice did not surprise him. The blond leaned his back against the door he had just closed and let himself sink to the floor. He sighed and leaned his head backwards, looking up at the tall elf before him - the tallest he could ever recall seeing. He took a moment out of his grief to appreciate what he was seeing.

Erestor’s robes were black and unadorned as always, cut with less fabric that any other would have used, fitting the lean, hard body closely and making him look both strict and imposing. Midnight black hair fell to the small of his back and eyes blacker than anything he knew looked at him calmly - friendly, and yet with the distance that was always there, from a face that could have been carved out of ivory in its perfection. It was not the first time that the beauty of Erestor made him feel breathless; he was counted as the most beautiful of their kindred by all he knew, save one: Erestor himself. Suddenly, he noticed that a look of concern had now entered the dark eyes as Glorfindel had remained quiet.

“Glorfindel, what has happened?”

The deep voice woke him from his thoughts, bringing him back to the present and to grief.

“The twins,” he answered sadly, “have taken the choice of Elros and Arwen.”

The blond saw raw grief and pain flicker over the usually composed and distant features before the usual calm mask was back in place.

“And so Elrond must pass into the west alone, leaving all those he loves behind.”

Erestor’s voice sent shivers down the seneschal’s back, as always. He noticed how Erestor’s _expression changed again, growing even more distant and thoughtful than usual. It was as if the advisor was never fully with him, part of him always removed, even from those who counted him as their friend.

“That choice will make what is to come so much harder,” the councillor whispered to himself, seemingly forgetting the presence of the blond for a moment. “Yet that is what fate will bring to us all.”

Suddenly, the black eyes snapped back into focus and met Glorfindel’s gaze.

“Go to bed, seneschal,” Erestor said calmly. “You look like you need a rest, and I do believe both Elrond and the twins will need your strength come the morning. I will stay with him until you wake.”

Glorfindel smiled palely.

“Thank you, Erestor,” he whispered brokenly.

He wondered at Erestor's calm and composure; Erestor had had his hand in raising the children at least as much as Glorfindel had. Whilst Glorfindel had been the open, warm teacher, Erestor had been the one that demanded - and was afforded - respect and who had been the calm influence of reason at all times. Sometimes he wondered if the rumours about the dark elf were true, if he was indeed void of both heart and emotions.

He heard Erestor open the door and felt him slide past, the black robes brushing him as the other went through the door. Momentarily, Glorfindel felt a strong hand grasp his shoulder in a quiet offer of support and comfort, and then the door behind him closed again. He remained on the floor for a few minutes before he forced himself to get up to go and get his rest.

****************


Erestor sat on the bench at the window, looking out as the stars were slowly being lit. He had not expected the twins to make their choice yet, although the way in which they had chosen came as no surprise. He knew the instant that his Lord awoke and turned his head to meet the clear grey eyes.

“I sent Glorfindel to bed, My Lord,” he said quietly. “He looked ready to fall apart and I believe he will be needed in the morning.”

Elrond nodded; his advisor had not made a bad decision yet, through all the years that Elrond had known him.

“He told you then? About the choices of my sons?”

“Of course. Neither you nor your Glorfindel have been able to keep secrets from me yet. There is no surprise in their choice, but I do share your pain.” The councillor’s voice was as calm as always, tinged by sadness this time, but still calm and distant.

Elrond looked at the face of his oldest friend as he felt the bitterness well up in him.

“Do you, Erestor? I would have thought that grief and pain would leave you more fazed, maybe even get through to your heart.” Elrond could hear the poison that dripped off his tongue and winced, immediately regretting the words.

The dark haired elf got up and stood by the windows, his back to the Peredhel.

“Have I ever given you reason to doubt me, My Lord? During all these years?”

Elrond regretted the words even more deeply as he looked at the tall, slender figure by the window.

“No, Erestor,” he said, putting as much honestly and warmth in the words as he could. “You have given me no reason to doubt, never been less than honest with me, if not always open.”

The dark elf by the window tensed slightly.

“Then do not doubt me in this, My Lord.” The deep voice was lower than usual.

“The words were spoken in anger and pain, not in honesty, Erestor.” He paused slightly, unsure of how to go forward. “I have one more thing to ask you before the morning comes and I have to face their choice.”

“Do not ask me this, My Lord.”

The deep voice was tense and strained, causing Elrond to frown. It had been an age since he had last heard such pain in the voice of the other and if it had been heard before that, he could not recall. The façade of the councillor was rarely even lowered; to have him openly show this much pain… Elrond shook his head. The reaction surprised him, although the fact that the advisor had known it was to come did not.

“I must,” Elrond whispered as he walked over to his friend. He reached up his hand and rested it on the tense shoulder. “I cannot leave them on their own, Erestor. It would give me peace to know that your mind and Glorfindel’s sword continued to keep them safe for a while longer.”

The other elf seemed frozen in place.

“Stay with them. Remain in Imladris for yet another few years to keep them safe and well. And then, when you start feeling weary and Aman is calling for you, come after me into the west. I am not asking you to stay with them until the end.”

Suddenly, Erestor let his head fall forward until it rested against the cold glass of the window. He felt old, ancient even beyond his years.

“I cannot stay, My Lord!” he said tiredly.

Elrond felt his temper flare and stalked over to the fireplace before he turned around again, his grey eyes shooting daggers at the advisor.

“Cannot or will not, Erestor?” he said icily. He could not recall any other time that the councillor had behaved like this. “I am neither asking you to fade, nor die, for them. I need you to stay!” He hated hearing himself beg.

A shudder ran through the frozen figure by the window and then Erestor turned to face him.

“I cannot stay, Elrond,” he repeated calmly, firmly.

The mask was once again in place, leaving the beautiful face unreadable. The Peredhel tensed, hearing his name from the usually formal advisor; it had been centuries, if not millennia, since the last time Erestor had called him by name, and it had never been a good sign.

“I cannot give you this. It pains me to have to deny you after all these years, but you have left me no choice. I have never lied to you and I will not start here at the end. My days in Arda are growing short; I will not linger here long once you sail this autumn”

The black eyes calmly looked at his Lord. The Master of Imladris looked at him, confused, unsure of what the dark one was trying to tell him. Slowly the puzzled look in the grey eyes gave way to understanding and horror; the Peredhel stumbled backwards, one hand finding the mantelpiece at the fireplace, clinging on to it for support.

“You are already fading.” The whisper was hoarse, disbelieving and hurt.

“Yes.” The steady black gaze remained upon him.

“How long?”

“It does not matter, pen-neth.”

The calm in the deep voice made Elrond’s head spin. How could his friend be so calm discussing this, discussing the very thing that could be the death of him? Death - the word seemed to echo in his mind.

“You cannot wait for me. You must leave for the Grey Havens at once! What were you thinking, Erestor, to remain in Imladris after you started fading? You should be on a ship already!”

Elrond spun around and hurried towards the door, his head already organising the travel plans for his oldest friend. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a voice was screaming at him in panic, reminding him of how long he had known the advisor. Erestor had always been there; there was no time that he could remember where Erestor’s calm and wisdom had not been a safe haven to turn to, whatever problems he faced; the dry humour, the reassuring calm and his razor sharp tongue, and now he was dying.

“No.”

His hand reached for the door before he recognized the word. He spun around, staring disbelievingly at the dark elf.

“What do you mean, no?” he snapped.

“Exactly what I said, Elrond. I will not take the ship.” The rich voice was tired. “I will remain in Arda and I will fade. I am sorry, pen-neth, but this is my choice.”

Elrond stared at him; the horror in the grey eyes was clear. Erestor walked over from the window and stopped in front of his Lord. His arms reached out as he gave the Peredhel an uncharacteristic hug, followed by a tender kiss on the forehead.

“You were not meant to hear this choice,” he said quietly, and opened the door. “I will ask Lindir to sit with you for the reminder of the night.”

The door closed behind him and Elrond stared at it, frozen in shock. His head struggled with the knowledge that his losses had just increased, that one of the few constants in his life was soon to be gone. Slowly, he made up his mind. He could not, would not accept this choice. Erestor was still needed and would not be allowed to throw away the grace of his life so lightly.

****************


Someone was trying to cut down a forest using a blunt axe, probably a dwarf. Glorfindel could think of no one else stupid enough to try such a thing. He gently played with the midnight black hair of his lover and moved to kiss those soft lips, now relaxed in sleep. Absentmindedly he noticed that the noise had ceased just as he got closer and closer to the kiss. Suddenly, the noise started again, louder and mixed with someone calling for him. Confused and more than a little annoyed, he sat up and realised with a groan that he had just woken.

He sighed; yet another dream of Erestor, it seemed. He had lost count of how many of those he had had during the centuries, some sweet, waking him with a smile; others hot and sticky.

“Glorfindel!” Elrond’s voice was both loud and irritated as he banged the door again.

Glorfindel sighed again and heaved himself out of bed, glancing over at the windows on his way through his rooms. Ithil had not moved far since he had fallen asleep and he wondered briefly how long he had slept - an hour, maybe two.

As he reached the door and opened it, he wondered what had Elrond in such a rage at this time of night and why on Arda Erestor could not deal with it. He hoped that the twins had not done anything stupid.

As soon as he set eyes on his Lord, he realised that annoyed did not even come close to describing the mood of the Peredhel. Furious, however, may have come close.

“What can I do for you?” he asked, his voice still rusty from sleep.

Elrond strode into his chambers and headed for the small but comfortable sitting room. Glorfindel sighed as he closed the door and followed. Once in the room, he lit the candles and fire while glancing at the pacing, furious and very quiet Lord of Imladris. When the room was bathed in the soft light, he sat down in one of the chairs.

“What can I do for you?” he repeated.

Suddenly Elrond exploded. Words poured of him quicker that Glorfindel could follow. To his surprise, what little he did catch seemed to indicate that it was Erestor that had put his Lord in such a foul mood. Knowing well the rare tempers of Elrond, Glorfindel leaned back in his chair and listened, trying to make as much sense as possible out of the stream of words.

****************


The doors to the balcony were wide open, letting the cold breeze of the night into the darkened room. The spring was still new and the chill left a mist lingering in the air with each breath. Erestor sat on the doorstep, his back against the hard wood separating his chambers from the open world. He looked up at Eärendil and the Silmaril as they slowly moved across the seas of dark, among the stars of Varda. Absentmindedly, the his hands were stroking a dagger; gently, almost lovingly, he touched the ancient metal as he allowed his mind to wander through memories. He had sat like this so many nights, so many years, centuries, with the dagger in his hands, begging Mandos to finally call him.

He heard the outer door to his chambers being thrown open, bouncing against the wall. Erestor sighed as he recognized the sound of the steps coming into his rooms and tucked the dagger away, deep in his winter robes. He took a deep breath and carefully let the mask slide back into place.

Glorfindel strode through the dark rooms, his sapphire eyes shooting daggers as he scanned the rooms for their owner. His eyes finally settled on the elf sitting in the opened doorway, looking utterly serene and dressed in heavy robes. He was aware that the dark one must have heard his approach and yet the Noldo made no move to acknowledge his presence.

“After this day, one of the worst days in his life, and being fully aware of the choice of Elladan and Elrohir, you still had to add to his burden?” The golden tenor was furious, raging. “You, of all elves in Imladris, were the last one that I would have expected to hurt him.”

Erestor didn’t answer as he turned his head and looked up the golden warrior in front of him. His black eyes were unfathomable, unreadable.

“This has nothing to do with you, Glorfindel. It is between me and our Lord and I would thank you to keep out of it.”

“Nothing to do with me? What did you do to him? What did you say to send him into such a fury, Erestor? How can you claim that is has nothing to do with me when I can see him suffering? I care about him, as I thought you did, and that is why it concerns me. But I imagine that that particular part of friendship has passed you by, as you indeed do lack both heart and emotions, meldir,” the blond roared; the contempt and poison in his tone made it perfectly clear that the last word was an insult, meant to sting.

Erestor closed his eyes and sighed. The temper of the blond was often roused and usually easy to placate; he did, however, realise that this night was different. He opened his black eyes again and reached his hand to the blond.

“Give me a hand?” He kept his tone mild and calm.

Glorfindel looked him in the eyes and took a step back, watching the Noldo nod slowly before the tall body unfurled itself and the two elves stood face to face. Despite his fury, he couldn’t help but admire the fluid movement of the dark one.

Erestor stepped around Glorfindel and moved through the dark rooms, heading for his private study.

“Miruvor or wine?” The deep voice was still calm but had a slight chill in it, making the usual distance of the advisor even greater.

“Miruvor.” The reply was short, irritation still evident in the golden voice.

Erestor’s hand found a tall, slim carafe and filled a heavy goblet of black stone with the clear liquid. He passed the goblet behind him without looking and felt it taken out of his hand. He filled another goblet for himself and moved to the chair behind his desk, where he sank into the well used seat. He grasped the goblet in both hands and rested his elbows on the arms of the chair, leaning back and looking at Glorfindel with a steady black gaze.

“Must we do this, my friend?” he said calmly.

Glorfindel glared at him. “Right now I do not feel very friendly and I advise you, Lord Councillor, to explain to me how you could do this to him.”

Erestor looked him in the eyes. “I am sorry, Lord Seneschal,” he said, his voice cold, biting. “I will not discuss this with you. I had no intention of adding to our Lord’s pain and I regret it had to be done. That will be my final word on the matter.”

He saw the storm rise in the blue eyes as the blond took a deep breath, preparing to speak.

“I mean it, Glorfindel,” Erestor continued warningly. “I will not discuss this. If you wish to remain here and exchange some words in friendship, you are more then welcome to do so; if not, I hope you will excuse me. The hour grows late and today has been…interesting. We should all find our rest before the morning.”

The blond growled as he released his breath and slammed the heavy goblet down in the table, untouched, and pivoted on his heels and left. The door slammed behind him.

Erestor leaned his head back and closed his eyes, giving in to the pain. His hands were shaking badly as he raised the goblet and emptied it; after a slight hesitation he reached for the goblet that Glorfindel had left and emptied that as well. He pushed himself out of the chair and moved slowly, leaning heavily on the wall as he made it back to the open balcony doors again, and sank down. His body shook with pain and cold as he once again took out the dagger and ran his fingers over the cold edge, slowly, almost lovingly. It would be so easy…

The hours passed as he sat there, looking into the night, caressing the ancient blade, always awake and always watching. As Anor slowly spread the first light of dawn, he forced himself up from the cold floor and started getting ready for the coming day.

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