He opened the door without knocking and sighed as his eyes fell on Erestor, curled up in the middle of the bed – asleep. Erestor must have been exhausted to go to sleep so quickly. Glorfindel fought the urge to hit something. Either something had happened to make Erestor worse again or he had never truly been better. He crossed the floor and sank down on the edge of the bed, running his hand through raven hair. Carefully, he unbuttoned the thick velvet robe and moved Erestor until he could slip the robe off. The ivory skin was cold. He moved the thick quilts and blankets over the sleeping elf before he pressed a light kiss to Erestor’s forehead and stood up, pulling the curtains until the room was dark.
For a moment he returned to the bed, looking again at the sleeping elf while his fingers ghosted over a pale cheek. "My dark love," he whispered sadly, fighting his tears before he turned and left.
Anor was setting when he finally threw down his sword in disgust. Most of the others had stopped sparring with him hours ago. Only Elladan and Elrohir had held out until the end, tired and sweaty from parrying furious attacks from the Balrog slayer. Wordlessly, the twins glanced at each other and nodded their heads.
"Want to talk?" Elladan asked cautiously.
"Not really." Glorfindel’s voice was short.
"Glorfindel, " Elrohir said quietly. "If there is anything we can do…."
Glorfindel’s head bent forward, golden hair hiding his face. "There is not," he said. "I am not even sure there is anything I can do."
He could feel them moving closer and soon he found himself enclosed in two firm hugs. Quietly they stood there as the last light faded, a quiet offer and acceptance of support and friendship. Light kisses were pressed on his cheek as the Peredhil stepped away.
"Anything at all," Elladan whispered compassionately before they left him.
With a sigh he stretched his back before he bent down and retrieved his blade. Guilt curdled in his stomach as he realized that he had left Erestor alone since noon. Quickly, he made his way towards the great house. Hunger made him realize that he had yet to break his fast and night was already falling.
The great kitchen was empty, the life and sounds of the day gone. A soft light from the fireplaces and ovens bathed the great room as Glorfindel quietly entered. The leftovers of the big roasts from dinner hung over the roasting pits to ensure that the meat stayed fresh and warm for those that got hungry in the night. Fresh breads were stacked on a nearby table, covered with a linen sheet, and fruit bowls and trays of sweet cakes were lined up on a table. Glorfindel calmly prepared his dinner and sat down to eat. Not until someone sat down beside him did he realize that he was no longer alone. Surprised, he met the silver eyes of Celeborn.
"I brought him a tray with food some hours ago. He was sleeping," the Lord of Lothlórien said quietly.
Glorfindel nodded with a sigh. "It breaks my heart to look at him."
"Mine as well," Celeborn admitted. "But I am unwilling to give up on him. Do you realize he is the oldest in the valley? Possibly the oldest in Arda, save only Círdan?"
The blue eyes showed a moment of surprise. "I had not thought of that," he said amusedly. "I was not aware he was older than you, my friend."
Celeborn laughed suddenly. "Oh yes," he chuckled. "He and Galadriel both. I was five years from my majority when Galadriel came to Doriath. I loved her from the first moment and, shall we say, neglected
to tell her my true age until years later when we were already bound. We were bonded on my begetting day the year I reached my majority; she was not overly impressed to find that out many years later." Celeborn stood and laid a comforting hand on Glorfindel’s shoulder. "Go to him. Love can make us do many things we did not know were in our power."
Glorfindel’s eyes followed the tall elf out of the room. With a sigh, he swallowed the last of his wine and stood. He was in a great need of a bath and he had promised Erestor to return.
Erestor was still asleep when he entered. The tray of food sat on the bedside table, untouched, and the floor was no longer covered in scattered remains of crystal and china. Glorfindel carefully laid the clean clothes he had brought on the floor beside the bed and opened one of the tall windows, letting the fresh night air into the room. Quietly, he shrugged out of the clothes he was wearing before slipping under the blankets, wrapping himself around Erestor’s sleeping body.
It was the screams that woke him. Hoarse, ragged screams of pain shattering the peace of the night. Arms grabbed him from behind, trying to still his movements and he fought desperately, wildly. A soft voice crooned calmingly in his ear as his mind told him that there was no danger; the screams had been his own. Slowly, he relaxed into the strong arms, shaking, as he told his body to stop fighting. He inhaled deeply, and the scent of sunshine and woods and the faint hint of lemon filled his nostrils - Glorfindel’s scent.
"I did not think you would be here," he said as he allowed himself a moment of weakness, gratefully accepting the comfort offered.
"I told you I would come," Glorfindel said quietly, burying his face in the midnight hair. "I will not leave you, Erestor." Gently he kissed a damp shoulder. "Do you wish to talk?"
Erestor closed his eyes and leaned his head back. "No."
"As you wish." Glorfindel’s lips found the curve of an ear and smiled as he felt a shiver running through Erestor. "How often do you dream?" His thumbs traced small circles in the flat stomach.
Erestor made a strange bitter sound in the back of his throat, somewhere between a laugh and a sob. "Nightly. I…," he said hollowly, trying to push the memories down. "I do not wake well in darkness or cold."
Reluctantly he moved away from the embrace and turned, looking at Glorfindel. He winced at the bruise that was forming on the golden skin and pushed the blankets out of his way as he strode out into the bathroom. He filled the bowl on one of the shelves with cold water and grabbed a towel on his way out. He could feel Glorfindel watching him as he sank down on the side of the bed. Quietly he wet the cloth before pressing the cold material against Glorfindel’s cheekbone.
"I am sorry," he said quietly, catching the blue gaze with his own. "I did not…"
Glorfindel smiled calmly and cupped the ivory face, running his thumb over smooth lips to silence Erestor. "You did not know I was here," he said soothingly. "And I know you have no wish to harm me." He let his hand slide back into the dark hair as he moved up and caressed Erestor’s lips with his own. With the other hand, he reached up and removed the wet cloth and strong hand from his face. "Lie down, love," he whispered. "You are still tired."
Dispassionately, Erestor put aside the bowl and the cloth before sliding back into bed, lying on his back as the dark eyes stared at the ceiling. Finally a shiver ran through him and he turned his head to meet Glorfindel’s eyes. "I will not find more rest tonight," he said dully. "I never do once the dreams find me." He slid his arms under Glorfindel and tugged him closer, until the golden head rested on his shoulder. "But you can."
Gently he ran his fingers through Glorfindel’s hair as he continued to stare at the ceiling, relishing the comfort he took from hearing the other’s breath deepen and relax in sleep.
He woke up to sunlight teasing his eyes and a heavy weight draped across his body. Reluctantly he smiled at the comfortable feeling and the fluttering in his stomach. He had not expected to sleep after waking in the middle of the night and yet he had, a calm, deep rest that he had not known for years. Turning his head until his face was buried in golden curls, he smiled softly.
Glorfindel moved slightly against him with a disgruntled moan, trying to bury his head more firmly against Erestor’s shoulder before he woke up fully. "It cannot be morning yet."
Erestor did not even bother answering the futile question and simply nodded, burying his face deeper in Glorfindel’s hair.
Glorfindel smiled and stretched as he moved fluidly, trapping Erestor’s body beneath his own. "I think it is time for breakfast." The golden voice was deep. "And you are looking delicious, if a bit skinny." To his delight, Erestor threw his head back and laughed, a rich, deep laugh which sent sensual shivers running down his spine.
The sudden shifting of muscle and suppressed power surprised him as he abruptly found himself on his back with Erestor above him.
"You, however," the deep voice rumbled silkily, "are just fattened enough…"
Glorfindel gasped and arched as Erestor kissed his neck, tilting his head for better access. Erestor laughed throatily and let his teeth graze the skin, delighting in the shudder that ran through the body beneath him. Curiously, he ran a slender hand down the muscular body and felt Glorfindel shudder and move into his touch.
He moved his gaze upwards until he felt like he was drowning in Glorfindel’s eyes. Strong legs wrapped themselves around his as Glorfindel began to move slowly whilst maintaining eye contact. Erestor heard himself moan as his eyes fell shut, losing himself in the pressure rubbing against his arousal. Instinctively he thrust back, and felt Glorfindel’s arms wrap around him, tugging him closer. Carefully, he caught an ear between his teeth and began to nibble. Glorfindel’s breath grew harsher and more laboured as he began to move faster, running his calloused hands over Erestor’s back. Heat coursed through Erestor’s body as he felt his self-control slip. He thrust harder against Glorfindel, rubbing their hard flesh against each other, slick with sweat and pre-ejaculate. Bending his head, he caught Glorfindel’s mouth with his, entwining their tongues as he relished in the taste of his lover. A strong hand wrapped itself around his neck as the other ran over his backside, pressing him down hard against the other. Erestor shuddered as pleasure soared though him; vaguely he was aware of Glorfindel’s strangled scream as they spent themselves, their fluids mixing between their bodies.
Erestor struggled to catch his breath as he fell heavily on Glorfindel’s shaking body.
Glorfindel tightened the hold of his lover with a lazy, contented smile, running his hand over the silky hair. "You surprise me, melethen," Glorfindel mumbled fondly. "I would have thought you shy."
Erestor laughed tiredly and lifted himself away from Glorfindel, collapsing on his back on the bed. "I am not," he said honestly. "I was simply not meant to be part of the lives of others."
Glorfindel moved on to his side, burying his hand in the midnight tresses once more as he softly massaged the slender neck, content with watching Erestor. "And yet you let me share your life now."
The dark eyes closed, black eyelashes caressing the ivory skin in an effort to hide pain. "I should not."
Golden hair entwined itself with raven strands as Glorfindel bent his face over Erestor’s, gently tasting the soft lips. "I love you, Erestor Fëanorion," he breathed softly. "There is no other place where I should be."
Erestor froze slightly and pulled away, turning his back towards Glorfindel. "Do not love me," he whispered quietly, desperately.
Glorfindel opened his mouth as if to speak but remained silent, not wishing to distress Erestor any further. Frustratedly he released his breath, cursing himself for once again having upset his lover. Quietly, he moved until he was pressed against Erestor’s back, arms wrapped around him. Neither spoke as the hush that had settled over the room deepened. Glorfindel buried his face in the midnight tresses; Erestor would live, no matter what he would have to do.
It was Erestor who finally broke the silence. "You deserve better than this, Glorfindel," he said, his voice low as he turned and looked at Glorfindel. "I will not live."
Glorfindel got out of bed and stalked over to the window. "We are not discussing this," he said flatly. "You will not die."
Erestor watched him from the bed. "I will, and we are," he said calmly. "And when I do, I will ask you not to grieve, for I will have found peace at last. I am tired, Glorfindel, wearier than you even know, and I have been for a very long time. I cannot fight this any longer."
"You will NOT die!" Glorfindel snapped. "There would be no joy in your passing; only pain beyond what you seem to understand!" He kept his eyes on the gardens outside the window as he struggled to keep his raging emotions inside, not to give in to tears or violence.
Glorfindel felt the strong arms wrap around him and he turned towards the comfort they offered, burying his face against the lean shoulder. "I cannot do this…" he whispered brokenly. "I…"
"Then do not," Erestor mumbled as he ran his hand over the golden head. "I would not ever hold it against you."
Glorfindel looked up at the one he loved. The pale face was drawn and shadows lay deep around the black eyes, eyes that held both weariness and pain. Shakily he reached for the pale face, letting his fingers trace the high cheekbones. "You are hurting again?" he whispered.
Erestor nodded. "Yes, but the pain will not kill me; it is less that it has been for centuries." Shivers of exhaustion ran through the tall body, despite his attempts to remain calm and steady.
Worriedly, Glorfindel looked at his lover and knew that he would stay until whatever end. "Come," he whispered tenderly and wrapped his arms around Erestor. "You should rest."
Erestor nodded quietly and leaned heavily on Glorfindel as they crossed the floor and got back into bed.
Galadriel sat down on the edge of the bed, feeling tears sting her eyes as she watched Erestor. No more that two weeks had passed since the day in the gardens and Erestor was failing rapidly. The pale face had the colour of ice where it lay, surrounded by a dull, lifeless black, and the dark eyes stared emptily at the ceiling. Horrified, she glanced at Glorfindel, who was sitting on the window ledge, his sapphire eyes looking out over Imladris.
"I thought we would have more time," she whispered.
Glorfindel continued to stare out of the window; the first signs of autumn had come to Imladris. "He is not always like this," the tenor finally said, hollowly. "The mornings are usually better, and the nights worse. Most of the time he sleeps."
"Erestor?" Gently she touched the pale hand, waiting for a response. "Úquen?" She looked up at Glorfindel again. "Does he respond at all?"
The sapphire eyes closed sadly. "He tries, "Glorfindel said softly. "He still tries to act strong when he is awake."
Galadriel sighed and rose from her seat on the bedside. "I will return in the morning," she said quietly. "I have much I wish to speak to him about."
Glorfindel watched her leave. Selfishly, he admitted to himself that he did not want her to return in the morning; the few hours when Erestor spent his energy were close to his heart and he cherished the talks, kisses and caresses. To share Erestor with another during those hours…. The hopes he had carried at the beginning of the week were slowly fading; he no longer believed that Erestor would be saved. Silently, he crossed the floor and sank down in the bed beside Erestor, watching him.
"Glorfindel?" The deep voice was weak.
"I am here, love," Glorfindel mumbled reassuringly
Erestor smiled slowly, sweetly, and reached up a hand until it was embedded tightly in the golden tresses. With surprising strength he dragged Glorfindel’s face down to his own and kissed him, a sweet kiss filled with tenderness.
Glorfindel smiled against Erestor’s lips. "Now, now, Erestor," he said teasingly, "kisses like that and I may start thinking that you love me as well." He realized his mistake as Erestor froze and broke the kiss; he felt the cool hand leave his hair and run a quick caress over his cheek before it fell back to the bed. Reluctantly he met the black, unreadable gaze of his lover.
With a silent curse, Glorfindel pushed away from the bed and stood up. He felt Erestor’s gaze on him as he undressed and brushed his hair and yet neither of them spoke. Naked, he moved back to the bed and lay down, smiling sadly as Erestor tugged him closer until they were wrapped around each other, Glorfindel’s head on Erestor’s shoulder.
"I do," the deep voice finally broke the silence.
"You do what?" Glorfindel asked sleepily.
"Love you," Erestor sighed. "You…" Erestor fell quiet for a moment as words deserted him. "When you are with me, my weariness is lessened. I should not feel this."
Glorfindel struggled with words and emotions ran through him. How could he ever convey to Erestor how deep his love was, how much it meant to him to know he was loved, and how much more Erestor’s death would now hurt? "Thank you," he said quietly. "It means a lot to me."
"Are you aware of how bad Erestor is?" Galadriel’s voice was accusing as she swept into Elrond’s study, slamming the door behind her. "I have been to see him and he has no more than mere days at best!"
Elrond laid down the book he had been reading; his head hurt from too many hours pouring over old manuscripts as he tried to find something to save his friend. He looked at Galadriel and fought to keep his own grief and rage under control. "Yes," he said flatly. "I visit him each afternoon and watch him grow weaker every single day; he rarely responds to any save Glorfindel. The twins tell me a similar story of their visits at noon." He leaned his head in his hands, closing his eyes. "We are losing him."
Galadriel say down in one of the chairs across the table. "Have you ever tried visiting in the morning?" she asked dryly. "Glorfindel tells me that Erestor is stronger then."
Elrond sighed and looked back at her, seeing the same fear in her eyes as he himself was battling with. "Every afternoon when I have come to see them, Glorfindel talks to me, telling me of how Erestor was better that morning, finally growing stronger. Each morning brought him new hope and every afternoon the healer in me saw a different tale. Yesterday, Glorfindel was quiet and pale, as he was today. No, I have not visited in the mornings, Galadriel; I cannot take away from the short time they have. The mornings are theirs - leave them those."
Quietly he handed her one of the many books on healing that he had lying on his desk and silence settled as they both poured over the scripts in a last attempt to find answers.
Glorfindel lay awake in the darkness listening to the shallow, laboured breathing of Erestor. He feared to sleep in case he would wake the next morning and find that the shallow intaking of air had stopped completely. Yet he felt his own tiredness overwhelming him after two nights with no sleep. He buried his face in the dark silk of Erestor’s hair. "You will not leave me now, " he whispered to the elf in his arms. "If I have to follow you into the Halls of Mandos, I will." Slowly his awareness fled as he sank into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Erestor waited; he knew the very moment when sleep claimed the other and moved carefully. Panic raced through him as the whispered words ran through his mind, words he had not been meant to hear. He knew that Glorfindel had thought him asleep as soon as the words had been uttered. They always died. The thought whispered through his mind. They always die and it was always his fault; their deaths were on his hands - kinslayer, the last son of Fëanor.
Shivering, he forced himself to stand, and to walk, as he fled the room and flung the balcony doors open. As so many nights when memories haunted him, he sank down by the open doors, feeling the cold air run over his naked body as he sat there shivering, fighting his past, his weariness and himself. Could he still live? Did he yet have the strength to keep fighting? He was not sure, but knew he had to try. Glorfindel could not die. Until the twins passed and Glorfindel sailed to the west he had to keep trying, keep living; once they were gone nothing could hold him back any longer. His hand trembled as it reached for a table nearby and opened a drawer until his hand settled around the cold mithril dagger inside.
The hours passed as he sat there with the hard wood at his back, watching Eärendil and the Silmaril as they slowly sailed across the seas of dark, surrounded by the stars of Varda, as his fingers caressed the dagger in his hands, lightly, lovingly. A few centuries at most….