Glorfindel burrowed his head deeper into the pillow to escape the weak sunlight finding its way through the curtains. A vague feeling of discomfort settled between his shoulders; something felt…different…this morning, wrong. Silence. He blinked the sleep out of his eyes as his tired mind tried to place the unusual silence of the room. Panic surged through him as he realised that the harsh, laboured, strenuous breaths that had filled the past days and nights were gone. It was quiet.
"Erestor!" He sat up quickly and found the bed beside him cold and empty.
Confusion battled with panic as he flew out of bed and into the bathing chamber, finding it as empty as the bedroom. He hurried to the door that led out into the sitting room and tore it open, sagging in relief as his eyes found Erestor. He let his gaze rest on the tall body leaning against the wooden doorway, noting the way Erestor trembled with cold and exhaustion. Erestor should not have been out of bed, and yet here he was, sitting in front of the wide open doors.
Sighing inwardly to himself, Glorfindel crossed the floor and sank down on his heels in front of the dark elf. "Erestor?" He kept his voice calm and gentle as he waited for Erestor to acknowledge his presence.
Quietly, Erestor turned his head, black eyes meeting blue.
Glorfindel reached out tenderly, caressing the raven hair. "You should not be out of bed."
Erestor closed his eyes and leant his head back. "Yes," he mumbled as he forced himself to stand, leaning heavily against the wooden frame as he gathered whatever strength he had left. "It is well past time that I was. I…" He paused for a moment, trying to find the words. "Could you ask the others to join us later this evening? I think it is time that I finished the telling."
Glorfindel shook his head and stood up. "Erestor, you do not have the strength!"
Erestor reached out and placed a gentle hand on Glorfindel’s arm, calmingly, reassuringly. "I know my strengths and my limits, love. I have to do this; I cannot leave it any longer." Erestor held Glorfindel’s gaze seriously, waiting for the response.
Glorfindel closed his eyes tiredly, fighting the urge to hit something. "Erestor…"
Glorfindel ran a hand over his face, pinching the bridge of his nose as he calmed himself down. He would not lose his temper in front of Erestor. Finally he nodded. "I will talk to them." He wrapped his arms around Erestor, holding the shivering body close to his own as he reassured himself that Erestor was still there, still alive. He did not know if he was offering comfort or being comforted as they stood there, arms wrapped around each other. Glorfindel’s heart was bleeding as he forced himself to accept that Erestor was truly dying.
Erestor pulled back with a small smile as he raised a hand and let it trace the golden face in front of him. "Glorfindel?"
Glorfindel turned his head slightly towards the hand, pressing a loving kiss against the palm. "Yes?"
"Could you bring us some breakfast? I find myself hungry today."
Glorfindel’s eyes widened in disbelief and hope at Erestor’s words, as he struggled to keep his sudden wave of emotions under control. Erestor had shown no interest in food for months, eating only when prompted and never much. "Of course," he said rustily. "What would you like?"
Erestor smiled. "Fruit, I think, and bread." He closed his eyes and let his smile widen as he tried to remember the foods he had once enjoyed. "And butter, some meat if there is any, and," he opened his eyes, "raspberries if you can get them!"
Glorfindel swallowed hard. "I will do what I can."
Erestor bent his head and caught Glorfindel’s lips with his own. The mouth beneath his opened willingly, eagerly. Erestor’s tongue slunk in, tasting Glorfindel deeply, drinking the unique flavour that was Glorfindel, honey and lemons, fresh and sweet. Greedily, he deepened the kiss further, tongues dancing, mating. He let his tongue flicker against the roof of Glorfindel’s mouth and felt a shudder run through the muscular body.
A craving to taste all that was Glorfindel, all the life and brightness and joy that was the essence of the blond elf overcame him. Distantly Erestor was aware of the sound of Glorfindel’s back hitting the wall but he did not care. Erestor’s lips left the mouth he had been plundering and kissed their way to Glorfindel’s ear. His tongue followed the arch of the ear before he sucked in the earlobe between his teeth, hungrily running his tongue over it.
Glorfindel’s breathing grew deeper as he arched against Erestor, running roughened hands over Erestor’s naked back before settling, one wrapped tightly in the ebony hair, the other grabbing Erestor’s buttocks, pressing him closer. Glorfindel groaned deeply. Naked skin pressed against naked skin as their erections touched.
Erestor hissed with pleasure at the contact and let his mouth move lower, tasting, sucking at the soft skin of Glorfindel’s neck.
Glorfindel whimpered as the hot mouth moved lower, teeth dragging across his collarbone, his chest, before one of his nipples was suddenly sucked violently. "Yes…" Glorfindel threw his head back against the wall, pressing Erestor’s mouth closer still as his hand tightened in the black hair.
Erestor released the nipple from his mouth and tasted the other one, gently, before kissing his way down; he could not get enough of Glorfindel, of his flavour and moans. He ran his hands over the well-muscled ribs, the flat stomach, the hips, letting his mouth follow as tongue and teeth greedily explored the other body. He could feel Glorfindel shake against him and his whimpers and moans drove Erestor on. Curiously, he licked the top of Glorfindel’s erection and groaned in delight at the rich flavour that exploded in his mouth and at Glorfindel’s sudden intake of breath. He wanted more. Eagerly, he wrapped his mouth around the hard flesh, tasting it. He felt light-headed with pleasure, desperate for some touch on his own arousal as he dropped his hand and wrapped it around himself, stroking as he tried to take more of Glorfindel’s flesh into his mouth. Both of Glorfindel’s hands were wrapped in his hair as the blond writhed against him, inside his mouth, lost to all but pleasure.
"Please…Erestor…." Glorfindel was vaguely aware of the voice in the back of his head, telling him to slow down, that this was Erestor’s first experience of oral pleasure. Glorfindel tried to hold back his thrusts. "Harder….take me deeper, Erestor…suck me…" Feeling Erestor suck harder, devouring him, drove him past the point of caring and he thrust deeply into the hot mouth, hands entangled in ebony hair, holding Erestor’s head still as he rode it. He could hear himself plead; he never pleaded with lovers, and yet now he did. "That’s it…harder….oh yess…"
Erestor closed his eyes and leaned his head in, as closely to Glorfindel as he could; he was so close. Suddenly, the heat washed through Erestor and he swallowed before groaning deeply as the pressure burst and thick, white strands of semen spilled over his hand and over the floor.
Glorfindel threw his head back as the vibrations of Erestor’s moan shot through him and he thrust hard, burying himself fully in the eager mouth as he fell over the edge, spilling himself in the warm throat. "ERESTOR!"
Erestor swallowed eagerly before releasing Glorfindel’s flesh. Exhaustedly, Glorfindel slid down the wall, his eyes on Erestor’s face. He loved the sated look over the beautiful face, the heavy dark gaze. His eyes fell on the swollen lips and on a few drops not swallowed at the corner of Erestor’s mouth. He reached out and tugged Erestor close, running his tongue lightly to catch the last traces, tasting himself before plunging his tongue into Erestor’s mouth for a deep kiss. "I love you."
Erestor smiled, aftershocks still running through his body. "And I love you, Glorfindel." He leaned his head against Glorfindel’s shoulder, loving the comfort and warmth of the strong arms that surrounded him.
"How do you feel?" Glorfindel asked, running his hand over tousled, silky hair. "I was not careful with you."
"I did not want you to be." Erestor’s voice was quiet, amused. "I am exhausted. Breakfast, I fear, will have to wait."
Glorfindel stood up carefully, finding his own balance before helping Erestor to stand. Worriedly, he noticed that he was supporting most of the other’s weight, revealing the true depth of Erestor’s tiredness. He wrapped his arms tighter around the dark elf as they slowly made their way to the bedroom.
Erestor fell back on the bed and closed his eyes, ignoring the stickiness that covered his lower abdomen and hand. He smiled tiredly at Glorfindel. "You are delicious."
Glorfindel laughed softly, feeling an unexpected blush creep up his face. "You need to clean up, love."
Erestor sighed deeply and shifted on the bed. "Too tired."
Smiling softly, Glorfindel went into the bathing chamber and filled a bowl of hot water, washing himself carefully. He picked up the cloth and the bowl and made his way back to the bed. Carefully, tenderly, he washed Erestor’s hand and ran the damp cloth over the pale body. When he was done, he went into the sitting room and carefully cleaned all traces of passion from the floor. He went back into the bedroom and put the bowl beside the bathroom door, tossing the soiled cloth into it before going over to Erestor and moving the covers over the pale body, he lifted the rearranged blankets carefully and slid into bed, wrapping himself around Erestor’s cold body.
"Thank you." The deep voice was quiet, sleepy.
Glorfindel smiled and pressed a loving kiss on the raven hair. "You are welcome; now rest. I will bring you something to eat at noon."
Slowly the shivers left Erestor’s body as he drifted into sleep.
Carefully, Glorfindel untangled himself and left the bed. He opened the curtains wider, letting the sun into the room, and lit the fire. He did not want Erestor to wake in darkness or cold. He smiled at the sleeping elf as he dressed himself and left.
Elrond rubbed his eyes tiredly. It was still long before noon and he had pored over letters for hours. For a while he entertained the idea of enlisting Elladan to help him with the work usually done by Erestor, but he had discarded that idea quickly, knowing how his son craved the movement and sunlight that he was used to. Instead, the twins shared Glorfindel’s duties, guiding the patrols of the borders and seeing to the protection of the valley and the training of her warriors. Galadriel had taken over Elrond’s own duties in the healing houses and Celeborn was a great aid in the organisational running of the household. Four elves to do the work normally done by two. He shook his head; he would never understand how Erestor had managed all his duties on his own. In truth, he had never realised how much Erestor had taken upon himself until the councillor’s illness had come upon them.
He looked up at the sharp knock on the door.
His heart froze in when he saw Glorfindel open the door and enter the study. It had been days since Glorfindel had left Erestor’s side; for him to have done so now… He closed his eyes as grief welled up inside him.
Glorfindel noticed the sorrow floating over Elrond’s face and he quickly crossed the floor, seating himself in the chair opposite the great desk. Smiling calmingly, he leant forward, placing his fingers lightly on Elrond’s wrist. "He lives, Elrond. He is growing better at last."
Elrond opened his eyes and looked at Glorfindel, seeing the hope that once again shone in the sapphire eyes and he frowned worriedly. "Glorfindel," he started, unsure of how to proceed. "Erestor…"
Glorfindel shook his head. "He truly is better this time, Elrond." The smile gracing the golden face widened. "He even asked for food."
Elrond bit his bottom lip, unable to say the words that would crush the smile that had not been seen for months. "Just be careful," he said quietly.
Glorfindel smiled reassuringly. "I will," he said. "I know that he is still weak."
Elrond sighed to himself. "I meant be careful of yourself, Glorfindel."
A brief flash of annoyance flashed in the blue eyes. "He is
Elrond lowered his gaze and forced himself to give Glorfindel a small smile. "I trust you, my friend."
"Erestor has asked me to let you know that he wishes to finish the telling of his life this evening. He is resting at the moment."
Elrond nodded. "We will be there."
Glorfindel smiled and stood, the anger already forgotten. "I will see you this evening, then. Now I believe I will walk past the exercise yard to ensure that Elladan and Elrohir are keeping our warriors busy. You look tired, Elrond. Do not overwork yourself." He gave Elrond another brilliant smile before he strode out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Elrond leaned his head into his hands as the door closed, thoughts swirling in his head, questions and fears battling hope. He did not like the change he saw in Glorfindel this morning; the blond was too vibrant, too dependant on the small improvement he had seen in Erestor. Elrond had seen it many times before in his long years as a healer, the surprising and welcome strength returning before death claimed them a few days later. He did not dare to hope; Erestor’s would be difficult enough for them all without fooling themselves. The change in Glorfindel had shown him another worrying development. Until now, he had missed how deeply Erestor’s death would truly shatter the blond. Elrond had seen it in Glorfindel’s eyes this morning; he knew, without doubt, that when Erestor died Glorfindel would shortly follow him. Imladris was no longer waiting for one death, she was waiting for two. Emotionally drained and heartbroken, he sat there, trying to come to terms with the fact that he would lose yet another of his loved ones.
The noon bell rang, calling the elves of the valley to their midday meal, yet Elrond remained where he was. He would go and find his sons, find Celeborn and Galadriel once the meal was over, but not yet.
Glorfindel put down the tray carefully before reaching out and caressing the raven hair. "Erestor," he said gently, watching as awareness returned to the dark eyes. "I brought you food."
Erestor stretched languorously before sitting up against the headboard, pushing the hair out of his face. He smiled softly at Glorfindel before turning his gaze to the tray. The smile widened as it fell on the food that Glorfindel had brought him. "Raspberries!" He stretched eagerly for the tray, placing it in his lap as he continued to eye the food. Fresh bread, richly buttered, with generous servings of roast beef and ham met his eye, as did a place of sliced peaches, apples and sweet pears from Celebrían’s gardens, and finally a small bowl of raspberries accompanied by cream. He picked up a raspberry and put it into his mouth, softly biting down on the sweet berry, closing his eyes with pleasure as the taste washed over him. "I love raspberries."
Glorfindel smiled and leant forward for a gentle kiss. "The last of the summer, I am afraid, but all yours." He watched Erestor, smiling as the dark elf ate carefully, slowly, savouring the taste of each bite.
"Will they come?"
"Yes, they will come. I asked them to join us this evening. I want you to rest more before then, Erestor; the telling drains you."
A shadow flickered in Erestor’s eyes as he nodded. "I will rest. This telling…" He drew a deep breath. "This will be the worst one to hear, I fear."
Glorfindel’s eyebrows rose elegantly. "Worse that reliving my own death?"
Erestor swallowed. "No," he admitted. "For you, the worst should be over; for the rest of them…" He fell quiet again.
Glorfindel’s eyes narrowed in understanding. "Celebrían," he whispered sympathetically.
The shadow in Erestor’s eyes deepened as he inclined his head, eating quietly. The silence stretched as they sat there, Erestor eating and Glorfindel lost to thoughts and memories. Finally, Erestor reached over and placed the tray back on the bedside table.
Glorfindel looked up and smiled approvingly at the empty tray. "Are you still hungry?"
Erestor laughed tiredly as he slid back under the covers. "Far from it; I forced myself to finish it, knowing you would not approve of leftovers."
"How well you know me, Erestor. Why don’t you go back to sleep for another few hours?"
Erestor stifled a yawn. "One could easily think that you are trying to keep me in bed…"
Glorfindel chuckled and bent down, kissing Erestor lightly. "One would be right," he said amusedly. "And I plan to take full advantage once you are well."
Galadriel stood in Celebrían’s gardens as the first shadows stretched into evening. Sadly, her hand caressed the blood red petals of a rose, one of many that her daughter had planted with love almost three thousand years earlier. Gardens that had stood empty and quiet since Celebrían’s departure into the west; not even the birds sang in these gardens.
"A mausoleum to a living woman." The musical baritone broke the silence behind her. "A constant reminder of what she once was, of their youth and happiness. Does this place soothe him in his weariness and sorrow, or do the memories haunt him?"
Galadriel smiled though her old grief. "A little of both, I would imagine," she said softly. "How will the woods of Lothlórien seem to you when you return to our home?"
Celeborn’s arms wrapped around her waist. "Empty," he said quietly. "Her life gone and beauty lost, and still I cannot leave her."
She turned in his arms, looking into the silver eyes that she had loved since the sun and moon were young in the sky. "In time you will follow me," she said, reaching up to cup his face in her hands, "and every day and night until you do will be longer that all our years together."
He leaned his forehead against hers, standing quietly as the shadows deepened, enjoying the closeness of her, of the other half of his soul. The years would be long without her and yet they would be parted no more than a century, at most.
Finally he stepped back, wrapping his large hand around her slim fingers. "It is time…"
Erestor awoke as the first bell of evening rang, calling the elves of Imladris to their evening meal. Soft candles lit his room and warmth spread from the hearth. He smiled at Glorfindel’s thoughtfulness, glad for the light and warmth as he woke. He rose from the bed, walking slowly into the bathing chamber and found more candles lit and a bath already drawn and scented. Sighing with pleasure, he lowered himself into the hot water, enjoying the heat pouring into his tired body. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the edge of the bath.
"I wish for you to be as comfortable as possible this evening," the golden voice said from the doorway. "I asked for food to be brought up, and wine. The others should start arriving within the hour."
Erestor tensed slightly. "Thank you." The deep voice was low, uncomfortable. He felt a light kiss pressed against his lips before the steps retreated.
"Join us when you are ready." The soft footfalls faded as Glorfindel left him.
Erestor took his time, waiting for the water to cool before he rinsed himself and stood, grabbing a towel and wrapping it around himself. He would never be ready for this. Falling to his knees beside the bed he reached for the hidden chest, opening the reminders of his past. His hands were sure and steady as he looked for the robe he wanted; unworn, it had lain in the chest since the day it was given to him. He unfolded the heavy velvet, running his hands over it as memories unasked for came back to haunt him.
"Wear it for me, Erestor."
Closing his eyes against memories, he locked the chest, pushing it back beneath the bed.
He arose carefully, dressing himself and brushing his hair until he was satisfied with the result. He could hear the others talking softly in the other room as he reached for the door. He was still not ready.