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This Was My Choice. Chapter 12

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 and the third age is drawing to its close. Elladan and Elrohir has chosen mortality as has their sister and in the wake of this choice another Elf’s choice is slowly coming into the open.


Elvish translations:
Úlairi - Nazgul






Glorfindel was handing Celeborn a goblet fillet with rich, red wine when the door opened. He smiled to himself at the almost soundless entrance, so like Erestor, as he felt the dark elf’s presence. With amusement, he noticed that all other eyes turned to his lover, one by one falling quiet as they became aware of Erestor’s presence among them. Still, it was Elrond’s sharp intake of breath that caused him to turn, curiously. The room around him fell away as he met Erestor’s black eyes, sinking down in the closest chair. He reminded himself to breathe as Erestor started walking towards him.

The heavy velvet hung in rich, shimmering folds from tall shoulders until it kissed the floor. Scarlet and gold contrasted against raven hair and ebony eyes, against ivory skin. Glorfindel swallowed hard, his hands aching to touch the hair which fell in heavy midnight waves over the lean back, unbound and unbraided. Erestor son of Fëanor stood before them, last remaining of a royal line, and he was beautiful.

Stunned, they watched as he crossed the floor, a small, sardonic smile playing at the corner of his mouth, in his cold, back eyes. He took the goblet from Glorfindel’s hand, gracefully seating himself on the floor at Glorfindel’s feet as he leaned his head against Glorfindel’s knee. Relieved, he felt a strong hand wrap itself in his hair, the calming caress giving him the courage he needed.

"I have failed so many," he started calmly. "I have failed my mother and father through my birth and so a pattern was set. I saw all those I swore to protect injured or dead, with my own hands I took the life of a brother I had not known in life, and those around me that remained alive, I saw in pain. I had asked the Valar for a sign of forgiveness and I had been answered when the sun arose. There can be no forgiveness for a son of Fëanor. I failed Ereinion badly and I was unable to convince him that Glorfindel’s return was, for the High King, a blessing. Where Elrond and Glorfindel spent that first day I do not know but I spent it at Ereinion’s side. Stubbornly, he refused to listen to me; each new argument I made was met by another or turned away unanswered. A new pattern of life in Lindon was set and the peace between Ereinion and me was shattered."

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


The dark had long fallen when he returned to his rooms; the day had been long and the night before it longer. Glorfindel had returned, the warrior of Gondolin, the child of Alqualondë. Weary and numb, Erestor opened the door to find a hand over his mouth and a knife at his throat. He was not alarmed. If Mandos’ Halls would call him he would gladly listen, and yet he knew well the hand that now held him, as he knew that no harm would be done to him this night. Willingly, he followed the one behind him until they stood on the shore. Another night by the sea. Side by side they stood there, silently, as the waves crashed in against rocks and sand.

"I believed you dead," he finally said, quietly. "All of us believed you dead."

"You will all be correct before the night is at end." The melodic voice was tired. "I have wearied, my time is over."

The numbness grew, spreading even further in his soul. "Can I change your mind?"

A bitter laugh came from the one beside him. "No. My time has been over since my hand touched the jewel that brought war upon us, since my brothers died by the curse we dragged onto ourselves willingly, since our father damned the Valar before the moon and sun were born. Life has never been about talking or moving; life is within your soul, and mine has been dead since the white shores flowed red."

The hissing sound of metal cutting flesh disturbed the night and the metallic scent of blood surrounded them. A knife, hard and cold, warm and slick, was laid in his hand, his fingers wrapped around it. "Something to remember us by." The voice beside him was quiet, music fading from the tones as he spoke. "Maitimo made it."

Alone he stood on the sands as Maglor walked into the sea, alone did he witness the death of his brother as the slim body of the singer cut through the waves, blood running freely around him until he was gone.

The knife in his hand was heavy, comforting. One day he too would pass, as his service ended and his sins were atoned, be it by a blade of war or of that in his hand. He stayed by the water until dawn kissed the sky. No other would wake at the death of a son of Fëanor, no other would grieve, none but him.

Years passed at the court of the King. Glorfindel of Gondolin had entered the service of Elrond Eärendilion, as had Erestor, once the advisor to the High King. Rarely did Erestor speak to Ereinion in those days unless duty demanded it and when they met outside the bounds of duty Erestor was distant and cold. Once again he filled his life with books and scrolls, with learning and counselling behind closed doors, as he avoided the lives of others.

Winds and waters whispered of a shift in the powers of the world as the years passed and in the east, the courts of elves changed. In Lindon all remained as it had been. Summer was young the year that a shudder ran through the earth and Erestor shivered with foreboding; something had happened and evil had once again returned to Arda.

Yet many more years passed in peace before a messenger rode into the city, his horse near dead, and demanded to speak to the High King. A message, he said, of highest importance. Ereinion called a council of those he trusted most, those with wisdom and courage to lead others, those who saw through deceit and lies. Erestor he called, and Elrond, and also Gildor and Glorfindel were invited among them, for the news was grim indeed. The shrouds of Annatar were torn away and Sauron was revealed as the enemy of all those living freely in Arda. The two rings in Ereinion’s hand cast purple shadows around the room as they spoke; many were the longing, admiring glances cast at the rings of power, yet Erestor shuddered in disgust at the sight of them, recalling other jewels of beauty and power and the price that had come with them.

Long they stayed in council after the messenger had left and reluctantly, with heavy hearts, they prepared for war. Long did the preparations take and war came upon them quicker than expected. Less than a week before they had planned to depart, words reached them of the advancing forces of the enemy and their plans changed. Elrond would lead the elves of Lindon to war, with Glorfindel at his side.

Erestor waited until late the evening before the armies left before knocking at the King’s door. He did not wait for a call of entry, nor did he expect the message he carried to be welcomed.

"I am leaving with Elrond, Ereinion." His voice was calm.

He could read the shock in the blue eyes as the King raised his head. "What?!" The normally controlled baritone was shaken. "No! You are staying here, Erestor."

"No, Ereinion. I am not. I swore an oath before you were born and another before the fall of Sirion. Where Elrond and Glorfindel go, I follow."

Pain flared in Ereinion’s face, and hatred. "Always him," he whispered. "If I could force the Valar to take him back I would!"

Erestor turned, leaving the King, his friend, without any other farewell, quietly closing the door behind him.

The morning dawned with sparkling sunlight, a mockery of deaths to come at the end of the road. Long was the march and hasty and grim; no songs of battle rang through the air and their banners hang limp during the windless days. They crossed fields and forests, hills and rivers on the road east, always in a hurry, always in haste. Yet they came to a land that had already fallen: Eregion stretched before them, burning and broken, barren and black.

Foul creatures attacked them in the night and they fought back, slowly advancing towards the heart of Eregion and the gates of Moria. They did not know if any remains of the people of Eregion still lived as they advanced through the dead land. Deeper they moved, seeing only the pets of the Dark Lord until a wall of enemies met them.

Fighting was fierce and many died, both elves and orcs before, finally, at the end of battle, the two forces of elves met, driving back the dark horde that faced them and they rejoiced. Lord Elrond let the elves of Lindon that day, with Glorfindel of Gondolin and Erestor on either side; Lord Celeborn of Doriath was the one who met them, his army small, the last scattered remnants of the people of Eregion. The joy of victory did not last long.

Sauron’s forces were many and in dismay, the elves that had thought themselves the victors the previous day found themselves hunted and driven back to the borders of the land, fighting to regain entry as Ost-in-Edhil fell. Thousands and thousands of Sauron’s creatures met them, many days later, as the full force of the enemy turned towards the elves at the borders. Horrified, the armies of Elrond and Celeborn watched as the banner of the enemy, the broken body of Celebrimbor Curufinion, gruesome after long torment at Sauron’s hand, drew closer.

"And so the last blood of Fëanor leaves these shores," Glorfindel whispered at the sight in front of them. "…and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief…."

Celeborn cast a glace at Glorfindel. "Yet none of Fëanor’s blood ever died of grief," he said, "all dying by weapons and torment in their senseless wars."

Glorfindel sighed. "Yet none of them deserved a fate as that. May they find peace in Mandos’ Halls."

Erestor stood quiet, eyes fixed on the broken body of his brother’s son, forcing himself to show no emotion, no trace of grief. Alone among the elves did he show no horror, and calm and cold he seemed to those around him.

Despair filled the armies of Eregion and Lindon at the overwhelming strength of the enemy and yet they made their stand. Long they fought and many were the souls that Mandos called as they were slowly driven north, constantly on the move, constantly under attack. Gratefully they watched the dwarves of Moria and elves of the forest behind the mountains attack their enemies at the rear. The army of Sauron turned on the reinforcements and Elrond’s army and Celeborn’s were able to retreat into the deep valleys surrounding the river Bruinen, rest and healing sorely needed.

A deep valley they found, with only a few roads of entrance, and there they set camp. With time their forces grew as more elves and men found their way into the valleys of the river, seeking to join the forces of Elrond Peredhel and all were welcomed. They harried the forces of Sauron as much as they could, a ceaseless war on an overwhelming enemy and, so doing, they forced Sauron to split his forces as he marched to war on Eriador and Lindon. Long were there years they spent in the valley, news from the outside scarce and far between. Whether Lindon still remained standing was not known and so the war continued. Buildings were put up in the valley as the armies grew and years passed, houses of healing first; then others followed, barracks for the soldiers and cottages for the Lords. A settlement of war it was, Imladris, close to the Bruinen ford.

It was in the sixth year of the war that word reached them; Imladris had been founded close to four years previously. Sauron was finally retreating, pursued by the remaining forces of Lindon and of the Númenoreans. The attempts to break through the siege and reach their King doubled; day and night they harried the forces of the enemy, yet besieged they remained.

Erestor closed his eyes, trusting his horse to lead them to the safety of the valley. Weary beyond measure from fighting and blood loss, his thoughts tumbled aimlessly through his mind. He was unaware of his surroundings until the horse stopped and strong arms reached up to steady him as he was helped off the horse. Out of habit, he pulled back, leaning against the horse until he found his balance.

"Are you injured?"

He looked up into the blue eyes of Glorfindel and shook his head. "Weary," he admitted reluctantly, his voice hoarse from hours in command. Carefully, he made his way to the cottage that had been his home for the past years. He did not bother to light a candle as he pulled off his grimy tunic and tossed it into the corner; he let his fingers follow the jagged end of the wound that had been draining him of energy since leaving the field. He knew it was bad; weakly, a whisper of Valinor and Mandos reached him but he ignored it, refused to listen. He would not leave Elrond and Glorfindel on their own in the midst of battle. His hands shook as he cleansed and bound the wound before falling into bed.

When he awoke, Glorfindel was nowhere to be found. The valley of Imladris had been searched and no trace of the legendary warrior had been found. Some said the Valar had taken him back, others that agents of the enemy had taken him; however, a few others admitted to having seen him leave alone, at dawn, hooded and cloaked.

The fighting intensified but something was missing from the forces of Imladris; there was emptiness in their defence and they knew it well.

Two weeks had passed when Erestor awoke to the sound of horns; the signal of the King shattered the silence before once again growing quiet. The siege was broken.

The armies of Lindon marched down the pass into the valley, their progress slow and solemn, their banners low. The grey horse of the King was foremost and in the arms of Ereinion rested the body of Glorfindel, golden hair spilling over an arm and down the side of the horse. For a moment the eyes of Ereinion and Erestor met before the blue gaze of the King lowered.

Quietly, Erestor came to stand by the King’s horse. Reaching up, he gathered the body of Glorfindel in his arms and turned towards the healing houses. He kept his face clear of all expression, showing no sign of the emotions that battled within him as he made his way through the crowd. No words were spoken as all elves and men parted for Erestor, grief over the lord of Gondolin in their eyes.

Elrond looked up as they entered, paling at the sight in front of him. Quickly he knelt by the side of the bed on which Erestor laid Glorfindel. "What happened?"

"He came to us at dawn at the day of battle," Ereinion answered from behind Erestor. "From behind he broke through the enemy lines, making the orcs quiver and run in fear as he made his way to the heart of the field. Through the dark as a beacon he rode, a being of light and hope for us all. He crossed swords with Sauron and long they fought before Glorfindel fell and Sauron himself fled with only a few guards around him." He glanced at Erestor. "I brought him back for honouring and proper burial."

Elrond looked up with a small smile. "He still lives, Ereinion; he will not leave us yet."

Emotions fled the face of the King at Elrond’s words. "I see," he said quietly and turned, leaving the healing house.

War was over and Sauron had been driven back. After days of rest and council, the forces of the Númenóreans and Lindon left the valley, leaving Elrond and those who wished to remain in Imladris behind. Buildings and gardens were carefully created and the stronghold and peace of Imladris grew. More elves joined the household of Elrond, families settling into daily routines. Glorfindel remained the right hand of Elrond, training the guards of Imladris, and Erestor settled into a position of chief councillor and librarian, being deeply involved in all aspects regarding the running and construction of Imladris, yet remaining apart from the lives and friendships of others.

Had he known that Galadriel would join them he would have hidden deeper, stayed out of sight as best he could, but he received no warning as no word reached the valley before her arrival. He was in the courtyard when his arms were suddenly filled with a laughing, golden haired daughter of Finarfin. In shock he stared at the lady in his arms before he backed away.

"I thought you had perished on Helcaraxë! Tell me, where have you hidden since coming to these shores?!" Her voice was warm, lyrical as always.

It was Celeborn’s arrival on the stairs that saved him from answering as she ran across the courtyard. He smiled to himself as he watched them, the bond of their love deep between them, a sharing of souls even to the outside eye. A fitting fate for the daughter of Finarfin. He looked down at the sudden poking of a slender finger in his side and met the suspicious eyes of a young lady, the blue eyes and silver hair a witness of her parentage.

"Who are you that my mother would throw herself into your arms before greeting my father?"

He met the young eyes calmly, impressed by the strength and fire he saw in those clear eyes. "Someone she knew a very long time ago," he said.

The eyes watching him narrowed further. "A lover?"

Erestor choked, his famous control deserting him momentarily. "To a daughter of Finarfin? Not likely, my lady!"

She smiled at him then and reached up, patting his cheek. "Good. I will talk to you later then."

Incredulously, he stared after her as she seemed to float over the courtyard until she joined her parents.

"Who was that?" Elrond’s voice behind him startled him and he turned towards his lord.

"The daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel I believe," he answered dryly.

Elrond nodded absentmindedly and started walking towards the family, his eyes fixed on the young woman.

So Celebrían came to Imladris; young, beautiful and joyful, she brought a grace to the valley which had previously been missing. Elrond was rarely found on his own in those days, and always there was a smile on his face. Quietly, Erestor took over more of his Lord’s workload leaving the young Peredhel to his courtship, and always he avoided Galadriel’s question with a polite and empty reply or an enigmatic smile. Years passed and Celeborn and Galadriel took their daughter with them and moved away, although they remained close in friendship to the Lord of Imladris.

The years of Arda grew darker as Sauron’s strength grew in the east, his shadow stretching further and further across the world. Whispers grew of new servants of Sauron, of the Úlairi that no man could stand against. Many were the elves that set out from Imladris to the Havens, never to return and many more left from Lindon. The time of elves was waning.

Númenor grew mighty along the coasts and yet among the men themselves their strength weakened and the grace of their lives shortened. Gone were the graceful descendants of Elros. Ceaseless wars were fought in southern lands between the Númenóreans and the forces of the Dark Lord, a constant war for dominance and land, and then, for half a century, something happened. Sauron’s strength seemed to weaken and once again the elves grew stronger as their realms prospered; peace, it seemed, had returned once more. Even so, many of the Lords and Ladies of the elves, of the Noldor and the Sindar and of the Silvan elves doubted the peace which had been given to them and quietly prepared for war, and yet more ships sailed in those years of watchful peace.

Still, none were prepared when the world heaved and the seas roared high over lands which had previously been untouched by flood and ebb. A few in Imladris mumbled of the end of another war, when the world had been shaken to the core as Morgoth was defeated, the shivers of earth and sea when the Silmarilli were lost. Yet this was different. A messenger came from Círdan of the Havens; the seas had changed, he said. Beyond recognition the seas had changed and the Isle of Númenor was no more. Worse than that, he admitted, the road west to Valinor was hidden. Still, promises had reached him that the ships of elves, weary of Arda, would always find the straight road to Valinor open. To all others it was closed. Valinor had been hidden.

The remaining Númenóreans landed on the shores the following year. They told of Sauron’s hand in the ruling of Númenor and how the mighty kingdom of Elros, the gift of the Valar, had failed. Grief was deep in Elrond’s eyes in those days. His brother's line was all but gone but he opened his home to those that remained. Arnor and Gondor, the Kingdoms of Men, were founded and supported by the remaining elves and the shadow in the east, Sauron, returned once more and quickly regained strength.

Only a few years had passed, a decade of war for the men of Arnor and Gondor, when Ereinion and Elendil held counsel and the Last Alliance was born in despair. Soon the troops of elves and men reached the valley of Imladris and yet again Imladris was at the heart of war. To Imladris they came, the lords of men and elves and dwarves of Moria. Never, since the end of the First Age and the War of Wrath, had there been an army of such strength and beauty in the lands of Arda. Here it was that their plans were made, their strategies drawn and here, in the stronghold of all that was held fair, Celebrían returned once more and together with the wife and newborn son of Isildur she was left for safekeeping, as were many other wives and mothers, sons and daughters, of the soldiers.

It was the last night in Imladris; whatever was to be brought to war was long since packed and Erestor’s rooms stood bare and empty. He looked around his chamber with a small sigh; somehow it had become home over the centuries and now he was to leave it once again. He wondered if he would return or if the Valar would judge his sins paid and grant him peace. A soft knock on the door caused him to turn; quickly, he hid his surprise as Ereinion entered the room, keeping his expression polite but distant.

"May I help you, Sire?"

Ereinion met his gaze, sorrow deep in his eyes as he handed a package over to Erestor. "Wear this for me, Erestor," he said, "once the war is over. If he sees you in this…" He closed his eyes briefly before he left.

Erestor stared at the package in his hands before reluctantly unwrapping it. Inside was a robe, a stunning masterpiece of crimson velvet and golden embroidery. He ran his hand over the soft material, wondering what on Arda had possessed Ereinion to give him such a gift.

They marched long, crossing mountains and rivers and forests until they reached the plains stretching wide before the Barad-dûr. The war started well; the armies of Sauron were driven back for none could withstand the strength of the kings, both men and elven, and so a siege was set upon the heart of the dark land. For years they guarded and attacked and fought as the tower refused to fall. Seven years in a land of heat and sand, where no beasts grazed green grass, in front of tall gates of steel.

Nothing seemed to break the siege. The enemy sent down fire and arrows on the forces of the Last Alliance but they did not break. They battered the walls and foundations of the dark tower and yet it remained standing. None were prepared for the day when the iron gates swung open, the screeching of metal loud and offensive, and the forces of dark marched out to meet them. Orcs they had fought and men and dwarves, beasts and birds and the Úlairi. Only elves had no part in Sauron’s army. Innumerable were the forces marching out through the dark gate on this day, all the creatures of evil marching in a steady rhythm that made the earth shake, and in their midst, surrounded by the Úlairi, was Sauron himself, the One Ring shining brightly from his gloved hand. An end had come. Here they would stand or fall and Arda with them.

Grimly the allied forces stood their ground, lined up for battle, swords and spears in hand as the enemy approached. Ereinion Gil-Galad, Elendil and Isildur, Celeborn and Círdan, Elrond with Glorfindel and Erestor on either side - those were the leaders of elves and men close to the foot of Orodruin. The battle was quick and harsh as black blades cut through mortal flesh and elven bodies, crushing the bones of dwarves and horses as blood flowed freely on the sands of the plain. Unhindered and unstoppable, Sauron rode through the slaughter, closing in steadily on the leaders of the armies. He steered his steed to the right of the centre, towards Elendil and Gil-Galad and away from Glorfindel of Gondolin. Ereinion he first engaged in battle, wrestling and swords clashing and dancing lethally, and yet neither one could gain dominance in the fight.

Horrified, Erestor watched them as he danced with his own enemy. He saw Glorfindel advance through the chaos, his sword directed at an exposed opening in Sauron’s armour. He saw Ereinion falter, his strength deserting him and he saw the Úlair behind Glorfindel raise his spear. Quickly he assessed the situation - he could save one but not both. To push Ereinion out of the way, laying himself open to the sword of Sauron even as Glorfindel’s sword ended the life of the dark lord or to throw himself at Glorfindel and take the spear that was about to sink deep in the golden one’s neck. He moved. He felt the jolt of the other’s body as he pushed him out of the way, the shock and surprise in the blue eyes even as he screamed with the pain as metal cut deep in his shoulder, close to the neck. He turned his head as he fell, seeing horror and grief in another pair of blue eyes. Then the black sword descended on the distracted king and the blue eyes glazed over in death. After that, his memories deserted him. Vaguely he recalled crawling over to the fallen body of his friend, lifting it up against him as well as he could, warm blood drenching him, his own and Ereinion’s, as he screamed and cried in pain and grief. His friend was dead.

Behind him Glorfindel fought, keeping enemies away from the fallen king and the injured elf and around them battle raged. Elendil faced Sauron and was cast aside, broken, with his sword shattering beneath him as he fell. The allied forces were weakening as Isildur found himself under attack. Losing his own weapon, he grasped the closest thing he could find and struck, desperately, at the Sauron with the shattered remains of his father’s sword. A piercing scream spread across the battlefield as the dark one fell, crumbling, in front of their eyes.

He awoke in darkness; the tent in which he lay was lit only by a dim lantern and the air around him smelled of blood and death. He pushed himself out of the bed, biting back a gasp of pain as he moved. Around him on beds lay many other injured, elves, men and dwarves brought in from the battlefield to heal or die. He pulled a blanket around himself and left, quietly. Slowly he took in his surroundings before proceeding to his own tent. To his surprise, a candle burned brightly as he entered.

"I thought you would find your way back here once you awoke." Elrond’s voice was tired and old. "Sauron is gone, but the One Ring remains. Isildur has left for Gondor, bringing it with him. We have lost many and of those I grieve Ereinion the most."

"The loss of the King was hard on us all; it must be harder for those that counted him a friend."

Elrond cast a glace at his advisor. "You were friends once Erestor - will you not grieve him?"

Erestor sank down on the bed in the room and forced himself to smile coldly. "A friend? I am afraid you overestimate my closeness to the King, Lord Elrond. Now if that is all, I wish to retire - it has been an exhausting day."

Elrond’s eyes darkened. "A friend I name him and a friend he was, to both of us. I can remember a time in Lindon, Erestor, where I thought you two were even closer than that."

Erestor closed his fists to stop his hands from shaking. "Never closer than that," he whispered hoarsely, the deep voice filled with pain and grief. "Never lovers. I failed him." He looked at Elrond, the dark eyes wide and lost. "He is dead."

Elrond ran a hand over his face, tiredly. "It was so quick," he said. "An instant and he was gone. We had to tear you away from him when the battle ended, for you refused to let go of him."

Erestor drew a ragged breath. "When are the Funeral Honours being held?"

Elrond lowered his gaze. "A week ago at dawn," he said quietly. "I am sorry."

Erestor closed his eyes, hiding pain and grief, and when he opened them again to look at his lord the dark eyes were calm and emotionless. "Yet life continues, my lord, and I fear I am in sore need of rest. Will you excuse me?"

For a moment he thought Elrond would refuse, but the Peredhel remained silent as he stepped back into the shadows and left.

Erestor wrapped his arms around his chest and tried to control the shivers that ran through his body. Dead. Ereinion was dead. He could have saved him; he could have ended it if he had gone for the King instead of Glorfindel. If Ereinion’s hand had been the one holding the One Ring, would he had found the strength to cast it into the fire? Would evil have left Middle-earth if he had chosen differently? His mind returned to the source of grief, Ereinion was dead. Once again he had failed one whom he cared for, whom he had almost thought himself to love.

Why had he chosen Glorfindel over Ereinion? And yet was that not what he had been doing since the golden warrior had returned to them, chosen Glorfindel’s presence over Ereinion’s? He hated himself for being unable to love, being unable to give Ereinion what he had needed; if he had would the King still breathe or would he still be dead? And still, in his heart he knew that Glorfindel’s death would have been as bad, worse, for he had already failed to protect the child of Alqualondë once; he could not bear to fail him again. Long he sat there, arms wrapped around his waist as he rocked slowly forwards and backwards, hating himself for his failures, for his inability to love, and finally he took another oath. Never to let another as close as he had Ereinion, never to show that he cared, never to let others care for him. He carried a curse in his blood; ill fate came to all those close to him and he would allow it no longer.

When morning came he was calm and controlled; all traces of pain and grief were hidden to the world as he moved through the camp, once again stepping into his place as Elrond’s chief counsellor. It took another week before the camp was broken and the living returned to their homes, fewer than the ones that had set out, bringing heartbreak and sorrow with them on their way home.

It took them six months to reach Rivendell, a road which should have take many months less had the number of injured been fewer, yet for all their care many died in the months that followed, their funeral arrangements and honourings held at the side of the road. Erestor remained in the middle of all that happened, calmly organising and keeping the march as organised as possible, rationing food and water in the long stretches of road where both ran thin, directing elves to care for the injured and others to cook and to guard. No sign of pain did he show from the wound that had almost killed him in battle, nor any trace of emotion for the suffering around him, or that left behind. Whispers ran through the camp; the beautiful elf was cold, they said. Heartless and cruel with no feelings or compassion for others, and so they stepped away from him, leaving him on his own. Elrond was too wrapped up in caring for the injured to notice the change of his friend and by the time the valley was reached they had all settled into their new roles.

Imladris was a blessing once they returned, the hidden valley blossoming in the warm spring as the scents of fresh herbs and clean woods greeted them. Celebrían, it seemed, had stepped into a high position, keeping the household running smoothly and keeping the supplies of healing herbs well stocked. Elrond she sent to bed as soon as she saw him, as she did with all those injured and with Glorfindel; Erestor she kept by her side as he showed no sign of exhaustion despite their hardships. He helped her to care for the injured, to delegate rooms to those who were weary, and through it all he hid his own pain and tiredness.

Night had fallen when his knees folded beneath him, his body weak and shivering. Celebrían’s arms steadied him as she led him to a chair by the window.

"You should have told me you were weary, Erestor. I could have asked someone else to help me."

He shook his head. "No," he mumbled. "I needed to do this." He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the back of the chair, too exhausted to hide his feelings.

Celebrían frowned at the pain that was painted over the pale face and suddenly reached out a hand, touching his brow. "You are injured as well, are you not?"

Too exhausted to hide his feelings he nodded, admitting to his weakness.

"Let me see." Her voice was firm and automatically he responded to the tone of command, removing his tunic. The wound in his shoulder was still bound, awkwardly, as he had done it himself. Wincing, he felt her pull the material lose from the wound and heard her gasp as what she found. He didn’t blame her. It had been reopened countless times by the strain of moving and on no occasion had it healed well before opening again; the flesh was hot and red to the touch and a sweet, sickly smell clung to it.

"You should have told me," she scolded, reaching for herbs and bandages, for hot water, as she began to cleanse the ugly wound on his back. "Why do you do this to yourself?"

He sighed and leaned forwards even more, presenting his back for her soft care. "I am not important," he said. "They all matter, I do not."

He felt a light slap across the back of his head. "You are important! Every life is important, Erestor." Her voice was annoyed.

He shook his head. "No," he said quietly, "not all lives are. The blood of Fëanor is cursed; it would be better if none of us remained."

Celebrían stiffened behind him. "They are all gone, Erestor; Celebrimbor was the last."

Tiredly, he smiled without turning his head, a bitter smile as the tale poured out of him, a tale only one had heard before now. "No, he was not. I was born in Tirion upon Tuna," he said. "Under the light of the trees did I draw my first breath, the unrecognized son of Fëanor."

The tale was long as he told it, soft, tired words or grief and sorrow, of pain and suffering and remembered smiles, while Celebrían tended to his back. He was not sure why he told her, the child of Celeborn, daughter of Galadriel, of a past he had tried to forget and which he hid from all others. Yet her quiet listening and caring touch soothed him as the words came. He fell asleep there, in the chair, when the words were gone, and awoke to find a blanket draped over him in the morning. His tale was not mentioned again, nor did Celebrían shun away from him, instead trying even further to involve him in the company of others. His smile was always polite, always friendly, but never was his conversation with anyone warm and heartfelt and never was anyone let close. Kind but distant, he was called, polite and remote, and all learnt to keep their distance and expect no closeness from Erestor of Imladris. Yet he kept the valley running, his sharp mind seeing though all shades of deceit and treachery and he was an invaluable asset to the household.

Years passed, Isildur fell and the shards of Narsil were brought to Imladris. Of the One Ring, no trace remained. Openly Elrond now wore the ring that Ereinion had left behind before the march to Mordor and Vilya, the mightiest of the three rings of the elves spread her grace across the hidden valley. Erestor often looked at the jewellery in disgust and yet he remained quiet, not wishing to bring up old stories of grief. The love between Elrond and Celebrían grew and a mere century into the Third age they finally bonded.

Erestor watched the ceremony in the garden from the window of his study. He smiled softly at the happy smiles on the beautiful faces as he recalled the twins in Sirion. He would have no children of his own and no family and yet, in his heart, he admitted to himself that Elrond and Elros had been more his sons than ever they had been the sons of Eärendil; he was the one that had raised them and seen them grow. He swallowed the sudden wave of emotions and sat down behind his desk again, carefully writing one of the letters that could have waited until morning as he listened to the laughter and music finding its way though the open window behind him.

The door opened and he schooled his face into its normal polite, calm expression as he met the eyes of Glorfindel.

"You should have been there, Erestor," the golden voice said coldly. "Despite what your objections to their bonding are, your place was by Elrond’s side this day."

Erestor met the blue eyes calmly, allowing a faint trace of disdain to enter his black eyes. "I have no objections to their bonding, Lord Glorfindel, yet when you all rejoice with dancing and wine there is work left to be done for tomorrow. I know my duties well."

Glorfindel’s eyes darkened in fury at the implication. "As I know mine." He turned to leave, pausing only momentarily before the door slammed shut behind him. "I also understand love and joy, Lord Erestor, something you, for all your knowledge, will never begin to comprehend.

" Erestor looked emptily at the closed door before leaning his head in his hands. "Perhaps you are right." Yet the feeling of discomfort and nausea that always followed the exchange of insults with Glorfindel spoke otherwise.

Peaceful years floated, the newly bonded couple shone with happiness and love, the borders were kept secure by the patrols of Glorfindel and the riches and graces of Imladris grew under the firm hand of Erestor. Many children were born in those days, days of peace and healing such as the elves had not known for long years and before long Celebrían gave birth to two strong boys, twins. The celebrations were long and happy as the heirs were greeted and named, in front of the elves in Imladris. Glorfindel knelt in the soft light of the fire, swearing fealty and protection to the newborn children. Erestor did not. No more would he swear an oath to protect, no more would he acknowledge to the Valar where his heart was given. Openly, he congratulated his Lord and Lady, calmly and coolly as always and to many his words seemed cold and emotionless.

In the dark of his chambers that night he sat with paper and pen, gently drawing a picture of two small heads, turned towards each other in sleep. He remember other children that night, children he had loved and failed to protect; he remembered the twins of Eärendil as they stumbled through the house, small and grubby as they delivered sloppy kisses and big hugs, and he knew he loved these children no less than those he had raised before.

Full of mischief and laughter the twins were as they grew; frogs were constantly found in drawers and chests, muddy footprints stained the floors only minutes after they had been cleaned and all things that could be broken were removed while they could still be saved. Erestor trained them from an early age in languages and history, in diplomacy and politics and in reading and writing; their physical training he left to Glorfindel. Elrond often commented with amusement on how the small terrors that were his sons were always mellow and well behaved around the stern councillor, yet no terror was ever seen in the eyes of the children as they happily spent time around the elf others considered cold and harsh. Erestor thawed around them, calmly drying tears when they cried, offering treats when they were hungry or had done well and never hesitating to discipline them if the need arose. At times, Elrond saw glimpses of the elf he had known himself when growing up and it gladdened him.

The twins grew quickly and were filled with questions and curiosity; if no answers were given to their questions, they researched the subject until they found out. As they neared their majority their minds were rarely at the lessons they were receiving - often did they look out the window as Erestor spoke to them, their gazes searching for Glorfindel. When their questions started turning towards intimate matters, Erestor gave them books to read and the acid advice that Glorfindel would be better suited to provide such answers. He did not think of how literal the young elves still were.

It was shortly after their majority when Erestor returned from a diplomatic mission to the Havens. Tiredly, he decided to give the twins their begetting day gifts before retiring to his own rooms and out of habit he opened the door without knocking.

His eyes widened as they fell upon the elves on the bed, Glorfindel splayed across the brocade cover with Elladan and Elrohir both kneeling over him, Glorfindel’s hard erection trapped between their mouths. Quickly, he stepped out and closed the door, leaning a hand against the wall as he tried to recover from the shock. Closing his eyes, he saw the golden body, gleaming in the soft light, writhing in pleasure. Erestor opened his eyes again and fled to the safety of his chambers, the vision of Glorfindel haunting him. He had not expected the twins to still their curiosity in such a way and yet it should not have surprised him. He was glad they had gone to Glorfindel, he told himself; the golden warrior adored them and would teach them with love. He swallowed and tried to ignore the hurt that had shot through him as he had seen whom they served, the jealousy as he realised that he wished he had been the one kneeling on the bed instead of them.

He laughed bitterly at himself as he was forced to admit that which Ereinion had seen; Glorfindel held his heart and had done so for many millennia. Shaken, he sank down by the balcony doors in his rooms as thoughts swirled through his head. No sleep found him that night, nor any of the following nights that week.

The twins were grown into their adult years when their sister was born, small and frail and beautiful. Her temperament reminded him of Idril, as did her beauty, although Idril had been golden where Arwen was dark. Undómiel, Evenstar, she was called for her grace and beauty and Galadriel likened her to Lúthien, with grief in her eyes. Yet no matter how much Celebrían pleaded, neither Galadriel nor Elrond would tell her what they had seen.

They were calm years for elves while wars raged in the kingdoms of men. The Istari came to Arda as the shadow reawakened and, yet again, councils were held to keep the shadow at bay, yet nothing alarming took place. A haven Imladris was, free from the ravaging of time and here, as in Lothlórien, many elves remained whereas their kin in other places of Arda sailed west. The Northern Kingdoms of men fell under the dark of the Witch King of Angmar. Under the Misty Mountains, Moria, the Kingdom of dwarves, fell into shadow and ruin and slowly evil was once again spreading slowly across the world.

Finally an attack against the Witch King of Angmar was planned and executed, under the King of Gondor and with the aid of a host of elves, sent from Imladris and the Grey Havens to support men against this evil. Glorfindel led the troops of Imladris to war and Erestor’s heart was troubled as he remained behind, unable to keep Glorfindel safe. Yet Glorfindel returned and the Lord of the Úlairi was forced to flee east, to Mordor. Yet shortly after, the King of Gondor was lost and the line of kings was broken; only in the rangers of the north did it remain and many of those descendants were raised and fostered in Imladris. The evil in Dol Guldur in Mirkwood grew and the fears grew that this evil was Sauron returned, yet no evidence could be gathered. The orcs and foul creatures of evil increased and often were the borders of Imladris under attack.

It was in those days that Celebrían once again expressed a wish to visit her mother and father in the Golden Wood. It had been well over two centuries since her last visit and Elrond’s love for her was high and he could deny her nothing so, despite the growing darkness of Arda, an escort was readied. Long were the discussions between Elrond and Glorfindel and between them and Erestor when the escort was drawn out of the troops of Imladris. Glorfindel wished to lead the party himself, guiding them to the safety of Lothlórien, but Elrond objected; Glorfindel he needed with him to train the guards of the valley and to protect her borders. Reluctantly Glorfindel gave in, on the condition that Erestor would lead the guards of Celebrían, for Erestor, he said, was the only one he would trust apart from himself or his Lord. Erestor had no wish to leave Imladris at the time but in the end he agreed, safe in the knowledge that neither Elrond nor Glorfindel would come to harm.

It was raining when they left, the autumn morning cold and dreary as the sun hid behind a thick veil of grey clouds. They rode for days, their horses strong and swift, without neither sight nor sound of any enemy until they reached the Redhorn Pass. Suddenly the orcs swarmed down around them, arrows burying themselves deeply in the chests of their horses and they were forced to fight. Desperately the guards of Imladris fought, backs turned inwards towards their lady as they formed a wall around her, yet the wall was broken as one after another fell and all went black.

It was cold when he awoke, cold and dark, and his body hurt. Once his eyes cleared, he saw the huddled shape of Celebrían lying against a wall not far from him. Worriedly he tried to move towards her, to check her for breathing and for injuries, yet he found himself unable to move, chains shackling him close to the wall, their shortness preventing him from standing.

"Celebrían?" His voice was hoarse and sore.

In relief, he saw her move at the sound of his voice, until she was sitting against the wall. Her face was paler than he liked yet he saw no obvious injury from where he sat. "Are you well, my Lady? Have they injured you?"

She shook her head. "They have not hurt me, Erestor, but I fear they will. The others are…" She swallowed. "The orcs were hungry," she finished quietly.

Erestor closed his eyes, his mind voicing a quiet prayer for those he had failed to keep safe.

"Erestor." She hesitated. "I heard them speak. They spared us, you and me, for our beauty." She shivered and wrapped her arms around her legs. "We will not survive this, will we?"

He had no time to answer before the door was opened; the light of a burning torch hurt his eyes, blinding him.

"Pretty pets." The voice was thick, guttural. "You will not be so pretty when we have finished playing, now will you, my pretties?"

"Do not touch me, orch!" Celebrían’s voice was cold and filled with hate.

As his stomach turned, Erestor realised that the speaker was close to his lady, and he lunged against the sound of breathing, feeling the chains cut deeply as they restrained him.

The speaker laughed turned. "Feisty one, aren’t you? Wild, dark – we’ll get some fun out of you, won’t we? Thought that knock on the head might have spoiled you, but it seems we’re lucky -you’ll do just fine." A hand stretched out and slapped him hard across the face. Erestor felt claws scratch lightly across his cheek before the back of his head hit the wall. The sickening crunching sound was familiar, as was the searing pain in his head that he should have noticed before now - another fracture of his skull, he suspected, and dizzily he wondered that any parts of his skull still remained whole. He heard Celebrían scream at their attacker and knew she would make the speaker turn on her if he did not interfere. Again Erestor tried to lunge at the orc in front of him, catching the creature unawares as his teeth dug deeply into the dirty skin. The taste of blood made him want to vomit, but he closed his eyes and dug his teeth deeper as the orc screeched in shock and pain. He felt blows land on his head and shoulders as the orc tried to dislodge the teeth in his flesh and soon others joined him, dragging Erestor back.

"Take him out. This one needs some taming!" The harsh, snarling voice was filled with anger and hatred. The chains were removed and claws dug deeply in his flesh as they dragged him out. He knew he had to try to keep them occupied and hoped that at least one of the guards had remained alive and that help was on the way. If he could keep the focus on himself they would leave Celebrían alone. So he fought them as well as he could when they bound him to a tree. He could smell the foul breath as the orc he had bitten leaned towards his ear. "I’m going to break you, pretty. You‘ll beg for death before I’m done with you"

Distantly, he was aware of the heat of the fire to his right and yet, despite the light which should have been there, he could not see. Whatever clothes he still wore were cut from him and involuntarily he jerked as the sharp leather hit his back, cutting deeply through his skin and flesh. Yet he bit his cheek and forced himself to remain quiet. He would not scream or beg, he promised himself; no matter what they did, he would not scream. He lost count of how many times the whip connected with his flesh, how many times cold steel caressed his wounds before digging deeper than the whip could, and how many times his body was burned by sticks or spears, heated in the fire. Yet he did not scream; his blood ran thickly in his mouth where he had broken the skin and he forced himself to swallow.

Finally he was cut down and fell heavily into the arms of the waiting orcs, and yet he still tried to struggle, tried to fight them. And he heard their hoarse laughter at his efforts. They took him back to Celebrían after that, chaining him to the wall again, his wounds unbound as they connected with the dirty floor. The door slammed closed as the orcs left them.

"Erestor?" Celebrían’s voice was weak and filled with tears. "Oh, by all the Valar, what have they done to you?"

He fought the shudders and cramps running through his body as he vomited. "What needed to be done," he said finally, his voice quiet and filled with pain. "This buys you time, my lady."

Celebrían tried to reach him, to offer comfort, but was too far away. The dark was filled with his laboured breathing and her quiet sobs as they waited for rescue. The dawn came and the orcs returned; once again Erestor brought their attention upon himself and once again he was dragged out and bound, his sore back against the tree this morning as they repeated the pattern of the previous day. Yet again he was quiet throughout the torment, and yet again he fought them when he was cut down. Some days he saw them clearly and others his vision failed him; his body burned with fever from infected wounds and poisoned cuts. Day after day the pattern repeated and he could feel himself weakening, and yet no rescue came.

One day they forced him to drink something that tasted as foul as it smelled. It burned as he swallowed it and he could feel his throat being cut by small sharp shards of something in the drink as the liquid worked its way into his body. His eyes snapped open and he saw the smirking faces in front of him. "That’ll break you if nothing else will." He was not sure which of them had spoken. "The poison and the shattered glass will kill you slowly, pet, but kill you they will." He spat in the face of the orc closest to him and the torment started again.

He was not sure how many days that had passed. It could have been the day after they forced him to drink the poison or it could have been a week - time had lost all meaning to him - when he finally broke. He could not remember what they did, but suddenly his whole being objected to it all and he screamed in pain. Shrieks of laughter reached his confused mind as the torment increased.

He woke up on the floor in the cell, unchained. His whole body hurt, his insides as badly as his outside. He forced his head to turn until his eyes found Celebrían. Something, he knew, was wrong. She was paler than he had ever seen her, yet a strange gleam shone in her blue eyes. As she turned to look at him he saw the cut on her neck, infection and poison making it glare angrily.

"What…?"

She remained quiet, staring at him with empty eyes.

"We need to leave," His voice sounded strangely detached as he spoke, as if it was someone else that spoke. "I will not live much longer and once I die, they will break you." He was not sure where he found the strength to move and yet he did, forcing himself to sit first and then to stand. When the door opened he turned towards it and lunged, hands wrapped around the neck of the orc until it went limp and slid to the floor. He took the knife that he orc had carried as he left. He cut the throat of the next one and soon more followed; on one he found the keys to the chains that had held him and Celebrian. Close to the fire, he found the clothes that had been stripped off the dead guards, good material too valuable to burn, and he picked up clothes for Celebrían and himself.

He made it back to the cell while his strength still held. His hands were shaking as he unlocked her chains and handed her the clothes he had found, her own were stained and bloodied. Exhausted, he sank down on the dirty floor once more. He had managed to free them from the chains but they were still trapped. He had little strength left and Celebrían showed no inclination to move on her own. Closing his eyes, he wondered if his attempt at freedom had truly been worth anything.

Gathering the remains of his mind around him, he turned his eyes to Celebrían. "My lady," he said, his voice raw and painful, "you must leave."

The empty blue eyes continued to stare at him, showing neither awareness nor understanding.

"Celebrían?"

Finally he gave up. He was too tired.

The orcs returned, those that remained alive. Once again he lost the keys that he had fought so hard to win and once again chains were wrapped around his wrists and ankles. He did not fight them. He had failed.

Sound of battle reached them the following morning. The heavy metallic clang of sword against sword and the heavy beating of hooves. Erestor listened dully; he was not sure, but he thought he could hear Elladan and Elrohir out there. Then again he did not trust his hearing enough to believe that help had finally come. After what seemed like a long time the battle ceased and there was silence. All he could hear was the sound of feet; no voices spoke to tell him of the outcome.

The door flew open and Erestor raised his head, wincing at the sharp light that entered the small cell. Tall, silent figures entered and he felt gentle hands unlock the metal that restrained him. A hand reached out to him, helping him to stand even as another was aiding Celebrían.

Suddenly he was aware that someone had spoken to him and he turned towards the voice, finally recognising Elladan in front of him.

"Erestor, are you injured?"

He turned towards the voice and shook his head quietly. "No," he answered, forcing his voice to sound strong and steady.

He would never be sure how they quickly they reached Imladris; the entire ride seemed unreal, as if it was happening to someone else, but he knew they rode hard and fast. Few words were spoken and he kept himself apart as much as was possible. He was broken, more than ever before he was broken, and he had failed.

Celebrían was brought to the Houses of Healing as they arrived, her condition weakened by the hard ride, and the household followed her with worried eyes. It was so easy for him to disappear among the crowd, into his own rooms. He knew where all the healing herbs were stored and so he brought some with him, pouring them into the hot water of his bath. He mixed other herbs in cold water for drinking, grateful for the soothing of his raw throat. Carefully he made it over to the bed, sinking down on the soft pillows even as sleep claimed him. Nightmares haunted him, tore him out of sleep, screaming; for what felt like hours he turned restlessly before he once again arose from bed. He pulled a heavy robe around himself and walked through the empty corridors until he came to the Houses of Healing.

Elrond looked up as he entered, pain and grief etched deeply into the grey eyes. "How are you, Erestor; any injuries?"

Erestor shook his head. "None worthy to speak of," he said calmly. "How is Lady Celebrían doing?"

Elrond ran a hand over his face. "Badly. I should be able to heal her wound and cleanse the poison but…her mind seems broken."

Erestor laid a hand on his lord’s shoulder. "Give her time to heal, my lord," he said quietly. "Give her time."

The Peredhel nodded and squeezed the hand on his shoulder gratefully. "I will."

Erestor flickered a smile at him and moved over to the cupboards, reaching for the herbs he needed. "It if strange," he said, feeling Elrond’s eyes on him. "I am exhausted and yet find myself unable to sleep."

Elrond’s eyes went back to his wife. "Take what you need," he said.

In the days that followed Imladris was quiet. Few of the daily chores were done, as all worried about Celebrían, and Elrond and his children neglected the administration that was needed to make the huge household run smoothly. Erestor kept to himself, sleeping as his wounds healed and infections slowly gave way. Only the poison and the broken glass still remained in him, working their way deeper into his bloodstream and those he was unable to drive out. He knew the orcs had spoken truthfully when he swallowed it, one day it would kill him. His headaches came more often in those days than they had ever done before, and often nausea and blindness accompanied them. Stubbornly, he fought the weakness of his own body; he had sworn an oath, to guard and to serve as long as he was needed, and now, with Elrond occupied by Celebrían’s illness, he was needed.

Less than a week after his return to Imladris he forced himself to return to his office and slowly he began to bring back order to their daily lives. Months passed, the first snow fell and covered the ground and Celebrían once again grew stronger and began to talk. Broken, Elrond had called her, and broken she was, cruel and bitter as she let no one close, scorning her husband and children and throwing their mortal blood against them as insults. Something had changed in the gentle lady and no matter how hard they tried, they were not able to erase her hatred to those who had once been closest to her.

Midwinter came and went - none of the usual celebrations were held and Imladris seemed cold and lonely. Galadriel and Celeborn came to Imladris and they, too, were scorned by their daughter. Only Celeborn could, at times, reach through and see a shadow of the young girl she had once been. Spring came, and Erestor still ran Imladris, as the family of Elrond was still struggling with Celebrían’s illness and rage. It was early summer when Elrond came into Erestor’s office, pale and drawn and thin.

"Celebrían will sail west," he said quietly. "Galadriel and Celeborn are taking her to the Havens tomorrow."

Erestor looked up from the letters he had been writing. "What happened?"

Elrond leaned forwards and hid his face in his hands. "She tried to kill me," he admitted. "Maybe in the west she will find healing."

Erestor set aside his quill and parchment and, for the first time in centuries, he wrapped his arms around Elrond, calming him and comforting him as a father would comfort his son. Gratefully, Elrond clung against him, finding comfort in Erestor’s quiet strength and presence.

Imladris was grieving; for over a year did the valley grieve the departure of their lady. Elrond grew more withdrawn and quiet; a shadow of grief lingered in his eyes and continued to do so throughout the centuries. Arwen stepped into the place as the Lady of the house, a quiet presence most of the time, only rarely agreeing to visit Lothlórien as travelling held no joy for her. In time however her love of Lothlórien grew and she spent many seasons with Celeborn and Galadriel. Elladan and Elrohir changed the most. Rarely did they spend time in Imladris; months and years were spent on the roads, with only themselves as company, or in the company of the Rangers of the North as they fought their own war against the shadow.

Yet slowly a balance was found and life returned to an image of normality as the years flew by. The kingdom of Rohan was founded by men and yet another kingdom of dwarves failed, crushed under the presence of one of the great dragons, in likelihood the last. The evil in Dol Guldur was confirmed to be Sauron returned and a council was held. Many were the voices that spoke for an attack and many were the voices that spoke against it. In the end, led by Saruman the White, the council decided against the war. Darkness grew across Arda and the elves waned; many were the ships sailing west and only in a few places of Arda could elves still be found. Rarely did the elves now have any exchange with men or dwarves, becoming solitary creatures, living in havens such as Imladris where time seemed to stand still, still recalling the days of greatness.

A hard winter passed them by, bringing Erestor memories of the Helcaraxë, but the months passed fast and spring returned. Estel, a boy of the Rangers, last heir to the line of Elros, was brought to Imladris and fostered by Elrond. He was brought up as Elladan and Elrohir had been a long time before, his training seen to by Erestor and Glorfindel. And when his questions turned to intimate matters, Erestor gave him books to read and told him to bring whatever other questions he might have to Elrond, for as a father those questions were his to answer.

An attack was planned against the evil in Dol Guldur and Sauron was forced to flee east. The dragon in Erebor was slain and the kingdom of dwarves restored. But something moved in Arda, a quiet whisper of power, a change again in sea and land. In Mordor, Sauron openly declared himself and once again Orodruin burst into flame.

In Imladris the events of the world were followed closely, even as one of the chapters of the tale that was to come found its start in the peaceful valley; for here it was that Arwen met the mortal man which brought her fate upon her. The daughter of Elrond betrothed herself to Estel, the last son of Elros’ line, and it was with both joy and grief that those around them greeted the announcement.

Of the years that later were to come not much need be said, for small was the part of the elves of Imladris in the bigger events of the world. War came to Arda with the resurfacing of the One Ring and, on the borders of the valley, enemies once again set their forces, yet the biggest battle of those days was fought by two periannath on the way to Mordor.

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


Dawn crept into the room as silence fell. Tears had painted silvery lines on many of the faces in the room as the spell had drawn them in. It was all told now, all laid bare and open. Glorfindel blinked the dryness out of his eyes as thoughts tumbled in his head. His heart ached for Erestor’s suffering and he renewed his curses against parents that had left their son with nothing but a feeling of guilt that was about to kill him. He buried his hand deeper in the raven hair and felt Erestor’s cheek rub against his knee as the head limply fell forwards. Glorfindel’s soul froze.

"Erestor?"

The sound of his voice made the others jerk and turn towards them. Carefully supporting Erestor, he slid down on the floor at the same time as Elrond reached them. Glorfindel gathered the limp body in his arms and stared in horror as the raven head tilted over his arm, revealing black eyes staring emptily at the ceiling.

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