The large room lay dark and quiet in the cool autumn evening. Empty, where there had once been life and warmth, laugher and friendship. Erestor sighed as he doused the fire he had lit that morning to chase the damp from the deserted study. Less than a month had passed and yet the valley felt different.
The heavy desk stood abandoned, untouched by books or papers, as the quills rested in their racks, a fine layer of dust on the elegant feathers. He traced his fingers over the wood, remembering councils and letters, maps and war-plans and treaties of peace resting on the smooth surface. It already felt so distant, like a past long gone.
Strong, muscular arms wound themselves around his waist and he leaned back, accepting the comfort that Glorfindel offered him.
"You miss him." The golden voice was calm and Erestor shivered from the warm breath against his ear.
"Yes," he admitted. "I do. He was… is…the son I never had. I raised him and stood by him his whole life, until now. I hope he will find her waiting."
Glorfindel nodded against Erestor’s back. "As do I. It will be good to see them again when the time comes."
Erestor smiled sadly at Glorfindel’s words, lifting one of the calloused hands to his mouth. He gave it a light kiss before he stepped out of the embrace, walking to the door before he turned around again, casting another glance around the deserted room. "Are you coming?"
Celeborn's hand rested on his horse's shoulder as he caressed the smooth, black coat. The horse had been a gift from Galadriel some years earlier, the mate to her own and now both of them, he and the stallion, were alone - their beloveds gone. He smiled wryly to himself as he swung up on the horse; at least he would see Galadriel again when his time came to sail. Behind him Erestor and Glorfindel were still talking, pleading with him. He smiled slightly at them as they tried to convince him to stay, his eyes old and tired as he shook his head. "I need to return to my people," he answered Glorfindel yet again. "For some time more I belong to Lothlórien." To the land they had both loved, where memories of his wife would cling to every tree. He ached from the loss, ached from the prospect of years stretching for a century or more in the lonely woods that had already started to fade.
"Celeborn…" Glorfindel’s voice was pleading as he tried to find words. "Lothlórien will not be the same now; see what has happened to Imladris since Elrond left."
He shook his head again, his smile growing more strained. "Yet I have to, Glorfindel. I cannot desert them yet. My duty lies in the woods."
Glorfindel opened his mouth to protest again but the soft touch of Erestor's hand kept him silent as Erestor and Celeborn regarded each other in silence. Finally Erestor nodded thoughtfully. "You will always be welcome here, My Lord, whenever Lothlórien turns cold."
"I know," he answered. "And that thought gives me comfort. Give my love to my grandsons when they return from Minas Tirith?"
"Of course, My Lord."
Nodding to his friends one more time, he whispered to his horse, urging him to move into a smooth gait. Loneliness shone from the tall elf that made his way out of the valley, his strong shoulders slumped with grief.
Glorfindel looked at the sleeping beauty beside him. Long years had passed since Elrond had left. Years of shared love, and still his heart cried. Daily Erestor used the medications that Elrond had left behind as the headaches and poison dug deeper into the slim body. The fading had slowed and yet Erestor had not regained all of the strength that he had lost two decennia ago, long days leaving him worn and tired.
He ran his hand over the raven hair, smiling as the silken threads flowed through his fingers. Erestor’s beauty never ceased to take his breath away and each time he looked at Erestor his love deepened.
Lovingly he ran his fingers over the velvet skin and the black eyes slowly blinked and focused as Erestor awoke, stretching with a small moan before he turned his head, a soft smile lighting up his face.
"Good morning." Glorfindel’s tenor was husky as he bent down, giving Erestor a light kiss.
Erestor moved fluidly, dragging Glorfindel on top of him and rolling until the blond was pinned against the mattress. Soft lips teased against Glorfindel’s, feather light and fleeting.
Glorfindel shifted beneath him, wrapping his legs around Erestor’s hips as his head tilted backwards. A tongue slid into his mouth, rubbing against his as they kissed slowly and sensually. There was no battle of dominance as Glorfindel gave freely, wrapping his tongue around Erestor’s as they tasted each other, gently, lovingly.
The heavy body above him was hard and sleek as always, silk skin hot from arousal, and the comfortable weight pressing against his chest, stomach, against his erection, made him harden even further as his breathing deepened. He was trapped, pinned under hot flesh and arousal and he heard himself whimper in need.
Erestor’s mouth left his, sliding across his flesh, along his ear, and neck and his skin broke out in goosebumps from the delicate sensations. He wrapped a hand in the heavy silken hair, pressing Erestor’s head closer to his ear and neck as he shivered in anticipation. Long years had taught him how Erestor’s mouth had the ability to drive him insane.
Erestor smiled against the smooth neck before he turned his head, catching Glorfindel’s mouth in another deep kiss as the long fingers started moving over hard muscles.
Glorfindel gasped into his lover’s mouth, wrapping his legs around Erestor’s waist, pulling him closer.
Erestor broke the kiss and lowered his head, dragging his lips over the smooth skin of the jaw and throat, gently wrapping his teeth around Glorfindel’s windpipe in a soft bite before he moved lower, lightly caressing collarbones and hard muscles in the chest before he nipped at a nipple, lightly, teasingly, before taking it into his mouth.
Glorfindel moaned deeply at the gentle suction, his hands trying to force Erestor closer, to increase the pressure, but instead the raven head moved away, kissing the other nipple before travelling down.
"Erestor." His voice sounded faint, breathless even to his own ears. "Do not tease, not now…"
His lover raised his head and smiled slowly as he reached for the oil on the bedside table, covering his hands in the shimmering liquid as he kissed him, lovingly.
Long fingers found their way into his body and Glorfindel arched, trying to take more into himself, trying to angle the slender fingers against his prostate and whimpering when he did. Soon the fingers were removed and Erestor pressed into him, slowly, gently, as he caught Glorfindel’s lips and tongue in a deep kiss and started to move.
Long, slow thrusts caressed him from the inside, maddening in their slowness as his need built and yet he did nothing to quicken the pace, revelling in the lovemaking that threatened to break his mind with its slow intensity. Deep kisses drugged his mind as eventually, after what seemed to be an eternity of pleasure, his lover increased the speed and thrusts, sending them both spinning as they gasped and shuddered. Close, so close.
He dragged Erestor’s head down for another kiss, thrusting his tongue deep in the other’s mouth as he whimpered, spending himself between them, his pleasure prolonged as the hard, creamy jets of his lover’s semen hit his insides.
Panting, he wrapped his arms around Erestor, holding him closely, tightly, pressing small kisses against the dark hair. Slowly, their breathing calmed and they lay with their arms wrapped around each other, exchanging small caresses and light kisses filled with love.
"I love you," Glorfindel mumbled into the midnight tresses. "Bond with me?"
Above him Erestor’s body tensed before he shifted, lying beside Glorfindel on the bed. "I love you too," he said finally, "more than anything I do love you, but I will not bond."
Glorfindel sighed and closed his eyes, regretting the question. He knew what Erestor felt for him, of that he had no doubt. Yet despite that, he had known Erestor’s answer even before the question had been asked.
The silence stretched and Erestor sat up, wrapping his arms around his knees as his head fell forwards. The pale body gleamed in the faint light, his scars shimmering like silver. "I am sorry," he whispered, "but I cannot."
"I know," Glorfindel admitted, watching his lover. "I do not understand your reluctance but I did know your answer." He wrapped his arms around Erestor’s shivering body. "Always know that I love you." He pressed a kiss on Erestor’s neck.
"I know." Erestor’s voice was sad, tired. "I know."
Celeborn rubbed his eyes tiredly. The leaves were falling in the cold autumn air; once there had been a time when the leaves of Lothlórien rarely fell and never in winter, but that time had long passed. The trees dwindled and faded with the season as the air cooled and time moved in quickly to ravish the untouched beauty of a time long gone in all other parts of Arda. A queen among woods, slowly decaying with age and change, cruel lines of years etching themselves in deeper and deeper. Slow years had gone by since Galadriel left and the loneliness in his heart had grown each day. It was the little things he missed the most, her light laughter, a smile filled with love and the glittering of blue eyes as her hand stroked his cheek.
He took a deep, shuddering breath as he fought for composure. So many years had passed and he still lingered in the forest that had once been a home. These days the trees left him cold, frozen, as he looked at their fading beauty. One last time he traced his fingers the window, caressing the cool glass that separated him from the woods that he had loved, the tall trees reminding him of his youth.
He left the room behind him, closing the door on centuries of memories both sad and happy, as he made his way to the courtyard. For a moment he almost thought he heard Galadriel’s rich alto call out of him, Celebrían’s silvery laughter, and he bit his lip, tears clinging to his lashes at the memories. Already his horse was waiting for him. He gave his seneschal a quick embrace, a friend since Doriath who had chosen to stay. A last farewell before he left Caras Galadhon. He would not return.
Celeborn saw Erestor waiting in the courtyard as he arrived. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the tall elf thoughtfully before embracing him. When he had left years earlier Erestor had been recovering well, but now he saw signs of pain around the dark eyes and he was thinner than he had once been. He hid his concerns behind a smile as he broke away from the embrace.
"I hope there is room for me in Imladris," he said with a small smile. "Lothlórien has faded and I wish to spend time with my grandsons."
Erestor smiled warmly. "There is always room for you here, My Lord. The twins are expected back any day now; they have spent a year with Arwen in Minas Tirith."
Celeborn nodded as he followed the tall elf into the house. "And how are Estel and Arwen?" he asked, trusting Erestor to know the truth despite what warm assurances of health told him.
Erestor stopped briefly, a small sigh escaping him. "Estel is growing old," he answered quietly. "There will not be many more years now."
"And the twins?"
Sorrow flickered through the black eyes. "Not much longer, once Arwen is gone," the deep voice whispered. "The house of Elrond is failing fast." He fell quiet at the sound of someone approaching. A sudden smile lit up the beautiful face as he his eyes fell on Glorfindel appearing around a corner.
The muscular blond stopped, staring at Celeborn before he laughed joyfully and dragged him into a firm hug. "Celeborn! It is wonderful to see you, old friend. Are you staying?"
Celeborn laughed at the enthusiastic greeting, his heart feeling lighter at the companionship of good friends. "Yes," he answered with a warm smile, "I am staying."
"Glorfindel, would you see Lord Celeborn to his chambers please? I will notify the kitchen and ensure that food is sent up."
Glorfindel’s smile softened as he wrapped a hand in Erestor’s raven hair, tugging his head down for a loving, slow kiss.
Amusedly Celeborn watched then, darkness and light entwined in a tender kiss, beautiful and unashamed of their love. A slight tug at his heart reminded him of his own loneliness but he pushed it away, smiling slightly at the picture of love.
Finally they broke the kiss, reluctantly, and Erestor ran his fingers lightly over Glorfindel’s cheek.
"Of course I will, Erestor," Glorfindel answered as he stepped away.
Erestor gave them both another smile as he moved away, gracefully. Glorfindel’s eyes followed him with affection.
"How is he?" Celeborn’s voice was soft.
Glorfindel’s smile faded, the blue eyes darkened. "Not well," he said quietly. "But he will not admit it."
Celeborn looked at his grandson by the window. His back was still tall, his shoulders still strong, even if silver had started finding its way into the dark masses. He still dressed as an elf, still braided his hair as the Quendi - they both did.
"Do you never wonder?" he said, watching the one who now seemed older than himself.
Elladan shook his head. "No," he answered quietly. "I never regretted my choice; for me there was no other. It still does not make it easier…" He fell silent and stared out the window again. "I do not fear death," he said finally, turning to his grandfather. "Not for myself, but to see Elrohir age, to see his strength fade as his hair grows grey, that I fear - that hurts." He ran a hand over his face tiredly. "To wake each morning, afraid that he will have gone in the night, unable to cling to his strength, the fear that he will cling too long and become feeble… No, I never regretted my choice, but I daily regret his."
He turned then, smiling bitterly at his grandfather. "Does that answer your question?"
Celeborn closed his eyes, unable to find words as he felt Elladan walk past him and heard the door close.
Imladris faded as Lothlórien, scars of cruel winds and winters finding their way into the trees and houses of the valley. No longer could it be called a haven from time; instead it was a memory of a time lost, a mausoleum of a race whose memories ran longer, whose deeds of glory shone brighter and whose pride was wilder than that of men.
There was silver in the dark hair. More silver than black, and their faces were no longer ageless; the children of the Quendi had been replaced by aged men. The news that had arrived from Gondor that morning had ripped apart the last pretences of years being gentle. The king was dead and the queen had gone. Estel and Undómiel had faded and gone, passed out of time and, all too soon, out of memory of the Edain, with their short lives and remembrances.
Dusk had crept into the room unseen, unnoticed, lengthening the shadows around the ones who sat unmoving, grieving. Tears streaked most faces in the room, painting silver patters over ivory cheeks; Celeborn and Glorfindel wept openly, as did Elladan and Elrohir. Erestor did not - the pain in his eyes was deep and harsh and dark as he mourned in silence - Arwen was lost.
The brothers sat in the windowsill, arms wrapped hard around each other as their bodies shook in mourning for their younger sister. The silence around them was heavy; there were no words to ease the grief this time.
The shadows grew and lengthened in the silence and no one moved to break it, no hand rising to light a candle or start a fire.
It was almost dawn when Elladan rose and quietly left the room, followed by his brother.
"The grace of Arda is gone." Elladan stood by the windows in their bedchamber, the rich silver of his hair glittering in the moonlight as he stared at the star that was his grandfather. "Our time is over."
He felt Elrohir’s tears against his back as his brother wrapped his arms around the elder’s waist, burying his face against the strong back. So they remained for a while, sharing comfort and strength between them. Then he turned in the embrace, and they stood face to face, chest to chest, and gently caught his brother’s lips with his own. There was no need for words as their bodies spoke for them, whispers of centuries of love and passion as they came together.
After their passion was spent they lay quietly, holding each other as their hearts and souls calmed. Quietly they arose, shortly before the dawn kissed the sky, and cleaned their bodies, tidied their chambers and dressed in their best robes. They lay down in silence. Elladan gathered Elrohir close, the raven and silver head resting on his shoulder as they held on to each other.
"Together," he whispered and kissed his brother again.
"Together," Elrohir’s voice answered.
Erestor frowned at he knocked on the door, close to noon. "Elladan?"
There was no answer. His frown deepened as he warily opened the door and walked through the quiet rooms.
"Elrohir?" he called again, hesitantly edging the last door open. The sun shone through the tall windows, framed by the heavy curtains as it fell over the bed, illuminating the brothers. They rested upon the covers, wrapped tightly around each other, still and quiet, inseparable and as beautiful in death as they had been in life.
His heart shattered as he saw them, staring in horror as his world fell away. They were lost. Numbly he turned, clumsily, awkwardly, and left the room. He needed to find Glorfindel, Glorfindel would know what to do.
He stumbled through the corridors on his way back to their rooms as sluggish whispers reminded him what he had just seen; it was all over, all done.
Glorfindel looked up when he heard the doors to the outer chamber open and smiled as he heard the footsteps nearing. Only one elf was tall enough to have that rhythm to his steps, a comforting thud as each foot hit the floor.
"Did you find them?" he called quietly and looked up from the papers he had been shuffling through, frowning at the silence that met his question. "Erestor?" He left the study and froze when his eyes fell on the tall elf standing in the middle of the floor, his dark eyes large and unfocused, lost as they settled on Glorfindel. The pain and grief showed openly in the drawn face as tears ran down cheeks that had lost all colour.
"Erestor?" His voice was worried and a slight panic crept into it when he looked more closely at his lover. Glorfindel crossed the room and grabbed Erestor around the shoulders, shaking him until the black eyes met his own, lost and confused. "Erestor?"
Raven lashes fluttered as Erestor blinked. "They are gone," he said hollowly.
"What do you mean they are gone, Erestor?" Glorfindel’s voice was frustrated, worried as his mind refused to accept what Erestor was telling him. "Who are gone?"
Erestor met his eyes. "Elladan… Elrohir…we lost them." His deep voice was empty, disbelieving.
The strong hands on Erestor’s shoulders slipped as Glorfindel paled, the shock and grief showing openly on his face. "No… sweet Valar, no…"
Erestor dragged his shaking hands through his hair as he sank to the floor, crying.
Glorfindel swallowed hard and sat beside him, wrapping his arms around Erestor and holding him close as they both grieved.
The funeral honourings were over and winter had passed. The children of Elrond were no more and the first raw grief had settled into resigned sorrow in the months since their passing.
Celeborn knocked on the door to what had once been Erestor’s chambers, long before Glorfindel had joined him. A faint answer prompted him to enter and he opened the door. The warmth of the rooms made him smile faintly: subtle colours and treasured gifts brought life to rooms that had once seemed bare and empty and the paintings on the wall were exquisite captions of elven life and history, drawn in Erestor’s loving hand.
He found them in the sitting room, the balcony doors flung open to the gentle spring breeze. Glorfindel was splayed over a great armchair that matched no other piece of furniture in the room, his muscular legs flung nonchalantly over the armrest as he held a book in one hand and a goblet of wine in the other. Erestor sat with his back against the doorframe, paints, parchment and coal surrounding him as he drew.
His heart sank at the quick glance Erestor cast him; for over a century he had feared this day, ever since Galadriel left.
"I am leaving for the Havens in two weeks," he said quietly. "The time has come for me to join Galadriel."
Glorfindel looked up from his book, joy lighting his face. "Two weeks? Yes, we should be able to pack whatever we wish to bring and be ready to leave in that time. It will be good to go home at last."
Erestor stood quietly, putting away his paints and brushes with slow careful movements.
Glorfindel smiled widely as he bounced up from the chair, his smile fading as his eyes fell on his lover’s stiff back. "Erestor? We are going home." The tenor was hesitant, unsure.
Slowly Erestor turned, his eyes haunted - the time had come. "I will follow you to the Havens," he said, his voice hoarse, choked, "but I will not sail."