"I will follow you to the Havens," he said, his voice hoarse, choked, "but I will not sail."
Carefully, Glorfindel placed his goblet on the small table with slow, deliberate movements, before he turned to his lover. "What?" His voice was no more than a whisper, disbelieving.
"I will not sail," Erestor said again, his voice quiet. "I told you a long time ago, my love, that I will not sail. I will not return to the white shores. Never again."
Erestor shook his head and reached out, placing his fingers lightly over Glorfindel’s lips. "I will not," he said gently, "but you will."
Glorfindel backed away, his sapphire eyes filled with horror. "No," he said, "if you stay then so will I."
Erestor shook his head again, sadly, as he looked at the elf that had been his lover for over a century. "No," he whispered. "You will go. Aman has called you for almost ten years and I can already see your light fading before my eyes. You will
go, Glorfindel, because I ask you… I… I need to know that you live."
Celeborn shifted uncomfortably, wishing to leave them but unwilling to draw attention to himself, and yet his movement caused Glorfindel to turn. Blue eyes filled with horror and fear stared at him before the golden one moved, leaving the room and slamming the door behind him.
"Celeborn," Erestor’s voice was soft, pleading. "Make sure he stays with you."
He nodded reluctantly, looking at the ancient elf he had counted as a friend for centuries. "I will," he promised, "but you should come with us."
Erestor laughed, a strange, wild, choked sound as he turned haunted, hurting eyes to Celeborn. "You always knew I would not," he said.
With a sigh the silver head nodded. "Yes," he admitted. "I always knew."
Erestor leaned tiredly against the wall, swallowing down the metallic taste of blood that once again flooded his mouth. He had searched for Glorfindel for two days but his lover was gone. Wearily he sank down against the wall, leaning his head on his knees. He was not ready for this, not yet.
The bedroom door opened quietly and he looked up, forgetting how to breathe as his eyes fell on the golden hair, gleaming in the moonlight.
"Will you come with me?" Glorfindel’s voice was as tired as he felt and he shook his head numbly.
"No," he whispered in reply. "I cannot."
"Erestor, please!" Glorfindel’s voice was desperate, pleading.
Erestor sighed and forced himself to stand, hiding his pain and illness from his lover as he walked past him into the bedroom. "I am sorry," he replied with forced calm. "I will not. I told you this before we became lovers, Glorfindel. I will not go back."
Glorfindel’s eyes glittered with anger as he turned, watching Erestor. In a stony silence he undressed and went to bed, his back turned to Erestor as he lay as far away as he could.
The silence between them was heavy.
"So you will stay?" Glorfindel’s voice was cold and hard.
Erestor closed his eyes, leaning his head against the cold glass of the window. A week had passed, a week of arguments and disagreements regarding the choice he had taken.
He did not blame Glorfindel’s anger but he admitted to himself that it hurt. "Yes," he said tiredly. "That is my choice, to stay once you have sailed."
Glorfindel spun towards him, eyes blazing in fury. "And me? Did you ever consider me in all this or do I not matter enough to you?"
Erestor’s eyes flew open in shock as he stared at his lover. "If not for you," he said very quietly, "I would have found my peace a century ago." He laughed tiredly, bitterly. "I have given you as much of myself as I can, Glorfindel."
Behind him the lid to another chest of clothing slammed shut, the loud bang of wood on wood crackling through the air and Erestor's shoulders sagged as he turned back to the window, the cold glass reassuring beneath his forehead.
"Erestor, please." Desperation and pleading found its way through the anger.
Tears burned behind his eyes as he shook his head; the begging was harder to bear than the fury, making his heart ache more than it already did. "I cannot," he whispered.
Slowly their belongings were packed into chests and boxes. Erestor packed his possessions in silence, lovingly wrapping up each painting. Only one did he leave in its place, a large painting over their bed of Glorfindel naked, his body tensed and arched in arousal. Erestor reached out, tracing the painting with light fingers. He had drawn this, out of memory, in the year before Elrond left, after his memory brought back the picture of the blond elf and the twins.
He let his hand fall with a small sigh, wondering what to do with the drawing. He did not have the heart to send it with Glorfindel but still, he would not have much use of it once his lover sailed. The room around him was dark, only one candle lit the shadows around him, a last light in the night. The hour was late but Glorfindel had not returned to the rooms they shared and Erestor knew that he would not, not until he was asleep. A week had passed, a week of arguments and of silence. His heart was heavy when he extinguished the candle and sat at the window, waiting.
The door opened hours later and yet he did not move, saying nothing as Glorfindel undressed in the dark.
"I cannot do this," he said quietly. "You need to make a choice, Glorfindel, to leave me now or to give me these last days with you."
Glorfindel turned slowly, his hair silver in the faint light as he looked quietly at Erestor. "Do you think this easy for me?" he asked finally, sinking down on the bed. "To know that my love is not enough for you?"
Erestor laughed bitterly, his black eyes sliding shut, hiding his own hurt. "No," he said, "I know that it is not, but we all make our choices, Glorfindel, and this is mine. This was my choice long before this love came to us."
Quietly Glorfindel stood, rubbing his hand over his face as he crossed the floor. He sank down beside Erestor, burying his face in his lover's lap. Strong, soft hands stroked over his head, soothing caresses filled with love.
Silently, they sat unmoving as the night passed.
The ride to the Havens was slow and yet the days and nights passed too quickly, the silence growing the nearer they came to the home of Círdan. Behind them, Imladris lay quiet and empty, the remaining elves of Elrond's house travelling with them, their love for these lands faded by grief. The first sheer green of spring had settled into early summer; warm, balmy nights filled with a melancholy of what was passed. The open sea greeted them as they came down the hills, wide and glittering in the sunshine, a faint scent of salt clinging to the air. Erestor's and Glorfindel's eyes met over the talking and excitement of the others, grief binding them together in silence over the bustle around them.
Their rooms were warm and friendly and a fire danced upon the hearth, giving the simple rooms a welcoming feel. They ate their evening meal in silence, the awareness that the ships sailed in the morning lying heavy between them.
Erestor stood by the window, looking out over the sea as the shadows fell and lengthened.
"Please," Glorfindel said, breaking the silence. His voice was pleading as he looked at his lover. "Erestor, please. I cannot lose you."
Erestor turned, tiredly, his back eyes meeting Glorfindel's. "I cannot," he whispered, his voice almost inaudible. "I am sorry."
Wordlessly Glorfindel went to him, wrapping his arms around Erestor and holding him hard, their hearts beating against each other. "Bond with me," he mumbled against the ivory neck, remembering the last time he had asked, decennia ago. He tightened his arms as Erestor stiffened against him.
"Bond with me," he repeated, his voice firm.
"No," Erestor said harshly. "Glorfindel, if we were to bond you would never be able take another. I want more for you than that."
Glorfindel looked into the dark eyes. "I will never take another," he said honestly. "I will always hope that you will return to me."
Erestor closed his eyes, struggling with tears of love and pain. "You do not understand," he said roughly. "Once you sail..." He felt a calloused hand caress his cheek, tenderly.
"What makes you think I do not understand?" Glorfindel asked, the golden voice raw with grief. "You intend to die. I know you, Erestor."
Erestor shuddered and turned his face into the hand on his cheek, pressing his lips against the palm.
"I need to know," Glorfindel said quietly. "I need to know when you die and when you return."
Tears clung to the black lashes as Erestor remained quiet.
"Bond with me," Glorfindel asked again. "For me?"
Desperately Erestor pulled him closer, crushing his mouth against Glorfindel's. "I give you my heart and soul," he whispered as his hands tangled in the golden hair. "All that I am, and if I ever play you false may the Valar forsake me and cast me into darkness. I call Manwë and Varda to witness, in the name of Ilúvatar." Shaking, he clung to Glorfindel, tears streaking his face for what they were doing, for what he would lose.
The blue eyes widened at the whispered oath, the hand on Erestor's cheek trembling. "My heart and body are yours. May Varda and Manwë witness our bond," he whispered, his own oath weak and pale in comparison to Erestor's.
Their desperate kisses were hungry, wild, as hands tore at clothing, nails scraping against skin as Glorfindel backed them both against the table.
Erestor struggled out of his clothing and bent forward, bracing himself against the hard wood. "Now," he said, his voice raw.
Glorfindel's hands shook as he wrapped one hand in the midnight hair, the other slowly dragging across Erestor's lean back.
Erestor arched his back against the hand, moaning, shivering at the firm touch. A tongue joined the fingers on his back, teasing, making him whimper, already close to completion.
A slow smile spread over Glorfindel's face at the soft sound, dragging his fingers over Erestor's back again, delighting in the shiver that ran through the other, knowing how a simple touch on Erestor's back was enough to leave him shaking with need. He slowed his caresses as his hands found the pale buttocks, running his hands over the firm muscles. Beneath him Erestor's body jerked against the hard table.
"Please," Erestor panted, feeling his erection throb against the wood. "Close..."
Mercilessly Glorfindel's mouth joined the hands, tongue and teeth caressing ivory skin, as he pressed Erestor hard against the table.
The pressure against his erection, pressed down hard by Glorfindel's hands, proved too much and his hips thrust wildly as he spent himself on the smooth surface beneath him, panting, gasping for breath.
Glorfindel smiled and tightened his hold on the slim hips as he suddenly plunged his tongue into Erestor's body. The gasp of his lover made him thrust deeper, tasting, exploring Erestor fully. He used all his strength to hold Erestor still, to prevent him from pulling away as Erestor's oversenstised flesh rubbed against the wood, slickened by his own seed. Glorfindel brought his hand up slowly, inching a finger in alongside his tongue, twisting until he could press down firmly against Erestor's prostate. The body beneath him jerked as Erestor whimpered, groaned. Glorfindel rubbed slow circles inside his lover until he could hear Erestor's breathing change, once again becoming quick and heavy. Only when Erestor began to push back against him did he pull his face away, burying three fingers in the tight channel.
Erestor's body moved in waves as he thrust back rhythmically, riding the fingers inside him as he panted in need. "Valar... please... take me..." His body slid against the table, slick with sweat and seed. He was shaking; breathing hurt as he tried to suck enough air into his lungs, his head spinning. "Nononono..." His protest was almost a sob as Glorfindel's fingers left him suddenly, leaving him empty. His fingers grasped the edge of the table, clinging on to it as if it was a lifeline. He felt Glorfindel's nails teasingly trail over his spine and he whimpered needily, feeling his body tightening again. The blunt head of his lover's erection pressed into him, breaching him slowly, too slowly He tried to thrust back, to bury the hot length deep inside himself, but Glorfindel's hands on his hips prevented him from moving. Slowly, Glorfindel slid into him, unhurried, leaving Erestor panting desperately. He could feel the slick head, the thick throbbing vein, every inch of velvet skin, caressing his insides and he moaned deliriously.
Glorfindel paused once he was buried to the hilt, struggling with his urge to take his pleasure quickly; he wanted this to last. If this night was to be their last, he wanted the memory to linger. Erestor clenched around him, making him shudder, and he pulled out until only the tip of his erection was still inside his lover. Beneath him Erestor shuddered continuously, trying to take himself, trying to rub against the table, desperate for orgasm.
Glorfindel dragged Erestor's hips towards him until they slid off the table, leaving Erestor's upper body resting on the hard surface, all friction against his throbbing erection gone. Glorfindel thrust deep again, rolling his hips in tiny circles, constantly rubbing Erestor's prostate. Erestor's panting grew rough, raw, sounding more like sobs as the shudders running through him increased. Glorfindel swallowed hard and pulled out completely, forcing a keening wail of protest from Erestor. Panting, he bent forward over the lean back, biting Erestor's ear. "Will you miss me, Erestor?" he whispered hoarsely. "Will you miss this?"
Erestor moaned, struggling to breathe.
"Tell me," he whispered again, nipping at the ear, "or I will leave you like this."
"YES!" Erestor's deep voice was desperate, thick.
He bit down on Erestor's neck as he thrust hard, setting a fast, punishing pace, purposefully angling his thrusts away from the sensitive gland inside his lover. The moans and whimpers changed to soft cries, rising in volume and urgency as Glorfindel pounded into Erestor's tight body. He felt his body tightening, his sack creeping closer to his erection and he changed the angle, thrusting hard against Erestor's prostate.
Erestor jerked frantically, the dark elf convulsing as he screamed; his seed pumped violently as he exploded.
The hard squeezing of Erestor's body drew Glorfindel's orgasm and he thrust deep, brutally, as he spilled himself inside his lover.
They slid down on to the floor, gasping, struggling for air and to still their hearts.
Once Glorfindel finally became aware of himself again he felt the change. There was a... tightness in his mind, a presence not of himself but of his lover. Nothing more - no shared mind, no shared thoughts. The bond had been completed.
Glorfindel slept. His body was a pale gold in the moonlight, his face peaceful and all of him utterly beautiful, perfect. Erestor's fingers ached to touch him, to caress his hair, his skin, but he did not. He had no wish to wake him. His eyes felt itchy from withheld emotions as he bent down, gently pressing his lips against Glorfindel's, lovingly, tenderly.
"I love you, husband of mine," he whispered quietly into the night. "So very much." Irritated, he rubbed away the tears that had somehow found their way to his cheeks.
Dawn came, rosy, vibrant and filled with hope. The early sunlight teased Glorfindel, waking him as it danced in his eyes. Groaning reluctantly, he turned over to bury his head against Erestor's chest but the bed beside him was empty. The chill of the blankets whispered that it had been hours since Erestor had left their bed.
"Erestor?" He could hear the desperation in his voice, the hope that Erestor was merely in another room. Only silence and the cheery chirping of birds answered him. He flew out of bed, pulling his clothes on as fast as he could. "Erestor!"
The bathing chamber was empty, the faint scent of spices and vanilla clinging to the air and only emptiness greeted him in the sitting room, all traces of the previous night carefully tidied away. On the table lay a rose, tall, slender and ivory, without thorns; there was no letter, nothing but a lonely flower of sorrow. His legs folded as he clung to the doorway, his heart shattering.
"Erestor," he whispered brokenly. He had hoped, he admitted, that Erestor would stay, prayed that his love had been enough to convince him to sail. Emptily, he stared at the rose, his mind whispering that Erestor was gone. Still he grasped at straws. There had been no words of farewell, no last caress, no last kiss; surely Erestor would return. Hastily he stood; he needed to finish the last preparations to leave so he had time with Erestor when his husband returned.
He stood on the pier, golden hair blowing wildly in the wind as he looked back expectantly toward the shore, waiting as he had done for hours. The bustle of loading the ship had faded, all others already settled on the vessel, waiting to leave. A hand on his shoulder made him turn, his anguished eyes meeting Celeborn's and Círdan's.
"We need to leave," Celeborn's voice was low, sympathetic. "Erestor is not coming."
He shook his head wildly. "A while longer," he begged, as he had done several times before.
Círdan shook his head. "It is time to leave," he said. "The tide is turning."
He stared at Círdan, incomprehension shining in his eyes. A strong arm wrapped around his shoulders and numbly he allowed them to lead him onboard the ship.
Erestor was not coming. Until now he had clung to hope, praying that Erestor would change his mind, but he had not. The cabin Celeborn led him to was larger, airier than he had expected, his belongings neatly packed away together with Erestor's chest. His heart broke when he saw it, the treasured belongings that his lover, his husband, did not intend to need again. Reality sank through the fog in his mind. Erestor was gone. He had left Erestor as much as Erestor had left him. He spun towards the door. He could not do this, he could not leave and expect Erestor to die alone. He could not.
"I have to go to him," he said flatly. "I cannot sail."
Celeborn's eyes widened, the sadness in them deepening. "We have already sailed, Glorfindel," he whispered. "It is too late." The shock and anguish in the sapphire eyes cut deeply at him as he watched understanding dawn in Glorfindel's eyes before the golden one threw himself at the door. Celeborn wrapped his arms around Glorfindel, holding him still. "It is too late," he repeated. "You cannot go back." Glorfindel crumbled against him; quietly, eerily, he fell apart. It seemed a long time that they sat there. Celeborn rubbing his back soothingly. "I am so sorry, meldir," he said quietly. "Do you wish to go up on deck?"
Glorfindel nodded silently.
The wind was mild as it filled the billowing sails, the grey ship cutting smoothly through the waves, a shadow, a memory, of what had been. Glorfindel leaned heavily on Celeborn as they made their way across the deck until they could see the lands they had left behind, the Havens only a weak shadow on the horizon even as the mountains still followed their journey on either side.
Glorfindel gripped the railing in both hands, clinging to it as his knuckles whitened. Only the occasional seagull broke the silence as it dived between the hills and mountains, circling back towards Mithlond with its deserted homes and gardens.
He raised his head towards the mountains, eyes falling on a small figure silhouetted against the horizon, black hair billowing in the wind. His heart caught in his throat, tears clouding his vision as Erestor raised a hand in farewell.
With a keening wail he lunged forward, throwing himself towards the water separating them, only to be brought up short by hands dragging him back, torn away from the railing, away from Erestor. He screamed, thrashing to get away from them, wildly, desperately.
"Let go of me," he snarled, trying to kick at the elves around him.
"I cannot." Celeborn's reply was quiet as he and Círdan dragged Glorfindel towards the cabins. "You would drown yourself to no purpose."
"I don't care," he screamed, still thrashing. "I need to go to him. Let go of me."
"I promised him that I would not, Glorfindel."
Disbelievingly he turned his head, staring at Celeborn.
"You knew," he whispered.
Celeborn sighed. "Yes," he admitted. "I knew. I always knew."
Erestor lowered his hand, tears flowing freely down his face as he watched the ship leave. It was over. He had made his choices, knowing what they would mean. The pain, the heartache; he gladly paid for them for the few years he had held Glorfindel. A last choice, he thought as he played with the dagger on his belt. For Glorfindel's freedom. Míriel's choice
(Footnote: Miriel's choice was to deny her rebirth, thereby freeing her husband Finwë to remarry. It did, however, mean that she could never be reborn again and was to all effects of elven life dead, her houseless spirit remaining in Mandos forever.)