Ithil was still shining when he awoke from haunted dreams. The past which he had tried to bury so long ago was back once more. Slowly he got up from the bed, shedding his clothes and letting them fall to the floor as he walked into the bathroom. The pale ivory body was covered in scars from countless battles and he knew them all, every memory of each cut lingered in his mind.
Instinctively he filled the bath with hot water and vanilla oil, the subtle, sensual fragrance floating through the quiet room as he lowered himself in the water and relaxed.
The dark head fell back as he recalled the venom, the hate, in the golden voice and Elrond backing away from him, and he deeply regretted the pain he had caused them, that he would still cause. Better had they let him die.
"And to think that all these years I counted you a friend, I thought I _loved_ you!"
He closed his eyes in pain as the words echoed in his memory.
He was unsure of what had taken place after Galadriel had so kindly revealed his parentage but somehow she had managed to stop all questions before giving him yet another sleeping potion.
He smiled bitterly and for a moment he thought about going for the dagger, to end it all, to save them all pain. Still he knew that he could not, not anymore; that option was closed to him.
He got up from the water, not bothering to reach for a towel as he walked though the bedroom on his way to the balcony; water was still dripping from his skin and hair when he opened the doors and sank down, relishing the cold air against his wet skin, the almost painful chill that settled in his body.
As Anor rose he stood up, gracefully stretching his body before walking back into the bedroom. He opened the heavy wooden doors, his gaze lingering on the paintings as a hand came up, caressing the picture of the fountain. His gaze shifted and fell upon the austere black robes. His hand hesitated over the strict garments before he turned and looked towards the bed.
Taking a deep breath, he crossed the floor and knelt by the bed. Slowly he reached and dragged out a low wooden chest of considerable size.
Reluctantly he opened the lid which had been closed for countless years, the rich scents of cinnamon, fine vanilla and exotic spices came up to meet him, the scent of memories. Carefully he lifted the objects in the chest and placed them upon the bed. Jewelled combs and clasps and others of pearl and ivory, a simple coronet of black onyx and bright gems shining like stars.
He lifted robes of rich velvets and of smooth silks, robes heavy with embroidery and lighter than feathers. A sword he lifted, of excellent workmanship, more ancient than the remaining blades of Gondolin; the blade still shone as he drew it. He lifted fighting knives as ancient and deadly as the sword, and last of all his hands found a harp, worn by age and hard use. The chest was still not empty, at the bottom lingered forgotten pieces of gold and silver, old wooden carvings made by unskilled hands, parchments filled with childish drawings and the soft toy of a toddler.
He stood up and looked at the items on the bed and he felt the stinging of tears behind his eyes.
I may as well do this right, face it all.
Softly, hesitantly, his hand descended on a robe of deep blue silk. Carefully, almost ritually, he got dressed, blue leggings and tunic under the high necked robe, the silk soft against his skin. Rhythmically he dragged his brush through thick strands of darkness until his hair shone. Once again he lingered over the items in front of him until he settled on a set of small jewelled clasps in the shape of the Fëanorian star. Braiding his hair in designs he had thought forgotten he finally stepped back and looked at himself. His fingers touched the mirror, touched the stranger who was looking at him across the ages; a long time had passed when he let his hand fall.
He picked up the items on the bed and carefully laid them down in the opened chest before closing the lid and pushing it back under the bed. He rose and walked over to the window and waited.
Elrohir looked in surprise at the tall elf by the window; he could never recall Erestor wearing anything but black before. The deep blue silk blue silk of the robe that the advisor now wore made his hair shimmer and the jewelled clasps glittered as stars in the midnight tresses.
"Erestor," the Peredhel said softly. "Ada would like you to join us in his study."
The advisor turned, more beautiful than ever, but his face was pale and the dark eyes resigned and empty.
Wordlessly, Erestor crossed the room and followed, his silence heavy on the younger elf.
Celeborn was leaning against the heavy desk, long legs stretched out in front of him as he distractedly flickered through an old book. Once he saw Erestor in the doorway, he crossed over to where Galadriel and Elrond were sitting by the fire, deep in conversation with the elder twin. Glorfindel was not there.
Elrond looked up and gestured towards the chair in front of it.
He watched as Erestor gracefully crossed the floor and sank down in the chair and noted the hopeless, desolate look in the black eyes.
"Talk to us," Elrond said quietly. "For your sake as much as ours. Help us understand and let yourself heal."
Erestor closed his eyes and drew a deep, ragged breath. "I do not know where to begin," he admitted finally. "It is not easy to find the start of a story so long and so old."
He sighed and fell quiet, lost in memories of what had been. The door opened and Glorfindel entered, his blue eyes hard as they fell upon the advisor. Erestor kept his gaze lowered from the hate in the sapphire eyes.
"I do not know how they met," Erestor began faintly. "But for a short time they must have believed themselves in love. It was in the early days of Fëanor’s life and only shortly before he met Nerdanel. I was not yet born when he wedded and forgot about my mother, to her eternal bitterness. I never knew him, as he did not wish to know me, his life filled with his wife and the sons she gave him. A father-name I was not given and my mother named me Úquen. Most of the time other names were given to me; Fëanor’s secret, Fëanor’s mistake and Fëanor’s shame were what they called me, if indeed they named me at all. My mother did not care; in fact she cared little for a child who bore no resemblance to her apart from the black eyes. In all else I looked like my father, even more so than any of his other sons."
As he spoke, his words wove a spell such as the elven minstrels of old were said to have done, bringing the images of a long lost time to life as the other elves slowly watched and fell into the tale.
Tirion upon Túna was beautiful under the light of the Trees; the streets were filled with elves and life. He saw other elflings as they were playing happily in the town squares and gardens, but he did not know them. He was not allowed to approach them as they played and laughed and sang, for his mother wanted no one to remember that he was. So instead he watched them from afar and he was lonely.
When he was not watching the others of his age, he walked the streets of the city and crept into the Halls of the Valar, ignored by all as he listened and learned, for his thirst for knowledge was deep. As time passed and he grew older his presence was noticed, but the hunger in the eyes of the young one and his quiet way won him acceptance into all the guilds and halls save one, Fëanor’s. And so his education began with the smiths and minstrels, with the healers and scribes, with the woodcarvers and loremasters and he drank up all they could teach for like his father, Fëanor’s son burnt with a bright flame.
He soon learned all that he could from the masters in the city and went instead to the Halls of the Valar where he learned much else, for the mighty took pity on the lonely boy and did what they could to slake his thirst, but still the hunger for knowledge burnt in his soul.
As the boy studied and learnt, the father created his greatest work, the Silmarils. The boy, as all other elves, was there the day that Varda hallowed them in the hour of the mingling lights of the trees. He stood in the shadows, shy of the crowd of elves around him, gazing at the Silmarils in longing. He wished that his hands could create such beauty, such perfection, and more than anything he longed to touch the shining gems. Maybe one day he would be able to create something like that, maybe that day his father would see him.
His father stood in the middle of the crowd, laughing with old friends, accepting praise and admiration from the ones around him, and close by stood the seven sons. He felt his heart ache at the familiarity between them and suddenly his gaze met the bright, piercing eyes; father and son looked at each other over the heads of the shorter elves. Quickly he let his gaze fall and fled the Hall, hurrying through the mass of bodies until he could breathe the fresh air.
"I want you to stay far away from my sons." The voice was low and threatening.
He gasped and turned, stumbling and falling in front of the elf that had followed him, in front of his father.
"I do not want you anywhere near them. If they are at a feast you will not go, if they go to the halls of knowledge to converse with the scribes you will leave. Do I make myself clear?"
Úquen nodded, tears of dejection burning behind his eyes.
Fëanor looked at him and shook his head. "’Mistake’ they call you and mistake you were." His voice was cold and void of emotions as he looked at his son once more before turning away.
It was the only conversation he had ever had with his father, if conversation it could be called, and so the pattern of his life was set. When others celebrated he stayed behind in empty rooms, listening to the joy and laughter of others and he buried himself in work.
He had never spoken much, unless to ask questions to further his knowledge, and now his voice was heard but rarely. He saw Maedhros several times from afar as his copper haired brother seemed to appear wherever Úquen went. After a few years he disappeared again, leaving the lonely one to his peace.
When the unrest of the Noldor first began, he heard of it through the talk of others at the few times he searched for company. He heard about the banishment of Fëanor after kin drew swords on kin and the deeds sickened him, yet he, as well, had learnt the art of swords and knives and practised it daily in his solitude, a graceful, fluid dance of movement in which he needed no partner. He learnt the art out of thirst for knowledge and need of movement. The main difference that the banishment of his father meant to him was that he was free to roam the city as he wished once more. No longer had he the need to hide from brothers he did not know and when the first feast took place after the banishment, he joined the others, wishing to be part of their joy. He left soon after; he knew no one save older elves, and those of his age who would talk to him behaved oddly, with their flushed faces, their giggling and their stammering of simple words. He had an uneasy feeling that they all mocked him for his lack of friends. He stayed away from the feasts after that and remained alone until the Valar called them all to join in their festival.
The festival was full of joy and mirth as all joined in songs and dance, save him. He remained in the shadows watching their pleasure. When he saw Fëanor his heart grew cold, fearing that he had broken the only word he had ever given to his father, but when he saw that neither of his brothers took part in the festival he relaxed. Suddenly, all light was gone. He heard screams and tears as the unbelievable took place and the trees failed, the air was heavy with fears and evil and he felt himself unable to breathe normally, his heart aching at the thought of the beauty lost.
Great was the chaos when darkness fell and long the chaos remained as the Valar tried to counter the evils of Melkor. The great council was called and there, in front of all elves, Maiar and Valar, they heard Fëanor deny them the Silmarils. Murmurs and unease spread among the crowd, recalling the reasons for the banishment of Fëanor, and even as they stood there, the Valar pleading and Fëanor rebelling against them, the messengers from Formenos came. Finwë, king of the Noldor, was dead and the Silmarils gone, whatever hope of light they had now fled them. They heard Fëanor rage against Manwë and for the first time the name Morgoth was spoken. After that, the Noldor returned again to Tirion upon Túna, their hearts heavy and their souls lost to despair. Great was the sorrow and confusion of those days and he went where he could trying to help, but all turned their backs towards him, remembering that his father had denied them light.
Then came the moment when Fëanor broke his banishment and returned to the city, his sons and his household behind him, calling all those of Noldorin blood to heed him and to gather in the King’s Square. Úquen watched as his father, flanked by his sons, began the speech that would forever change them. Long Fëanor spoke, in well chosen words, the flame in him burning brightly as it lit the hearts of those around him. The lonely one felt caught in the magic of his father’s words as a hunger awoke in him, a hunger for new things to see and learn, for places where he could be something more than Fëanor’s mistake and he knew then, beyond doubt, that he would follow his father.
At last the speech was ended, and Fëanor spoke once more, swearing an oath that could not be broken, an oath that drove fear and horror into the hearts of those who listened. The blood faded from his face as he saw his brothers step up behind their father, repeating the words and calling the Valar to witness, and so the words of doom were spoken upon the hill of Tirion on Túna.
Turmoil erupted around him, fear and fury battling with excitement as a great disagreement took place, to follow Fëanor or to remain behind. He did not listen nor hesitate, he simply turned. He entered the empty house, walking to his chambers and took what few possession he valued and wrapped them. A coronet he had made himself of onyx and adamant, a few hairclasps and two books of lore. He took a heavy cloak, a couple of extra tunics and leggings. After some thought he emptied the cupboards in search for foods to pack, and last he took the slender fighting knives which he had made, and the sword.
He joined the crowd, already packed before others had thought to do so, and he waited. He saw his mother in the crowd; there was no doubt in his mind that she would remain, but he made no move to speak to her. She would learn his choice soon enough, it did not matter, she would not miss him. For a long time he stood there, waiting, before the elves left Tirion on Túna. He followed the first host, walking as close as he could behind them without being noticed and so he came to Alqualondë when the battle began.
In horror he watched as Fëanor raised the first blade and struck at kin, and soon the shores were awash with blood, blood running in swift torrents over white sands and stones, colouring the water the deep, rich red of death. So many elves fighting kin, and no lives were spared; Neri and Nessa fell side by side with their children, broken shards of life. He heard himself scream, plead that they would stop this madness, but no one listened. For a moment his eyes met Maedhros’ and they looked at each other over the bloodshed, shadow and flame, with tears running down their faces. Then Maedhros turned once more into the deadly dance, his sword hitting flesh. Behind him the hosts of Fingolfin and Finarfin arrived, and the fighting grew worse.
He saw a young woman - her son clasped closely in her arms - fall under the sword, her golden hair stiff with blood. Another sword came down towards the fallen elf and her child, and he found himself moving, throwing himself in front of the steel and he felt it bite deeply in his side. Desperately he pushed his own pain and shock away as he fervently searched for a pulse that was not there, quickly he tore the child out of the stiffening arms and ran, he was not sure where he was going only that he needed to get the child away. Suddenly he saw a face he recognised and calmed down women knew how to care for children.
"Here," he said, thrusting the child into her arms. "The battle is no place for a child. Care for him, please."
Blue eyes stared at him in surprise and amazement before she gave him a dazzling smile.
"Of course," she said warmly while twirling a golden tress between her fingers. "Anything you ask."
He knew then that he would never understand the minds of others, for how could anyone smile with such brilliance on a day such as this? He threw himself back into the battle again, wielding no sword, in his desperate attempt to bring something good out of the evil.
There were so many children among the broken bodies; too few of them still drew breath. He was unsure of how many children he had carried off the field of slaughter and left in the care of Finarfin’s daughter- fewer than he had wished. He picked up a young boy with black hair, hand clutching a silver flute as tears of fear ran down his face. A dark haired girl trapped under the body of her father, a pale boy bleeding from an arrow wound and a golden haired girlchild looking for her father; later he learnt that she was his own kin, the only daughter of Turgon. There were many more children whose stories he could not recall.
At long last, the battle was over, bodies spread across shores that had once been white. The ships had been caught, paid for in blood and treachery.
Silently, the Noldor left with their new caught ships and their wounded, and a storm began to blow. He followed them, his body bruised and wounded and his mind in pain. Stumbling, he fell behind, unable to keep the speed with those who walked. To his surprise a strong hand suddenly steadied him and he looked up into the cool eyes of Turgon.
"Are your injuries grave, Son of Fëanor?"
Numbly he shook his head, unsure of what to say, of how to react.
"They tell me that you saved my daughter and for that I am grateful. I owe you a deep debt; if you are ever in need, come to me."
Úquen nodded gratefully, warily, unused to friendships and trust, and Turgon left.
Once they had made their way from the shores and braved the storm for as long as they had the strength, they stopped to tend to their wounded. For once, Úquen walked willingly through the gathering of elves, looking for the children he had saved. He found them all in the care of Galadriel and Elenwë, well looked after and well fed. He did not join them, only stayed long enough to assure himself of their safety before he sought the shadows again. Curling up in his cloak, wounds forgotten, he slept.
It was the sound of the other elves moving and talking that finally woke him. His body was almost too stiff and sore to move. Swallowing a sob, he forced himself to stand. When he looked up he met the grey eyes of Maedhros thoughtfully looking at him. Hastily, he lowered his gaze, busying himself with straightening his clothes. When he looked up again the other was gone.
They walked for a long time and the elflings started to fall behind. Elenwë and Galadriel now walked among the last in the host, together with those wounded and the children. Quietly, he forced himself to catch up with them and lifted two of the smallest children in his tired arms, a small black haired girl and the golden boy. It was not long until he felt the strong little hands grip his own midnight tresses firmly.
"Pretty," the boy mumbled before the blue eyes glazed over in sleep.
The hosts of the Noldor seemed to have walked for an eternity when the mountains suddenly towered over them and the air grew cold. One by one, the elves stopped and fell quiet as their eyes fell on the dark shape in front of them. A mighty voice rang out in the winds as they listened. The betrayal of kin at Alqualondë was now made plain to all, and their tears fell, words of war and kinstrife, of ill deeds and death, as their doom was spoken. Hardest of all fell the curse and prophesy on the house of Fëanor. Úquen closed his eyes as he heard his doom.
Yet again Fëanor spoke to them, this time less eloquently than before, and many turned back to Tirion with Finarfin’s host. Some of the children went with them, those who came from families where a parent had stayed and the other had left, but not all. He would follow the remaining children, he decided, see that they were safe, and so pay for the sins of his house.
The mountains grew taller and the air colder as they marched north, soon the first teeth of ice appeared, and they knew that the Helcaraxë was near. Again they halted for rest, and he could here them arguing about what course to take; the Helcaraxë was dangerous and the ships too few. He did not care what decision they took; he would follow them no matter what. The road back was closed behind him. Wrapping himself in the cloak, he sat down, wishing more than anything else to find rest.
"Did anyone see to your injuries, brother?"
He looked up in shock at the strange voice, and met the concerned eyes of Maedhros.
"What?" he whispered, surprised at the contact from one he had never known. "No," he added once he gathered his wits. "They are not serious."
The steady grey eyes looked at him.
"Will you allow me to tend to them?"
"Why? I mean... There is no need." He tried to keep his voice calm as fear raged inside him.
The copper head tilted as the grey eyes narrowed slightly.
"You are my brother, is that not reason enough? Brothers should look after each other, not be strangers. Also…brother you are the best one of us; I saw what you did at Alqualondë. I wish I had had your strength."
Úquen stared in shock at the other elf, speechless, yearning to accept the companionship offered, and yet he feared his father’s wrath, now more than before. Maedhros lowered his eyes and smiled sadly.
"I always wished to know my beautiful brother, and now he does not even wish to speak with me."
"Your father would not like it." The whisper was almost inaudible.
"He is your father too! And I do not care; I do not wish to be parted from you before I even know you!" Maedhros hand slowly reached out caressing the black hair. "Come with me brother, on the ships?"
"I cannot go," the dark elf whispered desperately. "I cannot!"
Swiftly, he forced himself on his feet and fled, fled his brother, the first one to ever offer him part of a family, to ever offer friendship. His heart felt as it would break as he ran as far as he was able in his weakened state. Finally he fell on the ground, gasping for air and longing for that which he had turned down.
It was long until he returned and found Maedhros gone, as was his father and the ships.
The confusion was great and the cold bitter as they waited for the ships to return, but they never did. Distantly, they saw the light of a great fire, and in horror they knew themselves betrayed. They were left to plead with the Valar after forsaking their right to do so, or to cross the Helcaraxë with its harsh cold.
He felt the eyes of the other elves fall upon him and he heard what they said. Fëanor’s get they called him, why not take their revenge on Fëanor’s son? Why trust the blood of a betrayer? Many were the whispers that wanted to leave him behind, or that wanted to bring him to kneel in front of the Valar to pay his father’s debt. Only three elves openly spoke against them, and so did their brothers and sisters in the end, to support their loved ones, not him. In the end the whispers grew quiet. No one tried to harm him and no one cared to talk to him; he followed but was not part of the host, he was on his own.
Galadriel and Elenwë offered him kindness when they could, bringing him food after his ran out. In return he helped the best he could with the children. In his solitude, when all others slept, he wept, tears freezing on the pale cheeks as they flowed freely from dark eyes.
One day it would be said that they crossed the Helcaraxë; in truth they braved the cold under the eternal darkness, little prepared for the hardship and losses they would meet on the way, knowing little of how the cold would eat its way through flesh and bone until your body grew heavy and tired and you slept. Those that fell to sleep in such a way did not wake. Little did they know of the treacherous ice which would fail under their feet and drag many down into nothingness, killed by snow and shards of ice. Little did they know, or they would have turned.
The first of the children died after three days. He had saved her from the swift swords of Alqualondë only to perish slowly and in pain. After that there was nothing but cold winds, hunger and perilous ice. They lost so many upon the ice as they trudged on under the dancing colours of the Northern Lights, wondering if they would ever reach a land of grass again.
He could remember them staying to find some rest and he slept. Then there was the sickly crunching sound of breaking bones and pain.
His head hurt when he awoke, the pain worse than any he had known before. He was alone. There was no sight of any elves on the windswept miles of ice; all the tracks that may have been were gone. Blinking, he looked at the sky above him, a pale blue lit by a shining orb - a work of the Valar, no doubt. Moving his head, he noticed that the ice under his head was a strangely pink shade, faded blood. They had left him to die. He wondered how long he had been here, alone on the ice and he wondered why he was not dead, why his body had not stiffened and passed from the cold, from the lack of blood.
As he slowly sat, the nausea rolled over him in waves and he closed his eyes, fighting the urge to vomit. He felt weak. His soft fingers made their way to his head, finding the hair stiff with blood long dried and frozen. Gingerly he pressed the fingers against his scalp, feeling for wounds and shuddered as pieces of broken bone shifted under his touch. He hunched over and closed his eyes, dejectedly. He should be dead of the injury to his skull alone, yet here he was, unwanted even by Mandos.
Finally, hunger forced him to move, noting how his body was scarcely more than skin and bones, and again he wondered how much time he had passed here, alone on the ice.
Unable to walk he crept, his body faint with pain and starvation, feeding only on shards of ice that he managed to break loose by his own hands. He crept for what seemed like an eternity, slowly and resting often, and the light shifted, passed and came again, Still he crept, his body too stubborn to die, and after many days and nights he came upon his own tracks. He cried then, in deep shuddering gasps, and when his sobs finally grew quiet he lay down, determined to pass to the Halls of Mandos. But yet again he woke and crept forwards, slower than before, and at long last, after countless days and nights, the ice ended.
Frantically, he scrambled for food, finding berries and nuts which he ate desperately, not caring if they bore poisons. Slowly he grew strong and hale in body, though his mind was weary and his scars remained. Many seasons passed as he wandered in solitude, through forests and mountains, over fields and rivers, seeing no one but the foul creatures of Morgoth. Sometimes he wondered if any other had crossed the ice alive, if he was truly the last of his kind upon these shores.
It was by chance it happened. Used to the solitude of the mountains, he grew unwary, realising his mistake only as the arrow hit him and he fell. Suddenly voices surrounded him, voices speaking his own language, and another language that sounded familiar, almost like the tongue of the Teleri. Soft hands turned him over and he was carried.
"It’s one of ours! You shot an elf, you fool, a Noldo by the looks of it!"
"Will he live?"
"I am not sure."
"By the Valar, what has happened to him? So thin…"
Snippets of words made it through the darkness before he was laid on something soft, someone lifted his head and held something to his lips. Automatically, he swallowed, feeling the liquid run down his throat. Once he regained consciousness, he looked around him and found himself in a tent. He started shivering when he realised that he was among others like him, no longer alone.
He heard someone enter the tent and turned his head, black gaze settling on a young female with hair of gold. With a smile, she raised her head, feeling his eyes upon her, and the blue eyes widened in shock as they stared at each other. She had been but a child when he last saw her, when he had saved her at Alqualondë, yet now she had passed her majority by a decade at least, maybe more. Hastily, she stood up and fled the tent.
He closed his eyes, dreading what would come. None of his kind would welcome a son of Fëanor among them; once again they would turn their backs on him. Leaving him alone.
As he struggled to sit up she returned, dragging her father by the hand.
"It IS him, Ada!"
"Idril, he died many years ago, upon the Helcar…" Turgon’s voice failed as his eyes fell upon the elf in the bed. "It IS you," he finally whispered, hand clasped over his mouth in shock.
Úquen warily nodded his head, unsure of what would happen.
"I thought you dead, or I would never have left you behind."
The wounded elf did not answer, the black eyes flashing like those of a trapped animal.
"What…" Turgon fell quiet again. "Were you alone?"
Only a slight nod of the raven head answered him.
"Will you come with us? I still owe you for my daughter’s life. You will want for nothing. There are many that would be glad to see you; the children you saved all live with my court, they…" He fell quiet again as he saw fear and desperation in the black depths.
"I will say nothing to them if you wish me to hold my tongue?"
Hesitantly the other nodded, offering him a small awkward smile.
Turgon stood gracefully, hesitating as he looked at the wary creature in front of him. "Your father is dead,"he said gently, meeting the black eyes.
Finally the other answered, his voice rough from decades of silence. "I have no father."
He once again grew used to having other elves around him, but still he preferred the shadows, keeping all others at a distance. Turgon and Idril remained close to him, refusing to leave him alone, and so a wary friendship was built. With them he was less distant and more open than he had ever been with any other. Never did he allow his friends to speak of him to the other children he had saved, although Idril often tried to make him change his mind. She told him about their lives; all those who had survived the Helcaraxë now dwelled in Gondolin, some bonded, with elflings of their own, and others in prominent positions at the court. She told him of Ecthelion the fair with his silver flute, and of Glorfindel the beloved with his big heart and merry laugh, and Úquen listened.
Soon, his own curiosity and thirst for knowledge awoke in him, and he visited the exercise yards and libraries, the smithies and the healers. Silently, he learnt from the masters of the trades and taught them such things as he knew, but none apart from the masters knew of him.
He soon knew all paths of the white city, both hidden and plain, and he watched the lives of others. In secret, he made sure that the children he saved wanted for nothing, and many were the secret gifts bestowed on them throughout the years. Mostly he saw Ecthelion and Glorfindel, as their friendship with Idril was close, and the three of them often sat by the fountains enjoying each other’s company. He enjoyed seeing them in those hours, when all care lifted from the young shoulders and the three beautiful faces lit with laughter.
As the years passed, Turgon asked his advice more often and Idril’s questions passed into tutoring, and before long he was the advisor in the shadows, the tutor and the hidden bodyguard, the protector of the court. It was in those days that Idril first named him Erestor, for the part he played in the court of Gondolin, and the name remained. Only once in all his years at the court did Turgon ignore his advice, and Maeglin was taken into the family of the king with open arms and the first shadow fell over the city.
Many were the quiet evenings he spent with Idril and Turgon, glasses of wine shared and light conversation. Never did he speak of his life before they found him.
When Tuor came to the city, Erestor’s heart grew heavy with foreboding, yet it was not long until he accepted Tuor as one of his few friends, and his heart rejoiced upon the bonding of Tuor, son of Huor, and Idril Celebrindal. When Eärendil was born, he held the child in his arms for hours on end, and as the child grew Erestor remained close, watching, teaching and protecting.
The time of festival grew near and, as in all the other years, Erestor withdrew into himself even further, eating and sleeping little as memories tormented him. He was in the library when the first screams reached him. He grabbed his sword, cursing himself for not having been on guard, for letting Idril and Eärendil out of his sight.
He fought long and hard as he tried to find the ones he loved among the screams and bloodshed. From a distance he saw Maeglin threatening both Idril and Eärendil, and he saw the death of Maeglin the betrayer. Unable to reach them, he was driven into the square of the king with all others who were still fighting, the silver fountains dark with smoke and fire, as the Balrogs came. There fell Ecthelion the fair to his death, and Erestor felt his heart break as he remembered the scared boy with the silver flute.
Again his heart broke, when Turgon sent him and Tuor away, refusing them the right to die by their king. Erestor and Tuor reached the secret path and fled, as all the others, until they reached Idril. Tears streaked the pale cheeks as she noted the absence of her father, and she tried desperately to go back into the city. Tuor wrapped his arms around her, stopping her as she screamed and pleaded for someone to go back. Erestor’s black eyes finally managed to catch her gaze.
"I will go," he promised. "And if I can, I will bring him with me."
The city was burning as he fought his way back towards the tower of the king. What few survivors remained in the city rallied to him, and together they watched as the dragon came and the tower crumpled. Turgon was dead. Shaken, they stared as the dust settled, and then they turned, searching the city for survivors as well as they could, but found no more. All the children he had saved at Alqualondë were dead, save two.
They left the city, hurrying to catch up with the elves in front of them. The screams alerted them that something was wrong, and as they passed the high pillars of stone guarding the mountain pass they stared in horror. The early light of dawn shimmered upon the golden tresses and upon shadow and flame as they fell together, Glorfindel the beloved and the Balrog of Morgoth, to their deaths on the rocks.
Erestor’s knees folded beneath him as he screamed with the others, his heart shattering. He sat there on his knees, struggling for breath as Thorondor bore the broken body of Glorfindel from the deep, unable to move, unable to feel. The others gathered around the warrior in silence, unable to believe this latest evil that had befallen them. It seemed a long time that they stood there, and yet Anor had hardly moved by the time Erestor dragged himself to his feet, stumbling on legs that barely bore him, moving through the crowd until he reached the golden body. Silently, he kneeled by the faller hero, moving him carefully until the empty face looked back towards the city. Erestor’s hand found the first stone and placed it on the chest of the warrior; the first was followed by a second, a third. No one else moved. Desperately his hands searched for more stones, placing them one by one upon the body. A slender white hand added another stone; Idril’s other hand searched for one of his own, clasping it hard. The strong hand of a man imitated her movements on his other side, before placing a hand on Erestor’s shoulder.
He knew that they understood his reaction. They knew what this death meant to him. He had failed.
"We need to leave, Erestor, or his sacrifice will have been in vain" Tuor’s voice was tired.
He felt himself nod, and yet he made no move to rise.
"Erestor?" Her voice was soft. "Erestor, look at me."
Numbly, he turned his head and tried to focus on her face, his black eyes empty, dead. "Go," he whispered.
"Erestor, do not do this! I still need you, Eärendil needs you. Please."
Finally, he nodded his head. "Go," he repeated. "I will find you."
He heard them leave, but it did not matter. In silence he sat by the grave, tears streaming down his pale face as the day faded. Glorfindel the beloved of Gondolin was dead.
"Even in death, he was beautiful"
The silence fell heavily on the room as the spell was broken. Dazed eyes, blinking as reality came back to minds lost in memories and legends. Only Erestor was still lost in the past, haunted eyes trapped in nightmares that no other could see.
Elrond arose quietly and crossed the floor. He poured a glass of Miruvor and mixed it with a powder which he had with him. As he turned, he noticed Erestor swaying in his seat, falling.
Glorfindel moved quickly, catching the dark haired elf before he hit the floor and gently leaning the other one back into the chair, supporting him. Elrond looked at the blond, eyebrow raised in a silent question. The seneschal met his eyes, torment shining in the sapphire depths.
"I did not know," he said.
Elrond nodded, and gently put the goblet to the advisor’s lips. The black eyes were still empty, lost, as Erestor obediently swallowed. Within moments the tall body sagged in sleep.
Glorfindel stood up and tenderly gathered the sleeping elf in his arms, carrying him to the safety of the plain bedroom.