He awoke slowly; something was softly pulling at his hair. Irritably, he grumbled and tried to turn over; he was still tired. Awareness rushed back to him as he found himself unable to move. Dark eyes held his as he looked up at Erestor leaning over him; he felt the strong hand play with his hair, twinning golden hair around slender fingers.
"Erestor?" His voice was rough from sleep.
Erestor tilted his head slightly, maintaining eye contact as a cool finger was laid over Glorfindelís lips.
"So beautiful," he whispered dreamily before he bent down.
It was a light kiss, the briefest caress of lips against his, sweet, gentle and warm.
Curiously, Erestor softly nipped at the lower lip, causing Glorfindel to gasp, his mouth opening under the gentle pressure. The dark eyes widened slightly and Erestor deepened the kiss.
Suddenly Erestor drew back, his breath shuddering as he looked at Glorfindel with bewilderment. Glorfindel smiled at him and sat up, scrutinising the dark elf. His eyes narrowed as he noted the shadows under the dark eyes
"You are still not rested, Erestor," he said concernedly.
Erestor backed away slightly as he nodded. "I know," he said quietly. "I am still very weary."
Glorfindel got up reluctantly before looking at Erestor again. Somehow that kiss had him almost as concerned as the apparent tiredness. "Rest some more Erestor," he said gently. "Iíll bring you something to eat in a few hours."
Erestor nodded, a glazed expression in the dark eyes. "I think I will," he whispered.
Erestor started shaking as soon as the door closed. What on Arda had he just done?
He felt as if he no longer had any control over himself; the tiredness went bone deep and made his mind feel as if it was wrapped in wool. Waking up enclosed in the muscular arms had made him feel warm and safe, and he had turned to look at Glorfindel as the other slept. He had lost himself staring at the sleeping sapphire eyes, the golden hair that looked so soft that his fingers buried themselves in the silken strands of their own accord. Had he dreamt the words from the previous night, or had Glorfindel truly said he had wanted Erestorís touch?
He had been unable to move as Glorfindel woke, and he had been unable to stop himself from the kiss that followed.
Erestorís trembling grew worse. He had just kissed Glorfindel for the second time. He closed his eyes and curled up on the bed. Why was he no longer able to control himself?
Glorfindel sank down in the chair in Elrondís study and looked at his Lord. "What do you mean?"
Elrond leaned his head in his hands tiredly. "I spent all night looking for answers, Glorfindel, but I can find nothing that may save Erestor. We know too little of how fading works."
Galadriel looked up from her chair by the fire, scrolls and books laying abandoned on the floor around her. "I believe that it can be done, Glorfindel," she said. "But we are still to find out how."
At the window Celeborn turned and looked at them. "Am I the only one to wonder how long he has faded?" he said calmly. "From what he has told us, I would have guessed that the fading started at AlqualondŽ, but if that is so then how come he is still alive?"
Three pairs of eyes turned in surprise to the tall elf by the window. Celeborn smiled wryly at them. "Do not tell me that not a single one of you had thought of that. He speaks often of how his mind was weary, his soul tired. It reminds me of what CelebrŪan said she felt before she sailed."
Elrondís eyes narrowed. "I had not made that connection," he admitted. "If we presume that you are right, Celeborn, and Erestor has faded since before the sun was born, then he must also have found the way to control it."
"If he has the knowledge to fight it, then why is the process now quickening?" Glorfindel asked impatiently.
"Maybe," Galadriel suggested, "he is not aware of this himself? And if he does not know it, then how do we use his knowledge to save him?"
The four elves looked at each other as they assessed the theory.
"So what do we do now?" Glorfindel asked. "Wait until we find more information or he dies?"
"I donít know, mellonen," Elrond sighed. "But my instincts are telling me that Erestor needs to finish telling us of his life before we can have any hope."
Glorfindel glared at the Peredhel. "Elrond, you have not seen him this morning! He is much too weak to continue."
"Then we make sure that he rests well for a few days," Celeborn said firmly. "And we make sure that he eat and drink and does not work. Apart from that, we cling to hope."
Glorfindel quietly put the tray with food on the bedside table, careful not to wake Erestor, before he sat down on the bed looking at the sleeping elf. Erestor lay in the middle of the bed, protectively curled up into a ball. The long raven hair was tousled and the face seemed paler than ever. Deep shadows darkened the beautiful features and Glorfindel frowned. Erestor looked frail. It was the first time he had ever thought of the other as frail and he did not like it. Glorfindelís heart felt torn, he wanted to take care of Erestor until the other was once again strong and hale, wanted to smother him with tenderness and love, and yet, yet more than anything, he wanted to taste Erestor, to slide his hands over lean muscles and smooth skin in endless hours of passion.
He ran a hand over his face, tiredly. Time was running out unless they could find a way to prevent Erestor from succumbing to his grief and pain. In what way should those last days be spent, in conversations and comfort, or in denial of death Ė passionately and joyfully?
Furiously he punched one of the soft pillows; he hated feeling powerless, useless. Glorfindel cursed himself when Erestor moved slightly, black eyes slowly regaining focus. He had not intended to wake Erestor yet. To his relief, the dark eyes clouded over once more, leaving him more time to think. Erestor whimpered in his sleep, a small defenceless sound, and suddenly Glorfindelís mind was made up.
Slowly he moved over the bed until his lips hovered over Erestorís, close enough to inhale his breath. Glorfindel shivered as the hot air caressed his face, his body tightening.
"Erestor," he whispered.
The black eyes flooded with awareness.
Glorfindel smiled and moved lower before Erestor had time to react. He felt the resistance of the mouth beneath his; lightly he ran his tongue over the smooth lips, nudging at them. He felt Erestor relax and the lips opened; Glorfindel snuck his tongue into the hot mouth. Tasting. Erestor tasted of vanilla and something exotic; the flavour made his head spin. He felt an inexperienced tongue touch his in a curious response. Groaning, Glorfindel deepened the kiss, and soon the two were involved in a passionate struggle for dominance. Erestor arched against him with a deep moan and Glorfindel forced himself to break the kiss. He dropped his head to the crook of Erestorís neck, panting for air. This was going too fast. He dropped a kiss on the pale skin against his face and felt Erestor shiver in surprise. Quickly, Glorfindel rolled away, fighting to control himself as his body screamed for release.
"WhatÖ" Erestorís voice was hoarse, bewildered.
Glorfindel cleared his voice and quickly lifted the tray of food of the table, dropping it in Erestorís lap. "You need to eat; it is already afternoon and you have yet to break your fast."
Erestorís head snapped up as he glared at Glorfindel. "What in the name of Elbereth do you think you were doing?!" The cold, deep voice had regained its normal control.
Glorfindel was glad to see the tiredness replaced by fire as he amusedly tilted his head. "I was kissing you. Something I believe you have done to me, twice. You may have caught me unaware before, Erestor, but I think the tables were just turned. Eat!"
Weariness returned to the deep eyes. Erestor glanced down at the tray in his lap and shuddered visibly. "I am not hungry." A shaking hand tried to push the food away.
Glorfindel say down on the bed again and caught Erestorís face in his hands, forcing the other to meet his gaze. "You will eat, Erestor, either by your own accord or by me feeding you. I suggest you make your choice."
Erestor sighed and picked apathetically at the food in front of him before forcing himself to bite into a ripe peach. He wrinkled his nose at the flavour and dropped it to the tray again. He really was not hungry. Suddenly the fruit was at his mouth again.
"Eat." Glorfindelís voice was patient.
He reached out to take the peach from Glorfindel but felt his hand pushed back down on the bed. "I told you that I would feed you," Glorfindel said amusedly. "Now eat."
Listlessly he closed his eyes and bit into the moist fruit. Soft fingers touched his lips, making his skin tingle, and before he knew what he was doing, he caught a fingertip between his teeth, slowly running this tongue over it. He heard Glorfindel hiss and his eyes flew open, backing away from the blond in front of him. The sapphire eyes were darker than usual as they looked at him intensely.
"Erestor? Do you mind talking to us for a while? We have some questions after yesterday." The voices were muted by the closed door. Glorfindel growled quietly and moved away from the bed, running his hand through his hair before opening the door. Without hesitation, the twins swept into the room.
Elladan grabbed an apple from the tray of food, ignoring Glorfindelís glaring. "You met so many of the old heroes, Maedhros, Gil-Galad, Ešrendil."
Glorfindel looked at the three dark-haired elves with a fond, if exasperated, smile. He should have known that the twins would come to Erestor. He admitted to himself that he should also have known about their ability to interrupt.
The tiredness returned again to the pale face. "Yes," Erestor said quietly. "I did."
"What were they like?" Elladanís voice was curious.
"Wonderful," Erestor answered sadly. "Strong and compassionate, honest and temperamental. And yet so different from each other. They were, what I had never known; a brother, a friend and a son. I loved them all and now they are gone." He closed his eyes. "Everyone dies."
For a moment the room was quiet. The twins looked uncomfortably at each other.
Glorfindel leaned against one of the bedposts, studying Erestor.
Suddenly Elrohir snickered as he sat down on the bed beside Erestor, stealing a piece of bread. "Uncle Elros seems to have been terrible at seduction."
"Must have been who you took after, brother."
"I have yet to hear you complain."
"He was young, little one. And more curious than anything else, I suspect," Erestor said.
"Maybe." Elladan smiled wickedly. "But Maedhros was neither, and he still wanted you."
"Brothers make the best lovers, Erestor," Elrohir agreed. "You should have taken his offer."
"Are you two insane?!" Erestor gasped, pushing himself up from the pillows. "Maedhros had no such thoughts!"
The twins laughed at Erestorís shocked expression.
"Of course he did," Elladan said.
"Otherwise he would not have been so jealous at finding you with Elros," Elrohir finished. "Are we not right, Glorfindel?"
Glorfindel shifted slightly, wishing they had left him out of this discussion. "After what we heard yesterday, yes, I think you are," he admitted, meeting Erestorís eyes as silence stretched out once again.
"Did you ever bed Gil-Galad?" Elladan asked curiously. "I always wonder what kind of lover he was; the history books never tell you the interesting details."
Erestor looked pleadingly at Glorfindel, hoping for aid but the blond just tilted his head and smiled wickedly, gesturing towards the forgotten food. Erestor sighed and nibbled at a piece of bread whilst silently shaking his head at the twins.
Elrohir moved closer at the same time as Elladan leaned towards him, gently touching the black hair. "Erestor, have you ever bedded anyone?"
Erestor choked on the bread and felt the colour rise in his face.
"THAT is enough!" Glorfindel snapped sharply. "Both of you, out now
The twins jumped and looked at Glorfindel with wide eyes.
Glorfindel kept his eyes on Erestor as the door closed behind the twins. The eyes were dull again and his strength was waning. Carefully he lifted the tray away and placed it back on the bedside table. "Are you tired?"
Erestor nodded weakly and leaned backwards against the pillows, closing his eyes.
Glorfindel bent down and ran his fingers through the tousled dark hair. "This will be a mess later, my friend. Come; let me brush it for you before you sleep?"
Erestor sat up again, swaying gently with tiredness. Glorfindel frowned at the weariness radiating from the other. "Lay down on you stomach," he said, reaching for the hairbrush.
Erestor once more sank down in the bed and Glorfindel rhythmically began to brush the midnight tresses. He enjoyed the heaviness of the silky strands as they ran through his fingers. Erestorís breath calmed as he slipped into sleep.
Glorfindel rose from the bed and placed the hairbrush back on the bedside table. Gently he tugged the heavy quilt higher over Erestorís sleeping body and left the room.
"I cannot leave Imladris now," Elrond said. "Please make my excuses to CŪrdan, Galadriel, and tell him I will come to the Grey Havens when the leaves fall next year."
Galadriel glanced at her husband beside her before she smiled at Elrond. "I sent a messenger to CŪrdan first thing this morning. I told him that we will not join him until next year, as a situation in Imladris demands our presence." She smiled at Elrond. "I do not wish to leave him either."
Elrond gave a choked laugh. "I could not leave him. He has been more of a father to me than any other I can remember. Only when Elros left was he not there to comfort me, and then only because he was grievously injured himself. I have to be here for him now, until it ends."
Celeborn reached over the table and caught Elrondís hand in his. "We may yet find a way to save him, my friend," he said mildly. "Do not give up hope yet."
Elrond leaned back in his chair and sighed. "Maybe, but to what purpose? To dwell as a shadow in Imladris long after all of our kin has left these shores?"
"You never know what the future will bring, Elrond," Galadriel said soothingly. "He may yet change his mind and travel to the white shores."
Celeborn smiled at Galadriel and gently tugged at a golden strand. "We have one year to save him, and after that, if he remains, I will try to make him follow me once I leave. Do not despair yet."
He woke up in the dark and panicked at the constraints around his wrists. His heart was thundering as he fought to free himself, and it was long before his confused mind recognised the tangled sheets around him body. He was not bound. He had not been left alone in darkness, unable to move. He pushed himself up to a sitting position, his head leaning against his knees as his arms wrapped around the long legs protectively. He struggled to calm himself.
The faint scent of fresh bread reached him and he turned his head slightly. Someone had been in his room while he slept. A new tray with bread and fruits rested on the bedside table together with a slim carafe of cold water. Charcoal pencils and creamy sheets if paper lay beside the tray. He relaxed slightly, but made no move towards the items on the table. He was still tired, but too tense to sleep. He hated how he missed feeling Glorfindelís arms around him, missed the tender hands running through his hair. The kiss that had shaken him to the core had been nothing more than Glorfindel turning the tables on him.
Erestor laughed bitterly. He had chosen his end and it would be over soon. The memories haunted him constantly now, refusing to leave him alone, the dead, the burning houses and the cold. He shivered and stared into the darkness around him. He was so tired, so tired of pain and grief and loneliness.
Glorfindel opened the door quietly, not wanting to disturb Erestorís sleep. To his surprise, the other was already awake, sitting curled up in the middle of the bed. The dark eyes were haunted as they stared blindly into the dark, and the tall frame shivered. Glorfindelís heart ached and he entered the room, closing the door behind him. When he turned back to the bed, the empty gaze had shifted as Erestor looked at him.
"Why are you here?" Erestorís voice was tired, hollow.
"I did not want to leave you alone." Glorfindel crossed the room and sank down on the bed, facing Erestor. "Nightmares?"
Reluctantly Erestor nodded and shifted his glace towards the window.
"Wish to talk about them?"
Glorfindel touched the black hair tenderly and felt the dark eyes return to him.
"Why?" Erestor asked quietly.
"Why what?" Glorfindelís voice was wary.
"Why are you doing this? Why are you here?" Erestorís voice was quiet and filled with pain. "I am sorry I kissed you, but you got your revenge. What else do you want from me?" Tiredly, he closed his eyes.
Glorfindel stared at Erestor in surprise. "Revenge? Erestor, do you not know me better that that?" Gently he cupped his hands around the face, his thumbs stroking the silky skin. "It was not about revenge, love. I have loved you since my return to Arda," he whispered. "And I will not quietly stand aside and watch you die."
Erestor tore himself loose from the gentle grip, scrambling backwards in the bed while he stared at Glorfindel with distant coldness. "You do not love me. You cannot love me!" he said flatly, meeting Glorfindelís gaze.
"I can and I do, Erestor."
"No," he said emotionlessly. "I will not let you."
"Erestor!" Glorfindel dragged the tense body close to his own, wrapping his arms tightly around the other. "What is wrong? Why does this scare you?"
"I do not want you to die."
Glorfindel closed his eyes and held Erestor closer, softly rocking the elf in his arms. It made sense, he realised as he thought of Erestorís past. All those Erestor had allowed close were dead. It explained the distance in the black eyes, the coldness.
"Erestor," he started tenderly. "We already love you; me, Elrond and the twins, even Galadriel and Celeborn. We have loved you for millennia and we are still here. We still live. You were never able to stop us from loving you."
Gently he tilted Erestorís head towards him and met the black gaze. "Let us love you. Trust us."
A shudder went through the tense body as Erestor closed his eyes. "I do not deserve this. They will not allow it." he said coldly. "I cannot see another die because of me."
"You, more than anyone else, deserve some happiness, Erestor. The Valar know this. You will not lose me."
Suddenly he tore himself away again, stumbling out of the bed, glaring furiously at Glorfindel. "Why are you still here? Leave!"
Glorfindel shook his head as he moved after Erestor until he was standing in front of him. "I will not leave. You will not lose me."
"Leave me alone!" Erestor snapped as he backed away further. "I do not want you here!"
His hand hit the tray on the bedside table, which fell to the floor in a loud scattering of china and crystal. Erestor froze and stared at the scattered pieces glistering in the moonlight.
"I lost them all," he whispered suddenly, fighting to maintain his distance.
Carefully, Glorfindel approached and wrapped his arms around Erestor, leading him back to the bed. The tall body shook as the dam broke and Erestor cried. Deep, heartbroken sobs as Glorfindel held him close, soothing him.
It was almost morning when the sobs finally subsided. Glorfindel moved slightly until he was laying down on his back, Erestor still against him. "Sleep, love," Glorfindel whispered. "I will be here when you wake."
His head rested on a muscular shoulder and his arm was flung over Glorfindelís chest when he awoke. Strong arms were wrapped around him and he felt safe, comfortableÖand afraid. He tensed, and slowly began to withdraw his arm, carefully, not wishing to wake the other.
"Please, Erestor, just stay like this for a while longer." Glorfindelís soft tenor was lazy as he strengthened his grip around the tense elf.
Erestor lifted his head and looked warily at the smiling elf. "Why?"
Glorfindel chuckled. "Because it is nice. I like holding you, love."
Erestor hesitated before he lowered his head again. Glorfindel was right; it was nice. He closed his eyes, relaxing against the strong body. A comfortable silence stretched between them as they lay there.
"How are you feeling?" Glorfindelís voice was low, concerned.
"Stronger," Erestor answered as his hand moved by its own accord, fingers drawing small circles against the muscular side.
"Erestor?" Glorfindelís voice sounded uncomfortable.
"Were the twinsÖThat isÖErestor, have you bedded anyone before?"
"WHAT?" Erestor pushed himself up until he was sitting, staring down at Glorfindel. "Why would you ask me that?"
Glorfindel blushed slightly as he moved until he was sitting facing Erestor. "Because I need to know, love," he said softly, catching a strand of raven hair in his hand. "Before I do anything else, I need to know."
Erestor closed his eyes and moved away, getting up of the bed. "No," he mumbled. "I have not."
"So your experiences are only kissing and touching, yes?"
Erestor backed away without answering and cursed as a pain shot through his foot. He had forgotten about the broken tray. Sighing and feeling like a total fool, he limped back to the bed.
"Kissing," he finally said flatly. "Only kissing."
Glorfindel frowned slightly. "ButÖtouchingÖ.I mean you must haveÖ" He coughed delicately. "Touched yourself?"
Erestor stared at him scandalously. "Certainly not!" he said curtly and jumped off the bed again, ignoring his bleeding foot as he limped to the bathroom and slammed the door shut behind him.
Glorfindel sighed and got out of the bed, carefully stepping around the shards of crystal and porcelain on the floor as he followed Erestor. He pushed the door open and hid a smile of amusement as Erestor gasped and quickly shrugged into a black robe, tying it at his waist.
"What do you think you are doing?!"
Glorfindel glanced pointedly at the bleeding foot. "You can either let me treat it, or I can get Elrond. Elrond, however, would want to know what upset you enough to step on glass. Do you wish to explain it to him?"
Patiently, he waited for Erestor to shake his head resignedly. "That is what I thought."
Glorfindel led Erestor to the edge of the sunken bath and lowered him to the floor. "This will be easiest, I believe," he said, shrugging out of the loose sleeping trousers before lowering himself in the hot water. He was aware of Erestor staring at him.
"Now then." He smiled, reaching for Erestorís foot. "Let me have a look at that."
Reluctantly, Erestor closed his eyes and let Glorfindel examine the wound. He did not think it was deep, but crystal sometimes left nasty shards in the flesh as it was pulled out.
"Tell me, Erestor," Glorfindel said curiously as his fingers found the first piece of glass. "If you do not touch yourself and have no lover, how do you handle your bodyís demands?"
Erestor blushed furiously and refused to answer.
"Cold baths? Exercise? Self control? Dreams?" Glorfindel pulled out another shard and carefully dipped the injured foot in the water, washing away blood to get a clearer view. "Erestor?"
"Self control," Erestor mumbled. "And dreams"
Glorfindel nodded and continued to examine the wound. When he was satisfied that all shards were gone he glanced up at Erestor and smiled. The other was still blushing, dark eyes closed to hide embarrassment. Slowly, Glorfindel slid his hands higher up the muscular leg, under the robes. He heard Erestor gasp and looked up into the black eyes.
"WhatÖ" The deep voice was husky.
"Let me do this, Erestor. Please?"
Entranced, Erestor stared into the dark sapphire eyes as the calloused hands travelled further up his leg. His skin felt tight and small fires seemed to light up in his flesh wherever the hands teased him. Breathless, he felt himself nod before he closed his eyes again, putting his arms down on the floor to support his suddenly weak body.
Glorfindel slid his hands higher, caressing the sensitive skin on the inside or the thighs, over the hips, delighting in the soft velvety skin under his fingers. He swallowed a groan as Erestor moaned and arched against him every time his fingers moved. Impatiently, Glorfindel tugged him closer until the long legs were in the bath, Erestorís back resting on the floor.
Glorfindelís hand was unsteady as his fingers ran gently over the throbbing arousal.
Erestor whimpered and moved against him, mindless for all but the pleasure flooding his body.
"Take your robe off, love," Glorfindel whispered hoarsely. "Let me see you."
Erestorís hands shook as he untied the robe and shrugged it off until it pooled under his back. Glorfindel groaned loudly and reached up, wrapping his hand around Erestorís neck and pulling him down for a kiss. To his surprise, Erestor deepened the kiss, thrusting his tongue into Glorfindelís mouth, filling him as they tasted and struggled for dominance. Glorfindel broke away from the kiss, moving his mouth to the slender neck as his hand firmly grasped the hard flesh. Erestor moaned throatily, arching against Glorfindel as much as he could.
"Who do you dream of, love?" Glorfindel whispered as his teeth grazed the tip of Erestorís ear. Beneath him, Erestor shivered with wordless whimpers. "Tell me, Erestor?" he whispered again, his hand around the arousal quickening its pace.
"You," Erestor moaned, the dark head moving restlessly against the hand behind his neck. "Always, you."
Glorfindel growled and claimed the lips again, kissing Erestor deeply, fiercely. Erestor tensed, his body arching until he thought his back would break. He moaned wildly into Glorfindelís mouth, his heart pounding as he coated the hand around him with the milky essence.
Glorfindel moved slightly until they were both surrounded by the hot water, holding Erestorís body close as the shivers ran through him. Slowly, Erestor relaxed, a soft smile gracing his face as he opened his eyes and looked at Glorfindel. Glorfindel smiled tenderly at him, moving the heavy mane of black hair to the side and dropped a kiss on the pale neck. "You are beautiful, Erestor," he whispered.
Suddenly Erestor moved until he was leaning over Glorfindel, kissing him possessively. Glorfindel gasped when he felt a strong hand wrap around his own arousal and he stared at Erestor, surprised.
Erestor hesitated when Glorfindel looked at him. "I thought you wantedÖ"
Glorfindel moved against Erestor with a breathless laugh. "I do," he whispered.
Erestor smiled slightly and moved his hand experimentally. Pleased at Glorfindelís response, he dropped his head, licking gently at a bronzed nipple.
They both froze as they heard the knock on the bedroom door. "Erestor?"
Glorfindel cursed under his breath when he heard Elladanís voice. "I will strangle them," he whispered against Erestorís neck. "I swear I will strangle them."
He felt Erestorís quiet chuckle as the hand around his arousal started moving again.
"Erestor!" he hissed. "They will come in and look for you if you do not let me up to answer the door."
Erestor claimed Glorfindelís mouth in a hot passionate, kiss as his hand sped up.
Glorfindel convulsed under him, biting Erestorís lip in an effort to silence his moans as he came.
With a strangely shy smile, Erestor got up out of the bath, wrapping a towel around his waist as he left the bathroom. Glorfindel heard him open the door to the bedroom.
"Yes?" Erestorís voice was cold.
"I am sorry for disturbing you, Erestor; Ada wondered if you would like to join us for lunch in an hour?"
"Certainly, tell your father that I would be happy to join him." The voice remained cool and distant. "Was there anything else?"
Elladanís voice was weak, uncomfortable. "You do not happen to know where Glorfindel is, do you?"
"Am I Lord Glorfindelís keeper, Master Elladan?" There was a slight pause. "Glad you agree."
He heard the door close, and fought an insane urge to giggle as he imagined an almost naked Erestor reducing Elladan to a shy, stammering elfling.
Reluctantly, Glorfindel got up of the water and grabbed a towel. He was still alone in the bathroom when he was finally dry and slipped back into his sleeping trousers. He paused in the doorway, leaning against it as his eyes fell on Erestor, who stood looking at the door that had closed behind Elladan, still dressed only in a towel.
"Erestor," he said quietly.
Slowly Erestor turned and looked at him, a strange expression in the dark eyes. "Elrond wishes to see us in an hour," he said finally.
Glorfindel nodded. "I heard." Smoothly he crossed the floor and ran his thumb over Erestorís bottom lip. "Do you regret what we just did, Erestor?"
Erestor met his eyes. "No," he admitted quietly. He moved away and started to dry himself, avoiding Glorfindelís eyes.
"Erestor," Glorfindel said patiently as he sank down on the bed, looking at the scarred body in front of him. "Something is not right. Will you not tell me what is on your mind?"
The tense shoulders sagged. "Not now, please?" Erestor whispered. "I needÖtimeÖI have to think."
Glorfindel stretched out on the bed. "I guess I should leave to get dressed," he said. "I do not think Elrond would appreciate me appearing at his table dressed in next to nothing." He smiled slightly at Erestor. "Or I could borrow one of your robes, but black does not suit me and I fear they would be too long for me."
He watched as Erestor opened the wardrobe and pulled out one of the black robes.
"Someday," he said, "I will throw out every black robe you have and replace them with colours."
Erestor turned towards him with a frown. "Why?"
"You were so beautiful in your deep blue robe that I had to fight to breathe. I would wish to see you that way more often."
"Truly?" Erestorís whisper was quiet, breathless, as he felt himself drown in the sapphire gaze. Glorfindel nodded.
The robe fell to the floor, discarded, as Erestor suddenly moved, crossing the floor and kneeling by the bed, dragging the heavy chest out into plain view. Hesitantly, he opened the lid before he looked at Glorfindel.
"What would you wish me to wear?
Glorfindel gasped at the colours and materials that met his eyes as he knelt beside Erestor. "Why do you keep these hidden?" he whispered as he lifted them out of the chest.
Erestor moved away. "It is better this way." His voice was hollow.
Glorfindelís eyes fell on a rich blood-red velvet robe, unadorned by embroidery. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine Erestor in it. He felt his body harden as the image of Erestor, splayed across the bed, entered his mind; Erestor wearing nothing but the heavy velvet and lost in passion. "This one," he said, his voice rusty as he lifted the robe.
Erestor nodded quietly and took it out of his hands, elegantly shrugging into the robe and closing the buttons before he reached for the hairbrush. He paused for a moment and looked at Glorfindel. "You are running out of time. Elrond expects us to join him shortly."
"Before I leave, ErestorÖ" Glorfindel leaned his head against Erestorís. "Do you wish me to return tonight?" He held his breath as he waited for the answer.
"Yes," Erestor whispered finally and reached up until his lips brushed Glorfindelís. "May the Valar have mercy on us, I do."
Elrond looked up as Erestor entered the dining room and swallowed at the sight of his friend. It was long since Erestor had last worn robes such as the one he was wearing now, and he had forgotten the intense beauty and sensuality that floated around Erestor at such times. Frowning, he realised that he had not truly seen Erestor in anything but black since Glorfindelís return, and even then he had not worn colours daily since their years with FŽanorís sons. As he looked closer, his eyes narrowed. Erestor was pale and weak; his hands were shaking slightly despite the struggles to keep them steady and the shadows under his eyes were deep and dark.
"Erestor," he said, forcing himself to smile. "Please, sit with me. I have missed you these past few days. Are you feeling any stronger?"
Erestor crossed the floor and sat gracefully in the chair next to his Lord. "A little," he said coolly.
Elladan was listening to his brother when he heard Erestorís voice, and glanced up. Suddenly, he felt like he had just swallowed his own tongue as he stared at his former tutor. Curiously, Elrohir followed his gaze and fell quiet. "By Elbereth," Elrohir whispered to his brother in a choked voice. "We seduced the wrong tutor, I think." The twins looked at each other, the grey eyes large with shock, before they turned back to Erestor, giving him their full attention.
"Are you thirsty, Erestor?" Elrohir asked concernedly and handed Erestor a goblet filled with heavy red wine.
Elladan filled a plate with fruits and breads and the best meats and placed it in front of Erestor. "You should try to eat something."
"Thank you, little ones," The deep voice was as distant as ever as Erestor ignored the food and wine.
Glorfindel looked at the scene in front of him when he entered. Celeborn and Galadriel were talking quietly while watching the twins with obvious amusement. Elrond and his sons were talking to Erestor, getting short and chilly answers when they got any at all, and Elladan and Elrohir were both watching Erestor - their eyes filled with barely concealed desire. Glorfindelís eyes narrowed as he saw Elrohir shift slightly closer to Erestor.
"Excuse me for being late, Elrond; I just got your message. I am afraid I have been outside all morning." He crossed the floor and sat down in the empty seat between Elrohir and Erestor, ignoring the younger twinís furious glare. "Are you well, my friend?" he asked with a wide smile. The concern that had been with him the past few days returned when he noticed that the weariness had again returned to the dark gaze. "Erestor?" he asked insistently, cupping the otherís chin in his hand and raising his head. "How are you?"
Erestor moved away and forced himself to stand. "Excuse me for leaving so soon, Elrond. I am tired." Abruptly he left the room.
Elrond turned to Glorfindel. "Has he made no improvement?"
Glorfindel sighed as he looked at his friend. "Elrond, his being here at all is an improvement. Still, he tires easily and quickly. Excuse me - I seem to have lost my appetite as well."
He was aware of the others watching him as he left, and hated that he could not reassure them in any way. Had Erestor grown any stronger? He had thought so; only two hours ago he could have sworn so, but now he no longer knew. Erestor had always been good at hiding his feelings.