Summary: A story to follow the second life of a Lord of Nargothrond, reborn in Valinor and adopted by two very loving elves.
Categories: Stories of Arda > Bunniverse (PPB-AU) > Fourth Age Characters: Asfaloth, Celeborn, Elodien, Elrond, Erestor, Finduilas, Galadriel, Glorfindel, Gwindor, Haldir, Halmir, Legolas, Nenniach, Rumil, Skyrocket, Thranduil
Special Collection: Elfling Chronicles
Chapters: 6 Completed: Yes
Word count: 16487 Read: 50107
Published: September 08 2007 Updated: September 08 2007
1. Chapter 1 by Zhie
2. Chapter 2 by Zhie
3. Chapter 3 by Zhie
4. Chapter 4 by Zhie
5. Chapter 5 by Zhie
6. Chapter 6 by Zhie
Bundled in a worn green and white checkered quilt was a warm, sleeping elfling, hugged close to Glorfindel's chest. The elfling had been found earlier on the front porch of the seaside cottage in Valinor shared by Glorfindel and Erestor. "We don't know who put him there. I do know it's too cold for an elfling to survive for long, and they couldn't have known anyone would find him. There was no note, no one knocked on the door, nothing. I don't know who they are, but when we find them-"
"We won't," Erestor said softly, turning as the baby began to stir. Reaching down, he lifted back part of the blanket, tilting his head sadly. "I wish they would have waited to abandon him until he was a little stronger."
Galadriel nodded. "He needs to be fed, he's too thin," she noted, feeling the blanketed babe. Her frown deepened as she felt his little legs through the blanket. "He isn't fussing much," she said.
"He can't. He doesn't have the strength to." Taking the elfling away from Glorfindel, who was reluctant to let him go, Erestor revealed the thin, weak legs and Galadriel clutched her stomach as she took in the little one's marred face.
Turning away, Galadriel said, "Perhaps we can get him to Haldir's house. There is a chance Elodien could nurse him."
"We don't have that sort of time," concluded Erestor as he rewrapped the quilt and relinquished the baby back to Glorfindel. "I think the cow's milk would be too strong, so we came here to try the goats," he explained as Glorfindel tucked the baby back under his chin.
Giving a nod, Galadriel plucked a candle from the ones sitting in the hallway. "Let me get dressed and find a pail."
"I’ll go," said Erestor. "Just a wide bowl is fine for me, if there's one in the kitchen, and would you mind if we stayed, just until morning?"
"Yes, you know where they are. Here, I'll help you get one," she said as she followed Erestor down the dimly lit corridor.
"Erestor. However good your intentions, he may not survive," she hissed as she found the bowl. "I'm not going to say that in front of Glorfindel, but you must know from looking at that poor little thing-"
"He is NOT a thing," Erestor said as he cut her off. "He is my son." His eyes held a fire she had not seen before, but it died away as she handed him the bowl and bowed her head away. "Artanis, I'm sorry, I know what you meant. I just... how could anyone think to abandon their child?" His shoulders shook and the bowl dropped to the floor and shattered, but he made no move to pick up the pieces. Sagging as he leaned against the wall, he said through his tears, "I know him, Artanis, I know him."
"Stay here. I'll be right back." Galadriel retrieved another bowl and left the kitchen, passing Glorfindel on her way to the door. "Go up to the third floor, you can use Haldir's old rooms. Everything you need should be there, and I'll see if we still have a cradle when I return." She waited until he had started up the stairs before leaving the house for the barn.
"Thank you." Erestor took hold of the bowl when Galadriel returned. The floor had been swept, and Erestor was sitting at the table. He was standing up now, and moving to the door. "Where are they?"
"Third floor," she said. "Erestor?" He turned and looked at her. "If you need help, don't hesitate. If his parents- if the ones who left him on your stoop come by, what do you want me to tell them?"
Shaking his head, Erestor said, "They won't." He carried the bowl up two flights of steps and walked down the hall to the white and golden room. Glorfindel had managed to light a number of candles and had turned the desk chair around. He was rocking his body back and forth, whispering to the elfling as Erestor kicked the door shut with his foot.
Setting the bowl down on the desktop, Erestor placed a hand to Glorfindel's cheek. "I'm sorry," he said softly, as not to disturb Glorfindel's humming too much. "I know we should have discussed it, but... I don't think it was random he ended up on our porch. I think Eru's watching out for him."
"Well, Eru can't do it all on his own," Glorfindel said softly. Dipping his fingers into the bowl, he offered them to the elfling, but was met by a pouting and unhappy little face and had to use the corner of the quilt to dab at the drops that fell. "Any ideas?" asked Glorfindel as he stuck his pinky back into the bowl and tried again with less luck. He rubbed his finger on the baby's lips, which only served to make the elfling cry.
Moving to sit on the edge of the bed, Erestor lowered himself down, looking helpless as Glorfindel tried every finger on both hands, even trying to spoon it with his fingers together. Both the towel and his tunic were damp now, from the milk and from the sweat as Glorfindel's frustration with the situation grew. "Here, can you hold our son while I get this off?" asked Glorfindel, handing the baby to Erestor.
"I love you so much," answered Erestor, cradling the elfling as Glorfindel tossed the damp tunic and his shirt into a pile near the door. It wasn't until Glorfindel had taken possession of the child once again that Erestor burst into tears, fists clenched to his bowed face as he tried to sort out all of the emotions and thoughts he was having.
He looked up again when he realized that the sounds of a whimpering baby had been replaced by a slurping noise. "What are you- oh, it's dripping all over the floor," Erestor said, hastily retrieving a towel before returning to sop up mess from the rugs.
"Ah, but he's eating, and that's what matters," Glorfindel pointed out. Glorfindel had the little one cradled in his left arm. He dribbled the goats’ milk from his right hand down his own collarbone where most of it was sliding down his chest like a little white river. One tiny hand was waving lazily in the air as the other pressed to Glorfindel's skin. The elfling's mouth was latched on to Glorfindel, lazy-eyed but looking happier as he managed to suck much of the milk that trickled down to him.
"I suppose I'm wasting it this way," frowned Glorfindel as Erestor wiped the excess milk from his side and the chair
"I can get more," assured Erestor. "It's not a waste. I'll be back."
As Erestor moved out into the hallway, he ran into Elrond, who had just dressed and was leaving his room. Obviously, Galadriel was wasting little time in waking the household, or at least particular members. There was a grin on the peredhel's face as Erestor approached him. "Congratulations are in order, but first, did I overhear a need to milk the goats again?"
Giving a nod, Erestor allowed himself to fall victim to a lengthy speech in which he was imparted with every important piece of knowledge Elrond had ever wanted to tell a new father but had never been given the chance to do. The entire time milking the goats was filled with anecdotes from the childhood of the twins, Arwen, and Vilya as Elrond recalled everything from proud moments to be thrown up on, all of which was described in detail to Erestor as he sat silently on his stool and milked the goat.
As the pair came back inside and went up the stairs, Erestor said nervously, "Elrond, you might want to just... to not come in."
"Why not?" Stopping just short of the door, Elrond looked truly puzzled. "I'm right in the next room, Erestor, I heard everything going on," he admitted as he watched Erestor stare at the door uneasily. "I'm sorry, but I'm just right in the next room."
"That isn't why," whispered Erestor. "He... his face..."
"Erestor, is that you?" called out Glorfindel.
Hastily, Erestor reached for the handle of the door and entered, finding Glorfindel was not alone. Lined up on the bed were Galadriel, Nenniach, and Rumil, who was currently holding the baby. Erestor smiled when Rumil looked up and said, "I finally have a brother-in-law!"
"We've been helping to entertain," explained Galadriel. She was holding the damp towel, and walked with it to Erestor, handing it to him. "If you want, I offered to Glorfindel that I can try to-"
"Auntie," pouted Glorfindel, appealing to her in a way he rarely did but that tended to work, "if I'm going to be his Nana, then it's my task."
Feeling his throat tighten, Erestor swallowed down hard to keep himself from another breakdown. "Thank you, but I think we've managed to work something out."
"Alright, give them some space," directed Elrond, bringing in the second bucket and placing it next to the desk. He intercepted the baby before he reached Glorfindel and held the little elfling gently. "In the morning, bring him to me, I'll see what we can do for his legs," Elrond said, watching the baby follow the finger he moved back and forth, up and down in front of his eyes. "Well, then, here's your little peanut back," he laughed as Glorfindel impatiently tapped his foot.
Celeborn entered just as Elrond was leaving. "I can't find a crib or cradle to save my soul, but I can ride to get one tomorrow, or have Orophin build one. I'm sure he'd love to; you'll need one for here and one for your home. Everything went with Elodien when she was expecting."
"That's quite alright, it will take us at least until morning to see he is fed," said Glorfindel. "He can sleep in my arms after that. He likes it there, don't you, peanut?" he asked, trying out Elrond's nickname.
But Celeborn was musing to himself. "If I start now, though, make it there by noon... I'm going to leave now, in case anyone asks for me, I don't want to wake anyone back up."
"I don't think that they are all asleep again yet," said Erestor. "Really, it's not a problem, we can-"
"Glorfindel, may I borrow Asfaloth?" Elrond was back at the door, fastening his belt again, then looked at Celeborn's questioning expression. "I'll get provisions for us and we'll have breakfast on the way. No need for you to ride alone with two horses here. Glorfindel?"
"I have no reason to say no." Glorfindel was moving to the rocking chair that Rumil had brought up to the room as Celeborn and Elrond left. "Well, there we are. You worried they would smother us, but they're all being quite helpful."
Erestor moved a table beside the rocker and brought over a fresh bowl of milk. "Easy for you. Elrond lectured me already."
"Well, I got breastfeeding tips from your daughter," countered Glorfindel as he tucked a cloth under his arm to catch the runoff.
Pausing mid-step, Erestor turned. "Alright. You win." After turning down the bed with expectations that they would all need at least a little rest, Erestor then went to tend to the fireplace.
"Maybe this is odd to think or say," spoke Glorfindel as Erestor dragged the desk chair to the rocker, "but this is an incredible thing to be doing. I'm a little envious in that I... well, it's silly, but I wish for you that I was his real nana."
Recalling a conversation they had once had on the topic, Erestor gave Glorfindel a thankful smile and leaned forward to kiss his lips. "Whoever says you aren't will have his real ada to deal with."
Glorfindel relaxed with a sigh and looked back to the tiny elfling who continued to drink in earnest. "I do want to be sure he's weaned by the time he starts teething," said Glorfindel, causing Erestor to finally laugh for the first time since he had heard the tiny cries from the porch earlier that evening.
It was still dark when l'il peanut, for he had no real name yet, had been fed and burped and fed a little more and had fallen asleep against Glorfindel. It was Erestor who carried the little one to the bed as the baby's new nana went to clean himself up. Glorfindel crawled into the bed facing Erestor, the two of them creating a barrier on either side of the sleeping child. "How is he?"
"Doing better, not so pale. Thank you, Glorfindel. Oh, you're all red," he remarked as he reached forward, but Glorfindel pulled away and covered his hand over the marked flesh.
"Mmmmhhnn, don't touch. It's a little sensitive right now.” Resting on his back and leaving the sheet draped over body to his waist, he said, “Please tell me you aren’t thinking of finding his parents.”
“I thought you wanted to find out who they are.” Erestor tucked the blankets up around the little elfling.
Closing his eyes as he yawned, Glorfindel said, “I thought I did, but- he’s our son now, and I don’t want anyone to take him away. I’m very possessive as you may have noticed,” he winked as he turned his head.
“You? I had no idea,” Erestor countered, resting his head on his arms. “I won’t seek them out. I promise. Get some rest, I’ll stay awake.”
Barely managing to nod his head, Glorfindel drifted into reverie. Erestor spent the early morning hours deciding that the most suitable name for the elfling he knew to be reborn was the same name he had been given his first time in the world.
Gwindor was on the floor with Glorfindel, stacking colorful cubes of wood and knocking them over only to rebuild them again. On the couch sat Erestor, watching the scene with thoughtful worry, and beside him Thranduil, who nursed a glass of brandy. “I’ve seen many elflings in my years, and they’ve all walked by the age of three. Most of them by a year, and some at a year and a half can sing and dance, but that was always a little peculiar to observe,” said Thranduil.
“Didn’t Legolas take a rather long time?” asked Erestor. Gwindor, intent on stacking all of the red blocks and nothing else, spied one a little further away than the others. Reaching forward, he pulled himself the few feet to retrieve it, his legs dragging behind.
Thranduil’s eyes stayed focused on the elfling as he answered, “He didn’t stand until two years and three months, but soon after he was racing hither and thither. I can’t recall how often I had to tell him not to run through the living quarters when he was younger.”
Erestor turned to look at the wall. “I’m a bad father.”
“What?” Thranduil set his glass onto the table and edged closer to his friend. “Erestor, that is a stupid thing to say.”
“I’ve tried everything. Everything I could think of, everything others suggested- nothing, no change. He still crawls around and I can’t do anything about it.” Erestor looked at Gwindor, who had stopped playing and was watching his ada, a blue block poised to be placed on his latest wall of blocks. “Are you having fun, ion-nin?” he asked a little louder.
“Come and play, ada! Nanafin wants you to, too,” Gwindor said, his lisp not as prominent as when he yelled to them when they played outside. But playing with Gwindor was never quite the same as it had been with other elflings. Sliding down from the couch, Erestor leaned forward and handed Gwindor another block. “No, no! Green ones! Green ones!” he said, pointing to the leaf-colored mound.
Dropping the yellow cube, Erestor used both hands to push the green blocks closer. Thranduil joined them, sitting down cross-legged between Erestor and Gwindor. “You’re quite a bright young fellow, knowing the colors of all of these things,” he commented. Gwindor grinned, and the scars on his face looked less frightening as he did so. “Suppose you tell me, how many blocks do you have here in this pile?”
“You didn’t even count, and yet you’re certain?” asked Thranduil.
“I have two there, and Nanafin has one. There are seventeen green blocks, that makes fourteen there,” deduced Gwindor.
“Brilliant,” remarked the Sinda, and he picked up one of the blue blocks. “How many sides does one of these have?”
“Eight,” answered Gwindor.
Thranduil smiled and said, “I think if you take a closer look, you’ll note it has one, two, three, four, five, and here six, sides to it.”
“It has eight,” Gwindor corrected him. “You forgot the inside and the outside.”
“So it does,” agreed Thranduil. He set the block down and asked, “What do you want to be when you’re grown?”
“Be?” Gwindor looked confused.
“Be. Do. When you are an adult,” prompted Thranduil.
“Oh. I guess I’ll be good,” answered Gwindor.
Thranduil contemplated this and further pushed the matter. “But what do you want to do with your life? What job would you like?”
Gwindor started his work on the green part of the wall. “I just want to be good. The rest I will figure out later.”
Shifting his gaze to Erestor, Thranduil said, “When Ilmendin was his age, he told me he was going to acquire jewels to outshine the silmarils. With Legolas, he was adamant that he would be a king and not just a prince. As a father, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”
- - -
“Fin, knock it off.”
“Glorfindel!” Erestor tugged at the sheet, but quickly realized that it was being drawn off of him not to the side, but from the bottom of the bed. Sitting up abruptly, he could now hear something of a worried sob coming from the floor. “Gwindor?”
Erestor stumbled off of the bed and found the elfling at the foot of it, one hand clutching the end of the sheet and his other holding his knee. He was shivering, and when Erestor gathered him into his arms, he found out he was damp, from sweating and crying and from what he was crying about.
“I tried to get out of bed, but I fell and then I didn’t make it,” explained Gwindor, but between his tears and his lisp, all Erestor understood was ‘bed’ and ‘fell’, as he carried the elfling to the washroom. Behind them trailed the sheet, Gwindor’s hand still holding it.
Sitting Gwindor down on the countertop, Erestor pulled the nightshirt off of the elfling over his head, loosening the grip he had on the sheet. “We’ll get you cleaned up, and then back to bed.”
Looking ready to cry again, Gwindor said, “I mean, I didn’t make it and then I fell.” This was more discernable, as was, “I knocked the chamber pot over, too.”
“You can sleep in bed with us, peanut.” Glorfindel entered the room, gathering up the trailing sheet as he made his way to them. Under his arm he had a fresh shirt for Gwindor and a towel. “If you get the water ready, I will give him a bath,” offered Glorfindel to Erestor.
Wanting to say, ‘You just don’t want to strip his bed’, Erestor simply nodded. He left Gwindor sitting on the counter as he began to fill the tub.
“When will you teach me to walk?”
Bowing his head, the tears fell from Erestor’s eyes into the basin as the water flowed into it. “Soon, Gwindor.”
“Tomorrow, maybe?” asked the elfling hopefully. “I think I could learn fast and then I would make it out of bed faster.”
Erestor reached down into the water as if he were testing it, splashing a handful up onto his face. “Maybe tomorrow,” replied the elf, hating himself for the false hope he gave the little one. He turned to find Gwindor grinning happily at him and smiled back, holding back his tears. Glorfindel came in again, handing a clean shirt to Erestor.
“You’re a little damp,” he whispered, “and I took care of his bed, if you can manage the floor.” To the elfling, Glorfindel said, “Well, now, shall we find your gulls, or is your toy boat good enough for right now?”
“Boat,” Gwindor decided as he was lifted off of the counter and lowered into the warm water.
When Glorfindel carried him into the bedroom, the elfling was jabbering about the sea and the beach and the waves and boats in between yawns. The minute he was settled in bed, he drifted asleep. “I propose we stay in bed late tomorrow,” Glorfindel said quietly, raising his hand as if calling for a vote. “All those in favor? Erestor?” Glorfindel frowned as his arm dropped. “Erestor, what’s wrong?”
Erestor’s arms covered his face, his hands fisted in his own hair. “When are we going to tell him? What are we going to do? I would carry him for a thousand years, but in five or ten he’s not going to want that. He wants to be normal. How do we tell him he isn’t?”
“Maybe he’s not normal, but I wouldn’t have him any other way,” replied Glorfindel with a sigh as he bent down to kiss Gwindor’s head. “As for walking, I told you before what we should do. At the time, I know you wanted to wait, but I don’t think he’s going to get any stronger. I don’t think there’s anything we can do about that.” Touching Erestor’s arm with his hand, he waited until they were lowered so that he could see his lover’s face. “He has to be able to get around. We need to do what we can for him.”
With a nod, Erestor said, “He asked if we could teach him tomorrow.”
“Then we shall go to see Olorin tomorrow,” said Glorfindel.
- - -
“I don’t just keep my balance with it,” said Gandalf, his staff across his knees. He was sitting on a chair outside the house he had near the hobbit hole that Frodo and Sam shared. Lifting up the staff, he swung it around, and Erestor had to press back in his seat or risk being hit. “It makes a handy weapon.” To prove his point, the istar took it in his hand again and swiftly used the end to bonk Erestor’s head, so that those sitting in the clearing, except for the one who had been hit, laughed.
Rubbing his head, Erestor said, “Olorin’s not the only one to use a walking stick. Our friend Haldir has one, too, doesn’t he, Elrond?”
“One here, one at his home, one at the Kastle, although he tends to grab a stick if it’s handier when he needs one,” said Elrond. “We’ve one here for you to use that’s just your size, and Orophin, you might have remembered him from when you were very little, he will make them for you as you get bigger so that they grow while you do.”
Gwindor looked unconvincingly at the crutch that was propped up against Elrond’s chair. He was sitting on Glorfindel’s lap, but turned instead to his father. “Did you ever use one, Ada?”
“Yes,” Erestor said cautiously, recalling the time he had been injured when Gondolin fell, and other various mishaps he had had through the years.
“But not anymore,” said Gwindor.
Shaking his head, Erestor took the crutch from where it was and turned it over in his hands. “No. Not anymore,” he said.
“So I will use it until I can walk without it?” he guessed. Erestor nodded mutely.
“I’ve always thought,” spoke Gandalf, “that having a walking stick makes one look rather dignified,” he said. “And wise,” he said with a wink to the elfling.
The elleth ran up the slope, stumbling on rocks as she did, until she reached the plateau that overlooked the sea. Over her shoulder, she could make out the house on the shore with its stupid pink fence and stupid gardens and stupid elves and stupid rules. She flounced through the grass until she came to a path that she followed that led to a grove of peach and apple trees. There was an elf sitting beneath one of them, leaning against the trunk of a tree and eating an apple. Seeing no one else around, she walked up to him.
“Mae govannen. I am Lasiavis. Who are you?” she asked.
Looking up from his book, Gwindor blinked at the pretty little elleth before him. “Gwindor. Pleased to make your acquaintance. Are you lost?” he asked, not recalling ever having met her, or anyone else his age for that matter, nor was he used to having visitors up here in the orchards.
“No, I’m not lost,” she sighed. “I’m running away.”
“Oh. Running away from what?” wondered Gwindor.
“From home,” she said, as if everyone should know exactly what anyone would be running away from.
“Is something wrong with your home?” he asked, and looking around, he added, “Where are your parents? Are they running away with you?”
“THEY are the ones I’m running away FROM.” Heaving a sigh, she plopped down on the grass beside him. “They brought me to my grandparents, but I don’t like any of them. They don’t let me do what I want to do. I don’t like my other grandparents, either, except At’ada Thranduil does give me nice gifts.”
“I know Thranduil!” said Gwindor excitedly. “He’s a friend of mine! We have had many conversations concerning things of great importance.”
Lasiavis frowned. “Why do you talk funny?” she asked, forgetting that he was praising one of the relatives she disliked the most.
“I have an accent,” he replied. “How far away do you live?”
“I live in the East Dalelands, in the Kastle Village,” she said.
“You must be hungry to have run all that way,” reasoned Gwindor. “Would you like an apple?” he asked.
Smiling, Lasiavis nodded. “That would be lovely, thank you.” She watched as Gwindor picked up the stick that was next to him on the ground and used it to hoist himself up. Balancing with one hand on the trunk, he raised the stick in the air and aimed it at an apple. Heaving it straight up, it snapped the stem before falling back, where he caught it in his open hand. The apple rolled to the ground next to Lasiavis’s leg. “Why do you have a crutch?” she asked.
“A what?” Gwindor propped himself up on the stick, half-balancing on his right leg, which was the stronger of the two.
“That thing there,” she said, pointing as she picked up the apple with her other hand.
“This is a walking stick,” he informed her.
“It looks like a crutch.”
“It is a walking stick because it is a stick that I use when I walk.” His voice was calm, but he was beginning to wonder about the intelligence of this pretty, young girl.
“Well, why do you have it?”
“To... walk with...” Gwindor was wondering if he would have to demonstrate, but Lasuiavis said, “Oh.” and began to eat her apple.
Munching on her apple as Gwindor sat back down next to her, Lasiavis said, “If you walk with a stick, does that mean you’re hurt?”
“No,” answered Gwindor. “It means I’m a dignified sort of fellow. That’s what my friend Olorin told me.”
“Can you walk without it?” pressed Lasiavis.
“Not really,” Gwindor finally replied.
“Because I need more practice,” he answered. He picked at the side of his stick, looking down at the ground. “Would you like another apple?” he asked as she finished the first.
She shook her head. “No, thank you.”
“I suppose you’ll want to start running away again,” he said sadly. “It’s a shame, though. I don’t have much of anyone my own age to talk to, and... and you’re very pretty,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said a little awkwardly with a slight hesitation. “You’re... very nice,” she finally decided on. Gwindor beamed.
“Whatever are you running away for, anyway?”
Lasiavis stood up and looked north toward the beach below. “I asked my Ada if I could ride the pony, and he said no. So I asked my Nana, who said to ask my Adar, and he said yes. But then my Ada was upset, and now I’m not allowed to for a week and there is NOTHING to DO here,” she complained. “Everyone is too busy with work. They have to harvest and won’t let me help except boring things in the kitchen that I don’t want to do.”
“You should come up here. We don’t harvest for another few weeks, and it’s fun when we do! I sit up on my Nanafin’s shoulders and- wait a minute. Your Ada said no and then yes and then got mad?” wondered Gwindor.
“No! My Ada said no, my Adar said yes. That’s another problem. I have TWO of them,” she groaned. “It’s most confusing.” Gwindor smirked. “What’s so funny?”
“If you want confusing, try this. I have an Ada and a Nana, but both of them are boys.”
“No, they can’t be,” countered Lasiavis.
Gwindor nodded. “Come! I’ll show you!” He pulled himself up, and with his crutch under one arm, he offered his other to Lasiavis, who had never had anyone do such a thing, but she delightedly curtseyed and took hold of his arm. With Gwindor hobbling along, the pair came to the house. Gwindor motioned that they should be quiet as he pushed the door open.
“And... what’s cooking here?”
There was a sound of metal clanking back onto metal. “Don’t. You’ll ruin it.”
“I’m not going to ruin it, I’m just going to taste it,” protested the deeper voice.
The second voice was ignoring the first. “Where is... I need more sugar...” he mumbled. The sound of someone walking away could be heard followed by a call of “Don’t touch it!”
Gwindor and Lasiavis peeked around the corner into the kitchen to see a tall, dark elf glancing over his shoulder as he cautiously lifted the lid off of a pot and dipped his little finger in. Suddenly, another elf came back around the corner, humming and carrying a clay jar. “Ress!”
“That’s my Ada,” whispered Gwindor as he pointed out Erestor, who dropped the lid and slurped the orangey syrup from his finger. “And my Nana is the other one.”
“But he’s a boy!” she hissed.
“Well, he’s still my Nana.”
Glorfindel lifted the lid quickly and peered down inside. “You’re just... lucky is what you are,” he scolded Erestor, who was washing his hand of any remaining evidence.
“Ada? Nanafin?” Gwindor came around the corner fully now, with Lasiavis behind him. “I want you to meet my friend, Lasiavis. Could she stay for dinner? She’s running away from home.” The elleth buried her face in her hands as soon as the last sentence was out of Gwindor’s mouth.
Glorfindel and Erestor exchanged quick glances. “Well, of course your friend can stay,” said Glorfindel. “I’ll set another place. Erestor, perhaps you would be able to go out and fetch me a pair of eggs from the barn.” Erestor nodded and left out the back way.
“So, Lasiavis, why are you running away from home?” asked Glorfindel as he took another plate out of the cabinet.
“Just... because...” she said with a shrug.
“Oh. I see,” he said. Behind him, Gwindor gave Lasiavis a confused look, and she hushed him. Unsure why she didn’t want to share her reasons with everyone else, Gwindor managed to get himself to the table and to sit down, but only after he pulled out the chair for Lasiavis, waited for her to sit, and pushed it gently back in.
Glorfindel set a bowl of chopped vegetables and some sort of dish that had noodles and sauce down in the middle of the table. Glancing toward the door, he said, “Your Ada will be back soon, Gwindor. Now, Lasiavis... running away... you didn’t seem to say why,” he said. When she only fidgeted in her chair, he asked, “Does one of your parents dislike you?”
“They all dislike me,” she said with a pout.
“Do they beat you?”
Lasiavis looked up with wide eyes, and Gwindor looked confused. “NO! Never! What kind of elf would beat their children?”
“I don’t know, I’m just trying to understand why you’re running away,” Glorfindel said softly. “Do they yell at you? Call you names? Tell you how they wish you had never been born?”
Both of the elflings looked horrified. “No, they’ve never done that! They love me!”
“I thought they disliked you,” said Glorfindel, feigning confusion.
“I...” Lasiavis did not have time to finish as Erestor entered the cottage.
“Sorry about that,” Erestor said. “Shall we eat?” The elflings were both too shocked by Glorfindel’s words notice that Erestor did not bring back any eggs with him.
As the meal was nearing the end, there was a knock on the door. “I wonder who that could be,” spoke Erestor, hastily getting up from the table. Into the house came Legolas and Elodien, looking as if they had just jumped off of their horses onto the front porch.
Elodien reached Lasiavis first, scooping her off of the chair and into her arms. “Sweetie, don’t ever scare us like this again! We’ve been so worried about you!” Lasiavis mumbled something against her mother, who loosened her hold. “I know, I know, but you do understand why your Ada didn’t want you to ride the horses, don’t you? No one was there to watch. Those horses aren’t like the ponies your At’ada has, if you fell off you could be very badly hurt!”
Legolas had slowly approached and was standing beside Elodien now. Lasiavis looked up at her stern-faced Ada and her lip began to quiver. As soon as Legolas held his arms open to her, she practically leapt into them and started sniffling, burying her face. “I’m sorry we’ve disturbed your meal,” apologized Legolas, but Erestor shook his head.
“Think nothing of it. She is welcome here at any time, as are you.” Erestor took the ellethling’s hand and squeezed it. “It was very nice to meet you, Lasiavis,” he said. She nodded and mumbled something back and then looked over and waved at Gwindor, who returned the gesture with a smile.
As they were leaving, the wind carried back the conversation on the porch. “Perhaps it would be a good thing to have them interact. Gwindor really hasn’t been with others his age.”
“Lasiavis, either,” admitted Legolas.
“Ada? What’s wrong with him?” asked Lasiavis as the door closed behind them.
“Gwindor can’t walk. What’s wrong with...” the shut door drowned out the rest, but Gwindor had already heard enough of it.
So had Glorfindel, but his reaction was not as swift as he made an attempt to grab Gwindor’s arm as he limped swiftly away from the table. “Gwindor!”
“I’m not hungry!” he shouted as he dropped his crutch and used the banister to hoist himself up the stairs, a far faster way to climb them as he had long ago learned.
Erestor reentered the room cursing, not having to be told what had happened. “His room?”
“I assume so,” sighed Glorfindel as Erestor ran up the stairs.
Erestor rapped on the door with his knuckles twice before he was told to “Go Away!”. The third time, he could tell that something had been thrown across the room against the door. “Gwindor, please let me come in. I want to be sure you’re alright.”
“I’m fine! I want to be left alone!”
“Good night! I’m going to sleep now!”
Erestor slid down to sit against the wall beside the door, listening for any sounds that would make him force the door open, but it sounded as if Gwindor had thrown some things around and then thrown himself onto his bed to sleep. It wasn’t long before Glorfindel walked up the darkening stairway.
“Are you going to sleep here in the hall?” he asked, offering his hand to Erestor. Shaking his head, Erestor allowed himself to be helped up onto his feet.
“Everything will work out in the end,” the golden haired elf said as the pair entered their own room. “He just needs time.” Glorfindel coaxed Erestor to change for the evening as the bed was turned down. When Erestor came back from the washroom, he found Glorfindel sitting at the desk staring at his folded hands.
“Are you alright?” Erestor asked, putting a hand on Glorfindel’s shoulder.
Giving a small smile, Glorfindel said, “I’ve just been thinking about my father this evening. When she said she was running away, I started to recall what made me flee Beleriand.” Erestor sat down on the bench beside Glorfindel and started to unbraid the golden hair. “The last few years, when he began to suspect were the hardest. He would find reasons to hit me. I swear barely a day passed that he didn’t backhand me across the face or beat me with his belt. Sometimes he would break a switch off a tree and whip me before the bruises and welts from the day before had healed. When he found out... when I told him, that is, I ran without even thinking. Do you think I was wrong?”
Absently picking up the hairbrush, Erestor began to work the snarls from the ends of Glorfindel’s mane. “If you’d have stayed, well, you couldn’t have known what he would have done.”
“Look at the mess I landed in. One thing I knew is that my father would not have killed me – but Turgon was a different matter. I’d have been put to death, and it was only Ecthelion who kept me in check.”
“How old were you when you ran away?” asked Erestor, gathering Glorfindel’s hair at the back of his neck and tying it off.
“Forty-five. I turned Forty-six not quite two weeks after I took an oath of fealty to Ecthelion’s House. I told him I was three hundred and forty-five, but he knew. Funny, how he was more like a father to me than my own father was.”
“I suppose unconditional love runs in your family, then,” smiled Erestor, and Glorfindel smiled back.
- - -
“Gwindor’s not come back yet,” said Glorfindel in a worried voice as he suddenly noted the time. Erestor had just come in the door, having returned from the gardens for the day, and looked around in alarm.
“Are you sure?” Erestor went to the stairs. “Gwindor!” When there was no answer, he headed for the door. “Where was he last?”
“Probably in the orchard,” called Glorfindel as the door shut. “He couldn’t have gotten far,” he mumbled to himself.
Continuing to call for him, Erestor finally found the child sprawled in the grass, growling and hitting the ground hard between tears. Looking around, Erestor saw that the walking stick he had was nearby, but had hit a rock and splintered. Kneeling down, he began to draw Gwindor into his arms.
“No! Get away!” Gwindor pulled back, floundering over onto his side. “Don’t touch me!”
“I just want to help you,” Erestor said in a panicked voice. “Please, let me-“
“No! Leave me alone!” Gwindor used his arms to move himself backwards. “I don’t want help! I don’t want pity! I don’t want help from you!” He picked up the crutch and began to beat it against the ground, pieces of it flying as they broke off. “I don’t! Want! This!”
Stopping when there wasn’t anything left but a handful of wood, Gwindor broke into sobs again, the remnants dropping from his hand. “Why am I so ugly? What did I do?” He kept asking it, over and over as Erestor slowly approached him and enfolded him in his arms, rocking them both until Gwindor fell limp against him. “Ada, I don’t want this.”
“If I,” said Erestor, lifting up Gwindor’s chin with his hand, “could take your pain, if I,” he said, putting his hand on Gwindor’s thin, twisted leg, “could take this, if I could be the one in your place, I damn well would. I would do anything I could to make you better, if it were in my power.”
“I know.” Gwindor hiccupped. “I’m sorry, Ada.”
“Baby, you have nothing to be sorry about,” he said, sniffling. “We will fight this and find a way to win, alright?” Gwindor shrugged. “Look at me, peanut,” he said, making Gwindor smile a little. “We’ll do this. You and me.”
“And Nanafin,” he added.
“Well, we can’t leave him out of anything. He’s too quick, and he’d pout about it.” Erestor’s words made Gwindor smile. “He’s made dinner. Are you hungry?”
“I guess,” said Gwindor, shifting his gaze to the broken stick he had used.
“Come on, I’ll help you up,” offered Erestor, but Gwindor hesitated.
Heaving a sigh, he said, “I... think I hurt my ankle. Can- would-“
“You don’t have to feel bad about asking me, I like to carry you, when you let me.” Erestor lifted Gwindor up into his arms and told him, “It makes me feel useful in my old age.”
“What’s his name?” asked Gwindor.
“Ilmendin named him Skyrocket after those fireworks that Mithrandir shoots up into the air. He’s playful and jumpy, but if you’re riding him, he’s as gentle as a lamb.” Thranduil gave a simple command with his hand, and the horse immediately stooped down, folding his legs under him. “Go ahead and lift yourself up onto the saddle,” he said.
A few feet away, Erestor stepped forward to help Gwindor, but Glorfindel pulled him back. Reaching behind his back to thread his fingers with Glorfindel’s, Erestor painfully watched as Gwindor made two failed attempts at mounting the horse before his third was successful. He let out a breath of relief as the gentle creature rose back up again.
“How’s the view?” asked Thranduil.
“This is incredible!” Gwindor looked around, surveying the land. “When can we make him move?”
“Just tell him where you want to go,” said Thranduil. “He’s of the blood of Shadowfax, of Nahar before him. Your wish is his command.”
As Gwindor experimented with his newfound freedom, Erestor and Glorfindel began to voice their thanks to Thranduil. Shaking his head, he smiled at them and said, “That look, when he saw everything that was open to him-“ Tears formed in Thranduil’s eyes, and his voice changed in tone. “You know him as your son, but I knew him better as the elf he was. There are elves who fight great wars, and fell great beasts, and I think no less of them. But he of all I knew took the forefront of every battle he was in, and Morgoth trembled to hear him come. He deserves this,” said Thranduil, and the other two bowed their heads in agreement.
- - -
Across the field, Erestor explained the rules of the competition from his mount, pointing out the posts that needed to be reached and the obstacles along the path. Elrond was readying a flag: His own sons had their horses to the line and sped off as soon as Erestor drew back from the riders and the signal was given. Neither they nor the others could match the speed of the rider upon the frisky cream-colored horse that bolted to the marks, leaping around them as fleet-footed as a deer. Halfway through the race, some of the contestants were pulling their mounts aside, more interested in watching the way in which the lead horse and rider moved as one around the posts. Only the first ten would partake in the later race, but it was clear who would have the starting position.
“Who is that?” questioned Haldir as the competitors brought their horses across the line again. Glorfindel smiled proudly as Erestor walked Nahar to each of the top finishers, doubling back to the very first elf to cross the line. The silver-haired elf did not dismount as the other riders had, instead reached over and embraced Erestor while still on horseback.
“Do you not recall Gwindor, my son?” Glorfindel asked, watching as the young elf steadied himself upon his mount. “It seems so long now since the day he first arrived, especially to look at him now in his fortieth year.”
“Forty already? Ah, but then, Lasiavis is forty-three by my count, and nearly the day will come that she will...” Haldir sighed. “It is a difficult thing, to be a parent of an elf reborn. It was not easy for Belegar when his memories came back.”
Glorfindel shook his head. “I can not imagine that it was. It will be hard on Gwindor and Lasiavis as well. Odd as the circumstances were of my return, I thank the Valar my memories were not taken, even temporarily. I do not think I would have handled the sudden onslaught to my mind, especially of my death, with as much grace as other reborn elves have.”
Haldir snorted. “Belegar did not take it with grace,” recalled the Lorien elf. “I can only hope his sister takes the news better than he.”
- - -
“You bastard! You ass!” Lasiavis pulled away from Haldir and launched herself at Belegar, shoving him into the wall. His head snapped forward after hitting the wood, and Legolas tried to place himself between the pair. It was ineffective, for Lasiavis seemed to have gained some immeasurable strength, and clawed past her father, striking her brother again and again until Haldir was able to restrain her with Elodien’s assistance, and Legolas held fast to Belegar’s arm.
Everything began to pour out at once. “You were such a brat, teasing poor little Celeborn and picking on Thranduil and Avisiel, you beast, you deserved what the orcs did to you, Halmir! You and Gildor both, you should be ashamed! It’s too bad they didn’t hang him, too! I hate you!”
“Some sister you are, you’d have thrown me to the orcs, wouldn’t you Finduilas?” sneered the other young elf. “What about you?” he shouted in his fury, built of years of being kept silent while his sister regained her memory of years long past. “Look at what you did to Gwindor – threw him away for some lousy mortal, then you played him along, and he stuck to your side like a little dog who is kicked again and again and returns for the scraps from the table.”
“You lie! I loved him!” she snarled, trying to free herself.
“You loved his power, his fair face, but you did not love HIM. You said so! I heard you!”
“Stop!” she yelled, tears filling her eyes.
“I heard what you said! ‘Better he be dead and the beauty of his spirit rest in Mandos-“
“Stop it! Shut up!”
“-than it be trapped in a form so gruesome to look upon it makes me ill.’ Those were your words! You said them!”
“Stop it. Now.” Haldir’s voice rose over the sobbing and the shouting and he said, “It is futile to dwell on that past. You have a future to look forward to, given to you by the grace of the Valar.”
Belegar pulled away from Legolas. “I don’t have to listen to this. You’re not my father,” he snapped at Haldir, “and you barely count,” he added to Legolas before running up the stairs and slamming his door.
Letting go of Lasiavis, who slumped into Elodien’s arms, exhausted and crying, Haldir began to walk up the stairs but Legolas stopped him. “He didn’t mean it. He just needs time to adjust to this. Time, Haldir, now that he doesn’t have to keep it from Lasiavis.”
“Finduilas,” came a muffled voice. “My name is Finduilas.”
With a nod, Legolas stepped over and stroked Finduilas’s head. “Yes, it is, sweetheart.”
“Adar, can you take me to see Gwindor?”
“Absolutely,” said Legolas without hesitation, but Finduilas stepped away from Elodien and reached her hand over to Haldir.
“Adar, can you take me to see Gwindor?” she repeated.
Haldir nodded. “Of course.”
- - -
“He is... fragile,” Glorfindel finally settled upon. He waited until Finduilas looked up at him from across the table and nodded. “Obviously, I wasn’t there to find out firsthand what happened between the two of you in Doriath, but Erestor has told me quite enough of it, I think. We knew this would happen, that this day would come, and that you would come here to see him. I am sorry to tell you that I cannot allow that.”
Tears threatened to fall from Finduilas’s eyes as she looked to Haldir, in hopes he would try to convince Glorfindel otherwise. Haldir’s jaw was set, and he said nothing. “But, I love him!” Finduilas argued. Hugging her arms around herself, her lips trembled and she said, “You can’t keep me from him.”
Glorfindel’s sigh was labored and he said, “No, I suppose I will not be able to do that – but think of what is best for both of you. He has no recollection of what happened, of his brother, or of you. Think of how terrible it would be for him to have this put upon him. To be made to remember. How would it have been for you, had Halmir forced you to recall your past life, your past death.” He did not continue, for the door swung open and laughter followed.
“One day, Ada, Skyrocket and I shall beat you and Thay,” promised Gwindor as he hobbled through the doorway, using his walking stick on the rail alongside the door to aid him. Erestor, who was holding the door open with one hand, a bushel of apples tucked under the other, shook his head adamantly with a smile.
“My horse,” he bragged, “is faster than Nahar.”
“Oh, no,” argued his son, waving a finger into the air. “I have seen Nanafin race that stallion over the fields, a blur of white and gold. Your horse is fast; but Nahar is faster.”
“Nahar cheats,” Erestor said quickly. “He’s been cheating at everything – racing and jumping and cards and-“
“Horses don’t play cards!” Gwindor laughed as his father went on to add sailing, painting, and cooking to the list. “I think Nanafin isn’t the silly one, I think you’re the one- who-“ The pair stopped as they rounded the corner to find Glorfindel standing up, and trying his best to look cheerful. There were two elves with their backs to them, and Gwindor immediately furrowed his brow. “What’s wrong?”
“Gwindor, here, take these...” Erestor shot a look to the kitchen for a moment, and then in desperation said, “Take these back outside, they will keep better out there.” It clearly pained Erestor to open the door again and watch Gwindor struggle to carry the basket outside, confused and a little upset. “Around to the back, please, thank you, ion-nin.” Erestor shut the door quickly and briskly walked up to Finduilas. “You must go. Now.”
Letting out a panicked gasp, Finduilas gripped the seat of her chair tightly. “No. No, I will not go.”
“It is not the time for him to know yet, and I will not have him to find out in such a way,” hissed Erestor. “Finduilas, it is not my desire to send you away like this, but this cannot be forced upon him.”
“I won’t. I won’t tell him anything,” she said. “Let me- just allow me to stay here, please!” Leaping out of her chair, she threw herself down at Erestor’s feet, clutching his ankles. “I know, I know I did terrible things to him, but please, please, please let me make it up in what ways I can. Let me be here, here for him when he does remember, here for him as I should have been there for him when I was not.” Her tears poured over her cheeks, raining down upon Erestor’s grass-stained feet, and he bent down to gather her into his arms and stand her back up again.
Taking a deep breath and waiting to speak until Haldir came to comfort Finduilas as well, Erestor said, “I will take your word that you will not reveal to him anything of the past, if we allow you to stay here. As an apprentice, so that Gwindor is not put off by it, and as Lasiavis, so that nothing is revealed.”
Finduilas nodded and wiped away her tears. “As your apprentice?”
“As Glorfindel’s apprentice,” Erestor said after a pause.
“I’m sorry, darling, I could have sworn you just named me,” Glorfindel said from but a few feet away.
“That I did.”
“Now why in Arda would you do that?” questioned Glorfindel, who seemed as confused as both Haldir and Lasiavis. The sound of Gwindor trying to open the door made Erestor dash for it and apologetically help his son into the house.
“Gwindor, I am so sorry, I needed to take care of – well, what it is, ion-nin, is that we shall have a boarder for the next few years, and I had not expected her to arrive so soon.” Erestor motioned for Gwindor to come with him, and helped him into the sitting room. “Gwindor, this is Lasiavis, you may remember her from quite a few years ago. This is Haldir, her other father – Lasiavis will be staying with us for a little while.”
“Why?” asked Gwindor suspiciously.
“Well, your mother has taken Lasiavis on as an apprentice, to learn...” Erestor looked to Glorfindel, who merely blinked.
“Cooking,” said Haldir.
“Cooking,” repeated Glorfindel.
‘Cooking?’ Finduilas mouthed to her father, who simply and discretely shrugged.
Erestor closed his eyes, but then opened them and smiled at Gwindor. “Yes, cooking. Among other things,” he answered, sneaking a glare at both Haldir and Glorfindel.
Gwindor did not return the friendly smile from Finduilas. Instead, he limped to the door and made his way as fast as he could back outside. Erestor followed, catching his son by the shoulders before he fell. “Ion-nin, what’s wrong?”
“Send her away!” shouted Gwindor. “I don’t want her living here!”
“Ion-nin, why? What is wrong?”
“She doesn’t like me. She stares at me in public, as if everyone cannot already see something is the matter with me, she draws the attention to me. She doesn’t like me, and I do not like her very much, either,” admitted Gwindor. “Please, Ada, tell her to go.”
Drawing his son into his arms, Erestor whispered to him, “Sometimes, Peanut, we have to do things we don’t want to do. That which does not kill us will serve to make us stronger. It is difficult for me as well, but Haldir is a friend and cousin to Glorfindel. It was many years since you have seen her; perhaps she has changed? Perhaps you might give her that chance?”
Gwindor clung to Erestor a little while longer, then stood up best he could and squared his shoulders. He flipped the hair out of his face, for it had become habit for him to let it drape over the wicked deformation. “Fine. I will do my best.”
“It is all I ask,” replied Erestor.
Nodding, Gwindor asked, “May I be excused for the night? I would like to be alone.” Erestor nodded, leaning numbly against the doorway as Gwindor struggled down the stairs and back to the stables.
Inside, Finduilas bit her hand as she wept. Haldir placed his hands upon her shoulders and said to her, “My dear, your road is not an easy path. There is much you will need to learn.”
Folding his napkin and placing it beside his plate, Gwindor turned to Glorfindel and said, “Dinner was wonderful, Nanafin. I never thought plain rolls could taste better, but they did tonight.”
“Thank Lasiavis- it was she who made them,” explained Glorfindel.
Gwindor’s face fell. “I see,” he said softly.
“Gwindor.” Erestor’s voice was very quiet, but very stern. He looked from his son to Finduilas, who sat with her hands in her lap now, across the table from Gwindor. There was a hint of a frown on her face, and Erestor looked back at his son again without saying anything more.
“The rolls were very good, Lasiavis.” His words barely made it through his clenched teeth.
A little smile was given to him, and she looked up. “Thank you, Gwindor. I made the pie for desert. It’s blueberry.”
Nudging his napkin forward, Gwindor leaned down to pick up the walking stick from the floor. “I find I have overindulged. May I be excused, Ada?”
“Yes, of course.” Erestor sipped from his goblet, turning to watch Gwindor make his way to the stairs. Once the sounds of his ascent drifted away from them and were followed by his door being closed, Finduilas set down her own napkin on the table. “Yes, you are excused as well,” said Erestor before Finduilas could open her mouth. She gave him a nod and followed the way Gwindor had gone, but her footsteps went in the opposite direction before the closing of a door was heard.
“How odd. He has not asked you for permission to leave since reaching his majority,” observed Glorfindel.
Erestor played with his goblet as it rested between his fingers before drinking from it again. “I wish I knew what to do to ease this animosity he has towards her.”
“All that needs to happen is for him to regain his memories,” reasoned Glorfindel quietly. “Once that happens, we shall have no problems at all; he shall sweep her into his arms and they will live happily together forever.”
“But why have his memories not returned?” Erestor shook his head. “He should have regained them years ago. No, Fin, I think he needs to accept her again before everything simply falls into place.”
Glorfindel shrugged. “Suit yourself. I still think all it will take is that little memory jog and-“ Glorfindel snapped his fingers.
“Just like that, eh?” Erestor smiled into his goblet as he drank. “Just-“ >SNAP< “-that easy. Just whom are you basing your-“ >SNAP< “-theory on, hmm? Surely not us, so I am curious just how you discovered it.”
With a smirk, Glorfindel wagged his finger at Erestor. “Just you wait and watch and see, darling.”
- - -
Yawning and trying to focus his eyes, Gwindor blinked and tried to stay awake. He flipped over onto his back, shaking out the wrist that had fallen asleep on him. Only five more pages until the end of the chapter, and then he would turn in for the night. His candles were growing dim, and this had been the third chapter he had made this decision.
“Good night, ion.” Erestor gave his son a wave as he passed by the doorway on the way to his own room.
Gwindor shook his limp wrist towards the door and flexed his fingers. “Night,” he called in the direction of the door.
As Glorfindel came up the stairway, he blew out the candles in his path. Entering Gwindor’s room, he extinguished the one at the entry, but left the next two alone until he reached the bed. “Past midnight, peanut. Are you going to keep reading?”
“I want to. Do you mind? Will it keep you awake?” asked Gwindor. “I could close my door if the light is bothering everyone,” he added as Glorfindel sat down on the edge of his bed and shook his head with a smile.
“No, no reason for that.” Glorfindel pulled the blanket up a little and bent down to kiss Gwindor’s head. “Ten minutes, and then the lights go out, alright?”
“I just don’t want the house burning down.”
“Good night, Gwindor.” Glorfindel stood up to leave, but Gwindor reached his arms up, and Glorfindel stepped back to hug him. “Alright, fifteen minutes, but that is IT.”
Grin. “Good night, Nanafin.”
“Good night.” Glorfindel left the room, closing the door halfway to allow Gwindor a bit more privacy if he wished it.
Lounging on his back, Gwindor lifted the book up and started to read again, promptly falling asleep after rereading the last twelve words he had on the previous page. He awoke again as he felt his book being removed from his hand. The candles had all nearly burned down to the ends of their wicks, so he had to squint to see anything in the darkness. “Nanafin?”
“Shhh.” It was not his mother, but a feminine voice that answered. “Go back to sleep.”
“Auntie?” The voice didn’t sound like his Great-aunt Galadriel’s, nor did he recall her being around at all, but it was the only female who had ever tucked him into bed before, as this one was doing now.
“Shhh, no, tis Lasiavis. Go back to sleep,” she said again as she fluffed his pillow and then repositioned him so that he was resting better. The book was placed on the table, but only after the page had been marked. Gwindor watched her through bleary eyes as she tidied her way about the room, pushing in the desk chair and blowing out the candles. At the door, she turned around and motioned him to rest. “Good night, Gwindor.”
“G-good night, Lasiavis,” he said, feeling a mixture of bewilderment and something very strange indeed.
Harvesting season was the most exhausting time of the year. Finduilas had never expected that she would be subjected to any real sort of laboring during her ‘apprenticeship’ with Glorfindel, but preserving came close. Not only were there fruits to peel and process into various jams or dessert fillings, but a large quantity of the tomatoes from the First Homely House’s fields were brought to the cottage to be boiled or pickled and preserved as well.
It began with the washing, for although the glass containers that were used to pack the preserves into were washed by the family who had received the last jar of whatever went into it, they sat stored either in the barn or in one of the sheds at the homely house as they were returned to be reused. Everything had to be cleaned again, and set out in the sun to dry. Some of the containers were very large, and made of clay. Because of their size and crafting – for it was Elrond who made most of them and Celebrian who painted them – many were not returned, and so more needed to be produced of these items.
Once the containers were all ready, the harvesting had already begun. Erestor and Gwindor, with the aide of young ellin sent by their parents for the summer to learn about the cultivation of crops and their harvesting, would methodically go through the orchard. Each tree would be climbed by two or three of the lads who would toss the fruit down to an equal number of elves on the ground who would catch it and pack it in wooden crates to be taken back to the house, where Glorfindel and Finduilas would be in the yard, peeling apples, peaches, and pears, pitting them along with the cherries, slicing them up, and the strawberries, too. Once the tomatoes arrived, they would need to boil and skin them.
The fruit would be made into whatever it was to become in large pots half the size of an elf, and then ladled into the right type of container. These had metal covers that fit over the top and were sealed with wax, then packed back into the crates and stored until everything was completed. The very last thing was for the orders to be filled. This, Glorfindel did, with Erestor simply being directed as to what boxes items that were handed to him should go. They finished with a feast before sending the workers home- each of them would take their horse and make deliveries along the way, thus eliminating anyone from the cottage or the house having to make the trips.
Erestor called it ‘Production in Mass’, and was quite proud of the streamlined process. No one else in Valinor seemed to much notice or try to convert to his system, however, no other farm in Valinor produced so much with so few workers in such a small area of land. Finduilas thought many times she would rather be on one of these lazier farms, but then, Gwindor was not on some other farm.
The day after was one of rest, and no one woke before noon. When they did, Glorfindel and Erestor would spend the entire day in the living room, with a fire burning and the information on that year’s harvest. Tired as she was from the work the previous few weeks, Finduilas would offer to make the evening meal. This had now become a tradition, for before she came, they would all simply snack on whatever they could find. Arguing that they needed a proper meal, Finduilas took the task upon herself. Gwindor would spend the day in the fields, collecting whatever remaining fruit might have been missed.
That evening was always a private sort of holiday for the four of them. They would dress like royalty, discarding the comfortable clothing usually worn in the kitchen or the orchard. Wonderful dishes would be brought to the table one at a time, and always there was one that was brand new to try. Only candlelight would be used, not the harsh light of the lanterns, and there would be a few bottles of very good wine passed around the table. They drank themselves silly, and then in fits of giggles would make it to bed.
“Cheers!” Glorfindel clinked his glass against Erestor’s even as it was being filled, and received a half-serious scornful look from the dark-haired elf as red liquid ran down the stem and puddled around the base of the glass. The blond was already congratulating Gwindor, who had raised his goblet up, and then, he ended by tapping it to the edge of Finduilas’.
After mopping up the spilled wine with a damp rag from the kitchen, Erestor sat down with a sigh. “I may not make it to dessert tonight,” he apologized. “Those vegetable pies were just too good not to have a second.”
“You had four, Ada!” laughed Gwindor, and Erestor shrugged with a smirk on his face. “They were delicious, Lasiavis,” he commended as well. Across the table, she beamed, unable to come up with a reply, and so she blushed and bowed her head. “You need not be modest- they were great!”
“It... it was just an old recipe I tried,” she stammered. “Just something I thought you might like.”
Erestor gave her a knowing look; it was indeed an old recipe, one from the days of Doriath, and one which Gwindor in his first life had been more than fond of. Finduilas took a deep breath and then smiled. “We have pie for dessert,” she announced. “Apple-raisin, and Blueberry-peach.”
“Oh, my... how will I manage dessert, too?” pondered Erestor with a slight smile. “I think... I will have...”
“Both,” snorted Glorfindel. “Might as well just give him a slice of each, because he’ll never make up his mind.”
“With extra cream, if you have whipped any,” called out Erestor as Finduilas stood up and walked to the kitchen only a few feet away.
“I have,” she confirmed, holding up the bowl that was on the counter.
“Gobs of it, then,” said Erestor. “So that you cannot even see the pie.”
Gwindor laughed. “Then whatever is the point?”
“Exactly. That is the point,” smirked Glorfindel, refilling his wineglass. A knock sounded upon the door, and Erestor looked at Glorfindel with confusion. Glorfindel shrugged and began to stand up, but Gwindor was already reaching for his walking stick.
”Let me. I am curious to see who it is.” Gwindor swiveled around to look over the high counter that separated the kitchen from the dining area and leaned over best he could. “I just wanted to tell you, that dinner was excellent, Finduilas.”
“Thank-“ Finduilas looked up abruptly. “What did you say?”
“I... said...” Gwindor blinked and looked off to the side, perplexed. Erestor stood up suddenly, realizing what had just happened, but Glorfindel held onto his wrist to keep him from advancing.
The knock came upon the door again, more insistently this time.
“I’ll get it,” offered Erestor, walking between Gwindor and Finduilas, who were now staring at one another. Glorfindel was slowly standing up as Erestor took hold of the handle and pulled the door open. He tightened his grip, afraid that he would otherwise slam it shut. “Well, my word...”
“Erestor?” The others in the cottage could only hear their unexpected guest. “Erestor, my goodness, it is you! I prayed the Valar whoever lived here would be someone kind and... well, my prayers were answered. I am sure you know why I have come, and I make my most sincere apologies it was not sooner.”
“Guilin, I can... hardly imagine, I... excuse me, my manners are lacking tonight, the wine...” And Erestor left it at that, opening the door wider and moving to the side. “Welcome to our home, Guilin. It is a blessing to see you alive and well.”
And when Guilin stepped into the house, the dam that held back the many memories of Gwindor’s past life broke. Everything began to flood back, and he could not keep up with the thoughts invading his mind. He looked from Finduilas, to the ellon standing near the door, to Erestor, and to Finduilas again. With a smile nearly too wide for his face, he let go of the cane, hobbling around the counter to his long lost love. “My darling, my beautiful Faelivrin, my love.” Theirs was a tearful embrace, the wooden spoon left forgotten on the counter, the cream bowl knocked askew to the floor.
Erestor began to step forward, but he stepped aside as Guilin nearly knocked into him. The old elf’s knuckles turned while as his fingers tightened around the door handle. In the kitchen, the reunion continued. Glorfindel managed to catch Erestor’s gaze, beckoning him to come back to the table. Reluctantly, Erestor closed the door and did so.
Breaking away from the lovers in the kitchen, Guilin took hold of Erestor’s hand and shook it fiercely. “I cannot thank you enough for all that I know you have done. My wife, when he was born, she could not bear the mental anguish. She blamed herself; she was inconsolable. I could not take care of both her and my son. So I left with him, riding out into the night, hoping to find someone who could see to his needs until she was right again.”
“After going to a number of our friends, and being turned away, I lost my way in Orome’s blessed forest. There was a spirit there, something of goodness and light, a maia, a vala, perhaps, I know not what, that led me here. It was with great anguish that I left him, but she told me things would be well,” explained Guilin.
“She?” questioned Erestor.
“The voice in my head, well, it sounded like a she. I just had to believe... and my wife, aiya, such pain she was in.” Guilin looked to Gwindor and Finduilas, happiness evident in his expression. “Look at them. So happy together- terrible it took so long-“
“What made you decide to return tonight?” asked Erestor abruptly. Guilin turned back with a frown. “Sorry, I am just curious. It has been near a hundred years; I merely wondered.”
“That same voice.” Guilin paused, then said, “Every time I would think to come, she would tell me, ‘Not yet’, but then, three days ago, she said to come back, that now was the time. I came as soon as I could. I rode all day and all night.”
Glorfindel cleared his throat and stepped forward. “You must be tired. May we offer you food? There is still quite a lot left from supper, and dessert now.”
“Oh! I forgot about the dessert!” exclaimed Finduilas, and no one could help but laugh at this.
“It is to be expected – I forgot about dessert, too,” admitted Gwindor, his arms still tightly around her waist, partly for not wishing to let her go, and partly for keeping his own balance.
“I would be honored to partake in your hospitality, Erestor- that is, if your wife does not object. Where is she, if I may ask? Turned in for the night?” Guilin’s face fell as everyone shifted uncomfortably. “Sorry, something I said?”
“Someone should have made introductions. Allow me to do so,” spoke Gwindor. “Adar, I would like you to meet my Nana, well, my Nanafin I call him, but everyone else calls him Glorfindel. Nanafin, my, well, it seems odd to say ‘my other Adar’-“
“Thank you, Gwindor, I do know whom this is,” said Glorfindel. Holding out his hand, he offered his own greetings.
“Ah, I-“ Guilin steered the conversation, looking to Erestor. “I see I have assumed too much. I thought, since you once were with Artanis, that... well, I suppose that... well, leopards really do change their spots sometimes, don’t they? Does that still make him your wife?”
Again, Glorfindel cleared his throat, lowering his hand. “No, it does not.”
“Ah. I see.” Guilin looked away uneasily, and focused his attention back upon the pair of happy elves in the kitchen. “Finally. I have waited so long for this. It will be wonderful, for them to be married. Finally.”
“And as soon as is possible,” Gwindor added, nuzzling his nose against Finduilas’s, causing her to giggle.
“Well... well, I suppose now is as good a time as any to mention it,” said Erestor. “Some time ago, Finduilas, your grandfather mentioned that, if there was to be a wedding, he would gladly offer his inn for the affair.”
“At’ada Thranduil is always so generous,” she said absently, kissing the tip of Gwindor’s nose, and making the young ellon blush. “Does anyone still want pie?”
Gwindor snorted. “Here,” he said, lifting the pies onto the upper counter, one after the other. “Ada, may we be excused?” he asked.
There was an awkward bit of time, wherein neither Erestor nor Guilin knew who was to be the one to answer. Finally, Glorfindel said loudly, “Go ahead, Gwindor. You’re both excused.”
Fast as they were able, the pair headed out the back door, likely to the gardens, or to some other equally romantic place outside. The trio inside looked at each other uneasily. Glorfindel walked to the counter, picking up the apple pie. “Anyone care for a piece?”
“Absolutely. I’m famished!” announced Guilin.
Glorfindel cut a slice for their guest, and then placed another onto a plate for Erestor, but as he handed it towards him, it was pushed back. “Thanks, Fin, but I’m not much hungry at the moment. All the excitement... if you’ll excuse me,” apologized Erestor, hurrying up the stairs.
Torn between being a good host and being a good husband, Glorfindel decided Erestor likely wished to be alone anyhow. Motioning to the sunken room where a fire was blazing, Glorfindel waited until Guilin had made himself comfortable on the couch before sitting down in his chair. “You seem a little uneasy,” remarked Glorfindel. “Was your journey pleasant?”
“Yes, thank you,” answered Guilin, trying to smile.
“You know,” said Glorfindel after several minutes of troubled silence, “the old tale that ellith tell their children, that touching someone who is attracted to those of their same gender will cause the one who touched them to be afflicted with it- it isn’t true.”
“Oh. Oh, really?” Guilin laughed nervously. “Forgive me, then. My mistake.” To further make amends, Guilin leaned forward and held out his hand. “A privilege to make your acquaintance...”
“Glorfindel,” finished the balrog slayer, edging forward to shake Guilin’s hand. He settled back, and couldn’t help but wonder how things would have turned out differently had Gwindor been raised by his birth parents. And how differently. “Did you travel alone?”
“Aye.” Guilin ate another forkful of pie. “This is delicious. So fresh.”
“It should be; the apples were picked today,” Glorfindel said proudly. “Your wife is still at home, then?”
“That she is. After I convinced her that I needed to go, she decided to ready our home. You see,” continued Guilin, “I used to be a fairly high guard in Doriath, back when Erestor was, well, in trouble a lot,” he chuckled. “A good ellon,” he added swiftly, “but what a temper! Surely, though, you’re well aware of that.”
Glorfindel merely smiled.
“Yes, well, I moved up the ranks nicely. I have quite the residence here, you see.” Guilin looked around the room and said, “Our sitting room is, oh, four times larger, I think. And no fireplace; a waste of space, really.”
“We have good friends who are peredhil,” said Glorfindel by way of reason.
“Eight bedrooms,” continued Guilin as if he hadn’t heard. “We have an entire separate house for guests – and actually, we hardly have guests.”
“You don’t say,” said Glorfindel, reaching for a bottle of wine from the cabinet behind him, as well as two glasses.
“What I plan to do, soon as I have the chance to speak with him, is to offer the guest house to Gwindor and my future daughter-in-law. Beautiful view, plus, the gardens are full of fragrant flowers. No stench of dead fish, like here,” he added.
“That’s... the smell of the sea,” corrected Glorfindel pointedly but politely, handing a glass of wine to Guilin.
Guilin accepted the glass. “Well, whatever it is, they won’t be bothered by it in their new home. Cheers!”
- - -
“We have been discussing the wedding, Ada.” Gwindor was sitting in the living room with Finduilas on his lap. They were cuddled near the fire. Sitting on the chair opposite was Guilin. Erestor hadn’t looked up when he was addressed, nor did he look up when he heard his husband approaching. Glorfindel entered with a tray of biscuits and jam, which he placed on the table before tending to the kettle over the fire.
“Oh?” Erestor’s comments as of late had been less lengthy than usual, and were decreasing as the week went on. His eyes stayed focused on the fire.
Gwindor nodded. “We thought, well, you and Nanafin have done so much over the years, it would seem rude to continue to impose upon your kindness. We thought, well, Adar offered use of his home and lands for the wedding and reception. Then, everyone won’t have to travel all the way out here for the wedding; just a few would need to travel from here to there.”
“I thought the wedding and reception were to be at Thranduil’s inn,” interrupted Glorfindel when he realized that Erestor was not about to respond.
“The King’s Kastle is hardly a place for a formal affair,” said Guilin. “’Tis a place of drunken revelry, from what I have seen of it. The yards behind my property are lush with flowers even at this time of year, a perfect spot for such an event.”
Biting his lip, Gwindor looked from his birth father to his adoptive father. “What do you think, Erestor?”
Without blinking an eye, the Elda said, “Whatever you want,” and forced a smile.
- - -
It was well past midnight when Glorfindel awoke, something bothering him, like a tickle in the back of his mind. Rolling over and finding that he was alone in bed, he threw off the covers and stumbled to the chair, grabbing a discarded pair of leggings. Cursing when he realized they were too long and not wide enough, he flung Erestor’s pants across the room and went to the dresser for a pair of his own.
His hair was already braided back behind him, and after pulling on socks, he silently made his way to the first floor. Near the door, his boots were waiting, and he left the cottage with them. They still had guests, and would for another week, until Gwindor, Finduilas, and Guilin would travel to Valimar to prepare for the wedding, which was scheduled to take place in approximately a month. Once on the front stoop, he settled himself down and pulled them on, lacing them up as he looked around for any sign of his mate, in case he was merely sulking near the front porch.
When it was clear that Erestor was further away, Glorfindel hopped down the stairs and headed for the stable. Stretching and yawning as he observed the empty stall where Thay normally stayed at night, he clicked his tongue, the sound waking Nahar, better known to some as Asfaloth, immediately. “Alright. Let’s go find him.” Glorfindel pushed open the gate, which was never latched, and mounted Asfaloth without worrying about bit, bridle, or saddle. “Did you see them leave?” A nod. “Was he upset?” They were already leaving the stable behind, Asfaloth trotting into the orchard, but he took the time to nod and snort. “Yes, he is temperamental, but I think that’s part of what I like about him. That slight unpredictability of his spirit. Let’s find my wild stallion.”
The ride was slow, the ground covered with a layer of snow and refrozen ice over the decomposing leaves and branches found underneath, making them obviously audible to anyone nearby. Past the apple orchard, in the first grove of cherry trees, they found Thay grazing in a somewhat disgruntled manner. Dismounting, Glorfindel gave his mount a pat on the rear. “Go home, both of you, it’s too late for you to be out in the cold.” Neither horse argued, trotting back in the direction they had come.
Glorfindel continued past the trees, hearing a commotion in the fields where they had their personal garden laid out. Once he came to the edge of it, he saw the one he was looking for. Erestor was amid the remnants of the crops, where green pumpkins and other vegetables that had been gnawed on by animals or ruined by insects had remained. His heavy breathing was visible in the frosty air; in his hands he wielded a long wooden staff.
As Glorfindel closed in, he took note of the scattered carnage. Normally, the remains were left and tilled into the soil come the late winter. Now, the seeds and pulp were strewn all over, the defined rows gone. The crop of the next year would prove interesting. “Feeling any better?” wondered Glorfindel as he approached.
“No.” Erestor kicked up a squash he had missed, and swung the staff around to meet it as it tried to fall to the ground. Pieces flew in every direction, skidding to a halt in the snow. A rancid cucumber faired no better. Glorfindel looked about and spied a long, straight branch on the ground, making little work of the twigs that were attached to it. Rolling his neck back and forth and to the sides as he walked to Erestor, he lifted the staff to tap him on the shoulder.
Still, he was ready for the blow. Erestor turned on his heel before Glorfindel could reach him, bringing the staff over his head and down. Glorfindel blocked, his branch held between both hands. “That was a dirty move,” he said, knees bent slightly as he fended off another swing of the wooden weapon.
“A warrior must be prepared for anything.”
“Indeed.” Glorfindel valted over Erestor, using his staff for leverage, landing on a patch of ice. He lowered himself to the ground, using the slippery surface to his advantage. He slid in a semicircle, his arm out to one side for balance while the other held his staff. Judging the distance, he swung his weapon toward Erestor’s legs, but the dark elf managed to take note of the move, and leaped back just in time.
On one hand, Glorfindel wanted to drop his weapon, draw Erestor into an embrace, and snuggle him until everything was alright. On the other hand, he knew that wasn’t going to make anything alright, and it wasn’t going to make Erestor feel alright. So instead, he crouched a bit lower to the ground, narrowed his eyes and said, “Are you giving up already?”
Anger flashed in Erestor’s eyes, temporarily. A look Glorfindel hadn’t seen since days long past in Rivendell, in a time when they were verbally at war with one another. “Your ass is mine,” growled Erestor.
Glorfindel grinned as he was once again attacked, the sounds of wood cracking and splintering rising up in the darkness. Only the light of the stars and moon guided them, and their own natural abilities. Snow sprayed as their feet kicked it up, and attacks came swifter and more brutally as Glorfindel’s muscles loosened up. “Is that your best?” he chided as the staff missed his head by inches.
Teeth were bared, and Erestor swung his weapon with full force at his opponent. The impact caused Glorfindel’s branch to be snapped in two, and knocked him a step back. Throwing the broken wood to the ground, he cracked his knuckles as Erestor twirled his staff before bringing it to rest at his side. “No weapon?”
“Don’t need one,” replied Glorfindel, crouching in a defensive position.
Erestor spun the staff again, then tossed it again. “Take your boots off,” he said, stepping out of his own.
“Why? Afraid they’ll leave a mark?”
“I don’t want to ruin them.”
Glorfindel snorted – even in battle, ever practical was Erestor. “There. Shall we?”
Erestor tossed his boots aside to where Glorfindel had thrown his. “No biting,” he added as an afterthought.
“No biting? My dear counselor, in war, there are no rules.” Glorfindel was now circling, getting closer, but not too close, looking for a weak spot.
Erestor gave him a wicked look. “Well, I meant not to hurt your fair skin, but if you insist-“
“Oh, not to hurt me? How kind. I decline the offer,” Glorfindel shot back.
“Suit yourself.” And Erestor pounced, Glorfindel now realizing that he himself had taken too much time, and Erestor had merely stalled long enough to observe and decide on his own move. How many more games of chess had Erestor won? Too many, thought Glorfindel as he blocked a punch but neglected to dodge a kick. His instinct kicked in, and soon enough he managed to make an equal amount of connections. A well-placed jab made him bite his bottom lip and draw blood, but he didn’t so much as back away. Instead, he fought harder, gaining the upper hand. He forced Erestor onto constant defense, throwing punches without thinking, by simply knowing, from years and years of practice, as it came back to him.
Erestor blocked the best he could, but his weariness at having been tired when Glorfindel had first found him was fast catching up. A vine caught his ankle, causing him to stumble back, and a kick to his side managed to knock him down. Instead of trying to stand up, he fell back into the snow, fighting to catch his breath.
“Are we done?” questioned Glorfindel as he approached.
“Almost.” Erestor lifted himself up, and his leg shot over with great force, landing behind Glorfindel’s shins. Once the balrog slayer was prone on the ground, Erestor flopped back into the snow. “Now we’re done.”
“Now are you feeling better?” asked Glorfindel, closing his eyes and deciding not to try standing up.”
“Maybe. A little.” Erestor balled up a fist full of snow and threw it at the trio of partially dismantled scarecrows, hitting the one that was dressed in an old skirt that Celebrian had discarded and one of Orophin’s torn up tunics. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it. We should do this more often.” Finally daring to sit up, Glorfindel edged over to Erestor, and leaned against him. “Our little peanut’s finally grown up.”
Erestor said nothing.
“I know it’s hard, and he has said a few things that have hurt me as well, but in time, all will be well.”
Erestor said nothing.
“Ress... in a way, you’re a lot like him.”
Erestor gave Glorfindel a defiant look. “How? My parents never wanted me, well, at least not the one I thought was my father. And Orome had a damn good reason for keeping things from me.”
“Like the ‘damn good reason’ you have for not telling your real son that you are his father?” Glorfindel knew he was crossing a line, but continued further. “Gwindor will always be our son, but, I think we have to give him this chance to know the rest of the story.”
“I AM giving him that chance. I let him do whatever he wants, do I not?” Erestor shoved away the arms that tried to embrace him. “He wants the wedding in Valimar, fine. He wants to invite scores who never cared enough about him to come and see him until now, fine. He wants to move away and stop calling me his father, fine. Bloody well fine. But then, this is it. I wash my hands of it. I am through.”
“You don’t mean that,” argued Glorfindel.
“I damn well do.”
Shaking his head, Glorfindel muttered, “Stupid, stubborn fool. It amazes me that the most brilliant elf in all of Arda can be the most pig-headed at times.”
Snorting with disdain, Erestor stumbled to get to his feet. “And it amazes me that the most brilliant elf in all of Arda ended up with such a... a... well, with you!” He stomped off in the direction of the cottage, leaving Glorfindel sitting in the snow.
The blond sighed, and gathered up their boots and Erestor’s staff, then followed after his mate. In the back of his mind, he began to wonder if there would be room enough in Asfaloth’s stall for him to sleep there. He heard a loud thump, almost a cracking sound, and then, he heard a whimper. Throwing the boots and the staff to the ground, he ran through the orchard to catch up to Erestor.
Once within range of sight, Glorfindel shouted, “You want to fight me or kick the garden around, fine. Leave the trees out of this, you bastard.” Glorfindel gulped back the words, but they had already come, and Erestor turned around and shot Glorfindel a heated look. The Vanya took a step back, but stood his ground. “You hit another tree, I’ll break your arm. I swear, Ress, I have no desire to hurt you, but you have no right to harm them. They didn’t do a damn thing.”
Erestor stood motionless, guilt washing over him. He looked to the cherry tree he had rammed his fist against, and bowed his head as it shuddered. Slowly he approached it, reaching one hand out and placing it upon the trunk. He began to talk, a heartfelt apology, sincere as the tears he was crying. Glorfindel reached him as he finished his penance, placing a kiss upon the spot he had injured on the tree. “It’s so hard, Fin.”
“I know.” This time, Glorfindel managed to embrace Erestor without having him fight back.
“I’m not going to the wedding,” said Erestor as Glorfindel took a moment to lead them back to their footwear to retrieve it.
“We’ll talk about that later,” shushed Glorfindel as they walked back to the cottage.
- - -
Erestor half-heartedly answered the door. He had heard the sound of the carriage pulling up and what he assumed was a horsemaster coming to the door. It surprised him to see Thranduil on the other side. “Do come in. Glorfindel is just getting his things together.”
“Excellent. And where are your things? We can load them into the coach,” said Thranduil, removing his gloves.
Frowning deeply, Erestor shook his head. “Perhaps Glorfindel did not mention it. I’m not going to the wedding.”
“Nonsense. Where are your bags?” insisted Thranduil.
Erestor crossed his arms as he heard Glorfindel slowly coming down the stairs, his footfalls hesitant. “I know what’s going on. I am still not going.”
Thranduil cocked an eyebrow up. “My granddaughter is getting married next week. My granddaughter, whom you will recall in her prior life made our lives a living hell in Doriath. Still, I love her dearly, and will not miss the event. And you, Erestor, are going to be present for your son’s wedding.”
For a moment, it looked as if Erestor might concede. “I really don’t want to go, Thranduil.”
“Neither do I,” he admitted. “I would rather see them have a formal engagement, followed by a year of further courting, culminating in a traditional wedding, preferably at my home. Or, at the very least, at my father’s palace. However, this is their life, and their decision. And I will support them; so should you.”
Glorfindel used the pause to slip between them and out the door with his bags, taking them to the coach. He returned to retrieve his cloak. “Ress? Are you coming?”
A deep sigh issued forth, and Erestor nodded slightly. “Let me pack a few things. I shall be right back.” Reluctantly, Erestor climbed the steps.
Once Erestor was on the second floor, Glorfindel looked at Thranduil with disbelief. “How do you do it? I mean, I should be able to do that, but you, just... how?”
Thranduil gave a regal shrug of his shoulder and a sideways tilt of his head. “I am a king. I say to do something; it gets done. It comes naturally.”
“Huh.” Glorfindel rocked back and forth on his feet, whistling a little while waiting for Erestor to return. Thranduil adjusted his cloak, and looked around the small hallway that led off towards the dining room and kitchen in one direction and a guest room in the other.
“The two of you have a nice little place here. I suppose it will quiet down for you, with Gwindor and Finduilas out of the house.”
Glorfindel smiled sadly. “Well... maybe a little too quiet. Did Erestor ever tell you what he planned to do when Gwindor’s memory returned?” Thranduil shook his head. “We knew the two of them would want to get married, and would want a place of their own. Erestor and I have been fixing all the little problems in the cottage through the last few years during our free time. It was going to be their wedding present. This and the orchards. We had already talked to Elrond about moving into the Homely House. We’re both a little old to be doing so much work, and Gwindor knew how to run the farm. Now, I suppose we’ll just stay.”
“I’m sorry. I had no idea,” replied Thranduil.
“No idea about what?” asked Erestor as he came down the stairs.
Opening the door, Thranduil waved his hand. “Time to go. Do you have everything?”
Erestor hoisted the sack over his shoulder and nodded. “Just need my cloak. We need to stop at the Homely House, to let someone there know to come up and milk the cow while we’re away.”
“I, ahm, I took care of that already. Yesterday,” added Glorfindel, flicking an uncertain look in Erestor’s direction. The past three months had been tense to say the least. For the first time in their relationship, Erestor had demanded both space and time, something Glorfindel gave without question, but with obvious pain in his heart. “I know... you’re mad at me,” he mumbled as he walked out the door.
Thranduil cleared his throat as Glorfindel disappeared. When Erestor gave him an uncertain look, Thranduil ahemed a little louder and nodded his head in the direction of the door as he replaced his gloves on his hands.
Taking the steps two at a time, Erestor hurried down to meet Glorfindel. “Oh, here, let me get that,” offered Glorfindel, taking hold of Erestor’s bag. “Would you like the seat by the window? I know you like to look at the scenery.”
Erestor jerked the bag back, and tossed it onto the nearby ground. Before Glorfindel could question what he had done or said wrong, he found himself the recipient of a long, passionate kiss. Thranduil passed by moments later, not breaking stride, and picking up the dropped bag as he went. As Erestor relinquished his hold on Glorfindel, he looked back at the cottage with a sad smile, and then gave his husband’s hand a tug. “Come on, love. We have a wedding to attend. Our baby’s getting married.”
Glorfindel nodded, and gave Erestor’s hand a squeeze. “Gwindor might be Guilin’s son, but he’ll always be our baby. He can’t take our little peanut away from us.”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.