Most of Imladris was open to everyone, but some of the house was concealed from the view of nearly all. This was the case when it came to the hidden hallway that was actually an extension of an existing hall. If someone had drawn the house, they would discover that there was a gaping hole from the top floor to the ground, and yet, the only two ways to get there was from the third story or the ground floor.
It was a wonderfully disguised place- even the roof in places was false, appearing to exist when really from above one would note that there was a garden secreted away in the center of the house. Surrounding it, a number of halls and a few tiny little rooms concealed it and were themselves concealed.
At the end of a corridor which abruptly led one to a wall without windows featuring a rather gruesome painting of a pack of wargs that normally kept elflings away from this part of the house, one needed only know the proper brick to touch to unlock the mechanism hidden behind the frame, then gently push the painting as if it were a door, for it was. Once inside, the mechanics reset and the door was closed, safely barring the way from anyone who may have followed.
Erestor hastily tapped a brick on the left side, heard the click, and entered swiftly. Once the door was shut, he navigated by recall how to find the stairs. Twelve paces forward, one to the right, turn, ten more, and then look left. A small window on the left let it a little light, allowing him to see the handle of the narrow door and open it. A staircase greeted him, and he followed it down, passing a door along the way which would lead to the garden only Elrond was permitted to go.
There was enough light coming in from the windows now for Erestor to see where he was going, and with ease he pushed open the door that was already ajar. Entering another short hallway, he walked soundlessly to his destination. He could hear residents of the house on the other side of the wall, walking down the visible corridor. One of the rumors was that Imladris was haunted, and this was fueled by times when someone had made too much noise in the hidden passages and had been heard by those on the other side.
It was all easier said than done, for dragging behind Erestor was a good yard of fabric, weighing down the already heavy robes he was wearing. He paused at the next door he came to and tapped lightly upon it though he could hear faint voices within. The door was opened for him and he maneuvered into the room with an exhausted sigh. “I love these robes,” he mumbled as the door caught them and yanked him back a half step, “but I hate wearing them.”
“At least you wear them well,” remarked Glorfindel, who was fussing about at the mirror. Erestor snorted and shrugged off the outer robe that caused him so much hassle. Lindir was in the room as well, a private room furnished with a plush bench, a mirror, wash cabinet and basin, and a stall with a door for privacy. Only the highest ranking members of the household knew how to reach these hidden areas, which were used more often than one might expect. It was practically a daily occurrence for each of them to be in these secret passages. Today, as they would be meeting with delegations from both Lothlorien and Mithlond, they had passed one another through the secret places more than one. Now they readied for the pomp and circumstance of the formal greetings.
Tossing the formal overrobe onto the bench, Erestor moved to the stall and shut the door behind him. “Has anyone seen Elrond?”
“Not I,” replied Glorfindel. “Lindir?”
“I wonder if he is in the garden,” thought the minstrel aloud. “Shall I go look for him?” he offered.
“Look, but if you do not find him, return in ten minutes time. And if you do find him, bring him with you,” shouted Erestor as he heard the door opening. Lindir, holding his own ceremonial robes up and off to one side so that he would not step on them or scuff them with his toe, left on his mission.
At the mirror, Glorfindel was rebraiding his hair for the third time. “Such a pity, one so handsome as I, but I can not weave this morning to save my soul.”
From the stall came a stifled laugh. “Leave it loose, then,” suggested Erestor.
“Not a chance. If I do that, we will get a breeze through the hall, and in an instant it will be roving one way and the other and I will frizz,” explained the golden warrior. Erestor emerged from the stall and went to the basin to wash his hands. “Aye, I wish I could look half as good in robes as you do.”
“You look fine,” Erestor assured his friend.
“But I do not look spectacular.” Glorfindel picked up the outerrobe and held it up for Erestor to slide his arms through. “You look very natural in them. These especially.”
Erestor turned to the side and admired himself for a brief moment. “If, Eru forbid, I should ever die, I wish to be buried in these robes.”
“Do not say that, Erestor,” begged Glorfindel with a frown.
“I am sorry. That was thoughtless of me.” Erestor sighed. “I just really love these robes,” he said, looking at the garments, which were varying shades of blue, from another angle.
“Then, why not connect them with something happier. Say you wish to be married in them,” he suggested, smoothing out a creased along Erestor’s left sleeve. Again, the dark elf snorted. “What? How is that silly?”
Giving Glorfindel a pat on the cheek, Erestor walked to the basin and took a towel, wetting a corner. “I am no longer the marrying type, Fin. Too old, too stubborn, too borning.”
“Please. Some would say you are practically perfect,” hinted Glorfindel, but Erestor was already on another topic in his mind.
“I saw the delegates arrive from Mithlond, but I do not know who was sent from Lorien.” Erestor dabbed at a tiny dot of ink he had seen on sleeve of one of the inner robes.
“Do you want to know?” Glorfindel asked cautiously. He could not see Erestor’s face directly, but the reflection he saw was betrayed the calm in his friend’s voice. Still working on the stain, which was simply bleeding into a larger area of grey, Erestor’s voice failed, and so he simply nodded. “He is here. He accompanied Orophin, who will be presenting his father’s plan at the meeting. However, he is only here as an escort, so I regret to say I doubt you will see him much during the talks.”
“Still, it is wonderful news.” Erestor gave up on the growing smudge and tossed the darkened cloth into a small wicker bin for washing. “I wonder if I should try to find him now.”
Glorfindel cocked his head to the side. “Before the meeting? Erestor, that is cutting things awful close.”
“Right. We run until late afternoon- do you think he will have dinner plans made already?”
“Well, I would assume that he will be eating in the Great Hall with the rest of us, since there is a feast tonight,” Glorfindel reminded him.
“Damn, I forgot about that,” mumbled Erestor. “I wonder if I could convince him not to go...”
Crossing his arms over his chest, Glorfindel leaned up against the door lest Lindir or Elrond should suddenly walk in. “You probably could, but considering you were the one to plan the event, our lord might not be very amused if you simply decided not to show.”
“You think Elrond would mind? Oh, of course he would,” Erestor answered for himself. “Then we have the first set of talks starting tomorrow, we never seem to finish on time despite what the agenda says. Even if we did, it would be such a late supper to invite him to.”
“What about lunch? You both need to eat in the middle of the day, you know,” said Glorfindel.
“Lunch is barely time at all to catch up; if I ask him to have lunch, then it would just be odd to ask him to dinner later in the week. Oh! What if he has plans already?” Erestor finally turned away from the mirror to regard Glorfindel. “What do I do if he has made plans!? He may already have asked Arwen to spend time with him- ai, Fin, this is madness that I worry so!” Erestor lifted his arms towards the sky in frustration.
Glorfindel drummed the fingers of his right hand on the pale green velvet of his outer robe. “I have the perfect solution for you.” Erestor looked to Glorfindel with an innocent hopefulness that Glorfindel had figured out the answer to his problem. He frowned when Glorfindel presented his plan of action.
“I can not,” insisted Erestor. “How do I tell him? If I do, he will surely despise me. I doubt also that our relationship would be the same. I have something many parents do not- a child who feels they can tell me anything.”
“He needs you more as a father than as a best friend, Erestor,” Glorfindel tried to reason, but Erestor turned his head away in defiance.
“He has a father. He needs a friend more. I will not entertain this idea again, Glorfindel. Not now, at least,” said Erestor.
Glorfindel shook his head and moved away from the door, giving Erestor a squeeze on his shoulder. “Have it your way, then, but honestly- there may come a day when it is too late for you to change things. Too late for you to say the words you mean to say.” Sitting upon the bench, Glorfindel got a faraway look in his eyes. “I always wished I had had another day with my father; another chance to speak to him before he was killed. Despite his animosity towards me, I would still have liked to have had one last chance to talk to him.”