Immediately following the Laire Namarie celebration, Glorfindel and Erestor had returned to their cottage, and that night received a visitor. It was Lady Celebrian, who first asked them to stay at the First Homely House as guests for the winter, and then extended invitation for them to visit as often as possible when they refused her initial offer. It was not only her desire, but Elrond’s as well.
The compromise was for them to stay for a week, with frequent trips back to the cottage to prepare for winter and tend to their animals. This appeased the lord and lady of the house, who were most insistent that they stay in one of the larger guest rooms despite the assurances from Glorfindel and Erestor that a smaller one was just fine.
There was something about being in the house that made them both uncomfortable about having intimate relations while visiting. Erestor linked it to the fact that Elrond had walked in on them the morning after their initial arrival in Valinor- quite a surprise, as Elrond had been in silent denial that the pair was romantically involved let alone married until being presented with the visual proof. The reason Glorfindel cited was that it felt very odd to be making love to his husband under the same roof where his father’s sister lived, and doubly so as she had once spent her nights in bed with his lover. For that reason, there was much snuggling and cuddling and a few quick kisses, but nothing that made them sleep late and miss breakfast.
“Celebrian told me she is making eggs and potato hash, and glazed rolls with honey,” announced Glorfindel, having just returned to their room from the sea, where he had bathed. He found Erestor seated on the chair at the vanity table. “Something wrong?” asked Glorfindel as he toweled off his hair and went to the closet to retrieve a clean shirt.
Erestor looked solemnly at himself in the mirror. “I do look like Morgoth,” he mumbled to himself. “I would not have this problem if I were a real Vala,” he told his reflection as he propped his elbows on the countertop of the vanity and rested his face in his hands.
“And why is that?” asked Glorfindel, appearing behind Erestor as he pulled the shirt over his own head. He placed his hands on Erestor’s shoulders and began to knead away the tension in his muscles.
Regarding his mirrored image a little longer, Erestor said, “I would have a fana, not a hroa. My physical form would not limit me. I could change my appearance at will.”
“You could,” agreed Glorfindel, “but I think you are beautiful as you are.”
“Looking like Morgoth,” added Erestor.
“No, looking like Erestor. Like my Ress, my beautiful Vala,” continued Glorfindel, stroking his lover’s cheek with the back of his hand as he, too, looked into the mirror. “So you both have black hair and none of the rest of the Valar do. Who cares? I have seen other ainu, a few of the Maiar whose hair is black. You also lack his terrible red eyes, darling. Even so, you would never pass as twins or brothers or anything of the sort- cousins, perhaps, but that is somewhat to be expected. Besides,” whispered Glorfindel out of the side of his mouth, “the one who looks the most like Morgoth is Manwe; it does not seem to be upsetting him.”
“Manwe is quite fair, despite the features that make him look like his brother. But Glorfindel, what you do not know is that Manwe has indeed altered himself slightly over the years. So much so in fact that when we came to Valinor, I did not readily recognize him.”
“Oh.” Glorfindel shrugged. “If it bothers you so much, you can do other things to alter the way you look.”
“What would you do, Fin?” asked the dark elf, looking up to meet the eyes of his lover’s reflection. “If you could change yourself to look different so that others would not mistake you for someone, would you do it?”
Glorfindel was beginning to play with Erestor’s hair, drawing it back or to one side, lifting it to see how it would look at different lengths. “If it were me, I would do nothing. But then, I love what I look like. Very few, elves or otherwise, have green eyes. And with a name like mine, if you do not have the long golden hair to back it up, seems very contradictory. The only time anyone ever mistook me for anyone else, it was for Thranduil, and as I recall, that was a very, very good night...”
Erestor turned his head slightly to look over his shoulder and decided it best not to ask any questions regarding the matter.
“However, that is what I would do. The question remains, what do you want to do?” Glorfindel was absently weaving thin braids of varying styles and thicknesses into the long, dark hair. “I know of an elleth in New Valimar who specializes in hair recoloring. Very natural looking; you could have her change it to brown or red or even blond.”
“Blond? Out of the question,” Erestor said, vetoing that idea quickly. “No offense,” he added just as fast.
“None taken,” replied Glorfindel, but he did tug on one of the recently plaited braids. “Or, if you want no doubts in anyone’s mind as to who you are, she could change it to blue or purple or green.”
“That would be hideous,” laughed Erestor. “Green hair?”
Glorfindel shrugged. “Just giving you options, love.”
It was at that point that Erestor looked at what Glorfindel was doing. “Are you- give me that,” he said, wrenching the half-finished braid out of Glorfindel’s hand. Turning his head swiftly to the side so that his hair swung over his shoulder, Erestor made a sound of disbelief and began to untie all of the multicolored ribbons and thin lengths of leather that Glorfindel had been using to keep his assortment of braids in place. “Honestly! I know one elf who is NOT going to be allowed to touch my hair!”
“Give it a chance. It’s very ‘fifth age’, you will be ahead of the times,” assured Glorfindel with mock sincerity.
“I prefer to be ‘old-fashioned’, thank you,” declared Erestor. “There,” he said finally, once the offending braids were removed and he was brushing his hair, leaving it to flow down his back. “Just as I like it.”
Glorfindel intercepted the hairbrush and picked up where Erestor had left off, working on the few tangles that had managed to sneak their way into his long mane. “And I like it, too. But that you like the way you look matters more. Do not let anyone tell you different. And the next one who points and cries ‘Morgoth’ is going to eat my boot.”
“Ew. I thought you were reserving that punishment for the one who next asks you ‘Did it hurt when you died’?” reminded Erestor.
“I was, but the wonderful thing about marriage is that we get to share. Unless there is a more suitable punishment you can think of,” Glorfindel said.
“Oh, please, I can think of nothing better,” answered Erestor. “And on that note, shall we join our gracious hosts for the morning meal?”
“As long no one requests my boots be added to the menu, I do think that is a grand idea.” Glorfindel offered Erestor his arm, and the pair left for the kitchen.
- - -
“I need to speak with my mother.” Haldir hoisted himself onto the windowsill. “I have considered going on my own, but I would prefer to travel with you. I know this is not going to work well with the plans we had in Valimar.”
“Haldir, plans can be changed. As it is, Lasiavis is doing very, very well. The baby is fine, and she thinks I am crowding her, in all honesty. Perhaps I am, just a little,” admitted Elodien with a coy smile. “But that elfling is just sooo cute.”
Legolas joined Haldir by the window, leaning against the frame. “We dragged you to Valimar, it seems only fair that we follow you to Aqualonde. I miss the seaside, and I would enjoy seeing it this winter. There leaves only one question in my mind.”
“Ahm goin’ to assume, the question is, what to do with the old dwarf.” Gimli, who had been sitting at the kitchen table finishing his breakfast, stroked his long grey beard. “Ah think you should let him go back to the city. Though I would be very happy to see the Lady Galadriel, they have snow there. Ah hate snow. Gits in mah beard.”
“No snow for Gimli, then,” laughed the peredhel. “I am sure Oropher will have you stay at the palace, but you must come along with Thranduil when he comes to the Yule celebration later this winter.”
“Yule? No, no, I just thought we would stop by-“ began Haldir, but Elodien was already midway into her planning.
“Gimli can take the carriage, and we can manage what we will need to bring with us between the other two horses.” Elodien smiled brightly. “It will be lovely to see everyone, to spend time in the house for a while.”
Knowing that disagreeing would only lead to an argument, Haldir kept quiet. It was Legolas who asked the question that was on his mind.
“What are we going to do with Greyson?” asked Legolas. The wolf looked up at the sound of his name from his warm corner near the hearth. All four looked at the large, furry creature, who could go from puppyish lovey-eyed sweetheart to fierce hunter and protector in seconds. With his mouth open in a wolfish grin, he stood up and walked to his master, leaning his head against Haldir’s leg before bouncing up on his hind legs and resting his front paws on the elf’s knee.
“Greyson. Good boy,” said Haldir as the wolf received a scratching behind the ears and a rub on the muzzle. Greyson stood down and padded back to his corner. “He will just have to come with us,” said Haldir.
“Let’s hope he doesn’t have a taste for flamingos,” whispered Gimli to Elodien.
- - -
Orophin grinned down at his stunned older brother. “Valarda and I are staying here the winter, marvelous, no? I envy all of you, having one so magnificent as I in your presence,” he continued, seemingly ignoring the fact he was sitting on Haldir’s chest with one foot dangerously close to Rumil’s ear. “I radiate such magnificence, that with the exception of my wife, all others should be so lucky to bask in such radiance.”
“Good to see your ego is still intact. And yet, I still miss you,” admitted Haldir, giving Orophin a bit of a hug. “Now... would you care to remove yourself from me?”
“No, actually, you are quite comfortable. Squishy, even.” Orophin poked a finger into Haldir’s stomach. “Did you eat pie? To fluff yourself up for me? How nice, you are comfy, I think I shall nap now.”
“Oro...” warned Haldir. “Legolas? A bit of help?”
“I think I should be jealous. My brother never greets me in such a fashion,” said Legolas with a smirk as he navigated around the pile of limbs and elf that was in the doorway after Haldir had been tackled. Elodien covered her mouth so that her laughter would not be heard as Orophin detangled himself from the pile, crept up behind Legolas, and knocked him to the floor as well.
As an attempt was made to close the door, a large grey wolf sauntered in. Rumil began to fawn over the ‘adorable puppy’ while Orophin gave it a cautious look. “Is that what I think it is?”
“What do you think it is?” questioned Haldir back slyly.
“Nana is going to make you take it outside,” warned Orophin as Haldir whistled to the wolf and headed for the stairs.
Reaching over the banister, Haldir gave Orophin a pat on the head. “And that is why I must smuggle him to my room before she finds out.”
After settling into the room that he had lived in during the early part of the age, Haldir decided to go to the kitchen to see what he could find for a snack. Legolas had been stolen away almost immediately upon their arrival by Elrond, who wished to converse with him over a game of chess. Soon after, Nenniach came to the room and asked Elodien to tea, to catch up with one another before dinner. Haldir had stayed in their rooms, trying to fight the growling in his stomach until the evening meal, but it was a battle he finally lost.
Straying into the kitchen, he had expected to find a group, perhaps, but not simply a single elf and certainly not this one. He wanted to leave, but his feet did not allow him to. Nothing came to mind as to what he should say, so there was some relief when the other spoke first.
“Haldir, this is not what it looks like,” said the ellon.
Walking to the table where a bowl of dried fruits sat, Haldir said, “It looks like you are scraping a bowl of whatever that is into the pail for the goats.”
“No, I am saving us all from certain indigestion,” replied Celeborn as he continued to empty the contents into the pail, which already contained peelings from potatos and crusted rolls.
“And giving it to the goats?” Haldir asked with amusement.
“The goats love brussel sprouts. I, however, despise them. And I will not have your mother telling me that I need to set an example and clean my plate, when she is the one that forces them onto my plate in the first place.”
At the mention of ‘mother’, Haldir sat down heavily at the table. “Ada, can we talk?”
“Of course.” Celeborn set the empty bowl aside and took a seat beside Haldir. “Tell me what is on your mind.”
“Will you still let me call you Ada? I mean...” Haldir fought to find the words. “Should I feel different now? Because, honestly, I still feel like your son. I still want to be your son, but then I have no idea what to do about Erestor.”
“First, I am glad you still want me to be your father. I feel no different, either,” confessed Celeborn. “You do need to decide what you wish to do in regards to Erestor’s claim.”
“Claim? He seemed fairly certain,” Haldir pointed out.
Celeborn gave him a wry smile. “I suppose a small part of me hopes it is simply not true. But, even if it is as he says, you are still my son.”
Smiling a little, Haldir nodded. “Thank you. Although, I still do not know what to say to Erestor, I feel much better.”
“Good. Oh, and by the way,” said Celeborn as he returned to the discarding of undesirable foods, “your mother and I talked, and we wanted to tell you that we do not mind the wolf in the house, but that you must keep it from eating anything or anyone.”
“Who told you?” Haldir asked immediately.
Shaking his head and rolling his eyes, Celeborn answered, “No one had to, Haldir. We are your parents. We simply KNOW these things.”
- - -
“Haldir arrived.” Glorfindel sat down beside Erestor, whom he had found sitting on the roof stargazing.
His lover nodded his head. “I saw the carriage pull up and I came up here. I hope we have not fallen into a trap, like the plan that Thranduil concocted.”
“I would not worry. It is doubtful that Elrond or Celebrian would do something like that. Besides, I heard Haldir speaking to Celeborn in the kitchen. It sounds as if they do not know you are here, and it also sounds as if they came without invitation.”
Erestor sighed. “What do I do, Fin? He obviously did not come to talk to me. Should we go home?”
“It will only serve to upset our hosts. With everyone else who is here, there is enough going on for him to keep busy until he decides he wants to talk. Who knows,” added Glorfindel. “Maybe one of his other family members will have luck convincing him to sit down and speak with you.”
“Maybe. Maybe not.” Erestor leaned back on the roof again, staring at the pinpoints of light that covered the darkened sky. “I wish I knew what to say to... comfort him, to make him understand.”
“He will come around, in time. You only make yourself sick worrying about it,” Glorfindel told him, lying down beside him. “Just relax, enjoy yourself, you have had enough stress as of late.”
“Not working,” announced Erestor not five minutes later.
Glorfindel looked over at Erestor, who was practically glaring at the heavens, with his arms crossed over his chest. “You are not even trying.”
“Yes, I am,” returned Erestor indignantly.
“Fussy, fussy baby,” accused Glorfindel as he sat up. “Roll over on your stomach.”
Erestor gave Glorfindel a sideways look. “On the roof?” he asked incredulously.
“No, not on the roof- I want to give you a massage. NOT that kind of massage, you perverse minded creature!” Glorfindel motioned for Erestor to roll over. “Let me rub your back. You can even leave your shirt on,” he added as the dark elf pulled the garment off.
“Well, what fun would that be?” he questioned as he spread out his shirt before resting upon it.
“Might as well take off the rest of it,” suggested Glorfindel, who was honestly surprised that Erestor followed his instruction. “Excellent. Damn, I wish I had some oil...”
“I thought you said-“
“For the backrub. Honestly,” breathed Glorfindel as his hands gripped Erestor’s shoulders. He squeezed and let go, and repeated, moving down one arm first and then back up. Shifting his weight and kneeling with one leg on either side of Erestor’s body, he worked along the other arm. Next he relieved the tension in his lover’s neck and head before concentrating on his back. The lower his hands moved, the more relaxed Erestor’s muscles became, save for one. “On your back,” whispered Glorfindel into Erestor’s ear.
“But, Fin, I-“
“I know,” he answered in a husky voice, bending down to lick and kiss the side of Erestor’s neck up to the tip of his ear.
“Fin, we have no oil,” added Erestor.
A finger was placed upon his lips. “Shh. I know.” Glorfindel aided Erestor in turning onto his back, and licked his lips at the sight of the swollen erection. “I told you, just relax.”
Glorfindel straddled Erestor again, keeping his weight on his own knees, but this time he was facing his lover’s feet. Erestor curiously began to sit up, but his head fell back and his hands grabbed the nearest thing, which happened to be Glorfindel’s ankles. He clenched his teeth, not wanting to disturb anyone in the house with the noise he tended to make as Glorfindel’s mouth took more and more of Erestor’s length within, sucking harder the deeper it went. “You like that, baby?” asked Glorfindel as he let Erestor slip from his mouth. “You want more of that.”
“Mmmnn... mmmhmm... ugh... Glorfindel!” Erestor bit down on his lip, lest another cry escape his lips. One of his hands reached up to pull at the lacings along the front of Glorfindel’s pants, trying in desperation to free his lover’s erection from its restraints.
Sitting up, Glorfindel untied the knot and shimmied out of his clothing, including his shirt, all of which were tossed aside. He resumed the position he had been in, taking Erestor’s full length into his throat, while Erestor lapped as Glorfindel’s erect member, sliding his tongue up the length as far as he was able to.
Increasing his pace after sucking briefly on one of his fingers, Glorfindel continued using his mouth while he rubbed the wet digit against Erestor’s puckered flesh, pressing in barely an inch just to tease him. This was enough to put Erestor over the top, and he thrust up into Glorfindel’s mouth. Another wave hit him, and he released his seed down his lover’s throat, some of it dribbling out of Glorfindel’s mouth.
Sitting up, Glorfindel used the spilled seed to coat his fingers and once again set to working his finger into Erestor’s passage. He could feel the dark elf pushing back, moaning into the hand that covered his mouth so that his screams would not be heard.
Again, Glorfindel repositioned himself, lifting Erestor’s legs over his shoulders before plunging into the channel he had prepared. Both of Erestor’s hands were on his mouth as he bucked his lower body up, meeting Glorfindel’s demands, begging him for more. The blond took hold of Erestor’s hands, one in each of his, and stretched them up to pin them over his head and out to either side. Sealing his mouth over Erestor’s, they tasted each other’s salty essence and silenced moans with warm, dexterous tongues. They breathed through their noses in short breaths, almost fighting for air as Glorfindel came and Erestor became undone yet again, collapsing at last with one final, collective sigh.
Glorfindel shifted to lie down next to Erestor, bowing his head to nibble on each of his nipples, causing the dark elf to let out a muffled squeek. “Shall we sleep under the stars tonight, my love?”
“I do not care where I sleep, as long as it is with you,” said Erestor as he curled himself around Glorfindel and promptly fell asleep.
- - -
Another pounding on the door, and Haldir reached for another pillow to launch at it. Sadly, he found he had exausted his ammunition. To his right, Legolas and Elodien seemed blissfully ignorant of anything going on around them as they continued to stay in reverie despite the noise. “Go away! We do not want whatever you are selling!” he shouted, drawing the blanket up over his head.
“Land shark,” replied the voice on the other side of the door.
Shoving the covers down, Haldir glanced at his mates- still sleeping- and then to the door. “Land...? Ai... Oro...” Stretching sleepily, Haldir worked out the kinks in his neck as the pounding began again. “Stop it, I will answer the door in a minute.”
“But, you will answer faster if I continue to annoy you.”
“Haldir, open the damned door!” yelled Celebdreth from the next room. “Some of us are trying to sleep!”
“Some of us would still like to!” Haldir shouted back through the wall as he fumbled around in the drawer, digging out a shirt and a pair of pants. “Orophin, I will break your hand if you do not stop knocking!” The pounding turned to thumping at the bottom part of the door. “Your feet will be next!”
As Haldir reached the door and placed his hand on the knob, he was hit squarely in the back of the head with a pillow, which fell to the floor to join its comrades. Turning around, he glared at Legolas, who had a sleepy, smirking expression on his face. “When you come back, bring us some coffee,” he said.
“Do I look like your butler?” asked Haldir rhetorically, but Legolas squinted and eyed him up.
“Actually, now that you mention it,” said Legolas as Haldir bent down and picked up one of the stray pillows, “you and Galion do give me the same scowl when I do or say something that disturbs you.”
Haldir drew back the arm that held the pillow, but upon seeing Elodien slumbering in Legolas’ arms, he tossed it onto the end of the bed instead. “Come and get your own coffee.”
“With cream,” added Legolas.
“Get your own bloody coffee!” growled Haldir.
“And sugar,” continued Legolas.
“I am NOT getting coffee for you!”
From the next room, Beineilien yelled, “Just bring him his coffee, Haldir!”
“And answer the door!” shouted Celebdreth as Orophin began to kick at the wood again. Haldir yanked the door open, causing Orophin to stumble. Taking one look at his cheerful brother, Haldir grumbled and walked past him into the hall.
“If there are any of those fruit biscuits for dipping, bring some of those, too!” called the voice of Legolas as Haldir stomped down the stairs. Orophin followed after him, hopping down a few to catch up.
“Good morning, Hallidear!”
With a snarl, Haldir asked, “What, precisely, is good about it?”
“A million things, the most important being that our dear sister has cooked up a batch of strawberry pancakes. Considering how rare it is to have anything strawberry at all this time of year, I thought you might appreciate my waking you,” explained Orophin.
Haldir halted them at the bottom of the steps. “You could have just knocked once and told me she was making strawberry pancakes.”
“If I did that, then everyone would know,” Orophin said. “If everyone knew, then you might not get any, and you would be stuck with nothing but bread and water for your morning meal.”
“Orophin, stop being ridiculous. She would make more if we ran out,” said Haldir. The two continued to the kitchen. “I must say, I do miss her cooking. Thank you for waking-“ Haldir stopped, his ears straining to hear the conversation coming out of the nearby door. After a few seconds of eavesdropping, he took hold of Orophin’s sleeve and yanked him back to the bottom of the stairs. “Orophin, is that who I think it is?”
“Sorry, Halli, I forgot! I should have told you yesterday.” Lowering his voice, Orophin said, “Clebri and Elrond asked them to stay the winter.”
“Shh! Halli, they are here for a week- Halli, I forgot because I was so excited to see you here last night.” Orophin weaved around the desk so that he could get to Haldir, who was pacing now. “Give me a few minutes. I will go and get breakfast for us, and the coffee for Legolas, and we can eat upstairs.”
“No. I will go upstairs and pack; I can not be under the same roof as him. Not right now,” said Haldir.
Orophin pointed towards the kitchen. “You want me to tell him to leave? I will, if you want.” When Haldir did not answer, Orophin continued. “Just stay here, give me a minute.”
“Oro, they will not simply leave.”
“Sure they will. I just have to be forceful about it. Put my foot down. Halli, I would hate for you to leave now that you have only just arrived. How often do we get to spend time together anymore?” prodded Orophin, and the expression Haldir was wearing changed to contemplate this. “Two minutes. If you see him come out, just duck into the dining room,” said Orophin, referring to the formal room that remained empty so often and served more as a storage area for plates and glasses when not in use.
Orophin entered the kitchen, finding his sister serving breakfast to those sitting at the table; his brother Rumil, his sister-in-law Nenniach, his cousin Glorfindel, and... him. “You. You have to go. Now,” demanded Orophin as he looked at Erestor and pointed to the door. Shock settled upon those in the room, and even Mitzi, the pet pink flamingo, raised her head to try to discover what was going on.
“Oro! What-“ began Celebrian, but she was cut off by her brother.
“Haldir does not wish to see you right now,” added the tall ellon. “Kindly go home, and he will contact you when he is ready to talk.”
Awkwardly, Erestor started to stand, but Celebrian placed a hand on his shoulder to keep him seated. “Erestor and Glorfindel are my guests, Orophin, I will not have you kicking them out.”
“I never said Glorfindel had to leave. Besides,” said Orophin, “Haldir used to live here. Erestor is just visiting.”
“May I remind you,” came a voice that emerged from the underground pantry, “that this is not your house, or Haldir’s house, but MY house.” Elrond crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Orophin. “I and my wife are the ones to make the rules and set the standards. We have invited Erestor and Glorfindel here. If they stay, it is because of our will and theirs. Not because of what you want, not because of what Haldir wants. Are we clear?”
The sound of the front door banging shut jolted Orophin. “Sorry,” he said, but to Elrond and not Erestor.
“Tell your brother not to slam my front door,” said Elrond as Orophin backed out of the kitchen. Orophin nodded and walked down the hall to find Haldir.
His older brother was halfway to the beach by the time Orophin had retrieved Haldir’s flute and made it outside himself. The waters were calm and the morning sun was warming the sand. Orophin sat down on the log beside his brother and handed him his flute. “Thought you might want this,” he offered.
“I should have known it was Elrond. He always does these things to me,” said Haldir.
“Maybe he does not mean to,” suggested Orophin.
Haldir snorted. “Oh, it is all very intentional, believe me.”
Orophin leaned over and gave Haldir a hug. “Want to talk about it?” Haldir shook his head. “Somehow, I thought not. Remember, I am here when you need me.” Orophin hugged him again, and then left for the house as Greyson padded past and sat beside Haldir, placing his head into the blond elf’s lap.
- - -
“You hardly ate any breakfast,” observed Glorfindel as he and Erestor walked down the hallway from the kitchen.
“I lost my appetite,” said Erestor. He began to walk upstairs, but turned around and retraced he steps, stopping at the front door. “He has not come in yet,” he said.
Glorfindel stepped beside Erestor and placed an arm around his waist. “Not that I heard. The door opened once, but Orophin came back inside and I heard no one follow him. If I had to take a guess, I would say that Haldir is probably on the beach.” Glorfindel placed his hand on the handle. “Do you want to see if he is there?” Erestor nodded and Glorfindel pulled back enough so that the door way unlatched but not open. “Do you want me to come with you?”
“I think it best I go to him alone. I know he says he wants me to just go away, but I still have to try. I just feel like I have to make an attempt to reach out,” said Erestor as the door was opened. Glorfindel nodded as they walked out, letting his arm slip away from Erestor. He sat down on the porch swing while Erestor closed the door. Taking a deep breath, Erestor walked down the steps and across the grass. Just past the pink picket fence, the lawn mingled with the sand until it changed altogether. The sound of crashing waves accompanied the solid notes being played by the elf on the beach.
Haldir was playing his flute, sitting on an old log which had long inhabited the shore. Next to him sat the shaggy grey wolf, adding a howl where he felt appropriate.
The next note soured and the elf on the log set the flute down in his lap. Greyson flicked his ears and bared his teeth slightly.
“Haldir, may we talk?”
A low growl was emitted by the wolf, who was on his feet. Haldir fiddled with the instrument in his lap and did not respond.
“Please, Haldir, I wanted to say-“
Greyson leaped with the next step that Erestor took, snapping at the dark elf. Flinching, Erestor knew he would not be able to safely stay unless Haldir told the wolf to stand down. When he still gained no answer from his son, Erestor backed away, keeping his eyes on the wolf. He did not stop until he was back on the porch with Glorfindel.
“I will return,” Erestor said sadly. “Celebrian was making tea for us and I do not wish her to think that I forgot.”
Glorfindel watched Erestor disappear into the house, then set his sight on the duo near the shore. Although he had accepted that Erestor wished to do this on his own, to give Haldir the time and space needed, he was not at all happy that a wolf had growled and nearly bit his husband, but more importantly that Haldir had done nothing to stop the creature.
Putting his feet up on the railing of the porch, Glorfindel continued to swing for another minute before letting out a high-pitched whistle. Greyson’s head raised up, and Glorfindel whistled again. Haldir stopped his playing and turned around, watching as Greyson ran to the porch. “Heel!” Greyson stopped so fast he practically skidded across the porch. “Sit!” Again, Greyson followed the command.
Haldir gripped his flute and stood up, giving Glorfindel an infuriated look, but the blond was staring out over the sea. Trudging his way through the sand, he heard as Glorfindel instructed the wolf to join him on the swing and then to sit again. Marching up the steps, Haldir glared at Glorfindel, who still paid him no mind.
“Greyson,” snapped Haldir, and the wolf turned his head. “Come.”
The wolf blinked at Haldir as if he was speaking some foreign tongue. Glorfindel patted his lap, and Greyson lowered his head down upon it, shifting his gaze back to Haldir briefly, before closing his eyes as he was petted.
With a dissatisfied snort, Haldir yanked the door open and entered the house. As he set his foot upon the first step of the staircase, he caught a glimpse of Erestor and stopped dead in his tracks. Erestor did not notice him until he was in the hall.
There was a hopeful look on Erestor’s face. “Haldir... can we... talk?”
For a moment, he nearly agreed. “No,” he sneered, and lifted his foot to walk up the steps. He paused and looked back to the dark elf, who was positively crushed and turned away. As he stood, looking at how Erestor still was a little higher even while he himself was standing on the bottom step, Haldir said, “You are tall. I, am short.”
“What?” Erestor spun around and blinked. “Yes,” he said then, nodding. “Yes, I would definitely constitute as being tall, and you are... not,” he finished, thankful for any sort of communication between them at all, finding how much he truly missed their discussions and yearned for some contact of some sort.
“You can not be my father. You are tall, and my mother is tall.” Haldir pointed to himself. “I am short. Celeborn’s mother is short. I am NOT your son.” He turned and began to walk up the stairs, stomping on each one hard.
Erestor leaped up onto the bottom landing, and took the steps two at a time. He cut Haldir off at the top of the stairs and confronted him. “My mother, your grandmother, was short. Shorter than you. She was just a tiny little thing. She was one of the very, very first elves awakened, so she did not sleep so long and she was short. Just like you.”
As this information was absorbed, Haldir narrowed his eyes at Erestor. “That means nothing,” he finally said, shoving past and up the rest of the steps. Erestor lunged forward in an attempt to grab hold of Haldir’s sleeve, but was stopped as someone put a firm hand on his shoulder. Turning around, he found Elrond standing there.
“Erestor. Don’t.” The peredhel was shaking his head slowly, and Erestor bowed his and nodded. “Come with me, Erestor. I think Celebrian has finished making the tea.”
“If it is all the same to you,” said Erestor, “I would rather spend a little time alone.”
Elrond appeared about to object, but stood aside. “There will still be tea in the parlor later if you like.”
“Thank you.” Erestor walked down the rest of the stairs, his feet settling heavily on each one. Without looking up, he opened the front door and closed it behind him. Glorfindel was still on the porch, but no longer on the swing. Beside him on the stoop, Greyson was on his back allowing the Vanya to rub his belly. “I want to go for a walk. No, stay here,” he added as Glorfindel began to stand. “I need a little time by myself.”
“Alright. But if you are gone for more than an hour, I am going to come to find you,” warned Glorfindel. Erestor placed his hand on Glorfindel’s back and leaned down, sharing a kiss with his mate before shuffling down the steps and wandering towards the barn.
The smell of fresh hay greeted him at the door, as did the happy sounds of the animals who were penned in for the winter. There were chickens here and goats, and a mule who stood near the door announcing the entry of anyone and everyone. Most of the ducks were waddling about in one corner where a makeshift pond had been constructed, and two pairs of sheep were all snuggled together, their fur short from having been recently sheered.
Erestor took an empty bucket and flipped it upside down, placing it next to the gate where the goats were. Knowing he had treats for them in his pockets, several slit-eyed little faces butted the fence and poked their heads through. They were nipping at the cuff of his shirt as he pulled out the handfuls of sweet grasses he had nabbed on his way over. One rather bold goat walked his front hooves over the barrier and leaned down over the top, trying to steal away an entire handful.
He found he needed this peace. Each day was a challenge, for simply rising when he knew he would endure the rude looks and hurtful glares from Haldir was a difficult thing for him to do. Yet, Erestor still had hope, and was up every day with the dawn, turning in only well after dark and only after he was sure that Haldir had gone to bed without intention of returning to the ground floor. Traveling from the cottage to the homely house and back was nowhere near as taxing as it was for him to go from his home to Valimar, but it certainly seemed so some days.
Once he had spent most of his time in the barn, Erestor left to find Glorfindel lest he worry about him. Instead of heading back to the porch immediately, Erestor took the path to lead him through the gardens and then around to the few trees that were near to the house. In the low light, he spied someone near them and paused, trying to figure out who it was. The color of the elf’s hair was like straw from the back, and Erestor once again clung to the hope it was Haldir, deciding to finally speak to him.
His hope was lost, for it was Rumil, standing there looking very thoughtful. When he saw Erestor, he gave him a warm smile and waited for him to approach. With caution in his step, the dark elf found his way across the lawn and stopped short of Rumil by a few feet. “I just wanted to tell you, I understand. I know my brothers have not been the most receptive, but I do understand, as a father, what you were trying to do for Haldir.” Rumil bowed his head and then said, “What you were trying to do, for all of us.”
Closing the gap, he gave Erestor a hug that was returned by the stunned elda. “Give my brothers a little time,” advised the youngest of the three. “They will come to accept things as I have.” Without saying anything more, Rumil left, and Erestor found himself alone beneath the birch tree.
He stared up into the branches, looking at the small flet that was built around the trunk a little more than halfway up the tree. It was beginning to wear from the weather and years of disrepair. There were three similar trees, and a large stump where a fifth had been. Erestor still recalled the day that fifth tree had fallen down and smashed into the flet on the birch. It had been some three hundred years in the past, but still, he remembered as if it had happened the day before.
So intently was he observing the flet and the leafy boughs above, he did not notice the ellon who approached him until he was standing before him. “Erestor, might we speak?”
Erestor stumbled back, saved from falling only by the trunk of the tree behind him. “C-Celeborn. I-I, ah...” Looking down when he caught a slight motion, he noted Celeborn’s outstretched arm, offering his hand to him. Nervously, Erestor took hold of the other elf’s arm. Celeborn pulled him forward slightly. Erestor’s panic was replaced with shock and relief as Celeborn used his other arm to pat him on the back as he embraced him. Returning the gesture uneasily, Erestor relaxed when Celeborn said, “Thank you.”
Stepping back again, Celeborn still held Erestor’s arm. “I would not have been able to restrain myself as you did. My first thought when you told us was that you were a fool and that you were terrible for not telling Haldir or the rest of us. Then I thought about it for a while.”
“And now what do you think?” asked Erestor. Out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of a group coming around the side of the house. Made up of Glorfindel, Tallasinde, and Vilya, they were laughing happily. The ellith were swinging a pail between them while Glorfindel motioned about, telling them some sort of tale.
Celeborn shifted and followed the path of Erestor’s gaze to where the sounds came from. Looking back, Celeborn said, “I am grateful you had more sense than I would have. At the same time, I still think you were a fool. We would have worked something out. And now...” Celeborn let Erestor’s arm loose and placed his hand upon his shoulder. “I can accept that he was your son first,” said the wise elda, “but I have been his father longer. I would... like to continue to be included... in things.”
“I would never deny you that, Celeborn. You thank me for what I did, but I thank you for what you did. There are few with whom I would have trusted the raising of my child.” Erestor lowered his voice as the trio came closer. “Perhaps we might speak with Haldir, once he allows me to talk to him again, and discuss this.”
“I would like that.” Celeborn patted his shoulder, and then bowed his head to Erestor. “Again, thank you.”
Erestor bowed his own head, but merely nodded and said nothing. Celeborn turned to go back to the house, intercepting the group as they walked. The dark elf could hear bits and pieces of the conversation. Tallasinde was discussing the need to milk the goats, and that Glorfindel had planned to accompany the two young ellith to the barn, but Celeborn waved in the direction of the birch tree as he spoke to Glorfindel.
Straining to hear what was said, Erestor waved to Tallasinde and Vilya as they waved to him. Celeborn stole the pail from his daughter and granddaughter, and scooting around them, placed the pail on his head nonchalantly and began to walk to the barn. Soon, the pair of ladies was chasing him and giggling, with Tallasinde reaching up to pluck the pail from her father’s head when Vilya failed to jump high enough or fast enough to knock it off. Laughing and joking, the three disappeared into the barn as Glorfindel, a long piece of straw drooping down out of his mouth, kicked the stones in his path to Erestor out of the way until he was standing before his lover.
“Care to take a walk with me?” Glorfindel held his hand out to Erestor. “Nenniach said that dinner will not be ready for a few hours. Some sort of mishap in the kitchen, and I was told that I make her nervous so I was chased out. That gives us time to make it to the cliff and back if you like. Or, we can spend it in the garden,” suggested Glorfindel.
“Can we head over to the forest instead?” asked Erestor. He took hold of Glorfindel’s hand and was pulled up from the grass.
Brushing off his hands on his pants, Glorfindel said, “We could go for a ride. Shall I call for Asfaloth and Thay?” Erestor was already shaking his head.
“I could use a walk. A nice, slow walk. That way,” he added, pointing in the opposite direction of the First Homely House. Glorfindel draped his arm around Erestor after pulling the shaft of straw from his mouth, and the pair entered the woods behind the house.
- - -
“Touch it and face my wrath,” warned Nenniach as she stirred a large pot on the counter before carefully lifting it down and back into the oven. Haldir crossed his arms over his chest, scowling at the elleth who had scolded him. “Do you know how long it takes to make it look like that?” she asked him, referring to the pie that he had planned to taste test.
“Pies are meant to be eaten,” he countered, eyeing up the dessert even after it was moved well out of his reach. “That one is cold now, anyway. You should just let me have that one and make another for later.”
“Aye, you are Erestor’s son,” muttered the elleth under her breath.
Haldir narrowed his eyes at her. “What was that supposed to mean?” Walking over to her, he tapped her on the shoulder. After a number of pokes, she turned around. “What do you mean by that?”
“He is a known dessert stealer, just like you. Incurable sweet tooth.” Untying her apron and draping it over a chair, Nenniach said, “Obviously, you need something to do or you would not be haunting the kitchen like this. Go shoot something for me.”
With one brow elevated, Haldir leaned over the counter and regarded Nenniach oddly. “You have someone in mind specifically, or do I get to choose my victim?”
“Because of the fact the ducks were stolen by that wolf of yours, I had to butcher the buck your father shot. Celeborn, not Erestor.”
“Erestor is NOT my father, as far as I am concerned.”
“Well, Haldir,” said Nenniach with an exasperated sigh, “as far as I am concerned, you can claim them both as your father, Celeborn and Erestor. So stop pouting, go get your bow, and find another deer. That last one was meant to be salted for winter and it puts me behind schedule not having one. You have another hour of light yet. And take your brothers with you!” she shouted after him. “Including the one that married into the family!”
Poking his head around the doorway again, Haldir frowned at Nenniach. “Why do I need to take Elrond along?”
“Because he steals pies, too. Now go! Shoo! And make it a big one!” she called as he left to round up his brothers and his weapons.
- - -
“Why am I here?” wondered Elrond for the eighth time. Orophin chuckled, his eyes scanning the area for signs of a deer.
“I told you; Nenniach said you had to come with us.” Haldir scratched the back of his neck and then said, “She says you steal her pies.”
“What? I do no such thing,” denied Elrond. The party continued a little further into the forest before Elrond said, “Just the blueberry ones, and only now and then. Besides, it IS my house. If I should find the need to steal a pie, I do not think I should be questioned.”
“Spoken like a true elf lord,” Orophin commended, and then he stopped suddenly and motioned for the others to wait. Leaning forward a little and training his ears on the sounds of the woods, he smiled slightly and pointed straight ahead. “Haldir,” he whispered before anything had even emerged, “give me your bow.”
“No. She told me to shoot it,” Haldir reminded him, pulling an arrow from his quiver. He pulled back on the bowstring and watched the spot Orophin had pointed to intently.
The middle brother looked to the youngest with mild annoyance. “Haldir, you missed the last two. The sun is already setting,” hiss Orophin. “Give me the bow; I am a better shot than you and you know it.”
Relaxing his grip, Haldir took a long look across the clearing before looking again to Orophin. Again Orophin made his case, holding his hands out for the weapon. Haldir took a few steps forward away from the group, taking a stance with one knee on the ground at the edge of the trees. Again he drew the bowstring taut and listened to the sounds of the creature approaching. It actually sounded injured; two steps were heavier than the other two legs. The noise stopped abruptly and Haldir took aim. Feeling better that he was actually putting a wounded beast out of its misery, he used his instincts to know where it was standing behind the trees and fired.
- - -
“Have you had a chance to speak with Haldir at all?” asked Glorfindel. There was no reason to try to come up with other topics of conversation- it was evident that there was only one thing on Erestor’s mind, therefore there was no reason not to speak of it. The sigh Erestor let out was answer enough. “Would you like me to try to talk to him, love?”
“He just needs time.” This had become Erestor’s mantra. Glorfindel heard it said at least a dozen times a day for the last week. Turning his face to the heavens, Erestor said, “It is late. We should return to the house before they send a party to search for us.”
There was no objection from Glorfindel as they turned to go back to the eastern shore. Still, Erestor did not hurry to leave the serenity of the forest, and Glorfindel did not encourage him otherwise. Leisurely they retraced their path back to the house. Suddenly, Erestor slowed to a stop, and Glorfindel did the same. As Erestor tilted his head and listened for something, Glorfindel placed his hands upon the dark elf’s shoulders and looked around. Before he could ask what Erestor had heard, a gasp escaped from Erestor, one of great surprise. Glorfindel instinctively drew Erestor back towards him, but was stalled by something that poked him in the side.
Looking down, Glorfindel saw his worst fear. Sliding his arms under Erestor’s to keep the other elf from falling to the ground just in time, he yelled as loud as he could, “Stop! No shooting! Stop!” Lowering Erestor to the ground, he looked at the wound in a panic. “Son of a balrog. Son of a fuck. Erestor, talk to me, darling, talk to me, dammit!” demanded Glorfindel as he kept Erestor propped up with one leg while he tore his own shirt off. Once he had the cloth, he tried to figure out exactly what to do with it.
“How bad is it, Fin?” The calm in Erestor’s voice was much too eerie and caused Glorfindel to shudder. “I think I am bleeding.”
“It’s... it’s...” Glorfindel held the cloth near the exit of the arrow, where the blood seemed to be soaking into Erestor’s clothing faster. “Someone get help!” he shouted in the direction of the clearing.
- - -
“Haldir, wait!” Rumil leaped forward before his brother could nock another arrow. Holding Haldir’s hand still, all four elves listened as a call for help was issued forth.
“Aw, hell.” Orophin sped past his brothers with Elrond on his heels. “That sounds like Glorfindel. Fuck no,” he said as they raced through the clearing to the other side. “Shit! Rumil! Haldir!”
The other two had been waiting at their side, but hearing the distress from Orophin, they bolted over to join him. Elrond had disappeared through the trees already, and when they came to where Orophin stood, found the healer tending to Erestor, whose tunic was soaked with blood. “Glorfindel, we do not have enough light. I need to get him back to the house.”
“Elrond, I have seen wounds like this before. He will not make it!” argued Glorfindel. “You must do something now!”
“I would if I could, but I can barely see to know how bad it is.” Elrond examined the wound the best he could. The arrow had pierced above Erestor’s left hip and exited his back near the spine. “Glorfindel, we can make it. Carry him with me and we will get there quickly.”
“No. Let me take him. Go on ahead and get things ready.” Glorfindel did not wait for confirmation as he lifted Erestor into his arms. “Hang on, Erestor. Stay with me.”
“Really dizzy, Fin.”
“I know. Just stay with me, love,” insisted Glorfindel.
“Fin-love, I...” Erestor tried to reach his hand to touch Glorfindel’s cheek, but too weak, his arm fell limp onto his chest.
Someone gave Glorfindel’s shoulder a sharp pat. “Come on.” Orophin pointed through the trees. “I know the quickest path. Follow me.” Glorfindel disappeared behind Orophin, holding Erestor tight.
This left Haldir in the forest, with Rumil beside him. “Are you going to be alright?” asked the younger as he looked at his brother. Haldir was staring at the ground where Erestor had been, and at the bloodied rag that had been Glorfindel’s shirt only minutes before, and the trail of blood that was now leading to the house. The elder placed his hand upon the nearest tree for support, and then emptied the contents of his stomach on the ground.
- - -
“What happened?” Galadriel followed the entourage into the spare room on the ground floor. Elrond had arrived minutes before and had directed everyone to clear a path as he gathered various items and implements that were evidence for all that someone had done something more than stub a toe or get a sliver in their finger. As soon as Orophin entered, with Glorfindel and Erestor behind him, the occupants of the house became curious and concerned. Only Galadriel dared follow them into the makeshift healing room.
“Not now!” snapped Elrond, gently but firmly moving her out of the way as he instructed Glorfindel as to how he should put Erestor onto the bed. “I have to remove the arrow first, but then I must work fast. Orophin,” he called out, and the ellon entered the room. “Wash your hands and get back in here to assist me.” Nodding, Orophin did as he was told, passing Haldir and Rumil as he came back to the room.
Galadriel was still there, lingering on the opposite side of the bed. “What can I do to help?” she asked. Elrond shook his head as he and Orophin began the task of removing the arrow and tending to the wound. “There must be something I can do!”
“Artanis...” Erestor lifted his eyelids slightly and tried to focus on her. “You can help me.”
Kneeling down beside the bed, she reached a hand out to touch his. “Tell me how,” she implored.
“Pray to Him for me.”
She flinched at this, but vowed to do as he requested.