“How long have you been trying?” asked Erestor. “If you do not mind my asking, that is.”
The smile he was given was warm and inviting. “I do not mind at all.” Galadriel gave his arm a reassuring squeeze. It had been a long time since the two of them had been able to walk together like this, arm in arm, lazily navigating the secret gardens of Lothlorien. They had last seen one another in Doriath, for when Galadriel arrived- called Artanis then- the pain Erestor felt at their previous parting was too great for him to be near her, and so he fled to Gondolin. An age had passed in that time, and with the uncertainties of the war, they found themselves willing to rekindle the familiarity that they had once shared in a much lesser way. A fragile friendship, with many cracks which would break them apart on a number of occasions in the future.
Showing him to a bench that was growing over with flowers, the pair sat down together. “Since Celebrian was a little girl, I thought it would be a delight to have one of each- a daughter and a son.”
“What does Celeborn say to that?” There it was, one of those cracks. An open wound, flushed with salt. Erestor’s voice was neutral, but they both knew what he was really thinking.
Why him, when it ought to have been me?
“You know how he is. He pampers me; tolerates my every whim.” Another crack, another chip away at what little there was left of their relationship. Erestor glanced down at the ring upon her finger- not the golden band, but the one of brilliant silver with a crystal jewel to outshine the stars.
“Evidently so,” he said, but again his words were easily interpreted.
You were a fool to take it; he was a fool to let you. If it had been my choice, I would have stopped you from making such a mistake.
Despite the ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’, past the dislike and occasional loathing, one thing did remain, perhaps stronger than ever. And that was Erestor’s love for her, no matter how badly she had hurt him and how badly she might in years to come. Regardless of her own selfishness and her attitude of superiority towards him at times, he loved her.
“It must be hard for you with the war going on,” said Erestor. Galadriel said nothing, but her eyes became sad and she nodded. Lothlorien was not very big, and the news of the loss of their King at such a desperate time was a tragedy the Galadhrim could not easily bear. Their army was so few when standing beside even the troops from Greenwood, but so many when compared to their own numbers. Galadriel had not been pleased with the idea of the war and had been even less enthusiastic to learn that a great number of the soldiers would be leaving to fight the war. Where other places, such as Imladris, had sent as many as they could manage without risking the defense of their realm, others, Lorien included, had sent more than they could afford to. With such weakened defenses, they would need to rely on the generosity of Greenwood in the case of an attack.
Galadriel had initially considered going to war herself. She was experienced with the sword and bow, and her strength was not to be overlooked. On the other hand, the morale on the home front needed to be kept stable if not boosted, and despite everything going on she had managed to do just that. This was most evident by the sight of children in Lothlorien. In no other realm, save for Lindon where she had visited many times recently, was the laughter of an elfling heard these days. Any young elf in Greenwood was nearing their majority by now, and an elf under fifty in Imladris was practically unheard of, save for those who had become orphans already and were now in the care of relatives in the fair valley. The ultimate sign of hope was a newborn, wrapped in a soft blanket while their mother held them close. It was little wonder that Galadriel would want one of her own.
“We are managing,” she finally said. Her look of sadness had not diminished, and Erestor took hold of her hands in his own. He held them together for a moment, raised them to his lips and chastely kissed them. “I pray. Daily,” she admitted. “I pray for an end to the war, I pray for the safety of our soldiers and our people here, and I pray for a son.”
“Do you ever thank Him for what He has already given you? For your home, for your family, for the generosity He has shown?” asked Erestor. Galadriel sighed half-heartedly and gave him a wry smile. “Come now, you know as well as I do that He exists. There can be no doubt from you in that.”
“Then why do we never see Him?”
This was, perhaps, the biggest crack in their relationship. The one that had always existed, even when they were so close, so close their souls were nearly bound- except that oil and water do not mix and will always fight to assert themselves and eventually stray apart, whether by their own will or not. He could believe without seeing; she needed to see to believe. It had caused them both so much frustration on so many levels, but none greater than their religious views.
“Then to whom do you pray?” he wondered, not about to fight with her on the main issue.
“To whoever will listen to me. The Valar, maybe, I hope,” she said. “I know at least that they exist, but I doubt many times that they listen to me anymore.”
“Alright, the Valar then, and yes, they do listen.” Erestor continued before she could dispute whether or not they did listen. “Will you allow me to pray with you? To speak to Him, through the Valar,” he said hurriedly as she opened her mouth to object. “Two voices are always louder than one,” he added, still holding her hands in his.
Galadriel gave him a shrug. “If you think it could work, it is worth a try.”
Erestor nodded and closed his eyes. He paused to think of what to say as he swallowed and bowed his head. “Dear Lord Eru, we thank You for Your kindness, for Your grace, and for everything You have given us. We are thankful for our families, for our homes, for our comforts, and for the world around us that You created. Lord, we humbly ask for Your guidance, and for Your blessings. We ask You to keep safe our friends and families, to watch over them and protect them, and to bring those who are fighting home to us swiftly and safely. Dear Lord, we ask also that in this time of great uncertainty, that You bring hope for us into this world. We ask that You grant Galadriel a child, a son, strong and wise, to be a blessing upon her and upon this land. In Your name, we ask Thee.”
Galadriel opened her eyes to find Erestor looking at her, his gaze half-hopeful and half-sad. She smiled and said, “You should have become a minister instead of a librarian.”
“Who says I am not both?” Erestor released her hands and looked around the garden. “I shall continue to pray for you,” he said.
“Why do I get the feeling this is not the first time you have done so?” Her comment was void of sarcasm, for she was pleased to know he still cared for her. “If there is an Almighty, I hope He sees fit to bless you, Erestor.”
“He already has, many times over,” replied the dark elf. “And as there IS an Almighty, I hope He sees fit to show you in whatever way is needed that truly He does exist.”
- - -
Barely any time had passed before Glorfindel felt Erestor thrash and moan in his sleep. He nervously kept watch at first, hoping the nightmare would pass, but when his response grew more fitful, Glorfindel nudged him gently awake. As Erestor’s eyes cleared and came into focus, he sought out Glorfindel, scrambling to be enfolded within his arms. “If only I had thought a little longer,” he babbled, “I should have asked He give THEM a child; I did not even think about what I was saying at the time, and now Haldir hates me for it.”
‘Oh, not this again,’ thought Glorfindel, but he attempted to calm with his words and by simply holding Erestor and dispersing light kisses upon his head and the back of his neck. “Erestor, sweetheart, he has not even had a day, and neither have you. Things will be so much better once you have had some sleep.”
“Why did I not say something?” Erestor’s normally low, smooth voice was broken with sobs as he buried his face against Glorfindel and let his emotions spill forth. “I should have told him. I should have said something when I realized what happened, Fin, I should have, I should have listened to you! You were right, you were so very right, even when I say you are wrong so often you are not, but damn my pride and my foolishness, I still should have said something.”
“Shh, it will be alright,” comforted Glorfindel. He had pulled Erestor up into his arms and was resting with his back against the headboard now. The blond began to move the hair that was sticking to Erestor’s face back so that he could wipe away his tears.
Erestor clung to him and cried, cursing his mistakes and damning himself over and over. As the tears began to subside, he sniffled and said, “I never got to hold him.”
“When he was a baby, I never had the chance to hold my son.” Tears welled up again. “I never saw him start to walk, I never taught him how to speak, he never really knew me when he was a child.” Teardrops ran down his cheeks, dripping silently from his chin. “I should have been there for him, but I never was. Fin, I was never there for him, how can he forgive me for that?”
“You need to forgive yourself first,” said Glorfindel in a stern, but loving tone. “You did what many would not have done. You put him first in your mind. There are consequences to every action; if you had said something, then other things would have happened. You can not know what the outcome might have been the other way. There is no way to relive the past; we must go forward to fix our mistakes.”
The sniffling subsided, but Erestor’s grip on Glorfindel was still strong. “You know, that sounds like something I would say.”
“It does, yes, yes, it does. No wonder, with you being all intellectual around me, some of it was bound to make its way between my ears eventually. In fact, I should really be upset with you,” continued Glorfindel when he felt his lover smile slightly at his jesting, “because the other day, someone wanted to show me a book, and I asked what sort of book it was, and they said poetry, and I thought to myself, how nice, and it would be shelved right after fiction but before history and I just wanted to throw myself against a WALL, because it was ALL YOUR FAULT that I was THINKING such a thing!” Glorfindel grinned and hugged Erestor, who was now fighting off a fit of laughter.
“It only means I have nearly trained you in all important aspects of life,” said Erestor as he calmed down. “Furthermore, this now means you shall have no excuse not to put books back in the correct spots at home.”
“Oh, I knew I was going to pay for that. But, the price is so little when I consider that it buys your happiness.” Glorfindel kissed Erestor on the top of his head and then maneuvered them back beneath the coverlet again. “We should rest, though it is nearly morning. I think even a little sleep will do you some good.”
They were settled back in bed for only a minute or two before Erestor reached up to tap Glorfindel on the shoulder. “Fin? Are you asleep yet?”
“Hmmhh? Mmm, what, Erestor?” He blinked his eyes to clear them. “Hmm?”
“Sorry, I thought you might still be awake. Never can tell with your eyes open,” Erestor mumbled. “Never mind me, just go back to your reverie.”
“No, tell me. You will only poke me again in an hour when you find yourself unable to sleep and wanting to ask me what you woke me for in the first place.”
Erestor blushed, knowing it to be true. “I just... I just wanted to know if you will stay by me tomorrow when I tell everyone. It would be- It would make me feel better with you at my side. I know that is a lot to ask, but-“
“I am always here for you. My place is by your side, my darling.” Glorfindel emphasized this by holding Erestor a little tighter. “Right here. By your side. Right where Eru intended for me to be.”
Erestor simply smiled. “You are more wonderful to me than you will ever realize.”
“Give me a little more credit than that, love,” replied Glorfindel with a wink.
The flame of the candle beside the bed flickered and fizzled into the puddle of wax that remained, and the lovers fell back asleep, each of them helping to chase the other’s demons away. The clock in the hall chimed six.