Laire Namarie, the Farewell to Summer, was one of the most frivolous festivals celebrated by the elves. There was no specific day on which to hold the event; most of the elves of Valinor attended more than one Laire Namarie party. The only requirement was that it be held on one of the days of Winter. As was tradition of the House of the Green Leaf, the celebration was held on the first true winter day, whether or not there was snow. This year, there was none, which made it rather easy for many who would not have normally attended to reach the King’s Kastle.
Through the ages, the celebration had changed little by little. In the Years of the Trees, it had simply been an elegant ball, but now in addition to the dancing, there was a feast at the onset and games for both young and old. It was required not only to be dressed well, but to be gaily dressed in bright and mischievous colors. Many of those in attendance wore detailed masks, some carved of wood and painted with extreme care while others were soft, sewn with feathers and ribbons. Many of them were laden with jewels and precious stones, some of them were beautiful as the day or terrible as the night, but all of them were a small masterpiece, and a reflection of the wearer’s soul.
There were some in the Kastle that night who did not wish to wear the masks they had. In the case of Haldir, he had twice hidden the mask he had- once under the bed, and once in the closet. Each time, Elodien, darting from room to room of the house as she prepared herself for the ball, would just go straight to the place he had hidden it, pull it out, and drop it into her sulking husband’s lap.
“Honestly, I am not going,” he called after her, moments later dumping the mask in the basket of dirty laundry and tossing a pair of errant leggings that had escaped atop it. Without word or warning, Elodien zipped back into the room, pulled the mask out of the laundry and set it into Haldir’s lap just as he was sitting down on the bed again. “Legolas, tell her I am not going,” he demanded as his husband entered the room, dressed in his finest and brightest green jerkin, with a shirt whose sleeves puffed at the shoulders and billowed appropriately down his arms.
“Of course you are going,” stated Legolas matter-of-factly. “This is my father’s party, I am requested if not required to be there, you, as my husband, must make an appearance just as I must. Go change.”
“This is a conspiracy!” yelled Haldir as he pulled his shirt over his head and reached for the clean red one that Elodien had laid out for him. “He is going to be there, and I do not wish to talk to him right now.”
“So, do not speak to him. Did I say you had to talk to him?” asked Legolas. Haldir grumbled and pulled off his pants to replace them with the leggings that were smooth and free of wrinkles. “Did she say you have to talk to him?” he queried further, pointing to Elodien as she entered the room.
“Talk to who? No, he just has to wear the mask. I spent hours yesterday repainting it. It was as if someone had purposely sanded the color off of the ears and nose,” she said as she yanked open a drawer of the dresser, pulled out a bottle of perfume and a brush, and then left the room again.
Legolas shook his head and clicked his tongue at Haldir, whose sheepish look explained just why the mask of the fox which he always wore to these parties had been so inexplicably marred. “We need not stay very long, Haldir. Once the feast is over and the dance begins, I surely plan not to stay.” Few knew of Legolas’ flaw- when there was music, his right foot converted to another left one, and Eru pity the lady who had thought to dance with him.
“Fine. But no matter what, I want one of you with me at all times. I do not want to be left open for an attack,” insisted Haldir.
“For the love of- Haldir, this is not a battle. We are not going to war.” Plopping down on the mattress beside him, Legolas nudged Haldir with his shoulder. “I understand, this is not something easy to accept, this is so completely out of the ordinary.”
“You understand? How can you understand?” Haldir was not shouting, nor was he angry, for he knew Legolas meant well and was only trying to help. “Think of it like this, Legolas. What if Thaladir were to come to you and say he was your father. What would that be like? How would you sort that out?”
“I have thought about it in that way,” Legolas interrupted. “That is why I said, I understand. That is why I have not said, ‘Haldir, go talk to Erestor’. That is why I know you need time.”
Leaning against Legolas, Haldir said, “I just do not know how I am supposed to feel. Thinking back, Erestor was there for me at times no one else was. It makes so much sense now, and I feel stupid for not noticing it. On the other hand, my father... Celeborn... he still feels like my father. He still is my father. I am angry at Erestor, but in part I am angrier at myself.”
Legolas put his arms around Haldir and kissed the top of his head. “None of this is your fault. There is no reason for you to berate yourself. Try to have a good time tonight, love. I promise, we will not be there for long.”
- - -
“Honestly, I am not going.” As soon as Glorfindel left the room, Erestor lifted up his pillow and slid his mask beneath it, then fluffed the pillow up and leaned back on the bed nonchalantly. In a matter of seconds, Glorfindel was back in the room. With his hands on his hips, he stared down at his mate, who feigned boredom.
Lifting up Erestor’s head with one hand, Glorfindel picked up the pillow and tossed it aside with the other. He took hold of the mask, blew off the purple and aquamarine feathers, and tossed it into Erestor’s lap. A stray feather which had become detached floated down as Erestor’s head hit the mattress. “Get dressed,” called Glorfindel as he picked up his comb from the countertop of the dresser and strayed into the next room.
“Are you listening to me? Did you stuff your head with cotton?” Erestor took the mask and flung it in the direction of the doorway. It sailed through the air, arching downwards, but just as it was about to take a dive to the floor, Glorfindel came around the corner again. Catching the mask in one hand, he tossed the comb in Erestor’s direction. “And comb your hair, too,” added Glorfindel.
“Agggh!” Erestor pitched the comb across the room, but lower and away from Glorfindel so that he could not possibly reach it. Instead, it bounced off of the back of a plush chair, nearly pelting Erestor in the head on its return trip. At the doorway, Glorfindel snorted and brought the mask back to Erestor.
“Even if you do not get dressed, I will carry you down to the party. Kicking and screaming if it comes to that. And if that happens, you can be assured that everyone will be watching the scene you will be making, therefore completely forgetting all about your recent revelations.”
Unfolding the black pants that were embroidered with blue, gold, and violet swirls up the sides, Erestor began to pout. “I had been under the impression that you loved me.”
“I do. Now get dressed,” Glorfindel said firmly as he held the mask out to Erestor. “And comb your hair.” Pointing to the comb on the bed in case there was any confusion, Glorfindel then exited the room again.
“Get dressed... comb your hair...” Erestor contented himself with muttering under his breath while Glorfindel finished braiding his own hair. When Glorfindel returned, he directed Erestor to the sitting room of the accommodations they had been given while at the Kastle. The dark haired elf seated himself on one of the chairs and sat as still as he could while Glorfindel wove clusters of blue, violet, and peacock feathers throughout his long, loose hair. The final touch was the mask- which Glorfindel had to again retrieve, this time hidden under the bed itself. Clicking his tongue at Erestor while the ebon haired elf smiled at him sheepishly, Glorfindel handed the mask to him.
“Try to have a little fun tonight, sweetheart. I know how trying this week has been, but all the same, you need to relax a little. We need not stay long, but since Thranduil has invited us to sit at his table with him, it is only proper that we show up. Especially considering how accommodating he and his father have been,” added Glorfindel. “I promise, Ress, we really do not have to stay very long.”
- - -
Two of the members of the Kastle staff had been assigned to opening the doors for guests and greeting them. This consisted of showering them with shimmering confetti and shaking bells at the arrival of each party. When Legolas entered, accompanied by Haldir and Elodien on either side of him, not only were they assaulted by a large amount of confetti, but crowns of holly were presented to each of them as well.
Through the lounge area they traveled, where a number of small groups or pairs who wished to eat in a less formal atmosphere had decided to dine. They continued into the dancehall where the bar was located, and then through a back door to the lawn. In the distance, they could see the see the remaining smoke from the fire that had been put out in the hearth of their cheerful little house just before they came here. The residence was hidden just inside of the forest that began some two hundred yards beyond the area behind the inn.
Sometimes used for games or outside dances, the lawn was set up now for a feast, with many long tables creating nearly an entire circle. Three breaks were left- one on either side of the main table where Thranduil and his party sat, and another at the opposite end. Everyone sat facing the middle of the area, where there were now jugglers performing, and after many such acts, would later be the location of a bonfire.
“Bloody fuck,” cursed Haldir as they came closer to the head table.
“Hush! There are children present,” scolded Elodien, but she, too, saw what gave Haldir cause for concern.
Pausing abruptly, Legolas made eye contact with his father, then cursed as well but not so audibly. “Haldir, I swear I did not know he was going to do this.”
“I know. And he means well, I know that, too.” Haldir shook his head. “Legolas, I am sorry, but I have lost my appetite.”
Legolas released the arms of his spouses, and then turned to face them both. “You have no reason to apologize. There is food and drink inside- at least stop for Elodien’s sake,” Legolas said to Haldir’s head shaking.
“I thought she would go with you,” assumed Haldir.
“What if I eat with Haldir, take him back home, and then return again?” Elodien suggested.
“I have to be there, but unless you really want to sit around for the next three hours, I see no reason why the two of you cannot return home if you like.” Legolas smiled as the looks behind their masks revealed that both Haldir and Elodien were actually quite amicable to this course of action. “Then give me a hug, and be gone,” he teased, and was embraced by them both before they went back inside.
- - -
At the head table, Ilmendin picked up his wine bowl and discretely leaned towards his father. “It was a good idea, but perhaps a bit too early for it,” he remarked. Thranduil nodded. “I doubt Haldir is upset at you, but Legolas certainly appears to be.”
On the other side of Thranduil, three empty places awaited, and beside those, a disheartened Erestor, and Glorfindel, who coughed into his hand and snuck his arm around his husband. Turning his head so that he was whispering into his lover’s ear, he said, “I did not like the plan from the onset. It appears Legolas was not very happy, either.” He sat straight again as the prince approached. “Good eve, Legolas, I hope you are well.”
“Thank you, Glorfindel, I am. Good evening to you both,” he said, inclining his head slightly in their direction. As he walked behind them to get to his own seat beside Thranduil, he simply said, “Father,” then turned a cold shoulder to him and poured a bowl of wine.
The two empty spaces between Legolas and Erestor did not remain so for long. “This is the most marvelous celebration yet!” A fair elleth came around to the front of the table and curtseyed before Thranduil, who gave her the oddest sort of look. “And space for us at the table, dear cousin, how thoughtful!”
As the elleth proceeded to move back around the table to the empty chairs, Thranduil’s gaze traveled to her husband, who was looking as if he would really rather not be sitting at the front table. “Surely, they are reserved for someone else. My wife jests,” said the silver haired lord, giving her a warning look.
“Nonsense! Who else would he expect to have places saved for? I thought at first that these were for Haldir and Elodien, but I saw them go inside again, so obviously they are meant for us. Good evening, Legolas,” added Galadriel as she sat down beside Erestor.
Legolas tried to think of some excuse as to whose spots they really were, but any logical idea failed him. Thranduil was at a loss as well, and so Ilmendin, deciding the only polite thing to do was to invite them now that they were here, motioned down the table at the final empty seat between Legolas and Galadriel. “Cousin Celeborn, it is a pleasure to dine with you this evening.”
“Likewise, and thank you.” Celeborn awkwardly walked around the other side of the table and all the way back down again simply to avoid passing Glorfindel and Erestor. His wife was already carrying on quite a conversation.
“I do not believe I have ever seen that mask, Erestor. Was that sewn by Gaileth? It looks to be her work,” said Galadriel.
“It is,” replied Glorfindel after the question went unanswered. “Her quality of sewing is rather fine, but the design was her daughter’s.”
Galadriel looked rather put off by the fact that it was not Erestor who responded, and so tried another tactic. “Erestor, would you mind terribly passing that bottle of wine to me?” she asked of the wine bottle that was placed between Glorfindel and Erestor on the table.
“There is one by your elbow,” Glorfindel answered, nodding in the direction of it.
“Ah, so there is,” she said, and remained silent for the next few hours while the feast was brought forth and the musicians and acrobats performed. Great torches encircling the area kept it lit well enough for everyone to see until it was time to light the fire at the center and begin the dancing both inside and out.
While Thranduil entered the circle and made a speech about the past year, Erestor tugged on Glorfindel’s sleeve and motioned for him to follow him to the door leading inside. With most of the elves on the lawn paying attention to Thranduil and the fire being lit by his sons, few noticed the pair sneaking away.
Once inside, Erestor marched himself straight to the bar and ordered a rather strong drink. “Why did she do that?” he stuttered as soon as the bartender set down the drink and left for another part of the counter. “And what was with her trying to be nice?”
“Maybe she wishes to speak with you, to sort things out,” suggested Glorfindel.
“Maybe I do not wish to speak to her,” spat Erestor.
Glorfindel waved the bartender over, feeling the need for a strong drink himself. “I sensed a bit of that going on.”
“How can she go from nasty and evil one day and sweet and nice the next?” demanded Erestor after the bartended left the second time.
Shrugging, Glorfindel reminded him, “You were the one who lived with her. If anyone knows, it would be you.”
“Excuse me,” said a voice behind them. Erestor tensed up, and Glorfindel bit his lip. “I was wondering if you might dance with me.”
Glorfindel gave Erestor a long look, and then turned around and stepped down from his stool. “I would be delighted,” he said, and was met by Galadriel’s frustration.
“Fin,” she said rather sternly, and as she never called him Fin, he sat back up on his stool.
“Auntie, he does not wish to dance with you right now,” Glorfindel said in a soft voice, trying not to attract too much attention.
But Erestor turned around and gulped down the rest of his drink. “Glorfindel, will you wait for me in the hall? I will only be a few minutes.”
“Of course,” he said immediately, and Glorfindel took his drink with him, watching the pair warily over his shoulder as they moved to the dance floor.
Their entire waltz was silent, with Galadriel trying to decide what to say but not speaking, and Erestor wondering what Galadriel wanted to talk about, but deciding not to ask. Before the dance ended, Erestor pulled abruptly away from Galadriel, bowing formally. “Thank you for the dance,” he said quickly as he made an attempt to leave.
The other couples around them blocked his retreat. “Erestor. Please do not run from me.” Slowly, the ellon turned back around. “Come with me, Erestor. Let us take a walk.”
Galadriel looped her arm through Erestor’s, and when he did not take the initiative to move them from the dance floor, she herself walked them across the hall and into the corridor leading to the lounge. A small maze of sofas, some with tables and others without, all with high walls around them, awaited them in this room. It was to one of the secluded alcoves that Galadriel led him. “I wish to apologize for my reaction the other night. It was uncalled for, but you must admit, it was some rather odd news!” She laughed to herself uneasily while Erestor sat stoically beside her.
“Honestly, though, I wanted to let you know I will support you in whatever way I can. If you would like me to, I can speak with Haldir- I know he would listen to me,” she assured him.
“Thank you, but that is not necessary. He and I both need time, to accept things and to work through this. Haldir will need your support, but as for talking to him on my behalf, I think it better I find the words to say to him,” Erestor said.
Relaxing now that he was speaking to her, Galadriel let out a relieved sigh. “If you change your mind, do not hesitate to ask.”
He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. “Was there anything else?” questioned Erestor suddenly.
“No, not right now,” replied Galadriel, her smile replaced with a frown.
“If that is all, then good night,” he said in a brusque manner, making no attempt to leave.
Absorbing the uncomfortable silence, Galadriel stood and asked, “Is there anything else we should talk about?”
Erestor contemplated for a few seconds. “What else is there to discuss?”
“It seems always that there is a question you have. Something more you wish to ask or to say.” Galadriel sat down beside Erestor so that they were shoulder to shoulder and knee to knee. Erestor’s hands began immediately to knead one another as she touched his cheek. “Talk to me, Erestor.”
“There was always so much more I wanted to say.” With that admission, the dam broke. “I could never bring myself to believe that you left me- you actually left me! You left me, and you killed to get off of this island. When I heard the news, it was as if you had driven your dagger through my own heart. Always I had thought to that point there was still a chance. That you missed me. That you still cared for me. That you loved me.” Erestor bowed his head and Galadriel let her hand slide down into her lap. “I had hope until that day.”
Focusing her eyes on a point on the wall, Galadriel asked, “Do you love me still?”
“How can I not?”
Still looking away from him, she said, “Erestor, you must know something. When we were together, I was young. You courted me the winter of my majority; you kissed me before I had reached that point. I was enamored with the idea that attention was being paid to me, the little girl who ran around with the boys and had dirt on her face and her hair tied up on her head. I was so in love with being loved, I never stopped to think whether or not I really was in love.”
Never thinking that the pain he had felt the night she left him could be greater than the pain he felt now, Erestor gripped the cushion of the seat. “You never loved me.” Saying the words made his entire being feel numb and cold.
“I am sorry,” apologized Galadriel. “I wanted to. I tried so hard.” Standing up, she moved before him and knelt down, taking hold of his hand and forcing him to look at her. “It was wrong of me to leave you as I did. I am far wiser now than I was then. Perhaps I should not have been so harsh, but then, it was for the best in the end. I know that I am meant to be with Celeborn, and you have Glorfindel.”
Continuing to grip the cushion, the dark elf felt as if he was standing beside himself, watching the scene play out, with no control over his body. He felt nothing and knew not what to say.
“Erestor? Erestor, please, talk to me,” begged Galadriel. Her hands were on his knees and she shook him slightly to gain his attention. “Say something, please.”
“You should go,” he managed force out in a small voice. He was on the verge of tears, and found her to be unbearably close to him. “Just go,” he said, repeating his plea.
Nothing more was said as she stood up and walked away, giving him one last look over her shoulder. There was pity in her eyes, but he did not see it. An elf who had been hiding in the shadows watching the entire exchange, did.
Emerging from his hidden corner in the shadows, Glorfindel set down his drink on a empty table that he passed by and came to stand before Erestor. The dark haired elf was busily removing his mask, and threw it down on the floor. “Are you alright?”
As Erestor shook his head back and forth, tears poured forth in a flood of emotion. He felt used, betrayed, hurt, and saddest of all, unloved. This Glorfindel saw as well, and he sank down beside his mate, enclosing him within his strong arms. There they sat, Glorfindel comforting Erestor for uncounted minutes. While merry music played only a few paces away in the hall and laughter echoed through the room, Erestor’s heartbreaking sobs were drowned out and heard only by the one who cared for him the most. Or perhaps, Erestor began to think, the only one who truly cared about him at all.
“I have to get away from here,” insisted Erestor as he began to regain his composure. Instantly, Glorfindel helped him up and together they left the inn, walking down the path that led to the stables and posts where the horses and carriages were kept out of the way. “Why does it seem as if everything always goes wrong at once?” he questioned as they walked. “I was having such a good week until all of this happened.”
They came to a halt at the larger of the two stables and Glorfindel followed Erestor inside. It was warmer within than it was outside, and many of the horses were asleep despite the frivolity and merriment going on so nearby. “I feel like such a failure.”
“Stop saying such cruel things about yourself. Remember, you still have me,” said Glorfindel. Erestor nodded silently as the blond closed in, removing his own mask and tossing it aside on a hay bale. “A small consolation, I know, but, ‘tis something.”
“’Tis everything,” Erestor corrected as Glorfindel’s arms encircled his chest and hugged him tight. A few stray tears escaped as Erestor turned in Glorfindel’s embrace and leaned his head on his lover’s shoulder. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, darling.” Glorfindel wiped away the trail from each of Erestor’s cheeks. “Tell me what I can do to make you feel better.”
“I- I want to go home,” sniffled Erestor.
Glorfindel nodded. “Let me pack our things and I shall take you straight away back to the cottage.”
“No, home. I want to go home.” He clung tighter to Glorfindel. “I want to go back to Rivendell, just you and I and the horses. I wish we could go back.”
“I shall build you a boat and we shall go wherever you want, and wherever you go I shall follow.”
“You have always been there for me,” whispered Erestor. “Whenever I need you, you are always here.”
“And always will be,” promised Glorfindel. He held Erestor close with one arm and pulled his cloak snuggly around both of them. “Shall I begin work on that ship?”
Erestor rested against Glorfindel, letting the blond support his weight. “No,” he said finally. “This is where we belong. Time will sort things out. I just- there are some secrets which must be told, and others which are best left unspoken.” Erestor looked back to the Kastle. “I wish she would have left what she told me tonight unsaid.”
“Just remember, you always have me.” Glorfindel kissed Erestor lovingly on the cheek, but Erestor turned his head to meet Glorfindel’s lips with his own. “Would you like me to take you home?”
“In the morning. Right now, I think you should take me to bed.” Erestor’s eyes, half hidden by drooping lids and dark lashes, were full of desire. No further instruction was necessary, and Glorfindel promptly brought Erestor back inside the King’s Kastle, taking him up to the rooms that they were using.
- - -
“It will be so nice tomorrow, to be back in our own bed,” called Glorfindel from the bathing chamber. He received an affirmative response as he finished brushing his hair and tied it back so that it would not get in his way. As he stepped out of the chamber into the bedroom, he slowly walked to the bed. “Now, how in creation did you manage to do that?”
The dark elf looked over his shoulder. He was knelt at the foot of the bed and had somehow used the curtains of the canopy to restrain his wrists. Each was tied to one of the posts at the bottom of the bed. His hair had been braided, a long black rope that ran to the floor and snaked across the carpet towards one foot. Erestor’s legs were spread, and his back faced Glorfindel, his body glistening with the sheen of lightly scented oil. He gave the slightest shrug, and Glorfindel growled ferally.
“You undo me, you beautiful bewitching creature.” Glorfindel climbed upon the bed and crawled to the foot of it. Taking hold of Erestor’s chin with one hand, he tilted his face up and teased Erestor’s lips with his tongue until he had the dark one panting and offering his open mouth, stretching his neck in vain attempts to capture Glorfindel’s retreating lips. Finally, Erestor managed to steal a kiss, and Glorfindel flicked his tongue against Erestor’s. He held his lover’s chin firmly again as he thrust his tongue in and out of the moist cavern, causing Erestor to moan, knowing what was to come.
A shiver ran through Erestor’s body as Glorfindel released his hold upon him and slid off the side of the bed. Moments later, warm hands traveled over his bare flesh, heightening his excitement. His groin ached, left untouched by either himself before he had bound his wrists to the posts, or Glorfindel, who had not even taken a moment to regard his erection. The muscles of his thighs tensed as he tried to thrust forward and gain some sort of relief, but there was nothing close enough to rub himself against. “Do not fret, darling, I will take care of you. But first, you present to me such a bounty, ripe and ready, how can I not take what I have been offered?”
Glorfindel pressed the tip of his length to Erestor’s prepared entrance as he took hold of the elder’s hips with a firm grip. In one stroke, he sheathed himself, grunting in pleasure as he pulled out a little and thrust back in with greater force. Erestor answered with a moan, his fingers curling around the posts. “The sounds you make are unbelievably sexy,” purred Glorfindel into Erestor’s ear as he found his rhythm, keeping his hands on the dark elf’s hips and away from the rigid erection that begged for attention. “You know which sound I like the best? When you practically scream and call out my name. I hope you do that tonight. I hope everyone hears and knows who it is... who makes you feel so good.”
“Make me scream, Fin. I want everyone to know-oh!” A loud cry escaped from Erestor as Glorfindel slammed into him, burying himself deep. Glorfindel gladly fulfilled his desire, and those in the hallway and rooms nearby could hear without a doubt just who Erestor gave himself to.
At the bottom of the stairs, Thranduil had his forehead leaned against the banister, and was franticly rubbing his temples. Cool, slim fingers slid over his hands and began to massage his head for him. “My lord... we should retire...”
“What IS it about hearing them that causes you to become so... needy?” asked Thranduil as Avisiel moved away and began to climb the stairs.
She smiled mysteriously. “I know not,” she admitted. “However, we simply must have them visit more often.”