“Will he...?” Rumil waited for Orophin’s answer. The youngest brother and eldest brother had been waiting in the kitchen with Nenniach and Valarda. Orophin let the door swing back and forth behind him as he moved to lean against the wall and shake his head solemnly.
“I am truly sorry, Rumil, but alas, Erestor will never wrestle goats again.”
“Seriously, Oro!” Valarda shot her husband a warning look. “Is Erestor going to make it?”
“Sigh, and, yes, and I thought you had a sense of humor.” Yawning rather loudly, Orophin said, “He is weak; we need to watch him closely the next few days. He lost more blood than I thought he had, in all honesty. Elrond had to take out something or other but he said he would be fine without it. He mentioned having to take out something else perhaps, but he did not want to if he could help it. Also, his left kidney is damaged, but with any luck it will heal. Because if it does not, I just keep getting this image of him walking around with his side sunken in because there is nothing left to fill it out.”
“Oro...” came Valarda’s voice again.
Snorting at her, he continued with his assessment. “He is resting right now; Glorfindel said that Erestor made it through worse but I can not quite imagine what would be worse. Axe in the back, I suppose- sorry! Sorry, I just could not help it, it was right th- ow! Ow! Yow, elleth, stop!”
Valarda beat Orophin with a damp washrag before slopping it into his face. “Insensitive, thy name is Oro.”
“OroPHIN, if you are going to insult me,” corrected Orophin, dumping the rag in the sink. “Overall, I think he will survive. Haldir... Glorfindel wanted to talk to you, if you have a moment.”
- - -
The room was dark when Haldir walked in, with only the light from a single candle illuminating the objects within. Glorfindel was knelt at the bedside. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and his hair was drawn back in a messy ponytail. “Please shut the door,” he said quietly before he once more began to sing the calming lullaby that Haldir had heard when he first entered.
A soft click came from the handle as Haldir pushed the door closed. He stood a respectful distance away, watching as Glorfindel tended to Erestor with scrupulous care. Every particle of dust was cleaned from his skin with careful strokes. This task alternated with keeping the cloth that rested over Erestor’s forehead cool by dipping it into a basin and wringing it out every few minutes. “Usually, he is so cold,” remarked Glorfindel after finishing the song for the third time since Haldir had entered. “He likes to sit by the fire. But this fever...” Glorfindel wrung out the cloth, the sound of the water dribbling back into the basin like a thousand uncried tears from his dry eyes.
“Orophin said that you wished to see me.” Haldir did not know what else to say, and expected there was more to the reason Glorfindel wished him here other than to hear him sing and reminisce.
“I just want you to know that I place no blame on you. Neither does he.” Glorfindel continued to meticulously wash the traces of blood and dirt from Erestor’s arm with the corner edge of a soft cloth. “He always thought he was doing you a favor by not saying anything. That it was the best way to handle the situation.”
“He should have told me,” said Haldir.
Glorfindel dipped the cloth into the bowl of warm water and rubbed the dirt away with his thumb. “I told him the same. He gets stubborn, though, same as you. No matter how logical the solution, if his mind is dead set against it, then trying to make him change his opinion will be a battle fought uphill.”
“He loves you, you know.” Glorfindel caught Haldir’s gaze. “Very much. I remember the day he found out that you were injured at Helm’s Deep. He risked all he had at the time- his career, his well-being in traveling all alone, the trust Elrond had in him, everything- just to be there for you. To take care of you. He was very proud of everything you did.”
Each and every word was another blow to Haldir, until he was slumped in a chair looking miserable. “I have been terribly cruel to him these past days.”
“It was to be expected, to a point. You felt rejected by him, because he did not tell you.” Glorfindel did not expect an answer, but Haldir did nod. Picking up a smaller bowl of some sort of salve, Glorfindel rubbed it gently over Erestor’s lips and the knuckles of his hands so that they would not dry and crack. As he tucked the blankets around Erestor, Glorfindel said, “What is worse is a father who casts away his child for lack of love. I can say this because my own father- yes, your Uncle Angrod,” he added when Haldir furrowed his brow, “disowned me when I was forty-three.”
“It was the worst and best thing that happened to me- but I never wanted to feel good about it. I just hung on to the despair. It was so unthinkable, that someone would send their child away, especially when I never really did anything wrong!” Glorfindel quieted his voice. “I even asked him to fix me,” he said ruefully. “I begged him to teach me how to not like other boys. I just wanted things to stay the same, I never wanted to leave. There were times I missed my mother, my brother, my sister, and even my father, that I would cry myself to sleep at night. In no way could I know what a positive effect that change would have on me. I wandered for three years before wandering myself into Gondolin. Ecthelion took me in, ‘raised’ me as his son though I lied to everyone about my age, and it was there that I met your father. Does it disturb you that I refer to him as that?”
“I suppose not,” answered Haldir.
“There are so few as unselfish as he is. He gives and he gives without any expectation of anything in return. You never saw it, but he fought so hard so many times on your behalf. When you had the idea that you wanted to be the Captain of the Galadhrim, and even your own parents did not like it, do you know who finally convinced them?” Glorfindel looked away from Haldir and down to Erestor. “When you spoke to me about coming to Imladris for a time to teach, I brought the idea to Elrond and he rejected it. But someone was able to talk him into it. When Thranduil was leaving and Legolas did not wish the responsibilities of Greenwood, whose idea do you think it was to have you put in charge? And who stepped down from his post in Imladris, a place he dearly loved, in order to aide you in Greenwood, living in the caves that still frighten him?”
“How was I to know he was afraid of the caves?” questioned Haldir angrily, angry at himself for not realizing all of these things.
Glorfindel lifted the cloth from Erestor’s head and swished it around in the cool water. “You never were to know. He wanted to be strong for you; now, it is my advice that you be strong for him. I thought it best for you both to take the time you needed, but...” With a downhearted expression on his face, Glorfindel squeezed the water from the cloth and placed it back over Erestor’s brow. “I fear you may not have any time left.”
“What- what do you mean?” asked Haldir.
“He has not been getting better,” admitted Glorfindel. “In fact, he keeps getting worse. Elrond has no alternative but to hope he will hold on and that time will heal him.”
Haldir was at the bedside now as well, kneeling on the floor next to Glorfindel, his hands holding one of Erestor’s. “But Oro- Oro said-“
“Elrond does not want everyone else to worry, and neither would Erestor. He told me once that if anything should happen to him, he would rather not have a vast number of people crowded about. At the time, he mentioned only myself and Elrond by name- well, he mentioned your mother as well, but I saw no point in that now. I think he would have wanted you here, too.”
“But he could still get better.” Haldir held fast to Erestor’s hand. “He may still pull through.”
“There is always hope of that,” affirmed Glorfindel. “I do hope he does. I know if he does not, I would soon follow. At least, I would not be alone in the Halls,” he murmured, cooling down the cloth once again.
Bowing his head, Haldir felt tears prick at his eyes. “What have I done?” he whispered to himself.
“That is not the question to ask,” replied Glorfindel. “Rather, what are you going to do now?”
- - -
The hour was late, but still, Haldir knocked upon his mother’s door. He had come from the room that Erestor was in, the place he had spent most of his time for the last eight days. He and Glorfindel traded in watching over Erestor and keeping him comfortable. Haldir spent much of the time talking as well, telling Erestor little stories about things from his childhood growing up in Lothlorien and other humorous tales he knew.
Glorfindel was a wreck; he slept only when he slipped unknowingly into reverie, and even then only for a few minutes here and there before waking up with a start. As time wore on, Erestor’s condition did not worsen, but it did not improve either. An idea came to Haldir, and he wondered why he had not thought of it earlier. Though the accuracy of the mirror his mother used was questionable, Haldir had found that he had better precision with it than she did. When he explained his idea, she was doubtful, but retrieved it for him anyhow.
The garden seemed as good a place as any to try, and after setting the mirror atop a large, flat stone that was usually used as a place to sit, he filled a pitcher with water from the small pond that their ducks favored. A fine stream of water was poured into the basin from the silver pitcher as it was held aloft. Haldir watched the ripples on the surface dissipate until the surface was as smooth as glass. He placed his hands upon the edge of the mirror and looked down into it. There was nothing at first, but then the ripples flowed again, and at the center, images began to appear.
Haldir knew if he did not give the mirror direction, it would simply act on its own accord. Sitting upon the ground, he settled his hands on either side of the bowl. “Show me that which has not come to pass,” he said, and the water rippled across the surface, cleaning the slate. A button-nosed baby, with large, unmistakably pointed ears, chewed on his foot while watching something above his crib. The scene changed to show what he was looking at- Glorfindel, bouncing a little stuffed cat across the rail of the crib while Erestor, with his arms folded over the side, smiled and laughed at whatever noises Glorfindel was making. A wisp of dark hair came into view, and Elrond cut his way between them both.
As Elrond cooed something to the baby that made Erestor snort, he reached in and lifted the elfling out of the crib. Sticking his tongue out at Erestor, Elrond proceeded to talk to the baby in what appeared to be broken half-sentences.
As Elrond walked away, Erestor reached over and snatched the stuffed toy from Glorfindel, aimed, and threw it in Elrond’s direction. It hit the elf lord’s rear end and bounced off onto the floor. When Elrond turned around, he saw Erestor smirking and pointing at Glorfindel while the golden elf truthfully denied any involvement, his grin implicating him immediately.
“Alive, and happy,” Haldir said to himself in relief. “Thank the Valar.” He paused and added, “Thank Eru.” The mirror had gone blank, bouncing the miniature waves off the sides of itself. ‘Probably just happy to be of use again,’ Haldir mused. Leaving it to play for a while, he contemplated what he had seen. Had Elrond and his sister had another child? That would certainly not have been out of the question. Elrond adored children. Then again, the child, in Haldir’s opinion had looked quite a lot like Erestor, save for the wild mass of blond curls. He had another idea, snickered at it, and further contemplated. The most important thing was that Erestor would pull through, and for that he was extremely thankful. Looking down into the mirror, he saw that it had become placid and bored, reflecting only moon and starlight now.
“Show me what has not come to pass,” spoke Haldir, watching for the images intently. The crystal surface dulled and a misty scene was revealed. A pair of elves, Erestor and Glorfindel, much younger it seemed. It was after the war, and the strangest thing was that Erestor was lounging against Glorfindel in a friendly manner while the blond idly played with intricately woven braids that designated Erestor as one who was bound. The scene was peaceful, yet something suddenly caught Erestor’s attention and he sat up a little and held out his arms.
Soon after, a giggling elfling appeared and leaped up into Erestor’s arms. Haldir stiffened when he recognized himself, snuggling against Erestor and then showing him something in a book. The pages of the book were turned, and young Haldir settled himself into Erestor’s lap for a story while Glorfindel lazily smiled at them both, wrapping his arms around the pair and looking more than content as he kissed the top of Erestor’s head.
“They would have found happiness together sooner, had I been told,” murmured Haldir as the scene in the mirror changed. He sucked in his breath as he made out the face. “Arwen...” he whispered, as it was her, in all her splendid glory. Dearest Arwen, the one he had hopes of wooing, despite her being his niece.
Dressed in flowing silk, with snow white lace embellishing her gown, she flowed down a long aisle, escorted by her father. He was beaming with pride as he lifted her hand and placed it into Haldir’s. While the pair knelt together and began the matrimonial ceremony, Elrond stepped away and joined Celebrian, who was seated beside her mother and father, as well as Erestor and Glorfindel.
Flames spilled across the scene of happiness, and dark times overtook the image in the mirror. Imladris was burning; everyone was fighting to get out. Haldir watched Arwen escaping to the safety of Lothlorien as an image of himself fought alongside Erestor, Glorfindel, Elrond, and the twins.
The smoke cleared, and there was sadness in the eyes of Elrohir, who turned away as his brother stepped forward and lowered himself to the ground. Glorfindel was hunched over, sobbing, weeping as if in pain. Elrond tried to console him, but he and his sons were chased away. It was not until Haldir approached and placed a hand on Glorfindel’s shoulder that the blond warrior turned around and wrapped his arms around Haldir’s legs.
Smoke was still rising up, and there was no way to tell quite what Glorfindel had been covering with his body. Haldir lowered himself to the ground, stroking the blond’s head and finally allowing him to cling to him as he continued to weep. A gust of wind swept through, revealing someone’s charred remains. Haldir reached his hand out towards the corpse, and slid from one finger a band of mithril and gold twined together, and forcing Glorfindel’s hand open, placed it into his palm. The warrior clutched the wedding band, a mate to his own, and fell upon the ground, sobbing.
Haldir slammed his hand into the mirror, knocking it from its pedestal onto the ground. The water spilled over the grass and steam rose up as he fell to the ground, shuddering and holding his arms around himself. He sat on the ground shaking for uncounted minutes before finally calming himself enough to reach for the basin.
“Are you all right?” It was Orophin, as it often was, worrying over him. “I heard you scream.”
“No, I didn’t.” Haldir stood up a bit shakily, clutching the mirror in his hands.
“Yeah, right, and I am the King of Seas. Haldir, we all heard you. Maybe you did not hear you, but we did.” Orophin nodded in the direction of the house, where a number of lights that were not gleaming in the windows now were, and a few faces peeked out from behind the curtains. “Except maybe Erestor; he appears to still be in dreamland.”
Fingering the edge of the metal bowl, Haldir said, “I had a bad vision; like a nightmare I suppose.”
Orophin motioned them to a bench in the garden, and Haldir joined him. “Tell me about it.”
Uneasily, Haldir looked back to the house. The curtains were all hanging down again, many of the candles extinguished now. “I told the mirror to show me what would have been, if only Erestor had revealed the truth.”
“And it was bad?” guessed Orophin.
“It was great. Wonderful. Imagine, us as elflings, and Erestor with Glorfindel, as happy as any couple we know.” Haldir’s smile faded. “Except, there was no you. No little Rumil, either. Perhaps there was, but I did not see either of you.”
“That’s bad,” decided Orophin.
“I married Arwen,” added Haldir.
“That’s good,” said Orophin, nodding.
Haldir sighed. “Then Erestor died.”
“Oh... now, that, that would go in the bad column. I think it also outweighs the happiness of Erestor and Glorfindel together longer. Sorry, brother,” apologized Orophin. “Knowing that, I would go with the version where you find out now. And, what luck! It just so happens-“ Orophin stopped when Haldir held up his hand that he was not looking to be entertained at the moment. “Are you going to tell him?”
Onto the ground, Haldir set the mirror. Bowing his head into his hands, he replied, “I will, but not right away. I still do not know what to say when he awakens.” Confidently, Haldir felt he could now rest easy knowing that Erestor would indeed be well again.
“I was contemplating that very thing,” Orophin said very quickly, “and I was thinking, something along the lines of ‘Sorry I shot you in the stomach, Adar, care to give being my father a go?’.”
“Is that what you would do, Oro?” Haldir looked up to the heavens and closed his eyes. “Tell me what you would do. Honestly.”
For a moment, Orophin stared down at the grass, brown and wrinkled from the recent frosts. “If it were me, I would first speak to OUR Ada, and tell him I do not want anything to change. Then, I would go to Erestor, give him a hug, have a good cry, and tell him I love him. Blah, I can NOT believe I just said that. Tell no one of that,” added Orophin.
Haldir furrowed his brows. “But, it was all hypothetical. You do not actually love Erestor. Right?”
“Not the way that Glorfindel loves him, but yes, I love the sneaky, secretive, mysterious little shadow. He has his quirks, but he is family.” Orophin shrugged. “Enough about me. What are you going to do?”
“I do not know. I think... I think I am going to go to the pub,” decided Haldir.
“Shall I come with you?” offered Orophin as he stood up, but Haldir shook his head. Instead, he held out the mirror.
“Do you mind taking this back to Nana?” Haldir sighed. “If she asks, please, let me tell her what I saw.” Orophin nodded, and Haldir kissed him on the forehead. “Thank you for coming here to stay while I figure all of this out.”
Orophin waved off his words. “Not a problem. You would do the same for me, Halli. Hurry back,” he added.
“I will. See you soon, Oro. Good night.” Haldir made his way to the stables, where he saddled Fool of a Took. Crowded into the next stall were Asfaloth and Thay. After leading Fool out of his stall, Haldir brought Thay into the other stall. Fool of a Took snorted, impatient to leave. Leaping onto his back, Haldir pulled the reigns in the direction of Valimar.
- - -
“Why so glum, chum? Ooo, someone write that down for me! I may use that in the future,” shouted Rumil. None of the poets at their tables made any rush to archive the loremaster’s words, and Rumil sighed theatrically. “I certainly thought it had potential!” he scolded the other writers. He was given a cough and a ball of wadded up parchment tossed at him in response. Setting a glass of heavy cider on the counter for Haldir, Rumil went back to his constant wiping of the top of the bar. “Are you always so solemn?” he directed to Haldir.
Haldir slumped across the countertop, draining his glass rather quickly. “I used to be fairly happy,” he said, pushing the empty glass forward as Rumil filled another for him. “I just have no idea what to do anymore.”
“What was the final straw? The one that broke your oxen’s back?” questioned the bard. It was late afternoon, for Haldir had made a stop at Oropher’s Palace to nap and rest Fool before traveling to Old Valimar in search of the Brotherhood of Manwe. He was remembered from his first and only other visit, and welcomed warmly by Rumil, who was now trying to find the reason for Haldir’s doleful disposition.
“Why does that matter?” grumbled Haldir.
“Sometimes, we hit a snag, something we just do not think we can overcome, and so- we stop. If we can overcome the obstacles, little by little, we can turn the tide. No way to do it in one wave alone,” said Rumil sagely. He gulped down the last of his glass of wine, and then refreshed both his own and Haldir’s. “What was it?”
“I shot my father. In the gut. With an arrow,” he added.
“Oh, dear. That- that does sound like something to put someone in a terrible mood,” Rumil agreed. “He is still... among the living, is he not?”
“Yes. He has been hanging on for near a week now. My brother-in-law is a healer; he has been tending to him. Best healer I know, so I am sure that my father will be fine.” Haldir found that each time he said it, it became a little easier to admit to himelf that he was Erestor’s son. The more he accepted it, the less upset he was about it.
“I see.” Rumil looked past Haldir, and seeing everyone in the room was contently at work, including the minstrel, he came around the counter and sat down beside Haldir. “I really do not know how I would react to such a thing,” he said, resting his elbows on the counter and clasping his hands together. He lowered his chin onto his folded hands and continued, “I have no father myself, except Him. I suppose it is an advantage to being one of the first; no ‘parents’ to worry after me or worry about. However, if I did have a father, I think I might be with him if he was recovering from an arrow that I shot him with.”
Another drink was expediently downed, and Haldir folded his arms on the counter and began to drum his fingers. Starting to explain things would mean he would need to finish explaining things, so instead of divulging his entire family history, Haldir said, “He and I were not on the best of terms.”
“Ah. I see.” Rumil stared down at the counter. “You seem somewhat concerned, though.”
The drumming on the counter stopped. “He should have woken up by now. I think it may be my fault, not just that I injured him physically, but that I hurt him emotionally with some things I have recently said that I... I was angry at him,” justified Haldir to himself. “If he had only... please, do not ask me for all of the details, but until a few weeks ago, I had no idea he was my father. The little brother that I named after you is only my half-brother. I feel terrible and confused on so many levels, and I hurt. I hurt miserably. I thought, this elf who is my father, I thought he was my friend.”
“Can he not still be your friend?”
“What? No,” answered Haldir. “Now things are different.”
“How?” asked Rumil. “How are they different?”
Haldir lifted his glass, only to find it empty. “I used to look up to him. He was my teacher, and sometimes my confidant. To find out that Erestor is my father-“ Clenching his teeth, he set his glass down with a thunk and closed his eyes.
“Your father is Erestor?” Rumil was rubbing his jaw when Haldir looked up. “Yes, yes, I can see it... yes, it makes sense.” Around the room, the poets were murmuring to one another, and the minstrel had stopped playing and was regarding Haldir was curiosity. “Oh, my! You shot Erestor?”
“It was an accident!” Haldir insisted.
Rumil waved his hands to calm Haldir down. “Do not worry, I believe you. I still do not see why things must change. Erestor is a decent fellow; you obviously get along if you confide in him.”
“I cannot help being angry about this,” said Haldir.
“Let it go,” suggested Rumil. “There is no need to be upset.”
“Yes there is,” argued Haldir. “You do not understand. No one understands.” Haldir took a shaky breath. “Everyone thinks I am angry that Erestor did not tell me, that he hid this from me, and I admit I was a little upset. But what I am really angry about is that, when I first found out, my first reaction was relief and joy, and that is so wrong of me.”
Circling the counter again, Rumil poured another drink for Haldir. “How is that wrong?”
“I feel I am betraying my father- my other father, the one who raised me. I love him dearly, he is such a good father to me, and to his other children. But I always felt, not quite right. Does that make sense?” asked Haldir.
Rumil nodded. “Go on.”
“Celeborn never was a fighter, he is the practical, logical sort. Not that Erestor is not, but he saw numerous battles and trained as a soldier. I can not see Celeborn as a warrior, but I can tell that Erestor is not just a simple farmer and bookworm.”
“Is that the only similarity you found?” prodded Rumil.
“No.” Haldir stretched his back and then leaned his elbow on the counter, propping his head up with his hand. “We have a lot of other things in common, too. Probably more than I know,” mused the blond.
Rumil contemplated this silently with Haldir for a while, and then hit his palm on the countertop. “I have something for you, Erestor-ion,” he said, and disappeared behind a curtain that was draped over a doorway. He was back shortly. “This is a book of poems, of your father’s poems. I always meant to get to back to him. Someone came from, oh, I think it was Gondolin or Greenwood or something like that... they had boxes and boxes of manuscripts. It was some time ago, and I was bored and bound it together. Perhaps he will finish filling in the pages and bring it back for the library’s collection.
Over the counter, Rumil slid a heavy volume covered in midnight blue. On the cover, someone had etched a heraldic symbol of three silvery grey beams hovering over blue water. “The symbol of your house,” explained Rumil when Haldir rubbed his finger over the indentations. “House of the Silver Stars. Second oldest house of the Eldar. It gives me a shiver simply to say it!”
Taking hold of the book, Haldir said his thanks to Rumil, promised to return, and left to journey back to the First Homely House. As he rode back to the house on the sea, he spent his time trying to decide what to say, and to whom, when he returned.
- - -
Upon his return, Haldir’s first stop was the room on the first floor where Erestor was. The door was only open a crack, and he pushed it in quietly. As expected, he saw Glorfindel by the bed, knelt with his head bowed in prayer. He was speaking very softly, with both hands holding one of Erestor’s. Realizing suddenly that Glorfindel was not praying, but speaking to Erestor in a very personal and emotional tone, Haldir backed out of the room and pulled the door mostly closed. His curiosity caused him to listen another minute more.
“I remember, when I came back... how beautiful it was to see you. How happy I was to find you again.” There was a pause, and Haldir tilted his head to see inside and catch Glorfindel kissing the hand he held. “The worst thing about my death was losing you. I never thought- never thought it might happen again,” choked Glorfindel. He turned his head to the side, pressing his cheek to Erestor’s hand. Haldir continued to back away until he was back to the main entrance again. Clutching the book to his chest, he reached for the railing and headed up the stairs.
“You have become increasingly more adept at disappearing without a trace,” remarked Legolas as Haldir tried to sneak into the dark room. A bright light appeared next to the bed as a lamp was lit. “This is the second time you have disappeared for more than a day without telling either of us where you were going. I had to interrogate practically everyone in the house before I finally found someone who knew where you were; though I should have started with Orophin to begin with.”
Elodien, who had been resting, nudged Legolas. At the door, Haldir was looking more and more like a scolded puppy. “Surely he has a good reason for it,” she said.
When Haldir did not answer, Legolas turned the sheets down on the empty side of the bed and patted the mattress. “We can talk in the morning.” Gratefully, Haldir set the book down on the desk before hastily removing his clothing. “I am not upset, I am simply worried.”
“Do not worry,” Haldir assure him, and kissed him gently as he crawled into bed. “I am better; much better now. Things are going to be better again. I can not say normal; I no longer know quite what normal is. But they will be better and much as they used to be.”
“We are glad to hear that.” Elodien leaned forward with her hand upon Legolas’ knee so that she could kiss Haldir as well. He returned the kiss, and as he did so, took hold of her arm and began to pull her towards him. She repositioned herself so that Haldir was now in the middle. Without breaking contact, Elodien and Haldir continued to explore each other’s body with their mouths and hands, and Legolas bowed his head to nip at Haldir’s ear while rubbing his groin against Haldir’s hip.
“Yessss,” hissed Haldir as his head lolled back, Legolas’ teeth biting his flesh more insistently. Elodien parted her legs a little, and it was all the invitation Haldir needed. Rolling her onto her back as he rose up over her, Haldir nudged the head of his arousal against her moist opening a few times before easing himself in the rest of the way. He let out a groan as he rocked back, and grunted as he came forward. Behind him, Legolas was pulling the stopper from a the container that held their favorite oil, a peppermint scented concoction they had found in a tiny shoppe in Valimar.
Legolas used an ample amount to prepare Haldir, who moaned at the dueling sensations of warm and cool that he felt. Leaning down, Legolas blew a stream of air over Haldir’s passageway while he coated himself with the oil As soon as he was ready, he placed one hand on Haldir’s hip to steady him and used the other to find his mark. His first thrust caused Haldir to jerk forward, filling Elodien completely and causing her to writhe and pant. Despite her having found her own climax, Elodien stayed beneath Haldir until his release was brought forth, following Legolas as he pounded into Haldir’s body. Gasping and shuddering as they detangled themselves from one another, Legolas hastily cleaned them up before all three entwined again and collectively drifted into reverie.
- - -
Knocking on the door alerted Haldir to someone’s presence. Elrond stood in the doorway holding a fresh, burning candle on a holder, creating an aura about him and casting his shadow down the dark hallway. “The fever has broken,” he whispered as Haldir sleepily pushed Legolas’ arm from his chest.
As soon as the full impact hit him, Haldir was scrambling out of the bed, nearly knocking Legolas from it and yanking the sheet from Elodien with his foot. He stumbled about as he retrieved a pair of leggings and pulled them on, then followed Elrond, who was not suppressing his yawns, down to the first floor.
In the room that had been set up for Erestor, Glorfindel was still keeping his constant vigil. Instead of hovering over the bed holding Erestor’s hand and whispering blessings upon him as he had been doing the past week, he was looking a little more relieved as he dipped a cloth into a bowl of cold water, wrung it out, and placed it upon Erestor’s brow. “He moved a little,” Glorfindel said to Elrond as he came to check on his patient. “Shifted his head and sort of twitched his nose.”
“Good. That is good news.” Elrond sat down on the edge of the bed and poured a little water into a dish from a pitcher. Picking up a packet of powder, herbs he had crushed earlier for just this moment, Eru willing that it occurred, Elrond mixed them into the water and created a paste. “Haldir, will you turn down the cover, please? I need to inspect the wound.”
Sucking in his breath, Haldir did as he was told. Elrond was notorious for things such as this; Haldir had caused the incident to occur, he should see what it was that he did. It was the way Elrond had always been, using this type approach with everyone.
The pained look on Glorfindel’s face showed that he was the one who wished to be assisting Elrond, but it was likely that the pair had already spoken. As Haldir pulled back the crisp sheet that lay upon Erestor as a final barrier, he could see the purpled bruise that was not entirely covered by the bandages.
Elrond set aside the bowl he was mixing and began to carefully remove the linen that was wrapped around Erestor’s waist. “Haldir, turn him upon his side- gently please, so that I can look at the exit wound.”
Haldir continued to follow the instructions he was given while Elrond completed his examination and coated the areas of the wounds with the paste he had mixed. They were still raw, open sores, but the infection had cleared. “I am certain he will pull through,” Elrond assured Glorfindel once Erestor was resting comfortably again. “When he wakes do not let him out of bed. He needs at least another week without much movement in order to properly heal and to save his strength for it. Be sure he has fluids immediately and most importantly do not aggravate him in any manner.” Elrond was looking now to Haldir. “He needs to heal, and he needs a peaceful mind to do so. Questions?” Neither said anything. “Good. I will check back on him tomorrow after breakfast.”
After the door had been closed, Haldir began to apologize for his absence. “I did not mean to be gone for so long. I know you have been here by yourself without much relief from anyone.”
“Actually, your sister was good enough to give me enough time to bathe, which was actually a demand more than a request, and then she forced me to eat something.” Indeed, Glorfindel’s shirt was a little looser than usual, but at least he no longer appeared as pained as he had during the time of uncertainty. “Orophin came to tell me that you had something to do, but that you would be back. Anyway, I would have stayed here regardless.”
“Still, I am sorry.” Not knowing if he should give Glorfindel false hope if the mirror’s images were untrue, Haldir went with his gut feeling. “I used the mirror before I left. It... showed me some things,” he began. When he saw worry resurface on Glorfindel’s face, he said quickly, “Erestor is going to live. I know he will. I know that the mirror is sometimes wrong, but... it has never lied to me.”
Waves of relief crashed into Glorfindel, and he bowed his head. His hands were tented over his mouth and nose, and his eyes were closed as he started to cry. Words of thanks to Eru came muffled from Glorfindel’s mouth as he tried to fight the strong emotions he was showing. Haldir eased his hand to one of the silently shaking shoulers and did nothing more than make contact, leaving his hand there until Glorfindel sat up again.
“You know, he is my life now,” said the slayer as he hastened to change the cloth that cooled Erestor’s brow.
“I know,” replied Haldir, for the devotion Glorfindel had for Erestor was obvious to everyone in the household.
“I really did not wish to meet death again, but I was certain I would if he... well, he will not,” Glorfindel said firmly. His exhaustion was catching up to him and he nearly knocked the bowl of water off of the table. Stiffling a yawn, he asked, “Have you decided yet what to do? Orophin said you were going to go and think things over.”
Remembering the book he had been given, Haldir said, “I did, I went to speak to a friend of mine, and apparently of Erestor’s as well. He gave me a book, a very old one it seems. I only flipped through it, but it is a collection of poetry that he wrote during the second age before he went to Rivendell.”
“Really? How interesting; I thought that all of his writings were cataloged,” mused Glorfindel.
“Would you like me to get it?” offered Haldir.
Glorfindel nodded. “Yes, please,” he said. Haldir left the room and quickly retrieved the book, bringing it straight back to Glorfindel. “The cover is lovely,” remarked Glorfindel.
“His house crest,” said Haldir, and then he felt stupid for saying so. Obviously, Glorfindel would know that. But a wry smile followed and the balrog slayer shook his head. “That was what I was told, and it looks like the emblem of the Silver Stars.”
“Oh, I have no doubt that it is,” Glorfindel agreed. “But, it is not his house.”
“No?” Haldir sat down beside Glorfindel, who had found himself a comfortable place on the floor beside the bed. They had their backs against the wall and could still keep watch over Erestor. “I was fairly certain that is his house.”
“The House of the Silver Stars was reserved for the first three elves who awakened – as Erestor is not truly the son of Tata, that is not really his house.” Glorfindel laughed as Haldir snickered at the name. “If you think that to be bad, ask Celeborn some time what his name used to be.”
“Then what is Erestor’s house?” questioned Haldir.
Glorfindel handed the book back to Haldir. “House of the Golden Flower. By marriage, of course, but the Valar do not have anything comparable. Now that it is no longer a secret that Orome is his father, I am not sure if he will continue to use the banner of the Silver Stars or not. You are, of course, quite welcome to affiliate yourself with either, neither, or both.”
“Thank you,” said Haldir, processing the information. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes in exasperation. “Still, I have no idea what I am going to say to Erestor when he wakes.”
“I wish I had an easy answer for you,” said Glorfindel. “Do not worry. If you can not find the words, the words will find you when you are ready. That you are willing to accept things, or at the very least speak with him, will greatly improve his happiness.”
Haldir was about to ask Glorfindel about a few potential things he had thought to say, but when he saw the darkness under the blond’s eyes and his drooping lids, he nudged his cousin’s shoulder. “Take some rest, Glorfindel. I will watch over him, and do not worry- I shall call for you when he wakes.”
For a little while longer, Glorfindel stared at Erestor’s sleeping form. “You are certain he will wake?”
“Positive, Glorfindel. More than ever, now that Elrond has said that he is healing,” added Haldir.
“Then I ask you to stay with him until I return,” said Glorfindel. “Dawn is breaking, and I would very much like to get a few things from our cottage for when Erestor is awake. Just a few things, as we will be staying here until he heals. I need to milk the cow, too,” he said as an afterthought. “She is not going to be happy with me when I go up there.”
“I will stay with him, I promise,” reaffirmed Haldir.
Glorfindel stood up. “I will not be gone for long.” He knelt again at the bed and gently took Erestor’s hand in his. “Erestor, I am going to the house to pick up a few things. I will return very soon. Haldir is here in the meantime. I will be back as soon as I can.” Leaning over his love, Glorfindel kissed Erestor tenderly on the lips, and once again on the cheek before standing up.
As he was leaving, Glorfindel turned to Haldir and said, “I have been talking to him, I think it helps. If you would not mind, I would appreciate it if you would continue.”
“What should I talk about?” asked Haldir.
“Anything you like,” said Glorfindel. With a smirk, he said, “Every time I run out of something to say, I tell him the Balrog story. He is going to beat me within an inch of my life as soon as he is well enough.” Glorfindel let out a heavy sigh as he took one final, lingering look at Erestor, and then left the room.
This left Haldir alone in the room with Erestor. There was a rocking chair in the far corner, and Haldir dragged this over to the bed where Glorfindel had been kneeling. “Good morning, Erestor,” he said, feeling silly as he knew he was not going to be answered back. “Bit chilly out today. Feels as if there may be snow by the evening.”
Haldir opened the windows to let the sunlight in and, not knowing what else to do, sat down in the rocker and watched Erestor sleep. He wanted to talk, but he was still having difficulty deciding what to say. This clouded his mind and kept him from even making smalltalk. His eyes wandered across the floor, falling upon the book he had brought. Reaching down, he picked it up, flipped a few pages into the book, and began to read.
Break my calm
Dance with me
Snapping the book shut, Haldir dropped it to the floor as if it were on fire. The clatter alerted those on the same floor to the fact that something was amiss. Rumil was the one who came to check on him. “Halli, everything alright?”
Staring down at the book, Haldir tried to decide what to say. Finally, he shook his head. “No, uh, I mean, yes. Everything is just fine. I just... there was a bug in my book,” he said, scrambling to concoct a plausible lie. “No problem. Sorry to alarm you.”
“If you are sure...” Rumil waited to see if Haldir would say something else, but his brother only nodded and picked up the book. Rumil closed the door again, leaving Haldir once more alone with Erestor.
Again, Haldir opened the book, checking to make sure he had seen what he thought he did. Once confirmed, he leaned towards Erestor and said, “I have many questions for you when you wake, but now it seems I may have a few more for you as well.”
- - -
Haldir was finding it difficult to find poems in the book that did not have some sort of sexual overtone or undertone, though in many cases they were blatantly obvious from the title or the first stanza. Each time he thought he was coming to one that would be more insightful in nature and less amatorial, he would stumble into an erotic phrase and have to turn to another page as he blushed and mumbled to himself about how lascivious his father was.
Bare as the carcass picked clean by the crow
Bare as the sides of the live volcano
Bare as waves wild, thrashing o’er the sea
Bare as your entire anatomy
With a growl under his breath, Haldir flipped to another page and skimmed the contents of the poem to see if there was anything unmentionable in it. However, Erestor saved him the trouble of continuing to read as he himself, in a weakened voice, recited the rest:
Lay bare upon the beach in the dark of summer night
Silver moon caressing flesh with its pale light
And be not shameful of yourself and of your naked sight
For beauty bared is no sin and gives me great delight
“Right, well, that was just weird.” Haldir closed the book and set it on the floor beside his chair before pulling the rocker forward so that he was closer to the bed. He had spent the entire day reading to Erestor, even taking small meals in the room as the dark elf slept. “Good evening. I am relieved to see you finally awaken. Would you like some water?”
Slowly, Erestor nodded, and a glass was poured from the pitcher on the nearby table. When Haldir returned with the glass, he found Erestor looking around the room, searching for something. “Where is Fin?” he asked as Haldir slid his hand behind Erestor’s head and helped him to take a drink.
“He will return; he has promised that he would be back soon,” said Haldir, pouring another glass of water when the first one was drained. “He told me that he wanted to get a few things for you from your house and that he also needed to milk your cow, but Elrond made him sleep first. Literally, Elrond had to slip something into his tea.”
“Good,” interrupted Erestor after finishing the second glass, and signaling he did not need a third. “I know he was worried, but he worries himself sick sometimes,” said Erestor with true concern. “How long ago did he leave?”
“He woke up in the late afternoon, was forced to eat by Celebrian and then left on horse to see to the tasks I mentioned. Once your fever broke, Elrond assured us that you would be fine, though, I know Glorfindel has still been fretting about you.”
“As well he should be,” Erestor said sleepily as his head was lowered back down onto the pillow. He remained silent while Haldir put the glass back and tidied up a little. “It is good to see you here,” said Erestor as loud as he was able, which was not very. Haldir smiled and gave him a nod before sitting back down again.
“I really did not mean to shoot you with that arrow,” apologized Haldir.
Erestor moved his head up and down slightly. “I know. I did not blame you then, and I do not now, either. Accidents happen.”
“Like me.” Haldir looked away when Erestor’s eyes flashed open. “I was an accident, basically.”
“No. You were not an accident. You were a blessing. You are a blessing.” Erestor was adamant, and even in his weakened state he moved his hand to take hold of his son’s. “I told your mother countless times when I thought she and I were going to marry and have a family that I wanted our children to be fair and good like her. I wished so many times that I would have a chance to have a child; to have someone call me father. Nenniach and Gwindor are both dear to me, and I would do most anything for either of them, but you are special in your own way, Haldir. They are my children as well, but you are my heir- which probably means very little coming from a farmer whose ‘fortune’ is his knowledge.” Hoisting himself up so that he could look into Haldir’s eyes, he continued. “You, pen-neth,” he said, letting go of Haldir’s hand and touching his chest, “are a part of me,” he finished as he brought his hand to his own.
“I should have told you long ago. I know this will take time for both of us; I know it has not been an easy thing to accept. Perhaps if I had said something sooner,” began Erestor, but Haldir started to shake his head as the memories of what he had seen in the mirror came back into his mind. Looking down into his lap, Erestor took a deep breath and then looked back to Haldir. “I can not change the past for you as much as I may want to right now, but from now on, it will be different. No secrets, ion-nin. No more. I love you, my son.”
His vision blurred, and Haldir blinked his eyes. A warm, salty trail ran down his face on either side. He had to swallow the lump in his throat before rising from the chair and kneeling at Erestor’s bedside to embrace him. “I love you, too, Ada.”