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TITLE: This Silence
AUTHOR: Ezra’s Persian Kitty (ezraspersiankitty@yahoo.com)
PAIRING: Erestor/Glorfindel
RATING: PG
SUMMARY: Two quiet evenings at home.
DISCLAIMER: Not mine.
NOTES: The game they play at the opening of the story is, essentially,
Terrace, from Star Trek. (Yes, I’m a closet Trekkie.) The Caves of
Caranband are my own geographical concoction; the name means “red
prison.” The Moose Song and A Clean Song are actually real folk songs; I
did not write them. Though if you’d like to see the lyrics in their entirety,
e-mail me, cause I got ‘em. And yes, I am yet another author fallen into
the fanon concept of Glorfindel the Balrog-slayer and Glorfindel the
Counselor to Elrond being one and the same. “Iaredhel” means “Old Elf.”

SPECIAL THANKS: to my good friends, Mer-chan and Mo-chan, who
graciously edited this beast of a story, despite having little to no
knowledge about its main characters.

= = = = =

This silence between them was unbearable. Unlike the explosion that had
rocked their world barely three months before, this silence was unending.

Glorfindel sighed as he reached gracefully strong hands for the glass and
bottle, pouring another draught of the light honey wine. “This stuff isn’t
strong enough,” the old warrior quietly regretted, moving with eternal
Elven grace to his seat before the marble hearth. The finely carved
wingback chair mirrored the one opposite him, in which sat Elrond’s chief
counselor.

Erestor looked up from his book, those dark eyes seeming – as always – to
see right through Glorfindel and any pretenses he might be wearing. The
golden-haired beauty merely held aloft the bottle in question. Erestor
shrugged elegantly and turned back to his reading, so Glorfindel reached
across the small table between them to top off Erestor’s half-empty glass.

Glorfindel sighed before taking a deep swallow from his own. He set the
thin-stemmed flute on the table and turned his attention to the multi-level
game set up there. They’d been playing for days, and Glorfindel was
determined to win, even though it was almost inevitable that Erestor
would be the victor.

Carefully he studied the game’s terraced steps and the many sized half-
spheres of silver and gold that lay about it like armored soldiers on a deep
gray battlefield. He reached out, a sun-touched hand hovering uncertainly
over one of his gold pieces. Knowing that Erestor would be watching,
Glorfindel quickly glanced up.

The dark elf’s dark eyes were firmly fixed on his reading material of
choice – a text on battle strategy, Glorfindel noticed unhappily.
Glowering, he turned to the board again, and just as he was about to select
a piece, Erestor shifted, a slight move to readjust himself in his chair. Such
a seemingly innocent movement.

Glorfindel hated those head-games. Was it a warning, a helpful suggestion
to choose a different piece? Or was he on the right track, and Erestor just
wanted to throw him off? Either could be the case. Or perhaps the elf had
simply grown uncomfortable.

Glorfindel glared.

Sensing the attention, Erestor looked up. A fine eyebrow was raised, in
challenge, or perhaps only in silent inquiry.

Almost growling, Glorfindel reached out again. He’d not made a move for
several hours, since Erestor had calmly taken his own seemingly
innocuous turn. Now, he firmly gripped the smooth round piece, a
medium-sized one, and moved it up a level, in hopes of running
interference against whatever it was Erestor was planning with all those
silver tokens gathered on his side of the board.

When he completed his move, Glorfindel sat back, sighing with relief.
Erestor then reached out a pale hand, steady and slow, to make his move.

Glorfindel groaned. His previous dozen steps had just been reversed by a
simple shift of power and he watched regretfully as Erestor removed the
captured golden piece from the game.

Glorfindel’s look of utter mortification was a charming change from his
habitual expression of smug humor.

A trace of a grin lit Erestor’s exotic features for a moment before he
regained his air of detachment, returning to his book to wait through the
long hours before Glorfindel’s next blundering move.

In his nonchalant withdrawal to the novel, Erestor did not notice
Glorfindel’s intent observance. The golden-haired Eldar watched with
wonder, recalling that fleeting expression of amusement that had not
lasted nearly long enough.

Both elves glanced to the fire at the sudden shifting of a log, sparking and
sliding as it moved. Glorfindel made as if to rise, but Erestor beat him to
it. The dark elf’s movement was graceful and soundless as he rose,
pointing to the game board in a silent command for Glorfindel to mind his
own duty. The serious counselor strode to the hearth to grasp the iron
poker and push the burning log back into place.

Rather than minding the game, Glorfindel watched Erestor in his ethereal
beauty, bending to retrieve another block of wood and place it carefully on
the blaze.

If Erestor noticed this attention, he made no acknowledgement of it,
returning to the carved wooden chair and folding one slim leg beneath him
in idle self-possession.

For many long minutes, Glorfindel remained frozen, unaware that he
continued to stare at his long-time friend, engrossed in that book, long
limbs arrayed in casual repose, black hair a long loose mane of ebony
falling down his back and over the chair-arm, black eyes distant and
focused, the ancient tome held in slender hands elegant and ashen-white,
one of them veined in a patchwork scarring that continued down his wrist
to disappear behind his long sleeves.

Finally realizing that Glorfindel had yet to make any motion whatsoever,
Erestor looked up, pinning the elder elf with his curious gaze.

Caught like a mouse in a trap, Glorfindel could not tear his own deep blue
eyes away. At this, Erestor’s expression became one of concern. He
dropped the text to his lap, leaning forward to place that scarred hand on
his friend’s shoulder.

Stunned at the touch, Glorfindel started and looked down to the table,
unconsciously shuddering away from the firm hold.

Wishing to ask what was wrong, Erestor only pulled away, resuming his
position. He watched with amazement as Glorfindel nearly seemed to
blush, and took his turn at the game after only a moment’s consideration.

Shifting his own silver piece, Erestor countered without thinking and
again, Glorfindel wore a look of chagrin at the move. Glorfindel’s defeat
loomed nearer; he was playing an exceptionally horrid game this winter
eve.

The fair elf sat back, his hand on his mouth, his eyes on the game, but his
thoughts were elsewhere. When Erestor’s suspicious gaze finally returned
to the browning pages in his lap, Glorfindel’s blue eyes shifted to take in
the relaxed form once more. Ages of battle and suffering and pain had
only sharpened the elf’s rare beauty, and Glorfindel was abruptly awed at
the attraction he had only recently noticed but seemed to have been
growing between them for millennia.

Erestor glanced up again, looking at Glorfindel as if he’d grown another
proverbial head.

Well. Attraction on Glorfindel’s part anyway. Their friendship had never
been easy, more often marked by barbs and bitter quarrels than the easy
camaraderie more common between willing companions of any sort. And
now, Erestor’s condescending air indicated a less than easy anything
between them.

When the golden-haired elf only stared blankly back, Erestor shook his
head at the odd behavior and burrowed deeper into his chair.

Glorfindel shivered as a sudden draft of cold winter air slithering across
the floor tickled his bare feet. The breeze did not chill him, but he saw
Erestor tremble from the cold.

Unthinking, Glorfindel glided to his feet, waltzing across his room to
retrieve the heavy winter cloak that he used on patrol. Without a word, he
came round behind his friend to settle the warm mantle on shivering
shoulders.

For only a moment, Erestor looked up with wide, surprised eyes. His pale
rose lips were parted in confusion, but he quickly turned away again,
drawing the heavy warmth close.

In an effort to divert himself from his distraction, Glorfindel meandered
about the room until he came to a plate of bread and cheese that had been
setting beside the door since lunchtime.

In his absence, the gilded elf did not see Erestor’s actions. The ever-sober
counselor had closed his glittering eyes, a look of near-pain on normally
composed features. The book and the game lay forgotten as he grasped the
cloak tight about him, breathing in the comforting scent. A riding cloak, it
smelt of the stables and also of the laundry soap used in Imladris. The
odor of raspberries was unmistakable, from the dessert tray the twins had
spilled onto it less than a month ago. He could also discern a heady smoky
scent, for though he’d yet to catch Glorfindel with a pipe in their eternity
of companionship, he knew the elf indulged occasionally in the weed
growing in Elrond’s private stock. And there was something else,
something deeper and more intrinsic woven into the cloak, now nearing
the end of its usefulness. Glorfindel.

Erestor had always believed that every individual had a unique scent. He’d
mentally catalogued them since childhood. To him, Elrond had always
smelled of earth and mint. He couldn’t say why he thought so, but it had
seemed that way since the beginning. Gil-galad had a much stronger
musk, reminiscent of charred wood and heated glass. Celebrian had
carried the smell of roses and also of heather. The twins’ aroma was
similar: they both smelled of lilac and sandalwood. Though Elladan’s
fragrance had more of a spice to it. Arwen’s perfume was a subtle one,
though Erestor thought he could detect clover and a certain sweetness that
reminded him of pears.

And Glorfindel, fellow warrior and counselor, long-time friend and
companion, always retained a comforting sense of cinnamon and summer
bluebells, ripe peaches and rich soil, salty musk and library books, scribe’s
ink and new leather…

Gathering the riding cloak firmly about him, the scent was overwhelming,
and far more comforting than Erestor thought it should be. He could
almost imagine the creature himself embraced him, rather than his winter
cape.

When Glorfindel returned, somehow fitting the large plate on the small
table beside game and glasses, Erestor was again wearing his look of
distant indifference, focused on the strategy book. He did not even raise
his dark eyes as he reached out that scarred hand to gingerly clasp a scrap
of bread, bringing it back to bite with even teeth into the doughy
sweetness.

Glorfindel tore away from the sight with difficulty, knowing already that
the game was lost, for his concentration had been pierced by the arrow of
Erestor’s alluring nature and distracting beauty – a beauty retained despite
the scarring.

Subdued, he broke his own hunk of bread, slathering it with the sharp
spread of cheese. He ate ravenously as Erestor daintily nipped at the
snack.

Glorfindel continued munching, wondering at the differences between
them. The twins had once said something along those lines, that while they
themselves were mirrored images, Erestor and Glorfindel were opposite as
night and day, as north and south, as winter and summer.

Glorfindel’s musings were cut short when a polite knock sounded at the
door, and Erestor watched curiously as the renowned warrior rose with
fluid poise to answer it.

“Elrond,” he met his Lord with some surprise. The Lord of Imladris
seemed ready for bed, in a deep grey-blue dressing robe almost covering
the tips of bare toes, with black hair a loose mane waving in the slight
breeze from the corridor.

“Glorfindel,” the Lord greeted him. “Do I interrupt?” he asked, almost
hopefully, peering into the room beyond Glorfindel’s tall form.

“Yes you do, thank the Valar. I’d rather postpone the loss that looms ever
nearer.”

Elrond smiled with understanding, his grey eyes alight with kind humor.
“Why do you continue to challenge him if you are so sure of your defeat?”

Glorfindel answered without pause. “Because the pleasure is in the play,
not in its outcome.”

Smiling at these wise words, the Half-Elven nodded. “I see. Then if it is
no disruption, I would ask a moment of your time?”

“Of course.” Glorfindel nodded once to Erestor, who returned the gesture,
before slipping from the room to join Elrond in a leisurely evening stroll.

***

Despite the Lord’s earlier eagerness, they now moved wordlessly through
the halls of Imladris, one light and one dark but both tall and stately in
their silent saunter. Coming to a wide balcony lit by the full moon, they
moved to the low rail, looking out over the many rippling waterways of
Rivendell. “How is he?” Elrond’s breath took form in the air, swirling for
a moment before disappearing.

Glorfindel shrugged with a deep sigh. “He seems much improved, but
Erestor seems many things. It has been my experience that he is rarely
what he chooses to show the rest of us.”

“And yet he chooses your company above all others’. In this case, I’d say
his actions speak quite loudly. Perhaps he cannot hide that it is you he
trusts better than any other.”

Glorfindel turned his back on the quiet beauty of the night scene, leaning
on the railing and looking absently to the soft green and cream tiles. “I
suppose I’ve given him reason to,” he mused.

Quiet laughter echoed out over the valley. “Reason? In your steadfast
friendship with a remote scholar who did not always return it, in your
constant loyalty to an elf who is difficult at the best of times, in your
warrior’s allegiance to a shield partner – going so far as to return from the
Halls of Waiting themselves to keep your partnership…”

Glorfindel held up a hand. “You make me out to be a hero – ”

Elrond’s laughter was genuine and softly mocking. “You are.”

“But it was Erestor who fought at my side and receives none of the praise,
and it was you who fought to retrieve me from the clutches of death
without recognition.”

“I have received my share of acclaim and even songs,” Elrond argued,
“but I don’t believe Erestor cares for such attention.”

“You are right,” Glorfindel agreed. “He has hardly sought credit or fame
of any kind. At meals, he has ever been the silent watcher; at feasts, the
shadow in the corner.”

“Though never far from you,” Elrond quietly observed, suddenly sober.

Glorfindel smirked, not catching his Lord’s hint. “He depends upon me to
rescue him from uncomfortable social situations. Though he’s grown
much better at avoiding them over the years.”

“I think he depends upon you for many things,” Elrond coolly suggested.

Glorfindel grew quiet. “He does now,” he confirmed in a whisper.

“He will not let me tend his arm,” Elrond suddenly voiced his concern.
“After three months, he thinks it fully healed.”

“Recently, I have noticed no unease in his movements,” Glorfindel
admitted. “And the scarring seems fainter every day. Though he has
hidden such things before, it is not his physical state which worries me.”

“Indeed,” Elrond approved. “Then you share my concern.”

“He has always been distant, serious,” Glorfindel reasoned.

“As distant and serious as you are pleasant and agreeable,” Elrond
observed.

“Aye,” Glorfindel admitted without thinking.

Elrond’s voice was soothing and his eyes watchful as he spoke in a low,
seductive timber. “Ever has he played the reserved high elf to your
adventurous spirit. Where you are light and broad, he is dark and slender.
Where you are blunt, he is subtle. His reservations temper your boldness.
Your promiscuity makes up for his celibacy.”

“Do not patronize me, Elrond. I care not for your lectures; I tired of them
long before your children did,” Glorfindel warned, his breath a hot steam
in the winter night. The unguarded words continued, “And I have not been
skipping from bedroom to bedroll in idle indolence.”

“Not recently,” Elrond agreed with an indulgent smile.

Glorfindel grimaced. “It’s true. I imagine you and Erestor consider it an
improvement; I do not see why you mock me.”

“I mock only what your blindness cannot see.”

“You speak in riddles, Iaredhel.”

Elrond huffed. “There’s the pot calling the kettle black. You are older than
I.”

“Yet I feel younger than Erestor, for my rebirth…”

Elrond nodded with understanding. “He has always been grateful for your
return. More than you know, I think.”

“I do not doubt I am the closest thing he has to friend or family,”
Glorfindel murmured. “Though I cannot see why. You and your sons are
right. As always. We are opposites.”

“You are not.”

Glorfindel turned to him in surprise. “But that’s what every one who has
ever known the two of us has ever said. Elladan and Elrohir are
convinced…” he trailed off. “And were you not just defining those very
differences yourself?”

“Differences,” Elrond agreed. “Not opposites. Do you not notice that
every connection between you has more to do with love?”

Glorfindel shrugged. “On my part. Erestor does not show affection. Or if
he does, it is in the battle of wits we have ever engaged in, not in tender
words or friendly embraces such as I can share with anyone who cares to.”

“In other words,” Elrond offered, “the one person you wish to be close to
is the one you cannot have.”

Startled, Glorfindel nervously laughed, “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I am many things, but ‘ridiculous’ is not one of them,” Elrond stated
severely. “I have known you too long for your heart to remain hidden from
me.”

“My heart is none of your concern,” Glorfindel spat.

“I beg to differ, my friend,” Elrond said, his gentle tones calming the irate
elf. “I consider you a brother, so your heart does concern me.”

Ashamed, Glorfindel turned away from the grey gaze, which seemed
somehow hard and soft at the same time. “Well then, brother, I do believe
you can see my heart clearly; I’ve no need to pour it out for further
examination.”

“You are right,” agreed the Lord. “I have seen your hopeless love for
many an age.”

“Then you have seen it longer than I have.”

“I do not doubt it. But I have also seen that love returned.”

Glorfindel looked up in shock. “I never thought you a fool, Elrond, but it
seems you have fooled yourself. That chunk of stone that Erestor calls a
heart can be touched by none.”

“None but you.”

“Stop this! You are wrong!”

“Why do you deny this hope?”

“Because a false hope would break me!” Glorfindel declared, bearing his
own heart openly.

Elrond’s ancient eyes warmed with compassion as he slowly moved
forward in the quiet night to embrace the emotional elf. “If you will not
listen to reason, listen to your heart. Though through the cacophony of
new doubts and old fears, I doubt you will hear the subtle melody of his
love.”

Glorfindel clung in childish need to the velour robes, not weeping, but still
quaking with his heart’s turmoil.

Finally, some new strength of resolve allowed Glorfindel to pull away,
grasping Elrond’s shoulders. “Any hope I had was lost at the Caves of
Caranband. Erestor has been cut off from me, and I cannot bear it.”

Elrond shook his head, clasping the elder elf’s arms in turn. “Nay, the
connection is still there. And stronger than ever, if you can only see it.”

“Perhaps what you say is true. But I miss his arguments, his rare laughter,
his insults and his scorning disapproval.”

They maintained their position in silence before Glorfindel finally spoke
again, a hesitant whisper in the night. “You have given me hope, old
friend. Truthful or not, it will haunt me as I have not suffered in long
years.”

“Then I am sorry for your suffering, but not your hope. For to live without
it is to slowly die.”

When Glorfindel pulled away, he turned to the valley once more, intent on
its distant beauty as he spoke. “What did you mean, different but not
opposite?”

“You are more alike than you think. Different personalities highlight a
very similar character.”

“Riddles…” Glorfindel warned in a singsong voice.

“Consider it this way,” Elrond suggested. “Name for me these supposed
opposites.”

Glorfindel looked askance at him. “Are you cracked?”

“I’m perfectly serious.”

“Just look at us,” Glorfindel answered. “You said it yourself. Light, dark.
Broad, slim. Outgoing, withdrawn. My bed partners are uncountable while
he has had none! We have disagreed on every issue of politics, religion,
art, and battle since the moment we met.”

“Indeed. Yet your equal intelligence allows for these debates that never
resolve. And your equal respect never allows for grudges despite your
differences. Your loyalty to me, to our people, and to each other is
undeniable. Your strength and height are equal regardless of your color
and build. Neither of you would shirk any duty: you both take
responsibility quite seriously. The inherent kindness and generosity you
share has been marked by more than myself. And your claims on his cold
heart are unfounded. You are both very loving individuals, even if you
have quite different opinions on how to express it.”

The fair-haired elf hung his head in confusion.

“Everyone who has ever met the two of you knows not to incur your
wrath: to offend one of you is to increase their enemies threefold. For the
one wronged will take revenge, and the other will take double offense. But
to gain one of you as a friend is to gain two allies, for you trust the other
implicitly. You are inseparable in everything that matters. Glorfindel. You
are two sides of the same coin. Differences do not matter when your hearts
are one.”

***

Echoes of the past haunted Glorfindel’s steps as he moved through the
darkened halls alone.

//I do not understand how you can be so determined to find goodness in
everything around you, even in darkness// Erestor had said.

//And I shall never know why you are so determined to find evil in
everything and everyone that you meet// had been his reply.

So recent those words, so hurtful. Glorfindel wondered at what the
motivation behind them had been.

Re-entering the room, he closed the door in careful silence. Padding
toward the fireplace, he halted in shock.

Erestor was gone.

Panicked for a moment, Glorfindel quickly glanced through the sitting
room, but he was its only occupant. He ran through the far doorway to his
study, also empty. But beyond his desk, the bedroom door was ajar, and he
had not left it so.

Gliding noiselessly on bare feet, Glorfindel passed through the study and
entered his sleeping quarters. He halted just beyond the threshold.

Erestor lay wrapped in the cloak, a bundle of grey-green with inky hair
spilling out onto the pale bedcovers.

Carefully approaching the shivering figure, Glorfindel sat on the bed’s
edge, his weight shifting the mattress to alert Erestor of his presence.

Great black eyes with tears streaming peered out at him.

Frozen in alarm, Glorfindel halted. Never had he seen Erestor weep. He’d
never seen this repressed being shed a single tear, not over deaths or wars
or any other tragedy known to elven kind.

He wished to ask what was wrong, wished to hear that smooth low voice
bite back an angry retort, but all he could do was sit and stare.

Erestor sat up, trying in vain to gain hold of his emotions.

Glorfindel was unprepared for the flying leap into his arms, but when the
cape descended, wrapping them both in Erestor’s heated sorrow,
Glorfindel reacted by encircling the slim form in strong arms and holding
tight.

The tears were hot between them and ran into their mouths. They tasted of
salt. They tasted of pain.

Glorfindel rocked the trembling elf in a soothing rhythm, and Erestor
eventually quieted, simply allowing the ardent embrace to continue.

Thinking it would not be so very wrong, Glorfindel bowed his head,
placing a kiss to Erestor’s impeccably braided hair.

But the dark elf removed himself at that action, pulling away to sit against
the headboard and look sadly up at the ivory canopy, his tears spent, his
heart aching.

One needed neither eyes nor ears to sense Erestor’s pain. And Glorfindel
moved to sit beside him, hoping his presence did not aggravate.

Eventually, the sedate elf turned toward him, curling into his side in silent
need.

An arm came round him and the two elves stayed that way long into the
night and past the morning.

***

The impromptu feast was a grand one. Musicians had gathered on a low
dais while the whole of Rivendell celebrated the twins’ return from one of
their many hunting expeditions.

To Elrond’s right, Erestor and Glorfindel remained their usual selves
throughout the meal. The former ate in stubborn quietude while the latter
boisterously attracted attention with stories and jokes and whatever other
means were available to him, taking great joy in entertaining the twins and
the host of diners.

“Now when I’m in mood for a very good lay, I go to my closet and get me
some hay,” the song was belted out in near-drunken joy to the alternating
delight and horror of those who could hear. “I go to my window and
spread it around, Cause moose always come when there’s hay on the
ground.”

Elrond was on the verge of reprimanding the blond elf, but his sons were
greatly enjoying the performance. Though its appropriateness at the dinner
table was debatable.

Elladan and Elrohir joined in on the chorus. “Moose, moose, I likes a
moose! I’ve never had anything quite like a moose! I’ve had lots of lovers,
my life has been loose; but I’ve never had anything quite like a moose!”

The Lord listened with growing mortification as the verses grew bawdier.
“Gorillas are all right on Saturday night, Lions and tigers, they puts up a
fight! But it’s just not the same when you slam your caboose, As the
feeling you get when you humps with a –”

“Glorfindel!!”

Sheepish blue eyes turned to look up at the Lord who had risen with
outrage to glare down at him. Elrond could see the humor and sobriety in
those laughing blue eyes. “Some other time, Glorfindel,” Elrond criticized
his choice of song.

Grinning mischievously, his counselor nodded. “Of course, my Lord. I
know a clean song,” he promised with a wink. “There was a young sailor
who looked through the glass, And spied a fair mermaid with scales on her
–”

“GLORFINDEL!!!”

***

Dozens of dancers carried themselves through the light steps with fluid
elven grace. Glorfindel watched from his seat by the great roaring fire that
lay along one wall of the dining-hall-made-ballroom. He had helped to
move the long tables away, and now the many chairs lined the walls,
though most of them were seated with various colored wine glasses and
mugs of stronger brew, as most everyone was dancing, even Lord Elrond.

Glorfindel did not need to look to know that Erestor stood some ten feet
away behind him, in the shadows of a wide pillar. The fair-haired elf could
not count the number of times he’d accused his friend of lurking, and how
Erestor had always countered with, //I do not lurk. I merely lie furtively in
wait for some drunken mischance that I will, no doubt, have to remedy.//

Every time, Glorfindel would repeat, //You lurk// and then attempt to drag
Erestor from his shadowed corner, though he rarely succeeded.

Now, the old warrior rose almost wearily, turning down a pretty face
begging a dance. He moved to stand uncertainly before Erestor, who
considered him without any readable expression.

A hesitant smile graced Glorfindel’s lips and he held out a hand, cocking
his head to indicate the far door.

Erestor’s eyes narrowed with suspicion, and he then made a face
somewhere between a smirk and a grimace as he reached out to settle his
scarred hand in Glorfindel’s smooth one, accepting this chance at escape.

Wading through the crowds, they snuck past several other counselors and
through the distant doors into the chill air, Glorfindel marveling at the feel
of the broken and healed skin under his fingertips. The moon was still
round this night, almost as full as the last, so the light was easy for elven
eyes. Erestor broke the grip of their hands to wrap his arms about his
slender frame for some warmth.

Glorfindel watched this action with worry as the dark elf slowly steered
them from the courtyard toward the gardens.

The winding path led between leafless trees hovering over them with
twisting black branches. They passed through the low garden gate, slow
steps without purpose all that was guiding them.

The dead garden stretched out around them in dull browns and sickly
greens, skeletons of rose bushes sticky and twig-like in their arbors, as
graying weeds lay limp on the stone path. But for all this barren death, it
was still beautiful in moon’s light. The winter breeze rustled the branches,
making a soft music of rolling leaves, clicking twigs, and a faint whistle.

Erestor ceased his aimless wandering, coming to a halt beneath a tall birch
tree, its white bark almost glowing in the moon’s pale light. Naked
branches cast odd, broken shadows over Erestor’s bowed head and tall
form as Glorfindel sat upon a stone bench, unconcerned with its coldness.
The loose hair that fell from beneath elaborate plaits danced lightly in the
breeze, swirling in ebony strands over the alabaster skin of his exotic
features.

Mesmerized, Glorfindel watched the play of that hair as blood rushed to
flush those cheeks aching with cold. Still healing, Erestor was unusually
susceptible to winter’s frost, and Glorfindel chastised himself for his
inconsiderate flight outside. He stood as if to leave, gesturing for Erestor
to follow him down the path and back within the Last Homely House.

Glorfindel speedily led the way back, but when he turned at the garden
gate to judge his companion’s progress, he saw that Erestor still stood
unmoved at the base of the tree.

Hurrying toward the birch, Glorfindel softly cursed the creature’s stubborn
nature, an obstinacy that matched his own. Rushing up beside him, the
draft from his movement sent a breeze at Erestor, who did not look up at
the disturbance.

Glorfindel laid a gentle hand on a shoulder to command his attention.

Erestor looked up, dark eyes glittering, reflecting the moon and the stars in
their chocolate depths.

An unnamed sorrow plagued those eyes in a rare show of emotion.

Unsure what comfort he could offer, what comfort might be accepted,
Glorfindel could only continue his light hold, shifting slightly closer.

Glorfindel frowned when Erestor bent his head downward, closing his
eyes and taking a deep breath. That series of movements was an ingrained
indicator to Glorfindel after centuries of companionship. It was a
preparation Erestor performed, usually in private, before facing an enemy,
whether on the battlefield or in politics. But there was no enemy here.
Unless Glorfindel had become some enemy in Erestor’s view.

When those dark eyes turned to face him again, Glorfindel opened his
mouth as if to speak, as if to question the sudden intensity there, an
intensity bred of some fierce need, some determined desire.

But he did not speak, and when the dark elf made no move to act,
Glorfindel reached up his other hand, gently tugging the lower lobe of
Erestor’s ear in a touch of affection that the younger elf had allowed only
on rare occasion. Glorfindel tilted his head in question.

That clear blue gaze was open as ever; Erestor could read the sincere
concern, the brotherly affection, and that eternal offer to do anything if it
only soothed whatever burdens Erestor might be carrying.

Dark eyes grew less distant, that façade of indifference slipping to show
emotion to the only one he trusted. Erestor could have sworn he felt his
heart bleeding, as if his love was so great that it overwhelmed the small
muscle in his chest and had to burst forth in a pained rupture. He knew he
would never hear from Glorfindel’s lips any vow of love, nor would
Erestor ever be brave enough to offer one. But love itself could not be
denied.

Glorfindel, his head still cocked to the side in tender worry, pulled closer
still, his warmth and his unique scent spilling over onto the shivering elf.

Thusly tempted, Erestor could only follow the deepest wish of his heart,
leaning forward the few short inches to meet those full lips with his own,
chilled and uncertain as they were.

***

Shocked, Glorfindel jumped back from the unskilled kiss, disbelief and
confusion warring on his features.

But upon seeing Erestor’s crushed expression, Glorfindel reached out,
cradling the dark head in strong, gentle hands, his thumbs wiping at the
trickle of moisture from dark eyes.

Held in place, Erestor could not avoid Glorfindel’s gaze. The love was
now evident in shining brown eyes, but where he feared to see rejection,
even disgust, in his friend’s expression, he saw only hope and love
returned.

Satisfied that Erestor had not acted out of some insanity or reckless
impulse, Glorfindel drew him forward for a proper kiss, full of heat and
life and devotion and love.

Erestor allowed himself to be led in this, trusting his heart to another for
the first time. They pulled each other close, as if they could become one in
an embrace, and though this need for confirmation, for intimacy, for
passion was shared, they only caressed fondly in the gentlest and most
chaste of touches; hands curled with careful possession around strands of
hair as lips danced boldly together.

When they were finally strong enough to part, Glorfindel continued
petting Erestor’s pointed ear with subtle strokes as he watched his dear
friend attempt to dispel the tears of joy trailing in hot streams down
glowing cheeks. There was so much emotion there in those deep eyes, so
much that Glorfindel could read there: love and devotion and relief and a
promise.

But the blond beauty could not know if his own eyes showed the same. So,
he slowly stepped back, making his gestures clear to the other. He pointed
to himself, and then laid his hand over his heart, and then pointed to
Erestor.

Another flying leap forced Glorfindel back a step, giving into the embrace
whole-heartedly.

Then, Erestor swiftly drew back, his hand tight around Glorfindel’s, his
black eyes eagerly searching the ground. Finding a patch of dry earth, the
dark elf dragged his companion over and they both fell to their knees at
the side of the stone path. Erestor fiercely grabbed hold of a stick and
savagely scratched the curving letters into the soil. ‘I cannot say the
words.’

One arm around the shaking shoulders, Glorfindel used his free hand to
wipe away Erestor’s message, digging his finger into the dirt. ‘You don’t
have to.’ The old elf hugged his new-found love close, cursing the
explosion that had scarred Erestor deeply and stolen his hearing in a
deafening blast of powder and falling rock at the far-off Caves of
Caranband.

Erestor let go the pain of humiliation and disability and fear, squeezing
Glorfindel tightly, trusting his old friend to be strong enough for both of
them until Erestor found the courage to use his voice, and say the words,
even if he would never hear them.



The end.