The Song Of Sunset
1. The Consequences Of A Sunset
“This will not help you, Elrond,” Glorfindel remarked calmly, sparing him a glance, before turning again to watch the activities in the gardens through the window, “Come and join me.”
“What if he’s too angry?” Elrond wrung his hands unhappily, “After all I should have spoken to him before talking to Gildor.”
“Yes, he will be furious and yes again, you should have spoken to him before talking to Lord Gildor. After all you should have remembered that you don’t have Thranduil’s charm!”
“He will kill me, Glorfindel!” Elrond flopped down on a high backed chair near the fireplace in despair.
“No, he won’t; he’ll have to search for a new herald and train him from scratch. More likely he might send you to Círdan for a couple of years as punishment,” Glorfindel opined.
Elrond groaned on hearing the name of his least favourite elf in Arda, “You are not helping matters, are you?” he grumbled.
“As I’m risking an almost certain return to the Halls of Mandos by agreeing to give you moral support in your confrontation with him, Elrond Peredhil, you must choose your words more carefully. Anyway stop worrying! I’ve talked to Erestor about it. He’ll bail us out,” Glorfindel informed.
Elrond bristled angrily, “Lord Erestor! The Chief Counsellor is too high-principled, all ice and no warmth, you shouldn’t have worried him with my follies. What will he think of me?”
“You misjudge him because he was your ‘Ada’ Maglor’s real son! He gives a very fair hearing,” Glorfindel said firmly, “For someone younger than you, he’s quite intelligent.”
“And attractive,” Elrond murmured, “Gil can’t keep his eyes off him at councils. He can give Thranduil a run for his money in the looks department if only he smiled more.”
“Ah! I have noticed that Gil’s not the only one impressed by his looks, eh?” Glorfindel smirked at Elrond, “You can’t keep your eyes off him either!”
“Glorfindel!” Elrond spluttered indignantly, “The very idea-”
He bit off his remark as an aide approached them saying, “The King will see you now, my Lords.”
Elrond’s shoulders slumped visibly as he entreated the Lady Elbereth for his safety. Glorfindel stood aside to let him enter first, humming a popular elvish bar song. That did nothing to allay Elrond’s fears at all. Elrond entered the office of the High King of the Noldor and found himself facing a very angry Gil-Galad. Gulping, Elrond bowed humbly.
“Sit, Elrond,” Gil-Galad waved him to a chair impatiently, “And you, Glorfindel, spare my troubled mind your wit.”
Elrond fought the internal urge to jump out of the window away from his fuming cousin and King.
“What is this I hear from Gildor about your latest far-fetched scheme, Elrond?” Gil-Galad barked, “Why have you been asking the council to see the wisdom in building a new dock? And why have I been the last to hear about this brilliant idea?”
Elrond sighed mournfully before saying, “My Lord, you had asked me not to approach you with any idea that would involve Círdan. The plan for a new dock would certainly be a blow to the mariner. So I decided to get your council’s support before I presented it to you.”
Gil-Galad’s countenance had been growing steadily more purple as he said furiously, “The next time you get such a brainy idea go throw yourself in the Sea! I’m tired of appeasing an angry Círdan and his counsellors each time you come up with a new idea. I thought your duties as my Herald would decrease your ‘thinking’ time. Apparently I was wrong.”
Elrond said sincerely, “I’m sorry, cousin. I thought a dock would add to the beauty of Lindon and we can grow a new fleet of ships. The fishermen would find it easier. But I shall drop my idea if it will displease Círdan again.”
“Sometimes I wish I had never taken you and Erestor off Maglor’s hands!” Gil-Galad muttered darkly, “Tell me one reason why I shouldn’t leave you alone to face the fracas that will result when Círdan learns of this.”
“If you send this one to Lord Círdan, the poor mariner might just set sail for Valinor and leave us all stranded!,” Glorfindel offered helpfully.
For a moment Gil-Galad looked as if he was about to send Glorfindel back to Mandos, but his thick lips curved into a grudging smile as he said, “Hopeless! Cousin, tell me where I can find a balrog?”
The atmosphere in the room lightened ostensibly after that and Elrond felt relieved. The King had a far-away look in his eyes as he studied a report before him done in an impeccably beautiful hand. Glorfindel cleared his throat smirking.
Gil-Galad looked up guiltily saying, “That’s all, I will see you both for dinner. My chambers, same time as usual.”
Elrond smiled. His cousin was certainly much distracted these days. He nodded in silent
acquiescence and made to leave. Glorfindel, though, was still seated. His naturally jovial disposition had altered as he looked at the King with a stern expression. The Balrog Slayer said to Elrond firmly, “I will join you later.”
Elrond let himself out without saying anything more knowing from prior experience that
Glorfindel was not to be trifled with when he had that ‘look’ on his handsome face. Though, Elrond mused curiously, what had Gil-Galad done to merit that look? He was so deep in his thoughts that he walked into another elf. Reaching out his hands to steady the other elf, Elrond murmured apologetically, “I was not looking where I was going. Sorry” he looked into the black eyes of his victim; the black eyes of his foster-father Maglor’s son. Elrond bowed saying, “My Lord Erestor.”
“It was my mistake, Lord Herald,” the slim figure encased in deep maroon velvet ceremonial robes said in that low, clear melodious voice. Elrond was once again reminded of Maglor. How many times had his unhappy foster-father sung two scared twins to sleep? Elrond smiled as he noted the extreme beauty of his colleague. The waist length, dark, black hair…the porcelain-pale complexion…the high forehead…the slender, long fingers that caressed the sheaf of papers. It was remarkable that Erestor would take after Maglor so much and Elrond had never noticed it in all the years they had worked together as Herald and Chief counsellor to Gil-galad. Elrond realized that it was their first meeting outside of the councils and the formal dinners. Though in the same age category, they kept different company always.
“Lord Elrond?” Erestor asked in a tone of mild-concern. Elrond tried to stop staring at Erestor. Glorfindel was right. He was attracted to the counsellor.
“Lord Elrond, are you all right?” Erestor’s voice cut in through his thoughts.
Elrond was unable to stop himself drowning in the bottomless, molten, black pools that looked at him worriedly.
As dark, slim eyebrows shot up enquiringly, Elrond shook himself out of his trance and said warmly, “I’m fine. Was just wondering that we, Gil-Galad’s closest aides are still ‘lord’ing each other!”
“Yes, indeed,” Erestor smiled, “It is indeed true that we hardly no anything of each other after so many councils, dinners and gatherings!”
“How did this happen?” Elrond queried breathlessly. He wanted to keep talking somehow.
Erestor’s smile widened as he explained with false gravity, “Lindon’s a large place, the Council has a full schedule, you are a busy elf and I am usually stuck with paperwork. These would be reasons, would they not, my Lord?”
“Elrond.” Elrond said firmly.
Erestor inclined his head in acknowledgement.
Elrond continued tentatively, “Would you walk with me? Let us watch the sunset together today.” He was wondering if his boldness had been rash.
Erestor’s deep eyes remained blank as he said mischievously, “I would never deny the King’s Herald.” Elrond felt dazed. Had Erestor noticed his attraction? If so what, what was his reaction? Or was it just teasing? Elrond searched the counsellor’s features for an answer. But he was foiled by the diplomatic face of inscrutability that characterised Erestor always.
“’Restor!” Glrofindel joined them, Elrond was glad to see that the Vanya’s expression had cleared though shadows lingered in those blue eyes, “Why did you send that brat of Oropher’s to me? I have a good mind to have you strung and quartered. He nearly caused a mass revolt in the barracks!”
“Really Glor!” Erestor punched Glorfindel’s arm affectionately, “A Balrog Slayer scared of an elf barely into his majority?”
Elrond felt himself grow ridiculously jealous as Erestor’s diplomatic mask fell off as he bantered with Glorfindel.
“You are not talking of any elf!” Glorfindel whined, “This is Thranduil, the trouble maker. Valar only knows how Oropher survived raising his son! But why did you set him loose amongst the soldiers?”
Erestor smirked, “Glor, you did say I could have anything I wished for if I saved your precious skin from the King. Surely you wouldn’t deny me the small pleasure of watching the Sindarin Prince wreak havoc on your men?”
“Yes,” Glorfndel reasoned, “but you acted before you had saved my skin, ‘Restor! What made you so sure of Gil’s reaction?”
“Never underestimate the power of a certain, young scribe who happens to be the Chief Counsellor around here,” Erestor said with a mischievous light in his eyes, “The King is impressed by my advice!”
“By your looks, rather” Glorfindel pointed out morosely, “He barely can keep his eyes off you.”
This remark proved to be another bone of contention to an already jealous Elrond. Gil was seriously interested in Erestor?
“You are hopeless, Glor!” Erestor sighed, “Now if you could get going to wherever you go during the day, I could watch the sunset with Lord Elrond.”
“With Elrond?” Glorfindel gasped melodramatically, “’Restor, the whole family of the House of Fingolfin is lecherous. You should be on your guard!”
Elrond cut in. He really was at the end of his restraint. “Lord Glorfindel! You insult my house.”
To his extreme annoyance, Glorfindel winked at Erestor saying, “He’s impatient!”
Erestor smiled, “Indeed. And so am I. For the sun does not wait for us to end this banter. I shall see you tonight at dinner with the King.”
They walked through the large garden slowly. The rose bushes were already withered. Winter was setting in fast. Elrond led the way to a secluded clearing. For a few moments they stood side-by-side silently watching the sunset in a wonderful multitude of hues of red. Atleast, Erestor watched the sky while Elrond was busy furtively admiring the slender form beside him. The wind rippled through the black hair whipping it into Elrond’s face.
As Elrond enjoyed the sensation of that eider-down soft hair caress his cheeks, Erestor murmured, “Thank you.”
“For?” Elrond asked not truly caring. All he wanted was to run his hands through the hair playing against his face. Erestor turned to face him. Elrond felt unhappy as the hair left his face.
“For reminding me of the beauty of Arda,” Erestor said solemnly, “Too long has passed since I have enjoyed the simple joy of a sunset or a sunrise or gazed at the stars.”
“If you wish, Erestor,” Elrond said fanatically, “We shall watch each sunrise and sunset together forever…Err,” he hastily rectified, “whenever I’m in Lindon.”
“That would be wonderful, Elrond,” Erestor inclined his head gracefully, the black eyes shone with joy as Erestor took a deep breath of the fresh sea air. The mask of diplomacy had fallen from his face making him more youthful.
Elrond was surprised to hear himself talking to Erestor about Maglor. He rarely broached that topic with anyone. The pain of losing Maglor was still deep. But with Erestor, his walls crumbled as he spoke of Elros, his choice to become mortal and the grief that resulted at the end. He spoke of his dislike of Círdan, of his suspicions about Galadriel and many other matters that he had rarely talked with anyone.
Erestor talked of his mother, who had sailed away to Valinor in grief, of his upbringing by Círdan and of Glorfindel whom he had been the first to greet as the Vanya disembarked at the Havens. As melodic Elvish songs greeted the stars, they reluctantly made their way inside the palace. Together, they reached the High King’s private chambers.
Gil-Galad was already happily chatting with Glorfindel. His eyebrows raised fractionally as he saw his Herald and Chief Counsellor enter together.
Glorfindel drawled, “It must have been a rather prolonged sunset.”
Elrond shot a death glare at him before taking his seat at his cousin’s left. Erestor took the seat across him. The dinner was excellent and the conversation garrulous as it was always when Glorfindel graced the table. Both the Balrog-slayer and the King shared a vulgar sense of humour that had them all laughing all way through dinner. Erestor had also a finely developed sarcastic, quick-silver wit that revealed to Elrond a much lighter side of the Counsellor. It was indeed funny to see Glorfindel at a loss of words when Erestor made a particularly acerbic remark.
They retired to the luxurious sitting room after a long dinner. Glorfindel claimed the couch. Elrond and Gil-Galad took two extremely well-worn, but comfortable armchairs by the fire. Erestor moved across the room to lay claim to the window-seat. Conversation continued in a desultory manner as they sipped at their wine lazily. Suddenly, Erestor choked on his wine, spilling it onto his robes before he turned away from the window with haste.
“What is the matter?” Elrond and Gil-Galad asked simultaneously. Erestor regained his calm composure quickly though he did not turn back again. He sipped his wine saying blandly, “Prince Thranduil is a good warrior.”
Glorfindel smiled knowingly, “Of many conquests.”
“What?” Gil-Galad frowned. Elrond knew that his cousin hated to be the ignorant one. And he sympathized with him. It was difficult to keep up with Erestor and Glorfindel’s subtle wordplay.
Erestor however seemed to be in hurry to make his meaning clear as he said, “He has an admirable grip. After all he is an excellent archer.”
“But I think he must be a better swordsman,” Glorfindel disagreed, “he has big hands.”
Gil-Galad had enough. He cursed them both as he walked to the window and peered out and cursed again, “By the Valar! Oropher’s son has the nerve of Ulmo himself!” The King stood transfixed unmindful of Glorfindel’s and Erestor’s smirks.
Elrond made to stand, but his cousin snapped as he turned back with a red face, “No, the last thing we want is for Oropher to accuse the Noldor of being voyeurs! Though why his son would think of exploring Lord Gildor at the base of the fountain is beyond me.”
Glorfindel remarked, “The gossip has it that the good Prince has an agenda in Lindon other than his diplomacy matters : to sleep with each and every council member. And I must say, he’s doing a good job.”
Erestor grinned, “Lord Celeborn refused to go near the stables for a fortnight after deepening his acquaintance with his woodland kin.”
Gil-Galad remarked, “The Prince seems to be a firebrand. I have heard from Círdan that the Silver Tree himself is no passive participant. Círdan often wondered why the good
Celeborn married my aunt. Agreed she’s beautiful, charming and graceful. But wouldn’t he prefer male company?”
Glorfindel raised his goblet, “He’s no loyal mate, Gil. Their marriage is an agreement from what rumour mills say..”
“Still, Isn’t Thranduil scared of Galadriel?” Elrond wondered, “If it were me, I would be worried to death about that mirror of hers.”
“The Lady loves her husband too less to care a whit about his escapades,” Erestor offered, “My sister has it from Celebrían, their daughter, who stays with Círdan.”
“I have heard that she takes after Galadriel,” Glorfindel remarked, “What a pity. We could do with more in the likeness of Celebrían’s illustrious father!”
“Yes,” Erestor agreed, “We must admit that our Sindarin kin are more attractive than us poor Noldor.”
“Oh!” Gil-Galad downed his wine in one gulp as he got to his feet, “I wouldn’t agree so easily, Erestor. The Noldor treasure is far more beautiful than the brightest gem of the houses of the Sindar!” The King was shaking slightly. As Elrond watched his cousin concernedly walking towards Erestor, Glorfindel got to his feet sobering up quickly.
Ereninon Gil-Galad, High King of the Noldor, knelt down on one knee and grabbing Erestor’s slender hands in his, he said softly, “I love you, my Noldor pearl, faithfully, sincerely and I shall love you till the end of Arda and after. I wish to court you, before these noble witnesses, I ask your permission to do so.”
Elrond slumped back against his chair awkwardly.
Glorfindel hovered over him worriedly, “Elrond?”
He weakly waved his arm saying, “I’m fine. My cousin’s admission took me by surprise, that’s all.”
Glorfindel gave him a look conveying his pity. Erestor cleared his throat, but seemed at a loss for words. He stood up before the knelt King and kissed the signet ring on the large, brawny hand covering his slender ones. Gil-Galad’s entire countenance lit up as he jumped to his feet and threw his arms around Erestor, who stiffened an instant before returning the embrace. His eyes met Elrond’s for a second before the Herald averted his stare.
Glorfindel said warmly, “Well, Gil, All I can say is that you’ve beat half your Council to it! Most of them were going to ask him at the Winter Solstice!”
Elrond had a tough time getting to sleep that night as he tossed about fitfully on his large, empty bed. He had left after a celebratory toast to the betrothal citing weariness. Atleast that had temporarily saved him from Glorfindel’s knowing looks. Luckily his cousin had been too jubilant to notice his unease.
A persistent, sharp knocking on his door interrupted his dark thoughts. Elrond got up relieved. It must be yet one of those emergency cases that called upon his healer skills. It was just what he wanted now. An escape away from his thoughts.
As the knocking resumed, Elrond hastily wrapped the blanket around his naked form and opening the door, found himself face to face with Erestor, who was impeccably dressed in sombre, yet rich looking black robes. A pair of penetrating eyes looked Elrond over from head to toe before shooting back up to a furiously flushed face.
The eyes widened in concern as Erestor said, “I’m sorry to intrude upon your rest. I thought we had agreed to watch the dawn together. But I will leave you now. I am sorry,” he repeated as he stepped back apologetically.
Elrond raised his hands in protest as he said, “No! There is a balcony here. Let us watch Sunrise together, Erestor.”
Erestor’s eyebrows flew up before they settled down. He seemed to fighting a smile as he murmured, “I seem to be watching something as beautiful as the dawn, if not better, Elrond.”
He stooped and picket up the blanket that had slipped from Elrond’s fingers when the latter had raised his hands to call him back. Elrond shivered and it had nothing to do with the early morning chill. Somewhere to the south, he felt an undesirable response to Erestor’s presence.
Erestor handed back the blanket to Elrond saying, “It is a cold morning. I will wait on the balcony for you.”
After putting on the loosest tunic he could find, Elrond joined the Counsellor on the balcony. After a few moments of tense silence, Erestor remarked quietly, “You left early yesterday.”
“I was tired after a long day, My Lord,” Elrond replied mechanically, keeping his gaze fixed on the eastern skies.
“Are we back to ‘lord’ing each other again, Elrond?” Erestor turned to face him, “What has happened to change things so?”
Elrond mumbled, “If it was so, then it would be my concern alone, seeing I had the initial problem with ‘lord’ing. But, I assure you, you have misjudged.”
Erestor took a deep breath before saying, “It is my concern, Elrond, when you are troubled by my acceptance of your cousin’s proposal.”
“You presume things, Lord Counsellor,” Elrond said coldly.
“And I do not hold that position because of luck, Elrond! I observe. In this case too I have seen and also Glor-”
Elrond had enough. He cut in bitterly, “Oh! Lord Glorfindel! I knew you were on excellent terms with each other. But I did not realise that Glorfindel would discuss my personal affairs with you. Apparently, my trust in his discretion and honour has been wrong.” He was shouting now. His fists curled up in balls at his sides.
“I will not let my friend’s name be sullied, Lord Elrond!” Erestor exclaimed backing away till he reached the railing as Elrond advanced on him, “Think ill of me if you will, but leave Glorfindel out of this.”
Elrond’s face contorted as he spat at Erestor, “If you value him so much, then why did you agree to my cousin’s proposal? Because he is King?”
Erestor frowned as he raised his hands in a placatory gesture, “Elrond, I can explain if you will listen!”
Elrond lost whatever self-control he had as he advanced on Erestor pinning him against the wooden railing, “Why did you accept Gil?”
Erestor’s features smoothed down into the façade of the Chief Counsellor and all emotions disappeared from his eyes as he replied coolly, “Probably you think me not worthy of your cousin. However, before you ask me, I can assure you that I did not seduce him. Since you are so upset, I will certainly talk to him and break this off myself. I will never set foot where I am not welcome. You need not worry about me besmirching your kin’s name, Lord Elrond, Good day to you,” he bowed politely before sweeping out of the room.
“That went rather well, did it not?” A melodic voice asked from the branches of a tree nearest the railing.
Elrond whipped around to see Thranduil’s face peering through the leaves.
“What are you doing here?” Elrond demanded furiously. The last thing he needed was an encounter with the Sindarin Prince, “You have no right to eavesdrop!”
“I was watching the sunrise from this comfortable perch, My Lord,” Thranduil replied, “Indeed I had no need to eaves drop on what was certainly the loudest conversation I have heard in Lindon,” Thranduil smirked as Elrond’s face reddened, “Though to be fair, I must say that Erestor was fairly quiet!”
“Whatever is the matter, Elrond?” Thranduil asked concernedly.
“Why should I tell you?” Elrond asked petulantly, though he wanted nothing more than to tell someone how exactly he felt right now.
Though under normal circumstances, Thranduil was on the top list of people he wished to avoid, he knew deep down that the Sindarin Prince was an honorable elf. The truth was that Thranduil Oropherion had a reputation of unpredictability even among the elves, whom the other races considered ‘fey’. At times, the young Prince could show the wisdom and valour of his Eldar mother’s ancestry…at times he could possess the cunning of the Falathrim…at times he could be on a rampage to prove his charm, which rumour had it, was from his Sindarin heritage….
As Elrond warily observed the extremely handsome figure reclining in a feline fashion on a light branch, he decided that Thranduil was sincere in his concern.
“Walk with me,” Thranduil offered, “It is a beautiful morning. Let us enjoy the dew in the gardens.”
“No,” Elrond said sullenly, “I have had enough of walks and gardens for eternity! You come inside.”
Thranduil leapt onto the balcony easily and swaggered into Elrond’s bedroom as though he owned the place. As he lay down comfortably on his stomach on the large bed, Elrond began to doubt his choice. After all Thranduil had an ‘agenda’. What if he strove to make one step nearer its completion?
As if reading his thoughts, Thranduil smiled saying, “Elrond, I never bother with the untouched.”
Elrond controlled his blushing as he asked reluctantly, “How did you come to that conclusion?”
“The way you handled that situation. You frightened poor Erestor!” Thranduil smirked.
Elrond grumbled, “Why are you on first name terms with him?”
Thranduil laughed, a low musical sound. Elrond had to admit that Glorfindel was right. The Prince was fair even among the elves.
“Elrond, as you and your beloved King spend half your time getting away from the charming presence of my counsellors, Erestor is usually forced to attend those Councils. We have developed an excellent working relationship. Common interests bring us together. Though what my Adar would have to say to me if he learnt of my friendship with a grandson of Fëanor remains to be seen!”
“What do I do now?” Elrond asked of the world at large.
Thranduil sobered up saying, “The King has already gone public with his love for Erestor. They are betrothed. If you think you are attracted to him, stay away awhile and get it out of your mind.”
“Is it possible to forget desire, Thranduil?” Elrond asked bitterly.
“Yes, you can. You can never forget you love,” Thranduil said sadly, a shadow flitting over those aristocratic features, “For your sake, I hope it is not love.”
The door burst open as a furious Glorfindel barged in roaring, “ELROND! What in the name of the Valar were you thnking when talked to Erestor like that?” He paused when he saw Thranduil lounging on the bed. Deciding to forego all discretion, he continued coldly, “He’s waiting in Gil’s antechamber to break off the courtship.”
Elrond shot to his feet stricken, “I have to stop him! Gil will murder him!”
“So you realize that Gil will never forgive him for publicly humiliating him,” Glorfindel sneered, “Now that you have ruined a young life, I suppose you can be happy.”
Elrond sank back into a chair unsteadily, tears streaming down his cheeks. Glorfindel was right. Elrond knew that Gil would never forgive Erestor.
“That’s enough ,” Thranduil said quietly, rising from the bed in a long, fluid movement, “I’ll go speak with Erestor now. I’m sure that I can make him see reason. Elrond, you have obtained a reprieve because of my irresistible charm.”
After Thranduil left the room. Elrond poured out the entire story to a now calmer Glorfindel.
“Elrond!” Glorfindel wrung his hands at the end of the sorry tale, “What is this madness of yours?”
“I desire Erestor, and I don’t consider it madness,” Elrond said quietly.
“IT IS!” Glorfindel spluttered, “Gil’s courting him now! Think of the consequences.”
“There shall be no consequences,” a mask of serenity had descended on Elrond’s face, “This shall never be breathed outside this room. Glorfindel, I shall never hurt my dear cousin, who is indeed all I have left in Arda.”
“And you?” Glorfindel asked incredulously, “You mean to pretend as if your heart does not desire?”
“Yes,” Elrond reiterated, “I will bear this as I have borne the loss of my parents, Ada Maglor and my twin. I will not obstruct their happiness.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.