Playlist Navigation Bar
A Further Shadow Despite the Darkness: 8. Voyeur
It was an unexpected turn of events, but, when he considered it, not entirely unwelcome. Glorfindel left the dining room with Fingolfin's possessive hand on the small of his back, subtly steering him away from the others and toward the private staircase.
"I have no idea where our Oroferno is this evening," Fingolfin said, his voice airy and perfectly conversational. "Would you mind, Laurefindil, accompanying me in his absence? I do require some assistance in my nightly routines."
"Er," said Glorfindel. He bit back any reply that might suggest he knew exactly where Oropher was. "It would be a wondrous honour indeed if my King's most glorious Highness desired the presence of my humble self. However..." He looked back over his shoulder to where Fingon leaned against the door to the dining hall, still resolutely clinging to a half-empty wine cup. "I might beg leave of your Grace so that I may better attend to my Prince Findekáno, who appears to be in dire need of my help."
On cue, Fingon took an unsteady step forward, stumbled, and fell to his hands and knees. The wine cup rolled away, leaving a splash of dark red on the stones in its wake.
Fingolfin wrinkled his nose as he frowned. "Findekáno is drunk."
"Yes, my Lord. That is why he is in dire need of my help."
"I am sure he will not even notice your absence. One of the servants can help him upstairs. You may come with me for now and return to him later."
Glorfindel hesitated. Fingolfin's intentions were as plain as the stars in the sky, and although the end result of being the King's new favourite was more desirable than anything, the means required to achieve that goal made him shudder. Being bound to serve Fingon was one thing. Deliberately subjecting himself to Fingolfin's desires was another matter altogether.
Stepping back, he toyed with the ends of his hair while flashing the King a flirtatious smile. His mind raced to think of a clever enough excuse to refuse the offer. "And what if our Findekáno should be unwell in the night?" he asked. "I fear my King might command my attention for a very long time."
"Nonsense," Fingolfin replied smoothly. "For you, dear Laurefindil, I am certain I can undress in no time at all."
"Then you should have no need of such overqualified help," Turgon's voice snapped at Glorfindel's shoulder. "Atar, I am sure your good friend Rodhalair would be more than happy to accompany you upstairs. Safely and without incident. As for you, Lady Laurefindiel, you should go see to my disastrous brother. He appears to have forgotten how to stand."
Turgon was an unlikely saviour, and certainly one who had none of Glorfindel's interests in mind, but Glorfindel was in no position to be picky. "My Lord, you are very wise," he said, bowing his head; "that is an excellent solution.
"Yes, I am very practical," Turgon answered. He placed both hands on Glorfindel's arms, turning him around in a gesture that looked like directional guidance and felt like a hasty dismissal, and marched back over to where Fingon was attempting to regain his balance. Behind them, Rodhalair spoke some obsequious-sounding Doriathren words, and Fingolfin growled his clearly displeased thanks.
"Findekáno," said Turgon. "I have your wayward servant. Perhaps she can keep you from falling over."
Fingon, swaying from side to side, looked up. "I have a servant?"
"Him? Oh. Is he still mine? I was under the impression he had moved on to higher circles." Fingon waved his hand in a spiral in the air to illustrate, and stumbled back into a wall.
"She very certainly has not," Turgon replied.
"Odd," said Fingon. "He looked as if he had. Ah well. That is good news, hum? Laurefindil, you can help me be sick out the window. Hold my hair back."
"Do you feel very unwell, my Lord?" Glorfindel asked.
Fingon shook his head. "Oh, no. At the moment, I feel fantastic. I know from experience, though, that this will not last. So before the night is out..."
"Dealing with your vomit sounds like a perfect task for our Laurefindiel," said Turgon. "I will leave her to it."
"Thank you, brother," Fingon said. "Lauron, you come over here. I am having some trouble with my legs."
Sighing, Glorfindel walked over to wrap his arm around Fingon's waist and act as a support. It took all of his effort to keep from stumbling and falling as well; he and Fingon may have been matched for height, but Fingon, like Oropher, was considerably broader and heavier. The weight difference between them grew more pronounced with every step they took, as Fingon relied less and less on his own strength and slumped farther over onto Glorfindel's shoulder. They half staggered, half crawled up the stairs, Glorfindel both pushing and pulling Fingon to keep him moving.
By the time they reached the fifth floor, everyone else had long disappeared. Swearing and gasping for breath, Glorfindel shoved open the bedroom door, dragged Fingon the last few steps, and dumped him into bed. Fingon groaned.
"Oh... oh... that was not a good move..."
Glorfindel refrained from slapping him. "Does your Grace require a bucket?"
"No." Groaning again, Fingon burped and clenched his eyes shut. "I mean, yes. Yes. Bucket."
Glorfindel retrieved the chamber pot from beneath the bed, setting it within literal spitting distance of Fingon's head. "There."
"That's not a bucket."
"No, but it will do. Do you want me to help you into your nightclothes?"
"No," said Fingon. "Moving is not a good idea right now. I should stay exactly where I am."
"Shall I hold your hair back?"
"No. I think I will be fine. If I don't move, I will be fine. You may go."
"Are you certain?" Glorfindel asked.
"Very. Please, go. Being sick everywhere and probably pissing myself in front of you would be highly embarrassing. Get out of here."
"If you say so," Glorfindel replied, bowing.
"Just come back in the morning to make sure I've not choked on my own vomit and died."
He needed no more persuasion. Glorfindel was across the room and out the door in a moment, shutting it firmly behind him and forgetting about Fingon. This strange new development with Fingolfin was something he needed to consider carefully, and careful consideration usually involved hearing Oropher's opinion: an opinion that would be all the more valuable given the subject matter. He took the stairs down to the third floor two at a time, and just managed to stop himself before bursting out into the corridor at the sound of a familiar voice.
"...would think is fine for tonight," the King was saying. "But thank-you, Oropher. I shall wait upstairs. Please tell Rodhalair he is dismissed if you see him."
Oropher made a grunting noise that was likely meant to function as an agreement, then the hard leather soles of Fingolfin's shoes began to tap across the floor. It took Glorfindel only a fraction of a second to pull his wits together enough to realise that being discovered lurking in the stairwell would not be beneficial. He had an unpleasant feeling that he knew exactly what Fingolfin, curiously free of his usual entourage, had been asking Oropher.
He ran up the stairs even more quickly than he had come down, dashing around the corner once he reached the fifth floor and throwing open the door to Fingon's bathing room. He shut it behind him and leaned back against the solid wood. In the silence of the night, the only sound he could hear was the occasional crackle from the failing fire. No matter how he strained his ears, there was no hint as to whether or not Fingolfin waited for him outside. The thick walls and door muffled any footsteps.
Sighing, he slid down until he sat on the floor with his knees tucked up to his chest. Leaving the room would be too risky, at least until he could convince himself that Fingolfin had surely given up and gone to bed. It was safer to wait. He sat with his back against the door and watched the fire's occasional flickers of yellow flame die down into an orange glow, then red. An hour or more passed before he worked up the courage to crack open the door and peer out into the corridor.
A shadowed figure stood across from Fingon's bedroom door. Glorfindel nearly leapt out of his skin at the sight, though he could tell at once that this person was far too short to be Fingolfin. He opened the door enough to look with both eyes.
Idril spun around to face him, glare firmly in place. "Finally! I've been waiting out here practically all night!"
"I'm bored," she said.
"But you've been waiting for me?"
He knew he must have looked like an idiot staring at her, but there was no way to help it. He felt pleasantly lightheaded. Idril had been waiting for him. Somehow, with that in mind, it became far too easy to forgive her for everything that had happened the previous night. She had slipped seamlessly into perfect loveliness once again.
"Who else would I wait for?" she asked. "I said, I'm bored. Melessë fell asleep almost at the supper table and has been sleeping like a dead rock ever since. She's a day bunny."
"A what?" asked Glorfindel.
"A day bunny. See, Atya calls me a night owl because I'm always awake way into the night, but Melessë's the exact opposite and falls asleep even before it's dark out. So she's the opposite of a night owl. A day bunny."
"Oh. Right." Glorfindel stepped all the way out into the corridor. "So... You were waiting for me."
"Yes," said Idril. "I thought maybe you could invite me to have some wine by the fire with Taror Finno."
"Ahh, not such a good idea," Glorfindel said, shaking his head. "Finno is all wined out for the evening. Also, he's a bit of a... a bit of a day bunny. Went to bed a long time ago."
Idril's face fell. "Oh."
"But, uh, I could take you for some wine in, um, my room. I have a fire, too."
"You don't share a room with Taror Finno all the time?"
"Of course not. I'm important enough to have my own." He deliberately did not mention that his bedroom was only on the third floor.
If possible, Idril looked even more disappointed. "Oh... hmm. That's too bad. I was hoping I could watch."
"What do mean, watch-" Glorfindel's breath came to a dead halt in his throat. She could not possibly mean what he thought she meant.
"You know," she said with a certain suggestive curve to her voice. She did mean it.
"No. Absolutely not." Holding out his hands, Glorfindel made a grand gesture of refusal. "That's... no. No! Findekáno would never allow it."
"Who says he has to?" Idril asked with a shrug. "I could watch in secret."
Glorfindel could do nothing but stare at her. The situation was far too surreal. She looked back with only mild curiosity on her face, as if she had just asked him to show her something innocent along the lines of an unusual rock formation.
"Look," he said. "Itarillë... it's just not a very good idea. Finno would skin me alive if he found out. So would your father. They'd probably fight over who could do it. What if I just borrow some of Finno's clothes again, and-"
"I'd rather watch." She gave him her best flirtatious smile, licking her lips, and his heart melted into a puddle that settled somewhere in the vicinity of his groin.
"Uhhh... Right. Watch." Swearing at himself for his stupidity, he looked from Fingon's bedroom door to the bathing room door. He must have been fully insane for even considering it. "Wait here a minute."
He slipped back into the bathing room, and opened the inner door to the bedroom. The fire had died down too much to see anything more than Fingon's indistinct shape in the dull red-orange glow, but, from where he stood, he did have a good view of the bed. He leaned back out into the corridor to motion for Idril to join him.
"Here," he whispered. "I can't believe I'm doing this, but stand here. Keep the door open just a crack, and you should have a clear line of sight to the bed."
"It's too dark to see," Idril whispered in return.
"I'll stoke up the fire. Don't worry. Just stay here, and keep quiet. If Finno catches us, I'm telling him I had no idea you were here."
At a nod of agreement from Idril, he stepped into the bedroom and pushed the door shut until it hung open only a finger's width and all he could see was a strip of black. Idril, hiding in the darkness, was not visible at all. Satisfied, Glorfindel crossed to the fire and stirred it back to life, adding two logs, then took new candles from the box near the hearth to replace those burnt down on the bedside table. That would be enough light. He cast a nervous glance toward the bathing room door, but there was no sign of Idril. The bedroom looked exactly as it did on any other night. Somehow, that thought made the churning in his stomach worse.
He lit the candles and placed them in their holders on the table; their yellow light flickered down across Fingon's serenely sleeping face. At some point during the last hour, Fingon must have recovered enough to undress himself and comb out his hair. His clothes lay in a pile at the foot of the bed, covered with a glittery sprinkling of jewellery. The pot, unused, still sat where Glorfindel had left it.
"Finno," Glorfindel whispered.
Fingon, perfectly gilded by candlelight as he was, did not stir.
Fingon made a little snorting sound and tensed, rolling his head to the side, but did not awaken.
Reluctantly, Glorfindel reached down to touch Fingon's bare shoulder. The moment his fingertips made contact, Fingon's eyes snapped open and he jerked himself awake.
"Lauron!" he groaned. "What are you..."
"Um," said Glorfindel. His stomach churned again, but this time it was followed by a sharp prickle of exhilaration. He was about to put on a show. Just as with the play the other night, it was time to perform. Idril, his audience, waited. And he was even in costume.
Fingon noticed that particular detail. "Why are you still wearing your ludicrous makeup?"
"I... think it's nice?" Or else he had forgotten and not yet found the time to remove it. But, nice or not, he was glad he had not washed it off. The stiff weight of powder on his skin made him feel less like himself. So decorated, he was not Laurefindil of Valmar, but Laurefindiel the actor, playing a role. Laurefindiel, consort to the Prince. The makeup freed him. He sat down on the side of the bed, positioning himself as if preparing for a scene with Idril's vantage point in mind, and rested a hand on Fingon's blanketed thigh.
Fingon noticed that, too; he stared at Glorfindel's hand with blatant suspicion. "What do you want?" he asked.
"I'm sorry," Glorfindel said, using the first excuse that came to mind. "I behaved very poorly earlier, hanging on the King's arm like some witless sycophant while ignoring you."
"It... um... won't happen again?"
"You're right it won't," Fingon answered with a terse nod.
"Unless he specifically requests my presence," Glorfindel added. "I can't exactly refuse if he asks me to sit next to him at the table."
"No, but you can agree with a little less enthusiasm."
"You're right. I won't. I mean, I will. Agree with less enthusiasm." He dropped his head to the side, trying to mimic the same flirtatious smile Idril had given him in the corridor, but Fingon's suspicious gaze did not change.
"...Right," Fingon slowly said. "That's... that's perfect." He held eye contact with Glorfindel a moment longer before abruptly turning over and hiding his face in the pillow. "Good night, Lauron."
"Am I forgiven?" Glorfindel asked.
"Yes. Good night."
"You're not acting very forgiving..." The most flirtatious action he could think of was to run his hand up Fingon's thigh. He managed to cover three inches before Fingon's arm shot out to stop him.
"That's because you're acting like you want something."
"Want something? No, I only wanted to say sorry for-"
Fingon turned his head enough to give Glorfindel an owlish look from one eye. "Lauron. The only time you ever come in here acting so awkwardly affectionate is when you want a large sum of money. How much this time? Bearing in mind that I will say 'no'."
The words were out of his mouth before he could think to stop them. "Sixty kulustar."
"Sixty!" Fingon shouted. He sat up with such speed that it almost startled Glorfindel into falling off the bed. "Are you out of your mind?! By Manwë's blood, what do you need sixty kulustar for?!"
"Um... clothing and... jewellery," Glorfindel lied. "I think I need to start dressing in a manner more appropriate to court."
"No. Good stars, no, you don't. You're already too influenced by Ta's garish fashions."
"But most of my clothes are old styles from four years ago!"
"Your father the King cares."
"Then ask him for the money," said Fingon. "If he thinks you should dress differently, he should pay for it."
"Do you think he will?" Glorfindel asked.
"No, I don't. I think he'll tell you to ask me. And then I will say 'no' again."
"But Finno..." He tried Idril's smile once more, though it worked no better the second time. Fingon merely rolled his eyes.
"Laurefindil my dear, I am not giving you sixty kulustar. That's absolutely ridiculous. I don't even have sixty kulustar. For that outrageous sum of money, I would have to submit a written request to the treasury and have it signed by Ta and two of his secretaries. And I would only do that if I were inclined to do so, which I am not. Now, I will give you one kulusta, but only if you promise to go away and let me sleep. Acceptable?"
"One kulusta will hardly buy me anything," Glorfindel pouted.
"I can give you nothing if you prefer."
"I'll take one for now."
"I thought so," said Fingon. "But I'll give it to you in the morning. Good night."
He lay back down and pulled the blankets over his head. Glorfindel, knowing enough to abandon a lost battle, stood up from the bed and was four steps away before he remembered why he had woken Fingon in the first place. Swearing under his breath, he turned around.
"Laurefindil..." Fingon growled from beneath the covers.
Glorfindel ignored the warning and stretched out on the bed, his arm draped lightly around Fingon's waist.
"I am not giving you any more money."
"Then why are you still here?"
"What, I can't choose to spend the night with you?" Glorfindel asked, trying to sound hurt.
"You never have in the past, unless you're asking for some favour."
"I promise, I'm not. I only want to apologise for what happened at supper." Slowly, Glorfindel pulled the blanket away from Fingon's face, tracing the line of his cheek with soft fingertips. Fingon's sceptical expression never fell, but nor did he speak any word of discouragement as Glorfindel leaned forward to press a light kiss against his lips. He lay still until Glorfindel slipped a hand beneath the covers. Then, as before, his arm shot down to block the exploratory touch.
"I'm serious, Lauron," he murmured. "I will not give you any more money."
"Mm-hmm," Glorfindel replied, trailing light kisses to Fingon's jaw.
"Whatever you choose to do here tonight, it is done purely out of the desire of your greedy, conniving little heart."
"I won't give you any money tomorrow, either."
"Stop fussing, will you?" Glorfindel asked. He pressed his lips hard against Fingon's, tasting the sourness of old wine. Fingon stopped fussing.
In his mind's eye, Glorfindel could imagine perfectly the scene that Idril would see from her hiding place behind the door. His body was placed directly between her and Fingon. Her line of sight would give her a clear view of his bottom. With consideration for the show he was about to put on, he rolled over to Fingon's other side, pulling most of the blankets with him. Idril now had a solid view of Fingon's bare shoulders and chest. Better. He pulled the blankets away entirely, and Fingon lay exposed to the dim firelight and cooling night air.
Fingon, despite all of his earlier words to the contrary, no longer had any objection to being kissed. His hands had found their way up to Glorfindel's neck, holding and caressing. Glorfindel allowed himself an indulgent, inward smile. The show progressed exactly as planned. He stole a glance toward the door, staring at the place where he guessed Idril's eyes would be, and tried to hold her invisible gaze. Is this what you like? he asked her in his mind. Does this please you, my lady? Slowly, he lowered his head just enough lick the corner of Fingon's mouth with his pointed tongue.
He could imagine that her silent answer was, Yes.
The line of his kisses moved across the curve of Fingon's cheek and to his ear, subtly urging Fingon to turn his face toward the door. This, Glorfindel wanted Idril to see: how much Fingon wanted these attentions. His desire burned, plain as the sun, across his face and hung in every shallow, hitching breath. Glorfindel slid lower on the bed, trailing kisses down Fingon's chest to his hip. His fingernails scratched down the taut muscles of Fingon's stomach. Fingon voiced no objection. Idril certainly would not. His hand grasped Fingon's hardening shaft; Fingon hissed, tensing his body and arching into the touch.
He thought about Idril as he took Fingon in his mouth. He thought about kissing her, tasting her, touching her all over: her hands, her neck, her breasts, her thighs. Desire burned like an ember, heating him through. His hands and lips worked over Fingon's hard flesh, and his mind wrapped him in Idril's soft caresses. All of his skill, all of his thoughts, went into pleasing the both of them.
Fingon finished with a muted groan, his fist clenched in Glorfindel's hair. Carefully, Glorfindel extricated himself and rolled away. Desire and need for release still simmered inside him, white-hot. His blood pounded with it. He stood up from the bed and paused, looking down at Fingon, who lay with his eyes half closed, breathing hard. "Good night," he said, allowing a little smile. Then he turned to go, leaving Fingon with an empty bed and a confused expression. He blew out the candles as he passed.
Behind the bathing room door, Idril sat on the floor with her legs tucked under and her knees splayed wide. Her skirt, Glorfindel saw, was hitched up to her thighs, and her hands clutched the hem. He shut the door behind him. The sliver of weak light disappeared, shrouding them both in blackness. In the dark, he felt Idril's hand close around his, guiding him down to her. She pulled his hand and then his hair until her lips met his in a frantic, needy kiss. He grasped the back of her neck. The skin was hot to his touch and damp with sweat.
"I love you," she whispered.
Glorfindel knew it was not true, but it thrilled him all the same to hear the words. "I love you, too," he replied. And he pushed her down to the floor.
Playlist Navigation Bar