Glorfindel must have slept, though he could not remember when he fell asleep or recall any dreams. But a thin stripe of blue light glowed at the end of the bed where the curtains met, announcing the morning. He shifted and turned his head as far as he could. He was stiff from lying so still.
Fingon's hand now lay draped across his chest, the arm having moved closer around him sometime during the night. The prince was asleep with his head nearly resting against Glorfindel's neck, his body covered with only one thin knit blanket. Carefully, Glorfindel turned to lie on his back. When Fingon did not stir, he began to move away. As slowly as he could manage and as silently, he slid toward the curtained edge of the bed.
Fingon's eyes flickered as his neutral face took on a slight frown and a small sound passed his lips. Glorfindel froze. He stared at Fingon in eager dread but there was no further movement. Still though he waited several moments before trying to move again. Then he slowly turned onto his stomach so that Fingon's hand fell harmlessly to the mattress.
He slid one leg past the curtain, then the other, his bare feet landing on soft carpet. He pulled himself up until he almost stood, but with hands still leaning on the bed. As he did, the quilts fell away from his back to land across Fingon's arm. Fingon's eyes flickered again and he blinked. Glorfindel held his breath.
Fingon looked up at him with a tired gaze and a small frown. "Where are you going?"
"It is morning," Glorfindel said. "I... I must have things to do."
Fingon snorted as he looked away. "It is dog-early," he said. "Not even the cooks are up at this hour. There is nothing to do yet. Get back into bed and go to sleep."
"I cannot sleep, my lord."
"Then pretend," said Fingon. He shifted to lie with his face in his pillow and pulled the knit blanket up around his shoulders.
Reluctantly, Glorfindel climbed back onto the bed. He sat with his knees tucked under his chin and his hands clasped at his feet, the tension of the previous night quickly returning to his limbs. Fingon moved no further, save the light rise and fall of his back with each breath. Glorfindel sighed. And he waited.
Some time later, when the stripe of light through the bed curtains had changed from blue to bright yellow, he heard a loud knock at the door followed by a cry of "Nôr!" The voice was high-pitched and childlike.
Fingon lifted his head long enough to shout, "Minto!" in reply before he flopped back down.
"Who is that?" Glorfindel asked. He heard the door open and what sounded like two pair of slippered feet shuffle into the room.
"Servants. They make the fire in the morning."
"Oh," said Glorfindel. He listened to their actions through the curtains as they laid quartered logs on top of smaller sticks in the fireplace. "Do I have work to do now?"
"No," Fingon said. He sighed, shifting more onto his stomach. "I will tell you when there is something to do."
"Oh," Glorfindel said quietly. He hugged his knees closer to his chest. Beyond the curtain, he heard the servants shuffle out, leaving a crackling fire behind them.
Half an hour passed, and Fingon still slept. The sounds of the fire slowly diminished to a quiet hiss. Glorfindel lay on his back on the bed, on top of the quilts, looking up at the canopy. He thought of nothing. Kind thoughts of Amma and Valmar always ushered in unwanted thoughts of Fingon and Eithel Sirion, so it was better to not think at all. He only stared at the blue fabric and wished that time would hurry.
Another knock sounded at the door, and another cry, "Bass!" came from another childish voice.
Again, Fingon shouted, "Minto!" He lazily rolled onto his side, facing Glorfindel, and stretched one arm into the air while using the other to prop up his head. He grinned a lopsided smirk. "Alright," he said, "it is now morning."
"Who are they?" Glorfindel asked. Two more pair of slippered feet had entered the room, setting down a clinking tray on the bedside table followed by a heavy sloshing jug.
"They bring breakfast," said Fingon. He sat upright, stretching further. "Now since you're so keen to be useful, you can start by opening the curtains. Tie them back to the bedposts, and do it neatly."
Glorfindel nodded, but waited until the breakfast-bringers had closed the door behind them before leaving the bed. He had no desire to be seen, even though he was certain they had heard him speaking. But after the door clicked shut he gladly stepped out into the room, so bright that he had to squint his eyes against the light after the contrast of the dark bed. Then he took the nearest curtain-edge in his hand and pulled it away, pleating it neatly as he went. He tied it back to the bedpost.
When he had finished the four curtains, Fingon was already sitting on the edge of the bed by the table, reaching to the breakfast tray. "What did you eat for breakfast in Valmar?" he asked.
Glorfindel shrugged. "Pancakes usually, made out of corn or potatoes. With milk. Sometimes bread or fruit."
"Here then," said Fingon. He handed Glorfindel a small golden roll. "You can start with some bread."
Glorfindel took the roll in his hands and broke it in half. The inside was pale and soft like foam. He frowned. Bread in Valmar was rich brown and firm, and much heavier. "What sort of bread is this?" he asked.
"The best sort," said Fingon. He had hollowed out his own bread and was scooping berries with syrup into it.
Tentatively, Glorfindel took a bite. "It tastes like nothing," he said.
Fingon laughed and handed him the berry bowl. "Then put some of these on it. And sit down to eat." He gestured to the bed.
Glorfindel sat. Copying Fingon, he used his finger to poke a hole in the bread and make a little hollow before spooning in the berries. They were sweet and sticky. Syrup spilled out in little drops and stuck to his lips as he ate.
"Is it better like that?" Fingon asked.
"It's very sweet," Glorfindel said. The syrup seemed to coat his mouth all over, and he licked his lips like a cat to get rid of it. "It sticks on my tongue."
"Have this." Fingon handed him a cup of milk, fresh and warm and thick. Glorfindel drank it quickly.
"There are other things that are not so sweet," Fingon said. "You might like the applesauce better." He picked up a small dish filled with pink sauce, which Glorfindel took and tasted. It was sour like new apples.
"I like this one better."
"Good," said Fingon. "And there are other things too here you might like: raisin cake, berries without syrup, almond pastry, cheese pastry, egg bread with seeds..."
Glorfindel looked at the breakfast tray, covered in all these things and even more, two or three of each. Fingon sorted through them and picked out the ones he liked best. "I am fine with this," Glorfindel said, and took another spoon of applesauce. He had no interest in trying any of the strange food Fingon ate.
Soon the two servants who had brought the tray came back to collect it. They were children, Sindarin boys with pale silvery-yellow hair, and Glorfindel guessed their age at about twenty-five. They looked at the ground as they walked, never glancing up at their lord. Glorfindel, still wearing only his breeches from last night, self-consciously ran his hands over his thighs to smooth the wrinkled fabric and bowed his head to allow his hair to fall and cover his bare chest. Fingon, just as naked, simply ignored the boys as they took the tray and hurried out. Then he fell back onto the bed with a contented groan and clapped his hands over his stomach. "I missed all the good food while I was away," he sighed. "By my cousins we only had porridge for breakfast most mornings. Did you get enough to eat?"
"Yes," Glorfindel said. "Thank-you."
"Good." Fingon let out another groan, which turned into a yawn. Glorfindel stole a quick, nervous glance. Fingon's eyes were trained on him, carefully watching every awkward movement. He immediately turned away.
Fingon only laughed, his same haunting laugh from the night before. "You may look at me if you like," he said.
"No," said Glorfindel, shaking his head. "I did not mean to, I only-"
"I do not mind," said Fingon in a low voice. "In fact I would like you to."
Glorfindel only sat still and bit his lip. But after a moment he did turn to look again.
Fingon wore only his breeches as he lay on the bed, unashamedly displaying his body to the cool morning air. He stretched his arms above his head and yawned again, well-toned muscles flexing beneath his skin as he did. His chest and shoulders were broadly masculine, matching strong arms. Fingon was a warrior, well-trained and skilled with a sword, and it showed plainly in his naked body. Glorfindel uncomfortably shrugged his own boyish shoulders and looked back down at his knees. He knew his shape was skinny and childlike compared to Fingon's.
He heard Fingon laugh quietly behind him, and felt a large hand lightly stroke the small of his back where the ends of his hair fell. The hand moved up his spine to his shoulder as Fingon pulled himself into a sitting position once more. "You are still young," Fingon said with a grin, as if answering the question Glorfindel had failed to ask. Then his arms moved quickly to grab Glorfindel in a tight embrace. Before he could speak in protest or even struggle, Fingon leaned forward and kissed him hard on the mouth.
With a strangled shout he quickly pulled away, squirming out of Fingon's grasp and sliding to the corner of the bed. But Fingon followed, moving closer until he had Glorfindel trapped between him and the canopy post. "Why are you so afraid?" he asked. "I will not harm you."
"It is wrong!" Glorfindel hissed. He stared at Fingon with shocked and wild eyes.
Fingon smiled softly. "It is hardly considered wise for the servant to point out a prince's errors," he said. "But still I would like to know what you think is so wrong."
"That," said Glorfindel. "What you did..." He shook his head. "That is wrong. It is only for those people who love each other, those who are married."
"Who taught you that?" Fingon asked.
Fingon reached up to stroke Glorfindel's cheek, the tips of his fingers winding through strands of golden hair. "Well my ammë taught me otherwise. There are a few things that some think only married folk should do, but kissing is an innocent enough joy." He placed a gentle kiss on the corner of Glorfindel's mouth as if to prove his point. "You don't mind a simple kiss, do you?"
Glorfindel silently lowered his eyes. "It is wrong," he whispered. "It is still wrong. It is an evil doing for two... for us two, if we are both..." Helpless and overwhelmed, he could only stare at his hands and shudder as Fingon pressed further kisses along his cheek to his ear.
"Men?" Fingon finished the sentence for him. "I do not think that is wrong. Why should it be? Because the Valar told us so? They do not know everything. That is why we left Valinórë, is it not?" He shifted himself and turned Glorfindel's face until they were eye to eye.
"Look at the Sindar," he said. "It is no terrible sin among them who never went into the West. True they are savage and stupid, but they do not hold back their desires at least."
Fingon stared at Glorfindel with such a piercing and passionate gaze, almost daring him to speak again, but Glorfindel remained silent. He nervously returned the stare and held Fingon's eyes for several long seconds before quietly speaking. "I will not question your beliefs, my lord, but I must tell you that I believe such things are wrong."
Carefully, he shrugged away from Fingon's touch and turned his head aside. Fingon stiffened and pulled back, but kept his eyes locked on Glorfindel. There was a long and tense pause before either spoke another word.
"You truly think that way," said Fingon.
Glorfindel slowly nodded.
"Then I will not force you do to anything you do not want to do, Laurefindil."
Glorfindel looked over at him. "I do not want-"
"However," Fingon interrupted, "you must remember that you have sworn an oath of fealty to my father, and that refusing my order bears punishment under our law. So I ask you to think very carefully about what it is you want to do." He spoke the last words carefully, punctuating them with a sinister emphasis.
And with those words, Glorfindel was chained. He could feel the weight of those simple yet terrible words twine around to catch him in a crushing stranglehold, ready to squeeze away any charade of freedom or morality. There Fingon sat, calmly facing him with a challenging look, while his chest constricted and the breath was choked from his throat. He had no choice, or no real choice. Surrender by will or by force, but surrender none the less. A bitter taste started to climb up from his suddenly churning stomach. He was chained.
"I do not want..." he whispered.
"Do not want what?" Fingon asked sharply.
"I do not want... to..." He paused and closed his eyes, clenching his jaw shut as if it would help to stem the tide of nausea or at least still his shaking body as he forced out the words of surrender. "I... do not... want... to make... you... angry... my lord."
Fingon smiled sweetly. "That is good of you." He patted the space on the bed between them. "Come here."
Trance-like, Glorfindel shifted a few inches toward Fingon. When he moved no further, Fingon closed the distance by sliding his arm around Glorfindel's waist and pulling him close. "I only want to kiss you," said Fingon, pressing his mouth against Glorfindel's ear. "That's not so bad, is it?"
Glorfindel said nothing, though he could hear the sound of his pounding heart, and was certain Fingon could hear too. That would be enough of an answer if he could not freely speak.
"No, it is not so bad..." Fingon murmured. "Only a kiss..." His lips moved from Glorfindel's ear to cheek. Then he leaned forward, easing both of them down onto the bed, though he lay slightly on top. His lips moved to Glorfindel's mouth. A wave of fear raged at the intrusion, and Glorfindel tried to clench his mouth shut, but still Fingon's slippery tongue wormed and fought its way past his weak defence. He tasted of the sweet berry syrup, though strange and slick instead of sticky.
After too long, Fingon broke the kiss and pulled away. "This is what I missed," he said softly. He rested his forehead against Glorfindel's shoulder, pressing against the bare skin. "It is what I would dream of. For all the time I was alone, it was easy enough to lean against a pillow and pull the blankets tightly around my shoulder to pretend it was my lover's arm. I could think of how we lay together, and that was easy enough. But there is no substitute for a kiss."
Glorfindel braced himself, expecting something further, but Fingon was still. "Who?" he eventually found the courage to ask, in a small voice, after Fingon made no movement for several long moments.
"What do you mean?" Fingon asked. He raised his head to look at Glorfindel.
"Who was ... he?" Glorfindel asked. "Your lover, I mean."
Fingon's face darkened. "No-one," he said. "A hypothetical lover." But he had a bitter look in his eyes, and Glorfindel would have questioned him further had he not shifted away to lie on his side. "How about you?" he asked.
"Your hypothetical lover. I'm sure you've though of one. What is she like?"
Glorfindel blushed and looked at the blankets. "I don't have one."
"I don't believe that."
"How old did you say you are, forty-three?"
Fingon smirked. "Then I cannot believe you've never thought of such things."
"I haven't," said Glorfindel, but his cheeks flushed redder.
"What is she like?" Fingon asked again. His hand moved back to Glorfindel's chest, skimming across to toy with a lock of hair that curled around his shoulder. "Some innocent young Vanyarin girl, dressed in white, long golden hair falling soft and shining down her back? Do you dare to think of her ever without that white dress?"
Glorfindel made no answer.
"I think you do," Fingon said. "Do you think of marrying her? Do you think of your wedding night?" He leaned closer, stroking his hand down Glorfindel's arm.
"No," said Glorfindel, but even to his own ears his voice sounded weak and unconvincing. He had closed his eyes as an image came to him, and now he could not will it away. A girl he had seen, his own age, the daughter of a farming family that lived up the road from Amma's house. He did not know her name, but he had often seen her leading her goats to the river. Her face returned so sharply to his memory, along with dark recollections of shameful thoughts.
"You have," Fingon quietly said. He leaned in so close that his lips brushed Glorfindel's as he spoke. "Do you think of kissing her?"
Glorfindel stuttered. "Of c-course... n-not." His lips feathered Fingon's, and they tingled. The girl's face was so clear in his mind now.
"Let yourself, Laurefindil," Fingon said quietly, his breath calm and soft. "You can think of her." He slid his hand around to cup the back of Glorfindel's neck and draw him into another, gentler kiss.
This time Glorfindel did not pull back. He could pretend. It was just a kiss. Not so bad. Not a sin, just a kiss. If he could tell himself this then perhaps he could also believe it. Not so bad. He forced himself to concentrate on the image of the girl in his mind. He could pretend, as insistent lips moved against his. He could pretend, as his fingers came up to meet the soft wave of hair that fell down across his cheek. Black hair to closed eyes could pretend to be golden. Not so bad.
He scarcely noticed when the hand that had been at his shoulder moved lower, to his waist, and lower still to his hip. But the illusion and any pretending he could manage were broken when Fingon's hand dared to slide beneath the fabric of his breeches. His eyes flew open and he twisted violently, scrambling away to sit upright on the bed.
"You said you would only kiss me," he gasped.
"I did," said Fingon, "and I am sorry. I will not do that again." He moved his hands to Glorfindel's shoulders, massaging lightly. "I will only kiss you."
"Only kissing," said Glorfindel. "That's all." He looked to Fingon, eyes searching for some sort of honesty.
"That's all," Fingon repeated, a sincere smile on his face. "Only kissing. Nothing more. I promise."
Glorfindel slowly nodded, and Fingon leaned in to kiss him gently on the forehead. Then on the cheek, then on the lips. Fingon leaned forward to ease them back down onto the bed, but a knock at the door interrupted them before their shoulders even touched the blankets.
"Imorionnen!" Fingon hissed, and then, "Who is it?"
"Alkarrossë. I have important news."
Fingon scowled, but his grip on Glorfindel slowly relaxed. After a moment he rolled onto his back, letting out a low groan and rubbing his hands over his face. "Come in," he said.
Glorfindel quickly sat upright as Celeiros entered. "Your father bade me tell you, lord," Celeiros said, "that we have visitors."
"Oh?" asked Fingon. He too sat upright on the edge of the bed. "Who are they?"
"Your cousins," said Celeiros, and for a moment Fingon's breath hitched until he added, "Findaráto and Artanis. They arrived at the gate not and hour ago and are eager to see you."
Fingon nodded. "Alright. You may tell them I'll be down shortly. I must dress." He patted his hands over his plain breeches.
Celeiros though did not exit, but stood where he was until Fingon asked, "What?"
"I would speak to you further," he said, "though..." He shot a quick glance to Glorfindel, who had shifted to the far end of the bed and sat hunched over as if trying to avoid being noticed.
"You may go, Laurefindil," Fingon said, and he touched Glorfindel's shoulder. Immediately Glorfindel stood and gave a hasty bow to Fingon before hurrying to the door, only pausing to duck and grab his clothes from the floor.
When he had gone, Fingon reached under the bed for the chamber pot. "What else do you want?" he asked as he stood.
"Your father wanted to know if you are happy with the boy," said Celeiros.
"If I weren't, do you think he would still be here?"
Celeiros smiled thinly. "Of course not."
"You can tell Ta thank-you from me," said Fingon. "I am happy with his selection this time. That doesn't mean I forgive him entirely, but it is a start." As he spoke, he unfastened the laces at his hips and lowered his breeches. He turned away from Celeiros to relieve himself.
"He wishes to speak with you," Celeiros said after a pause, frowning to himself at Fingon's lack of discretion.
"You will see him then?"
"After I see Findaráto, perhaps," said Fingon. He pulled his breeches back into place and turned to face Celeiros. "Here," he said, holding the chamber pot out to him, "you can take this when you go."
Celeiros scowled. "I believe that would be the job of your Vanyarin boy."
Fingon only laughed and held it out further. "Don't think you're too good to empty a prince's piss-pot," he said. "And I'd sooner give the job to you than to him." He grinned broadly.
With a low hiss of defeat Celeiros took the pot. "I will tell your father your are well and acting quite like your old self," he said sharply. Then he turned and exited as quickly as he could manage without splashing on his sleeves. He made it halfway down the stairway before bending to his disgust and simply tossing the contents out a nearby window.
When Glorfindel shut the door to Fingon's bedroom behind him, he stood in the corridor for a moment simply wondering what he should do. Go back to his own room, he supposed. But now that he had been dismissed and was apart from Fingon, the fear and shame he had felt while in the bedroom were slowly starting to fade. Instead, they were replaced by pride and anger. He looked down with disgust at his half-naked body while wiping a hand across his lips. What right does he have, prince or not... he thought as the memories of Fingon's touches came back to him unwanted. No right, he assured himself. And I will not abide it. It is vile.
He scowled to himself as he hastily pulled on the rest of his clothes, smoothing both the fabric and his unbound hair into some semblance of decency. No, he would not tolerate this violation. He would speak to Fingolfin about the errant prince's unacceptable behaviour, and he would tolerate it no longer.
And so he hurried away from Fingon's door, down the stairs, and through the sooty stone corridors back to the wide halls of Fingolfin's court. The King had received guests, Celeiros had said, which meant he might still be in the salon where he had spoken with Glorfindel the previous morning. The salon was on the far end opposite the tower stairs, if Glorfindel remembered correctly. And he did. He could see the large double doors propped halfway open. Spurred on by a renewed surge of anger, he quickened his pace.
"My lord, I must tell you right now..." he said as he brushed past the door, but he stopped abruptly at the sight of the regal tableau inside.
Fingolfin was indeed in the salon, sitting on a grand chair. But across from him, on a richly cushioned bench, sat the two visitors, and the sight of their beauty made Glorfindel gasp. Both were royally dressed and adorned with jewelled finery, and seemed nearly to glow in the soft light streaming in from high windows. Their golden hair lay as a sharp but perfect contrast on their deep green and blue clothes. Were these Fingon's cousins? They looked nothing like him. While Fingon was dark and secretive, a kind and open brightness radiated from these two like starlight.
"Laurefindil," Fingolfin said. "How fortunate- I had just mentioned you."
Glorfindel bowed hurriedly to the guests as his mind raced, trying to think of any way to retract his careless intrusion.
"These are Findekáno's cousins," Fingolfin continued, seeming not to notice Glorfindel's uncertainty, "Findaráto and Artanis." Both guests nodded as they were named.
"I... I mean we... had heard from Alkarrossë that they had arrived," Glorfindel stammered. "Findekáno is coming, I think..."
Fingolfin nodded. "That is good to hear. I was just telling our guests how lucky it is that they arrived today, when Findekáno is back with us. I was saying how it has been such a time for arrivals, with you coming and then Findekáno returning and now visiting cousins..."
Fingolfin continued to speak, but his attention had turned rather to Finrod while Glorfindel was left standing silently by. His cheeks burned with embarrassment and he wished for nothing more than to be able to turn around and hurry away as quickly as he had come. But sense kept him where he was, along with the knowledge that he could scarcely afford to make himself appear any more foolish and ignorant by disappearing without the king's leave. He took a deep breath to calm himself and concentrated on the interaction between Fingolfin and the cousins. Fingolfin appeared to have hundreds of things to say all at once, as if he hadn't spoken to anyone in years. Finrod politely nodded, but sat close to the edge of the bench as if only waiting for the right opportunity to leave the salon. Artanis sat with a demure ladylike grace, though her eyes shone with hidden thoughts.
But there was a fourth also, one whom Glorfindel nearly failed to notice. Behind Fingolfin stood another figure, back somewhat and partially hidden from view. He stood so still as to be easily overlooked by one who focused on the busier scene in the foreground. But now that Glorfindel had seen him, he was intrigued. He stared. It was the same Sindarin boy who had been in the corridor the previous night, though now dressed in the soft blue and grey clothes of Fingolfin's court with his silver-blond hair pulled back into one severe plait at his neck. He stood with his hands folded behind his back, scarcely breathing, with unblinking eyes fixed on the floor. He was so still, as if only half alive: more like a ghost, or one nearly dead with strength enough left only to stand. No life showed in his face.
A trickling sense of recognition started to seep over Glorfindel as he watched this strange stance and stillness. He knew this game, for had he not adopted it himself only hours earlier? The boy was trying to be invisible. He was standing there and hoping against all reason that Fingolfin would forget about him. He would not move out of fear that any small action might remind the king of his purpose. He was trying to be forgotten. A realisation churned in Glorfindel's stomach with a familiar sickness. This was Fingolfin's boy, as surely as Glorfindel was now Fingon's.
Of course Fingolfin knew what his son did behind closed doors. It was no ill chance that Fingon behaved the way he did. It was what he was meant to do. Fingolfin not only knew about it, but he also condoned and even facilitated it. He did it himself. The Sindarin boy had been in the corridor the previous night waiting at a bedroom door. He had been waiting for Fingolfin, as plainly as Glorfindel had been sent to wait for Fingon's use. What good would it be to report a crime that would not be considered a crime in the eyes of the king?
Glorfindel would have run then, no matter the consequences. He would have turned and run as fast as he could out of the salon, out of the castle, away from Eithel Sirion and back the way he came, abandoning his few precious things to the small room in the dark tower. They were an insignificant price to pay. He would have run with all his strength had Fingolfin not turned back to him at that moment.
"But, Laurefindil, you had something to report to me?"
No, Glorfindel thought bleakly, there was nothing to report. Nothing that was not already known. He clumsily stepped forward to give a quick bow as he stalled to think of anything worth saying to the king now. He could feel a cold clamminess creep over his face and hands.
"My lord," he said shakily, looking from the ground to the king, or anywhere besides at the Sindarin boy. "I have noticed that Findekáno... he..." His mind whirled, desperately seeking an item of significance. A few images came: a dim fire, charcoal letters on the stones, a room devoid of life, and wardrobe doors hanging open. He looked up to meet Fingolfin's eyes. "My lord Findekáno has no clothes!" he said suddenly, in a voice that sounded too shrill. "He has brought nothing from his other house, and has only his travelling outfit to wear. Nothing fit to meet his good cousins. I do not know how I should help him dress if there is nothing to wear."
Fingolfin smiled at him. "It pleases me how you care for my son," he said. "And of course I will call for all his things to be brought over here at once, as it seems he will be staying? But in the future, you will address these concerns of yours to the housemaster. I will have Alkarrossë introduce you to him. He takes care of all matters of servants and tasks."
"Yes of course," said Glorfindel. He felt the blood returning to his face. It was hot and made him flush pink.
"And that is all?"
Fingolfin nodded and held up his hand in a gesture of dismissal. Glorfindel quickly bowed, and again had to keep himself from running. He exited the salon at what he thought was a reasonable pace, and only sped up once he was well clear of the grand double doors. He was halfway across the hall on his way back to the tower base when a hand grabbed him from behind and spun him roughly around.
"Do not ever think to do that again!" hissed Celeiros. He held Glorfindel harshly by the shoulders. "It is not your place to interrupt the king, and certainly not your place to bother him with idiotic servants' work! If you had any sense at all you would have realised that!"
Glorfindel squirmed, but Celeiros' grip was as tight as it was painful. "I am sorry," he said, "but I did not know who else to see. I did not mean offence!" He tried to step back, but Celeiros only jerked him forward again and clutched tighter with his long fingers.
"You will see me!" Celeiros said. "You will tell all your concerns to me, and then I will tell you if you need consult anyone else! You never see the king. Never him!"
"I will remember that."
"I will." Celeiros' grip eased, and Glorfindel stepped away. "I will see you."
Celeiros nodded coldly. "Good. Now go to your room, and stay there until someone comes for you. I don't want you loose around here causing more trouble."
"That's where I was going," said Glorfindel. He looked over in the direction of the tower stairs. Somehow, that seemed like the only place he could go.
"You can find the way on your own?"
"I think so... The third floor?"
Celeiros paused a moment, then stepped ahead of Glorfindel with a slight scowl. "I will show you one more time, but you must remember now. Follow me."
For the second time, Glorfindel followed Celeiros up into the tower. It seemed no less overwhelming, and no more of a home, than it had before. The same soot and smoke still lingered in the corridors. Celeiros said nothing as they walked, and only gestured curtly to the correct room once they reached the third floor."
"Thank you," Glorfindel said quietly. He looked at his hand as he turned the doorknob.
"Stay here," said Celeiros. "Someone will come for you eventually. Do not leave this room."
"I will not. But..."
Celeiros narrowed his eyes. "What?"
"I have a question," said Glorfindel. "About the Thindarin language." He shifted nervously under Celeiros' hard stare, already sorry for mentioning anything.
"You can ask me," said Celeiros. "What is it?"
The scene in the corridor from the previous night replayed quickly in Glorfindel's mind. The Sindarin boy's unsettling words still stuck with him, worrying and confusing. Nach ant an Fingon i ernil danten, you are a gift for Fingon the prince...? Had the boy known too?
"Danten," he said after a pause, his voice quiet. "The word danten. What does it mean?"
"Danten? It means fallen. Why?"
Glorfindel shook his head. "Nothing, I just... heard someone say it yesterday, and I didn't know the word. That's all."
"Fallen," Celeiros repeated. He stood there a moment longer then, when satisfied that Glorfindel had no further questions, turned and disappeared down the corridor at a brisk pace.
Glorfindel gladly shut the door. Where before he had feared being left alone, now he considered that it was better to be alone than to be alone with Fingon. At least when he was by himself there was no immediate danger. He pulled off his good outfit, laying them carefully over the chair though they were already wrinkled, and dressed himself again in common clothes. Then he lay down on the bed to rest and wait until Celeiros returned, falling into a fevered half-sleep. He was tired, he realised, having slept so little in Fingon's bed.
His dreams were maddening: the same scenes of Fingon's kiss and Fingolfin's Sindarin boy repeated over too many times, the same damning words spoken until they ceased to serve any function but to make him dizzy with the wish for all to simply be silent and still. He awoke many times, if he ever really slept at all, once almost crying aloud for the repulsive thoughts to leave him. But they swirled faster and louder until he pulled at his hair and struck himself across the face in frustration. He was too weak to fight the torture of dreams, and too exhausted not to sleep at all. So he wept, with his hands clutching knots of hair over his ears and his eyes pressed into the dark heaviness of the quilts, and resigned himself to be battered by unkind memory.
Nôr - (S) fire
Minto - (S) enter
Bass - (S) bread
Imorionnen - (Q) to the dark one
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