1. A Convergence
Ecthelion set his pen aside and looked down at the finished composition, carefully focusing on the way the still-wet ink glistened in the most recent strokes and loops. Taking in the actual words would lead to reading, and to the discovery of mistakes, and thence to rewriting, and he had wasted enough paper already. Besides, he was out of time. He would have to read it all soon enough, and out loud at that – although, even then, it might be best to focus on sounds rather than on meanings. His theatrical training should permit him to maintain a reasonably natural tone… and to master the nervous anticipation that now gripped him, surely a form of stage fright. So what if his previous attempt to address the situation had failed utterly? He had not prepared half as well, that last time.
He could hardly see the writing now, in the fading light, so he lit his desk lamp, and stood up. Walking from window to window to draw the curtains brought him the familiar comfort of a simple, repetitive task; ensuring that each pair of curtains was arranged in perfectly regular and symmetrical fashion provided a pleasant challenge. He was halfway through his third circuit of the room when he heard the clink of metal, followed by the faint squeak his front door tended to make when opened. Of course: the calamitous final act of the night of failure had been to give Glorfindel a key, and Glorfindel was just the type to use it. Ecthelion made one final adjustment to the curtain before him, and turned around.
He had been right. The intended audience of his speech stood at the other side of the room, lit by the desk lamp and, seemingly, by the glow of his golden hair.
“Welcome,” said Ecthelion, after a moment.
He knew he had intended to say something more formal, but could not recall the exact words. Verbal amnesia again, a shameful echo of their previous encounter. Of course, back then he had forgotten much more than a simple greeting: he had planned on a whole sequence of clear, logical statements explaining how their base urges had now been satisfied on three separate occasions, and so it was surely time to start suppressing them. All that had come out instead was a pathetic, “What are we doing?”
And Glorfindel – Glorfindel had watched him for a moment, much as he was doing now, and then had replied, “Today? I have many ideas, of course, but I cannot decide. What do you want to do?”
It was probably the relief that his overwrought tone and idiotic phrasing had gone unnoticed that had led Ecthelion to answer the question, calmly and precisely, and finish it off with a practical demonstration. His face burned at the memory.
But today would be different! Today, he had a speech down on paper, and all he had to do was read it. Surely even a man in the grip of Glorfindel-induced amnesia could remember that?
There was only one problem: the speech lay where he had left it, on his desk by the door. Perhaps he should have learned it by heart, but then his heart could not be trusted these days. Even now, it thudded much faster than it ever should in a person of his athletic physical condition.
“You lit a fire?” Glorfindel broke the silence. He had followed Ecthelion’s gaze to the desk, and now stared beyond it, at the fireplace. “On such a warm day?”
“Well, I had to…” In the grate, a few remaining logs smoldered among the ashes of wasted paper. “I mean, I had my reasons.”
“Let me guess: you wanted to make the room stiflingly hot? Too hot to tolerate? Well, you have succeeded.” He started to undo the front of his tunic.
Ecthelion winced at the cliché, but at least the annoyance woke up his brain. “No, I most certainly did not light that fire just to get you out of your clothes.”
“I know. I mean, it is hardly necessary, is it?” Glorfindel smiled, the tunic now in his hand. “So, can I hang this up somewhere, or should I just drop it on the floor?”
“Put it back on. And do not look at me like that: there is something I need to say.” Ecthelion took a step towards his speech… and towards tunic-less Glorfindel. No, crossing the room at this point could only be a mistake. “Actually, I wrote it all down. Look on the desk.”
Glorfindel obeyed. After draping his tunic over the back of the chair, he leaned down over the paper, bright hair flowing forward in a most distracting way. But then – surely too soon? – he turned back around and sat down on the desk’s edge, his face uncharacteristically blank.
Ecthelion crossed his arms, bracing himself.
“Egalmoth agrees with you,” said Glorfindel.
“I told him about my spider-breeding scheme last night, and he asked me whether I had recently suffered a head injury. Now, you merely called my plans ‘ill-advised’, but you looked me over as if checking for concussion. That is basically the same response, isn’t it?”
Ecthelion said nothing. He was feeling in need of a quick concussion check himself.
“But then,” Glorfindel continued, “I suppose I agree with both of you, too. I mean, I disagree about the dangers of spider-handling and spider-escape, since I am confident I could handle that side of things, but I have realized that it would feel strange to raise beasts, even insects, with the intention of killing them for sport—and is that not what I would essentially be doing, regardless of my longer-term, nobler goal of protecting the city?”
“Besides, just breeding spiders for size would not be enough. They need to be evil, too. And, even leaving aside the fact that causing creatures to become evil is evil in itself – at least twice as evil, probably, if not three times – I have no idea how I would go about—“
“Please stop talking.”
Glorfindel’s head jerked a little as if he had been slapped, but at least he did shut up.
“And tell me,” continued Ecthelion, “why you are ranting breathlessly about spiders. Is your monologue an ingenious introduction to a thorough discussion of my letter?”
“Ah, right. Your letter. Are you sure you want to discuss that?”
“To confirm that we both— I mean, that you—“ Ecthelion felt light-headed, as if he were the one who’d been ranting breathlessly. After all, there was one possible scenario that would make discussion pointless, and at least partly explain Glorfindel’s odd behaviour. “But perhaps… Perhaps you agree with it already?”
“Obviously not!” Glorfindel leaned back a little. “But then, neither do you.”
“I do! Yes, I do. Of course I do. I wrote the thing.”
“Is that really something you want to advertise?” The letter lay by Glorfindel’s hand; he picked it up without looking. “I admit that I was avoiding the subject, but I was merely trying to be diplomatic. This,” he shook the paper, “is a terrible piece of writing: wordy and vague, with a tendency to pomposity.”
“Truly, I think you have lost all right to complain about Turgon’s officious announcements. For example…” Glorfindel winced. “According to you, we have been ‘converging by previous appointment, with explicit lustful intent’. Converging? What are we, roads? No, wait, we are ‘leaders of men, and thus the constructors of moral prisms’. I cannot believe I spent good money on a new prism for my telescope last week, when I could have simply—“
“Give me that!” Ecthelion crossed the room and retrieved the letter. It took considerable willpower not to toss it onto the fire at once, but to simply crumple it in his fist. Clearly, editing had been required after all. “I am sorry my writing style is not up to your standards,” he said tightly. “But what about the content?”
“Ah, that.” Glorfindel glanced off to one side. “Well, I find it difficult to separate content from style, but if you insist… I find it cowardly.”
“Cowardly?” Now this was more familiar ground. “If you are referring to my unwillingness to rebuild my morals to suit me—“
“No, I am referring to your unwillingness to discuss important matters with me in person, and to your willingness to hide behind an atrocious, weaselly letter.”
“I was not hiding! I intended to read it to you.”
“Oh well, that does sound better,” said Glorfindel with a faint, fond smile. “I do like listening to your voice. Who knows, perhaps you could make those malformed phrases sound good. Go on, then. Read it.”
Ecthelion looked down the crumpled sheet in his hand. “No, you are right. As a piece of prose, it is unbearable.” He met Glorfindel’s eyes again. “But I am no coward. I would try to paraphrase it, right now, if I did not suspect that I would end up bringing roads and prisms into it once more. Finding the right words is difficult.”
“Of course it is, because you are trying to express something you do not truly— I know, I know, you believe you do mean it. I will not argue that point, as it would clearly be… well, pointless. Instead, I will make you a promise: if you can send me away in plain language and to my face, I will go.”
He looked disappointingly sincere. “That is a bold promise,” said Ecthelion.
“Well, I will! For about two weeks. Unless you have to go to the Gates, in which case it might be up to four or five.” He smiled brightly once more, and placed a hand on Ecthelion’s shoulder. “So, what do you say?”
“I say that your promise is meaningless, since I have just stated that I cannot find the right words.”
“But surely you are aware that, some of the time, you express yourself with perfect clarity? At our last meeting, for example, when you suggested that we—“
“I remember what I suggested perfectly, thank you, Glorfindel.”
“Yes…” Glorfindel’s eyes took on an abstracted look. His hand slid down Ecthelion’s arm. “Look, if words are giving you so much trouble, perhaps you could try actions?”
“You could try to throw me out. If you succeed, I will take that as equivalent to a clear verbal statement, and go as promised. If you fail, I will stay.”
Ecthelion considered this, imagining possible outcomes. He quickly found that he could no longer look Glorfindel in the face, and, then, that letting his gaze move down to Glorfindel’s bare torso was even worse. Looking away, towards the fireplace, provided some relief. “You overestimate me as usual. I fear that my base, immoral tendencies would distract me, and rob me of any interest in victory. It would not be an honourable contest.”
“Oh, I know that it would not be fair,” said Glorfindel. “I just thought it might be fun. Unless you’d rather I helped you edit your speech?”
“No! I will work on it later. Alone.” Ecthelion tossed the paper onto the fire. “Very well. I will try to throw you out. Just give me a moment to remove my shirt. To prevent you clinging to it, of course.”
“Right,” said Glorfindel happily.
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.