Though Glorfindel and Gildor visited often, Erestor was lonely. Lindir, the Noldor kinslayer, had become a good companion. But he refused to talk of war or orcs or Sauron or politics. And Erestor was not particularly interested in hearing of gardening and cooking.
“Lord Erestor!” a young voice called him enthusiastically, “They are hanging the banners on the trees.”
Erestor smiled, Melpomaen had become a bright, young elf. Erestor planned to teach him statesmanship if he could find the time. Maybe he could send the young one to Círdan to be tutored.
“Lord?” Melpomaen asked curiously watching the usually solemn chief counsellor’s relaxed features.
Erestor was clad in warm brown robes, a gift from the Sindar Prince of Greenwood. Melpomaen did not understand this friendship. The first time Thranduil rode into the valley alone and wary, there had been rumours that he was Erestor’s secret lover and that this was the reason why the chief counsellor was away from his bonded mate, the high king. But these rumours had fizzled out, for if Thranduil arrived every alternate full moon night, a hooded rider from Lothlórien would also arrive. They spent much time together before parting ways the next dawn. The guards said that the Prince’s secret friend was a woman as fair as Melian the Maia. Thranduil would leave first. Erestor would then accompany the hooded rider till the High Pass.
“Mel,” Erestor said smiling, “forgive my distraction, I am merely happy that I will see my friends after such a long time.”
“Why didn’t you go to them?” Melpomaen asked wonderingly, “Isn’t the high-king unhappy with your absence? All bonded mates hate to be apart according to my aunt.”
“Yes, it is true,” Erestor sighed, thinking of the many melancholy nights he had brought himself to completion, “But circumstances force us to do what we often do not like, Mel,” seeing the fearful expression in the younger elf’s eyes, he continued briskly, “Now go and find that horsemaster. Ask him to meet me.”
Erestor continued his round slowly halting often to talk to the busy people who were overwhelmed that the high-king would visit their valley. He heard a low humming of an old Valinorian song that Glorfindel had often sung for him. Curious, he turned around to find Lindir humming softly as he worked in the flower beds.
Sensing Erestor’s approach, Lindir stopped his song and bowed, a blush staining his features.
“Where did you learn to sing like that?” Erestor asked amazed, “It seems as if your voice was trained by the very best.”
“Yes, My Lord,” Lindir said uncomfortably, “I was once taught by the masters of Tirion.”
Erestor’s intense look worried Lindir. He had rightly learned to fear that particular look with intense scheming. It was an oft-worn expression whenever Thranduil and Erestor played chess, ripping down each other’s strategies.
Elrond and Gil-Galad watched amusedly as Glorfindel struggled with his horse. The white mare was untried yet the Balrog slayer had persisted in bringing it on the journey to the valley.
“I cannot stop grinning,” the king sighed, “We will be there tonight!”
Elrond said carefully, “Yes, he must be eager too. His letters were growing heavier with each passing year.”
Gil-Galad grinned again, “Yes, love is unruly. And eager. You will soon come to know, cousin, when you wed Galadriel’s pretty child.”
“I do not know of the ‘eager’ part, Gil,” Elrond remarked wryly, “But I can certainly expect it to be unruly.”
They passed into the valley and stared in amazement. The woods that Elrond had left twenty years ago had been cleared gently to make wide stone paved paths. Through the foliage of the trees, they could see stone buildings. The path curved once more and gasped, for before them was a large mansion, curved and smooth, aesthetically blended with the surround. Elves ran to meet them joyously.
Gil-Galad whispered, “He has changed.”
Erestor stood at the foot of the steps that led into the mansion, he was clad in magnificent black silken robes. Silver embroidered patterns graced the rich cloth. His hair was unbound and fluttered gently in the breeze. His hands were clasped before him as a smile graced his handsome features. Elrond looked into those black eyes and realized that Erestor had changed. There was an awareness in those eyes that spoke of hardships borne and conquered triumphantly. Wisdom, grief, pride and restraint shone in those black pools.
Gil-Galad and Elrond dismounted. Glorfindel was still struggling with his feisty mare. Erestor bowed formally to Gil-Galad before embracing him tightly. The king pulled him into a deeply passionate kiss.
Elrond watched Glorfindel’s antics with the mare determinedly. The ill peace that he had all these years seemed better compared to this sweet torture of what he could not have.
“Elrond,” Erestor advanced smiling and embraced him. Elrond relaxed into the embrace, letting himself indulge in the familiar scent of Erestor’s body.
Erestor showed them to spacious, yet sparsely furnished rooms. They rested and met for dinner near the river.
“It feels good to be back here,” Elrond commented lazily as he dangled his legs in the water.
“It feels good to be together again,” Glorfindel murmured.
“It feels good to hold you close again,” Gil-Galad purred seductively as he fed Erestor a tidbit.
“Hmm,” Erestor said thoughtfully, “it feels good to relax again.”
“You are coming back with me to Lindon ,even if I have to carry you,” Gil-Galad said firmly, “I am still the King, you know.”
“And who will manage here?” Erestor asked.
“You are my chief counsellor, Erestor,” Gil-Galad reminded him, “Not my official representative in this valley. Elrond can stay here until he leaves for the winter to his betrothed’s land. He mopes so in Lindon anyway.”
Elrond was so happy to be back in the valley and in Erestor’s company that he did not mind being reminded of his duty to spend a winter in Lothlórien. Atleast, he thought it would take him away from this loving couple.
“Does this valley not have a name yet?” Glorfindel asked.
“Well,” Elrond contemplated, “As we have the High-King himself here, Let us ask him to name the valley.”
“Seconded,” Erestor said quickly.
Gil-Galad mused for a few moments before saying, “This valley is a settlement for the refugees. Giving them shelter. I think the name Imladris is apt.”
“Imladris it shall be called then,” Elrond said quietly.
“So,” Glorfindel began his favourite occupation of bantering with Erestor, “Where is all the finery from? Have you taken a lover?”
Erestor swallowed his wine in shock before sparing Glorfindel a scornful look and muttering, “I say that only people who run about with swords, get killed by balrogs, come back and act the hero have a long list of contending lovers. For me, I love and am happy to be loved by my mate.” This earned him a kiss from the king.
But Elrond said in a guarded tone, “So where is all the finery from? Gil and I had expected you to be clad in coarse tunics and sack cloth leggings.”
“Lady Anoriel takes pity on me occasionally,” Erestor said conspiratorially, “A bribe for hiding their trysting here.”
“Does Oropher know of his son’s doings?” Gil-Galad asked worriedly, “I do not want him after my blood.”
“I have never asked Thranduil,” Erestor said frankly, “Though not much of his doings are hidden from his father.”
“Who escorts the lady to her home?” Glorfindel asked concernedly, “She does not ride alone, I hope?”
“I take her to the High Pass. There on the other side, Celeborn or Amroth, who are in the secret, meet her,” Erestor said, swatting Elrond’s hand from the last piece of a pie.
“Thranduil cannot manage even love without risks,” Glorfindel remarked, “He is a fey one.”
“That he is,” Elrond began, “Erestor, do you know what happened when we were taken by the slavers on my visit to the Greenwood? He killed a man without lifting a weapon.”
“Elrond was hallucinating then,” Gil-Galad said dismissively.
“How did he do that?” Glorfindel asked curiously, “Did he use his most lethal weapon?”
Amidst Gil-Galad’s and Glorfindel’s hearty chuckling, Elrond continued indignantly, “He spoke in the forbidden tongue and the man just died!”
“Well,” Glorfindel sobered, “I have heard that Quenya is powerful. Though only those who have dwelt in Valinor can truly claim that power. I did not expect our wild prince to have that talent.”
Gil-Galad asked incredulously, “How is he able to do that?”
Erestor remarked, leaning back onto Glorfindel’s shoulder, “The High-King is jealous of a woodland prince.”
“No,” Gil-Galad retorted, “I am merely curious. Not even Galadriel has done this.”
“True,” Elrond mused thinking of the expression of power in Thranduil’s green eyes at that moment, “Yet with every passing day, I begin to think that we do not yet have the measure of our Sindar kin. Celeborn is powerful, though in a subtle way. So is Oropher. Amroth and Anoriel are both strong willed and wise.”
“But nobody kills with words as Thranduil does,” Gil-Galad reminded him, “That prince is fey.”
“It is the forest,” Elrond said thoughtfully, “He has a strong connection to any living tree, but underneath the canopy of Green wood, the trees bow to his will. It is not the Silvan affinity with the trees. It is more like Círdan and the sea.”
“Yet how was he able to wield this power so confidently?” Gil-Galad asked, “Galadriel did not start until she was an age older.”
“Gil,” Glorfindel said solemnly, the wisdom of his two lives shining in his blue eyes, “The Prince has reached the keep of Death and returned to Arda. His will and wisdom have deepened. That along with the fact that he is of Vanyarin descent has helped him wield his power.”
Erestor got to his feet complaining, “While I can talk of our ernil’s eccentricities for hours, I had hoped that our meeting after so long would hasten our retiring tonight. Anyway I go to seek my rest, Gil. I am tired.”
Gil-Galad nodded barely before targeting Glorfindel with further questions on Thranduil’s power. Elrond shrugged, his cousin was jealous as Erestor had earlier remarked baldly. He followed Erestor into the mansion.
“Elrond,” Erestor said blushing, “I am sorry, I am yet to congratulate you on your betrothal to the lady Celebrían.”
“She has promised me that she would pray for my early death and her liberation,” Elrond said dully.
Erestor looked into Elrond’s eyes a moment before replying steadily, “I know there is no love between you and her. But that does not give her the right to speak thus. You are the noblest elf she could possibly meet and nobody in their right mind can turn you down.”
Elrond sighed, “Erestor, do you believe that I am in love?”
“I feel that,” Erestor said uncertainly, “that your heart is not yours anymore. Love is not a word I have truly understood. Lust, yes, it is something I have felt. As is platonic love, affection, care and comradeship. But not true love as minstrels sing of it.”
“I made several mistakes while I was with Thranduil,” Elrond confessed blushing, “Trust me, he awakened things I never knew existed in me.”
“Yes,” Erestor smiled reminiscently, “I gathered as much from his description of your internal beauty. But I do not think he considers it a mistake.”
“After you bonded with Gil, have you ever thought of anyone in such a manner?” Elrond asked tentatively.
Erestor laughed, a melodious sound, before he replied, “Other than our Prince, you ask?”
“Yes, other than our Prince,” Elrond rolled his eyes.
“Well,” Erestor said good naturedly, “Gildor Inglorion was equally curious once. To tell you the truth, I have. It is not the parting alone. You know, I have always been more enthusiastic than Gil in certain matters,” he blushed scarlet before darting a glance around to make sure that he had not been overheard.
Elrond smiled, it felt better to know that his secret desire was not as serene as he seemed. Though it caused a sudden rush of blood to his warm loins to think that Erestor was ‘enthusiastic’ in matters of the flesh.
“I will tell you whom I desired if you tell me who holds your heart,” Erestor said conspiratorially.
Elrond replied in a casual tone, though his heart was hammering within dying to announce that he loved Erestor, “A bargain indeed. But I will not accept it.”
“Why so?” Erestor demanded, “Come, , we are alone. I have seen that Glorfindel and Thranduil know of this. Though I cannot pry anything from that wily prince, I can get it easily from Glorfindel. All I have to do is to get him drunk. He gets awfully confessional that time.”
Elrond paused walking, “You would not dare!”
“Oh, yes , I would!” Erestor smiled smugly, “Wait and see!” then his face harshened as he said quietly, “I would not. I respect Glorfindel too much to take advantage thus. Moreover I cannot pry into what you would not trust me willingly with. Goodnight, Elrond.”
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.