42. Sacrifices Part Two
“I hear they call this the last alliance of elves and men,” Glorfindel said softly as he joined Elrond.
“It is reasonable,” Elrond nodded, “For Greenwood and Lothlórien will never forgive men for the loss of their kings. And our people may also bear everlasting grudges; Gil was much revered. I, for one, will never forgive Isildur.”
They stood in silence awhile before Glorfindel said quietly, “Erestor does not sense this bond. He thinks that his bond to Gil was not strong enough to cause him fading. Will you tell him the truth now?”
Elrond shook his head, his eyes fixed on the lines of the marching armies as he said firmly, “I cannot do that. You know what he will do.”
“Yes,” Glorfindel sighed, “He will insist on sailing to Valinor or may even choose to end his own life. For he believes you to be in love with someone and has never looked upon you with desire, he will be shocked to know that you sacrificed your happiness in love to save his life.”
“I do not wish to return to Lindon,” Elrond said, thinking of all the memories that he would be haunted by if he stayed in Lindon.
“Nor do I,” Glorfindel admitted, “Gildor was telling me that he finds Imladris more strategic for the future. If you would shift to Imladris then I can do the same. That way, I will have Erestor’s company too.”
“I will think on this, Glorfindel,” Elrond promised, “But we cannot decide anything before the council comes to a decision.”
“Glorfindel,” Celeborn’s voice interrupted their conversation, “There is a problem with the allocation of rations, would you check this?”
Glorfindel patted Elrond’s back and left to answer Celeborn. Elrond wrapped his cloak tighter about his frame and walked to his tent. They would start their journey tomorrow. Back to their homes, though Elrond was not sure where he would go. He fell into a bleak musing as he thought of all the sorrows of the past seven years.
“Elrond?” Erestor stood at the entry to the tent, clad in his mourning robes, “May I come in?”
Elrond waved him in and watched sombrely as Erestor sat by the bedside, his hands clasped in his lap.
“I wanted to thank you for saving my life, Thranduil told me that you healed me,” Erestor said sincerely, his black eyes holding Elrond’s gaze, “When even Galadriel was unable to heal me.”
“Nothing that you would not have done for me,” Elrond fought a cringe as he remembered vividly the last time they had been alone. The forceful kisses and the passionate lovemaking had kindled in him a desire for Erestor surpassed only by the love he bore the chief counsellor.
“You are ever my saviour, Elrond,” Erestor said seriously as he leaned to take Elrond’s hands in his own, “I have lost count of the number of times you have saved me. I do not know how I will ever cancel that debt.”
“Seeing you well is reward enough for me, Erestor,” Elrond decided to take a small risk and brought their intertwined hands to his lips for a kiss.
“I was wondering if I could spend the nights with you,” Erestor asked softly, making no move to remove his hands, “I am beset by dark dreams and find no rest. I know you have an arrangement with our ernil, but atleast for two or three days? I cannot stand to spend the night alone in Gil’s tent.”
Elrond kissed the hands again saying quietly, “What else are friends for, ‘Restor? Thranduil will stay with Círdan, so he told me. Apparently the old, goatish mariner asked him to.”
“You left out ‘rusty’,” Erestor’s eyes sparkled faintly in humour, something that Elrond had not seen in them since the high-king’s demise.
“I would like to join you in Imladris,” Elrond said quietly, “Lindon holds no value for me.”
“I would be pleased,” Erestor remarked, “I was wishing that you and Glorfindel would join me. I don’t wish to be lonely in the valley, and I know I will not be happy in Lindon with the memories.”
Elrond gave a squeeze of comfort to Erestor’s hands. The counsellor said more briskly, “I am worried for Thranduil. He should not go alone to Greenwood, one of us should go to with him to help him cope. I would go, of course.”
“I will go,” Elrond said firmly, “You are weak and weary. Go to Imladris after the council and then rest awhile. I will stay with Thranduil until their marriage.”
“I doubt it would be anytime soon. Amroth has not yet recovered,” Erestor sighed, “Elrond, I must go now and see to the rations. Glorfindel will achieve only irritating Celeborn.”
“Let them be,” Elrond said dismissively, he was with Erestor after a long time and did not want to end this, “Come, retire for tonight. The rations won’t disappear tomorrow.”
“Very well then,” Erestor shrugged, his eyes twinkling, “I had been hoping to be forced to retire. I am very tired.”
Elrond moved to the farther side of the mattress making space for Erestor. The counsellor removed his heavy mourning robes and slipped in beside Elrond, saying drowsily, “I do believe that the moment my head touches the mattress, I shall slip into reverie.”
“You know what?” Elrond teased, “Ada used to complain that I slept with my eyes closed occasionally. If he saw the way you sleep, so exhaustedly, he would be scandalized.”
“Whatever you say,” Erestor replied diplomatically.
Elrond turned to look at him, his eyes were closed in exhaustion and he had already fallen asleep. Shaking his head, he pulled up the covers to Erestor’s chest and ran his hands through the tangled black hair once before turning away resolutely and trying to find his own sleep.
They rode slowly along the river Anduin, long lines of weary and wounded warriors. Elrond and Glorfindel were in the middle of the host, occupied by the rationing and attending to the wounded. Thranduil, Círdan and Celeborn led the armies. Erestor was doing what he loved to do the most, appearing everywhere and supervising the warriors. Some nights he would return to Elrond’s tent, weary and near fainting. Some nights, Gildor would send word to Elrond that Erestor had fallen asleep on him. The battle had strengthened the deep bond of friendship between the leader of the wandering company and Erestor. More than once, Gildor had rushed to save his friend’s life after Erestor attempted reckless charges.
One night, while Elrond was speaking with Glorfindel, Erestor entered the camp, looking as weary as if he had single-handedly built Gondolin.
“What are you trying to prove?” Glorfindel asked acidly, “They are warriors, not rose bushes. You don’t need to tend them so.”
Erestor came to sit by him offering, “Your warriors are pricklier than rosebushes, Glor. I had to intervene in thirteen brawls tonight. At this rate, we shall reach Lórien with less than half the current number.”
“And minus the chief counsellor,” Glorfindel raised Erestor’s chin and scrutinized the wan features, “Are you trying to work yourself to death? I am surprised that Elrond has not complained.”
“I have told Thranduil, Glorfindel,” Elrond smiled handing a cup of tea to Erestor, “He has promised to see to this.”
Erestor scowled, but said nothing as he gratefully sipped the tea. Obviously, he did not wish to further enrage the balrog slayer.
“’Res, are you trying to work yourself to death?” Glorfindel asked more severely.
“Glorfindel,” Erestor warned, his eyes narrowing.
Elrond shook his head at Glorfindel, but the balrog slayer trudged on, “What, am I right?”
“Lord Glorfindel,” Erestor stood up angrily, “I would advise you to keep put of my affairs!”
“Erestor,” Elrond intervened, “Why don’t you retire?”
“Stay out of this, Elrond,” Glorfindel stood up and faced Erestor, though Erestor was a mere few inches shorter than the balrog slayer, now Glorfindel towered over him, his fair features contorted in grief and rage, “You are trying to fade, Erestor. Do you deny that?”
Erestor said coldly, “I do not see any purpose to my life now that I have failed to even keep my own bonded-mate alive.”
Elrond watched alarmed, he had never seen Erestor in a true temper before though he had heard tales of the counsellor’s fiery Fëanorian outbursts from Gil-Galad and Glorfindel. He found suddenly that he did not wish to see that.
Glorfindel grasped Erestor’s forearms and shook him roughly, “You would leave me? You would leave Elrond, who almost sacrificed himself to save you? You would leave Gil-Galad’s work undone? By the Valar, Erestor, is this what Círdan and I taught you? I was proud when you defiantly followed me to Eregion, when you found Imladris. I was proud when you defied us all and did your duty to the refugees. Now, Erestor, what are you doing? Trying to seek death?”
“You told me to follow my heart, Glorfindel,” Erestor tried to shake Glorfindel’s grip off.
“Yes,” Glorfindel said steadily, “And now you are not doing that. You are not tired of life, yet you try to die.”
Erestor angrily extricated himself from Glorfindel’s grip and strode off, his robes swishing angrily about his frame.
“Will that help?” Elrond asked mildly as he gave Glorfindel a cup of tea, “I must go and search for him, he is very exhausted.”
“He will have gone to the ernil,” Glorfindel said miserably, “I will go myself. But someone had to make him see what he is doing. I cannot survive losing him, Elrond, he is the most valued person in my heart.”
“I too cannot survive losing him, Glorfindel,” Elrond strode forward to hug his friend, who gratefully accepted the comfort.
Glorfindel returned with Erestor half an hour later, their voices rising and falling in a gentle banter, the soft smirks on their faces giving away their amusement.
“It is over then?” Elrond asked fighting off a grin as Erestor tried to put on a scowl.
“Excuse me, but let me remind you that this young scowling specimen of an elf has been taken over my knees countless times in his youth,” Glorfindel said snidely, “Would I hesitate to do that again, Elrond?”
Elrond bit his lips fighting laughter at the abject expression of horror on Erestor’s pale features before the counsellor said icily, “That will be a day you shall never live to see, Elrond! Now, I am going to retire and leave you two to idle talk,” he walked off in a flurry of robes leaving Elrond and Glorfindel finally free to let flow their laughter.
Anoriel walked to the window of the sick room and watched the sun set slowly over the mallorn. The bond between Thranduil and her was strengthening. She knew that he was coming. She sighed, her father was dead, his father was dead, her brother was fading. How long would it take to renew alliances, rebuild kingdoms and armies? Only after kingdoms, alliances and others would their love matter again. Tears slipped down her eyes, she wanted nothing more than to be with him again. To never let him go from her embrace. Would that they had been two simple elves unburdened by the crowns and their fathers’ legacies!
“ Anoriel?” a raspy voice pulled her back to the present. She turned with alarm and astonishment towards the bed. A pair of weary, grief-struck, sapphire blue eyes watched her.
“You are finally awake,” Anoriel murmured as she knelt by the bed and soothed her brother’s limp hair, “I was so frightened.”
“How long?” he asked hoarsely as he closed his eyes in an attempt to remember, “How long have I been a burden to you?”
“The war is over. It has been eight years since our father fell,” Anoriel smiled bitterly, “Six years since you have been in this state. I thank the Valar for having returned you to me.”
“I left you alone,” he shook his head sadly, “My love blinded my duties. What worthy heir am I to my father’s crown? Better you than me.”
“That you love her to your own destruction speaks volumes of the power of your heart,” she soothed his frowning brows, “I will send for her. But she may not come.”
“I will go to her,” Amroth sighed, “Thranduil?”
“Comes,” Anoriel said quietly.
Amroth grasped her chin in his hands and said firmly, “You will marry him as soon as he arrives, I do not care what your wishes are. You have both waited centuries, first, it was our father’s follies, then it was Eregion, then it was Thranduil’s past, then the war! This has gone on long enough, this time we shall have a grand feast, better than your betrothal.”
“Amroth,” she smiled sadly, “So many have fallen, so many are wounded and tormented by the war, so many have lost their lovers, bonded-mates, parents, siblings, family and friends. Kings of all our realms have fallen. This is a bad time to get married, I am in mourning for father. He is in mourning for his father. His realm has been the worst hit. He will need to toil with all he is before Greenwood breathes again.”
“What have you decided?” he asked fearfully, seeing the firm set to her jaw.
“Now that you are awake, my brother, I will go to him,” Anoriel squeezed his hands gently, “My place is by him. We need each other to heal. We consummated our bond years ago on our betrothal night. We do not need a wedding to complete this.”
“No maiden should leave her home without a wedding feast, least of all, the princess of Lórien,” Amroth said harshly, “Father would never have let this happen.”
“Nor would Oropher,” Anoriel said quietly, “Yet, this is my life, and my will, If it takes this to be with him, I do not mind. I would wish for a wedding, but it is a sacrifice I shall make for our love. We shall not get married on the corpses of our kin, but we can no more stay apart.”
Thranduil nudged his horse on as they neared the woods. Celeborn and Círdan sent knowing smirks at him, but he did not care. The bond in his heart was overflowing with joy and sorrow in equal measure. Then he saw.
Before the mallorn trees, stood a graceful white stallion bearing a hooded rider clad in a white dress. Thranduil felt a smile break over his features and a burning sensation pervading his throat and the corners of his eyes as the wind blew softly. The hood parted to reveal flaxen, golden hair framing a gaunt, yet extremely beautiful face.
He raced ahead leaving his fellow leaders and warriors far behind as he galloped towards the solitary sentinel figure. She raised her hood and pulled it back and nudged her stallion gently. They met on the plains, the soft grass swaying gently about them as they stopped five feet apart staring with wonder at each other. Tears flowed down their faces, their bodies trembled and the love that flooded their bond threatened to drive them mad.
Thranduil dismounted. Anoriel’s eyes hungrily took in the gaunt, slender form of the son Oropher had loved too much, the prince she loved too much. He was changed, he had become unconsciously more regal, wise and noble. She could see it in his stride as he approached her slowly, wonder on his features. The wildness about him had been tamed by grief. He raised his eyes to the skies and whispered a silent prayer of thanks before approaching her.
He drew out his dagger and made a cut on his wrist and knelt before her saying solemnly, “I would bind my body to yours forever. We have already bound our hearts and bodies. Yet we have not bound our souls. Will you have me?”
She watched in surprise and endless joy as he remained knelt before her stallion, his hand bleeding, his eyes holding only love that would last forever.
“There is nothing more that I would wish for on Middle Earth, my prince,” she drew out her sword and made a cut on her slender, pale wrist before dismounting gracefully and kneeling before him. They pressed their hands together, and whispered their vows. They held each other’s gaze in awe as their blood intermingled binding them forever. Then simultaneously, they bent towards each other for a kiss. A harsh wind blew from the south, from Greenwood. But they did not worry, as long as they had each other, they would prevail.
Behind them, the welcoming party of Lothlórien led by the convalescing King Amroth and Galadriel cheered the union. The war weary host of the elves stopped their march as they dismounted and bowed to the sublime love they witnessed. Celeborn and Glorfindel were laughing at the display before them. But Galadriel saw the pain in Erestor’s eyes war with his joy for the couple. Elrond’s eyes were deep pools of wistful joy.
Thranduil’s arms slid around Anoriel’s as he pulled them to their feet whispering, “I fear that we have gained a lot of voyeurs.”
“I love being watched, especially when I am in your arms,” she laughed as she pulled him to her insistently and ran her fingers through his matted hair, yet so soft. He engaged her lips for a deep, lingering, passionately, sensual kiss.
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.