Always Been There
There was no time for thoughts of courting or romance for when the escort party returned to Gondolin, they brought with them the devastating news that the White Lady of the Noldor was lost.
Ecthelion, Glorfindel, and Legolas returned in a flurry of shouts and confusion. The trio were rushed, their wounds ignored, to the King. There with Erestor in attendance, the story was told. The first part of their journey had been trouble free, Glorfindel said. But as Aredhel and the others came to the Ford of Brithiach in the River Sirion, Aredhel announced that she wished to visit her friends of old, the sons of FŽanor. But when the party reached Doriath, they were denied passage and were forced to travel the dangerous road between the haunted valleys of Ered Gorgoroth and very near the evil region of Nan Dungortheb.
With heartache heavy in his voice, Ecthelion told of the ride in shadows and how the Lady was lost. The party searched for their missing Lady, but were attacked by Ungoliant's servants and barely escaped with their lives.
Gondolin was devastated and mourned the loss of their King's sister, one who had traveled the Ice and survived, only now to fall prey of evil shadows and be lost. Turgon passed no blame, but the three - Glorfindel, Ecthelion, and Legolas - were grief-stricken at having failed their beloved Lord. Erestor's own heart broke at the look of failure worn upon such proud warriors' faces.
That a decision about Ecthelion and his courting had been postponed never entered Erestor's mind, but if his subconscious felt a bit of relief, he did not know. Erestor set out to offer what comfort he may to the three, reminding them in private one by one of the Lady's strong will and fearless attitudes. His Lord was the hardest to comfort. The King and his sister, for all their clashes of personality, had been close. That Aredhel had accompanied Turgon to his hidden Vale and not their elder brother to his own spoke of such closeness.
Turgon sent winged messengers to his sire and sibling, informing them of Aredhel's loss and asking for any word of her fate. But the replies were all negative, and he continued to mourn and to blame himself. If only he had refused her going...
Time eased the outward signs of his grief, but in his heart, he would ever mourn her, until she rejoined him in the Hidden City.
At first, none noticed that Glorfindel seemed more distant than usual. That the Lord of the House of the Golden Flower had never been known for his socializing or friendly manner led to the time it took for his behavior to send out warning signals to Ecthelion. The pair always had a somewhat loose schedule. They sparred together several times a week, often dined together, and Glorfindel had been seen a few evenings quietly seated around the fountains of Ecthelion's house enjoying the music. But lately, the blond had taken to avoiding Ecthelion and claiming previous commitments when ask about plans and the like.
Ecthelion thought nothing of this behavior at first. It was not until word reached him of Glorfindel's nightly presence in the city's taverns that he became concerned. Glorfindel had never been one to frequent such establishments, nor did the blond drink heavily, always preferring to keep his wits about him. But tales of the Lord's nightly drunken journeys back to his house could not be ignored. But each effort on Ecthelion's part to get Glorfindel to open up were met with growls of "mind your own business" or snubs, until finally, Ecthelion sought Erestor's advice.
"Me!" Erestor squealed, and covered his mouth quickly with his hand as Ecthelion shushed him.
Ecthelion glanced around the crowded hall, but no one was paying them any attention. He looked back Erestor, and laughing, uncovered the shocked Elf's mouth. "Yes, you, Erestor, I need you to speak to him. You are the only one who might be able to get through to Glorfindel." Ecthelion ran a frustrated hand through his hair. "The Valar know I have tried, but he refuses to even discuss what might be troubling him."
Erestor continued to stare at Ecthelion in surprise. "But what makes you think he will open up to me, or even listen to me?" Erestor asked doubt still in his voice.
Ecthelion appeared eager to convince Erestor and with a look about, pulled the smaller Elf to a deserted corner that afforded more privacy than the middle of Turgon's great hall.
"Erestor," Ecthelion began, placing his hands upon Erestor's robed shoulders. "Besides myself, you are the only other who has known Glorfindel since childhood. You are friends." At Erestor's sudden snort and plain look of disbelief, Ecthelion shook his head. "All right, so Glorfindel has not always been kind to you-" Ecthelion broke off when Erestor only snorted louder and raised a brow at the other Elf. Ecthelion threw his hands in the air and paced a bit away from Erestor before turning back around with a determined eye.
"All right then, Glorfindel had been a horse's ass to you. But seriously, Erestor, I can think of no other way to get through to him. If nothing else-" and here Ecthelion paused and glanced away guiltily. "I hoped that with your position in Turgon's court, a comment or two from you might remind Glorfindel of his own position and what might happen if there was talk about his behavior. You know, Erestor, that if nothing else the very threat of gossip about him will set Glorfindel aback," Ecthelion pleaded with hands outstretched to Erestor.
Erestor said nothing and willed his face to be impassive. He knew what Ecthelion was truly saying. That proud Glorfindel would not take kindly to comments from Turgon's scribe concerning his behavior, and it might just be enough to snap the blond Lord out of whatever malady he was feeling. But it hurt just the same. To know that the only reason he was being called upon was to antagonize Glorfindel. At least Ecthelion did acknowledge that Glorfindel had been unkind and even cruel to Erestor.
Erestor shook his head wearily. He would help. He also had noticed a change in the blond's temperament of late. The ever-distant Lord of the House of the Golden Flower was garnishing a reputation as a grouch and a drunkard.
"All right, Ecthelion. I shall do it. I will speak to Glorfindel," Erestor said, and gasped as he was pulled into a strong embrace and hugged tightly. He laughed softly before returning the hug.
"Thank you, Erestor," Ecthelion whispered into Erestor's ear before releasing the advisor. He stepped back. "You will let me know what comes of it?" he asked.
Erestor nodded and smiled as Ecthelion excised himself for duty at the gates. But as the silver-eyed Lord left, Erestor's smiled faded and his stomach churned.
Now he had only to find Glorfindel and work up the courage to confront him...
To be continued...