Always Been There
Chapter Sixteen

Erestor sat with legs curled under him. The chair did not face the open window with its enticing view of gardens or open woods. It faced the rumpled bed, the site of his downfall. No maid had been admitted to change the stained sheets; they lay half upon the floor, just like they had been left this morning. Erestor had not seen Glorfindel since the morning’s rude awakening. After fleeing the dining hall, he had come here, back to his room, and he had not left the entire day.

The bed seemed to mock him. Images that this morning could not be recalled now would not leave his mind. He could see himself under Glorfindel, crying out wantonly and even eagerly. Why couldn’t he let go? Even now after last night, he wanted to run to the blond and make sure all was well. The blame he wanted to carry alone on his shoulders, even though he realized last night’s activities took two to participate.

If his parents could see him now...

A lone tear fell upon his tightly clasped hands. Oh, how ashamed they would be! But Erestor could do for himself what they would have done, and that was to be brutally honest with himself, for perhaps the first time. This mess was of his own making! He had held on past all common sense to something that was never his to begin with, foolishly throwing aside reason and pride.

Yes, as very young children, he and Glorfindel had played together...

*********

The halls outside of King Finwë’s council chambers were quiet, befitting the serious business that went on behind the closed doors. This particular council had been going on for some time now, and those who awaited its conclusion were growing impatient. Two elliths sat with two Elflings - one, a small boy dark of hair and eye, played silently with a set of brightly colored building blocks. The other was a louder, rather unhappy blond child whose cries and fussing grew louder the longer he had to sit and wait for his Ada. The ellith exchanged rueful glances, the joys of parenthood understood by both. Erestor’s attention shifted from the red block in his hand to the crying boy just a few feet away. Poor thing, Erestor thought. He had to sit and wait for his Ada with nothing to play with, while Erestor had so many pretty colored blocks to choose from.

Erestor glanced down once at his toys and over once at the fussing blond. His mind made up, with red block in hand he crawled over to the boy and shoved the block in his face. The crying abruptly stopped, the block proving much more interesting than the crying that his Nana was being ignoring anyway. Thus, the playing began, Erestor generously sharing his toys, and Glorfindel gleefully letting him.

Glorfindel’s Nana was so impressed by the effect this little dark Elfling had on her own terror that it was she who suggested that the children be allowed to play to together from time to time. Glorfindel’s Ada, being the self-important Elf that he was, just turned his nose up, having no interest yet in his son’s activities.

*********

That had been it, Erestor realized. They had not chosen one another after that fateful day, but had instead been forced together by Glorfindel’s grateful mother, looking for any method that appeased her fussy son. How different their fates would have been, Erestor thought, if he had only kept his blocks to himself.

He had ignored the well meaning advice, that growing apart was sometimes normal. His parent’s had tried to explain it to him, to console and warn him. But Erestor had not been honest with himself. Of course, as they got older and developed different interest they would grow apart. It was what often happened, not only to children but even adults may find new interest and new paths, and want to share those interests with others like-minded. But Erestor would not let go. He had held on too tightly, trying to make something - a friendship - where there was no common ground, no common interest.

Erestor could not blame Glorfindel; any young Elfling would have resented a stalker, and that is what Erestor realized he had become. He had pushed, planned, and inserted himself time and again in Glorfindel’s life, refusing to listen to anyone who told him differently, including his own parents. Maybe if he had not been so blinded by the perceived friendship between him and Glorfindel, he might have made other friends of his own. There had been many an Elfling who shared Erestor’s love of reading, lore, and strategy, but he had never wavered in his belief that only Glorfindel was his friend. It was only Glorfindel that he put upon a pedestal and idolized. Erestor could almost laugh at himself now. Why, he had even tried becoming a warrior to befriend the blond!

Erestor was aware that his own Ada and Nana had been special, and Ecthelion had only confirmed the suspicion deep down that Glorfindel had not been so lucky with his parents. Glorfindel’s home had been nothing like Erestor’s. Glorfindel’s Ada was a cold Elf, having little to do with the raising of his son unless it came time for discipline. That he had handed out with a stern and heavy hand. And his Nana! She had been more interested in the latest fashions, or the gossip at the court than her own son; pawning Glorfindel off to Erestor’s house had worked to her advantage. Never had Erestor seen any of the three display the closeness he had felt for his own parents.

It was time, time for Erestor to admit that the only thing he and Glorfindel shared or had in common was their exodus from Tirion and the hardships of the Crossing...

*********

Erestor’s shoulders straightened and with a determined air, he rose from the chair. He recognized his mistake, and hiding would accomplish nothing. Erestor knew it would not be easy, but he had to face Ecthelion. It was time for him to move on and accept that Glorfindel had no further role in his life. Elves lived too long for regret, and Erestor did not want Ages from now to still be clinging to a fantasy and still not dealing with his mistakes. Changing the bed himself, Erestor cleaned up and donned his formal robes. He was going to the main hall, for dinner.

Even though his stomach revolted the closer he came to the noise of the main hall, Erestor walked with determined steps and his shoulders were straight and proud. Conversation halted and eyes turned to the King’s advisor as Erestor made his way to Turgon’s table. He took his seat, face blank and eyes unreadable. He did not know it at the time, but thus began the face that would help rule an entire Kingdom.

For several minutes the uncomfortable silence built, but it was the King who came to Erestor’s rescue.

“Erestor, the First Gate needs some new wood cross-boards and some of the iron nails have rusted. Can you see that an order for repair is completed?” Turgon’s voice was matter-of-fact but his words were loud and carried to every corner of the hall. Erestor silently blessed his Lord for breaking the silence with mundane matters.

Erestor looked his Lord in the eye, conveying his gratitude with his gaze. “I will see to the gathering of materials and the repairs tomorrow, my Lord,” he said, voice low but words clear.

Conversation flowed once more and attentions turned elsewhere. The King with his few words had set the tone; Erestor was to be left alone. Once he was no loner the center of attention, Erestor glanced around and saw neither Glorfindel nor Ecthelion. Their absence more than the attentions of the court told him that Ecthelion knew. After that, dinner was harder to swallow. Erestor forced himself to remain until the King arose signaling the end of the meal. Only then did he rise and search out Ecthelion. It was time to face his mistake.

*********

Erestor found Ecthelion in the courtyard of the House of the Fountain. The Lord sat alone with his flute in his hands, but he was not playing it, only running his fingers over the wood. Erestor looked down and paled. It was the flute he had given Ecthelion long ago in Tirion. Taking a deep breath, Erestor sat next to Ecthelion.

“I am sorry,” he whispered. “I never meant to hurt you.”

Ecthelion nodded. “Are you in love with him?” he asked.

Ecthelion turned to face Erestor, and Erestor felt tears well up in his eyes seeing the hurt in Ecthelion’s silvery gaze. “Then why?” Ecthelion asked.

Even though he had anticipated the question, Erestor still mentally blanched. He faced Ecthelion’s gaze head-on. “I think it was because for the longest time, I had never been able to say no to him. His approval and acceptance were things I had wanted for so very long, and add to that the alcohol...” Erestor shrugged but did not turn away. “I was foolish,” he offered, hoping that Ecthelion accepted his word; it was the only truth he could offer. Admitting his obsession with the blond and facing his own actions were still new to him, and he had not had much time to search his own heart for its reasoning.

Ecthelion searched Erestor’s eyes and Erestor stayed still and let him. Finally, Ecthelion looked away. “You hurt me, Erestor, and I am not sure that I can get past that.”

Ecthelion’s words had such a note of finality that against his better judgment, Erestor cried out and placed a hand upon Ecthelion’s arm. “No, Ecthelion,” he begged. “Please, I am so very sorry. I have come to value your friendship and have no wish to lose that.”

Ecthelion carefully removed Erestor’s hand from his arm. “Erestor, I was falling in love with you. I had no desire to be merely your friend.” Ecthelion’s words were firm and he spoke carefully as if he was trying to control himself.

“I am sorry,” Erestor whispered once more and this time a tear ran down his face.

Ecthelion smiled at Erestor sadly. “I believe you are, Erestor. But I need time to see if I can forgive you. I need time to see if I can accept only friendship with you.” Ecthelion rose and looked down at Erestor. “Now, if you do not mind? I would like to be alone,” he said, and Erestor cringed at the stern note in Ecthelion’s voice.

Erestor rose and left without saying anything else, respecting Ecthelion’s wishes…

To be continued...