Always Been There
Chapter Twenty Three

It had stopped snowing, but fierce winter winds blew down the surrounding mountains, covering the valley and creating enormous snow drifts. The wind tossed the freshly fallen flakes into the air, creating a whirlwind of snow so that nothing could be seen but white. None ventured out, the temperature too frigid for even Elves. It was still, the only sound that of the wind howling. It was beautiful, but dangerous if underestimated. The type of night better enjoyed indoors, where it was nice and warm.

 

Inside one room with frost-covered windows, a merry fire burned, chasing away the chill from outdoors. The room, a family gathering place of the residents of the Haven known as Imladris, was occupied by the valley’s Lord, his twin sons, and a most valued advisor and friend. The room was silent, as the echoes of that advisor’s tale died down.

 

Lord Elrond, ruler, healer, and guardian of the Great Ring, Vilya, could have used the Ring of Sapphire, of Air, to hold away winter’s bitter touch from his beloved valley, but he did not do so, preferring instead to allow the season’s chill to descend.

 

Curled upon a thick rug in front of the blazing fire, Elladan and Elrohir allowed only a moment of silent reflection after the story they had just been told before their eager voices broke the quiet. Their impatient questions had Elrond raising a brow in amusement at his trusted advisor, and Erestor only snorted in reply. His gaze and attention was internal, though his eyes seemed focused on the red and gold of the flames.

 

It had come to this, Erestor thought. His life’s history condensed to an evening’s winter tale for two enthusiastic Elflings. How can one reduce the heartaches and joys that one lives through into a story; how to show them the devastation of losing family, loved ones, and friends? The history could be studied in books and retold in lessons of lore, but it was the feelings that changed a history; made it more real, for the teller and the listener.

 

Taking the twins and even Elrond through his history had brought back many memories for Erestor, and he knew the ghosts would haunt him the rest of the night. But the twins’ persistent questions finally pierced through Erestor’s self-reflection.

 

“But what about Glorfindel?” their enthusiastic voices cried, as their glances swung from Erestor to the equally silent figure leaning against the room’s open door.

 

Erestor too glanced toward the doorway. For a moment he saw a flash of that dazzling beauty and power that stunned everyone on first glance of Glorfindel, but he quickly made his features blank. It would not do to be caught gaping at his friend in such a manner.

 

There he stood; Glorfindel, reborn Elf, Lord of the House of the Golden Flower, Captain of High King’s Gil-galad’s forces, Captain of Imladris. Erestor knew not how long Glorfindel had been standing there, nor how much he had heard. Anyone glancing at the powerful figure in the doorway would know him touched by something special, different than the other Elves in Middle-earth. Powerful and beautiful, yes, but also, Glorfindel seemed to possess a primitive innocence and an almost angelic presence. There was glow that emanated from the Elda, and it drew all to him, even someone so used to gazing upon him as Erestor was.

 

 Erestor could not tell the twins the next part of the story. It was water under the bridge; now, Glorfindel and Erestor were the best of friends and confidantes, but to this very day, he was ashamed of his early reaction and treatment of the Elda. No, let Glorfindel tell the tale of his rebirth and their reunion. Erestor could take it - after all, had not Glorfindel just listened to Erestor’s side of their strife-ridden beginnings?

 

Glorfindel grinned from the doorway and before joining Erestor on the floor in front of the fire, poured himself a goblet of rich, red wine. Then taking up a space close to his friend, Glorfindel turned his attention to the twins. It was Elrohir’s eager questions that he first addressed. Did they, Erestor and he, put aside their differences and become the best friends that the twins knew them to be this day?

 

Glorfindel chuckled and glanced at Erestor from the corner of his eye, earning a sharp elbow for the amusement he showed at his friend’s expense. Glancing back at the twins, he shook his head. “That is not the way to begin this tale, first we must start from the beginning.” Faces excited and earnest, the twins lay upon their stomachs, side by side, identical faces cupped in the palms of their hands.

 

Glorfindel took a healthy swallow of his beverage. “I did not immediately return to Middle-earth, as you both should know from Erestor’s lessons.”

 

At this remark, the twins wore sheepish expressions; it was a well-known fact that it was almost impossible to get the young Peredhil heirs to sit still long enough for a lesson.

 

Glorfindel permitted a small laugh to escape before he continued with his serious tale. “When I was released from Mandos’ care, I was returned to Valinor. I cannot say how much time I spent there, but I did not return to Middle-earth until the Year of Dread. The Fëanturi decided that I would benefit most from some healing and insight that could be gained in Irmo’s gardens.” Glorfindel’s eyes grew unfocused and his face wore a dreamy expression. His voice, when it spoke next, had an almost reverent quality to it. “In all of Arda, there is no fairer place than Lórien.”

 

It took a touch upon his arm from Erestor before Glorfindel drew back to himself and refocused his attention on the twins and his tale.

 

“I also cannot tell you why the Valar chose for me to remain there, but I have my suspicions. You see, we, the Eldar, and indeed all of Eru’s children were given free will. Because of their great love for us, it saddens the Valar to see that free will result in unhappiness or despair.” Glorfindel looked down at the floor, and Erestor saw misery and regret on his friend’s face.

 

Perhaps sharing their story was not the best thing for Glorfindel, Erestor realized; he had thought all that pain and regret far behind them, buried in their past.

 

Glorfindel seemed to shake off his melancholy and took up his tale again. “For most of my first life, I blamed many of my short-comings on the failures of my parents. They did not teach me how to love, have pity, or show patience. They did not value true friendship or know how to be honest and forthright with one another. All these qualities, or my lack there of, I blamed on my parents, but that was just an easy excuse. There were good examples around me, many chances for me to learn how to be an honest, caring friend or an open and joyous Elf who saw every day a reason for living in Eru’s great gifts.”

 

Glorfindel turned and looked at Erestor, and giving him a special smile, one that was reserved only for his friend. “Ecthelion was an amazing Elf. He knew how to love, to live. He was my friend, but I was never a very good friend to him. My King Turgon was a wise and honorable Elf, and Lady Idril the picture of grace and kindness. I had these great examples I could have learned from. Oh, I know what could be said… what about my early life, when I was still an impressionable Elfling, a time when we learn our life’s lessons?” He grinned at the rapt eyes locked on him, the twins hung upon Glorfindel’s every word.

 

Glorfindel placed a hand on Erestor’s shoulder. “But you see, I had someone who had always been there for me, someone who could have taught me the most precious gift that Eru gives us - friendship.”

 

Even before Glorfindel had finished speaking, the twins were shouting out Erestor’s name, and even Elrond burst into laughter at their excitement.

 

Erestor nudged Glorfindel hard with a sharp little elbow, trying to get the Elda to stop laughing and continue with his story; the night was not getting any younger. Glorfindel’s arm curled from around Erestor’s shoulder until he was hugging the advisor against his side. “Yes,” he told the twins. “It was Erestor, who despite many a stupid action on my part, stuck with me.”

 

Erestor frowned. Now that was not entirely true. He had not been quite so welcoming when Glorfindel had returned to Middle-earth!

 

Elladan quickly noticed his favorite tutor’s frown and not liking to see any of his family sad, sought to bring a smile back to Erestor’s face. “So you said sorry and then Erestor showed you how to be a good friend?” Elladan asked, hoping to move the story along and past whatever had upset the advisor.

 

Glorfindel followed Elladan’s gaze, also noticing the frown Erestor now wore. Giving him one last tight squeeze, Glorfindel released his friend. “I wish I could say that was how it happened, but I am afraid it took many a visit to Lórien’s gardens and many a talk with the spirits there for me to learn that lesson.”

 

Erestor could see that the great fire was dying down, and a glance at Elrond confirmed the growing lateness of the hour. Erestor nudged Glorfindel with his hip and at the Elda’s glance, faked a large yawn. Glorfindel rolled his eyes. Erestor nodded toward the twins, whose heavy grey eyes were blinking more and more often as they fought off the need for bed. “I have an early trip tomorrow and need my rest,” Erestor offered, knowing that mentioning bed time would send the pair into a stubborn quest to deny them all some rest this night.

 

Glorfindel’s face became impassive at the mention of Erestor’s trip and he felt the familiar dread in his gut at the excitement that appeared in his friend’s eyes. But he also could see in Elrond’s eyes the agreement with Erestor’s decision to call a halt to the evening.

 

After many promises to continue his story another night, the twins were finally persuaded to retire. Erestor followed the pair out of the study to ready himself for his journey in the morn, leaving only Elrond and Glorfindel to gather their empty glasses and put the room to rights.

 

For a moment, Elrond watched Glorfindel silently bank the fire; he had seen the look flash across the blond’s face at mention of Erestor’s leaving. “He looks forward to these trips of his,” was all Elrond finally said, hoping perhaps Glorfindel would open up to him.

 

Glorfindel glanced quickly at his Lord’s face, and seeing the compassion in those wise grey eyes, he replied, “He has a restlessness in him that he never had in Gondolin. I was always the one who was not happy where I was at or doing what I was doing.”

 

Elrond took a chance. “Mayhap if you told him what else you learned about yourself and your feelings while in Irmo’s gardens?” he offered. He was not sure what the Elda’s reaction would be, but Elrond ‘was’ sure of what he had often seen in the blond’s eyes.

 

Glorfindel’s face whitened and he looked away, turning his back to Elrond. “I know not what you mean, and besides, you know whom he goes to see.”

 

Elrond crossed the room; he did not touch Glorfindel, only paused beside him, saying his piece before leaving. “If you revealed what else you discovered in the gardens, perhaps that too would change.”

 

Glorfindel stood silent, stunned, in the now empty room.

 

 

 

 

To be continued...