Come Morning
Chapter Ten

The next few days and nights, Erestor managed by immersing himself in his duties. If his mood was darker, and he was a touch more pale than normal, it was not remarked upon. His work had increased due to Elrond's sudden absence from the day-to-day running of Imladris. His lord said nothing, but Erestor knew Elrond was tending to Glorfindel. Upon seeing Elrond's tired face become even more strained as the days passed, Erestor could not help but feel a touch guilty. The Elf-lord was kept up nightly by Glorfindel's cries. Erestor asked no detail, but the close proximity of his quarters to the Elda's let him hear first-hand the tormented echoes of Glorfindel's battle. It seemed the nightmares that Erestor had just recently become knowledgeable of were worsening for the blond.

Erestor glanced up as Elrond entered the library. The half-Elf looked even more worn, the emotional toll he was under apparent on his face. Erestor quickly lowered his head, in shame at his part in causing his lord so much turmoil. "I am sorry, Elrond. I did not mean for this to impact you so."

"Erestor, you owe no apology." Elrond sank gratefully into a chair. "This is Glorfindel's demon to battle-" he stopped to look uncertainly at he councilor, "but he is also my friend and I cannot leave him in such straits."

Erestor rose and tuned to face the windows. Even the weather mocked his mood, Anor's bright rays giving the day a cheerful spirit that was not matched Imladris' residents. "I know you care for him, Elrond. I also realize what a quandary we have placed you in and I am not asking you to abandon Glorfindel." Erestor turned to face Elrond, spreading his hands, "I just-"he broke off, as much confused by what he wanted to say as by what he felt.

Elrond shook his head. "No, Erestor let it go. It is time, mellonen, to work on your own healing. Your kind heart does you credit, but Glorfindel has torments he has never dealt with. Combined with your accusation, well, it is time for him also to admit his failings and heal. I just hope you both can do that." Elrond looked suddenly fearful, and he hesitated with his next words.  "Erestor, have you thought of what happens next?" He looked deeply saddened and seemed to struggle to find the resolve to continue. "If you feel that you can no longer work side-by-side with Glorfindel, if you feel you need to leave Imladris-." Elrond broke off, unable to finish.

Erestor nodded. Yes, he had thought on that possibility, but he had shied away from contemplating the very notion of leaving Imladris. The idea was too horrifying; this was his home and he would not let anyone run him away from it!

"I do not know what to do next, Elrond. To get through each day seems to be a challenge, let alone make a decision like that right now."

Elrond looked relieved, but he still watched Erestor fearfully, as if his words alone would send the councilor running from Imladris. "Glorfindel will come to, mellonen. He will need to face what he has done, and that means facing you and admitting to you, that he raped you. Are you prepared for that conversation?"

Erestor gave a bitter bark of laughter. "Did I think of that? Yes. Am I prepared? Who would be, Elrond? I dread the very thought of facing him again, but yes, I realize it is not over, that we both must face the other. There is still more to be said."

Elrond gave a small smile at the always-prepared councilor. "I thank you, meldir." He gestured to the cluttered top of Erestor's desk. "The work has been piling up and it has fallen to you yet again to keep Imladris running. I appreciate your dedication. Just make sure you do not spend all your time ignoring what is in your mind and heart in favor of work." Elrond rose and made his way out, saying over his shoulder, "And do not forget to eat, Erestor."

Erestor resisted the urge to stick his tongue childishly out at his lord's retreating back. The half-Elf was the consummate healer and father figure, always concerned, always watching over his people and he was well loved for it. But Erestor immediately ignored that advice and once more immersed himself in the clutter atop his desk. Hours he spent, mind focused on one parchment at a time, it was that night, that his thoughts drifted a few doors down to Glorfindel's room.

Erestor sat in front of his mirror, brushing his hair. He studied the image staring back at him. The face was pale, skin stretched tightly across high cheekbones, making him appear more gaunt than normal. Up until now, Erestor had ignored the toll recent events had taken on him, but seeing the very real damage upon his own face, he was forced to admit that healing was exactly what he needed. Somber dark eyes looked back at him from the mirror's depths. Is this what others see, he wondered? Long dark hair, the color of raven's wings, marble toned skin, eyes that matched the night sky, even with their faint purple bruising, it only drew more attention to the depth of his eyes, red lips that were tightly clenched. It was an unusual face for an Elf, slightly exotic in its singular way. Erestor composed his features, as if facing a delegation or arrogant Elf-lord. Yes that was the face others saw, and it revealed nothing.

Erestor removed his robe and lay atop the bedding. Restless, he let his mind wander. What was it like, he wondered, to come home each day, not alone, but to a loved one? Someone who cared enough to ask, how was your day? He had seen the care that Celebrian had greeted Elrond with each day. The gentle touches, kind inquires, and special attention. She played to Elrond's needs. What was it like to lay your head down next to another's, to look deeply into another's eyes and see love for you reflected there? He had never really, deep down, thought of what it must be like not to be alone. Erestor could also admit that he wondered what making love was like, being touched with tender hands, hungry hands, giving oneself to another simply for the joy of sharing yourself with another in the most intimate way. That must be nice, he thought, drifting to sleep, a slight smile upon his lips.

Erestor awoke for the first time in several weeks feeling refreshed. He knew he had shocked the household with his arrival in halls for breakfast, breaking his usual habit of skipping breakfast or eating at his desk. Elrond greeted him with a smile, though it was still a tired rendition of its usual joviality. Erestor saw Elladan lean over and whisper a question to his father. Erestor heard not the question, but the answer clearly reached him. Glorfindel would resume his duties tomorrow. Erestor's improved mood fled. Tomorrow, he would face Glorfindel once again.

That night, Erestor worked long into the night, his mind spinning with images and thoughts. He would have to face Glorfindel. What would he say? Those questions were put to the test just moments later as Erestor looked up and saw the blond standing in the door. Erestor froze, unaware that the look of fear upon his face sent another spear of pain thought he blond. "What d-do you want," he stammered half rising out of his chair. Erestor fought down his panic. They were alone, late, in the deserted library. He clenched his fists and forced himself to hold his ground. No longer was he a scared, young squire, without recourse.

Glorfindel took a step nearer, but stopped when Erestor's face whitened even more. He held out his hands, seeking to show that he meant no harm. "I'm sorry, Erestor. I did not mean to frighten you and I mean you no harm. I just came here to speak with you." Glorfindel stayed near the door, but he did not close it, understanding that Erestor would interpret it as being trapped in the room.

Erestor's back stiffened, insulted that Glorfindel was able to read his fear. He did not want the blond to have that much power over him; the ability to read him, to see beneath the facade he presented daily. He looked closely at the Elda, the last day's toll showing plainly on the blonde's face.  Purple circles underlined the blonde's eyes and his clothes were wrinkled as if they had been slept in more than once. Glorfindel looked tired, more tired than Erestor ever remembered seeing the Elda.

"What do you want to speak of, Glorfindel?" Erestor sat back behind the shield of his desk.

"I-," Glorfindel broke off, struggling to speak. "You were wrong, you know." Glorfindel made his way to a seat further in the room. He slumped, placing his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.

Erestor felt a brief twinge at seeing the proud Balrog slayer look so defeated. But he pushed down his pity. "Wrong? What was I wrong about, Glorfindel?"

Glorfindel peeked through his fingers at the Councilors face, perhaps encouraged by his dry tone. "I did remember, " he said simply and without embellishment.

Erestor sat back, stunned. He had not expected this! He had been so sure that the Elda had not remembered him or that night in Lindon. He stuttered out, "W-when?"

Glorfindel looked closely at the councilor, as if judging his state to hear such news. "The night I came to thank you for caring for me when I fell. Remember?" he asked.

Erestor just nodded silently. Glorfindel looked away. "I looked for you first earlier in the evening and I found you here in the library. It was dim, like now, and you were standing near the shelves obviously searching for a book. You wore dark robes, as usual, and you bent, and suddenly I was back, back in the library in Lindon. That was when I remembered."

Erestor could only shake his head mutely. He was not prepared for this. He remembered the blonde's odd behavior that night, remembered how he had been confused by the Elda's words and actions, and he recalled his fear and the blonde's retreat from his quarters.

Glorfindel went on. "I was so confused. Your actions after Elrond went to Mirkwood confused me the worst. I could well understand your dislike, no, hatred, of me all these centuries. But then you sought to befriend me and almost it seemed that you were trying to seduce me. That made no sense to me until after you left that last night, after you told me what I had done to you. That's when it began to make sense. You had plans on revenge, didn't you, Erestor?"

Erestor looked closely at the blond. He did not appear angry, only resigned. "Yes, I was finally going to get even with you, Glorfindel. But my plan did not work out. It would appear that I am no good at seduction, and you saw through me. Why did you not say something as soon as you remembered?"

Glorfindel rose and made his way over to the door. "I said nothing, Erestor, because I was going to let you have whatever revenge you wanted." Glorfindel opened the door, "And I would not say that you were no good at seduction, Erestor. You almost had me." Glorfindel closed the door behind him, leaving behind a stunned Erestor.

To be continued...