Come Morning
Chapter Twelve

Erestor tried to clear his mind and concentrate on the scroll he was reading, but his eyes kept falling on the leather-bound journal lying on his desk. Why had he brought that book with him? All day long he had been unable to focus on anything else, just that accursed book! Glorfindel's words swimming in his head, finally forced Erestor to give up any pretense at work. Instead of venturing into the main hall for supper, he had a tray delivered to his room. Until he read the rest of Glorfindel's tale, he would get no rest. He may as well finish it, so he could have some peace. Erestor settled onto his bed, a covered tray bearing dinner next to him.

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I forced myself to be jovial when meeting the Elves of Lindon. I was successful and they all thought how happy Glorfindel the Balrog slayer was to be back among them. The High King himself seemed to adopt me as a regular drinking comrade. That was how I learned to survive back on Arda, by burying my resentment beneath a smile and a pitcher of wine. Making it through the days and nights required a lot of wine, I found. Sleep was but a memory from my first life. I suffered repeatedly from nightmares, and it was only with my senses dulled by alcohol that I was able to find rest at all.  My fight with the Balrog and my death returned night after night to haunt me. I saw my friends fall all around me and I remembered the comfort we found together once more in Mandos' Halls. Then I would recall that peace which had been torn from me.

I began to hate the Elves around me. I resented the presumption that I should rejoice, be happy. But my greatest resentment and hatred was for the one who I had been sent back to serve and protect, Elrond half-Elven. That he seemed to search my face with his silvery gaze, seeing deeper than any other, unnerved me. I hated that all-knowing and all-seeing gaze. It saw beneath the fašade that fooled everyone else. My hatred for Elrond almost blinded me until one morning he changed all that. I had spent the precious evening drunk and in some faceless Elf's arms, when I came upon Lord Elrond in the halls. He stopped and pinned me with his grey gaze, silently studying my appearance for several moments. In his eyes, I saw something that no other had offered me. I saw sympathy, as if he knew exactly what I was going through and that he cared. I was stunned and speechless, all the resentment and hatred burning away. If he had taken me in his arms at that moment, I would have broken down and sobbed. But he did not; he only laid a gentle hand upon my shoulder and said that when I was ready to talk, he would be there. After that encounter, Elrond was my only reason for continuing. Yes, I had thought of ending this second life, forcing myself back into Mandos' Halls, but the half-Elf changed all that. He gave me someone to serve, to care for.

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Erestor looked up from the journal, deeply troubled by what he had just read. He was no longer worried about Elrond's safety around the Elda, but to his surprise, he found himself, deeply concerned for Glorfindel and he did not like that! Erestor jumped up, suddenly furious with the blond for making him feel sympathy for him. Not bothering with a robe or shoes, he swept down the hall and knocked on Glorfindel's door. No thought was given to the late hour or the appropriateness of his visit. "Glorfindel, open up," Erestor demanded.

Glorfindel opened his door, shock showing on his face at the councilor's appearance. "Erestor, is something the matter?" He stepped back from the advisor's furious shove into his rooms.

Erestor spun around to face the blond, watching as Glorfindel closed the door. "You hate us, is that it? That's why you raped me, because you hated me?"

Glorfindel moved past the furious Elf. He sat on the edge of his bed and regarded the councilor unbelievably. "I don't hate you, Erestor. I never really hated anyone. Yes, I thought at one time that I hated everyone around me. I am beginning to realize maybe that it was myself I hated. Elrond has helped me. Through his care I began to see that I was blaming everyone around me for my return, when it was no one's fault. You haven't finished the journal yet, or you would have read all this." Glorfindel rubbed a tired hand over his face.

Erestor stared at the blond, noticing for the first time just how exhausted Glorfindel appeared. He moved, determined, to a chair and sat down with his arms folded. "I do not want to read any more in that book. You tell me what I would have discovered next. I wish to hear the rest from your lips, not written on some piece of parchment." Erestor eyed the blond, almost daring him to comply.

Glorfindel rose and began pacing, throwing the advisor anxious glances. He did not speak for several moments, only moved back and forth across his bedroom. Finally after taking a resigned breath, he sat near Erestor. "I kept drinking. Even after that confrontation with Elrond, I consumed more and more alcohol. The faces of those who have shared my bed are one big blur. I could walk past one I had been intimate this very day and not realize that they had shared my bed. I began having black outs, forgetting where and with whom I was waking up next to. The night I raped you, I had been awake for a full week and drinking steadily the entire time." Glorfindel held up a hand, stopping the words Erestor was getting ready to spew. "Yes, I know, that is no excuse. But it is what happened. The truth is, Erestor you were not unremarkable. It had nothing to do with you; I just could not remember your face or what I had done. Not until recently did the night come back to me, and even now I only recall pieces."

"What parts do you recall," Erestor asked, his voice broken and hurting.

Glorfindel looked, devastated, at the dark-haired councilor. "I recall your struggling, the begging to be let go and I remember finding release myself, inside you. That is all, and for the longest time your face was a blur in my mind."

Erestor bowed his head, tears trailing down his face. Hearing that something that had scarred him so badly was but a recollection, like a dream one cannot recall, hurt very badly.

Glorfindel's hand reached out, but at Erestor's glare, he broke off and moved back into his seat. "I would have little flashbacks, but I assumed they were some of my more playful sexual activities, not rape. Not, until you came to my room and I realized that it had been you and that you were not willing; that is when I finally admitted I had raped you."

Glorfindel hung his head. Erestor watched as tears streamed from the Elda's eyes. He could not hate the blond, not any longer. All he felt, at that moment, was tired. "What now?" he asked.

Glorfindel gave a harsh sob and looked up at Erestor. "I do not know. I suppose I can leave Imladris. Do you wish me to leave, Erestor? If you say go, I will."

Erestor rose, and for the very first time, without urging or ulterior motive, touched Glorfindel upon the shoulder. "I do not wish you to leave, Glorfindel. That would accomplish nothing."

Glorfindel grabbed Erestor's hand as if it was a life-line keeping him whole, in one piece. He brought the captive hand to his face and bent his head over it, almost cradling the one part of Erestor that he could touch. Sobs shook the proud shoulders, becoming so harsh that Glorfindel rocked back forth with the storm of his weeping. Erestor knelt down, unable to further resist the blonde's suffering. He drew Glorfindel gently into his arms so that they were kneeling together.

"Shush," he murmured. "Let it out, Glorfindel, for too long have you held your grief inside. It has poisoned you." Erestor rubbed gentle circles on the Elda's back and quietly whispered reassurances.

Glorfindel's sobs tore at Erestor's heart. No one should suffer so. For him to witness Glorfindel broken seemed a crime. That he had once almost wished for such a thing shamed him. He rocked the blond in his arms, offering the simple comfort of an embrace; that he was the one offering it seemed not to matter anymore. Finally the Elda's tears quieted, the body in his arms still trembling in the aftermath. Glorfindel slowly raised his head from its resting place upon Erestor's shoulder. His red-rimmed eyes locked with Erestor's own compassionate gaze. Silently, they stared at each other, worlds of unspoken words hanging between them. Blue locked with brown, seeing for the first time a hint of forgiveness within the other's gaze.

Slowly, Erestor's head lowered; hesitantly his lips covered Glorfindel's.

To be continued...