Come Morning
Chapter Thirteen

Had it been the sight of those tormented eyes, deep and swimming? That upturned face, pale except for the blue orbs and pink lips, cheeks glistening with the trail of his tears. Had it been the suffering, the anguish in with which Glorfindel wept? Erestor knew not, only that he wanted to taste those lips, cover them with his own, claim them. His red lips brushed softly across Glorfindel's; it was just a flicker, a light touch, like the brush of a butterfly's wings or the caress of a warm summer breeze. But for both, the kiss was poignant.  Erestor drew back first, opening startled eyes he'd not remembered closing.  He raised a hesitant hand to his lips, still feeling the pressure of Glorfindel's lips; his tongue nervously licked the slightly salty taste of the other from his mouth.

Erestor scrambled to his feet. "I apologize, Glorfindel. That was uncalled for." Erestor straightened his robes and made for the door, ignoring the blond's stunned, slightly dazed expression. "I have to leave. I should not have come here." Erestor left making his way to his rooms. Once safely behind his closed door his eyes shut in horror, his mask slipping to show his inner turmoil. What had possessed him?

Erestor lay in his bed, the night's events playing again and again in his mind. He had been angry when he went to the Elda's room, true. But he had, if he was honest with himself, also been hurt. The thought of the blond hating him did not sit well. He was not sure why. Erestor would have sworn on every precious book in Elrond's library that he hated Glorfindel. He had good cause to hate him, but he did not. The blond warrior touched Erestor in a way no other had ever reached him. Seeing Glorfindel's suffering had caused him pain. That is why he could not turn away from him, not before in his room when he lay injured, and not tonight when his sobs tore at Erestor's very soul.

Just what were his feelings for the blond? The anger was gone, leaving confusion in its wake. That kiss had surprised him. The little tingles he felt in his stomach brought a flush to his face and made his heart beat a little faster. He had never experienced this before. Glorfindel had been shocked at the kiss, but he had not pulled away. Erestor was even more dumbfounded by his own actions. Confused, yes, but he had not been frightened by the blond. He had actually enjoyed the light touch of his lips on Glorfindel's. Perplexed, Erestor finally flopped over on his stomach and fluffed the pillow in annoyance. This was all too confusing for the advisor. If it had been a trade agreement or a treaty of some sort, well, then he would know how to approach the problem. But when it came to a personal problem, he was lost.

Erestor did not see much of the Elda in the next few days. Preparation was underway for a visit from the King of Mirkwood. Since Elrond's visit to the woodland King's realm, relations had improved drastically. Now it was Thranduil's turn to visit Imladris. Banquets were planned; the best quarters must be aired and made ready. Wine was chosen and entertainment planned. Erestor oversaw all the arrangements and with Elrond looking over his shoulder, annoyingly, he made Imladris ready for the royal visit.

Erestor hurried from the library; straightening his hair as he went. He was late and Elrond would not be pleased to welcome Thranduil without his Chief Councilor present. He skidded to a halt next to the half-Elf and gave an apologetic shrug in response to Elrond's raised brow. His attention was drawn to the contingent of Elves arriving in the courtyard. Glorfindel was serving as escort to the woodland King's party, having met them at the borders. He rode next to the equally blond King. Thranduil was an imposingly handsome Elf, tall, broad of shoulder, but with the long limbs and slim waist of an archer. His wavy golden locks fell to his waist and curled under. Upon his head was a crown of holly and thistle. Clothed in his realm's green and brown attire, he presented a striking sight.

His attention scattered, however, for as soon as Glorfindel and the King's party stopped in front of Elrond and him, Glorfindel dismounted and moved to stand next to Erestor. Erestor only half heard Elrond's greeting of the woodland King, his awareness firmly fixed on the blond at his side. Glorfindel stood close, much more closely than was warranted. Erestor's head snapped up upon hearing his name. He prayed Elrond had not noticed his distraction and hoped he had not missed some assignment or other important task. It had been many hundreds of years since he had last seen Thranduil face to face, most of the contact between the two realms being written messages. He greeted the King politely, his body tensing as Glorfindel's hand came to rest upon his lower back.

Erestor glanced up, meeting Glorfindel's blue gaze for just a moment. His heart skipped at what he saw there, gentle caring and an almost shyly warm regard shone from the blond's eyes He stepped away rather quickly and gestured for the King's party to follow him to their quarters. Erestor got through the rest of the day by ignoring the morning's perplexing events. That evening a banquet was held in King Thranduil's honor. Erestor had to admit, relations between the two realms were improving. Erestor felt unsettled, nervous. The encounter with Glorfindel left him uncertain. There had seemed to be a glimmer of real caring for Erestor in Glorfindel's eyes. But the Elda showed none of that this evening. He sat solemn across from Erestor, not partaking in any wine, just silently studying his plate. Even Thranduil seemed perplexed by the Seneschal's mood. Erestor saw Elrond lean in and whisper something in Thranduil's ear and he saw the King's nod of acknowledgment. Erestor snuck glances and peeks at the blond, always lowering his eyes quickly when the Elda happened to glance up.

The Mirkwood contingent added an especially festive air to the Hall of Fire. Newly arrived company was always welcomed. They brought new gossip, songs and stories. The Hall rang with loud laughter and the wine flowed freely. Through it all, Erestor kept his gaze on Glorfindel. The blond had not been able to sneak off, not at Elrond's insistence that he join them. But the Elda had settled himself in a chair in the corner alone. Erestor tried to engage his attention elsewhere. He was not sure why the blond held his attention so completely, but he was unable to find anything or anyone else of interest. Something had changed between them.

Erestor felt deeply confused by his own feelings where Glorfindel was concerned. It had only been a short time ago that he had finally confronted the blond with their horrible past. He had been so certain that once he told Glorfindel, he would feel some vindication, some closure. Erestor had, in a sense no longer felt the burning resentment, the need to see the blond brought low. Perhaps, because he had seen the blond suffering. But it was that very suffering that was the basis of Erestor's unease. When he had been there, watching, witnessing first-hand the depths of Glorfindel's remorse, his pain, his self- flagellation, Erestor had found no pleasure in it. His heart also ached along with Glorfindel's and he found himself deeply wanting to offer the Elda some sort of ease.

Erestor quickly locked his knees, keeping himself upright and on his feet, schooled his face to hide the shock. He cared for Glorfindel! Erestor stepped back, hiding himself beside a pillar. When had this happened, he wondered. Could he pin-point an exact moment? When had the blond snuck into his heart?  How could one go from resentment and hatred to concern and caring? Erestor buried his head in his hands, his body trembling. He had to get out of here! Sliding along the wall, praying he went unnoticed, Erestor escaped outside. Quickly he found a secluded nock and sat, drawing his knees up to his chest and hugging them tightly.

Why, why was this happening to him? He had cause to dislike the Elda. He had been so sure of his loathing that he'd sacrificed some of his own principles in the quest for vengeance. Erestor struggled to calm himself, knowing that nothing was clear with a clouded mind. "He asked himself, honestly, had he hated Glorfindel?" Or had the feelings inside him been shame, embarrassment, and hurt? He did not know the answers to his own heart. Erestor bowed his head.

The low murmuring of voices intruded on his solitude. Erestor shifted further in the shadows, not wanting attention drawn to him. Elrond and Glorfindel came into view; the pair seemed deep in discussion. Erestor started to announce his presence, but hearing his name, he paused.

Elrond was walking slowly with Glorfindel; they stopped just feet from Erestor's hiding spot. "You gave your journal to him?" Elrond asked. 

Glorfindel was looking up at the clear night sky, seemingly finding pleasure in the stars. "Yes, he is the only one I can say has a right to see what is written in it."

Elrond sighed. "Have you spoken since you gave it to him?"

Glorfindel laughed the sound far from happy. "Oh, yes. We have spoken, twice as a matter of fact." Glorfindel turned to Elrond; Erestor saw how haunted his face appeared. "Something happened between us, Elrond."

Elrond rubbed Glorfindel's back soothingly. "What happened, meldir?"

"We kissed." Glorfindel replied simply.

Elrond seemed to freeze. "You kissed him, Glorfindel? How could you? After what has happened between you in the past?" Elrond's voice rose, anger apparent in his tone.

Erestor tensed, and without thinking he shot to his feet. "I kissed him!" His voice rang out, startling the two other Elves. Erestor met Elrond's eyes almost defiantly. "I kissed him, Elrond. He did nothing wrong." Erestor wasn't sure why it was some important for Elrond to know that it had been, him who initiated the contact between them. He looked at Glorfindel. The blond was starting at him, part amazement and part something else shinning from his eyes. That unknown had Erestor halting, not moving towards the pair any further. Wordlessly they stared at each other, neither noticing Elrond's departure.

"Why," Glorfindel whispered. Whether it was asking Erestor why he stepped forward or why he had kissed him in the first place, Erestor knew not.

Suddenly unsure, Erestor lowered his eyes, not able to meet those azure depths any longer. "I do know why, Glorfindel. I-I just could not let Elrond blame you for something you did not do." Erestor did not hear the Elda's silent approach, but the hand that reached for him, caused him to quickly step back.

Erestor looked up surprised by his own retreat. The hurt that flashed in Glorfindel's eyes stung him. He started forward "Glor-," he said. But the blond had already turned away.

To be continued...