It was the sounds of horses and shouts from the courtyard that pulled him from his duties several days later. Erestor moved to the window and looked at the chaos outside. It was the patrol, but they were not due back for some days yet. Erestor leaned further out, trying to see what was happening and gasped with surprise. Haldir and several Galadhrim were among the returning warriors. What was the Marchwarden doing back here? Erestor pulled away and hurried from the room. He had to dodge the running Elves heading in the same direction. Several healers sped past him and Erestor began to worry.
Upon arriving outside, Erestor was forced to the sidelines as injured warriors were hurried past him to the Healing Halls. He spied Elrond in the middle of it all, shouting orders and Erestor fought his way to his lord's side. But before he could ask any questions of Elrond, he saw his lord bend and kneel next to a blond figure. Erestor stared down in horror. The injured warrior was Glorfindel! He was not aware of his falling to his knees next to the prone figure, or of the slightly pitying look Elrond sent him. All his attention was focused upon the unconscious Elda.
Blood covered most of the blond's body. So much blood, Erestor thought. One could not tell where the injuries were, but obviously the Elda was hurt badly. Erestor reached out, hand shaking badly needing to touch Glorfindel. He had to touch the Elda! To assure himself that it was Glorfindel lying there, so still, with eyes closed. "E-elrond," he barely whispered. But the half-Elf heard him anyway.
"He is hurt badly, Erestor. We must move him to the Healing Wing." Elrond motioned to two of the guards but before they could move to help, Haldir stepped forward and bent down, lifting Glorfindel in his arms. "Lead me," he ordered voice harsh with worry.
Erestor slowly got up, legs shaky and knees weak. He stared at the Galadhel, shock making his dark pupils even wider. He was still standing, silent and trembling, when Haldir pushed past him carrying Glorfindel away. Erestor looked at the sea of faces watching him. They appeared to be waiting, but for what he knew not. Silence ruled the courtyard and it was not until a guard spoke hesitantly that he realized they were looking to him for direction. Elrond was busy tending the injured and the warriors awaited further orders from his Chief Councilor. Erestor shook his head, mind refusing to operate rationally. "Take the rest of the injured to the Healing Halls, and those not wounded are dismissed." He turned away, but not towards the Healing wing where Glorfindel lay, hurt and bleeding.
Erestor returned to the place where he always went for comfort, and for escape. His office. Work cared not what catastrophe had shaken the world, or what hurts had occurred. No, it cared only that it was completed. Hours passed, night came, and still Erestor did not stir from his desk. Finally, Imladris lay quiet. Most of the residents retired to their chambers. He waited, waited for Elrond to bring him some news, but as more and more time passed, there was no sign of the half-Elf.
Erestor silently closed his office door behind him. Like a shadow, he moved towards the Healing Halls, pausing at the entrance, too scared to move forward. What would he find inside? Had Glorfindel returned once again to Mandos' care? Erestor took a deep breath and crept through the door. The inner hall was silent, dim, no-one rushing to and fro. He turned, knowing where Glorfindel would have been placed. Erestor parted the curtain to one of the private rooms. A dim light from one candle burned and Erestor thought that the room was empty, until his gaze fell on the bed. Golden hair could be made out, and unable to resist, he moved toward it.
Glorfindel lay still, blankets tucked up close under his chin. His eyes were still closed, but his chest rose and fell. Erestor quivered in relief at the Elda's signs of life. Knees shaking, he sat in the only chair beside the bed. Slowly he reached out and placed a hand upon the blond's brow, almost recoiling at the coldness of Glorfindel's skin. "Glorfindel?" he whispered. But the blond did not stir. Erestor moved his hand to the Elda's slightly moving chest, needing his own reassurance of the life that still flowed through Glorfindel's veins.
So still, so pale, the once-vibrant blond looked. Erestor could not control the tears that trailed down his face, or the heart-rending sobs that shook his entire frame. He felt a hand placed upon his shoulder and a gentle squeeze offering comfort. It was several moments before he could regain control over his emotions. But when he looked up, expecting to see Elrond, he was further dismayed to see that his comforter was Haldir. Haldir just nodded to the Advisor before moving to stand alone the other side of Glorfindel's bed.
"He is holding on, but he lost a lot of blood. Elrond says that all we can do now is wait." Haldir spoke in just a whisper, as if his words could disturb the sleeping blond more. "I do not know what he was doing. He was distracted, silent and moody. The Yrch were able to sneak up right along side him."
Erestor felt Haldir's words burn through him. Glorfindel was upset? Moody and distracted? Erestor's pale face whitened even further. He swayed in his seat, not noticing Haldir's hawk-like stare and fascination with Erestor's reaction to his words. Erestor rose, stumbling, and fled. This was his fault! He made it outside before rough hands grabbed him and spun him around. Haldir's features no longer held concern or sympathy. He glared down into Erestor's devastated eyes.
"What do you know of this? How came Glorfindel to be so distracted while on patrol?" He shook Erestor. "Come, Advisor," he said, a sneer in his voice. "Did you send him on patrol with more of your acid comments? Was that why he was moody and silent, even with his friends?"
Erestor shook his head, black hair whipping, covering his features. "No!" he shouted, wrenching himself free from Haldir's bruising grip. He turned and fled.
Safely back behind his closed door, he broke down. Flinging himself upon his bed, Erestor cried himself to sleep.
All the next day he remained in his room. Indeed, he did not leave the bed, not even to remove the previous day's robes. No one had come looking for the Advisor, and for a moment he feared it was because they too knew of his guilt. He had sent Glorfindel away hurt, and distracted. Sent him on patrol, in these dangerous times, thinking that Erestor hated him. Elrond did not come seeking Erestor either, and he took this to mean the very worst. He did not know that the half-Elf had been so busy with all the wounded that he had slept within the Healing Halls and not even left them for meals.
But as night once again fell, he was unable to resist the call of the Healing wing and once again made his way to Glorfindel's side. The way was once more clear, until he swept aside the curtain to Glorfindel's room. There, Elrond was bent over the blond checking the bandage that crisscrossed his chest. He looked up, hearing the Advisors movements. "Erestor, come in," Elrond said.
Erestor crept forward with none of his usual grace. His hair was uncombed and fell forward, obscuring his features. He waited… waited for his lord's judgment. But none came; instead he was pulled into a strong hug. Elrond held him tightly for a moment. "He is going to be okay, my friend. Glorfindel is in a healing sleep, finally."
Erestor pulled back, stunned joy visible on his face. "He is going to be okay?" he whispered, voice still hoarse from his weeping. He ignored Elrond's concerned look and move closer to the blond's bed. He reached out and smoothed a lock of hair that had fallen across Glorfindel's brow. He spoke quietly, voice almost detached. It was my fault, wasn't it?" he asked.
Elrond moved up next to him and wrapped an arm supportively around Erestor's waist. He seemed not to need any further explanation, perhaps realizing how his Advisor thought. "No, Erestor this injury was no fault of yours. You must remember that Glorfindel is a battle-tested warrior. He well knows what distraction can cost and how to separate his personal problems from his duties." Elrond rubbed a tired hand across his face and moved towards the door. "Now that you are here to sit with him, I think I will retire. You know where to find me if his condition should change." Elrond gave Erestor no time to protest, but swept aside the curtain leaving him alone with Glorfindel.
Erestor looked down at the sleeping Elda. He still appeared so fragile. Erestor had to often recently seen Glorfindel broken. There was something almost unholy about seeing such a proud warrior brought so low. That he was responsible, despite what Elrond said filled him with tremendous guilt. He had no right to keep doing this to Glorfindel. His pride and fear had kept him silent, but seeing the blond lying like this forced him to admit that it was time to start being honest with himself and Glorfindel.
Erestor bent down and placed a kiss to the Elda's forehead. Whispering as he pulled away, "I love you, Glorfindel."
To be continued...