Come Morning
Chapter Seventeen

"I love you, Glorfindel." Erestor rose after whispering those words. He stared down into aware blue eyes. Glorfindel was awake!

"W-what are you doing here, Erestor?" Glorfindel's voice was harsh, scratchy from non-use.

Erestor stared back into those eyes, stunned, his voice gone. He had forgotten. Glorfindel had left for patrol a week ago angry and hurt. Erestor hadn't remembered in his concern for the Elda's health that he had sent him away with harsh words. He owed the blond an apology, but would Glorfindel forgive him? Was he brave enough to say he was sorry and admit his love to the bearer? Erestor began backing away. No! He could not do this!

But as he tried to escape, to flee, Glorfindel struggled to rise. "No!" he cried. "You are not fleeing from me again, Erestor." Despite the bandage and the various other wounds, Glorfindel continued to struggle to leave the bed. It took the tell-tale sign of blood on the bandage around Glorfindel's chest before Erestor stopped and moved quickly over to the bed.

"No, Glorfindel, lay still! You are going to tear your stitches open." Erestor moved within reach and gasped as he was captured and pulled down firmly to lie half-on the blond and half-on the bed. He yelped in surprise at the strength of the Elda and squirmed in Glorfindel's arms. "What are you doing? Glorfindel, you are injured. Let me up!"

Glorfindel winced and Erestor stilled, realizing that his squirming was only hurting the blond worse. When he grew quiet, Glorfindel whispered. "Do not leave me, Erestor."

Erestor sighed and shifted his head so that it rested on the blond's shoulder. "I will not leave. I am sorry, Glorfindel, sorry for the way I treated you in my office that day."

Glorfindel tightened his hold. "Why did act that way? Have I done something? I thought we were becoming closer, that we were friends."

Erestor flushed, glad Glorfindel could not see his face. "I was upset over a personal matter. It was nothing you did, Glorfindel and I had no right to take it out on you." Erestor titled his head and peeked at Glorfindel through the curtain of his hair. "Do you forgive me, Glorfindel?" he asked.

Glorfindel did not answer him. He only whispered a question of his own. "Did you mean it?"

Erestor went rigid. He knew of what the blond spoke and he had thought Glorfindel was sleeping when he had made his confession. But as he shifted to look fully upon the blond's face, he realized he need not worry over answering him, for Glorfindel had fallen asleep. Erestor could not help the small jolt of relief he felt at avoiding the Elda's question. Oh, he knew Glorfindel would remember when he woke, but even a short reprieve was better than none at all.

Sleep claimed Erestor as well. Both he and Glorfindel needed the recovery powers of healing sleep. Glorfindel, because he was still recovering from his injuries, and Erestor because he had not rested since Glorfindel had originally left Imladris.

Morning found Erestor groaning and trying to stretch out his cramped muscles, but he found himself caught and unable to shift positions. Erestor blinked, clearing the sleep from his eyes. He blinked again, but the golden haze he viewed the world through did not go away. Then the blond curtain parted and he found himself meeting Glorfindel serious blue gaze. "Will you answer my question this morning? Did you mean it, Erestor?"

It was the drapery covering the doorway to Glorfindel's room briskly being pulled back that saved him from responding once again. Elrond stumbled to a halt when he saw the pair still wrapped in each other's arms in Glorfindel's sick bed. "W-well," he stammered, obviously uncomfortable. "This is where you are, Erestor. I was looking for you this morning."

Erestor hastily scrambled from the bed, straightening his robes and hair. "I'm sorry, my Lord. Did you need something?"

Elrond searched both his Councilor's and Seneschal's faces. He frowned and appeared worried. "I did.  Haldir has dispatches from Lothlórien and I wanted to go over them with you. But they can wait if you are needed here."

Both he and Glorfindel spoke at the same time. "Yes," Glorfindel said. "No," said Erestor.

Erestor turned to leave, glad for the excuse to flee, but before he could escape, Glorfindel's suddenly concerned voice stopped him. "Erestor, you will come back?"

Erestor nodded, ignoring the worried look the Elda sent him. He desperately needed to get away to think, to make some sense of what was happening to him. He loved Glorfindel, that he could no longer deny. But where they went from here was unknown and very unfamiliar territory to Erestor. Once back in the main halls, Erestor moved to his rooms, needing to bathe and dress in fresh robes. That accomplished, Erestor felt a little more in control. With freshly pressed familiar black robe in place and hair clean and brushed, he felt settled and more able to handle what other whirlwinds might descend on him.

Erestor even managed to smile at Elrond as he entered the main hall. Joining the half-Elf for some breakfast, he prayed Elrond would not address the morning's revelation in front of the others. Erestor frowned at seeing Haldir at the head table. He had not forgotten their confrontation of the night before. But he was determined to ignore the Marchwarden and act as if nothing happened. Haldir seemed to have that plan in mind as well; except for one cold glance, the Galadhel ignored the Advisor. He did engage Elrond in conversation, asking after the twins who were still in the wilds hunting yrch. Nothing was said as to why he was back in Imladris so soon after his last visit. Erestor strongly suspected it had to do with Glorfindel.

Astonishingly, Erestor had to force himself to work that day! He longed to return to Glorfindel's side. So many questions plagued his mind that he had to reread the same passage four times before it made any sense. He needed to speak to Glorfindel. He needed the Elda's understanding. He needed Glorfindel to go slowly with him. Erestor was out of his element, confused and just as frightened now as he had ever before been. He concluded what he had always suspected about himself. When it came to matters of the heart, Erestor was a coward. His heart felt so very fragile right now, as if one small mistake or one wrong move would shatter it, leaving him drifting, unable to find his way back.

As it was, night fell once again before he made it back to Glorfindel's healing room. Distracted as he was, the voices inside did not register. It was only as he stood, not believing his eyes, that he realized Glorfindel was not alone. He watched numbly as the Elda and Haldir kissed. Frozen, Erestor watched as the only person he had ever loved kissed someone else. Erestor silently backed away, leaving the pair undisturbed. Erestor did not see Glorfindel gently push Haldir away or hear the conversation that followed. He had already made his way outside, wandering aimlessly through the gardens, the usual beauteous surroundings leaving him unmoved.

What a fool he had been, letting their still new and fragile friendship develop into something more. The morning's revelations, or lack of, came back to him. Glorfindel had heard his admission, but no reciprocating declaration had come from the Elda. He had assumed wrong then. The blond did not return his feelings of love. Why had he been so weak and stupid? How could he have ruined the closeness he had begun to enjoy with Glorfindel by admitting feelings the blond would never return? Was their friendship ruined?

Erestor knew not how long he stayed outside, his mind troubled. He watched the sun rise. He went about his day unaware of much that went on around him; it was only after the noon meal when Elrond knocked on his door that he noticed time's passage. Elrond entered, eyeing Erestor with a concerned frown. "Are you okay, mellonen?"

Distracted, Erestor only nodded. Elrond spoke calmly, watching Erestor's face closely. "Glorfindel was asking after you, Erestor. He said you were to have returned to visit him and he grew worried when you did not show up."

Erestor visibly stiffened upon hearing the blond's name. "I am very busy and was unable to get away. I'm sure I will see him when he returns to his duties."

Elrond frowned once more. "You do not intend to visit him any longer? Has something happened between you, Erestor? I noticed the tension between you this morning."

Erestor avoided his lord's eyes, knowing that Elrond would be able to read the emotions swirling in his dark orbs. "No, nothing has happened. As you are aware, there is much work that needs to be done and with your assistance needed in the Healing wing, I have much to do."

Elrond came behind Erestor's desk and turned the Advisor around in his chair to face him. "Erestor, I am sorry if I interrupted something this morning. But you did nod when Glorfindel ask if you were returning and you cannot leave him lying there with no explanation, mellonen."

Erestor shook his head and stilled his features to impassiveness. "Elrond, I do not wish to speak of what happened this morning." He suddenly stood, forcing Elrond to release his shoulders and step back. Erestor folded his hand across his chest, each disappearing into the sleeves of his robe. He thrust his shoulders back and raised his head. He eyed Elrond, face cold and totally blank. "Elrond, I am busy. I do not have the time to rush off to the Healing wing to play nursemaid for Glorfindel and I was not aware that was one of my responsibilities. Now if you wish to order me to sit with the Elda, I will do so, but if not, please allow me to return to my duties." Erestor mentally cringed, hating to speak to his friend this way. But if Elrond mentioned Glorfindel once more he was going to break and he had enough of his pride being trampled by the Elda.

Surprisingly, Elrond did not get mad or admonish him for his words. No, all the half-Elf did was send him a sad smile and leave him with words of support. "When you need to talk, you know where to find me," Elrond said as he left Erestor alone once more.

Erestor slumped back in his chair. His proud shoulders fell and his loose hair slid forward to cover his face. Utter dejection gripped him. Erestor's weary spirit cried out for Glorfindel's, but the Elda was not in love with him, and now he had sent away his lord and friend. Never had the Advisor felt more alone than at that moment.

To be continued...