Come Morning
Chapter Seven

Erestor's steps carried him from one corner of his office to the next. He paced, his thoughts erratic. His interactions with Glorfindel confounded him. He should have left after the healer arrived. There had been no need for him to remain. He'd done his part, finding the Elda like that and calling for aid. But no, he had not been able to walk away. His own reasons deserted him, comforting the blond, bathing him, tucking him in bed like he'd been an Elfing after a nightmare. Now he was honor-bound to act as the Elda's confidant, to listen, offer advice, comforting words. What had he gotten himself into? Had it been the sight of the majestic famed warrior, naked and bleeding on his own bathroom floor? Or perhaps it had been the suddenly fragile Glorfindel attempting to rise and bathe himself?

No, Erestor knew the exact moment he had been captured, that thoughts of retribution flew from his mind. It had been the moment his eyes locked with Glorfindel's. Those once-sparkling orbs had pleaded with Erestor, asking in their depths for something that would never pass Glorfindel's lips. Asking for comfort.

Erestor wanted to run, to hide somewhere. Anywhere. Could he do it, he wondered? If Glorfindel knocked upon his door this very moment, could Erestor coldly send him away, deny the need he had seen in Glorfindel's eyes? He slumped, defeated, in his chair. No, he knew he could not turn Glorfindel away. Erestor looked at the pile of scrolls atop his desk, and knew no work would be accomplished this day. Erestor rose and slipped out into the gardens. Walking among the plants and trees, he tried to gather his thoughts. Finding a spot under a large Elm, he gathered his robes and sat. What tormented Glorfindel, he wondered? He knew the Elda had always drunk heavily, well, since his rebirth. Glorfindel was running from something, that Erestor was sure. Could he have remembered that night long ago in Lindon and was ashamed to admit it to Erestor? Erestor did not believe that was the cause. The blonde's behavior had been occurring for quite some time. Erestor realized all the clues to Glorfindel's conduct had been present all along. The mysterious bottle Elrond had given the blond…, might it have contained a sleeping potion? It was obvious Glorfindel had not been sleeping, and had not been for some time. Erestor found himself suddenly frightened. He was terrified of what Glorfindel was going to reveal. If in fact the blond had remembered raping him, could he handle finally confronting Glorfindel? If the Elda apologized, could he accept that and at last move on? Erestor did not know the answer to those questions.

Erestor did not know how long he lingered under the Elm. Some measure of comfort was obtained from the old tree, but it was not until the Anor started to set that he rose and went inside. Food had no appeal, so Erestor avoided the dinning halls. Instead he headed for the comfort of his rooms. The familiarity of his nightly ritual succeeded in restoring some of Erestor's serenity; hot bath with soothing lavender, followed by comfortable sleeping trousers and robe, and his nightly allocation of a single glass of red wine. Erestor drew his legs under him and settled into the cushions of his reading chair. The book that had occupied him for several nights now was picked up. Erestor waited. Ithil had long risen when the knock came. Erestor calmly called out, "Come in, Glorfindel."

The Elda had obviously just come from his bath as well. The long golden locks were damp and hung unadorned down his back. Glorfindel had also chosen to dress with comfort in mind; he wore, loose leggings and a plain tunic. He did not look much improved for the rest he had. The wound on his forehead had closed, but his skin was still sallow and bruises could be seen under his eyes. Glorfindel hesitantly met Erestor's gaze; the blandness of it, reassured him. He sat opposite the councilor and leaned back, shutting his eyes. They sat silently together. Erestor finished his wine, closed his book, and folding his hands in his lap, waiting for Glorfindel to speak.

Glorfindel opened his eyes. "Thank you, Erestor, for taking care of me earlier today. I do not understand why you did it, but I guess it would be fair to offer you some sort of explanation." He frowned at the councilor; his words clearly betrayed a lingering suspicion of the councilor's motives.

Erestor struggled to keep his face expressionless. He was surprised by the Elda's words. Erestor had expected the blond to pour forth his troubles in a barrage of emotions and words. None of the earlier pleading could be seen in the blond's eyes. Once again they regarded the councilor with a polite indifference. Erestor's eyes briefly flashed with some of the fury he suddenly felt. He did not want Glorfindel's explanations, or thanks. He'd thought the blond would come to him broken, needing him, not offering some pittance of an explanation!  Erestor rose abruptly, moving towards the door. He stopped and, turned to coldly regard the blond. Part of Erestor's anger was directed at himself. He did not like feeling hurt at the blonde's altitude. He did not know what had occurred between the time he had tended to the Elda and now, but something had unsettled the blond and again roused his mistrust of Erestor.

"You owe me no thanks, Glorfindel, and certainly no explanation. Now if that is all? I bid you goodnight." He waited for the Elda to rise and move towards him before opening the door. Erestor stepped back from the blond, anxious for him to leave. Glorfindel paused briefly and turned to regard the councilor with a scowl. "Erestor, I-," he started to say.

Seeing the blonde's frown, Erestor shifted a little further away from the Elda. Panic made Erestor's words more harsh than he intended. "Glorfindel, I am very tired and would like you to leave, now!" Glorfindel turned and stepped back to avoid having the door shut on him.

Erestor stood silently, barely breathing, until he heard the Elda's retreating footsteps. He moved shakily to the bed and sat on the edge. Erestor tightly clenched his fist to keep from trembling. Seeing the Elda's anger, having that scowl directed at him, had unnerved Erestor. He had been unable to stop the fear from rising. Erestor let out a sob and curled up in a fetal position, hugging his knees tightly against his chest. He should have never allowed the Elda into his rooms, the one place he had felt safe until he had been alone with Glorfindel. The intimacy of the setting, Glorfindel's anger…, Erestor could not stop the trembling that took hold of him. Suddenly, despite the many centuries of contact between them, Glorfindel's presence had felt threatening, hostile.

Erestor determinedly got control of himself. Obviously he had been wrong in his earlier judgment. The blond was not looking for a confidant, a sympathetic shoulder. He had misread, or imagined, the pleading he had seen in the blond's eyes. Erestor's grand scheme of seduction was obviously over as well. He could not even be in the blond's presence, in close proximity to a bed, without panicking, let alone allow the Elda to touch him, or for him to touch Glorfindel, intimately. Erestor turned, staring blankly into the night. He could not go on like this. It was time to make a decision on what to do next. No sleep came to the councilor that night. Morning found him resolved in his decision. It would require that he wait for Elrond's return, but he saw no other alternative. For too many centuries had the truth been buried. It was time to let it go.

Erestor got through the next several weeks as he had always done. He worked. He also avoided Glorfindel. Avoiding the Elda worked out easily enough, as the blond went out of his way to avoid Erestor also. No longer did Erestor visit the Hall of Fire after the evening meal, nor did he journey to the training fields. Each meal was taken in his study, alone. If any wondered what had occurred between the Seneschal and the Chief Councilor, it was not remarked upon. The only time the two were seen sharing the same space, was their positioning together in the courtyard, to welcome Elrond home.

Erestor stood silently next to Glorfindel, watching as Elrond and the twins rode into the courtyard. He moved forward beside the blond to welcome their lord home. Gratefully, he held the welcome embrace Elrond bestowed on him longer than was necessary. He also ignored Elrond's frown and inquiry as he finally let go. Erestor calmly went about filling his lord in on the happenings in his absence. He answered questions and received new instructions, all without revealing the inner terror that gripped him. Elrond was back, his mind kept repeating. Now it was time to act on his decision. Ruthless, iron will, kept him steady. Steady through meetings, through dinner, through endless interruptions of welcome for Elrond. It was late in the evening, immediately before his lord retired that he finally spoke up.

"My Lord, I would like to request some personal time with you on the morrow. I have need of your council." Erestor stood blank-faced, outwardly calm, as his lord studied him.

Elrond looked worried, but he nodded silently. Erestor spoke his thanks and a goodnight. Tomorrow. Tomorrow he would have peace.

To be continued...