Pen Dhínen
Chapter Five

"Welcome home, Elrond," Erestor replied softly as he was released from the Peredhel’s arms.

Elrond laughed and placed a kiss upon Erestor’s forehead. "I thought I had dreamed the sound of your voice, pen vuil. Happy am I that it is not so."  Elrond gave Erestor one more squeeze before releasing him.

Erestor looked upon that beloved face and noticed the new marks of sorrow. Elrond’s once smooth features bore new lines and grooves that time alone could not have put there. Erestor knew some of what grief Elrond suffered. His friend and King had lost his life upon the battlefield of Barad-dúr. But he did not know all. Elrond looked sadly down into Erestor’s dark eyes, well reading the directions Erestor’s thought had traveled.

"Erestor, we lost Peilath on the journey home. He was too badly wounded," Elrond watched as Erestor lowered his head, battling tears. He knew that Erestor considered Peilath his savior, that had it not been for the scout alerting Elrond and his warriors that day, he might have suffered the same fate as his family.

 Erestor used the curtain of his unbraided hair to shield him from the numerous curious eyes that watched him and Elrond. He did not want to weep in front of those in Imladris who had come to regard Elrond’s councilor as stable and somewhat aloof. There were quite a few strangers had returned with the half-Elf, and Erestor abhorred the thought that strange eyes could look upon him and see his suffering. Erestor drew a deep breath, knowing that later there would be a moment to think on whom he had considered a friend. Peilath had been only the fourth Elf he had allowed close to him, Elrond, Glassmiauth, and Lindir being the other three.

Elrond had stepped away and was giving orders for the wounded to be carried to the healing hall. Erestor looked up, intending to find Elrond and make him come inside to rest. But instead of the pewter gaze of his Lord, his searching gaze was caught and held by sparkling eyes the color of skies in Nórui.(June) Those eyes had been watching Erestor since entering the courtyard. Erestor had felt their gaze upon him, but had thought it mere curiosity. That interest looked much deeper than inquisitiveness now that he returned the stare. Erestor knew who the blond warrior was. He remembered the Elda’s arrival in the valley the eve before Elves marched to war. Glorfindel of Gondolin, re-born Elf, slayer of a Balrog and savior of his Lord’s father. He also remembered how the blond had been introduced, fussed and fawned over as if he were some jewel akin to a Silmaril.

Erestor gave the Elda a brief bow before deliberately turning away to rejoin Elrond. Elrond, however, had also noticed the blond’s attention and had called Glorfindel to him, intending once again to caution the blond against venturing where his eyes had strayed. Erestor arrived next to his Lord just as Elrond growled Glorfindel’s name.

"Glorfindel, I warn-," Elrond halted what he had been about to say as he noticed Erestor’s presence at his side. *Very well*, Elrond thought. *There will be time enough later to remind him of my earlier words*.

Glorfindel bowed to his Lord and to Erestor. "My Lord, I do not believe that I had the privilege of an introduction the last time in Imladris. If you would introduce me to your Chief Councilor," Glorfindel ignored the warning and anger he saw in Elrond’s eyes, determined to find out more about the dark beauty that was Erestor.

Erestor bowed his head, once again using his dark tresses as a shield, this time from the intense azure gaze of Glorfindel. He heard Elrond make the introductions, the half-Elf’s tone filled with annoyance, but was unprepared when a hand was seized and brought to full pink lips. Erestor’s face flamed as Glorfindel placed a kiss upon his hand. He looked up in shock and was once more unable to tear his eyes away from those of Glorfindel’s. Without thinking, only needing to escape, Erestor snatched his hand from Glorfindel’s grasp, and turning, he fled.

Erestor heard Elrond’s voice bark sharply, "Glorfindel!" behind him, but he did not stop until he was safely inside the sanctuary of his office. There Erestor collapsed in his chair, covering his hot face with his hands. "Elbereth!" He felt foolish. Why had he fled? Erestor moaned in humiliation. He would never be able to face the blond again!

Erestor glanced up in fear as the door was opened. His shoulder sagged in relief at Elrond’s appearance. Erestor rose quickly and stepped from behind his desk.

"Elrond, I am sorry-"he began only to have his words halted as Elrond took him in his arms.

"Shh, Erestor. It is okay," Elrond pulled back from the hug and smiled reassuringly at Erestor. "It is I who should apologize. I warned him about his interest in you, but Glorfindel it seems has ignored that warning," Elrond pulled back and ran a hand tiredly though his hair.

Erestor winced at the exhaustion he saw upon Elrond’s face. He deliberately changed the subject. For some reason he did not want to discuss the blond’s interest in him with Elrond. "Come, Elrond. You are exhausted and must desire a bath and some sustenance. Let me see you to your chambers," Erestor took Elrond’s hand and led him from the office.

Once in the half-Elf’s rooms, Erestor set about laying out fresh robes and drawing Elrond’s bath. Elrond watched all this with a great deal of amusement. "Pen vull, you do not have to serve me. I can take care of myself, you know," Elrond smiled affectionately as Erestor halted and flushed. He laughed and gave Erestor one more hug before gently pushing him out the door.

Erestor set about making sure Elrond’s homecoming ran smoothly. The dinner menu was approved, fine wines brought from the cellar, and music selected. He could not wait for Elrond to hear Lindir’s magical voice and spent several minutes discussing the night’s music selections with his friend. The large influx of warriors and refugees who had arrived with Elrond had to be housed and for some who had lost everything, the bare necessities provided. Erestor had already prepared the rooms set aside for Glorfindel, having learned that the blond would take over the forces for Imladris and that he would need quarters befitting Elrond’s Seneschal. Erestor did not go near the blond again, however; escorting the Elda to his chambers fell to Erestor’s friend Lindir.

Erestor’s last tasks led him to the Healing Halls. He knew Elrond would want an update on the wounded and he was determined to see the half-Elf did not journey to those halls himself, but instead rest first.  Erestor stared about him in horror. The vast Healing wing, never once before filled to its capacity, was now overflowing with wounded. The air was sharp with the coppery smell of blood, and underneath that a sharper odor, one which Erestor had no name for. But as he looked into one corner of the room where the bodies lay so still and covered head to toe by fine white linens, he realized that odor was the scent of death.

Erestor stood in the doorway, his ears ringing with the cries of grief and pain that filled the room. His face paled and his eyes glazed over as the impact of war hit him for the very first time. Erestor struggled to draw breath into his heaving lungs, each only filling them with the taste of blood and death. His legs felt heavy, but Erestor’s shock-ridden body backed itself away from the tragedy in front of him. Screams in his head became pleas, their voices so familiar, so loved, and so full of terror. He heard his name cried out, "Erestor run!"

"Nana," he whispered, backing further and further out of the Healing Halls.

A whimper left Erestor’s lips, and at that sound he turned to flee. Erestor rushed blindly for escape and crashed through the door, only to run headlong into a solid, unmovable form. Unknown arms trapped him against a hard chest, and caught still in memory’s grasp, Erestor struggled to escape.

It was the voice whispering softly, "It is all right, pen velui, I have you," that first brought him back. Then it was the eyes, full of concern and colored like Laer skies.( Summer) "Glorfindel," Erestor realized. Glorfindel’s arms held him. He was safe.

To be continued...