Pen DhŪnen
Chapter Nine

Elrondís guilt was eating away at him. It had been days since the "tour", and he had known the second Erestor had returned from it that something had happened. But he had kept quiet. His Seneschal and Chief Councilor had basically gone about ignoring each other. Oh, they were polite and worked fine together when circumstances threw one in the otherís path, but now their faces wore only blank, perfectly neutral expressions, and if Elrond heard another "Yes, Lord" this-and-that, he would explode.

If he were honest, he would have had to admit that he would still being ignoring the situation. There was only one small problem. Daily Elrond had to look upon Erestorís disappointed face. Elrond had not seen much of his Seneschal since that day. He did not know if this was due to the blond Eldaís efforts at learning his new position within Imladris, or that perhaps he feared Elrondís wrath, Elrondís protectiveness of Erestor and Erestorís feelings being well known...

Elrond sighed and looked over at his silent dining companion. Erestor had been quiet for far too long. Casually Elrond laid his napkin aside and looked at his advisor. "So, Erestor, how was the tour?"

"Fine," Erestor replied, still picking about his own plate.

Elrond arched a brow, but Erestor found the bottom of his plate too fascinating to notice. "So it was fine. Well, that is good, then. I may proceed then?" Elrond asked his tone suspiciously bland.

Finally with some apparent irritation, Erestor also threw down his napkin, looking up at Elrond questioningly. "Proceed with what?" he asked.

Elrond focused on appearing as innocent as possible. He knew it would not fool Erestor, but it might make him angry enough to say what was bothering him. Elrond knew this was a devious tactic, but sometimes the only way to best Erestor was by trickery.

"Why, your binding of course."  Elrond almost laughed at the uncharacteristic open-mouthed response of Erestor.

Elrondís amusement turned to dismay when Erestor did not respond with anger, but instead lowered his head and sniffled. Elrond panicked. Anger and tantrums he could handle, but not tears! Elrond reached over and took one of Erestorís hands, squeezing the fingers encouragingly, he mumbled soothing nonsense.

Erestor looked up, face dry, and regarded Elrond as if he had grown a second head. "What are you doing, Elrond?" he asked. Erestor silently snickered to himself; Elrond was not the only one who could resort to trickery.

Elrond sat back, frowning at Erestor. It was as if he was disappointed at the dry cheeks. "I thought I was comforting you, Erestor."

Erestorís cheeks flushed, this time with the anger that Elrond had anticipated. Furiously Erestor rose from his chair to pace the room. His stride and flapping robes more than anything told of his mood. "Binding! Ha!" he snorted. "That would entail some affection, if you will, by the parties involved. I assure you, Elrond Lord Glorfindel cannot stand to be in the same room as me, let alone the same bed!"

"But what happened, Erestor? He seemed very fond of you and most anxious to be alone with you thus that ridiculous excuse for a tour." Elrond was determined to get to the bottom of this. Amusement aside, he hated to see Erestor hurting.

Erestorís shoulders slumped. His anger left him as quickly as it had arisen. He turned to look at Elrond and spread his hands helplessly. "I do not know, Elrond. We were talking after having taken a seat in the gardens. I had told him about my family being in Mandosí Halls and asked him what it was like there. Then suddenly he was in a hurry to return and was very cold and polite. Honestly, Elrond, I know not what I did." Erestor looked beseechingly at his Lord; if anyone could unravel this mystery, Elrond could.

Elrond sat silently, lost in thought for several moments. "Hmm," he finally murmured. "You ask him about Mandosí Halls?" he asked, forehead creased in beginning illumination.

"Yes," Erestor said. "I told him I wished to know what it was like, since that was the home of my family."

Elrond rose from his seat and went to Erestor. He grasped a hand and moved the advisor back to their chairs. Once seated, he looked into those hopeful dark eyes. "Perhaps, dear one, speaking of the Halls to Glorfindel so soon after his release from them raised memories to painful for the Balrog slayer. Glorfindel spent an Age in Mandosí care, Erestor. He is still accustoming himself to life again on Arda. Just think, little one, he was reborn and then immediately thrust into battle against the very same Dark Lord who destroyed his home and loved ones." Elrond brushed back a lock of inky black hair from Erestorís pale face. I do not think it was you at all, Erestor, but the painful images that your innocent question brought about."

Erestor looked horrified and quickly rose to his feet. His gaze locked with Elrondís and Elrond rose himself at seeing the pain in those large doe-like eyes. "Oh no!" Erestor said, and tears gathered.

"I must apologize, Elrond. I did not mean any harm to Glorfindel!" Erestor moved past Elrond to the door. "Thank you, Elrond. I must speak with him now," he explained, and left the room quickly.

*********

Glorfindel had also spent the last days tormented by his actions with young Erestor. Glorfindel groaned and dropped his head to the top of his desk. He had sat in his office for hours now, trying to create some type of roster and rotation for Imladrisí troops, but all his mind kept replaying was the look of disappointment on that lovely face of Erestorís. Glorfindel had been stunned by Erestorís question. He had known, of course, that Elrond was Erestorís guardian, but somehow how that had come about he had given no thought to. That Erestorís family was dead and in the Halls he had not been prepared for that. The lovely advisor had so quickly found a place in his heart. Glorfindel could not ever remember feeling like this for someone, certainly not this fast.

That Erestor was beautiful was a given, but Glorfindel had been among many beautiful Elves. Was it Erestorís innocence? Glorfindel shook his head at that thought. He had never been one to covet that trait in the past. Perhaps it was that sharp mind wrapped in an enticing package? Or the sweet, caring heart that could be seen shining from Erestorís dark eyes, if one only looked?

Glorfindel laughed at himself. He was smitten. But, then Glorfindel frowned, remembering that he had ruined it. He had lied to Erestor.

He had not wanted to, but how was he to tell that sweet, innocent Elf that the years spent in the Halls were torment? Glorfindel was sure of what he had been honest with Erestor about that his family was together. However, the coldness that crept into one who dwelt in Mandosí care stole any lingering tenderness the togetherness of family brought. Faer managed the first unknown passages of time within the Halls, but the endless glimpses of life continually seen through VairŽís weavings eroded hope, reason, and remembered warmth. How could he tell this to Erestor? It would be the heart of cruelty to describe the fate of his loved ones, to have kind, beautiful Erestor live with the knowledge of his familyís fate. The thought was too horrifying for Glorfindel to contemplate.

Glorfindel had avoided Elrond the best he could. He had been so sure that the half-Elf would come storming up to him, demanding to know what he had done to hurt his precious Erestor. But so far Elrond had not come. Glorfindel did not know if he was happy or not about his Lordís absence. He almost wished for the Peredhelís advice. Glorfindel desperately wanted to court the advisor, but he was terrified of hurting the lovely Elf. He knew he would not be able to lie to Erestor again if asked once more about the Halls. And how was he to explain his coldness and abrupt departure from Erestorís company? Not to mention his very avoidance of the Elf these past days? Just as Glorfindel groaned at the hopelessness of his task the door was flung open and a distraught Erestor rushed in.

They both cried out at the same moment. "Erestor," Glorfindel shot to his feet.

Erestor rushed towards him. "Glorfindel..."

Glorfindel took the Councilorís trembling hands in his. "Erestor! What is amiss?" Glorfindel cried, never before seeing the advisor this upset.

Erestor struggled to collect his breath from his mad dash across the grounds. "I am so sorry, Glorfindel," he blurted out, gazing beseechingly up at the Elda.

Glorfindel melted. Who could have resisted those large chocolate eyes, liquid with tears and filled with caring remorse? Certainly a much stronger-willed Elf than Glorfindel. He took the young Elf gently into his arms, rubbing the shaking back soothingly. Resisting the urge to lick the shell-like ear next to his lips, instead he whispered nonsense and waited for Erestor to calm. Gradually Erestor pulled away, almost reluctantly releasing his grasp on the blondís strong shoulders. He flushed and looked at the floor, taking a small step back. He whispered his apology again.

Glorfindel smiled down at Erestor, not caring what brought the Councilor here, only glad that he was. "What are you sorry for, pen velui?" he asked. (Lovely One)

Erestor looked up into those bewitching blue eyes. "I did not mean to cause you torment or bring upon you bad memories with my questions about the Halls. Please forgive me..." Erestor pleaded.

At that moment, Glorfindel fell head over heels in love. Too overcome, too flabbergasted by pure emotion, he leaned down and kissed Erestor.

To be continued...