Gray eyes that reflected a silver-like glow, similar to Anor as it begins to peek through the rain clouds, stared back Gil-galad in disbelief. An almost fragile hope showed from Elrond's eyes, as if he did not dare believe what was revealed to him. "Is it really you," he whispered, his voice quivering with emotion. Gil-galad stepped forward, and closed the distance between them. He cupped that beloved face in his hands. "It is I," and he said, and pulled Elrondís trembling lips to his and covered them with a hunger he had not felt in centuries. Elrond crushed his mouth to Gil-galadís and flung his arms around his lost loverís body. Joyously, they stood locked together with their lips touching, and their eyes open, each afraid to close them as if the other would then disappear.
Elrond broke away first but only to bury his face in Gil-galadís black tresses. He tightened his hold clinging desperately. "D-donít let go," he cried.
Gil-galad clenched his eyes tightly shut as tears escaped from under his lids. His senses were filled with the long-missed scent of his Elrond. "Never again. I swear," he whispered in reply to Elrond heart rendering plea.
Neither knew how long they stood with their arms wrapped tightly around the each other their bodies flush together and with tears streaming down their faces. All around them was silence as if the Valar had halted the world to watch their reunion. Birds, trees, and the very wind stood still, joyously allowing the lovers their moment. Gil-galad pulled slightly away and looked down into the Elrondís face. His eyes greedily absorbed every new line and every new mark that the long centuries had added to Elrondís beloved face. It was said that time does not show upon Elvish forms but Gil-galad had always believed that suffering certainly could. Elrondís fair features showed the mark of each hurt, each pain, and each lose, but where his features were once boyishly beautiful they now reflected the wonderful loveliness that comes from experiencing all lifeís joys and disappointments. Wisdom was reflected in Elrondís eyes, and in the lines that had been added to his forehead. His smile was still breathtakingly lovely even though he had not known as many smiles as he once had. Never had Gil-galad seen anything more awe-inspiring than the beauty of *his* Elrondís face.
Lush red lips beckoned, their allure only enhanced by the wetness of tears. Unable to resist their pull any longer, Gil-galad hungrily took possession. His kiss was met with a full measure of returned passion. Elrondís lips opened and his tongue swept in to reclaim familiar territory. Gil-galad groaned as the flavor of Elrond filled his own mouth. No one tasted like the half-Elf! The sweet eternal Elvish flavor of his lips, spiced with the mortal blood that flowed through his veins. Gil-galad moaned his knees weakening as Elrondís tongue explored every bit of his mouth. No part of each was left unclaimed, untasted, or unaffected. The need, to breathe finally broke them apart. With arms still wrapped tightly around the each other, they gradually rejoined the world around them. They heard the birds singing, the wind dancing through the trees, and the sounds of the restless horses of their guards.
Elrond flushed and glanced back over his shoulder at Glorfindel and the other Imladris guards. He was sure that their faces bore shock at their usually stoic and controlled Lordís behavior. But only Glorfindelís slightly bright-eyed gaze met his. The other's faced away, the Seneschalís orders, no doubt, to ensure his Lordís privacy. Gil-galad flashed Glorfindel a grateful smile. He sensed that Elrond was uncomfortable with so many witnesses to their reunion. He gave the body in his arms a gentle squeeze returning Elrondís attention to him. "My love, perhaps we should leave for Imladris and allow the warriors some rest. My escorts from Lothlůrien have traveled far and could use some refreshment and ease."
Elrond frowned. "You came from Lothlůrien? I received no message from Galadriel or Celeborn."
Gil-galad drew Elrond close hugging him tightly for a moment before releasing him and stepping towards their horses. "I will explain all but first let us adjourn to your Halls, Elrond."
They moved to mount and make the journey to Rivendell. Now apart, Elrond's face grew blank, which meant that the half-Elf was deep in thought. Gil-galad knew where his thoughts had traveled. How would Elrondís family react to find their father's lost love had returned? He knew that his presence would cause nothing but conflict for Elrond. It was one of the reasons why he had postponed the decision to travel to Imladris as long as he had. Gil-galad had no desire to cause his love more suffering. The Valar had shown him the aftermath that still existed from CelebrŪan's departure to the Undying Lands. The twins, Elladan and Elrohir, hunted the creatures that had hurt their mother with a single-minded vengeance that was making legends of them. Arwen the Evenstar of their people, spent much of her time in her grandmother's company, finding solace in the Golden Woods.
The closer they came to Imladris the more withdrawn Elrond became. Gil-galad left Elrond to his thoughts, instead focusing his senses on the power he felt once inside the Ring's reach. His skin prickled under the familiar power of Vilya. The power of the Ring of Air danced across his skin, raising the hair on the back of his neck. The power welcomed him it recognized him. Gil-galad shuddered at the very thought of once again having to control such an elemental power. He had no desire to hold Vilya and could not help the guilty thrill that the Ring now was Elrondís responsibility and, not his own.
He glanced over at the half-Elf and met Glorfindelís gaze over Elrondís shoulder. The Elda gave him what he thought was a reassuring smile. As to what Glorfindel thought he had to reassure Gil-galad of he had no idea, but the slightly pained glance that had accompanied that smile sent a twinge of unease through Gil-galad. Elrond was so silent. Gil-galad sent the Peredhel a worried look and spoke, seeking to ease his love's fears, yet hoping his offer would not be accepted. "Elrond, if it would be better, I can wait, and camp out here away from Imladris. That will allow you to prepare your family and subjects first."
He saw Elrondís look of surprise, his interrupted thoughts obviously deep and troubling. To his relief, Elrond shook his head before the offer had fully left Gil-galadís lips. "No, Ereinion. You are always welcome in my home." Elrond smiled somewhat apologetically at Gil-galad. "I am sorry love, but my mind was filled with thoughts of my children. You must understand, Ereinion. They have been through much and are still trying to heal from their mother's departure." At the mention of his wife, Elrond flushed and lowered his head, unsure what and how much Gil-galad was aware of his life since they were parted.
It was Gil-galad who grew quiet subtly pulling away though it was unintentional. He could not help the brief flash of betrayal he felt at the mention of Elrondís children or their mother, *Elrondís lawful spouse*. What would happen once they arrived at Imladris? If Elrondís children did not accept him, did not allow him a place in their father's life, could he ask Elrond to choose? No! Never that, Gil-galad knew. He would not do that to the one he loved. But what then of the Valarís plans? Would not having to choose between his children and his love not indeed add more suffering to the half-Elf? Gil-galad had to shake his head at the thought-out plan of the Valar. Sometimes despite their best intentions, their plans and schemes wrought more harm than good. He understood and appreciated their desire to reward such an honorable Elf. Elrond certainly in his eyes deserved much better than he had been dealt in this life. No, if Gil-galad presence would only cause his lover more pain, then he would remove himself from Elrondís life. Perhaps he could return to the Golden Wood? Galadriel would not like that but he was sure that Celeborn could be persuaded.
Engrossed in his thoughts, it was with some surprise that Gil-galad looked up seeing that they were about to enter the courtyard. In the distance he could see several Elves awaiting their arrival. Gil-galad glanced over at Elrond. His loves face was pale and he was biting his lower lip. Gil-galad recognized that nervous habit and thought to reassure Elrond. He moved his mount closer and reached over to lay an innocent hand upon the half-Elf's thigh. Elrond responded with a smile but at its edges tension was evident. "My sons are away. They spend the warm months hunting the creatures that injured their mother. But my daughter, Arwen is at home. I am sorry, Ereinion. I know not how to tell them of this miracle."
Gil-galad squeezed gently before removing his hand. "I know, melethron. I am sorry to add this burden to the others you carry. I will do what you think is best in this, Elrond. Simply tell me, meleth, what you would have me do." Gil-galad kept his voice lowered; the guards already had witnessed more than their Lord was comfortable with and he did not want to add to the gossip mills.
Elrond sighed, weariness showing on his features. He shook his head and sent Gil-galad a smile that bore a little more ease. "I do not think there is anyway to prepare them for you, melethen. The truth will simply have to do." Their party came to a stop before the steps of the Last Homely House. A dark-haired Elf awaited them and Gil-galad recognized Elrond's Chief Councilor immediately. He stared back into Erestorís stunned dark eyes and almost let his smirk show. There was another revelation that the Valar had revealed to him before his departure from the Halls. Erestor had feelings for Elrond though the half-Elf was unaware of them. But what Erestor did not know was that the Valar had other plans for the Advisor, and they were not with Elrond.
He dismounted and awaited Elrondís move. Glorfindel dismissed the troops and Haldir and his brothers came to stand close to the former High King. Gil-galad thanked Haldir with a smile for his show of support and went to greet Erestor. Elrond and the Advisor were speaking quietly and at Gil-galadís approach broke off their conversation. Elrond turned and drew the former King forward. "Ereinion you remember Erestor?" Gil-galad greeted Elrondís cankerous councilor, well remembering the stoic Elf from his early beginnings in Lindon.
Elrond looked almost hesitantly. "Erestor is going to show you to a guest chamber where you can refresh yourself."
Gil-galad with effort kept his face blank. *So he was not sharing a chamber with Elrond*. The look on the Peredhelís face showed that he expected some comment or complaint but Gil-galad said nothing. He could understand some of Elrondís caution. They had not been together for centuries. In a way, they were now strangers. He did not know this new Elrond. His former herald was now a powerful Elf-lord himself. Gil-galad gave what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "I would like a bath and perhaps a rest before the evening meal. Thank you, Elrond and will you also have Haldir and his brothers seen to?"
Elrond nodded not quite able to hide his relief. But as Gil-galad moved past him to follow Erestor, he placed a hand upon Gil-galad's shoulder. "I need to speak to my daughter, Arwen. I will be in my study if you need anything."
Gil-galad gave one of Elrondís hands a squeeze. "If you need to talk, after." He saw the half-Elf nod and followed Erestor through the open doors into Imladris.
To be continued...