Gil-galad stared into Elrondís shining eyes. He did not hear Arwen depart, leaving them alone.
"May I join you?" Elrond asked, moving forward towards the bench Gil-galad occupied.
"Of course. It is after all your gardens," Gil-glad replied, still slightly angry from his earlier conversation with Arwen. Of all the suspicions he had expected to encounter, that anyone could think he wished to cause Elrond harm was the most laughable of them all. No, Gil-galad thought, before this was over, it was his own heart that stood to get hurt. He desperately wanted to come right out and ask the half-Elf if there was still room for him in Elrondís heart.
Elrond sat silently beside him. Each knew not where to begin. Gil-galad observed the Peredhel. Just as he had once been able, so it was again that he could sense Elrondís unease. It seemed as though the habit of the younger seeking wisdom from his elder occurred once again. Gil-galad took one of Elrondís hands and brought it to his lips, and placed a gentle kiss upon that healing hand. "Speak, Elrond. Tell me what is troubling your heart." Gil-galad waited silently for the half-Elf to gather his thoughts.
Elrond spoke hesitatingly as if he expected his words to anger. "Much time has passed, Ereinion. We are not the same Elves we once were" he swallowed and looked down into his lap, unable to bear Gil-galadís gaze. Finally, after several awkward moments he looked up, his eyes beseeching the King to understand. "We cannot simply pick up where we left off. Too much time has passed for that."
Gil-galad looked fully into that pleading gaze, letting Elrond see the pain that darkened his own deep cobalt orbs. Gil-galad tore his eyes away, unable to stand the silent begging for understanding. He did not understand! Had the Valar sent him back for this? Was this, then, his punishment for all past deeds, to live on Arda once again within armís reach of his heartís desire only to be denied it day after day?
Gil-galad gave a bitter laugh, not caring that Elrond flinched. He flung the half-Elfís hand off, jumped up, and turned his back upon the Peredhel. For the very first time ever, he did not want to look upon Elrondís lovely face, not when he may never be able to touch it once again.
His entire frame trembled and he had to clench his fist and fight the urge to scream to the very skies in injustice. When he spoke, his voice was heart-rendingly bitter, Ages of pain evident in its tone. "Do you still have love in your heart for me, Elrond?" He turned to face the Elf-lord. If this was the moment the moment when his heart was going to splinter, then he would face it like the warrior he had been.
Elrondís face was shattered, his eyes filled with unhappiness and desolation. For just a second, Gil-galad was tempted to rush forward and take the younger Elf in his arms and comfort him; promise him anything only to wipe the suffering from his beloved features. But he locked his legs, refusing to move until he knew if this second life was punishment or a joyous reward.
Elrond appeared to struggle to speak. "I-I still love you, Ereinion. That has never changed," he whispered.
"But?" Gil-galad demanded, the "but" all too evident in Elrondís tone. Elrond, however was silent a little too long for the former Kingís patience. "Is love no longer enough for you, Elrond?"
"No, Ereinion. I need tim-" Elrond whispered, but was unable to finish before Gil-galadís cry.
The anguished cry escaped Gil-galadís lips before he could stop it. He turned, needing to escape, unwilling to let Elrond see him crumble so completely. But before he could flee, Elrond rose and moved towards him. Gil-galad stopped the half-Elf with a raised hand that trembled.
"Ereinion, wait, please," Elrond cried. "I just wish for a chance! A chance for us to get to know each other again, for my family to learn to accept us."
Elrondís words hardened Gil-galadís features. His dark blue eyes burned fiercely in rage and hurt. "I have not changed Elrond. For millennia I existed in Mandosí Halls, only my memories of you to comfort me. No wife or children did I take," he said, sarcasm dripping from his voice. He smiled bitterly at Elrondís flinch, taking perverse pleasure in causing the Peredhel pain. "I am the same Elf I was when I stood on Orodruin and faced the Dark Lord. It is you, my Lord, who has changed. As it was before, Elrond, my love was all I ever had to offer you, and once upon a time, it was enough." Gil-galad moved forward slowly, closing the distance between them. He cupped Elrondís face, thumbs brushing his tears away. "You, melethron, must decide if my love is enough for the Elf you are now." Gil-galad moved away and started to turn but paused and sent his heart a sad smile. "How can you expect your family to accept me, melethen, if you yourself do not?" Gil-galad left. He left before his pride completely crumbled and he stayed and begged.
Gal-galad sought out the only sanctuary he had in Elrondís realm, the room he had been assigned. The path back to his quarters led past Imladrisí vast libraries, and he was almost past the open door when a voice from inside called his name. "My Lord, Gil-galad?"
Gil-galad recognized that voice. Erestor. He thought about moving on, avoiding what he knew would be a lecture. Elrondís Chief Councilor had always known before anyone else when his Lord was upset and Erestorís loyalty had also always only belonged to the half-Elf. Gil-galad shook his head in disgust. He was turning into a regular coward, afraid to face Elrondís Advisor. Stiffening his spine, he moved into the bright and airy room, greeting the dark Elf with a short almost ironic bow. "Yes, my Lord Erestor? What can I do for you?"
The somberly attired Elf had risen up from behind his desk and was regarding the former High King with what seemed to be compassion. Compassion, from Elrondís stoic Councilor? Surely not. Erestor indicated a seat across from his desk. Gil-galad raised a brow and calmly sat. "Get it over with, Erestor. Tell me what you think I am doing to your Lord and get it out of your system." Gil-galad saw a flash of uncertainty flash across the Advisorís face and he appeared to be contemplating something serious.
Erestor sat and folded his hands atop his desk. "I wanted to offer you my services, Sire." Erestor allowed a small smile to show at the surprise Gil-galad was unable to mask.
"You services? For what may I ask, Erestor?" Gil-galad regarded the Elf with wariness.
Erestor calmly replied to the former Kingís suspicion. "You have been in the Halls for quite some time and much on Arda has changed. I am offering my services in advising you on what you have missed."
Gil-galad sat silently thinking about the Councilors offer. The idea had merit. He had been gone and a great many events had occurred in his absence that had reshaped Arda. Erestor was probably the smartest Elf on Arda and he was offering his services. Gil-galad looked at the Elf calmly regarding him. "Yes, Erestor, I believe you are correct. I could use your services in familiarizing myself with current events." Gil-galad rose and moved towards the door. He paused and turned back to Elrondís Chief Advisor. "Hannon le Erestor." Gil-galad left after receiving the other Elfís nod of acknowledgement and went toward his room.
He was approaching the corridor leading to his chambers when he saw Elrond pacing in front of the door leading to his room. He faltered, not wanting to face the half-Elf so soon after the incident in the garden. But Elrond spotted him and came towards him his stride desperate and his face anguished. "I thought you had left," he cried out. Elrond grabbed a surprised Gil-galad and wrapped him in a tight embrace.
Gil-galad unconsciously wrapped his own arms around Elrond. "N-no," he stammered. "I was speaking to Erestor." He tried to loosen Elrondís arms but the half-Elf only clutched him tighter. "Elrond?" he questioned his tone worried.
Elrond did not answer. He pulled slightly away and before Gil-galad could question him further, he captured Gil-galadís lips in a frantic kiss.
To be continued...