"To me it was yesterday that I made love to you. It was but a day ago that we rose and donned our armor and faced the Dark Lord. For me, melethen, my death was but a moment ago." Gil-galad whispered the last words, watching as Elrond’s eyes filled with heartbreak.
Gil-galad watched as Elrond lowered his head. He said nothing as the silence between them grew thick and uncomfortable. Gil-galad was beyond the point of anger; an hollow feeling settled in his heart. His words had made no impact; did not bridge the gulf of time that Elrond said divided them. Elrond still pushed him away, and he did not comprehend why. His shoulders slumped and he turned away from Elrond, moving back to the window, watching as Imladris was bathed in the setting rays of Anor. The silence was finally shattered by a knock upon Gil-galad’s door.
"Yes," he called out, without turning from the window.
"My Lord Gil-galad, I am looking for Lord Elrond," a servant’s voice rang out behind the closed door.
Elrond left the bed, and Gil-galad heard him open the door and speak quietly to the servant. Gil-galad did not turn and he could feel Elrond’s indecision, to stay or go, but Gil-galad still said nothing.
"I have to go, Ereinion. Erestor says it’s important, and he would not disturb me otherwise," Elrond hovered by the door, waiting for some acknowledgment that Gil-galad heard his words.
Gil-galad finally turned but could not bring himself to open his mouth and speak. He was not sure that he could control the venom that was building in his heart. He just nodded and turned away from Elrond once more. Gil-galad could not conquer Ages of time, and return them to how they once were. He now understood. Elrond did not wish to bridge the time that had passed. It was over. Only, Elrond would not speak the words.
Gil-galad knew not how long he stood at the window of his room. He vaguely registered the ringing of a bell as the signal for the evening meal, but it did not inspire him to move, let alone join the others in the dining hall. Gil-galad tensed as a knock sounded on his door. There was no one he wanted to speak with or see, so he ignored the knock. And the second and third when they came, only to whirl around with a scowl on his face as the door opened and the intruder entered. His frown faded, however, as he met the concerned gaze of Haldir.
"Ready to dine?" Haldir asked as he closed the door behind him and moved further into the room.
Gil-galad dropped his eyes, avoiding the younger Elf’s gaze. "No, you go ahead. I am not hungry."
"Hiding again, are you?" Haldir’s voice was brisk, almost cold, as he moved closer to Gil-galad.
Gil-galad’s head snapped up and he glared at the Galadhel, anger and outrage stiffening his spine. "Watch your mouth, Marchwarden. You forget to whom you are speaking!"
Haldir met the former High King’s furious gaze challengingly and moved closer still to the furious Elf. "Who am I speaking to," he spat. "Tell me, Gil-galad, who is hiding in this room, afraid to face his former lover?" Haldir laughed mockingly at Gil-galad’s snarl of outrage. "Yes, that is right. I said *former* lover and here you are, once High King of all Elves, hiding in your room feeling sorry for yourself."
Gil-galad’s body shook as he fought the urge to strike the younger Elf. He looked upon Haldir’s coldly mocking face, but underneath the sarcasm he saw the concern, and yes, love. With a cry, Gil-galad turned away. "What am I doing back on this accursed Arda?" he whispered, his shoulders shaking as the battle against tears was lost.
Gil-galad felt Haldir’s strong arms wrap about him from behind, and finally Gil-galad released the storm that had been building in him since he awoke in the fields about Lothlórien.
Haldir stood silently, just holding him and letting him cry. Gil-galad’s sobs grew quiet and his body gradually relaxed in Haldir’s hold. Only then did Haldir release Gil-galad and move towards the washroom. Haldir returned with a damp cloth and gently bathed away traces of tears on Gil-galad’s face. He tenderly brushed away a few strands of Gil-galad’s black locks from his flushed face, tucking the wayward strands behind one pointed ear.
Gil-galad looked at Haldir’s lovely face. Those warm hazel eyes were filled with love and concern. He did not stop to think; Gil-galad bent down and captured Haldir’s lips. He poured all his loneliness and uncertainty into that kiss. Gil-galad wrapped his arms tighter around Haldir and heard the younger Elf moan in his arms. For a moment the Marchwarden returned his hungry kiss, but then with a cry he broke Gil-galad’s hold and stepped away from him.
"No," Haldir said, shaking his head as he brought a hand up to his lips. He stumbled back away from Gil-galad, and Gil-galad made no move to stop him.
They stared at each other until Gil-galad broke the silence. "I am sorry, Haldir. I do not know why I did that, but I apologize, please forgive me, mellonen" Gil-galad dropped his head, deeply ashamed for using his friend like that.
Gil-galad glanced quickly back at Haldir’s softly spoken words. "There is nothing I would love more than to lie down with you, Gil-galad upon that bed and lose myself in your arms. But it is not my arms that you would be imagining, and I cannot do that to myself. For I already am too lost to you, and your hold on my heart is something I must overcome on my own. If I lay with you, I fear I would never be able to accomplish that." Haldir’s voice was low and trembled with emotion. Gil-galad’s heart sunk even further at the suffering he had inflicted on one who had become so very dear to him.
Gil-galad did not know what to say to his friend, so he spoke from his heart. "You make me wish, Haldir that my heart were my own," Gil-galad’s tone was sad, and he saw Haldir smile understandingly back at him. Somehow the tension between them washed away at those words.
"Come," Haldir said. "My brothers and I leave for home on the morrow, and I know they would like to spend an evening with you before we depart." Haldir beckoned, and Gil-galad no longer had the will to resist.
They arrived in the dining hall quite late and were immediately drew the attention of most of the Elves present. Gil-galad ignored the high table in favor of the one occupied by Orophin and Rúmil. He could feel Elrond’s eyes upon his back, but he pushed thoughts of the half-Elf away and lost himself in the welcome of his Galadhrim friends. Gil-galad was so very tempted to leave behind the uncertainty and pain of Imladris and return with his friends to the Golden Wood, but he knew he could not outrun his heart. For good or ill, he had to resolve matters with Elrond.
For the remainder of the evening, the Lothlórien table was the source of the happiest and loudest laughter. Many eyes came to fall upon the occupants of that joyous corner of the dining hall. The beauty of the silver-crowned Galadhrim was offset by the darker tresses of Gil-galad. His rich night-hued mane and midnight blue eyes drew many an interested glance from Imladris’ residents, none of which went unnoticed by their Lord.
Gil-galad was unaware of the lustful eyes that fell upon him as he threw back his head and laughed uproariously at Haldir’s comments. He did not mark how gray eyes looked at him again and again, or how those pewter-hued orbs narrowed when he rose and followed Haldir and his brothers from the hall. Gil-galad laughed at the bickering between Orophin and Rúmil and Haldir’s barely patient glares upon the pair. He would miss the brothers so much! He did not delude himself that the same welcome awaited him among the Imladris population, and he dreaded the isolation that would befall him once the Lothlórien contingent departed.
Gil-galad and Haldir bid Rúmil and Orophin good night and moved further down the corridor towards Gil-galad’s quarters. They entered the former King’s rooms to enjoy one more drink before parting for the night. Neither noticed the eyes that followed them into Gil-galad’s rooms or the sigh of despair that left Elrond’s lips as he departed for his own empty quarters.
To be continued...