Gil-galad sadly watched as Haldir and the Lothlórien contingent passed out of sight. He would miss his friend and the company of the other Galadhrim. Gil-galad turned and made his way back to where Elrond and Erestor stood waiting. He glanced at Elrond’s blank face before the half-Elf turned and walked away. Elrond had been acting oddly all morning. He had been surprisingly cold towards Haldir and only greeted Gil-galad with a nod upon their arrival at the breakfast table. Gil-galad ran a hand through his long straight black hair, having not the time yet this morning to braid it. Frustrated, he did not understand what he had done now. He had stayed away like Elrond wanted, not pressuring the Peredhel. He did not know what else he could do, except maybe remove his very presence from the half-Elf’s life.
Gil-galad looked away from Elrond’s retreating back into Erestor’s cool black gaze. Feeling especially ornery, Gil-galad only raised a brow inquiringly, and when the dark-haired Elf said nothing, strode past him towards the training grounds. Glorfindel had promised him a morning of sparring, and that sounded just what Gil-galad needed. He found Glorfindel speaking to a small group of un-tried young recruits. Moving past the group and ignoring the curious eyes that followed, Gil-galad stripped off his heavy outer tunic, leaving him clad only in a light undershirt. He also by-passed the long poles used for spear training and instead chose a heavy broadsword. Warming up occupied him and let him focus on the pull and strain of muscles instead of frustrating thoughts of Elrond.
Gil-galad was unaware of the halt to the conversation as Glorfindel looked over to see what had his students so enthralled. The powerful sword swished through the air, catching glints of light and sending them dancing upon the ground, but that was not what had the young Elves’ mouths hanging agape. It was the sight of the sword-wielder himself who captured their attention. Gil-galad’s tall, broad-shouldered form seemed to glide and sway with each movement of the sword in his hand. His upper body taut, muscles outlined with the strain of his workout, and yards of his rich black hair floated down his back to dance at the top of his hips. Gil-galad’s noble face was fierce in its concentration, lips pursed highlighting the high cheekbones, and the sheen of moisture adding a gleam of pearl to the smooth skin of his torso. He presented a living, vivid picture of an image only seen up till then in books. The fierce and mighty High King of the Noldor.
Gil-galad only slowed the swings of his sword as Glorfindel came into view. He eyed the Elda, wondering what brought on the amused smirk that Glorfindel wore. "What," he asked irritably.
"Nothing," Glorfindel said. "Only admiring that you remember how to swing that sword is all. Ready to be dealt your first defeat since rebirth?" Glorfindel smirked at the former King as he removed his outerwear and began warming up as well.
"Some things one does not forget; it is like really good sex, you remember when needed," Gil-galad replied to the blond, who laughed at his words.
The pair began slowly circling. Gil-galad took the first strike of Glorfindel’s sword, feeling the impact all through his shoulder. He swung his blade under Glorfindel’s, each now dancing out of the path of the other’s sword. Blows rang through the valley, the sounds of blades crossing attracting the curious more quickly than word of mouth. The prospect of seeing two great warriors even in a friendly sparring match drew attention, added to that the warrior’s beauteous forms, and Elves filled the training grounds to watch.
For the most part, Gil-galad and Glorfindel ignored their audience. Trading insults and banter, they put on quite a show for the watching masses. Gil-galad’s attention was caught by a flash of black out of the corner of his eyes. He stole a glance and saw the black-robed Erestor standing well back, almost hidden by some trees at the edge of the field. Those coal-hued eyes were trained on the sparring pair. Since he knew that the aloof Advisor had no interest in him, it must be Glorfindel who held the Councilor’s attention so completely. This distraction, no matter how brief, proved all that the advantage the great Balrog slayer needed, and Gil-galad groaned as his sword went sailing through the air.
"Ha," Glorfindel crowed happily. "Was that a sign of age, oh King of old?" Glorfindel picked up the sword and handed both blades to a young Elf. He approached Gil-galad, who nodded his head in the direction of the trees.
"I was distracted and somehow I feel you are to blame, Glorfindel." Gil-galad chuckled at the blonde’s blank look.
Glorfindel looked over Gil-galad’s shoulder, a perplexed frown on his fair features. "Erestor," he called as the black-draped figure walked towards them. "What brings you to the practice yard this fine day, mellonen?"
Erestor bowed briefly before addressing Gil-galad. "My Lord Gil-galad, I thought if you wished, we could discuss some of the latest happenings like you requested?" Erestor’s obvious ignoring of Glorfindel brought a frown to the Elda’s face, but he said nothing, only watched Erestor with a look of desire not fully hidden.
Gil-galad spared a glance at the blond before addressing the Advisor. "That would be wonderful, Erestor. Just let me clean up a bit. Shall I meet you in the library?"
Once more a stiff bow was performed flawlessly and Erestor departed without a word to the one he had just moments before been unable to take his eyes off.
"You desire him?" Gil-galad asked Glorfindel, though he did not really need an affirmation, seeing the look of longing upon the Elda’s face.
"Ai," Glorfindel said, his voice hoarse. "But piercing that cold exterior would amount to tackling the frost of the Helcaraxë. He has rebuffed all my overtures." Glorfindel looked after the retreating Councilor once more before sending Gil-galad a mischievous smile. "However, I am persistent."
Gil-galad had to laugh as the Balrog slayer walked off, cockiness in his every step. Gil-galad sighed, wishing he could hold such hope for his own desires. Gil-galad ignored the throng of Elves still littered about the practice yard and made his way back to his quarters. Once in his room, his gaze was drawn to the large canopied bed. Spread out in an array of colors were several formal robes and various tunics and leggings, all in colors the former King had favored. He picked up the notes and read.
It would appear that the Valar gave no thought to baggage. These should meet your needs.
Gil-galad chuckled. Leave it to Elrond’s ultimate efficient Councilor to notice that detail. Making his way to his bath, he grabbed a tunic and leggings in a deep royal blue. Once clean, Gil-galad made his way to the vast Imladris libraries. There he found Erestor bent over his desk, furiously scribbling away with brief glances at a text open in front of him. Gil-galad knocked upon the corner of the open door.
"Come, my Lord," Erestor called, not looking up from his work.
Gil-galad entered and shut the door behind him. He did not know what the Advisor had to tell him, but just in case, he wanted privacy to hear it.
"Lord Erestor, if you need to schedule this for later?" Gil-galad asked as he took a seat, not in front of the Councilor’s desk but over by the windows where the bright rays of Anor could be felt.
Erestor rose and came to join Gil-galad. He stopped at a cabinet and poured two goblets of rich Imladris red wine. Handing one to Gil-galad, he took a seat across from the other Elf. "No, now is fine, my Lord."
For several moments the pair was silent, each lost in his own thoughts, and enjoying their glasses of wine. Finally Erestor set his wine aside and folded his hands in his lap. He looked piercingly at Gil-galad, and Gil-galad could not help but feel apprehensive at what the wise Councilor had to tell him.
"You have been sent back during very precarious times, Gil-galad," Erestor addressed Gil-galad frankly, his tone much more informal, as he knew that his words were going to be met with horror.
"Tell me," Gil-galad simply ordered mentally trying to prepare himself.
"The Dark Lord has returned. The Nazgûl have been sent to reclaim Dol Guldur in Southern Mirkwood." Erestor barely caught Gil-galad’s wine glass before it hit the floor.
To be continued...