1. A Harmony in Autumn
Summary: A tale of belatedly requited love, with a dose of politics, set in the period immediately preceding the foundation of the city of Gondolin.
There is no family history in canon for Glorfindel. I have invented one for him: the younger brother of Elenwë, Turgon's Vanyarin wife, who was lost on the Helcaraxë. Differences between Turgon and Fingon about the withdrawal to the hidden vale of Tumladen are concepts of my imagination alone and have no canon basis. The ideological differences raised herein are what I view as one of several logical extrapolations stemming from the Noldor's mutinous attitude toward the Valar. I also invented that the youthful Ecthelion was heir to any Lord of the Fountain in Tirion before the exile.
I have used the Sindarin names throughout this story, although one might argue this was a transitional period when the Noldor might have frequently addressed one another by their original names. I reserved the use of Quenya names herein to particular expressions of fondness, friendship or recollections of the past (Laurefindil for Glorfindel; Findekáno for Fingon).
A Harmony in Autumn
The day becomes more solemn and serene
When noon is past -- there is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!
--from Hymn to Intellectual Beauty, Percy Bysshe Shelley
Glorfindel and Fingon had been blessed with fine weather for their journey. The last days of summer's warmth lingered still. Few leaves had fallen yet, but the deep rich greens of summer no longer colored the foliage. Instead, varying hues of yellow, rust and red signaled true autumn had come. The azure cloudless sky and the bright sun could not but cause Glorfindel's spirits to lift. Nonetheless, he found no genuine peace of mind.
Glorfindel traveled in the company of Prince Fingon, whose mission for approaching Vinyamar that day was related to his own. Glorfindel had come to give an answer to Fingon's brother Turgon who had asked him to depart with him from Vinyamar to found a new city, hidden far inland from Nevrast. Fingon also had come to speak to Turgon and insist that his younger brother's scheme of withdrawing from their alliance and retreating to construct a secret city reeked of despair at best and sectarian factionalism at worst.
Shortly before they left, Glorfindel had overheard one of Fingon's explosions about his distaste for and opposition to Turgon's vague and mysterious plans. He had all but accused Turgon of coercing their sister Aredhel and ripping young Idril from the bosom of her extended family. Fingolfin had silenced his eldest son's ranting, insisting that, if Fingon felt so strongly, he should take himself to his brother and discuss his concerns with him personally before it was too late. By then, Glorfindel had already received his own personal message from Turgon inviting him to join in this new venture. Traveling together out of convenience and in friendship, Glorfindel and Fingon spoke little of their separate and, more likely than not, conflicting reasons for making this trip.
One could never say that Fingon, under any circumstances, provided anything but pleasant company. However great his grief or anger at his brother's plans might be, Fingon's ebullient character overcame any trace of gloominess. Despite whatever faults that dauntless Noldo might have had, moping was not among them. Glorfindel marveled at how effortlessly Fingon relished the excellent conditions of their journey, with what vigor he hunted small game for their campfire meals, and the easy joy apparent in his voice as he sang both ridiculous and sweetly nostalgic songs at night.
In response, Glorfindel forced himself to constrain his own despondency over the choice that faced him. He could not imagine shutting himself off from two-thirds of his adopted people. The concept of placing himself in a situation where he would be potentially unable to aid valiant defenders, like Fingon, in their struggle against the Enemy, repulsed him. And yet, he could not imagine a life without Ecthelion, nor did he want to separate himself from the small part of his family that remained to him.
The two traveling companions stopped for their last night before reaching the seaside city of Vinyamar. It had been easy to start a small fire, with the abundance of dry wood and the dead leaves that languidly drifted down upon them from the surrounding trees.
"I have tried not to weary you with my dissatisfaction over this latest difference with my brother," Fingon said. "Especially since I presume that you are seriously considering accepting the invitation to accompany him, and I will not dare to judge you. You have your own reasons I am sure." Fingon's voice was warm and the smile he flashed at his companion irresistibly vibrant, despite words that could have indicated disapproval.
"It is a difficult decision for me. Since Elenwë's death, Turgon depends upon me to provide a link for Idril to her mother's family and I would not want to think of never seeing my niece again." Upon saying those words, Glorfindel grimaced and wished he could have taken them back. "Forgive me if I sounded insensitive; I know it must cause you pain as well to think of being deprived of the company of both your sister and your niece."
"Ah, such admirable, unselfish reasons," Fingon said, grinning. "There is for you nothing more personal at stake in this adventure aside from your loyalty to those you consider family?'
"You know that Ecthelion has been my dearest friend since before we left Valinor. He enclosed a note with Turgon's missive begging me not to make a decision without first consulting with him."
"Ah, so Ecthelion contemplates following Turgon as well. I can surely understand how that might make it nearly impossible for you to refuse." Fingon shot him a knowing grin. "I certainly appreciate what it means to follow one's love despite all hardship or reason."
Glorfindel was shocked. Could Fingon possibly think there was more than simple friendship in his bond with Ecthelion? "Oh, but the relationship between Ecthelion and me is nothing like that of you and Maedhros," Glorfindel hastened to add, surprised but not embarrassed.
"Only that yours has been much more discreet and less gossiped about. Your love and regard for one another is plain to see. By me at least, who understands more than most about these questions." Fingon chuckled and stood abruptly. "I will fetch more water, while you look after the fire and see that the partridge does not burn."
Glorfindel's cheeks flushed at the thought that his hidden yearning for Ecthelion had been noted. He had never spoken of it to anyone, much less to Ecthelion. The thought of that flawless face and graceful form had long overwhelmed him with an unwelcome heat. His mind's eye conjured up in glorious detail Ecthelion's glossy black hair and clear grey eyes, which reminded Glorfindel of silver and diamonds, so bright and pale contrasted against his lightly tanned skin. Glorfindel had been attracted to Ecthelion at first sight.
Actually, if the whole truth were to be told, his enthrallment with Ecthelion had begun before he first glimpsed that unrivaled face. Glorfindel recalled how he had gone to a concert with his new brother-in-law, to hear Turgon's half-cousin, the famed Maglor, son of Fëanor. It had been held at the largest concert hall in Tirion, crowded that night with all of the most illustrious of the Noldor who wished to hear Maglor's newly written piece.
Maglor had taken the stage alone and bowed most benevolently and modestly to an adoring crowd. He held his harp in his hands and smiled shyly as a curtain opened behind him to reveal a group of instrumentalists, their flutes, harps and drums at ready for the signal from the master composer and the greatest singer in all of Aman.
At a nod from his maestro, a single flautist began to play. Notes of heartbreaking purity tore Glorfindel's gaze from the great Maglor to find its source. Glorfindel held his breath at the sight of the young man who played that opening melody. More beautiful than any being he had seen before seemed he to Glorfindel that evening. No man or woman, however graceful or appealing, had ever touched him in such a way. He possessed the blackest hair, unbraided and flowing to his waist over a simple white robe, framing sculpted cheekbones, a high forehead, and a perfect Noldorin nose. Then Maglor began to sing and the unknown elf lowered his flute, revealing the loveliest mouth, lips full and sensitive, with the slightest pout that made them seem to be begging to be kissed.
When the piece had finally ended, Glorfindel squirmed in his seat, utterly smitten and aware he had been all but holding his breath since he had first looked upon that fair face. He turned to Turgon. "Who is the flautist?" he asked, hoping that the hoarseness in his voice did not reveal his painful infatuation.
"The first flute? Wonderful musician isn't he?" Turukano had answered. "Ecthelion, heir to the Lord of the Fountain. He is an old and dear friend of mine. We were tutored in letters together as children. He always preferred music over other pursuits, but he excels in martial sports as well. I'll introduce you to him at the reception. Fine fellow. I am certain that the two of you will like one another."
As Turgon had predicted, Ecthelion and Glorfindel, were compatible and soon became great friends. They laughed and sparred together in the golden glow of Laurelin and, under the silver haze of Telperion, they argued and talked, revealing many, if not all, of their youthful hopes and dreams. Ecthelion played his beloved flute for Glorfindel, who became his most honest critic and sincerest admirer.
The fact that Ecthelion was strangely trustful of the Valar for a Noldo, and Glorfindel entirely too rebellious and questioning for a Vanyarin, never failed to amuse them. They joked among their family and friends that this serendipitous moderation of their cultural differences made them an almost perfect pair. And, surely during all those happy years, Ecthelion himself never suspected Glorfindel's carefully hidden passion or he could not have treated him with such unguarded trust and friendship.
The soft rustle of footfalls upon leaves, indicating that Fingon headed back in the direction of their camp, pulled Glorfindel out of his thoughts. He did not know what he should say to Fingon when he arrived. Should he protest, untruthfully, that he felt no such lust for his friend, simply drop the subject and hope Fingon would not raise it again, or could he speak of his feelings to one who might understand the pain and longing of his unrequited love?
"Wonderful luck," Fingon called out. "I filled two skins full with fresh, clean water and I found some roots that will go well with our fowl tonight. Let me put a pot on to boil. After we eat, we can share some spirits that will loosen your tongue and you can tell me all about you and Ecthelion."
Glorfindel could not withhold a laugh at Fingon's good-natured, impudent grin. "Ah, Findekáno, you are incorrigible."
"I have heard that before. But I sincerely have your best interests at heart this time. If you are ready to make such a major decision, based upon an utter lack of self-knowledge and faulty perception, then you should confide in and listen to the opinion of another who cares for you."
After they had eaten their fill of the partridge and the boiled vegetable, seasoned with salt and a bit of the juice of the well-roasted fowl, Fingon pulled out a small flask and passed it to his companion.
"Have a drink. So, you would have me believe that Ecthelion has never revealed his feelings for you and you never guessed?" Fingon said, not one to be easily dissuaded once he fixed upon an idea.
Glorfindel groaned. "Ai, would that what you think you have perceived were true."
"Yet, Ecthelion wrote and begged you to come here and permit him to speak with you before you might decide not to join in on this trek simply because he doesn't want to lose a sparring partner?"
"Well, yes, I suppose, that and our friendship," Glorfindel said, smiling shyly.
"If I am right, and there is more to it, perhaps he will do you the favor of jumping you and confessing his true interests as soon as you are alone, or the two of you could sadly continue as you say you always have." Fingon's mobile, handsome face, just visible in the soft light of the fire, shifted into a comical woebegone-heartbroken-hero expression. "You will never see him again and you both will pine away in longing and frustration: a scenario worthy of one of Maglor's finest tragic operas." Glorfindel guffawed and grinned at Fingon's description, his heart suddenly lighter.
"I'll do it then. I will declare myself," Glorfindel stated. He looked upward just as a passing cloud gently moved to reveal a bright harvest moon, reddish-golden and glowing large. It seemed an omen to him that it was indeed time to reap the fruits of the love that he had tended furtively for so long. If he should fail to gain his hearts desire, it would not be for lack of trying on his part.
Fingon released a boyish laugh and grasped Glorfindel by the upper arm, slapping him on the back. "I didn't think to convince you so easily. I had several more arguments prepared."
"You presented the choices rather bluntly." Glorfindel chuckled. "May I ask how you discovered that Maedhros loved you?"
Fingon lowered his eyebrows and pulled them together, with a cocky shrug he answered, "Well, I told him I was completely wild for him, of course. It was a few days short of my fiftieth begetting day and, in my youthful impatience and enthusiasm, I would know how he felt about me or curse myself as a coward."
"And he was older by several years. That must have taken courage." Glorfindel smiled to imagine the audacity of the young and inexperienced Fingon approaching his proud and handsome cousin, destined for a brilliant match, and with an already well-developed reputation among the most eligible maidens of Tirion. "Had he given you clues he held any special regard for you?"
"He had been ever warm and kind, and befriended me from my earliest youth, but held himself aloof. But I confessed I was in love with him. And it was as simple as that. He gave me the longest, most impassioned kiss, confirming unmistakably that my yearning had not been one-sided. But I do not need to speak more of that." Fingon laughed, stood, and stretched, beginning to prepare his bedroll for sleeping. "Don't stay up too late, my friend. The earlier we rest tonight, the sooner we will reach Vinyamar tomorrow."
Glorfindel bade Fingon good night, but he could not sleep. He watched the dying fire and thought of Ecthelion. He did not think of his beloved's sterling character, his many talents or his courage and generosity of spirit. For all his efforts, Glorfindel could not tame his seditious mind to budge beyond his memories of the breathtaking sight of hard muscle moving beneath tight leggings, beautifully formed sensual lips, slightly parted and tempting, or an imagined heat in Ecthelion's ice-grey eyes, heavily rimmed in dark lashes, or of those sensitive musician's hands touching his own burning body. He finally folded himself roughly into his blankets and fell into a fevered dream.
The following morning, a bright sun revealed that the unseasonable warmth held for at least another day. Glorfindel and Fingon resumed their journey early. And before long, the taste of salty sea air met their lips. Their mounts raised their heads at the sound of an approaching horseman. Glorfindel whooped and sped forward as soon as he recognized the familiar set of broad shoulders, a windborne banner of shining black hair, and the glittering silver tack of the rider who approached them. The travelers closed the distance swiftly and Glorfindel leapt from his steed to greet Ecthelion.
When the two old friends finally stood face-to-face, a sudden bout of shyness and insecurity overcame Glorfindel's courage of the night before. Ecthelion was the first to speak.
"Aren't you going to kiss me, Laurefindil?" he asked, laughing with joyous abandon. Glorfindel's memories of his heated fantasies and dreams of the night before held him back for a moment. Despite Glorfindel's initial shy reticence, when their lips finally met, he feared his newly emboldened determination ill-concealed. Ecthelion seemed to find nothing amiss and his firm kiss lingered a moment longer than expected.
"Well met, good friend," Glorfindel replied, barely controlling a threatened tremor of physical need. Ecthelion's smile broke uncomplicated and self-confident across his visage. His expression was affable, but otherwise unreadable, while his grey eyes widened with perhaps a hint of surprise. A subtly different half-smile played against those so-desired lips as Ecthelion grasped Glorfindel into a short embrace before turning to greet Fingon.
"Warmest greetings, Fingon. Your brother is anxiously expecting you." The glint in Ecthelion's eyes was mischievous. The arguments between Fingon and Turgon over the years, which kept gossipmongers happy, were legendary. "I was compelled to ride out to meet you, when I learned that Glorfindel accompanied you. You are both most welcome here."
The three men remounted their horses and rode in the direction of Vinyamar. Glorfindel fell silent, distracted by the proximity of Ecthelion, and listened to the idle conversational sallies tossed back and forth between his fellow riders. The closer to the beach they drew, the stronger grew the smell of the sea, fresh and sharply clean. When they were within sight of the stone buildings clustering around the castle, the sun beamed bright upon the sand and a brisk breeze was blowing. A thicket of bushes and tall grasses crowded against a stony divide on the land side of the beach. Deprived of the reds and golds of autumn leaves farther inland, Glorfindel was nonetheless acutely aware of the season, viewing the yellow and dusky brown of the tall grasses that had flourished brightest green when he last had taken his leave of Vinyamar.
Upon entering the keep surrounding the main structure of the castle, laughing embraces between Fingon and Turgon, might have given lie to their perennial conflict of purpose and goals if one did not know them as well as Glorfindel did. He turned to find Ecthelion's gaze upon him.
"Come with me. I have spacious quarters within the adjacent building. I assured Turgon that I am more than able to provide you lodging." Ecthelion's voice had grown low and private while the touch of his hand upon the small of Glorfindel's back provoked a delicious shiver.
Once inside the sparsely furnished but comfortable rooms of Ecthelion, Glorfindel at last permitted himself to meet Ecthelion's eyes. Those eyes appeared dark with emotion, even passion, if Glorfindel was not blinded by his own desire.
"You came to me. I scarcely dared hope that you would," Ecthelion said
"Ecthelion," was the only word that Glorfindel could manage, his voice sounding thick and rough with craving even to his own ears. Ruing the fact that his beginning was not at all as eloquent as he had imagined he would fashion it, Glorfindel cupped Ecthelion's face with one hand, rubbing his thumb across a cunningly sculpted cheekbone, a gesture far more intimate than was their habit.
"So, you were able to read between the lines of my stiff, cautious letter." To Glorfindel's perception, Ecthelion's smile eclipsed the brightness of Laurelin at its zenith. "You look astonishing, as always. May I kiss you then, my golden one?" Ecthelion asked. "I am so frightfully tired of waiting."
Glorfindel moved first. All of his most extravagant fantasies fell into dust at the reality of touching those longed-for lips with his own. Ecthelion moaned against his mouth, causing Glorfindel to feel that all the blood in his body had rushed to his groin. Years of restraint and denial detonated in an instant. Both men fumbled and tore at the unwanted garments that separated them from one another.
It seemed but a moment to Glorfindel before he stood looking at Ecthelion wearing nothing at all, although, when he was to look back upon it later, their haste and the resultant clumsiness had made shedding all of their clothing, eventually abandoned around their feet in heaps, nothing less than a comical ordeal. He had seen Ecthelion unclad before, but this felt ineffably different, rare and precious beyond the possibility of measurement. He slid his hand slowly down the front of Ecthelion's body, from his shoulder to just past his navel, in wonder at the rapture that simple touch brought him, before he paused.
Drawing a deep breath as he looked into Ecthelion's eyes again, Glorfindel whispered, "You are perfect."
Ecthelion responded with a strangled grunt, wrapping his arms around Glorfindel and pulling him against him, before he lowered his hands to firmly splay them against Glorfindel's buttocks. "Don't stop there," Ecthelion panted. "Touch me!"
Glorfindel firmly grasped the erection pressed hard against his stomach. He heard himself release a slow moan as his hand encircled Ecthelion's stiff member and felt the unimaginably silky skin that covered it. Pressing a trembling kiss against that sweet mouth, Glorfindel was answered with a fierce demanding one. Deep, open-mouthed kisses turned more urgent as Glorfindel's caressing changed to purposeful stroking and pulling.
"Stop. Please stop. The bed," Ecthelion begged of him. Glorfindel gave out a short, joyous laugh. Without either releasing their hold on the other, they stumbled toward the bed. Finally reaching their goal, they collapsed in a tangled, rough tumble upon it.
"Glorfindel! Careful. You nearly yanked it off when we fell!" Ecthelion laughed aloud.
"You are exaggerating; it wasn't even close," Glorfindel said, stroking more soothingly for a moment, his voice teasing and amused. "When I dreamed of claiming you for my own, my fantasies did not include so much verbal participation on your part."
"Is that bad?" Ecthelion mumbled, briefly interrupting his intent examination of one of Glorfindel's nipples with his teeth and tongue.
"Oh, my." Glorfindel sighed in blissful appreciation, before shuddering in rapture at the sharp little nips followed by a consoling tongue. "I love to hear your voice. Tell me what you want, love?"
"You. Wanted only you for so long," was Ecthelion's breathy response.
Lying side-by-side, Glorfindel could once again admire the long, lean form, the disheveled mane of black hair arrayed across the pillows, and more easily touch and kiss every inch of creamy skin, every dip and curve of that entrancing body. His wonder at his lover's intense responsiveness overwhelmed him. Glorfindel shifted slightly to bite an earlobe and whisper, "Shall I take you in my mouth?"
A drawn-out whimper was Ecthelion's only response, which Glorfindel chose to interpret as a "yes." He wasted no time in bending down and caressing Ecthelion's member with his tongue. It was both exciting and reassuring to Glorfindel to finally be able to do what he had fantasized about so many times. After experimentally covering the head with his mouth, he took in Ecthelion's organ, at first shallowly, slowly and gently, and then, gaining confidence, deeply and more vigorously, adoring the encouraging pressure of a hand atop his head. He thrilled at the soft moans from his beloved caused by the movement of his lips and tongue. Glorfindel pulled away for moment and whispered, "Don't hold back. Come in my mouth." The spasms of Ecthelion's release seemed to connect directly to his own erection. I want him to do that to me, Glorfindel thought, yet still reluctant to ask.
"You are too good at that for a novice. Have you done that before or had it done to you?"
"No. Never. Imagined it. Countless times. Imagined you," Glorfindel gasped, scarcely able to verbalize.
"Well, I have. Done it before, I mean. And I promise you, sweetheart, that I intend to defy your expectations." Ecthelion said, his tone clear but low and simultaneously both sweet and wanton.
The sound of that voice, so familiar and well-loved, yet so strange and new, and Ecthelion's shameless words caused Glorfindel to arch his back off of the bed and groan loudly. Ecthelion was right. He was expert and inspired. When Glorfindel climaxed, he thought he would weep at the intensity of it. Ecthelion immediately pulled him into his arms and held him, gently caressing him and kissing his face and neck, all the while murmuring, "I've loved you since the night we met. I've always wanted you."
"But why did you hide it from me? Surely, if you have more experience, you must have guessed how I felt?" Glorfindel demanded, gently but firmly.
Ecthelion chuckled and shrugged. "Bad advice."
"What? Who? Who gave you such advice?" Glorfindel stuttered, momentarily aghast.
"Calm down," Ecthelion said. "We are here now, love, aren't we?" He laughed softly as he stroked Glorfindel's hair. "Such incredible golden hair. I returned home that first night, after the concert--not to my parent's house--to the music student's lodgings where I lived at that time. I arrived elated and announced to my two closest friends there: 'I'm in love.' "
"Just like that? You told them just like that?"
"Oh, they knew me well. They wanted to know who and I said, 'His name is Laurefindil.' They asked, 'Beautiful Laurefindil? Laurefindil of the Vanyar?'" Ecthelion mimicked the voices of his friends, in an exaggerated imitation of the accent of the privileged youths of Valinor. "Then they warned me to be careful, that you were young, that you were Vanyarin, that I would frighten you away, that I should go slowly."
"Idiots!" Glorfindel blurted out, eliciting a full out laugh from Ecthelion, who calmed his lover with another slow kiss.
"You know the rest of the story. The stakes were raised when we so rapidly became inseparable companions. Then I didn't want my imprudent lust to cost me my dearest friend. And, surely you remember the madness of Tirion in those days?" Ecthelion drew his eyebrows together, gazing into space, as though picturing those events. "My father supported Fingolfin; my uncles sympathized with Fëanor. I was close to Maglor, but Turgon was one of my oldest friends. Then the whole disaster of Fëanor threatening Fingolfin hit everyone hard. You were Vanyarin. It seemed wrong to draw you into it and I was terrified that any word of an involvement with me would result in your parents calling you back to Valimar."
"But I was already up to my neck in it, with my sister married to Turgon." Glorfindel snuggled closer to Ecthelion, needing to reassure himself that it was not dream, that they really were truly in bed together, and this was not just another random discussion of the snarled politics of the Noldor, like so many they had engaged in over the years, but was about loving one another.
Still languorously floating in the aftermath of his completion, Glorfindel mumbled, "I want to talk more. I have other questions, like where you acquired your experience. I want to make love more as well, but I am just so sleepy. I didn't rest at all last night. Completely obsessed with thinking about you."
"Is that a gracious way of telling me to stop talking?" Ecthelion chuckled. "Shh. You don't have to answer. Rest assured there has been no one since the day I met you. Sleep now, my beautiful one. I am not going anywhere."
"But perhaps I should speak with Turgon?" Glorfindel asked reluctantly.
"Not now. He told me we should not worry about meeting him before dinner tonight. He will be occupied with his irrepressible brother in any case."
Glorfindel fell immediately asleep thinking of how at peace he felt, and how, in Ecthelion's arms, he was finally where he had always belonged.
Ecthelion woke up first and leaned on one elbow watching Glorfindel sleep. His thoroughly mussed golden hair fell haphazardly in thick, heavy waves over his well-muscled chest and shoulders. Glorfindel's chiseled face, square jaw line, and surprisingly dark and sooty lashes resting against flushed cheeks made him appear to Ecthelion to be a perfect picture of vigorous masculine fairness. Yet Glorfindel's wide, sensual mouth looked as soft, tender and relaxed as that of a sleeping child. Ecthelion could not resist bending over and kissing him, although he felt guilty that he undoubtedly would wake him. Glorfindel opened his bright, pale blue eyes and smiled up at the man leaning over him with such transparent joy that Ecthelion felt his heart would burst in his chest.
"I love you, Ecthelion." Glorfindel's smile broadened. "I dreamt that I was sleeping here beside you and kept warning myself not to move lest I should awaken and find you gone."
"Then I do not regret waking you. It is late afternoon and I would take advantage of the hour or two we have alone together."
"Then give me lessons, my experienced friend, in how a man properly makes love to another." Glorfindel grinned widely, without a trace of insecurity or shyness.
"That will be a pleasure indeed since you apparently have a prodigious natural talent for the subject matter."
Ecthelion kissed and caressed him until Glorfindel begged him to "get on with it."
He then gently prepared an increasingly enthusiastic Glorfindel, whose mewls and mutterings provided an arousing complement to his efforts. It wasn't difficult to make Glorfindel relaxed and ready; they were old and dear friends. Trust was not an issue. Glorfindel had not a smidgen of fear.
"I'm ready now," Glorfindel cried out once, impatient and insistent, causing Ecthelion to quietly explain that, in fact, he was not. As Ecthelion slowly penetrated him, finally breaching his lover's last involuntary defenses, Glorfindel's approving pleas almost caused him to come undone.
"Is that uncomfortable?" Ecthelion asked.
"Eru, it burns. More. Give me more," Glorfindel answered. Ecthelion could not hold back a smile as he compiled. The thought briefly crossed Ecthelion's mind that exceeding expectations would be a pitifully inadequate understatement for describing the pleasure of their joining.
Ecthelion held onto his control for longer than he thought possible. He reached between them to grasp Glorfindel's erection. Glorfindel's hands entwined in his hair, pulling hard, and his repeated keening of "yes, oh, yes" echoing in Ecthelion's ears pushed him to a precipitous finish. Glorfindel arched against him one last time and came with a broken, ecstatic sob.
Ecthelion rolled to the side, holding tightly onto his lover's body, hoping against hope that Glorfindel's decision would enable this to become a habit rather than a heart-breaking farewell.
Their breathing finally quieted and Ecthelion was able to speak. "That is how it is done. But given the opportunity of a little practice, we can make it last a good deal longer." Ecthelion laughed softly as he tried to stroke his face and Glorfindel kept grabbing his fingers between his lips.
"I adore your musician's hand, such long, slender fingers," Glorfindel announced with great satisfaction.
"You have spoken of your fantasies," Ecthelion hastened to add. "Let me tell you a favorite of my own. I have often imagined you taking me in the manner in which I just claimed you."
A monumental shiver covered Glorfindel's body with goosebumps. "Yes, oh, yes," Glorfindel sighed.
Glorfindel and Ecthelion entered the main hall together for dinner with Turgon and all of his court. Fingon and Turgon apparently had tired of arguing and determined to put on a good face for the sake of the gathered company. Ecthelion delighted in watching the faint blush rise upon Glorfindel cheeks, followed by a shy smile, each time he touched his hand or whispered in his ear. Beautiful Laurefindil, indeed, he thought, remembering those remarks of his friends in Tirion, they did not know the half of how lovely he truly is.
After the meal, Turgon took Glorfindel aside for a private consultation, as a select invited few retired to Turgon's private parlor with Fingon. First, Fingon grumbled a bit about how he had missed his sister, who had left the previous day to visit their father. Then Fingon turned to Ecthelion, rolled his eyes and asked, "Did he tell you that he actually intends to attempt to construct this city in the style of Tirion?"
Ecthelion gave him a sympathetic grin and had opened his mouth to speak, when Glorfindel and Turgon returned together. Glorfindel flashed Ecthelion a radiant smile. Turgon had a satisfied look about him and immediately asked Ecthelion if he would grace them with a tune.
"Do you have a flute I can borrow?"
"Try this one." Turgon said, handing him a long, silver instrument. "It's not as fine as your own I am sure. But I am told it has a pleasing tone."
"It's excellent." Ecthelion said, sounding a single perfect note. "Well, then, if you don't mind, one of my favorite flute solos is from Maglor's 'Harmony in Autumn.' But I'll need someone who knows the piece to sing the vocal part. Findekáno, would you join me?" Ecthelion asked. Just as he had hoped, Glorfindel's visage flooded with a look of surprise and abject tenderness and devotion. The handsome Vanyarin endearingly reddened all the way up to his hairline and down his neck.
"I have no shame," Fingon replied. "I may not have Maglor's voice, but I can carry a tune."
Ecthelion grinned. "Ai, Findekáno, you are indeed shameless. Fishing for a compliment when you well know you have a superb voice, trained by Maglor himself."
Fingon made a self-deprecating grimace. "Would it surprise you to know that while he oft told me I had talent, he insisted I was a far too distractible pupil to ever pursue a career in music?"
"Ah, yes." Ecthelion grinned. "Just as a brave heart alone does not make a swordsman without the practice, a musician must endure the tedium of scales to become a master. But you are more than qualified for this gathering."
As Ecthelion played the same piece he had played so long ago, in that distant world, the night they had met, he could not take his eyes off of Glorfindel. When he took his place again next to his lover, Glorfindel's blue eyes glittered with unshed tears of happiness.
"You certainly know how to give me joy," Glorfindel whispered in his ear.
Ecthelion leaned over and placed a short kiss on Glorfindel's lips. "If you will let me I will spend the rest of my life doing exactly that."
The company was agreeable, the wine was excellent and plentiful, while Ecthelion guarded his intake judiciously, unwilling for it to interfere with his ability to further enjoy his companion later. No one spoke again of the looming exodus, although all within that room planned to participate, save Fingon, of course, and possibly Glorfindel. Ecthelion thought of little else, anxious as he was to hear of Glorfindel's short discussion with Turgon. Finally, Turgon stood and stifled a yawn behind his hand. "It grows very late."
Ecthelion whispered in Glorfindel's ear, "Ai, that is Turgon's version of a royal dismissal." Glorfindel snorted and coughed to cover a laugh.
One by one the company stood, bade their good-byes and drifted from the room. Fingon pulled his brother into a hearty embrace.
Turgon took his arm. "Stay for a while, Findekáno."
"Gladly, if you wish it, little brother," Fingon said. Ecthelion felt relieved that the battling sons of Fingolfin had apparently found their peace; he hoped his own would be forthcoming.
As they walked back toward the annex where Ecthelion was housed, Glorfindel raised the subject for which Ecthelion had been waiting.
"So, Turgon and I talked. He told me a lot of nonsense about dreams and instructions from Ulmo and a hidden vale, the exact location of which he still will not disclose..." Ecthelion's last fragile hope snapped like a broken bowstring. Curse me for falling in love with the single skeptical Vanyarin that I have ever met, he thought.
"I promised Turgon, I would support him," Ecthelion said. "I fear I spoke too hastily and with too little faith in you. I could try to explain to him that I should have consulted you before promising I would come with him."
"Nay, my foolish, faithless love, you need do nothing of that sort." Glorfindel's dazzling smile stirred a spark of hope again. "I was just going to tell you I have come to believe, after listening to Turgon, that there is room for more than one strategy for withstanding the Enemy. Whether Turgon's dreams resulted from too much wine with his dinner or an actual message, I intend to follow you. Shall we hurry on to bed now? I promise I am a less easily distracted student than Fingon."
End Note: I would like to explain why I chose this particular verse of Hymn to Intellectual Beauty by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Initially, I sought to meld the request for autumn with the request for a poem. I sought out this poem, because I thought I remembered the phrase "a harmony in autumn." (Of course, I couldn't remember which poem, only that it might be Shelley.) When I finally located and read the verse that includes those words, it seemed perfect. The decision to follow Turgon to found Gondolin signals the passage beyond the noontime of the lives of Glorfindel and Ecthelion. Those few short years in Gondolin, unbeknownst to them, were to become the autumn of their life. Yet, in this story, with my particular adaptation of canon, it also became the period in which they achieved true harmony and added a luster to their relationship through the long-delayed consummation of their love, something they would not have predicted even in that blissful summer past of their days in Valinor.