19. The Balm of Friendships Part One
“They always ride that way,” the warrior closest to Elrond remarked, “Do you find that strange?”
“I find much about their relationship strange but beautiful,” Elrond said smiling.
The warrior grinned, “Then Lord Herald, thus will you find Greenwood the Great. It is like its Prince, wild, untamed, feral yet alluring.”
Oropher called for a halt, they had made quick progress, their ride being swift and light. But now, it was night. Thranduil arranged the watches and supervised the settling down for the night.
Oropher approached Elrond, who had been staring at the sky pensively sitting cross-legged on the earth, his thoughts on Erestor.
“Elrond,” the king asked, “I hope you do not find the company of my men unpleasant? You have been riding with them all day.”
Elrond moved to make space for the king, who sat down gracefully. He replied, “Your men are quite tolerant towards a Noldor peredhel.”
Oropher smiled, “You are tolerant than the most towards the Sindar, I suppose that accounts for the disposition of my men.”
Elrond nodded saying, “That might be so, My Lord.”
Thranduil walked towards them balancing a tray having three bowls of soup and a plate of fried chunks of venison in his hands.
Elrond and Oropher accepted their bowls and the prince sat down next to his father remarking, “After a few days of laziness, riding all day makes me weary.”
Oropher remarked as he spooned soup from the bowl, “You practise riding almost every night, my son, unlike me and Elrond. How weary will we be then?”
Elrond choked on his mouthful of venison as he watched Thranduil look at his father in a scandalized manner.
Oropher smiled saying, “My son, I am your Adar after all, few of your doings remain unknown to me!”
Thranduil tore a chunk of venison viciously saying, “You forget that we have a guest, Ada! You cannot be so indiscreet before him. What will he think of us?”
Elrond said helpfully, “I do not mind, anyway it is stale news.”
Thranduil snorted as Oropher laughed lightly, “You are both determined to embarrass me. Elrond, I cannot believe this of you! Siding with a Sindar King!”
“He has Sindar blood on his mother’s side, my son, and that is more than you have in your veins. You are only a quarter Sindar, I may remind you,” Oropher said charmingly.
Thranduil muttered something indiscernible before saying aloud, “I go to seek my rest now.”
He walked off in a huff, which was very reminiscent of Haldir’s gait, making Elrond and Oropher laugh again.
Oropher finally said as if to himself, “He does not let a day pass without making me smile atleast once.”
They passed a large convoy of Lórien elves the next day morning, Thranduil whispered something to Oropher and followed the Lórien elves. He did not return until mid-day, and then he had a smug, self-satisfied expression on his handsome face.
Celeborn told Amdir bluntly, “You should accept the proposal when you still can do so without losing face before all of elvendom.”
Amdir retorted, “Would you have given your daughter to an elf who has as loose morals as the prince? Would you choose him over Elrond Half-elven?”
“Any day,” Celeborn said bitterly, “I will not allow my daughter to marry Elrond if t is my hands, but I fear it is no longer so. It is not that I do not esteem Elrond, but it is that he cannot love her, he told me so frankly.”
“Thranduil says he loves my child,” Amdir said quietly, “Yet I do not feel it safe to let her go.”
“Amdir, , we parents never feel the time right to let our children leave our nests. But it is time, time to let them fly away and build their own nests. We can bless them to begin their new lives or oppose them. But, love will not be ceased by our mongering, we will be estranged from our children if we do not support their choices,” Celeborn said quietly, “Thranduil is not Oropher, he means to win his love by any means. You will lose your daughter to him if you do not agree to this. Oropher knows this which is why he is so unusually calm in his dealings regarding this. Even he may not be able to control the fire of Thranduil if the prince is truly determined.”
Amdir nodded, “That is true, Thranduil is not an elf to be crossed lightly, I will do as you say, we shall begin the negotiations concerning the betrothal as soon as we reach Lórien.”
Celeborn said in a relieved voice, “That is wisdom, Amdir, for I had no wish to see you estranged from your daughter.”
“She would have chosen him over me?” Amdir asked stunned.
Celeborn said with a bittersweet smile on his handsome features, “Indeed, for there is no hold on a heart greater than that of love between two souls.”
Erestor watched with mild amusement as Glorfindel struggled to maintain his dignity with Aldor hovering about like a mother-hen. They had been lovers for two weeks and Glorfindel found walking harder with each passing day.
“I am sure that I can pour tea into my cup, my friend!” Glorfindel said exasperatedly, “Do sit down, you are making me nervous.”
Aldor complied unhappily.
Erestor asked Glorfindel innocently, “Would you join me for a game of chess in my study tonight?”
Aldor looked over at Glorfindel fearfully. The Balrog Slayer gave Erestor a jaundiced look before saying blandly, “I have less boring things to do, my dear Erestor, than playing mundane chess with a half-wit.”
Aldor was shocked by someone speaking thus to the sharp counsellor. But Erestor merely smiled saying, “Indeed, if you devote your time to these less mundane things, Glor, you may not be able to ride again in the foreseeable future,” he bowed gracefully before walking away.
Glorfindel had turned a deep shade of pink before murmuring, “The wretch!”
Aldor asked him worriedly, “Maybe you know, we should not so often...”
“You are leaving soon,” Glorfindel interjected, “I would not wish these days together wasted.”
Aldor sighed, “You are impatient as a one of my kind!”
“Lord Glorfindel,” a young woman, Aldor remembered her as the hostess of the palace approached them, Lady Menelwen, he wondered why Glorfindel was upset, until the lady spoke coldly, “I thought not that you would stoop to such low morals as seeking comfort in the arms of a Second born.”
Glorfindel said in a tight voice, “Menelwen, you should not speak thus, .”
“It is not for you to tell me that,” she reminded him, “My Lord, you have lost all your claim on me that night when you refused to heed my plea. I simply warn you that seeking substitutes does not become one of your stature.”
Aldor stood shocked, on hearing the lady’s words. Even if Glorfindel had not accepted his love, atleast the elf had agreed to be with him until he left for Gondor. He watched painfully at the woman who had once loved Glorfindel and whom Glorfindel probably loved. He, Aldor, had been a mere body substitute. Glorfindel had not even considered him worthy enough to reveal that fact.
Glorfindel sighed as Menelwen walked away before turning to Aldor. The human’s face was set in a calm emotionless mask, but the tell-tale cobalt blue eyes revealed the truth, the pain, betrayal, mortification and infinite sorrow that the young king felt.
Glorfindel knew that nothing he said could erase that pain. He watched numbly as Aldor walked away, carrying himself with the pride of a man who knew he had earned his place in the world. Glorfindel, Lord of the House of the Golden Flower, had broken yet another heart that loved him.
Celebrían dismounted gracefully from her steed, and rushed into her beloved Adar’s arms.
“My beautiful daughter is with me again,” Celeborn whispered into her ears, “I missed you so.”
Celebrían laughed saying, “You left me in Lórien and left for Greenwood. And you and naneth have been carousing about like lovebirds at Greenwood and Lindon, I heard long, evil tales about your adventures!”
Celeborn said sternly, his features flushed with mortification, as he wondered about the long, evil tales that had reached his daughter’s ears, “You behave yourself, young young woman, and go up to greet you naneth.”
“Later,” she said lightly, “I bear an urgent message to Anoriel.”
“Isn’t it your naneth important than the message?” Celeborn chided her half-heartedly. Galadriel, his mind pointed out, could have come down to greet her daughter.
Celebrían gave him a cool stare before saying bluntly, “You may have forgotten the wrongs she did to you, Adar, but I have not. I will not forget it. Sometimes, Adar, your love for her blinds you to her faults.”
She walked inside the palace, leaving Celeborn alone.
“’Bria,” a soft hand pulled her into an alcove, “I saw you arrive, was your journey fine?” Anoriel looked about warily, “Adar has forbidden me to come out of my chambers. But I could not stay there when Lord Celeborn told me you were coming today.”
Celebrían hugged her friend and whispered back, “I have a message for you from your Golden Prince, take it, before I meet my mother.”
Anoriel’s face lit up with joy as she giddily took the scroll from her friend. Celebrían smiled, happy for her friend even as she wondered if she would ever taste that joy.
He walked slowly towards Erestor’s study, knowing that within sat a person who had never judged him this far. He knocked once before entering. For a moment, he paused thinking of his worries as pride rose in him. His student, his friend and his foster-son, Erestor had made him proud in all ways.
Now, he smiled involuntarily, Erestor had a dark smudge of ink on his pale left cheek, his hair was tousled about his shoulders, he bit an end of a quill, an elegant, thin, eyebrow raised as he pondered over an official parchment. He had not yet acknowledged his friend. Indeed, he had not even raised his eyes up from the scroll he was concentrating upon.
“You could be murdered if you are so inattentive,” Glorfindel remarked as he approached his friend’s desk.
“Glor,” Erestor drawled, “You should know that nobody will dare murder an elf who bears on his poor shoulders, the business of running a realm. The King assigns the best guards to my protection.”
Glorfindel murmured, “Ever the conceited one, are we not?”
Erestor chuckled, and waved him to a chair on the other side of the desk informing him, his eyes still boring the parchment he had before him, “There is a goodly hoard in the cupboard, help yourself. Goblets on the side table beside that map of Beleriand, goodness knows why we keep a map of a place long destroyed, there is a plate of biscuits on the sideboard. The aides seem to think that I am too thin and deliver food at times and between times to my study.”
Glorfindel went to the cupboard and selected a vintage from Green wood for Erestor, and hardy dwarves’ ale for himself. Erestor kept away from human and dwarven spirits, saying he could not stand their smell. So the only reason he kept a bottle of ale in his study cupboard was for warriors like Glorfindel and Galdor, another close friend.
Erestor accepted the proffered goblet with a nod of his head and leaned back in his much worn out chair and frowned, “Glor, you look terribly out of sorts.”
Glorfindel shrugged as he downed the entire goblet of ale he had poured himself. He discarded the goblet and took a heavy swig directly from the bottle. He was in a mood to get seriously drunk.
“Glor,” Erestor’s eyes had narrowed, “Is this your idea of an aphrodisiac? Trust me, you are likely to have a very sick night! Aldor will not come within five miles of you.”
Glorfindel mumbled darkly as he downed more ale, “He is not likely to come within five miles of me anyway!”
Erestor asked sharply, “Glor, what happened?” He took in his friend’s dejected figure worriedly. The last he had seen Glorfindel and Aldor, they had seemed the perfect couple of lovers. What had happened in such a small span of time?
Glorfindel did not meet Erestor’s eyes as he whispered sadly, “Menelwen.”
Erestor got to his feet and went around his large, cluttered desk to Glorfindel’s side and knelt before him asking softly, “What about her?”
Glorfindel said hoarsely, trying hard to prevent his voice from breaking, to prevent that unnatural constricting of his throat, to prevent the prickly, burning sensation in his eyes. But he failed as he slumped onto Erestor’s shoulder, burying his face in the warm, velvet, ceremonial robes and sobbing softly, “She came to me while I was with him. Said that it was unworthy to seek substitutes for pleasure, she could not see that he loved me. It broke his heart so, ‘Restor, there was nothing I could do, for there was no right on my side. I used him as despicably as I once made her wait for me. She had it in her heart to move on and seek true love; for I wish what she has now is true. She did not curse me, or blame me. But he; the pain in his eyes as he accused me silently; it was unbearable. I could say nothing to soothe his pain. I watched helplessly as he walked away; defeat, the only aura about his noble figure.”
Erestor did not say anything as he let Glorfindel pour out his grief, his hands mechanically stroking soothingly the blonde’s hair. But inwardly, he was confused. While Menelwen had every right to be angry regarding Glorfindel’s slow courting, she was not wise to get betrothed to Galdor so hastily. But the more he saw them together, the more he felt they were really in love. Glorfindel, he sighed, the Balrog Slayer had been always hesitant to express his emotions, preferring to hide under that mask of comfortable calm. Aldor, Erestor was sure, loved Glorfindel, which would make this a sticky situation, even if Aldor was not the chieftain of his clan.
Finally, when Glorfindel’s sobbing had subsided, Erestor said comfortingly, “Come, let me take you to your chambers.”
They walked in silence to Glorfindel’s chambers. Erestor helped the blonde elf into bed and drew up the coverlet over him.
“Stay with me,” Glorfindel whispered.
Erestor smiled, “Do you have to really ask, Glor?”
Glorfindel smiled back weakly, his puffed, red eyes spoilt the pretence however. He asked quietly, “Would you sing for me? The song you used to sing whenever the waves crashed over the docks of Círdan.”
Erestor sat by his friend’s side and asked him, “I thought you hated that song! Certainly you used to set me lines as punishment whenever I sang that within your hearing range.”
Glorfindel smiled, this time sincerely, as he said, “I hated nothing that you ever did, .”
Erestor stroked Glorfindel’s forehead as he began to sing in his low, rich, melodious voice,
Hearken to the waves, they pound against our lands,
Mayhap they bring us a message from golden sands,
Where we all came from, where we all shall go at the end,
Oh, there the wear, the toils and the sorrow shall end,
Until then, my love, I shall endure in these toils,
For then, my heart, I shall say what I could not ever,
That I love thee far more than any other.
So hearken to the waves and be heartened, my own.
He smiled and stopped singing. Glorfindel, the fierce, had fallen asleep like an innocent elfling. At moments like these, Erestor was sure that Glorfindel looked younger than him. He tucked in the covers more snugly about his sleeping friend and pressed a chaste kiss on Glorfindel’s forehead. Now he had to set things right. He walked out of the room determinedly.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.