2. To Keep A Secret Thus
One evening while Elrond was walking aimlessly in the gardens, Gil-Galad accosted him. Cursing his eternal bad luck, Elrond bowed stiffly. Gil-Galad waved away his gesture indulgently before saying, “Cousin, You know how much I love you.”
Elrond frowned. This was his favourite opening line whenever he approached the King with one of his far-fetched schemes.
“I really have no one else to ask this of,” Gil-Galad continued.
Elrond’s frown deepened. This was going to be bad news definitely. What did Gil-Galad want from him?
“I want you to do the honours for my wedding.”
Elrond smiled saying with an enthusiasm he was far from feeling, “It would be my joy, cousin. Glad you chose me over the mariner.”
“Lord Círdan’s too old,” Gil-Galad reasoned, “And he won’t really match up with Glorfindel who is doing the honours for Erestor.”
“So you two have decided on a date?” Elrond tried to keep his voice calm.
“Yes, Erestor wants a spring wedding,” Gil-Galad said happily, “Two weeks from now. It seems Glorfindel and he have sent out all the invites and arranged most of the festivities. The only thing I am required to do is to make an appearance for the wedding!”
As Gil-Galad prattled on, Elrond wondered about the lack of complexity and heart break in Sauron’s life.
“Talk of the devil and here he is!” Gil-Galad exclaimed as Erestor entered the avenue from a side path a slight frown creasing his handsome features.
Elrond felt a jolt of pain stab his heart as Erestor’s eyes met his for a second before flicking back to Gil-Galad. It was the first time after that unfortunate sunrise that they were in such close proximity to each other. Another jolt of pain surged through him as Gil-Galad pressed a chaste kiss on Erestor’s cheek murmuring, “Only two more weeks.”
Erestor gently prised away the King’s fingers from his hair before looking at Elrond saying, “My Lord Herald.”
“Are you two still ‘lord’ing each other about? In that case you should better stop. Because one of Elrond’s duties as my right hand is to make sure that wedding wardrobe fits you perfectly,” Gil-Galad gave an evil smirk, “It serves you right for making that Balrog Slayer keep me for hours at the tailor’s fitting me in one ridiculous apparel after another!”
Two days later Elrond paced nervously in the Master Tailor’s fitting room eyeing the huge stacks of clothes that they were supposed to inspect.
“Lord Erestor, my Lord,” an aide announced and withdrew quickly as Erestor entered the room laving them alone. Elrond twitched on hearing the very audible thud of the closing door leaving them alone. Erestor joined him in the middle of the room. Elrond noticed that the Chief Counsellor was clasping and unclasping his fingers in an uncharacteristic display of emotion.
Cursing Gil-Galad for putting them through this ordeal, Elrond took a deep breath and said uncertainly, “Good morning, Shall we get this done?” he gestured to the clothes piled up all around them.
Erestor bowed lightly saying, “As you wish, my Lord.”
They worked swiftly through the large piles of ceremonial robes with which Erestor seemed at perfect ease. Elrond helped him into the robes tying up the various intricate knots and tiny clasps, all the while thankful that he had worn a thick tunic to hide the evidence of his unquenchable desire.
After trying on one extremely magnificent green robe embroidered with gold, Erestor looked into the mirror uncertainly saying, “Tis the first time I’m wearing green. Now I am thankful I have never done so before, this suits the Sindarin better.”
“Everything suits you,” Elrond murmured softly trying to keep his voice steady. Erestor looked stunning in his eyes. The Chief Counsellor’s eyes widened slightly though he did not remark on Elrond’s observation.
After what seemed to be hours, they were finally done. Elrond had by then been on the closing limit of his restraint. Thankfully, he left the room hastily after Erestor.
The days heralding the wedding passed in a flurry. Elrond had never seen his cousin in such high spirits since Elros had made his choice. The King’s spirits seemed to be all pervading in Lindon causing a disgruntled Oropher to remark, “One would think that he was marrying one of my house instead of a Kinslayer’s.”
The Sindar nobles were in a state of mutiny. This was to be expected given their stand on the Kinslayings. But even some of the Noldorin were appalled by the idea of the King to marry a Fëanorion. The councils became so crass and boisterous that even Glorfindel, who rarely lost his temper, challenged them to combat if they breathed a word against Erestor. The idea of fighting a Balrog Slayer made most of the nobles tractable and when Gil-Galad threatened to exile the rest of his unruly council, there was no more opposition from the Noldor. This was a relief since the King needed the support of his Noldor nobles to counter the Sindar and the Sylvans who were not so easily frightened. Elrond dreaded the Council meetings with Oropher’s and Amdir’s counsellors.
One evening after a particularly taxing day with Amdir’s counsellors, Elrond escaped to the gardens to recover his temper. Elrond could only hope that his meeting with King Oropher would go easier though it was a highly unlikely wish. It did not help him that Thranduil had nearly achieved his goal of bedding all the nobles of Lindon. Oropher seemed to think of his son’s prowess as yet another triumph of the Sindar over the Noldor. Elrond sighed; of course, Oropher would never concede the point that his much beloved son was a blend of the Eldar of Aman, the Falathrim and the Sindar!
Elrond was so immersed in his thoughts that he did not even see a construction pole left carelessly in the path until he had tripped clumsily over it and ended face down on the wet ground. Cursing, he pulled himself up and took a step forward when he slipped again and he found himself on the ground once more. Adding thrice to his distress, midnight blue robes blocked his vision. He had covertly watched the wearer that morning.
“Elrond! Are you all right?” slender, but strong hands pulled him up and he found himself staring into the black pools of Erestor’s eyes.
He tried to brush off the mud from his clothes before murmuring, “Forgot to look where I was going. Just one of those days when everything bad happens to you.”
Erestor did not reply, but he took a handkerchief from the pocket of his robes and gently wiped off the mud from Elrond’s face. The gentleness of that gesture shot a pang through his heart. If only he had realized he loved Erestor before that ill-fated evening.
“I should be going,” Elrond averted his eyes, “Have to meet with Oropher tomorrow. There’s a lot I have to do.”
“You should get some rest. You look worn out and that won’t impress Oropher,” Erestor said firmly, “I’ll do the meeting tomorrow. I get along quite well him once he finishes the ritual grievances against the Noldor in general and the house of Fësunin particular.”
Elrond sighed. He was feeling quite tired. His half-human heritage hindered him in these situations. While his workload was high, that of Erestor and Glorfindel was even more. And they were rarely exhausted. He had to agree with Erestor that Oropher would crow over the fact that the High King’s Herald was so exhausted and dishevelled.
“Lord Elrond?” Erestor queried uncertainly.
“Don’t, Erestor!” Elrond closed his eyes tight shut his mind flying back to that morning when he had shouted at the latter, “Please don’t ‘lord’ me ever again.”
Erestor looked perplexed but nodded politely.
“Walk with me?” Elrond gathered up his courage, “Shall we watch the sunset together?”
Erestor looked into his eyes for one long instant before smiling wryly, “You are worse than Thranduil; so unpredictable.”
“Nobody can compare to Thranduil. The only thing that is predictable about him is his green robes,” Elrond admitted.
They walked in silence awhile before Elrond said nervously, “The other day, Erestor, I am sorry. I know I don’t really have the right to apologize, but I am sorry.”
Erestor shook his head saying, “I should have been more calm. I was already tensed and our conversation, I should not have reacted as I did.”
“You are a true diplomat,” Elrond said wryly, “Good at sharing blame.”
“My skills as a diplomat extend only so far,” Erestor said nervously clasping and unclasping his hands, “May I ask you something that is beyond discretion?”
“I don’t harbour any feelings for Gil-Galad in that manner,” Elrond grinned understanding Erestor’s doubts, “He’s my sworn sword brother.”
Erestor smiled gratefully, “Thank you for not forcing me to phrase that question. I confess I had sleepless nights over that. So was it because I was from the house of Fëanor?”
Elrond stopped walking in astonishment, Did Erestor really think that was the reason?
“I thought so,” Erestor watched Elrond’s face carefully, “Really, I should have seen it coming. But,” he paused uncertainly, “I somehow believed that you, of all people in Lindon, would understand the burden of a bloodline.”
Elrond broke in quickly, “I owe my life to you house, Erestor. Why would I think that? Maglor was my father, in all ways except blood, and I do envy you that. Maedhros was good to me and Elros in his own way,” he continued bitterly, “It was them who raised us, who were there for us all the way through our most difficult days. My father abandoned us to chart a course to Valinor. My mother valued the Silmarils more than she loved us,” he looked into Erestor’s eyes, “I still pray for Maglor’s salvation.”
Erestor said softly, “I am sorry. But Elrond, my father was never there for me. He was bound to his oath. I was raised by Glorfindel and Círdan. But I grieve for my father, for the misfortunes that were not of his own making.”
Elrond said quietly, “I see him in you, Erestor. His voice that could soothe my greatest fears, his talent, his steady calmness-”
Erestor seemed baffled. After a few moments, he continued, “Forgive me Elrond, but may I know why you think me unworthy of your cousin if my lineage does not matter?”
“I think Gil’s unworthy of you, ” Elrond said sincerely though his heart was screaming at him to tell Erestor the plain truth; that he loved him.
Erestor shook his head disbelievingly.
“Do you love him as much as he’s besotted with you?” the words came out of Elrond’s mouth automatically.
Erestor replied thoughtfully, “I don’t know really. I care for him and like him well enough. But love of this kind is not something I am faintly experienced in. I am a novice in this. Indeed, before Gil’s proposal I had never even thought of love before.”
Elrond had to grin despite his own turmoil, “That makes two of us. I thought that I was the only one untouched in Lindon.”
Erestor said relieved, “I don’t know how to face that night. I fear I’ll disappoint him. I wanted to talk about this to someone. But I did not know how to start this topic. And everyone I know seems so experienced. Still I have to know how to do….it. Maybe I should ask someone…perhaps Glorfindel.”
Elrond sighed, “Glorfindel won’t help. I have never heard of him being involved in such things. He’s too old-fashioned and holds true to the morals of Aman.”
They walked slowly oblivious to the steadily darkening skies above them each deep in his own thoughts.
“Maybe you could ask Thranduil?” Elrond suggested, “He’s the expert in these things.”
“Thranduil!” Erestor exclaimed scandalized, “If Oropher hears of it, whatever will he think of the Noldor? What will he say when I ask his son to give me bed advice?”
“He’ll just consider it another fact that illustrates the superiority of the Sindar,” a melodious voice informed them as Celeborn emerged from a side path smiling.
Elrond and Erestor stood shocked on realizing their not so politically correct conversation had a listener.
“It is a wonderful evening for a walk,” Celeborn said easily as he joined them.
Erestor seemed to be still in deep mortification, so Elrond cleared his throat uneasily before saying, “Indeed my Lord Celeborn, though I wish you had not overheard us.”
Celeborn laughed merrily, a sound that reminded Elrond of a bubbling stream, “Your idea was most excellent, Elrond. But Thranduil is spending the day with his father. So, if you don’t think my words offensive, I will be delighted to offer you my advice.”
Erestor stared at the silver haired Lord disbelievingly. Elrond wrung his hands. It was indeed a magnificent mess they had landed in.
Erestor took a deep breath before asking quietly, “What does bonding involve exactly?”
“You mean other than the ceremony, of course,” Celeborn nodded understandingly, “It means you have to make love to complete the binding. Gil-Galad’s not inexperienced, Erestor. He will make it a memorable occasion. You don’t have to worry. When you bind, you shall be able to communicate with your mate in your mind at all times. It is perfect bliss, nothing to worry about.”
Erestor sighed saying, “You are right, my Lord, but I am still nervous. It is unchartered territory.”
Celeborn laughed saying, “I understand, these things have a way of making anyone frightened. I fainted before my marriage ceremony. Oropher still reminds me of it occasionally though it was millennia ago!”
“But, Lord Celeborn,” Elrond said teasingly, “Certainly you were not untouched before your marriage!”
“Of course not!” Celeborn said indignantly, “I, like any normal elf, had commenced my experiments once I reached my majority unlike you two! But still I was marrying Galadriel and that too for eternity!”
Elrond nodded sympathetically. He could well understand the fear in Celeborn’s case. Though he wondered why the Silver Tree had married Galadriel.
“Erestor!” Thranduil joined them, “You must come with me now! My father and Gil-Galad are having yet another shouting match at the barracks! Something to do with the Númenorians who have just arrived, I’ve left Glorfindel in charge.”
“Then you should steel yourself, Lord Counsellor,” Celeborn called after Erestor as the counsellor ran hurriedly after Thranduil, “I don’t think that Glorfindel will even try to alleviate the argument.”
“You are in trouble, Elrond,” Celeborn remarked quietly as they watched Erestor disappear into a side path.
Elrond swung around sharply, his eyes narrowed. Had Thranduil announced his secret to all his kin?
Celeborn smiled sadly saying, “My wife has a mirror, Elrond. But she won’t confront you. Instead she proposes a deal to keep your secret.”
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.