45. The End of an Age
“My Lord, there has been an orc attack. They are all dead, except for Isildur, our soldiers bring him now. He wishes to speak to you,” the aide panted.
Thranduil dismounted and knelt beside the panting, heaving bloodspattered human king of Gondor.
“King Isildur?” Thranduil gently attempted to assess the wounds, “It would be better if we carried you to my halls.”
“NO,” Isildur panted as he tried to sit up and meet Thranduil’s gaze, “I am dying, I wish to die. I have sinned, so much!”
“What happened?” Thranduil cut in firmly, “Are there any more of your escort?” he sliced away Isildur’s armour and pressed his fingers and inspected closely. Black blood flowed, it was poisoned.
“You need my healers,” Thranduil said as he made to get up swiftly intending to waste no more time.
“Thranduil!” Isildur begged, “Listen, please!”
“Very well,” Thranduil sighed, “You are wasting time. We need to get you to a healer.”
“My heir follows with an escort. Take him to Elrond, beg him to raise the child for my father’s sake, for Elros’s sake!” Isildur clawed at Thranduil’s hands, “And I am sorry for all that I have done, for the dishonour I meted out to your father, to you, to Lord Erestor, to Elrond, to my sire, to our people! And for the ring!”
“Where is the ring?” Thranduil demanded harshly, “Where is it? In your kingdom? The orcs have not waylaid you because of that?”
Isildur’s eyes spoke the truth as he said, “It was too evil, I pray that you had marched on me and killed me and destroyed it! It is beyond my reach and yours now, My King. I leave now to whatever place our mortal souls reach in the end. Have I your forgiveness, no, I will not have it…atleast your word to see my heir safe?”
“You have my forgiveness, son of Elendil,” Thranduil shook his head sadly. “You have caused all of us much grief. But as my father said it was in the Song. We can change nothing. I will always resent you for what you have done to me. For what you have done to Erestor. For the ring and for so many reasons. Each time I see a widow of war, I will curse you.” Isildur’s eyes were filled with remorse. “But,” Thranduil said quietly, “I shall try to forgive you even if I cannot forget your actions and their consequences.”
“Thank you,” Isildur breathed, “I leave in peace. I wanted to see you before I left this world. That I would repay the dishonour meted out to you. You are the noblest creature amongst your fair folk. Long may you reign and defeat the shadow! Your line will be exalted in song both sides of the sea. I see what you are truly, Thranduil, and I am enriched by it.”
“Go in peace,” Thranduil said softly as he placed his hand in Isildur’s. “I will take your heir to Elrond. If he cannot give a refuge, I shall. Rest, son of Gondor.”
Isildur smiled bitterly and his hard grip on Thranduil’s hand slackened. The breath left his frame and he passed into song. Thranduil instructed his guards to find the second escort of men and bring the heir to him.
Then he knelt beside the much tortured fallen soul and whispered, “Your mistakes will be our burdens forever. Elbereth grant us the strength to do what we must do, we must face him again.”
“Sire, do we carry him to our halls?” the captain asked softly.
“No,” Thranduil said sternly, “His hands and body are stained by the dark lord’s malice. Let his body float down the Anduin river. It is fitting. We leave now, bring the boy to me when you get him.”
Anoriel smiled when the key turned in the lock with a click.
“About time!” she stopped when Thranduil entered, weary with exhaustion and deep sorrow, “What is it?” she sat up immediately and made space for him beside her on the sofa.
“He is dead,” Thranduil said flatly, “And leaves us to undo the damage! The ring is missing. I have men searching in the Anduin, but I fear it is futile.”
“Thranduil,” Anoriel held out her arms, “Come and rest in my arms, let me hold you and soothe you as you do daily. You try to be strong for everyone. You try too much. I cannot bear to see my prince like this, hiding beneath that fine mask of pleasantry. Be wild as you once were, be courageous as you were, then you never feared to show me what you felt.”
“I,” he shook his head averting his eyes, “I feel so much grief for Adar daily, every moment as I breath. I saw him struck down, I ran to him, I carried him back in my arms. His blood is still fresh on my body. He died because Isildur mocked me, I blame Isildur, and I blame myself too. I blame myself for the fact that Amroth and Amdir followed me because of my love for you. I blame myself for the hundreds of lives lost that day. Anoriel, can you ever forgive me for killing Amdir?”
“I cannot, were you the one who did it,” she said smiling sadly, “But now, I will forgive you for being a fool!”
He met her firm gaze. Those sapphire eyes seemed to look through him as he felt the barriers he had erected around dissolve. The full extent of his grief, hatred and fear seeped into their bond.
“You fool,” she said as tears fell onto her cheeks, “you stubborn fool, how dare you hide all of this from me!”
“I want you happy,” he sighed as he leant into her embrace.
“I am happiest when I share all of what you are, my prince,” she whispered, “I am happiest when I share your burdens, not just your happiness. If you can dance with me and make love to me, if you can bond with me and call me your queen, why will you hide your grief from me?”
“Forgive me, Anor-nîn,” Thranduil crumbled into long repressed sobs as he shook within her arms, crying on her soft, naked body, “I love you too much, I am afraid that you would leave me too.”
“Never, My prince,” she vowed, “As long as the world lasts.”
Elrond watched with joy as Lindir and Melpomaen came to greet them, with many residents of Imladris in tow. Mourning banners still prevailed over the ramparts in respect for the last high-king, but there was a sense of hope as the elves rejoiced in the defeat of Sauron.
“You have grown,” Erestor kissed Melpomaen’s brow lightly before walking to meet his other acquaintances. Glorfindel rolled his eyes as Melpomaen blushed and scampered inside.
Celebrían was already chatting to a few ladies. Elrond made sure that she was at ease before following Erestor into the house. No, home, he corrected himself. This would now be his home.
“So how are the rooms to be assigned?” Glorfindel joined him, “She wishes for separate rooms, but in the same wing. No need to cause rumours about.”
“Fine with me, I am in her debt,” Elrond suggested as he entered his own chambers.
Glorfindel left and Elrond closed the door behind him softly. The rooms of Imladris were all interconnected. The next room was Erestor’s, he knew that well. He had endured many nights of listening to Gil and Erestor argue.
Glorfindel stopped walking when a young pellet of a warm body banged against his legs, laughing he reached to pick the elfling in his hands.
“Valar!” he whispered as he looked at the so familiar features of the young bundle squirming in his arms.
“Where did you end this time?” Menelwen’s voice was weary as she came into the courtyard after her son, she gasped on seeing Glorfindel holding her child.
“I apologize, lady,” Glorfindel said as he unwillingly set the elfling down. He was unable to tear his eyes away from her, she looked more resplendent than the last time he had seen her.
“No,” Menelwen smiled as she prodded the elfling to remain still, “Come child, greet Lord Glorfindel. He was once my teacher.”
The elfling stuck his tongue out and ran away leaving them alone. Glorfindel cleared his throat as he tried to bid her a good day.
Instead all he could say was pitifully, “I thought of you when we won finally. I fought for you as I always have.”
“My Lord,” Menelwen embraced him. “I rejoice in seeing you unharmed once more. You have always meant more to me than anyone else. But,” her eyes flashed with regret, “We have made our choices and we live with them. There are no more chances for us together. Choose one to soften your wounds.”
“I will never stop loving you, but you are right, our chances are over,” Glorfindel closed his eyes as he buried his head in her darker hair.
Elrond sighed, then settled into a loose robe before knocking on the next door. Erestor opened with a soft smile as he said quietly, “I have been thinking.”
“Of?” Elrond hugged his slender frame just to make sure that Erestor was still with him, “I would assume that we would all wish to forget than to think.”
“Yes,” Erestor returned the embrace carefully before breaking away and walking to the window.
The setting rays of the sinking sun in the west outlined his figure. Elrond gulped, this was the scene which had made him realize his love millennia ago. Now, he was once more watching it. Erestor had changed; there were permanent shadows in the dark, soulful eyes, he had become gaunter, and wiser. Yet his beauty remained unmarred by his battles and his personal sorrows. The beauty of his soul, it would never change.
“Elves never change,” Elrond said quietly as he joined him near the window. Their shadows intermingled on the floor.
“They do,” Erestor said gravely, “though they try to resist it.”
“But they remain inherently the same,” Elrond argued. He leant forward to finger a strand of the midnight black hair he was besotted with.
“I am a selfish person,” Erestor said quietly, “I wish to give you and me a chance. But I do not know what I would have done if you had told me the truth before Gil left. I have desired many, but never loved as you do. I don’t deserve your love, Elrond.”
“I have never revealed the truth because I wanted you happy,” Elrond shrugged as hope blossomed in his long dried-up heart.
“I,” Erestor shrugged and continued more shyly, “Whatever you wish to do is fine with me, Elrond.”
Elrond said breathlessly, “Have I your word on that?”
“Yes,” Erestor smiled hesitantly with a blush on his pale cheeks, “Whatever you wish to do…”
“I want you to make love to me,” Elrond gathered Erestor’s hands in his own, “To take me apart and make me new, as you did that night. I have never before felt such ecstasy. It was bliss.”
Erestor smiled and closed the space with a kiss, his tongue soon possessively wrapped around Elrond’s as his hands wrapped themselves around Elrond’s waist tightly.
As they broke apart for breathing, Elrond gasped, “The bed, I can’t stand.”
Erestor complied and then laid himself atop Elrond, removing his clothes and gently beginning an exquisitely sensual assault on Elrond’s body and senses with mere touches and tongue.
“You didn’t waste time last encounter,” Elrond complained as he writhed and arched beneath Erestor’s body.
“I was knocked out by your brews!” Erestor huffed, “I still can’t believe that I didn’t even taste you!”
“Taste---, AH!” Elrond rolled his head and clenched his fingers, biting down on his lips as he was suddenly engulfed. There was no debating it, Erestor was more unpredictable than Thranduil in bed. He pulled up Erestor for a brutal kiss.
“Satisfied?” Erestor asked him smiling gently as he threaded his fingeres through Elrond’s tousled hair.
“You promised!” Elrond scowled, “Or do I have to demonstrate it with you?”
“Oh!” Erestor laughed as he kissed Elrond’s nose tenderly, “I do remember, I stand by my promise. This was just an appetiser. Shall we get going again?”
Without waiting for Elrond’s reply, he kissed his way down Elrond’s chest purposefully south.
“Eru!” he breathed as Erestor gently pried his thighs apart and knelt between them.
Erestor laughed amusedly and began preparing Elrond, all the while humming softly a Sylvan lay that Thranduil had once sung to describe Elrond bawdily. Elrond rolled his eyes; these two would be the death of him.
“Ready?” Erestor leant forward to claim Elrond’s lips in a searing kiss that left his senses crashing into oblivion. It was soon followed by sharp pleasure of the actual joining and he thrust his hips to balance them both. Erestor maintained a steady speed until Elrond was pushed over the brink with a cry that must have sounded in the entire valley. That moment, he regretted nothing, not even that he had not killed Isildur of Gondor.
“You are too loud,” Erestor complained as he pulled away and lay down beside Elrond.
“Gag me then,” Elrond offered laughing weakly as he trued to regain his breath, “I am amazed, you are still not shaken much!”
“I think it is because I desire you so much,” Erestor said sincerely, “I hope that you might do the honours the next time.”
“Somehow, I doubt that we would find it that satisfying, my love,” Elrond said the last word with relish, he was finally free to call his love thus atleast when alone with him.
He turned to watch the last rays of the sun shine down on Erestor’s naked body. The black hair was dark blue, clashing with the pale body bathed in golden red light. Black eyes regarded him with a sense of wonder, warmth, respect, amusement and lazy satiation. Elrond would never forget the sight till the end of the world.
Galadriel watched the sunset alone from her flet. Somewhere under the same sky, Elrond and Erestor were drowning their sorrow in love and desire. And Thranduil had succumbed to his grief in his bonded-mate’s arms. Glorfindel and Menelwen were reconciled though they would never dream together again.
Galadriel sighed, an age had ended. It had been two ages since she had begun her solitary vigil in Middle-Earth, watching her kin perish. How many more would fall before her eyes? There was yet malice in the wind. Sauron would return. And when he came, Galadriel, daughter of Finarfin, once High Princess of the Noldor, would continue to wage the fight that her family had carried on before her…this time, she did not fear, if she fell, there were four who would take on the responsibility.
She smiled softly as she gazed at the stars and said quietly, “You are right, Ereinion, they shall do. Your herald and seneschal are wise and noble. Oropher’s son and your bonded-mate are survivors, fearless and enduring. I have hope.”
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.