He stopped thrashing and let himself drift upward until his head bumped a barrier. He began trying to feel his way along it but there was no change, no opening. He should keep going until he reached . . . what? Until he couldn't hold his breath any longer and had to inhale a lungful of ocean? It was too late. There was no way out.
An image of Glorfindel manifested in his thoughts. It was last year at the Mettarë party. His head was thrown back, his mouth open in laughter as he joked with Ereinion. Then he turned and looked directly at Erestor with eyes so bright it seemed as if a star had melted in each of them. His face fell into sadness, yearning. At the time, Erestor hadn't realized what it meant. Now he knew. Glorfindel loved him. Had Erestor been so blind before? No, on some level he'd been aware all along, but he couldn't open his heart, couldn't even admit the possibility of love. It didn't matter now. He was going to die here, cold and alone. So terribly alone. Still running his hand along the wood, he came to a place where it curved upward, but it was solid. No way out. He despaired.
Ossë, please, I beg of you, he thought. I've been your servant all these years. I've done everything you asked. Please.
His lungs were bursting, bursting. He had to breathe, had to take in that gulp that he knew would kill him. With a sob, he breathed in. It burned like fire. He tried to cough but more water came in. He was choking. And then his consciousness left him.
His cheek rested on something gritty. He could hear waves coming into shore, felt them lapping about his thighs. They were warm. Erestor turned his head, choking up briny water. He breathed in air, sweet smelling air. It was the most marvelous breath he'd ever taken. He opened his eyes and, dazzled by brilliance, quickly shut them again. There was a white beach that caught the light and reflected it back in fiery sparks as if the sand were made of diamond dust. He rolled over on his back, clenched the wet sand, let it bunch through his fingers. He was alive. He was grateful. For a long moment, he basked in those realizations.
But where was he? Maybe he wasn't alive after all. Maybe he had died and was now in Valinor, in the halls of Mandos. This was not how he had pictured it.
He opened his eyes again, squinting. How did he get here? And bloody Mandos! Where were his clothes? He was lying naked on some alien shore. He must be dead. Must be.
Then he heard laughter. It was formed of the cries of gulls and the crash of waves. He knew that sound, all too well. Erestor raised himself up on his elbows and stared out at the rippling aqua-green water that deepened to a dark blue at the horizon. He watched the familiar figure rise from the water.
Long and foam-white was Ossë's hair and chopped in various lengths, some ending at his chin, some his shoulders and his chest; the rest frothed all the way down to his waist. His body was a deep gold, tattooed with light brown geometric symbols that seemed to move as he did. His elfin face was sly and fair as a summer's day. He wore a necklace and a kilt of beaded shells that clicked as he walked. A mantle of kelp adorned his shoulders; he was crowned with a circlet of polished coral. He strode up to Erestor and stood over him, straddling his legs.
"Well met, Erestor," he said. His voice boomed and hissed like waves upon the shore. "You surely do know how to get yourself into trouble - but then you begged so nicely that it seemed a shame to let you perish."
"Am I dead?" Erestor asked.
Ossë laughed. "You think like a creature of Arda, in absolutes. There are shades in between life and death. Aye, 'tis that! You are caught in a shade between."
"Riddles, as always," Erestor said.
"You used to like them," Ossë replied. He threw himself down next to Erestor, picked up a long strand of Erestor's hair, and ran it over his mouth. "And how is your king, Ereinion Gil-galad?"
"He is well, as I'm sure you know," Erestor said.
"He has not ventured out to sea in a long time. Not since . . ."
"Not since then," Erestor agreed.
"He would be safe," Ossë said. "My word is good. And you, my pet, you have not journeyed to the sea cave to sacrifice to me in nigh on two years." His lower lip curled outward in a pout.
"I have kept your altars burning. I have kept my vow to you. What more do you desire?"
"You know well what I desire." Ossë unclasped his shell kilt, cast it away; then he flung a hard, muscular leg over Erestor's thighs and dragged him close. He slid on top of him, pressing a forceful kiss to Erestor's willing mouth. As always, Ossë smelled of salty wind and warm sand. His body felt heavy as it drove against him. Erestor closed his eyes and gave himself up to sensation that was pleasurable to the point of pain.
Afterwards they lay entwined, their skin dusted with sparkling sand. The Maia amused himself by braiding shells into Erestor's hair as he sang to him. In an unknown language, he sang ancient songs that came from the twilight time. Erestor's soul ached with the beauty of the music. His body felt sated, but his heart was unsatisfied. It was good to be here in the Maia's arms, to feel desired. He had needed it. Yet still, Ossë was not . . .
"I fear I am not the one you truly love. It saddens me," Ossë said in the long quiet that came after he finished singing.
"If you loved me, as you say, you would let me go," Erestor sighed, as he sidestepped the question. "What kind of life is this for me, Ossë? Do you really intend to hold me in thrall to you forever?"
"In thrall? Is that what you think? I do recall that willingly you made the vow to me in exchange for certain favors. I granted those and I gave you life. This time, I am still deciding what to do with you."
"You are?" Erestor sat up in alarm.
Ossë chuckled knowingly. "Truthfully, you are still in the hold of the Hirilondë on the brink of death. For a time, I have stopped your journey to Mandos. Perhaps I should hold you suspended for all time, to keep you here as my lover? What do you think?"
Ossë's expression was taunting. His eyes were wells of emerald green. He sank his teeth into Erestor's neck until the elf cried out. Erestor felt something warm trickle down his neck. Ossë lapped at it eagerly. "So sweet, my Elda. You feed me well," he murmured. He moved lower, swirling a tongue around one of Erestor's nipples before sucking it wetly into his mouth. Erestor threw his head back with a gasp. It felt so good. The Maia's lips trailed downwards.
For a time, Erestor knew only the sharp pleasures of the Maia's mouth and hands. When he was done and Erestor lay panting under him, Ossë said, "Nay, my lover, I do not think I'm quite ready to relinquish you. Not yet." With this pronouncement, Ossë rolled off him and lay in the sand with his head propped behind his hands.
Erestor reflected that the Maia was quite capable of doing just as he had said. But he was capricious. For many years he might forget that he had Erestor in his keeping. For Erestor to save himself from such an existence, suspended between life and death and at the mercy of a fickle god, it was time to start playing whatever cards he had left.
He climbed atop the Maia, grasped his long white hair, pulling it hard in his fists, and kissed him. He kissed him with all the passion he'd ever felt for anyone, for maybe a certain golden-haired elf. At first the Maia tensed, but then he began to purr, "Ah, the little Elda is licentious." His tongue was slick, covered with small bumps. It curled snail-like around Erestor's in a sinuous dance. Erestor rocked his hips against him, feeling him rising under the friction. Finally he spoke, his lips brushing against Ossë's mouth. "I've been your acolyte for five hundred years, my lord. I know what you desire and it's not this." He kissed him again.
"What is it then?" Ossë said breathlessly, "for surely this is desirable."
Their mouths plundered each other for hidden secrets. Erestor came up for air. "You desire worshippers to call your name while they dance before your altar. That is what feeds you and makes you strong. I have given you that."
"Indeed you have."
"I can get you more worshippers, build your cult so that it surpasses even Ulmo's," Erestor said as he slid downwards.
"Surpasses Ulmooo? Unhhhhh," Ossë cried as Erestor's mouth claimed him.
Erestor knew just what Ossë liked. Slowly up and down he drew his mouth, swirling his tongue here and there, now speeding up until the Maia was struggling and moaning, then slowing down again. He used his hands, his fingers. Then, when he judged Ossë was ripe, he began humming in a sing-song voice.
Ossë thrashed under him. He gasped. He cried out. He seized Erestor's head and attempted to make him move faster. Erestor resisted him, brought him to the brink, then kept him hovering there until the Maia was desperate.
Finally Ossë roared, "Erestor, I beg of you. I cannot bear it. Release me!"
Erestor lifted his head. "What will you give me?" He plunged a finger into the Maia's body and curved it around, causing him to howl.
"Anything, I'll give you anything. As Manwë is my witness, I swear it."
"Free me from the ship. Let me go back to my life. Release me from my vow."
"Clever little Elda. I will send you back, but you are still mine, your vow intact. Now, do not try my patience. Give me my release!"
One does not refuse the command of a god. Erestor kept his part of the bargain so magnificently that, as Ossë roared out his completion, the earth shook and the waves pounded over them, flooding them with white foam.
Erestor found himself back in the dark hold of the ship, his last breath burning in his lungs. Suddenly, there was a bright light that illuminated everything about him. He could see the twisted wreckage and the damaged hull. And there it was, a gash in the side. As he swam towards it, he discovered he could breathe as if he were a sea creature. His fear vanished in the wonder of it. He swam through the hole and upwards towards the surface. A white dolphin was cavorting about him, nudging him with his nose. The bright light increased and the dolphin became Ossë, god of the waves. His white hair floated beguilingly about his face. He smiled at Erestor, then held his chin for a lingering kiss.
"I have a soft spot in my heart for you," he said as he studied Erestor's face. "Until we meet again, Erestor."
"Please tell me my lord, Glorfindel and the others, did they survive?" Erestor asked in a sudden panic.
Ossë shrugged. "I cannot account for all. But you might recall that my blessings are bestowed on a ship that affixes an Oiolairë sprig to its prow. Remember your vow. You are mine and I will call for you again. Farewell." Once again he shifted into the dolphin shape.
I shouldn't have expected a straight answer from that one, Erestor thought irritably. His head broke the surface and he sucked in a long, gasping breath that felt almost as good as the one in Ossë's Land-in-Between. The storm seemed to have abated but the water was still rough. Erestor took a hit in the face. He spat it back. Towards the west, the clouds were bright with sunset. There was no one in sight. He was about to call when, with a start, he saw the black ship anchored on the other side of the remains of their vessel. How was he going to get away without being seen?
The dolphin swam by him, poked him with its nose, then rubbed against his back, almost like a cat angling for attention. He saw the fin slide by. He grabbed it and held on. The beast shot away, drawing Erestor rapidly behind him.
It seemed as if ages had passed, when the dolphin shook him free. It leapt out of the water, dove, undulated around him, then disappeared into the deep. It was twilight. He could hear waves crashing. He must be close to shore. With his last strength, he began swimming. The waves caught him, carried him, hurled him to the beach. Hunched over, drawing his legs up under him, he coughed up water. Then he passed out. For a long time he lay still with no knowledge of the world moving about him.
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.