For Caunedhiel and Glorfindel and Life’s Pilgrim. All need cheering up.
An outtake from Through a Glass Darkly.
For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight…”
Finding his way by moonlight.
Glorfindel watched into the deepness of the night. Above him the stars wheeled overhead and high above Eärendil sailed Vingilot with the Silmaril set at its prow. So they said. It was a children’s story, he thought. He wondered where the Silmaril really was if not there. Erestor had said that Maedhros had taken both Silmarils, that Maglor had not taken one. If that were true, did that mean that both went with him into the fire, he wondered. And then dismissed it because it did not matter either way. He turned his head towards the Mountains for the air was cold and filled with snow. All was utterly still and silent. Not a leaf stirred, not a twig broke under the foot of deer or fox. Only the soft breath of Erestor as he slept. No longer afraid, Glorfindel felt himself settle into the watch, letting his senses spread out and he was no longer afraid that he might feel a heat that singed the air, that threatened to boil his blood and melt his bones…there was no Balrog as there was no Maedhros either. Both he and Erestor had merely been beguiled by the atmosphere of the place into seeing what was buried deepest in their hearts.
So he told himself. So he convinced himself because the alternative was fear.
Gone midnight it was when Erestor stirred and awoke. He stifled a yawn and rose to his feet without a word and stood at the edge of the clearing, looking into the trees.
After a moment, he turned his head and said, ‘Sleep.’
Glorfindel thought suddenly that he was indeed tired. He sighed and sat beside the fire. Then he wrapped himself in his cloak and pulled it over his head. Immediately sleep came upon him, deep and filled with dreams. Sudden sharp memories of another Age, another place flooded his dreams. Memories he had suppressed, had ruthlessly quashed for it had been a fall from grace, succumbing to something he had not known he felt. No, he told himself, he did not feel but was beguiled by empathy and loss and, he admitted it now in his own dreams, by intense loneliness.
It had been during the Siege of Barad-dûr…a tent splashed with mud and its pennant torn. No guards.
There were no guards because there were simply not enough of them left to spare and they spent every day battling orcs and trolls and all of Sauron’s dreadful force. Why would you need guards? Anyone could kill you easily enough on the battlefield.
He made a noise to announce himself and then slowly pulled aside the tent flap and ducked within. It was simple compared with the pavilions of the Noldor, but the silk was strangely warm and dampened the noise outside so for a moment, it felt one could indeed forget the near only feet away.
The young man within looked up, his eyes red-rimmed undoubtedly from weeping and Glorfindel felt an immediate empathy for him. In his hand was a quill, the end had been bent and he had ink splashed on his fingers, and on the parchment he had spread out on the travelling writing desk perched precariously on his knees. But the lamplight caught his hair, the colour of gold coins. It spilled over his shoulders and down his back, pooled on the narrow camp bed on which he sat. Rich. Gold. Like Idril.
He caught a sigh in his throat and stifled it.
Slate green eyes watched him warily, as all the Woodelves must, though Glorfindel regretfully. None of them trusted the Noldor. And now they felt they had a reason, for Oropher was dead and their grief could be heard, felt all over the Alliance camp. His son was the new King and here he sat, muddied, blood in his light leather armour that he had not even taken off yet, writing dispatches.
‘What do you want?’
Thranduil had not been any friendlier to his Noldor allies than his father had; both Oropher and Thranduil had listened, non too politely, to Gil-Galad’s plan, Oropher had said it would not work and then both had turned and strode away between the shining, armoured ranks of Noldor and Men. Now Thranduil’s tone was positively frosty. There was a bloody knife at his side, blood on his fingers, and a hastily, badly wrapped bandage around his chest. Like he had dressed it himself, thought Glorfindel. It was spotted with blood, a pattern emerging. Three slashes and a rough cut circle.
‘I have messages from the High King.’ Glorfindel tried not to look at the bandage; he had heard that the silvans keened over the loss of Oropher with an extravagance that shocked the Noldor. Instead he bowed his head slightly and held out the scrolls, three. One from Gil, one from Cirdan and one from Celeborn, Thranduil’s kinsman.
Thranduil snorted. ‘I do not have a High King.’ And then with a wracking sob that he tried to hide but could not, ‘I do not have a King.’ He bowed his head and for a moment, his shoulders shook.
Glorfindel shifted, compassion moved him and he reached out to clasp the other’s shoulder. Strangely, he found the same words in his mouth now as when he had spoken to Turgon, long, long ago, when Gondolin was fair and filled with the sound of water and bells. Before the demon had come. ‘You must be King now*. You must find whatever there is in you, to lead your people. Grieve, yes. But you must lead them too.’
He thought he would be shoved away, told to leave, how dare he…but instead Thranduil lifted his face, his beautiful, sculpted face made even lovelier with grief, and said, ‘How do you bear it?’
He leaned forward and without a thought, without having ever felt a moment of lust for another man, he pressed his mouth over Thranduil’s.
The explosion of lust detonated through Glorfindel as he dreamed, remembered warm skin and the rich hair, those strange marking of the Woodelves on Thranduil’s skin, gold and green like Thranduil himself, the slate green eyes locked upon him, deep, knowing and filled with grief that for a moment, he could forget in the glory of that love-making that Glorfindel had never known before or since… for it was not his way, nor did he desire men… until that moment.
Rough hands stroked him to hardness, demanding mouth on his, shoving him down, fumbling with buckles and belt, gripping so it hurt and then a hot, hot explosion like fire, like burning. Fierce pain that he had forgotten and then it was breathless and intense desire, pleasure, ecstasy that made the pain easier to bear.
There was no sweetness in the aftermath. Glorfindel was bemused, not ashamed but he had been thoroughly taken, used, and was now dismissed. He stood outside Thranduil’s tent, confused as he had not been for long ages, soreness now settling in his bones and flesh, and a light bruise on his heart. Like flame that excoriated the memory of his enemy and instead of pain or fear, he felt… renewed.
He did not see Thranduil again except in battle, beautiful and sad, fierce and powerful. Glorfindel thought rarely of the encounter for it had awoken something in him that he did not know he had wanted. And he had forced himself to forget…He smothered the groan that pushed itself up from his chest for Erestor was too close…and he closed his eyes tightly, forcing himself to forget that mistake, that fall from grace. Was he not Glorfindel, beloved of the Valar, golden, untouchable, pristine? And he was so lonely that he envied Maedhros his forbidden love for had not he and Fingon loved deeply, passionately and without restraint?
For more, go to Through a Glass Darkly.