“Will you leave with Elrond?” Erestor asked Glorfindel.
“I imagine I should, yet I hate to leave when the twins have not announced their decision.” Glorfindel sighed and studied the glass of wine in his hand. “It seems wrong to leave them alone if they decide to stay. What about you, Erestor? Will you sail with Elrond?”
“Like you, I hate the idea of leaving the twins alone,” Erestor hedged. “Since I was born here, I have never felt the call of the sea as so many do.” Despite their centuries-long friendship, Erestor had never fully explained his background to any besides Círdan.
Together they stood at the window of the great library, watching as the first stars blinked into view, each lost in their own thoughts.
“I imagine that you are anxious to see your family again.” As they spoke in unison, they began to laugh.
“Yes, it is true,” Glorfindel said at last. “I miss my parents terribly. They are both quite interested in the ‘new world’ as they called it, though my father would far rather read histories than investigate new seeds and plants. He always says they are best left to my mother. What about your family, Erestor?”
“I have not seen them since before Gil-galad left to join the Last Alliance. I never expected to leave Lindon, and yet…” He trailed off and moved to sit in his favorite armchair, placing his wine glass on a nearby table. “Yet here I am,” he finished awkwardly. “My parents would love for me to return but they know I have other obligations.” One of which was keeping an eye out for Maglor, should he ever find his way to the hidden valley, but Erestor did not say this.
“Where do they live, exactly? It would be nice to meet them,” Glorfindel said in an idle tone, yet Erestor knew better than to be fooled by his casual manner.
“Not all of the Teleri sailed, as you know,” the dark-haired ellon replied. “My family was among those who stayed, and they tend move along the coast, following the seasonal fishing.”
“How interesting,” Glorfindel said as he finished his wine. “I would have imagined they would have settled in one place, much as Círdan has.”
“Many small villages were lost in the War of Wrath,” Erestor replied. “Lord Círdan was most fortunate when Ulmo guided him to his building spot.”
“I never heard that before.” Glorfindel looked curiously at him. “Is it just legend, do you think, or is there more to it?”
Erestor did not reply, instead looking out the window toward the great waterfall and sipping at his wine.
He would miss the quiet valley a great deal if he left – and he really should consider leaving. But he also knew that his prolonged absence from the family was no real hardship either, for Gildor was quite discreet when it came to messages.
But most of all, he would miss Glorfindel. He had known the Vanya ever since his return and arrival at the Havens. They had traveled to Lindon, where they were welcomed by Gil-galad.
Once Gil-galad had decided to leave to go to war, Erestor knew he had little time left to remove his leather ‘robe’ and place it somewhere for safekeeping. He begged leave from Gil to visit his uncle Círdan, and rode swiftly to Mithlond.
Círdan heard the clatter of hooves in his courtyard and looked out his office window. He was not entirely surprised to see Erestor; he had imagined the young selkie prince would follow the High King. It must be important, for Erestor was a careful rider and never pushed an animal without good cause.
“Hello, uncle,” Erestor called. “Are you at leisure now?”
“Of course I am.”Círdan waved at him. “Come, you must be famished from such hard riding.”
Erestor laid a fond hand on his mount’s sweaty neck and patted him as a stableboy loosened the girth and began to walk the tired horse in a large circle to cool down. Erestor bounded up the outer stairs to the balcony that led to Círdan’s office.
“I imagine you know why I have come,” he began as he sat on his favorite window bench.
“I do, and your sea chest is waiting, as you knew it would be.”
“Yes, well.” Erestor managed a sheepish look as the tips of his ears reddened slightly, remembering the time Maglor had accidentally used his ‘robe’ as a blanket. “I am going with the High King on this campaign and I do not wish to have my skin lost – or worse, stolen.”
Círdan nodded quietly as he poured the tea into thick ceramic mugs, handing one to Erestor before reseating himself by his desk.
The next morning, Glorfindel decided a walk to the river might clear his head. He was having second thoughts about sailing. He would go with Elrond if asked – but Elrond wouldn’t ask, for the peredhel was a firm believer that everyone should make their own choices.
But Glorfindel wasn’t sure if he wanted to return. It seemed to him that he had spent more time in Middle Earth than Valinor, for he had scarce come of age when he left with Fingolfin’s host. Except for his parents, no other close ties remained; most of his friends were here.
As he walked along the shoreline, he noticed some otters playing farther out. They were amusing little creatures. Erestor and he had spent many pleasant hours watching them. In fact, it seemed to him as if the otters were waiting for someone – Erestor, perhaps. He did seem to have a special affinity for animals.
The distant chimes for the morning meal caused Glorfindel to hurry back to the main house. There was still much to do and though Erestor had special charge of the books and scrolls, Glorfindel’s job was to help oversee that all items not in the family’s private suites be safely packed into special trunks for sailing.
Several hours later, Glorfindel entered the library in search of Erestor and looked carefully around. The shelves were not as tightly packed as they had been and it gave him an odd pang of sadness. Gil-galad’s favorite chess set was still in its position of honor on a small inlaid table, the pieces waiting patiently for a new game to begin.
Of Erestor there was no sign, so Glorfindel reluctantly left, carefully closing the doors behind him. He decided to walk down to the river once more to look for Erestor and he found him seated on a log close to the water’s edge where the otters had gathered in a loose semi-circle in front of him, chattering away. Erestor seemed to understand them, for he nodded in places as if they were speaking in Sindarin.
“I see you are holding court, my lord,” he said in a joking tone. Erestor jumped slightly as he spoke and the otters fell silent, watching him carefully with their great dark eyes. Two of the largest ones swam closer to shore, and Glorfindel wondered if they would leave the water. He had a sudden feeling that they might attack if he made a wrong move – but that was nonsense. He was overtired and reading far too much into typical animal behavior.
“Yes, well, I’ve always had a special affinity for water creatures,” Erestor finally said as he stood up and brushed off his clothing. “What did you want, Glorfindel?”
“The evening meal is nearly ready,” Glorfindel replied, collecting his scattered thoughts. “I thought we could eat privately tonight before Gildor’s company arrives tomorrow.”
“That is a good idea.” Erestor said with a slight sigh. “In another week we will have to begin loading the wagons and any free time will be cut even shorter.”
As they sat down to eat, Erestor and Glorfindel shared a worried glance at Elrond’s arrival. There was a fragility to the lord of Imladris since Arwen’s marriage that was most unusual and they thought his decision to leave came none too soon.
The twins’ arrival was quiet as they seated themselves on either side of their father though it seemed their appetites were unimpaired judging by the way they filled their plates.
Finally Elladan stood up and everyone paused to look at him.
“I have an announcement to make. My brother and I have chosen to be numbered with the Firstborn. When Ada leaves, we will ride with him to see him off but we will remain here for now.”
As Elladan sat down once more, the hall broke out in excited murmurs. The twins’ decision had long been a point of conjecture and Glorfindel and Erestor shared a smile as they thought of the myriad betting pools that would be settled. No doubt new pools would be springing up almost immediately.
Elrond’s expression had brightened as well and he gently embraced each boy in turn.
The journey from Imladris to the Havens had been long and tiring for everyone and both Glorfindel and Erestor were relieved to see the ocean once more. They knew that Cirdan was watching their approach from his private tower.
Dinner that evening was small and informal; there would be a larger, welcoming feast later on in the week. Círdan knew from long experience that travelers were often tired upon arriving and a large, noisy meal was more likely to be wearing than enjoyable.
The next few days were spent settling in while the larger bulkier trunks and chests were loaded. Círdan informed them that he was waiting on a few other travelers as well, and that the weather would be fit for sailing for several more weeks. With Círdan, there was never any reason to hurry. Everything happened in due time.
Glorfindel entered Círdan’s office to find the key to the Shipwright’s private storage. He had left a small trunk behind when he first arrived and in his hurry to reach Lindon and the High King, he had simply left it, intending to return. But he had forgotten it at first and later, between the move from Lindon to Imladris, he kept putting it off.
The storage room was well-kept but there were far fewer trunks left now where once there must have been hundreds.
He looked around for a few moments before finally spotting it, for the crest of his house was emblazoned on the front. There was another, even smaller trunk that rested on top of it, and as he went to move it, it fell open.
As Glorfindel hurried to replace the contents, he noticed the odd weight of one particularly large bundle. The twine had loosened somewhat and he saw the gleam of oiled leather. There was the glint of mithril there as well, and he ran one finger lightly over the delicate chain. How odd. It reminded him of the court robes that Erestor had worn in Lindon. The chain was vaguely familiar too but the sound of the loading bell distracted him.
As he refastened the lid, he noticed that the sigil – a circular shell – was unfamiliar as well. Perhaps it belonged to Círdan, he thought idly, and carefully replaced it on an adjoining shelf.
Turning, Glorfindel opened his own trunk and began to rummage through the contents before he let out a sigh of frustration. He planned to return several books that his mother had sent along but he had not wanted to risk losing them on his travels. After several minutes of searching, Glorfindel located them, re-wrapped them in a formal robe that he had never worn and carefully closed the lid. Círdan would no doubt have a better case for them to travel in but for now, this would do. Clutching the bundle under his arm, Glorfindel went to find the Shipwright.
Erestor had spent a great deal of time walking along the shore while Elrond’s ship was being outfitted. He knew that Elrond was secretly hoping for some word of Maglor but the last remaining son of Fëanor was ever-elusive. From what Erestor could gather from his cousins, Maglor now wandered the southernmost shores, but to what end was impossible for them to tell.
“Talking to the seals again, Erestor?”
Erestor turned quickly, surprised that he hadn’t heard Glorfindel’s approach. He noticed that the Vanya carried a large hamper, no doubt packed by the head cook himself and filled with the tastiest dishes imaginable.
“Not exactly,” he finally managed to say in a neutral tone. “It’s just that I…”
“You’re probably homesick, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am.” Erestor hesitated for a moment. “You know, the world is quiet now and the others can manage Imladris for a time. I was planning to visit my family.” Why don’t you come with me? he thought but did not say the words aloud. Those who followed the sea were every bit as reticent as any Wood-elf when it came to meeting strangers, elven or not and might well return to their current village if they thought they had been discovered.
“You should visit then,” Glorfindel told him decisively as he set the hamper down well away from the high water mark. “I am sure they miss you more than you can imagine.”
The two elves walked along the shore for a time in companionable silence. Private moments such as these were rare at the best of times. Glorfindel picked up several bits of driftwood before discarding them once more.
“I think I will take up carving again,” the golden-haired elf said idly. “I’ve always enjoyed it; now I will have the time to indulge myself once more.”
“Perhaps we should eat now,” Erestor suggested. “We can build a small fire and enjoy the sunset too.”
They sat and ate around the fire, deciding to watch the first stars come out as well.
“You know, it’s strange. Even here, I feel no sea-longing. But your love of the sea is different, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is very different for me,” Erestor said at last. “Glorfindel, there is a book in Círdan’s private library that I think you should read.”
“Very well.” Glorfindel gazed sharply at the other elf, realizing that this book must be unusually important to him. “Perhaps in the morning, then? Or do you wish to spend the night here?”
“We should return now, I think.” Erestor said at last and began repacking the basket. “After all, we did not come prepared to sleep out.”
A few days later, Glorfindel was surprised to see Círdan approaching him. “Erestor wishes you to join him in my private library, my lord. Will you follow me please?” Though phrased as a request, Glorfindel knew an order when he heard it. Bemused, he followed Círdan through the unfamiliar halls until they reached a door that was nearly hidden by a large tapestry.
“Go on in, my lord. If either of you wish to find me, I will be in my office.” With that, Círdan left Glorfindel standing by himself.
Taking a deep breath, Glorfindel entered the room, noting that Erestor was standing near a table that held a single leather-bound book that looked rather like a journal.
“You wished to see me?” he asked questioningly.
“Yes,” Erestor replied in a slightly nervous tone. “You remember that I told you there was a book you should read?”
“Of course,” Glorfindel said. “But what…?”
“This is a history of sorts. Actually, Glorfindel, it is my family history.” Erestor handed the book to him and stepped back. “The book cannot leave this room, so you must read it here, and now.”
“If it is so important to you, then I will be happy to read it though I admit I see no reason for such secrecy.”
“I will be by the window, in case you wish to speak with me – or if you have any questions.”
Glorfindel said nothing but gave Erestor a sharp, piercing glance before seating himself in a large armchair and beginning to read.
The afternoon wore on and only the faint whisper of the parchment being turned disturbed the stillness. Erestor stared out the window, looking toward the sea. Idly, he wondered if his nerves would break before long.
Finally he heard the book close as Glorfindel gave a faint sigh. There was the faint sound of footsteps and the book being replaced on the table, then he felt Glorfindel come to stand beside him.
“Thank you for sharing that with me, Erestor,” he said placing a gentle hand on the other elf’s shoulder. “It explains so much. I admit I have often wondered about your past.”
“What? Why didn’t you say something, anything before now?” Erestor managed to say at last. “Why not simply ask me?”
“It seems my past is an open book, though I wish it weren’t. I have been asked so many times about the House of Finwë, of Gondolin… I understand their questions but still it is very tiring to always have to remember certain people, certain places and then to speak of them… well…” Glorfindel sighed briefly. “I just didn’t think it mattered, Erestor. We have been friends since I first arrived and we have been lovers since Lindon – I just thought you would speak of it if it was important.”
“All this time,” Erestor said as he felt his shoulders begin to shake. He wasn’t sure if he might laugh or cry – perhaps both.
“If it is possible, I would like to meet your family,” Glorfindel said. “Perhaps one day it can be arranged?”
2016 Sultry in September: a gift for Burning_Nightingale.
Beta: A special thank you to IgnobleBard for patient and tireless beta work. Any remaining mistakes are mine.
Beta: A special thank you to IgnobleBard for patient and tireless beta work. Any remaining mistakes are mine.
First posted (and also archived) at AO3 under my alternate pen name laSamtyr as part of the 2016 Sultry in September collection.
Chapter end notes:
Note: The book referred to is mentioned in another fic of mine, “More Than Are Dreamt Of”, was originally posted at the SWG lj (on International Fanworks Day 2015) under my lj name samtyr. It is also archived at AO3 (http:// archiveofourown.org /works/7359445) under my alternate pen name laSamtyr.
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