Gates Of Dawn

BY : Massanie
Category: +Third Age > Threesomes/Moresomes
Dragon prints: 1548
Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

CHAPTER 10: Raze The Walls To The Ground



'Thoughts'; ~visions~; **mind speech**; -l-Letters-l-

When Elrond entered the chamber, Erestor had already tried to put on a cloak of frost and managed quite remarkably. It was inscrutable to Elrond and Glorfindel how any being lying in a sickbed and being as pale as Erestor was could seem so proud and cold and unimpeachable and be able to look down on those standing in front of him. 'Only Erestor…' Elrond contemplated affectionately and shook his head.

The advisor politely apologized for him attacking his lord that very morning, conceding that he had been a little bit overzealous in trying to overcome his memories even though he was quick to reassure that it wouldn't happen again, mentioning that he thought it best if he were to return to his chambers and spend the remainder of the week resting and regenerating his strength before returning to his work. The latter concession – which in Erestor's humble opinion was rather bounteous and quite unnecessary – having only been made because Erestor guessed that the healer would only accommodate his wish for solitude if he himself showed Elrond that he was indeed reasonable enough.

All the while during his little speech he had thrown stray glances at the tall blond Vanya still standing in front of the window frame, a silent image of disapproval, as if constantly anticipating a dissent from his side.

When he had finished, Elrond smiled at him winningly in a way that Erestor found rather disconcerting before telling him "As your employer I would naturally leave such a delicate decision to your healer but seeing as I am one and the same I seriously doubt you will be returning to your duties quite so soon."

From the window, Glorfindel gave Erestor a smug half-smile, who had once again frozen, gaping at the healer incredulously.

"My lord, I assure you, I am more than capable to return to my work."

"And I never said otherwise." Elrond replied, inclining his head. He locked gazes with his husband for a moment, the blue eyes smiling back at him encouragingly, telling him to go on.

Quietly, Elrond took a step towards Erestor and, like Glorfindel earlier, sat down on the edge of the bed.

"To be honest, Erestor, I think, no I am certain that you need healing of a kind that you cannot achieve by yourself and on your own and in such a short time as you obviously wish."

"I can!" Erestor interrupted him with a hiss. "I did it once, I will do it again!"

"You cannot force healing, Erestor! While I do not doubt that you can learn to *live on* despite of what happened, and even though I admit that you achieved that admirably after you first came here, you have never *lived*, never come to terms…"

"Don't you dare judge…"

"Hear me out, Erestor." Elrond's voice was firm and gentle at the same time, his gaze unyielding as he stared his advisor down. It was crucial that he made him accept help before the elf had completely secluded himself once more.

"I am not judging you. But nonetheless you can't deny that these past centuries you only lived for your work and for these visions; your letters portrayed as much. All your thinking revolved around atoning for your perceived mistakes."

"Oh *please*, my lord!" Erestor sneered "we already spoke about my way of handling private matters, namely privately!"

"That is not enough anymore." Elrond drew a deep breath, steeling himself for a full grown fit of fiery rage that was undoubtedly to come.

But it didn't. Erestor just felt sick of it all. He merely wanted to be left alone, was that too much to ask? What right had they to force him like that? It wasn't his way to pour out his woes, it just wasn't. But if he didn't comply, if Elrond never deemed him healthy, or damn it, *sane* enough to return to his work, if he was never allowed to take on his duties once more as chief advisor... that was something he couldn't deal with, not even with the mere thought of being useless like that.

It made him feel so empty, so hollow inside that he didn't even react when Elrond shifted towards him on the mattress and took his hand gently between his warm palms, rubbing it soothingly.

Glorfindel, too, came to stand next to the bed and kneeled down in front of it on the floor, a posture that would require him to look up at Erestor's face but which he hoped wouldn't intimidate the advisor or give him the feeling of being caged between the two lords. But he laid one of his hands on Erestor's forearm to get his attention and Erestor turned his gaze slowly towards him even though not directly at him.

"I know you do not want to speak, Erestor. We respect that." The Vanya said quietly "Both of us know that talking is not the remedy to every emotional pain. But let us help you through your nightmares; let us do what we can to ease you into life again. And if not us, then at least allow Lindir or Elladan and Elrohír to do so. I know you became quite close."

The honest concern drew Erestor from his stupor and hesitantly he looked down at the blonde's face. He was not stupid: even though the blonde was careful to present him with a neutral expression, it was obvious from the tension in the other elf's voice that Glorfindel hoped he would not decide to turn away from the seneschal and the lord of Imladris and go to Lindir and the peredhil twins in search of help. He just couldn't understand why.

But maybe, maybe this was just the perfect situation to try and get ahead of all those over-protective meddlers and find a way to deflect their attention. If he could just learn the root of it, he was sure he could squash it.

"I do not understand your resolve." He admitted, straightforward as ever as he gazed to and fro between Elrond and Glorfindel.

"Is the prospect of someone caring for you so difficult to grasp?" Elrond asked softly.

"No." Erestor answered at least partly truthful. He had accepted that there were some like Thalion, Celairdúr or Lindir who simply cared for him for no concrete reasons at all or who pitied him and seemed to develop the affection of a parent or sibling or even a distant friend out of an obscure protective instinct. He just didn't really understand why.

The only ones he truly understood were benefactors who perceived his talents and wanted to keep him useful. That was ultimately the category he had put Elrond in initially, before he had recognized that the famous Half-Elf, too, was just one of those elves that simply *cared* for no reason whatsoever beside their own compassionate and empathic nature.

Glorfindel as well as Dírhael had probably been somewhere in between at least at the beginning of their acquaintanceship. He was never really sure. His adoptive father had been fascinated with his abilities and he could not stop himself from thinking that this had been an essential part of his decision to adopt Erestor in the first place. And Glorfindel – while always having protected him and shielded him from malign gossip to the best of his abilities – had at first had him observed secretly to determine his motives and assure himself that his intentions towards Imladris had been pure, that he was no threat, that Erestor would serve Imladris' ruler well.

He understood it, but it had stung nonetheless.

But now, he had no idea what – by Morgoth and all his damned monstrosities – was going on in the heads of those around him. He said as much.

"I simply find it out of all reason *that*, and first and foremost *how* you, and everyone else for that matter, seem so intent on…" how best to phrase it? 'Intruding on my life'? He could not possibly say that to his lord's face!

He pried loose his hand from Elrond's gentle grasp, flushing slightly because he had not noticed the other's touch before, and made a helpless, indefinite hand-gesture.

"… taking a place in my life and a part in my recovery when I made it distinctly clear that I didn't wish any interference into my private life; and considering that I was allowed this privacy when I first came to Imladris and when my adoptive father died, this persistence I am observing seems quite … irrational."

Erestor looked up, trying to gauge his lords' thoughts, but he was not accustomed to read any feelings like the ones he encountered there and that confused him.

It was nothing like the fatherly affection that Dírhael had held for him or the quiet protectiveness of his Sindar surrogate family, not the dangerous, obsessive love of Fiondil, or the friendly sparkle with which Lindir regarded him and certainly not any of the more antagonistic and hostile emotions he was met with so often.

Whatever it was, it was … deep. He frowned nervously.

"When you first came to Imladris, I *did* press you to tell me, but I relented when I saw how close you had become to Dírhael. You were accepting of his help then and it seemed enough. I observed you, though, to be sure and I knew you were healing. But in hindsight you must admit that what you lived through this past month is quite different from what you endured during your childhood and even then you were never alone, you had Dírhael and you accepted my presence outside of work." That last thought was painful for Elrond, as his mind supplied him immediately with the fact that that had not lasted after Dírhael died. And he wondered if it was because Erestor had thought himself guilty for his adoptive father's – Elrond's friend – death and Celebrían's torture or because Erestor had only endured Elrond's presence for Dírhael's sake to begin with.

Unbeknownst to his line of thought, Erestor sat up in front of him, suddenly uncomfortable. He didn't like other's speaking about his enforced stays in Greenwood-the-would-be-great, hated it with a passion. And then again, a part of him didn't, sometimes seemed to long for it even; and that was confusing, too.

"And I didn't do as much as I should have done," Elrond continued, his gaze lowered "especially when Dírhael died; I should have, as your healer and employer, and for that I'm sorry. I won't repeat that mistake, Erestor."

Briefly Erestor wondered why Elrond's eyes seemed to flicker towards his husband at that, but he brushed the thought aside, more concerned by the words *per se*.

"You're wrong" he whispered, his eyes wide and almost pleading, because Elrond could not be right. If he was, if all those elf's who had suddenly taken an interest in his life were doing it out of a guilty conscience, they would not be easily fended off. He had experienced the power of such feelings himself, how they were able to push someone beyond his limits and go on even then.

He licked his lips that suddenly seemed dry when he became aware of his lords' gazes on him, willing him to continue. Had he really said that out loud?

"I mean: you're wrong, it wasn't your duty." He tried to cover his slip because he would be damned if Elrond and Glorfindel found out just how much he didn't want them all in his life. But something twisted in his chest painfully at that thought and somehow he knew it to be a lie and he looked away from the compassionate eyes then, knowing some dam in him might break if he stared at them any longer; he just didn't know what consequences that might have.

"I am but one of many of your staff members. You could not possibly take on the responsibility of their minder." He ground out from between gritted teeth.

"This responsibility is taken by the direct superior, Erestor, as you well know. And I have not so many direct inferiors, but you are one of them. Yes, technically speaking it would have been my responsibility, but that is not the point."

"Why is it that you are so uncomfortable with help, Erestor?" Glorfindel asked, steering the conversation from his husband to the advisor again. Erestor glared.

"I am not uncomfortable with it as such." He lied, causing both elves to raise a disbelieving eyebrow at him. "I merely *prefer* my independence."

"No, Erestor." And there was just something pervasive in Glorfindel's voice that made the other two occupants of the healing chamber look at him, at the intense, piercing expression on his face and listen attentively.

"Not because of lost independence, you wouldn't lose your independence because of accepting help and you well know it … you do it because it is 'just easier not to'." He said, his voice calm and steady now and his eyes so intense that Erestor could do nothing but stare at him and swallow thickly, somehow feeling shaken without knowing why.

"Do you remember those words?" Glorfindel asked, barely above a whisper and Erestor shook his head dazedly. He could not for the life of him attribute any particular meaning to that phrase, nor did he know why the seneschal would.

The answer came immediately afterwards and left him speechless.

"You wrote them to me in your farewell letter." Glorfindel said then and watched the younger elf blanch.

"You said that you didn't accept my friendship because it was easier not to." He paused for a moment as Erestor released a shivering breath, looking sick to the stomach.

"And now you are doing it again. You refuse the assistance and friendship that I and Elrond offer you even though you know it would be good for you; refuse the twins' help, Tauron and the other soldiers…" He didn't mention Gandalf right now, understanding that something had happened between father and son that morning that would not be easily repaired so soon. The Maia would need to repair the rift he had caused himself because Glorfindel knew if he brought him up now, Erestor would simply take to that particular topic with fervent anger, conveniently ignoring all his other arguments.

"Because you found it to be easier not to handle the implications, the consequences of accepting that help, those friendships, you have spurned them." His voice was still calm, but regardless Erestor flinched and slumped back into the cushions, boneless.

He wanted to vehemently gainsay the conclusions that the blonde Vanya had drawn, he wanted to push him away from his bedside and call him up on the lies except that he couldn't contradict something that he knew to be true, not with a clear conscience. But how he wanted them to be untrue so much that it almost hurt!

Oh he knew that it hadn't started like that. He had accepted Thalion's help immediately, his beloved brother's. He had allowed him to cradle him close and soothe his nightmares whenever they overcame him during the long nights in Greenwood and he had relished in and thrived under his and his family's company. His youthful mind had gotten used to their presence so easily and it had done him so much good. And then they had vanished from his life and he learned that coming to trust Dírhael as much as he had his surrogate family had been much harder for him. But he had in the end before the elf who had been his adoptive father and mentor had left him, too.

And he had left him alone with no other friends: During all his life in Imladris, the malign gossip he had endured had not made him inclined to search out others and those who would … Erestor had not been certain if he wanted to grow attached to elves who might die or who he would hurt if he was to die. That had been his maxim for his whole life since Dírhael's death: 'keep other's and yourself from harm, emotional and physical.'

It had required Lindir's constant persistence to make him cave in finally but he had held back even then.

He had never thought that his cautiousness might have been nothing more than an excuse so he wouldn't have to deal with the attention of others, which he simply was not used to. And that was an ugly reason, one that betrayed weaknesses he hadn't thought to possess at all. It was certainly less noble than the reason he had pretended to have, and that realisation was hurtful.

But nonetheless it was true and he couldn't ignore what logic told him: if he had done it out of his wish to not hurt himself and anyone he could have potentially learned to love or care for, then he could have allowed those relationships to form now. That he was so unwilling showed it was nothing more than cowardice and laziness.

Immediately the accused part of his mind leaped to its defence. It wasn't true, it was mental and physical exhaustion that made him seek solitude, the need to rest and heal, and he could acknowledge that what had happened to him would cause that. He knew he was not well; the way everyone was looking at him, handling him like a fragile glass sculpture, the way he had reacted that very morning to simple gestures told him as much. But he had only been in Imladris for a single day now, for Valar's sake!

They couldn't expect him to function normally.

"I would very much appreciate it if you made up your mind, my lords." By Elbereth, his voice was coarse and thick with tears. "Either you think I am well and should be up and about, mingling jovially with the many elves seeking my company with only the best intentions, who were just never really aware of what a wonderful elf I truly am – a pity that, which of course they have to rectify right away." Erestor tried his best to sneer, not quite successful as he had to blink his tears away..

"Or you think I am not and need all the rest and healing I can get, which I cannot in the presence of so many strangers forcing their way into my life, unwanted I might add."

"I would have hoped," Elrond said carefully but firmly "that neither Glorfindel nor me were strangers in your eyes, at this point. We worked together for centuries, we protected you always and you saved us on the High Pass, we saved you in Greenwood, when you were dying from your injuries, venturing our very life force in doing so, willingly and gladly. I will not let you ignore that!"

Fiercely, Erestor shook his head, once, twice, and bit his lips before he couldn't contain himself any longer, his tears spilling over. He had never really been aware of what had been required to call him back from the door sill of Mandos' Halls, never thought about it.

He had never meant to hurt Elrond or Glorfindel, never meant to belittle their efforts. Lately it seemed he was always doing something wrong.

And he hadn't known that they cared so much either.

But as Elrond leaned over to pull Erestor's weeping form firmly into his warm embrace and as Glorfindel sat onto the mattress on the other side at last to lay his arms around him from behind and nestle his cheek against his shoulder, hushing him, Erestor had to admit that they did, at least in the silence and privacy of his own mind.

And maybe, maybe he could be comfortable with their help and friendship and learn to be contented with that and not wish for more.




I am sorry to say that The Bitter Glass Series is not going to be continued in the near future.

Frankly, I have very little time right now as I'm in the last year of my studies. I have university to finish, a very time-consuming side job and another story in the HP fandom, and I can't do everything and do it right.

So I had to prioritize and as there was so little feedback on the Bitter Glass, Scarred Fate and Gates Of Dawn, I decided to continue my HP story (Night Flight) instead for now and reward the many loyal reviewers there. Honestly, it was quite disheartening to see not a single review for Scarred Fate on and only one on, even though I personally think that from all of my four stories, this was and will be the best.

If this decision disappoints you, I am sorry. I know how annoying it is to see a story one was interested in being discontinued. Someday, though, I will finish Gates Of Dawn, because the whole series means much to me on a personal level. Already over two years of work went into it, so much nervousness, elation, frustration, anticipation and giddiness ... and it was after all the first anything I ever published and regardless of anyone else's opinion, I am quite proud of it.

If you want me to contact you once I come back to this story, you are free to send me your mail address, or you could join and add it to your story alerts; but I won't promise anything. At this point I really don't know when I might update.

I'd like to thank all of you for reading this series; I hope you enjoyed it so far and to those who reviewed: thank you for each and every one of your reviews, they were very much appreciated and I am sorry for putting Gates Of Dawn on hold.

~ Massanie

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