Gates Of Dawn

BY : Massanie
Category: +Third Age > Threesomes/Moresomes
Dragon prints: 1568
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 7: A Soothing Balm



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

The healing wing of Imladris was as beautiful a place as any in the Last Homely House. Light flooded the spacious rooms that opened towards the valley beyond the elven city, where sprawling balconies provided the sore eye with the breath taking view of the tree-covered lands beyond, which already started to glow luminously with the golden and red colours of autumn, the scenery crossed by the distant and feint silver lines of the Bruinen; the river that guarded the Hidden Valley so effectively and yet unobtrusively.

Inside, delicate wooden carvings of plants and elegant flowing structures interplayed cleverly with the silken and woollen textures of blankets, cushions, curtains and drapes, all in mellow tones of earth and sky, the rooms' beautiful décor making every effort to ease the minds and spirits of those in need to occupy them.

Most of those chambers were in close vicinity to the healers' staffrooms which formed the wing's centre and as such were easily accessible for the healers in case of an emergency and also for the maids who kept them clean and in order. There were, however a few that were more secluded and more luxurious for rather selective patients who treasured their privacy - including Elrond's whole family - and who occupied them whenever their condition was stable enough to not require constant supervision. Both Elladan and Elrohír had stayed in them more frequently and more prolonged than Elrond wished to remember and Glorfindel had also inhabited them more than once.

One of those was the chamber in which Elrond had treated his wife after her torture once her condition was stable enough to allow it.

And one of those chambers was now to host the chief advisor of Imladris for at least some hours and like Celebrían he was not majorly there to recover from a physical wound.

Elrond hated those analogies, though his thoughts unavoidably turned back to them nonetheless; he didn't voice the fear that Erestor might never recover, might eventually fade from his ordeal, but it was there. After all, Erestor, too, had been violated and Elrond knew of no case an elf had survived such a traumatic event let alone not needed to sail. And after Erestor's current breakdown both possibilities seemed closer than ever. It would just be one analogy more, one too many.

At that thought his hand clamped down on the heavy fabric of the curtains he was drawing close to bar the room against the warm sunlight and grant Erestor some hours of restful sleep, unable to proceed with the simple action for in that very moment Elrond almost dreaded shutting out the light and being left in the half-darkness. He felt as if he'd suffocate on it.

Why did every small victory they scrambled for have to be so hard-won with Erestor, only to be so fragile and uncertain even then?

Every mental wall that had broken down had not left Erestor more approachable, just more hurt and vulnerable; every secret they had wormed out of him had come at the price of lost innocence, trust and more gaping wounds ripped into his mind; every little repose had to be enforced, every offer of help repeated and repeated over and over again until It was accepted with acidic wariness that seemed to eat at Erestor further…

It had taken quite a lot of gentle prodding and persuading until Erestor had eaten at least some of what Elrond had had a maid bring for him and even more to convince him to rest in the comfort of the quite large bed.

Erestor had only yielded and promised to do as he was told when Elrond and Glorfindel had in exchange assured him that they would leave him alone and give him the privacy he seemed to need so desperately. And though they had reserved themselves the right to check on him at any time they had - without asking any questions - indeed planned to step out of the chamber once they had made sure that the advisor was comfortable.

Now only moments later the very idea seemed almost dangerous in itself. What if Erestor laid hands upon himself? And even if nothing that dramatic would happen, if they gave him enough time, maybe Erestor would simply bury all his hurt under layers and layers of cold and oblivion, and he would be unreachable once more.

And yet, if he broke his promise and pressed him now, what trust Erestor had in him might just turn to frost … or into disdain, which would be harder to bear than anything else. No, that was certainly not an option, not only because of the gentle affection he felt that sought an equal response, but also because he knew as a healer from long years of treating former soldiers and witnesses of wars and other traumatic events that patients would cope better if they did not speak about it and were left alone for at least one day to come to terms with whatever caused their grief.

So he just needed to keep his young, stubborn advisor safe for the day - a blood-curdling task, if one took the last weeks as a basis of comparison - and hope to be able to breach his newly erected walls come evening, or the following morning.

Elrond sighed heavily, closed the one remaining curtain and turned around to face Erestor, who sat on the edge of the bed. The young chief advisor stared into nothingness, his expression a thin blanket of ice that covered the emotional chaos beneath. One hand clawed into the wrist of the other with which he absentmindedly rubbed over a point on his stomach; the point that Elrond knew where an almost horizontal pink scar was hidden beneath the rich fabric and marked the place where Fiondil's knife had pierced him.

**Elrond, we cannot possibly leave him alone, promise or not.** Glorfindel addressed him from his position at the door, surprising his husband enough to break his assessment of Erestor's condition and glance over at him. The balrog slayer had been silent and reserved the whole morning long, observing more than acting since the moment they had led an equally silent, almost lethargic Erestor into the healing wing.

For a short moment Elrond wondered again what had his beloved so … so subdued, almost - he would need to speak to him at length later - then he looked back to Erestor; Glorfindel was right, the advisor was getting more and more agitated again, fidgety. If the reason therein was the imminent solitariness he faced when his lords would leave then indeed they could not; but it might as well stem from their prolonged presence and his fervent wish for solitude and then Erestor would not possibly be able to rest if they stayed close; and he needed to rest.

'There is no other way of finding out except for asking', he thought as he turned to the dark elf again. "Erestor?"

He paused, waiting for Erestor to meet his gaze, but the advisor merely cocked his head almost unnoticeable towards his lord as a sign that he had heard him, keeping his eyes fixed on a point on the far wall.

"Erestor, Glorfindel and I shall stay in the next chamber for a while; at least until you fall asleep?" Elrond gestured towards a corner in the southern wall of the room that led to a smaller staffroom for the healers tending to the patients in this part of the healing wing.

He had known that his advisor would require some supervision at any rate; or at the very least that he would need to watch over him for his own sake and therefore had chosen this very chamber for Erestor, one of the few in this part of the healing wing that had such a connection to a healers' room.

Nevertheless Elrond carefully voiced his proposal as a question to give Erestor the chance of refusing while closely monitoring his reaction. If the advisor showed even the least sign of discomfort at the idea, Elrond was prepared to relent or to compromise, and if not…

Erestor glanced up, meeting first Elrond's then Glorfindel's eyes for only a second or two, before lowering his gaze again. But the short moment had sufficed to reassure the older elven lords: the deeper lines on the younger elf's brow had smoothed somewhat and the heavy veil upon his dark orbs had lifted if only a little bit at the relief he tried to hide but which was so obvious.

But then he spoke, his defiant voice barely above a hiss: "I am fine, my lord. I certainly don't need any supervision."

Almost, Elrond sighed heavily in exasperation: Erestor was indeed a contradiction in itself, his pride not allowing him to accept what he needed. And that's when Elrond had just started to think they were finally making some progress; though maybe he should have known that it wouldn't be that easy… this whole endeavour was indeed proving to be a maddeningly desperate fight for every small step forward.

Out of the corner of his eyes, Elrond saw his husband shaking his head with a resigned but gentle smile so full of exasperated affection towards the stubborn advisor that Elrond's lips unwillingly curled into an amused half-smile. If Glorfindel would just make up his own mind!

And if Erestor would swallow his pride just this once and accept their help without too much contradiction… but he knew those were but idle, pointless wishes: both the elf he had loved for centuries and the elf that was just beginning to unknowingly worm his way into his heart were often stubborn beyond any reason. One was usually well-advised to just ignore those streaks of obstinacy.

And so Elrond merely smiled indulgently at his advisor, getting an intense scowl in return.

"Please change into the nightgown, Erestor" he gently said, once more gesturing to where he had laid it out on the soft bed earlier "we'll return in a few minutes."

For a moment Elrond wondered if his advisor was aware of the amused sparkle that must have lit his eyes at Erestor's defiant glare, because his cheeks flushed becomingly and he turned his face away.

Shaking his head, Elrond walked towards the door leading to the adjoining staffroom with measured steps, indicating for Glorfindel to follow him with a graceful wave of his hand. When the no sound of steps could be heard, he turned once more to see Glorfindel still pausing at the door.

Raising one eyebrow, Elrond met the poised yet oddly guarded gaze with his intent one.

**Come, beloved. We need to talk.**

Glorfindel kneeled in front of the chimney in the healers' staffroom, having just lit a fire to heat some water for whatever it was Elrond intended to put in there. He was thankful for the excuse to evade his husband's observant gaze, which he knew was directed at him every once in a while as his husband rummaged through the cupboards.

Sometimes he wished that hiding his emotions would come to him as easily as it did to Elrond, or Erestor for that matter. Maybe it would have prevented him from maneuvering himself into his current uncomfortable situation. It was not like he wanted to keep secrets from his husband, he trusted the Half-Elf more than anyone else, knew that he wasn't going to be judged for his transgressions, whatever they were.

But he was not yet sure what consequences he would need to draw from them, and if he had the right to draw them, for they would affect his husband also. Glorfindel knew what the Half-Elf would tell him, knew the arguments with which he would try to comfort and reassure him, but he didn't want to hide behind them and he might, given the chance. After all, he knew himself best.

He had failed so badly in the one moment that he must not have…

Heavily, Glorfindel sighed and stood, dusting off his trousers of non-existent dirt until he felt his husband's slender fingers on the small of his back and he righted himself, allowing the healer to glide his hands along his ribcage to embrace him from behind. Raising his own arms and crossing them over his chest, Glorfindel started to rub the limbs of his lover tenderly and felt Elrond leaning forward to rest his head on his shoulder.

For some moments they simply stood like that, listening to the soft crackling of the flames that drove the remaining moisture from the wood, and listening to the faint rustling of clothes that drifted through the ajar door of the adjoining room, as Erestor divested himself of his robe, finally.

**Will you not confide in me, Glorfindel?**

The Vanya closed his eyes, barely suppressing a sigh. Of all the ways Elrond could have started their conversation he just had to use this one. He could have asked straightforwardly, demandingly, he could have beaten around the bush and tried to worm his beloved's secrets out of him, he could have emotionally blackmailed him openly, using their usually very open and trusting handling of past trying situations as reference. Everything but that subtle, sad and troubled tone of voice, that plea to trust in him.

The Half-Elf didn't do it on purpose, that Glorfindel knew. Elrond was not someone who would manipulate those he loved so. And that made it even worse.

Aware of it or not, up to this day Elrond always needed to know the nature of Glorfindel's problems whenever they became pressing enough to haunt the captain of Imladris even after he retired for the day. Not knowing of them instilled in Elrond the fear that he might lose is loved ones, like he had lost his wife; one of the few perceptible scars left by Celebrían's ordeal. The Half-Elf still thought that he might have spared her the torture if he had pressed her harder about what had plagued her.

How could he add to that, knowing Elrond would worry more and more until he was told the truth?

And part of him wanted to confide in someone, too; and he loved Elrond, trusted him. He was the obvious choice…

But where to start?

**Please.**He heard his husband plead in his mind and felt him tighten his hold on him. Reassuringly he squeezed the other's upper arms for but a second before he freed himself from the embrace and turned to face the Half-Elf.

**It is because of Erestor, is it not? Because of what happened in Mirkwood?**Elrond inquired, keeping to the mind speech for now so that the advisor in the adjoining room would not hear them.

**It is.** Glorfindel answered, wondering how he should word his thoughts. He didn't want to explain himself, though he might be able to, didn't want to find excuses for his actions and bring them forth like some criminal trying to receive clemency or obtain an acquittal. There was no need for any undue sugar coating, nor did he have a right to it. **I did wrong by him, Elrond, accused him of wanting to hinder us, all but accused him of treason; I sent him home with guards, Elrond, not to assure his safe return but to make sure that he wouldn't flee and stab us in the back! And I claim to love him? I was his protector for centuries for Valar's sake; how could I do all that and then forsake him at the first opportunity to do so? It is hypocrisy of the worst form!**

Angrily, the captain clenched his fist and turned towards the door where he heard the soft sigh of the mattress as Erestor laid down.

**And then when Tauron and I found him, panicked and naked and about to be abducted into that damned forest, I … Elbereth, Elrond, you should have seen his face: his eyes pleaded with me to help him and I just stood there. I stood there and did nothing! I could have shot his captor in the leg, in the shoulder… incapacitate him in some way even without killing him, but I did not! I was frozen and only able to think that I couldn't murder that elf.**

Glorfindel shook his head, glad that he didn't have to say those words out loud; his voice might have given out.

**And then Erestor realized it. His eyes, Elrond, they keep haunting me! He knew I wouldn't lift a finger to safe him and I could see his despair. But still I didn't move, not until they vanished into that tunnel.** Slowly, he turned towards Elrond again, his eyes bitter.

**What right do I have to obtrude myself upon him now after all that?**

Quietly Elrond stepped up to the blonde ellon, raising one hand to caress his cheek.

**Do you really think that, mallind în?**He asked gently, the hardness in his husband's gaze his sole answer.

**Then you lie to yourself. You never truly believed that he betrayed us, you kept on doubting even though Erestor worked so hard on having you mistrust him. And even through all that doubt, when you could have trusted Erestor blindly, you behaved like I would have expected you to: I would be deeply troubled if my seneschal and the captain of my forces was so naïve as to be confronted with so much, weighty evidence and still ignore it because of his feelings.

If one day you were confronted with a similar situation, captain, I would expect you to act no different from what you have! Is that understood?**

Elrond asked, adamantly waiting for his husband's rigid nod. It would do no one any good if Glorfindel started to let his feelings seep into decisions made as the captain of Imladris, warping his rationality, influencing his judgement. He had never done so in the past and just because he had acted with precaution and sent home Erestor on a not so faint suspicion of betrayal he should not start to let subjectivity affect his decisions. Elrond as his lord would not allow him to do so. After all he had not openly accused Erestor even with the proof he had seen and damaged his reputation but instead handled the situation quite diplomatically if what he had heard was true. And at that very moment all evidence had been against Erestor.

Gently but emphatically, Elrond grasped and squeezed both his husband's hands. **And you may have made a mistake when you came upon Erestor. But both of us know why that happened.**

With that Elrond raised the hand on which Glorfindel's wedding band shimmered, and kissed the finger tips tenderly. The kinslaying at Alqualonde was one of the darkest chapters in the history of elves and it had left its mark on all who had witnessed the atrocity.

With those gruesome images in his mind, it was no surprise that Glorfindel was more reluctant than others to raise his weapon against a fellow elf.

**Melethron, no one blames you. You did not expect to be confronted with such a situation ever again and your hesitation is understandable. Do not take on guilt that is not yours to bear. Erestor lives, that is all that matters.**

Shaking his head, Glorfindel looked aside. Elrond simplified the situation too much: as the captain of Imladris, as the one in the position to help, he should not have let his past interfere, he should have been the one in control.

**Glorfindel,** Elrond started again, knowing the direction his husband's thoughts would take. **No one is perfect; no one expects you to be perfect, except you yourself. People only expect you to learn from your mistakes, and you will because you always do: I have never seen you make the same mistake twice. From now on you'll know how to react accordingly in a similar situation, how to defuse it without having to kill.**

Still downcast Glorfindel lowered his head. He felt that Elrond was playing the incident down for his sake but at least his husband was not denying that he had made a grievous mistake when freezing like he had.

Tenderly Elrond took the blonde's chin and turned his face to look at him.

**Glorfindel, do not let past errors cage you; strive for amendment instead and learn from your mistakes.

There will come other situations at some point in the future when you will make ill-conceived decisions that prove to be wrong afterwards. You will achieve nothing if you bury yourself beneath your guilt each time!

For now console yourself with the fact that nothing irreparable happened: Erestor survived; you yourself saved him from Fiondil's knife when the spiders attacked; both of us together saved him from his wounds. He lives, he lies just there**
Elrond gestured towards the still open door to the advisor's healing chamber **waiting for us to return, trusting us to keep him safe and help him heal. If nothing more, I want to do just that, but not alone.**

"I love you, Glorfindel." Elrond whispered, leaning forward to press a short, gentle kiss on his husband's lips.

"I love you, too." Glorfindel whispered back with a self-deprecating smile. 'If only you were not so damn manipulative!'

But he didn't complain or resist as Elrond tugged him along, pressed a heavy stoneware bowl into his hands and told him to set it on Erestor's nightstand, his mind still deep in thought.

Hiding his embarrassment beneath a thick layer of obviously factitious indifference, Erestor had almost completely ignored the two elven lords as they returned to his chamber, lying rigidly on the bed instead, burrowed under warm blankets with his gaze stubbornly fixed on a point on the wall in front of him. But it might have also been his exhaustion and lack of sleep that had him so unresisting to their presence, Elrond mused. The stubbornness in his onyx eyes might also stem from his fight against his fatigue.

And yet, it seemed that no amount of embarrassment or exhaustion could truly suppress the advisor's paranoid streak: although he had not batted an eye when Glorfindel set down the heavy stone bowl onto the beautifully crafted nightstand, which almost seemed too fragile to carry it's new burden, his sleep-drugged gaze was still piercing as it bored itself into Elrond's when the Half-Elf walked up to Erestor's side and threw a handful of fresh leaves into the hot water in the bowl before stirring the liquid with a thin wooden rod.

Elrond smiled gently in response to his advisor's mistrust, relieved that the younger elf had calmed enough to be rational again - even though obviously not rational in his suspiciousness - and was quick to reassure his patient.

"Athelas, Erestor" he said in his soothing, warm voice.

And indeed a few moments later the air filled with the herb's typical sweet, sharp scent.

"It will alleviate any headache you might be hiding from me." It was impossible to overhear the knowing, affectionate smile in the healer's voice that made Erestor avert his eyes in irritation and not a small amount of awkwardness.

But after a moment Elrond watched with satisfaction how Erestor closed his still red-rimmed eyes with a soft sigh as the relaxing scent filled his nose and the lines on his brow smoothed out. The herb was already doing its work – both Elrond and Glorfindel felt it as well – refreshing the mind and calming the advisor's anxiety enough for him to find some hours of restful sleep.

"Losto, Erestor! Avo-oltho o dae vanwië dîn; ah oltho o cuile ar cala ar lalad! Ná Irmo veria ar tegi ôlech ar anna i îdh achen."

And with those soft-spoken words that to a mortal's ear might be humming with what in their nascence they labelled as elven magic and with the scent of Athelas a soothing balm on his troubled mind, Erestor fell asleep.


mallind în ~ my golden heart.

melethron ~ lover

Losto, Erestor! Avo-oltho o dae vanwië dîn; ah oltho o cuile ar cala ar lalad! Ná Irmo veria ar tegi ôlech ar anna i îdh achen. ~ Sleep, Erestor. Don't dream of shadows of the past; dream of life and light and laughter! May Irmo protect and guide your dreams and give you rest.


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