Summary: A love long kindled will always burn.
Notes: Set in Rivendell, whilst Frodo is recuperating from his knife wound; specifically, the chapter of 'Many Meetings' in the Fellowship of the Ring timeline. In tribute to Glorfindel, one of the finest, most beautiful elves in Tolkien's world; it's a real shame that he was excluded from the movie. I tried my best to align this story with the book canon as closely as a slash fic can get. Thanks to Megan and Tyellas for the beta.
Aragorn stood by the open window in his room, looking out over the cascading waterfalls creating spires of fine mist; verdant greenery flourished as far as the eye could see, untouched by the shadow that crept across the rest of Middle-earth — for now, at least.
Rivendell always awakened a lingering sense of nostalgia in him; the crystalline beauty of this abode of Elves was familiar and warm. The years were long and bittersweet since he last departed from the house of Elrond to seek solace in the wild and find his own soul; but what he had found was only loneliness. Although in the bridging years, he had forced himself to face the bitter cold wind, and never look back at what he had left behind, here in Rivendell.
Until three days ago; as he and the hobbits had crouched in hiding — through the shadows of the thicket, Aragorn had raised his eyes, and what he had seen almost blinded him with joy, as well as the sheer realisation of what he should have known all along; and in that fleeting moment he felt whole again.
Ai na vedui Dúnadan! Mae govannen! Those words spoken in that familiar, mellifluous voice had pierced his heart with an intense, brimming happiness. Now, Aragorn closed his eyes and let the words flow inside his mind again, immersing himself in the sheer perfection of the one who had spoken them — until he was barely aware that the voice in his head was now tingling softly in his ears.
Aragorn opened his eyes, and was mildly startled to see Glorfindel standing before him. A small, pensive smile curled the elf-lord's lips, and his eyes shone with light and beauty and love as he looked at Aragorn.
"Estel," Glorfindel said softly, calling him by the name that Elrond had given him many years before; Aragorn bit his lower lip, and closed his eyes once more as the years that had passed between them melted away like snowflakes in the face of the sun.
"Open your eyes," came Glorfindel's gentle command. "Do not shut out the light, and find refuge in darkness — there is still hope in the world, while you still remember the name you once answered to."
"Those days are past," Aragorn answered, his voice slightly hoarse; his eyes fluttered open, and they were glazed with a tortured emotion. "I still remember them, and I will do so until the day I die. For they were the golden years, where all I knew was peace and innocence, and my life lay before me clean from the shadow of my lineage. But now..." he trailed off, and looked out of the window again, gazing upon the untouched splendour with sadness. "But now, I cannot watch the sun set across the face of Rivendell, and marvel at the beauty of it without a heaviness in my heart."
"Rivendell has not changed," said Glorfindel succinctly. "But you have."
"Perhaps you are right, Glorfindel," Aragorn answered, with a sigh. "The years of solitude have cast a veil across my eyes, and I no longer see the bright colours all around me; they are always blunted, subdued by a weariness that sleep cannot alleviate. The only reason that I have found strength to go on is —" he broke off.
"Is...?" Glorfindel prompted, his eyes holding Aragorn's gaze evenly.
"Is the thought that one day I will come home," Aragorn finished, wearily. "That after I have fulfilled what destiny has put before me, I will finally come to a place that I belong, among those I know and love."
"You will find this place you dream of," said Glorfindel quietly, taking a step closer to him. "Not here, of course — but somewhere else, and hope will take you there, Estel, hope. For in your own stride you will accomplish great and fearsome things yet, and bring the same hope you have to peoples whose hearts have grown dark." He paused. "But tell me — does there still remain in Rivendell any cause to make you joyful?"
The question was plain, yet laden with meaning; Aragorn didn't answer for a long moment as he was lost in memory, the distant yet vivid remembrance of a tenderness that he had once known, here in Rivendell...
A sheltered pavilion, set against the brilliant sunset splashed across the blue sky; the pillars of white, carved marble stood around them, casting defined shadows here and there, flickering in the twilight. This corner of Rivendell was secluded, shielded from view, the perfect place for a tender memory to be set deeper than in stone.
There they kissed, deeply and achingly desperate, and the moment was long enough to lose themselves in but too short to hold to, and when they broke apart their faces shone with pain and tears and the bittersweet light of parting.
"When will you return?" Glorfindel asked, his fair elven voice quivering.
Aragorn shook his head, his eyes downcast. "I cannot say, for I do not know."
"I will await you," Glorfindel said softly; Aragorn started to protest, but Glorfindel silenced him with a touch to his lips. "Do not tell me to forget you; it cannot be done, even if both of us willed it. For Elves are a race who are given the greatest joys and the deepest sorrows — in savouring one, we must yield to the other."
"I do not wish this burden upon you," Aragorn said fiercely. "For I know better than anyone else the silent suffering that bearing a burden brings — it is terrible, and that is why I must leave Rivendell, and seek the path laid out for me."
"And in like manner, the choice is not mine." Glorfindel answered; he placed his arms on Aragorn's shoulders, and drew them closer together, until only the shared heat of their bodies lay between them. "Love is a powerful thing, and perhaps the best that one could ever have. And such is the way that Elves are — for if we are blessed to find love in our lives, we will love forever."
"Do you still remember, Aragorn, what I told you before?" Glorfindel asked softly, jolting Aragorn out of his reverie; the elf-lord's eyes were filled with earnest sadness, and in their depths the trickle of years was but a ripple in stillness. "We were standing in the pavilion facing the west sky; it was our last farewell, before you departed into the night, and never looked back."
"And how would you have known that, Glorfindel," Aragorn said tightly, "for you never came to see me off on the Road?"
"Elves cannot be slain, but for a mortal wound or a broken heart." Glorfindel looked at Aragorn, and clear pain lived in his eyes. "Would you have watched me die?"
Aragorn looked stricken.
"I left because I had to," he said, a quiet wretchedness in his voice. "I wished things would have turned out another way for us — but it was not to be, yet through it all I never broke your heart."
"You speak truly," Glorfindel answered, "which is why I am still here, awaiting you as I had promised." He looked straight into Aragorn's eyes. "And I hope that still, some things have not changed."
Glorfindel stepped forward, and touched his finger to Aragorn's cheek, tracing the outline of his jaw — then he moved closer, and kissed him tenderly on his lips. His other hand he laid lightly on Aragorn's shoulder, in a gentle and almost courtly manner.
Aragorn was briefly surprised; but the remembrance of this intimacy that they had shared before came rushing back to his mind, and he leaned in, returning the kiss and locking them both in the simple perfection that had been brought to life once more. His hands moved of their own volition, coming to rest on the elf-lord's slender waist; but then Glorfindel turned his face slightly and withdrew, breaking their fragile, intense contact.
"Glorfindel..." Aragorn began; his voice was low, trembling with controlled emotion.
"Do you know why I gave Frodo my horse, to speed him here to Rivendell?" Glorfindel asked, raising his eyes to level Aragorn's.
Aragorn looked slightly thrown by his question; his mind was still too hazed to think properly. "Well, because there was no way we could have reached Rivendell on foot, with Frodo bearing the would from the Morgul-blade."
"True," Glorfindel said. "But I could have ridden with him; and I would have led the horse more skilfully than Frodo did, without any halts. Asfaloth my horse would have borne both of us with no trouble at all; and with my strength I would have been better able to repel the Black Riders during the flight to the Ford."
Aragorn paused, and pondered for a long moment; this had never occurred to him before. Now that Glorfindel mentioned it — it would have made more sense for Glorfindel to carry Frodo on horseback to Rivendell, instead of sending him on Asfaloth alone, against the wrath of all nine Riders.
"It was because of you, Aragorn, that I remained behind," Glorfindel answered his unspoken question. "For I did not know if the Dark Lord was aware of who you were, and whether the time to reveal yourself to him had already come. I would have asked Gandalf, but he had not arrived before I rode forth from Rivendell. I was not sure of the schemes of the Riders — and I would not leave it to lucky chance that they would not harm you: being the Heir of Isildur, who would wield the Sword that was Broken in battle once again."
Aragorn stared at Glorfindel, his eyes full of disbelief and wonder. "And this was the reason you chose to stay with us?"
Glorfindel nodded solemnly. "I had assumed the worst, that we would be set upon by the Nazgûl upon steeds, while we were on foot — but I would have defended you to the end, even if it had been against all the Nine."
"But you would not have been able to fight them," Aragorn said in a whisper. "It would have been beyond even your strength to face all Nine at once" — his voice grew thick — "and you would have perished."
"Yes, I would. But that would have been a death set upon me; and I would have died by your side." Glorfindel gave Aragorn a wry smile. "But had I left you behind; and had you and your companions been attacked and killed by the Riders — then, I would also have perished; a death from within."
"No!" Aragorn said vehemently; his eyes flashed with dismay. "If the swirl of time presents such a situation once more, you must not choose peril like this again! It is folly — promise me, Glorfindel..."
"You have my promise, Aragorn," Glorfindel cut in; his voice was surprisingly strong. "Only it is of another sort; and I cannot recant on an oath that I spoke, however many years before."
"Which oath?" Aragorn asked, although he knew in his heart the exact promise that Glorfindel spoke of.
"If we are blessed to find love in our lives," Glorfindel said slowly, and his voice seemed as if from a great depth or distance of time. "We will love forever."
Aragorn closed his eyes; the raw memories were etched on the backs of his lids, and he could see the golden pavilion, drenched in amber twilight and the dancing shadows of evening. It was such a beautiful moment, caught and crystallised in the web of time, and even in his darkest hours he never once let it slip from his mind.
"As you know, I am one who has dwelt in the Blessed Realm," Glorfindel spoke quietly. "And I can see both worlds; the spirit and the fleshly. Yesterday, as I rode in pursuit of your trail, I could feel another force drawing me along: I sensed you hiding in the thickets even before you revealed yourself. There is a bond between us that cannot be sundered save by death; and it constantly leads my heart to yours, along paths of light and hope and love, when all else in the world withers and fails."
Aragorn reached forward and took both Glorfindel's hands in his own; the elf-lord's palms were soft, cultured, infused with a natural warmth that radiated from deep beneath the skin. Aragorn said nothing as he caressed Glorfindel's slim, elegant fingers with his own; then in a tender gesture, he lifted the elf-lord's right hand to his own lips, and kissed it gently.
"Do you still love me, Aragorn?" Glorfindel asked simply, his eyes never leaving Aragorn's face.
"Some things do not change, Glorfindel," Aragorn whispered fervently. "And never will."
Then he kissed Glorfindel; he pulled him close almost desperately, holding his body against him. Glorfindel's mouth was tenderly soft against his own, sweet and refreshing; and it was like drowning in a familiar joy, the rare and precious feeling of coming home, at last.
"Alas," Glorfindel said softly, drawing back slightly; there was a forlorn acceptance in his eyes. "You know, as I do, that you cannot stay here in Rivendell for long; there is a place elsewhere that you need to be, a battle for you to lead and an evil to cast down."
"Then let us treasure the time that has been given us," Aragorn said, letting his hands slide down the sides of Glorfindel's body. "However little it is."
They kissed again, this time more urgently, hunger wrought with passion burning on both their lips; the lost time that stretched between them was now only a trifle, cast into the wind, as if the long-cherished moment they shared in the pavilion all those years ago had come to life again.
Aragorn's mouth gradually departed from Glorfindel's, and began a trail of kisses down the side of his chin to his neck; the elf-lord shivered as Aragorn's teeth pressed against his bare flesh, marking him. Then in a graceful movement like a butterfly descending upon the blade edge of a grass, Aragorn dropped to his knees, and with quivering fingers began to draw apart the front folds of Glorfindel's dark, velvet cloak.
Glorfindel's hand closed over Aragorn's, stilling him; Aragorn glanced up in mild surprise and met Glorfindel's eyes, which were softened with desire and filled to the depths with pure devotion.
"I will not have you kneel before me," Glorfindel shook his head, and his fair locks were like woven strands of gold adorned about his shoulders; he clasped Aragorn's hands in his own, and raised him to his feet once more. "It would not be proper, even for a king yet uncrowned."
"Your concern is easily appeased," Aragorn answered; he drew Glorfindel toward the bed, and with a firm, swift manoeuvre lowered him down upon the mattress, and leaned over him. The elf-lord looked up at Aragorn with a half-smile, surprised and yet thrilled by his sudden aggressiveness; he reached up and drew Aragorn down upon him, and their lips brushed lightly as he spoke.
"Would you claim what is yours?" Glorfindel said softly, his tone mildly teasing yet heartbreakingly genuine; he closed his eyes as Aragorn answered him without a word, sliding down the length of his body in a smooth movement.
Aragorn started to undress Glorfindel from waist down; his hands moved eagerly, his own need outweighing his usual meticulous nature; there was a rip in the fabric as he dragged the tight-fitting leggings down Glorfindel's thighs. He didn't notice, nor did he care; he bowed his head and took the elf-lord's arousal inside his mouth, and he felt the body beneath his hands jerk and writhe, although Aragorn held his grip firmly on his hips.
Aragorn took his time, letting his lips caress and his tongue tease at its own will, appreciating each gasp and shudder of pleasure that he elicited; Glorfindel whispered his name, Estel, over and over again, interwoven with breathless moans in Elvish that were more beautiful than any poetry Aragorn had ever heard in the Hall of Fire.
He could feel the tremors running through Glorfindel's body grow stronger, more intense; and when the elf-lord finally found release, crying out in a clear, fervent voice, Aragorn had to restrain him from bucking too hard as he poured himself out down the back of Aragorn's throat.
When Aragorn finally drew back, his lips still moist and glistening, he discovered that Glorfindel was trembling — not from cold, for the morning sun was riding high in the sky; and too violently to be merely the receding waves of passion. Aragorn moved over him, covering his body with his own and holding him in a warm embrace; and there they lay, in the comfortable silence only disturbed by the sounds of rushing streams and rustling leaves.
"I left Rivendell to find my soul, to seek my heart's desire," Aragorn murmured, stroking back the damp strands of Glorfindel's golden hair. "Little did I know that the first step of my journey would also be the threshold of my destination; that my path would lead me there and back again — back to you."
"I will be there when you are crowned, Aragorn," Glorfindel said with a pensive smile; he took Aragorn's hand and laid it against his heart. "And even when we are apart, I will be with you always."
"I know." Aragorn moved closer, and kissed him again, slowly and deeply, savouring the moment that would too soon be gone, but never perish in memory; a tender affirmation.
- fin -
Feedback? I'd love to hear it!