Chapter 7: Fire and Festival

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It had been confirmed by many inhabitants that Imladris had never looked or smelled better. A feast was at hand, and not just any feast. This was the feast for Celebrían's homecoming, and Elrond had ordered it to be the best Imladris could provide. The world, it seemed, was full of insatiable cheer, and Elrond was tired of waiting. He wanted his wife home now and for everything to be absolutely perfect. So it was that the general populace was in a very, very good mood, and full of anticipation for the upcoming celebration. All except for oneElf. Being the coordinator for the entire thing, Erestor was more concerned with getting everything to work, than with being excited about it.

"Elladan! Put the pies on the left hand corner of the- no! Not like- good, now I want you and Lindir to move the tablecloth a little bit toward the right . . . only a bit I said! Valar, I'll have to do it myself! Get out of the way!" Erestor shouted in alarm and shoved his Lord's son to the side.

"Gladly," muttered Elrond's firstborn. He wiped his face with his arm, and looked over at Lindir who mouthed something regarding Erestor's need for personal space and that the situation would become much better as a whole if they distanced themselves a little from the proceedings – the whole length of Imladris would be a sufficient barrier, he thought. And with this, Elladan agreed. As they were leaving the general area, they met a very contrite looking Glorfindel who appeared to be covered in chocolate pudding, going the opposite direction. They stopped.

"What happened to you?" Lindir asked, sounding mildly awed.

Glorfindel did not answer, but as he slumped past them, they caught murmured words in Quenya that sounded suspiciously like "Erestor" and "only . . . accident."

Since Elladan always liked being helpful, he patted the intrepid Seneschal on the shoulder as he passed and said soothingly, "Of course it was an accident. We would never have thought otherwise."

Elladan always said afterward that Glorfindel's response was entirely uncalled for, though Lindir usually contested that argument. Either way, the half-Elf found himself on the floor very quickly, with Glorfindel's chocolate-drenched rear end in his face.

"Elladan, I am really not in the mood right now," Glorfindel growled. "What would you say if I told you to go to your balcony, and – yow!" He leaped off of Elladan in a hurry. "Sadistic pen-neth, you still have sharp teeth." Elladan was presented with a hand gesture that Glorfindel probably would not have given him when he was twenty. The blond Elf passed through the doors to the hall, only to come out again in a hurry.

"You didn't tell me he was in there, you – ouch! No kicking!" With that, Glorfindel disappeared behind a hanging in the wall, and a muffled voice told the two younger Elves he probably wouldn't be coming out again for a while.

"I'm not here! Can you understand that? Do you hear me? No? Good!"

"I'm not entirely convinced either one of them have all their wits together," Lindir said slowly. Elladan shook his head sadly.

"I may have to agree with you on that one," he said and lifted up his tunic to show Lindir the stain forming on it. "I mean, look at this- Naneth!"

"Naneth?" said Lindir confused, "What are you talking about? I'm not your- oh, I see." Lindir suddenly registered the figure standing behind him with an amused expression on her face. He turned, bowed (a rare occurrence indeed,) and smiled. "Welcome home, my Lady."

Celebrían smiled back, "And a pleasure it is to be home, Lindir." She turned to Elladan, a frown on her fair face, "Elladan dear, why do you have pudding all down your front?"

Elladan looked down at himself in consternation, wondering why he always appeared to be in a mess whenever his Naneth was there to see, and then, with a rather impish grin in his Mother's direction took off his shirt with flourish and threw it at the hanging Glorfindel 'wasn't' behind like an impudent elfling. "Pudding? What pudding? Do you see any pudding, Lindir?" Elladan asked innocently, turning to the minstrel.

Indeed, Lindir noted, there was a bit of pudding on Elladan's nose, but he decided to let it lie for the time being, because just as Celebrían enclosed Elladan in a warm hug, an emotional tidal wave named Elrond burst down the hall.

"Celebrían! Ai, Celebrían!" Elrohir followed his father, although at a bit more sedate of a pace. He stopped a few feet away from the madly hugging couple and stared at his hastily released brother. He looked at Lindir.

"So Lindir, finally made a move then?"

"Elrohir!" admonished Celebrían. "Come here and give me a hug, before teasing your siblings and old friends." Elrohir complied, somehow managing to pry his mother away from Elrond's embrace and lifting her high into the air.

Predictably, this set Celebrían shrieking for Elrohir to put her down immediately or there would be consequences and that he wasn't too old to be sent to bed without any supper, no matter no matter that he had passed his majority several hundred years ago. Unfortunately for her, the whole effect was rather ruined by the laughter spilling from her lips in between sentences.

"Where is Glorfindel?" Celebrían enquired curiously, after Elrohir finally endeavored to put her down in the face of Elrond's eyebrows which clearly said, this is my job.

Nobody ever argued with the Eyebrows.

"Not here!" came the voice from behind the curtains.

"Ah, he is . . . indisposed," Elladan said after a moment's pause.

"Yes, he and Erestor . . . ." Lindir began.

"Finally had it out then, did they?" Celebrían asked in mild curiosity. "Which one is dead?"

"Er, that wasn't precisely what I meant," Lindir floundered, looking to Elladan for assistance. Elladan wasn't paying much attention to conversation anymore, however. He was simply standing and smiling, and as Lindir looked at his friend, a tear of joy trickled down Elladan's cheek. Elladan, who loved his mother with all his heart, Elladan, who was always so alive in his sincerity and joy, Elladan, the most beautiful person Lindir had ever known.

Lindir stepped forward and wrapped Elladan in a brotherly hug, pressing the other's face into his shoulder. Elladan wept unashamedly, along with his mother, father, and brother. Lindir sniffed, he knew how much the twins missed their mother, and Elrond his wife when she was gone, but rarely did he see the happy moment when the family was finally reunited. For in truth, it was a sight to behold. If he had been a painter rather than a minstrel, he would have considered running for his paints and some cloth at that very moment, in order to capture the beautiful scene forever.

When Elladan finally looked up, Lindir's breath caught in his throat. Elladan's dark hair caught in the light, and a slight bit of red highlight was suddenly dancing directly in front of Lindir's face. Grey eyes peered down into his own and all the half formed thoughts of his possible career as a famous painter fled his mind. He started to open his mouth and then shut it again, terrified of what might come out of it. Something of this must have shown on his face, for Elladan's look suddenly turned quizzical. He bent his head down so that it as even with Lindir's ear and asked concernedly if he was all right.

Lindir tried not to shiver. Elladan's warm breath was tickling his neck and he found it hard to think straight. He was suddenly overcome with the most irrational urge to kiss his friend, and he tried very hard not to notice that Elladan's chest was pressed tightly against his body. He was also starting to feel rather sympathetic toward Erestor, for if Glorfindel was even half as beautiful as Elladan he probably would have had difficulty suppressing his blushing as well.

As it was, he simply settled for licking the last bit of pudding off of the tip of Elladan's nose. Elladan gasped, Elrohir laughed, and Lindir stepped back with his hands on Elladan's shoulders. Something major had changed between them. Lindir wasn't sure if Elladan knew it yet, but then again, Elladan had always had problems recognizing this sort of thing.

"Pudding's gone," he announced breathlessly, with a big smile. It would take a bit of effort to pretend everything was normal, but Lindir was hanged if he'd let Elladan off with his ignorance for too long.

The moment might have turned slightly awkward if not for the distraction that was provided when Erestor came skidding out of the door they had been standing outside of to inform them all that the kitchen was on fire.

"So wonderful to be home again," Celebrían sighed, and rested her head against Elrond's shoulder as she watched an irate Erestor race back inside the kitchen. "Now all we need is –"

"Glorfindel!" came the inevitable shout from inside. "I told you to watch the bread and inform me when it was done! Where are you, you . . . I knew this would happen!"

After the fire had been dealt with (it had only been a small one, and easily put down after a few buckets of water had been tossed on it), and Erestor had been given a flask of Miruvor (which he immediately threw at Glorfindel who of course ducked), the feast was ready to commence.

That was, it was ready to commence after the speeches of course. Elrond, who had not yet let go of Celebrían's hand, was first in line.

"My dear elves," he began. "It is with the utmost pleasure that I tell you to eat as much as you wish, and to make merry and to of course become inebriated if it so pleases you, because this is my wife's coming home feast and all should be as happy as myself on this wonderful, wonderful night!" Then he sat down to a thunderous applause, looking quite pleased with himself (and still keeping his wife's hand captive) but abruptly stood up again. "Also, I would like to thank my dear friend Erestor for making this night possible! Thank you Erestor, without your help the kitchen would have burned to the ground." And he sat down for the second time, and began to eat, while Erestor tried very hard not to duck under the table due to the unwanted, even if momentary attention.

Elrond's food intake signaled to the rest of the gathered company that such an activity was acceptable and all the elves began to consume rather large amounts of food and of course wine. Erestor, who had had a very trying day, was already on his sixth glass by the time the music and dancing began. Lindir was leading the musicians and currently playing a rather upbeat tune perfect for the occasion.

Glorfindel, who had also had a very difficult day, was only on his fifth cup by the time the music and dancing began, and so although he was feeling a bit unsteady, it wasn't so bad so that he could not dance. And dance he did. Feeling his blood begin to rush, and adrenaline pound in the rhythm of the music, he began to move his feet, pushed back his chair and pivoted around to join the dance floor.

Celebrían, noticing this whispered to her husband and soon enough the pair stood up to keep their friend company. Eventually most of the high table had been emptied and all were talking, laughing and dancing. All that is, except Erestor. Far gone on his eighth glass of wine, he could do barely anything but stare bleary eyed at the dancers. They were quite spectacular, he thought. That one in front in particular with the red garment, and the dark hair . . . she was very pretty.

Just as his drunken mind was trying to conceive of a way to approach her that wouldn't result in making a total fool of himself, he was approached by another. This one was tall, and decidedly not female.

"And why aren't you dancing, Counselor?" intoned a deep and familiar voice.

Erestor struggled to remember who the voice belonged to. He was sure he could place the sound . . . he had heard it before . . . . As the owner of said voice bent close to him he caught a whiff of metal and hay. Ah-ha, so this mysterious visitor was Glorfindel! He was sure that this information ought to bother him for some reason, but couldn't for the life of him remember why. What had Glorfindel done again? And why couldn't he see him properly?

"Come on, Erestor, you've had enough to drink, it's high time you came and danced with us," Glorfindel said, in what seemed to Erestor to be an unnecessarily demanding tone. However, due to his drunken and rather unstable state, the Counselor had no chance to protest as Glorfindel forcibly pulled him from his chair and onto the dance floor.

Once there, Erestor (having drunk eight glasses of miruvor) was far from able to stand up on his own. He dealt with this problem quite easily by simply leaning against his brawny dance partner, who was having far too much fun to notice that he was supporting another's weight in addition to his own. Erestor approved of this arrangement very much. It was, he thought, a most relaxing way to spend an evening. Slowly, his head began to clear a little, and as he did so he noticed several things. One was that Elrond and Celebrían seemed to have vanished. Another was that Elladan was not dancing, but staring into the group of musicians for some obscure reason, and the third was that two of Glorfindel's buttons were undone.

Erestor did not mind this at all, in fact, the undone buttons gave him a fine view of part of Glorfindel's chest. And who in their right mind would not approve of that?

Although many of the wildly dancing elves were exchanging partners, it seemed that Glorfindel did not mind being with Erestor for the entirety of the feast. Either that or he had realized that without his support, the highly regarded chief Advisor would have fallen into a heap on the floor by this time.

Eventually, however, the feast began to end, as all things do, and soon there were only a dozen or so elves left in the Hall, and the music halted and Glorfindel was forced to stop dancing. This resulted in him letting go of Erestor, who swayed unsteadily for a moment before falling over onto the table (knocking several goblets off of it) and then sliding down to the floor where he remained. He tilted his head and looked up at Glorfindel in consternation. "That's odd," he said.

Glorfindel, who was not exactly sober himself was attempting to reconcile this younger seeming version of Erestor with the one he usually worked (and fought) with on a day to day basis, so Lindir, who had managed to remain un-inebriated decided to take charge.

"Glorfindel, why don't you escort Erestor to his rooms and then take yourself to your bed?" the minstrel suggested. "You seem a little overwrought."

Glorfindel glanced down in time to see Erestor pass out on the floor, and decided that Lindir was correct. "Aye, I do think it would be a good idea to get Erestor to his rooms," he stated, conveniently forgetting to mention his own drunkenness. "I will take him there." And with that said, he leaned down, scooped up Erestor in his powerful arms, and strode off in the direction of the west wing of Imladris.

If Glorfindel had not been the strong and courageous warrior that he was, it is very doubtful that he would have gotten all the way to Erestor's chambers while carrying the completely limp advisor in his arms. As it was, he had made it to Erestor's chambers and into them before actually dropping the advisor, who was a lot heavier than he looked. Luckily for Erestor, he had been deposited on his bed, so there was little chance of injury. But still, being dropped was quite enough to awaken him, as Glorfindel rapidly discovered when Erestor opened one eye and yawned.

"Glorfindel? Why are we in my chambers?" he questioned curiously. "Ai, what a feast that was." He tried to sit up and shake his head, but instead fell backward again. "I do believe I am quite drunk."

"Yes, well, don't worry about it, so is everyone else," Glorfindel reassured him. He clambered onto Erestor's bed, and leaned against the pillows, looking up at the ceiling dreamily. Since the wine had loosened his tongue, he spoke without care. "It reminds me of the feasts we used to have in my youth, when during the Gates of Summer we would look out over the gleaming towers and see the most beautiful sunsets that one could ever imagine." He turned to Erestor and his eyes grew misty. "I miss my old home, I miss it terribly." He turned back to look at the ceiling once more and the room was silent for a moment, and then Erestor said something totally unexpected.

"Your hair is like the sun."

Glorfindel blinked, and turned over to look at the other in confusion. "I beg your pardon?"

"Your hair, it is like the sun in the summer afternoon, when everything is soft, gold and silk." He sighed, and closed his eyes. "May I touch it?"

Glorfindel, who was extremely baffled by this point, could only nod. However, realizing that Erestor could not see him, he cleared his throat and said rather awkwardly, "If you wish, Meldir."

Erestor reached out a hand, and gently patted the golden strands before letting his five fingered appendage drop to his side again. Glorfindel could tell by the Advisor's steady breathing that he had fallen asleep again. This realization was rapidly followed by the thought that he would like to do the same thing. Sleeping sounded very appealing at the moment. His last thought before he drifted off to sleep was that waking up in Erestor's bed the next morning was probably going to be rather awkward.

Authors' Notes:

Eithelien: I know it's been a long time, and I can . . . (Narthoron would like to state here that this is where the note did, in fact end, because it was hastily scrawled on a piece of paper while studying, and then Eithelien became . . . distracted. Narthoron would also like to add, that she suspects it would have ended with something along the lines of, 'I love you all,' or 'I can explain why we were so late in updating.' On a third note, Narthoron could call Eithelien, but for the fact that it is getting late and she is lazy.)

Narthoron: Oh, wow. Look, it's that chapter that we started around three months ago and never had time to beta. Here it is! So, first I shall tell you all that we are very sorry about the lack of updates (as is standard procedure). Then, I will promise you all more updates sooner (as is also standard procedure). This time, however I do have specific reasons why this will be happening (if this is boring you then just be content that we'll update sooner and leave it at that). Since the term will end in about seven days (counting finals) we will soon have a reasonable amount of time on our hands to work on this story. We do have it all plotted out on a scrap of paper somewhere, down to the very last chapter. We will finish this fic! It just may take a bit.

ALSO: Thank you all reviewers and people who emailed us to ask about our fic. You're partly the reason we shall continue to update. I hope this chapter was enjoyable! We love you all! (Honestly, we do.)