It does not matter how many years, how many decades, how many centuries I lie beside him. It is always the same question. I have been his friend, his guardian, his lover for so many ages of this Middle Earth, and still he must ask. Sometimes I think I should take offense at the quiet plea, whispered as we share touches and shudder in each other's arms, as we die and are reborn together nightly. Surely by now he knows the answer.

But I know him. And I do not begrudge him his question.

Oftentimes, when we have ceased to pant and writhe against one another and he has invariably laid his head on my breast, resting his beautiful body against me, I wonder how anyone could ever bear to leave him. How any parents could manage to set such a child aside. But his parents were wrapped up in each other and in their own fates. Their fates were grand indeed, and his...his is a lonesome one.

It did not truly surprise him when Arwen made her decision. My lover reads fates and prophecies better than any that now live, and he had been preparing himself for her loss since the day he welcomed Aragorn into his household. Nor did it truly surprise him when the twins decided to stay behind us in Imladris, at least for a season. He did not foresee this; but I think he had been waiting for them to leave him for some time now, simply because everyone else has. I know he worries that one of them will make a decision that will break the other's heart, as Elros broke his heart so many millennia ago. One of the earliest betrayals, but no less painful for being so long past. It is Elros's name, out of all of them, that he still whispers in his sleep.

Sleep is when my lover is the most vulnerable. I would never leave him then, not even if he were ever to turn me from his bed. I would sleep in the hall outside his door to protect him. When my love goes to his rest he is not only physically defenseless, but emotionally as well. He is no longer the sage dispenser of wisdom, no longer the imposing elf lord. My lover wears a heavy-layered mask of age and dignity as he goes about his day, but behind locked doors the layers fall away and he becomes a child, begging to be loved. I would not have any other see him this way. Call me a jealous lover if you wish. There are people in this world, some of them elvenkind, who cannot help but attack when they see that kind of vulnerability. They must remind themselves of their own dominance; they must push themselves up by pressing others down beneath them. I am not one of this kind.

Instead I pour myself out into him, trying desperately to fill his heart though I know it to be impossible. The years have taught me that. His capacity to love is so great, and he loves so many so freely. And though they sometimes love him in return, it is never enough. How could it be, when the love he receives is never equal to the love he has given, never enough to fill the parts of himself that he has emptied? They do not choose him.

Sometimes I wish he loved me less. If I cared for him more than he did for me, then just maybe I could make up the difference. Maybe my love, given so freely, could begin to fill those empty spaces. But our passions are evenly matched. He gives back to me every shred of loving energy I give to him; and never once has he asked me for more. He does not ask that I protect him, that I nurture him, that I change my life to surround his. He does not make any requests of me. He does not ask me to show my love to him in flowered words, or ask any lover's token of me; he does not even ask to choose when and how we make love. He wants only one thing of me.

It is the only thing he has ever asked of me, and though I make it nightly it remains the only vow I have ever made to him. I do not make vows lightly. The Valar learned how seriously I take my vows when I demanded to be allowed to return to him. Generally onedoes not demand things of the Valar. But I did; I would not, will not, leave him.

It took many years to convince the Valar that my purpose was just and after my rebirth it took many years to find him again. I remember the look of surprise on his face the first time he saw me, for he knew me in my new body instantly.

I remember how he cried that night after we made love, how he cried not tears of joy or of relief, but as though he was in sudden pain. I remember how I tried so hard to comfort him, how I pulled him close and tried everything I could think to do or say until at last, not knowing what else to do, I moved closer to him and made love to him again, tender and slow as he likes it best. Drowsy and sated in my arms afterward, the tears stopped. He asked me, then. And I think it was then that I realized he would never be done asking.

He never said her name—not while we were in bed together, not in front of the children, not anytime if it could be avoided. I thought it unfair to the children, but I understood. He explained why she had left them, and I understood that too. We never said anything about the new shadows under his eyes, or in them. There was no need to speak of what we both knew.

Now the list of partings seems complete, for it has come down to just he and I lying here together—a full bed in an empty household. And once again, we are broken. There is no lovemaking without sorrow, not for many years now. Perhaps there will be again, someday. But for now I strive to put us back together. He is biting his lip, trying not to say it. I am patient; I roll him under me and kiss every inch of him that I can find, so gently, so tenderly. Reminding him that I love him, reminding him that it is all right to ask. He feels guilt, I think, that he still must ask after all this time. Surely the years have proved my loyalty by now. Yet we still dance the same dance together, one day, one decade, one century after another. We roll together on the bed or the leaves or wherever we have chosen to make our love. I take possession of his body; I strip away all his defenses and make him mine. I push myself into his core and he is naked before me. And as he writhes, his fingers wind into my hair as though he would build a rope binding me to him. They dig into my body and leave bruises behind, anchoring me in the only way he knows how. Often there are no words between us until his body rushes towards its completion, and his soul is open. He cries, "Glorfindel, stay with me."

I reply, "I will stay." And I drive myself into him and make us one yet again, as we fly and fall together. We hold each other close and for a moment we are at peace—until the next time we lie together, until the next time he must ask me. Now in the sweaty aftermath, I stroke his hair and he smiles at me, forgetting he has ever needed to ask. But I remember, and my answer will ever be the same. I look at him, and my gaze says: I will stay.