Disclaimer: They're not mine. Enough said.
Warnings: some rough slightly non-consensual sex (kinda rape), angst
Notes: This is AU, so if you don't like that, don't read this. Also, feedback would be wonderful.
More Notes: Stuff in italics is thoughts or flashbacks

It was a chill morning as Elrond walked down the hallway and paused outside one of the doors. He thought at least twice before knocking gently, almost as if he didn't wish to be heard. But the elf within was hardly hard of hearing. The door opened a few seconds later, and a beautiful, if tired, face appeared. A smile graced Erestor's face when he saw Elrond. "Good morning, my lord."

"Good morning, Erestor," said Elrond genially. "Are you ready to go?"

"Give me a moment," said Erestor, opening the door. He was wearing only a pair of leggings, hardly an outfit to greet a guest. Well, considered Elrond, that depended on the type of guest. Erestor turned from the door, clearly allowing Elrond to enter if he chose. Erestor then walked over to his closet and selected a black robe that emphasized his slender form, but still allowed for easy and comfortable movement. After slipping that on, he pulled back his hair inelegantly, just to keep the flowing black locks out of his face. Then he turned back to Elrond, who had been watching every move. "Okay, my lord, I'm ready."

"You are aware, Erestor, that it is within your right to call me Elrond. We fought together, you've lived here for centuries."

"Yes, my lord. I recall that you tell me every morning. But that doesn't change anything. Certain…niceties must be observed." He smiled slightly. "But we have a guest waiting for us, do we not?"

Now it was Elrond's turn to smile. "Well, no."

Erestor frowned. "So, will you then explain to me what I am doing up and around and dressed in my best clothes well before the time I normally get up? I mean, my lord, I am honored to spend time in your company, but this is too early."

Elrond grinned. "Our guest will be here shortly, and because we are good people, we will be waiting for him to arrive." Cautiously, he placed a hand on Erestor's shoulder. Erestor shot him a Look, but said nothing, and made no move to remove the hand.

As they began to walk towards the front entrance (Elrond's hand still on Erestor's shoulder), Erestor asked, "My lord, is our guest really who they say he is? There have been a lot of rumors, and I would like to hear the truth."

"Yes, it is. Glorfindel of Gondolin is coming to live with us." He noticed a sly smile creep onto Erestor's face and asked, "Why do you ask?"

"I knew Glorfindel a long time ago. Before he became famous. I imagine he is even more intolerable now than he was then."

"Well, you're the one that's going to be dealing with him."

"Dealing with him, my lord?" Erestor paused in the hallway and turned to look at Elrond. "The Glorfindel that I knew might have needed a lot of things, but certainly not 'dealing with'. Or has something changed that I need know about?"

"These are dark times, Erestor. We will need all the security we can have. And you, of all people, can assure me that we have that security."

Erestor's face became slightly harsher, but he nodded. "Very well, then, my lord. Let us hope that Glorfindel does not recognize me, then. Or things will go…less than well between the two of us."

They resumed walking. Elrond pondered what Erestor had just told him, and couldn't help but ask, "Why, may I ask?"

Erestor, this time, did not so much as look at him. "Don't ask me that, my lord, and I will not have to lie to you." He pulled slightly away from Elrond, forcing the removal of Elrond's hand from Erestor's shoulder. Erestor strode on ahead down the hall, mumbling to himself. Elrond watched him go, shaking his head slightly. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that Erestor was beautiful. He got plenty of attention from elves of both sexes. And, to the best of Elrond's knowledge, he was indiscriminate about his partners. The only slight hitch was that Erestor did not appear to believe in commitment. His relationships were, at best, one-night stands.

Elrond had once approached Erestor in this capacity. He had been lonely, and had figured that any company would be welcome company. To his surprise, Erestor had turned him down. In his calm, sedate manner, completely formal, Erestor had told him that it would not be proper, and that it would lead to him inevitably having to leave. Elrond had protested that, but that had been the end of it. Since then, Erestor had become very distant from Elrond in a personal manner. In his professional capacity, nothing had changed, but gone were the evenings in which the two drank together, or played chess, or simply watched the stars. Elrond had been left even more alone than before he had approached Erestor, and that had done little for his sanity. Nor had Elrond ever been able to glean the real reason that Erestor so shied away from commitment. He did not suppose that he would ever know. With a sigh, he shook his head again, and continued to walk down the hall.

Erestor emerged into the cool air of the courtyard. The sky had that not-quite-yet morning feel to it. Erestor detested getting up early, so it was rare that he saw this almost-magical time of the day. But seeing it brought back memories, some good, some not so good. But that was in a past best forgotten, and one that he had largely managed to do so.

He was surprised to realize that he had to force a smile onto his face. There was no reason for him to be upset that Glorfindel was coming to stay. No, that wasn't true. There was no reason, he corrected himself, for him to be upset after Glorfindel arrived and consequently acted as if he did not exist. He smiled at these almost-adolescent ponderings and focused on the gate. The somewhat melancholy smile remained fixed firmly on his face.

That smile was the first thing that Elrond saw upon his entering the courtyard. The smile immediately sent a chill down Elrond's spine, though he could not have said why. Elrond walked over to Erestor and stood by his side, though not close enough that they were touching. "What troubles you, my friend?" asked Elrond softly.

Erestor looked up at him. "Nothing, my lord. I am well."

Elrond was about to point out the obvious fallacy of this statement when the single horse entered the courtyard. The tall, slender, (admittedly beautiful), golden-haired elf dismounted and saw the two elves. He walked over to Elrond and bowed deeply. "My lord," he said, "it is an honor to meet you."

Elrond smiled. "And you."

Glorfindel then looked at the slightly shorter elf standing near Lord Elrond. "Take care of my horse, Lord Elrond and I need discuss some matters."

Erestor clenched his jaw, but stepped forward, bowed his head slightly, and said, "Of course, my lord Glorfindel."

Elrond could tell that Erestor was angry by his swift footsteps and brisk manner in dealing with the horse. Erestor's acquiescence also surprised him. Had anyone else in Imladris asked Erestor to stable a horse, as though he was some commoner, you would be lucky to escape with your life. Yet Erestor had yielded to Glorfindel without even a word of protest.

"My lord," said Glorfindel, trying to draw Elrond's attention away from the other elf. "We have business to discuss."

"Yes, we do," said Elrond, turning towards the house, but sparing one last second to look at Erestor leading the horse towards the stables. I am sorry, my friend Elrond couldn't help but think. I am sorry that you are going to have to deal with Glorfindel when you two obviously have a troubled past. I will find some way to make it up to you, whatever it takes.

Erestor was telling himself not to be surprised at Glorfindel's greeting, but it hurt all the same. But he was old enough and rational enough not to allow his anger, annoyance, or sadness get in the way of his life, and so when he caught himself being rather short-tempered with Glorfindel's beautiful horse, he apologized to it. It was not the horse's fault that its owner was a horrible elf. After stabling the horse (and quite possibly ruining his best robes), Erestor turned to go back into the house. He would wait until later to go see Elrond and ask (beg if it really became necessary) to get out of having to, as Elrond so succinctly put it, 'deal with' Glorfindel.

"You told me in your message that my arrival was urgent, my lord," said Glorfindel. "Yet when I arrive, there seems to be not even the slightest sign of urgency. I do not mean to be disrespectful, but I did have business elsewhere. I would be glad to stay here as long as I am needed, but as far as I can tell, I am not needed at all."

"There have been a much higher percentage of orc on my border than at any time in the past. I do not like such filth coming so close to my people…"

"You wish me to rid your borders of orc? Surely you have enough capable elves to do that yourself?"

"If it were that simple, yes, I have plenty of elven warriors. But I fear that there is some darker plot, to take Imladris from me. This has ever been a sanctuary, and I will not allow it to be destroyed, not in my lifetime."

"So, Lord Elrond, what exactly is it that you are asking me to do, for I must confess I am a little confused."

"I need you to become a spy. And I need you to become an assassin."

Erestor fairly collapsed on his bed. He lay there for some time, his eyes closed, wishing he could be somewhere, anywhere else. The first thought that came to mind was that he should leave Imladaris immediately. But that struck him as a very childish thing to do, and he prided himself on being slightly grown-up. And that meant facing his problems, not running from them. The only problem was that he had been running from this particular problem for a very long time. Time passed and he knew he should get up and start his daily duties, but he found that he had no energy at all. He hoped in vain that no one would notice his absence.

Until the knock on the door came. Erestor ignored it. Then he heard Elrond say, "I'll give you to the count of three to open this door, Erestor. I know fine well that you're in there." Erestor looked at the door with mild amusement. Did Elrond really think that that would intimidate him in the least?

"Go away," he called.

The door opened and Elrond came in.

"What part of 'go away' did you not comprehend?" snapped Erestor in annoyance.

"I'm sorry, Erestor. I should have asked you before I sent for him to come. I didn't know that there would be such…bad chemistry between the two of you." He saw that Erestor was still in his formal robes, now covered in dirt from dealing with the horse. "Come on, Erestor. You need to get up."

"Remind me why, my lord."

Very carefully, Elrond reached over and rested his hand on Erestor's wrist. To his surprise, Erestor took Elrond's hand and squeezed it lightly. Trying to keep some control over his emotions, Elrond decided it would be best to answer Erestor's question. "Because you are the person that keeps this place running. We'd be lost without you."

"Ah. So I suppose you wouldn't let me resign."

"I would much rather kick Glorfindel out. I know fully well that you could do everything I want him to do."

"Yes, I could. But who would take care of this place while I was gone?" Erestor sat up, a decidedly ugly grimace on his face. "But I am a grown-up and I will deal with my problems. You needn't trouble yourself about me, my lord. I will be fine." Erestor released Elrond's hand. Elrond knew that their moment of intimacy was over and was not to be pressed.

So Elrond stood up. "Then I will see you in an hour in my study. It is time for you, me, and Glorfindel to have a little chat."

"I am afraid," said Elrond, "That we cannot just take you as you are."

Glorfindel couldn't help but feel slightly offended by this statement. Lord Elrond should be glad that he came, let alone make demands of him. "What exactly do you mean by that statement?" he asked.

Elrond could sense Glorfindel's hostility, but didn't care. Glorfindel had upset Erestor, and that automatically made Elrond dislike Glorfindel. "I mean, Glorfindel, that you will need some extra…training by one of my best warriors in order for you to have any chance of succeeding."

Glorfindel raised an eyebrow. "If you have an excellent warrior, then why can he not do it in my place?"

"Because he is needed here." Elrond glanced at the door. Erestor was more than twenty minutes late. As Erestor had never been late for anything in his life, Elrond knew that these were going to be trying days. Elrond knew that they needed Glorfindel. But it was also very important to him that Erestor stayed here. Because, try as he might, Elrond was completely obsessed with Erestor and would do anything to keep him around.

Then the door opened and Erestor walked in. He was dressed casually, in loose clothes that (in Elrond's opinion, anyway) made him look better than in any formal wear. "Good morning, my lords," he said respectfully.

"This is your warrior?" asked Glorfindel.

Erestor found the courage to look at Glorfindel. "Yes, my lord."

"Lord Glorfindel, this is Erestor. He will train you to the best of his ability." Elrond managed to catch Erestor's eye and saw the overwhelming depression in them. Taking a deep breath, he managed to continue. "Your mission will begin only when Erestor tells me that you are ready to begin. That is all, Lord Glorfindel. I would like a word with Erestor alone."

"As you wish, my lord," said Glorfindel. Then he turned to Erestor. "At what time will my first lesson be?"

"After we eat our evening meal, in the courtyard," replied Erestor, barely thinking at all.

"Until then." Glorfindel walked out.

Erestor immediately turned to Elrond. "I cannot do this, my lord. Please, is there no other way that this can work?"

Elrond strode forward and pulled Erestor into a tight embrace. Erestor did not fight it; he simply leaned on Elrond, as if gathering strength from him. Softly, Elrond said, "We will make it work, love. He is just one, and I know you are stronger than that. Promise me that you will give this a fair chance."

Erestor smiled a little. It felt good to be in someone's arms again, even if that someone happened to be Elrond. But right now, that didn't matter much. He just needed comfort, and this was likely the only place he stood a chance of receiving it. Certainly, he knew that he was considered attractive by many, but truly he wanted commitment, and that had to be based on more than just looks. And that was why he had turned Elrond down, all those decades ago. Elrond was someone that Erestor treasured as a friend, and, with his luck in relationships, would only succeed in driving him away. So, it had been in everyone's best interests for Erestor to say no, as much as he had wanted to accept. "I don't know, my lord."

"You know I'm here for you, Erestor. For whatever."

Erestor nodded. "Yes, I know." He shuddered slightly. Now he was letting himself get too close again. He pulled out of Elrond's arms (as much as he didn't want to) and said, "There's work I must get done, my lord."

Elrond could tell that Erestor was hurting, but there was nothing he could do until Erestor opened up to him. And the chances of that, he knew, were next to nothing. Erestor could live completely inside of himself. But Elrond wanted to help Erestor, and so would do as much as he could to make Erestor's life pleasant while Glorfindel was here.

Erestor sat down at the midday meal with a glum look on his face. He didn't look up as he heard another set of footsteps enter the room; he assumed that it was Elrond. But then he heard Glorfindel say, "Erestor, is it?"

Erestor looked up. "Yes, my lord."

Glorfindel sat down beside him. "I do not mean to offend, my lord…"

"I am no lord. Just Erestor."

"Very well. Erestor, I mean this in the kindest way possible. I have never heard of you, but if Lord Elrond claims you are a skilled warrior, I will believe him. However, I am almost certain that I am more skilled than you. I have pressing matters elsewhere, so it would be easiest for me to get this done as quickly as possible. Therefore, I would appreciate it if we could dispense with these lessons you are supposed to be giving me. I'm sure you understand."

"Certainly, my lord Glorfindel. I shall consider it."

"Thank you." Glorfindel rose and left the room. He preferred to eat on his own, and certainly not in the company of an obviously depressed elf.

When Elrond walked in and saw the expression on Erestor's face, he could only guess that Glorfindel had beaten him here. Without any hesitation, Elrond walked over and put his hand on Erestor's shoulder. Erestor shuddered, and so Elrond said, "It's just me, love."

"Glorfindel had a good idea."

"And what was that?"

"That I simply tell you that he is ready to begin. I mean, at least I won't…"

"Erestor, you're not getting out of training him. I know you don't want to. I want to help you, Erestor, but you're going to have to open up to me a little first. You know I care about you, please let me help you."

"My lord…"

"My name is Elrond, Erestor. Not 'my lord'."

Erestor rose to his feet, a blank, expressionless look on his face. "I find I am not as hungry as I thought. I shall see you later, my lord." Briskly, he walked out of the room.

Elrond mentally cursed himself for trying to push things too far too fast. Erestor was already in a bad mood due to Glorfindel's presence, and he now realized that he wasn't helping by continually flirting with him. So he resolved that from now until Erestor gave him some sign that he was interested in being more than friends, he would not push their relationship further.

Erestor managed to avoid both Elrond and Glorfindel for the rest of the day. He avoided Glorfindel for obvious reasons, but he avoided Elrond because of the fight they had had at the noon meal. Erestor had not meant to snap at Elrond, and indeed Elrond did not deserve it. Erestor really did enjoy all the attention that Elrond bestowed on him, even if he felt that he did not deserve it. It was just that Glorfindel's presence made him more irritable than usual. But he was an adult, and he told himself that he would simply have to put aside his differences with Glorfindel, get the training over with, send Glorfindel out, and be done with it. It might be millennia before he ever had to see Glorfindel again.

When he was called down for the evening meal, he felt that he should attend. He had not eaten all day, and he was starting to grow hungry. And he disliked eating alone, or even in his rooms. So he went downstairs and into the main hall. It was, as usual, quite empty. Elrond was already at the head of the table, and Glorfindel was sitting next to him. They were deep in discussion and did not notice Erestor's entrance. Feeling that it was not his place, he sat quite far away from them, as opposed to his normal seat at Elrond's right hand.

Finally, Elrond looked up and saw Erestor. Elrond began to call out to Erestor, but suddenly thought better of it. But it made Elrond upset all the same. Erestor always sat by his side except when one of them wasn't in Imladaris. Elrond saw the look of misery on Erestor's face and just wanted to go and hold him. But he knew that wasn't his place, and had never really been his place at all.

Glorfindel looked at Elrond, then at Erestor. "My lord, this Erestor. Is he a skilled warrior?"

"Very much so."

"Then how is it that I have never heard of him?"

"Erestor is not one for great deeds or competitions. He much more believes in getting a job done, and then coming home. He cares little for glory."

"How long has he lived here?"

"He came with me after the Last Alliance. He fought there."

Glorfindel nodded. "I told him this earlier, but I do not think his skills match mine. I think it would be advantageous to dispense with my training…"

"My lord Glorfindel, I am aware that you are more than proficient with a sword. And a bow, and knives. But if you are to become a spy, then you will require other skills, and those Erestor can provide you. And that is if you are a better with a sword than he, which I doubt."

Glorfindel smirked to himself. These elves had never seen him fight, or they would not dare to think that they could best themselves against him. Nevertheless, it would be good to practice, and maybe even give this Erestor a few tips himself. After all, Glorfindel could not help but notice that Erestor was, to say the least, attractive. If it wasn't for the elf's obvious depression, Glorfindel would have already bedded him. Maybe I still will. And if not Erestor, then perhaps Elrond. I will make sure that my trip here is worth it.

It was dark when Glorfindel entered the courtyard. It took him a moment to find Erestor, who was seated casually on a bench. "Erestor," he said.

"My lord," said Erestor, rising to his feet.

Glorfindel saw the sword that Erestor was carrying and sized it up. It looked like good steel, but that was just at first glance. The casual way in which Erestor handled it implied to Glorfindel that Erestor had at least passing proficiency with a sword. "Is it not a bit late for swordplay, Erestor?"

"It is never too late, my lord. One never knows when they might have to face an attacker in the night. In which case, 'tis always best to be prepared. That is my motto. Are you tired from your journey, my lord?"

"I am perhaps, a little."

"All the more reason to fight."

Glorfindel raised an eyebrow. "And why would that be?"

"Because one never knows when they will be attacked. If you are attacked at the end of a long day, your attacker will care little about whether or not you are tired." In an easy motion, Erestor raised the sword and advanced on Glorfindel. Without the slightest warning, Erestor swung once and got Glorfindel hard on the arm. As the blade was real steel, it cut deep, making Glorfindel jump back in surprise.

"Erestor!" cried Glorfindel, looking at the surprisingly large amount of blood coming out of his left arm.

"My first lesson," said Erestor calmly, "is to never take anyone for granted. When it comes to the real thing, no one's going to tell you they're about to fight you. You just have to be ready."

"But this is practice!"

"Raise your sword, Glorfindel, or I fear that this practice will be most painful for you." He advanced once more upon Glorfindel.

This time Glorfindel swung first. Erestor caught the stroke neatly on the side of his sword and thrust it away. He raised his sword again just in time to catch Glorfindel's next attack. As he was slowly beaten back, he remembered that it had been a very long time since he had last faced an opponent this good. Slowly, though, all his tricks came back to him, and he began to regain control of the fight. It took only a few seconds before he was pressing the attack.

Now Glorfindel was hard-pressed to keep up the fight. He saw Erestor's blank, impassive face and it did intimidate him. He would expect to see some kind of emotion on any attacker's face, but it was as if Erestor had shut down his emotions completely. And, Glorfindel soon realized, Erestor was more than his match. It was late and he had been riding all last night, and he soon wearied. Erestor, on the other hand, seemed as fresh as ever. Glorfindel knew that he couldn't back down, though, or he would lose face. So he had to end this quickly.

Erestor saw the blow coming for his head and immediately ducked down. He saw a way to win this fight quickly, and threw his right leg out in front of him, hooking it around Glorfindel's ankle. Glorfindel fell heavily to the ground, unable to prevent it. Erestor regained his balance, put a foot on Glorfindel's chest and a swordpoint at his throat and said softly, "Yield."

"You beat me once, but don't think to call it habit," said Glorfindel contemptuously. "When is my next lesson?"

"Dawn, tomorrow," said Erestor, suddenly walking off.

Elrond looked up when the door opened. He smiled when he saw that it was Erestor. He reminded himself of what he had promised at lunch, that he would not flirt with Erestor, and simply smiled. "Hello. How did the lesson go?"

"Fine, my lord," said Erestor, walking in and closing the door. He decided that it was not his place to put all his troubles on Elrond's shoulders, and so he didn't mention the constant anxiety he felt now. He smiled and sat down. "But I maintain that I cannot work with him."

"And I maintain that you must. I am not giving you a choice in the matter, Erestor. I am telling you that that is the way things are going to be. I am the one in charge here and you will do as I say while you are in Imladaris."

"Maybe I should resign then," Erestor said, completely seriously.

Elrond fought his immediate reaction. He knew he did not have the right to force Erestor to stay, there was nothing in Imladaris that was dear enough to Erestor. "If that is what you wish, Erestor, I will not stop you. But I ask you, where will you go?"

"I have cousins in Mirkwood. That is where I would go." Erestor was surprised at Elrond's complacency. It almost seemed as if Elrond didn't care about him anymore. And that made him even more depressed than ever. In the past, whenever anything had been wrong, he had always had Elrond's shoulder to cry on.

"So are you going to leave?" Please, please, Erestor, don't go. I will do anything to convince you to stay, whatever it takes. I love you, Erestor, and I don't know if I can survive if you leave me. But he couldn't say that aloud, so he simply smiled a little.

"I don't know. I shall have to see."

"What can I do to convince you to stay?" That came out seemingly without bothering to process through Elrond's brain, and he regretted the words the moment they left his mouth.

Erestor smiled and stood up. "My lord, if it matters to you that much that I stay, then I shall."

Elrond closed his eyes, giving in to his emotions. "Please, Erestor, let me help you. You know I care about you, you know I want to help you. I understand if you don't want to break all the barriers down, but…I am a healer, perhaps I can help."

Erestor smiled sardonically. "What is wrong with me no healer can help."

Elrond also rose to his feet and approached Erestor. To his surprise, Erestor reached out and hugged him. Elrond held Erestor close. "What was that for?" he asked softly, whispering into Erestor's ear, wishing he could kiss it but knowing better than to try.

"For being my friend," replied Erestor. "I'm sorry I make you put up with all my problems, and I'll stop if you want me to…"

"No, never. I am always here for you, Erestor." He backed slowly out of the hug. "But you know what?"


"You're tense."

"Thank you?"

"Let me give you a massage."

Erestor chuckled. "My lord, that is probably the most inappropriate thing you have said to me in quite a while."

"Are you refusing?"

Slowly, Erestor shook his head. He walked over to the couch and sat in front of it.

"You're going to have to take your shirt off, you know," said Elrond, also walking towards the couch, but he sat on it. Elrond was quite aware that if he played his cards right, his relationship with Erestor could deepen a lot further. He watched as Erestor took off shirt and put it on the floor next to him. Cautiously, Elrond put his hands on Erestor's shoulders. Erestor leaned into the touch, something that made Elrond smile. "Come up here on the couch," said Elrond. Erestor did what he was told without a word. Elrond pulled him closer and began to massage his lower back.

It was then that the door opened again. Erestor was too calm to pull away from Elrond's almost-embrace, but he did look up. Elrond, equally calm, made no attempt to push Erestor away. Glorfindel walked in. He looked at the two elves and said, "I'm sorry if I was interrupting something…"

"No," said Erestor, rising to his feet and retrieving his shirt from the floor. "Good night, my lords. My lord Glorfindel, I shall see you tomorrow at dawn in the courtyard." And then he walked out of the room.

Elrond tried his best to hide his irritation, but he knew that some of it showed on his face. "Glorfindel, what can I do for you?"

Glorfindel had always found it best to be blunt, and so he asked, "Are you and Erestor… together?"

Elrond smiled. "No, not at all. He and I are friends, and it stops there. But that is hardly any of your business. What brings you to my study at this hour?" He had already noticed Glorfindel's bandaged arm, and was not at all surprised to see it. Erestor had few qualms about using real steel in practice. It helped Erestor to keep his edge.

"I have decided something, Elrond."

"And what would that be?"

Glorfindel walked much closer to Elrond. On reflex, Elrond rose to his feet. That was just what Glorfindel wanted. Without any warning, Glorfindel grabbed Elrond and kissed him hard. Elrond tried to pull away, but Glorfindel was stronger than he was. And soon, he stopped wanting this to stop. Glorfindel pushed him down on the couch, a smug smile on his face. "I have decided that I want to bed you."

"Then stop talking."

Glorfindel grinned and removed his clothes, watching Elrond watch him. Next came Elrond's clothes. Then he straddled Elrond. "So, Elrond, do you really want this?"

No some part of Elrond's brain said. It's not you that I want. I want Erestor. But those words didn't come out and instead he just pulled Glorfindel down and kissed him.
Glorfindel moaned loudly.

From the door, Erestor bit his lip, wiped away the damned foolish tears that had somehow come to his eyes, and walked off.

Erestor woke up and felt a warm body at his side. Blearily, he looked over and saw a she-elf that he could not even put a name to. When he left Elrond's, he had simply wanted to find some company, from some one. He did not know where he had found this elf, or how he had convinced her to come with him, but that didn't matter now. She was just another one of his attempts at comfort, an attempt that failed miserably. Last night, he had seriously considering asking Elrond if he could stay the night. He had his doubts that Elrond would have refused him. But, of course, Glorfindel had interrupted and then proceeded to bed Elrond. Wonderful. My whole life is wonderful. The elf I love the most and the elf I hate the most are sleeping together. He got out of bed and dressed quickly. He hoped that Glorfindel was up for some serious swordplay this morning.

Elrond woke in the middle of the night and found Glorfindel sleeping peacefully at his side. He looked Glorfindel over. He was truly attractive, and (Elrond had to admit) good in bed. But he wasn't Erestor. And Elrond knew that Erestor would find out about this. That would hurt Erestor a lot, and Elrond didn't know what he was going to do or say to make things better between him and Erestor. Looking at Glorfindel, he was filled with a certain sense of lust, but certainly not of love or even really liking.

He got out of bed and dressed. Relaxing on his couch, he began to try to think of a way to explain all of this to himself and (more importantly) to Erestor. He loved Erestor with all his heart; he knew that for sure. And really, he did want to sleep with Erestor; he knew that as well. But Erestor was being so distant, and Elrond really did need company, and Glorfindel had been there and had offered it. If it had been any other elf, Elrond knew that Erestor would probably put up with that explanation. But it was Glorfindel, and Erestor hated Glorfindel. Or maybe he loves him. Maybe Erestor has always loved Glorfindel, and has never received any attention from him. That thought hurt Elrond. To think that the love of his life might love someone else was crushing.

A knock came at the door. Elrond got up and walked over. When he saw that it was Erestor, he smiled. "Good morning, Erestor."

"Good morning, my lord. Is Glorfindel up yet?"

So he knows. That was fast. "Erestor, let me explain…"

"No explanation is necessary, my lord. Tell Glorfindel to come down to the courtyard when he is ready."

Glorfindel appeared behind Elrond, fully dressed. "I am ready, Erestor." He could read Erestor's face like an open book. So Erestor did love Elrond. Well, Erestor. First come, first serve. Elrond is mine now. He smiled then walked to Elrond's side. He leaned over and kissed Elrond on the lips. "I shall see you later." Then he walked out of the room to stand by Erestor. "Come, let us go."

Erestor didn't know who he wanted to kill first, Glorfindel or Elrond. He barely remembered the morning practice session, only that he had beaten Glorfindel. All his senses were numb, and he didn't know what to do with himself. After they had finished, Erestor had taken a bath, and readied himself for the day. Only he couldn't find the energy or the will to get up and do anything. The knowledge that he would never have Elrond depressed him immensely. He had thought that Elrond would be stronger than that and would be able to resist Glorfindel. But he hadn't, and now Glorfindel would hurt Elrond, as he hurt everybody that came to care about him.

You're being foolish, Erestor, he told himself. Elrond is grown, he can make his own decisions. And if he has decided that he wants Glorfindel and not you, then you're going to have to grow up and accept that. And there's no reason for you to be in here being miserable when you should be up and working. Erestor stood up and walked to his door. He opened it and found Glorfindel standing out side. "Yes, my lord?" he asked.

"Can I come in?"

"Of course, my lord."

Glorfindel walked in and shut the door behind him. "You love Elrond, do you not?"

"I do," Erestor answered truthfully.

"So why are the two of you not together?"

"My lord, I hardly think that that is any of your business."

"I beg to differ. As Elrond is now my lover, I need assurance that you will not attempt to steal him from me."

"I would not do that, my lord."

"I don't believe you." He walked over to Erestor, until they were almost touching. "Do not get on my bad side, Erestor, or things will go very badly for you." Gods, he smells good. I want him, right now. So he grabbed Erestor and shoved him up against the wall. Erestor did not make even the slightest protest. He kissed Erestor, his hands quickly removing Erestor's clothes. Glorfindel took him hard, uncaringly. When he was finished, he sneered, bent down into the pocket of his robes, pulled out a coin and pressed it into Erestor's hand. "For your services," he said mockingly, before walking out of the room.

Erestor immediately dropped the coin, as if it had burned him, and quickly got dressed, wincing a little in pain due to Glorfindel's sheer brutality. He sat down on the bed and closed his eyes, willing the tears away. After he was quite sure that he had regained his composure, he walked out of the room and set about his daily tasks.

Elrond was pacing his study, thinking. He had already decided that what had happened last night would not be repeated. That would only make things worse. And the way Glorfindel had kissed him in front of Erestor was not likely to make Erestor any happier. Somehow, he would have to find a way to make it up to Erestor, whatever it took. He was forced to stop his thinking when people began to come in for the daily evening staff meeting. Erestor was one of the last to come in. Elrond saw that Erestor took his normal seat, right beside Elrond. That made Elrond a little happier. Elrond sat down, and the head builder began his report on the condition of an extension to Elrond's house. While he was listening, Elrond surreptitiously reached under the table and put his hand lightly on Erestor's knee.

Erestor felt Elrond's warm hand on his knee and had to fight to keep his face calm. He reached under the table and took Elrond's hand. He squeezed it lightly, and then pushed it away. He knew that Elrond should not be showing this affection towards him. It would only make relations with Glorfindel even worse.

Elrond was slightly hurt by Erestor's reaction, but he knew he deserved it. He decided that he would keep Erestor here after the meeting finished and try and resolve this whole situation. Maybe things could go back to the way they used to be. Though some part of his brain could not help but think That's not very likely.

As the meeting ended, Elrond managed to get Erestor to stay by engaging him in a mindless discussion of the meeting. Frankly, he was surprised that Erestor didn't see right through the scheme. When everyone else had left, Elrond abruptly ended the conversation. Choosing his words carefully, Elrond began. "Erestor, the two of us have to talk about this."

"I've told you already, my lord. There is no need for that. It's none of my business."

"Yes, it is. So I want you to shut up and listen to me, for once Erestor. After I'm done you may do whatever you please, but just hear me out. What happened between Glorfindel and I last night meant nothing. I don't care about him, I most certainly don't love him and I don't plan on sleeping with him again. It's…it's you that I care about. I don't want to hurt you. And I know what I did last night hurt you. So I want you to accept my apology. I understand if you hate me, I understand…and I'm sorry for ever bringing him here in the first place. If I had known how this would have affected you, I would have never done it."

Erestor waited a few instants to see if Elrond is finished. When it became clear that he was, Erestor began. "First, my lord, you may have no intentions of sleeping with him again, but trust me when I say that he doesn't feel the same way. And he doesn't care that you outrank him. If he wants to sleep with you, he will. Second, you never hurt me. What you do is your own business and I accept that. I'm honored that you care about me, my lord, but I would never intrude upon your personal life. Third, I accept your apology, though none is necessary. And finally, you know that you would have brought him here anyway. He is the only one that could get the job done."

Why are you so distant? I'm trying to reach out to you and all you do is push me away. Someone must have hurt you…maybe even Glorfindel. So why won't you just open up to me? I love you. "I don't know what else to tell you, Erestor. Nothing I seem to be saying gets through to you. It's like you're refusing to hear me. Tell me what to say to you to get you to hear me…" He broke off as the door opened and Glorfindel entered without knocking. Slightly annoyed, Elrond said, "Glorfindel, could you leave us alone? I'm trying to talk to Erestor."

"No, my lord," said Erestor. "I should be going. I have things to do."

Elrond barely managed to suppress the frustration from coming to his face. Why were the gods against him so? He looked at Glorfindel, not even trying for a smile. "What do you want?"

"Simply speaking, you."



"I don't want you. What happened last night was a mistake. It will not be repeated, that I can assure you."

"It's Erestor, isn't it?"


"That's why you won't sleep with me. Am I correct?"

"Among other reasons, yes."

"Well, my lord. I have come to remember that I did know Erestor. A very long time ago, you see. He has changed, that's why it took me so long. Perhaps you would care to know what Erestor did before he joined the Last Alliance, when he was just another elf. I think it would explain a lot to you."

Elrond's eyes narrowed. He wasn't sure if Glorfindel was telling the truth or not. Or, for that matter, if he really did want to learn about Erestor's past. Elrond had always gotten the impression that Erestor hadn't had the easiest of lives. Well, any truth is better than no truth at all. "Fine."

Glorfindel sat down next to Elrond, taking a deep breath. "Well, this all begins a very long time ago, about three or four years before Gondolin fell. I was young; Erestor must have been younger, maybe out of his majority though I doubt it. Anyway, I was in Gondolin; I can't even remember what I was doing in particular. But I was walking through the streets. And then some ragged elfling came up to me. I thought he was begging and tried to send him away. But, that wasn't what he wanted. He was…selling himself."

"Excuse me?"

"I think you get the general idea. Anyway, so I refused him. But I gave him some money anyway and I told him to get off the streets. And then he asked if he could come home with me. I refused. That would have been a disaster. So I went on my way and I didn't think I'd ever see the child again. The next time I saw him was…it must have been about three or four months before…before the Balrog. I was getting ready to go to war and this child tried to rob me. That was interesting. Perchance you've seen he has a scar along his jaw, that was my doing. My first instinct was to kill him, perhaps I should have. Instead, I gave him a choice. I told him that I could report him and that wouldn't have ended well for him. Or he could join the army. Needless to say, he picked the second. I didn't see him for several months after that. And when I did, it was in the…company of a lord. It was then that I realized what Erestor, because that's who it was, wanted. He wanted power and he would go to any lengths to get it. Maybe he's changed, but I doubt it. You can dress him up in those fancy clothes all you like, but it won't change the fact that he is who he is. He can't take back his past, and I doubt that he would want to. You may care for him, because you never knew what he was, but he doesn't care for you. When he sees you, all he sees is power, and he wants some."

Elrond bit back several acid remarks to Glorfindel's tale and instead thought about it. He couldn't imagine why Glorfindel would come up with such an elaborate lie. Therefore, it had to be the truth. But could he really picture Erestor like that? He thought back to the time he had met Erestor, when he had been working out a battle plan. Only it wasn't working, and he was sitting, frustrated, staring at the parchment, waiting for an answer to show up.

He looked up angrily as the tent flap opened and a young elf walked in. "My lord," he said.

"What do you want?" Elrond snapped. It was then that he saw the timid expression on the elf's face. And when he saw the beauty there, as well. Immediately, he felt bad and so said, "I'm sorry. What do you want?"

"I was told to bring you some food."

"I'm not hungry."

The elf smiled. "But they say there's going to be a battle tomorrow. I would think that you would need to keep up your strength."

Elrond smiled as well, though there was a little bitterness in it as well. "Maybe."

The elf walked closer, setting the food on the ground uncaringly. "What do you mean by that, my lord?"

"I mean, this here," he gestured elaborately at the almost-blank parchment in front of him, "is the battle plan. And unless it gets a little more detailed, there will be no battle."

The elf studied it for a few moments and then said, "This won't work, my lord."

Elrond studied the elf. "I could tell you that. And it's no business of yours."

Without asking permission, the elf picked up a quill and made a few hasty marks on the parchment. The elf studied them briefly, made a minor correction to one of them, then looked up at Elrond and said, "This might work, my lord."

Elrond leaned forward and glanced at the elf's work. To his surprise, it might just work, and it was something he would have never thought of. He looked back up at the elf and smiled.

"Now, I must be going, my lord. Get some rest, eat something. Good night, my lord."

Elrond watched the elf leave the tent and then realized that he didn't know the elf's name. He followed the elf out after a few seconds and asked one of his guards, "Who is that elf?"

"Erestor, my lord," said the elf with something that looked like contempt.

Looking back, Elrond now knew that the contempt had been real. However, at the time he had ignored it. The battle, as Erestor had planned, had gone spectacularly, and from then on, whenever there was an upcoming battle, Erestor would appear at his tent in the evening and would show him the way. It was then that Elrond became completely obsessed with Erestor. He tried to find out about Erestor, but had been completely unable to. Instead, he had just longingly waited until the next battle so that he could see his secret crush again. Part of him knew that it was foolish, but he couldn't help himself. He never had been able to. But then the night before the last battle, Elrond had pushed things too far.

As usual, Erestor walked in, unannounced an hour or so after sunset. Elrond looked up at him and smiled. "You're late," he commented teasingly.

Erestor smiled. "I am never late. I come exactly when I mean to, my lord." He walked over to Elrond and sat next to him on the floor in front of the outspread parchment. He frowned for a few moments and then looked up at Elrond. "This is going to be it, isn't it?"

"Hmm?" Elrond had been too busy staring at Erestor to hear the question, but had to act like he had.

"This is going to be the last one, isn't it, my lord? The one that decides it all."

"Yes, I think it will be." And that means I won't get to see you anymore. Gods, get these thoughts out of your head, Elrond. Grow up. "Erestor, I've been meaning to ask you something."

Erestor looked up at Elrond, frowning slightly. "What, my lord?"

"After this nightmare is all over, I wish to return to Imladris. I would like for you to come with me. Your insight would be valuable, I think."

Now Erestor's expression was of curiosity. "I have heard of Imladris, and I have wanted to journey there, my lord."

"Excellent. Then come back with me. I am sure there is a place there for you."

"I am honored, my lord. But…if we do not focus on the task at hand, I fear there may not be an Imladris to go back to."

"Of course." Elrond waited for another five minutes, and then saw Erestor beginning to sketch something out. After another five minutes, he was finished. Elrond took the parchment up from the ground and looked it over. As usual, it was brilliant. "I don't know what we'd have done without you, Erestor."

"I'm sure you would have managed, my lord."

Then, cautiously (the rational part of his brain having abandoned him), he reached his hand over and placed it on Erestor's. Erestor looked sharply at him, but said nothing. Marshalling all his courage, Elrond managed to ask, "Would you like to stay tonight?"

Erestor stood quickly. "My lord? I…I cannot, my lord. I am sorry."

"No," said Elrond, fumbling to come up with an appropriate response. It was not often that he was turned down, and he had been so sure Erestor would say yes. "I did not mean to give offense. It is I that should be apologizing."

"Good night, my lord," said Erestor, quickly disappearing out of the tent.

Elrond smiled ruefully at the memory. He had been so afraid that Erestor would not come back to Imladris, and indeed Elrond had not seen him on the journey home. But just when he had settled in again, content in his misery, Erestor had come to see him and asked what he should do. From that day on, Erestor had been Elrond's chief advisor in all matters. And that had worked out pretty good until now.

"Elrond?" said Glorfindel, trying to break Elrond out of an obvious reverie.

Elrond looked at Glorfindel. "I do think I believe you. It makes sense, looking back. It's just…I trusted him so much. He's half the reason we won during the Last Alliance, you know that?"

"No one ever said he wasn't clever. It's just a matter of what he deserves back from you. I can tell that you find him attractive, well he's grown up to be attractive, you can't do anything about that. But if you give a gutter rat a bath and fine clothes, he is, underneath, no more than that. He does not deserve your attention."

Some part of Elrond couldn't help but feel that Glorfindel was right. "Maybe you are right."

Glorfindel put his hand possessively on Elrond's knee. "Then come on, let us go to bed. I'm tired; I've had a long day."

"I've already told you that I have no intentions of spending another night with you."

"Is this still about Erestor?"


"Then whatever it is, let it go. You deserve to enjoy yourself, Elrond." He put his other hand on Elrond's cheek and turned Elrond's head so that Glorfindel could kiss him. Elrond did not pull away from the kiss, but nor did he allow it to go any further. When Glorfindel's hand moved to remove Elrond's shirt, Elrond pulled away.

"Glorfindel, stop this madness."

"I tell you this once, Elrond. If you don't want anything to happen, say it now. But you will not get another chance. If you dismiss me now, nothing will happen between us ever. Think to the future. You may be upset now, but later you may regret this decision."

The less than rational part of his brain couldn't help but agree with Glorfindel. And so he let his baser instincts take control. Glorfindel is right. Erestor does not deserve this. Whatever he may have meant to me, it is nothing now.

Erestor knew that something was wrong when he saw the expression on Elrond's face. It brought back rather vivid memories of Elrond during the Last Alliance, in the midst of battle. It wasn't a particularly pleasant expression. "Is something wrong, my lord?" He knew that Elrond and Glorfindel had spent the night together, and so confirmed Erestor's beliefs that Glorfindel took what he wanted when he wanted it.

"Yesterday evening, Glorfindel told me a story. About you. And I would very much like to hear your opinion of it. Please, sit."

Erestor felt a knot beginning to form in the pit of his stomach as Elrond told him the tale. He could read the almost-disgust on Elrond's face and that hurt worse than anything. When Elrond was finished, Erestor said, "Glorfindel has a good memory. I had almost forgotten that myself."

"So it's true."

"Yes, my lord."

"How much?"

"Every word of it, my lord."

Elrond tried to keep the frown off his face and fought the urge to storm off. You care about him, you still do. It's just that you don't like finding out the kind of person your love really is. Deal with it. You can get past this. Don't judge him so harshly. Sometimes circumstances necessitate doing things that aren't exactly right. "So, Erestor, tell me your real reason for coming here."

Erestor frowned. "My lord?"

"Drop the courtesy, Erestor, I suspect it is not common nature for you."

Erestor nodded, a bitter, resigned expression appearing on his face. "Well, after I joined the army, I was looking for a way out. And then I heard about the elf that was supposed to play a crucial part in our victory. And that was you. So I decided to…make myself known to you. I have always been good at convincing people when I want to, and I decided that you were probably my best bet for a good life. So that was why I came to you that first night. I have always had some intelligence and that was why I was able to help you the way I did. And I kept coming back in the hopes that you would ask me to come back to Imladris, as you eventually did. At that point, I really felt no need to continue helping you. Had that not been our last battle, I wouldn't have come back. That was why I made no attempt to seek you out on our journey home; I had no need of it. The only reason I came to see you after we had settled in was that sooner or later I would be assigned some duties, and I assumed correctly that if you knew I was there I could get the best, or at least the easiest ones. I don't know what you have thought of me over the years, but I can almost guarantee that it is incorrect. I came to you for a way out; I came to you because I thought it would be to my advantage to do so."

Don't judge him, don't judge him Elrond almost said out loud. He hated to hear those words coming from his beloved's lips. But while that made sense of some things, it didn't make sense to others. Like why Erestor had turned him down on both occasions that Elrond had offered. If, as Glorfindel had implied and Erestor had confirmed, Erestor was willing to sell his body, then Elrond would see no reason why Erestor wouldn't take him up on that. Especially because someone as intelligent as Erestor would see that sleeping with Elrond would bring about more advantages than to not do so. So there must be something else in his life, maybe something that redeems him. Don't give up on him yet. Whatever you do, whatever Glorfindel said, he does deserve your affection, your love.
"Answer me one more question, Erestor."

"Of course."

"Did you ever consider me as a friend?"

Erestor looked away. "No."

Don't judge him, don't judge him. "Very well, then. I shall see you at the noon meal." He turned and walked out of Erestor's room, fighting back the damned foolish tears that had somehow come to his eyes. Once in the hallway, he leaned his head against the wall and took a few calming breaths. You can't act like this. Get control of yourself. He began to walk down the hall, considering things. Something didn't seem right; no one could be as good an actor as to be able to pull of the absolute melancholy and depression that Erestor had exuded since Glorfindel arrived. There had to be something that Erestor wasn't telling him.

Once Elrond left the room, Erestor collapsed limply onto his bed, unable this time to stop the tears. You're an idiot. You lost your last chance with Elrond. You're an idiot.

Glorfindel walked into the room and immediately noticed that while the room was packed with people eating, neither Elrond nor Erestor was there. Erestor had seemed very distant (more so than usual) during their swordplay, and Glorfindel knew he had troubled Elrond. Suspicious thoughts brewing in his mind, he walked out of the room, all thoughts of food gone from his mind.

Glorfindel found Elrond in his study, bent over some paperwork. "You know, you should eat," he said gently.

Elrond looked up. "What do you want?"

Glorfindel frowned as he crossed the room to lay a hand on Elrond's shoulder. "What do you mean? I wanted to come see you, that is all."

"I'm busy," Elrond replied, shrugging Glorfindel's hand away.

Glorfindel sat on the corner of Elrond's desk. "Okay. You and I need to get some things straight. I presume that I am going to be here for a while, and I would greatly like to share your bed that entire time. I don't ask much in the way of attention outside of the bedroom, but civility would be nice."

"So you think to become my lover."

"For a while, yes."

"And what makes you think I wish to do that?"

"The fact that you're lonely, and that you find me attractive. I am sure there are many other elves in Imladris that would gladly take my place, but as you have not, I assume, slept with them, it points to me as the one you would take as a lover."

Elrond looked back down at his desk. "I don't know."

Glorfindel put his hand under Elrond's chin, and kissed him lightly, demanding nothing. "I don't want to pressure you, but I have to know if you want to take what I want to give you."

"And what is it you want to give me?"

"My love, at least for a time. But perhaps more."

Elrond nodded. Erestor has made it more than clear to you that he is not interested. It only makes sense that you stop chasing after those that don't want you and set your sights on someone who does. "Okay."


"My answer is yes."

Glorfindel smiled. "Good, I was hoping it would be." He kissed Elrond again, this time demanding more.

Elrond pulled away, a genuine smile on his face. "Come, I'm working. Can't you tell? And that means, obviously, that I can't have you around."

Glorfindel abruptly slipped off the corner of the desk and into Elrond's lap. He kissed him again. "Well, everyone is eating and in general not doing any work. Though you aren't eating, I think you deserve a break as well." He began to work his hands under Elrond's clothes.

Elrond squirmed slightly away, though that was relative because he was pretty securely pinned down. "Glorfindel, you neglected to close the door when you came in. As much as I lack modesty, I still would rather not have others watching."

Glorfindel reluctantly rose to his feet, crossed the room, and closed the door. "Better?" He smiled as Elrond rose to his feet and walked over. What he was not prepared for was the brute strength (gained from his Man blood, Glorfindel could only assume) that Elrond employed to get Glorfindel on his back.

"So," said Elrond, almost conversationally, as he was sitting on Glorfindel, a wicked smile on his face, "I have decided that as much as I like submitting to you, I would much, much rather see you submit to me."

Glorfindel nodded. "Well, as you said to me on our first night, stop talking."

Elrond grinned and did as he was told.

Erestor was pacing his study, his head bowed in thought. Elrond watched from the doorway, surprised that Erestor had not yet seen him. Finally, Elrond said, "Erestor, can we talk?"

Erestor looked at him, and for an instant, Elrond could have sworn he saw Erestor smile. But then a grim look came onto Erestor's face and he said, "If you wish, my lord."

Elrond sat down, suddenly unsure of what to say. "Erestor, I've been thinking about what Glorfindel told me and what you told me. And I've thought about the way you've been acting. And it doesn't add up. There's something you're not telling me."

"Of course there is, my lord. But we are all entitled to our secrets, are we not?"

Elrond smiled inadvertently. He did not know if it was intentional or not, but Erestor had said that exact sentence to him decades ago. It was the second time that Elrond had asked Erestor to stay the night.

Elrond rose from the seat by the chessboard to fill his glass of wine. Erestor, not looking at him, too intent in his thoughts, raised his empty glass and said, "Please, my lord?"

Elrond grinned and took the wineglass. He filled it after filling his own and then returned to his seat. He studied the chessboard, then studied Erestor studying the chessboard. This game had been going for a week now, and neither side seemed to be gaining the advantage. This worried Elrond a little. He had always been a master at chess, and now, somehow, Erestor had managed to hang on this long. Or have you been letting him, in order to have a reason for him to come to see you in the evenings? Elrond didn't like to think about that. He watched as Erestor put one delicate hand around a pawn, began to lift the pawn up…and then set it back down. A frown appeared on Erestor's face. Erestor sat back in his chair, glaring at the board. Elrond grinned. "This is but a game, Erestor."

Erestor sighed, then looked up at him. "But I so hate losing, my lord."

"You're not losing," Elrond said.

"And here I thought you were good at chess, my lord."

"What are you talking about?"

"Fine, my lord." Erestor's hand went back to the same pawn and moved it.

Now Elrond studied the chessboard hard. It was obvious that Erestor saw something…or maybe he didn't. Maybe he was trying to throw Elrond. Elrond frowned. He looked up at Erestor to see his facial expression, but there was none. And then he saw it. The move that would end the whole game. His hand moved towards the piece, but then stopped. Do you want to end the game? What reason will you have to bring him back? Then the sensible part of his brain overrode this and he moved the piece. "Checkmate."

Erestor smiled and rose to his feet. "I should be going, my lord. It is late."

Perhaps it was the wine, or the fact that he hadn't been getting enough sleep lately. But whatever it was, some madness possessed him to grab Erestor's hand as he walked by. Erestor froze and then looked curiously at Elrond. Elrond tried for a pleasant expression but wasn't altogether sure if he had succeeded or not. "Stay tonight, Erestor."

"I cannot, my lord. You know that."

"No, I don't. Tell me why. Is it the fact that I am male…"

"No, my lord."

"Then what?"

"I would very much like to spend the night with you, my lord. Please believe me when I say that. But if that were to happen, things between us would never be the same. The tension would be…unbearable, my lord. I would be forced to leave. And I have really come to like this place."

"That's not a good answer."

"We are all entitled to our secrets, are we not? Good-night, my lord."

"Still, Erestor, I would like to know the truth."

"Neither Glorfindel nor I have told you a lie, my lord."

"But I don't know the whole truth, do I?"

"No one ever knows the whole truth in any matter, my lord."

"Erestor, I command you to tell me whatever it is that pertains to this that you are not telling me."

"Do not ask that of me, my lord."

Elrond was getting angry now. "But I am asking it of you. As your lord, I demand that you answer me."

"No, my lord, I will not."

Elrond stood up. Rage and anger is not going to get through to him. You have to be caring, kind. "I apologize, Erestor, I should not have said that."

"There is no need to apologize, my lord." Erestor resumed pacing, his gaze fixed firmly on the floor. "And if that matter is all you have to discuss with me…I have work to do, my lord."

"I mislike the way we have come to think of each other. I would very much like to make that up to you." He looked over at Erestor and saw that he had stopped pacing and was looking at him with an odd expression.

"In what way, my lord?"

"Have dinner with me. We can talk…"

"About what, my lord?" Erestor said bitterly. "We have nothing to talk about."

"I remember that you used to play chess. Do you perhaps still enjoy it?"

"At times, my lord."

"Then come and see me tonight, and we shall play."

"What about Glorfindel, my lord?"

"He…I will make sure he has a better place to be, Erestor. I know by now that you hate him and…and I shall try to get rid of him as soon as I can." But strangely enough, part of him didn't want to get rid of Glorfindel. He had been so lonely, and Glorfindel had been the only one that offered to ease that loneliness, if only for a short while.

"Very well, my lord. If that is what you wish." A genuine smile. "Now, if that's all you have to say, I really do need to work."

Elrond nodded, then, on a whim, walked over to Erestor and put a hand on his shoulder. Erestor shuddered and shrugged the hand away. In a soft voice, he said, "Please do not, my lord."


"Just leave it at that. I…I do not…like you like that, my lord. I am content to be friends, but no more."

Elrond nodded. "Well, I shall see you then this evening."

Erestor was pacing his room agitatedly. He didn't want to go to this dinner. He knew what Elrond was trying to get out of him through it and he was loath to give in to Elrond. And Glorfindel's presence hardly helped. It was then that Glorfindel walked in. Erestor rose to his feet and said, "Good afternoon, my lord."


"What can I do for you, my lord?"

"You know what I want from you."

"Do not disrespect my lord Elrond's heart like that, my lord."

"I don't come to you for conversation, Erestor. Elrond is quite sufficient for that. What I ask from you is much simpler."

"I won't do it, my lord."

"You will, and you will enjoy it." Glorfindel shoved Erestor against the wall, but this time Erestor fought back, finally succeeding in pulling free from Glorfindel. But Glorfindel was stronger and finally wrestled Erestor down onto the ground.

Erestor could feel bruises rising on his face and winced. He was pushed onto his stomach and his robes were torn off his body. "My lord, please don't…"

"Don't order me around, scum."

Erestor bit his hand hard as Glorfindel thrust into him to prevent Glorfindel the satisfaction of hearing him scream. Erestor tasted blood in his mouth but he didn't care. He closed his eyes and wished that he could do anything to prevent this. Then Glorfindel began to stroke him to make this technically not rape, at least not in terms that would cause an elf to fade. When Glorfindel was finished, he rose to his feet and said, "You are disgusting. I just want you to know that, Erestor. Now go clean yourself up. You're a horrible mess."

"What would you care, my lord?" sneered Erestor.

Glorfindel dropped a coin onto the ground, collected his robes around him, and walked out of the room.

Erestor pulled himself up. He gathered the torn clothes and set them aside. Perhaps they could still be fixed. What he really wanted now, though, was just a hot bath. A very hot bath.