Elves don't get cold
Glorfindel had looked at the departure of the advisor and the simultaneously connected inherited shrugging of Arwen's parents with humor, but as Erestor was still not back after an hour, he began to worry. If the advisor had decided to go to bed or simply had fallen asleep while hunting monsters everything would be fine. But the seneschal had not forgotten that today he had experienced for the first time in both of his lives the sudden dizziness of an Elf.
"I'll go and look for him", he offered when he noted, that Elrond looked around just as worried. "Probably he has fallen asleep while telling Arwen a good night-story."
His way led him at first to the wing that the sovereign's family inhabited. Arwen laid peacefully asleep in her monster free bed and her nurse slept in an armchair at the fireplace. But there was no trace of Erestor. Also in his rooms he found only Visha.
Even more worried he turned again towards the Hall of fire and enjoyed the quiet that was lying across the deserted corridors for a few moments longer. Although the lord of Gondolin was a sociable Elf who liked festivals in general, this ball was too stiff and he was too busy dealing with his feelings to enjoy at least Lindir's music.
When he crossed an opened door, he stepped spontaneously into the garden. After sunset, the fog had become yet more compact and wafted impenetrable between the trees. The rain and sleet had stopped, but the air was still heavy and damp and the wind had freshened up. It was almost as if Vilya had lost it's power, but Glorfindel assumed, that Elrond used the power of his ring for more important things than to control the weather in Imladris.
For a while he listened to the rustling of the foliage under his boots - obviously Erestor must have had mercy with Imladris' small and large Elflings and had for once not immediately ordered to clean up. Then he heard somebody coughing. It was a pathetic, rattling cough that had to come probably from one of the Gondorians.
Carefully he followed the sound and was rooted to the spot when the fog suddenly gave free a crouched shape. His breath stopped because it was no human who knelt in front of him on the damp leaves, but a small black haired Elf.
"Erestor!" With one step Glorfindel crossed the distance between them and put his arms around Erestor. The Noldo's face was full of tears and he clearly had cramps. Out from the corner of his mouth run a narrow blood thread.
"Leave me alone", he snarled breathless, but Glorfindel shook his head.
"Calm, everything is all right", he whispered, although he was everything but sure about it and held him tight. "Try to breathe - in and out, in and out…" After a while he seemed to succeed, for the coughing got better and the Elf breathed more regularly again while Glorfindel wiped the blood off of Erestors chin.
Erestor seemed to catch his usual self. "What, no stupid comment? I am disappointed."
The Vanya frowned. Was that how Erestor saw him? It was true, the hero of Gondolin was unsure how to deal with an Elf, he had fallen in love with and who did not return his feelings. That was why he often disguised behind sloppy words, but usually people thought they were funny.
"You are sick and need aid", he tried to start another topic.
"Elves don't get cold and they also don't get sick", the still trembling Noldo reminded him bitterly.
Glorfindel hesitantly bit his lower lip and decided to put all eggs in one basket. Either he was mistaken in his suspicion and would provoke a tantrum or was right and he would also provoke an unpleasant outbreak of Erestor's temperament.
"Dark elves do get sick, don't they?" For a wonderful moment, Erestor was speechless, but then he started to wiggle and to kick against Glorfindel - to do everything, in order to get free, but he had no chance against the warrior.
The Vanya held him firmly and merciless. "So I am right."
"Let me go!", it snarled from his arms. Obviously this would become one of Erestor's worse tantrums.
"You're going nowhere", Glorfindel said and grabbed the hands of the panicking Advisor in a firm grip. "Why did you lie to us, Erestor?"
The resistance of the small Dark elf failed due to his physical exhaustion. "You know what they think about us. We are the servants of Sauron, these were your own words."
"And perhaps I was wrong." The Balrog slayer rose and raised the advisor into his arms. It worried him that Erestor did not fight against being carried. "According to my opinion it's also not that important, what they think about Dark elves. I know, have what I think about you and that certainly has nothing to do with the Dark Lord."
"What will happen now?"
"I take you to a place, where it's warm and dry, so that your lungs won't suffer more", Rivendell's First Warrior answered before he became aware, what Erestor really wanted to know. "Your secret is safe with me."
Erestor could not go back to the Hall of Fire - not in his dissolved condition and not as long as his clothing was full of sludge and foliage. That's why the Vanya decided to take to his rooms where he probably felt most at home and where his cat waited. In Elrond's opinion pets had a healing effect on Elves and watching Visha and Erestor the Balrog slayer always believed in it.
Glorfindel knew Erestor's living room well enough in to drop him first on a sofa before lighting the candles.
"You need a bath", he observed subsequently and picked an illuminating red leaf from the ebony hair. "Should I fill the bath tub?"
The dark haired Elf pointed silently at a door that led to a small hall, which led to further rooms. The Vanya never had never been here before and had to admit that he was curious to see the rooms of the advisor.
Behind the first door, he found a small library that did not really amaze him. However when he opened the second door, he found a bathroom that surprised him substantially more. He already knew that Erestor got everything from Elrond that he wanted, but this bathroom was actually larger than Glorfindel's bedroom.
He began to ignite the candles, that stuck everywhere in golden candle holders. When he reached the thirtieth candlestick, he stopped counting them and soon as the room was immersed into soft candlelight, the chamber unfolded its total effect. Columns framed all four sides and on the other end of the room were two large windows. Glorfindel stepped down the stairs that stretched around the room among the columns and tried to avoid some white furs until he reached head shaking a pool, that offered enough room for three Elves. Obviously lord Elrond's Chief advisor only settled for the most luxuries.
The Vanya let the water, that came from the hot spring beneath the house into the pool and curiously began searching the different crystal bottles and wooden boxes lined in shelves between the columns, until a soft silk rustling made him aware of Erestor coming to the room. His hand went up next to the Balrog slayer's hand and took a handful of intensively smelling herbs out of a box.
"Whenever I make it into a human settlement, I try to get a small supply of herbs to mitigate the effects of the cold", he commented to Glorfindel's inquiring look and put the herbs into the water.
"But the blood that you coughed, did not come from a normal cold, did it?" The warrior took some large, soft towels out of a closet in the shadow of the columns.
The Noldo - no, Dark elf, but it was still hard for Glorfindel to accept the knowledge - sunk silently into a basket-chair, that stood between two large candle holders, whose light made him look breathtaking even now as dirty and exhausted Erestor was.
Probably that was also the reason why the armchair stood at this place, Glorfindel considered and swallowed heavily. "I will go into the kitchen and will get you something to eat. Except the ice you ate nothing for the entire day, am I correct?"
"You sound like Celebrían." Erestor rolled the eyes to the ceiling. "And now out with you! I want to remove my clothes."
That is the Erestor that we know and love, the Balrog slayer thought almost at ease and granted the unmistakable request.
As soon as the adviser heard the door closing he collapsed upon himself. Perhaps he was lucky and someone would drag Glorfindel back into the Hall of Fire and he would forget about him.
"However I doubt that I will be so lucky", he sighed to Visha, who pranced into the bathroom and hopped elegant on her Elf's lap. Much more possible was that the seneschal would come back and then the game would begin, that took place each time, if one of Imladris' soldiers was guest in the rooms of the Chief advisor.
It would have been unfair to say that it was not his guilt, and that he did not enjoy it to fall into the strong arms of a sword fighter. But aside from Elrond no one in the Last Homely House knew, what happened at night in the advisor's rooms. And even if there were yet rumors in the barracks, previously Erestor always had been able to suffocate this by transferring the troublemaker to one of the other realms without Glorfindel's decision.
Banished to Mordor for counting orc's, Lindir called this practice not only joking, the Dark elf knew. But he couldn't afford such rumors reaching the house. Even without it was hard enough to control the other council members.
"Down with you!" He shooed away the cat and began to undress slowly, while hanging on to his dark thoughts. For centuries, he had told himself that Glorfindel saw more in him than the poisonous carnivore for which he was held in the council and in the library of Imladris, and more than the - although dangerous - toy that he was for the soldiers. He actually had imagined, the seneschal and he would be friends - in any case as far as one was able to be the friend of an Elf, whose entire life based on a lie.
He was hurt when the Golden Lord started to be after him. Glorfindel had tried to advance him with somewhat subtler moves than his men he had to admit.
At least for Glorfindel subtle, he thought with a sad smile and pulled some further leaves out of his hair while he looked at his refection in the mirror.
But he had ignored all signs Erestor gave him that he didn't want to give up their friendship for one meaningless night. And tonight it would happen.
Erestor sighed. Actually he was much too exhausted to play the seducer, but it was Glorfindel and if that was what he wanted, he would be giving his best.
Through the gigantic golden-framed mirror, he could watch the pool and Visha. The gray and black cat fished after the leaves, that swam in the water and he saw the misfortune come before it happened. Nevertheless he was still two steps away from her when her front paws began to slip and she landed it with a loud splash in the water.
"Erestor?" let Glorfindel himself be heard from the door to warn Erestor that he was back and stepped into the bathroom with a tray just as the black haired Elf enveloped his wet and snarling pet in one of the towels. Visha was shocked and clawed her rear paws over his belly and busted away to recover in a warm corner of her involuntary bath.
Glorfindel knew, that he stared but was unable to avert his eyes. "Siriel gave me cake and hot chocolate for you." Valar! He was probably the oldest Elf on Arda and behaved as if he was only hundred years old. Although he had thought about Erestor on his whole way from the kitchen about that, how he should tell him, what he felt for him, now he did not know, what he had expected, when he returned with the tray into the bathroom. And now he sensed that something was going horribly astray.
"Put it down there", the petite Elf said softly and nodded to one of the plants that stood in large pots on the ground. The warrior did what he was told and shot the adviser a questioning look. Erestor's lips were graced by the same smile, he used for Lindir earlier, but it did not reach his eyes.
Erestor let the towel fall to the ground and walked slowly to Glorfindel - a perfect view if he had not been forced to suppress a coughing attack.
"What?" stammered the warrior with a yet even worse idea as the smaller elf sank on his knees in front of him and fumbled with his clothing.
"That's why you came to me, right? That's why they all come."
Elbereth, no! With a coarse movement, Glorfindel pulled the Dark elf to his feet. The way Erestor treated him like one of these human men, who bought the love of a woman, frightened him and made him furious. "I thought you would trust me more! I thought we would be friends."
"As did I until you begun to philander me the way your soldiers do!" That body that looked like it had been chiseled out of white marble quaked under the hands of the warrior and those black eyes sparked.
Glorfindels blue ones met them with cold intensity. "You are the one, that gives himself away, although you know, that they are not really interested in you. You made yourself the soldier's whore."
"That's all I can get, for love was for all the other elves, not me."
The Balrog slayer had to fight hard not to laugh. He knew that he was by no means the only elf who secretly adored Erestor, but hardly anyone had the courage to confess the unpredictable and with dangerous temperament equipped advisor his love. "You don't exactly give the impression that you are longing to be loved."
For a moment it looked as if the black haired elf would get one of his famous tantrums but then - all of a sudden - he broke down. He began to cough again and Glorfindel immediately felt guilty again because where he had grabbed Erestor's upper arms were blue and green spots.
"I'm only a Dark elf", whispered Erestor when he was able to speak again. "If I would live with someone sooner or later he would find out my secret and…" He did not finish the sentence.
"And what?" The warrior turned around and grasped the tray. "Get into the pool, before you get even colder."
It amazed him that Erestor obeyed without a single word and while he looked at the advisors back he cursed himself for taking the tray, instead of carrying the adviser. The small elf was held on his feet by pure will power and as soon as he had one foot in the water, all remaining strength left him and he glided away. Frightened the Vanya put the tray away when Erestor emerged coughing and water spiting.
Perhaps such a large pool is not always advantageous, Glorfindel considered, while he fished the other elf that was submerged already again out of the water. "Do you know that the other councilors would only fear you half as much, if they could see you now?"
The advisor smiled weakly. "Don't tell them."
The Vanya reciprocated the smile. "If you permit it, I could hold you in the pool. A bath in the herbs would do you well and you would get your chocolate, before it gets cold."
"And who wants already cold hot chocolate."
They had hardly settled down in the warm water - the Vanya leaned at the edge of the pool and the Dark elf was safely cuddled in his arms - Erestor stretched his hand demanding for his chocolate.
"Siriel was right", the Vanya grinned, but as soon as Erestor had to hold the weight of the full cup his hands started to tremble again. Only Glorfindel's trained reflexes prevented the cup from falling into the water.
"Well, that's not a good idea", the First Warrior mused and embraced the adviser tighter with one hand while he got Erestors cup with the other hand.
The black haired Elf sipped on his chocolate and sunk more heavily against Glorfindels body.
"Thanks", he said finally hardly audible. "Thank you, for still being here with me, in spite of my earlier behavior and in spite of my reproaches, concerning your intentions."
The Vanya stroked the arm that he got entwined. "I didn't say anything to that for a reason. Although I did not bring you here to have my way with you, I would have been forced to lie I in order to say, I don't want you. I just didn't want it to happen this way." He felt that the elf in his arms became tense. "No, let me dissuade, otherwise I find never the courage to say it."
"To say what?" mumbled Erestor into his cup when the blond warrior broke up.
Glorfindel took a deep breath. "I love you, you evil tempered distrustful Dark elf."
"In spite of all?" Only when Glorfindel bent forward to look into the face of the elf in his arm, two very vulnerable looking dark eyes looked at him.
"Like I said before, I love you exactly the way you are", Glorfindel said with just a hint of humour in his voice before it disappeared again. "I am certain, Elrond would also understand you. Perhaps you should admit some confidence in him."
"At least that's not a no." During the last centuries Glorfindel had had several imaginations of his first night with the exotic advisor, but they all boiled down to Erestor would not be able to sit at the next day. He certainly never ever had imagined to sit with him in a pool of full herbs, and to help him drink hot chocolate.
The Dark elf nuzzled closer into his arm and bent his neck so far back that he was able to look at the Vanya behind him. "Shall I tell you what?"
"Mhm?" The long white neck almost begged to be stroked, Glorfindel thought and placed the cup on the pool's edge.
"We should repeat this occasionally."
The Balrog slayers' heart made a leap and he kissed the other elf's temple. "Whenever you like."
Erestor laughed softly and bent his head so far back that Glorfindel was comfortably able to reach his mouth. "What about tomorrow?"