Summary:Where shadowed memories linger, there can also be light. Early morning in Imladris.
Warnings:Slash. So much slash.
Disclaimer: I checked the books only a moment ago: the Professor's name is still on the covers. I promise.
A/N: For the Pigeon. It took me almost a year, but do you remember that this was what you asked me to write when I saw you in that big city far away?
Some say wisdom comes with age. Some say time heals all wounds… During the long winter that only some short weeks ago lost its grip on the Valley it seemed more plausible that with age comes weariness and with snow comes madness; and time dragged on and the wounds stung in the chill morning winds.
Yesterday it was one hundred years ago that she sailed, that white sails aimed for white shores. My eyes strained in the mercilessly cheerful light of the sun as it cascaded down upon the waves that gently guided her ship westward. My throat was dry and so were my eyes for all tears were already shed. My hands were full of other hands: our children desperately clung to me like elflings lost in a never-ending nightmare. They sought guidance where little to none was to be had. It is a blessing beyond measure that they do not despise me for not wielding the power to save their nana.
Our sons are skilled with bows and swords, and our daughter is too, although she pretends to prefer needlework. At least for a little while each day. We raised no children weak of heart and feeble in spirit. They are my starlight.
During a hundred years I believed starlight to be enough; Celebrían was my moon – a silver queen who made my world shimmer in breath-taking beauty. When she released me from my vows she drove a knife through my heart. Elves bond for eternity I have always thought, but she was – is – her mother's daughter and perhaps she was in that moment gifted with foresight? For little did I know, but maybe she saw, how sunlight would flood my life when the pain had lessened and I could breathe for myself once more and not only for our children.
Winter was chased away by summer this year, and not by spring. There is nothing spring like about the way the flowers exploded into the warmth Anor provides us with, or in the ways the rivers and streams chatter. Before eyes on the brink of losing hope, the grey and the brown were transformed and green grass and blue skies filled our vision. Sanity returned and we found we had a heartbeat once more.
Then one day, as I was straightening my robes as I always do before leaving my chambers in the morning, he stood before me and I could not draw breath.
"Have you forgotten how to knock, mellon nín?" I finally said, but my eyes betrayed me and would not linger upon his face. They journeyed all over his form, taking in broad shoulders and the proud stance; the chin held high in a manner perfected during centuries spanning two lifetimes.
He smiled, and I was sure the sun's course across the heavens had been disturbed: never before had that room been so bright.
"I beg your pardon, hír nín. Excuse me."
As history momentarily ceased to exist, I watched as Glorfindel stepped out into the hallway and pulled the heavy curtain across the doorway. I listened to the silence that preceded the knock, the sound of his knuckles meeting the wood of the doorframe suddenly sharp and demanding. And that sound is no stranger to me – I have heard it a thousand times, and another thousand, throughout the years.
"Yes?" My own reply was forced – forced through the numbness that was spreading through my body.
"May I come in?" I detected the hint of amusement in his voice but I could find nothing of the sort in my own being to counter it with.
He pushed aside the curtain and was revealed again, flaxen hair carelessly swung over one shoulder and glittering blue eyes.
"You stare at me as if we have never met before and you have just caught me unauthorised in your library," he teased, leaning against the doorframe. "I have not unexpectedly turned into an Oliphaunt, have I?"
"I am sorry." I shook my head but it grew no clearer. I was held captive by the radiance that seemed to flow from him in endless waves, and what scared me in that moment was that, though I did not understand it, I was ready to drown in its force. "You look as stunning as ever," I whispered and I was lost.
The days that followed are a muddle to me and will probably so remain. I remember sunlight and fear, I remember sunlight banishing fear, and I remember early summer nights that were never dark. But a few memories are as clear as morning dew and they share that same hue: grey eyes, three pairs, widening in surprise as I confessed my desire in something close to shame.
It is a greater blessing still that my children would not condemn me but chose to love my love instead.
It is not yet morning now; it is past dawn but we are somewhere in between the light of day and summer-shadowed night. Glorfindel wound his arm around my waist when we drifted into reverie and there it remains. It keeps me grounded and makes me feel safe, as silly as that may sound. His warm breath feathers out on my neck and his chest rises and falls steadily.
Sometimes in moments such as this one I lie awake, repeating to myself over and over that I love him.
I love him... I love him, love him... I love him.
I have loved him always, but now it is different. And he has always loved me but that, too, is different now.
"It is no small matter, bedding the Lord of Imladris," he said half-jokingly and half seriously when we stood together in front of my bed for the very first time.
His arm tightens around my waist for a second or two before he moves against me, stretches, and then curls around me again.
"It never is a small matter, bedding you," I whisper out into the room.
"Hmm?" Sleep clings to his voice and he presses a soft kiss to my neck.
"I love you," I say.
He smiles against my skin and into my mind. If it is only an illusion I prefer to keep it that way; some bonded elves have known that skill but Glorfindel and I are lovers, nothing more.
"Is it dawn yet?" he mumbles.
"Dawn is passed, but morning lingers in the north," I say, sensing the life that is awakening beneath the unshielded skin pressed so close to my own naked body.
With his arm he urges me to turn around and I find myself gazing into blue eyes, still slightly glazed over by sleep. The moment lasts not long for Glorfindel soon closes them and seeks out my mouth, pressing warm lips against it. The kiss is soft and slow, and it weaves a web of light around us. He slides his tongue against mine and a lazy desire rises within. I shift one of my legs, bend it at the knee, and drape it over his legs. My tingling flesh rubs against his skin and there is a first, dull pounding in my groin – almost like a single heartbeat but deeper and richer.
His hand strokes my back and pushes my dark hair aside.
"I love you, son of Eärendil," he murmurs against my lips and sends a shiver down my spine.
I open my eyes even though he dips his tongue tip into my wet warmth. Whatever he does, Glorfindel always looks like he does it with ease. There is no furrow upon his brow as his hand slips lower and fingertips trace invisible circles near the base of my spine. There is no tension in his features when he teases my lower lip with nibbling teeth.
Golden tresses mingle with ink black ones on the pillows. All linen is white, glowing white.
The kiss reaches an inevitable end but we part without hurry. He smiles and I do the same, unable to do anything else as I am once again struck by the extraordinary incongruity of the situation.
His smile changed the moment he heard my confession: it grew fuller and even more dazzling than before. His smile expressed his delight, his eyes his awe. It has not changed since then.
"I dreamed about you," he says as he tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. "But I cannot remember what you were doing..." He looks thoughtful for a moment. "It was something about a bird..."
I leave a kiss near his collarbone. "More and more birds are returning to the Valley now that summer is finally here."
"Ah, and I who thought I was prophetic," he laments in mock despair.
I watch the shiver race across his skin as my lips slide lower. "I am sorry, meleth nín, to spoil your hopes."
His hand mirrors the movements of my lips and slides lower, too, to caress my behind. One of my own hands that have lain idle upon the sheets finds itself grasped by his free one. He guides it to his groin and to his stirring flesh.
"Make it up to me, beloved, please." His soft-spoken suggestion is not of the kind that he sometimes voices when the fire of lust blazes in our veins.
I smile against his chest, wishing to hide my reaction and keep it to myself for just a moment longer. He has many ways of casting his light upon me, my sun.
I cover his length with my hand, I cup it gently, and his sigh wraps around me, and to me the world softens. But suddenly his hand that guided mine is on my cheek and he turns my head carefully so that I may look him in the eye.
"What changed, Elrond? How did we end up here?" he asks and I can see he truly wishes to know – not because of any agony clawing at his heart but because he is curious and because he thought he had finally seen all that Eä had to offer him.
"I know not," I say for I have not either discovered some hitherto hidden truth.
His thumb caresses my cheekbone. "All I know is that I saw you in a new light, as if a veil was torn from my eyes, and I wanted you then. I fell in love with you so suddenly that it should be impossible."
"For me it took a little longer..."
"A few days?" He raises his eyebrows but not in contention. "You had more to lose."
My ear lies pressed to his chest and I listen to his soft breathing. "I lost nothing; I gained so much more."
I have almost forgotten that one of my hands is cupping his length. It is as if I make no distinction between body parts, and in one odd moment, I wonder where my prudence has fled to. I was always discreet, I like to think. And yet there is a tantalising feeling of freedom in my breast now. I increase the pressure slightly and Glorfindel gives an appreciative hum.
"That is where we were..." He grins. "Memory comes back to me." His content sigh washes over my hair.
"You are very old..." I feel the flesh warming and swelling.
For a second I think he will stick out his tongue at me. What indeed happened to poise?
"Technically, I am younger than you." His hand slips down to my shoulder and his thumb rubs shallow circles into my skin.
"That depends on how you interpret 'technically'," I smile. My palm movers over his length and some of the rebellion melts away from his features. I coax his flesh to harden and I take my time spreading the pearly fluid that oozes from the tip.
He never likes to lose control; Glorfindel values order, structure and discipline, they say. I have seen another side of him. For many long years he was my trusted Seneschal. We were friends, I too relied on his sound judgement, praised his organisation skills and relied on his quick mind. I still do.
But in my bed he is willing to let go and to open up. When we stroll through the gardens – when the world leaves us alone – he foregoes all he is known for and though he is still a Seneschal, he is someone else too. Or he is himself, I think.
His breathing speeds up now. He lets me have my way with him and he responds. One of his hands slides lower until it can go no further and it comes to a rest in the shallow bay at the small of my back. There it continues to weave invisible patterns upon my skin. A string of breathy moans falls from his parted lips when I stroke him more firmly and a shudder courses through him.
"What would you like?" I ask and place a kiss upon his chest.
"This morning, a walk in the gardens." He tries a smirk and succeeds though his eyes have drifted shut. "And tea..."
"I like tea..." His words nearly stumble over themselves but he reins them in. His breathing grows deeper. "You know I... never..."
I twist my fingers around the slick head.
"Never," he gasps, "I never eat much... in the morning."
How many years of lovemaking have I seen come and go? Sometimes, yes, it is still about ecstasy and immediate release – I will continue to pray that the stables were indeed empty on that moonlit eve not a week ago when Glorfindel returned from a visit with Círdan at Mithlond– but more often it is about exploration. Not comfort, not solace, no easing of troubled hearts and minds but – exploration.
We are less afraid of tears than Men are and for that I am thankful. I have yet to meet someone who can tell me why we should turn our faces away in shame when we have bared our soul to another and have been equally gifted in return. There is more to the joining of bodies than simply physical pleasure; Glorfindel's tears have melted into my skin on more than one occasion, and I have trusted him enough not to hide my own. And still I am sure there is more to discover.
"Forgive me, I may be wrong..." My hand slides from his hardened shaft and I cup the sacs just beneath it. "Do you not, as a rule, enjoy a rather steady breakfast?"
"Mmm...?" He twists on the sheets. "Mostly tea..."
Suddenly his hand that has rested at the base of my spine covers mine and stills it.
"It seems," he opens his eyes and the blue has darkened but lust has not completely dulled the glimmer in it. "that I am in need of the sustenance. Now..." He smirks and I cannot resist him. "Let us focus on you for a while," he decides before I press my lips to his.
I roll onto my side and he spoons up behind me. Or if I respond to his will without knowing it. Perhaps in this case, age does bring wisdom. Celebrían was a timid lover before we had found a way that suited us – before she found she could trust me. I am too old to be shy but I am also old enough to never take another for granted. Glorfindel and I both were nervous, somewhat surprised at our own actions, but there was respect and we were – thankfully – spared the insecurity the younglings must master. And we did not forget the...
"Oil?" His lips are caressing my neck, my shoulder... His hardness is pressed against me and my own body is humming in appreciation. His hand is stroking my belly, and one knee nudges its way forward between my legs.
"Your side," I mumble, my eyes drifting shut.
And so he leaves me alone for a minute or two as he rummages through the pile of last night's clothing I think I can remember ending up on the floor.
"By Ulmo's..." Mumbled curses float around us but they only draw a smile from me. "Hah!" He throws himself down beside me again and drops a kiss to my cheek. "I am terrific!"
I laugh and twist my head to see him. "Would you mind praising yourself later?"
He raises an eyebrow and his lips curve into a new grin. "So we can proceed, you mean?"
The oil lends his skin the same golden hue as his hair already has. The stretching is exquisite. I had forgotten how it felt and I had never thought I would experience it again after I wedded Celebrían.
I cannot compare them for they are too different. She was everything I needed then and he is everything I need now. Sometimes, when the silvery moonlight fills my vision I wish I could have them both with me. I wonder what Sun and Moon would be like. I wonder if she loves another now, in the blessed realm?
I cannot word a prayer that expresses just how much I hope that my children will know the same love as I have – as I do.
He slides into me. We are here and now; I am not standing by the water's edge, where tears and waves are kith and kin, I am not drawing nigh to the white shores myself, with excuses, questions and pleas on my tongue. All that was, and all that will be, is not now.
Glorfindel's hand resumes its position on my belly and he anchors himself in our reality just as I do. His inner heat, his fire, flows from him to me in generous waves.
You need sunlight too, Elrond.
So many times he has chided me upon finding me still in the library – beyond redemption as the sun made ready to sink behind the horizon. And I concede: I do.
The first faint streak of sunlight slips inside the bedchamber as Glorfindel yet again nudges a knee between my legs. His breathing grows heavier to match my own and his palm travels over my skin until it reaches my risen flesh.
"Are you with me?" His voice is raspy as he pushes deeper inside until he lies completely pressed against me and it becomes impossible for us to be any closer.
I exhale as the pounding intensifies – heartbeats and drumming desire combined. "Yes..."
His hand encircles me and the slow stroking commences as he pulls out anew, and then pushes inside again, and again... And there is more sunlight, everywhere around me, within and without, as the greeting of the waxing day culminates in a perfect explosion of light.
With closed eyes, I breathe in this day as he returns from the gardens. He left the bed to throw open the doors and I have chosen to ignore that he in his turn ignored his robe. Something silky soft and cool lands on my chest but when I first open my eyes all I see is his shining blue gaze.
"They are blooming."
I glance down at pure whiteness dotted with silvery dewdrops. And I smile.
White shores... so long ago it feels; some faraway future.
One hundred years yesterday, and life still flows through the Valley.
White roses... now.
mellon nín -my friend
hir hín -my lord
meleth nín - my love
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