by Soledad Cartwright

The characters, the context and the main plot belong to Professor Tolkien, whom I greatly admire. I'm only trying to fill in the gaps he so graciously left for us, fanfic writers, to have some fun. Only Erestor's family belongs to me.

Rating: R in this chapter, for war-related violence mostly.

Warning: this whole story is about a married Elven couple - both males -, so don't read it, if same-gender relationships are a problem for you.
I hate the word 'slash', because it has become the label of mindless smut, and this is most certainly *not* a smut story.
Still, if you're offended by m/m interaction, even by mild one, you should probably go away now. There are many other wonderful stories for you to read.


After I've written Chapter 3 to ''Of Riddles of Doom and Paths of Love'', I became interested in Erestor's background. Also, a few of my readers expressed curiosity why Lindir was behaving so young and child-like as he did. Therefore I felt the obligation to write their story.

This is a stand-alone, although it would help to read ''Of Riddles of Doom and Paths of Love'' first. Bit it's not absolutely necessary. You'd undersand the story as it is.

Reviews, as always, are much appreciated.


Erestor was dreaming.

As often when having fallen asleep to the beautiful songs of his spouse, he was brought back to his childhood, to the beautifully carved stone houses and paved roads of Ost-in-Edhil, the city of Celebrimbor, when the holly-trees of Eregion were still young and the west gate of Khazad-dúm, called Hadhodrond by the Elves, wide open at the end of the highroad that connected Eregion with the great mansions of the Dwarves.

In his dreams he could see his lost home again: his father, one of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, the People of the Jewel-smiths, labouring in his workshop til the late hours of the night, catching the light of Varda's stars in the gemstones of his creations; and his mother, laughing merrily in their garden, protected by stone walls, watching his little siblings, hardly more than toddlers both, since they were twin brother and sister, palying under the holly bushes.

And he saw himself as a young elfling, all lanky limbs and wide eyes, pointed ears seemingly too long compared with his narrow face, standing on the side of his father, watching in awe the skilled hands and callused fingers of Hargil(1), working with endless patience on some very delicate piece of jewellery, teaching his firstborn son the fine tricks of his handiwork.

This was his last memory of his father, for shortly thereafter the horrible shrieks of hideous Orc-hords roused the quiet streets of the city, and hungry flames leapt upon the roofs of Elven homes, and small children were running through burning gardens, screaming after their parents, trampled down by the cruel, iron-shod feet of Orcs. And Nimuial(2), holding the broken body of her slain children upon her lap before the gate of their home, her long hair in flames... the last thing he had seen of his mother, grieving, consumed alive by the fire that destroyed their home and their city.

Then all went dark for a long time, and when he opened his frightened eyes again, the fair city he was born and raised was no more, just smoking ruins and the horrible stench of death. He was lying on the ground and a strange Elf in shining armour, stained with the black blood of slain Orcs, leaned over him.

An Elf-Lord of high rank, doubtlessly, for he wore a white star upon his brow, and he was noble and fair in face; a strong warrior, yet in his keen grey eyes there was wisdom, and he looked as venerable as the King of the Dwarves who had visited the city not so long ago; and his manner was kind, even amid the horrors of destruction.

'What is your name, young one?', he asked, his voice deep and soothing.

'E-erestor... s-son of Hargil', the elfling stottered, surprised that he was able to answer at all. His throat was still sore from the smoke and from having screamed so loud. 'W-what... happened...'

'You were hit upon your head, son of Hargil', the warrior Lord said. 'Is... *was* this your home?'

The elfling tried to get to his wobby feet but could hardly stand. The scene before his tearful eyes was one of utter destruction. The lovely house that had been his home was gone. Burnt, blackened walls with no roof rose from cindery stumps of a dead garden. And amidst the smoldering ruins lay the charred corpses of his family.

'I am sorry, little one', the warrior Lord said, deep voice full of regret. 'We came too late.'

And he held the elfling in strong arms, supporting his sweaty forehead in one large palm while the boy was vomitting, waiting for him patiently to overcome his first shock, though the battle was still going on in other parts of the ruined city. Then he pulled a cloath from beneath his breast-plate and wiped the boy's face clean - or as clean as it could have been done under these circumstances.

'My Lord, we have to go', another voice, this one clear and ringing like a silver bell, said from behind. It belonged to a tall, gold-haired Elf-Lord, clad in shining armour as well, with the likeness of the rayed Sun upon his helmet. 'The reinforcements of the Enemy are closing up again.'

The warrior Lord nodded and stood, sweeping the shattered boy up in his arms.

'We are leaving. There is naught we could do any more. We have come too late.'

'What about the boy?', the gold-haired one asked. 'We cannot leave him here. His family is slain, and the Orcs will be returning, soon.'

'We take him with us. Any other survivors?'

'A few. Mostly women and children who have found a good hiding place in time. And a handful of men who are wounded but still alive. Celebrimbor is not among them.'

'That unfortunate fool', the warrior Lord sighed. 'Go, summon your people, old friend. We have to retreat, as long as we can.'

The gold-haired Elf-Lord mounted his white horse and rode away, calling the heralds to summon their people. Soon, the ringing of silver trumpets could be heard, then the loud clatter of hoofs, like a far-away thunderstorm, and the host of Elves moved on, leaving the ruined, still burning city and its murdered people behind.

The young elfling in the safe arms of the warrior Lord was sobbing quietly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

''Erestor... Wake up, love!'', a soft, lyrical voice insisted. ''Come back to me... you are dreaming again. Hush, dear one, 'tis only a nightmare...'''

Gentle hands shook him out of the dark depths of his nightmare, and when his eyes - swollen and still full of tears - focussed again, he gazed into the worried face of his beloved.

With the moonlight shining on his long, pale blond hair and giving his fine-boned face an otherworldly glow of ethereal beauty, Lindir of Rhosgobel looked like a creature of myths - like the fairies from the nursery tales of mortal Men.

''Easy now'', he murmured softly, wiping the tears from his beloved's face with long, slender fingers and gently stroking Erestor's lips with his thumbs, ''twas only a dream. Yu are safe now.''

Erestor closed his eyes for a moment, letting the love of his spouse wash over him like a warm wave as his shivers slowly died down. Then he looked up again into that incredibly beautiful face.

''I am always safe with you'', he whispered.

Lindir smiled shyly and kissed his brow.

''So I have vowed on the day of our bonding'', he said. ''To love you and cheerish you and protect you from any harm - and I am not an Elf to break his oath, you know.''

* * * * * * * * * * *

All right, I know it was fairly short, bur I needed a ''real life'' tie-in to palce the story timely. This particular scene happens at the same time when the Fellowship of the Ring struggle to reach the other side of the Misty Mountains and Glorfindel is telling the story of his life Elrond and his children. All the other chapters will be major flashbacks and will happen in Imladris, save, of course, the battle against the Witch-king of Angmar.

Practically, I could have created an original character as Erestor's spouse, but I avoid that if I can. We don't know very much about Lindir, and he doesn't have any great part in LOTR, his only liner being when he light-heartedly insults Bilbo about his verse of Eärendil. Since Bilbo didn't seem too upset, I assumed that Lindir must have been a well-loved person in Imladris, who could afford a few thoughtless words. And so this character was born.

End notes:

1 Means 'southern star' in Sindarin (or so I hope).
2 Means 'white twilight' - stupid, I know, but it sounded good; besides, I couldn't come up with anything better.