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'Beyond Doubt: Changes'
At the beginning
of autumn in the year after the Secondborn journeyed to the Land of
Gift, the High King, Ereinion Gil-galad, made arrangements for his
cousin Elrond, the Half-elven descendant of the kings of Gondolin
and Doriath, to spend a half year living amongst and learning the
ways of the kindred of the Wandering Companies.
The reasons behind this decision had less to do with familial
fondness than with a series of reckless actions and dubious pranks
that implied the lack of a steadying influence in Elrond’s life
since his brother’s departure. This behaviour finally caused the
King to decree that all the skill and knowledge in the world were of
no value without personal discipline and that, accordingly, his
cousin’s training in the healing arts was to be resumed at a later
date. The time had come for change.
“… as regards general
morale, the mood prevalent at this and the three previous outposts
leaves much to be desired.”
Gil-galad laid the neatly written account down on the table before
him and sighed. The rumours of boredom and general misconduct within
the army were clearly outlined in the bluntly worded report penned
by Erestor, the junior military advisor who in a previous Age had
gathered information for Gildor Inglorion. The document carried the
marks of ten days spent in transit; the words left nothing to
hopeful imagination. Originally sceptical, Gil-galad found himself
impressed with the dark-haired Elf’s skill at persuading confidences
out of relative strangers, and the practicality with which he
assessed a situation.
Thoughts of Erestor led obliquely to Elrond and to the startled
realisation that the day lay closer to sunset than he had realised.
Yet another interminable formal dinner beckoned, but first he needed
to take leave of his cousin who was due to leave at dusk to spend
the following months under the tutelage of whichever Company the
Wanderer saw fit to place him with.
Pushing back his chair, Gil-galad rose, pausing a moment to tidy the
heaped papers and scrolls on the table before him. He and the room
fitted one another in some indefinable way. A glance around revealed
shelves of well-read books and a fiddle lying propped in a corner.
The walls displayed a uniquely personal collection of art, disparate
pieces that had caught his fancy. Pride of place was held by a view
from the palace roof, the work of a talented amateur.
Across the room, the window seat lay buried under rugs, cushions and
the heavy, embroidery-rich surcoat he had removed shortly after his
mid-morning arrival. Glancing down at the comfortable pants and old
shirt he wore, Gil-galad sighed and went to retrieve it.
Dressed once more with public formality, he remembered to straighten
the silver circlet he habitually wore so that the scrollwork sat
neatly above his ears. Passing the table on his way to the door, he
anchored Erestor's report under a small, brightly painted stone, a
shy gift from a child of one of the kitchen staff, and hurried out.
He took the longer
route, walking away the stiffness brought on by hours spent poring
over reports and petitions. He moved briskly but without haste,
nodding greetings where required but stopping to speak to no one.
Passing the guest apartments near the gate, he noted that the lamps
had already been lit. Currently they housed a high level delegation
from Lórien, the evening’s guests of honour, as well as a small
party from a settlement north of Mithlond who would be the morrow’s
main focus. The ornamental lake was plunged into gloom, the surface
broken by a lone duck heading for shore. The benches were deserted
save for an elleth who sat gazing at the water, apparently lost in
thought. Gil-galad resisted an impulse borne of simpler days in
Balar to stop and ask if anything was amiss. Common sense told him
it was most likely a matter of the heart, and that concerned
enquiries from the King would be at best embarrassing.
The wind off the sea was crisp, full of autumn’s promise. The trees
already marked summer’s end with shades of red and gold, orange and
brown. Cirdan - Círdan of all people - had expressed concern about
Elrond being sent to spend the winter living off the land, but Gil-galad
approved Gildor’s decision. This view remained unpopular not only
with Círdan but also with Glorfindel, but he remained unmoved.
Elrond had spent his youth roaming from camp to keep with Maglor and
was nowhere near as delicate as their concerns seemed to imply.
Passing the library garden, he noticed how swiftly it had grown.
Benches that could previously be seen from the path were no longer
visible. Roses, geraniums and flowering shrubs supplied colour,
while herbs such as rosemary, thyme and peppermint had been planted
for their bracing scents. Down on the beach he could hear a drill in
progress, shouted instructions and unison responses carrying to him
on the still air, and he felt the pull of the familiar. Sometimes,
less often these days, he would go down and join in, a warrior
amongst warriors, but there was no time now. There never seemed
enough time anymore for the things he really wanted to do.
Regretfully he turned away from the barracks and the sea, and
continued to the section of the garden informally reserved for the
residents of the palace’s private wing.
Despite his size he moved quietly across the soft grass, but the dog
still heard his approach. She charged up to greet him with exuberant
noises, unrepentantly jumping up at him in a manner that she knew to
be forbidden. She was a friendly, intelligent creature, although
perpetually willing to test the bounds before subsiding into
obedience - rather like her master, Gil-galad thought dryly as he
patted her. She continued to dance alongside him, clearly excited
that he was paying her home a rare visit; he wondered briefly how
she would take to her new quarters.
“All right Laslech, enough. Down.”
Elrond sat on the patio before his suite of rooms, a habit since his
brother’s departure across the sea. He was oiling a knife and at the
King's approach laid down the rag beside the oil flask and placed
the weapon to rest with its blade across his thigh. He was dressed
in what appeared to be a compromise between court fashion and an
urge to fit the evening’s journey; scandalously tight black
leggings, with a kingfisher blue undershirt and a grey, wide sleeved
tunic that had seen better days. A leather sword belt circled his
hips, and he wore unexpectedly sensible-looking mid calf boots.
Newly-washed hair tumbled loose, shimmering strands catching the
Grey eyes surveyed Gil-galad coolly. “Making sure I really leave,
“Don’t bother to get up on my account,” the King grunted. Reaching
Elrond, he sank down into a crouch, pushing Laslech off when she
took advantage of his reduced stature to lick him. On reflex he
reached for the knife, testing the blade against the ball of his
thumb. He returned it with a curt shake of the head. “Another few
passes with the stone for that.”
Elrond frowned down at his handiwork. “What’s wrong with it? It was
sharpened this morning…”
“You’ll not skin so much as a rabbit with that blade,” Gil-galad
informed him. “And you’re past the age to have others see to your
weapons for you. Sharpen it before you leave.”
Elrond studied the blade intently, then put the knife aside on the
cloth. He was not about to argue matters of weaponry with a tried
warrior. “No time now. You said they would come for me at dusk,
Gil-galad shrugged. “See to it when you arrive then,” he said
pragmatically. “Embarrassing but necessary. And yes, at dusk.
Morning would have made more sense, but who am I to second-guess
Gildor’s much-vaunted wisdom?”
Beside him Elrond nodded then proceeded to stare moodily into
nothingness. They sat in the silence until, sensing the dinner hour
moving ever closer, Gil-galad finally asked, “All right, out with
Elrond’s face remained closed for a minute, then took on the
expression of uncertain vulnerability it had worn so often in the
early months after Elros’ departure. “Bainon was meant to look after
Laslech while I was gone. We talked about it - when to feed her,
walking her every night… He was meant to come and fetch her and her
blanket and bowl earlier...”
Bainon was one of a number of well-born young Elves who had attached
themselves to Elrond over the last year. Gil-galad held a medium to
low opinion of this circle of hangers on, but thought Elrond’s
cynical lack of illusion would keep them at a sensible distance.
Apparently not far enough if someone had managed to let him down.
“And?” he prompted, his eyes going to the dog who lay nearby with
her head on her paws, her eyes half closed.
Elrond’s eyes narrowed and darkened. “Suddenly he can’t take her
after all. He has to go to Forlond on business for his father. Also,
he has a whim to try out for the Fleet…” Hurt mingled with anger and
was quickly suppressed. “He waited until just before you arrived to
“I doubt he’ll make the Fleet,” Gil-galad said tartly. “Glorfindel
expanded the list of qualifications for new officers. Don’t seem to
recall family status being among them.”
This drew a reluctant laugh. “Yes, I thought of that. You’re
probably right; he’ll get what he deserves. But I have nowhere to
leave her… I need someone I can trust to feed her and talk to her -
someone who likes dogs. I thought of one of the grooms, at least
they like horses, but…”
Elrond’s dilemma was clear. Elves cared for all living things that
did not serve the forces of evil, but seldom kept pets. They might
think well of the dog, but not to the extent of willingly taking her
into their homes and giving her of their time.
Gil-galad was trying without success to think who on his staff might
be persuaded to take charge of his cousin’s dog for a few months,
when Laslech suddenly lifted her head and began lazily to wag her
tail. Moments later a tall, golden-haired figure appeared, walking
swiftly towards them.
The past year had wrought small but noticeable changes in the
soft-smiling, shy Elf Círdan’s mariners had found adrift in a
Valinorian vessel just off the breakwater at Mithlond. Adapting an
army accustomed to offensive warfare into one better-fitted to the
protection of borders and the hunting down of bands of Orcs and
mercenaries had brought confidence in its wake. Although the warmth
remained, his gaze was level and sure now, and he carried himself
Summer blue eyes caught Elrond’s in a flick of greeting, before
Glorfindel offered Gil-galad a quick, intimate smile. “You’ll be
late for dinner,” he said with feigned severity. “You still have to
change, fix your hair…”
Gil-galad quirked an eyebrow at him. “Just need to throw on a formal
robe, brush my hair… Not planning on too much fuss tonight.”
“You need to look like a King, you always tell me,” Glorfindel
pointed out, schooling his face to seriousness.
Gil-galad was unimpressed. “I am a King,” he said equitably. “Loose
hair will hardly make me less of one.”
Glorfindel grinned briefly and joined them on the patio, taking a
cushion from a pile in the corner and sinking down onto it. He bore
all the signs of a busy and productive day outdoors: grass stains
and traces of mud streaked his clothing, the small braids that held
his long hair back from his face were in the process of unraveling,
and there was a shallow cut across one cheek.
Elrond took in his appearance with raised eyebrows. “I thought you
were meant to inspect them, Glori, not go out and train with them.”
“I do that too,” Glorfindel told him with a happy smile. “It works
better if they see I’m actively involved, not just sitting in an
office giving orders. Right, Gil?”
Gil-galad, who would have gone off after stray Orcs and wild men in
a flash if his Council could be persuaded to agree to it, grunted.
Apparently the High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth was too
valuable a personage to risk in border skirmishes, a fact that was a
source of regular irritation to him.
“Know anyone who might want to look after a dog?” he asked, changing
the subject firmly.
Glorfindel frowned, his eyes going to Laslech. “I thought that was
“Was. Aravilui’s son picked the last possible minute to pull out.
The whole family’s unreliable.” As he spoke he recalled the small
parcel he had unobtrusively been carrying in one hand, which he now
shoved towards Elrond with a quick, charming smile. “Here, almost
forgot. See how you like it.”
“Probably thinks all will be forgiven once you’ve married his
sister,” Glorfindel muttered with unaccustomed sharpness. Elrond
shot him a startled glance, but returned to unwrapping the gift when
Gil-galad merely snorted and dealt the warrior a half-hearted shove.
“Gondolin wit - no place for it at this court. We’re plain, simple
The declaration earned him a hoot of derision from the former
inhabitant of that fabled city, interrupted by a low, wordless
exclamation from Elrond as the last of the wrapping fell away,
revealing a flat pewter flask, elegantly shaped and decorated with
intricate scrollwork. A shake determined it to be full, a twist of
the stopper and a sniff were followed by a fit of coughing.
“For emergencies only,” Gil-galad said dryly, grinning.
Glorfindel looked from him to Elrond and the flask, then back. “What
is in there?” he demanded.
“I don’t - I don’t know what it is, but it could - could strip
paint,” Elrond told the warrior between coughs, vehemently sincere.
Gil looked offended. “I’ll have you know that’s best quality miruvor,”
he declared. “The Hooded Owl’s finest.”
“Ah,” Elrond and Glorfindel responded in unison. The establishment
had a reputation known even to Glorfindel, who seldom touched
anything more than wine with dinner or an infrequent mug of beer.
The King received a keg of that beverage from Forlond at the
beginning of each month and seemed convinced that Glorfindel enjoyed
it almost as much as he did.
“It should help keep off the chill,” Glorfindel said after a
moment’s thought, eying the flask. “Life outdoors can be rough - I
took my turn at watch often enough above Gondolin in the depths of
“Glorfindel, he will be with people accustomed to living outdoors
the year round,” Gil-galad said, trying to sound patient and being a
little too obvious about it. “Not alone in the wild somewhere.”
“Thank you, Sire, it’s a beautiful flask,” Elrond cut in, turning
the subject with more discretion than was his wont. He realised that
his cousin and Glorfindel must argue at times, but the evidence
unsettled him. Glorfindel’s eyebrow twitched slightly, but he took
the hint, turning his attention to Laslech who was lying close
enough for him to reach over and gently tug one of her silky ears.
“So, what are you going to do with this girl?”
Elrond frowned. “I’ll have to ask someone at the stables - depends
who’s there when I get my horse, and...”
“Horse?” Gil-galad interjected. “Where did you get that idea? The
Companies keep few horses, if any. You’ll be on foot while you’re
Elrond stared at him, for once speechless. The fact was so obvious
that it had somehow managed to escape him. When he had gone with
Erestor to watch Elros sail, they had left their horses at the
meeting point with their escort of warriors and walked the final
distance to Forlond with the members of the brunette's former
Company. In fact, Erestor had even mentioned that the use of a horse
during one mission had been an unusual advantage
As though reading his thoughts, Gil-galad added, “Did your friend
Erestor ever mention keeping a horse in his time with them?”
Erestor was a sore topic. Elrond strongly suspected that he had been
sent to investigate the current spate of thefts and petty
misdemeanours plaguing the army purely as an attempt on Gil-galad’s
part to separate them. No amount of reassurance from Glorfindel
would convince him that the decision had not strictly been Gil’s,
and that this was an obvious deployment for someone who had formerly
gathered intelligence for Gildor Inglorion. Lacking proof, the
matter had lain unresolved within him, a tiny festering ember of
Now, unwilling to discuss Erestor with someone who patently had so
little appreciation for his qualities, Elrond shrugged and turned
away. The first thing to catch his eye was the pack lying near the
door and he froze, visions of carrying it day after day flashing
before his eyes. “I should take a few things out of there… it’s
heavy. I didn’t realise…”
“Two changes of clothing, warm cloak, extra boots, underwear,” Gil-galad
listed. “You don’t need much more than that. Blunt knives and court
fashion - you’re not aiming for a good first impression.”
Elrond flashed him a scathing glance from under dark lashes. “I hope
I know better than that,” he retorted. “Sensible clothes, no party
robes. And I still think that knife looks all right…”
Glorfindel glanced at him with a warrior’s automatic concern. “Blunt
Elrond had no chance to reply. Laslech, who had been enjoying the
blonde’s attention, rose abruptly and looked about intently. The
birds had fallen quiet, and the air was filled with the soft roar of
the ocean. A sprinkling of stars shone in the darkest portion of a
sky that shaded from palest amethyst through to indigo. The Time of
the Elves the Secondborn called it, or so Elros had once told Gil-galad.
Moments later a figure came into view between trees that stood stark
and dark against the fading light. The dog moved closer to the
Half-elf, awaiting instructions.
“Quiet girl, all’s well.” He rested a hand on her neck, and she
subsided at once. Elrond had spent months training her to do this,
and was proud of the result; she obeyed when he told her someone
could be trusted, but still kept careful watch in case he had been
mistaken in his judgement.
The newcomer was an Elf of indeterminate age, tall with pale, silky
hair and clad in the sensible, nondescript clothing favoured by the
Wanderers. Gil-galad rose to his feet with a polite nod and stepped
back. Close beside him, Glorfindel murmured, “I thought Gildor would
come himself. I’ve not seen him since Tirion.”
Gil shook his head. “No, it’s better this way. Avoids setting him
apart even more than his birth and rank do already.”
The Elf inclined his head courteously to the High King before
turning his attention to the youngling who matched the description
he had been given. “Elrond Eärendilion? My name is Meduivîr, I was
sent to guide you. Are you ready to leave? ”
Elrond offered a quick bow in return. “I’m ready. If I can have a
moment to greet my cousin…?”
Meduivîr nodded, a brief inclination of the head. “Quickly, if you
will,” he replied. “We need to take the ferry as far as Mithlond and
it sails on the turn of the tide.”
Elrond stowed the flask in his pack, retrieved the unsatisfactory
knife, then turned to face Gil-galad. They studied one another for a
minute, then the King’s lips twitched into a smile. “It’s only half
a year,” he pointed out. “Barely any time at all. Go, take all you
can from the experience. Make sure you give equally of yourself in
Elrond nodded, suddenly very unsure now that the time had arrived.
Gil-galad rested a hand firmly on his shoulder and said quietly,
“Honour the house training Maglor gave you and always remember who
you are, Gil-ion, son of a star. Send me word where you can.”
Elrond, his resentment temporarily forgotten, was horrified to
discover a lump in his throat and a suspicious wetness afflicting
his eyes. He blinked quickly and cleared his throat. “Thank you,
Sire, I’ll do that.”
“You’re probably old enough to call me Ereinion,” Gil-galad pointed
out gruffly, giving the Half-elf’s shoulder a light shake.
Elrond tried a smile. “I need to feel my way into that,” he
admitted. His expression became earnest. “Laslech - can you find
someone to look after her? Please? I should never have trusted
Bainon but he really seemed to like her and…”
“I’ll look after her.” Glorfindel had been leaning against the wall
beside the window, trying to be unobtrusive. “You can’t just vanish
and let a stranger take her in, and she’s known me since she was a
Elrond turned to him, his face lighting with gratitude. “You really
Despite having spoken without thought, Glorfindel proffered a sunny
smile and shook his head. “No problem,” he declared. ”I’ll see to
“Aren’t you going over to Harlond to inspect the garrison next month
…?” Gil-galad asked, slightly taken aback.
Glorfindel silenced him with a look. “We’ll manage fine,” he told
Elrond firmly. “Even if I end up taking her with me.” He was about
to say more, but found himself enveloped in an unexpected hug.
“Thank you,” Elrond breathed in his ear. “She would have hated
living with the grooms.” He hurriedly released Glorfindel from the
unaccustomed embrace as the lump in his throat showed signs of
returning. “Um… her blanket and bowl are by the door, she eats twice
a day - Meluieth in the kitchens knows what and how much/ And…”
“And she’s used to a walk in the evenings, yes I know,” Glorfindel
smiled. “Go. You have nothing to worry about. She and I will find
As he spoke he unfastened the sheathed knife he habitually wore
alongside his sword. It had been a gift from his cousin Galadriel,
which meant it was of the finest workmanship available in Lindon:
the hilt of polished bone was ridged and ornamented to offer a firm
grip, the blade honed to razor sharpness. The leather sheath was
worked with a design of flowers tinted a light but unmistakable
“Here,” he said. “Take this. Blunt knives - what will they think of
us city dwellers?” When Elrond stared in confusion at the proffered
gift, Glorfindel stepped forward and attached the sheath to the
Half-elf’s belt, buckling the strap firmly through the empty slot
next to the short, business-like sword he wore.
Meduivîr moved restlessly, unwilling to intrude on the farewells but
aware that the ferry might soon leave without them. The movement
caught Glorfindel’s eye, and he nodded briskly. “You need to go,” he
told Elrond. “Take care, try and stay out of trouble. And look after
Elrond still looked troubled. “Erestor…” he began, not sure what to
say or how to say it.
“I’ll let him know where you are and for how long,” Gil-galad
assured him. “He requested further instructions; I’ll add a personal
note. Now go, you’ll miss the ferry.”
Elrond settled the pack on his back and bent to give Laslech’s head
a quick rub. “You take care of Glori,” he told her softly. “Be a
good girl. I’ll be home soon.”
Meduivîr turned to retrace his steps to the path that would take
them around the palace and eventually to the cliff stairs above the
harbour, but Elrond, his voice steady, all emotion firmly locked
back down, said, “We can take a shortcut past the stables. It’s
quicker.” To Laslech who had moved automatically to follow him, he
spoke sternly, pointing towards Glorfindel. “You stay with Glori,
girl. Sit now. Stay.”
Ignoring the small whine of protest, he squared his shoulders,
adjusted the pack again, and moved swiftly into the shadow under the
trees in pursuit of Meduivîr and the unknown future that awaited
him. Within moments the remaining two Elves and the dog found
themselves alone in the evening stillness.
For a few minutes they stood watching the empty space beneath the
trees, then Glorfindel shook himself firmly. “Come on girl,” he said
to the dog, bending to give her a reassuring pat. “Let’s go find
your things. Then we can take a look at your new home.”
It was a long night
for the King. An eight course dinner interspersed with speeches was
followed by a performance celebrating in music and dance the many
ties between Lórien and Lindon. This was followed by an informal
meeting with three of his Councillors, which meant it was far into
the night before Gil-galad finally escaped to his rooms.
His first stop was the bathroom where he divested himself of his
heavy, formal robes and washed what he deemed the more essential
parts of his anatomy. Refreshed, he pulled on an ancient pair of
sleep pants that lay neatly folded on the small bench beside the
bath and went through to his bedroom, grunting a tired greeting to
Glorfindel who was, unexpectedly, still awake.
Sitting on the stool before the dresser, he set about unfastening
braids and knots preparatory to attacking his unruly hair with
forceful brushstrokes. “You didn’t miss much,” he observed finally
when the blonde warrior remained silent. “The food was the usual and
the music - bit like a cat’s chorus, though it seemed to go over
Gil-galad had strong opinions about music, with clearly defined
likes and dislikes. He enjoyed good tunes with clear lyrics, not the
type of fluty wailing favoured in the South.
Glorfindel nodded, unsurprised. “I ate in my office. The leftovers
are better - you get it all on one plate instead of course after
course. It’s… interesting.”
He was twisting a lock of hair around a finger as he spoke, winding
it and then letting it slide loose, his habit when uneasy. Before
the King could ask what was wrong, a soft sound from the corner near
the window finally penetrated his consciousness and he squinted into
the gloom beside the chair. A blanket had been laid on the floor and
upon the blanket sat a very satisfied looking dog.
The hand holding the brush slowed, paused, then resumed its task.
After a moment Gil-galad asked in a carefully measured voice,
“Explain to me in small, simple words - why is she in here?”
He had always been fond of Elrond’s pet, of course, but there was a
place for everything...
Blue eyes studied him from under dark gold lashes. “Well, this is
her first night without Elrond, so I thought she should be with
people she knew. I could hardly leave her shut in somewhere alone in
the dark. Could I?” The speed and fluidity of the explanation
suggested a carefully rehearsed speech.
As Gil-galad’s expression started to set in stubborn lines,
Glorfindel straightened up, pushed back the shining hair that fell
around his shoulders and chest. “If you really don’t want her here,
I can take her to my rooms,” he offered. “I can sleep over there
instead… Not how I planned the night, but there is no other way out
that I can see or think of."
Glorfindel had a spacious and extremely comfortable apartment on the
opposite side of the private wing, with his own bathing facilities
and a sweeping view of the ocean. They had fallen into a casual
arrangement based around the King’s schedule, whereby Glorfindel
spent perhaps half his nights in the royal suite and the rest alone.
Their time together was precious to the warrior, his suggestion less
serious than placating.
Gil-galad glared at Laslech disapprovingly. She sat up even
straighter in response to the attention, her tongue hanging out of
her mouth and her tail wagging happily. She knew a pack leader when
she saw one and had adored the King since puppyhood. He finally
rolled his eyes ceilingward and sighed gustily. “I imagined you’d
find someone to look after her, not do it yourself, Glaur.”
“Why would I do that?” Glorfindel asked, genuinely puzzled. “You
were there - I told Elrond I would take care of her.”
“You said you would see to her. Not the same thing at all.”
“He knew what I meant,” Glorfindel insisted, his slightly raised
chin an indication that he was about to get stubborn.
Elrond would have had no doubts at all as to what ‘Glori’ had meant,
Gil-galad thought a touch sourly. Not that he was jealous of their
friendship, of course. That time was long past. Aloud he asked
almost mildly, “And I assume there’s some reason she can’t sleep in
the sitting room?”
Glorfindel’s brow furrowed slightly. “She’s not used to that, Gil.
And she’ll be no trouble. She always sleeps in Elrond’s bedroom, she
knows to stay on her blanket and not be a bother.”
Gil-galad was not well acquainted with Elrond’s love interest, but
he had seen enough of Erestor to suspect Laslech would have learned
her place fast had she attempted to overstep the bounds. If those
intimidatingly cool brown eyes were anything to judge by, the same
might well apply to Elrond himself. “I suppose Erestor has her
trained, yes,” he conceded, thinking aloud.
Glorfindel frowned and shook his head, taking the comment seriously.
“Elrond has never mentioned her trying to get on the bed or anything
like that. And Erestor had nothing to do with her training. Anyhow,
he’s away most of the time”
This was no more than the truth and owed nothing to happenstance.
Glorfindel claimed to like the vastly attractive former Wanderer,
but went to considerable effort to keep him and Elrond apart. The
lessons of court life in Gondolin had been well-learned; he would
say nothing to Elrond without proof, but the blonde warrior
harboured deep suspicions regarding Erestor's interest in the
Privately, Gil-galad disagreed. He thought Elrond the least gullible
soul he had ever met, unlikely to be fooled for long by even the
most carefully concealed ambition. It was his experience that
putting obstacles in his cousin’s path only made him more
determined, therefore he refused to pronounce an opinion either for
or against Erestor. Despite this, he suspected that Elrond held him
rather than Glorfindel responsible for the dark haired Elf’s regular
absences. Friendship, rather like love, could be blind, Gil-galad
reflected. Glorfindel and Elrond saw one another as all but
Dismissing concerns about exclusive friendships and dubious love
affairs, he set aside the brush, shaking his head vigourously so
that the hair lifted and fell heavily about him as he strode to the
bed. Throwing himself onto the mattress, he caught Glorfindel about
the waist, pulling the blonde down beside him with a chuckle at his
startled yelp. “So... besides becoming Laslech’s foster parent, what
else can you tell me about your day?”
Glorfindel pulled free, scrabbling to turn and lean up over him,
smiling the smile that Gil loved, the one that started in his eyes
long before it finally reached his lips. “My day? Oh, I went along
with one of the new units. We hiked down the coast as far as
Gaernaith. Light armour, no rations. I need to do this kind of thing
“You enjoyed yourself, yes. I can see that.” Gil-galad ran a finger
along the now clean scratch. “And this?”
“Brambles. But the berries were good.”
“And tonight while you sat through dinner, I wrote up my notes on
the exercise. I have a meeting with the captains tomorrow - we need
to discuss a few things. Then I got Laslech her dinner and took her
for a walk. I had a good day all round.”
Gil-galad, whose day by contrast had been long and irritating,
rested a hand behind Glorfindel’s head and drew him down for a kiss.
They were quiet for a few minutes, tasting one another after time
apart. Glorfindel, however, had not yet finished talking. Drawing
back a little, his hair falling softly around Gil-galad, he asked,
“Are you sure he’ll be all right? They say this will be a hard
No question as to whom the ‘he’ referred to was. “Elrond lived
through harsher winters in Maglor’s care,” Gil-galad said firmly.
“We discussed this before. The first few days might take a bit of an
adjustment, but after that he’ll be fine. He wants to do this, Glaur,”
he added more gently. “And he needs focus. It’ll be good for him.”
The blonde looked unimpressed. “He wants to do it because that used
to be Erestor's life, and that makes it seem glamourous to him.”
Gil-galad gave a brief laugh and shrugged, trying for a kiss and
grazing the edge of Glorfindel’s jaw instead. ”Well, whatever the
reason - it’s good experience. Teach him independence and a bit of
“He’s already independent.”
“No he’s not. He’s impulsive and likes his own way… a very different
thing.” The King had an edge to his voice. “I should know, I’m the
one who ends up pacifying people now that Elros is no longer here to
rein him in.”
Glorfindel opened his mouth to retort but thought better of it,
swallowing down the beginnings of an argument that had the potential
to take up the better part of the night. Instead he reached to tug
at the bed covers, shuffling back and under them. “Come on, let’s
get into bed. It’s cold.”
In truth it was no more than cool, but the survivors of the
Helcaraxë held in common a dislike for the cold. In winter Gil-galad
had seen his formidable aunt Galadriel hooded and swathed from neck
to ankle after the fashion of the Secondborn. Smiling to himself at
the image he joined the warrior, burrowing under the covers beside
The next few minutes were given over to organising pillows, sharing
coverlets and generally getting settled. Finally, lying on his side
to face Gil-galad, Glorfindel smiled and reached out to touch his
lover’s cheek. “You forgot the lamps. One of us will have to get up
later and see to them.”
“In a minute.” Gil slid a hand along Glorfindel’s arm and down to
his waist. Lips met, brushed, returned, parted. The kiss deepened.
For a while the only sounds in the room were those of soft breathing
mingled with the murmur of the ocean drifting in through the open
window. They drew closer, their bodies adjusting to one another;
Gil-galad insinuated his arm under Glorfindel and around his
shoulders, drawing him near. Time passed, then the small movements
slowed and stopped and the timbre of their breathing altered.
Finally, unable to contain himself any longer, Glorfindel uttered a
sound suspiciously resembling a giggle.
Gil-galad moved away from him. With a single, convulsive motion he
jerked an arm free of the bedcovers and leaned up to look along the
bed. In the centre and about half way down a dark shape lay dead
still, eyes closed.
“What the hell is this?” Gil-galad began, trying to sound angry but
unable to keep a tremor of laughter out of his voice. He gave the
shape a hard shove with his foot. “Hey. Off there. What do you think
Laslech recognised the undertone of laughter and sat up,
enthusiastically wagging her tail. Spotting Glorfindel who lay
shaking with suppressed laughter, she rose and made her unsteady way
up the bed. Flopping down with a contented sigh between the two
stunned Elves, she tried to lick his face. Fending her off,
Glorfindel finally managed to get his voice under sufficient control
to choke out, “Hello girl, I think you’ve got this a bit wrong. You
sleep over there - on the floor.”
“This is simply not going to work out, sweetheart,” Gil told him
with a frown. “Not at all. Shut up now, stop laughing,” he added,
trying to keep his tone severe. “Get her off here. Don’t fuss over
her - she won’t go back to her blanket if she thinks she’s welcome
“She’s not going back,” Glorfindel said in a sure if rather shaky
voice. “She’s lonely. She wants company.”
Gil-galad refused to dignify this with a response. Instead he got
out of bed and, taking Laslech firmly by the collar, escorted her
onto the floor, across the room and over to her corner. “There,” he
said loudly. “Blanket - your place. Bed - my place.”
After delivering a warning glare he went around the room, dousing
lamps and closing the window against the chill air. Returning to bed
he got back under the covers and reached for Glorfindel who moved
back into his arms, still laughing. Gil-galad growled and gave a
long lock of golden hair a warning tug.
“And as for you - if you don’t stop that, you can go sleep over
there with your girlfriend.”
He cupped his companion’s cheek with a hand and leaned closer, but
Glorfindel shook his head and pulled away.
“I’m not kissing you…”
“She’s watching us.”
Gil-galad’s expression became grim and he stated to sit up. “I’ll
soon see about that…”
“No, no, come back down here. It’s all right, she’ll go to sleep
soon. Just - wait a while longer till she’s asleep…”
“This is ridiculous!”
Glorfindel smiled and tightened his hold on Gil’s shoulder, drawing
him back down to the bed. Soft, teasing kisses to the side of his
neck served to distract Gil-galad from his intention of removing the
offending animal to the sitting room.
“Maybe if we’re very, very quiet…” the warrior whispered, his voice
once more shaking with mirth.
“Very quiet,” the King muttered, slightly mollified by the
“Like mice?” Glorfindel persisted, moving lower so that the kisses
followed the line of Gil-galad’s collarbone.
“Big mice, yes.”
Glorfindel’s weapon-hardened hand slid down unexpectedly and
grasped. “Ah - there’s a big mouse. Just - there….”
Gil-galad jumped, startled. “Gods! What happened to foreplay?”
“Foreplay?” the blonde asked on a gust of laughter. “I think
foreplay belongs back in the days before we adopted a dog. The word
for tonight is speed, my friend. Speed and stealth.”
“…absolutely no finesse.”
Glorfindel sat up grinning, his hair falling about him like a
rippling cloak, and punched Gil-galad’s arm. “Oh come on. I thought
everyone secretly wanted a lover who would roll over onto his hands
and knees, push his bottom up in the air and say ‘Climb on, let’s
Stunned silence was followed by a snort of laughter. “That has
merit,” Gil-galad admitted. “We can try that. Might be something to
this pet-keeping business after all. Climb on, you say?”
The words, a signal since puppyhood, reached Laslech who was dozing
obediently on her blanket. Springing cheerfully to her feet, she
trotted over to the bed and jumped up, running straight into
Glorfindel crouched on knees and elbows. The warrior over-balanced
and fell onto his side where he lay howling with laughter while
Laslech stood over him, licking his face in delight.
Gil-galad, his ardour cooled, sat with his arms clasped loosely
about his knees and gazed past the activity on the bed beside him.
“All right, Laslech, you win,” he said finally with a long sigh. “I
give up.“ Giving Glorfindel an abrupt slap on the rump, he got off
the bed. “Right, you. Come along with me.”
Glorfindel looked blank.
“We’re not about to get any peace here,” Gil-galad said firmly.
“This is Elrond’s dog to the last hair - no point in arguing with
her. That business about climbing on and getting on with things? Not
happening here. We need a closed door between us and her.”
“No, Gil, not a chance. I am not having sex on the bathroom floor,”
Glorfindel exclaimed, outraged.
“I have news for you - yes, you are. You’re a warrior. Commander of
the King’s forces, no less. You’ll survive. Look at it as an
extension of today’s exercise - living rough.” He grabbed hold of
Glorfindel’s wrist and tugged determinedly. “Come on, let’s go.
Before I finally run out of patience and send you both down to sleep
in the kitchens.”
The door closed
behind the still-arguing Elves. After some initial puzzlement,
Laslech lay down on the bed and stretched out contentedly. They
seemed happy enough and she knew they would come back eventually,
she could smell that this was their Place. She missed her own Elf,
of course, but she knew he would come back in due course. He went
away sometimes for whole days, but he always returned. Until then,
she had food, good friends, and a lovely bed.
There was little more that a dog could want.
Strange sounds emanated from the other room, but in their way these,
too, were comforting. They reminded her of her Elf and the Other
One. They made those same sounds quite often, too. On such nights,
she was expected to sleep in the hallway outside the bathroom. This
was far better. Closing her eyes, Laslech settled contentedly
amongst the covers and drifted off to sleep.