Tiny Bubbles

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'Tiny Bubbles'

 

Tiny Bubbles

 

The road home from Fornost could easily have bypassed Bree, which was officially off limits to Elrond’s people. Elves travelled at ease under the stars, and night’s darkness meant they would be less likely to draw unwelcome attention. But the weather was cold, the horses tired, and the proximity of the town’s gate had sparked Erestor’s habitual curiosity. This was how they came to be sitting in the main room of a cosy inn, and how Erestor came to be facing his very first ever mug of beer.

He sniffed, then looked uncertainly over the top of the tall tankard, wrinkling his nose. “It smells like – bread?”

Glorfindel nodded. “They use yeast to ferment it,” he explained. “But it doesn’t taste the least bit like bread. Come on, try it. You wanted to know about life in Bree, and in Bree they drink beer.”

The Inn was noisily preparing for the dinner hour. The fire had been stoked up in the big hearth, and orders were being placed for simple fare like liver and onions, sausage and mash. Men fresh from work and a few couples had settled at tables or on stools at the counter separating the main room from the kitchen, and in one corner a group of unusually short, jovial people were loudly enjoying their ale. Erestor had never been in such a place before and was privately relieved that, although the bench and sturdy wooden table they shared were old and worn, everything was clean and the floor freshly swept.

Not wanting more attention than would be normal to strangers, Glorfindel sat with his cloak drawn up to hide his gleaming golden hair. Erestor, who could never get enough of covertly watching the reborn elf, thought it made him look shadowy and intriguing. Right now though, he had other priorities.

“It has – what is this on top?”

Glorfindel was already halfway down his first pint. He leaned an elbow on the table and turned to face Erestor. “Foam, which proves it hasn’t been standing for hours. When you drink, the beer will slide up from under the foam. Go on.”

Erestor tested the foam with the tip of his tongue, frowning. It was airy, almost tasteless, and dissolved when touched. He wiggled in his seat, but finally took a sip, swirling it in his mouth before swallowing. He pulled a face. “Bitter,” he said. “Sort of – earthy and bitter but – rich. And – there are bubbles?”

Glorfindel smiled, apparently delighted. “That’s exactly it, yes. Earthy and rich, full. Nothing like wine.”

“Except for the bubbles.” Erestor gave him a suspicious look. “This isn’t like that wine from the south, is it? The fizzy one that goes straight to the head and makes some people do strange things?”

“No one we know, of course,” Glorfindel said blandly, pretending not to remember last year’s winter solstice and Erestor regaling the company with Second Age drinking songs containing language unsuited to Elrond’s senior councillor. “No, this is far milder. You just get a pleasant buzz.”

Erestor frowned at him. “All right. If you say so.” He took another careful mouthful. “I suppose I could get used to this,” he admitted. Glorfindel had been very kind at the solstice party, had helped him to his room, held back his hair while he was sick into a bowl, tucked him into bed, and brought him a light breakfast the next day. He had, in fact, been such a good friend Erestor had wondered how many similar nights he had spent in his previous life to make him so empathetic. It had also been the deciding factor in turning an attraction on Erestor’s part into a full-blown crush, something he had gone to great pains to hide from everyone.

~*~*~*~*~


“So how did you know about this place anyhow? We’re meant to stay out of Bree since – the incident.”

It was several pints later, and the room had taken on a hazy warm glow for Erestor. The hum of voices felt friendly and convivial, and the table now seemed quaint and rustic rather than old. A few curious glances had been cast their way, but no one bothered them. Glorfindel, who never ate meat, had ordered vegetable soup which had seemed the safest choice to Erestor as well. It arrived in large bowls with nasturtiums painted on the side, and was unexpectedly thick, flavoursome and filling.

“I was curious?” Glorfindel helped himself to another piece of crusty bread from the wooden platter and dipped it into his soup. “I kept hearing about Bree, and I wanted to take a look. That was before Garafon and Arasien had their little adventure and Elrond instructed that all scouting patrols were to stay away. I’d already been here a few times before that happened. I think as long as we avoid attention it shouldn’t be a problem? We’re not scouts.”

“Even less problem if we don’t say anything when we get back,” Erestor suggested with a grin, trying to catch the eye of their waitress. “You like new places, don’t you? That’s why you were out exploring Forlond while I was suffering through all those unproductive meetings with the king. More beer?”

~*~*~*~*~

 

“It’s in the bubbles. Just like the wine. I didn’t drink that much.”

“Yes, I know. Come on, only five more steps and we’re there.”

“Glorfindel, are you implying I’m drunk?”

“Who, you? Drunk? Never!” The laugh sounded low, intimate, close to his ear. Glorfindel’s arm tightened about him, warm breath stirred his hair and sent a shiver across his skin. Heat lazily expanded and pulsed in the pit of his stomach, and somehow it all seemed very good indeed.

They were on the last leg of the journey to their room, after a detour to the inn’s outdoor privy. This was a clean, pine scented building with a tiled water channel and three stalls with half doors, each bearing a cartoon woodcut of flamingoes in various unlikely poses. For some reason these had sent Erestor into fits of laughter from which he had not quite recovered. The return had involved finding their way down what felt like a maze of passages, with Glorfindel’s arm around Erestor’s shoulders to steer him in the right direction and hurry him through pauses to examine pictures, carvings, a vase of flowers, talk to a cat…

The door opened onto a small room in which a lamp burned cheerfully. Floral curtains were closed against the night, their bags were stored next to the room’s only chair, and the covers of the two ample beds had been turned down invitingly.

“Purple?” Erestor asked on another giggle. “They’re purple. Not sure this is my colour. What do you think?”

He more or less fell onto one of the beds and lay, arms outspread, laughing up at Glorfindel, who had closed and latched the door and was now standing looking down at him, a smile on his face though his eyes were serious and intent. “I think that might indeed be your colour,” he said, nodding slowly. “Midnight hair, creamy skin, displayed on purple. Yes.”

He sat on the edge of the bed, lifted one of Erestor’s feet onto his thigh and slowly began taking off his boot. Erestor half sat up, but the room whirled unsettlingly so he lay back and watched. Laughter slowly faded. One boot was removed, then the other, and Glorfindel began to massage his feet with big, competent hands. It made Erestor feel restless, tight-strung, warm in all the right places. Glorfindel sat watching his hands on Erestor’s feet, and when he finally looked up, his face was serious. Their eyes met, held. Erestor felt as though the air had emptied out of the room. Everything was suddenly very still, the moment hung isolated in time.

They had been friends almost as long as Glorfindel had lived in Imladris - nigh on two hundred years now. They teased, shared, confided, but Erestor had always kept his growing feelings to himself, fearing to ruin the gift of this wonderful elf’s friendship. Now he felt, in some vague, wordless way, that this had been waiting for them from the day they first met.

Glorfindel raised an eyebrow very slightly. Erestor paused, not unsure, just wanting to hold onto the moment a little longer. Then he nodded.

Efficient fingers saw to fastenings, then hooked under the waistband of his pants and tugged. Still lying on his back, Erestor lifted his bottom, his eyes on Glorfindel’s grave, beautiful face. The pants were dropped to the floor, then strong hands slid under his shirt and up over his ribs, firm, warm. Fingertips grazed his nipples, tweaked them sharply. His head tipped back, his lips parted, he heard himself groan.

Movement on the bed, then Glorfindel was kneeling above him, long golden hair falling about them, draping across the purple bedspread. “Your colour,” Erestor muttered, not quite coherent. “Purple. Purple and gold.”

Glorfindel laughed, the same thrilling laugh as on the stairs, and leant down to kiss him. Lost in the sound of his own heartbeat, Erestor reached up to slide his arms around Glorfindel’s neck and just held on. No words. No need for explanations, discussion. The time for talking was past. The kiss ended, leaving them both breathless, and Glorfindel moved down his body, pushing aside cloth, his lips hot, demanding. His hands grasped Erestor’s waist, his head moved lower. His lips caressed aching hardness, and then without warning parted, surrounding his prick with wet, velvet warmth.

Erestor yelped, his fingers clawing broad shoulders. He tried to push upward, deeper, but the steady hands at his waist held him still. All he could do was toss his head from side to side, breath hissing through his clenched teeth. Glorfindel’s mouth left him eventually, and he growled, tried to drag him back, but his hands were firmly pushed aside. Glorfindel left the bed, returning moments later in a series of quick, fluid movements. Oil, salve, something of the like, Erestor realised blurrily. Moments later, leather trousers down around his knees, Glorfindel placed a hand on Erestor’s hip, pushing urgently. “Over, come on!”

He obeyed, drawing his knees up under him. Strong hands grasped his thighs, and he was lifted, spread, felt slick bluntness press firmly up against him, into him. For a moment life was a perfect balance between aching desire and sharp, burning pain, then Glorfindel was inside him, deep within, filling him, eliciting sensations unlike anything he had ever known before. Erestor pushed back instinctively and they began moving together, slowly at first, and then faster, lost in a place where nothing existed but searing heat and harsh, ragged breath. And then, finally, a grasping hand brought explosive relief that slid shuddering down into a deep, dreamless sleep.
 

~*~*~*~*~
 

“Are you all right? Are… are we all right?”

Erestor turned a sleepy head and blinked a greeting at Glorfindel, who had left the bed so quietly he had not heard a sound. He had wrapped his cloak about him like a robe and was no doubt naked beneath it. He sat on the edge of the small window seat and placed a cautious hand on Erestor’s back.

“Good morning.” Erestor turned his attention back to the view, but after a moment relented and leaned in against Glorfindel, who draped an arm around him, clearly relived. Erestor ached in two places, head and backside, and had half a mind to inflict a little torture of his own, but the morning was too bright and new and the night still too fresh for that.

“What are you looking at?”

“Over there. Bunnies washing in the morning dew. Like something out of a children’s tale.” Erestor pointed at the small family, a grey adult and three kits, and flashed a smile that was slightly tentative. Bunnies in the mist were fluffy and sentimental, somewhat at odds with his reputation for clear-headed practicality. Glorfindel seemed unaware of this, because his arm tightened and he dropped a light kiss on Erestor’s temple.

“They’re greeting the sun. Hangover?”

“A bit. You?”

A laugh. “I’m all right. In fact, I’ve never felt better.”

“Hmph.”

They sat quietly watching the rabbits till they hopped off at the approach of a cart drawn by a bored-looking horse. “Don’t think he’s too keen on mornings either,” Glorfindel hazarded, and Erestor grinned, a flash of perfect teeth. “Um… about last night…”

“You’re going to apologise?” Erestor looked up at him sharply, keeping his face expressionless. Warm blue eyes met his searchingly, then Glorfindel shook his head, hair shifting and catching the light like molten gold. “No. no apologies. I wanted you from the day I met you, but I was too well-trained in Aman and then Gondolin to let it show. This would have been forbidden back then, you know? Times are – very different now.”

He placed a hand to Erestor’s cheek. “I think you had a lot to drink last night, but you weren’t drunk. And we both knew what we wanted. This morning I woke happy, for the first time since… for a long time. And – I don’t want this to stop at one night, but I have no idea what you’re thinking, how you feel….” He finished in a rush of words, his expression earnest.

Erestor surprised them both by giggling, which had not seemed a habit of his before the previous night. “Why do you think I was up before you? I was scared you were going to wake up, say hello, and then act like it had been – not very important…” He stopped, and they sat looking at each other, slow smiles dawning. Glorfindel looked a little dazed, but his touch was firm and strong and Erestor felt as though he had come home. He reached up and kissed the blonde’s cheek softly. “Not just one night. Our first night. If that’s what you want. Only – one favour?”

Glorfindel, who had been about to kiss him, drew back. “Of course. Just name it.”

“No more drinks with bubbles,” Erestor said firmly. “Not the way my head feels the next day. Or at least not more than one cup. In fact, the way I feel right now, I might even switch to grape juice – of the unfermented variety.”

~*~*~*~*~

Finis

~*~*~*~*~

Beta: Red Lasbelin

AN: For Zhie in the Midwinter drabble swap.