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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
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?”
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
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
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
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
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.
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.”
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.”
Beta: Red Lasbelin
AN: For Zhie in the
Midwinter drabble swap.