zhie: (Cowboy)
[personal profile] zhie
It's not a unicorn. It does exist.

It only took three years to finish this chapter.

Here's hoping it won't take the full ten years to finish the story.

This has not been edited, but I figured, everyone has waited long enough for this. The edited version will be posted on the archives.

Even with horses to take them back to the tower, it was a struggle to climb the tower that seemed to take forever. Eight flights up, and Glorfindel caught Rog’s pitying look when Glorfindel was so out of breath he could not even explain why he needed a rest. Upon finally returning to the apartment, Glorfindel sank down in the nearest chair a moment before he realized that it was previously occupied by Ecthelion.

“Sorry, dear, they left,” apologized Meleth as she set a plate of food before him. She had already served her husband, but moved back around to drop a napkin across his lap. “Ecthelion said that he would call on you tomorrow, Glorfindel.”

“We put the children to bed already,” explained Erestor as he assisted Meleth by pouring the wine and fetching water. “Aranel and Tauniel are freshening up. I thought, after dinner, the four of us could play a game or something. A nice quiet evening at home.”

Glorfindel looked to Meleth, obviously not wanting to leave anyone out. Meleth came around and patted his shoulder as she placed a basket of bread on the table. “I have a date.” She looked across the table and Rog gave her a smile.

“Everything seems quite well here,” remarked Rog as he reached for a slice from the basket and tore it in half. “Are there any objections if I abduct my wife for the evening?”

“Take a few days,” suggested Aranel as she entered the room. She was wearing a pale blue gown with a silver beaded belt at her waist. A little powder and rouge made her appear livelier than she had in some time, and she stopped beside her father to lean down and give him a hug. “None of us has anything particularly pressing to attend to. I am sure we will be alright for a while.”

“Of course you will.” Rog turned his head to kiss his daughter’s cheek. He leaned in just a little more and whispered something to her as he looked across the table at Glorfindel. Aranel also looked at Glorfindel as she straightened up again. She nodded to her father, kissed the top of his head, and walked around him to kiss her mother and give her a hug as well.

Across the table, Glorfindel paused and waited until Aranel bid her parents a good night and left the suite before he spoke. “What was that about?”

“More carrots?” offered Meleth.

Glorfindel gave her a very disapproving look.

“I think I look better in this now than I did before the baby!” Tauniel turned to the side to show off the forest green gown with golden accents she had chosen. She had a multitude of matching bangles on her wrists that shifted as she moved, which had been crafted in such a way so as to sound like music rather than metal clanking together.

“You look lovely,” complimented Meleth. “Fitting for the Lady of the Golden Flower.”

Glorfindel glanced at her again and set his fork down. “Very beautiful,” he admitted as he took note of the delicate circlet of her station that she had chosen to wear. He stood and pulled a chair that was beside him out for her, and when she smiled and sat down, he leaned around to kiss her cheek.

“So Erestor,” began Rog when the conversation slowed, “what current acts of deviance are you engaging in now?”

Erestor had been sitting idly, observing the others and listening. He stretched a little now that he was regarded and said, “Nothing deviant, unless artistic pursuits have been outlawed.”

“Depends on the pursuits,” answered Rog. “There is a rumor that you are going to be at the royal playhouse next season.”

“I am,” Erestor replied, voice a bit tight.

Rog picked up his goblet and nearly drained it. “Does the King know?”

“You would need to ask Idril.”

Glorfindel frowned and stopped eating again. “Erestor, what are you and Idril up to?” he asked.

“Nothing to fuss over,” said Erestor, but the tone of his voice belied him. “Just a simple play, four acts, hardly any singing. I need to practice playing harp for it, and hair needs to get longer—“

“Is this the play about Fingon?” interrupted Tauniel excitedly. “Idril talked all about it during the sewing circles,” she added. “I think it is going to be really good, especially with you playing the lead, Erestor. Idril wants it to be a tribute to her uncle, and she has been keeping the project secret from her father. In fact, she is not only paying for the production herself, but she is also staggering the times of the shows so that her father does not know that there is another show in production, and she is holding practice in secret locations!”

“Which means that the King does not know.” Rog gave Erestor a stern look. “Do you really think this is a good idea?”

Erestor folded his hands upon the table. “It is only a play.”

“If this goes badly, I will protect my daughter and my granddaughter, but I will not be there to save your hide,” warned Rog as he scolded Erestor and pointed his knife at him.

“I will protect you,” offered Meleth. Rog grunted and dropped the knife onto the table. “He is family, you lovely, stubborn oaf. You know, that is the trouble with the two of you. Each of you always wants to be the one who is right, even when you reach a point in your heads where you might agree.”

“Most of the time, I am right,” answered Rog. “And when I am not, I tend to admit it.”

“You never admit it to Erestor.” Meleth placed a hand gently upon Rog’s shoulder. “Just imagine, now, had you gone with your plan when you came back here. Where would that have left Glorfindel?”

Glorfindel had already stopped eating, his hands folded in his lap. He felt someone’s hand on top of his, and looked up to see Tauniel gazing sadly upon him. She squeezed his hand and he smiled and leaned in to kiss her.

“A chance in a thousand,” argued Rog as he finished his meal. “Almost anyone would have agreed with my decision.”

“Oh, Rog,” answered Meleth, and she shook her head at him. “Just once—“

“It is alright.” Glorfindel put his arm around Tauniel to draw her a little closer. “If I had been in his place, and he in mine, I probably would have suggested the same.”

The room fell silent. A moment later, attention was turned to the sounds coming down the hallway outside of the suite – laughter and boisterous chatter and general merriment. The noise came closer, then stopped at the doorway with a lot of shushing and giggles.

The door slowly opened and Aranel slid around the doorway. Her cheeks were bright from walking briskly and from whatever mischief might have been afoot. “Ladies, gentlemen, your highness,” she added as she teasingly curtseyed to and addressed Erestor, “I present to you the former heir to the throne, eldest son of Feanor, noble of Valinor, his highness, Prince Maedhros.” She pushed the door open again, but the hallway was dim and it was difficult to see into the shadows.

There was a figure, tall and wearing steel armor painted black, but for an etching upon the breast of shining silver. As he stepped slowly into the room, rusty colored hair exposed where it draped down over his shoulders, Erestor interrupted the calm with a critical observation.

“It is more reddish and less orangey.”

“Oh, honestly.” The helm was removed, and Faelion shook out his recently dyed hair. “As if anyone is going to notice exactly what color it is when I am up on stage.”

“I will notice,” Erestor stated as he crossed his arms over his chest. “What are you going to do about your hand?”

“Six weeks into rehearsal and I am just about ready to send you away from saving me and roll the dice with Morgoth!” Faelion entered into the suite as Meleth motioned for everyone to hush at such a late hour. “Sorry. I forgot about the babies,” he said as Aranel shut and locked the door. Faelion strutted around the table to show off his costume. He stopped when he reached the spot behind Glorfindel and Tauniel, and draped an arm over each chair, a hand upon a shoulder of each of them. “What do you think?”

“Maitimo indeed,” commented Tauniel as she twined a lock of red hair around her finger. “I would have thought his hair was longer.”

“There will be wigs for most of the scenes. This is more for the post-torture hanging off a cliff portion of the play.” Faelion turned his head to address Glorfindel. “Think I can pull it off?”

“You actually look pretty convincing as a ginger.” Glorfindel almost kissed Faelion’s cheek, but realized the company he was in at the last moment and leaned to the side to pick up the salt as if that was his intention all along. There was nothing left on his plate, so he awkwardly took a small slice of bread and salted it. “You know who else would make a convincing ginger?” he asked, and he nodded across the table at Rog to take the focus from himself.

Rog picked up the bowl of fruit and appraised several of the apples until he was able to find one that he found acceptable. “Nice try.” He bit into the fruit, crunching over a quarter of the apple in one bite. “Is it Lady Idril’s intent to have her father see the play, or is it her intent for him not to see the play?”

“I think she intends to have him see it.” Tauniel plucked an apple from the bowl as well. Instead of biting into it, she rolled it on the table back and forth between her hands. “Why else would she go to the trouble to produce it if that was not her intent?”

“I just want to be sure you are not going to end up in the midst of someone’s personal rebellion. Lady Idril was very close to her uncle; I would wager there is something unresolved between her and her father.” Rog dropped the core onto his empty plate. “Just be careful.”

“Story of my life,” answered Erestor. He was surprised when Faelion left his seat and plopped down on his lap. “Can I... help you?”

Faelion wound a finger around a shoulder length black tress. “I was just thinking how lovely this would look with golden threads wound in it.”

“If we start doing that, the King will get suspicious. Or, in my case, it would—maybe this is a bad idea,” realized Erestor.

“Are you serious?” asked Faelion as he was gently but without question pushed off of Erestor’s lap. “Erestor, come now. You must be joking,” he added as Erestor began to pace the length of the table.

“This might not have the desired effect that Lady Idril is seeking. It could very well upset her father. Everyone grieves differently, and if he breaks from this... Rog is right,” said Erestor as much to himself as to Faelion and everyone else.

Meleth stood up and patted her husband’s shoulder. “We should begin back if we are going to have any time to ourselves before bed.”

Rog patted the top of her hand but did not budge. “He is finally making sense and you are trying to chase me away. I plan to stay for this.”

“No, no, father, you look as if you could use some rest, and it is a long walk down the tower.” Aranel came around the table to give her father’s arm a tug. “Glorfindel, Faelion, will one of you go talk some sense into my husband,” she said as Erestor walked off in the direction of the porch.

Glorfindel set his napkin on the table and pushed back in his chair. “I can see his point, but at the same time, he said it best. Everyone grieves in their own way. Maybe Idril needs this play so that she can have some closure.” He felt a sudden sharp pain in his chest, and grasped the back of the chair for a moment. Tauniel let the apple roll away as she stood and placed her hand on his shoulder. He squeezed her hand and kissed her cheek before he moved off again with the sobering words, “Perhaps Idril will write a play for me when I am gone.”

Faelion trailed after Glorfindel and joined both the blond and Erestor on the porch. Erestor had his hands on the railing and was looking down over Gondolin. Glorfindel approached with heavy steps, a hand still rubbing his chest as he walked. “I heard what you said.” Erestor spoke softly, and Faelion closed the door behind them. “Sometimes, I forget that I am not just gambling with my own life now. I have a family – I have a child. I have to think before I act.”

“Erestor, I know that you have mixed feelings on this play,” spoke Faelion, “but what we are doing is just historical. If it has other effects on the King, well... you said it yourself at practice. It is about time he thought about it. It is time for change. Erestor, you know as well as I do that this cannot keep going like this.”

Erestor sighed and turned around. His foot tapped nervously and he looked to Glorfindel. “Shall we dare the dragon?”

With slow, steadying steps, Glorfindel closed in. He looked back at Faelion, so different now with his fiery hair, yet so familiar. So comforting, Glorfindel realized. There was a deep feeling of serenity, something he had not felt with Faelion before. Something he had not felt with Erestor, either. Despite the tension and the uncertainty, something was just so very soothing, and his body relaxed as the pain subsided. Glorfindel looked back to Erestor, and without asking permission he drew his fingers through his dark hair. “Fingon, the Valiant,” he whispered as he reached to his own hair and bit his lip as he plucked a few golden strands from his head. Erestor stood still, only his eyes moving to watch Glorfindel’s movements as the golden threads were woven into his hair. Glorfindel let the braid go and stepped back to admire his work and the Elf before him. “How can we not?”
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