Erestor awoke feeling queasy for the fifth day in a row. He had gone to bed without dinner to avoid this but it seemed to have been a failed effort as he emptied to contents of his stomach. He wiped his mouth and after rinsing with water made his way back to his study. He had to move quickly. At this rate Elrond would be done with breakfast before he left his room and that was not acceptable.
Erestor collapsed into his chair and Elrond opened the door moments later. Erestor started working knowing what was to come, and Elrond didn’t disappoint.
“Erestor, why don’t you join me for breakfast tomorrow?”
Erestor looked up surprised. That was not what he had expected. To be told he worked too hard, that he should go out and meet a nice elf but not to join Elrond in breakfast.
“You…you want me to join you?”
“Don’t seem so surprised, Erestor. It’s been quiet with all the children and even Glorfindel gone.”
“I don’t think I would be much better company.” Erestor said trying to find a way out of this predicament. How could he keep this strange illness a secret? Elves didn’t get ill. He didn’t want to think about what this could be.
“Erestor, I would like your company. It would be nice, but I will not force you on me. A boring old elf Lord.”
“You are not boring. It is I who would have nothing to discuss.”
Elrond walked over to his desk wondering how he could have worked so closely to someone for so long and not know the slightest bit about them. He was sure that Erestor was interesting, but he had never even gotten him to reveal much about himself.
“Well spending all this time alone and inside isn’t good for you. Erestor do you even know what the gardens look like?”
“Yes My Lord.” Erestor replied to the strange question, then went back to reading.
“Hmm, I must be getting old.” Elrond said to himself when he realized that he had a quill in his hand, ready to respond to nothing. “Erestor, could you bring me the urgent letters?”
“Yes…um…Lord Elrond.” Elrond sighed. It seemed as though he would never get Erestor to relax. Maybe he should try to acquaint him with Lindir. But the elf had admitted Erestor’s cold demeanour slightly frightened him. Lindir had said he doubted the elf had a heart.
Elrond watched as Erestor stood and swayed slightly. He watched with a raised eyebrow as Erestor slowly made his way to Elrond’s desk. Erestor put the papers down and turned to walk back to his own desk. Elrond saw Erestor sway again but was not fast enough to stop the elf from falling to the floor in a dead faint.
“ERESTOR!” Elrond exclaimed rushing to the fallen elf. He sat down and rested Erestor’s head in his lap as he stroked the pale cheek. One look at Erestor’s vacant eyes told him that the elf had fainted. He wondered how he hadn’t seen before how ill Erestor looked. There were dark circles under Erestor’s eyes and his skin beyond being extremely pale had a sickly pallor.
“Ai, you are killing yourself.” Elrond whispered lifting Erestor into his arms. Erestor blinked slowly coming back to awareness. He was being carried, through the hall it would seem.
“Wha…” He whispered starting to shift in the strong arms that were holding him.
“Erestor be still. We are almost there, you collapsed in the study.”
“I…I…I’m…I can walk.”
“Erestor you are in no condition for such. Your body is clearly exhausted. You are working yourself ragged and that just won’t do.”
Erestor wasn’t sure if he lost awareness again but the next thing he knew he was being placed on a cot in the healing wing. He sat up and Elrond was gathering a tray of herbs from another healer.
“Elrond?” Erestor questioned. The elf Lord smiled.
“I would have been much happier if you weren’t in a sick bed when you finally addressed me by name. Have you felt strangely recently?”
“I have been ill the past five mornings.” Erestor whispered.
“Why didn’t you say that sooner?”
“It would pass by mid day and did not think it was serious. I can do without breakfast. I did not want to trouble you.”
“You did not have breakfast?”
“Nor dinner but it did not help. I did not know I had anything left to get ill with.”
“Erestor have you eaten anything out of the ordinary in the past few weeks?”
“No, I’ve had the same meals I always have.”
“Hmm, have you felt ill at night?”
“No, just in the mornings.”
“Have you felt any changes within you?”
“Changes? I don’t understand.”
“Erestor I need to ask you something very personal.”
“What?” Erestor asked his eyes downcast.
“Have you had any sexual relations recently?” Elrond didn’t believe it was possible but Erestor paled and then nodded almost imperceptibly.
“Were you on the receiving end?” Another minute nod. “Erestor you’re with child.” Elrond said hiding his own shock.
“Noooo!” Erestor screamed.
Elrond stared at his Advisor, wondering why he had such a negative reaction. Erestor looked about ready to burst into tears.
“Won’t your lover be happy?” Erestor broke into sobs and then flinched when Elrond tried to touch him. Erestor drew his knees up into his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs with his hair hiding his face.
“Erestor, there is still time. You can still be officially bonded. There will be no shame if you two do it quickly.” Erestor shook his head his body wracked by sobs.
“No.” he choked out.
“Why? Is he bonded already?” Erestor froze, he neither nodded nor shook his head unable to give any response which was all the response Elrond needed.
“Ai Erestor, why would you do such a thing?”
“I didn’t…” Erestor muttered more to himself.
“Erestor you’re pregnant. Clearly you did…” Erestor’s violent shaking stopped Elrond’s words. “Erestor, are you saying you did not want to have relations with this elf?” Erestor nodded.
“Erestor why didn’t you say anything? Who was this elf? He will be made to pay for his crimes.” Erestor shuddered but made no move to reply to Elrond. “Erestor look at me.”
Erestor raised his head slowly, never looking more like a young child to Elrond and yet another random thought struck Elrond. He had no idea what Erestor’s age was. Or even his begetting day. Though most elves did stop celebrating it after a while. Elrond pushed away the stray thoughts and focused on Erestor.
“The night of…the…ball.” Erestor whispered still unable to look Elrond in the eye. Elrond felt a twinge of guilt then, but pushed it aside.
“You have to tell me who did this to you… Erestor this is a high crime. The involved elf…” Another horrible thought occurred to Elrond. “It was just one elf correct?”
“Yes.” Erestor said regaining some of his stoic emotional control as he released the death grip he had on his limbs. He was looking Elrond, but the half elf wasn’t fooled. His eyes were locked on his nose. That and the fact that he was seated at the farthest edge of the cot, clearly showed Erestor’s high level of distress.
“Erestor please, a name.” Elrond coaxed.
“It…it…it was…Thranduil.” Erestor admitted, looking away. After a few gruelling minutes of silence Erestor finally decided to look at Elrond’s face but wasn’t prepared to see the hate or anger there. He drew away pulling his legs close to his body yet again.
“You lie!” Elrond hissed. It was Erestor’s turn to be stunned. “Why would Thranduil force himself on you when he could have much better elves willingly? Why would he when he is in a happy bond with a lovely elf? Why would a King rape a plain, uninteresting elf?”
Erestor held back fresh tears at Elrond’s accusations. He should have stuck with his original instinct to never say anything. Now Elrond didn’t even believe him. “Elrond please…”
“I am not your familiar. Do not dare think you can taint me with your lies. I was ready to believe your claims but you set the bar too high. How convenient for you. Your supposed attacker is in Mirkwood and can not defend himself. Would you like to tell me the truth now and forget this foolishness you uttered?”
Elrond’s cold voice froze Erestor to the core, What was he to say now? Was he to lie and bring another elf into this? That he could not do. He couldn’t take it back now. He had expected Elrond to believe him, not to side with the arrogant Mirkwood king.
“I already did.”
“Get out of my sight!” Elrond roared.
Erestor stumbled to his feet and made his way out of the healing wing, still dizzy and light headed. He somehow made it back to his chambers before he collapsed into a sobbing mess at his desk.
What was he to do now? Elrond had ordered him out of his sight. Elrond, the only elf he had thought would have believed him. Elrond had called him a liar. ‘Is it that hard to believe? That an elf…’ Erestor almost laughed through his tears. Apparently to Elrond it was, he had finally found out how the one elf he desired above all else felt about him.
Elrond sat in the healing wing looking at the spot Erestor had vacated. He wondered why Erestor would ever think he would believe such a thing of his love. Thranduil would never force himself on anyone. He would sacrifice his own heart for the greater good.
Thranduil and Elrond were holding each other in Thranduil’s tent, wrapped up in the luscious furs, each using the other to stave their own grief. Thranduil, who had lost his father and Elrond, who had lost Gil-galad, who had become as close to Elrond as a father. But they both knew this time would be short lived.
“I hate this, I hate these stupid rules.”
“I do too love, but we both don’t have a choice. I have to go become king of Mirkwood and you have to lead Imladris. We don’t have a choice.” Thranduil whispered, the tears streaming down his face.
“Why couldn’t one of us…” Elrond started as he burst into fresh tears, knowing he was about to lose the only other elf that meant the world to him.
“We both know neither of us is fertile, we have tried and tried and tried.” Thranduil said with a small smile that Elrond also returned.
“I think so, she was my best friend as a child. Her father also fell; he was second in command to Ada. Viiresse, she is a fair elf. I could learn to love her. And you love?”
“I have no idea. I don’t want to do this.”
“We have to. You know children must be born out of a proper bond or they aren’t accepted as the child of the father. We will be expected to have heirs.”
“Bah! Elves don’t…” Elrond couldn’t finish his arrogant sentence. Most of the time it would have been easy to joke that there was no point in having heirs but they both had seen the folly of such thoughts. “It’s not fair. Who made these stupid rules?”
“Stuffy old elves, the same ones who spew nonsense about being bonded after lying with someone. Yeah and Orcs fly.”
They had stopped talking then, using action to show their love. They had known it was their last night together and more than once they had achieved ecstasy with tears in their eyes.
Looking back on it now Elrond thought he had been excessively childish in those last hours, especially seeing as he was the elder of the two.
“And I had the nerve to wonder where the twins get it from.” He mused to himself. Elrond snapped himself back into the present with a shake of his head. He had to deal with Erestor and his lying, conniving ways. What ever his reasons were for dragging Thranduil into this web of lies would be revealed.
After stopping to retrieve a vial, he made his way to Erestor’s chambers. Not bothering to knock he pushed open the bedroom door. He looked around the spotless chamber confused. Erestor was nowhere in sight, where else would his advisor go? Elrond was about to leave when he heard a thud.
“Of course.” Elrond said pushing open the door that joined Erestor’s room to his study. Elrond shook his head at what he saw. Erestor was on the floor beside one of his book shelves surrounded by some fallen books. Erestor clearly thought he was still alone as he reached for a shelf to help pull himself to his feet. The only problem was the case was an addition and not built into the wall like the others and started to tilt forward.
Elrond rushed forward and pushed the book case back into place and only a few books fell harmlessly to the floor. Erestor looked at Elrond startled and Elrond extended his arms to help Erestor to his feet. After sitting him down on the couch he removed the vial from his robe.
“Every morning place one drop of this into half a glass of water. Do this before you rise out of bed. It will stop the sickness. At least it does for females.”
“Th…thank you.” Erestor whispered.
“Maybe you should stay with someone. You shouldn’t be alone in this condition.”
“Who?” Erestor asked.
Elrond looked at Erestor and decided to use a different tactic on his advisor. It was clear that there was a reason why Erestor would rather cry rape than admit his lover. “A friend.”
Erestor shook his head. “I don’t have anyone I would call such.”
“You can’t possibly say you don’t have friends. You’ve lived here for thousands of years.”
“That is exactly what I am saying.”
“Who do you spend all your time with?”
“You.” Erestor whispered.
“Me?! But we only spend a few hours a day together.” ‘Mostly in silence.’ Elrond thought. “What do you do the rest of that time?”
“Work.” Erestor said simply.
“Surely there is someone you talk to, a scribe perhaps? A lower advisor?”
“Lord, I am not deaf. They do not like me, so I do not burden them with my company. Why should I?” Elrond rubbed his temples but he had to admit he never saw Erestor socializing. He took most of his meals in his quarters and had to be ”ordered” to go to a celebration. “I am used to it. I will survive.”
“Erestor I will ask you again who was you lover?”
“And I ask you how does someone with out friends go about obtaining a lover? I told you what happened,” he said, as his cold aloof façade slipped into place.
“And I know you lie. All I ask for is the truth. I will keep it between us if you wish and I will do nothing to the other elf. I want to hear the truth.”
“Why would I lie?”
“You may want to protect your lover. How noble of you. But that does not mean you can accuse a king of such a high crime. No one will believe your lie.”
“It is no lie.”
“Erestor I am warning you. I will not allow such selfish claims in my realm.”
“Selfish? To speak the truth?”
“Very well. You are forthwith banished from Imladris, under penalty of death unless you speak the truth.”
“I understand.” Erestor whispered, shakily getting to his feet.
Elrond was dumbstruck. Erestor would rather leave than to admit the truth? What on earth had gotten into him?
“Sit down!” Elrond exclaimed and Erestor collapsed back onto the couch, though Elrond wasn’t sure if it was the order or Erestor’s own weakness. “I am no monster. I will aid you in bringing this child into the world. But you have until that day to tell me the truth or you will be banished along with your child.”
Elrond stood then not giving Erestor a chance to respond and left the room. As much as he was loathe to do it he had to send word to Thranduil. To warn him if nothing else. Who knew what Erestor would do now? He would do anything to defend and protect his former lover having no doubt in his mind that Thranduil would never do such a thing.