It was not the roar of thunder that awoke Glorfindel. No, it was not the thunderstorm that had been keeping everything and everyone indoors for the past few weeks that shifted him out of his sleep, awakening a dark chill in his spine. It was rather the quietness of the hall, the silent movement of the darkness, that called to him. The shadows of the night, the phantoms that had haunted him even after death and beyond. His bright eyes steady on the ceiling, he lay motionless in the dark, his breaths silent and calm. Rain pattered relentlessly on his window.
It had been a tiring day, he decided. That was why the nightmares were returning. That was why the darkness loomed with a sorrowful ghost of the past. Nothing more.
He wanted to sleep, to go back into the blissful oblivion and escape the whispers that swirled in the dark. But sleep eluded him, for he had fallen victim to it prematurely in broad daylight. He smiled wryly at the memory. That Thranduilion was uncontrollable. But he was bright. Yes, very bright.
He breathed quietly into the moist air, willing the bright, golden memory to drive the darkness away.
The elfling had wisely decided to balance his physical playtime with intellectual stimulation, as he had found a perfect learning opportunity in the famous Imladris healing ward. Chuckling to himself, Glorfindel ran a weary hand over his face. Aye, what other elfling would think to sneak into the herb cabinet and experiment with self-made potions? He silently berated himself for his carelessness. He had entered the chamber to see the potion sitting on the table, soon after the elfling had run out the door to get a healer to examine his work; unsuspecting, Glorfindel had mistaken the concoction for a restorative. By the time the excited elfling came back, dragging Elrond's hand, the mighty balrog slayer was slumped on the ground and sleeping peacefully. At least, that was what Elrohir had told him later. Sleeping like an elfling. And so cute, Elladan had added.
Of course, the laughing twins had fled from Glorfindel before the balrog slayer could swing his sword.
A flash of lightning illuminated the quiet chamber.
Bright blue eyes slowly rested on the spectacle outside his window; the savage clawing winds, the streaks of light tearing across the dark avenging night. The trees danced wildly among howling winds, beaten by the pelting rain. Glorfindel watched, unblinking, silent.
Would the elfling be awakened by the storm?
He breathed quietly into the dark, drowning his senses into the sound of his own serene heart beating against his ribcage.
The elfling would go the twins. Yes, he decided, the twins would be there for Legolas. As devilish as they were when teaching Legolas all kinds of creative ways to wreak havoc in the palace, they were gentle souls. And though they were young, it was undeniable that the two had matured before their time. They would know something of nightmares in stormy nights. Yes...they would know.
Glorfindel closed his eyes.
There was a time when Elladan and Elrohir were terribly frightened of storms. No, there was a time when they had learned to fear storms. Their fears were the empty darkness of the night, the absence that greeted them by their father's side on the bed that they ran to. A fear greater than that of the storm was the fear of the solitary shadow of their father, the hushed silence of the room as the shadow remained alone. So their fear of the storm was doubled, tripled, as they ran blindly through the night, hands tightly intertwined, gasping in the darkness of the halls. And at last appear with haunted eyes, hair disheveled and faces pale, standing uncertainly at Glorfindel's door. And their small hands tightly intertwined.
And the golden-haired warrior would rise, approach the shaking children with open arms; he would enfold them into the warm darkness, shield them against the brilliant flashes of celestial wrath. He would kindle the hearth, and seat the children on his lap as he rested against the floor. And he would tell stories, exciting stories and heartbreaking stories and delightful stories, all in his gentle, quiet voice, which would roll melodiously, unfalteringly, through the roaring night. Endless threads of tales, colorful and fantastic tales, taking the children's breaths away. And they would look up at him, the storm completely forgotten, as the death-defying warrior whispered tale after tale all throughout the night. And the golden fire would slowly die out in the coming of dawn.
The night was dark.
Glorfindel's eyes shot open. There was a gentle scuffle outside his door. His body gracefully arose, eyes riveted on the door. A soft rapping could be heard outside.
"Who is it?" inquired the elf quietly, as he approached the entrance. There was silence.
He opened the door, lighting the dark hall with the flash of lightning streaming into his room. His eyes widened in surprise.
Before him glittered a pair of dark orbs, a sharp contrast to the pale face that glowed in the blackness of the corridor. The elf regarded him in silence, as Glorfindel opened the door wider and stepped aside to allow in the visitor. Glorfindel silently closed the door and turned toward the lithe dark body.
"What brings you, Erestor?"
Raven black hair swirled in the darkness, blending into the night, as the elf turned around.
"Can I sleep here tonight?"
Surprised, Glorfindel watched his friend plop down onto the bed. The advisor was dressed in a thin bed garment, which flapped loosely around his slender form.
"Did something happen to your room?"
With a sigh, Erestor shook his head. "Legolas is sleeping in it, that little imp."
Glorfindel burst into a chuckle. Erestor scowled up at him, crossing his arms. Glorfindel crossed the space between them and sat by his friend on the bed.
"So tell me, how did the elfling end up in your room?"
Furrowing his brow, Erestor scratched his neck. "I acquired the information that the elfling had tried to cook, and ended up causing an explosion in the kitchen with his creative mixture of spices." He cast a glance toward Glorfindel, whose face was contorted with a strange mixture of surprise and amusement, and continued. "He helped to clean up the mess, but was apparently feeling morose and decided to stay out of the way for the rest of the day." He then threw a wicked smile. "His genius invention of the sleeping potion added to his day's accomplishments, of course."
Erestor smirked and turned to run his hand experimentally over Glorfindel's bed. "So he fell asleep while seeking peace in my room."
The golden-haired elf rose, approaching the wardrobe. "Why is his refuge your room, of all places?" He reached into the wooden shelves and pulled out a pillow.
Erestor narrowed his eyes. "The twin implings apparently told him a long time ago that my room is a perfect sanctuary."
Glorfindel chuckled as he returned to the bed with the pillow. Erestor did have a reputation for living in every place within the borders of Imladris – with the exception of his room. He often fell asleep on Elrond's couch, or in the empty dining hall, or in the garden. Or Glorfindel would hunt for him until he found him tucked away in a corner of the library, and berate him for working too much. And drag the drowsy elf back to his unused room and throw him onto the bed. Though he often felt reluctant to leave his friend in the cold bed alone and therefore slept with him, and ended up getting kicked onto the floor in the middle of the night.
"They do have a point, you know."
Erestor threw him a glare. "I do often use my room, thank you," he said darkly. Glorfindel simply cast him a charming smile as he handed his companion the pillow, which was accepted graciously. The balrog slayer smirked when he heard a soft mutter concerning implings and retribution.
With a contented smile, Glorfindel sat back down on the bed beside his companion. Despite the grumpy mumblings of the dark-haired advisor, he knew the eyes that looked upon the elfling with a twinkle. This was not the first time that Legolas had fallen asleep on Erestor's bed; Glorfindel had numerously watched from afar as his friend walked down the hallway with a sleeping bundle of an elfling. The dark eyes lowered onto the child's innocent features, the advisor would smile ever so inconspicuously, his gait slow and even as he carried the child tenderly in his arms. Yes, he had seen his silent whispers as the elfling snuggled close to the protective arms in his sleep.
His mind then stumbled upon a question. "Why don't you bring him to his room, Erestor?"
Erestor turned his head to look out the window. Lightning bolts were ripping across the sky. "I don't want to take chances." His breath was quiet, hushed.
Glorfindel studied his motionless friend. Trying to move the elfling or sleeping with him could very well wake him, he knew. And he agreed with Erestor; he did not want to take chances. He did not want to see the elfling wake up in the storm. He had seen enough of that. He did not wish to see any more.
So he remained silent.
Erestor's face was illuminated by the pale blue flash of lightning. An unvoiced expression of serene calm resided on the pallid face, but Glorfindel lowered his eyes when he saw the expression. He knew Erestor's heart as well as Erestor knew his. And his raven-haired friend's silence was a rip in his heart.
When met with no response, Erestor turned toward Glorfindel. Seeing the morose concern in the eyes of his friend, the dark-haired elf smiled. Dark eyes twinkled brightly in the streaks of light. "I get the wall side. If I roll off again, you will be a dead elf by morning."
With silent relief, the blonde elf laughed quietly. He rose, and held out his hands. Erestor looked up and, with a good-natured smile, placed his own hands in his. Glorfindel pulled up his friend's weary body, until they were standing eye-level. "You just want to hear me land on the floor when you kick me," he rejoined as he bent down to smoothen out the blankets. "Just don't kick me off too often. I can't help my sleeping habits, you know."
Erestor cocked his eyebrow. "I shall try."
Glorfindel pouted as he turned his head to look up at Erestor. "You and Elrond are of the only few who know my sleeping habits. You should feel special and loved." He dodged a vicious swing from the lithe elf.
"Just don't smother me," warned Erestor, crawling under the covers and plopping down. Glorfindel bowed exaggeratedly, earning another suspicious glare from the raven-haired elf. Erestor turned his back on the blond elf as he climbed in after him.
The thunder roared in the darkness of the night.
Silence settled in, and Erestor's pale hand slowly rose to touch the wall. His sensitive nerves remained sharp, constantly awakened by the jolt of lightning and the phantoms of the darkness. His eyes glittered restlessly, hauntingly, as slender fingers traced ghostly patterns on the smooth contour of the wall before him. Glorfindel's breaths behind his back were tranquil, even. It was a comfort that he had forgotten for a long time. He closed his eyes, dropping his hand limply. The rain and the winds were ever ferocious this night.
And in the silence, a muscular arm snaked around his waist. Erestor rolled his eyes as his taller friend breathed an incoherent murmur against his neck, a soft whisper against frozen skin in the darkness. Slurring more indecipherable mumbles in his sleep, the balrog slayer snuggled close, and wrapped his leg around the slender body of the unmoving elf. But Erestor remained still, eyes now blinking with a hazy softness, as the blond elf attached himself affectionately. A glimmering smile surfaced in the dark.
He reached slowly toward the hand latched around his waist, and patted the warm skin. His whisper was voiceless, seeping gently into the dance of shadows.
"Good night, Glorfindel."
Perhaps the nightmares would be held at bay tonight.