Finding Home

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Finding Home

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The wind burns like cold fire against my face and through my clothes, penetrating down to the very bone. I have lived with this for weeks. It has never faded, instead it seems to grow worse with each step. But that is far better than becoming numb to the biting cold, for with numbness comes idleness, and you must not stop. Once you stop for any long period of time, there is no standing up again. That is one reason our company is not as large as it once was.

Many Elves have been lost to the treacherous terrain along the way. Losing one life should be unacceptable, but we have lost many. Despite very much effort, some are unable to go any further and, tired and cold, they fall behind. In this time I have seen and done a lot of things that I wish I had never experienced, and the road is not yet over. This journey, this battle has not come to an end, and so much more could still be lost.

I look straight ahead. I cannot look back anymore, though part of me longs to. I still remember the night we left Valinor, a time that seems so far in the past but can have been no more than a few years ago. We needed ships for the journey to Middle-earth, ships that would have helped us avoid the route we are now forced to tread. I’ve tried to rationalize that night at Alqualondë, the night I spilled Elven blood in what turned out to be a fight for mere possessions - for finely crafted wood and nothing more.

I did not strike the first blow, for I was merely defending myself, but my regret over my deeds and the tears I shed afterwards can never right this. I remember the bodies lying in the streets all over the town – males and a few brave-hearted females, rising after their loved ones had fallen. I was no better than Feanor’s ilk, but there is still a faint hope that, perhaps, I will be forgiven some day. I can still feel the red hot anger rising in my chest as I trudge through the snow, but I push it away. If I allowed it to, the anger would eat me alive – the anger and the fear that lurks in the back of my mind.

I have always been skilled in the political arena, the polite diplomatic face being my mask to the outside world, and I wore it quite comfortably. But here I am thrust out of my natural skills and into the midst of the bitter ice, where my expertise in the battle of wits is of no avail. I vow that I will never be this helpless again - in the future I, Erestor, will take the path of the warrior.

I draw in a deep breath, although the very air is glass shards in my lungs. I need to distract myself quickly because it is much too easy to drown myself in bitter thoughts. I have seen what happens to those who succumbed to their inner demons. Maybe in the future the suicides that have taken place here will be recorded by the survivors, those unwilling to let the ice take its toll.

I will never forget the blood I saw one morning, dark red against the white of the snow, from a young maiden with no family left to speak of, no attachments, no will to go on. She had taken a knife and, intent on ending the misery, killed herself quickly. If anything, the hardest part of this journey is not putting one foot in front of another, although that is an arduous task. Rather, I have found the greatest difficulty is having enough optimism to believe that this will ever end.

My eyes ache from the wind, but I am still able to spot my lover in the crowd. There aren’t a great many golden-haired Elves in our group, and even if there were, Glorfindel would have stood out among them. Perhaps it is my pride in him speaking there, but I know that observation to be truth. Normally we would walk together, but we are separated for the time being, for today he is traveling with his family and I with mine.

The days spent in his company never seem quite so dark or cold, but he needed to talk with his brother, and I am not entirely welcomed by his family. Briefly I allow my eyes to travel over the well-cherished figure, and memories float through my mind: warm laughter and teasing kisses, summer days spent outside, either near the beach or in the long grasses…

My sweeter thoughts are broken by an ominous sound – ice shifting, fracturing slowly. The sound is deafening; everyone stops to listen. For a long moment there is silence, and I can hear the pounding of my heart before the screams start, before the crowd tries to escape. Chaos swirls around us, the mass of people all moving faster, dropping what few possessions we have, paying no attention to the orderly lines that have been arranged and maintained.

Wailing fills the air as I rush through the crowd, barely seeing a flash of gold in the surrounding crush - of course Glorfindel would be there, in the most dangerous area, trying to save everyone. There are too many people between him and me. It all happens so fast - a loud, cracking sound as the ice finally gives way and then the screams of the people still left above the surface fill the air. Oh, no, no, no….not more people lost to the sea, not my Glorfindel. Please, no.

The broken segment is smaller than we all thought, the air magnified the sound, but the damage is done. People flounder amidst the large chunks of bobbing ice, and for one heart-stopping moment I see him in the water, helping another Elf towards safety where the surface still holds. I run to help, but others are before me, pulling them out.

His father is not far behind, but I reach him first, my fear and anger far outweighing the perceived propriety of the matter. In a minute that is too long I have him in my arms, shivering against me. My mouth works without thought, unleashing volleys of words which, in my fear, I have no control over.

“You insufferable idiot, I can’t believe you just jumped in, we are never going to be able warm you again! You fool, you doltish, obtuse, vacuous fool…” I push at him hard, angry with him, angry with the situation, and he moves a little under it. We are making a scene, something I usually avoid with all of my power, and I note that his father watches with a disapproving frown and looks to intervene.

Glorfindel grips my shoulders, icy wetness that bites into me, but I don’t care because he looks at me, tired, cold but every bit as loving as I know him to be. “I had to do it, love. You know I had to. To lose someone when it is in my power to stop it…”

“And for me to lose you?”

I say nothing more and neither does he, for what more can be said? Instead I choose to hug him as hard as I can, and the feel of him against me is the best and most solid reassurance that he is all right. I thank every Valar I can remember - I don’t know if they are listening after this whole affair, but I whisper a prayer before pulling back to look at him.

His normally tanned skin has a blue sheen to it and his arms are wet, dripping on me. The top of his golden head of hair is still crusted with snow; it never sunk beneath the water. I push perpetually untidy hair away from his face, and though it seems impossible due to our situation, this little fact makes me smile. Our reality has changed, but the waywardness of the spun gold has not.

My fingers trace over his full lips, but this time they are not curved in the smile that seems to be as natural to him as breathing. He looks at me intently, still worried about me, about my concern for him. Typical of my lover; he nearly died himself but still worries about others. I smile at him softly - what would I be without him, if he were gone?

Later I will worry about whether there are dry spare clothes, and if not, how I might possibly keep him warm, but not in this moment. The world stops when I kiss him, and the cold nightmare that is this place melts away as I hold him. My fingers have long lost any sensitivity to touch, but I wind them in hair that I know is as soft as silk and which smells like summer. Glorfindel’s lips pressing against mine are cold at first, but quickly heated and he opens his mouth to me, warm, wet and inviting. In the midst of this cold, desolate wasteland, I feel like I have reached the only place that really matters - home.

The kiss is over; the warmth that he brings to my life carries a heat that soon leaves the mouth, but not the soul. Each smile I see from him in this difficult journey will be an echo of that kiss, a light of hope to guide my path. The worry creeps back in quickly, the realities of this harsh environment can only be put aside for a moment. But for now he’s safe, which in this time and place remains all that I can ask. As long as we are together, the darkness cannot win.


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Beta: Keiliss

Written For: Tallulah Red