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Guilty Pleasures

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Nothing would have been able to prepare Erestor for the sight he saw when he woke in the middle of the night and exited his suite. As lead librarian and scribe, his quarters were located in a very unusual place: They could be reached via a little-traveled corridor, or through a door in the library itself, semi-hidden in the third room, accessible via a narrow two-story staircase that hugged the wall. It was down this narrow stairway that he carefully walked now, lit candle held out to light his way. The faint glow passed across the floor, and Erestor paused.

“Hello? Someone there?” He listened carefully, picking up the faint noise of movement in the main chamber at the center of the library. Slowly he moved his arm, the glow falling upon a trail of books. They were pulled from the shelves, dropped where the reader stood, as if someone was on a frantic search for knowledge and could waste no time to place anything back. The trail lead into the main room, and Erestor discretely pulled a ceremonial dagger off a display on the wall as he passed and made his way forward.

He had to step over a pile of books in the doorway, and staggered a little upon seeing the state of the next room. Almost one-third of his—the collection—was on the floor, in piles that had no rhyme or reason. Some of the tomes were open on tables, stacked three or four to mark open books with another open book. Erestor scanned the dark room to find the culprit.

Sitting on the floor amid a pile of books was a wide-eyed blond-haired elf, hunched over an open tome, scanning the pages and reading to himself in a hushed yet desperate voice.

Though he had only met the newcomer to the valley hours earlier at a private dinner in Lord Elrond’s quarters, Erestor knew who he was looking at. “Lord Glorfindel?”

Still reading, the elf did not acknowledge him. He continued to flip through the pages, switching between the index and the text rapidly. Erestor took another look around the usually pristine space, frowning at the work he would have in the morning. Biting his lip, he turned back to Glorfindel and crouched down, settling his hand onto the page that was open, fingers splayed out to block the text. “Lord Glorfindel, is there something I can help you find?”

Crystalline eyes snapped upwards to meet Erestor’s gaze, and stunned the librarian speechless as he momentarily caught a glimpse of something so brilliant that he faltered and looked down as Glorfindel said, “They are all dead.”

“My Lord, I do not know of whom you speak.”

“All of them. They are all dead. One attack after another, and even Earendil is lost to the heavens. Everyone is... gone.” His voice cracked, the book slipped down into his lap. Before it became another casualty, Erestor slid the book away and closed it, using his free hand to place it back on the half-empty shelf.

“Shall I show you back to your room?” asked Erestor, already considering in the back of his mind putting a lock on the main door of the library.

Glorfindel hugged his arms around himself slowly. He was shivering, and Erestor tried to decide during the long pause whether or not he should retrieve a blanket from his room or if he should step into the hallway and find a page who could bring a healer. “I do not want to be alone,” Glorfindel finally replied in a soft voice, so very different than it should be, thought Erestor.

“Uh…” Erestor considered his options, from waking Lord Elrond to seeing if anyone was still up in the Hall of Fire. Finally, he settled upon, “Would you like to sit in my quarters for a while?”

And that was how Erestor the librarian woke the next morning in bed with Lord Glorfindel.