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Even Quicker Than Doubt

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A mouth, hot, demanding, moved slowly down his neck, sending little shocks flashing through him. Strong hands roamed over his back and shoulders, rubbing, grasping The mouth withdrew, returned to claim his lips…. Bruisingly commanding, it tasted of sweet wine… a sharp tooth caught his lip, causing a thrill of pain. Besieged, he answered desire with an uneasy hunger.

A hand beneath his tunic, cool against bare flesh, began to knead his back… hard, insistent motions, drawing him closer to the body that writhed against his. He could not see the face. Ecthelion? Was it Thel?

"No," he murmured. “No, not now, not yet - please no - -"

The hand insisted, the mouth demanded. A sense of nameless panic overcame him and he attempted to push the other away, to struggle free...

~~~~

Glorfindel, formerly of Gondolin, sat bolt upright gasping for breath, the covers in a heap on the floor. At the end of yet another night of broken sleep, largely spent reliving memories of family and former friends, the vivid, erotic dream of Ecthelion was simply the last straw. Forced from his bed, he splashed his face with cold water, tidied his hair and dressed, thankful the night was over.

Upon leaving his rooms, he was relieved to discover that the early morning hour found most of Lindon still barely awake. Glorfindel made his way down to the informal section of the Palace gardens, an unexpected wilderness of roses, herbs and flowering shrubs. He followed a small gravel path which led to a bench facing a tiny fountain and sat, leaning back and closing his eyes. He felt desperately alone.

~~~~

For the first few weeks after Lord Námo had sent him out into the world from the coolness and silence of the Halls of Waiting, he had been fortunate to find himself in the care of Círdan of the Havens. 

The ancient, quietly spoken Teleri, no stranger after so long to the inexplicable ways of the Valar, had tried to help him to accustom himself once more to the unfamiliar familiar, to the noise, confusion, and haste of life on Arda. 

He had been to the Havens twice before in his life - more correctly his previous life - and found the contrast between known hallways and unfamiliar landscaping similar to stepping into a dream world, vaguely threatening, not quite as it should be, but lacking a dream’s promise of morning. 

He learned early to close his eyes, shutting out the new strangeness and drifting into a world of sounds. Sounds were safe. Seabirds called as they ever had, the water lapped at the pilings of the pier; he could almost believe he had never left.

How he had come to the Havens -- how, in fact, he had returned to Middle-earth -- was a thing known but unclear to him. Known, as is the fact of one’s birth, though to claim actual memory would be an exaggeration. He was simply here, almost as he had been before. 

His first clear memory of this new life was waking in a boat and hearing the sounds of the sea around him. There was no fear, no confusion. He knew, as though he had been told, that all he had to do was be still and wait.

Presently he had heard the sound of oars and could make out soft voices. Strong, certain hands had reached for him, drawn him up into another boat, and still in a state somewhere closer to reverie than waking, he had been taken to shore. 

The small gray boat that had borne him to within sight of the Seaward Watch was left to either sink or return from whence it came. One swift glance had been sufficient to tell those who approached it the story of its origins, somewhere beyond the circle of the world.

~~~~

He had slept for two days, and when he woke it was to a sense of having waded through mist - where he had been, how he had arrived here, were left behind him in the grayness. 

Círdan seemed surprised to discover that he knew his name, his former city - he needed no one to tell him the Hidden City no longer stood - even the tale of the Balrog and his fall into darkness. 

He had spent his time at the Havens resting, for he tired easily, and learning a little of the new and confusing order of things that had sprung up in his absence. 

He had been there for a little over three weeks, growing stronger, starting to feel more at ease with his surroundings, when one afternoon Círdan came and sought him out where he sat in the sun looking out to sea. 

The silver haired, lightly bearded Elf took a seat beside him and for a few minutes they sat in companionable silence, Glorfindel shooting glances at the other from the corner of his eye. He had always wondered how it was that this one Elf had a beard, for all the world like a Man, but would never have dared to ask.

“I received a letter this morning,” Círdan said, breaking the silence between them. “It was from Gil-galad himself.” 

Glorfindel had already been told that Gil-galad, the son of a Sindarin maid and of Orodreth, brother to Finrod, was now the High King. This meant that the last clear heir to the line of the High Kings of the Noldor on Middle-earth was, in fact, half Sindar. He thought this rather summed up the whole distorted picture he was busy trying to accustom himself to. 

Belatedly Glorfindel focused his attention on Círdan, who was waiting for a response from him. “Is there a problem of some kind?” he asked, a sudden sense of unease touching him.

“That would depend on how you choose to look at it,” Círdan replied evenly. “Gil-galad has decided that he wants you at court by the end of the week.”

Glorfindel fought down a rising tide of panic. 

“But it’s far too soon,” he exclaimed. “I need more time. There will be so many people - everything is so different - “his voice trailed off as he looked at Círdan in dismay. 

Círdan, who had not heard his guest speak with so much eloquence or animation since his arrival, sighed softly to himself. He had rather expected this. 

“I think that in this, the King is probably right,” he said, keeping his voice level and reassuring. “Your future home is there, not here. You cannot stay hidden from the world for much longer. The Valar had a purpose in sending you back, and it was hardly so that you could hide yourself away here. You need to start meeting people -“ 

“I meet people regularly in your guesthouse,” Glorfindel argued, an edge of desperation to his voice. “There are people coming and going there all the time.”

“Yes, quite true,” Círdan agreed mildly. “And they are all in the process of leaving Middle-earth behind forever. The affairs of those who remain here are no longer their main interest. That is why they leave you in peace. In the beginning you needed this solitude, but now the time has come for you to move on.”

~~~~

His arrival in Lindon had turned out to be less taxing and official than might have been expected. The King was absent on some business of his own, and the formal reception that might have greeted Glorfindel had been postponed.

Lost and isolated, left to settle in as best he could, Glorfindel found himself forcibly confronted with the fact that he was, to all intents and purposes, alone in the world. His former friends and family were all either dead or over the sea in Valinor, and no familiar face remained to smooth his adjustment to the confusing new realities of Second Age Lindon.

For most Elves this sense of loss and unfamiliarity would have been sad and unsettling, even when weighed against the joy of such a unique second chance at life. For Glorfindel, however, making new friends, fitting into a new society, was, as Círdan had realized, the stuff of nightmares. 

The prospect of receptions, formal dinners, endless numbers of new faces, far from offering a promise of new friends and adventure threatened to completely overwhelm him. 

Those clamoring to make the acquaintance of the mighty Noldorin war leader, Balrog slayer, and hero of song and legend would have been startled to learn that the tall, blonde, and stunningly good-looking Elf had one deeply rooted, socially overwhelming disability. He was and always had been intensely and painfully shy, causing him to regard the prospect of crowds of admiring strangers with a deep, crawling horror.

In his youth, amongst family and his few close friends, he had been known and loved as a generous, friendly Elf, kind-hearted to a fault. In social situations, however, although he would have dearly loved to appear outgoing and friendly, his brain seemed to simply shut down. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, his skin started prickling, his throat seemed to close up, and he withdrew into himself. 

Because of his silences, and his brief and abrupt-sounding replies to the simplest of approaches, he earned a completely undeserved reputation for being cold and aloof which, when matched with his unsurpassed good looks, was soon written off as arrogance. 

Fewer people tried to include him in their activities, he received less opportunity to try and interact, making it more and more difficult for him to do so. Even amongst those Elves whom he had known long enough to feel reasonably at ease with, he tended to be unsure of himself, his deep lack of personal confidence causing him to be hesitant and self-effacing. 

Strangely he had no problems with authority figures or the requirements of the environment of a full time warrior. He soon realized there was a right way and a wrong way of doing things, and not too much thought or improvisation was needed to choose between the two. Communication tended to be left at a minimum, and clearly defined actions were the primary requirement.

Lacking the distractions that would have been expected in the life of one both well born and physically attractive, Glorfindel proceeded to carve a name for himself as a fighter of huge commitment and ability.

The pattern was set that might have continued for the rest of his life, leaving him highly respected and admired, although achingly alone, when fate stepped in and opportunity was placed firmly in his path.

~~~~

Ecthelion was dark haired, gray eyed, witty, and gifted with immense charm and popularity, and his friendship was courted assiduously by both ellon and elleth alike. Normally when confronted with such an extroverted personality, Glorfindel would not have managed to put two words together. 

As it happened, however, Ecthelion, an unlikely looking but acknowledged master swordsman, had offered to spar with him, to help him master certain finer points of swordplay. This was a type of interaction Glorfindel could handle with comfort. 

For his part, having made the right enquiries, Ecthelion decided that the seduction of this beautiful, surprisingly inexperienced golden haired Elf was worth more than a little effort. 

He put to good use expertise gained in dealing with a bitterly shy younger sister, handling the situation in such a way as to put Glorfindel at ease. Thanks to his efforts, their relationship developed swiftly from friendship to something with the potential to be far more intimate.

The lack of competition created by Glorfindel’s all but non-existent social life had suggested to Ecthelion that it would take the minimal of time and patience to achieve his goal. However, every time it looked as though things might possibly progress from the stage of hand holding and careful, non-invasive kisses, Glorfindel always backed away. 

Unknown to Ecthelion, the golden haired Elf was wrestling with a familiar inner voice, one which had spent most of his life pointing out his many shortcomings to him. 

This voice was now asking him disparagingly why he was so set on making a fool of himself with someone as far out of his league as Ecthelion. With chilling logic it reminded him that, when confronted with his complete lack of experience, Ecthelion was likely to lose all interest in him, not just as a prospective lover but also as a friend.

The same voice also reminded him, with brutal clarity, of all the reasons for avoiding an act that would require a fair degree of nudity, expressing a less than glowing opinion of the desirability of his unclad body. 

A critical observation before the mirror in his bedroom confirmed all his worst fears. The proportions, he felt, were probably acceptable, but his skin lacked the desired creamy white tones of Elven song and poetry, tending more towards a pale honey. 

Predictably, both he and the voice held serious doubts about the size and shape of his penis. He had no idea what normal would entail, but was fairly certain that it would have to be considerably larger. 

His nipples, on the other hand, to his deep embarrassment, certainly did seem larger than normal. Whereas those of others appeared to be an inconspicuous shade of beige, his were tinted a delicate dusky rose.

Rather than try and explain any of this to Ecthelion, who was kindness itself but not a very good listener, he decided that it would be easier simply to continue to avoid intimacy, at least for the foreseeable future. 

He loved Ecthelion, achingly but silently, with all the misery, uncertainties, and small ecstasies of first love. He longed to submit fully to the caresses of the highly experienced older Elf, dreaming nightly of their completion, but each opportunity that came along saw his ultimate retreat behind stammered excuses and hurried departures.

Elves are a patient people. Time is a commodity of which they have an almost limitless supply. They can usually afford to wait, and this is what Ecthelion settled down to do. He was not totally certain what it was that kept Glorfindel from submitting to him, but he kept trying, presenting an attitude of understanding and acceptance in the face of continued refusal. 

He also contrived to discreetly spend a fair amount of time with a very pretty, to say nothing of extremely supple young elleth, who was more than happy to go to quite uninhibited lengths to help keep his frustrations at a manageable level. 

This situation would probably not have been able to continue indefinitely, but before the inevitable confrontation could occur, Gondolin ran out of time. With betrayal came fire, Dragons, and the Balrogs of Morgoth. Ecthelion of the Fountain Court died in defense of that which had already been lost and Glorfindel the Golden fell, entangled with flame and horror, willingly giving his life to protect his princess and her seven year old son.

~~~~

Drawn back from his memories by a sensation of being watched, Glorfindel opened his eyes and turned to see a tall, broad shouldered Elf leaning against one of the trees, apparently hesitant to disturb him. 

He had a large built for one of their kind, a mane of heavy black hair and very light blue eyes. His face was not beautiful in the classic Elven mold, but was instead better described as arresting, interesting. Unforgettable.

Glorfindel felt the familiar gray blanket settling over his brain at the prospect of starting a conversation with a stranger. He cast about frantically for something, anything to say to the elf that stood there, radiating ease and self-assurance. 

Then the stranger smiled, a wonderfully charismatic smile, lighting both his face and the heart of whomever it was directed at, and finding the right words no longer seemed all that important.

“I’m truly sorry I wasn’t here to greet you when you arrived,” the stranger said in a rather deep, mellow voice. “I hope your welcome wasn’t too chaotic. I left instructions that you weren’t to be bothered more than necessary.” 

At Glorfindel’s rather uncertain smile he frowned and then made a half amused gesture of annoyance.

“I completely forgot my manners! I’m sorry, I didn’t think to introduce myself.” He reached out his hand, offering the warriors’ grasp. “My name is Ereinion, mostly called Gil-galad. Welcome to Lindon.”