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Summer Heat

Chapter Text

The air was hot. I could hardly breathe and the sweat ran down my skin and stained my clothes. I made my way up the stairs to the dark, airless office that I was proud to list on my business cards. My answer service revealed a request to escape the city heat and spend an afternoon in the cool of the hills with a prospective client. Nothing to be gauged except that the caller was male, sounded middle-aged and lived in a very affluent area. I decided to go; I needed to feel elven again.

 

The suffocating stickiness of the city was left behind for the clean coolness of the hills. The owners of the properties here had more money than I would make in a lifetime, if I were human that is. Still it did not matter much; I have money, and by not flashing it I have a happiness and freedom of sorts, and that is more than most will ever have.

 

Bright awnings, of the type described as cheerful, shaded the leaded windows. Pink brick and a rustic style wooden door overhung with climbing berries gave a country feel. The spray mist from the sprinklers watering the garden felt fresh against my skin as I walked up the path.

 

The most bored man on the planet answered my knock. He led me to a small sitting room. "Wait here," he said in his middle-aged voice, the same as the one on my answering service. "The master will see you in his own time."

 

I was used to the snobbery of servants; in former times my own had indulged in their tiny displays of power. So what? All they had was their position and a piddling piece of control that could be snapped in a minute. I was not interested and I gave an unimpressed yawn.

 

The chair was comfortable and I leaned into the soft grained leather. I am old, even though I look young. Comfort is always welcome. I pushed my blond fringe back away from my face and put my head back.

 

"You might get me a drink." I said to the superior butler, who managed to hide his surprise at my ordering him into action. He smirked and remained in position. I stood up and walked to the door. "Tell your master that he can contact me at my office."

 

I walked into the hall and stopped. The butler's master was standing in front of me and I felt as though there was no breath left in my body.

 

"Do you really have to go?" he asked pleasantly before taking my hand and walking me back into the room. "Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Mr Eress, and you are Mr Dell. Am I correct?" I nodded dumbly.

 

We walked over to the sofa. Two slabs of soft cream leather set at right angles, nearly as comfortable as my bed. He looked at me and held my hands. Beautiful, warm brown eyes looked into my fëa and I felt naked. "I need you to investigate something for me."

 

He looked over at his butler and asked where my drink was. "It is a hot day Miggins, and Mr Dell is our guest." The butler smirked, then sauntered off.

 

I walked to the door and made sure Miggins was not spying on us before going back to the beautiful, yet seemingly fragile, creature on the sofa. "He is gone. Now tell me everything."

 

"I do not know who I can trust anymore. Can I trust you?" I held his hand to give him confidence and assured him of my loyalty. "Miggins is blackmailing me. I have asked you to come here to investigate a missing woman at the Summer Springs holiday complex and that is all he must know. Please, is there a way to get him off my back without involving the police or courting publicity?" His voice was low and he was scared. I have seen that act before; I was not convinced.

 

My instinct said it was bullshit; however, the butler's superior, 'I don't have to do my job' smirk and his master's pleading eyes swayed me. I could smell his scent and out of curiosity, I brushed away his long hair. He flinched and tried to stop me, but there was no mistaking the delicate pointed tip of his ear. "You are an elf," I whispered and he started to shake.

 

Footsteps outside the room necessitated a change of subject and the withdrawal of hands. "I need full access to records, and photos would be a big help. I will need to speak to the staff and you understand that this may become a police matter which will attract publicity?"

 

"We will cooperate in every way we can. My staff know that you are to have access to all areas and the paperwork. You can contact me at any time." A drink slammed down onto the table beside me and I gave Miggins a warning look. He chose to ignore me.

 

I took a sip. Homemade lemonade and something else. Something bitter. Mr Eress watched me as I put it down. "Perhaps some bottle water?" He seemed anxious to please and walked over to the cooler, hidden behind a dark wooden shutter in the wall, and pulled out an unopened bottle of water; I noticed that he got one for himself.

 

I drank some and it tasted clean. "It is hot in here, shall we go outside?" It would give us some privacy. I held out my hand and Mr Eress arose. He seemed grateful for the suggestion.

 

We walked through the large French windows and down the path to the fountain where falls of water spilled from cherubs' mouths.

 

"What's your name? Your real name, not the one you use now." I took a swig of the water and waited.

 

He looked nervous and his eyes studied the gravel at his feet. "Erestor." Quietly said and almost a whisper.

 

"Erestor?" He nodded and looked away. "I once knew an elf called Erestor. He lived in Imladris. He was a Chief Advisor. A sarcastic, mean-spirited harpy. Do you know him?" He made a small distressed noise and ran.

 

I caught him easily and held him as he struggled. His eyes were wild with fear and tears ran down his face.

 

"Why did you hire me Erestor?" He struggled but I held on tight. We walked over to a bench. "Sit."

 

The manipulative bastard sobbed his crocodile tears, so I waited for him to stop. "I did not think you had recognised me."

 

"I recognised you as soon as you took my hand. What has happened to your face?" I wanted to strike him. The old feelings rose in my throat as bitter bile.

 

"My face was rebuilt after a car crash. Glorfindel, I am so sorry. I have changed." Tears ran down his cheeks. I had seen it all before and it did nothing for me.

 

"Why did you hire me?" He broke down at my coldness. "Answer me!" It was a while before he could and I waited silently, not offering comfort, but sitting in stony silence.

 

"I did not lie. Miggins is blackmailing me, and a woman has gone missing at the holiday complex." Erestor looked hopefully at me, his eyes shining with tears that were yet to spill onto the lovely cheeks.

 

I seized the front of his shirt and pulled him close. "Why did you hire me?" I looked dangerous and could feel his fear.

 

"Because your name reminded me of the elf I so stupidly gave up, the elf I did not know I loved until I lost him. There are you happy now?" He shouted and fought to free himself. I pulled him close and kissed him. I kissed him as though our lives would end if we did not, then I let him go and slapped him hard across the face.

 

"You always were a liar." I stormed off and made my way to the house leaving him sitting on the stone bench.

 

The French doors slammed against the wall as I pushed through them. Miggins stood by the far door smirking. I grabbed his shoulders and slammed his face against the wall so that his eye was perilously near a hook holding a small ornament. "You tried to poison me." I spoke softly so that he would be frightened.

 

"I don't know what you are talking about." He gasped, eyeing the hook as my fingers removed the small bauble hanging from it.

 

"Yes you do. When Eress got me a bottle of water I tasted his drink and his was sweet, not bitter like mine." I spoke softly but with a more menacing undertone.

 

"Why would I poison my husband's latest bit?" I could feel his smirk. His eye socket slipped easily onto the hook and then I let him go. I watched him flailing, he was suspended and screaming. "He is not your husband. You are lying, you bastard." I hissed in his ear and pushed his head forward again.

 

"It is no lie…" Erestor stood watching as I unhooked his husband, and then he fainted. He lay on the floor, cool and beautiful.

 

"See to him." I snarled at Miggins as I left.

Chapter Text

I let myself sleep in. It was not hard to do.

 

The events of the previous day ensured that sleep was late in coming as I reviewed events repeatedly in my mind, looking for a nuance or lead and finding nothing. The facts were that Miggins, if that was his name, had spiked my drink. Erestor must have been part of it or known about it, as he was quick to get me a bottle of water. He is not stupid, and even though his face is different he must have known that I would have recognised him, so what was he playing at? I knew I could not rest until I had official confirmation of Erestor's marital status. If I could not have the psycho then why should some jumped up smirking butler? Perhaps they had been in it together. Perhaps they had both meant to poison me, and Erestor, realising that I could taste the drug, or whatever it was, had offered me the water to allay my suspicions.

 

I live in a small house by the beach. It sits atop a rock and when the tide is high it seems like an island. No one lives near, and that is how I like it. I wondered how Erestor managed his life. Did he move and live somewhere else every twenty years when people around about realised that he never looked any older, or did he live the life of a recluse. Was this the hold Miggins had over him, I wondered. By living so far away, I had managed to live in the same property for eighty years. Every twenty years changing my name and selling the house back to myself. I employed a good forger and paid him well for his silence. Morally, it felt easier getting my birth certificates from him, than using those of the dead, and he ensured I had ample documentation for the future; after all, he would not live forever.

 

Heather strewn moorland rings the back of my property. One road leads to my house and the same road leads back out. Visitors are not welcome. A high wall and electric gates keeps out those who would pry, so I can relax, splendid in my isolation, if I wish. However, I do not want to. Every day I crave contact. Every day the separation hurts more. Every day I wish for the call that will take me over the sea, but it never comes. Are Erestor and I the only elves left, I wonder? Is this why our paths have crossed?

 

I run a bath; a shower will be too quick. I still need time to think. There is a small shop that makes bath oils to order and so I pour their orange and almond bath oil into the running water. If I close my eyes, I can believe for a split second that I am back in Gondolin. To dream of Imladris is too painful, so I protect myself; I dream of when I was innocent, and not subject to the vicious whims of the dark elf. Ecthelion, my friend, you were right when you said that he was the way of madness; but who chooses love? Love chooses us and does it where it will hurt the most.

 

Enough of this musing. I wash quickly in the hot water and then soak. The ceiling plaster's random imperfections join up with imaginary lines and become triangles to take my mind away from the events of yesterday and this morning's ponderings. My golden blond, shoulder length hair hides my pointed ears, although I see that some people pay to have surgery to make their ears that way. Perhaps they want to be elves. Who knows?

 

After dressing, and a couple of slices of toast and coffee, I make my way out through the house to the garage. The remote controlled door doesn't work. It does not budge. Again I press the remote, but nothing happens, just a judder and a whining noise. Highly irritated, I get out of the car and kick the door. That is when I notice the small dark red drips seeping under the base. My knives are already in my hands. I throw faster than a speeding bullet. My senses heightened, I walk silently through the house, moving quietly through a side door. The front door seems the obvious choice and is nearer to the garage; I am not making it easy for anyone. No sounds, no taste on the air; there is nothing fresh, and I relax.

 

Nothing prepares me for what I see next. Miggins is upside down and nailed to my garage door.

 

I try to feel sorry for him, but what the hell; he tried to poison me so I do not give a toss. Seems like justice to me. He sees me and moans. His face is pale, deathly white. I tug out the nails in his wrists with a claw hammer and then I do the same with his ankles. He screams and I apologise hundreds of times. He screams so much that I get irritated and tell him to shut the fuck up. Wide eyed, he looks in disbelief before passing out.

 

He lay on the ground and I rang the police and the paramedics. They tell me to stay where I am. I was not about to go off on a day trip or anything. What it is to be surrounded by fools, they run everything and tell everyone what to do; another reason to sail west. Back outside and Miggins is stirring. He does not have long and it bothers me that there is not enough blood. There should be more, much more.

 

The folded towel under his head helps him breathe easier, but the gurgling continues. Small foamy flecks streaked with blood fly from his mouth when he coughs; he is drowning. "Who did this to you?" I already know what he will say. I just need confirmation.

 

Miggins looks at me and gives a strange, satisfied smile. "Erestor." He smirks one last time before giving a final wet gurgle and dying on the ground.

 

I was wrong. My drink was spiked and I was meant to notice so that I would drink the bottled water, which was drugged so heavily I slept through a man screaming as he was nailed to the garage door. I wondered what sort of low Erestor had sunk to and why his madness had continued unabated. Perhaps I was the one to help him. Perhaps I could not travel across the sea until I had. Perhaps I should stop running and face my fear. Perhaps Erestor was not to blame at all.

Chapter Text

Miggins lay on the ground dead. Detective Fern looked at him, then went to the door and examined the marks. "Looks like he was drained of his blood before coming here; should have been more. How long since he died?"

 

"Since just after I rang you." I walked inside the house leaving the body for the forensic team who were yet to arrive. My hands needed washing and then we could have a coffee. I like Fern, he is decent; doesn't try to get one over you just because you work private. He has a nice family too. They are about the nearest I ever came to having relatives for a long, long time.

 

Fern sat his two hundred pound bulk at the table and looked around. "He say anything before he died?"

 

I nodded. "Nothing." The coffee machine gurgled much like Miggins had done, but this time the sounds did not annoy me. "I received a commission yesterday to investigate a missing woman at the Summer Hills holiday complex from his boss, a Mister Eress; Miggins was his butler." Fern looked at me and I shook my head. "Looks too fragile. Looks like he couldn't even lift a slice of toast to his mouth." I told him some of it because he would find out anyway, but I was not going to reveal the secrets of my heart. I would let my mad Erestor do that for himself.

 

"You know Fin; you could do with a good woman. How come you got nobody?" Fern chuckled, his florid, round face beaming with pleasure at the pile of toast and marmalade I set before him. He already knew the answer.

 

"I am not marrying your daughter." I laughed. "Besides she wouldn't want me."

 

He laughed along with me. "My son might." His face went still. "Caught him in bed with his friend. I just walked out the room and shut the door. Did not know what to do and so I did nothing." He took a bite of toast and chewed. I knew all his family problems and he knew that I preferred men; that is why he told me.

 

I broke the silence. "I'm not marrying your son either." I grinned at him and took a drink of coffee.

 

He smiled. "I thought he would carry on the family name and give me grandchildren, but I guess it's not to be. Can't live his life for him." He sighed and took a drink. "Nice coffee, is this the stuff you bought off the net?"

 

"It's the same as the stuff you bought off the net." I replied and raised an eyebrow.

 

"Water must be different here." He yawned and stretched. "I don't want him to be lonely. Know what I mean?"

 

"No reason for him to be lonely." I replied and drank more coffee. "I'm not lonely; I can have company whenever I want it."

 

"You can have all the company in the world and still be lonely. In fact, you can be surrounded by a sea of people, who all know you, and still be lonely." He drank the last of the cup and I poured him another. "Hell, I just want him to be happy and find someone who loves him. Someone nice."

 

"We all hope for that in our lives." I drank the last of the coffee in my cup.

 

Fern leaned forward and regarded me thoughtfully. "You are lonely and you are looking for love. Stands out a mile and that's just a recent thing. You want to tell me about it?"

 

I shrugged. "I'm thinking of moving on. I'm getting older and I am doing nothing except the same old things every day."

 

"Can't have you bored with life, can we? Why don't you go travel the world, have some fun, do all the things young men your age do? How old are you? Late twenties? You should be out having fun, not wasting away in this backwater. It will all be here when you get back and nothing will have changed." He spoke like a dad. Wise words from someone thousands of years younger than me.

 

"Maybe I will find someone nice." I laughed; it was feeble and he knew it.

 

Fern put his cup on the plate; the crumbs wiped to the side in a small mound; he always did that. "We will look into the murder and you can look into the other stuff, 'cause as far as we know no missing woman has been reported, how does that grab you?"

 

I nodded. "I have a feeling our paths will cross." I cleared the plates away and put them in the dishwasher. Fern grinned; they were the only items in there.

 

He rose from the table, his ample belly grazing against the edge. "I am very much hoping they do."

 

My first stop was the records department in the town hall. I smiled amiably at the clerk and she felt disposed enough to find the marriage certificate between Erestor and Miggins herself.

 

"Well this is odd." She frowned and pointed at the relevant section. "There's a page missing. Looks like it has been torn out. The name is in the index but the certificate is gone." We stood looking at the ripped edges still in the book until she decided that she could not help me. I smiled and thanked her for her time.

 

As she was about to disappear through the door, I called her back. "My brother will be terribly upset that his marriage certificate is gone. What do you think I should tell him? He had hoped to get a passport, will this hold it up?" So I lied. That is what we do. She flirted with me thinking I called her back for more than a mere question. Eyes ringed with clumpy mascara and smudged eyeliner looked up at me, as she leaned forward so I could see her pale, blue-veined cleavage. I looked because that is what she expected me to do. I breathed in her cheap perfume and thanked the Valar that she would never be mine.

 

"Well, you could tell him that it has been ripped out and we are investigating it. Of course, we will have to inform the police. You could tell him that we are very sorry and it's lucky that you asked for a copy or else we would have found out much later." She looked at me and gave it all she got. "You might also tell him that you couldn't keep your eyes off my breasts all the time I was talking to you." Her eyelids fluttered, she looked down demurely before staring straight up at me, wide eyed and thinking she had a chance.

 

I stepped back a fraction. "Well I suppose I could." I raised an eyebrow and looked directly at her. "He wouldn't believe me though." Her open-mouthed expression was a delight. I grinned and walked out.

 

It did not matter. Very soon a death certificate would be lodged there and the marriage academic. I crossed the street to a small sandwich shop and bought aubergine and hoummous in a crusty roll and a can of coke. Back in the car, my mind raced as I ate my lunch.

 

Who would steal a marriage certificate and why? No point in stealing this one; all Erestor or Miggins had to do was request another copy and the theft would be obvious. Small grains of thought not yet ready to be verbalised or form coherent strands were taking shape. Everything in this case pointed to Erestor. That alone makes made suspicious. Everything was too neat and too tidy. Life is not like that.

Chapter Text

The hills were always fresh and cool. I drove up and breathed easier.

 

Was Erestor happy that Miggins was dead? I wondered if he even knew. Everything pointed so neatly to him, too neatly. Certainly, Erestor was able to kill Miggins and not give it a second thought; he was even able to persuade someone to do it for him. As a cunning advisor and master manipulator, in Imladris, he certainly had blood on his hands. He was feared and untouchable, yet charismatic and deceptively charming. Elrond thought it wiser to look the other way and he was right. No one wanted to be the focus of Erestor's attention. Seemingly fragile and delicate, his innocent visage belied a capriciously violent and jealous temper. He courted popularity, and those who opposed him disappeared quickly. Legend was that he was dropped on his head as a baby. I think it must have been over a hundred times.

 

We first met in Gondolin. Ecthelion whispered a warning to me, "He is mad and dangerous, do not go near him." Like many others, I could not resist when his attention turned to me. That the Valar could create someone so beautiful, and so poisonous, is a mystery to which I never found the answer. I loved him and I still do.

 

I heeded the warning until Erestor caught me in his gaze. He flirted and snared me using charm, wit and protestations of love. I was his willing prey and he enthralled me. Nothing existed anymore. No one could deter me from my undying devotion. Then it started. Small accusations and questionings. Where had I been? Why did you look at him? A warrior I sparred with only once, overdosed himself after an accusation of being too close during the practice. In time, I dreaded going back to our house. Would he be sweet and gentle or in a murderous rage? I could never tell. Erestor was deceptively strong, skilled with weapons and accomplished in the art of fatal persuasion. A small locked room at the top of the stairs was for his use only. The noxious smells that issued forth convinced me that he was brewing poisons and it filled me with terror.

 

Slowly and subtlety he inched me into a state of fear and dread from which there was no escape. How could I, one of Gondolin's foremost warriors, admit that I was terrified of my mate? He knew this and taunted me; he even suggested that the food I ate was tainted, that he could feed me poison in my sleep and that a small smear upon my skin would kill me and leave no trace. He was right; he could do anything.

 

Erestor stopped trying; he did not have to be anything but contemptuous and so that is how we lived. Outside the home, in front of others, he reverted to the sweet, gentle, pliant Erestor, but away from the eyes of others he was a demon and tore my fëa apart. I sound so weak, and looking back I can allow myself the luxury of wondering what would have happened if I had stood up to him; every time the scenario ends in death, my death.

 

The fall came, fire was all around, and masonry flew from buildings. In the mayhem stood Erestor, his beautiful face terrified. I laughed at his fear. Where he sought protection there was none. The odds levelled for the first time; a poisonous whisper or a subtle threat would not work and he knew it.

 

"Glorfindel." He shouted my name and I felt the tug at my heart. I could not afford to be weak anymore. Too many lives depended on my actions and I would not fail them for the viper at my heel. "Please Glorfindel." I relented and pulled him up on the horse. "I am so scared."

 

I looked at him, face to face. "Now you know how it feels to be me."

 

"Glorfindel, I am sorry, I cannot help myself. I love you. If you die, I will wait for you to come again." Erestor hit the ground at speed as I threw him away.

 

Leaning over I over and grabbed his front as he tried to stand. "If you are truly sorry and really love me, then stop running around trying to save yourself, gather everyone together and take as many as you can through the pass." I pushed him away; he revolted me.

 

Tears ran down his face. He stood up and screamed, "I hope you die you bastard, I hope you die… I hope you die." Then he ran for his life. I heard him the first time. I did not care. Dying was better than spending an eternity with a demon.

 

He herded those unable to fight, out of the city, onto the pass, and ultimately to safety. It was the one good thing he ever did. I saw him from the back matching the injured with the able bodied so that all could have the best chance of escape. We were so close, then the balrog attacked and everything changed. I fell with his words ringing in my head and in my heart as I fell.

 

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The cheerful awnings were still shading the leaded windows. The sprinklers were off and the house silent. A car moved through the open gates. I slumped down in the seat and watched. A huge, muscle-bound, bald-headed thug drove smoothly over the gravel and down the access road away from the house. In the back was a smaller, sharp feature man. I knew that profile. I wondered why Erestor would know him. Why would I care? He was more than a match for anyone.

 

The gates remained open; so I walked through and around the side of the house. Erestor's state before he knew of my presence was worth checking out. He seemed so frail and fragile the last time I saw him; he could not fool me. I knew he was as strong as an ox. The cook passed by the end of the house, making her way to the kitchen garden. Walking swiftly around to the back door I let myself in.

 

The kitchen was a huge affair. Slabs of honey coloured limestone covered the floor. Multicolour rugs lay all over, I guess, because a stone floor is cold to stand on. The rugs covered the noise of my shoes and I walked into the hall. Glass panes in the door revealed a hazy figure laying on a day bed. I walked in.

 

"Who are you?" The nurse beside the sleeping figure jumped up in surprise. I looked her over. The uniform was impossibly tight and her mouth was a shiny red gash of lipstick across her tanned face. She smiled so wide I could not trust her.

 

"Who are you more to the point?" I loomed over her and her excited eyes glittered. Why do women always lick their lips when they see something they want to put in their mouths?

 

"I'm the nurse, of course." I raised my eyebrows. "Eddie Fish sent me to look after Mr Eress; he runs the Summer Hills complex for him. I bet you didn't know that."

 

"I bet you, I didn't even want to know." I looked at her and she seemed miffed. "What sort of nurse are you? One that appears in a certain type of movie or a real one?" I should not have smirked. The slap across my face was hard and I caught her wrist on the return.

 

"Eddie's gonna hear about this." Her face mixed outrage and fear, but she was not trying to get away from my tight grip.

 

I backed her against the wall and pressed my body against her. "Now tell me what you are doing here." I stroked her neck and she looked hungry for me.

 

"I told you. I'm looking after, Mr Eress," she breathed. Her eyelids batted so hard there should have been a hurricane in the room.

 

"Why are you looking after Mr Eress?" How simple did I have to make it for the bitch?

 

"Well, I don't know if I should be telling you this but as I haven't been told not to say anything I suppose it cannot harm." She licked her lips. "Mr Miggins rang last night and said that he had a row with Mr Eress, who needed sedating because he threatened to kill him; and so, the nurse who works the other shift came over and Mr Miggins was gone by that time. Mr Eress was hysterical. She gave him a hefty dose of Lorazepam to knock him out; he has been asleep all night. I took over this morning and she will take over at eight o'clock this evening. Really, she is the one to ask." She looked at me as if awaiting approval.

 

"Have the police been here?" I rubbed against her ever so slightly to maintain the interest.

 

"Yeah. They came. Mr Eress is in such a deep sleep that they said they would come back later. I told them that the nurse took twenty minutes to arrive from the time of the phone call and they seemed satisfied." Her nipples were hard and poking through her uniform.

 

"Does Eddie deliberately dress you in clothes that are too tight? You don't look too comfortable." Her eyes opened wide as I peeled away some twenties. "Tomorrow, go buy yourself a uniform that doesn't look like it came from a sex shop." She was speechless but the twenties disappeared fast, I could see the hard outline of them in her chest pocket.

 

I sat down beside Erestor, who was lying on his side, whilst the nurse looked on. Perhaps she was disappointed I had not touched her. Who knows and who cares. "You want to go get some tea?" She took the hint and walked off in the direction of the kitchen.

 

I stroked the beautiful head and he stirred. One groggy eye opened a fraction then it closed. "Erestor." I kept it low so the nurse in the kitchen would not hear. His face turned towards me and he gasped in fear and tried to push me away. I held him during his half-hearted struggle and when he gave up, I held him close. "I am not going to hurt you, Erestor. Go back to sleep, you are safe now." He relaxed, shut his eyes and I kissed his cheek. I sat back and watched him. He looked so peaceful and so beautiful. If only he was really like that.

Chapter Text

"Look after him and don't shoot anymore of that shit into him." I gave my stern look and the nurse melted. I knew she would.

 

"Supposing he wakes up?" She looked up at me; I raised an eyebrow at her stupidity.

 

"If he wakes up, be a nurse and look after him. Think you can do that?" I shook my head, wondering why I had to spell everything out.

 

"I was only asking." She looked a bit upset, but what the hell, I was not into sparing anyone's feelings. I could not care less.

 

"I will be in the kitchen. Don't move from this room and take care of him." I gestured towards Erestor and left. In the background, I could hear her muttering about who the hell I thought I was ordering her around like that. Women like that are easy to ignore; it happens to them every day.

 

The cook was at the table, typing away into a laptop. A large middle-aged woman with the shiniest blond hair I had ever seen. I wanted to touch and smell it, but did not want the slap that would accompany it.

 

"Excuse me Mam." I used my softest voice. The biggest blue eyes looked up at me through a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. She said nothing, just raised an eyebrow. "Can I make a coffee?"

 

"Didn't the nurse take some through before?" She paid hardly any attention and continued typing.

 

"She made tea. Anyway, she is a nurse. Who knows where her fingers have been?" I grinned and looked amenable. It is a talent of mine.

 

She softened and grinned. "I saw you here yesterday. My name is Cherri. You know Mr Eress?" I nodded and smiled. "No sugar in mine, thank you."

 

I put two cups out and loaded the machine with Blue Mountain. "I'm called Fin. Mr Eress wants me to look into the disappearance of a missing woman down at his Summer Hills holiday complex."

 

"You looking into the death of Miggins too?" She closed the laptop slightly, hiding the screen from my prying eyes, but I caught the name on her Live Journal account before she did.

 

"The police are looking into Miggins; I'm just looking into the missing woman, who I know nothing about." I walked over to the machine, took the jug and poured the coffee. I set a cup in front of her. "You writing a novel or something?" I was genuinely interested; I like to know everything about everyone.

 

"I write short stories, publish them on the net." She blushed and I grinned. "I'm not showing you what I have written, so don't even ask."

 

"You sussed me pretty quickly, Cherri." I gave my widest smile and she giggled. "Anyone would think you were writing slash or something."

 

A slight blush, but she recovered quickly. "I told you. You are not seeing what I have written."

 

"That's a shame. Those ladies who write slash, certainly have great imaginations. I have learned so much off them." She was not taking the bait, so I gave up. "Do you know anything about the Summer Hills Complex?"

 

"I do not know why it is called a complex. There is a lake and log cabins all around. Over the back is a golf course and a couple of tennis courts and there is a clubhouse with a small spa tacked on. You wouldn't take your kids there unless you wanted them to get bored and play up all the time." She took another sip of her coffee, then yawned. "Excuse me it's been a strange couple of days, haven't had much sleep."

 

"Are you making lunch today? If you are I could help you." You cannot use your sexuality with a grown woman, they see through it like a shot, and anyway, she seemed like a nice person; I wanted to help.

 

"It's just soup and ham sandwiches for lunch. Mr Eress likes something light at lunchtime. Is he awake yet?" She looked genuinely concerned.

 

"He has been filled so full of shit, I doubt he will wake for a while yet." She pushed a newspaper in front of me and put a cauliflower and three potatoes on it; then gave me a knife.

 

"He hasn't woken up for ages. He is such a nice man, he shouldn't have to put up with this. People take advantage of him because he is so nice." That surprised me. Who would have thought that about Erestor? Was she off her head, in love with him, or had he changed?

 

"How did you meet him?" I peeled the potato and put it in the bowl of water. The peelings dropped onto the paper.

 

The pot on the stove hissed as it came to the boil and some ran down the side on to the flame underneath. The lid rose as steam released then tapped back down again. Cherri went over to it and prodded the contents with a large spoon. "That's tonight's chicken dinner if you're staying; the broth can be used in the soup." She sat down again. "Mr Eress had just had a car crash and he was recovering. Mr Fish wanted someone who would not faint at the site of injury. He also wanted someone who could help with things other than cooking, if need be."

 

"What's Eddie Fish got to do with it?" Another potato in the bowl of water. She cut them up into dice and returned them to the bowl.

 

"Mr Fish runs the complex for Mr Eress; has done since he set it up." She stared at the potato in my hands. "We gonna wait all day for you to peel that potato?"

 

I set to and peeled fast. "Where does Miggins come into all this?"

 

"Miggins was the butler. He worked in the complex first and then transferred here. I wondered if he had been sent by Mr Fish to keep an eye on Mr Eress, to make sure he was all right after his accident. Mr Fish and Miggins did not get along and they argued several times, loud enough for me to hear it." She stopped and looked as though she were considering something. "You must understand Mr Eress took a long time to recover after his car crash. He is better now, but Mr Fish says he is not the same person and that we had to make allowances for him. His face needed to be rebuilt and the front of his brain was severely damaged. Mr Fish cares a lot about Mr Eress and most of the rows were about Miggins not taking enough care of him."

 

I started chopping the cauliflower. "What do you mean about Miggins not taking enough care?"

 

"Would you mind if I go check Mr Eress first?" It was not a question. She walked out of the door and went into the other room with coffee and chunky choc cookies for the nurse. I followed.

 

Erestor lay sleeping on the day bed. The nurse paid no attention to us, not even when the snack presented in front of her. The chick-lit novel in her hands took every bit of attention she had. He was breathing fine and in a light sleep. I took the last of the drugs on the side and put them in my pocket. "Not that I don't trust you." I smirked at her momentary panic at the loss of her tools of control and left the room.

 

Cherri smiled as we went out of the room. "Don't tell me she is a real nurse. Anyone can stick a needle in an ass."

 

"I was wondering that too." I sat down at the table whilst Cherri made some more coffee.

 

Slices of homemade bread, fresh pats of butter and thin slices of ham with mustard on the side, in a little pot, appeared on the table during a flurry of activity from Cherri, who was not going to wait for the soup it seemed. We sat and ate in silence. Cherri was not the sort of woman who liked to talk whilst she was eating, which was fine by me.

 

"Miggins was not a nice man. He was good looking and personable, but sly. You know what I mean?" I nodded. "One day he came in and announced that he was married to Mr Eress. I do not recall Mr Eress ever agreeing to marry him or even leaving the house to do so, but Miggins showed everyone the marriage certificate to prove it. Mr Eress was so ill at the time that he did not know whether he was coming or going, and Mr Fish really lost it with Miggins. He tried to get the marriage annulled because Mr Eress was not in his right mind, but Miggins taunted him and said that even he could not go against the law. Mr Fish then said, why not, he had always done so before." Cherri smiled and I was glad that Erestor had someone to look out for him.

 

"What happened last night, Cherri?" I asked softly, she looked worried and seemed upset.

 

"Mr Eress was going out. Miggins asked him where he was going and Mr Eress told him it was none of his business. Miggins got totally pissed off and they argued. Then Miggins, who was drunk, tried to manhandle Mr Eress. Funny thing was that Miggins got the crap kicked out of him. Mr Eress must have snapped or something." Cherri took a few mouthfuls of coffee, and then continued. "He was always trying to touch Mr Eress and get him to sleep with him. Mr Eress he refused every time. Anyway, Miggins rang Mr Fish and told him that Mr Eress had gone crazy. Mr Fish came round, and by that time Miggins was gone. He brought a nurse who filled Mr Eress with some stuff to make him sleep because he was hysterical and screaming that someone should kill Miggins because he was not going to be raped by a little shit who had faked a marriage. After that, Mr Fish and his driver went off in search of Miggins."

 

"You need to tell the police this." I looked at her, thanking the Valar for what she had told me.

 

"She don't need to, I heard everything." Fern stepped out of the garden and into the room. "Forgive me for listening in but this means that Mr Eress should be in the clear."

 

Cherri gave a sigh of relief. "Nobody likes an eavesdropper. Can tell you're a policeman."

 

"What about me?" I looked at Fern, wondering why I had to do his job for him.

 

"Miggins died at your house so you're still a suspect. You knew that anyway." Fern grinned and sat his bulk down on the chair; I smirked when it creaked dangerously. "I wouldn't worry about it, Fin. Not unless you killed him, anyway."

 

"Miggins saw you kiss Mr Eress; he told Mr Fish that was what some of the row was about, when he rang him, and also because Mr Eress said he was going out and wouldn't tell him where. Miggins accused him of going to see you." Cherri looked at Fern and then me, as if trying to make up her mind about the both of us.

 

"Hell, am I glad there is no death penalty here." I looked at Cherri who blushed and then Fern who thought it was the funniest thing he had ever heard.

 

"Still doesn't explain the water, Fin. You suspect it was drugged with something that made you sleep heavily once you were asleep, rather than putting you to sleep. What sort of drug would have done that? Do you think that you might have slept heavily because you were tired?" Fern looked pleased with himself.

 

The figure at the door looked pathetic and ill; he had trouble standing and held the doorframe for support. "Fin is right; the water had a drug to increase depth of sleep. It would have no effect whilst he was awake." I ran to the door and caught Erestor as his sweating hand slipped off the paintwork.

 

"I got you." I carried him over to the table and sat him on the last available chair.

 

Cherri went to the cupboard and selected a white bone china cup, then poured coffee into it. "Drink this Mr Eress; you look like you need it." He smiled at her and I could see why she thought he was such a nice person. A smile like that to me, and I would too.

 

Fern went into the other room; the one Erestor had just left. "Fin, get in here."

Chapter Text

The nurse lay on the floor, eyes wide open and jaw slack. Her mouth contained a half chewed chocolate and a thin line of brown stained drool hung in one long strand from her mouth pooling on the carpet. The air was thick with the type of haze you get when walking through the perfume section of a department store. Neither of us went to help her. She was beyond anything we could do. Fern stood there looking and shaking his head.

 

I walked into the kitchen, took a small cloth, and grabbed Erestor by the arm. "Come with me, Mr Eress and tell us why your nurse is dead on the floor." Cherri took his other arm to support him and we walked into the bedroom; she made a small gasp, then collected herself. We sat Erestor on the bed and he stared at his dead nurse.

 

"She was like that when I woke up." Erestor continued, not moving his gaze and barely acknowledging us.

 

"Did you kill her?" Fern always asks the obvious, as if he expected a proper answer in return.

 

"No, I did not kill her." Erestor dripped irony and he smirked in disbelief.

 

Fern looked at me and I shrugged; he turned his attention back to Erestor. "Are you sure she was she like this when you woke up?"

 

Erestor nodded and his eyes seemed heavy. Cherri moved closer on the bed and put her arm around him, guiding his head onto her shoulder. He fell asleep.

 

With a cloth wrapped around my hand I picked up the box of chocolates, two were missing. "What ones she have?" Fern was a sucker for chocolate, he made little chocolate houses for his children every Christmas even though they were now adults, he had to make double so they would all get one. He made me one last year.

 

"The tangerine surprise and the blackberry bombe, somewhat appropriate don't you think." I gave a small smile. "There's a death by chocolate in here too and a cherry daze." I winked at Cherri who raised her eyebrows in return.

 

"No laughing matter here, Fin. Put the chocolates down and let us all get out. I need to seal the room." He looked at Erestor. "Get him out of here."

 

Erestor hardly stirred in my arms. He slumped forward with his head on the kitchen table and slept.

 

"I want some blood taken off that one. I want to know if he's for real." Fern held his mobile phone to his ear and called for the necessary backup.

 

We sat in the kitchen and waited. Cherri busied herself by boiling the potatoes and cauliflower in the chicken broth. I made coffee. Fern ate a ham sandwich and Erestor slept. It was not long before a whole swarm of people arrived. Everything in the room was examined, inspected, then taken away. Erestor hardly stirred when the doctor took his blood. He at least seemed convinced that Erestor was not faking.

 

Erestor would wake up and then fall asleep again. In his lucid moments, Cherri managed to get him to eat some soup. Fern finished dealing with the influx of interested parties then asked me to step outside with him into the garden.

 

"I'm sorry to have to do this to you, but we need you in for questioning. Miggins died on your property and you have more than a passing interest in Mr Eress. Don't think I haven't noticed." Fern looked almost apologetic. He was doing his job; it wasn't personal.

 

"Why wouldn't I be interested? I am asked to investigate a missing woman, who as far as we know has never been reported as missing. I am given no details either. That night I am drugged, which Eress admits to, and his so called husband is found nailed to my garage door. But Mr Eress couldn't have done it because he very conveniently freaks out and has to be sedated." I shrugged and walked back to the house leaving Fern to follow.

 

A blanket draped around Erestor's shoulders, he curled up in the chair next to Cherri, and they both read the laptop together. I was sure neither had seen me.

 

Standing behind them, they were unaware of my presence and both continued looking at the screen. I trained as a warrior; still comes in useful sometimes. Erestor's eyes half shut and he laid his head on Cherri's shoulder again. On the screen was an Erestor and Glorfindel story. Erestor was pregnant and Glorfindel was running around Imladris in a gorilla suit to cure his angst at being reborn. What imaginations these slash writing ladies have; you just got to love them!

 

"Will you write me a nice Lindir and Melpomaen story, Cherri? One where they fuck like rabbits?" Erestor sounded sleepy, like a child, and Cherri tightened her hug a fraction.

 

"Of course I will, hon." She smiled. "Want Saelbeth in it too? He can be their puppy." Erestor grinned and snuggled closer.

 

I raised my eyebrows at Cherri's Live Journal name; she was on my friends list and often wrote about Legolas and Aragorn. Her Aragorn was much nicer than the real life one, who I never liked. He was filthy most of the time, and his lack of personal hygiene could take your breath away. He made body odour and greasy hair an art form. Arwen obviously liked to slum it, but Legolas would have kicked his ass if he had come anywhere near him.

 

I remember Legolas: brave, forceful, even vicious and cruel when the occasion demanded it, but stunningly beautiful and a fearsome warrior. He would be horrified at some of the fiction written about him; I thought I would take some with me when I sailed. Lucky for the slash writers he lived in a place of no return; he did not have a sense of humour. I decided not to be a fan and cleared my throat. Both jumped and the laptop hastily shut.

 

Cherri smiled. "I told you. You are not reading it. Go away and make a coffee; go do something." She flicked her hand at me and Erestor reached for his glass of water.

 

We left Erestor and Cherri with a police guard. Fern drove me to the police station and I told them all I knew. I did not tell them that I knew Erestor previously, but I did tell them that the marriage certificate was missing and that Erestor accused Miggins of blackmailing him. I also told them of my discussion with the nurse. It seemed that everything was pointing to Eddie Fish by the end of it. I could not see him nailing anyone to a door though.

 

They took some of my blood to check for residual traces of the drug that Erestor claimed he had slipped into the water. "If we find the drug then you are probably not a suspect anymore." Fern was trying to make me feel better and he had not been hard on me during the interview. I appreciated that; he could have been a lot worse. "Looks like Eddie Fish might have some explaining to do." We drove back to the house so I could collect my car.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Erestor and Cherri were eating chicken with roast potatoes. I wondered if they had left the kitchen all afternoon.

 

"Had enough of reading slash then?" They looked at me. Erestor seemed much brighter and grinned.

 

"You two want some dinner?" Cherri made to get up but I nodded. I wanted to go home, take a bath and get all the crap of the day out of my system.

 

Fern sat beside Erestor. "You had enough Lorazepam in your system to knock out a horse. It is a wonder you are still alive. How do you feel now?"

 

"I am feeling less sleepy now, thank you." He took a bite of chicken. "Every time I stirred, I felt her push another needle in me. I was so far gone that I did not feel any fear, even though I knew she was probably overdosing me. I could not do anything to stop her either; I really thought I was going to die."

 

"Well you are not an immediate suspect anymore," Fern told Erestor, and then he turned to me. "You could do with a chicken dinner. You look so beat that when you get home all you will do is go to sleep. I know you; I know what you are like. Get some food inside you then go home and have an early night."

 

I sat at the table and smiled. "All right dad." He ruffled my hair, like I was his kid or something.

 

After the meal, we sat around for a while, making sure Cherri and Erestor would be all right staying in the house overnight. Eddie Fish had sent some thugs round to keep them safe but Fern sent them packing; there would be a police guard instead.

 

It was well into the evening when we left. "You're going off to see Eddie aren't you?" Fern opened his car door and waited for the answer.

 

I grinned. "You know me too well, Fern."

 

He looked concerned, and so he should, I am like a son after all. "If you do not ring in two hours, to tell me you are safe, I am coming in to get you."

 

I grinned and got into my car. I watched him drive away and I followed behind until we reached the cut. He went one way and I went the other.

Chapter Text

Summer Hills was exactly how Cherri had described it. A large lake, with the compulsory boating shed over the far side, ringed with discreet log cabins of the luxury type. No slumming it for the people who came here. The cabins were so discreet that you could not see who your neighbour was, unless you really looked. Good place to take your lover; your wife would never know, even if she came to spy on you. A small fishing jetty led out over the dark water. I sat at the end with feet swinging over the edge and absorbed the atmosphere. The quiet, still night punctuated by crickets, cicadas and other insects merged with the occasional splash from a playful fish breaking the surface. I remembered a Middle Earth covered in forest and grassland; you could look from the edge of a village and see for miles. Now you would be lucky to see across the street in most places.

 

Over at the far end of the lake stood what I assumed was a clubhouse. There was not much time, so I left the jetty and walked around the perimeter to where the music played. The open doors spilled a garish light through the open doors. Loud voices, chinking of glasses and false laughter accompanied the dreary seventies themed music. Middle-aged men danced how they thought they should, and middle-aged women with wide smiles and too much makeup made out they were interested. Who would be a human? Glitter balls in the ceiling splashed bright moving lights over the walls and made it hard to pick out Eddie Fish, but I found him sitting at a table with an underdressed, red nailed, harshly pretty, dyed-blonde, to whom he was sweet talking and being witty. She threw back her head and laughed; I saw what she had for breakfast her mouth opened so wide. I knew then I hated her.

 

I walked over and Eddie made as if he was pleased to see me, "Hey Fin, come and meet Chantelle." Didn't I just know she would be called something like that? It's like calling a lump of lead a diamond.

 

She eyed me as I sat down and cared little that he was watching. "Nice to meet you," I said, not meaning any of it, and then told Eddie that I needed to see him in private. He gestured for me to follow and told his bimbo to stay. If I were him, I would have tied her leash to the table leg then thrown a ball for her to fetch. Perhaps I am cruel. Okay, I am. Live with it. I do not care.

 

Eddie opened a door at the back of the hall that led to a small corridor; at the end was his office. He sat at his desk and I sat on a leather chair that reclined if I wanted it to. A large thug type joined us through a side door and stood by the wall.

 

"Drink?" Eddie poured a glass for himself but I refused.

 

"Your nurse is dead." I wondered if he knew.

 

"Yes I know; police have been here already. They think she ate a poisonous chocolate meant for Mr Eress. Can you add any to that or are you wasting my time, Mr Dell?" Eddie was not happy to be away from his new best friend.

 

"Cut the shit Eddie. Mr Eress has told you to cooperate with me, so do it." The thug behind made to move. "Get back against that wall before I snap your neck." Eddie gestured that he should do so. One thing about Eddie, he had known me for several years and knew I was consistent; a dead thug would be bad for business. I mused that even though I had known Eddie for a long time I had never known his boss; I knew now and wondered how Erestor was able to maintain such secrecy.

 

"Fin, Fin, Fin, do we have to talk like this?" He wanted to sound conciliatory, but I knew him too well. I waited for him to continue; sometimes silence is your best friend. "Mr Eress said that I was to help you with the missing woman investigation, but I don't see how I can do that when I know very little myself."

 

"Did Eress ever mention that Miggins was blackmailing him?" I looked directly at Eddie and he took a swallow of his drink.

 

"Miggins was a shit. He deserved to die. The nurse did not deserve what happened to her, but he did. Not even his mother could feel sorry for him." He looked bothered.

 

"You have any idea who killed either of them?" I put my ankle on my knee and flicked some fluff from the bottom of the trouser; a movement not lost on Eddie.

 

He told the thug to leave the room and check on Chantelle. I could have told him before he left he could not trust her. He leaned forward, voice low. "I don't know who killed Miggins. Erestor was too drugged up to move, otherwise I would have said it could be him but as for the murder of my niece, who knows. She was a sweet, simple girl who would not have said boo to a goose. I was so proud of her. She had just qualified. I gave her a job here so she would not have to work too hard. Too many diseases flying around a hospital, didn't want her to catch anything."

 

"She was your niece?" He nodded and nearly let his grief get the better of him. "She looked a nice girl. I am sorry to hear that. To stop you putting two and two together and making five, it was me who gave her the twenties in her uniform pocket."

 

"Glad you told me. I wondered if it was part of her killing. What did you do that for?" He looked sharp at me, so I smiled.

 

"I asked her to tell me what happened to Mr Eress and she told me. I gave her the money because she saved me a lot of time." I shrugged and sat back in my seat.

 

"You always go around giving your money out just like that?" He looked suspicious.

 

"Be careful Eddie. You know I would not touch your niece. Your hired thug is more likely to receive my attention." Eddie started to laugh. "What's so funny?"

 

"He is her brother and you would be out of luck." He put the glass down on the desk and I stayed relaxed."I like to keep it in the family."

 

"Was there ever a missing woman here, or is it a pile of shit to pull me in?" I sat back and looked at him.

 

"One of the guests went missing here. We could not find her and Mr Eress said he would get it sorted. So he called you in. There was no missing person report made." He paused and I said nothing, so he continued. "She arrived about a month ago and took the cabin by the jetty. One day Miggins was in the bar and she walked up to him, slapped him hard across the face, and asked him what he thought he was doing. She took a marriage certificate from her bag and brandished it in his face. Apparently, she was married to him and never divorced, so the marriage between him and Erestor was never legal anyway. I tried to have it annulled but Miggins blocked that. A crooked lawyer and the world is your oyster. He needed power and being married to Mr Eress gave him a lot of protection, so he thought."

 

"I don't understand. How did Miggins have such a hold over you?" I looked confused and felt it. It was deliberate.

 

"Miggins was in partnership with Mr Eress. He did not have the money to go it completely alone and so he asked him to be a silent partner. Mr Eress owns half this city in that way, although most don't know that. Miggins was my employer as was Mr Eress, who would not let him fire me."

 

"He threatened to fire you?" I was surprised; Eddie never let anyone push him around. Bad things happened to those who tried.

 

"He tried and Mr Eress entertained me by holding a gun to Miggins head and firing it. There was no bullet in the chamber. Mr Eress knew that, but Miggins didn't; he shit his pants, literally." Eddie laughed at that; made me smile too. "Mr Eress told him that there was a bullet in the next chamber and he started begging for his life. I hated the bastard. I would not take his shit and Mr Eress made sure he knew it."

 

"How is Mr Eress so powerful? I never heard of him before this. I thought I knew everyone worth knowing." Eddie looked at me as if wondering if he should say anything or not.

 

"Hardly anyone knows about Mr Eress. He came from nowhere about twenty years ago and muscled in on everyone's action. No attempt on his life was successful because no one knew for sure who he was or what he looked like. He was not afraid to get his hands dirty though. You ever hear of Hungry Larry? Mr Eress walked into his building, unseen by anyone, and shot him point blank in the face. No one knows how he got away with that. Police had no idea who to look for either." He shook his head as though it were an unsolvable mystery. I knew how he did it though. Erestor is an elf; and an elf chooses whether to be seen or not. It was as simple as that. I was more intrigued that I had never heard of Mr Eress in his criminal capacity, as a private detective I should have done, however; it seemed that even Fern was not aware of who he really was. I felt better about that.

 

"How did you meet him?" I looked at the drink and wondered if it was too late to have one.

 

"He advertised for an accountant and was offering double what anyone else was paying. I just got out of university and he paid my student loans too. Chance of a lifetime. Just in case you are wondering I am still very loyal to Mr Eress even though things have changed. He looked after me when I first started, and now I make sure he is all right." The threat was not lost on me, but Eddie didn't know that it made no difference.

 

"How come you feel safe sharing this with me?" I looked intently at him and wondered what he was up to. "You're not known for cosying up with those on the opposite side."

 

"If Mr Eress says to trust you then that is good enough for me. Of course, if you double cross Mr Eress you know I will kill you?" He smirked and sipped the last of his drink.

 

"Of course." I smiled. Sometimes I ran into Eddie during an investigation and I had his respect. He knew I was fair and wouldn't go singing just because I could. We both knew his threat was false; he wanted me to know that he was a loyal employee and feared Erestor far more than anything I could do. If I were him I would have done so too. "I will come back when it is light and we can talk about the missing woman some more. Right now I could do with a sleep."

 

He threw a cabin key to me and I caught it. "Mr Eress says we are to look after you." He grinned. "You sure you want to be alone tonight? I could get you some company."

 

I refused. I was beat and wanted to sleep. "Thanks, I didn't much feel like going home; never know what might be hanging there."

 

"Meet me for breakfast in the restaurant. We can talk about the woman then, and I can show you her cabin." He looked tired too, but he went out into the light, took Chantelle by the arm, and kissed her fingers. I went off in search of my cabin. I needed some sleep.

 

The cabin was on two levels. Stairs led up to a mezzanine with an open plan bedroom and adjoining bathroom. The shower was hot and for a few minutes I could relax. Wrapped in a thick towel I wandered downstairs to make a drink. Fern answered his phone on the second ring. I told him about the evening, and that I was staying in a cabin by the lake. He was not keen that I should, but didn't argue.

 

"I'm ringing you in the morning, first thing." Fern sounded just like a dad. "You get into any trouble, you ring me straightaway. Right?"

 

"Nothing will happen," I replied. Fern wasn't convinced but left it alone.

 

It had been a long day. I climbed the stairs and I flopped into the soft bed. The events of the day ran through my head as I tried to sleep. I must have fallen off because I never noticed anyone entering my bed until they pressed their lips to mine and caressed me with an experienced hand that knew just where to touch. It was like coming home.

Chapter Text

My fingers fisted his hair as he kissed my mouth. Hands reached down and caressed my sides, making me shudder away from the delicate teasing touch. Breaking the kiss, I flipped him over. He gasped and in the dim light, I could make out his dark eyes wide with shock and desire. I kissed him roughly, hungrily and brutally. Fingers dug into my ribs and a hand pulled my hair. I paused to look, then kissed his neck, marking him as mine. I had waited so long, yet I hadn't known what I was really waiting for. Now I knew and it was mine, for now.

 

A sharp bite to his nipple and he cried out. The other one sucked so hard that he arched from the bed. No time for sensual teasing and gentleness, I wanted him too badly and did not know how long I could hold on. Needing him hard and fast, I knew this would not be a long session.

 

"Lube." I growled; his eyes widened. He passed me the tube and I emptied it into my palm. Lining my hardness up against his entrance, I pushed and watched him gasp as it entered his body. I did not wait for him to become accustomed; it was not that kind of fuck. Withdrawing slightly, then pushing in hard, my breathing was loud, harsh and rapid. Flesh slapped against flesh as I pushed in and out of his wet heat. Pulling on my shoulders, he urged me to go faster. Legs wrapped around my back and pulled me in hard each time on the push forward. He cried out and I kissed his open mouth, forcing my tongue down so far he could hardly breathe. Moving my hand up and down his length, we came together. His back arched in exquisite bliss and pleasure as I cried out his name for all to hear.

 

Slumping down onto his chest, I asked the question niggling at the back of my mind. "That lube wasn't poisoned was it?"

 

He slapped me hard. I probably asked for it. Maybe the last time he had done something like that was in Gondolin or Imladris; it didn't hurt to be safe though.

 

"How could you? I came here because I still love you. I wanted everything to be good. You just spoiled everything." Pushing me away, he made to get out of bed; pulling him back, I held him down. Excited eyes looked up at me, waiting for the kiss he knew would come.

 

"You are going nowhere, and if you try I will drag you back here. You will stay, like it or not." Strong arms held him tight so he could not move.

 

His dark eyes glittered and he gave the sexiest smile. I plundered his mouth as hard as I could. Hands held his head in place, my body stopping him from moving. When I finished I gave him my best smile.

 

"Fuck me again." He dared me and so I did. How could I resist my beautiful and dangerous Erestor?

 

Eventually when the sun was rising, he fell asleep in my arms. I fell shortly after; it seemed a good idea, there was nothing else to do.

 

I woke early. Erestor slept peacefully, as if an innocent. How did I feel about still being in love with one who had let madness and evil shape the actions of his life? Love chose him for me; I had no hand in it. Even so, Erestor would always be the one. He is the reason I stayed. Until I found him, there was no sailing west, and now, when the call comes, I will take him with me. I dare not live with him again, he is too dangerous. Kissing him tenderly, I softly urged him to wake. Beautiful, brown eyes looked sleepily at me, pulling me in, and drowning me in their promise of warmth.

 

Our relentless and violent coupling the night before left no room for gentleness. Holding him tenderly and stroking his face with soft fingertips, I told him how much I loved him. I kissed him pushing my tongue into the warm velvet mouth and softly caressed his body with a lightness that made him sigh with pleasure.

 

Pushing up against me, our arousals brushed together so subtly that I could not tell whose was the hand that brought us to a climactic conclusion; both of us gripped together as if it were always meant. I looked down to a beautiful smile and I was lost.

 

We lay for a while, Erestor in my arms. "Where do we go from here?" He asked. I filled with pain.

 

"We don't." I looked at his questioning face. "Too many awful things have happened Erestor. You made my life a living hell in Gondolin and Imladris. I am not letting you do it again." The words ripped into my fëa as I said them, but I could not indulge myself, in the end I would get hurt as always.

 

"But…" Tears spilled from his eyes, an old trick and one he is especially good at. "I am not the same person I was then."

 

"You said that many times in the past, and like a fool I believed you. Why can't you understand that too much has happened? I cannot trust you and I will not live like that ever again." I did not court anger, but it came anyway. "I am sorry, Erestor. I love you but you are not going to hurt me anymore. Those days are over."

 

"Yes, they are over. I would not hurt you again. I love you." His false sobs still had the power to wrench me in two.

 

"Erestor." I held him to my chest. "I love you, but I have to protect myself. Don't you see that? How can I trust the one who tried to kill me?"

 

"I'm so sorry. Please don't hate me." His tears fell onto my chest.

 

"I don't hate you. I love you." My fingers stroked his head and after a while he calmed somewhat. He knew that fake tears were lost on me.

 

"If you love me, how can you give me up?" Eyes swollen and wet looked accusingly at me.

 

"It is hard, so hard." My heart and fëa broke; laying on my front, I buried my face in the pillow and breathed deep and slow, grieving for what could have been.

Chapter Text

A warm, calculating tear dripped onto my back. "You will love me again and you will want me again. Neither of us can deny our hearts and you are my soul mate." The voice broke but he carried on. "You know this, and we will always keep finding one another until the day we agree to be together. That will be the day we can sail west. You know that neither of us can go until we become as one, so why do you use caution when it is appropriate no more?"

 

How could I let him see the anger and grief on my face? "I do want you, and I do love you, and I know we have to be together for us to sail, but I would rather fade into nothing and die here than let you hurt me again."

 

"What about me, what about how I feel and what about what I want?" Erestor sounded desperate and his breathing was harsh with anger.

 

"Everything has always been about what you want. All through your life everything has been about you and what you want. What about the elves and humans you killed, they had the right to ask that too, but you decided for them." It sounded callous, but all of it was true and he knew it.

 

His hand touched my shoulder and stayed there. "I cannot take any of it back, Glorfindel. I cannot undo any of it. I wish I could because it has made you hate me. You say you love me but I know it's not the truth. You have crossed the line between love and hate and you are mistaking one for the other." He hesitated as if wondering to continue. "You do not love me anymore and that is plain to see. I mistook your desire for love and now I feel cheap and useless. Make no mistake Glorfindel, I do love you and now nothing seems worth it anymore. My life means nothing. For the past five years I made it a priority to find you again and, now that I have, there is nothing for me at all."

 

I sat up and gathered him into my arms. "You are wrong. I do love you and even in my darkest days I could not hate you."

 

"But not enough to try again." The beautiful body shuddered and his face looked away.

 

"Erestor, look at me. If I knew you had truly changed, and I would not be in danger, you would be mine forever." A kissed on his forehead was small comfort to him.

 

"I don't know how to show you or convince you that I have changed and I do not know that I can." He looked down. "I will go to the Halls of Waiting so that you can sail. You do not have to see me again." He rose from the bed and dressed quickly.

 

"What do you mean?" He was too selfish for altruism and I wondered what he was playing at.

 

He looked back at me with furrowed brow. "This is the best way for both of us." He ran down the stairs and opened the door to the outside.

 

He was nearly in his car before I caught him and dragged him back into the cabin. I pushed him onto the settee and held him there. "I will not have you kill yourself because of me. I am not going to be responsible for your death. How selfish are you, Erestor?"

 

After he had finished struggling with me, he screamed that I was the selfish one, that I was denying him his chance to sail and denying myself too. "You are cutting off your nose to spite your face," he yelled angrily. "I do not want my fëa to die here. At least if I go to the halls I will be reborn, and as I am not here, you will be able to sail anyway. I am not scared to die, Glorfindel, it is not forever."

 

"Supposing I never sail?" I wanted to slap him for manipulating me this way, for forcing me into a corner.

 

"That is your choice and a risk I would have to take, but I would hope you did sail because I want a new life for us." He quietened and his voice took on a pleading tone. "I do not want this shit anymore. I have had enough. I do not want to be bad and hated anymore. I want to be better and I know the Valar can cure me. Please, Glorfindel; I am doing what I can."

 

Erestor never admitted his crimes before, even when confronted with them. Guilt, remorse and regret were foreign concepts to him, unless they were part of his scheming. He was unable to feel the finer emotions or those that required one to be selfless. Never would he admit before that he was in need of help, or so desperate. Both of us were aware of the need to sail sooner rather than later. My psyche felt thin and stretched, as if I were reduced in substance and diminishing. Erestor felt it too.

 

"Promise me you will not kill yourself and I will find a way for us to sail to Aman together. We do not have much time left and we need to go sooner rather than later." I held his head to my chest and kissed his hair.

 

He looked up at me as a child would. "Thank you; I promise we will sail together." Then he put his head down again.

 

"Why are you crying again?" I asked softly as I felt the wet of his tears fall on my skin. I suspected he was playing me again as Erestor has never cried a real tear in his life.

 

"Because you have made me so happy."

 

I wondered then if Erestor was showing genuine signs of change. The signs were there but how far they went I did not know. They were there none the less. My impulsive heart raced with anticipation at what could be but my head kept it firmly in check. We would have to see…

Chapter Text

We sat on the sofa, holding one another and silent. I do not know what was racing through Erestor's head, but through mine were the events that separated us the last time.

 

A storm greeted my entry into the courtyard of the Lord's House in Imladris. The rain fell as though it meant it, bouncing off my leather cloak with a vengeance; I remained dry. Fastened shutters and doors held the storm at bay and protected the house. I shrugged and gave a faint smile; soon warmth would be mine. My horse turned about and we sought shelter in the stables. Inside the air smelled warm and sweet, the hay fresh and the water clean. A bag of apples hung from a spike and a stable boy lay asleep on a sack of feed. I told Asfaloth it could be worse. She ignored me, as she always did whenever she considered that I uttered something trivial. I woke the young elf and gave him a gold piece. Without exchanging a word, he took it and led her to a stall.

 

I looked out through the door, waiting for a lull so I could run across to the house. Growing impatient, I ran as fast as I could and hammered on the main door. Freezing cold rain ran down my neck. I cursed myself for not putting my hood up; it was filling with water so it was not an option anymore. Those elves were slow in coming. I hammered hard, shouting as they unlocked the door.

 

A surly warrior type elf asked who I thought I was shouting like that. I ordered him to take me to Lord Elrond and he refused. I ordered him again and he asked who I thought I was.

 

"Lord Glorfindel, formerly of Gondolin, I am also the new Captain of the Guard. Now take me to Lord Elrond."

 

He blanched; how I loved doing that. He explained Elrond was in a meeting and could not be disturbed. I asked him if he was a warrior and he replied that he was.

 

"We have not got off on the right foot, have we?" He blanched again. It is so enjoyable sometimes, to have a high position. "Take me to where he is and I will do the rest." Obviously, he was unhappy, but what the hell, I did not give a shit. I put my hand on his shoulder. "Fear me the most, because I can make you know that life is not worth living."

 

It was not lost on him. "Yes Sir! I will take you there but I should tell you that when Lord Elrond is in a meeting it is not always a meeting; well not in the conventional sense anyway." He looked uncomfortable.

 

"I like your loyalty..." I waited for him to supply his name. It was Andaer.

 

He led me to a carved wooden door painted a matt off-white colour. "Go now." Andaer did not need telling twice. I knocked hard and the door opened after a minute or so.

 

My cloak was over my arm and I stood in my travelling clothes. The cold wetness of my clothing made me tired and I ached. "Oh! Lord Glorfindel?" I glared. A blond elf in the back of the room with only a bed robe on sat at the table with a cup of tea and regarded me with tired curiosity. "Lindir, I will be back later on to see how you are getting on." He shut the door behind him and we walked along the corridor.

 

"I am a healer as well." Elrond looked at me daring me to say anything about what I had seen.

 

"Sure you are." I smirked; he laughed loudly and clapped me on the back. "We were expecting you after the storm. It is rough weather to be riding."

 

We stopped at his rooms and he asked me to come inside. We sat at the table and he poured two glasses of Miruvor. The fiery liqueur warmed me through and I did not feel so cold anymore. "Your clothes are wet through, do you want to change? My clothes should fit you and you can have a bath." He made a helpless gesture. "I am sorry your room is not ready." He walked over to the wall and pulled a bell cord. A servant arrived and he said something I did not catch.

 

The bath warmed me through and made me feel an elf again. Warm on the inside and on the outside, everything looked much better than before. Elrond entered the bath and relaxed over the other side. The bath was more like a small pool; you could teach a kid to swim in it. I wanted him. He was strong, graceful, elegant, and so damn sexy. I wanted to fuck him hard and he knew it. I ran my hand up his calf, his thigh and then his chest. He panted, breathing hard and fast and pulled me closer. Our tongues fought in a warrior kiss, a battle for dominance. Here was no soft and gentle lover. Here was an elf that would meet me half way and would demand as much as I would. I let him take me and then I took him. Water splashed across the floor and walls, we were like rutting animals and when we came down from our pleasure, we saw a figure standing, watching us from the door.

 

Elrond grinned and inside I died. "Erestor! Say hello to Glorfindel, he is our new Captain." He raised an eyebrow, gave us both a superior look, then turned around and left.

Chapter Text

How could Erestor be in Imladris? What right did he have to expect fidelity from me, when he had yelled that he hoped I die in the fall of our city? I determined not to feel bad, but inside I feared him, because I knew what he could do.

 

Elrond raised a surprised eyebrow; the other, more cynical one, stayed in place. "It is unlike Erestor to be so rude."

 

"I knew Erestor in Gondolin. We were lovers. I did not know he would be here." My face flushed. I did not want him to see, so I looked away.

 

"I am so sorry. I would never have…"

 

"No. It is not like that. He has no claim over me. Just before my death, he shouted that he hoped I would die. I told him to stop thinking about saving himself and to lead the survivors out of the city." You do not see a confused Elrond every day, but here he was in real life. "He wanted me to stop fighting and carry him away to safety, when I refused he lost his temper and screamed that he hoped that I would die. When the balrog took me I saw him laugh. That has stayed with me ever since, in the Halls and now here."

 

"This is not the Erestor that we know in Imladris; however, elves can change and it may have been that leading the survivors to safety was the making of him. I cannot even countenance the Erestor you talk of." He did not believe me. Maybe, Erestor had changed; so why didn't I believe it?

 

I got out of the bath, took a towel and dried off. Damn you Erestor, I will not let you screw this life up. Who do you think you are?

 

Elrond followed after and we sat in front of the fire, drinking miruvor with towels round our waists.

 

"I was going to offer you the use of my bed tonight." Elrond looked half-uncomfortable and half-hopeful.

 

Outside was dark and the lightening started. I needed to feel loved, if only for a night. "You still are." I took his hand and led him to the bed. I knew he would not resist.

 

That was a good night; I needed it. Elrond introduced me at breakfast. Erestor never once made eye contact. That was how it was going to be for several weeks until I saw him walking down a corridor and disappearing into his rooms. My blood boiled; how dare he ignore me and leave me hanging.

 

His door was plain, with a small gold coloured metal flower that served as a knocker. The flower of my house in Gondolin. What in Eru's name was he playing at? I knocked hard. No answer. I knocked again. Still no answer. The next knock was with my boot kicking the door in. I stormed into the room and everything went black. Erestor had punched me and I landed stunned, on the floor.

 

I said before that he was strong, and he must have been to haul me across the floor and heave me onto the bed. I awoke spread-eagled and tied to the posts. Of course, I was nude. Erestor was never one to cut corners.

 

The whole of Arda would freeze over before I let him know how scared I was. To the side lay a tray, items meant for me arranged on top. I watched him carefully testing the strength of the ties that bound my wrists and ankles.

 

"You will not break free." A cruel smirk; this was the Erestor I knew.

 

He leaned over and kissed me. I kept my mouth firmly shut. My body arched as the whip slashed across my stomach and I cried out. "When I want to kiss you, I will."

 

"You will not break me. Do your worst." I should have kept my mouth shut. I writhed in agony and the pain was exquisite in its extremity. All the time the soft voice talking to me. Never raised and seeming so reasonable when compared to the suffering wrung from my helpless, bound body. I thought I knew pain and terror when the balrog snared me with its fiery whip and I burned alive. That was quick and nothing compared to the ministrations of the beautiful and extremely wicked elf before me. He knew the meaning of pain. He knew exactly what it could do.

 

It took all day and most of the night. He broke me. He broke my body and my spirit. I lay there in his arms sobbing like a child, my mind completely gone. I was grateful to him for stopping, and as he held me in his arms I did not want to be anywhere else. I was grateful for every soft touch and each endearment soothed my tortured fëa. I remember saying many times how sorry I was. Erestor's soft words as I lay shaking in his arms made me feel that everything would be forgiven, that by his grace everything would be all right. I loved him so much for that and it terrified me.

Chapter Text

I could hear the bath running. In the background somewhere, Erestor sung softly. I recognised the tune, a hymn we learned as children in our Gondolin schoolroom, praising Nienna for her mercy. The irony was not lost on me, but I was too far gone to enjoy the deliciousness of it. The heavy scent of vanilla and almonds wafted through the bedroom, reminding me of the creamy custard confections sold on the street stands in our former home. Gondolin had been beautiful and, until I met Erestor, I had been content and happy. The aroma reminded me of my once naive innocence, now lost forever. Once again, I felt the tears slipping from my eyes.

 

A hand caressed my cheek and my bruised slit eyes tried to open. Lips tenderly kissed them shut again. "I have to tell Elrond our good news, sweet one. Back soon." Another kiss. "Will miss you, my love, my sweet one." The door closed behind him and I felt terribly alone.

 

He did not bother to tell me to stay in bed or warn me about leaving the room. I could not move anyway without severe pain. "Please Námo," I prayed, "Please take me, I cannot fulfil the oath." Of course, no help came; I lay there and waited. I wondered how Erestor could do this to me. What was in him that made him so wicked, that made him enjoy my pain. I would never understand, and so that I could live with the psychological effects I told myself that he was mad and could not help his actions. However, I suspected he was anything but, and wondered what made him love wickedness. He was born into a stable family with no concerns about his behaviour occurring as a child; not that I know of anyway. I am at a loss to explain any of it.

 

A knock on the door and it opened. I could not see who it was, but I heard the gasp. "Glorfindel what happened to you?"

 

"Ah, Melpomaen there you are. I was hoping to see you today. Glorfindel was injured in a skirmish with a group of orcs last night and Elrond has said that I can look after him." Erestor sounded cheerful and pleasant. "Poor thing, he is so brave Mel. We are so lucky that we have such selfless warriors to protect us, are we not?"

 

Melpomaen took my hand and held it. "I think you are very brave and thank you, Glorfindel." I tried to answer but could only grunt. Get out of here Melpomaen. Someone, please, knock on Erestor's door and take the elfling away.

 

"Mel, it is your fiftieth begetting day tomorrow is it not?" Erestor sounded so warm and pleasant. "Let us have a glass of wine, only one glass mind. We don't want you getting tiddly."

 

"Thank you, Uncle Erestor. It smells lovely in here doesn't it?" The elfling drank the wine and talked excitedly about his coming of age party. "Uncle Erestor, I feel funny." If any of the Valar are listening, get him out of here. Get this evil bastard away from him…

 

"Melpomaen, you will not remember being in my rooms at all this morning, do you understand?" The voice changed and I feared the worst.

 

Their voices disappeared into the distance as they left the rooms and I could not hear what they were saying, but I blame Erestor for Melpomaen's death the following month. He was never the same again and seemed to diminish before our very eyes. He faded rapidly and we knew not why. Elrond could not divine the reason and the preparations to take him to the Havens came too late. He never had the chance to sail. I grieved for him and I still do; he was little more than a child. It is to my eternal shame that if I had not been so terrified of Erestor, I might have been able to stop him from dying. I cannot change things, and I cannot live in the past, but I hope there is a retribution for the death of a sweet innocent who had no reason not to trust the one, who I am convinced, killed him.

 

Erestor came back after a while and told me that he had taken Melpomaen to the healing wing and delivered him into the care of Elrond. I later found that this was true. Melpomaen had seemed to recover after a nap and it was thought that maybe he did not tolerate alcohol very well. The morning after his begetting celebration he was found sitting in the corridor outside his room, drooling and staring into space, he recognised no one, not even his mother. Erestor was never suspected; he had always been trustworthy in the past and was an old family friend. Melpomaen's mother clung to him during the funeral and said that if it had not been for Erestor she could not have carried on. Melpomaen was her only son; and now she was alone, her husband killed in a riding accident some years before. She sailed shortly after. How I hated him for that, and I still do. It was so needless and crue,l and I know in my heart that it was him.

 

I lay in the bed relieved that Melpomaen had left the room alive, even though he felt strange, and I relaxed somewhat. I drifted into a dreamless sleep until Erestor softly announced, in what seemed only minutes later, that I needed a bath. An arm gently slid under my shoulders and I hissed with the pain. Erestor said nothing. His other arm moved under my knees and he picked me up. It hurt to breathe and Erestor attempted to soothe my distress by talking to me and telling me that everything would be all right. For him maybe, but never for me.

 

I look at him now. He sits on my lap and my arms encircle him. He is upset and vulnerable; the dried tracks where his tears ran still show on his cheeks. I wonder how I still love him. I do not know the answer. However, I know exactly why I also hate him; that is very clear. Whether he has changed or not, I see no end to how I feel about him, and that may be what is holding us both back.

Chapter Text

The bath was warm and Erestor held me in position as I floated in the scented water. A cloth gently wiped my body and the blood washed away. My eyes opened slightly so I could see through the slits. I quickly shut them again. Strong fingers gently washed through my hair and I wondered at the paradox that one so brutal could be so gentle. All the time Erestor spoke to me in his soft voice, reassuring me and telling me that everything would be all right. I had to believe him; I could not do otherwise. He would have known and I feared the consequences.

 

He sat me by the fire and dried me, before putting me back to bed. "Sleep, precious one." A small glass was held to my lips and he urged me to drink. I hoped it was poison.

 

Elrond was under the impression that we wanted to be alone, that we patched up our differences and wanted to spend private time together. He was more than happy to encourage true love and sent a bunch of roses and some wine that afternoon, agreeing that I could take a week or two away from my duties. Unknown to me at the time he suspected Erestor was unstable but had no proof, and certainly no idea that he would go to the lengths he did. He told me later that he had welcomed my partnership with Erestor, because he hoped that I would be a positive influence. He was also suspicious of Melpomaen's death, but could not understand the mechanism of it. Therefore, no investigation took place. He never suspected for one moment the hell I endured and I never told him; I was too embarrassed.

 

I slowly recovered. Slower than an elf would normally, my heart was broken and my mind not far behind. Life continued and we were apparently a happy couple. Erestor was not as vicious as he was in Gondolin and displayed less extremes of temper, so life was more bearable. He had learned not to show any hint of his madness in public or where there was a chance of being overheard. I remained extremely wary of him, but no matter what, if Erestor felt that I showed even the slightest disobedience or rebellion, I would be subject to a repeat of the first terrifying assault without warning and purely at his whim.

 

The day came when I rescued the hobbit. My life had no value. If a black rider had struck me down, it would have been welcome. I fulfilled my vow, and the evil was swept away. The ring quest could go ahead.

 

After the Council of the Ring, Erestor drugged my food and I awoke tied to the bed. He accused me of putting myself deliberately in danger so that I could escape him. None of the previous tortures came near the agony he put me through that night. I had regained some seeds of self-esteem, and for the first time felt that my return to Middle Earth was not for nothing. He destroyed all of that. It is recorded that Elrond sent me to make the outlying lands safe for the ring party, but in reality I was in the healing rooms, with Elrond working with the other healers, trying to save my life. Erestor disappeared that night. I never saw him again, until now.

 

It took months for me to recover. Elrond suggested I sail, I was so weak. I lost weight and was a shadow of my former self, thin and gaunt, my hair like straw. Aragorn looked shocked when he saw me at his coronation and embraced me afterwards with tears in his eyes. "What happened to you, my friend?"

 

"Erestor." Elrond said grimly and put a supporting hand on my shoulder.

 

Elrond continued to look after me until I regained my strength. He held me at night, and if it had not been for him I would have lost my sanity. As elves left the house to sail, we became more intimate. Then I knew what it was to be in a relationship with someone who did not want to hurt me. Someone who cared about me, for no other reason than wanting to make me happy.

 

The time came for Elrond to sail. We stayed with Aragorn and Arwen for several months and Elrond resisted as long as he could. One day, he arose from our bed and said that he would make his way to the Havens. We said our goodbyes and he left me watching him from the main defensive wall. I watched until I could not see him anymore and then I stared into the distance, my heart heavy and filled with overwhelming sadness. Elrond is not my soul mate, but I loved him and I still do. I will never forget his generosity of spirit and his extreme care and kindness. Without him, I would not be here and I would not know the value of being; perhaps his most valuable gift.

 

I wandered through the ages and eventually elves faded from living memory and became folklore. I still hoped for the call to sail. When I went to the Havens a couple of years ago, they did not exist anymore, in any form, not even as an archaeological curiosity. I wonder why I thought they would. A large council estate stood over the ground where once Cirdan's castle had proudly stood.

 

Everything is lost in the end.

Chapter Text

Fern rang to get an update; Erestor went home, and I stayed to talk to Eddie Fish about the missing woman. We shared a greasy breakfast, nothing like food running in fat to subdue a recalcitrant stomach. Fried bread dipped in tinned tomatoes and runny egg yolk; there is nothing like it.

 

"Her name was Honey; nothing sweet about her though. Tough, like a tiger." Eddie cut a mushroom in half. The knife scraped a high-pitched sound across the plate and I wondered if he always did that. "She was medium height, brown hair, green eyes. She had a disapproving mouth, like everything she saw offended her. Know what I mean?"

 

I nodded. "You could be describing most women." I took a bite of fried bread. It tasted of bacon fat. It tasted good.

 

"Her nose was always wrinkling like something shit on her upper lip; still can't have been easy being married to Miggins. She said he took her money and ran off with it." Eddie waved a sausage around on the end of his fork as he spoke. "So I heard, that bit was true."

 

"Did she have a lot of money?" That sausage was going to fly off the fork.

 

"Her father owns a photographic studio; settled a large sum on her when Miggins took her off his hands." Eddie took a bite of the sausage and the fat from the end dripped in two droplets onto the plate.

 

"What sort of photographic studio?" I mopped up the tomato juice with some of my bread and looked at him. For the hell of it, I let some juice drip onto my plate.

 

"Not the sort that would take your kids photos." Eddie grinned. "I hear they are looking for well built young men for their centrefolds." He laughed at his joke.

 

"You going to audition then?" I raised an eyebrow, knowing that he knew he was a skinny little runt.

 

"Fuck you, Fin." He laughed; it was false and we both knew it.

 

"So she runs after him. Then what?" I yawned, and stretched my arms upwards. A couple of women sharing a table over the other side leered at me. I mouthed silently and smugly, "I'm gay."

 

They looked at each other and giggled. The blond one mouthed, "So are we." They giggled some more.

 

"Well suddenly she goes missing and Miggins seems none the wiser. Maybe he killed her, wouldn't put it past him." Eddie was finishing his meal and I was glad. When he opened his mouth to speak his lips made a glitchy noise and his jaw clacked when he chewed. Probably broke it in the past. Didn't mean he should make us have to listen to it. Noisy bastard, should have eaten in a room on his own.

 

"You want to show me where she stayed?" I stood up and Eddie followed.

 

We walked out into the sunshine. The morning freshness faded as the heat was set in. A shimmering heat haze formed over the lake and midges buzzed in clouds at the water's edge. We went to a medium sized cabin with two bedrooms on the upper level.

 

"Has the cabin been cleaned since she left?" I knew it had.

 

"We didn't know she was gone until she didn't come back. Her clothes are still in the wardrobe." He looked apologetic and gave me a photo. "This is what she looked like."

 

"You assume she is dead?" Seemed a foregone conclusion and I wondered why Eddie was not being more careful. Perhaps he didn't feel like a suspect.

 

"People don't just disappear leaving their clothes behind. Her purse is missing, but that is all." Eddie went over to the window and opened it. "Bit stuffy in here."

 

"You think Miggins killed her?" Eddie nodded. "How about Mr Eress?"

 

"Why would Mr Eress kill her?" Eddie gave me a sharp, angry glance.

 

"Because he is a psycho, that's why." I knew my stuff; didn't hurt for Eddie to know too.

 

"Mr Eress hasn't killed anyone since his car crash. Says he hasn't felt like it. Doesn't give him the same kick. Know what I mean?" I gave Eddie my best sceptical look. "Mr Eress would have welcomed Honey because he could get the fake marriage annulled. Without a Mrs Miggins he couldn't prove a thing."

 

"So who did you pay to tear the marriage certificate out of the book?" Eddie looked surprised, but recovered quickly.

 

"Mr Eress is a sleeping partner in a temp agency. They supply the local council so it was easy. She didn't realise there would be an index page; she's not the brightest button." Eddie laughed at his joke and I grinned.

 

"Is Mr Eress a sleeping partner in every business in this city?" I was being sarcastic, but Eddie nodded and said that pretty much, he was. I looked at a small photo of a woman, who looked like it hurt her to smile, with Miggins looking at her with a wide smile and cold eyes. The whole photo was set in a faded heart border. How romantic. "This her?"

 

Eddie was losing interest and he nodded. "Have to go now Fin. Got places to go and people to see." He couldn't wait to get out. Maybe the place gave him the creeps, and if it did then he knew more than he was letting on. "Can I leave you here?" He tossed the key onto the settee, grinned and left.

 

I sat on a chair taking in the atmosphere. I am an elf and I feel things. She was dead, and when I saw her sitting opposite me with a veil over the upper half of her face, I half expected it. I had felt her presence and knew that at some point she would appear.

 

I looked directly at her. "I can't help you, Mam. He is already dead."

 

"I know he is dead and I would have done it myself if I could." She shifted a bit on the seat. "Find my body Glorfindel, it is in the lake. Go to the jetty and get me out of there. I want to go back home."

 

"How do you know my name?" She threw me. I had not used my real name in hundreds of years.

 

"I don't know. I am new at this. You think I know everything?" She seemed impatient and started picking at her dress.

 

"Do you know who killed Miggins?" I thought it was worth asking but she shook her head and told me to get out into the sun before a kid found her. "One last question?" She assented and I asked if Miggins killed her.

 

"Well, duh"

 

I ran to the jetty and there was a waterlogged hand barely brushing the surface. In a while, the body would break water so I rang Fern and told him. It took barely fifteen minutes for him and the support services to reach Summer Hills.

 

The two divers pulled her out of the water. She wore the dress that she wore as a ghost but there was nothing over her face.

 

"Fuck!" Fern hardly ever used bad language but this took his breath away. I knew then why she wore a veil.

Chapter Text

There was no need for the way Honey Miggins died. It was an act of barbaric cruelty. Erestor was more subtle in his methods. However, the wickedness that lay behind this deed reminded me of him. Only an egregious master of cruelty could have done an act so iniquitous. It seemed Erestor had met his match and the butler deserved to die horribly, nailed to my garage door and slowly bleeding to death. But who killed him? Only one could have stood up to this demon and punished him appropriately, that was Erestor, but he had the tightest of alibis.

 

Her pallid and waterlogged, white skin was slashed to ribbons across her abdomen. A tiny piece of white protruded from one of the deeper cuts.

 

Honey's ghost stood next to me and gasped. "My baby." I wanted to comfort her but how do you hold a ghost? I looked at belly, she had the swelling of a six-month pregnancy. I wondered why I had not seen that before. I looked at her face with the veil still covering the upper half. "She will never be born now, I will always carry her."

 

Some people your heart just dies for.

 

Fern was not looking anywhere but at the waterlogged face, and still reeling from the shock. "Where the fuck are her eyes? Where are her eyelids? What sick bastard would do something like this?" Even I was stunned at the wanton cruelty. I had fought in battle and seen many terrible things, but both sides knew what they were getting into and what could ensue. Honey was an unwitting victim and that was unfair in anyone's book.

 

Her body was put into a bag and taken away. "Guess you found your missing woman." Fern's colour was still drained. "You have any idea who might have done this to her?"

 

"Miggins." I walked beside Fern noticing that Honey kept up just behind me. "He needed her out of the way so that his marriage to Mr Eress would be valid. According to Eddie Fish, she showed up loudly accusing Miggins of running off and showing her marriage certificate around to anyone who would look. That is the last anyone saw of her. He says Miggins married her and ran off with her money as soon as he could."

 

"Could Eress have killed her?" Fern looked at me over the roof of his car. "He could have killed her, and then Miggins in a fit of anger; hell he has been known to kill even when mildly pissed off. One day we will get the bastard, something will stick. You mark my words."

 

"He couldn't have killed Miggins because he was drugged up to the eyeballs and it was in his interest to let Honey live. He can't remember marrying Miggins and disputes that he was actually there. He hated him. I think Eress is clear of this one. It all points to Miggins." I smiled. "Shortest murder investigation you will ever have, Fern."

 

"I'm not sure Fin. You spent last night fucking the ass of Eress. Seems like you would say that." He smirked at me and went to get in the car.

 

"You had me watched?" I was slightly miffed and wondered if he had filmed us or something. Then I wondered why I was surprised. He did what I would have done.

 

"Fin, he is a suspect and a nasty piece of work. You are like a son to me, so I had you watched; what of it?" There was no arguing with Fern when he was like this.

 

I raised an ironic eyebrow. It was the left one. The other couldn't be bothered. "Yes dad. Anyway, have you considered that the only reason Eress did not kill Miggins is because they were as bad as one another? He might have met his match in Miggins, so was biding his time and being careful."

 

"You mean he would have killed him in the end?" Fern looked hopeful.

 

"We can certainly assume he would have done."

 

"Well doesn't that tell you something, Fin? He is a very nasty man and you shouldn't hang around with him." He spoke like I was a child; then grinned and got in the car.

 

I walked back up the track and to the cabin that I spent the night in, got my stuff and slung it in the back seat. Couldn't put it in the front as Honey was already sitting there waiting for me. I drove my car in the direction of my house wondering what it looked like after a million police officers and forensics had trampled over it.

 

We drove through the hills, away from the resort, bypassing the city, and in a straight line along the coast road. The ocean glittered where the sun hit it and the beach curved gracefully round to the rocky cliffs at the end. We were in the middle of nowhere and the beach was not as full as the amenity fed beaches up the road. I like quiet and I like privacy. I am an elf and love the sound of nature, of listening to its heartbeat, the rhythm that maintains our cycles. It is hard to hear it now; there is little left that is truly natural.

 

The electric gates opened and I drove inside. The garage door was missing; no doubt taken away to be examined. The rest of the property was secure. After searching the house, it seems everything had been tidied. I had Fern to thank for that, I assumed. I knew I wasn't a serious suspect but it still brought it home to me that I was one.

Chapter Text

Honey sat on the sofa and drew her feet up underneath her and a bit to the side. I made a coffee and sat down. "I did not make you one. Is that all right?"

 

"Nice of you to ask, Fin." She smiled, thin lips curving upwards. I could imagine the creases around the eyes in a genuine smile. No, wait…

 

"I am sorry that this happened to you. You look a nice person."

 

"Fin, you were asked to look into my disappearance, by Erestor, before I even went missing. He didn't want me dead because then his marriage to Miggins would have been harder to disprove. He suspected Miggins would try to kill me. I know this because I overhead him at the lakeside talking to Eddie about it. He made sure that Miggins knew you would be looking into a missing woman, hoping to warn him off doing anything. Erestor was extremely angry with him for his treatment of me and they argued. That night Miggins attacked me and tried to rape Erestor, who kicked the crap out of him. Who would have thought he could do that? That is all I know. I do not know what happened to Miggins but he deserved to be killed. I hope it was as painful for him as it was for me." She watched me as I took a sip of the coffee.

 

"I really do not know how to put this but I was wondering…" I was going to ask how she knew Erestor's name.

 

She pulled of her veil and looked at me from two gaping holes in her face. "He did this whilst I was still alive. He forced my eyes down my throat. Then he made me eat the lids. I kept vomiting but it made no difference, he made me eat them anyway. I could not move because of being tied to the table. Then he slashed me across the belly and told me that the little bastard inside was not his child. But, Fin she was his child, and she was mine too. Why do you think he hated us so much?"

 

"I really don't know. I have no idea." I felt my eyes filling and she put the veil back on.

 

"I am sorry Fin. I did not mean to upset you." She looked genuinely concerned.

 

"I can't help it Honey. I am an elf and all new life is precious to us." I looked at her and she said she knew.

 

"Erestor is an elf too, did you know that?"I nodded that I did. "Miggins took me to Erestor's house to talk, said it was his. Erestor was apparently not in and the staff were taking some time off. I don't really want to dwell on it but Erestor had fallen asleep and missed his business meeting and scheduled for another day. He must have heard me screaming when Miggins removed the gag to make me eat."

 

I felt sick and wanted to comfort her and tell her everything would be all right, but it would not be, and she knew it.

 

"Erestor stormed in, started yelling at him, and tried to free me. He said my baby was precious too." She bit a corner of her nail. "Miggins started saying he was doing it for him, and then tried to force Erestor to have sex with him, right in front of me. Miggins got the crap kicked out of him for that. Erestor half killed him, with his bare hands as well. Said that he hated him and how dare he come and live in the house and make out he was married to him." That seemed to impress her but I was more impressed that Erestor had valued the baby's life. He had killed children before, and it seemed that he might have been telling the truth when he said that he had changed.

 

"Can you see me now or are you blind because of your eyes?"

 

"I can see you. I lost my eyes, not the spirit of them. You have golden blond hair, blue eyes and you are built like a…"

 

"Honey, I already feel uncomfortable. " She giggled.

 

"I would have made a play for you if I was still alive." She grinned coyly and I laughed. "I would have had you too."

 

"What happened next?" I did not know how to handle this; it is not everyday a ghost comes on to me.

 

"They were fighting and they sounded as though they were throwing each other around the room. I was in so much pain I could not really take account of anything they were doing and I needed to get away, then I felt the cold against my skin and a sharp stinging pain across my neck. Next thing I knew, I was standing looking at myself and Miggins was kneeling over, face all bloody, shouting to Erestor that he was going to kill him. Erestor rang Eddie Fish who came straight over. Miggins had run off in the meantime; he accused you of being Erestor's lover just before he went and said he was off to kill you. Eddie drugged Erestor; it took all his henchmen to hold him down. He thought Erestor was hysterical, but I say he was raging with anger. Eddie said that he would not let Miggins kill you but Erestor said you could look after yourself. I saw the damage you did to Miggins' eye so I guess he was correct. Anyway, Erestor was real upset that I had died and that I had been pregnant. That was nice of him. Strikes me as a really nice person; you don't get many nice people nowadays."

 

"Yes he is nice, he is very caring." It did not hurt her to believe that. Might have made things easier for her. I do not know.

 

"I went with my body in the car, so I knew where it was, and waited to see if it would be found. Eddie dumped it in the lake and said to give it a few days and it would surface. He didn't like it but he had to remove me from Erestor's house so he wasn't blamed. Apparently he has had some psychiatric problems in the past; you know how judgemental people can be." She seemed to be agitated and she looked more transparent.

 

"This means Eddie could not have killed Miggins, so who the hell did?" Everything seemed more complex now and I wondered how to put everything together.

 

"Glorfindel, promise me that you will take me and my baby back home." She was rapidly fading.

 

"I promise." The transparent form faded quickly but I knew she heard because through the window a small ray of sunlight beamed down onto the sofa where she had been sitting. I looked outside to see where it came from. The clouds had rolled in from the sea, thick and heavy; Anor could not be seen at all. There would be a storm tonight.

Chapter Text

I lay on the sofa, in the dark, listening to the storm. The furious smashing of waves against the rock, which my house perched on top of, gave a delightful frisson of danger even though I knew I was safe. My old house was not about to go crashing down into the ocean anytime soon. The air, so heavy you could almost touch it, smelled of sweet earth and salt spray. The open window looked out over the water and occasionally the waves rose high enough to leave small droplets of spray against the glass and the inner sill.

 

I am an elf; I love storms. Sometimes our control of nature causes it to rear up and bite us in the ass, just to remind us.

 

It is easy to get lost in the noise; the ocean crashing against my particular household rock, the rain driving hard against the windows, the silence of the sea birds, and the thunder, the loud crashing thunder. How awesome the noise of thunder is, and how small do I feel when Aulë hammer smashes its power through the sky. The room lights up and everything is as day for a split-second before the dark. Great-tongued forks of lightning hit the sea and the sky lights up for an instance, revealing angry dark grey and smoky yellow clouds. I felt momentarily sorry for those who would be out in the rain; they would be cold and soaked to the skin. I felt warm and cosy in the dry room; the air felt fresh and the recent humidity was lessening. It is at times like this that I feel nature the strongest.

 

I took a drink of the wine standing on the table by my side. The room lit up with a flash followed shortly by an explosive thunderclap. The storm was nearing and there was less time between the flashes. It would be passing over my house shortly. Whilst putting the glass down the lightning flashed again and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the silhouette of a dark form looking through the window. I jumped and rolled onto the floor grabbing my gun from the table as I went. The lightning flashed again and the form was gone. Did I imagine it? No, I was a warrior and those senses never leave. I twisted round to make myself less of a target and aimed at the window. Nothing there, so I jumped up and turned quickly to run to the door keeping my profile side on to make me less visible. Without warning, a blast came from the window. I spun round and shot, aiming for the form briefly lit up by a flash from behind. At the time, I did not feel it. I should have done but I was too intent on firing back. After firing I felt the wetness and pain. My right buttock was bleeding and hurt like hell. Every time I put weight on my right leg, electric shocks of pain zinged through my hip to my ankle. I did not know if I had hit him. Even if I did not, I hoped that he was disabled, or run away. I staggered to the front door and opened it slightly. No potential attacker there. I opened the door fully and looked the other way. A foot protruded past the corner of the house wall. By the look of it, the owner was laying down on the ground. I walked unsteadily along to the corner, the thunder covering any noise I might make.

 

I made a sudden move to stand over my prone attacker, gun pointing in his face.

 

"If I die so does Mr Eress. If I don't get back my men will kill him." Eddie Fish looked desperate. I knew he was lying. A small pool of darkness seeped through his fingers as he held the wound in his chest.

 

"Do you think I care?" I cocked the gun and his eyes widened. "You think I would believe that any harm could come to Mr Eress. He is never in danger unless he puts himself in it."

 

"Don't shoot." He pleaded and I stayed where I was. "He killed my niece. It's nothing personal, Glorfindel, but you are his lover, and I needed to hurt him like he has hurt me."

 

"What is it? Were you fucking her or something?" The wound in my ass hurt and I was losing patience.

 

He looked guiltily at me. "She was my sister's child. She was also my child and Mr Eress killed her."

 

What was he telling me, that he fucked his sister? "What?"

 

"She was my daughter, not just my niece, how simple do I have to make this for you. No wonder people make up blond jokes." Eddie was losing it too.

 

"You are the one laying on the ground, Eddie. Not me." The blood covered his fingers as he tried to stop his blood from escaping.

 

Eddie looked desperate and a thin line of blood trickled from his mouth. "It's hard to breath, Fin."

 

He was dying and a gurgling sound came from his chest. I relaxed my guard and lowered my gun to squat down and hold his hand. My ass hurt at the stretch and I winced, shutting my eyes and slightly losing my balance with the pain. Eddie used this momentary lapse and plunged a knife into my guts. I looked at him in disbelief and wondered why I had not seen the blade. I knew why. I was out of shape and I had allowed my reaction times and intuition to take a back seat because today is safer than when I lived in Imladris.

 

"You didn't think I would go that easily, did you?" His eyelids fluttered, he was losing consciousness.

 

"Eddie." I roused him and he looked at me. "Mr Eress could not have killed your niece. The chocolates were for him. Whoever poisoned the chocolates was trying to kill him. He did not know they were poisoned." Hell, I did not know if I was speaking the truth but I was not going to let him die happy. A knife in the guts and a bullet in the ass tend to knock charitable thoughts on the head.

 

He looked confused. "You don't know that." He was gasping for breath and the gurgling was louder. Red foamy flecks landed on me as he coughed.

 

"Yes I do." I gave him a superior smile. "Seems you pulled all this shit for nothing. How does it feel to die because you did not think something through properly?"

 

He gurgled that I should go fuck myself but it did not come out properly. A well of blood erupted from his mouth and he looked at me panicking and grasping at my arm. I picked him up and held him close as he shook, to ease his terror, and he died in my arms.

 

I put Eddie back on the ground. It was still raining and the drops of water mixed with the blood as if to wash away his sins. The cold aching in my belly made me feel sick. My butt hurt like crazy. I could not remove the knife just in case it made me bleed. You think the craziest things in those situations. I knew I had to go to hospital and I wondered how I would lay down with both my front and back hurting. I tottered into the house, crashing into things as the pain increased with each movement. I felt so sick. My mobile lay on the table and I rang the number at the top of my last rung list.

 

It took a while for Fern to reply and the pain was getting the better of me. "Fern? I've been shot… I'm at home…" I sat on the floor slumped against the chair, holding my belly. I do not know what he replied as all I could concentrate upon was the pain. If I stayed still then it was not so bad and I was aware that I probably caused more damage by moving around.

 

Come on Fern, hurry up. I reached over to the house remote and pressed the button for the electric gates to open; the front door was unlocked and probably wide open. The storm still raged lighting up the room before each thunderclap. The sea still crashed against the rocks below. I could not enjoy any of it, anymore.

Chapter Text

It seemed like forever before help came. I sat holding my hand where the knife still protruded and my leg felt heavy and numb. My butt cheek still hurt and I tried not to put too much pressure on it. I heard the sirens and my mood lifted.

 

"I told you to stay out of trouble, Fin." Fern squatted down and I gave a weak grin. He looked at the knife hilt and his brows furrowed. "I thought you said you were shot?"

 

"I got shot in the ass, the knife was an afterthought." I was aware of the paramedics talking to me, asking me about the pain and wanting to look at the bullet wound. "I can't move, it hurts too much." They took my blood pressure and asked me all the usual about how old I was, date of birth, did I know where I was and other stuff. My blood pressure was taken again and I wondered why they didn't just bundle me off to the hospital. I was in pain and getting irritated. "For fuck's sake, just get me out of here."

 

"They are just doing their job, Fin." Fern nodded at one of the paramedics and I wondered what they were doing, he took my hand and held it.

 

A needle pushed in my other hand and a welcome dose of morphine streamed through it; I relaxed. Little fingers of darkness crept into my consciousness to pull me under. The pain, though not completely gone, receded into the distance. I was exhausted and it would have been easy to fall asleep, but Fern kept talking to me.

 

"Who did it?" Fern looked as though he thought I would say that Erestor had done it.

 

I did not have to answer. A police officer walked into the room and whispered something to Fern and he looked at me. "Eddie Fish, do this to you?"

 

I nodded. "He shot me through the window, so I fired back. Then he stabbed me just before he died." Careful hands were guiding me onto a trolley and I winced once or twice when the pain decided to let me know it was still there.

 

"You will be all right, Fin." Fern accompanied me into the ambulance. A bag of pale yellow liquid ran through a line attached to the needle in my hand; I panicked. "What's that?" I am not a good patient. The last time I ever needed healing was when I fell out of a tree in Imladris and broke my arm. Elrond killed himself with laughter for several months after, on that one, not because I broke my arm, but because I was scared and whined like a baby when he set it.

 

"It is to keep your blood pressure up." The paramedic answered, he sat beside me and attached an oxygen mask to my face.

 

"I don't need this." I said, my voice sounding strange through the plastic. "Get it off."

 

He smiled and gave me more morphine. I fell into a blissful sleep. I briefly remember little details. Tiny flashes of consciousness, mainly pain related. However, for the most part, I was asleep. When I awoke in recovery I was lucid, sleepily awake and drugged up to the eyeballs; I could not even think what I would like to do to the rather hot male nurse who was looking after me.

 

"My girlfriend is thinking about getting elf shaped ears. Did it hurt when you got yours done?" He grinned at me and touched the tip. "You can't even see the scars. You must have had a really good surgeon. Did he do it all from the inside?"

 

I gave him a polite smile, wishing he would shut the fuck up. "I don't know; it was a long time ago." Yes, like when I was in the womb. Why are humans so fascinated by pointy ears? Probably because they do not have them.

 

"Have you seen Lord of the Rings?" Didn't I just know that was coming? He took my blood pressure again. "I love that film." Well he would, wouldn't he? Water filled a plastic disposable cup and he offered it to me. "Just a little bit." I took a sip, it was cold and refreshing. "Did you get your ears done because you saw the film?"

 

"No." I felt so comfortable, totally relaxed, although his inane witterings were starting to reduce my state of contentment.

 

A look of surprise. "I thought everybody loved that film." He seemed disappointed, like we were best friends or something.

 

"Arwen was given Glorfindel's part. Elrond looked too old, the elves clothing was made out of someone's old curtains; need I go on?" I looked at him daring him to disagree with me.

 

"So you did not enjoy it then?" He grinned and offered me more water. I could not wait to get out of there. His drivel gave me a headache.

 

I looked at him as he took my blood pressure yet again. "When can I go home? I don't want to be here anymore."

 

It was about the funniest thing he ever heard. "You just got out of surgery, you got tubes coming out of you and stuff going in; you can't go home yet."

 

"Yes, I know, but I want to go home. I feel better." I was scared of medical treatment after my final ordeal with Erestor, but he did not need to know that.

 

Fern put his head round the door and flashed his ID pass; the nurse called for him to come in. "He has just asked when he can go home."

 

Fern laughed, and the nurse walked over to one of the porters and told him I was ready for transfer.
"Apparently, you will be here for a few more days, but we have some good news. Your blood test confirms your story about being drugged the night Miggins died. You are not a suspect anymore." He grinned and looked at me as if he was going to tell me something I would not like. "That means that you can come and stay at my house when you get out of here, so you can fully recover. I have a room ready for you and the kids are looking forward to seeing you again."

 

He always spoke about his children as if they were small but they were in their late teens and through their twenties. He had three girls; the eldest two were married. The youngest child was in his late teens and the boy that he and his wife had longed for. She died some years before, but she sounded a nice woman. He brought up four children on his own and he loved them unreservedly. I think that one of the reasons kids can go bad must be because the ones who matter do not show them they are valued.

 

We left recovery and I was taken to a small side room on a main ward. My new nurse took my blood pressure once again and wanted to see my dressings, she also measured the amount of blood and other stuff in the two drains attached to me. I could not believe how many times the staff did my blood pressure and said so to Fern, who said they were just doing their job. So, they are just doing their job; Erestor's job is also attacking people but no one makes excuses for him. I was becoming seriously pissed off.

 

The nurse told Fern that I needed my sleep; the hint was that he should leave. Fern took no notice though. "I think I will stay here with my boy and make sure he is all right."

 

"Oh." She flushed. "I did not realise you are his father. Ring the nurse call if you need anything." She left the room and I grinned.

 

"Get to sleep." Fern said with a straight face.

 

I knew why he was staying; he thought Erestor might try to harm me. He thought Erestor had told Eddie Fish to kill me. I would have a police guard, and until they arrived he was staying. I felt the dressing on my abdomen and my bum cheek and decided that they felt quite large. I looked at Fern and he told me again to go to sleep, so I did.

Chapter Text

Elves heal fast. Within three days, I bounced around, as I always did, and was a pain in the ass for all those who had to look after me. At one point, they gave me Lorazepam to sedate me. I couldn't sleep and kept buzzing the bell and asking to go home, in spite of their protestations. Fern read me the riot act afterwards and told me to be good. He said I acted like a child, which on reflection I probably did, but he could not know how terrified I am of any healing rooms. I carry that fear with me. It will never go. It is not so much the people, but the objects and instruments they use. They remind me of Erestor at his most wicked, talking softly whilst delivering the most exquisite agony with a variety of shiny, sharp metal tools, and I still cannot deal with the memories. Elrond did what he could and taught me how to push the memories to one side and suppress them. They say that time heals; Elrond says this is not true. He says that the pain remains in all its fresh rawness, but time creates a gap that fills with other more positive memories that stop the mind from dwelling so much on the more unpleasant events in life. According to Elrond, this is why ellith never fully remember the pain of childbirth.

 

Fern took me to his house. He would not listen to any argument about me going home. Some of my clothing and personal effects were taken to his house. I could stay there until mine stopped being a listed murder scene.

 

"I don't want you to do too much. You need plenty of rest." Fern carried on telling me what was good for me and made me a coffee and cheese on toast; real food at last.

 

I did not bother arguing. Hospital is not a place to get a good night's sleep and I was feeling tired. I could feel myself drifting off.

 

"Go up to your room, it's Patty's old one, and get some sleep. The air conditioning is on; you can turn it off if you like." He followed me upstairs with the suitcase of clothing and placed it just inside the door. "See you when you get up. Wear some pyjamas; I don't want my daughter corrupted or my son tempted." He grinned and ruffled my hair. "Make sure you get a good sleep, Fin. Sleep as long as you need, we won't wake you up." His heart was in the right place; I could not wait to get back home.

 

I wore a t-shirt and silk jersey boxers. It was Fern's house so I went by his rules. Any misgivings I had went out of the window when I climbed into the single bed. The electric blanket was on. It was warm and it was raining outside. All the people on this grey, humid and rainy day would be scurrying home from work or shopping. It was too hot and sticky to wear a coat and yet the rain would make the skin cold. The bed was warm and the droplets were hitting the panes. I turned the blanket off so I did not sweat and fell asleep.

 

Some hours later my mobile rang, waking me up. It was in my trousers, left discarded on the floor under my other clothing. By the time I found it the caller had rung off. The number was not familiar to me and so I rang back to see who it belonged to.

 

"Hello?"

 

I knew that voice. "You rang me just now."

 

"I rang to see if you are all right. I haven't seen you." The voice was mildly curious and hopeful. "I thought you might have come to see me, if only to question me more." He sounded amused at this.

 

"What do you really want, Erestor?" I was growing impatient.

 

"I want you. Are you avoiding me?" Now there was a pleading tone. "Please Glorfindel; I need to see you again."

 

"Why do you need to see me again? I told you I would find a way for us to sail, isn't that enough for you?" I did not feel charitable; the memory of being shot and stabbed by one of his minions was still fresh. For all I knew Erestor could have ordered it; but I did not think so. It would not have made sense and he would gain nothing from it. I was not going to make it easy for him though.

 

"Fin, the police took me in for questioning. They are saying that I ordered Eddie Fish to kill you." He sounded upset and as though he might cry any minute. So typical of the bastard.

 

"You are certainly capable of doing so." I sounded hard but I needed to know. "It would not be the first time you have ordered the killing of a friend."

 

"I did not do anything of the sort." He was crying now and hysterical. How glad I was that I was nowhere near him. In the past, the unstable little bastard would have pulled a gun out and killed me on the spot for that. "I swear by the Valar that I did not. You must believe me. I don't even know how he died."

 

"I shot him dead, that's how." I heard a sharp intake of breath at the other end of the line.

 

"Why?" He really did sound genuinely puzzled, maybe I was wrong, maybe he really did not know.

 

"Because he tried to kill me; that's why. Don't tell me you did not know." I was shouting by now. Anger got the better of me, and even if Erestor was telling the truth I still felt like yelling at him. I do not know why. I was at the mercy of everyone's whims and I did not like it.

 

"I didn't know." He sounded broken. "I really did not know. I want to sail with you. I would not do that…" His voice became thinner and higher in pitch as his apparent distress increased. He repeatedly told me, as if in shock, that he did not know.

 

"He said you sent him, Erestor." I lied.

 

"No, he could not have. I never…believe what you want to believe Glorfindel but I swear I never said anything to him about you. Please Glorfindel, I know what I am and so do you. I know you suspect that I could do anything but…"

 

"In Imladris, you tried to kill me. I have not forgotten that." I was still yelling down the phone and could hear him crying and denying any part in the attack. "What am I supposed to think, Erestor?"

 

He became incoherent in his distress and I felt a small sympathy for him. A voice in the background attempted to console him and Cherri's voice came over the phone. "Who is this?"

 

"It's Fin; get off the phone. Put Mr Eress back on." My anger was about to explode.

 

"I don't know what this is about, Fin, but you are not going to upset Mr Eress like this. You call back when you are less angry." She hung up and so I immediately rang the number again. There was no answer.

 

I dressed quickly intending to go to Erestor's house and sort out the mess, but Fern stopped me. "Give yourself time to calm down before you go out, Fin. No good can come of talking angrily to one another. He has Cherri with him and she will keep him all right."

 

I breathed deeply and slowly to calm myself. Fern knew he could not keep me in the house and did not even try. He reasoned with me and I knew he was right. "You have a lot of confidence in Cherri."

 

He grinned. "I went round to ask her about Eress and whether he could be behind the attempt on your life. She said it would not be in his interest, although she isn't much of a witness; she thinks the sun shines out his ass. I told her not to tell him of our conversation and she agreed not to."

 

"What are you dying to tell me, Fern?" I smiled at his excitement and I thought I knew what was coming.

 

"She asked me if I would like to go for a drink when all this is over." He was nearly laughing now; his face split by the widest grin. I could see every one of his teeth.

 

"I think you should go." I reached over the table and made as if to ruffle imaginary hair on his bald head.

 

He reddened and grinned. "Cut it out Fin. I am too old for that."

 

Maybe Erestor was telling the truth. I felt a tiny twinge of regret for making him upset but kept it in check. I needed to be cautious, especially as the case might be concluding quite soon. If he was guilty who knew where his desperation would take him. The house phone rang and Fern went to answer it. He came back to the table and told me that the night nurse who gave Erestor his first injection of Lorazepam had been found dead, apparently overdosing herself on sleeping tablets and antidepressants. Her name was Chantelle. Eddie had not bothered to tell me that she was not only his girlfriend but also the complex nurse. The plot was thickening and I tired of their sordid little lives. Still there was no going back and I knew I would have to see Erestor in the morning.

Chapter Text

I went off to bed early and could not stop turning over events in my mind. How did the nurse die in Erestor's house and why didn't Eddie Fish tell me that his girlfriend Chantelle was the first nurse who injected Erestor with the Lorazepam. I wondered if he really tried to kill me because his daughter had died or whether there was another reason. The results of the tests on the chocolates and other stuff would be though in the morning, according to Fern. They might make interesting reading or they might not, I did not know. It was all a mess and I desperately wanted to sleep, my insides ached and my butt still managed to send shocks down my leg if I moved in certain ways. It was much less now but I still felt beat. Eventually I must have slept because when I awoke bright sunlight shone through the small squared-paned windows.

 

Fern knocked at my door. "You decent?" he shouted through the door and I called for him to come in. "I got the results and they make pretty interesting reading." He sat on the bed and handed the small slips of paper to me. "Both the chocolates and smellies were tampered with, but neither would have any effect on their own. They had to be together to kill. The chocolates had been there for a few weeks, according to Cherri, and the aftershaves, perfumes or whatever Eress likes to tart himself up with, started arriving just after. I suspect strongly the nurse was an unfortunate victim and the real target was Eress or Miggins."

 

"That explains why the room smelled of a perfume shop when we found her. Both Miggins and Erestor were capable of doing it. After all, both slipped things into my drink on my first visit there." I remembered Erestor had been proficient in poisons in Gondolin and Imladris. Miggins' attempt to drug me was not so subtle, and I suspected that only Erestor would be devious enough to put two substances together. It also occurred to me that perhaps Miggins meant me to think that, so he would not be blamed for Erestor's murder if he successfully poisoned him.

 

"Well last night I went to see Chantelle the gangster-moll nurse's body and it looks like suicide. She had empty packets of sleeping pills, strong painkillers and an empty bottle of vodka beside her. The post mortem is later on today, so we should find out in a couple of days. The note said that she couldn't live without Eddie." He sighed. "She was not very old. Seems like they are dropping like flies; we will have to arrest the last one left, I think."

 

"That reminds me. Honey Miggins, when is her body going to be sent back?" I had forgotten my promise in all the events that happened.

 

"What do you want to know for?" He was surprised, that is all. He was not being funny about it.

 

"Her ghost appeared to me and asked me to take her home." I knew he would not believe me.

 

"Very funny, Fin." He gave me a look as though I was stupid. "Her body has already gone back home. You were in the hospital at the time. Her father made all the arrangements. He is still waiting for permission to bury her. Should come through soon."

 

Circumstance prevented me from taking her home, as I promised. I hoped she understood. I decided to make Fern laugh. It was hard being Fern. He cared too much. "Dad?" He looked up in surprise. "I'm hungry. Have you made me breakfast and a coffee?" I laughed myself stupid and he laughed too.

 

"Get out of your pit and make your own, and make me some as well." He stood up. "See you downstairs."

 

I watched him walk out of the room, and then I showered quickly and dressed. Fern sat at the table with toast and marmalade triangles stacked in a heap on a plate. Two cups of coffee sat on the table. "Oh, Daddy! You made me breakfast."

 

"Eat your toast, Fin and give it a rest. I only made it because you took so long in the shower." Fern took a slice and put nearly all of it in his mouth.

 

"Careful you don't choke, Fern." I took four triangles and put them on my plate.

 

"If you were a son of mine, I would kick your ass." He waggled a piece of toast at me. I knew he did not mean it.

 

"Any objections to me seeing Eress today?" I thought I would ask; it seemed polite.

 

"Police or otherwise?" Fern took another slice of toast and drank some coffee.

 

"Police, of course." I scratched my ass because it was itching under the dressing. Glad I was not breakfasting with a woman; they seem to have all sorts of rules about scratching during a meal. Fern hardly noticed. I knew he would not.

 

"None whatsoever, try not to get hurt though." He smirked and ate the last triangle of toast. Damn, I was going to have that. I did not get there fast enough.

 

I slurped my coffee just to annoy him, which it did, and then I stood up and took the plates to the dishwasher. "I won't tell Eress about the poison in the chocolates, although he probably knows about Chantelle by now, all right? I am going to discuss Eddie Fish trying to kill me."

 

"I would appreciate hearing what he has to say because all we got out of him the other night was a pile of shit. Apparently years ago you both pledged your love forever and ever and he still loves you." Fern smirked at what he considered was a lie.

 

"We were young and lost touch. It has been many years since I saw him last. In fact I haven't seen him since I was in my mid- teens." So I lied. What of it? He would definitely have said I was lying if I told him the truth.

 

"Young love eh?" Fern grinned. "Well, you be careful. You going to be able to drive with your ass?"

 

"No one drives with their ass, Fern, you know that." I smiled and went out of the room calling thanks for the breakfast. I can just imagine his face, outsmarted again by the upstart Glorfindel.

Chapter Text

I went to my office to catch up on my messages and the mail. The airless office felt sticky; a sheen of sweat clung to my back. It was time to take my shirt off and hang it up so it did not get wet patches on it. A can of deodorant lived in the bottom drawer of my desk and I sprayed it everywhere before splashing aftershave all over my baby smooth face, neck and chest. I wondered what it was like to have to shave everyday and considered myself lucky to be an elf. If I were human, I would lay in bed with the electric razor going over my face before I got up. Círdan had a beard; the only elf ever to have one. He would stand there and let curious elves run their fingers through it, damn attention-seeking bastard. I never liked him, probably a personality thing clash or something.

 

I remember when I was re-embodied. He had to take me across the sea from Valinor to the Havens and whined constantly about it. Apparently, the rolling of the sea made him seasick. Gandalf and I had to sail the ship ourselves with the cook and a couple of others. I had no idea what we were doing and he spent most of the voyage in his pit throwing up into a chamber pot and complaining of the cold. Tolkien never mentioned that did he? Don't take much to wonder why. When we arrived, he came up on deck; he was filthy and stinking of sweat, with little bits of sick in his beard and looking worse than a plague victim. I tied him to a mast and threw buckets of water over him until he was clean. Gandalf nearly crapped his leggings laughing at that one. He was pretty pissed off at me for that, but I was not going to let him embarrass me by coming on shore, looking and smelling filthier than an orc.

 

The message service had a call from a supermarket; they thought their security guards were stealing food. I had no sympathy; they should pay them more. There was also a call from a man who thought his wife was cheating on him. I do not do divorce work. I used to and found that often there is a very good reason why people cheat. I am too empathetic for my own good. Only two messages. Lucky I do not make a living out of this shit.

 

There was the usual mail. Office catalogues, new age spiritual healing courses, book club catalogues and free community newspapers. All gathered up and put in the bin. Some were addressed me, and others to the previous tenants. A pink envelope with gold writing stood out. With an almost childish delight, I opened it. The smell of roses was strong. Inside there was a card with a message wishing me a happy begetting day. I did not remember that it was my begetting day today. I do not even know how old I am. I know roughly but one year merges into the other and I lose track. According to my fake birth certificate, I am twenty-nine, but I am older, much older. The ancient Egyptians are mere babes compared to me.

 

I put the card in my jacket pocket, put my shirt back on and left the building to go to the sandwich shop on the corner to buy some food. "Aubergine and hoummous with raw onion in ciabatta, with a coke. Please." The unhappy looking woman behind the counter slapped loads of aubergine on the roll, normally they only put one slice on, I got at least three. I walked off with my food, then went into a sweet shop and bought two mars bars. Loaded with my own personal picnic I got into my car, which was so hot and stuffy it took my breath away.

 

After opening all the windows and the sunroof, and wondering why I did not own a convertible, I drove out of the city. Seems like everyone else was escaping the city too, but in the end I was able to reach the hills without too much bother. The heat lessened as the car climbed above the bay area. You could not see the ocean from the city, but up in the hills you could not take your eyes off it. Blue, and as still as a millpond, it called to me and I nearly cried with relief. I thought it would never come. I parked at an indent in the road that others had also used as a stop; there was an overflowing rubbish bin further up. Sitting on the grass I looked out to sea, munching on my roll and drinking my coke. Soon I would sail away from this life and embrace a new one. I felt very old and tired, my ass ached and my insides still gave me small twinges. I was not healing as fast as I should be and I knew that I could not stay here much longer.

 

I drove the last few hundred yards up to where Erestor lived, but on the way I saw him sitting small and insignificant on a large rock looking out to the west, over the ocean and away from the world.

 

I got out of the car and smiled at him. "Get in," I called and he jumped off the rock and ran to me with joy in his eyes. Our arms circled one another, we wept, and we kissed. We were going home.

 

We drove to Erestor's house; he was excitedly talking about going to Anor and I told him that we had things to do before going. He knew this but he was still excited. "Did you get the card I sent you?" He asked excitedly. "I sent it to your office because I don't know where you live."

 

"How do you not know where I live?" I did not believe him; too much had happened at my house for me to accept what I considered to be an obvious lie.

 

"Eddie knew your address and he told me, but I forgot. I sent it to your office so you would get it." I was mollified, that was an excuse I could believe, maybe.

 

We arrived at his house and Cherri made us a cup of tea. We sat in the cool living room with the open French windows leading out to the manicured garden. The birds sang outside and I could hear the water spray of the fountain.

 

I took a sip of Earl Grey. "Tell me about Eddie Fish." Erestor sat beside me and snuggled into my side. "Start from where you first met him."

Chapter Text

Erestor looked at me, so I looked at him. I did not need to threaten or cajole; he just started to speak.

 

"Eddie applied for a job at a law company I set up to represent my interests. He came straight from university and straightaway I could see that he was good. I offered him double the salary to keep him. His mind was as sharp as a razor and his powers of persuasion were just as good. He worked hard and rose quickly in position. He looked after my interests with a zeal that I had never encountered before, and would lie and cover up for my actions and wrongdoings so that I was never found guilty, not even once. In the end he was looking for a change so I asked him to take over management of the Summer Hills Complex. I recently became a sleeping partner and I wanted Eddie in there to make sure Miggins did not cheat me and I knew he would run it properly. Of course, Miggins tried to sack him, but I threatened to kill him and unsurprisingly he relented. Eddie made the place pay. He made it a place you could holiday in and had great plans for it. That would mean that Miggins would have to be bought out so that I could expand further, but that was no problem." Erestor broke off for a sip of his tea. A slice of lemon floated on the top and he delicately pulled it out, shook the drips off and put it on the saucer.

 

"Why was it not a problem?" I could not see Miggins giving up a piece of his own crap let alone a money making holiday resort.

 

"Well, obviously he would have been killed if he disagreed." Erestor rolled his eyes at me in disbelief. "Come on Glorfindel, you know what I am like."

 

He still had the capacity to shock me. "Carry on."

 

"Anyway, Miggins got married to an old sweetheart of his and I insisted he take some time off to be with her. He loved her money more than her. After a couple of months he came back absolutely loaded and telling some shit that they were not getting along well and her father paid him off. We all knew he was lying. He said he was divorced and to prove it he played around with as many guests as he could. Then one day he walked into my house and announced that we were married. I laughed at him, but Glorfindel, I have blackouts since the car accident and so I could not say for sure and the signature on the certificate certainly looked like mine. Eddie said it would make paying Miggins off more difficult. I represented a huge meal ticket; if I killed him I would be suspected immediately. Although, I would have probably got away with it; I always have in the past. Miggins bought me presents; he bought boxes of chocolates, but I would not touch them, and he also bought different eau de toilettes for me; he got really pissed when I wouldn't use them. Eddie paid an agency temp in the council office to tear out the marriage certificate, which she did, but she couldn't touch the index section at the front. He said that if an original certificate could not be found then there was no proof of marriage. A divorce would have been costly and for all I knew I was married to him. I could afford it but I was not going to give that scheming fucker any of my money at all. He moved into the house and insisted on sleeping with me. I asked him how he would like to die and he agreed that sleeping in separate rooms was a good idea."

 

Cherri walked in with some roast beef and salad sandwiches and homemade soup. It was cold, clear consommé with little bits of ice and tiny cucumber dice floating on top. We made small talk until she left and then Erestor continued.

 

"Eddie advised me to keep Miggins in the house until we could get the legal shit sorted and so I told him that he would have to be my butler. He was extremely pissed off about it but after I pinned him to the wall with only one hand he thought better of it. He thought I was weak." Erestor laughed and sipped at his soup.

 

Many things fitted together and a lot of background became clear. I had known Eddie Fish for years. I knew he was a criminal lawyer on the side of the criminal, but not that he worked for Erestor; he was under my nose all the time. I asked him to continue.

 

"Honey Miggins showed up at the resort with a photo of her husband, asking where he was. Eddie asked why she wanted to know, after all she was divorced wasn't she? She said she was still married and that her baby was due in three months, and Miggins had taken all her money. It was a sizeable amount. That is when I called you in. Eddie contacted me and said that Miggins had asked one of his thugs to kill her and he would pay him whatever he wanted. No one is going to kill a pregnant woman; even criminals have standards, unless they are Miggins, of course. We suspected that he would kill her himself and I drove over to the complex to tell her to get back home but she would have none of it. Eddie even offered her the same amount of money Miggins had taken, just to get her to go back home, but she refused." He stopped and ate a sandwich. Erestor has impeccable manners. He will not talk with his mouth full, ever.

 

"Are you allowed to drive?" I asked him, sure that he was not.

 

"No." He smiled and kissed my cheek. "They took away my licence when I had my crash."

 

"But you still drive?"

 

"Well duh! Who is going to stop me?" He giggled and looked at me all cute like. "You want me to carry on?"

 

"Well that's breaking the law, Erestor." I really do not know why I said it because he dissolved into peals of laughter and told me that it was so unlike him to break the law, which on paper was probably correct, but in reality not so at all.

 

"You are so sweet Glorfindel. No wonder I love you." He put his head on my lap and looked up at me. "I called you in and talked about a woman going missing at the complex before Miggins actually did anything to her so that he would know that me and Eddie suspected him. Make no mistake Glorfindel, the man was a ruthless and vicious psychotic killer and meant to do her harm"

 

"So he was a kindred spirit then?" I could be witty too.

Chapter Text

"Very funny." Erestor was not amused. "Remember the first time you came here, I didn't really faint; I wanted to make you feel sorry for me after our altercation and take the job. Anyway, Miggins brought Honey round that night and I caught him killing her, which is absolutely not allowed in my house. I pulled him off her and beat the crap out of him; he said he was doing it for us. Then he tried to hold me down to rape me, but I got the better of him. I was winning but during our fighting, we got too close to Honey, and he pulled out a knife and slit her throat. I could not save her and it was probably a release for her. She was in terrible pain and her eyes and lids were missing. Apparently, he made her eat them, did you know that?"

 

I nodded that I did. Erestor's face looked disturbed, so I stroked his cheek and asked him to go on.

 

"She was pregnant and he slashed her belly to kill it. I saw its tiny hand." His voice broke. "I have seen some terrible things, and done them too, but Honey and her baby were innocents. How can people do such terrible things?"

 

The same way you can, I thought. "I don't know."

 

"She was dead, so I rang Eddie and told him what happened. Whilst I was phoning, Miggins shouted that he knew you were my lover and he was going to kill you so that I got the blame and we would both go to prison; he was still sore about his eye. He said only a lover would inflict damage like that, anyone else would not have bothered. I ignored him. We could deal with him later. Eddie said he would come over and sort it. As long as Honey lived, our marriage was not valid, and he knew it." Erestor paused as if considering something. He bit a corner of his thumbnail and spat what he had pulled off.

 

"Greed drove him to kill her. People like that really piss me off; they only ever think of themselves and ruin life for others. They totally focus on their own needs regardless of who gets hurt. I can see why it is a sin. Hell I know I have faults but I am not greedy." Erestor got off me, stood up and stretched his back, then lay down again on the settee with his head on my lap. It was ironic hearing a vicious psychotic killer berating someone for being greedy. Was he trying to convince me that he killed and hurt others for altruistic purposes only?

 

I stroked his hair; long, dark, thick and silky. My hand cradled his head and I kissed his forehead. "Get on with it."

 

Erestor grinned, and then continued. "Eddie came over really quickly and he arranged to have Honey's body taken away and the place cleaned up. I kept telling him that he needed to go after Miggins, but he looked at me as though I might have killed her and he seemed very wary of me. He told me that he would find him and deal with him after disposing of the body. I said that you were in danger and he replied that Miggins probably did not know where you lived anyway. He thought it was just an idle threat. He got his thugs to hold me down and said that his nurse was going to give me some Lorazepam for my own good, he thought I was hysterical and he needed to sort the whole mess out. I could not beat off five thugs all pointing guns at me. Anyhow, it was lucky he did that because you found Miggins dead the next morning and I had a provable alibi. I do not even know how Fish thought that I would have done that to Honey, but he did. He was not the same after that. He did not trust me anymore and I did not trust him. In fact if you had not shot him, I would have done. I will not tolerate any disloyalty."

 

His candour astounded me. It did not occur to him that Eddie did not trust him because he had done awful things before. Honey's murder was certainly something that Eddie thought Erestor was capable of doing. I am sure that Eddie was crapping himself and his decision to restrain Erestor was not made lightly. He would have been very aware of the potential consequences.

 

I needed to hear more. I stroked Erestor's head and he continued. "As I said, Eddie acted as though I was some sort of liability, a dangerous and unpredictable one at that, so I bided my time. When his niece died, he was very silent until Honey's body resurfaced. He came to my house, later that day, and accused me of killing her because I was in the room with her when she died. I reminded him that I was too drugged to do anything but he was not listening. He was maddened with grief and said that if he could not have his daughter then I could not have you. He stormed off, not daring to kill me but he thought he could handle you. I did not take him seriously and threatened to kill him if he tried anything. You know the rest. I am sorry I did not contact you; if I had, he could not have hurt you and Fern would not have taken me in, to question me. I told Fern that I love you but he said I was lying. I am glad you are alive and I really do love you."

 

I changed the subject. "Did you know that the nurse who injected you committed suicide this morning?"

 

Erestor's eyes widened. "Why would she do that?"

 

"The suicide note said that she could not live without Eddie." I smiled because this was a surprise for him.

 

"That's crap. She couldn't stand him. He bought her gifts and paid her well over the top. He did for her, until she could find something better." Erestor looked shocked and disbelieving. "Are you sure she killed herself? I think anyone could write a suicide note."

 

"The police seem to think she did."

 

"What do they know? They are halfwits all of them. They need to look into it further." I stroked his silky hair and felt myself harden just under where his head lay; he looked at me. "Would you like your begetting day present?"

 

I stood up, hauled him up from the settee, and slung him over my shoulder, making him whoop with delight. I took him upstairs and he guided me to his private suite. The bedroom was something to see; eye candy of huge proportions. Nearly the whole second floor of the house was his bedroom. Everywhere was black and white art deco with a huge ornate bed as the centrepiece. Silk covered occasional chairs stood positioned around a curved black metalwork and white glass table. Various mirrors were set into the wall and paintings, figurines and lamps completed the effect. Over the other side of the room were large ornate doors leading out to a metalwork and partly covered glass balcony continuing the theme of the bedroom to the outside. We walked across the polar bear fur carpet, so artfully made that the joins seemed invisible. The bed stood sumptuous, covered with shimmering, embroidered, white silk cutwork covers and pillows. The headboard was from the Ice Queen's palace. Bright diamond-cut glass crystals, rods and clusters that reflected tiny rainbows where the light hit them, covered the whole structure. This was a bed for two elves to love one another upon and so that is what we would do. I dropped Erestor on the bed and thrilled him by tearing his clothing off. I removed my shirt and he licked his lips in anticipation. Then I removed my trousers and he gasped.

 

"Oh Fin. Poor baby you have been so hurt." I ignored him. I suffered worse off him in the past and I was not convinced of his sympathy. He killed it. I did not want to make love anymore; I wanted to make him pay. I wanted to hurt him.

 

I lay on top of him and kissed him hungrily. "Lube?" He pointed to a drawer and inside was literally hundreds of tiny single use bottles of lube. I looked at him in surprise.

 

"I always hoped." He looked coy; I drew his legs up, coated myself and plunged straight in.

 

He yelled because it hurt. His pain felt so good. I was still sore and that was partly his fault. He wiped away the tears on his confused face.

 

"How could you?"

 

"I am sorry, I could not resist you." I stopped and gave him a strange smile that startled him. He tensed and I stopped myself; I had gone far enough. I know when to stop even if he doesn't. "I will not hurt you again, I promise."

 

I continued and was very gentle. In the end, Erestor let go and enjoyed our union. He came, and soon after I followed. Lying on the bed, boneless and pliant, he was surprised when I put his soft member into my mouth and sucked him so that he hardened again. I pushed a finger inside and felt for his prostate and rubbed it, he loved it. I kissed, licked, and sucked so that he came again. Then I did it again. After that, I did it once more. In the end, he begged me to stop and so I did.

 

"You wore me out." He lay grinning at me. "I don't think I could move even if I had to."

 

I smiled lazily at him and pulled the sheet over us. "We have to plan our departure. We cannot go to Aman without our riches, or else we will have to work when we get there. After thousands of years working I do not wish to do any more. I have planned for this moment for some time now, have you?" I hoped he had, or else it meant a lot more work for us.

 

"I have most of my wealth converted into diamonds, the rest I can leave to Cherri. I chose diamonds because they can be used as currency anywhere, and because they will not be too bulky to carry." Erestor seemed to be very pleased with himself. "I want to take some personal effects, photographs, ornaments and paintings."

 

"Like you, most of my wealth is in diamonds and other precious stones. I am taking a few mementoes as well. We cannot take too much or else we risk advertising our departure. I think certain people will try to stop us going." In fact, I knew exactly who would try to stop us.

 

"Why?" Erestor gave me a bewildered look.

 

"Because you killed Miggins, that is why."

Chapter Text

Erestor looked defeated. "How did you know?"

 

"I was injected with Lorazepam in the hospital when I needed sedating and it had no effect on me. That is when I knew that you could have killed Miggins. I know you did not kill the nurse; however, I am not at liberty to tell you how she died. I also know you did not tell Eddie to kill me because you needed me alive. The doctor tested your blood and said you had enough Lorazepam in you to kill a horse, I think, and so you are safe for now. The suspects are all dead and only you and Cherri remain alive. Fern is hinting that is has to be one of you and when he clears it up, whoever is left will be arrested.

 

"The nurse was here all the time, so how did I get out to kill Miggins?" He knew, but was not giving up that easily.

 

"That's easy. You all lied. You knew where I lived and followed Miggins to my house and killed him. You drained him of quite a bit of his blood, there was just enough to keep him alive. Why did you do that?"

 

"Because I did not want to make too much mess, of course." He looked at me as though I was a simpleton. "Plus he was weakened. It made it easier to nail him to the garage door."

 

I carried on. "You knew I would not hear as you drugged my drink earlier in the day. You went back to the house and got back in bed. The nurse gave you so much Lorazepam that if the police took your blood they would dismiss you as a suspect because they would not believe you could get up. All you had to do was stay in bed all day to complete the lie and stagger about a bit when you woke up. I would have fallen for it if they had not tried to sedate me in the hospital."

 

"What happens now?" Erestor looked unhappy. "You know I won't let you turn me in."

 

I ignored the underlying threat to kill and looked to the future. "We go to the havens and sail. I am not losing my future because you killed someone who deserved it. We leave legal papers giving everything to Cherri and Fern and then we go. How quickly can you get the diamonds?"

 

He turned a lever and all the bits of glass embedded into the headboard fell onto the floor. He took a box and with a small dustpan, he tidied the diamonds into a box. A safe in the wall contained more diamonds, adding to the pile in the box. He went through an assortment of places and filled the box to the brim. Lastly, he lowered the two chandeliers in the hall, removed every single diamond masquerading as glass, piling them all into a soft leather bag, and put them into another box. He removed a parchment out of the safe and I saw that it was a legal document leaving his goods as they stood to whomever he named. The witness names were already filled in and in an elegant script, Erestor wrote Cherri Fish as his beneficiary.

 

"Cherri is Eddie's sister?" I was astounded.

 

"No, it's a coincidence. She is no relative at all." Erestor took a painting from the wall, slit round the edges of the canvas, then he rolled it up. He did this with several more canvasses and took some scrolls, photos, jewellery, a book, a circlet, a couple of other baubles and a set of elven knives from a vacuum-sealed box hidden in a cupboard. "My birth certificate." He smiled as he waved one of the scrolls before piling the whole lot in a large canvas holdall. "I am ready now."

 

We went downstairs after he had dressed, written a farewell note and locked the bedroom door. He told Cherri that he would be staying the next couple of nights over at mine. She gave me an, 'I know what you have both been doing,' grin and we left.

 

We drove to my house and I collected my wealth from a secret panel in the basement. I was already prepared in case of needing an emergency flight. It had happened before. After writing a farewell note for Fern and leaving the necessary documentation to transfer the house and effects to him, I loaded us up with weapons and we got into an anonymous white van that used to live in Erestor's garage. We made our way to the sea.

 

I felt awful not saying goodbye, but if an elf ignores the call he fades and disappears into nothing. I could not do that. Fern would try to keep us here until the case was solved and that could take forever, especially as this time Erestor would not be able to avoid prison. We drove for miles. It took all night and all of the next day. Occasionally, we stopped at garages to load up on junk food, trying not to draw attention just in case we were reported missing. For this reason we paid in cash rather than using our cards. In the early evening, we arrived at the council estate that covered the Havens. It was a desolate and crime-ridden place. We drove down to the ocean to wait for the ship. There was no beach. The water came up to the dock and we could hear it swishing gently against the concrete sides. A passenger ferry lay moored at the end near a large shed that extended over the water. An empty container ship lay anchored about a mile out, no doubt awaiting its turn to be loaded. The random lights of buoys twinkled on the water, and over in the distance was the yellow lights of the oil refinery. Gangs of kids prowled around in the dark, so we remained in the van and watched. A couple thought they would start kicking the sides so Erestor took a gun and aimed it at them. It did not surprise me that they ran away or that he aimed something so deadly. He did not need to fire, but he had drawn attention to us. I pulled him back in and started the engine up, intending to move elsewhere.

 

A car drew up, Fern and Cherri got out. My heart sunk, and I turned the engine off. "Get out of the car, Fin." He grinned at me, but his eyes were not smiling. "Isn't satellite tracking wonderful?"

 

He did not look pleased. At that moment, Erestor shouted out for us to look and pointed into the distance. A huge ship materialised and we stared as it docked.

 

"That is for us, Fern." I said softly. The gangplank was set onto the dock and Círdan walked down followed by several elven archers who stood ready with arrows nocked in the bows.

 

"You are not getting on it until I have some answers, Fin." Fern was adamant.

 

Círdan walked over to us and greeted Erestor and me. Fern wondered how they all had pointed ears and Círdan told him that we were elves.

 

"I have explained everything in the note, Fern. Look I have lived here for thousands of years, I want to go home." I hugged him, but he was still angry. "Thanks for everything you have done for me. I have left everything to you." I collected our luggage from the back of the van and gave Erestor his bag.

 

"Whether you want him to get on the boat or not, he will travel. You cannot stop him. The Valar have decreed it thus." Círdan looked at Fern, daring him to stop us.

 

"Who the fuck are the Valar?" Fern had the angriness of someone who knew he was losing.

 

"They are our Gods." I explained to him. Erestor meanwhile was holding Cherri whose cheeks were wet with tears because she would not be seeing Erestor again. "It's like this. The Valar say we are to go home. When your God says you have to go home, you die and go to Heaven. It is like that for us. We are going to a place that we cannot return from."

 

"You are going to die?" Fern looked panicked.

 

"Hell no, Fern. We get things a bit easier. We get on the ship and sail. It is something we look forward to. Then we have a new life in Aman, our version of Heaven." I smiled and hugged him as he tried to hold his emotion in.

 

"I will miss you; I always thought of you as my son, you know that." Fern was trying hard to say goodbye and accept things.

 

I tried to comfort him. "I always thought that if you were my real father I would be the luckiest son alive. Thanks for sharing your family with me, Fern; mine sailed west a long time ago. You were probably the only one who ever looked out for me."

 

Fern looked at Círdan and beckoned him closer. "Tell me there is judgement in Aman. Eress over there is a fucking psycho killer; I came here to arrest him. Just tell me that he will not get away with all the bad things he has done."

 

"Rest assured Mr Fern, the Valar are aware of every transgression." Círdan smiled at him and Fern's mind supplied the rest. He seemed more at ease.

 

"Fern, I have left you my house and enough diamonds and cash for you to retire if you want to. Everything is legally owned and the transfer work is complete. No refusing now. I can't take it with me." Normally I would have said nothing but sometimes you have to spell it out. I had visions of the house locked up and derelict otherwise.

 

"This is so final, Fin. I am going to miss you." He hugged me again and ruffled my hair. "You behave in Aman, you hear?" It hurt to say goodbye and I hugged him whilst he patted my back and told me that he would never forget me.

 

Círdan cleared his throat and told us that it was time to go.

 

"Not so fast." Fern shouted. "Eress, I don't know how you did it but I know you killed Miggins and I know Cherri killed Chantelle."

 

"You are wrong, Fern, I killed both of them." He turned to me. "Glorfindel, I think it is time to get on the ship."

 

"Glorfindel? I suppose you do look like him." Cherri looked quizzically at me.

 

"He is him, Cherri, and I am Erestor." He laughed at her open-mouthed in shock expression and hugged her when she became embarrassed.

 

"I wrote all those stories…"

 

"I loved them. Each and every one of them; they reminded me of home. You got everything exactly right. Cherri I have left everything to you. The key to the bedroom door is above the ledge and all the paperwork is in there. Bye, sweet one." He kissed her, a real kiss, not just a peck.

 

"But in my stories you were good." Cherri had a slight cheeky grin on her face.

 

Erestor winked. "I still am, in some things." He turned and walked up the gangplank, singing the Heigh-ho song out of Snow White.

 

I felt that I ought to explain some things to Fern so he did not have a complete load of egg on his face. "Erestor killed Miggins and Chantelle. The Lorazepam had no effect on Erestor and so he went off to kill Miggins and Chantelle injected him with more when he got back. That is why you all thought he could not have done it but certain sedatives have no effect on elves but still show up in the blood. After Eddie died, Chantelle got frightened and threatened to talk and so Erestor killed her too and made it look like a suicide."

 

"And you want to get on the same ship as that psycho?" Fern could not believe it, but from behind him, Cherri looked relieved and mouthed her thanks to me.

 

"If he is naughty, we will put him below and chain him to a beam." Círdan grinned. "We really must leave now.

 

I hugged them both again and walked up the gangplank followed by Círdan and the archers.

 

We stood waving and blowing kisses from the ship as it cast off. The sails let loose and we moved away from the shore. The creaking of the wood and the smell of pitch took me back to long ago when I crossed into Middle-earth to fulfil my oath. I was going home and it was not a moment too soon.

 

Our two friends stood together at the dock waving to us and I felt my heart well up inside me, Erestor felt it too. We were not just saying goodbye to our friends but to everything that we had become and all that we had achieved. We were bidding farewell to Middle-earth, to Lothlórien, to Lindon, to Imladris and to the ruins of the underwater Gondolin, which some archaeologists now hailed as the long lost land of Atlantis. Who were we to spoil their dreams? We were not of this land anymore; our future lay ahead in the distance.

 

We sailed about twenty yards then rose into the sky leaving them waving and staring up at us, surprised and awed, as we crossed the invisible crystal bridge that spanned the two lands. I looked for as long as I could see them and when distance made them disappear, I continued to look and send my farewells.

Chapter Text

We stood together, waving to the ones we loved and would never see again. I felt bad leaving Fern like that and not taking longer to say goodbye. It was all so final.

 

Erestor slipped his hand into mine. "That was a very noble thing you did back there," I squeezed his hand. "I know that you did not kill Chantelle, and I am sure that Cherri did."

 

"Are you sure?" Erestor looked troubled. "I only said it because Cherri was being blamed by Fern and I thought she could not have done it."

 

"I also know that Cherri helped you nail Miggins to the garage door and I suspect that is why she killed the nurse. I think Chantelle threatened to talk and Cherri was having none of it. What is it that makes everyone lie for you?"

 

"Loyalty, Fin." He grinned and continued looking over the side of the ship even though we could not see anything. "Cherri did help me nail Miggins to the garage door, but I doubt very much she killed Chantelle. Why do you think that and how do you know Cherri helped me?"

 

"It had to be you or Cherri. No one else had reason to kill her, and it was not your style to kill her like that. Chantelle knew that Cherri helped you with Miggins, simple logistics say you could not have nailed him to the door on your own, and so Cherri killed her when she threatened to talk. Cherri would have been the only one in a position to help you with Miggins. Everyone else was occupied." I smiled at him, sure that I was right.

 

"I still say she could have killed herself." Erestor was determined it should not be his precious housekeeper who got the blame.

 

"Chantelle was not the type to kill herself; as you said she did not love Fish and she was looking for something better. People do not tend to commit suicide when someone they do not have an emotional attachment for dies." I still looked over the side but there was no Middle Earth now, only blackness.

 

"I agree with everything you said but it seems so unlike Cherri. It makes sense but I could not see her doing it. Do you think she killed the other nurse too?" He still peered over the side and I held onto him as he looked into the dark.

 

"The chocolates and aftershaves were all poisoned, but neither could work on its own. She ate the chocolate and smelled the perfume, and by doing so she poisoned herself. Somehow the two substances were inert until they were used in combination." I wondered what chemicals they could have been to do that; Fern had shown me the slips of paper but they made no sense to me.

 

"No wonder Miggins kept trying to get me to eat the chocolates and use the eau de toilette. I only escaped death because out of principle I would not touch any of his gifts. I am glad I killed him." He shivered for effect and turned to face me. "Do you think Cherri will be all right?"

 

"You admitted to the murder and so it should all be wrapped up. I think she will be all right." He looked relieved and then a cloud passed over his brow.

 

"Fin, I forgot to bring my huge slash collection. I was in the middle of a story too. It was a total fantasy, one about Erestor being weak, wimpy and pregnant and Glorfindel acting like a happy go lucky buffoon." He grinned at me as he saw my face change.

 

"Go fuck yourself, no one would write shit like that." He could not stop taunting me and I wondered why I expected anything different.

 

"No, really…" I took his arm and guided him to the steps to the lower deck. "I really was reading one like that."

 

I took him in my arms and kissed him. "Don't talk shit."

 

"You never believe me do you?" He sounded put out.

 

I pushed him into the cabin that we were to share. "Shut up, Erestor," I said wearily. "Get your clothes off and get into bed."

 

The next morning saw our arrival in Aman. The day was clear and hot, with a freshness that contrasted sharply with the humidity of the city we had left. Birds flew overhead calling out the arrival of a ship to the residents. In the far distance we could see a mass of people.

 

Círdan walked over to us. "Everyone is awaiting you. You were the very last elves remaining. I anticipate much excitement at your return."

 

We smiled and I asked Círdan how it was the journey to Aman took only a night. When we came from Aman to Middle Earth and he was seasick, it took several days. "That is because none of you knew how to sail and you went around in a circle for several days before hitting the bridge." He gave a superior grin but I forgave him because of his actions when we left to get on the ship.

 

Erestor and I had talked during the night about what to expect and we decided that there could have been a lot of change and that Aman might be like anywhere else, except full of elves. It was also possible that not much had changed at all. Everything lasts forever on Aman and nothing decays, so it was likely that everything would be very old which might hinder the advance of anything modern. Círdan could not be drawn on the subject, and he spent a lot of time smiling at our questions. He was infuriating to say the least.

 

The ship sailed closer and there were cheers from the small dock, we looked to see if we could recognise anyone but all the faces merged into each other so it was hard to pick any one person out. The gangplank lowered onto the ground and we walked down it. Erestor was nervous. "Supposing they remember how bad I was. Do you think I will be all right?"

 

Privately I thought that he had every reason to worry, and that as elves remember just about everything he was likely to be subject to some kind of justice. I could not feel sorry for him, try as I might; the image of Melpomaen, a sweet innocent, came into my mind and I hoped that there would be some kind of redress. "I do not know, Erestor but we cannot go back now, meleth." I called him meleth because I do love him. I also love him enough to reassure that I would always be here for him. I wanted him to feel that in all the things that he would have to face there would be at least one who held his heart.

 

We walked down the gangplank, Erestor holding tightly onto my hand, I could feel the fear radiating from him. A large black closed carriage drew up and sat just outside the perimeter of the crowd. The crowd parted. I thought this must be an important elf not to have to get out of the carriage and a crowd make way for him.

 

I saw Elrond and Celebrían first and I ran to them, dragging Erestor in my wake. I hugged Elrond and assured him that I was all right. I hugged Celebrían too. Erestor looked down at the ground feeling unworthy, but Elrond was having none of it, he hugged him and asked how he was. Erestor shyly replied that he was all right. It was the same with all the ones I recognised. I was hugged and kissed many times over and my face radiated joy. All my friends had come to greet me. None of Erestor's friends turned up, because he did not have any. Lindir, Legolas, Ereinion, Thranduil, Galadriel, Celeborn, Elrohir, Elladan, Oropher, Rumil, Haldir and others greeted Erestor and me. I was amazed at their generosity of spirit in accepting Erestor and I am sure he felt grateful.

 

The door to the carriage opened and a tall Maiar alighted. Dark hair as black as the most hidden of midnight's shadows swept around his form, as though possessing a life of its own. He was cruelly beautiful and I knew I had seen him before. A chill went through me and I feared his reasons for greeting us. Erestor saw him and stood rigid, mouth open in a silent scream of terror. It was too much for him and he passed out onto the ground. I picked him up in my arms.

Chapter Text

"You will not have him, Sauron. I will kill you first." I picked Erestor's gun out of his pocket and pointed it at the maia. It fell to pieces in my hand and dropped to the floor.

 

"So typical of Erestor to bring a gun here." Sauron made a small movement of his hand and the pieces of the weapon dragged across the ground, off the edge of the dock, into the sea. "Guns are very dangerous, Glorfindel and do not exist here. I am very disappointed in you allowing him to bring a gun to these shores."

 

"My Lord, please forgive Glorfindel. He only knows you of old." Elrond smiled at the maia and then looked at me. "Erestor has to go with him, Glorfindel. He runs the best clinic for damaged and insane fëa in Valinor."

 

I would not give up Erestor that easily. "A mad and dangerous maia running a clinic? What is he doing creating a new army?"

 

"Glorfindel, Erestor will come with me and he will be cured. It is the will of the Valar and we must obey them." Sauron smiled at me and took Erestor from my arms. I was unable to resist and shook in my anger and terror. "Do not worry, you will see him again. In my former days, I would have probably been friends with Erestor. Still, must be going; I would prefer he did not scream because he has woken up and found himself locked in a carriage with me. There is only so much anyone's ears can take." He winked and walked back to his carriage. I watched helpless, stunned at my inability to act as he closed the black doors. Before closing them he gave me a small, amused smile, which served only to increase my anger. I asked Elrond what was going on.

 

"You remember when Sauron was killed in the War of the Ring? Well it seemed that as he was part of Eru's song he had done what was required of him. He was re-embodied and given a new role. He cured all the elves that were damaged in fëa or body and his success rate is one hundred percent." Elrond seemed happy and content to trust him, but I was not.

 

A face appeared from behind Elrond. "Glorfindel?" I had wondered where he was but in all the greetings I did not give him too much thought. However, there he was, my old friend from Gondolin, together with my parents. I hugged Ecthelion and my Ada and Nana hard. Any words I could use to describe seeing them again would seem trite. Ecthelion told me that he had a spare room I could stay in whilst we built a house for Erestor and me.

 

My parents, it seemed, lived near to my old friend. They were dismayed at my continuing love for Erestor; remembering him from Gondolin. Just about every elf agreed that Erestor was better off with the Dark Lord and that I should forget him. I did not agree. He lied about changing, but loving him was a risk I was prepared to take. I knew he deserved punishment and I did not oppose it, but to say that I should not love him was too much.

 

Then another face.

 

I could not help it. I was overwhelmed. It was difficult to control my emotions, especially when I saw the tall beautiful elf I last knew as a child. "Hello Glorfindel, it is good to see you again." He hugged me and I felt the guilt of the long years well up inside me.

 

"Melpomaen, it is good to see you too. I am so sorry I did not help you." I wept. I felt bad all my life for not being able to save him from Erestor.

 

He smiled. "I think you suffered much more than I ever did. Still he is away being cured, so let us hope that he comes back a better elf." I told him I could have done more for him, but he would not listen and told me that I was not responsible for Erestor's actions. I still feel that I could have done more; perhaps I have lived around humans for too long, maybe I enjoy angst.

 

That night I slept in Ecthelion's house. The next day I spent meeting old friends again and celebrating, but my heart was still sad, for the one I loved was not with me. So many tried to reassure me. I was not comfortable in being away from the one who consumed my heart or knowing that he was with Sauron.

 

A new house was built over the next couple of years with much help from my friends and I gradually became accustomed to life without Erestor. The sadness my fëa felt at our separation eased and I did not feel so desolate. Elrond was the only one who understood my love for Erestor, in spite of the evil he had done to me. We are soul mates and nothing changes that. Everything I did was with him in mind. I carved our bedstead by hand and he was ever present in my thoughts. I dug a basement level with a locked area and hid our wealth there; previously it had been stored in the safe in Imladris. This was my home and Erestor's. I would wait forever, if need be, for him to come back.

 

The years passed and I did not see Erestor during that time. I petitioned the Valar and they told me that I could set back any progress Erestor had made because of my presence; I would have to wait.

 

Ecthelion told me that I had to let go. He said that I was becoming obsessed and risked spending time with Sauron myself. He was right.

 

More years passed and I learned to live without my love. I accepted that even though he was still alive, I would never see him again. The realisation set me free in some ways and tore my heart to pieces in others. When I stopped grieving, I set about starting my life again. I bought a horse and rode it for hours and hours; it gave me a peace that I never had before. We rode for miles and I enjoyed the wind flying through my hair and the illusory freedom it gave me. Sometimes I went on my own and others days with a variety of elves, normally Ecthelion, but often Elrond or Melpomaen. Even my father came out to ride with me a couple of times, although I preferred him not to as the talk always included how much better off I was without Erestor. The evenings were spent at friends or on my own. I had a life now that was independent of the elf I loved and, for the most part, it fulfilled me. During this time I did not seek bodily contact with any other elf. My body was for Erestor alone, and the only thing I held in reserve for him.

 

One morning I got up as usual and went down to the beach. I did not normally walk along the shore but this day it felt the right thing to do. I saw Erestor sitting on a rock and ran. I ran and ran because he was far away, but eventually I reached him.

 

"Erestor." I panted. "Meleth nín, I thought I would never see you again."

 

He started as if waking suddenly from a dream and flung himself into my arms; we hugged and wept, kissing intensely and whispering endearments. "I did not know where you lived and I did not dare go into the town and ask. So I sat on this rock and hoped you would find me. I am so cold." I put my cloak around him and we walked back to the house. After a hot bath, he snuggled into our bed and I held him as he slept. He was here with me and I was complete again.

 

Erestor is different. He laughs for joy now and does silly things just for the fun of it. He seems too trusting, almost childlike sometimes, but that is a minor point. We love and there is no hurt or pain, no hidden agendas. The soft voice is still there, but used in love, not when inflicting pain. It took me a while to get used to that. He is not the evil murderer anymore but an elf from whom a heavy weight of sin has been lifted. He seems lighter somehow.

 

Once a month we have to visit Sauron so that he can continue to assess Erestor's progress. He seems pleased with him. He says that Erestor is still the same but has chosen to be a better elf and is now aware of the damage he has done; in short he now has a conscience. Erestor never talks about his time in the clinic but he says that he feels he is a better elf now. He is right and I do not know if it is due to Sauron or because of his independence of spirit but he never lost what made him Erestor. I cannot help it, but even though Sauron has literally saved Erestor from himself and me, and has cured him, I will always think of him as the Dark Lord. Every time he makes a joke or a witticism, I find it unsettling and when he asks if I want to talk about it, I refuse because I am still scared of him. He says it will take time and that I may never accept him. It does not seem to bother him though. Erestor likes him, but then he has something in common with him; they both knew evil intimately in Middle-earth and so I think they understand one another.

 

I sit here watching Erestor, Celebrían, Ecthelion, Elrond and Melpomaen getting drunk while I roast the fish over the barbecue. They have their arms around each other. I can hear them singing the bawdy songs that Erestor, Ecthelion and I first learned, as young elves in the drinking houses of Gondolin. It is good to see them happy and know that over everything love and forgiveness enables us to carry on and live our lives.

 

Sometimes I think back to Fern and I hope that he hooked up with Cherri; I do not like to think of him being lonely. I wonder if he would understand her writing slash. Whatever they did with their lives they are long dead now and with them went the only true memories of the elves of Middle Earth. I wish them the peace that I now have and I wish them well in whatever afterlife they enjoy.