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In The Bitter

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Glorfindel was an elf on the run, and not ashamed to admit it.

Erestor had been hounding him for days, insisting that he "Just talk" with Maeglin for "Just one moment". She was incredibly persistent, and even when she acquiesced to his pleas for peace, her very presence seemed to remind him that she was expecting something of him.

What she was expecting and why, he wasn't sure. Or at least, preferred not to think on.

Still, it had led him here. 'Here' was an oval room, filled with murals from ceiling to floor. Even the furniture was incorporated into the theme of a wild forest, complete with the rather unsettling feeling of being watched by fey creatures in the woods. Glorfindel felt right at home with their disquieting green-eyed stares, having been subjected to a more personalized one for going on centuries. Erestor was unlikely to look for him here, knowing his preference for actual woods rather than painted ones. Which left him right back at where he had started. Why he was here.

He may have been trying to avoid her, but he couldn't help but wonder about it. Or rather, him. Maeglin. The elf disturbed him, but Glorfindel was not sure why, exactly. He had forgiven him- hadn't he?

He thought it over carefully, examining his feelings on the matter. Prodding them, he found no hatred, merely a vague distrust and unwillingness to forget completely what Maeglin had cost him and his friends.

The rather discomfiting thought that 'Perhaps this is how Erestor felt all those years ago,' crawled into this head, and wouldn't dislodge itself. How exactly had she gotten over it? Was it time, or actions, or a combination? The obvious person to talk this over with was Erestor, who would of course tell him what he wanted to know, but would likely lecture him on speaking with Maeglin.

Who was currently standing in the doorway, watching him.

"Hello," said Maeglin.

It should have been the smallest of words, but it seemed much more due to its import. 'The Significance of Hello: A Study' seemed the sort of thing Erestor would be caught reading.

"Greetings." Oh, and didn't he sound incredibly formal? Still, it was politely neutral, and considering how much time he had recently devoted to avoiding the elf standing before him (in front of the only non-window exit), he felt justified in not being overtly friendly. At last he hadn't thrown him off any walls, true? What more could one ask for?

Said elf in question looked nervous, but did not remove himself from the doorway, instead he seemed to be giving himself a pep talk.

"Lord Glorfindel, I understand that we are not friends by any interpretation, but I do wish to converse with you." He gave a hopeful glance, which took Glorfindel by surprise in that it bore little resemblance to his father, as it had ages past. Rather, it bashed over the head with how much like Aredhel he looked.

For that matter, his entire appearance seemed quite different. Much less like this father, the sharp edges seemed fuller, closer in resemblance to the delicately noble features of his mother. He also wore robes very different from the darker colours of his first life, but not the blinding white his mother preferred. And whereas before he had been the epitome of calm and collected, now his feelings were telegraphed with every move. Maeglin endured the close and blatant scrutiny in silence, apparently expecting it and carefully watching Glorfindel's reactions.

"That is quite…interesting," Glorfindel finally said, very lowly. He was still heard.

"It is partially of my own request. I am not the same person I was then. The rest is simply the result of time spent in the Halls. Plus clarity of mind. It is only myself in here, my facial expressions are mine alone, my thoughts are untainted by another's, and my actions are the result of my desires, and no others."

Glorfindel nodded. His parents, while easily recognizing him, had though him changed after his death and rebirth, but only a little. Of course, he had not remained long with them, soon after returning to Arda Marred to fulfill his oath to the line of King Turgon. But wasn't he maudlin today? Maeglin still stood, waiting patiently for an answer. Glorfindel waved a hand, gesturing towards a chair. Maeglin hesitated only a moment before seating himself.

"Lady Erestor said I would find you here, and said to tell you…" and at this, Maeglin- well, he did not squirm, exactly, being an elf. But Glorfindel had seen this sort of aborted movement before in Erestor, and recognized it.

"Allow me to guess, it involved calling me an idiot and a vague reference to a threat of blackmail if I did not behave myself and listen?" Maeglin looked incredibly relieved.

"Exactly." Oh dear. Were those tears in his eyes?

"Was it Erestor, or the prospect of telling me that terrified you so?" Glorfindel asked. Maeglin sunk down in his seat, an unfamiliar gesture- In Gondolin, he had always been rather uptight about his appearance and movements.

"To be completely honest, I am not sure. I dare say both." The candor sat well with Glorfindel.

"I cannot speak for my part, but I can certainly commiserate with you. Erestor is frightening in a way that leads elves, men, hobbits, and dwarves to do very desperate things to avoid her wrath. Even Lord Elrond has been known to avoid actions that could possibly cause her anger to be directed at himself."

This brought to mind one particular incident that had left Glorfindel holding the bag, so to speak, when Erestor had come searching for the victim of her vengeance. The actual item had been a badly stained and somewhat burned parchment, the sole copy (not meant to leave her desk until it was NOT the sole copy) of the accumulation of almost a years worth of work. Fortunately, Glorfindel had been allowed last words to explain his innocence.

Still, it brought shudders to his spine recalling the occasion. Maeglin eyed him in careful concern.

"Are you well, Lord Glorfindel?"

"Aye, I was simply caught up in a bad memory." This seemed to distress his companion even more, as he started fiddling with his sleeve.

"If my presence is disturbing you, I can leave. And I will be sure to inform The Lady that you were quite willing to listen, it was just poor timing." Oh. Of course. Had Maeglin always been so sensitive?

"No, it was not a memory of your doing. I was remembering a time when my dearest Erestor's wrath nearly rained down upon my head without censor." This did not appear to settle his companion very much, but at least he looked less pale.

"Lord Glorfindel." Ah, the serious part was about to begin. "I have attempted to apologize and explain to any who wish it of me for my part in the fall of Gondolin." He tapped one hand with another in a nervous pattern. "And I know we have talked before, but I wish to say it again that I am sorry for my role. I should have been stronger, and trusted more the people who helped and trusted me, but I did not and we all paid for it."

He looked very small and very old, and more than a little bit hurt. Erestor was right, curse it all.

"Maeglin, I accept your apology. I forgave you a long time ago." It hurt his pride just a touch, but he figured that it was, after all, Erestor's job to wound his ego, so continued. "And I should have spoken with you sooner. We did make peace before, and while I have not been comfortable with your presence here, I realize that I have avoided you for my comfort and apologize in return."

Maeglin seemed very surprised by the turn of events, and just a touch frozen.

"Sorry? You…" He jumped up, agitated, which was interesting to watch. When Erestor was pacing, she did it very evenly, almost counting out each step, purposefully measured to maximize space in a room seen only be herself. In comparison, Maeglin was nearly turning over chairs and spinning away from walls and windows just in the nick of time. It was fascinating to watch, and Glorfindel found himself wondering what he would almost hit next.

"But!" Ah, and there was the sputtering. From what he remembered, Maeglin had always been very eloquent. Apparently, that was either a talent gained solely from his father, or deserted him completely in times of distress. He wondered what it was that made Erestor turn into a master of verbal skewering in times of distress while the elf before him was busy starting and stopping.

"Please. You...Everone else...I mean yes, some havebeenangry but most..." And Glorfindel couldn't ignore that plea, heard in it the cry of someone desperately seeking guidance.

"You are not the same as you were. Even before you spoke your apology, I could tell. Yes, you could have possibly have prevented some things. But Gondolin was doomed the moment we settled there. You were the spark, yes, but the dry kindling was ready and waiting long before you were born."

Maeglin took this in, tapping his foot as he did so. With a sharp nod, he looked up.

"It does not help much."

"Such is the way of guilt. Only do not let it destroy the chance you have been given."

"I will try. Thank you for listening to me." He seemed more self assured, though this time it felt as more of a mask for the turmoil within. Glorfindel was much better at seeing through such things after his time with Erestor.

"You are welcome. I am sorry it took so long." Glorfindel laughed suddenly.

"Is something amusing, Lord Glorfindel?"

" Not amusing, but I am merely reminded that it is easier to tell someone to do something than it is to do it yourself. I was rather unfair to Erestor for many years, and the road to peace and trust between us was a long one. And we seem to have switched roles." He sighed deeply. "Do you think we could keep it between us that she was right? Then and now?" Maeglin looked rather panicked at the suggestion.

"Lord Glorfindel, I do not know if one could hide anything Lady Erestor wanted to know from her. Not for very long, anyway." Glorfindel gave a great sigh.

"You have learned this fact of life rather quickly, which does you credit to your intelligence and survival instincts." There was a brief span of silence, but it was not uncomfortable.

"Lómion."

"Yes?" Glorfindel was confused at the non sequitur.

"I do not feel like Maeglin anymore. I am not sure I am Lómion either, but I know for certain that I am not Maeglin. That was my father's name for me." Disgust was clearly visible on his face, and Glorfindel considered this.

"You are who you forge yourself to be." Maeglin gave a dark laugh.

"I would rather not forge anything, thank you all the same. I prefer to think that I am walking my own path. Hopefully one that leads to less destruction."

"Well, it could hardly lead to more."

Glorfindel cringed inwardly even as he said it, but- Lómion did not take offense.

"True." He fidgeted once more with his sleeve, and Glorfindel took pity on him.

"Do not despair. Dark thoughts lead to darker thoughts. Keep your mind on the opportunities before you, and I think you will go much better than before." Maeglin considered this and nodded finally, then bowed.

"Thank you. I will remember your words." He hesitated, and Glorfindel could feel him turning words around in his head. At last he spoke. "Lady Erestor is a very unique individual, is she not?"

That was the understatmeant of the century, but Glorfindel agreed.

"I think you are very fortunate to have her as a friend. And not just because she would make a terrifying enemy." He gave wry smile which Glorfindel returned.

"A wiser thing has never been said."

With that, Lómion took his leave. And Glorfindel realized that he was a free elf, no longer needing to hide from Erestor.

Realizing how much he had missed her, he decided to go looking for her.