Elrond had been quiet that entire week. While working I often found myself stopping suddenly to look up from my papers to discover his eyes upon me. Not knowing what had caused me to break off, I would ask him if he had spoken. Each time he answered that he had not. I noticed over the past few months that he seemed to be recovering from the loss of his brother, that his confidence had increased. But then he had begun to appear distracted and anxious again.
I chose to keep him close to me. It had been easy to convince myself of his competence, indeed his giftedness, and that we worked well together: he completes my sentences, laughs at my jokes, is respectful without being sycophantic. His training in arms is excellent, his knowledge of language and lore incomparable in one so young, and I have never seen a fairer hand, each tengwa perfect and even. I have been told by those who knew Maglor and Maedhros that he could not have had better teachers. If truth be told, more importantly to me, Elrond had never been afraid to challenge my preconceptions or to ask difficult questions. I needed an heir and he was my closest kinsman. I enjoyed him as a companion and a collaborator but did not want to be the nursemaid of a lonely boy, no matter how beautiful he might be.
That late afternoon I watched him as I leaned against the door that I had closed behind me. He appeared at a glance more Noldo than I. His magnificent dark hair and clear, light eyes are typical of the heirs of Finwë who preceded me as High King of the Noldor. The last rays of the sun shone on him through the open window, causing his hair to gleam darkly against pale skin, while one side of his face glowed golden in the last red-orange light of the sinking sun.
I thought to light his lamp as it was rapidly growing too dark to write without straining one’s eyes, but I dared not move and distract him. For once he seemed unaware of me and I could study him unobserved. He is noticeably taller than I am, although not as broadly built, and is ruddier of complexion. His human roots are undeniable; his eyes lack detachment and his visage is ever mobile and expressive. I imagine an incandescence in him that reflects his Maiarin heritage, but I would not argue if one were to tell me that in my infatuation I am being gratuitously fanciful.
Yet no one could dispute that the fresh bloom of youth about him would move a stone and I unfortunately have inherited the unruly passions of my line. As breathtaking as his youth might be, it argued against, rather than for, such an entanglement on my part. Still, I could not but yearn that I might detect in him an attraction to me that matched my own.
“Ereinion.” His voice startled me out of my concentration as his wide grey eyes, artless and trusting if slightly embarrassed, met my own.
“I’m an idiot,” he said. He placed his pen down alongside the parchment upon which he labored. A hot flush darkened his face, reaching the elegant apex of his cheekbones.
“Indeed,” I said, without the slightest success at my attempt to sound severe, and completely unable to rein in the smile that pulled against the corners of my mouth. “Are you questioning my judgment or do you perhaps plan to disclose secret details about yourself that I have not yet discovered?”
He pushed the chair back with a clatter and rounded the table in an instant, not stopping until he stood in front of me, close enough that I could feel his heat. He held my eyes with his. “I hate it when you laugh at me in that mocking tone,” he whispered hoarsely. “Yes. There is something I should tell you.”
His shoulders squared, he gripped my arm. I felt his pulse through his over-warm fingertips, as fast as my own and ragged, and I understood.
“How old are you now, Elrond? I’ve forgotten,” I lied.
“I am of age by anyone’s assessment, man or elf,” he said, jutting his chin out, while he jerked his head upward. His eyes narrowed with the slightest flare of his nostrils and his lips pressed together, the lower one protruding provocatively.
“So, what are you waiting for?” I said.
I expected his kiss to be gentler, but I did not then know Elrond as well as I do now.