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I posted this on LJ, but I'm not sure that is the safest place to archive a fic. Thus, I am posting here too.

Author: sbyte
Beta: TPOD
Title: Lost at Sea 1/3: Always Read the Label
Characters: Erestor, Glorfindel/Elrond, Ecthelion, Celebrian, Cirdan
Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction based on Tolkien’s works. It in NO WAY intended to be anything other than that.
Warning: This is utterly AU and silly. It is slash (m/m), but that kind of goes without saying.
Summary: Oversleeping can have consequences.

Always Read the Label

When the time of elves on Middle Earth came to an end, the elves of Imladris sailed for the White Shores. To most, it meant a joyous reunion with family and friends. However, there were two whose mood was tempered by nerves. A third came under protest.

Elrond was the most nervous of the elves. He looked forward to a more relaxed life in Valinor, but dreaded speaking with Celebrian about their daughter. He knew what she would feel, and there wasn’t a way to make it better.

Ever since leaving the Havens, Glorfindel had been rehearsing ways to tell his lover from Gondolin that he was married. Although they hadn’t ever discussed a permanent commitment, their love had been a deep one. Both had taken it for granted that the direction their relationship was headed led toward marriage.

Finally, there was Erestor. He looked glumly toward Middle Earth. Glorfindel and Elrond told him how much he would love Valinor until they were blue in the face. In his opinion it would be a giant bore after the new wore off.

**

Elves lined the dock and beach waiting for loved ones arriving from Imladris. Cirdan stood back and smiled. He loved watching elves reunite.

Elrond disembarked first, as was his right as Lord of Imladris. Several elves greeted him, but he didn’t stop to speak. Instead, he walked toward Celebrian, telling himself to be strong.

Celebrian hugged Elrond loosely and smiled. “It is good to welcome you here at long last.”

It was with unfeigned joy that Elrond exclaimed, “You are healthy and whole! I have longed for this sight more than you can imagine.”

Celebrian smiled at the elf at her side. “My healing was helped along immensely by this rogue. We bonded and my life hasn’t been the same since. We took the liberty of purchasing a small cottage for you. It is nothing large or elaborate. We just wanted you to have a place to live while establishing a more permanent residence. There is enough room for the children to stay as well, but not comfortably. I have taken the liberty of preparing three rooms for them in our home. It has been such a long time! I’ve been cooking for days to prepare a proper dinner to welcome them home. You are welcome to come for dinner too, if you wish.” Celebrian scanned the crowd of elves around the ship. “Elrond, where are my children?”

This is the moment that Elrond dreaded. “Elladan and Elrohir will sail on the next ship. They both had a few things that they wanted to do before leaving Middle Earth.” Elrond looked at the ground for a moment, and then took Celebrian’s hand. “Arwen will not be coming.”

Celebrian gasped. “You sailed without our children?”

“Arwen forswore her immortality for Estel. Their love is a great one, but even so, I tried very hard to sway her decision. Unfortunately, she had a vision of their child. Afterward, none could dissuade her from staying. Before we left, they were married. He is called King Ellessar now, and she is his Queen.”

Celebrian’s eyes reflected both shock and anger. “I don’t care what Arwen said. You should have convinced her to sail with you. In time, she would have gotten over him. You don’t even know for sure that our sons will sail. Thank the Valar that my father is still in Middle Earth. He will make sure of it. He won’t leave his grandchildren to fade in a land overrun by the Secondborn. Arwen will not refuse him!” Celebrian unclasped her hand to reveal a key. “I thought that you would need a place to call home. Had I known that you were going to abandon our children to Middle Earth, I would not have bothered.” She shoved the key into Elrond’s hand. “I am happily married. Can you believe that I was actually nervous of what you would think?” She turned around and stormed off.

Her husband cast a sympathetic glance at Elrond before rushing after her.

Elrond walked over to a large oak tree and sank to the ground. He knew that Arwen would not come. None approached or said a word. Instead, they respected his privacy as he gave in to his grief.

**

Glorfindel was greeted by old friends from his days in Gondolin. Waiting most anxiously of all was a petite and delicate elleth. Before Glorfindel could say a word, she squealed and shoved through a group of warriors. He had to laugh. She was as exuberant as he remembered. He picked her up and swung her around. After a big hug and light kiss, she pulled a little elfling up to meet him. His Gondolian lover was married with children.

When things started to die down, Glorfindel turned to his best friend, Ecthelion, and playfully cuffed him. “Tell me about yourself, Ecthelion. How has life in Valinor been treating you?”

“Life in Gondolin was very different from living in Valinor. It took a little time before I grew accustomed to living in a place of peace.” Ecthelion grinned. “You haven’t said whether you married or not. Is there an unfortunate elleth who calls you husband?”

“No, there is no elleth.” Glorfindel smiled. “There is an ellon though. Elrond and I were wed before leaving Middle Earth. How about you? Is Valinor infested with little Ecthelions sewing chaos and leaving destruction in their wake?”

Ecthelion smirked. “You know better. Your tastes may have changed, but mine have not in that regard.” With a grin, he added, “Congratulations on your marriage. Tales are told of Elrond’s bravery. Now I know them to be true!”

Glorfindel looked over at his mate. “His daughter renounced her immortality and remains in Middle Earth. He is speaking with her mother or I would introduce you. There is no easy way to tell her or lessen the pain.”

Ecthelion’s smile faded. “That is a harsh blow.”

“Elrond’s daughter, Arwen, remains in Middle Earth out of love. Her love for King Ellessar far outstripped her desire for immortality. I wish you could have met them.” Glorfindel sighed as he remembered their wedding.

Ecthelion noticed a dark haired elf standing alone near the ship. His facial expression revealed a definite lack of enthusiasm. “Who is that?”

“Erestor, come over here. There is someone that I want you to meet,” yelled Glorfindel.

“Ada?”

Glorfindel smiled. “This is Ecthelion. He is one of my best friends.”

“I am pleased to meet you, Ecthelion. I have been told and read quite a bit about you. There are fairly extensive writings on you and Ada, and your legendary deeds.”

Ecthelion blinked. “Ada?”

Glorfindel smiled and wrapped an arm around Erestor’s shoulders. “I adopted this fine young ellon.” Then he turned to face Erestor. “This isn’t a day to speak of war, ion.”

Erestor grinned mischievously. He had looked forward to this for a very long time. “Oh, I was not. Your skills in battle are legendary, but I was talking about your debauched and depraved social lives.”

Both warriors looked at him sharply.

“You don’t know about the journals, do you?” Erestor snickered. “Many of the journals that survived Gondolin’s fall or were written by survivors afterward, include mentions of your antics. In fact, a few are quite detailed in their descriptions. We brought them from Imladris. I helped pack them myself. I’m sure that Elrond would be delighted to show them to you.”

Glorfindel looked indignant. “We were virtuous elves!”

Ecthelion coughed.

“Before you say much, Ada, a few official city records survived the fall. Why anyone would grab files before running, I have no idea. I’m certainly not that dedicated. At any rate, there is a record of an investigation into a small painting left on one of Turgon’s garden walls and signed by the two of you. The report said that it depicted a nude elf that was mas…”

“Enough said. Glofindel, your ion reads way too much.” Ecthelion changed the subject. “Do you have a place to stay yet? You are welcome at my house till you find something better.”

“It is nice of you to offer, but we don’t want to impose.”

“It is nothing, Glorfindel.”

No sooner had Ecthelion spoken than Elrond trotted up. His expression was grim. “Arwen’s marriage has broken her heart and none of my words could make it better. She has a husband, and for that I am glad. She will have his comfort and support.”

Glorfindel shook his head sadly. “Your sons will sail soon, but that will not take away the pain of losing Arwen.”

“I am glad that my sons are not here right now. Celebrian would try to act composed for their sake while dying inside. This gives her time to release her emotions.” Elrond gestured to the elf standing at Erestor’s side. “We are being rude. Excuse us.”

“No, this is a stressful day for you. I should apologize for intruding. Glorfindel, we can visit tomorrow.”

“Nonsense. Elrond, this is my old...very old...friend Ecthelion.” Glorfindel put his hand around Elrond’s waist. “Ecthelion, this is my husband and the keeper of my heart.”

“I am honoured to meet you, Elrond.”

“The honour is mine.”

“I was just offering to let you all stay in my home, if you need a place to stay while searching for a residence.”

Elrond jingled a key. “Celebrian acquired a small home to serve as temporary housing for us. Thank you for your offer, though. You can stay with us till you find a place, Erestor.”

Erestor winced. “I would not want to intrude. Don’t worry about me.”

“No, we insist.”

Ecthelion could almost read Erestor’s mind, and tried very hard not to laugh.

“Ada, this is your first night in Valinor and you have a new house. I have no desire to be anywhere near when your private celebration begins.” Erestor smirked. “I feel sorry for your unsuspecting neighbours.”

Ecthelion snorted. “You are welcome to stay with me.”

“That’s not going to happen.” Glorfindel looked at Ecthelion and Erestor with a raised eyebrow. “I know you both too well.” The mere thought of the mischief those two elves were capable of made him shudder. “Valinor quakes at the prospect of you two left alone and unsupervised.”

Erestor looked at Ecthelion and grinned. If Glorfindel was worried, he was very definitely going to get to know Ecthelion better! “Ada, it will only be for one night. It isn’t like…”

Elrond smirked, having seen this type of interaction a few times before. His husband tended to be clueless when it came to some things. Treating his Chief Advisor like a child and getting away with it, was definitely one of them. Erestor usually played along, and almost always used the opportunity to his advantage. Glorfindel just failed to notice.

Glorfindel looked stern. “You will stay with Elrond and me for the night. Tomorrow, we will make arrangements for your housing.”

Ecthelion looked at Glorfindel with a twinkle in his eye. “What do you expect us to do?”

Glorfindel looked at Ecthelion and smiled fondly. “I don’t think you want me to go there, ‘Thel.”

Elrond shook his head. “Let’s go see the new house, Erestor. We could be here all day if they start down that road.”

Erestor looked back at Glorfindel pleadingly as Elrond pulled him along.

“You are overprotective, Glorfindel. He isn’t a child.” Ecthelion furrowed his brow. “What is going on?”

Glorfindel sighed. “I know that, ‘Thel. It is just that he has had a hard life. In Imladris, he had a very bad experience with Elrond’s sons, and for decades afterward his life held little joy. My overprotective tendencies stem from a time in his life when he badly needed the love and support of a father. I wasn’t there for him ‘Thel. By the time I worked out a way to help him, he was too old to need me. He has never said as much, but I am not blind. Now he is in an alien land. His friends are all reuniting with relatives, and have no time for him. He has no relatives of his own, save for me. He has no job or even a prospect of one. He won’t admit it, and it may not seem so to you, but he needs me right now. Unfortunately, the time approaches when, yet again, I won’t be there for him. Once Elrond’s son, Elrohir, arrives, we will rarely see one another. I don’t know why, but he hates Erestor to an unnatural degree. Elrond needs his sons now, so Erestor will keep his distance.”

“That is one of the reasons you need to lighten up. Valinor is as old as time, yet it is new to him. He looks as lost as he must feel. If you can’t help him settle in, he needs a friend or acquaintance that can. ” Ecthelion looked out to sea. “You left him with the impression that your best friend is not to be trusted. He is old enough to make that determination for himself, Glorfindel. I won’t go near him if that is your wish, but I would love to get to know the elf that calls you ada.”

Glorfindel put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “I am sorry. You know that I would trust you with my life. I will make sure he understands that as well.” Chuckling he added, “Valar help us all if the two of you ever decide to make life a bit more exciting. He can be entirely too much like you, at times. Seriously though, I will lighten up. I just want him to know that ada is still watching out for him. Valar, it really does sound like I’m talking about an elfling.”

Ecthelion smirked. “I remember your vociferous complaints about your own ada. You were over a century old before he quit telling you how to eat your vegetables. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?”

“I’m not that bad!”

**

Despite his protests, Erestor wound up sleeping on Elrond’s couch. It was comfortable enough for a couch, but the location couldn’t have been worse. It was just past midnight, and Erestor had spent as much time glaring at the ceiling as trying to sleep. It sounded like the mattress springs were about to give way on Elrond’s bed. At the earliest possible opportunity, he was going to tell Elrond and Glorfindel of another use for oil; fixing squeaky mattress springs.

The noise died down, and for a while he thought he might be able to drift off. Then there was a hard thud, followed by another and another. Erestor covered his head with pillows, but it did nothing to muffle the noise. Instead of squeaky springs, he now heard wood knocking against the wall. It became hard enough that he was convinced the wall was suffering for it. Finally, that too died. He sighed and dared to hope that he would get some sleep after all.

Then he heard a big bang and loud moan. Another thud and he knew that someone had hit the wall. The noise was moving. // I just knew that this would happen. // The sounds were intermittent, but getting closer. Finally the moans were close enough that he was certain they had forgotten about his presence.

Tired and annoyed, Erestor grabbed his pillow and headed for the door. Before leaving, he remembered helping unpack wine and miruvor. Since it was Elrond’s fault that he couldn’t sleep, he felt justified in filching a bottle. In his hurry, he didn’t read the labels; he just grabbed one. Elrond didn’t bring anything but the superior vintages. With liquor in hand, he hurried outside.


It was just his luck that this was his first night in Valinor. He had no idea where it was acceptable to bed down. The only place he knew of was the ship. It was still docked and no one would be aboard. He headed to the dock and found the bed he had used on the voyage over.

**

The next morning Cirdan was feeling good. It was time to head back to the Havens. They left early because the wind and current were just right at that time of day. The White Ship made good time. By mid-afternoon, they had sighted the location where the ship would make the jump from the seas of Valinor to those of Middle Earth. Then, with no warning, the ship’s progress abruptly halted.

This had never happened in all of Cirdan’s years of making the run. It was like they had run into a wall. The crew was sent to check the ship out from stem to stern. Cirdan stood on deck searching his mind for clues to what could have caused the problem. About half an hour later, a sailor hurried to his side.

“Lord Cirdan, there is something that you need to see. I believe that we may have found the problem.”

Cirdan followed the elf down into the passenger cabins, clearly puzzled. Then he was led to a room at the end of a hallway. There on a bed was an elf sleeping soundly. He paused and scratched his head. There was an open bottle on the bedside table. He took a sniff and then tasted a drop off of his finger. “It is a sleeping draught.” Then he approached and gently nudged the elf till he woke up. “Erestor? What are you doing here?”

Erestor yawned and stretched before looking at Cirdan and the sailor at his side. Sleepily, he answered, “I spent the night on Elrond’s couch last night, but found it impossible to actually sleep. Glorfindel and Elrond have a squeaky mattress, if you take my meaning. Finally, I grabbed a pillow, a bottle of wine and left. This is the only place that I could think of to sleep at that time of night. I hope you don’t mind that I used your boat as an inn. It looks like I overslept.”

“Erestor, that wasn’t wine. It was a sleeping draught. You slept till late afternoon. Look out the window.”

Erestor thought they were looking at him very oddly, but he shrugged and complied. When all he saw was water, his eyes bulged. “Where are we?”

“We are about to cross onto the sea of Middle Earth. The ship has stopped though. Erestor, it will not transport you back to Middle Earth, and we are beyond the point where we can turn around.”

“Lord Cirdan, I just wanted a few hours sleep. I had no idea that you would leave so soon. What am I to do?”

Cirdan tapped the side of his nose. “There is only one option. You have to leave the ship.”

Erestor paled.

“Are you a strong swimmer?”

“No!”

“Pity.” Erestor looked panicked. “I am only kidding, Erestor. We aren’t going to make you swim back. We need a small boat. Perhaps while in the Havens we can have one built for emergencies. That doesn’t help in the immediate situation though.”

The sailor, who had been silent, now spoke up. “What about one of the bathtubs? They are made of light wood and are water tight.”

A gleam lit Cirdan’s eyes. “Brilliant!”

Erestor gasped. “You are going to set me adrift in a bathtub?”

Cirdan nodded excitedly. “The tubs are round and roomy. There will be no problem with buoyancy or leakage. It is a perfect solution. We will send out a messenger bird to alert elves to be looking out for you.”

Erestor was stunned into silence. If Cirdan noted the shocked look on Erestor’s face, he didn’t indicate it.

The crew was all smiles while preparing the bathtub for launch. Because of the comparatively diminutive size, there was no room to stock it with food and water. No one was worried about it, though. It was assumed that Erestor would be picked up by a fishing boat fairly quickly. As the tub was lowered into the water, all Erestor could think about was the picture he would make bobbing around in a bathtub on the high seas. The crew and Cirdan enjoyed a few private laughs at the thought as well. It was the best option though, no matter how ridiculous it looked.

As the ropes that lowered the tub from the ship were loosened and detached, Cirdan yelled down, “We don’t have oars small enough for a bathtub, so you are going to have to trust the wind and current. Don’t worry. Ulmo will send a gentle breeze to guide your way to the nearest fishing boat.” That is what Cirdan hoped, anyway. “Good luck pen’neth.”

Shortly after that, the ship made the jump to the seas of Middle Earth and was lost from view. Glumly, Erestor noted the distinct absence of a messenger bird. Cirdan had forgotten.

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