Glorfindel arrived back from the village and joined Erestor as he finished his painting.
“You paint superbly,” Glorfindel breathed into his mate’s ear, causing the dark elf to smile. “How about some lunch and then we could go to the beach…”
Without warning, Erestor sprang to his feet screaming, and began to attack the painting. He slashed at it with the palette knife and destroyed it, so that it lay on the lawn damaged and fit only to be thrown away. Then he attacked the solid wood pergola, the skin on his knuckles ripping as they punched against the edges of the unfinished wood.
Glorfindel left him and went into the house where he pulled a large brown bottle out of a locked cupboard. He put a few drops on a cotton pad and walked back out into the garden. Erestor was still screaming at the top of his voice, hitting and kicking the wood in front of him. Glorfindel held the fluid-soaked material against his mate’s nose and mouth whilst he struggled before passing out. It was not the first time Erestor had done this and he doubted it would be the last; however, Glorfindel determined that it was the ideal time to carry out the next part of his plan.
A quick wash saw Erestor looking clean and his hands were washed and bandaged. Glorfindel packed a hasty picnic, carried his lover out to the motorcar, and drove away from the house. If Erestor could not leave the grounds voluntarily, then he would have to be forced; he saw now that he had been too soft and indulgent towards him.
The section of beach that he chose would be deserted. It was a way from the towns and villages and so Erestor would not have to talk to anyone. Small steps first, Glorfindel thought, and then considered that this was the most major step he had taken for the past few weeks.
Erestor stirred and his eyes shot open when he saw where he was. Glorfindel held onto him and clamped his hand over his mouth as he attempted to scream.
“I swear,” Glorfindel said with an angry face. “I will keep knocking you out with chloroform until you learn to stop screaming. You cannot hide forever and I am not going to let you.” Erestor held onto his mate and buried his head in his chest, shaking violently as he did so. “Sweet one, you are all right, I won’t let anything harm you.” Fingers stroked the dark hair in a regular and soothing motion. “There is no one around and we are all alone.”
“I am scared,” Erestor said, his voice muffled as he spoke against Glorfindel’s chest.
“I will not let anything hurt you, meleth,” Glorfindel said in the same soothing voice. “I love you.”
“It doesn’t feel like it.”
“If I did not love you then I would let you hide from the world forever and you would never get better,” Glorfindel soothed. “How can we sail if you cannot leave the house, my only one?”
Erestor seemed to calm a bit and even looked at the sea after much persuading from Glorfindel.
They sat looking out to sea, Erestor tightly clutching onto Glorfindel who attempted to lay out the picnic.
“We have crabmeat and lettuce sandwiches with anchovy mayonnaise, Victoria sponge cake and ginger beer,” Glorfindel smiled and gave the dark elf a kiss on the head. “We will be coming here every afternoon until you become used to being here,” Erestor started but was held firm. “I am losing patience meleth; I am quite prepared to put you in an asylum if you keep this behaviour up.”
“I cannot help it,” Erestor retorted. “How would you like it if…?”
“You either help me to help you or else I take you there and leave you. I will sail west and you will not see me again.” Glorfindel was firm and handed a sandwich to the dark elf. “Now eat.”
“How can you be so cruel?” Erestor asked in a soft and low voice.
“Because I am at my wits end and I cannot take anymore,” Glorfindel said angrily. “I love you too much to let you keep hurting yourself. Maybe putting you in a secure unit would be the best solution; at least you will not be able to hurt yourself.”
“Please do not put me away,” Erestor cried. “I will try my hardest but you will have to bear with me.”
“I will bear with you so long as you do try your hardest. I cannot do this ‘for’ you.” Glorfindel felt emotionally drained and unhappy. He was upset that he had to do this to the one he loved, just to get him to cooperate, and hoped there would be no repeat. Of that, he was not hopeful, but he had to try.
They sat for a while eating their sandwiches and Erestor’s grip relaxed slightly. “Glorfindel, I do not want people asking me about what happened to me.”
“I know, sweet one.” Glorfindel kissed his lover’s cheek. “So far the villagers have only enquired about your forthcoming exhibition at the Tate. They are very excited about it.”
“I do not want them asking me what happened,” Erestor’s earnest eyes touched Glorfindel’s heart and he pulled him close. “I do not want to go blind and deaf or not be able to speak again. I do not want my hands to start shaking again either.”
“They will not,” Glorfindel soothed. “We will go forward but not so fast that you become too scared to do anything. All right?”
“When I was at Craiglockhart, some of the doctors called the patients malingerers and cowards. Then they would point to me and say, “You see him? Well he was wounded in action; he has more right to be here than you. At least he is not here under false pretences.”
“How awful,” Glorfindel said and waited for the rest.
“I was made to wear a wound stripe to mark me out as one of the ‘honourable wounded’. Luckily most of the soldiers knew that I felt just as uncomfortable about it as they did, but there were some who tried to make my life hell because of it.” Erestor hesitated. “I was working near the front gates, clipping one of the hedges, and a woman in a long white dress and a parasol called to me through the gates. I ignored her at first and carried on clipping but she called again.” He took a deep breath. “I walked over and was perfectly polite to her. She said that there was a special place in Hell for cowards like me.”
“What did you say to her?” Glorfindel asked softly.
“I replied that Hell had a special place for whores as well.”
Glorfindel laughed loudly, “I would say she deserved that one.”
“She angrily told me that she was not a whore but a Lady and I told her that I was not a coward and looked at her to make sure my meaning was clear. I tell you, my love, I so wanted to hurt her. It was lucky a pair of heavy, locked iron gates were between us because I think I would have done.”
“Maybe you should have shown her your wound stripe.”
“Why should I? Why should I have to prove anything to someone who has no idea of what they are talking about?”
“Is that why you cannot face the people in the village?” Glorfindel asked.
“It happened several times to the soldiers in there. Only once did it happen to me but I saw it happening to others.” Erestor looked down and increased his grip on Glorfindel’s hand. “You do not think me a coward do you?”
“No, of course not! Why would you think such a thing?” The shock on Glorfindel’s face momentarily scared Erestor when he looked up at him.
“I am sorry; it is hard to know what to think anymore. You might not think that, but everyone else will, even in your wonderful village. I can tell you now they will think I am a coward.”
“They call you a war hero and they saw in the papers that you were invalided home.” Glorfindel kissed Erestor’s cheek as they both looked out to sea.
“Then they will still ask me questions of a different nature and I will still be unable to cope with them. I want to forget everything. I want the nightmares to stop and I want to be able to control my anger.” Erestor turned to face his lover. “I want everything to be as it was.”
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