When they were finally alone, Ereinion turned to Elrond to offer some witty comment, but thought better of it when he saw the too neutral expression on his lover's face. Elrond was terribly unbalanced and trying hard not to let it show. Instead of offering words, Ereinion simply moved forward and embraced Elrond tightly.
"I never imagined... I never thought one day to ... to..." Elrond babbled, shaking his head and looking at Ereinion with astonishment.
"To be so loved?" Ereinion asked, smiling.
Elrond shrugged and laid his head against Ereinion's shoulder. "May we go back to bed? I feel a little tired." Though Ereinion had made many plans for their first day together, he graciously accepted his lover's request.
In their life together in Middle-earth, they had been practically married for their whole life and that meant that they had slept together as often as their positions as great lords of their people allowed it. Ereinion did not even stop to think about it: the day was pleasantly warm, they had already discussed all the important things and they were alone. The former high-king divested himself of his clothes, laid down on the bed and looked expectantly at his lover.
Elrond sighed; his beloved could be as subtle as a rabid warg in mating season. He could not make a fuss over sleeping naked with Ereinion after that incident in the bathroom. It would probably only anger his lover. Turning his back to the bed, Elrond shuffled out of his clothes and tried hard not flush like a maiden on her wedding night as he turned around. It was of no use; Ereinion was looking at him with too obvious interest and he felt the rush of blood to his face and ears.
"That is something I always loved about you." Ereinion grinned as his lover gave him a murderous glare. "When you blush it travels all the way down to your lovely nipples."
Mortification was a feeling Elrond was getting well used to. He tried to walk as calmly as he could to their bed and lay down beside Ereinion, who promptly rolled over to snuggle close to him and press a very hard cock against his buttocks.
"Do you know what I am thinking about right now?" Ereinion leered playfully at his Peredhel, throwing on arm over his chest to hug him.
"I can not imagine, " Elrond answered in a dry tone.
Ereinion chuckled and kissed Elrond's throat, mouthing the skin hungrily until Elrond shuddered with pleasure. It had been a long, long time since he had felt any kind of sexual interest towards anyone, some three thousand years to be more precise. It was not uncommon for elves to lose interest in sex in their long married lives. While that had not happened between Elrond and Ereinion, it had been particularly true between the Peredhel and the Lady Celebrían. Elrond had been practically celibate during the last age and the hot spike of desire that curled in his lower abdomen was a bit disconcerting after so long.
"And now, do you know what I am thinking about?" Ereinion grinned widely at him, eyeing the red mark he had left on Elrond's neck with smug satisfaction.
"No, do tell me."
"I will do better," Ereinion said, moving to cover Elrond's body with his own. "I will show you, love."
"Ereinion..." Elrond's protest died on his lips as Ereinion kissed him.
It started as a sweet and affectionate kiss, but soon they were devouring each others' mouths, tongues dueling for control. Elrond found himself arching against Ereinion's strong form, a delirious moan of lust and pleasure bubbling in his chest.
"Oh..." Elrond whispered when they parted for air and Ereinion started trailing kisses down his throat and chest, latching on his left nipple and sucking like a hungry baby.
Elrond was tingling all over, his earlier shyness completely forgotten as he curled a leg around Ereinion's calf and thrust his hips up. It was exactly what Ereinion had been waiting for and he left the nipple to attack Elrond's mouth again. They thrust against each other in abandon, everything else forgotten as they lost themselves in the wonderful sensation of their skins rubbing together. Elrond came first, a lush moan of completion torn from his lips and he held Ereinion close until his lover let loose a cry that probably scared anyone passing by.
Elrond then simply melted into the mattress, a languid smile on his face as Ereinion rested his dead weigh on him. In other circumstances he would have pushed Ereinion off him but, for the moment, he relished the feeling. Ereinion seemed to have nothing else in mind as he nuzzled Elrond's neck, inhaling his scent.
"You know..." Elrond drawled. "I have met wargs that have more finesse than you."
"Really?" Ereinion groaned, not even raising his head.
"Yes. You pounced on me, had your wicked way with me and now I am lying under you, sticky and dirty and you have not even said that you love me."
"I can not, you have melted my brain."
"Well then, I suppose I can let you rest for a moment." Elrond chuckled. "You are quite warm and comfortable."
"You keep saying those sweet things to me and we won't leave this bed."
"That's fine by me." Elrond kissed Ereinion's temple. "I love you."
"I love you too," Ereinion answered, raising his head at last to smile at his lover. "I promise I will get up and find a warm and wet cloth to clean us."
"In an hour or two..."
After that first moment of passion, they planned to spend some days locked away from the rest of the world. It soon turned out to be impossible. True to his word, Finarfin ordered one of his greatest healers to take a look at Elrond.
The healer was not satisfied to just look at the Peredhel; he poked and probed from all angles into almost every orifice of Elrond's body until he was satisfied that the only problem with his patient was sheer exhaustion and weight loss. Elrond, being a healer himself, was not surprised nor objected to the healer's thorough examination. He had to restrain Ereinion though when the healer demanded to see him naked.
Ereinion was not used to seeing another elf putting his hands on his lover like that. Only Elrond's calm demeanor stopped him from strangling the healer when he started asking more intimate questions.
"Have you engaged in any kind of sexual intercourse?" the healer asked when Elrond was lying naked under the covers after a rather invasive examination.
"Not really, we just rubbed together pretty hard for some five minutes this morning. Just to help the circulation, " Ereinion answered with a wide grin and a leer to his lover, who gave him a frosty smile.
It was enough to make the healer sputter like a landed fish and stop with the rather intimate questions. He ordered Elrond to rest for as long as he could, eat at least six meals a day and do some light exercises until he had gained the twenty pounds he had lost.
"That is all?" Ereinion asked with raised eyebrows after the healer had left. "I could have come up with the same conclusion with just one look!"
"Love?" Elrond called, tilting his head in a coy way he knew his lover found endearing. "I am a bit cold right now..."
"Really? I can rub against you some more, you know, just to warm you up a bit." Ereinion wriggled his eyebrows.
"I thought we were going to have dinner with our relatives."
"You heard the healer, beloved, you should stay in bed, " Ereinion said, climbing back in next to his lover.
Almost one week later Elrond found himself walking through one of the many gardens that adorned the great city. Erestor was at his side, talking excitedly about life in general. He was especially happy with his long time lover, Glorfindel. Though they had been together for over two thousand years they had never discussed the possibility of a true bonding. Life in Middle-earth had been too uncertain, filled with danger and the very real concern that none of them would survive the War of the Ring.
But now in Valinor, with danger and fear left behind, they could finally concentrate on their love life.
"It seems I have waited my whole life for this, my Lord Elrond," Erestor explained, always way too formal even when he was beyond happy. "And now Glorfindel has proposed to me!"
"Really?" Elrond smiled sadly, his eyes resting on his own golden wedding ring.
"Yes!" Erestor laughed aloud, a rare sound of merriment. "The Great King has asked him to take a place among the lore masters. Can you believe that? He would teach about swordsmanship and war strategies."
Elrond nodded, thinking that for such a fierce warrior as Glorfindel it would be a great change to teach about the horrors he had lived to those that would never experience such things...
"But Glorfindel declined. He has decided to look for others of his House. He *is* the greatest Lord of the House of the Golden Flower, after all, and it is time for him to claim his place."
"He has more than earned it," the Peredhel said, his thoughts far away.
Erestor kept on talking and Elrond listened with only half an ear. He was so engrossed in his own thoughts it took him almost two minutes of complete silence to notice that Erestor had stopped talking. He turned to offer an apologetic smile when he saw the worried glint in the dark brown eyes.
"Are you all right, my Lord Elrond?" Erestor asked, frowning, and reached out a hand to touch his lord's shoulder in a comforting gesture. "Do you wish to go back?"
Sighing, Elrond shook his head and, indicating one of the many benches scattered around the garden, silently requested his old friend to sit with him.
They sat quietly for some time, and Erestor waited for his lord to be ready to talk, trying not to notice when Elrond shivered despite the heavy velvet robes he wore. The winter chill seemed to permeate even the thick stone walls of the city and the Peredhel was rather sensitive to it.
"It is ironic, don't you think," Elrond finally whispered, "that after so many years longing for my lover that I should feel disappointed now we have been reunited."
"My lord?" Erestor asked, confused. He was one of very few people who were aware of Lord Elrond's long time relationship with Gil-galad.
"It is probably childish of me but I had hoped that love would somehow instantly take away all the hurt." The Peredhel shrugged. "I ache, my friend, my body hurts and my soul feels...raw..."
He had struggled for his whole life to do the right thing and now the struggle was over. Middle-earth had been saved, his daughter, though lost to him forever, had found her heart, while his sons had finally accepted their destiny and would be reaching Valinor soon. He had succeeded in everything and now eternity was his to enjoy by the side of the one he loved. He had even been reunited with those that remained of his family.
And despite all this he still felt lost and adrift.
He knew why. For so long he had molded his life to fulfill the needs of others that now he could no longer remember what *he* truly wanted. Who was he? Who was Elrond Peredhel when he was not trying to be what *others* needed him to be? He couldn't say....
"I guess I have lost myself those last few years, Erestor, and now I don't know what to do," Elrond concluded, turning troubled grey eyes to the younger elf.
He also couldn't say who Ereinion had become. He seemed to be almost the same elf but Elrond knew this could not be true. His lover had died and spent a whole Age locked away in the Hall of Mandos. He was absolutely sure that no one could go through this experience and not become a different person. Elrond was aware that the one he loved was not the same elf he had once known. And he suspected that he was not the same elf Ereinion remembered.
"My lord, I have never known you to doubt yourself so much." Erestor shook his head, knowing that there was much more going on in his lord's mind than what he had voiced. "Perhaps I might make a suggestion?"
Elrond turned curious eyes to his former councilor. Every time Erestor wished to convince him to do something absolutely outrageous he started with 'perhaps I might make a suggestion?' Like that time the younger elf convinced him it would be a good idea to drink a whole barrel of dwarf ale...
"Perhaps spending some time away from all this would be a good idea." Erestor nodded wisely. "It would be hard to find yourself again surrounded by so many well meaning relatives, I guess. Besides, have you ever had a honeymoon?"
Elrond opened his mouth to protest the ridiculous notion but then thought better of it. Of course! When had he ever taken time for himself in the last Age? Come to think of it, when had he taken some time to dedicate to his lover?
"Erestor, you are a genius..." Elrond smiled sweetly, hugging the younger elf firmly.
"Well, yes, now that we solved your problem let us concentrate on the matter of my bonding, shall we?" Erestor replied gruffly, blushing fiercely.
Laughing at his friend's discomfort, Elrond settled down for a long warm discussion.
"You want to do what?!" Ereinion asked, absolutely shocked.
They were back in the richly decorated room. Ereinion had allowed his lover to be alone for some time in the closed gardens but had gone back as soon as the weather had started to get colder. He was desperately worried about Elrond's frail body but it seemed that his mind was still as sharp as ever.
"I want to spend some time away," Elrond repeated from his spot on the large bed.
Ereinion had insisted that he change clothes and lay down again. He had not argued and allowed Nindalf to bundle him in a warm night gown before climbing under the covers. He knew he chilled easily these days and he wanted to save his energies for the fight he knew was coming.
"Time away? Time away? Time away from WHAT?!"
Oh, and that was something that apparently had not changed in the time they had been apart. Ereinion had always possessed a fiery temper and tended to explode when he felt angry or insecure.
"You have just arrived from Middle-earth; this is your home now, you have family here and you tell me you want some time AWAY." Ereinion started pacing around the large room, Nindalf trying to stay as close to the bed as was possible, knowing that the safest place now was near Lord Elrond.
"Yes," Elrond confirmed softly with the kind of calm that could wait for a mountain to start walking around.
"I need some time away, Ereinion, away from obligations, from court, even from my family," Elrond explained. "I want to have some time for myself without having to worry about anything and anyone."
Ereinion opened his mouth to keep arguing but one look at the large grey eyes imploring for understanding silenced him. Suddenly his mind flashed back to the time he had remained in the Halls of Waiting and how much it had cost him to finally relax and let go of the worries of the past.
"You are tired." Ereinion saw the truth of his words in the fine lines around Elrond's eyes and mouth. "And you need to rest. I can see it would be hard to do that here with so many well meaning people around you."
Giving a sad smile, Elrond beckoned Ereinion closer with a finger. When the former High King sat on the bed he burrowed in the strong arms that moved to embrace him.
"Give me some days and I will arrange for an escort to take you to one of the..."
"To take me?" the Peredhel asked puzzled. "Aren't you coming with me?"
"Do you want me to?"
"What... of course I want you to come with me, my love," Elrond said, pushing back to look into the troubled blue eyes. "Is that why you were so angry when I mentioned my need to take some time off? You thought I did not want to be with you?"
"Well," Ereinion sighed softly. "I can see you are not comfortable with me, Elrond, not like you used to be."
Elrond didn't answer this time, knowing that denying it would be a lie. He buried deeper into the strong arms, inhaling the familiar scent.
"It's been so long since we last saw each other and we both have changed. I do love you, Ereinion, but you have to admit that we are almost strangers now," Elrond finally explained in hushed tone. "And I want to get to know you all over again, but do you really think we can do it here with our family observing us?"
"Then we shall take some time away from everything, love." Ereinion smiled, relieved to know Elrond was not trying to distance himself.
Nindalf sighed with relief now that his lords seemed to be alright. He wondered where they could go and how they would break the news to the High King and the rest of the family. He suspected it would not be as easy as they thought.
Nindalf had been right and it took Ereinion almost two hours of heated discussion and loud arguments to be allowed to take his love away from the great city. And after that it took them almost two weeks to be ready to leave.
During that time they had another matter to settle, a little matter called Nindalf. The young servant refused to be left behind and when they at last were ready to go, they found the cheerful elf waiting beside their horses with a bag in his hands and large bright eyes looking at them hopefully.
Elrond, who had raised four children and fostered more than a hundred in Imladris over the passing of the years instantly recognized that expression. Nindalf had no family and was very young, not even an adult yet. Ereinion and he were probably the only reference in his life and he was loath to be without them.
And besides, someone had to cook...
Isil, Ereinion's silver stallion was ready and waiting; by his side stood a white mare with gentle eyes and braided mane that Elrond instantly fell in love with. Nindalf would be riding a sorrel mare that was eyeing all the action with a lot of curiosity and a pony was loaded with their belongings.
His family and friends had said goodbye the night before over a cheerful dinner. For now only the stable servants were there to help. They left the great city in the early hours of the day and headed north, to the valleys and forests beyond.
Looking around himself, Elrond saw that no one paid day any special attention as they left the city, cloaked as they were against the winter chill that was abating day by day. Soon spring would come.
Slowly, the city started to fade away to be replaced by old whispering trees that welcomed them. Elrond felt his heart lighten up and could not help but raise his voice in a gentle song. Ereinion looked surprised at him but then grinned happily, his strong baritone added depth to the song and he too felt a calm joy he had long missed. Laughing, Nindalf lifted his head to the warming sun, listening to his lords' singing.
It seemed that everything would be alright, after all.
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