Summary: In the 72 hours before the Celebration of Spring, Elrond finds renewal in horses, old and new friends.
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Notes: Uses movie and books as basic canon-with embellishments, m/f but read on for m/m, voyeurism. As usual- readers slog onwards ;>
Rivendell, in a time before the Great Ring's discovery...
The day had been a busy one, like the day before, starting early and ending late. Preparations were underway for tomorrow's celebration of the welcoming of ethuil, or spring, and also year-end accounts were being finalized. Inventories had been taken, and lambs, foals and calves had been accounted for. Raw materials on hand for the artisans and craftsmen were tallied, noted and counted. Foodstuffs in storage were listed by cool underground cave and storeroom. These reports and their sponsors had formed a constant stream in and out of the lofty master's study where Elrond was holding court and gathering information. Every surface had a body perched there, or a stack of documents awaiting perusal. Chaotic order reigned. He wondered why he did not move this madness to the larger formal reception hall, but somehow his comfortable and familiar study made it more tolerable to endure.
The line of those waiting their turn to report on their areas extended into the adjoining Great Library Hall, annoying visiting scholars. Stewards, Masters, Marshals, Lieutenants, and others responsible for keeping the sprawling settlement that was Rivendell going from day to day all met at this time of the year. The normally serene and seamless operation of the city was turned on its head at the end of each winter. Repairs to be made were brought forward, requests for extensions of the stables and greenhouses again were on the agenda and the Inner Council met through lunch, slurping soup and nibbling fruit while getting grease spots on parchment documents and paper notes. The stabilizing power of the Great Ring Vilya held back the normal aging processes around the valley haven, however life went on, roof tiles needed repairs and foundations wanted checking. This was the time of renewal and rebirth, and the whole city was abuzz with activity. Elrond had worked through the day non-stop, with a passing sadness in the back of his mind that Legolas had left for home early that morning.
Erestor, Seneschal of Rivendell, bustled around the room and stacked the reports already received. He had once paused while leaning over Elrond's shoulder to see a report, and had laid an encouraging hand along his shoulder. This task was nearly finished. He was glad they had smoothed over their spat from yesterday; they still had a festival to mount tomorrow. Lindefal, Elrond's aide and secretary, made an effort to channel the administrators in, but to no avail. As the long and noisy afternoon wore on and the crowd dwindled, Elrond sat back finally, looking over the ravaged battlefield that was his desk. The rich wooden surface with its rounded carved edges was piled deep. An apple core here, an empty jug for water there, a wine glass and pottery bowls from lunch perched precariously on a stack of maps, and all was awash in a sea of papers, parchments, and scrolls. Dishes from lunch and dinner yesterday were stacked under the expansive desk. He had a scroll in his hand and a stack of papers in his lap, a leaning tower of documents at his feet. The evening bells rang out calling the community to the evening meal in the dining hall. He said quietly, "Enough".
He slowly rose, placing the pages in his hand and lap on top the teetering stacks, looked around at the now quiet room and announced to no one in particular, " I am going to dinner." He stretched his tired, stiff muscles this way and that with a grimace. He carefully brushed his sleeves off, tidied his long dark hair, but stopped before he rubbed his tired eyes, gingerly touching the darkening bruise and cut along his cheek. Whipping tree branches could be sharp as knives. This slash had occurred during his horserace with Legolas the day before yesterday. That little adventure had been the whispered talk of the entire community, but he refused to elaborate on it. He turned and walked out the door without another word. Erestor and Lindefal looked at each other across the room and shrugged. By immediate mutual agreement they set down their stacks and followed the tall figure down the long exterior stairs and through the Great House to the dining hall.
Elrond had been silent and withdrawn these past few weeks, and his mood deepened and darkened just as the community's spirits rose in anticipation of the dancing and feasting to come at one of the high points in their determination of the days of the year. Seasons passing were as minutes to long-lived Elves, yet their love of nature caused them to mark the end of winter and the budding of spring at the Vernal Equinox. Erestor quietly remarked along the way to dinner that it seemed the ghost of Celebrian may have been banished by the race, and Lindefal nodded. It was this time of the seasons that she had left her family to pass across the Western Seas, and even though it was many, many years ago her gentle spirit was still missed by residents at Rivendell. Thus at the very time of year when most spirits rose and the earth was renewed, Elrond felt the deepest sense of loss and despair. Lindefal and Erestor did their best to orchestrate this overwhelming time of year for the Master of the House, juggling duties and emotions with care and concern. Celebrian had allowed Lindefal to cheat at cards, and their high stakes had been tasty berries and hard nuts. Erestor missed her patient smile and devotion to friends and family. She alone could sway Elrond's opinions with a look or a soft touch, and her gentle wisdom had helped him bear the burden of leadership. She shared the deep insight and understanding of her mother Galadriel, yet she was tempered in her judgments by her lively existence in cosmopolitan Rivendell. Unable to recover from the brutal horrors of her captivity and torture at the hands of a band of Orcs, she had withdrawn into herself, and had finally made the sad decision to leave those she loved behind.
Elrond had taken Celebrian to the Grey Havens and watched her ship set sail, composed, withdrawn, and silent. Cirdan had observed the ship set sail from his watchtower, and he remarked to others that she took his spirit with her as she left. Indeed the sparkle and light was gone from Elrond's eyes for years afterwards. Elves dally with ease yet marry with great devotion and depth of affection. After Celebrian left, their daughter Arwen, favoring her father in looks and her mother in spirit, spent her days in Lothlorien with her grandparents, Galadriel and Celeborn. Her older twin brothers had taken up the military life and spent their days roaming. They were either with the border patrols, or were gone for months riding the untamed regions with the Rangers. They had become lean and hard, forsaking for the most part the luxuries and pleasures of life at Rivendell or Lothlorien. The twins were a real force to be reckoned with now. Elrond loved his children fiercely and was tormented by the circumstances that cast them all apart.
Knowing that Celebrian waited on him when he chose to pass over the Western Seas, Elrond never remarried, but he slowly came back into the world of the living with great affection for, and from, friends and colleagues, affection that sometimes carried him through the long and lonely nights with loving companionship. Yet this time of year always settled a dark cloud over his spirits, a grim sadness that usually lasted until the first truly warm days of spring. Sunny Legolas, well liked by all, had been visiting these past few days from Mirkwood on errands from his father. He had lifted the dark cloud a bit in his own way, but had been called home for the holidays.
Tonight the dining hall was full of merry folk and the servers were moving amongst the crowd with a pun or a smile, and hearty food filled the air with sweet and savory aromas. Elrond took his large chair at the head of the main table on the low dais, and greeted the guests of honor seated to the left and right with a nod and smile. No quick bite for him here, there was always another role to play, a duty to perform. He had missed the communal dinner for various reasons the past several nights, and was behind on who was who among the guests. Erestor had managed to arrange interesting seating arrangements along the table with his usual aplomb, and Elrond smiled and spoke to the tall beauty to his right. He wondered what social machinations clicked and whirled in Erestor's mind tonight.
Last week Elrond had greeted the party of scribes from the southern regions who had come to copy ancient books for their library, and to trade in inks and colors. He had noticed the tall woman seated beside him even then. He later found out she managed a scriptorium there, and had brought a small book of poetry and legends, beautifully lettered and bound in gilt leather, as a gift to the library at Rivendell. He had briefly had a chance to hold the palm sized text and admire the craftsmanship before the springtime pandemonium descended upon his study. He wondered who had written the delicate script in perfect Sindarin. The scribes worked daily in the Great Library Hall, he had seen them as he cut through that room on errands, had smiled at their hunched forms and intense dedication.
Marelaine, now free from protective apron, white pull-on sleeves and cloth bound around her hair, seemed a different person than the Master Scribe of the daylight hours. For one thing, her radiant halo of curly red hair made her a standout in the crowd of ashen blond or raven Elven tresses. Even though an effort had been made to twist her rampant locks into some form of braided cap, long slender tendrils escaped and curled around her cheeks and forehead. The gleaming, silken Elven hair, caught up in the braids and silver clips that were so favored, seemed demure by comparison to those unruly russet locks. Her robust figure was revealed in the tightly laced gown, the low neckline embellished with heavy embroidery and silver threads. Her coloring, ample figure and lively ways offered quite something different in comparison to the composed demeanors and sleek and supple figures of the Elves.
Erestor looked down the table at Elrond and Marelaine deep in conversation. At an age difficult to determine, she was intelligent, and moved with an ease and grace that spoke of many experiences and strong self-confidence. Her ready smile and deep blue eyes wove a spell around the Master of the House, and brought him forward out of his tired mood. Displaying ink stained hands in some wry remark on her trade, Elrond genuinely laughed as he took the slender fingers in his own to study the offending marks. Erestor wondered what reason he gave for the cut and angry bruise when Marelaine asked about it in friendly conversation. He had touched it briefly and shook his head, turning the subject back to her. An accomplished scribe himself, Elrond could relate to her tired neck, cramped shoulders and the long lasting stains on her fingers. Erestor smiled at the successful pairing, at least one thing had gone right today. Maybe she could lighten his mood and pave the way for a happy festival tomorrow. Perhaps some female essence was the rest of the cure needed this week. The first dose of Legolas, mixed with horseflesh, had already started to lighten the dark mood. All Erestor knew was that he had to keep the Master of the House on his feet and moving forward for the next few days. Whatever it took, however crazy, and whatever the cost.
Lindefal and Erestor both knew that the gentle smile of Celebrian haunted Elrond these days. They knew that he had chosen to sleep alone for the past several weeks, retiring early to toss and turn restlessly, or rising late in the night to roam the extensive corridors of Rivendell in the quiet of darkness. He was distracted, and spent little time on himself, barely eating and with no thoughts of pleasure. Lindefal had followed him around the bedchamber at night with comb in hand and had to physically steer him to the waiting bath. One evening he had basically pulled the clothing off of Elrond as he paced, dressing him on the prowl in soft evening robes when he was unable to settle for the night. Only in the last three days had it seemed that maybe he was pulling out of the dark place in his mind. Members of the Household Guard had discovered him seated on a rooftop three mornings ago, watching the sunrise. His response to their query, " Arwen says this is the best place to see the first rays of light." He stayed there until midmorning, lost in thoughts of his far-flung family. He had decided he would go riding that day, he would ask Legolas to go along for company.
Erestor looked around the dining hall and sighed after finishing his meal. He had been starved when he finally sat down, having had an apple only for lunch in the press of business. His staff could now start to boil down all the information received and condense the reports for Elrond's final dispositions and commands. The gathering was the worst part and that was nearly over. The Festival was planned and ready to begin tomorrow afternoon. Running tired hands through his raven hair he nodded good evening at Lindefal, who rose from the central table to go about his evening tasks.
Erestor leaned on a tired hand and watched as Elrond gallantly offered his arm to Marelaine, who, while tall for her race, still had to tilt her face upwards to respond to a remark. He thought "saucy" was a good descriptive word for this daughter of men, and felt that they needed such strong medicine now. Elrond's presence and blessing at the Spring Festival was critically important to the community, and while he moved among them daily in a variety of tasks, this was a time when his paternal role as leader of the community was reestablished in their hearts and minds. His behavior lately had both worried and heartened his friends, and had indicated to them the great depth of his seasonal depression.
Elrond and Marelaine left the hall leisurely arm in arm and Erestor wondered what gallery, glade or garden nook would see their passing tonight. He personally planned an early bedtime, evidence of the stressful day spent on his feet with mind working top speed every second. Erestor was rarely without an offer for the night, however his soft pillow was the only company he desired this evening.
Moving away from the dining hall, they slowly roamed the balconies and walkways, pausing at the spectacular view of the falls plummeting down behind Rivendell, the snowy plumes of mist sparkling in the moonlight. She sat on the high stone bench and he moved to stand behind her, placing his hands gently along her shoulders. The breeze caught the scent of her hair and wafted it about her, a spicy and rich fragrance unlike the delicate floral and woodland fragrances favored by the Elves. She leaned back comfortably into his chest and they chatted easily about the weather, the time of year and the beauty of the falls. The words did not really matter as they felt a common attraction and mutual desire grow between them.
He had noticed a small limp as they had strolled and he now asked her if it was a recent injury. After all, they had a long and difficult ride to reach the valley. "No, it was a childhood accident." She replied. "I fell while climbing a cliff face after bird's eggs. You see, our mother died when we were young and my father was a busy man dealing in woven goods, so I was allowed to run free with my brothers. I learned to ride and hunt and climb, to the dismay of the other mothers in the town I assure you. My knee was twisted in the rockslide, and it was reset, but it never healed properly. It can dance on good days and wants the fireside on bad ones."
She smiled and continued, "I had been apprenticed to the weaver's guild because of my father's connections, but the foot pedals of the looms were too much for me as I healed. I was able to convince my father to enlist me with the Scribe's Guild and he did, just to keep me out of trouble I believe. Mother had taught me to read early in life, and I was always able to copy script and write with a good hand." Elrond listened with interest to this enlightening side of the intriguing figure before him; the story touched the nurturing healer inside him. "I can get you something for the pain while you are here. I will look at it if it is bothering you now." She shrugged, and thanked him. "Now you bring this up," she said, "I noticed a slight limp in your step as well." He shook his head and smiled ruefully, "The results of the same little horseback outing that gave me this," he said as he touched his cheek, " It will pass." He was unwilling to explain further, and they spoke of other things.
The evening was drawing into lateness and the breeze grew cooler. Immune to the weather to a great extent, Elrond noted that Marelaine was trembling and that she had tucked her fingers into her woven wrap. Chastising himself as a careless host, he invited her to his study for a nightcap and a time by the fire to warm up. While she was chilled, she knew the trembling came from her proximity to Elrond, and she felt she had rattled foolishly on in silly girlish nervousness. She had leapt at the opportunity to travel to Rivendell and work in the famous library, and to actually meet its famed Master was more than she could have dreamed about. Legendary in the myths of many races, he was an enigma to her now as they touched and spoke. Rising, she agreed to the nightcap, and leaning in on his arm for warmth and comfort they wound their way along the corridors of the Great House and through the Great Library Hall.
Here they paused in the dim light as he reviewed her work from the day spread out to dry along a table. Taking a page up he studied it with great interest and looked at her with a serious smile. "You have tremendous skill in your lettering," he said. Your execution and expression of the subtle nuances of the Elvish script speaks of years of practice, and innate skill. He turned the page in the dim light for a closer look. "Your hand shows a deep understanding of the subtle strokes and their meanings." The Elvish script was enhanced by subtle nuances as was the spoken language, and these were not always apparent to the reader or listener unless very skilled. She took his compliments with grace and an appreciation. His reputation as an artisan in her field was well known.
"Your childhood misfortune and change of practice is a boon to historians and readers of your works. The book you brought to our library, that was that by your hand as well?" Again her modest and graceful nod. "I shall cherish it more knowing the pages came from your own ink-stained fingers," he teased, and brought her fingers to his lips for a sweet kiss. Taking her arm again, they passed along the tables and shelves and into his study where he poured wine for them both.
Lindefal hummed softly to himself as he went about his business in the loft bedchamber above the study, and he paused when heard the conversation and clink of the glasses from the room below. They spoke in the Common Tongue, and he guessed that the woman from dinner was the guest tonight. He smiled to himself that Erestor had finally found someone to entertain Elrond during this stressful time.
He had already changed the snowy sheets and turned back the coverlets on the large square bed and drawn a hot bath, now he was tidying the maps and papers on the large desk to make room for a tray of cheese and fruit. He hoped to keep something appealing available for Elrond as their eating times were in such disarray. Managing an orderly schedule for the Master of the House at this time of year was just impossible. Especially when he tore off on crazy adventures in the middle of a busy day. He set a second glass beside the jug of mead just in case and continued quietly about his evening tasks. He wondered if it would be a game of chess, a soulful conversation, or more intimate activities tonight. One never knew with Elrond.
Marelaine sat in a chair by the fire and accepted her glass of wine. The elegant stemmed glass flashed and glittered with etched designs that caught the firelight. Elrond pulled up a short stool before her and sat down stiffly with a grimace and a groan. His little outing on horseback would make him pay the price for days. Placing a hand on each of her knees, he was now the concerned healer. With a slight tap he asked, "Was it this one giving you pain?" he asked.
The Same Evening
Lindefal was now folding fresh linens and the voices drifted up the staircase in perfect clarity. He peeked carefully over the railing of the loft to see how the evening was progressing for Elrond. It looked interesting from his vantage point, and he paused watching, pillowcase in hand. In the flickering firelight Marelaine demurred, but finally gave in, and gathered up her skirts. The deep embroidered hem crept up her shins to rest on her slender thighs. She lifted the left leg slightly and extended her delicately clad foot. Elrond's deft fingers explored the knee with probing touches, and then he sat back and compared the two knees side by side. Shaking his head he said, "It is unfortunate that this injury did not respond to the healer's treatments. The trials of your journey and your long days working in the library have aggravated it I imagine. You can see a little swelling here, and here, " he touched the knee gently," But I can give you a medication for that tomorrow." Disconcerted by his closeness and this intimate touch, Marelaine let the heavy embroidered hem slip back downwards and she rose and backed away while thanking him. She stepped around the chair as her heartbeat pounded in her ears.
Taking her glass along with her she strolled slowly around the richly appointed study, now awash in stacks and piles of papers and parchments. She gathered up her skirts in one hand and was careful the train of her formal robe did not brush against anything and cause the towers of pages to fall. Elrond stood and moved to his desk to retrieve his glass of wine. As he watched her he noted the delicately embroidered design that lay across the hips of her gown and trailed upwards around the many eyelets that held the criss-cross ties. The tight lacing drew her gown closely to her form. The ends of the laces were long and the tips were capped with silver, they swung gently along her back as she moved through the room. The embroidery was repeated along the heavy deep hem of the gown and silver threads in the design flashed in the firelight.
She stopped at a tall scribe's desk and looked carefully at the set-up. A clean page lay tacked down, pricked and lined, awaiting the touch of pen and ink. "Is this for you?" she asked. Elrond nodded yes. "Perhaps I may see some of your handwork before we leave Rivendell, if the events of the holiday allow you a moment's peace." Lindefal had explained the year-end business to her, and why a crowd disturbed the normally peaceful Great Library. As Lindefal heard her words now he shook his head and thought, "Small chance." Elrond would barely have a moment's peace in the next few days. He returned to his pile of clean linens.
She strolled along the bookcases containing Elrond's personal collections, and a deep sigh of admiration expressed her appreciation of these tangible expressions of words and thoughts. Elrond refilled his glass and leaned against the heavy desktop. Unlike Marelaine he was not mindful of the stacked papers at all. He watched her as she moved around his study, inspecting each and every item with great care. "You have lived and worked in this study many years," she stated. It was not a question. "Years without number," he replied.
"Your spirit imbues it with life," she continued as she looked over her shoulder at the tall and elegant figure. "How so?" he asked. She retraced her steps along the wall, trailing a demonstrating hand along behind her. "These books and maps reveal the heart and soul of a scholar and historian, and are contain guides for your healing touch. The tapestries, wines and roses speak of someone whose senses are challenged and nourished daily." She waved her hand to encompass the room, "These papers speak of a nurturing heart that allows others to excel in their tasks with the desire of pleasing you. Too close to the actual work of sorting all those papers, Lindefal thought, "Oh pleeeeease, am I really hearing this drivel?" He mused, "Things have to be in a sad state for this syrup to turn Elrond's head." But then he thought of the long lonely nights lately, maybe it would please Elrond to be fawned upon by a stranger. His friends had certainly been rejected lately. Well, some of them at least. Maybe this silly dalliance with the woman would be just different enough to be amusing. Who ever really knew Elrond's heart?
As personal aide and secretary to Elrond, Lindefal had intimate knowledge of the Master's bedchamber, the closet, and the bath, as well as the daily round of business that engaged the Lord of the Household. He knew when Elrond's schedule was busy, or when there was time to relax, and he knew when the bed was slept in, not slept in, and when it had been shared. He occasionally tussled the sheets himself with his long-time friend and companion. But not lately.
Lindefal had arrived in Imladris soon after its founding. As an old battlefield companion to Elrond, he had settled into increasingly responsible and trusted positions. With Erestor and Findalor, other long-time acquaintances, they had eventually settled into a team that managed the growing refuge as it developed and flourished. He placed a stack of linens in their cupboard. Whatever his task, from folding fresh linens to managing the Lord of the House's daily schedule, he did it with discretion, finesse and pride. He kept a sharp ear on the conversation drifting up from below.
The Same Evening
Marelaine had crossed the room to look out the wide windows, and now stood before Elrond with a smile. He asked her, "How does it come to pass that one such as yourself should hold a position of management and responsibility in a city of men? You have no ring or bracelet to mark you as a wife." She smiled, "My father helped advance my business position, my brothers see to my well-being and the family's fortune gives me independence to do as I please." She looked up at Elrond and continued, "Few men of my city have the nerve and stamina to storm my bastions, although a few have tried. I am just not the meek and mild wifely sort, you see." She shrugged, "Alas, an unmarried woman with a limp, I remain a simple scribe in the end."
She smiled and then slowly bent low and gathered up the long train of her gown with her free hand. Rising slowly as well she glanced along the tall figure before her as she rose. Even in elegant household garments: the soft leather shoes, silken leggings and velvet folds of his robe, strength and power were revealed. The aroma of delicate herbs scenting his robe was barely discernable. She wondered if she could continue to tease, or if she would have to flee in terror of her emotional state.
" It is getting late, and I do not merit this depth of interest from the Lord of the House during such a busy time." Lindefal nearly laughed out loud at this calculated remark, but preserved his unrevealed status with lips clamped shut. He could feel the tension and the heat building between them, even upstairs. He thought this could get very interesting. She was very good at this show of shy reluctance and gentle teasing.
"I see no simple scribe before me," Elrond whispered. He set his glass down and took her empty one to join it. Rising from his seat on the edge of the desk he stood looking down at her, placing his fingers through the tendrils of curls along her face, a gentle thumb moving along her curving cheek. The fireplace snapped and popped sparks and the flickering lights played over their features. He drew a long curling strand of hair into his fingers and stretched it long and smooth, releasing slowly it to wind back into itself. "Your hair contains the fire of the autumn sun as it blazes upon the changing leaves of the forest, your eyes are as blue as the depths of the rolling sea, and your lips are as the last blushing rose of the season." He brushed her lips with a fingertip as he spoke. "You have the heart of an artisan, the hands of a master, and the spirit of a wild thing living free in the woods. What is there about you that would not hold my interest? "
Lindefal had moved forward to the railing to catch the whispered words and peeked over cautiously. He had not heard this level of silky flirtation from Elrond in some time, and he heard far more than he should most of the time. How well Elrond managed this smooth seduction in the Common Tongue was amazing. Elven words played on the ears and in the mind, weaving spells upon spells, while the language of men was straightforward and harsh sounding, at least to Lindefal's ears. Her gentle teasing and aloofness was quite different from the sensual flirtatious play of the Elven kind, eager to experience a touch and an entwined joining, both mental and physical. They sometimes were lost for hours or days in the waking dreaming of their kind. Her modest reservation was something new, and it was having quite an unusual effect on the worldly Master of the House.
Marelaine trembled and every nerve cried out in desire. Elrond had leaned closer to whisper in her ear, switching to the melodious and bewitching sounds of Sindarin. If she could write the beautiful script of the language so well, he thought, she could understand it. Poetry flowed from his lips and the soft words floated in colors and patterns, and spun sensuous images in her mind. A gentle tug on the silver tipped laces released the bow at the back of her gown. Slowly, deftly, his fingers had moved back and forth to gently pull out the loosened ties, easing the snug fit. His hands moved along her narrow waist to her broad hips, and then continued the delicate play of fingers caught in laces. She did not resist, but laid kisses into his hair and along his neck as he bent over her and spoke softly of spring, desire, and ancient lovers under the stars.
Lindefal caught himself staring with intense interest at the slender pale fingers smoothly untangling the binding threads. He could never get any lacing undone himself without watching his fingers, how did Elrond do that so well behind her back? The repetitive action was something to study, and done to recitations of poetry too! In Lindefal's experience, laces were carefully done and undone in the dressing of himself or Elrond, or they were to be yanked open in the thrill of passion, fumbled with in the rush to remove impeding garments. If this was the true way to win this woman, how did short-lived men have time for such lengthy play? He was frowning, and as he watched them he recognized he felt the twisting of a jealous heart.
Her fingers crept up Elrond's chest and she laid her hands under the soft folds of the collar of his outer robe, hooking her thumbs over the rich velvet fabric. She drew them down again, relishing the feel of the silky soft fabric. Loosened now from restraining ties, her heavy, embroidered sleeves slid down pale shoulders as she held onto the soft fabric before her. She continued to tease him, and spoke in accented Sindarin, "I have heard many stories of the mysterious Master of the Last Homely House East of the Sea. I have also read many tales of the adventures of the Lord of Imadris." With a sly smile she continued, "However, none of these legends speak of his honeyed voice and the sweet poetry that can fall from his lips. Who would ever believe that a simple soul like myself ever heard such words?" His hands settled along the curves of her shoulders, and then slid the heavy sleeves a bit further down her pale arms.
The Same Evening - Flashback
Turning serious she looked into his smoky gray eyes and saw flecks of green flash in the firelight. Her grip tightened on the soft folds of his robe as her feelings overwhelmed her at last. She lapsed back into the Common Tongue, "I have read that you founded Imladris ages ago as a refuge and safe haven against a dark world, gathering the wise and learned to your court. That Imladris hosted the great gathering of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Tales place you in ancient times I may only read about in history books, or hear of in stories around the fire. Tales of horrible wars and unthinkable battles."
Lindefal, unmoved by her subtle flirtations, was still stabbed by pangs of jealousy. He bitterly thought, "What would you understand of these tales you may only read? What would you really think of the terrifying blood stained warrior that was Elrond in the midst of battle? He had led the charge without helmet so his troops could see him clearly, his dark hair whipped about his shoulders as he shouted orders to advance. Slashing and stabbing with brutal speed and merciless effort, he had cut a bloody swath through the opposing forces and led his troops forward to the very feet of the Dark Lord himself. He thought, "No written page could convey the image of the madness of battle upon Elrond, nor describe his terrible grace and utility of action in killing." He wondered if she had seen him then, would she want those once blood stained hands and red-rimmed eyes near her now?
"I was there at the Last Alliance of Elves and Men on the burning plain," he thought bitterly. "I saw those things. What would you know of the sickening crunch of shield upon bone, the slice of arrows seeking flesh, the slipping and sliding over blood soaked bodies piled beneath your feet on the ground? Could you bear to watch the mindless mechanics of stabbing weapon and defensive shield?"
Even in the cool scented evening air wafting through the windows he was thrown back instantly millennia ago to the dark, smoke-filled atmosphere of that battle plain. Back to the smell of blood and death, the shouts and moans, and the fear that gripped them all as a shock wave of heat and sound flowed over them like the crash of a great flood. He was stationed too far back in the field to see the death of the High King Gil-Galad, or to know what happened, but he was thrown backwards off his feet in the rumbling wave that swept across everyone at the dissolution of Sauron's physical form.
He knew no words on a page, no matter how elegantly composed and scripted, could truly expose the shattered emotions of the survivors, struggling back up into the dark thick air, looking around in dazed confusion. Lindefal lay in the mud across a dead Orc, arms out flung, wondering if he was alive or dead. The Orc army lay unmoving in heaps and mounds where they fell after their life force had been dissipated with Sauron's passing. Men and Elves staggered to their feet gasping, leaning on swords and shields. Slowly climbing back to his feet, Lindefal had pulled off his helmet and tried to brush the sweat and blood from his eyes with a dirty sleeve. He looked around and sought to understand the events. He saw Findalor across the plain on horseback, banner snapping above his head in the whirling heated air, gathering to him those who could stand and walk. He saw the distant banners of Gil-galad and Elrond and the milling masses of their armies. Cries of lament for the dead rose in the air.
Erestor called out to him, struggling and scrambling over the heaps of the dead. They crashed together in an exhausted and clumsy embrace, holding each other up on unsteady legs as shock and exhaustion set in. Their armor was bashed and covered in splashes and gouts of dark Orc blood. Lindefal's leg was bleeding from a vicious slash and the cut across his forehead was dripping into his eyes. He brushed it away again blinking. Erestor was panting and streaked with blood as well. They leaned together and struggled for breath in the stifling heat. They lived.
Centuries of dwelling in peace in Rivendell would never remove those sights, sounds and smells from his mind. He still carried the bond of a warrior to his leader in common with Elrond; it had been the basis of their early friendship. Memories such as these bound them together still. As he thought back over these events, he wondered how Elrond managed to stay sane. How had he managed to remain in Middle Earth over the millennia with painful memories such as these, and much, much darker ones as well? A sigh and a soft laugh brought him sharply back to the present. He rubbed his face to remove the horrors from his mind and ease the mean thoughts against the woman below him. She did not deserve his anger and jealousy, and he was ashamed of his lapse, he was tired these days as well. Perhaps she could understand a little.
Her soft voice carried upwards clearly, "I may only read of these things, yet the events are a living memory in your mind. I know you were a warrior, brave beyond courage, enduring beyond exhaustion, one who overcame enemies who were evil beyond comprehension. She dropped her head and laid her face against the soft folds across his chest, whispering, "I stand before a legend in the flesh, and I am afraid." His arms gently closed around her drawing her near, and he replied, "Who speaks honeyed words now? I am only what you see before you, a prisoner of my desire, no more, no less."
Upon hearing these words, Lindefal grimaced and thought, "Elrond is truly smitten now." From his position above them he watched as she reached up and gently slid his heavy outer robe off his shoulders to slide slowly along his arms and drop to the floor. Loosened pins released her heavy coils of hair into Elrond's fingers and it fell about her shoulders in fiery, radiant curls. She gently touched his bruised cheek and on tiptoe pressed a soft kiss near the cut. Moving together they locked in embrace with a passionate and deep kiss. Lindefal leaned against the stone pillar and watched with pursed lips of his own, feeling awash with envy. He crossed his arms, then rested his head in a hand. He scolded himself for these feelings of possession, not proper for one in his position and of his race. He enjoyed his time with Elrond, and understood no one claimed that bed with any permanence. Appreciation of all things beautiful and sensual was the Elven joy in life.
He guessed she could be called beautiful, for someone from the race of men that is. Her hair was a novelty as well. Red hair was rarely seen in Rivendell, and it did catch the light in a fetching manner. However, he and Erestor shared a passion for their own kind, and were not enticed by the supposed charms of the race of men. The marble skin, the delicate features of the Elven women and sinewy muscles and extended senses of tall comrades in arms were what he desired. The slight psychic joining between Elves when entwined as lovers sealed the bond between them on many levels. Lying with one of the race of men would be a cold and lonely experience Lindefal imagined. But that did not seem to bother Elrond tonight. His tastes could run broadly, and often did.
Lindefal watched as her hands roamed and caught in his long dark hair. Her dress hung from her arms loosely now, and Elrond placed slow bites and kisses along her neck and the swells of her breasts as she arched backward in pleasure. Their intense devotion to the sensations of the moment was evidence of the deepening, radiating passion that could be felt all around them as a palpable presence.
Yesterday and Last Night
Lindefal noticed where he was standing and smiled. This particular place allowed one to see over the railing into that part of the study without being revealed immediately. Legolas had discovered this very spot just last night. It had been this same late hour as well. Lindefal had thought at the time that Legolas was receiving quite the worldly education while at Rivendell, while also teaching everyone around him a new love of life with his fresh and straightforward nature. Legolas had certainly seen the Master of the House in a new light every day of the last week.
The flurry of information gathering had started early last week, along with the preparations for the Spring Festival. Events of racing, swimming in the chill spring-feed pools and archery competitions would occupy the daylight hours. Elrond and the household staff would judge the contests and award with great amused ceremony and pomp the small, but coveted, floral tokens of honor to the winners. A splendid feast on the grassy lawns below the Great House and along the riverbanks would be enjoyable in the unusually balmy evenings they were having. Dancing and singing would entertain all throughout the festival.
It was important for Erestor and his staff to get all the counting and accounting done first, then plan the celebrations, and finally collapse into the festival itself. It was critical that Elrond be there and visible for the games and the feast. He was the heart and soul of Rivendell, and his demeanor affected everything.
Legolas had soaked up all the activity and unusual bustle and he lent a hand in many aspects of the preparations during the week he was there. He had worked side by side with Elrond in reviewing the past year's events and starting this year's inventory. They had toured the stables to view the new foals, and Legolas had a fine eye and appreciation for the beauty and power of Elven horses. He especially enjoyed the trip out to the folds to view the lambs and calves; they did not herd animals in Mirkwood, but rather traded for wool, meat and skins when needed. Elrond had put aside his responsibilities one afternoon and asked Legolas to ride with him. The afternoon horserace with Elrond was a memory he would never forget.
Elrond had hoped Legolas would stay through the festival, but knew the shaky ground he shared with Legolas' father, Thranduil and the community of Mirkwood. He was suspect of the timing as well, of course Legolas would have to return home quickly. Elrond had a real affection for the younger Elf, and found that Legolas made the busy days endurable by his presence.
Yesterday had been exceptionally trying with many demands on everyone's time. Even as Elrond seemed to be returning to his old self somewhat after the fresh air and exercise of the previous day, tempers were growing short, and council meetings were long. Lindefal had retreated upstairs to lay requests for repairs out on the large table in the bedchamber for sorting.
At a break mid-afternoon some small discussion between Elrond and Erestor had turned heated, with raised voices. He looked over the railing from the loft to see what was happening between the normally cooperative pair. Erestor was flushed; standing hands on hips while Elrond pointed to a page on his desk and shook his head no. Erestor threw his hands up into the air and stormed out the exterior doorway, while Elrond collapsed into his chair and placed his head in his hand with a growl and a frown. Eeks, thought Lindefal, I should have been listening to this one. He thought better of heading down the stairs and left Elrond alone to fume silently. Some things were better not shared.
Truly, yesterday had been a very long day, and last night had been a very interesting night. Lindefal leaned over for another peek at the passion unfolding beneath him this evening. Still embracing, they were merging body and soul, swaying gently together, with small moans, sighs and whispers wafting around them. Elrond's small silver buttons had been undone now and she ran her hands up his chest and along his neck under the silky fabric. How they were still standing upright Lindefal did not know. "Would the desk serve as landing place for the impassioned lovers? It wouldn't be the first time," he thought to himself. He knew the rounded edges and hard surface of that wide desk quite well himself.
He thought back to last night. Elrond had skipped dinner, and started to prepare for bed, but continued to be agitated after the stressful events of the day. He was pacing the room, still limping a bit from sore muscles from the previous day's adventure. Lindefal had called him to come soak in the hot water, and had moved to the steaming bath to unbraid and comb Elrond's hair for the evening. He stood looking with dismay as the distracted Master of the House headed away from him and towards the stairs. He had kicked off his loosened leggings, and trailing his soft sleeping robe hanging open on his shoulders, he padded down the steps barefooted. Lindefal spoke in agitation, "What now? Wasn't the day long enough already?" Stressed and tired himself, he was ready to throw the basket containing the comb and brush right out the window. He tossed it on the dresser instead and stalked over to the railing to see what interrupted the evening ritual for retirement.
Elrond was sitting at his desk, page in hand reading while nibbling a finger. No, no, no, thought Lindefal, as he laid his head on the railing in despair. The finger nibbling habit was a dead give-away that Elrond's mind was not ready for rest. It signaled deep thought and lengthy contemplation. Lindefal turned and considered getting into the rapidly cooling bath himself. Annoyed at this interruption to the normal schedule, he moved around the room gathering bits of discarded clothing and shoes. Legolas wandered in from the upper entryway and asked softly, "Hello Lindefal, what chambers are these?"
He continued, "I was in the Library, I came up some stairs and now I am here." Each time he was able to spend a few days at Rivendell on business from his father, Legolas wandered the balconies and gardens, learning his way around the winding corridors and up and down the staircases. The other evening he had found Elrond walking the corridors in the dark pre-dawn hours, and they had strolled about the sleeping settlement in silent companionship. The look and feel of the city had snared him with a deep fascination for both its openness and its hidden secrets. He much preferred it to Lothlorien's hanging flets and lofty rooms, and he left Mirkwood's dark environs behind with gladness.
Lindefal responded, "This is Master Elrond's bedchambers, above his study. You have been there, but probably did not realize this bedchamber was here, above it." He continued to move about the room putting garments away, and gathered the laundry for the basket by the door. Legolas wandered wide-eyed around the room, leaning over to tentatively touch the large soft square bed, and admire the ornately carved headboard. And he had thought his guest bed was luxurious. He walked past the large carved wooden bath and dragged fingers through the warm water, then made a circuit by the dresser littered with personal items. He picked up the delicate silver comb and watched it catch and reflect the candlelight.
"So, where is Master Elrond then?" Legolas asked. Perhaps he could tell Elrond goodbye before he left earning in the morning, and receive a fatherly hug and kiss on the top of head, so silly yet so enjoyable, affection he never received at home. He could thank him for the race that was gaining him glory and fame in Rivendell. Lindefal nodded towards the railing as he gathered items for the mending basket.
The Day Before Yesterday
Lindefal held up a shirt and tsk tsked the torn fabric and bloodstains he saw. Elrond's ride the day before, through the whipping tree limbs, thorns and brambles, and along the roughest trails in the valley, had left his casual riding clothes in a shambles. "Why had he not worn his high boots and leather jerkin for this outing?" wondered Lindefal, "He knew he was going riding. But, did he know where?"
Elrond had returned to his bedchamber the night of the ride in such a disheveled state that Lindefal and Erestor stopped their conversation and just stood staring in disbelief for many seconds. They had intended to meet him with stern scolding, but were stopped cold in their actions by his extremely bedraggled appearance. His bruised cheek had a bleeding slash across it, his long black hair was a tangled mass full of leaves and twigs, and his clothes were torn and stained. Elrond had a guilty smile, but a light step, as he came through the door. Erestor thought, "This is worse than the last time. But it worked. Thank all the spirits it worked." Elrond could outride his demons if he tried hard enough.
He had been so cut up from the thorny hedges and brambles that Lindefal insisted on adding medication to the bath water, and told Elrond he deserved it when every cut stung and burned as a result. Both Erestor and Lindefal soundly upbraided him about the escapade, and about involving Legolas as well. Elrond was a prisoner in the bath, resigned to hearing their concerns. Explaining to his fiery tempered father how the Prince of Mirkwood had broken his neck racing horses up unsafe paths was a task no one wanted. Elrond had finally ducked under the water to escape them and was rewarded by stinging medication his eyes and searing pain from the cut on his cheek as the medicine hit it. Lindefal had pulled the twigs and leaves none to gently from the long black snarls of hair last evening.
Now, the evening after that adventure, Lindefal held the stained and torn shirt from the previous day's adventure up for Legolas to see, and got outstretched arms in a shrug as a response. Legolas had actually been directly behind Elrond on that race upwards to the plateau, and the same brambles and tree limbs had slashed his own clothes.
Riding casually along the higher banks of the river that afternoon, Elrond had pulled them up at the start of an unused and overgrown path leading upward. He stared up the nearly vertical path, calculating its pitch, and a strange look passed across his face. He spontaneously announced he was headed to the plateau and with a sharp word to his horse they leapt up the stony path into the bushes.
Legolas gave a whoop and a cry to his mount, and madly followed after without a thought. There was no slow going here, the steep path required all-out effort to climb. Their powerful horses dug into the soft turf and rocky soil, and with mighty haunches thrusting, they lurched their way up the twisting path. The horses pitched and rolled up the rocky trail, their riders ducking under low branches and suffering through thick and thorny hedges. Overgrown brush grabbed at their clothes and tore their skin.
They clung close to the saddles as the great beasts struggled up the cutbacks and the nearly sheer ascent of the disused path. Ducking too slowly in an upward bound; Elrond had received a slashing cut across his cheek from a low-lying branch. His centuries of riding experience kept him seated on the mighty horse as it sprang upwards through the brush. Legolas' lithe body, youthful strength and excellent fitness had kept him on his mount, shifting this way and that to avoid outcroppings of stone or sharp thorned hedges. Only centuries of careful breeding, the mineral rich grasses of the valley and the strong hearts and spirits of the horses allowed them to manage the long upward climb. Bursting out onto flat ground at the end of the path they raced though the undergrowth of a stand of trees and gained the level plain along the plateau.
Open miles along a road stretched ahead and they raced neck and neck along the valley's forested borders. Legolas did not know what drove Elrond to such intense effort, but the ride had certainly gotten his own blood flowing and had challenged his horsemanship skills to the extreme. He felt every muscle and nerve strain, the breath burned in his lungs, his heart beat loudly in his ears, and he felt truly alive.
Rivendell's border guards watched them charge up the unused path and crash through the trees in amazement. The guards at the sentry post a mile away saw them coming and lined the woods to cheer them on as they pounded past along the firm turf. Legolas had pulled ahead by a neck at that point, but then fell back as the powerful strides of Elrond's horse carried them ahead over the gently rolling ground as in flight. The tall, long legged horses were valiant in their efforts and responded to the calls from their riders for more speed. The length of the course before them allowed them to hit their strides and extend themselves fully in a rare exercise to test their limits. The whipping wind, the horse's rippling muscles and pounding hooves, the snap and crack of the leather harness were all exhilarating for Legolas, who had never been allowed to really ride flat out before. Awash in sensations he urged his horse forward as he hung on for dear life.
They finally slowed and then stopped, Elrond easing his mount around and returning to where Legolas had managed to pull up his horse. Sliding off the saddles with quivering limbs and pounding hearts they leaned for a time on their horses. Legolas, holding his chest trying to breathe and laugh at the same time, conceded the race to Elrond in gasps. Elrond leaned over, hands on knees, heaving to catch his breath. He was shaking his head and laughing as well. Legolas perceived a lightened humor and sense of relaxation upon Elrond's tall frame after the grueling ride. He must have out-ridden whatever demons were chasing him Legolas thought, wise beyond his years in this revelation. He, as yet, knew little of Elrond's sad family history. They returned to the valley as the evening fell, riding down a less steep and more used trail. Sentries at this post called out with laughter, "Master Elrond, you won this time, will you win the next race too?" and "Next time, Legolas, you'll beat him next time. Our wagers will be on you!" Head still swimming and hands still shaking from the heart-stopping race, Legolas had his doubts. As for Elrond, he just waved them off with a gloved hand.
Elrond did stay as active as his duties would allow, his own fitness was a matter of pride. However this extended and extreme form of exercise would make him pay dearly for too many hours riding a desk and not a horse. He realized at the sentry's words that this little adventure would already be news at Rivendell. With a sinking feeling he knew he would pay for it with more than sore muscles.
Upon their return Elrond stood embracing his horse's neck and stroking its proud nose as he caught hell from the grooms in the stables, Master of the House or not. As he whispered apologies in its ear he was nuzzled in return. He was guilty as charged and Legolas stood by, damned by association. Elrond thought that he would probably be able to use some of the strong liniment they brought out on himself. As they climbed back upward to the Great House and entered the courtyard Elrond placed a playful hand on the back of Legolas' neck and remarked on his great skill as a horseman. "I'd keep this little race from your father if you can," Elrond remarked conspiratorially, "but he may have heard about it already!" They stopped and looked up to see Findalor standing before them, feet spread and arms crossed, blocking the stairs. "You two seemed to have survived the closed trail, how are the horses then?" They stood silent like guilty children caught red-handed. He slowly looked them up and down, assessing their cuts and scrapes with a bent eye and said, "I suppose Elrond won the race?" Positive nods." I don't have to tell you that trail has been closed for years because it is dangerous, do I?" Negative nods. " I don't have to tell you that you could have caused yourselves great harm there, do I?" Again, silent nods." I won't ever see either of you on that trail again, will I?" More nods. Shaking his head he stepped aside, "Well then, go clean up."
They limped up the stairs and parted, heading away to their respective rooms. Legolas did not mind his little limp, and his cuts and scratches were badges that were earning him admiration and merit in the eyes of the youth of Rivendell. Those members of the community had greeted him on the stairs with painful thumps on the back and hand shakes, they had already heard of the foolhardy and dangerous race. The abandoned back trails were normally forbidden, even to foot traffic. To have ridden up those vertical inclines, and then to have nearly outraced Elrond, well, that was the stuff that made folk heroes. Elladan and Elrohir had observed the breakneck race past their post, and had spread the word around Rivendell in a flash when they returned home. They had never been able to beat their father racing on horseback even once. For Legolas to have even pulled ahead was a worthy accomplishment.
Back in the present, and smiling at his memory of yesterday's newfound fame and celebrity status, Legolas walked past the bed seeking Elrond in his study. He leaned over the railing to peek below.
He saw Elrond, seated in the oversized chair at his littered desk, head sunk in thought. Legolas leaned against the stone pillar and watched the firelight dance among the shadows of the darkened chamber below. Elrond's dark hair lay fanned across the fabric of his robe, which was loosely drawn about him as he picked up another page to study in the dim light of a few candles burning. Legolas turned to see Erestor come in the outer doorway into the study and gently clear his throat to be noticed. He stood very still by the doorway and waited to be formally invited in. Elrond gestured him over with a short wave, and picking up a pile of papers from the smaller chair next to Elrond, he sat down.
They sat side by side for some time in strained postures and quiet talk. Their voices drifted up the stairs into the loft clearly. Pages passed back and forth between them. Elrond finally looked steadily at Erestor and held up his hands in defeat. He said, "Send a party South and trade for these things then, offer gold or grain or whatever they want, I don't care. If you say we need these things we need them" Erestor nodded and more quiet talk was exchanged. Elrond finally sat back in dismissal and leaned his head in his hand. Erestor rose to leave and the sheaf of papers slid from his lap onto the floor.
Kneeling to gather these, he placed them on the desk, and turned to face Elrond. Still kneeling, he placed an arm and open hand along each thigh and looked steadily at his friend. Elrond lifted his head from his hand in surprise and then looked at him evenly. "Erestor, I am too tired for this tonight," he growled. He shifted sore leg muscles under Erestor's grip, "Ouch."
Erestor said calmly, "I am sorry I lost my temper this afternoon, it all seemed to be so important then. Please don't be angry with me now."
" I am not angry with you," Elrond snapped. "Yes you are, I can see it in your eyes, I can hear it in your voice. You are upset with me still."
"I am not upset with you, " Elrond said tersely. "Alright, then you are very annoyed with me," Erestor continued and did not move, determined to ease the tension before he left his old friend. They had too much to manage in the next few days to have a spat interrupt their working relationship. Lindefal had quietly moved next to Legolas and looked over the railing also after hearing the tone of the conversation. They exchanged guilty looks, but neither moved. Lindefal thought Erestor was playing with fire this night, knowing Elrond's distraction lately. He could push the dark mood into real anger if he were not careful. Everyone would suffer then.
"You are not going away until this is settled, are you?" Elrond asked. Erestor shook his head no slowly. "Alright, I am very annoyed with you," Elrond conceded. "You drive me to distraction." This confession did not ease the locked eyes or the firm grasp Erestor had on the thighs beneath his hands. "I know I do, haven't I have done so for years?" he asked. Elrond shook his head and replied, " Yes, you have driven me to distraction for years. There, now are you happy?"
"No, I am sorry and I want to apologize," Erestor stayed right where he was, but slid his hands forward a bit, brushing the soft robes aside. Elrond realized his exposed state of being for the first time as the silken fabric slid across his flesh. "I want to apologize and I want you to forgive me," Erestor said as he slid his hands forward along Elrond's inner thighs and around his hips. He had seen the cuts and scratches again along the muscular legs and arms, and saw the bruise darkening along his cheek. He knew that Elrond only rode out like that when in extreme stress. He had done it before. It was a sure cure however, and it seemed Elrond could actually outride his ghosts, but the effort nearly killed him. Erestor had had to pacify the still-angry grooms later. It was worth it to get Elrond through this painful time of year. He gambled and laid his head in Elrond's lap, and remained still.
"It is late, and I am too tired for this, Erestor," he growled. Lindefal was holding his breath in worried anticipation of what would occur next. Normally calm and serene, Elrond had a sharp temper in extreme circumstances. Legolas was caught up in the turbulent emotional atmosphere surrounding the pair. He realized that this was a battle of wills that had deep roots through centuries past. Erestor stayed put.
Elrond sighed and reached out for a fingerful of Erestor's dark silky hair, he gave it a not-so-gentle tug. "You do make a persistent case for what you want," Elrond said, "Maybe I should move you to the courts instead of household management." "You may move me wherever you desire," Erestor purred as he slid along the muscular thighs with a warm tongue dragging and teasing the tender skin there. He smoothed a hand along the long scar, running up from inside the knee and over the thigh muscle. Erestor pushed Elrond back and he slumped into the chair's cushions and surrendered the battle to teasing fingers and a warm lapping tongue. He shifted in the oversized chair to accommodate both aching muscles and Erestor. Legolas and Lindefal shifted a bit to accommodate their growing interests as well.
Elrond said, "I am not angry with you Erestor, I sometimes forget you always know best in these matters." "I know what is best for now," Erestor murmured as he returned to his task in hand. And it was firmly in hand by this time. After long days of isolation and stress, the physical release of the race and the redressing of their argument just now had lifted the dark clouds over Elrond's brow and had awakened his senses again. Lindefal and Legolas were locked in place and unable to turn away, unmoving, barely breathing. Lindefal thought that this was better for Legolas to see than a flash of temper and a sharp-tongued dressing down. Well, it was too late anyway to stop the scene. And, thank the spirits that Elrond had relented, Erestor could pout for weeks after a fuss with Elrond.
Erestor's experienced fingers and eager tongue drew low sighs and gasps from Elrond. He released his strangle hold on the arms of the chair and grabbed handfuls of Erestor's long dark hair, pushing his head down. His breathing grew ragged and small moans escaped both partners in the increasing motion and intensity of the moment. Legolas got quite the expert lesson in technique as he watched Erestor from above. Feeling the warning tightening, and panting now, Elrond arched his back, sliding forward in the chair, and Erestor rose over him. Elrond was caught in a world of aching muscles and sexual tension; every sensation he felt was shot with fire.
Lindefal and Legolas remained frozen in fascination as the scene unfolded before them, each feeling the motions with sympathetic memories. Lindefal felt the pangs of jealously mixed with desire, and realized he had been resentful that his attentions lately had been rebuffed, however kindly or for whatever reasons. His deep affection for Elrond tempered his jealousy now, and he did understand the sadness that engulfed the Lord of the House at this time of year. But he still envied Erestor his opportunity this evening though.
Legolas remembered exploratory play with others in his own experiences. Sought after by many in Mirkwood and in Lothlorien, his even features and silky ashen hair made him a very eligible and desirable catch for dalliance, or a future union between noble families. As the son of the ruler of Mirkwood, he was left to initiate any closeness himself, and he had been spared the hazing and rough play among others on border circuit duty unless he choose to join them. Legolas had enjoyed the soft smiles and flirtations of the young ladies at court, but their giggling and primping annoyed him.
He had found that lonely nights on extended patrol along the dark edges of Mirkwood were comforted by the rough emotions, teasing and wrestling, and uncomplicated sex, that bonded companions through shared experience. Seeing this friendly and loving exchange evolve from anger opened Legolas to a new way of thinking. His enjoyment of Elrond's company took on a new meaning as he felt a spreading warmth across his face and neck.
A rumbling moan and sharp cry shook them out of their reveries as Elrond shuddered into his release under Erestor's careful and skilled attention. Watching the final throes with rapt stares, they saw Erestor continue until Elrond collapsed back into cushions exhausted and limp. Erestor moved upwards, supported by the arms of the chair, trailing licks and nips along Elrond's stomach and chest, to kiss him slowly and deeply.
Lindefal and Legolas exchanged wide-eyed looks and stepped quietly back from the balcony edge. Lindefal was flushed and he loosened his neckline a bit as he mouthed silently "Let's go" and directed them to the doorway to the hall. He picked up the basket of laundry and mending, and wished Legolas goodnight, watching the slender figure wander down the hall into the dimness, lost in thoughts of what he had just witnessed. Now Legolas understood the smooth and easy working relationship he had observed between Elrond and his Seneschal, and he understood how Erestor could read Elrond's thoughts and moods perfectly and effortlessly. "Centuries of intimacy and friendship must link them," he thought. He was unclear about Lindefal's role in all this though, and he pondered it within his limited experience. As Lindefal left the bedchamber and pulled the door closed he heard Elrond and Erestor's voices as they came up the stairs into the bedchamber.
Repeating his motions of the past evening, Lindefal looked around the chamber, gathered up the last bit of laundry and paused as he pulled the door closed behind him. He listened. Vertical sexplay had finally become too much for the new lovers, and they were making their way upstairs. He heard Marelaine's soft laughter and Elrond's low voice as they divested themselves of their remaining garments in silken rustles of fabric. He wondered how well she could manage the lacing on his leggings after having just been undressed by a master of that art. He wondered what she would say at the red welts and slashes all along Elrond's arms and legs. He smiled ruefully as he drew the door silently closed. There would be other nights for him.
Walking down the dimly lit hallway he thought to himself, this could be a good thing, a very good thing. He saw the wisdom of Erestor's planning. Marelaine could ease Elrond's pain, and reawaken the loving and gentle spirit that was buried beneath the burden of the days. With the Master's dark mood breaking, they could quickly complete the business at hand and move forward in planning the holiday events. Marelaine would be at his side as guest of honor for the coming celebration, she would probably enjoy the sporting events and be a gracious judge. Things would proceed smoothly. Elrond could bless the community with a relaxed countenance for the coming year, Erestor would be pleased and Rivendell would pass into a new season of budding growth and rebirth.
Forgetting his own stressful week, Lindefal wondered how the race of men lived in their world of rapidly passing time and complicated emotions. He was glad he lived in Rivendell. He was glad he was an Elf.
Continued in "Shooting Stars"
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