Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings and all characters belong to Tolkien.
Author's Note: This is the sequel to 'Inside the Darkness'. The drawing was made by Nellas
Part 2 - Thranduil
"Adar?" Valthoron, heir to the throne of Mirkwood, approached his father. Thranduil sat on the throne, staring at the floor listlessly. "We have dealt with the attacks on the northern border and we have defeated the Orcs."
"That is good news indeed," said Thranduil, forcing himself to smile at his oldest son, not wanting to worry him. "Any news on Legolas?"
Valthoron shook his head. "Not yet. It appears he was injured several weeks ago and got separated from the fellowship. His whereabouts are unknown." He took a step closer to his father and knelt in front of him. "I miss him as well."
Thranduil smiled saddened and nodded at his son. "I know you do. I should never have sent him to attend Elrond's council." He placed a hand on Valthoron's shoulder and pulled his son to his feet while he rose from the throne. "But we must not give up hope. Legolas will contact us when he can."
"I worry about his injuries," admitted Valthoron at last. "You know him, Adar, he is stubborn and will continue his path, even in great pain."
"He inherited that from your mother." Thranduil's wife had sailed to Valinor when Legolas had come of age. She had longed for her family who had long crossed the sea to the Undying Lands. He still missed her daily, and now that Legolas wasn't here he suffered twice, for Legolas reminded him of her in more ways than one. Valthoron had taken after his father, and was the oldest and should have been his favorite, but it was Legolas who reminded him of the love he and his wife had shared. That was the reason why the two boys had competed at times during their childhood, each wanting to be their father's favorite, but they had reached an understanding for which Thranduil was very thankful. Valthoron was his heir, the next king of Mirkwood - if there still was a Mirkwood after Saruman was finished with Middle Earth - and Legolas was allowed to roam the lands, occasionally called back when formal matters demanded his presence.
Thranduil was glad Legolas was his youngest and not burdened with affairs of state. Ruling Mirkwood would have slowly killed Legolas. Mirkwood would have become his cage from which he could never break free. Nay, Valthoron was more suited to rule Mirkwood when he would sail, and finally join his beloved wife.
Valthoron's concerned tone pulled him from his musings. Looking at his son, he nodded once. "We should keep a close eye on the borders. I do not want our people endangered. These Orcs and Uruk-Hai are under orders to make us suffer. Increase the patrols and notify the sentries to be even more alert. I will contact Celeborn and Elrond to let them know that Saruman's creatures reached our borders."
Valthoron studied his father closely. Thranduil's stern features revealed will power, and the ancient eyes told of long millennia in which he had seen much misery and suffering. His father had the reputation of being haughty and arrogant, and only a few saw beneath the mask, which only slipped when he was with his sons. "You can count on me, Adar."
Thranduil nodded thankfully. "You will make a good King, a better King than I ever was. Now leave me, Valthoron. I desire to be alone for some time."
"Do not worry too much," advised Valthoron and he almost kissed his father on the cheek, like he used to do centuries ago when he was an Elfling. His parents always showed their affection openly and it had rubbed off on their two sons, but he wasn't sure the gesture was still appropriate at his age.
Thranduil caught his son's expression and patted Valthoron's cheek. "You are in my heart as well, my son."
Valthoron smiled brightly, gave his father a swift kiss on the cheek, bowed and left the hall.
Thranduil shook his head. Raising his sons was still a challenge even when they were mature. "Legolas, where are you?" He truly worried about his son. It had been weeks since he had last received a message and that was very unlike Legolas. If only he had a clue where to start searching for the elusive youngster!
"Sire? A messenger from Imladris has arrived and is carrying a letter for you," announced his seneschal.
Thranduil was annoyed at not hearing them approach and turned about to face them. "A letter?" he questioned the messenger.
"Aye, sire. It is from your son, Prince Legolas." The messenger approached and handed Thranduil the letter, wondering about the relieved expression on the King's face.
"From Legolas?" Thranduil stared at the letter in obvious delight. "Leave me alone then so I can read!" He instantly regretting raising his voice. It was outbursts like these that made people wonder about his temper. Maybe that was why his reputation outside of Mirkwood was so bad. He almost apologized, seeing the messenger pale, but his seneschal pulled the Imladris Elf with him, knowing his king needed privacy.
Once he was alone Thranduil tore at the paper, eager to read what had happened to his son.
~Ada, I know it has been a while since I wrote to you, but certain things have happened and you deserve to hear this from me, not from a stranger passing through Mirkwood.~
"Ai, Legolas, this sounds bad. What did you do this time?" Thranduil fondly recalled all the times Legolas had gotten himself in trouble in the past, but he had managed to cope with everything... thus far.
~A few weeks ago I was injured and I met... someone. His name is Lurtz and he is an Uruk-Hai. You probably have heard of them by now as they are attacking our borders as well. But Lurtz is different. When we met he suffered from amnesia and he took care of me until I recovered. Slowly I realized that we had become friends and eventually I had to admit that we had become more than just friends.~
"What?" Thranduil shook his head and reread the paragraph. "An Uruk-Hai? Legolas, you cannot be serious! More than friends? Ai, Legolas, do not do this to me. I am old and you should not put me through this."
~I realized that I was in love with him, and I did what you taught me to do; never let go when you find love. I know that you probably do not approve of my choice, but Lurtz is unlike anyone I ever met. He is honorable, courageous, a skilled warrior, very protective of me and he has a great sense of humor. He returned my feelings after I pursued him. He did not seduce me, if that is what you are thinking. On the contrary, I was very determined to claim him as my mate... and I did. ~
Thranduil stared at the words, needing to voice his opinions. "You love him? And you are using my own teachings against me." It was true; he had told his children to return love when they found it and not mind the opinions of others who might disapprove. "Honorable? Courageous...?" Oh, he knew that that were the very things that attracted Legolas. "And a sense of humor? You never stood a chance then," he chuckled, but then composed himself. He should be mad with his youngest, not approve of this folly!
"And I can just picture you seducing him, Legolas. You always had your ways of getting what you wanted. You can still wrap me around your little finger when you want to. Determined to claim him as your mate? Why does that sound familiar to me?" Because he had pursued his wife in a similar fashion while his parents disapproved of him marrying a maiden instead of a Lord's daughter. "You are too much like me, Legolas... I do not doubt you 'charmed' this Lurtz into accepting you as his mate. Ai, Legolas..."
~I do not know if I am still welcome at home, and I do not want to spring this upon you by bringing Lurtz home with me. You deserve to know this on forehand so you can reach a decision. Ada, you always loved me unconditionally and I know I am asking much, but would you give him an opportunity to prove himself? I am sure you would approve of him once you learn to look past his appearance.~
"Ai, Legolas, why are you doing this to me? I am old, and now you are asking me to change my ways." Valthoron had told him about the Uruk-Hai's viciousness when they had attacked their borders and he instinctively hated the foul creatures, but now his son was asking him to do away with his prejudice. "But I do appreciate it that you told me personally, if only through a letter." He understood Legolas was hesitant to appear unannounced, presenting his new mate. His eyes darted back to "you always loved me unconditionally" and he knew he would give this relationship a chance because his son had asked for it.
"I cannot imagine you falling for one of Saruman's foul creatures, so maybe you have a point and I should give this Lurtz an opportunity to prove himself. But not when he knows he is being watched." His son's happiness was very important to him and he was determined to make sure Lurtz was worthy of his son.
"Valthoron!" He returned to his throne, folding the letter and slipping it into a pocket.
"Adar?" Valthoron stepped back inside, wondering why his father had summoned him. He was about to leave to inspect the borders and his father knew that. Why call him back?
Thranduil gave his oldest son a thoughtful look. It would be good for Valthoron to be in charge for a short while. Valthoron would truly learn his responsibility when ruling Mirkwood during his absence. "I am leaving."
Valthoron's eyes widened. "Adar... what?" Had he misunderstood? As long as he could remember his father had only left Mirkwood twice! "It must have something to do with Legolas' letter then."
Thranduil wasn't surprised Valthoron knew about the letter. His seneschal had probably informed Valthoron. "Legolas has gotten himself into some kind of trouble and I will see to it myself."
"I could go instead," offered Valthoron. "You are the heart of Mirkwood, we need you."
Thranduil smiled. "You are my heir. It is time to test your wings and fly."
Valthoron blushed. "But Adar..."
"You were trained for this moment and I know you are ready for this. Now, I will be leaving in an hour. Prepare everything for my departure."
Valthoron nodded, dazed. Thranduil was leaving him in charge of Mirkwood? What if he disappointed his father?
Thranduil walked toward his son, placed a hand on Valthoron's shoulder and smiled warmly. "Do not doubt yourself."
Valthoron took heart and nodded. "I will make sure everything is ready for your departure... Adar, what is wrong with my brother?"
"He has taken a new mate..."
Valthoron sighed, relieved. "Remember the time when he announced he was in love with Celeborn when he visited our realm?"
Thranduil remembered the incident very well. Celeborn had acted unfazed, but Legolas had followed the Lord of the Golden Wood for days. "He was only twenty years old... A child."
"And now he has lost his heart again?" Valthoron smiled fondly.
"Aye, but I am not sure about his choice..." Thranduil decided against revealing the identity of Legolas' chosen mate. "I will travel to Imladris and..."
"That is where he is hiding?" Valthoron nodded knowingly. "Scared to face us, is he not?"
Thranduil returned Valthoron's grin. "Aye... I will watch them until I am sure they are good for each other."
Valthoron cringed. "You won't reveal your presence to my brother... Ai..." He did understand his father though. Thranduil was very protective of Legolas and he felt the same way about his brother. "Will you give him my love when you do reveal yourself to them?"
Thranduil nodded. "Aye, I will..." Secretly he enjoyed the prospect of traveling once more after all these years. Although he loved Mirkwood it felt as a cage to him at times.
"I will organize your escort," said Valthoron, about to leave the hall.
"No escort, I will travel alone."
Valthoron gulped. "Adar, these are dangerous times."
"Do you doubt my ability to take care of myself?"
"No escort," decreed Thranduil. He wanted to taste freedom once more. In that aspect Legolas and he were the same as well. He watched Valthoron leave and then unfolded the letter once more. "We will see if your chosen mate is truly worthy of you, my son." He grinned, already looking forward to seeing his youngest again; Legolas always brought joy to his heart. /Imladris, I have not visited there for at least two centuries... I wonder if it is still an oasis of beauty? I will find out in a few days. Legolas, I hope you chose well!/
/You are truly beautiful in your sleep, Glorfindel./ Elrond smiled adoringly, rhythmically stroking the long blond locks that teased his face. During his sleep, Glorfindel had pressed closer, resting his head on his chest.
Elrond looked out of the window, which gave him a superb view of Imladris. When Ugluk had kept him prisoner he had refused to give up hope. Now that he was back at Imladris' heart he wondered about its future. Then his gaze dropped and rested on Glorfindel's face. /I am holding past, present and future in my arms./
And now the prospect of being lovers thrilled him. Glorfindel had awoken feelings in him which he never knew possessed and he was most eager to explore his desires, but he should give Glorfindel a chance to rest first. Mandos had almost claimed Glorfindel, and Elrond involuntarily tightened his hold on the blond. "Never leave me, Glorfindel. I would be lost without you."
Glorfindel stirred at the sound of Elrond's voice, and the Lord of Imladris wished he hadn't spoken out loud because he wanted Glorfindel to rest. Fighting off death had taken a lot out of his seneschal. Eyes, which had been vacant, now stared back at him. /Why so shy, Glorfindel?/ The expression in Glorfindel's eyes was timid, almost pleading. Elrond thought back to the time when Glorfindel had returned from Mandos and had joined him at Imladris. Had he ever seen Glorfindel with someone else? A lover? He frowned, realizing Glorfindel had never mentioned a significant other.
"Is something wrong?" asked Glorfindel, seeing Elrond's frown. Had he done something to displease the half-Elf?
"Glorfindel, I find myself wondering about you." Elrond cocked his head and continued to stroke the blond's hair. /I know he wants me; I can feel it./ Glorfindel's erection pressed against his leg; the body admitting what the mind couldn't... yet. Maybe it had been too long since Glorfindel had been touched with love.
"Wondering?" A sudden alertness appeared in Glorfindel's eyes.
"When was the last time you took a lover?" Elrond's fingers deserted the golden locks and caressed Glorfindel's face instead. To his surprise, Glorfindel's eyes darkened.
Glorfindel briefly felt at a loss. "That is personal..."
Elrond, feeling curious, raised an eyebrow. "You do not want to tell me?"
"There is nothing to tell," whispered Glorfindel, barely audible. He was starting to feel uncomfortable in Elrond's arms, but didn't dare leave abruptly, unwilling to cause Elrond pain. The raven haired Lord of Imladris' injuries were far from healed and that gash looked horrible, reminding him of the torture Elrond had endured at Ugluk's hands. Maybe he could apply some of Elrond's soothing balm later?
"I guessed correctly then? You did not take a lover since you returned from Mandos? Why?" Elrond marveled at the blond.
"Although I did not love you from the beginning, I did feel attracted to you and I cannot betray my heart. I wanted you... and no one else." Glorfindel stared at the wall behind Elrond. "Why did you make me say that?"
Elrond looked into Glorfindel's eyes, finding the pupils dilated. The blond's arousal had faded during their conversation and he regretted making Glorfindel feel melancholy. That hadn't been his intention. "You needed to say it. You are keeping so much inside..."
Glorfindel swallowed nervously and still refused to meet Elrond's eyes. "I never thought you returned my feelings..."
Elrond decided on a more direct approach. They'd had this conversation before and still reality didn't seem to register with Glorfindel. Leaning in, he brushed the blond's lips, letting his tongue explore the inside of Glorfindel's lips, suckling gently and releasing them with a soft 'plop'. Elrond barely refrained from laughing, seeing the shy expression in Glorfindel's eyes. "What else are you not telling me?"
Glorfindel decided it was best to get this over with. "I never had a male lover..." His eyes pleaded with Elrond. "You are my first..."
Elrond gasped. "That, I did not expect, but certain things make sense now." Dating a male was new to Glorfindel and the blond was struggling with the changes in his life, which had been frozen in time for so long, watching him marry Celebrian, the children being born and his wife sailing to Valinor. "I love you, Glorfindel. Your heart is waking from its long sleep and we will walk this path together."
Glorfindel blushed and Elrond found it utterly adorable, but felt his lover's tension at the same time. "Glorfindel, I would love to take a bath, but... what about my ankles?" He had carefully planned changing their subject, wanting to distract Glorfindel.
Glorfindel thought it over. "I might know of a way..."
"You do?" Elrond would truly love a bath. He could still feel Ugluk's vile touch, occasionally groping him, beating him and taunting him by stroking his hair. He would love to wash away those memories and to replace them with new ones.
Glorfindel hesitantly planted a kiss on Elrond's lips and then pulled back, untangling himself and rising to his feet. "I will return in a moment; let me prepare your bath first."
Elrond nodded, curious as to how Glorfindel would solve the problem of making sure that his feet didn't get wet. "Hurry back to me, melethron."
Glorfindel reluctantly left Elrond's room, wanting to stay close instead. After closing the door behind him, he leaned against the wall and rested his forehead against the stone. /By the Valar, I love him, but I do not know how to show him.../ The truth was that he was scared of displeasing his new lover, the first lover he had had in centuries. He had never been good at the dating game and now he felt inadequate. Elrond knew what to do, what to say... but he didn't.
"The bath," reminded Glorfindel himself. At least this he could do for Elrond without getting flustered and shy. Glorfindel straightened out his clothes, only now realizing he had forgotten to put his boots back on. "Robes, he will want some clean robes as well..." Busying himself he hoped to forget his insecurity for now.
/By the Valar! What was I thinking, assuming I could do this without getting flustered and shy?/ Glorfindel hadn't counted on Elrond's wish to help him bathe, assuming one of the servants, or maybe Elrohir, would assist thehalf-Elf. But Elrond had asked him personally!
"Lean against me..." Elrond complied and Glorfindel gritted his teeth as Elrond's bare chest made contact with his. He had removed his shirt, not wanting to get it wet while assisting Elrond and now he had to remove his lover's leggings, which would leave Elrond utterly naked.
Elrond privately chided himself for enjoying Glorfindel's nervousness. "Calm down, I trust you to take good care of me."
Glorfindel nodded, swallowed hard, and lifted Elrond in his arms. The half-Elf rested his head against his chest and Glorfindel slowly lowered his charge into the warm water, careful to rest Elrond's feet on the board that was placed over the foot end of the tub. He had tried to make things more comfortable for Elrond by placing a pillow on it. "Will this do?" he asked anxiously, ready to carry Elrond back to his bed in case his lover was in pain.
"I can manage..." Elrond was surprised when Glorfindel picked up a washing cloth, creating a lather and running the cloth over his face. One of his fantasies was coming true. The slow strokes were entrancing and he couldn't help but stare at Glorfindel's face.
Glorfindel noticed the hypnotizing look directed at him, but concentrated on his task. After cleaning Elrond's chest, he moved on to his arms. "Do you want me to wash your hair as well?"
Elrond nodded, not trusting his voice to sound steady when he spoke.
Glorfindel opened a glass flask, poured some oil into his hands and massaged Elrond's scalp. Soft, pleased moans escaped Elrond and Glorfindel fought the blush that was trying to spread across his face. Using a bowl, he rinsed the now soft and shiny dark hair and wrapped a towel around the long strands. If Elrond desired it, he would comb and braid it later. "Still comfortable?"
"Aye..." purred Elrond. He had closed his eyes, enjoying the attention, but now they opened slowly. He was growing aroused and it showed through the surface of the water. Had Glorfindel noticed?
Aye, Glorfindel had noticed and felt at a loss for what to do. "Elrond?"
Large blue eyes met his and Elrond smiled reassuringly. "I cannot help desire you and your touch awakens my passion for you." He licked his lips, hoping Glorfindel would lean in and kiss him.
Which he did. Glorfindel slowly brushed Elrond's lips, gasping as his lover parted his teeth, allowing him to explore. He accepted the invitation and wrapped his tongue around Elrond's, slowly intertwining in a passionate encounter.
The kiss almost made Elrond come. "Ai, Glorfindel! You drive me insane with passion..."
Glorfindel claimed Elrond's lips once more, gathering his courage as his hand slipped beneath the water. Elrond unexpectedly suckled his tongue, and Glorfindel curled his fingers around his lover's erection, stroking slowly.
Elrond broke the kiss, staring at Glorfindel in pleased disbelief. He hadn't expected Glorfindel to make this particular step, and he was determined to enjoy it. His fingers tangled in the blond locks, pulling Glorfindel as close as possible, deepening the kiss his lover had instigated. His body sung with sudden release as Glorfindel brought him to orgasm. His eyes widened and he tensed in his lover's arms as ecstasy swept through him.
Glorfindel marveled at the expression in Elrond's eyes. The half-Elf bit his bottom lip, groaning softly. "I love you... I always did..." whispered Elrond blissfully.
Elrond placed one hand at the back of Glorfindel's neck and allowed his lover to lift him. Water dripped from his body, and he finally felt refreshed and strengthened. "Your touch meant the world to me..."
Glorfindel nodded awkwardly, placed Elrond on the bed and dried his lover's skin. He made sure the bandages were still dry and then fetched Elrond's robe. After helping the half Elf to sit upright, he draped the robes over his lover's shoulder. "I want to give you pleasure," admitted Glorfindel nervously, "but..."
"I understand." Elrond caressed a blond lock. "Will you comb and braid my hair?"
Glorfindel nodded, thankful that Elrond wasn't going to push discussing his feelings. "I will." He sat behind Elrond, parted his legs and pulled his lover's back to his chest. "Lean against me."
Elrond enjoyed being this close to his lover and concentrated on feeling Glorfindel's fingers move through his hair. "I am glad I kissed you that day, even if it resulted in Ugluk capturing me. Without that kiss I would never have known you loved me..."
Glorfindel remained quiet, combing and braiding Elrond's hair. He hoped that Elrond wouldn't turn to look at him, because then the half-Elf would see the tears flowing down his face. /You should never have been captured in the first place.../
Glorfindel's touch was soothing, and soon Elrond drifted off into a deep and healing sleep.
Glorfindel finished braiding the dark hair and realized that his lover had fallen asleep. He laid Elrond down, took his place at his lover's side and held him close, muttering softly. "I love you... I really do."
Elladan returned from the border control and quickly sought out his brother to tell him that no Orcs or Uruk-Hai had been sighted, which reassured him they were safe for the moment. First he went to Elrohir's room, but finding it empty he decided to go to Elrond's chambers next. Maybe Elrohir was looking after their father?
"Elladan! Back so soon?" Elrohir smiled, walked up to his brother and gave him a quick hug.
"I encountered no threats, so I returned early. I was looking for you. How does Ada fare?"
"Ah, you should look at them. They are...--cute--." Elrohir grinned and pushed the door ajar.
"Elrohir..." Elladan sighed, not eager to learn about his father's love life. Reluctantly he peeked inside.
Elrond was on his back, tucked in beneath a blanket. Glorfindel lay on his side next to Elrond, the blond's head resting on Elrond's chest. Elrond had wrapped both arms around Glorfindel and suddenly Elladan realized why Elrohir found them 'cute'. Glorfindel's fingers tangled in Elrond's hair, tightly clutching at long strands. "Aye, I have to agree they look..."
"You can say it," said Elrohir encouragingly. "They look --cute--."
Elladan sighed once more. "I made you say if for me. But seriously, how is Ada?"
"Better." Elrohir smiled warmly at his father. "A healer came to check his ankles and complimented Glorfindel on a job well done. Ada needs time to recover, and now that Glorfindel and he have admitted their feelings, I suspect Ada will recover quickly."
Elladan nodded. "Good. That means I am not needed here. I want to inspect the Western borders tomorrow. I am not letting Saruman's creatures invade Imladris."
Elrohir approved. "I will keep an eye on them."
"And how did Lurtz fare at the healing house?" Elrohir had told him he would accompany the Uruk-Hai instead of Legolas, who had joined Elladan for the patrol.
"The healers are doing their best, but the procedure is painful. They started today but it will take them at least one week to finish. Maybe you should tell Legolas to stay with Lurtz instead of joining you again." Elrohir looked troubled. "Lurtz finds it difficult to reconcile his looks with his changed character."
"I will tell Legolas... Now close the door and let us eat. I am hungry."
Elrohir smiled at his father and then closed the door. His stomach growled, reminding him that he had barely eaten himself. "Let us head for the kitchen then!"
Elrond blinked once after Elrohir closed the door. Looking at his love, who was resting safely in his arms, he felt relieved that his sons approved of this relationship. Smiling, he pressed a chaste kiss to Glorfindel's hair and allowed himself to fall asleep again.
Note: Adar means father, is more formal, while Ada could be compared to dad or daddy and is more informal.
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