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 11 - Caught
Thranduil was enjoying a long, hot bath, whilst images of making love to Elladan raced through his head. He forced them to slow down. /I should not have invited Elladan along. By Elbereth, what was I thinking? Elladan is Elrond's son, -- an Elfling!-- and Elrond will be livid when he finds out what happened./
And what if Elladan doubted it had been a dream? Could he lie to Elladan when questioned? Or would he admit the truth? Elbereth help him when Elladan found out what had really happened last night!
Apart from his young age, Elladan would be an excellent mate, but Thranduil realized very well that Elrond wouldn't agree to such a union. Elladan and Elrohir were to rule Imladris one day, and Elrond wouldn't want his oldest son to give up on his birthright to spend the rest of his life in the dark Mirkwood. /But there is another way; I could leave Mirkwood to Valthoron and stay here. Valthoron has all the skills to rule Mirkwood successfully./
Then, a thought startled him. /What if Elladan is not interested in a long-term relationship? I am assuming he is, but -- maybe one night of passion was all he wanted./
The thoughts slowly drove him insane. He got out of the bath, dressed and he left his room, heading for Elrond's study to look into today's urgent affairs. Passing by Legolas and Lurtz's former rooms, he knew them empty. They had left at sunrise and were now on their way to 'Lorien.
Maybe burying himself in paperwork would distract him.
"Thranduil!" Elrond, seated in the wheelchair, pointed a finger at the golden haired Elf who entered his study. "What have you been up to?" He knew he hadn't voluntarily given in to Glorfindel's request to take some time off. Thranduil had had something to do with it and he was determined to find out what. Seated behind his desk, he eyed Thranduil closely, immediately noticing the guilty expression on the other's face.
Thranduil tensed; Elrond couldn't know what had happened last night! Elladan probably hadn't even returned to the house yet! He forced himself to remain calm. This had to be about something else! "I have no idea what you are talking about... and should you not be in bed? Resting?"
Elrond drew in a deep, calming breath. "How did you make me agree to Glorfindel's plan?"
Thranduil relaxed; this was about manipulating Elrond into leaving with Glorfindel, and not about Elladan, as he had feared. "I asked you if you would like to sit at the Bruinen with Glorfindel next to you, enjoying the sun, and you said yes. That is all I did."
Elrond sensed that Thranduil wasn't telling the entire truth - but what could he do about it? Call Thranduil a liar? That would destroy the friendship that was beginning to form between them. "Do you have a secret desire to take over Imladris and rule it?" said Elrond teasingly, opting for humor instead of questioning Thranduil further.
Thranduil didn't notice Elrond's teasing tone at first and opened his mouth to defend his offer to help, but then he finally caught the twinkling in Elrond's eyes. "Aye, I always wanted to rule such a powerful realm."
Thranduil's teasing reply surprised Elrond, but also pleased him. "I did not know you had a sense of humor, Thranduil."
"There is a lot about me you do not know," said Thranduil thoughtfully.
"Ah, there you are! I should take that wheelchair away from you!" Glorfindel entered the study and shook his head in desperation. "How many times must I tell you that you are supposed to rest, Elrond? Not work!"
"Peace, Glorfindel," said Elrond, amused. Looking at Thranduil, he added, "Please make sure I still have a realm to rule when I get back."
Thranduil laughed warmly, and signaled Glorfindel to wheel Elrond out of the room. "We will see."
Glorfindel pushed the wheelchair into the corridor, walked in front of Elrond, and sat on his heels, looking at the half-Elf. "Imladris is in very capable hands. You can trust Thranduil to look after it."
"I know that." Elrond fingered one of his lover's golden locks. "I never thought I would trust him, but it seems he has changed. When he looked at me in the past, I always saw hate in his eyes; that is gone now."
"He blamed you for his father's death, did he not?"
Elrond nodded. "But he has mellowed."
Glorfindel caressed his lover's face. "Time heals many wounds, melme."
"But I still think he had something to do with me agreeing to go on this break with you." Seeing the sparks in Glorfindel's eyes, he knew he was right, but he decided against pursuing it. Being honest with himself, he admitted he looked forward to spending some time alone with Glorfindel. "When are we leaving?"
"Ah, eager to leave, are you? I thought you were opposed to the idea," teased Glorfindel. He returned to pushing the wheelchair, determined to leave the contraption at home. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate Erestor creating it for Elrond, but it took away his opportunity to carry Elrond, which always made him feel close to his lover.
Elrond remained uncharacteristically quiet during the trip back to his rooms. Glorfindel grew worried and glanced at his lover, finding him brooding. "What is on your mind?" Placing the palm of his hand against Elrond's cheek, he waited for the half-Elf to lean into the touch, which he did.
"I am so tired, nīn bellas. At times it feels like all of Arda rests on my shoulders, and I lack the strength to carry on."
Glorfindel cocked his head and made eye contact. "You are a very compassionate soul, meleth-nīn, but you cannot carry this burden the entire time."
"That is why I will go away with you," whispered Elrond. "Though I cannot stop worrying about --"
Glorfindel stopped him. "Imladris is in good hands. Thranduil, Erestor and the twins will make sure nothing goes wrong."
Elrond frowned realizing it had been some time since he saw his chief advisor and his youngest son.
Glorfindel read the question in Elrond's eyes and nodded once. "It was a full moon these past few nights. You know what that does to Erestor."
Elrond nodded, saddened. "And Elrohir stayed with him."
"Elrohir comforted him, and as far as I know is still with him." Glorfindel moistened his lips. "Erestor finally confided in Elrohir. He expressed his love for your son."
Elrond frowned. He knew Erestor was fond of his sons, and Elrohir in particular, but -- "Erestor is in love with Elrohir?"
"And Elrohir seems determined to make it work." Glorfindel shrugged once. "Elrohir is not in love with Erestor... yet." Glorfindel felt slightly guilty for betraying Elrohir's trust, but was confident Elrond would approve of their love.
"You think Elrohir will fall in love with Erestor?" Elrond wondered what else had happened during his sleep!
"I think so. Elrohir cares deeply about Erestor. All they need is time. It does not always have to be love at first sight."
"Very true," admitted Elrond. Sighing apprehensively, he asked, "And what about Elladan's infatuation with Thranduil? He assured me he would let Elladan down gently."
Glorfindel carefully considered his answer. "Elladan's feelings might be returned." He cringed, seeing Elrond's flabbergasted expression.
"You cannot be serious! Thranduil would never..." Elrond's voice trailed off. "Would he take Elladan away from me to get even with me? Maybe his mellowness is just a front?"
Glorfindel quickly calmed his lover down. "Nīn ind, Thranduil and I talked and I did not get the impression he is playing with Elladan's feelings. He said he is honored that Elladan is interested in him, but..." Glorfindel searched for the right words. "Thranduil does not know -why- Elladan is that interested in him."
Elrond raised an eyebrow.
"Honestly, meleth-nīn, Thranduil has no idea why Elladan likes him that much." Glorfindel placed their already packed bags near the doorway. Servants would take their luggage to the cottage which he had selected for their stay. "When Thranduil and you parted at the Last Alliance there was a lot of bad blood between you, but much has changed since then. Maybe his sons' love has something to do with it?"
Elrond nodded once. "You are right, Glorfindel. I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but if he hurts Elladan than --"
"Do not trouble yourself. Thranduil knows we will have his head should he hurt Elladan on purpose." Glorfindel returned to his love. "Are you ready to leave?"
"Not really, but that won't stop you from abducting me." Elrond gave Glorfindel a long, adoring look. "And I love you for it." He released a surprised moan as Glorfindel lifted him in his arms. "What about the wheelchair?"
"We do not need it. I love to carry you." Glorfindel touched his lips to Elrond's, delivering a kiss that promised more later.
Elladan's eyelids fluttered. He was slowly waking up and his eyes opened, staring at a cloudless blue sky. Sunbeams kept his body warm, and he stretched lazily.
Suddenly his eyes widened as his dreams returned to him. /Thranduil, I dreamt he made love to me.../ His body reacted at once; the mere thought of Thranduil was enough to make him erect.
Sitting upright, he closed his eyes, remembering the dream. He had ventured into the gardens last night, seeing Thranduil disappear between the trees. He had followed the blond, and Thranduil had him caught staring. Then Thranduil had urged him to remove his clothes, and after running through the forest they had made love. Elladan involuntarily licked his lips, and his erection twitched, recalling how Thranduil had impaled himself.
A strangled moan left his throat as he panted softly. That image alone was enough to make him come.
Confused, Elladan's head slumped forward. Did he no longer have any control over his body? /I should return to my room and clean myself up. But that dream -- was it a dream?/
He didn't remember lying down here to sleep. Why would he sleep out in the open when there was a comfortable bed in his room? Something just didn't make sense.
Elladan pushed himself onto his feet and slowly started his way back. /Was it a dream? How can it be a dream when I recall his every touch? But if it really happened, where is Thranduil now? Why leave me?/
His confusion had reached new heights when he finally arrived at the Homely House, entering it and heading for his room. Lost in thought, he didn't pay any attention to where he was going and bumped into --
Thranduil's soft voice made him look up, and he blushed fiercely, encountering the blond's probing glance. /Why did I have to run into -him-?/
Thranduil felt guilty, seeing Elladan's lost expression and the crimson blush. Maybe telling Elladan it had just been a dream had been the wrong thing to do. Now Elladan was facing his confused feelings alone, whilst he should be exploring them with his lover.
Elladan gathered his courage and asked boldly, "Where were you last night?" He -had- to know if it had been more than just a dream! The images felt too real; he could even recall Thranduil's scent, and the passionate moans the blond had released when he had reached orgasm. How could it be a dream?
Elladan's question took Thranduil aback momentarily. "Elladan..." Could he lie to the half-Elf?
Elladan's eyes sought out Thranduil's, pleading for understanding. "I had this incredible dream last night."
"A dream?" Thranduil's soft gaze met with Elladan's.
Elladan suddenly felt quite the fool for thinking Thranduil would -ever- make love to him! "It is nothing."
Thranduil's heart broke, watching the Elfling wrestle with his desire to address last night. "It was just a dream," he whispered, caught off guard.
Elladan's eyes widened. "What did you say?" Those words sounded very familiar!
Thranduil realized his mistake. "Nothing." Thranduil turned away from Elladan and headed back to Elrond's study. Looking over his shoulder, he studied Elladan's eyes, realizing he needed to distract the half-Elf who was too close to uncovering the truth. He should never have let that slip! "Your father and Glorfindel are leaving within the hour and they would like to speak with you."
Elladan shook his head, knowing he was on the verge of uncovering a truth Thranduil was trying to hide from him. He had heard those words during his sleep! Someone had told him it was just a dream! Had that someone been Thranduil? What was true and what was false?
"Elladan? Your father is leaving," repeated Thranduil, knowing Elladan was about to figure everything out and he couldn't allow that to happen.
Elladan frowned now that he was forced to turn his thoughts to his father. "Leaving?"
"For a lovely cottage near the Bruinen, remember? Your father needs to rest." Thranduil's guilt increased; maybe he should simply tell Elladan that last night had really happened. But Elladan was already walking down the corridor, heading for Elrond's private chambers. /I would ruin your life by binding you to me. You are so young and you will find a lover closer to your own age./
Thranduil sighed dejectedly. When exactly had he lost his heart to the Elfling?
Elrond was dressed in warm robes, waiting for Glorfindel to retrieve his belongings so they could finally leave. "Elladan, ion-nīn, I missed you!" Elrond took in Elladan's flushed appearance, realizing something had upset his oldest son. "Come here and let me have a look at you."
Elladan felt uncomfortable, wishing he had been able to clean up before seeking out Elrond. He knelt in front of his father and lowered his eyes.
Elrond frowned deeply. "Elladan?" He raised his son's chin, forcing him to make eye contact. Elladan seldom was this quiet, this... evasive. "Elladan, what is wrong?" If this was about Thranduil...
Elladan finally made eye contact and shrugged. "I had a disturbing dream." Did he want to discuss this with his father?
Elrond stroked his son's hair, hoping to soothe him. "Why did it disturb you?"
Elladan almost backed away from the subject, but in the end he blurted out, "I am in love with Thranduil, Ada." A whirlwind of emotions tossed him from one feeling to the other. He had always been able to talk to his father, even when his body had awakened. Maybe Elrond could make some sense out of his confused feelings?
Elrond smiled warmly. "I am honored you trust me with your feelings, but we already suspected you were falling for Thranduil."
"Glorfindel and I."
"Of course." Elladan searched his father's eyes. "What do I do? I am so confused. I want to be with him all the time, but -- It is folly. Thranduil could never be interested in someone as young as me!" He was rambling, but couldn't stop himself. "When I ran into him just now, I -- my body..."
Elrond smiled compassionately. He still cupped Elladan's chin in the palm of his hand, probing his son's eyes. "I do not know what you should do, Elladan. But maybe I can offer you some advice." After Elladan nodded, Elrond continued. "Legolas once told me something Thranduil had taught him; to love unconditionally, regardless of what others might say or think. Legolas went after Lurtz because he loved him and wanted him back. Thranduil accepted their relationship because their love was true. Maybe Thranduil will be impressed when you pursue him in a similar way?" Elrond shook his head. /I cannot encourage him to go after Thranduil! What am I thinking?/
"Ada? I thought you would disapprove." Elrond's words only worsened his confusion.
Elrond carefully chose his words. "Thranduil and I had -- differences in the past, but I hope we can overcome them." He had wanted to say 'I wish you had fallen in love with someone else,' but stopped himself. Elladan seemed extremely insecure, and he didn't want his son to think he had disappointed him. "If you really love him, you should tell him." Elrond eyed Elladan closely and saw the disbelief in his son's eyes. "Glorfindel thinks Thranduil might feel the same way about you." Aiya, what was he doing? Driving his son into Thranduil's arms... but he couldn't bear seeing Elladan suffer like this!
Elladan's eyes grew big and he grabbed his father's hand. "What? Glorfindel thinks Thranduil loves me back? But--?"
"Thranduil couldn't understand why someone as young and handsome as you would be interested in him," said Elrond thoughtfully. "I doubt Thranduil will address this matter, thinking I will disapprove. Maybe you need to find out where the two of you stand?" The mere thought of Thranduil becoming his son in law made him cringe, but he would welcome Thranduil into this family if Elladan really loved the Elf.
Elladan's flush intensified. "I cannot face him like that -- not since that dream."
Elrond recalled that Elladan had mentioned a dream that had disturbed him. "What happened in your dream?" Elladan's skin felt hot and sweaty and Elrond smiled in understanding, realizing what that dream had been about.
Elladan nervously cleared his throat, wondering how he could discuss that particular dream with his father. "Thranduil and I -- We made..."
"Love?" finished Elrond for his son. Elladan nodded quickly and averted his eyes. "Elladan, you are in love. These dreams are normal and you should know that." When the twins had come of age, he had taken them apart and told them what to expect in the years to come. He smiled fondly, recalling that his sons had already known a lot more than he had expected. The twins had let him talk until he had blushed under their probing looks, and then they had let him off the hook, telling him Erestor and Glorfindel had already talked to them about the birds and the bees.
"Ada, do you really think Thranduil is interested in me?" Elladan had thought everything over and felt a lot calmer now that he knew that his father would support him.
"You are asking the wrong person, Elladan. You should ask Thranduil, not me." Elrond let go of a strand of Elladan's hair, seeing Glorfindel approach the doorway. "What do you have to lose?"
"Nothing," whispered Elladan, suddenly smiling. "I have nothing to lose."
Glorfindel gave Elrond a curious look, but his lover's expression told him his questions would be answered once Elladan had left.
Elladan got to his feet, bowed forward and placed a kiss on his father's brow. "Thank you for your advice and understanding, Ada. I will talk to him." Elladan smiled calmly. "You are right; I have nothing to lose."
Elrond watched his son leave the room and then beckoned Glorfindel to come closer.
"Whom is Elladan going to talk to? Thranduil?" He handed his bag to one of the servants, as he wanted to carry Elrond himself. Bowing down, he pushed his hands beneath Elrond's back and knees and lifted the half-Elf.
Elrond nodded once. "I do not like the idea of Thranduil becoming part of this family, but if Elladan's love is true and returned I won't stand in their way. Elladan's happiness is too important to me."
"So you basically gave Elladan your blessing." Glorfindel cradled Elrond against his chest as he carried the half-Elf to Asfaloth. He reckoned Elrond's ankles had healed enough for the short ride to the cottage.
"I did." Elrond held his breath as Glorfindel placed him on Asfaloth's back, expecting pain to radiate from his ankles.
"Will this do? Or would you prefer a litter?" asked Glorfindel concerned.
Elrond released the breath he had been holding. The pain was bearable. "This will do."
Glorfindel mounted Asfaloth, slipping into place behind him. Elrond leaned against his lover and looked over his shoulder, finding Elladan standing next to Asfaloth. "Thranduil might be in charge, but I want to know the moment something goes wrong, Elladan. Do you understand?"
Elladan nodded fondly. "Aye, Ada, I understand." He had been on his way to seek out Thranduil when he looked down into the courtyard, expected Elrohir there to say goodbye to their father. But Elrohir wasn't in sight, so he had joined his father and Glorfindel. /I will check on Elrohir after I have talked to Thranduil./ Where was his brother, and what was more important than seeing off their father?
Asfaloth trod carefully, realizing one of his riders was injured, and Glorfindel softly praised the stallion for it. "We will reach the cottage shortly."
"I am not in any pain," said Elrond reassuringly.
"Just lean against me for support." Glorfindel secretly delighted in fussing over his lover. "You can rest when we arrive at the cottage."
Elrond rested his back against Glorfindel's chest. "I still feel this is a bad time to leave."
"Because the twins are finally growing up?" Glorfindel chuckled softly. "You raised them well; put your trust in them."
"I do not really have a choice, do I?" Elrond realized he no longer had any control over this situation and surrendered to exhaustion. His eyes partly closed as he dozed off.
Elrond's breathing told Glorfindel that his lover had fallen asleep and he tightened his hold on the half-Elf, hoping their time at the cottage would be a happy one.
Lurtz stared straight ahead, his eyes searching for possible enemies. He didn't want to recall his embarrassment earlier when the horse Legolas had selected for him had refused to carry him. The stallion had reared, trying to hit him with his hoofs, but Elrond's horse master had calmed the animal. It had taken an hour for Elen to allow Lurtz to sit on his back. Even now, several hours later, he felt like the horse could throw him off any moment now.
"We will reach 'Lorien in two days, provided we can maintain this speed. We will set up a camp for some hours during the night to give the horses a chance to rest." Legolas eyed Lurtz closely. "Are you still worried that Elen will reconsider carrying you?" At first, he had been amused, seeing the stallion back away from Lurtz, but then he had realized his lover was feeling hurt and his smile had died.
"I would rather walk or run than sit on this animal's back." Lurtz held his breath, hearing Elen snort at his words.
"You will grow used to it." Legolas steered his own horse, Vund, closer to Elen, and he managed to briefly rest a hand on his lover's shoulder. "I am worried," he confessed.
Lurtz looked at him questioningly. "Why?"
"If what Elrond says is true, the people of Rohan can never win this battle."
Lurtz nodded. "Saruman's army is ten thousand strong, an overwhelming force." He paused momentarily. "There is a chance we will not survive this."
"A lot of Elves and Men will die," whispered Legolas, distressed. They had been sent on a suicide mission!
"But you will not," said Lurtz determinedly. "I promised your father to keep you alive."
Legolas grinned. "Ada can be overprotective at times." As a child he had adored - almost worshipped - his father. Thranduil had shown him light where only was darkness in Mirkwood, had taught him everything he knew, and through the long years he had developed a deep, admiring love for his father.
Lurtz cleared his throat, seeing the distant look in Legolas' eyes. "What will happen once we reach 'Lorien?"
"We will join Haldir and his archers, and march for Helm's Deep."
"Haldir... I don't think I know that name," said Lurtz carefully.
Legolas laughed warmly. "You will like him. He is stubborn and cocky, just the way you like your Elves!" Legolas loved teasing Lurtz a bit.
"I only desire you," said Lurtz defensively, not realizing Legolas was teasing him.
"I know you love me." Legolas looked over his shoulder and whispered some words in Elvish.
Lurtz grabbed hold of a handful of Elen's manes as the horses suddenly sped up, their hoofs barely touching the earth. /This started when I found Legolas in a cave. His leg was bleeding and he was suffering from the Orc's poison. Then I knock down Glorfindel, causing him to become blind temporarily and now I'm going to meet another stubborn and cocky Elf? I can hardly wait./
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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