Feedback: Please! It brings a little ray of sunshine into my otherwise tragically dull existence.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, more's the pity. If I did, those beautiful elves would have a lot more fun than the good professor ever allowed them.

Warning: Tiny bit of BDSM, more implied than explicit, but don't say I didn't warn you. Also, some incestuous thoughts.


Unspoken

By Rune Dancer

       

Elrohir was never sure exactly when his feelings changed. He had always thought Elrond beautiful, but that was not unusual. To most residents of Imladris, the elf-lord was held up as a standard of beauty, so exotic in his unusual darkness and so regal in his bearing. Many eyes of both sexes followed him in admiration and, not infrequently, a good deal of wistfulness as he moved among his people on feast days or strolled casually in the extensive gardens surrounding his home. Elrohir had laughed along with his siblings to see the astonishment with which visitors to Imladris, even elves of an age to know better than to openly show their feelings, had greeted the first sight of the master of the last Homely House.

Growing up in such close proximity to the elf most viewed as almost a legend made flesh had not caused Elrohir, as it apparently had his sister and brother, to take Elrond's presence for granted. Elrond's youngest son had instead hero-worshipped his father from the first moment he could remember, loving nothing so much as an elfling as curling up in Elrond's strong arms to be read a bedtime story. The fact that the exercise often turned into another history lesson--as his father did not waste an opportunity to instil in his sons a knowledge of their people's lore--had encouraged Elladan and Arwen to find excuses for avoiding the nightly sessions. This suited Elrohir perfectly as he then had his beloved Ada all to himself.

The lessons had changed over the years from bedtime tales to nightly chess games or lessons in politics and medicine, as Elrond discovered to his delight that, unlike his eldest son, who loved sports and hunting above all things, Elrohir had tastes more in line with Elrond's own. In truth, Elrohir little cared what subjects his father chose to discuss; the chance to be in his company was enough to make anything interesting. As the years passed, however, Elrohir began to have strange thoughts in these nightly meetings. He found himself watching with something like fascination the play of firelight over his father's long, alabaster fingers as they hovered over a chess piece, or the delicious sheen to his long, dark hair as it brushed the page of the book he was reading. Elrohir loved the intense concentration Elrond could summon to whatever he was doing, almost as if he saw and heard nothing else. He began to wonder what it would be like to have that concentration turned on him, to have those beautiful pewter eyes really see him as Elrohir, and not as simply "the quiet one" or "the good student."

He thought his silent admiration had gone unnoticed until the fateful night when he saw Glorfindel looking at him strangely across the dining table, and realised that he had been so busy gazing at Elrond that he had largely forgotten to eat. He made matters worse by blushing fiercely, causing the thoughtful blue eyes of his father's seneschal to move from him to the master of the house, who was holding forth on the differences between Quenyan and Sindarin poetry in the Second Age, and back again. Glorfindel's elegant lips had turned up in a slight smile, and a mocking light had appeared in the knowing eyes. Elrohir had turned his attention back to his neglected plate and hoped his old tutor would choose to ignore what he had seen. He wasted no time in vacating his seat after the meal concluded, hoping to get to his rooms before he was waylaid, but Glorfindel somehow reached the corridor to his rooms before he did. Sometimes he and his brother had speculated that there must be some type of hidden corridor system at Imladris. They had never been able to find any secret passages, but Glorfindel had a way of suddenly appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, that made no sense otherwise unless the elf was a ghost. He did look rather spectral, Elrohir thought in something like panic, as the light from an artistic wall sconce created a strange aura around his pale hair and flowing grey robes.

"A word, Elrohir," the vision said, and before he could think of an excuse or frame a protest, he found himself steered into the seneschal's nearby rooms. Glorfindel had one of the few inner suites in Imladris; Elrohir saw with mounting nervousness that it did not have a balcony or even a window, and Glorfindel stood between him and the door.

Elrohir put on a brave front--after all, Glorfindel had long been his tutor and although he had never felt the warmth or affection emanating from him that was a matter of course from Erestor, he was hardly a monster. All he had to do was to bluff it out; the older elf could prove nothing, after all. "I am tired, Glorfindel, what is so important that you must keep me from my rest?"

The blond smiled and, as usual, it did not reach his eyes. Elrohir looked into those ancient depths and swallowed nervously before he could stop himself. He felt suddenly far out of his depth. A strong, sunbronzed hand reached out to twine slowly in Elrohir's dark locks, curling a section of silky hair around a finger in a way that was somehow disturbing. "You blush prettily, meldir. But not so much as tonight at table. Do I really keep you from your rest, or from . . . other things?"

"I do not know what you mean." Elrohir tried to move away, backing further into the large, opulent suite behind him, but Glorfindel simply matched his steps until Elrohir's progress was stopped by his legs coming into contact with the softness of a plush bed behind him.

Glorfindel widened his azure eyes and failed to look at all innocent. "Oh, so you do not dream of him as you lay in your bed; you see no storm coloured gaze in your mind; you do not imagine those battle-hardened arms around you; those perfect lips on yours? It is not his name you cry out when you . . . "

"Stop!" Elrohir tried to twist away from the hateful face in front of him, but Glorfindel threaded his hand through more of his dark hair, gently but firmly trapping him.

"The truth troubles you, lirimaer? But why? You are soon to reach your majority; why should you be ashamed because you feel the urges common to all flesh?" Elrohir felt a strong hand slide along his back to rest lightly on his hip, and Glorfindel's voice lowered to a pitch that only an elf could hear. "We all have dreams, little one."

Elrohir felt rather as if he had fallen into a nightmare. Could it have been only a few minutes ago that he sat in the brilliantly illuminated great hall, surrounded by carefree, laughing elves? Now he found himself in a blue-black twilight, as Glorfindel's rooms were lit only by the dim glow of a few flickering candles, and it was clear to him as never before that his old tutor must have sometimes dreamed of him as he did of Elrond. "No!," he twisted away with sudden force, surprising the older elf into letting him go for an instant, and lunged desperately for the door. The battle-toned reflexes of two ages quickly recovered, however, and his old master tripped him up by the casual seeming action of hooking a foot around his leg. His own forward momentum threw him to the floor, and he hit the polished wood with an audible thump.

Glorfindel followed him down, covering the shivering elf's body with his own and trapping Elrohir's hands within his strong grip. Once he had subdued the writhing elfling, he sat back on his heels, still astride his victim, and smiled. Strangely enough, his expression looked more genuine this time, as though something had truly amused him. Watching him through nearly hysterical eyes, Elrohir had the passing thought that perhaps he had never before seen his tutor's real face, without the mask of cold indifference or amused contempt that it habitually wore. The older elf's features were flushed slightly and, as he allowed his gaze to drift over the finely muscled form so securely pinned beneath him, his eyes sparkled with mischief.

"No?" He bent his golden head to Elrohir's delicate, pointed ear, and slowly, deliberately, caressed its outline with his tongue. Glorfindel's smile widened slightly as the action caused a shiver to run through his captive's form. "I think I could change your mind, lirimaer," he breathed, the words causing another frisson in Elrohir as they tickled the wet skin of his sensitive ear. "You are passionate and curious, and oh, so very ripe . . . someone will take you soon--you are practically begging for it in every gesture, every look. Why should it not be me? I, at least, can promise that your first time will be . . . memorable."

"Please . . .," Elrohir had never felt so helpless and his panic was by now in full bloom. He had no doubt Glorfindel could do what he wanted, and if Elrohir then went to his father to complain, what might his wicked tutor not tell the lord of Imladris? Could he look into his father's all-knowing eyes and deny his attraction? He knew in his heart that Elrond must see the truth, if ever it was pointed out to him, and then what? Would he see revulsion in that beloved gaze? Might he not be banished forever from the only home he had ever known? It was the thought of never again seeing his father that decided him. Screwing up his eyes in disgust and fear, Elrohir prepared to undergo whatever torments his father's seneschal could devise. He would be strong, a true son of Elrond, and his father would never know of his shame . . .

"Open your eyes, Elrohir, and stop looking like the end of the world has come," came the unexpectedly dry comment from above him. When he did as he was bid, he saw an exasperated look on his tutor's face. "I am not in the habit of having prospective bedmates look as if they are preparing to undergo some form of orcish torture!," he continued caustically.

Elrohir blinked at the tone, and at Glorfindel's plain speech about such a thing. "Then . . . you'll let me go? You won't tell father?"

Glorfindel shifted slightly, and Elrohir felt his body respond in a quite alarming way to the simple action. Fortunately, his tutor did not seem to have noticed; in fact, his gaze was suddenly introspective, and he frowned slightly. After a few moments in which a variety of expressions crossed the usually impassive face, most too quickly to read, he sighed and looked down at his wide-eyed captive with what looked like chagrin. "You test me," he murmured absently, "but then, you always did."

Elrohir thought that was rather unfair, and said so. "Elladan was the difficult one, not me."

Glorfindel smiled strangely at that, and ran a casual finger down Elrohir's silky cheek, watching with what seemed detached interest as a charming blush followed his touch. "Oh no, I beg to differ. Your brother is admirably predictable and completely dull; even his pranks were exactly what one would expect of an elf of his age and . . . lack of imagination. You were always the one no one could read. Your father often said that even he could not fathom the thoughts that hid behind those dark eyes of yours . . . all for the best, it now seems."

Elrohir blushed even more furiously at that, and Glorfindel's eyes narrowed to see it. "If I were one of the noble elves that people those tales your father used to tell you--which, I might mention were censored of some of their more interesting details, I was there, after all--then no doubt I would let you off with a warning. I will give you the warning, for you obviously need it. For someone usually so inscrutable, you were amazingly transparent tonight. I do not think anyone else noticed, but if you continue this way, it is only a matter of time before everyone knows, including your father."

Elrohir shifted uncomfortably, both because of his chagrin at the truth behind Glorfindel's words, and because of his growing physical reaction to his tutor's nearness. The blond gave an evil grin at the sensation, and altered his position slightly to make clear to Elrohir that he was well aware of the young elf's predicament. "Fortunately for your continued education," he murmured, "I have never been particularly noble." He laughed, and it would have been a genuinely infectious sound if not for Elrohir's state of mind. "Instead, I will offer you a fair chance to retain your chastity. If you can hide your feelings for Elrond, and give no sign, visible to me or to anyone else, of your . . . infatuation, then you have nothing to fear from me. I will remain silent about any observations I have or will make. On the other hand, every time you slip up, you will pay me a forfeit, to be determined by me. Each will, I promise you, become progressively more . . . interesting. Do we have a deal?"

Elrohir was regarding Glorfindel much like a mouse might a cobra. He had never heard any elf state such things with so little regard for the proprieties. His speech alone was positively indecent! The Valar alone knew what perversions such a mind could invent with which to torture him. "Do I have a choice?," he all but spat the words at the smug face above him.

"Not really." Glorfindel said absently, once again letting his eyes roam over the captured form beneath him.

"I have agreed to your condition, now let me up!" Elrohir was becoming seriously worried at the increased signs of arousal in his captor--his usually blue eyes were almost black with it, and his sun kissed skin was flushed.

"Oh, not yet, lirimaer," Glorfindel whispered, "you forget, you owe a forfeit for your actions tonight. Now, what shall I choose? The possibilities are so many and so . . . delicious."

The perverse creature actually licked his lips as Elrohir regarded him through disbelieving eyes. "But . . . there was no agreement until just now! You cannot exact a forfeit for something that occurred before we talked!"

Glorfindel's eyes gleamed, reflecting the dim light of a nearby candle. "I am surprised at you, Elrohir. You were usually such a good student. Didn't I just tell you, I am not particularly noble?" Before Elrohir could frame a proper retort, the blond dipped his head again and this time quickly covered his captive's lips with a warm, seeking mouth. Elrohir gasped in shock, and Glorfindel immediately seized the opportunity to slip an experienced tongue between his lips. Elrohir twisted his head desperately in an attempt to get away from the unwanted invasion, but Glorfindel merely transferred both his captive's hands to one of his larger ones, and used the other to hold the young elf's head in place. The kiss seemed everlasting to Elrohir, as the Eldar leisurely explored every inch of his mouth. When the need to breath finally caused the torment to end, Glorfindel trailed a line of kisses down the side of his young charge's face and neck, nuzzling the pale flesh and murmuring ancient Quenyan love words in what seemed to Elrohir a deliberate pantomime of true love-making. Yet there was a strange look in the lapis eyes as they locked with his for a brief moment, before Glorfindel finally rose from him in one fluid action. Elrohir immediately rolled to his feet and bolted for the door.

"Remember, lirimaer," he heard a calm voice behind him as his shaking hand finally found the door latch, "I will be watching you."

       

Grey eyes held his with great tenderness, as slender hands caressed him gently. Dark hair fell around his face, the colour so close to his own as to be almost indistinguishable, yet these strands were softer, finer, more like spun silk as they lay across the white expanse of his pillow. Sweet words of love echoed in his ears, and the caress became stronger, more insistent. He felt a warmth enclose him, a light caress on his most private area, a teasing, velvet heat that slowly brought him to the brink of ecstasy. He arched up in his growing passion, a shudder tearing through him as climax was reached at last, and into the darkness of his empty room, Elrohir screamed his father's name.

He woke up suddenly, sweat drenched and sticky as usual, and stared, panting, at his dark and silent room. When the dreams had first started, over a year ago, he had requested Erestor to have his rooms moved to a more isolated section of Imladris. Not that he had put it so bluntly. His excuse had been that his old view displeased him, which had seemed reasonable enough as his childhood rooms, although extensive and beautifully furnished, had the misfortune to overlook the stables. His current assignment was not much better from most people's standpoint, having no view of any of the beautiful waterfalls for which Imladris was justly famous. Instead, it faced a blank expanse of forest, not unattractive, perhaps, in its way, but rather boring by the standards of the house. He could have had much better rooms, but all those available had been far too close to his father's beautiful suite, or to those that surrounded it--Elladan's and Arwen's--and the thought of their faces if they knew about his nightly curse had made Elrohir specifically request a suite on the other side of the house.

His current rooms had originally been designed for high-ranking guests to Imladris, and as such were elegantly appointed, but were too far from the main sections of the house for most people's liking. In fact, the only suite near them, other than for a few normally unused guest quarters, was . . . Glorfindels. The events of earlier in the evening suddenly came back to Elrohir in brilliant clarity. He felt his face burn in the darkness and cursed the fair skin that blushed so easily. Pausing, he listened for any sign that his dream had been overheard, but there was no sound detectable even to his elven ears. Perhaps Glorfindel had slept through his most recent performance; he fervently hoped so, considering the forfeit he would no doubt have to pay otherwise. Of course, it could always be argued that the stuff of dreams was hardly under his control, but he could see the seneschal's mocking stare if he dared to proffer such a defence, and he heard him say again that he was not particularly noble. On that point, at least, he and Elrohir could agree.

The familiar nightly ritual of washing himself and changing the sheets before the servants could find them was performed almost automatically. He was, he supposed, the only elf of his rank ever regularly to wash his own bedding. Not that it would matter if he did not, of course. Elladan had once joked, rather crudely Elrohir had thought at the time, of the number of extra servants his father must have to employ simply to keep his eldest son in clean linen, but Elrohir had not his brother's easygoing attitude about such things. He preferred to do the work himself, and avoid any awkward questions.

Gathering the soiled linen into a tight bundle, he threw on a light night robe--he had long ago learned that it saved washing time not to bother wearing anything to bed--and slipped from the room. One of the problems with the suite he occupied was that they had no private bathroom. They were situated so closely to Imladris' public baths that the architects must have thought it unnecessary. In most instances that was undoubtedly true, but in Elrohir's case it merely made nightly perambulations around the palace necessary.

Slipping into the baths, he chose a private room and securely locked the door behind him. After running a hot stream of water into the large, round pool, he dunked the sheets and let the steam stroke his face. It took a few moments before he realised that the water on his cheeks was not all due to the steam, and he cursed himself for a fool for still feeling such deep pain after so long. A true son of Elrond would have been able to master his emotions by now, would have controlled any inappropriate thoughts, and would never have put himself in the position to be blackmailed by a villain like Glorfindel.

Dropping his robe, he decided to join the sheets in their nightly soak. He needed the water's calming embrace, and the heat that would help to loosen the knots that seemed perpetually to cramp the muscles of his back these days. He knew there was nothing really wrong with him, just the tension from constantly living a lie. It would, he supposed, increase now that he had to constantly guard against not only his father's, but also Glorfindel's, watchful gaze.

He thought, not for the first time, that perhaps he should just go away. Arwen had recently returned from an extended visit to Lothlorien, and the Valar knew his mother practically lived there anymore. It was easier to calculate how many years Celebrian had been away in his short lifetime, than how many she had passed at Imladris. He dwelt, as the water gradually relaxed his tense nerves, on the sadness of his father's position. There were stories told of the great love Elrond bore his wife; songs composed to the happiness she had brought him, some of which his father had written himself in the early years of the marriage. Yet, although these were still sung on feast days, especially on the rare occasion when Celebrian was actually in residence, he wondered how many people believed them anymore. He didn't think he ever had.

Elrohir was known for the excellence of his memory, but he could not think of a single, happy childhood scene that included Celebrian. She always appeared as a transitory figure in his mind, dressed in her travelling attire as the only times he usually saw her, other than at meals, was when she came to the nursery to bid them farewell when starting yet another journey. Even his child's mind had known something was wrong, had felt something missing in the beautiful blue gaze which looked at him blankly, almost as if he was a stranger, whenever he dared to disturb her with some childish concern. He had soon learned to go to his father with any problems, and Elrond had more than made up for any deficiency in Celebrian's care. It had been his hands which tucked his children to sleep at night, his arms that rocked them soothingly when lightening and thunder crashed nearby, and his voice that sang the only lullabies they ever heard.

Elrohir had long pondered the reason for his mother's seeming indifference to a life that would have seemed a dream to most. He had never arrived at a completely clear answer and, indeed, was not sure his mother could have given one herself if pressed. His grandmother had come closest to answering, he supposed, when in the direct way of a very young child, he had long ago asked her why mother was away so much. A sad expression had flickered over Galadriel's perfect features, and he thought for a minute that she meant not to answer him, but she had finally commented that 'the heart loves where the heart loves, little one' which, Elrohir thought, summed things up fairly well. The marriage had been a political alliance, after all, and yet, so everyone had thought who saw the expression in Elrond's eyes whenever they looked on the beautiful only child of the Lord and Lady of Lorien, a rare love match as well. They should have looked closer at Celebrian's expression. Elrond should have looked closer.

Still, Celebrian had done her duty, as any child of her parents would, but now that three perfect, or so everyone thought, children graced the last Homely House, she preferred to return to the woods of her youth and the joy of her real family. Elrohir supposed he could understand that. Yet, as much as he pitied her a loveless marriage, he pitied his father more. Celebrian had walked into the union knowing her fate; Elrond had been too blind to see his until it was too late. But he knew now, Elrohir thought, remembering the hurt in his father's eyes last winter when Celebrian had stopped by the library to tell him she was going on a brief visit home. The fact that Lorien was the only place she ever designated with that name was bad enough, but that she had only just returned a few months previously from another "brief" visit, which had spanned the better part of a decade, had caused Elrond to hesitate briefly before expressing his wishes for her a safe and happy journey. Elrohir had wondered then if, had he not been there, his father might have said more, but as it was, the habitual serenity of Elrond's visage had quickly replaced the brief expression of sorrow, and he had calmly summoned Erestor to make arrangements for his wife's latest trip.

Elrohir had almost gone to him then, put his arms around him and just held him, as Elrond had done for him when he was pained by anything as a child. But he had refrained, knowing that his father took great care that he and his siblings lived in a happy environment, secure in the fiction that their parents were the perfect loving couple. Elrohir sometimes felt like telling him that even Elladan, who tended to be a bit thick at times, had long ago recognised the truth, but he had not had the heart. He never wanted to hurt his father, only to protect him, to love him . . . he deserved someone who would really care for him.

Like you?, his inner voice teased. Elrohir shuddered, finding himself suddenly cold even in the warmth of the bath. That was all it would take for Elrond to truly despair. He loved his children deeply, and the thought that one of them had somehow become so depraved as to lust after their own parent . . . it would kill him. Elrohir had recognised that early on, and done everything in his power to restrain his feelings. Nothing had worked. It would help if Elrond had some flaw on which he could focus, if he occasionally yelled at him or was short tempered, if his famous calm would crack and he would lash out. Elrohir wouldn't have even minded physical abuse, although he knew the odds of Elrond ever hitting one of his children was about the same as Sauron turning to charitable works, but in a way it would have been a relief. Perhaps if he had something, anything, for which to fault his father, the feelings he was now helpless to overcome would fade. As it was, he knew that sooner or later, no matter how careful he might be, he would give himself away.

It had almost happened a week ago when he had been happily engrossed in helping Elrond make some of the many healing ointments he regularly used in his medical work. Elrohir had long before accepted that he would never have Elrond's skill at healing--few, if any, did--but he could relieve Elrond of the mundane chopping and cutting of plant materials, and, after more than three decades working at his father's side, could make most of the more simple balms.

He had almost finished his assigned tasks when, while in the process of setting a pot of unguent on a particularly high shelf, he had lost his footing and fallen off the short ladder to land painfully on the hard, tiled floor. Nothing had been broken, although his left ankle and knee had received a nasty turn, but elves healed quickly and his limb was strong enough to support his weight by the next day. The problem had been that, naturally, Elrond had attended to the task of examining his injuries. His fine hands on Elrohir's bruised ankle had been gentle and his touch, as always, soothing, but the intense reaction Elrohir had had to the simple examination had appalled and shaken him. He had lost his calm completely when Elrond requested that he remove his leggings so that he could tend to his knee. Elrohir knew that he must have looked as horrified as he felt, as that particular course of action was not, at the time, advisable; in fact, he wasn't sure it would have been physically possible to strip off his suddenly painfully tight leggings in any case. Elrond's normally calm expression had taken on a worried tint as Elrohir had scrabbled away from him as fast as possible across the slippery floor, muttering something about his knee, which actually felt like it was on fire, being perfectly alright and that he would just go get a hot bath and everything would be fine. He had finally stopped babbling after reaching the door, and had limped away from the healing chambers as quickly as his bruised body could carry him.

His father had, mercifully, not made a reference to his son's strange behaviour the next day, but simply asked him how he felt. Elrohir had mumbled assurances of his well-being, which thanks to his elven healing abilities had soon been true enough, but he knew that the whole episode must have seemed odd. He sunk under the bath water now and knew in his heart that he was doomed.

The steam had almost all evaporated when Elrohir roused himself to wring out his now clean sheets and make his way back to his rooms. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts, grim though they were, that it was not until he actually ran into the figure lounging in the hallway outside his door that he came back to his senses. Grabbing at the damp sheets, he glanced up to see his worst nightmare smirking at him. An elegant finger lifted a small patch of wet cotton while its owner arched one golden eyebrow in that smug way of his.

"How dutiful of you to spare the maids some of their cleaning duties. But I can think of better ways to pass the night, nin bain." Glorfindel opened the door to Elrohir's rooms and tossed the wet mass inside. Turning back to the apprehensive youth in front of him, he gave what could only be described as a leer. "Especially now that you owe me another forfeit."

       

Meanwhile, at Lothlorien . . .

"I do not think my request was in any way unclear, Haldir." Lord Celeborn was using the tone with which wise elves did not argue. Haldir was not trying to question his lord's command, although perhaps his sanity . . .

"I am just not entirely sure that I understand." Haldir tried to make his gaze at the Lord of Lorien, impressively seated on his mithril-inlaid throne, as respectful as possible. He did, in fact, have a good deal of esteem for the Lord of the Wood, but it was also a factor that he did not want to be doing patrol on some orc infested piece of hinterland for the next century because he had offended him.

"I wish you to seduce my youngest grandson. Is this a hardship for you?"

"N-not a hardship, of course, Lord," which was true enough, Haldir thought in amusement. He remembered the young Peredhil from a long ago visit the elfling had paid to his grandparents, and as he recalled, he was as fair as the morning. Of course, innocents were not his usual taste, but still . . .

"Then I will expect you to leave as soon as possible. You duty shifts will be taken by others; there is no need to hurry back." Celeborn paused, and in a less dignified figure, Haldir might have thought he saw a look of embarrassment cross his Lord's fair features. "My grandson has developed an . . . unacceptable . . . infatuation with a male elf. It is my wish that you should transfer that infatuation to yourself, and remain in Imladris until he tires of you." Celeborn smiled slightly at Haldir's sudden look of alarm. "Do not worry, Haldir, you are unlikely to be away from Lorien for long. Elves of his age are fickle in their affections; once you have removed this ridiculous fantasy from his thoughts, he will likely begin to find many other young elves to his liking and you may then return to us. Do you have any questions?"

"Er, actually, my Lord, I have several." Haldir could think of many more than that, but Celeborn was not looking particularly patient at the moment. When his lord inclined his head slightly in permission, Haldir continued. "Perhaps it would be best if I know the object of his infatuation, so I could . . . ", he broke off at the angry red flush that passed quickly over his lord's features, and at the dangerous glint that appeared in his eyes. "Although," he hurried to add, "I am certain I can work around that."

"You may eventually discover the truth on your own, but you will not hear it from me," Celeborn stated firmly, and Haldir was not inclined to argue. Celeborn leaned forward in his seat slightly, looking even more the king than usual as he frowned down on his presumptuous Galadrim. "If you do discover this fact, you will keep it to yourself and mention it to no other, do you understand?"

"Yes, of course, my lord. No one shall learn of it from me, I assure you." Haldir wondered who this unsuitable person could be, to elicit such a response from Celeborn. Probably young Elrohir was slumming with some handsome stable hand.

"You said you had two questions?," Celeborn prompted, as Haldir hesitated. "Yes, Lord. Actually, I was just wondering why I was selected? Not that it is not an honour to serve you and the Lady, of course, in any capacity. But I cannot help but wonder . . . "

Celeborn's good temper seemed to have been restored, because he suddenly grinned in a most unkingly fashion. "I made a few discreet inquiries, and everyone with whom I spoke seemed to feel you were best suited to the job. There was repeated mention of an incident involving the Mirkwood princes last summer that I would much enjoy hearing about, when you have time. I am sure the reports I was given must have been exaggerated."

Haldir smiled slightly and backed away from the throne with polished grace. "Quite exaggerated, I am sure my lord," he murmured. "I will just go prepare for the journey to Imladris." He left the audience hall with Celeborn's booming laugh echoing in his ears. It was shaping up to be a more interesting summer than he had imagined.

       

Elrohir was regarding his father's seneschal with intense speculation. Remembering his mistake from dinner the previous day, however, he dropped his gaze to his breakfast plate before anyone noticed, and used a golden fork to toy with some fruit. The previous evening had given him much to think about, and the first reason to hope there might be a way out of his dilemma. Now he just had to decide whether to go through with it.

Risking another glance across the table, he decided that Glorfindel was fair enough, in his way. The elf kept himself well-toned and his skin was a pleasing light bronze from his regular rides of inspection around the borders of Imladris. His eyes were a bright blue at the moment as they politely regarded his dining companion, a visiting Lorien elfwife with two shy daughters in tow, who was no doubt hoping to marry at least one of them off to an Imladris noble. He remembered her eldest daughter from dinner the previous day, and barely repressed a shudder. Her dimpled cheeks, overly ornate robe and elaborate hair style had reminded him too much of Celebrian, and it had been all he could manage to be civil to her. Glorfindel was happily flirting away with the mother, however, and Elrohir narrowed his eyes slightly to see it. He had received the distinct impression the night before that females were not exactly to the seneschal's taste. He watched the sculpted lips form inanities with which to entertain the vapid creature at his side, and remembered their other uses . . .

Elrohir brought himself up sharply; these were hardly appropriate thoughts for the dining table. They were also distracting him from the decision at hand. Having always been a logical sort, Elrohir decided to lay out the situation as if it was a problem he had been posed by one of his tutors in class, which, he reflected wryly, was not far from the truth.

First, the problem. His infatuation for Elrond was not fading and, if anything, had become worse over time. Sooner or later, as he had accepted the night before, he would betray himself if something was not done.

Second, the proposed solution. Glorfindel had said something that had given Elrohir much reason to think. He had commented, both in the first seduction session after dinner and in the brief, but intense, follow up half way through the night, that Elrohir was "ripe" and that someone else would undoubtedly take advantage of his vulnerability if he did not. Despite the annoying smugness of the comment, it had given Elrohir reason to wonder if part of his problem was simply prolonged abstinence. Elladan, as he had frequently boasted, had lost his virginity at a much younger age than Elrohir was now, and had since acquired quite a reputation with the ladies. So much so that the Lorien elfwife currently tittering at another ridiculous story of Glorfindel's, had carefully shooed her precious daughters away from his carnal clutches the evening before, insuring that Elladan, at least, had avoided being bored to death by the banality of their conversation. Elrohir, the "good son," had not been so lucky.

So, perhaps the solution to his problem was simply to allow Glorfindel to do his worst, and hope that whatever release it brought was enough to keep his emotions under reasonable control.

The possible problems. Elrohir was a bit worried, not only about the act itself, on which he was still slightly hazy, but also on the depth of emotion he occasionally saw in his tutor's bright gaze. At the moment, Glorfindel, who happened to look up and catch Elrohir's eye, had nothing but amusement in his blue eyes. They flickered briefly down the table in Elrond's direction, but Elrohir merely smiled serenely and kept his gaze on the seneschal. Glorfindel made a small pout of pretended disappointment, and turned his attention back to his dining partner.

If he was always so easy going, so blasť, Elrohir would feel much more confident in his proposed scheme, but there had been different emotions in those eyes the night before. Elrohir tried to avoid thinking of the way his old tutor had almost worshipped his body, taking his hardened length into his mouth with the greatest of tenderness, and bringing him to shuddering release quicker than the younger elf had thought possible. He had then tenderly sent him off to bed, with none of the mocking glint that usually shone from those eyes. Hence the problem.

Glancing up once more, he let his gaze wonder over the long table at which family and favoured guests were seated for breakfast with the lord of the house. He had to admit that, other than for Elrond himself, who Elrohir studiously avoided looking at directly, the other guests paled into insignificance next to Glorfindel's blond beauty. Apparently the mother and daughters seated opposite him thought so as well, for the three could barely tear their eyes away from him long enough to finish their breakfasts. From a purely selfish standpoint, then, he supposed Glorfindel would be the obvious choice for his, as his tutor had phrased it, "continued education"; not to mention that he had made his interest more than clear. As if he felt Elrohir's gaze upon him, Glorfindel glanced in his direction once more and, with an impish air, proceeded to do lewd things to the group of fat blackberries on his plate. After several minutes of sensuously rolling the plump fruit across his lips and over his tongue, he practically had the elfwife seated next to him at the point of orgasm. Elrohir ducked his head to hide a smile, and soon after excused himself from the last few minutes of the meal. He had some plans to make.

       

Elrohir was seated that afternoon on an ornately carved chair behind and slightly to the right of his father's even more elaborate throne. It was his turn to help Elrond receive guests and answer petitioners to court, and it had, until recently, been a duty he disliked sincerely. His father's proximity caused him enough distress, but the added strain of having to appear nonchalant and avoid slip ups in front of, at times, hundreds of curious eyes was nothing short of torture. He had been constantly afraid that he would do or say something to give himself away. That day, however, he was finding the duty far less onerous. For one thing, Glorfindel, usually in attendance at these sessions in case his advice was needed, had assumed a standing position behind Elrohir's seat rather than taking a chair in the front row of the audience as usual. He had enlivened the normally dull event by whispering amusing and highly inappropriate observations about various petitioners into Elrohir's ear. In between ignoring the tickling sensation of the Eldar's breath on his sensitive lobe, and trying not to laugh at some of his wittier comments, Elrohir had had little time left to concern himself with his usual problem. It was, he had to admit, quite a relief.

Elrohir had another reason for enjoying the session more than usual that day. An emissary from Lothlorien, a Galadrim named Haldir, had come bearing news and compliments from the Lord and Lady. Such couriers were a usual sight at Imladris, and were greeted with universal pleasure as they often carried letters from friends and relatives in the Golden Wood. This particular courier was far more amusing than most, however, as it became immediately obvious as soon as he set foot in the audience hall, that he had never before met the master of Rivendell. Elrohir had silently agreed with Glorfindel's amused whisper that, "this should prove entertaining." And it was, he thought, trying but failing to keep a smile completely off his countenance as Haldir stumbled through the usual pleasantries. The handsome blond elf was either a bit slow, or else, as Elrohir strongly suspected, he was having difficulty even remembering his name in the presence of the lord of the house. His clear blue eyes never left Elrond's face from the time he rose from his first, and quite elegant, bow, to when he virtually stumbled from the hall a few minutes later. He had so lost the expected elven calm as to actually have done a double take on first seeing the beauty at the front of the chamber. Elrond had given no sign, by word or deed, that anything unusual had occurred. Of course, Elrohir thought with some sympathy, he was no doubt accustomed to such things by now.

"That was one of the best on record," Glorfindel whispered, and Elrohir contented himself with merely arching an eyebrow at his naughty tutor, before turning his attention back to the rather pompous representative from Mirkwood who had just presented himself. Personally, he thought it might take the prize. After Haldir's comic exit, the session degenerated into its usual boredom, and Elrohir was glad to escape when it finally drew to a close. Before he could make his way off the dias, however, his father made a slight motion of his head that indicated he wished to speak with him, and they waited, side by side, while the gallery cleared.

"I would appreciate it if you would do me a service," Elrond said, when they were finally alone.

"Of course, Ada." Elrohir was surprised to see his father hesitate slightly, as indecision was not a normal feature of his character. It also seemed that he was choosing his words with some care. For a moment, Elrohir was seriously worried, frantically trying to think if anything he had done or said could have given Elrond reason to suspect him. His father's next words both alleviated that fear, and puzzled the young elf.

"Haldir of Lorien is here as more than a mere courier. He is widely considered one of the best of the Galadrim, and it is hoped that he can give us advice on how to improve our border's defences. There has been increased orc activity recently, and it concerns me. I would appreciate it if you could ride out with him tomorrow and note any suggestions he might have."

"Of course I will, Ada." He thought Glorfindel would be more suited to such a task, as the security of Imladris was one of the seneschal's primary duties, but Elrohir was not in the habit of questioning his father's wishes.

Elrond smiled at him then, a little sadly, Elrohir noted with mounting confusion. "I thank you. Haldir was specially selected for his assignment by your grandfather. I have been assured that he will perform his task admirably."

       

Haldir was in a quandary. He lounged against a beautifully carved pillar leading into the main ball-room of Imladris and watched as a thousand graceful dancers swirled together in time to music from an excellent ensemble. It was a magnificent scene, and he knew he looked every inch a suitable representative of Lorien in his finely tailored dark blue robes. He should have been enjoying himself immensely, for he usually shone on such occasions, but instead he held himself apart from the laughing, chattering throng. Outwardly, he was calm to the point of boredom, but inwardly he battled several strong emotions.

On the one hand, Celeborn was going to make his life a living hell if he failed in his appointed task, and therefore he should be introducing himself and being charming and witty to young Elrohir. The elfling was looking good enough to eat, he noticed, in a melon-coloured gown that brought out rich tones in his chestnut hair. However, there were a few complications.

First, Haldir had surmised the identity of the object of Elrohir's infatuation, and he recognised a formidable adversary when he saw one. The young elf lord had been flirting outrageously with his father's seneschal since the ball began, and was currently leaning over the seated figure, deliberately allowing his dark hair to brush against the Eldar's face as he said something with a teasing glint in his eye. As seductions go, it was clumsy by Haldir's standards, but Glorfindel did not seem to mind. He did look a tad bemused, but that might have been surprise that the elfling would be so bold in such a public place; he may as well have placed a "taken" sign around the Eldar's neck. Having come expecting simply to overshadow or scare off some weedy stable hand, Haldir found himself with the far more difficult task of dealing with one who easily matched him in beauty, far outmatched him in reputation and would definitely not be possible to scare away. No wonder Celeborn hadn't wanted to tell him with whom he was dealing!

Haldir could not imagine why there was an objection to the match, as the two lords seemed well suited to him. There was the age difference, of course, but to immortals, such things were of trifling import. Technically, Haldir supposed, Elrohir outranked the Eldar noble, but again, he would not have thought the difference enough to be a serious bar to their union. The long period of Glorfindel's service to Elrond's house must count in his favour, and his peerless reputation as a warrior of the first age made him quite a catch by anyone's standards. Haldir briefly wondered if perhaps the issue was one of prejudice against the union of two males, but that seemed unlikely; he had never heard that Imladris was that provincial. Still, it was not his place to question his instructions, just to break the two up. Celeborn had been most clear on that point.

On the other hand, there was the added difficulty that Haldir did not want this assignment. It had seemed a somewhat pleasant duty at first, if a bit boring, as he hardly thought Lord Celeborn would appreciate him sharing some of his more . . . unusual . . . tastes with his young grandson. Now, however, there was a complication, a beautiful, raven-haired, grey-eyed complication who was exerting a pull on Haldir so strong even from the opposite side of the room, that it took all his long years of experience to remain where he was, seemingly indifferent.

Haldir did not blush; indeed, he could not remember the last time he had done so, but memory of that afternoon's debacle had come closer than anything in an age to making him do so. He could not believe he had made such a complete fool of himself. It hurt his pride, which even he acknowledged was considerable, to remember the kind expression in Lord Elrond's eyes as he had watched him stumble through words of greeting that usually flowed with silken ease from his practised tongue. He had been worse than an elfling with a crush, and he doubted if there was an elf present who had not noticed.

Not, he thought, with considerable longing, that the temptation had not been enough to unsettle anyone. He indulged himself for a moment, watching the figure of his host as he moved easily through the crowd, smiling and greeting his many guests. The ball was in honour of the summer solstice, which Lorien also celebrated, but there was often some such event at Imladris from what he had been able to surmise. Lord Elrond liked to entertain, and the fact that his wife spent the majority of her time at Lorien, and so denied him a hostess, did not seem to dampen his enthusiasm for such diversions. Haldir had long assumed there was some problem in their marriage, but, like most, had not thought it any of his concern. Now, however, he had begun to feel differently.

He watched as the tall, elegant figure in dark green velvet made its way slowly towards his side of the room. The mithril band in Elrond's dark tresses set them off perfectly, and green was a good choice with his pale skin. The robes were rich, but understated, with the delicate tracery of vines and leaves that ran up the sides embroidered in the same colour as the material itself, so that one could only see them when the light was right. Vilya sparkled on his right hand, his only adornment other than the crown of office. Yet, despite the fact that there were many that night whose attire and jewellery far out shown that of Imladris' lord, no one attracted more attention, and on none other did so many longing glances fall. Haldir watched in helpless enchantment as the vision came closer, pausing to greet some human visitors from Rohan before turning to speak to Haldir himself.

"You are enjoying the festivities, I trust, Haldir 'o Lorien?," Elrond asked, coming to stand beside him and join his perusal of the ballroom.

"Yes, indeed, my Lord. I had oft heard tales in Lorien of the beauty of fair Imladris, but now, seeing it clothed in finery and lit by a thousand candles, I see that I was not told the half of it." Haldir smirked at the slightly surprised look that crossed the Lord's face. No, he thought savagely, I am not always a stuttering simpleton. He had, however, kept his eyes carefully on the dancers until his small speech was finished, as, even with proper mental preparation, being this close to Imladris' lord was a considerable distraction.

"I am pleased to hear you say so, and I trust your time with us will be pleasant." There was nothing unusual in Lord Elrond's words, but as he said them, he allowed his eyes to briefly come to rest on his youngest son, who had somehow been captured into a dance by a simpering elf maid. Really, the girl had to be either blind or desperate, not to see the barely concealed revulsion with which her escort held her, nor the way his glance kept sliding away from her face to seek out that of the golden seneschal. Haldir didn't blame him in the slightest, for Glorfindel was radiant that evening in sumptuous blue and silver.

Haldir glanced at the master of the house beside him and nodded briefly to make clear that he had caught the hint. Elrond apparently did not think the elf maid was going to be able to distract his son from his seneschal, and Haldir quite agreed. He did not see what he could do about the situation at present, however, as the dance had just begun and, like it or not, young Elrohir was stuck for a time. He therefore decided to use the opportunity to get to know the master of Imladris a bit better. He had one burning question, especially, that needed answering.

"I am sure I shall greatly enjoy my time here, Lord Elrond. I am especially looking forward to reacquainting myself with your family. I had little time to spend with your children in their visits to the Golden Wood, a fact I much regretted. Now, perhaps, I shall have the opportunity to remedy that, and to become more familiar with their illustrious father as well. I was away on patrol, it seems, whenever you chanced to visit my fair city."

Elrond gave him an arch look, black brows slightly raised above ancient silver eyes. Haldir rejoiced to see it, for it was the first time anything other than polite regard had crossed those beautiful features. "You would do better to concentrate on acquainting yourself with my sons. Elrohir, especially, has had far too few friends his own age with which to sport himself. I have hopes that you and he may become . . . close."

"Indeed, little would please me more," Haldir lied smoothly. "But an elf of his age may be more interested in spending his free moments with a pretty maid, such as that lovely creature with whom he is dancing now." Haldir could not entirely keep his lips from quirking at that, as the "lovely creature" had just screwed up her face in agony as Elrohir stepped heavily on her instep. As Haldir had not observed the Imladris heir being particularly clumsy earlier in the evening, he had reason to suspect that it had been on purpose. Elrohir's solicitousness as he guided his partner from the floor also seemed suspect, especially as he immediately dumped her on the matriarch Haldir could only assume was her mother, and then swiftly rejoined Glorfindel.

"I do not know that maids are precisely my son's interest," Elrond murmured, having also watched the events on the dance floor.

"Then perhaps he has more . . . subtle tastes," Haldir offered, attempting to push the conversation in the direction he needed it to go before he was forced to go seduce a raw elfling and ruin his evening. "Many have, including some of the greatest of our kind." Haldir felt he was on safe ground there even if his hopes about Elrond were unfounded. There had been many rumours about some of Celeborn's antics before his marriage, although how much one could depend on barrack gossip was debatable.

Something seemed to amuse Elrond, however, and a delighted expression crossed his face causing his whole visage to light up. "Perhaps," he chuckled, "but then, I do not recall anything particularly . . . subtle . . . about the Eldar. Simply taking what one wanted was more common, whatever that might be. Those were more honest times, if less refined."

As Elrond excused himself and walked away, Haldir was left wondering if he had just been propositioned or not. Normally, he was fairly clear on such a point, but he readily admitted that Lord Elrond was, despite his claim, far too subtle for him. Had Haldir himself uttered such a phrase, it would have been an open invitation, but as they had spent most of their conversation discussing Elrond's children, Haldir was left unsure about exactly what he was supposed to be taking. He knew what he wanted, of course, and if he followed Elrond's advice, he certainly would not be wasting time on an elf barely out of the nursery. Yet, to ignore his commission from Lord Celeborn was no light matter.

So it was that, as the ball wound down some time later, Haldir found himself in much the same quandary as he had been when it began. He had managed to acquaint himself with young Elrohir, but their conversation had been brief, for Glorfindel had almost immediately manoeuvred Haldir into dancing with a plump elfwife and, by the time the song ended, the seneschal and Elrond's youngest were nowhere to be found.

What to do, what to do?

Haldir hesitated as the last of the revellers faded away along corridors leading to their rooms, and the servants began the immense task of imposing some order onto the flower-strewn, chaotic scene. He stepped lightly over party detritus and a few more inebriated types who were being fished out from under tables by dutiful servants, until he found himself in the centre of the last Homely House, one velvet clad foot drumming lightly on the mosaic covered floor. To his left lay the warren of corridors that would lead him, eventually, to the suite of rooms a servant had told him earlier belonged to Lord Elrohir. To his right, the main staircase led to the upper floor of the house, where Lord Elrond's chambers were located. It was rare, Haldir thought, to have a crossroad in one's life so clearly marked.

Oh well, he decided after a moment, a century or so in some orc-infested outpost would pass. . . eventually . . . and in this case, the prize was certainly worth it. Smiling in renewed spirits, he raced up the magnificent staircase of Imladris, taking the marble steps two at a time.

       

Elrohir was beginning to wonder if maybe he was in a little over his head. The initial seduction had been as simple as expected, with Glorfindel practically towing him out of the ball-room less than half-way through the celebration. Elrohir had insisted that they go back to his rooms, which he had prepared ahead of time with scattered flower petals on the large bed and many burning candles. The candles may not have been his best idea, as they had burnt down so far as to lose their elegant effect, with most appearing more as blobs of wax than the perfect tapers he had planned.

They were somehow appropriate, however, as nothing else was going according to plan either. For some absurd reason Elrohir could not even begin to guess, Glorfindel seemed to expect him to take the lead now that they were safely ensconced behind his charge's heavy oak door. Which is why Elrond's youngest son was starting to worry about the wisdom of this seemingly perfect plan. He had not really thought past the point at which he brought Glorfindel back to his apartments, assuming that, as had taken place on both their previous encounters, he would have little say in the matter. But now, it seemed that the infuriating Eldar, who calmly seated himself on a brocaded chair and regarded the younger elf quizzically, was waiting to be seduced, and Elrohir had little to no idea how to go about it.

"Er, would you like some wine?," Elrohir decided that, under the circumstances, he probably had not drunk nearly enough at dinner.

"If you like." Elrohir looked at Glorfindel sharply as he crossed the heavy burgundy floor rug to where a crystal decanter and several glasses had been left on a small table according to his orders, but he saw no mockery in the clear blue gaze. That remained true even when Elrohir stumbled over a rumpled edge of the rug and barely managed to keep on his feet. His glance back at his strangely calm companion detected no amusement, however; instead, Glorfindel seemed to be regarding him with an intense concentration that made him wonder if that ridiculous creature he'd been forced to dance with had left any make-up on him. He surreptitiously glanced into the polished silver tray as he poured their drinks, but his reflection seemed much as normal, if a bit flushed.

He handed the Eldar a rather full glass of wine, but managed to control his suddenly shaking hands enough not to spill any on Glorfindel's beautiful brocade robes. They really did amazing things to his eyes, Elrohir noted, as he had earlier at the ball. They were the purest dark sapphire at the moment, and were brimming with an expression he could not quite define.

Glorfindel had seated himself on a single chair, Elrohir saw now, limiting his seduction possibilities immensely, and he stood before him awkwardly, holding his wine-glass and wondering what to do. There should be books on this, he thought fiercely; it was completely unfair that he could find manuals in his father's extensive library on virtually any other subject, but he had never run across any labelled "how to seduce an Eldar." He suddenly realised, as his thoughts lingered on the uselessness of much of his father's collection, that that was the first time thoughts of Elrond had crossed his mind all night. In fact, amazing as it seemed, he could not even call to mind what sort of robes his father had worn that evening, and he did not recall talking to him even once.

When he mentioned as much to Glorfindel, the blond responded by smiling, a little sadly, and draining his wine. "Then I suppose I have fulfilled my purpose, and can wish you a good night, Elrohir." As Elrohir watched in utter surprise, Glorfindel rose to his feet and actually started for the door.

"Where are you going?," he blurted out, before he could stop himself.

"Why, to my rooms of course. You'll forgive me, but at my age one does tire rather quickly, you know, and it has been a . . . busy few days," as he spoke, he raised slender arms over his head in an exaggerated yawn. Elrohir could not stop himself from watching the slide of smoothly toned muscle under the satin of his companion's undergarment, revealed in a tantalisingly brief way by the graceful movement.

"Your rooms?" Elrohir was aware that he sounded like a half-wit, but frankly did not care overmuch. "But . . . but I thought . . . "

"That we would make love?," Glorfindel asked gently.

Elrohir was unable to do more than nod, trying as he was to battle a plethora of conflicting emotions that threatened to get out of control at any moment.

"But, lirimaer," Glorfindel cupped Elrohir's cheek in one of his strong hands and smiled down at him, "you no longer need me to act as, what would you call it, a guinea pig? You have proven that you are perfectly capable of going through an entire evening in your father's company--and he looked well tonight, by the way, green was always his colour--without even noticing him, much less having any untoward thoughts. You no longer need me; why, any attractive elf can help you with this little infatuation of yours. Like that Haldir fellow--he seemed interested enough."

"I don't want Haldir!," Elrohir couldn't imagine what was wrong with Glorfindel. A day before he had practically eaten him alive, and now he could not wait to go? It did not make sense.

"Well, there are plenty of other young ones to choose from, nin bain, if he is not to your liking. I admit that he seemed rather more of . . . an acquired taste to me."

Realising that Glorfindel had almost reached the door, Elrohir moved quickly to get between it and the seneschal. "You can't just leave, we have unfinished business together." Elrohir's dark eyes flashed as he met those of his old tutor fearlessly. "You . . . you made me think you wanted me! You deceived me! Did father put you up to this?"

"Your father and I have not discussed you since your school days, lirimaer, and I certainly have not mentioned anything to him of what passed between us. He 'put me up' to nothing, I assure you." Before Elrohir could voice another protest, Glorfindel smiled down at him, rather wickedly, and continued. "But as to the rest of your accusation, do you really have cause for complaint? Did you not do the same to me tonight, touching me, rubbing that little velvet-covered body up against me at every turn--I finally had to sit down in a futile attempt to get you to behave yourself! Bringing me all that wine in the hopes, I suppose, that it would get me drunk--you failed, nin bain, I assure you, I have never been more sober. And flirting outrageously with me at every opportunity; I have rarely seen the like! You should be ashamed of yourself, young one."

Elrohir was not known for the quickness of his temper--that was Elldan's prerogative--but at Glorfindel's words he literally saw red. "I, I should be ashamed? After how you behaved, dragging me in your room like that, and then after my bath . . . and at the table this morning--what you did with that fruit was just obscene! And you talk about me flirting, after that display you put on with that overweight frump from Lorien . . . how dare you?!"

"Well, then, melme, I apologise for my many faults. You should be pleased to be rid of one such as me. Now," Glorfindel looked pointedly past Elrohir's shoulder at the door. "If you would be so good as to step aside, I will remove my offending presence."

Elrohir's eyes narrowed, and at that moment, he bore a striking resemblance to his father in one of his legendary First Age battles. "I don't think so."

"No?"

"No. You came here willingly," Elrohir stated flatly, beginning to move him back towards the bed, "with no coercion on my part at all . . . "

"Believe me, little one, that robe into which you somehow poured yourself this evening was more than coercion," Glorfindel swallowed as his gaze ran down Elrohir's well displayed young body, "Indeed, I would call it lethal force."

"Then you DO want me," Elrohir smiled, and ran his tongue over suddenly dry lips. Maybe this seduction routine wasn't as difficult as he had imagined.

"That has never been in question," Glorfindel commented, distracted enough by the sight of the young elf's pink tongue that Elrohir was able to hook a foot underneath his legs and tumble him back onto the bed. "The question has always been, what do YOU want? Do you know, with any certainty?"

Glorfindel looked so delicious, sprawled there amidst crumpled silk and rose petals, his cheeks unusually bright and eyes filled with a thousand unspoken words, that Elrohir almost couldn't articulate. "Yes, I want you," he finally managed to force out, and realised as he said it that he told nothing but the truth.

       

Now that Haldir actually stood outside the doors of Elrond's private chambers, he began to have second thoughts. It wasn't that he wasn't sure about the end result he wanted, but he suddenly realised that his limited acquaintance with Imladris' beautiful lord left him at a distinct disadvantage as far as approach was concerned. Of course, Elrond had seemingly given a blatant hint, "take what you want." Well, that had pretty much always been Haldir's approach, but a strong hand could end in very bad consequences if he was wrong this time. Well, he had come this far, and even his overblown ego would not allow him to realistically conceive of his being able to take Elrohir away from the beauteous and dangerous Lord Glorfindel. What the balrog slayer wanted, he was likely to get, it was as simple as that. So, one way or the other, Haldir was almost certainly going to have to go back to Celeborn and report failure, and, he supposed, if punishment was a foregone conclusion, better to have actually done something to deserve it.

Drawing his courage around him, Haldir threw open the doors to Elrond's inner sanctum, which, like most doors in Imladris, were never locked, and charged through. He was a bit deflated to discover that the Lord's chambers were more extensive than he had imagined, and Elrond himself was nowhere in sight. Never one to give up easily, Haldir marched through the lovely outer sitting room to find a private study, also empty. Passing through that, he came to a closed door that led into a long closet filled with some of the most gorgeous robes Haldir had ever seen. The door at the end of the closet proved to, finally, let out into a cavernous bedchamber filled with the sort of furnishings that would usually have had Haldir, a sincere lover of beauty in any form, taking a closer look. At that moment, however, all he could see was the dark-haired elf spread out invitingly on a red satin coverlet, his beauty disguised by not so much as the smallest piece of clothing. His circlet of office was no where to be seen, although vilya gleamed from one manicured hand, and he held a champagne glass negligently in the other.

Haldir, for the second time in one day, realised that he was gaping like a fish, his eyes apparently trying to leave their sockets in an attempt to see all the creamy white skin so seductively displayed before him all at the same time. "You're late," the vision informed him coolly. "I was about to give you up and go to bed."

"You are in bed." It was possibly the most inane comment he had ever made, but Haldir was rather impressed that he managed to get anything out at all. Having pumped himself up for a rather impressive struggle to get what he wanted, Haldir was having considerable trouble concentrating now that he was apparently to be given a gift. It did not help that there seemed to be little, if any, blood actually still residing in his brain. "Why?," he finally managed, approaching the raised platform on which the huge bed sat with a good bit of trepidation.

"Celeborn and I farspoke after dinner, and realised there had been a bit of a misunderstanding." Elrond smiled and took a sip of champagne, observing Haldir over the rim of the glass with sharp dark eyes. "Since Elrohir seems to be . . . well in hand . . . it appears the services requested of you are no longer needed. You are free to return to Lorien at any time, with Celeborn's and my gratitude."

"I am." Haldir had almost reached the bed now, although he was still very tense. That, of course, was likely to continue, but, he hoped, for a rather different reason shortly. But his instincts, honed by centuries on dangerous duty at Lorien's borders, told him to beware. He was dealing with a wielder of one of the three rings of power, with an elf lord who had fought at Gil-Galad's side and faced down the worst Sauron could throw at him, and with the founder and protector of one of the great elven states. It just could not be this easy.

"Oh, yes," Elrond managed to look amazingly guileless, despite the complete lack of anything even approaching innocence in his deliberately arousing pose. "If you like, you are completely free to go. I thought, however," he remarked, as if the idea had just occurred to him, "that you might want to prolong your stay for a time. I am certain we could think of some way of amusing you."

Haldir, feeling rather as if his blood was about to spurt through his veins his pulse was pounding so hard, inched slowly nearer, despite his every sense warning him that he was walking into a trap. He stopped just short of the dazzling sight on the bed, a bit of his indecision showing in his suddenly young-looking eyes. Elrond casually let one gleaming knee drop open to rest on the bed sheet below him, and Haldir pounced.

Before he even managed to lay a single finger on his quarry, he somehow found himself sprawled on his face on the bed, his wrists being swiftly trapped by gleaming manacles that had been hidden partially under crisp white sheets. "I am glad you chose as you did, meldir," Elrond informed him softly. "It is, however, the last decision you will make for some time."

       

"How long have you known?"

"That you were special? All your life. That you were someone I hoped would be special to me? Well," Glorfindel smiled as he dragged the tempting form in front of him down to the bed. "Since long before it would have been proper for me to give voice to those feelings." He ran a hand through the dark strands of the other elf's hair and grimaced slightly. "You have no idea how long I have wanted to do this. You were a constant temptation, sitting there in the library when we had tutorials, these dark locks falling all over whatever book you were reading, a tiny smear of ink on that little nose," he licked the nose in question then, causing Elrohir to laugh.

"And to think, I never had any idea," he gasped as Glorfindels' warm, wet tongue continued to explore his face, then dipped to taste his lips, red from the evening's wine. "I always thought you disliked me," Elrohir managed to say when the kiss finally ended. "You were always the taskmaster--finding fault with everything I did."

"I could not afford to be otherwise, melme--to have you look, even once on me with affection would have been more than I could stand."

"Well, I hope my performance is up to your exacting standards tonight," It was said in jest, but Elrohir looked suddenly uncertain, a fact Glorfindel found utterly charming. Of course, he had been finding everything the elf did endearing as long as he could remember. How could such a perfect creature possibly doubt his appeal? His golden head continued its downward path, kissing the soft skin of his former student's neck and the small area of chest revealed by the v-neck of his robes. "I have waited longer for you than for anything I have ever wanted, lirimaer. I could never think you less than perfect. Although," he commented wrily, looking down on the lithe young body still encased in the heavy folds of velvet, "I could wish to see a bit more of you."

Elrohir eagerly reached to the ornate clasps on the front of his formal robes, only to have Glorfindel gently move his hands away. "No, melethryn, this will be my pleasure." practised fingers made short work of the many clasps, parting them until the outer shell of the robe fell away to reveal a thin silk under tunic of a matching shade of melon. Noticing with appreciation the way the thin silk revealed virtually all that lay beneath it, Glorfindel smiled in memory. "This reminds me of the way you looked that night, returning from the baths, with the whole front of your night robe wet from clutching those ridiculous sheets. If you had not looked so tragic, melme, I swear I would have taken you then. The discipline of many more ages than I can boast could not have held out against temptation like that."

Elrohir looked confused for a moment as Glorfindel eased the rest of his clothes from his body. "But you did take me, well, I mean," he blushed, "you did not just let me go back to my rooms."

"You were hurting, Lirimaer. So I comforted you. Did you not find solace in my touch?"

Remembering how he had slept, dreamless and peacefully, after their assignation, Elrohir nodded. "Yes, I suppose I did. And you were all I could think about the next day, at breakfast. I should have realised then that my . . . obsession . . . was weakening."

"Do not blame yourself for that, little one. You have led a restricted life here in Imladris. From all over Middle Earth, people of all races come to your father's court, but although you greet them as he does, how many do you ever have the chance to know?" Glorfindel briefly rose from the bed and in a few seconds had divested himself of his own robes, which puddled in a shimmering pile around his feet. Elrohir had never before seen the true beauty of his old tutor, and the sight that met his gaze then rendered further speech on his part temporarily impossible.

Glorfindel was saying something about how Elrohir had been isolated by his position from most elves his age, and how he had actually spent most of his life in a very restricted group, primarily composed of family. Elrohir was finding that he was much less interested at the moment in a technical analysis of his psychology than in running his hands over the long limbs and finely honed muscles before him. Dropping his eyes further, he could not restrain a gasp of surprised pleasure at the evidence that Glorfindel most certainly did want him. It was reassuring to one who was still a little concerned that his father might have arranged this whole miraculous turn of events. Elrohir was fairly certain Elrond did not know of his son's stupidity--Glorfindel would not have betrayed him--but it was nonetheless reassuring to realise that he excited his beautiful lover on his own, for even Elrond could not command such a response! When he said as much to Glorfindel, however, his old tutor seemed upset, and paused in his slow exploration of one of Elrohir's small pink nipples to look up at him in disbelief.

"How can someone of your intelligence possibly be so blind?," he asked in wonderment. "Im mella lle, Elrohir, I always have done. One day, when you have travelled more and experienced more, when you have had an opportunity to know many other elves your age, I am even conceited enough to believe that you will ultimately come back to me. And I will be here for you, lirimaer."

"But I do not want to part from you!" Elrohir could not imagine why Glorfindel was talking about parting from him. Did he not understand that Elrohir had waited his entire life for someone who would see him for who he really was, and love him anyway? Why would he want to search again for what he already had?

"I think your father will insist," Glorfindel paused, as if unsure precisely how to phrase his response. "You come of age in a few weeks, beautiful one, yet at fifty you have seen less of the world than most elves half your age. There have been many things kept from you, much that has gone unsaid, because it was thought that by doing so we were protecting you. It seems instead that we were doing you a disservice. Your brother and sister were sent on extended trips to Lothlorien and Mirkwood soon after their coming of age, and both profited by the experience. You will as well."

"But I don't want to leave you. I just found you!" Elrohir clutched at Glorfindel, the only person in his life who was truly his, like a lifeline. "I will talk to father, make him understand that there is no need to separate us. You can come with me to Lorien, or to Mirkwood." He smiled mischievously and let a hand slip slowly down his tutor's torso to gently grip his ignored and weeping erection. "I am sure I will experience much more if you are with me."

"Enough talk," Glorfindel growled, capturing the younger elf's mouth with his and beginning in earnest the course of further instruction he had promised. Elrohir smiled smugly into the kiss. He would talk to his father tomorrow and take care of everything. Glorfindel was his, and his he would remain.

       

Elrohir awoke early the next morning, curled up against the long, warm body of his lover. He grimaced slightly as he quietly rose from the bed, careful not to wake the still sleeping elf at his side. He found walking a bit uncomfortable this morning, but the discomfort was nothing compared to the pleasure he had been given. He looked down at Glorfindel and could barely resist running a loving hand through his tousled hair. It was strange in a way, to see the usually perfectly groomed and dignified seneschal looking so thoroughly debauched--with love marks colouring his otherwise perfect skin, and lips red and swollen from kisses. It was a matter of pride for Elrohir that he had helped to get him that way.

Slipping on a plain grey tunic and leggings, he ran a comb briefly through his own less-than-perfect hair and silently slipped from the room. He wanted to talk to his father before the cares of the day monopolised Elrond's time as they so often did. What he had to say was important enough to require his father's full attention, and he simply could not wait to discuss it until evening when Elrond usually made time just for the family.

The doors to his father's chambers were, strangely, partially open when Elrohir reached them, but the sitting room on the other side where he had spent so many evenings happily playing chess or reading, were dark and as neat as always. Elrohir quietly passed through the study and wardrobe, into the bedroom. It was well lit by beams of early morning sunlight that flooded over the balcony and gave the mellow wood, of which most of the room and its furnished was composed, a cheerful golden glow.

It all looked as usual, although it appeared that his father was still in bed, for Elrohir could see a shape outlined under the fine cotton sheets. He hesitated, not wishing to deprive Elrond of his rest, and almost decided to wait until a little later to speak with him, when he heard a soft groan from the bed. Hurrying forward with concern on his features, Elrohir pulled back the sheet and then simply stood there, staring down at the figure beneath him.

He was not exactly in shock, his brain simply refused to process what he was seeing. Haldir of Lorien lay spread eagled, arms and legs attached securely to the heavy wooden posts of Elrond's large, carved bed. He was nude, and there were heavy metal clamps gripping the skin around each of his nipples in what looked to be a very uncomfortable way. Marks of various sorts stained his alabaster skin, and, to Elrohir's further shock, a metal ring with some type of hanging attachments gripped his swollen member in what must have been cruelly painful.

Haldir was blindfolded and a strip of leather was threaded between his bruised and reddened lips. Before he even thought about his action, Elrohir reached down and pulled away the gag. Something was attached to it, he now saw, as he pulled it completely free of the poor elf's mouth. He stared at it in repulsed fascination. It looked almost like . . . Haldir groaned then, breaking his concentration, what there was of it.

"Please . . . ," the elf on the bed begged pathetically.

Elrohir leaned down and, his voice hoarse from shock, asked what he could do for him. He was trained as a healer, but he had never seen signs of such systematic torture before and truly did not know where to begin to help him. Not, he reflected, that any of the injuries seemed dangerous, and Haldir's elven healing abilities should erase the scars in a few days, but what he must have gone through mentally Elrohir couldn't imagine.

Haldir licked dry lips and tried to speak. Elrohir leaned even further forward, and barely caught the whispered words. He just stared at Haldir, glad that he was still blindfolded as he did not wish to look into the eyes of an elf who was evidently insane.

"I think they are already quite tight enough," he told him primly, before moving away from the bed in search of his father.

He found him a moment later, lounging in the private bath that led off from his main suite. It was a handsome room, and contained a pool almost large enough to swim in. Two small waterfalls fed it, and enough plants were scattered around the grey marbled surfaces that the room had always had the feel to Elrohir of being outside. After the image burned into his brain from the outer chamber, the sight of Elrond's companion in the water, the always cheerful Erestor, was less of a shock than it would otherwise have been. Well, at least Erestor's perpetual good moods were now explained, Elrohir thought briefly, before Elrond looked up and saw his son standing in the open doorway.

"You have a naked Galadrim in your bed," Elrohir informed him shortly.

Elrond drank a sip of champagne and pushed Erestor's head further down his torso. "I know, I put him there."

Elrohir collapsed onto a nearby small stool and regarded his father warily. In the last few days his world had been tipped completely on edge, and he was really beginning to wonder if anything could shock him anymore. He watched in detached interest as Erestor's head disappeared completely under the water, his object plain but, it seemed to Elrohir, a little ambitious.

"He'll drown," he said conversationally to Elrond.

His father smiled at him indulgently, rather the look he used to give his son whenever he received an especially fine school report from him. "He has amazing lung control."

Elrohir dropped his head into his hands, and before he realised it, was laughing almost uncontrollably. It was just too insane. And here he had spent much of his adolescence pitying his father for his lack of a love life! Then a truly appalling thought occurred to him. "Is this why . . . did mother leave because . . . "

Elrond sighed, and set down his glass. "I have made it a habit to have a talk with all my children upon their majority, explaining a few . . . family matters . . . usually left unsaid. Normally, however," he looked mildly amused, "these little talks take place in the study with all participants fully clothed. However, I might have anticipated this. You always were the difficult one."

Elrohir glared at him indignantly. Why was everyone voicing that opinion lately? "I was NEVER difficult," he remarked defensively.

Elrond chuckled. "Oh, no, not at all. You have never given me a moment's concern."

Elrohir decided to ignore the deliberate sarcasm in his father's tone.

"In any case, you are here now, so we may as well discuss this, although briefly as I do have rather a full morning's agenda," and his gaze drifted to the door leading through to the bedroom. Elrohir decided not to inquire about details. "Your mother spends most of her time at Lothlorien because that is where her lover resides. She was in a pre-existing relationship when we met, a fact that was not disclosed to me until long after the wedding. Her parents pressured her to go through with the marriage, as it was important politically for both our realms. She is a fine person, Elrohir," Elrond told him seriously, "but we were never well suited. In time, we simply decided to live our own lives. I do not inquire into her activities in Lorien, and she does me the same courtesy here. My only complaint has been the small amount of time she spends with you children, but then, she told me in advance that she was not at all maternal. It is my hope that you will become closer to her now that you are fully an adult; she and Arwen have developed a strong relationship in recent years, since your sister's last stay at Lorien. Perhaps you would benefit from a similar journey."

Erestor's head broke the surface of the water at this point, and he gasped for air. Elrond regarded him affectionately. "You are getting old, my love, you used to be able to finish before your lungs required rest."

"No, you just came more quickly when we were younger, Elrond," Erestor smiled at Elrohir. "You have no idea, young one, how nice it is to finally have all you children aware of the situation. I am getting too old to dive under too many more beds or to crouch behind much more furniture to avoid being caught."

Elrohir ignored him, more interested in his father's last remarks than in the admittedly amusing mental image of Erestor's somewhat pudgy form trying to cram itself under a bed. "That is what I came to ask you about, father. I would like to request that Lord Glorfindel be allowed to accompany me to Lorien."

Erestor giggled. "So, the stodgy old thing finally made his move, did he? It took him long enough."

Elrond regarded his son quizzically for a moment, before detaching himself from Erestor and rising from the bath. Elrohir could only thank Glorfindel for his assiduous ministrations of the night before. As it was, the sight, his first in many years, of his father's nude body caused barely a ripple of sensation. Elrond, safely draped once more in a moss green robe, led his son out of the bath, through the bedroom, and into the study beyond.

Sitting at his desk, Elrond spoke not a word to him before finishing a long letter in his fine hand. Handing it at last to Elrohir, he sighed. "I shall probably regret this, as the object of these travels is to expose you to new experiences, not to continue old ones." Elrohir blushed, but kept his eyes firmly on his father's. Elrond smiled, "still, I think it would do me little good to send you away, only to have you spend the entire trip pining away for your lover. This letter gives you and Lord Glorfindel safe passage to Lorien. Take as much of an escort as you like, and stay for as long as it pleases you. Oh, and give my love to your mother when you see her."

Elrohir took the missive from his father's hand, and stared down at it for a moment. He knew he had technically been dismissed, and since he had obtained what he came for, there was really no reason to stay, yet he could not make himself rise from his chair. His eyes misting, he barely noticed when Elrond came around to kneel at his side.

"What is it, Elrohir, what is wrong?," Elrond enveloped him in a protective embrace. "You know I would give all I possess to make you happy."

Elrohir fiercely hugged his father back. "Nothing is wrong, Ada," he told him, and knew in his heart that it was finally true. "Nothing at all."

The End


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