10. Spring of Peace
After the celebration to honour the Ring-Bearers ended, and they had the pleasure of bidding good-night not to Strider but to the King Elessar, Elladan and Elrohir went to wander the camp of the Field of Cormallen. There was still much cheer around many fires after the feasting and song of the day, but the two elf-kin went to none of them. Instead, in their own company, they began to put aside the honour and burden of being the sons of Elrond the Half-elven.
Away from the pavilions, Elrohir walked with a bit more swing in his step. “I love them all,” he said, speaking in the Elvish language, “but I have had enough of other people for tonight.” He clasped his twin lightly around the wrist, for but a moment.
Elladan brushed Elrohir’s arm. “If this is any indication, the days to come will be full of pomp and glory, and the great Lay of Frodo of the Nine Fingers will be heard seventy-five more times. I must attend to its words, so that I will be able to sing it when we return to Imladris. Listen, there is a fine voice!”
The two brothers stopped and looked to the left. The small group of the Company of the Ring was separating for the night.
"Legolas, with the halflings," muttered Elrohir.
"To think we doubted them. Yet Frodo and Samwise did what I could not," said Elladan. Elrohir, not knowing what to say, clasped his brother's shoulder firmly. Elladan turned to him with a half-smile, keen to the irony of it all. "Well, I shall pay them homage with my pen, in days to come."
Elladan turned back to watch and listen intently while Legolas walked away from the Company singing, alone for once, tall and graceful. Elrohir burned as if he was in battle again, to see his hidden lover looking so intently at the only elf in the camp of thousands. They both listened to Legolas’ song.
“In Eressëa, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!”
And so singing Legolas went away down the hill.
Elladan winced. “Legolas must be the worst poet I have ever heard. Even the humblest of the halflings has a better grasp of meter!”
“You should add that to your list of complaints about him,” said Elrohir, crossing his arms. “What else do you count?”
“Of all the vexing Elves to ride with us! He does not manage his ill-behaved horse; Arod can scarcely be held if he is not nearby. For that matter, he does not carry himself as a lord of his people should. He takes far too many risks in battle. He should braid up his hair properly, as Gimli does and we do, instead of letting it fly half-free. And now his verses—“
“I knew it. You have had an eye for him ever since our march -- you look to him before you even say a word to me of the secrets we share,” said Elrohir. “Well, go to him. One unwed so long will not refuse you, I think. Let him take his wild wood-elf way with you!”
“Elrohir! Be quieter,” said Elladan, fearful that any might discern the passions the brothers had concealed. Shocked, he whispered, “Why this mood of yours?”
Elrohir muttered, “Exactly as I said.”
Elladan waited to hear what his twin added to this, but he had retreated into truculence. “You spin fancies out of the air. I find Legolas lacking in all the ways that you are surpassing,” said Elladan. “I can see why you might think me drawn to him. He is almost as good at killing orcs as you are. Almost, but not your match. Unless he torments the orcs with his poems as well as his knives.”
Elrohir smiled grudgingly at his twin’s over-smooth words. But he did not protest when Elladan said, “Let us walk in these woods ourselves; in the other direction, of course, just us alone.”
They left the bounds of the camp to stride along the banks of the river Anduin. Elrohir did not talk, but he picked out a path with Elladan over the moist ground. Beeches and oaks spread their boughs out over the water’s edge, hung with the enameled green leaves of early spring, fine as a jeweler’s work. The ferns of Ithilien softened the forest floor. Elladan breathed in the scents of wood and water. After weeks of crowded camps, this shared solitude reminded him of the journeys when they turned to each other in the wilds. Memories stirred him.
They walked until, looking back, all the camp’s bonfires were shrunk to pinpoints along the river-meads. No lamp or campfire disturbed the moonlight in the vernal wood around them. Only the rustle of a sharp-eared vixen darting through the ferns and saplings, and the music of the running river, could be heard.
Elrohir finally broke his soldier’s stance and stretched. “Legolas sang of Eressëa, where trees and grass do not die. Do you know if there are seasons there?” he asked, as if he regretted his earlier outburst.
“I hear that it is ever-spring, without winter or fading. But is it as beautiful as this forest, where all dies, and yet is renewed? Does the thought of taking ship over Sea trouble you?” said Elladan, gently.
“In part. Let us not talk about that. We can go on all night.” Elrohir collected himself. “There are other things. Our oath to our mother’s honour is fulfilled. The wild lands will soon be cleansed of evil. We have victory and revenge beyond our hope.”
“It will be hard, getting used to peace, after we fought for more than five hundred years. Everything will be different.”
Elrohir fiercely clenched Elladan’s arms. “Do you still want me? Are you going to leave me?”
“How can you ask that, after all we have endured? Just because I look twice at a fair singer--”
“Legolas is not why I say it. You pledged yourself to me again when we expected to fall in battle. Now, with the great victory, we are bound together no longer by the oath we swore. You may do as you please; your path is free!”
Elladan said, softly, “If one of the Elves looked in my eyes to judge me as a lover, it would be seen that my heart was given out of my keeping.”
"But you still shake with guilt in my arms. I can feel it take you,” cried Elrohir.
Elladan bit back dark thoughts, thinking to spare Elrohir by saying only, “Because, I suppose, I still feel guilty.”
“You see? It was hard enough for you when everyone said the sons of Elrond ride out on errantry, and thus do not marry. We have lost the shield of war that hid our trysts. Why shouldn’t you seek another? Someone you could stand by in company, who you could embrace without shame?” said Elrohir.
“There is no other for me. I care for you, as I hate my mind’s dismay that shadows you. And that may drive you from me, in the end.” Elladan looked away.
Elrohir released his brother. “Forgive me. I should hearken to you better, to try and heal your spirit, instead of taunting you,” he said.
“That is not your part, kind one. I must reach what I can of that peace myself, if it is to be found. And if it is not, I surrender a peaceful mind in ransom for my love.” Even as Elladan drew up straighter, he saw Elrohir’s unhappiness and forced himself to take a lighter tone.
“You assume that peace means people will pay us heed. We are but a small part of the great tale. Chaos will sweep the Elves in the time to come. Once we return to Imladris, who will mind what we do? Take Legolas for an example. Normally, I would be wary of him, and what he might discern. But he is so stricken by the sea-longing that he would not notice if we grew dwarf-beards, let alone if we kissed.”
Elrohir laughed at that, then returned to the simplest thing his brother had said. “You say you won’t leave me.”
“Shall I swear a new oath to that?” Elladan whispered. He reached for Elrohir. “Thrice beloved! How glad I have been in our triumph that we are brothers and none look askance at me cleaving to your side. I could not have borne to hide all of my heart. Yes, the last time we embraced, for but stolen minutes, we thought we would die on the evil field of the Morannon. But we live in triumph, in a new year, and I would love.”
“I have not heard you speak so since the last battle,” said Elrohir.
“With this strange victory, do you wonder? But I am sorry. Once we left the camp for the ease of the free paths, I knew I should have no peace until you took me.”
Long loves are based on many things; forgiveness, patience, shared desire. Elrohir’s reply was warm with all three. “That makes two of us, then. Let us find some dry ground.” They walked under the trees until they came to a dell that must have mingled sun and shade in the day, for it was floored with a mix of grass and bracken-fern.
After the fear of bereavement, familiar things about each other stood out as even more beloved. Elrohir smiled as he felt his braid undone so that Elladan might run his face luxuriously through the long, dark hair. Elladan felt a pang at the click of Elrohir undoing his sword-belt. Watching each other, they undressed and put their worn gear aside, until nothing was between them.
In the two tall warriors of mingled blood, the physical elegance of the elves was earthed in human-touched handsomeness. Each found the other’s beauty a spur to desire, and to shame as well. Their mirrored bodies made it undeniable that they were kin. They looked at each other, silvered and darkened in the moonlight and leaf-shadows. It was a sweet and sombre moment, threaded with a sense of ritual; the first time they had stood unclad out of doors since winter came down, the first embrace of the time to come.
They drew together, at first holding each other balanced, and then to kiss until they could barely breathe. The fern and sward were soft enough beneath their feet that they did not bother to spread their cloaks upon the ground when they stretched out, side close by side. They alternated deep, probing kisses with meeting each other’s grey eyes, all while their bodies sought to cleave together on every plane. Elladan moved back a touch. He moved his arm down and cupped his battered sword-hand around both their hardening cocks, pressing them together lightly. Elrohir closed the circle with his own hand, and they both gasped at the unified caress.
“Ah, Elrohir. I can never let go with another lover as I can with you.”
“That I believe. It took so long for you to lay down your all your guards with me, even after we came together,” said Elrohir.
“No other could have coaxed me to it,” said Elladan.
“No-one else can love you like I do. Let me coax you again.”
The two lovers and wanderers were prepared. Elrohir carried a metal flask of oil among the gear on his belt, finer stuff than it needed to be for the care of leather and metal gear. He lingered over applying the cool, heavy liquid to each of them, oiling his own cock, stroking into sensitive niches so that he might take Elladan smoothly. With the ease of practice, they were soon locked together, Elladan lying on his back, tilted and turned so that Elrohir could take him face to face.
It was too good for Elrohir to be sliding inside his lover again. Life and lust close to mastered him, and he almost came. To give himself pause, Elrohir stopped and said, “Speak to me, Elladan.”
Elladan gave him a fevered look. “I shall speak all you like if you start moving again. Give it to me, please!”
“You want it,” said Elrohir.
“Yes, I have been wanton for you, feeling my body seethe. Such a strange lust it is, to yearn to be taken, to be undone by one man’s hands. And I will deal the same to you later! We shall have every night for love, now that peace is come.”
“Sweet thoughts, but you think too much,” said Elrohir, and began to move inside him again, faster.
Elladan moaned and shifted, angling his hips higher. “I shall be lost if you keep doing that, fast and fleet. I’ll spend all over both of us. Do you want that?”
“Yes, do it, do it now!”
Elladan shook his head from side to side and writhed out his release, then fell still, breathing hard. This was the moment Elrohir loved, watching his twin’s face go blank with bliss, feeling his muscles loosen. Elrohir took the disarmed elf-man beneath him harder now, bearing him down, yet not wishing to pain him. Elladan made wordless gasps of assent. Elrohir was called on beyond enduring by the small sounds, and came, feeling his own heat flood back against him inside Elladan. They stayed pinned together and rapt for a long moment.
“Why am I always the one besmirched after we love? Twice this time,” Elladan said.
“Because you like it,” Elrohir whispered, and they shivered together.
Elrohir withdrew, and they entwined themselves more comfortably. Both had leaves and bracken fronds in their hair and dotted against their skins. Fresh bracken and the river were waiting, if they wished to be clean. They stayed where they were.
Elladan felt the sweat and other fluids cooling on his body. Had it never occurred to Elrohir how closely they were bound by their shared deeds? They had been lovers many lives of men. He felt his passions marred beyond redemption: resigned to their incest, and freed to gladness by that resignation. Who else could compare to Elrohir’s fierce tenderness? Who else could he trust so deeply? With Elrohir, he shared secrets and forgiveness beyond imagining, both for the acts and denials of lust, and for hearing the call of the deepest evil. He turned his face against his twin’s shoulder.
Elrohir felt his brother relaxed in his arms, sharing his body’s warmth and sated passion. Innocent of irony, he thanked the Valar for the blessing that Elladan seemed freer from his mind’s shadow for one night, speaking such loving words to him. Did they have to take turns lamenting the strange chance of their fate? Or might this be Elladan’s love in a time of peace? It would be a brief time, for their choice awaited, to take ship or take mortality. Elrohir sighed; he had grown more pensive through their ill-starred love, just as Elladan had become earthier. But he knew how to cheer himself up. “Wake up, Elladan,” he said.
“I am awake. Not very, but I am.”
“To show you there are no hard feelings, I will ask Legolas to give us a poem tomorrow. What do you say?” Elrohir asked.
“Ai, no! Meter aside, what the fellow does to rhyme--”
Elrohir settled back with a smile.
* “In Eressëa, in Elvenhome that no man can discover, Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!” These lines are in the chapter “The Field of Cormallen,” ROTK as being sung by Legolas in that scene. I consider the poem they come from the worst in the book. Is Legolas’ bad poetry why he got sent on the quest? I always wondered.
* Stricken by the sea-longing = In ROTK, Legolas was struck with a great desire to leave Middle-Earth and go to Eressëa.
* In a new year = The Elves’ New Year is April 6th, two days before this story takes place, April 8th of 3019
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