3. Feast Fit For A Prince
Legolas and Elrohir entered the nursery, glad that the dim candlelight and poor human eyesight meant that their flushed faces would go unnoticed.
"It is lucky that your tunic is long," Elrohir said, grinning at Legolas with salacious humour that Legolas had not seen in a while.
Legolas's hand flew to his clothes to tug at them, and he scowled when Elrohir chuckled. The sullen expression did not extend to his eyes, for their brief tryst in one of the private passages used only by Aragorn's family had been long-needed.
"Your clothes are perfect, although not as perfect as you in the throes of passion."
In spite of being the more imperturbable of the two, Legolas was glad that the maid approaching them did not understand Sindarin.
The maid curtseyed, and her eyes indicated that she more than approved of their forms clad in formal attire.
"Lords Legolas and Elrohir, it is nice to see you. His Highness is almost ready --"
A little whirlwind flew out from the bedchamber, and Eldarion flung himself onto Legolas, a veritable ball of six-year-old energy.
"Uncle Lass! You are here! I had hoped Ada would have sent for you!"
"Of course, Eldarion. Although it was the thought of seeing you that brought me back to Minas Tirith."
Eldarion giggled, and a wry smile crossed his features.
"I do not believe that, Uncle Lass! I doubt I am any match for your Elmaethor!"
Legolas's rueful grin and Elrohir's grimace caused more giggles to stem from Eldarion, as the maid watched on with a polite smile. Aragorn had insisted that the truth about Legolas and Elrohir's relationship not be kept from Eldarion, for duality was part of his Eldarin heritage. As such, Legolas had never felt any qualms at displaying his affection for Elrohir when they were with Eldarion.
"How fares Narssin?" Legolas said, helping Eldarion put on a formal robe.
"She sleeps far too much!"
"She has not been in this world much more than a month!" Elrohir said, laughing.
"Elessiel was not that way when she was born!" Eldarion cried.
"Mayhap you were too young to remember?" Legolas said, before proceeding to aid in lacing up his boots.
"I always remember," Eldarion said with a hint of pride.
"Of course you do," Legolas said, placing a kiss on his head.
Elrohir suppressed a chuckle. Aragorn often complained to him about Legolas's overindulgence of Eldarion; it was not as if Eldarion's uncontrolled nature needed any goading. More than once, Aragorn had been reduced to a state of exasperated sighing as Eldarion had pulled off another trick inspired by Legolas's regaling of his childhood exploits, pleading innocence as the original perpetrator of the crime was not him.
Still, Legolas had shrugged off Aragorn's half-hearted complaints and continued to dote upon Eldarion, taking him for long walks outside the stifling palace walls among the hustle and bustle of Minas Tirith, long rides on the plains, and trips into the catacombs of the city, for nobody doubted Legolas's ability to keep the Crown Prince safe. It was only a matter of time before Eldarion's pleas to visit Ithilien would be satisfied, and Elrohir knew Eldarion would not be the only delighted party. Between his two uncles, Eldarion spread his childish admiration and love, and Elrohir always made it a point to take some time off his schedule every day to spend a few moments with him. Something he had not done for Legolas, he realised with a jolt.
Legolas was unaware of the guilt crashing over Elrohir as he continued to quiz Eldarion about his new sister. Elessiriel was the latest addition to the royal family, and already Aragorn and Arwen had their hands full with organising tonight's ball.
A sharp knock at the door brought an end to Legolas's questions, as a messenger announced the imminent start of the feast.
Legolas rose and straightened his garments again, almost causing Elrohir to laugh. They headed for the door, Eldarion clasping Legolas's hand firmly in his, and Legolas felt Elrohir's hand on his behind as they passed through the door. A tendril of thought brushed his consciousness, causing him to jump.
That was just a taste, meleth. The real feast awaits us later.
The heat that rushed over Legolas was so great that he stopped in his tracks to compose himself. He ignored Eldarion's surprised question, and shot a black look at Elrohir. Yet, Elrohir saw the appreciation simmering under the pique, and he feigned surprise at Legolas's aberrant behaviour while ushering Legolas and Eldarion along to the banquet hall, taking the opportunity to let his hand slip down again.
Entering the banquet hall, Legolas was relieved to see that the guests were still filtering in. A hush fell over the crowd, one after another spotted the small figure by Legolas, and a rippling wave of reverence spreading through the assembled dignitaries.
Tradition dictated that the feast celebrating the great victory at Osgiliath had to be presided over by the Crown Prince. The captain who had won the battle over the Eastern forces at the time was contemptuous of King Rómendacil, and proclaimed that only one who did not speak a word of Westron be allowed to preside over his army. Keen to avoid losing so valiant and capable a captain, the King had slyly told the captain that his month-old son would claim lordship over him, sealing the captain's allegiance. The tradition had been carried down for years, and was one of the first customs Aragorn had been forced to reinstate from the year that Eldarion was born.
Legolas tried to release Eldarion's hand, but Eldarion was having none of it as he took a bold step forward, unaware of the disapproval stemming from the guests. That one of their greatest feasts was marred by the entrance of the Crown Prince grasping the hand of an Elf caused a fair amount of vein-popping among the more conservative elite.
Faramir, serving his role as the Steward of the vast realm, stepped forward to offer his hand to Eldarion. For a moment, it seemed that Eldarion had decided to be contrary, but he thought better of it, and relinquished his grip on Legolas and followed Faramir to the place of honour he was to occupy for the night.
Legolas's relief was replaced by disapproval as he noted that he had been placed at the high table amongst the Royal Family and the most distinguished leaders of foreign realms. Elrohir, on the other hand, had been given the chore of heading one of the large tables -- away from Legolas.
His stewing frustration was so great that even Elrohir's muttered comment of dessert being the best course failed to educe a smile from him as they parted.
Only when he was clapped on the back as he flung himself into his seat did he realise who he was sitting by.
"Dan!" he cried, face lighting up.
Elladan, High Lord of Imladris since Elrond sailed West, shook his head with a theatrical air as Legolas beamed at him.
"Honestly, Legolas, one would think that black look on your face more suitable for Orc-slaying than a celebratory feast!" Elladan said, grinning.
"It is nice to see you, Legolas," the one on Legolas's right said, and Legolas jumped when he realised that King Éomer of Rohan was seated by him.
Greeting him with no less enthusiasm, Legolas apologised by for his earlier distraction, which was greeted by unlordly tutting from Elladan.
"I hope Roh has not upset you again," Elladan said, as the last guests filled into the full hall.
"Nay," Legolas said, reaching for his wine glass, before switching to Sindarin. "On the contrary, he has, shall we say, fulfilled me."
Elladan had to suppress his sniggers from the benefit of those at the table who had been observing their exchange, while Éomer rolled his eyes, having a good idea of the nature of Legolas's comment.
"What brings you here, Dan?" Legolas said. "Estel was about to send Roh and I to Imladris."
"Yes, but the arrangements can wait. Éomer and I were called in on an urgent matter relating to the Southrons. Did Roh not tell you?"
"No," Legolas said, his answer abrupt.
Elladan read his curt manner accurately and shook his head in amazement. "That brother of mine deserves a good boxing around the ears!"
Legolas's reply was cut short by another Elf slipping into the chair beside Elladan.
"Linnael!" Legolas cried, as Elladan turned to greet her. Glorfindel's daughter was a cousin of Legolas's, for their mothers had been sisters. Linnael had grown up with her mother in Lorién, and Legolas had not been aware that he was related to Glorfindel until long after his mother's death, for Oropher's falling out with their Lorién kin meant unnecessary contact between the realms had been scarce.
"To what purpose do we owe this visit?" Legolas said, frowning at Linnael, for while she was like a sister to Arwen, she did not often visit Gondor.
Elladan's gaze towards Elrohir grew grimmer.
"I will ensure Estel stops working Roh so hard, Lass, for it is clear to me that Elrohir is no longer aware of what is important to him. Linnael and I are betrothed. I had sent news of this to you through Roh, but it seems that the message was not passed on. You were supposed to venture to Imladris with Roh to make the arrangements for our binding next year."
Legolas would have shot out of his seat and fled from the hall had Éomer not gripped his arm, and Aragorn and Arwen chosen the very moment to enter.
"I thought I could sit this out, but it appears to me that the matter has gone beyond the reasonable," Legolas said, scowling at Aragorn. "Do not concern yourself with this, Elladan, for I am not a child, and I know when to stand up for myself."
The end of the feast could not come soon enough for Legolas, with the endless rounds of pledges of fealty and toasts of good health to the Royal Family. The minute the evening wound down, Legolas made his excuses and melted off into the night, ignoring Elladan and Éomer's concerned questions.
He was standing at the window of his room, staring out at the sprawl of the city, thinking of how best to confront Elrohir when he heard the door behind him crack open. Thinking it an impudent servant wishing to catch him unaware and undressed -- as the bolder ones were not unknown to do -- he allowed his thoughts to envelop him again.
A touch on his shoulder caused him to turn around, and he almost started to see Elrohir standing behind him.
Elrohir reached for Legolas's hand, which he held for the longest time.
"What are you doing here, Roh?" Legolas said, for they had agreed that Elrohir should not visit his chambers, especially not so late at night, for it was less private than Elrohir's own, and the risk of Elrohir being spotted by a servant leaving the next morning was great.
"Are the chambers of my lover out of bounds to me?" Elrohir said, but there was no tease in his voice, only a strained calmness.
"Nay, Roh. You are always welcome, but I thought you did not like --"
"Hang what mortals think, Lass! I am sick of this!"
"I saw your face when you left the hall, Lass. Nothing is worth more to me in this world than your happiness. Not some stupid courtier's opinion, nor the technicalities of a peace treaty! I am sorry it has not seemed so in the past year."
Seeing Elrohir's downcast face, Legolas cupped his chin and brought their lips together.
"I know you would never seek to hurt me, Roh."
The response Elrohir gave was more explosive, and he started to undo the clasps of his cumbersome outer robe.
A tentative knock on the door sounded, and Legolas tried to push Elrohir away.
"Leave it," Elrohir growled. "Gondor can exist without us for a few hours."
Any protest Legolas might have drawn was cut away by Elrohir claiming a sensitive spot on his throat, and he stiffened, familiar waves of pleasure starting to thrill through him.
More banging, and Elrohir almost let out a curse when Legolas broke apart and crossed the room, tugging at his collar to conceal the mark that Elrohir had undoubtedly left.
Flinging open the door, Legolas's look would have sent Faramir into a fit of laughter at any other time.
"Apologies for disturbing the both of you at this late hour, Legolas, but --"
Footsteps sounded in the corridor, and a breathless Haleigh came charging down just as Elrohir came to the door.
"Lord Elrohir!" he cried, smiling with an insincerity that only he could manage.
"What is it?" Elrohir said.
"I was told to seek you out, Lord Elrohir, and a servant told me she saw you entering Lord Legolas's chambers, but it appears to me that Lord Faramir has beat me to it!"
The anger that exploded over Elrohir's face was so great that Legolas placed a warning hand on his shoulder.
After drawing a deep breath, Elrohir said, "Now you have found me, pray tell what matter requires our urgent attention so late after the feast?"
Faramir saw it appropriate to step in.
"Thank you, Haleigh. I shall see you in the King's chambers."
Haleigh bowed, and Legolas noticed that his gaze fixed upon Elrohir's outer robe lying in a heap in the middle of the floor, just visible through the open door. A last, sly look was thrown in their direction, and Haleigh left.
Once he was gone, Faramir stepped into the room and shut the door behind him.
"I would watch Haleigh," he said.
"I would wring his neck!" Elrohir cried, crossing his arms.
"Aragorn has sent for the both of you," Faramir said, ignoring their dismayed looks. "Hordes of armed men are storming through our southern villages, pilfering and burning, and Aragorn wishes to ride out to put an end to this matter -- himself."
Elrohir shook his head in disbelief. "And quite rightly so! With one hand they seek a peace agreement with us, and with the other they continue to rampage through our people like a horde of stampeding Orcs! Do they think Gondor blind and powerless as she once was?"
"They seek peace through Haleigh," Legolas said, his gentle voice bringing some calm to Elrohir's highly wrought state.
"While Haleigh is a serpent, he commands the loyalty of many in court, and some of the commanders are faithful to him," Elrohir said, closing his eyes. "Yet, I will watch out for his poised fangs on the battlefield. Thank you, Lass."
To Elrohir's chagrin and Faramir's amusement, Legolas answered it with a kiss.
"I believe Aragorn wished for Elladan to join us in his study too," Faramir said, concealing a grin.
"Good, I shall seek him out. I hope Linnael would not take too badly to the news. After all, she has hardly set foot in Gondor and we ride into battle!"
Elrohir left without a second glance behind, already preoccupied.
"Turn your thoughts to Haleigh instead," Legolas said, seeing Faramir about to say something about Elrohir's behaviour. "His head's perch on his neck is precarious indeed, if what I think of the matter is correct. I am a warrior, not a politician, and would prefer treachery on the battlefield to subtle manoeuvrings behind backs."
Picking up Elrohir's fallen robe, Faramir let out a smile. "My informant reports back tomorrow. I will pass his message onto you and Elrohir should you wish."
Clasping Faramir's arm, Legolas gave a grateful nod.
Meleth -- lover
A/N: The defeat of the Easterlings by King Rómendacil occurred in TA 500 (RotK, Appendix B), but I have taken liberties with the actual details of the battle between them and Gondor
I have also pinched the story about the origins of England's Prince of Wales title, so apologies to Edward.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.