13. Náin's Kiss
In the trees overhead, elves had hung lanterns that cast a silver glow on the table and the guests. Servers kept their glasses filled with sweet wine and the table laden with delicious food. Many clear voices around them were singing in harmonies that braided together. Legolas found himself lightheartedly singing with them. He didn't remember when he had felt so happy.
Elrohir tilted his head and smiled at him, a smile ripe with promise, and the prince smiled in return, feeling as if he would never stop. Legolas turned to Elladan, sitting on his other side. Under the table, the older twin slid his hand up the prince's thigh, and as he withdrew it, let it brush across Legolas's crotch. Legolas thought that the night was perfect.
Except for one thing. His father was behaving quite erratically. Thranduil sat at the head table about ten feet away, surrounded by his courtiers and dwarves. Talagan was seated at his elbow. Something wasn't right with the seneschal either. He had a dreamy expression on his face but jumped any time the king's arm brushed him.
Thranduil's face glowed with the quantity of wine he'd drunk. He had removed his jerkin and now he was opening up his tunic, undoing the clasps almost to his waist. His strong chest peeped out. The crown of summer flowers in his hair had slipped to one side. There, he was motioning to Vande to bring another bottle and fill Náin's glass. Legolas was disgusted with his father's increasing drunkenness and apprehensive as to where it would lead. He knew his father too well under these circumstances. Even more curious, all Thranduil's focus seemed bent on Náin who sat on his other side. The elven king was touching the dwarf frequently, a clap to the shoulder, a hand laid on the arm. Náin let out a loud guffaw at something Thranduil whispered in his ear.
Legolas turned to Elrohir and caught the twin staring at his father with a strange expression on his fair face: expectant, a slight drawing at the corners of his lips.
What? Legolas mouthed at Elrohir. But the younger twin merely turned an amused glance toward him, shook his head, and held up his own glass for Vande to fill.
Thranduil had been experiencing a growing sense of frustration all evening. All attempts at diversion had failed and he'd turned to drinking, hoping it would dull the throbbing between his legs. It hadn't. He didn't know that his misery had a name until Náin sat down next to him at the banquet table. Now, he couldn't take his eyes off the dwarf.
That strongly hooked nose looked so regal, his bright hooded eyes sparkled with intelligence, and that beard . . . . Never before had Thranduil considered a beard attractive, but now all he could think of was twining his fingers into it and rubbing it along his face. He thought it might feel silky, like a mink's coat.
A small part of his mind spoke sharply to him. Thranduil, you fool, what are you thinking? You are mad. You've never cared for dwarves. But now he saw Náin through a haze of desire over which he had no control. Náin's voice was coming to him in little bits that he could barely understand. Instead, he watched the dwarf's mouth moving, noticed the small fleshy V in his top lip. His groin ached. Why was it so hot in the forest tonight?
He had struggled out of his jerkin and then opened up his tunic to allow the breeze to play over his bare chest. It afforded some relief, but not much. He wondered if there was something else he could take off, without totally disrobing.
"My Lord!" he heard Talagan admonish when he started to unclasp the tunic. He ignored his seneschal, took another gulp of wine and rolled it around on his tongue. Suddenly he could bear it no longer and knew he must do something to distract himself. He struggled to his feet.
"My friends," he began, "tonight we are gathered here to celebrate our new alliance with our northern neighbors." He swept his hand in an unsteady arc directed at the dwarves seated around him. "An alliance born of necessity in these darkening times, but one that I hope will grow through our, uh, mutual friendship and admiration."
"Hear, hear," cried Náin. He also stood and looked up at the elven king towering above him. The dwarf raised his glass. "To a new alliance between elves and dwarves." He took a heavy gulp and wiped his lips on the back of his hand. Thranduil followed suit as did the rest of the guests.
"Náin," Thranduil continued, more softly and setting down his glass so his trembling hand wouldn't betray him, "yesterday you proposed that we should seal our alliance with a kiss. I now do so."
Thranduil bent and seized the dwarf with both hands, one on either shoulder, kissing him first on one cheek, then the other, with a percussive smack. He had meant to stop there but found he couldn't. Before the dwarf could react other than with widened eyes and a confused flailing of arms, the elven king smashed their lips together.
The effect surpassed Thranduil's wildest imaginings. A warm glow spread from his lips into his mouth, plunged down his body and into his groin like a lightning bolt. He forced his tongue into the dwarf's mouth, who had now relaxed into the kiss. Thranduil felt his shaft harden unbearably as he crushed Náin's stocky body against his. Then, almost as suddenly as the kiss began, the king found blessed release. Wave upon wave of pleasure shuddered through him. He let go of the stunned dwarf, staggered backwards, and fell abruptly into his chair with a muted groan.
The guests had all reacted with various forms of surprise and shock when Thranduil grabbed the dwarf king. Legolas had checked an exclamation and started up from his seat as his father plundered Náin's mouth. "What in the realm of Mandos does he think he's doing?" the prince exclaimed angrily.
He felt a calming hand on his waist and looked down at Elrohir. The twin's lips were pressed together, fighting back laughter. Legolas turned to see the same reaction in Elladan. The prince sank back into his chair.
Legolas saw his father pull away from the kiss, hunch his shoulders and shudder; his face contorted as if in pain, and his eyes rolled up in his head. Thranduil released the dwarf and fell backwards in his chair with a strangled groan.
"And that, my friends, is the best kiss the king is ever likely to get," Elrohir grinned, raising his glass in the king's direction.
Elladan's shoulders shook with suppressed laughter. Legolas looked at them quizzically, but their merriment was catching and he found the smile spreading to his own face.
For a long moment Thranduil sat back feeling immense pleasure reverberating throughout his body. A sticky wetness coated his abdomen and he looked down and realized it was seeping through his leggings. He grabbed a napkin and tucked it into the waistband.
Then he raised his eyes and noted his guests' aghast expressions. Thranduil felt a laugh tickling up from his chest. Oh, wonderful! It didn't hurt to shake them all up now and again. It would keep his subjects on their toes. He didn't know what had possessed him to kiss the dwarf but was relieved that his desire for Náin had now completely vanished.
"Surely Náin, you are not going to tolerate this insult," snarled Grundin, leaping to his feet and drawing a dagger.
But the dwarf king, his head cocked to one side, was calmly contemplating Thranduil. "Sit, Grundin," he said. Náin smoothed his mustache with a finger, then he leaned forward and whispered in Thranduil's ear. "I didn't know you felt that way, my King. Perhaps I should delay my departure for a few more days, eh? We could get a chance to know each other *much* better." Náin squeezed the elven king's thigh.
A feeling of horror crawled up Thranduil's spine. For a time he was totally at a loss. Better meet this head on, he thought. He looked down the table and his glance landed on his youngest son who was regarding him with a slight smirk, as were those maddening peredhil sitting next to him. Hmmm. The king turned to the elf standing behind him. "Some more wine for our guests, Vande." He gestured and the elf quickly went around filling glasses.
"Náin," he said loudly, as he reached down and removed the dwarf king's hand, setting it firmly on the table. "I didn't intend to become so carried away. Forgive me. This is a potent wine. However, because of the respect I bear for you, and our mutual need to deal with the northern threat directly, I have decided to send my son Legolas with you. You are getting a superb warrior for your expedition."
"I know that as I saw him fight last night. You are too generous, Thranduil, to lend me one of the greatest jewels of your kingdom," Náin said, his glance shifting toward Legolas.
"You saw him last night with the two-handed sword. You have yet to see his skill with the bow. They say he can hit a mosquito at fifty paces. Would you like a demonstration?"
"Oh aye, that would be most interesting," Náin's voice boomed.
Legolas murmured to Elrohir, "A mosquito, indeed. Now, what's the old fox up to?"
"Come up here, ion nîn." Reluctantly Legolas pushed back his chair and went past the crowd of curious faces, both elf and dwarf, until he came near the king. His father's face was flushed with drink. Legolas felt his apprehension growing.
"I bet he can hit any target that you name," said Thranduil grandly.
"A bet," declared Náin. "This could be interesting. What about that knothole on the tree way over there?"
"Legolas?" Thranduil said.
"It's at the limit of my range and I'd need to fetch my bow, Father," said the prince.
"No need. Thrin can lend you his." Thranduil gestured at his guard standing nearby in the shadow of the wood who came forward and placed his bow in Legolas's hands. The prince shut his eyes briefly and rubbed his temple with one hand.
"Náin, what are you willing to wager?"
Náin bent forward and whispered in the king's ear, "If he misses, I spend the night with you." Then he said louder, "And your bet, King?"
"If he hits it, then I choose the next target."
"Seems fair enough," said Náin.
"Legolas, proceed," said Thranduil, folding his arms across his chest.
Legolas sighed. The guests grew silent as he aimed carefully and released. With a loud zip and a thwack, the arrow point buried itself within the knothole.
Dwarves and elves cheered and clapped.
"Well done, Legolas," shouted Elrohir. A corner of the prince's mouth drifted upward.
"Excellent," cried Thranduil. "Now I choose the target. Legolas, go and stand at the end of the banquet table."
With all eyes on him, Legolas walked the length of the table and stood a short distance away from the end, about twenty-five feet from his father.
In a sudden move, Thranduil scooped up an apple from a bowl and set it on Náin's head. "There's your target, ion," he called.
Everyone gasped. King Náin looked startled. Legolas felt a chill of fear.
"Sire, I cannot permit this," exclaimed Norin, one of Náin's counselors.
But Náin slowly held up a hand. "I accepted the bet. What would my honor be if I backed out?" he said. "Legolas, fire when ready."
The guests around Náin bolted from their chairs and fled a short distance away but Thranduil remained calmly seated on the dwarf's right hand side.
"Father," Legolas called. "I will not do this."
"My honor is also at stake. I say you shall!" Thranduil thundered. Then he said more softly, "I have every confidence in you, ion nîn."
That last was almost worse than having his father rail at him. Legolas bit the inside of his lip as he carefully drew the heavy bowstring. The apple seemed to move and wobble in his vision. Finally, he took a deep breath and let go. The arrow shot straight to its mark, slicing through the apple and carrying part of it to smash into sauce on the tree trunk behind the dwarf king.
There was a moment of silence and then the elves began cheering and hammering the table. Legolas drew a deep breath and staggered back to his chair.
The dwarves in Náin's retinue all began talking at once. Several gestured angrily at Thranduil.
Grundin said to Náin, "He's insulted you on two counts. We should leave immediately." He turned furiously toward Thranduil. "You are lucky your son's aim is good. If he'd hit our king, right now we'd be at war."
"You forget your own prophecy," said Thranduil calmly, "King Náin's son has a date with a dragon." He turned to Náin. "Have you begotten a son?"
"Nay," the dwarf said. "You know that."
"Then you can't die yet," Thranduil concluded with a grin.
Grundin sat back and relaxed. Náin drew a deep breath, then he began to roar with laughter. "I think I've met my match," he said. "My King, you must have lost your mind. Is this your subtle way of rejecting my proposal?"
Thranduil smiled and clapped his hand on Náin's back. "You have guessed it. But that won't keep us from spending the night together right here, drinking up all the wine. I've decided I like you, Náin."
The dwarf king threw back his head and laughed even harder.
"What a shot! Well done, Legolas," Elladan enthused as Legolas sat down next to him, his face pale. "I'm surprised Náin is still coherent: first a kiss that would melt snow on Mount Caradhras and then he nearly gets his face split in two. Your father is outrageous."
The prince gave him a wan smile. "I tend to concur with Náin. My father is off his nut. At least he was always partially mad and has now finally taken the dive off the cliff." He looked from one twin to the other. "I suspect you know something about this."
"Come, meleth," Elrohir leaned over and began kneading the prince's shoulders. "The night is beautiful. Why don't we find a place to release this . . . tension?"
A smile crept onto Legolas's face. "All right, then." They rose and bowed toward Thranduil, who was joking with Náin as if nothing had happened. The elf king waved them off. The trio went down the path in the direction of the palace.
As they walked through the grass, Legolas caught a firefly and held it in cupped hands that glowed red. He offered it to Elrohir who took it as if it were the greatest treasure in the world. The insect crawled to the tip of Elrohir's finger, flexed its wings, and then launched itself heavily into the night.
"I wonder how the firefly feels when it is set free?" Legolas said with a look of wonder.
Elrohir felt his lips curl into an adoring smile. Elladan watched.
They reached the stone bridge near the gates to Thranduil's halls and looked up at the starry sweep of sky above. Legolas sighed. Elrohir slipped an arm around his elbow and Elladan did the same from the other side. Arms linked, they made their way toward Legolas's room.
The closeness of the prince's warm body was teasing Elrohir to distraction. He realized that he was becoming attuned to the golden-haired elf in a way that he hadn't felt with any one before, aside from his brother. As they made their way through the twisting corridors lit with an occasional smoking torch, the twin found his blood pounding in anticipation. He slid his hand down over Legolas's rear, delighting in the motion of the firm muscles against his palm.
A slight hiss escaped the prince's lips. "Can't you wait until we're there?"
"No," Elrohir said. "It's just that I like your ass."
"Believe me, I know, based on your attentions to it this afternoon." Legolas gave a throaty laugh that carried a tingle to Elrohir's loins.
Elladan reached down and stilled Elrohir's hand, "Easy, brother."
"Is he always like this?" Legolas asked Elladan.
"Not enough," Elladan laughed. "Oh, but when he's in the mood, he's exhausting."
"Are you in the mood, then, son of Elrond?" Legolas leaned against him and playfully batted his eyelashes.
In answer, Elrohir pushed Legolas against the wall. Holding him by the shoulders, the twin kissed him hard until the prince was squirming. Legolas tickled his waist and Elrohir pulled away, laughing. Then the prince was sprinting down the hall. "Try and catch me," he called. They heard his laughter echoing in the corridor.
Ah gods, the sound of his voice, the way he moved, his smell, his taste, all were entrancing. Elrohir broke into a run, outpacing his brother, and growing harder at the thought of all the things he intended to do to the luscious elf.
"Easy now, my Lord, just a few steps more," Talagan said.
It was well past midnight and the seneschal was guiding the nearly comatose king to his bed. The king's arm was draped over his neck and Talagan staggered a little under the weight. When they reached the bed, Thranduil dropped onto it like a stone. Talagan removed Thranduil's shoes and drew the coverlet over him. Then he went to the wash basin, moistened a towel and used it to cool the king's face.
Thranduil shifted and groaned. His eyes fluttered open, that riveting blue that Talagan knew so well, eyes made soft with drink. "Talagan, you . . . so good to me," the king murmured and fell into a sound sleep.
The seneschal looked down at him fondly. Such a strange evening. When Thranduil had seized his arm earlier and then kissed his forehead, for a moment he'd thought the king intended to make love to him. The notion had shocked him deeply, but then he'd realized that he wasn't sure if he would have resisted had the king pushed his suit. And later the king's equally bizarre behavior kissing Náin and then making Legolas shoot at him. What on earth had possessed him? Possession may in fact be a good word for it. He thought he'd better be extra vigilant.
Talagan sighed and arranged Thranduil's hair over his shoulders as he looked longingly at those soft lips. He realized that, as difficult and mercurial as Thranduil was, there was no one else he'd rather serve. Giving in to a sudden impulse, Talagan leaned down and pressed his lips briefly against the king's mouth. "Sleep well, my Lord," he said and left the room.
They lay in Legolas's large bed, a sweaty, naked jumble of arms and legs, pleasure still tingling throughout their limbs. Elrohir ran his finger down the prince's nose. "That was marvelous, meleth," he said and kissed him gently.
"I believe we are getting better, if that's possible," Legolas sighed.
"Watching you two go at it was truly . . . arousing," said Elladan who lay on Legolas's other side. He stretched a leg over the prince and rubbed his toes on Elrohir's calf. "And the shared sensations, I'm not likely to get over that in a hurry."
Legolas yawned. "You know, I'm going to have to kick you out. Dawn comes early and, if I'm not mistaken, you two didn't get much sleep last night."
"Hardly a nod," Elladan said. "And the journey begins tomorrow."
"I can scarcely wait," said Legolas.
"Enjoy your comfortable bed while you can, meleth," said Elrohir. He kissed the prince, intending only a light brushing of the lips, but found he had melted again and was opening his mouth, kissing him deeply as if his soul yearned to turn inside out.
"Enough, brother!" Elladan shook him. "There may be opportunities later to indulge your lust for the wood elf." He got up from the bed and bowed. "My Prince, thank you for a very pleasant evening."
Legolas inclined his head and lay back with a smile as the twins searched the room for their clothes.
"What is it, Elladan?" Elrohir asked as they made their way back to their room. His twin merely shook his head and continued briskly walking, in silence. They reached their door and slipped inside.
"I demand you talk to me!" cried Elrohir. He seized Elladan by the face, his thumbs pressing into his brother's temples. "Let me feel you."
Elladan grabbed his twin in the same manner and they stared into each other's eyes. Elladan's grey eyes were like storm-driven waves surging on the shore. Elrohir felt his brother's anger and fear and love. Then Elladan bent and clamped his lips over Elrohir's mouth. Desire shivered up Elrohir's body. He relaxed into the hard, possessive kiss that Elladan now raked over his lips. Elrohir moaned.
"That's what I want to hear," Elladan said. "I want to be the one making you moan. I can feel how you react to Legolas. I know what he does to you."
Elrohir felt his twin's shaft pushing against him through their leggings, sliding off and rubbing against him again. Gods, it was making him hot.
Elladan said, "Don't forget, I am the one who truly loves you, who knows your every secret, exactly where to touch you to make you tremble."
I would never forget how you make me feel. Never! Elrohir thought. Aloud he said, teasingly, "You are jealous, meleth. I wouldn't have thought it. You've not been that way with any of the others."
"Because, úthaes nîn, I never sensed you falling for any of the others."
"Am I falling, brother?" Elrohir laughed lightly, but the words found a reverberation in his heart. He whispered into Elladan's mouth. "You needn't worry, melethron. You have my love. Only you."
"I don't believe you," Elladan said flatly.
Elrohir pushed Elladan backwards to the bed and flung him onto it. The bed creaked as he climbed on top of his twin.
"Shall I prove it to you?" Elrohir hissed as he seized his brother's hardened length through the leggings. The younger twin moved his fingers, stroking through the thin fabric. He pushed past the waistband and snaked his hand down inside until he touched bare flesh. He was rewarded with a sharp gasp.
"You like that, don't you?" Elrohir tugged the leggings over his brother's hips and slid them down. His twin's cock was unfurling, twitching upward.
"You forget that I know you too." Elrohir grasped his twin firmly, feeling the blood pumping into him. Ladan arched into his hand. Elrohir bent and ran his tongue across Elladan's loins and up along the sensitive skin of his thighs while he continued stroking him. "I know your tender spots." He lipped the tight sac. "Ways to make you hard." He drew one rounded plum into his mouth and sucked gently, eliciting a moan. "Ways to drive you mad." Elrohir moved upward and ran his cheek down his brother's stomach, back and forth, blowing on his shaft, then licking in long sweeps, all around, pausing to nip hard on the points of his brother's hips.
"Oh my love," breathed Elladan. "Don't keep me waiting."
"Waiting for what?" Elrohir flicked his tongue against the base of his twin's shaft as he palmed his balls, squeezing.
"Gods!" Elladan exclaimed.
"Not them, I hope," Elrohir laughed. "Tell me."
"I want your mouth," Elladan moaned.
"Mmmmmm," Elrohir purred as he slid his cheek against Ladan's stomach again, this time gathering his twin's throbbing shaft into his mouth on the return stroke. Ah, there was nothing like the sensation of filling his mouth with that long iron spike encased in delicious, velvety skin. The taste at once bitter and salty. This was the instrument that had penetrated him so often in the past, giving him such pleasure and pain. He inhaled deeply, drawing in the familiar, musky-sweet scent. Pulsing his mouth, letting the juices flow, he reveled in his brother's little breathy cries. He sucked a long draw all the way up to the tip and then vibrated his tongue over the slit.
"Blesséd Arda," Elladan moaned as he shoved his fingers into Elrohir's hair and pulled hard.
"Uh," Elrohir came off him. "You like that? Do you want more?"
Elladan nodded. "Take your clothes off," he gasped. "I want to feel your skin, I want all of you against me."
Elrohir plunged down onto his twin's cock again, sucking hard and fast as Elladan writhed, making incoherent sounds. Suddenly Elrohir pulled away.
The younger twin pushed himself backward off the bed and began stripping off his clothes. Elladan pulled off his own boots, then removed his leggings and tunic. Elrohir walked around the bed, completely naked, slowly running his hands over himself, reaching down and stroking his own engorged organ.
"Come here, you tease," Elladan cried. "And let me give it to you."
"No, not this time, meleth," Elrohir said.
"My turn," the younger twin said ominously. He reached under the bed and pulled out the bottle of oil, uncorking it, and then pouring a handful which he deliberately stroked over his member.
"Oh no," said Elladan, scrambling backwards on his elbows up against the velvet pillows.
Elrohir set down the bottle and came forward, rubbing his oiled hands together. Then he was straddling his brother, pushing his shoulders back down into the bed. "You wanted proof," he said, "I'm going to give it to you."
Elladan looked sadly into Elrohir's eyes. "Even with the consequences? Legolas isn't here to shield us."
"Even so. You said you doubted my love. You're going to feel it." The younger twin slowly ground his loins against his brother. "You're going to get it all."
Elladan sighed and closed his eyes. Like a draught of spring water, Elrohir drank him in: his lovely dark lashes, the glow of arousal painting his cheeks, those full lips, the silky dark hair spilling over his chest. He leaned forward and inhaled along Ladan's cheek. "Utulien. Connect with me, meleth," he said as he put trembling hands to his brother's temples.
Eagerness. Joyful laughter. A moment of double vision. A strange echo of the senses and then ahhh, his brother's heartbeat, his almost blinding passion. He took a deep breath with another set of lungs. Oh, nothing better, meleth, he thought. I ache for this.
"Complete me," Elladan whispered.
Elrohir moved back and pushed his twin's legs apart and began stroking his shaft, slowly and aggressively. He could feel the sensation of his own hand on his brother's cock telling him exactly what felt best, allowing him to build the pitch until they both wanted to scream.
Reaching down, he moved a finger in small circles around his twin's opening, then probed inward. With a groan, Elladan pushed down, impaling him deeper. Elrohir felt the answering shudder in his own body.
Relax, open to me, Elrohir thought. He grasped Elladan's hips, dragging him close, and pushing one knee forward. He felt the sensitive tip of his cock brushing the tight flesh. He positioned himself. A quick shove. Ah gods, so tight. He was almost squeezed out again. Another thrust home and he was buried, a lightning bolt of sensation between his legs, surrounded by a pulsing heat. He heard Elladan's deep gasp, felt his twin's pain.
He was moving, pulling almost completely out and then shoving in again. Elladan groaned.
Feel me, Ladan. This is so rare, isn't it? We almost never do it like this. But I can fill you as you fill me. Do you like it?
Yes, Elladan sighed. Take me! As no one else can. Steal my breath, úthaes nîn.
Elrohir angled upward and felt the sudden jolt of pleasure he was seeking. Elladan made a needy sound. There it is, brother. He hit that sensitive nub of flesh again and again and Elladan gasped with every thrust. He felt slicker now, the glide quick and easy. An erotic sound of flesh smacking flesh. So close now. The tension nearly breaking him.
Gîl gûren, do you believe me now? Elrohir thought. My heart is open. Feel me, meleth.
Oh gods, I love you, I can't tell you how much, Elladan sobbed. Elrohir bent forward and fastened his mouth to his twin's lips and inhaled his breath.
They came together. And the world roared about them, like a hot whirlwind. They became a song of aching beauty in a minor key as they floated in a shaft of light, wrapped in each other's arms. For a moment of suspended time made whole.
Slowly, Elrohir felt his brother's body becoming distinct, the sense of completeness dissipating like morning mist. He rolled away from him and lay still.
Then, oh gods, he felt it coming. The blackness. Cold scales. Gathering and slithering, it coiled about him. A series of rapid images, kneeling by his brother's rent body as the forest burned about them, his face wet with tears. Elrohir felt himself curling into a ball. He heard his own voice screaming. It wasn't fair. Why did they do this to themselves? Why couldn't they quit this obsession for all time?
He sank into a black grief and remained there for what seemed an age.
"Elro, meleth. Don't leave me." Vaguely, he could hear his brother's voice, trembling with fear, strong hands rubbing warmth into his limbs, the force of his twin's will recalling him.
Elladan woke to a loud pounding on their door. He tightened his grip protectively around his brother's chest which rose and fell gently, his skin so smooth and warm against his own. His member hardened against the curve of Elrohir's rear. He longed to make love to him, to experience the passion and bliss again, but he dared not.
The curséd knocking continued. Why did someone want them up at such an hour?
With a loud groan, the older twin got up and wrapped his robe about himself before going to the door and opening it a crack. Talagan stood outside.
"Curse of Mandos," Elladan said. "Must you pound so hard this early in the morning?"
"I beg your pardon," Talagan said, "but you weren't answering and the king requests an audience with you, at once."
Elladan rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand. "Tell the king that we will be there when we are decent."
He shut the door. "When we are decent, brother," he called, "which will be never."
Elrohir lifted his head. "What do you think our delicious king wants of us now?" he said. "I am far too sore for any repeat of yesterday morning."
"Knowing Thranduil, he suspects something. We must be cautious."
"As ever, brother, you are probably right." Relaxed, as if nothing had happened last night, Elrohir laughed and put his hands behind his head. "I'm not inclined to get up right away. This will be my last experience of a comfortable bed for some time." Then he sighed, "I guess all things come to an end, eventually." He threw off the covers and stretched.
Elladan filled his eyes with his brother's charming form. He fell onto the bed and slipped his arms about his twin. "I can't resist you."
"Ah gods, Elladan," Elrohir smiled, pushing him away. "Come on, the king awaits."
Talagan ushered the twins into Thranduil's sitting room. The king was wearing loose robes as if he had just arisen and not yet dressed; his long, yellow hair rippled unbraided down his back. A smell of burning herbs filled the room. Elladan recognized the scent as a mixture good for hangovers.
Thranduil held a hand to his forehead. He gestured absently at some chairs. Elrohir went over to the king and said heartily in his ear, "Good morning, my Lord." The king winced.
"Sit. Speak quietly," he ordered.
The twins complied and an elf came in with a pot of tea and some biscuits which he set down on a low table in front of them.
"Are you ready to depart later this morning?" Thranduil asked after he had seated himself in a chair opposite the twins.
"I'm putting you two in charge of my warriors. Your first task will be to clean out the human filth that have taken over Esgaroth," the king said. "I've just heard of another raid on the woodsmen living south of Mirkwood. It cannot continue."
"With pleasure." Elladan smiled grimly. "My brother and I have a score of our own to settle with them."
"Keep Legolas out of the fray. In fact, I want both of you to guard him, with your lives if need be."
"You have our word on that," said Elrohir.
"It is well that I trust you. I wouldn't let him go, otherwise." He raised an eyebrow. "I find trust a new feeling in relation to you two. I wonder why that is?"
"We're glad you have come to trust us," said Elladan. "We will not disappoint you."
"Yes," mused the king, tapping his lip with his forefinger. "Admittedly, my memories of last night are not as clear as they might be. But it appears that I treated the dwarf king in a somewhat less than respectful manner."
"You could say that, my Lord," Elrohir said. He quickly took a sip of tea to hide the grin that crossed his face.
"I remember an urge overcoming me to the point of madness yesterday, and a rather extraordinary physical sensation just following my, uh, display of affection for the dwarf." Thranduil turned fierce blue eyes on them. "You wouldn't know anything about it, now would you?"
Elladan looked at the king with what he hoped was a bland expression. Elrohir's face was a study in innocence. Elladan could feel his brother's internal laughter.
"Because," Thranduil continued, "the whole experience had the handprint of sorcery. And you are the last visitors I had yesterday before I awoke from a very unusual slumber and the, uh, difficulties began."
"My good and noble King," Elladan said, "if we were capable of such a feat, why should we waste the skill on such a strange trick?"
Thranduil let out a short laugh. "Indeed, I have puzzled over that one, myself." He gazed at them sternly. Elladan wondered what he might do.
Then a slow smile spread over the king's face. "It did rather shake up the dwarf, didn't it?"
The twins found themselves grinning in response.
"Get out of here," Thranduil said, pressing his hand to his head again. "Before I think better of it and decide on a full investigation." He gave them a brief, wolfish smile. "I'll see you off around mid-morning."
The twins rose and bowed.
"And close that door quietly," Thranduil said in a constricted voice.
They let themselves out and Elrohir chuckled as he gently shut the door.
How strangely this had all turned out, Elrohir reflected as he sat on his horse waiting for Thranduil's knights to assemble outside the main gates of the palace. In just a few days they'd barely escaped with their lives from Esgaroth, come to Mirkwood to throw themselves on Thranduil's mercy, seduced both him and his son, and now were headed right back the way they'd come. As long as he'd already lived, he was pleased that the world continued to hold surprises.
A breeze whipped the pennant one of the horsemen carried and teased Elrohir's hair past his lips. He looked at Prince Legolas who was riding a restive white stallion. The elf's eyes sparkled, his cheeks and lips reddened. The horse had caught some of his excitement and was dancing sideways. Yes indeed, very pleasant surprises. He found he couldn't get enough of the dazzling prince. Was Elladan right? Was he falling for the elf?
Feeling his brother's gaze, Elrohir turned to meet his eyes and smiled fondly at him: his brother, dearer than life, his partner in everything. Elrohir felt his heart swell with affection, even as he sensed that familiar little backwash of darkness. Light and dark, like his life. Well, now, what would become of them all, he wondered?
Thranduil appeared, looking regal wearing blue velvet robes, his hair bound back by a golden filet. King Náin strode at his side, taking two steps for every one of Thranduil's. An elf helped the dwarf king climb up onto a horse held ready for him.
"Well, Thranduil," Náin said, "I am happy to see you did not suffer too greatly from our contest last night."
"And I'm glad to know that the dwarves can hold their liquor," laughed Thranduil.
Then Náin said seriously, "I came seeking an ally and gained a friend."
"Likewise," Thranduil replied. "You have my respect, my dear King. May the prophecy prove false. Navaer."
"Farewell," Náin said.
Then Thranduil went among his warriors, working his way through the column, speaking a word to one, clasping another by the forearm. They seemed to receive him with a mixture of affection and awe. As befits a true king, Elrohir mused.
Thranduil came to the twins. They leaned down from their horses and he embraced each in turn with a quick kiss on the mouth. "Too bad there isn't time for more," he whispered to them with a wink that sent a shiver through Elrohir's groin.
"Who says there wasn't?" Elladan said to Elrohir with a soft laugh.
Thranduil hugged his son and kissed his cheek. "Take care of yourself," Elrohir heard him murmur and Legolas's eyes grew bright as the king turned quickly away.
Then Náin was giving the command to move and the troop of thirty elves and two dozen dwarves surged forward. Elrohir turned to Legolas. The prince had closed his eyes, lips parted, as the wind blew tendrils of hair away from his face.
Elrohir leaned over and touched him lightly on the shoulder as he whispered, "So, how does it feel, my firefly?"
ion nîn - my son
úthaes nîn - my temptation
Navaer - farewell
Author's Note of Purely Esoteric Interest:
In "The Return of the King," Appendix A, Tolkien's family tree shows that Náin II's son, Dáin I was born in 2440, two years after this story takes place. The dragons had already begun multiplying in the northern wastes and later they began to plague the dwarves and steal their treasure. Dáin I and his son Frór were slain by a cold drake at the doors of Dáin's hall in the Grey Mountains in 2589. Náin II, however, did not live to see this tragedy as he died four years earlier.
Nowhere does Tolkien mention the strange after-dinner belching behavior of dwarves. Must have been an oversight.
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.