A Faerie Slashy Advent Calendar by Naledi, ziggy, Narya, cheekybeak, NelyafinweFeanorion, Gabriel
Summary:

A round-robin advent calendar. Elrohir is pursued by orcs to the eaves of Mirkwood. What happens next is anyone's guess.


Categories: Fiction Characters: Arwen, Elladan, Elrohir, Erestor, Galion, Glorfindel, Legolas, Maglor, OMC, Thranduil
Content: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Humor, Slash
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 22 Completed: Yes Word count: 49686 Read: 8498 Published: December 04, 2017 Updated: December 26, 2017
Story Notes:

Thanks to the brilliant Ziggy for suggesting a round robin advent calendar. Anyone's welcome to join in. Just comment on the story or in the shoutbox to let everyone know which day you intend to post. Let's see where this leads!l

1. Chapter 1 by Naledi

2. Chapter 2 by cheekybeak

3. Chapter 3 by Gabriel

4. Chapter 4 by ziggy

5. Chapter 5 by NelyafinweFeanorion

6. Chapter 6 by Narya

7. Chapter 7 by Naledi

8. Chapter 8 by ziggy

9. Chapter 9 by cheekybeak

10. Chapter 10 by Gabriel

11. Chapter 11 by NelyafinweFeanorion

12. Chapter 12 by Narya

13. Chapter 13 by ziggy

14. Chapter 14 by Naledi

15. Chapter 15 by cheekybeak

16. Chapter 16 by NelyafinweFeanorion

17. Chapter 17 by Gabriel

18. Chapter 18 by ziggy

19. Chapter 19 by Narya

20. Chapter 20 by NelyafinweFeanorion

21. Chapter 21 by ziggy

22. Chapter 22 by Narya

Chapter 1 by Naledi
Author's Notes:

Let's see what lies behind the first door in our sparkly advent calendar. As ever, this was written in a tearing hurry, so apologies for any typos!

Naledi xxx



Elrohir’s lung’s were about to burst. He risked another glance over his shoulder, skidding a little in the deep snow as he did so. Blessed Elbereth - they were gaining on him! It was all very well leading the Orcs away from Elladan, but it would gain his brother nothing if they killed him.


His gut twisted at the memory of Elladan, white-faced, his leg pinned beneath the rock fall. Elbereth help them both.


He scowled at the slate grey clouds looming over the stark white plain. More snow was on the way, which would do Elladan no good at all. It wouldn’t help him, either. He didn’t often envy pure-blood elves, but on this occasion he would welcome the ability to run fleet-foot across the snow, instead of floundering like an oliphaunt through the drifts. Morgoth’s balls, the clouds were stacked so thick on the horizon, they looked like…


He rubbed his eyes. Trees! Escape. He quickened his pace, his panting breaths making puffs in the air. Then he hesitated. This must be Mirkwood. His father had warned him against going there; the Wood-elves were a wild, fey lot. Dangerous.


He glanced over his shoulder again. The orcs were so close now he could smell their fetid stench and see the strings of drool dripping from their fangs. He broke into a run.


‘You. Can. Do. It.’ He gasped each word to punctuate his strides. Just a bit further. The blood pounded in his ears, drowning out everything but his laboured breathing and the yelps and snarls of his pursuers. Every breath burned. His limbs were so heavy he could scarcely lift his feet from the ground. Twice he stumbled and recovered. He made a supreme effort to stay on his feet. If he fell again he doubted he would have the energy to regain his footing a third time.


Then the snow-laden boughs reached out to him, drawing him into the trees. On trembling legs he staggered into a clearing. An overwhelming weariness swept over him. He could go no further. Sword in hand, he turned to face the orcs.


‘Down!’


He whipped his head around to see who had hissed the command. Only when an arrow whistled perilously close to his cheek did the meaning get through to his numb mind. He flung himself flat, fighting to draw breath into his heaving lungs. All around him came the whoosh of arrows, gurgling screams and thuds. Then came silence for the space of several thumping heartbeats.


‘You can get up now.’ The voice had a mocking edge but too lyrical to belong to an orc.
He dug his fingers into the snow, scrabbling for purchase through layers of ice and leaves until they found gnarled roots. Using them to steady himself, he heaved himself onto his back and counted each breath until he could speak. A lattice of branches framed the leaden sky, rattling the last of their withered leaves.


‘Thank you. Who—?’ He raised his head and found he was addressing nothing but towering beeches and a pile of orc corpses, all with arrows protruding from their throats. ‘Where—?’ He pushed himself to his knees.


A figure appeared from nowhere. One moment he was looking at the tree trunks, the next, without any discernible movement a Wood-elf was standing there. At least he assumed it was a Wood-elf. No self-respecting Noldor would be dressed like that. If you could call it dressed. Painted would be a better word. Or possibly daubed.  ‘Welcome to the Greenwood,’ said the apparition.


Elrohir staggered to his feet, unable to tear his gaze from the man. It was definitely a man. The skin-tight leggings that were his only clothing left that in no doubt. Their sheer fabric was the silvery grey of beech bark and clung to every bulge of muscle and…Elrohir licked his lips. Oh, yes. Definitely a man. He trailed his gaze upwards across a muscular chest, decorated with swirls of grey-blue paint. His fingers twitched as he imagined how it would feel to trace those painted whorls, over each ridge of solid muscle.


His blood, which until now had been pulsing in his ears, pooled further south. He dragged his gaze higher. To a face of extraordinary beauty no amount of paint could disguise. Streaks of black mud only emphasised exquisite cheekbones and jaw; slanting green eyes glinted like sunlight through spring leaves; golden hair cascaded down his back, woven with intricate braids and a mixture of amber beads, feathers and glossy leaves.


The Wood-elf’s head tilted, as though waiting for something. ‘Are you well?’ the musical voice asked.


Reality crashed in on him, and Elrohir gasped. ‘I’m unhurt, but my brother—Elladan. He needs help. I must go to him.’


The man frowned. ‘You may be unhurt, but you’re in no state to go anywhere. Tell me where to find your brother, and I’ll send some of my men.’


‘We were ambushed in the hills a league away.’ Elrohir pointed in the vague direction. ‘A rockfall. Elladan’s leg was trapped.’


The man nodded. ‘I know the place.’ He gave a series of whistles and five more Wood-elves materialised from the shadows of the trees. After a series of orders in a strange language Elrohir couldn’t follow, the five dashed away.


Elrohir sagged with relief. ‘Thank you. If anything happened to him, I—’ He caught himself. ‘I beg your pardon. I haven’t introduced myself. I am Elrohir Elrondion. I’m in your debt.’


‘There are no debts between warriors.’ The man’s teeth flashed white in his face in a feral smile that reminded Elrohir of his father’s warning. ‘It’s always a pleasure to kill Orcs. Now come. We have a camp nearby. You can rest there while we fetch your brother. After that, when you are both recovered enough to travel, I shall take you to my father.’


Elrohir stumbled after his saviour, wondering vaguely why he should need to meet this man’s father. Would he be required to meet his cousins and great aunts as well? ‘What should I call you?’


‘Legolas,’ came the reply.


Legolas. Greenleaf. An appropriate name for such an elemental creature. Elrohir admired his strong back and the flex of buttocks and thighs as Legolas led the way down a barely visible trail. If he’d known such folk lived here, he’d have ignored his father’s warnings and visited Mirkwood long ago. As it was, he had no objection to staying awhile and getting to know more of these mysterious Wood-elves. One in particular.


He let his gaze linger on Legolas’s pert rump.


Oh yes, this would be a most interesting visit.

End Notes:

Time to hand over the baton. Who's going next?

Chapter 2 by cheekybeak
Author's Notes:

Day 2.

A bit short, sorry . . . And completely crazy. 

The wood-Elf led Elrohir on a tortuous trek through the undergrowth. He kept glimpsing a path winding its way beside them. Why didn’t they walk on that he wondered . . . It seemed so much easier?  But no. The woodelf insisted on clamboring over logs and through bushes.

So eccentric. 

And difficult. His shirt kept getting caught in all the undergrowth. He sighed heavily as he torn his sleeve free of a particularly vicious bramble. 

“You should take that off.” Legolas said without even looking round. 

“What?” Did he mean him to cut down the brambles? Surely not. 

“You seem rather overdressed.” 

Oh! Suddenly Elrohir realised he was telling him to take his shirt off. 

“It’s the middle of winter. How can I possibly be overdressed?”

“Because your shirt is catching on everything we pass.” 

Elrohir did not like that sarcastic tone. He was used to being addressed with a bit more respect than that.

“If we walked on the path, then it wouldn’t be a problem,” He bit back. But Legolas only laughed. 

“It is true what Father says about the Noldor then,” he said. “So prudish.” 

What right did this woodelf’s random father have casting aspersions on the Noldor? Elrohir decided despite the fact Legolas had just saved his skin he could not let this go. 

“I hardly think your Father is in a situation to know anything about us!” 

But Legolas simply smiled. 

“Well you can fill him in on that when we meet him then. I am sure he will be interested to hear your point of view. Make sure you tell him just how insignificant you think he is. He’ll like that.” 

This wasn’t going at all how Elrohir expected. 

He was relieved when he finally stumbled out of the bushes and in to a clearing. This was obviously their camp. Thank Elbereth for that! 

“Do you want some food?” Legolas asked him, raising one eyebrow as he looked at him. “You look as if you need it.” It left Elrohir tugging at his shirt to straighten it. Why did he feel Legolas was undressing him with his eyes all of a sudden? 

“Food would be nice,” He said but then quickly regretted it, for what did these wild creatures eat? Poisonous berries? Insects? A million options, all completely unpalatable ran through his mind. 

But it was too late, the woodelf was already off rummaging in the corner. To refuse now would be the height of rudeness and those men of his were very good shots. He did not want to get on the wrong side of them! 

“You don’t have to look so terrified.” Legolas exclaimed when he turned round just as Elrohir was imagining a particularly hideous gastronomic possibility. “Here, have a scone.” 

“A scone?” 

“Yes.” The scones Legolas held out did look delicious but Elrohir couldn’t help but wonder what was in them. 

“What are they made of?” He asked cautiously as he gingerly picked one up. 

“Cheese scones.” Legolas gave him a frown. “Galion made these. He is known for his prowess in the scone making Department. They are quite safe, I promise.” 

Oh no, Elrohir thought. He had offended him. The memory of those arrows flying past his face returned to haunt him . . . And who was Galion anyway? He really didn’t know how that was supposed to reassure him, that an unknown woodelf who other unknown wood elves said made good scones was the cook. 

He took a bite. 

It really was very, very good. At least the equal of Glorfindel’s. If there were any insect bodies hidden in here he did not find them. 

“Sit down.” Legolas said in a very commanding voice. “We have some time to wait until they arrive with your brother and you make the place look untidy."

And suddenly Elrohir remembered Elladan. What kind of brother was he? He had completely forgotten him! 

“I hope your men have found him.” 

“They have.” Legolas seemed very confident in his reply. 

“You do not know that. You presume they have but they could be anywhere.” 

“I know they have! They have told me so.” 

“Hah” It was Elrohir’s turn to scoff. “They have not told you. They are not even here!” 

A bird call sounded above the tree tops and Legolas looked triumphant.

“They have found him and he is being most problematic.” He tilted his head to the side, as the bird called again. It was a posture that proved to be completely disarming, Elrohir thought. “He objects to their mode of dress apparently, as do you.”

“Are you telling me that bird is your men?” 

“It is indeed,” Legolas replied. “Are you telling me the Noldor do not have a form of long range communication.”

They did not, and Elrohir was about to defend that when he realised what Legolas had said before that.

“I do not object to your mode of dress!” 

“Yes you do, you would not take your shirt off when it was obviously the most sensible thing to do.” 

“It was not sensible at all. As I said, it is winter. There is snow on the ground. I am not walking round shirtless as if it is mid summer, and I do not object to your mode of dress. I like it very much.” His mouth had run away with him and too late, he realised when Legolas’ eyes widened in surprise, he had said too much. 

"I mean . . .that fabric in your trousers is delectable." He only just caught himself before he said alluring which would have made things even worse. 

"You like the fabric in my trousers?" The woodelf sounded completely disbelieving. 

"Yes, what of it? Small details are important to me." 

"Oh, just sit down anyway." The expression on his face told Elrohir Legolas had decided the whole situation was so ridiculous he could not be bothered even continuing the conversation. "It is going to take them some time to get your brother here and I am sure we will hear them long before they get here if he is as cantankerous as they say. Have some more scones."

It was all so strange.

Sitting in a clearing in Mirkwood, eating scones, with a half naked woodelf was not at all how Elrohir had imagined the day going when he got up that morning. 

 


Chapter 3 by Gabriel
Author's Notes:
Day 3

Apologies to anyone waiting to read.
Elrohir licked his fingers, the last of the cheese scones disappearing into his mouth as a sudden wind whipped up around the encampment.

He shivered and folded his arms across his chest in a weak attempt to ward off the chill. ‘Was it getting colder?’ he thought, he glanced over at the Wood-elf who seemed not to notice. His attention it seemed had been focussed into fashioning something from a piece of wood with an ornate hunting knife.

Legolas suddenly shifted, muscles bunching and sliding beneath creamy white skin causing the black haired Elf’s mouth to drop open, and turned toward him.

The Noldo’s eyes widened at the view, for the Wood-elf’s nipples were pebbled enough to poke someone’s eye out with. ‘By the gods!’ Elrohir thought dragging his gaze away, ‘It is definitely getting colder.’

Elrohir glanced around the camp trying to stave off the rising heat to his cheeks and the blood coiling at his groin. “What are you making?” He asked without giving into the temptation to look back at the Wood-Elf, instead taking interest in the trees on the opposite side of the camp.

The silence stretched between them. Finally Legolas replied, “A Niphredil flower,” Elrohir nodded, thinking ‘Maybe fashioning a tunic would have been the best course’ he raised his eyes to the sky watching the gathering clouds, careful to keep his gaze as far away from Legolas as possible.

“For someone special?” He continued his questioning, pretending to watch a flock of geese, “Yes,” came Legolas’ reply, “What’s the occasion?” Elrohir tried not to sound like he was prying, “Yule!” the Wood-Elf’s voice was resonant, “Oh! Of course, how stupid of me,” Elrohir berated himself at his own lack at observing Elven festival dates.

He closed his eyes briefly, should he dare, “For your wife?” he winced at the way it sounded, the Wood-Elf’s head came up, brows drawn together studying Elrohir’s upturned and pale face, “No!” the answer more severe, ‘Sweet Elbereth! It was like trying to siphon blood from a stone’ Elrohir dragged a hand down his face in frustration, “For a lover then!” Legolas’ magnificent face was a thunderstorm waiting to happen his piercing green eyes clouded with indignation; he had halted in his whittling, “I do not see what business is it of yours who I am making this for!” cocking his golden head to one-side.

Elrohir held up his hands, “Forgive me. I did not mean to pry,” that was a bare faced lie, “But….,” Legolas narrowed his gaze, “You were fishing for information!” he interjected, “My father was right, you Noldor are not to be trusted, you think us naïve and stupid?” his eyes were alight his muscular shoulders and torso tensed; Elrohir’s heart thudded in his chest, he looked magnificent.

Legolas lifted the half-finished petals of the flower that was forming in his hand and blew on it a little too hard than was necessary scattering filings of wood in all directions.

He stood and turned as if to leave, then hesitated as if he thought better of it, he let out a breath in an impatient whoosh and turned back to Elrohir, “Aerlinn!” Legolas exclaimed suddenly, “Aerlinn, is who I am making this for! She is the little daughter of one of the King’s Captains who lost her mother to a band of Orcs several months ago! You satisfied now!” Elrohir stared back at him his mouth working trying to form words , a pinch between his black brows a guilty expression flickering across his features.

Just then a bird call sounded high up in the canopy of the surrounding trees Legolas’ head jerked toward the treeline and the sound of distant voices, no wait just one voice, “Put me down!” Elladan’s voice echoed through the forest then it went abruptly silent. Elrohir narrowed his gaze, grey blue eyes darting to and fro.

He watched in awe as a Company of Wood-Elves materialised from between the trees. The leader, an Elf big by Elven standards, was tall and more muscled than Legolas, if that can be believed; sported the form of Elladan slung over one broad shoulder his head bouncing with the movement of his rescuer his mouth gagged with what looked like velvet and his ankles bound together to keep from injuring his legs further.

The big Captain halted abruptly, once he and his company had cleared the trees, “Kill me now!” he said with a droll expression on his face as he stared back at Legolas, “For I swear, if I have to listen to one more word from this Noldo’s mouth, I will throw him off the nearest cliff.”

A slow sensual smile spread across Legolas’ lips as he regarded his Captain, he turned back to the son of Elrond, “You think you know us?” he strode forward clashing into a heated kiss with the Captain, Elladan struggling between them. Elrohir’s eyebrows shot up as Legolas pulled away just a little to look upon the face of his lover, “You do not!” He murmured cupping the others cheek only to be drawn back into another more desperate kiss.

Well talk about getting off on the wrong foot, this was not going well at all Elrohir only hoped that as the day turned to night things would get markedly better.
End Notes:
Forgive me if the story seems a bit disjointed. First time posting.
Chapter 4 by ziggy
Author's Notes:

Forgive how late this posting is- family stuff. It's not quite as I hoped but I'll work on something over the weekend for Monday. Sorry. BUT thought this might just give us another plotline to confuse htings:) 



The Captain’s face transformed from irritation to bliss as Legolas slid his arms around his waist and let Ellladan fall to the ground with a thump. 

 

Elrohir knew from the muffled sounds from Elladan that he was swearing in a manner that would make proud. He wondered where Erestor was for the last time he had seen his father’s old friend was shouting at Elrohir to come back and stop being such an arse for trying to lead the orcs away from where he was trying to free Elladan from the rockfall. In fact, Elrohir thought, if Elladan was here, where was Erestor?

 

 

0o0o

 

 

It was utterly silent in the Wood. Snow muffled all sound, was pristine but for one deer’s tracks pricked out in the snow. The forest river was icy-cold but unfrozen still, for it rushed over granite boulders and between the dark trees. Thranduil’s cloak of silver fox fur fell about him and his crown was of holly leaves for it was Yule. Yule was a season of Magic when the Song was deep and wound about the roots of the oaks and lingered in the dry leaves of the tall beech trees. Snow crunched a little under his feet and there were icicles on the ferns that hung over the riverbank.

 

His slate-green gaze caught upon something drifting on the wind, hanging from a low hanging branch as if someone had cast it there? He reached up and snagged it between his fingers, pulled it towards him and frowned.

 

It looked like a shirt.

 

His son’s shirt.

 

 

What in all the Greenwood was Legolas’ shirt doing out here with no youngest son attached?

 

He knew that Legolas and his wild friends were out this way on some silly game they played, hoping to catch some unwary passer-by and ensnare them in their ridiculous games. The newly appointed Captain of the East Bite  had been with them too and Thranduil had not been too happy at the lascivious way he and Legolas was staring at each other. Still, he had never interfered with any of his children’s love lives and he knew better than to start now. And if Thranduil wasn’t very much mistaken, Anglach had been seen leaving the kitchens with some of Galion’s famous… or rather infamous scaannê. Which were round shaped dough patties laced with a lethal concoction -of course- of berries and toadstool oil that was guaranteed to deliver, after a long and sometimes terrifying and at least bemusing hallucinogenic experience, and a long and painful headache if you were lucky. It was a recipe Galion said had been passed down by his forefathers from Cuivienen, he said, but Thranduil thought more likely that it had come from Radagast for Galion and Radagast were old friends.

 

Thranduil stood in the centre of the glade and let the Song reach into him, let the green of the Wood fill him and the weak winter sunlight bathe him.

 

‘…uurrghhh.’

 

‘Yrrhch!’ Thranduil whirled round, arrow nocked and let it fly but at the very last moment, tipped his shaft upwards so it flew, not into the chest of the elf that lurched towards him, but into the tree just above his head.

 

The elf was clutching his belly and bent over as if wounded, his long black hair fell over his face and he fell to his knees.

 

Instantly in a whirl of snow and white fur cloak, Thranduil was at his side and cradling him gently. He was aware that this elf was strange to him, black hair, black leather breeches and boots, sable cloak as fine as the one Thranduil himself wore so this was no silvan elf or hunter. Gently he lowered the elf into the snow, his own arm still cradling him easily and tipped his face up.

 

The strange elf was Noldor, Thranduil thought in surprise. He sighed for the Noldor always spelled trouble and he wondered if there was something Galion had neglected to tell him, like a state visit from Imladris, or if the White Council had decided to pay the Necromancer a visit. Sit-On-Your-Arse Council, Galion would have said because that is what they were really good at. But he always said it a bit quieter if they were near Lothlorien in case Galadriel heard them

 

The Noldor’s eyes flickered open and looked around wildly. Thranduil was intrigued for this elf was no youngster; in his eyes was a weight of sorrow and loss, and he was noble and fine.

 

‘Where am I?’ the stranger asked, his voice thick and blurred.

 

‘You are near the stronghold of the Elves of the Greenwood,’ Thranduil said, an edge of caution in his voice that dared the other elf to challenge him. ‘You have been injured I think.’

 

‘My belly hurts like a gang of dwarves have set up a mine in there,’ the elf said weakly. He lay heavily against Thranduil, his body warm, strong. The Elven King could feel the muscles of the other against his thigh. There was blood on the elf’s tunic.

 

‘How do you come to be here?’ Thranduil asked slowly, looking into the stranger’s eyes. The molten silver grey startled him for it was Finwëan, he thought, and remembered the last time he had seen such light eyes had been in the Last Alliance where Oropher had fallen, and so many of his own people. Where he had met Glorfindel of course….

 

He paused. He tried not to think about Glorfindel.

 

 

‘I…I cannot remember,’ the elf said slowly as if his tongue were too thick in his mouth. ‘I do not know how I came to be here at all.’

 

Thranduil pulled open the elf’s eyelid and peered into his pupil. Then he pushed his fingers between the elf’s lips and prised open his mouth. Sure enough, it was coated black and his breath smelt as if he had eaten liquorice. 

 

Instantly Thranduil loosened the elf’s tunic, noting a slash across his skin where the blood oozed slowly. He shoved Legolas’ shirt against the wound and cast the sable cloak upon the ground, where it lay like an ink stain upon the snow. ‘I think you have been poisoned. The orcs use it to paralyse their victims. More fun that way,’ he added grimly.

 

He pressed his hand against the clammy skin. ‘What is your name?’

 

The elf blinked at him, seemed to be losing consciousness and Thranduil shook him lightly. ‘Name?’he demanded again.

 

‘Where…?  Elrohir….’ the elf murmured but he sounded delirious now.

 

‘Elrohir? Now where do I know that name from?’ Thranduil murmured.

 

‘Elrohir… Elladan…Where…?’

 

‘You are in the Wood,’ Thranduil said again, soothingly. He wondered if the elf was actually called Elrohir Elladion for the last words had been so blurred he could not be sure. He wrapped Elrohir in the thick sable cloak and then swept his own from his shoulders with a flourish and cast it over Elrohir. 

 

Elrohir’s long black silk hair was a stark contrast with his silver fox fur. His cheekbones were high and his lips full. A strange feeling churned in Thranduil’s belly. Like excitement. A stirring that he had not felt for a very long time.

 

He shook himself and squatted beside Elrohir, checking again the clammy skin and noting the shallow breaths.

 

Night was approaching but there was a flet nearby that he sometimes used when he was out here in the Wood. It was comfortable and well stocked and he simply needed to wait for the poison to clear. 

 

Easily he shifted Elrohir into his arms and wrapped the now shivering elf in his own cloak and lifted him. It did not take long to find the flet and he was soon safely ensconced with a fire, Elrohir sleeping fitfully and restlessly wrapped in both furs.

 

He watched the fire first. But his gaze kept drifting towards the Noldor elf, Elrohir. He was older than Thranduil, he thought speculatively and again, wondered how the elf had come to be wondering in his Wood, delirious from a poisoned wound and alone. Perhaps he was an envoy from Elrond? Unlikely, he thought. A merchant? Even more unlikely. the elf was a warrior, he could see that from the hardness of his hands and muscles, and his sword was very fine- light and perfectly balanced. The hilt was strange, silver chased with mithril. He peered at it. There was an N chased in mithril over the hilt so perhaps it was an heirloom? But it was the five pointed star that made his pause. He had not seen that for long Ages. But he did not know how the sword came to Elrohir and so he decided he would not judge. Yet.

 

Snow began to fall and he pulled the light spider-silk screen across the flet to protect them from the weather and built the fire up. He was not worried about the elf, the poison would not kill him; orcs used it paralyse their victims but they liked to kill them in more inventive ways, Thranduil thought bitterly. He just needed to keep Elrohir warm and calm until the poison passed.

 

Night drew in and the snow fell thickly outside but with the thick mesh of leaves and silk screens, he could have been cosy and warm in his own study.  He watched Elrohir. 

 

The elf was handsome, his lips full and high cheekbones flushed with the fever, like he had had sex, Thranduil thought and then flushed himself. He held water to Elrohir’s lips and he grabbed Thranduil’s hands and tipped the water bottle up eagerly. ‘Slowly,’ Thranduil murmured.

 

Elrohir nodded and sipped, looking up at Thranduil with wide, fevered eyes. He stopped drinking, stared at Thranduil. Slowly he lifted his hand and touched Thranduil’s cheek. 

 

Thranduil froze. It was not unwelcome just unexpected but Elrohir blinked and pulled his hand back quickly.

 

‘I am sorry…’ he said quickly but Thranduil shook his head. 

 

‘No. Do not apologise,’he said waving his hand as if to dismiss. But in fact, he felt warmth curl through him like he had not felt for many years than he could remember. They looked at each other for a moment, recognition, understanding between them.

 

Thranduil smiled and rose slowly to his feet. ‘You are sick,’ he said kindly. ‘Let us get you well.’

 

He crossed the flet and threw open an oak chest and knelt beside it to rummage within. A cedar box lay within and he drew it out and carefully opened it. Inside were small glass bottles. He selected one carefully and looked at it. Then reached for a clean goblet and carefully measured a few drops into the goblet and topped it up with water.

 

Behind him, the injured elf shifted and winced uncomfortably. His belly churned and he felt sick. His head pounded and he reached behind his head to pull away the hard lump that was hurting him. When he looked at it however, he saw it was a bundled up shirt, fine and elegantly stitched. On the cuff, which was tightly stitched to prevent it fraying. Then he paused. A name was embroidered on the cuff. He peered more closely: Legolas.

 

Erestor, for that is who the injured elf was of course, smiled. This shirt must belong to the beautiful silvan, sindar, whatever, who had rescued him. Legolas.

 

0o0o0

 

Chapter 5 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Author's Notes:
sorry for the rushed nature of the writing. Kids winter concert last night andI I'm posting while I have good internet at home before I'm off to the hospital now, as my mom is having a procedure done today! But I'm so grateful for the temporary distraction of writing this bit!

Nelyafinwefeanorion
Chapter 5

Elrohir blinked and then blinked again, trying to clear his vision. He didn't think he had imagined Legolas kissing the burly Elf Captain--the sight had brought a flush to his own face and a searing sensation that ran all the way to his groin, as well as a shattering dose of disappointment. What he would give to have those lips melt into his, to trace his fingers along those patterns on Legolas' skin, to feel the silky fabric of those leggings slide over his own.

But he was confused because now Legolas seemed to be kissing each member of his company in the same lascivious manner. Elrohir shook his head in an attempt to clear his vision but the image of Legolas grasping the shoulders of the last member of his company and drawing his face to his own for a passionate kiss burned into him. Was this some odd Wood Elf fighting company bonding ritual? He had never seen anything like this in Imladris. A vision of Elrohir's own company having to kiss Erestor like that actually made his stomach lurch and he shuddered at the thought.

He shook his head again. The clearing around him wavered in his vision but his eyes found Elladan's crumpled form, his twin's face flushed with indignation as he struggled to rip the gag from his mouth. Elladan! How could he have forgotten his brother again?

Elrohir got to his feet unsteadily, swaying at the unexpected sensation of vertigo that overwhelmed him. What was wrong with him? He shook his head again and lurched across the clearing to kneel heavily at his brother's side. Elladan glared at him as he continued to struggle with the gag.

"Here, let me get that," a voice said. Elrohir tried to focus on where the voice was coming from but then one of the Wood Elves dropped to his knees on Elladan's other side and reached for the gag. It was the last Elf Legolas had kissed-- the mud and paint daubed on his face was smeared from the attentions of the Wood Elf who had so enraptured Elrohir.

This unknown Wood Elf was far more successful at untying the knots of Elladan's gag and soon the clearing was ringing with the colorful swearing of Elrohir's twin.

"Settle yourself," the Wood Elf said to Elladan, patting him on the shoulder encouragingly. "Hush now. You are safe here. The Orcs are all dead and we have brought you to your brother. I don't even think you broke your leg, although you've got some nasty scrapes and cuts." He grinned at Elladan. "Sorry, didn't get to introduce myself earlier. I'm Anglach." He turned his face and grinned at Elrohir as well.

Were all the Wood Elves this attractive, Elrohir asked himself. He tore his eyes from this Anglach only to meet the enraged grey eyes of the now gag-free Elladan.

"Morgoth's balls, Elrohir! What were you thinking, running off like that? Erestor had the Orc situation under control until he had to chase after your bloody ass." Elladan sat halfway up, leaning on his elbows.

"I'm fine. Got here with the Orcs," Elrohir explained, his tongue feeling thick and unwieldy in his mouth. He licked his lips and tried again. "Legolas and his company killed them all. Arrows. Orcs all dead. Haven't seen Erestor." His voice sounded far away, even to his own ears. "And I'm not going to kiss him if I do," Elrohir stated firmly.

Elladan's eyes narrowed. "Why the hell would you kiss Erestor? What's gotten into you? Who is Legolas? What in the Valar's name is wrong with you? Are you all right? You look terrible and I'm the one that got pinned under the cursed rocks. And now you tell me you've lost bloody Erestor?" He broke off to glare at Anglach, who was busily cutting Elladan's leggings. "What in the thrice-cursed Void are you doing?" Elladan growled at him.

"Like I said, you've got some cuts and scrapes. I was just going to clean them up and put some ointment on them. You never know what's on those rocks." Anglach shook his head cheerfully at Elladan and continued to slice through the leggings, despite Elladan's ineffectual efforts to escape him.

Elrohir's head was beginning to hurt. The fire that someone had started while he was talking to Elladan was just too bright. The snow was too white. It was all just too much. He sat back heavily, staring blankly at his twin, who was still cursing mightily under the ministrations of the Wood Elf.

"Are you hungry?" Anglach asked Elladan, as he swiftly wrapped a bandage around the worst of the cuts on Elladan's leg. "We've got some cheese scones."

"Blast you and your bloody cheese scones," Elladan said. He turned back to his twin. "Don't you bloody touch a thing they give you. Who knows what these Wood Elves eat."

"Too late," Elrohir said, with a giggle. "The cheese scones are really good."

He fell on his back, heedless of the snow soaking into his shirt. Green, he thought, gazing at the canopy of trees above him. Greenleaf, his mind added unnecessarily. Legolas. Greenleaf. Green like the leaves above him. Spinning leaves. The colors swirled above his head, melding into a green and gold undulating spiral. His eyes tried to follow the spiral until it felt like the ground beneath him was tilting and he was enveloped in a green haze. Green eyes. He closed his own and sighed. His head throbbed.

"You're drugged," a voice said, making Elrohir snap his eyes open. He regretted it as soon as he did it, as the whole forest was now swirling and tilting around him. Elladan's face, huge and furious, loomed above him, making him flinch. "By Aule's flaming dick, you're drugged," Elladan repeated. "Cheese scones, my ass. Did you smoke something or drink something these Valar forsaken Wood Elves gave you?"

"Galion's famous cheese scones," Elrohir said thickly.

"Who the bloody hell is Galion?"

"Dunno. He makes good scones though. Better than Glorfindel's," Elrohir said, closing his eyes again.

"Balrog's fiery balls, Elrohir! Snap out of it. We've got to find Erestor. Where did you see him last?" Elladan's voice was low and fierce. "Our first long distance patrol and this bloody happens. Glorfindel will flay us and I don't even want to know what Father's going to say about all this."

Elrohir opened one eye. "I'm not going to kiss Glorfindel when we get back from this patrol," he said and promptly closed his eyes again.
_________________________________________________________

It wasn't much later that Anglach sat down next to Legolas, their knees bumping together at the proximity. He glanced over at the two Noldor only to find Elrohir's hungry gaze focused on Legolas. So that was how things were.

He met Elrohir's eyes and the Noldo blinked slowly and looked away, clumsily fussing at his twin's leg, eliciting an entirely new string of creative curses from Elladan. Anglach widened his eyes in appreciation. He would have to file some of those away to use later himself--they were too good to pass up.

He bumped Legolas' knee purposefully and spoke to him softly in their Silvan dialect. "I know you love me and all, Legolas, and I suppose I care for you in some small way--despite your hideous looks and repulsive smell--but I must at least tolerate you for your father's sake." He ignored Legolas' indignant snort and continued. "But don't ever kiss me like that again--even if it is only to make your hunky Noldor jealous. I know where that mouth of yours has been." He shuddered.

"I was not trying to make him jealous," Legolas growled. "I wanted to shock his prudish Noldor sensitivities. He has done nothing but disparage our culture since I first laid eyes on him."

"A trait he shares with his twin," Anglach said wearily. "He just kept droning on and on about 'did we know who his father was' and how we'd have to answer to his grandmother. What kind of warrior threatens me with his grandmother?" Anglach said indignantly, darting a glance at the two Noldor again. Elladan's glare met his gaze so Anglach gave him an engaging grin in return. He could hear his growl from across the clearing. Anglach was not impressed with these Noldor warriors. They were like pups on their first hunt. Pathetic.

It seemed Elrohir was still mesmerized by Legolas, he noticed; the second Noldor was leaning up against a tree-trunk, pupils still hugely dilated from the scones but his eyes remained fixed on Legolas, a small smile on his lips.

Legolas shook his head at Anglach, his brilliant green eyes narrowing as he directed his gaze at the twins now. "They have no idea who my father is," he said. "It should prove a most interesting meeting."

"You mean to bring them to your Father's halls then?"

"It would be most entertaining, don't you think?" Legolas answered.

Anglach snorted. "Thranduil will cut them down to size. If he doesn't flay you for these forest games you play first, that is." He glanced at Elrohir again. "Seriously, Legolas, he can't take his eyes off you." A pensive look came over Anglach's face. "It must still be the effects of the scones," he said mournfully. "That or he has never laid eyes on such a hideous Elf before. It's a good thing he didn't take you for one of the Orcs that were chasing him. Although truth be told you do smell far worse."

Legolas ignored Anglach's comments. "He said he liked the fabric of my leggings," Legolas confided. "I really have no idea what to make of that. Who says something like that?" He shook his head again. "Maybe the Noldor do really care so much about clothing and fashion, like Father says they do. Odd, aren't they?"

Anglach snorted again. "Yes, I'm sure with the way he's ogling you that the fabric of your leggings is what has intrigued him, not that you wear them so tight it leaves nothing to the imagination." His expression grew thoughtful as he looked down at Legolas' crotch. "Although considering there's not much there in the first place the leggings might not be doing you any favors." He bit back a curse of his own as Legolas stomped on his foot, hard.

"That's not what Captain Aegnir said," Legolas retorted quietly, giving their burly Captain a sidelong look as he dropped into the secret patois he and Anglach had used for their own private conversation since they were Elflings. "He appreciates my body, if nothing else."

Anglach followed his gaze to the farthest reach of the clearing, where the Captain stood. "Are you over our Captain already? I thought you were so besotted with him."

"You thought wrong."

"You can't keep your hands off each other," Anglach pointed out.

Legolas leveled a stern gaze at his friend. "When have I turned down a good lay?"

"Point taken. Never, to my knowledge."

"Exactly. He's good in bed but thick in the head. And far too ambitious and unsuited for command. He's interested in me because I am the King's son. He thinks to gain Father's favor by bedding me," Legolas explained.

Anglach choked. "He's certainly not going to get in Thranduil's good graces by doing that!"

"I told you. He's thick in the head. But I'm letting him prove it himself. Father doesn't need idiots like that in the East Bite. This will get him out of the command ranks sooner rather than later," Legolas said.

"Is that why you convinced him to join in our game while he's on furlough? Your father isn't going to like that at all," Anglach said. "He hates it when you do it," he pointed out unhelpfully.

"Aegnir will do anything I say right now, which is exactly what a Captain should not do--furlough or not. He's got no place being Captain of the East Bite, if he's so easily influenced by me. Even if I am the King's son. It should be irrelevant. He's just not a good leader and he's not smart. That command should have gone to Thalos!" Legolas said. "Laerion was a Captain when he was Thalos' age."

So that's what all this with the Captain was about. Legolas was still upset about Thalos being passed over for the command. Anglach shook his head. Thranduil had his reasons. He always had his reasons, even if he didn't share them.

"So, if nothing else I got to have a little fun with him, while he proved he is unfit for command," Legolas said, returning his gaze to the fire.

Anglach nodded, following the trajectory of his friend's gaze. He wasn't gazing at the fire at all. It seemed Legolas was not uninterested in that besotted Noldo after all.
Chapter 6 by Narya
Author's Notes:
Day 6.

I brought a few more characters to the party - I hope that's OK.
They called her the Evenstar, thinking her beauty a fragile, tranquil thing, a delicate silver whisper to be caught in glass and cherished, needing the soft embrace of darkness and the silence of the night before it would unfurl and gently shine.

How little they knew her.

She sat straight-backed on her horse, the bloody fire of sunset flashing in her hair. On the frozen ground behind her, the shadows of ivy-covered trees tangled into a mass of black. The plumage of the golden eagle on her arm glowed in the reddening light. She whispered to it, her breath curling into the wintry air, and Glorfindel's mind flew to the tales of Elwing, Arwen's grandmother, the wild fey queen who was rumoured to speak with birds. Arwen stroked the eagle's throat, crooning quietly, then raised her head.

“I know you're there, Glorfindel.”

Useless to try and hide from her, of course. As well as Elwing's feral watchfulness, he sometimes wondered whether Arwen also had Galadriel's terrifying power to read minds. He stepped out of the shadows, and she smiled at him.

“It's late, I know – but I had to be outside this evening.”

“I won't argue with that.” He breathed in the smoky smell of the dying year, and the timid freshness of new life underneath.

“No word from my brothers and Erestor?”

“Not yet.”

“They've been gone a long time.”

“They are on long patrol,” he pointed out – and quailed as she raised a single eyebrow, a talent she'd inherited from her father. Glorfindel might be Ages older than Elrond and his children, he might have slain balrogs and fought on the slopes of Mount Doom, but the sight of The Eyebrow was enough to turn his insides to water.

Arwen released her eagle, then dropped lightly to the ground and tipped back her head. He knew she was listening to the Song. With her Maia blood she sensed different strains in it than he did, but still he closed his eyes and let it drift around him and into him. This evening it felt like a sad solemn echo, as though the Music was waiting for the world to wake.

A sudden gasp pulled his attention back. Arwen ripped off her falconry glove and drew a dagger from her belt.

“Arwen, what –?”

Before he could stop her she had pricked the white flesh of her finger. Scarlet blood bubbled from the wound. She crouched and stroked the earth, leaving a trail of blood in the frost – and a change came over her face, her features shifting into the predatory look he knew all too well. Evenstar, they called her. Few in Imladris now remembered that when she was a child, Glorfindel and the twins had called her Little Wolf.

“Something is amiss.” She looked up at him, her pupils dilated, her cheeks flushing red, a beautiful unearthly creature, Maia and Mortal and Elvish and wild. “Will you ride with me?”

***

He'd come across signs of the Orc raid in the hills. Maglor had shared songs and stories with the earth long enough to know that Elves were involved in the battle, and he had followed the tracks out of curiosity more than real concern. Why should he care? Who among the Elves, after all, still cared for him?

The trail had led him to the edge of the forest many now called Mirkwood. Here he paused. The Song was tightly wound through this ancient place, the seams of its melodies running rich and deep – but he knew who called himself King in this realm, and he was no friend to anyone of Maglor's bloodline. What, Maglor wondered with a bitter smile, would Thranduil do to a living Kinslayer, to Fëanor's second son?

For long years now he had avoided this forest, sensing inside it something akin to the darkness of old. It tried to hide, but bitter notes crept into the Song around this place, sly discords lurking under the wood's wildness. His bloodline had ever been a beacon to the dark powers of this world – cruelly, jealously, they had devoured his grandfather, his father, his brothers and cousins. He did not intend to let the darkness have him, but he doubted he had the strength now to stand against it as he might have done once.

And yet...

There was something else here too. Something else was stirring, swirling between the counterpoint of dark and light – something wild, primal, from the days before the sun shone on Middle-earth. It whispered to him, calling him by his name and by his fëa, beckoning him under the trees.

Maglor was old and wise enough to know that Yuletide was a time when the borders between worlds grew thin, a time to be feared as well as celebrated. A red slit of sun glowered over the hills behind him. Twilight bled into darkness; pools of blue and lilac light faded into black and grey. Wind bit his cheeks. He should find shelter, build a fire and keep it burning bright until the dawn broke.

The scarred skin tingled on the palm of his hand. Unbidden, his left foot lifted.

I think not. He smiled grimly, and pulled himself back from whatever it was that awoke in the trees. There were plenty of caves in the hills; he would return, find one and make camp. If the scattered Orc corpses were anything to go by, the Elves he'd followed to the edge of the forest had won the day, and were no doubt safe and feasting in Thranduil's halls at this very moment.

As he turned, he noticed a spattering of small dark patches on the snow, a little way away from the main trail. Perhaps one of the Elves had been hurt, and got separated from his party. Or perhaps one of the Orcs had survived. He couldn't see the colour of the blood in this faint light. To make sure, he knelt down and reached out to touch it, opening his soul to hear the stories it had to tell.

The rush of recognition and the crashing storm of emotions and memories behind it sent the earth reeling around him. Fierce, terrifying, protective love; a warm mouth on his; a gentle hand curving around his hip, and the intoxicating heat as his blood rushed to his groin; the long nights spent together, and the lazy days, snatches of peace in a world that was falling apart. And then betrayal, one act of cowardice, and the anger and the years of silence that had followed – but he had always thought there would be time, time to talk and argue and understand, and perhaps, eventually, time to mend things. He had always meant to – but then, he'd told himself, Erestor had been the one at fault. He, Maglor, would wait – for an apology, an explanation, a word. As time went on he made excuses to have the scribe in his presence despite the coldness between them, waiting for even a gentle look, a sign that things were softening between them.

But then the Silmarils had woken, calling him, and there was no more waiting and no more time.

He pulled away, gasping. Frozen breath clouded in front of him.

He waited a moment to gather himself, closing his eyes and willing the rush of blood around his body to slow. He got to his feet carefully, wincing at the bulge in the crotch of his trousers, and laughing a little at it too.

Even now, after all these years. Erestor...

And he was injured, perhaps lying somewhere alone in this haunted forest. The thought sent cold fear curling through his body.

He left you. He has probably forgotten you.

But Maglor had already drawn his knife and entered the woods.

***

Erestor...

The soft whisper of his name jerked him from sleep. His head pounded, his stomach ached dully, and the floor seemed to rock underneath him. He moaned, feeling sick. He had imagined the voice. The one it belonged to had been lost for a long time. He felt Legolas's hand stroking his forehead, and he drifted back into the shadowy world between waking and dreaming.

He was running through the woods, pursued by spectral black figures which snatched at his clothes and cackled in his ear. He flapped his hands at them, trying to swat them away – but they danced into the shadows, laughing at him, and now his arms weren't working. Nor were his legs...he wasn't running any more...in fact he was on the ground, and the cackling spectres bent over him while he kicked ineffectually. His limbs felt so heavy, and the terrible things were reaching for him...he made one last effort, flailing out at them – and a strong hand caught at his arms, gripping his wrists firmly.

“Hush. Be still. I am here.”

Legolas. His beautiful sylvan – or sindar – saviour. He blinked the shadows away and tried to sit up, groaning as the dizziness washed over him again.

“Easy now.” Legolas deftly slipped an arm around his shoulders to support him. “The poison's still running its course. You'll be alright, but it will take a little time.”

“I saw...shadows...strange creatures.” He spoke slowly, carefully, embarrassed by his weakness and his thick, stupid-sounding speech. “And I thought I heard...” He closed his eyes, relaxing as Legolas's thumb stroked across his brow and temple. “I was dreaming,” he finished softly.

“Yes and no.” Legolas sounded thoughtful. “Yule in the wood is a dangerous time. There are things awake in the trees tonight that I have not felt since my father's day.” A pause. The wind hissed in the bare branches around him. “I hope my son and his foolish friends are alright.”

A son? Not trusting himself to speak sensibly or intelligibly, Erestor reached up and covered Legolas's hand with his own. He breathed slowly, listening to the sounds of the forest around him. He imagined he could hear the cackling of the shadow-creatures again, and a thudding rhythm like hoofbeats seemed to echo through the trees. A hunt! He relaxed, thinking he could hear the cantering and prancing of the horses and the excited barks of the hounds – and somewhere ahead, above, beyond the trees, the mournful calling of a horn. He yearned to rise up, to follow it home...

“No!”

Legolas shook him, and reluctantly Erestor opened his eyes again. For the first time his rescuer looked afraid.

“Do not listen to them. Stay with me; look at me.” Legolas cradled Erestor closely. “It will be alright as long as you stay here - fëa and hröa. Do you understand? Fëa and hröa. Ignore their call; concentrate on me, you must keep looking at me!”

It was no hardship, Erestor thought, to look at this beautiful woodland creature – especially flushed and wild-looking as he was now. He wondered what Legolas was like as a lover. A pity he was in no state to find out.

He reached up to touch the silky sheet of golden hair, his fingers brushing the pointed tip of Legolas's ear, not quite by accident. Legolas gasped sharply, more colour flooding the lovely face, and Erestor felt a familiar warm ache in his groin. He stroked the lovely white throat and traced his fingers across the shape of Legolas's collarbone, then withdrew his touch and tilted his head, inviting and daring the one who held him to go further. Come, then, you beauty. You want me to concentrate on you? That can be arranged.

The kiss tasted of pine and salt and spices. The winter voices of the forest cried out in the night around them, and the frozen smell of snow drifted up from the ground.
End Notes:
I hope this is OK...you can all blame cheekybeak for turning me into a hopeless Maglor/Erestor shipper, but I couldn't resist the pairing of Erestor and Thranduil either, so thank you for that, ziggy!
Chapter 7 by Naledi


Legolas stretched his hands out to the sentinel tree as they rode past, brushing away a dusting of snow and letting its welcome flow through him. He closed his eyes, trusting Celegwath to find the way at the same smooth canter. He reached out, testing one by one the links with his brothers, and finally, after a brief hesitation, his father. But when he touched the link, bracing himself, it wasn’t anger or even disappointment he felt. There was another presence there. Ancient. An elf, certainly, but not a Wood-elf. There was no twining with the Song of the trees, but instead it was threaded with adamant, fire and a deep yearning.

He glanced across at Elrohir. ‘I believe I have located your missing friend.’

Elrohir frowned and looked about him. ‘Where?’

Legolas shook his head. How the Noldor had ever managed to gain their reputation of great learning was beyond him. ‘Not here.’ He managed to bite back the word 'idiot' just in time. ‘I feel him in the Song. He is with my father.’

‘Ah, I forgot. Your father. Is that where we’re going?’ Elrohir giggled. There was no other word for it. An absurd sound for a respectable Noldo to make. ‘A Silvan family gathering in the middle of the woods, complete with aunties and cousins.’

Legolas glanced sideways at Elrohir. He’d hoped a night’s sleep would have got the last of the effects of Galion’s scones out of the Noldo’s system, but judging from the dilated pupils and dazed smile, the hope was a forlorn one. His father was not going to be happy. Not happy at all. ‘Something like that,’ he replied.

Elrohir giggled again. ‘Lots of cheese scones, I hope.’

‘No cheese scones.’ That was Elladan, Elrohir’s obnoxious twin. He had recovered enough to sit on a horse unaided. Legolas could only pray he hadn’t recovered enough to wield a sword. Otherwise, judging from Elladan’s narrowed gaze and clenched jaw,  Legolas was about to lose the ability to sire children in a rather nasty and messy way.

Elladan turned a flinty gaze upon him. ‘This is all your fault.’

‘It’s hardly my fault he can’t handle Galion’s scones.’ Although Legolas couldn’t help but be impressed Elrohir could sit on a horse at all, after consuming enough scones to fell an oliphaunt. Legolas knew from bitter experience that if he’d eaten as much as Elrohir, he’d currently be stark naked at the top of a tree, crooning love songs to the moon. Anglach had never let him forget.

‘You shouldn’t have offered them in the first place.’ Elladan shot him a dagger sharp glare; Legolas reflexively shielded his groin with his hands. ‘My father warned us against coming here, and now I know why. I demand an audience with your King. He deserves to hear how visitors to his realm are treated.’

Oh, he’d find out all right. If Legolas was lucky he’d only have to spend the next six months scrubbing out the latrines in the barracks.

‘Don’t be so mean to Legolas.’ Legolas’s heart did an odd flip at the sound of Elrohir coming to his defence. He had a lovely voice, deep and musical. ‘You’re just jealous because he’s got nicer leggings than you. And nicer legs. Much nicer. And a huge—’ Elrohir hiccuped.

Thank Elbereth. The scones were wearing off at last. The hiccups were the first sign of recovery. And that warm, gooey feeling was relief that he wouldn’t have to introduce his father to a respected visitor who was clearly under the influence of several of Galion’s delicacies. It was nothing to do with pleasure that Elrohir found him attractive. After all, it wasn’t as if he found Elrohir attractive in return.

He glanced again at Elrohir and warmth bloomed deep in his belly. Although, now he came to study Elrohir, he couldn’t help but notice the broad shoulders beneath that ridiculously bulky cloak, the long, straight back, the exquisitely sculpted cheeks and brows and those lips…oh, he’d like to find out what those lips could do.

Oh, merciful Eru. This couldn’t be happening. Of all the men he could develop an attraction for, it had to be an arrogant Noldo, whom he’d drugged for a joke. Not to mention someone whose brother would happily geld him and wear his balls as earrings. He buried his face in his hands and groaned.

‘Something the matter?’ Anglach was grinning at him with a clear-eyed gaze he had no right to possess, considering the amount of scones he himself had consumed.

Legolas straightened. ‘Nothing.’ Then the next memory slammed into his gut. Him kissing the captain and all the other members of the patrol. What was it the sanctimonious Elladan was so fond of saying? Ah, yes. By Aule’s flaming dick, what had possessed him? Because the excuse he’d given Anglach had been just that. Yes, the opportunity of showing his father the mistake of not making Aegnir Captain of the East Bite had been an added advantage, but that wasn’t the true reason. No, it had been to make Elrohir jealous, plain and simple. To show him what he would be missing if he turned Legolas down.

Because Legolas found Elrohir heart-stoppingly, groin-tighteningly desirable. He wanted to take him to his bed, strip off those many layers of unnecessary clothes and discover if the Noldor were as passionate as the old tales would have him believe.

Only Elladan knew he’d drugged Elrohir, and when he found out, Elrohir would never forgive him. Never let him demonstrate how wild and flexible a Silvan could be. And even if, by some miracle, Elrohir did forgive him, he’d still never end up in Legolas’s bed, not when Legolas was going to ooze the unmistakable odour of stinky latrines for the next six months.

He looked wildly about. It wasn’t too late. He could run away. Drag Elrohir off to his flet and—

The King’s guard dropped from the trees, surrounding the group. The captain approached and bowed to Legolas.

‘Welcome home, Prince Legolas.’

Buggery bollocks. Too late. He braced himself.

‘The King says you’re to bring your guests to him immediately.’ The captain tossed a bundle into Legolas’s arms. ‘He suggests you put this on first.’

Legolas unfolded the bundle. It was worse than he feared. This was the tunic embroidered with bluebells that his father made him wear when especially displeased with him. Wait. There was something else. A mithril circlet dropped into his lap, and his heart sank.

Anglach whistled. ‘And the circlet that makes you look like a girl. The King’s really not happy with you.’

Legolas picked up the circlet between thumb and forefinger, wrinkling his nose at the delicate mithril wreath of wood anemones. If he wore this he would never lure Elrohir into his bed.

End Notes:

Okay, Ziggy, it's all yours!

Chapter 8 by ziggy


 

It’s really hard writing under pressure like this and picking up where someone left off!! I had this so clear in my head until Naledi’s bombshells nuked my plot!!  ;D And I just wanted to play a bit more with the bluebell tunic.

 

Chapter 8

 

 

Thranduil was more than a little irritated by the interruption from Thalos, even though Thalos began the warning whistles quite a long way off so Thranduil had plenty of time to recover himself and arrange things so his desire for Elrohir was hidden deep. After all, his sons did not know how their father craved a little warmth, a little comfort for it had been a long, long time since their mother had gone. And there had only been that one time, too deep in his grief for his beloved father to care what he did or how cruelly…He shook himself. He would never see Glorfindel again and shoved the feelings, the cringing at his carelessness and arrogant unkindness. No. He would not think on that.

 

Elrohir was sleeping deeply, his eyelashes long against his cheek, flushed with sleep and poison that was yet to purge itself fro his body. Thranduil looked slowly around the flet, checking that things were in order. The silk screen was pulled so that Elrohir was screened.

 

There was a soft thud as Thalos landed on the oak flet. He flashed his quicksilver smile that Thranduil loved and he could not help but smile back. He pulled his middle son into a fatherly embrace, remembering the child Thalos had been, his endless curiosity, his endless questions.

 

‘There must be some important news to disturb me in my Yule meditations,’ he said, turning and pouring Thalos a goblet of wine. He poured one for himself too and settled on the large cushions on the flet, silver silk and green like the beech itself.

 

‘There is indeed, my lord.’ Thalos waited until the King indicated that he might sit, for he was here as the King’s warrior, not his son. ‘There is news that two Noldor elves have been found in the Wood.’ He paused uncomfortably, his green eyes flashed away and back. Nervously. ‘…Legolas has found them.’

 

Thranduil sighed heavily and leaned back against the cushions, his goblet dangling from elegant fingers. ‘Well of course he did.’ It was almost inevitable that if there was trouble to be had, Legolas would find it. ‘And Anglach was with him?’ Thalos nodded, almost wincing. ‘Well I suppose they can’t actually do any harm to Noldor warriors. They are warriors?’ he asked, thinking of Elrohir sleeping within arm’s reach. He wondered why he had kept Elrohir secret for a moment and then admitted to himself that he hoped to have a little longer with the Elf, to perhaps know him…

 

‘Um…’ Thalos looked nervous. This warrior who had slain more Orcs than anyone in the Bite, who had single-handedly brought two other warriors back from the environs of Dol Guldur, slayer of Orcs and Trolls-( for he had single-handedly brought a great mountain troll to its knees and then jumped onto its head and put an arrow through tis skull, a move much admired by the younger elves, especially Anglach and Legolas, who would use the same move much later) and so on, licked his lips nervously and then chewed his lip.

 

A sure sign, thought Thranduil. He knew all the ways of his children.

 

‘Well?’ he said, a very slight warning note in his voice.

 

It made Thalos wince for his little brother but there was no protecting him now. ‘Legolas had given them Galion’s scaänes.’

 

Thranduil froze. ‘He has what?’

 

 

 

Thalos’ shoulders dropped a little and he gave in. ‘When Legolas captured the first one, according to Anglach, he offered the Noldo scaäne while Anglach caught the second one. He says the second one really swears. Really, really swears. He says they look the same.’

 

‘The Noldor all look the same,’ Thranduil said. He could hear Anglach’s voice in this, see him as well as if he stood before him, just blurting everything out. It had always been so easy to find out the truth from Anglach. Invariably Legolas was at the heart of any trouble and Anglach tagging along for the ride. This would be the same now…. But the Noldor did not all look the same, he thought. There was one who looked nothing like the the rest, not black hair and grey eyes, but golden hair like the sun.

 

 

‘According to Anglach, they were a party of three, one of their number is lost,’ Thalos was saying.

 

Thranduil raised one dark eyebrow and regarded Thalos thoughtfully.

 

‘Well I believe I may have found him.’ He gestured lightly to the silk screen. ‘He is poisoned. Spider poison only. He will recover soon. Sleeping it off I would say.’

 

Thalos tapped his fingers against the floor. ‘Is he a Noldo too?’ He knew how his father viewed the Noldor and pitied the poor Elf who was being ‘treated’. After all Thranduil still held bitterness in his heart for the Last Alliance and Dagorlad. He could not forgive Elrond and Gil-Galad and as far as Thalos knew, Thranduil thought that Gil-Galad got his just deserts and Elrond had merely escaped Justice.

 

‘He is,’ Thranduil said, rising smoothly to his feet ‘Have Legolas bring them to the stronghold.’ He looked down imperiously at Thalos. ‘Tell him he must dress as a Prince.’ He considered for a moment and then said nastily, ‘The bluebell tunic and mithril circlet.’

 

Thalos green eyes, green as the beech leaves in Spring, flashed up at him. ‘Are you sure, Father?’ he asked gently. ‘You know how he hates any sort of ceremonial robes…and that one is just…a bit….Well.’

 

Thranduil frowned as if bemused, knowing full well how much Legolas hated that particular costume. It was why Thranduil had had it made. And why he chose it now; a punishment. For Legolas’ good looks and flirtatious manner were completely annulled in this outfit for he looked so impossibly girlish it was hard not to pull his chair out for him when he sat down. Thranduil knew he was smirking. Anglach would tease him horribly.

 

 ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘He does indeed.’

 

He tipped the last of his wine down his throat and then paused. ‘The third member of their party is behind the screen. Bring him.

 

0o0o

 

 

0o0o0

 

Anglach stared with round eyes at the bluebell tunic and circlet that Galadhon had handed to him with a big smirk and told him that he had better be wearing it when he saw the King.. ‘Ooh, Legolas. You look so pretty in that dress. Like a little Orc Princess.’

 

Legolas glared at him. ‘I do not. I look like a…a…’ He gave up. ‘I look like a beautiful Princess waiting for some creepy Prince. That’s what I look like.’  He sighed heavily and threw the tunic away from him but Anglach ran after it and picked it up, bruising off the twigs and dirt and grinned at him.

 

‘The King will be furious if you aren’t wearing it when you get there. And he will have some Good and Wise reason for it.’ He smiled sweetly for he was convinced that everything Thranduil did was wise and just.

 

‘But what will Elrohir think?’ Legolas burst out and then blushed, glancing towards the Noldor twins who rode behind them. ‘And Elladan?’ he added quickly. ‘They will think I am some silly prince who doesn’t do anything but flounce about in silk robes. I will look ridiculous with this on.’

 

‘It looks more like a dress than a robe,’ Anglach reminded him helpfully. ‘They will think you are a sweet little princess whose family might be on their way from the Misty Mountains to collect you and take you home to Ada Goblin and Nana Goblin. They probably will call you something like Princess Shitface.’

 

There was a muffled splutter from the Woodelves riding nearby and Legolas turned to glare at them.

 

‘I’m not going to wear it,’ he said mutinously.

 

‘You are,’ said a new voice nearby.

 

And Elf landed from the beech trees in front of them nearly unseating Elladan.

 

‘Morgoth’s fucking dick and pants!’ he swore loudly.

 

There was an admiring oooh from the Woodelves and they looked appreciatively at Elladan. Who did not look appreciatively back.

 

‘Thalos,’ Legolas sighed in resignation. ‘I suppose he had sent you to make sure I had this lot on.’

 

Thalos grinned at him. ‘Don’t worry. I’ve got one for Anglach too.’ He threw a bundle at Anglach who looked horrified and shook out the green silk tunic with silver and gold thread. ‘Oh, I like this one. I like the little flowers on the hem. Anyway, the King likes it and he is Good and Wise.’

 

Legolas rolled his eyes but Thalos said, ‘He’s not far away so I would get into this gear if I were you. He won’t be happy if you’re still in those leggings. Honestly Legolas. What do you look like?’

 

‘Very well.’ Legolas shot a look at Elrohir and Elladan who were watching with interest. Elrohir watched with wide adoring eyes and Elladan with contempt. ‘Carry on ahead, Captain,’ he called to Aegnir, who turned an equally adoring look onto Legolas and then glared at Elrohir.

 

The little group set off, leaving Anglach and Legolas behind.

 

‘Come on,’ said Legolas grumpily. ‘Let’s get into these stupid clothes.’

 

They disappeared into a clump of bushes and emerged in their finery like glittery, sparkly dolls.

 

AS they did so, a rough, uncouth voice said behind them, ‘Well well well. Ladies?

An ugly Orc grinned. Its teeth were pointed and sharp, it s eyes were yellow and fixed upon them. There were four others with it, equally ugly. They leered at the two elves and licked their lips salaciously. The first one held out one arm to each of them in horrible parody of a dance. ‘May I offer an arm?’

 

Legolas flashed a look at Anglach who tossed his head and said in a falsetto, ‘You may indeed kind sir!’ And cut off one arm.

 

Legolas pivoted on one foot and cut off the other. Then cut off its head. It fell to the earth with a grumbling oof and a surprised look upon its hideous face.

 

The battle was brief and extremely violent with the Orcs screaming in terror and running as fast as they could from these two terrifying elf maids who were yodelling in delight and elation and running after them into the darkness of the forest.

 

Only one Orc escaped to return to the Tower to tell his tale of the dreadful banshees who would put on the guise of fair maidens and then turn into terrible harpies who pursued innocent males who were just looking for a bit of fun but ended up with their testicles cut off and their penises stuck into their mouths.

 

Legolas and Anglach wiped their knives on the grass and grinned at each other, breathing hard. ‘That’s better,’ Legolas said, wiping his hands on the dead Orc’s tunic. He grimaced at Anglach. ‘You look a right mess,’ he said.

 

‘So do you,’ Anglach replied.

 

And then the Wood around them seemed to tip and sway wildly and colours swirled and there was wild music.

 

‘The Rhaw-Braig,’ Legolas said in a hushed voice. He looked about him. Elrohir had heard them last night, calling to him. But it was Legolas who had raised them with his wildness and profligacy. The sexual tension that had whirled about his little group ,with his kissing Aegnir, his attraction to Elrohir had called them and now The Wild Hunt would ride with them, trailing them, calling their spirits. Hunting them.

 

He looked at Anglach. ‘Run!’

 

 

0o0o

Chapter 9 by cheekybeak
Author's Notes:

So since atmospheric weirdness is not my forte I leave Legolas and Anglach to Gabriel who will. I'm sure, make a much better job of them than I would. 

Instead we have us a little Thranduil and Erestor........or is that Elrohir and Legolas??? 


Thranduil waited after Thalos left. He watched Elrohir sleep and waited for his disobedient, difficult, lovable son. What was he going to do with Legolas? Nothing he had tried so far had done anything to dent his ever-present mischief. He was fast running out of ideas. 

Now Legolas had given the wandering Noldor scaänes in the midst of the forest. What were they doing here anyway, these Noldor?  Except his secret Elrohir of course. The others just were not welcome! 

“My Lord!”

The call came up to him from the forest floor and it was not Legolas as it should have been. Where was the boy? Thranduil thought with the beginnings of irritation. 

“Come up Aegnir.”

Thranduil did not think much of Aegnir, although he had been forced to make him captain against his better judgement. His Father wielded power in the council and had been undefeatable; but Thranduil watched and waited. One day Aegnir would give him the perfect chance to dismiss him. 

Perhaps that day was now? 

With a last hurried glance to ensure Elrohir was still completely hidden from sight Thranduil turned slowly to face the captain as he entered the flet. He looked anxious. Good, Thranduil thought. So he should. 

“News has reached me—“ he used his most imperious voice, “that you have been running wild in the forest with my son. Hardly befitting behaviour for a captain. And where is Legolas?” 

He watched with satisfaction as Aegnir’s face blanched white.

“He follows us, My Lord. He had to change his apparel. . . On your orders.”

Ah, the bluebell tunic, Thranduil smiled to himself. Legolas would be hating that. Then he remembered the Noldor. 

“Thalos mentioned some Noldor. Where are they?” 

“Washing in the river,” Aegnir gulped. “They insisted, before they saw you. At least the one with the foul mouth insisted. The other is not capable of any thought at all.”

Was that bitterness, Thranduil wondered, in the captains voice? What could that be about? 

“Well then,” He folded his arms sternly and pulled himself to his full height. “We have plenty of time to talk about you.” 

“Me?” 

The word was a squeak at best. Oh Thranduil was enjoying this! 

“You are a captain Aegnir. Or at least supposed to be one. In what way does this behaviour befit you? How can I allow you to the East Bite, in charge of men when you spend your time so childishly here? What message are you sending? What possessed you?” 

He had him now, Thranduil thought. Oh yes, he had him now!

But the captain held his hands up in supplication.

“My Lord, let me explain. When I heard word of Legolas’ plans to run wild in the wood I knew a simple order from me would not stop him. Legolas is —unpredictable and spontaneous. He would just have ignored me and gone anyway at the first opportunity. I went with him to keep him safe . . . And protect the honour of the Wood.”

Drat it all to Mordor, he had an excuse! 

And it was a good one. Thranduil had to admit it made sense. Legolas would not have be forestalled by anything this captain might have said. 

“But I have failed,” Aegnir dropped his head. “For he poisoned the Noldor called Elrohir and I can only imagine what the rest of the Noldor will say when they hear.”

“He what?” Thranduil could not believe his ears. “He poisoned . . . Are you sure the Noldor was Elrohir?” 

“He gave him scaäne” The Captain said sadly. 

Thranduil was horrified. His secret Elrohir poisoned by his own son? He could have sworn the poison was from an orc sword dipped in spider venom. He could have sworn it. But who knew how Noldor reacted to scaäne?

“He gave him the scaäne even though he was injured?” It didn’t bear thinking about and Aegnir suddenly looked just as horrified. 

“Was he injured?” He cried. “We didn’t know . . . Well we didn’t actually look. He never complained.”

“Of course he was injured! How could you have missed it?” This had to be the most terrible thing Legolas had ever done, Thranduil thought. Worse even than that woman in Laketown! 

He stared at Aegnir through narrowed eyes.

“Just how many scaäne did you have?” 

The Captain blushed and could not look him in the eye and then Thranduil knew. He knew

They had all been completely out of their minds on those damn scaäne—enough not to notice that most obvious of injuries—so it must have been as bad as the night Legolas tried to serenade the moon naked. 

Poor Elrohir. He could see it now. Injured, confused and poisoned by the scaäne, surronded by Legolas and his —quite possibly naked—friends he had made a run for it, getting lost in the forest until Thranduil found him.

The whole scenario was a disaster.   


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Erestor had been having quite a pleasant dream. He was almost disappointed to awaken but when he did he most certainly did not recognise his surroundings, not at first. 

Then he remembered the glorious Legolas who bought him here. The one who was healing him Where was he? Surely he had not left him here alone.

He did not have to wonder on that for long for the curtain was thrown back and Legolas himself stepped through . . . And he was upset . . About something. Erestor found, with some surprise, he did not want him to be upset at all.

"You are awake, How do you feel?" Legolas asked. Oh that voice was beautiful; almost as beautiful as—no he must not think of that, and anyway no-one's voice was as beautiful as his. But he must not think of him . . He must not. Erestor shut his mind determinedly against the past. 

"Fine," he said softly in reply, "I am fine, much better." 

"I am so sorry." Legolas dropped to his knees to kneel beside him where he lay, "So very sorry." 

"Sorry for what?" Erestor was confused. What did he have to apologise for? He had rescued him, cared for him. Unless . . . Elbereth, let nothing have happened to the twins! 

"I have just discovered my son was the one who poisoned you." Legolas continued while Erestor stared at him in amazement. "I am sure he did not mean the consequences. He is wild, difficult to control at times."

Erestor was one of Maedhros Feanorion's people. He came to Arda on the ships. He had been there since those first dark days. He had heard the tales of lost elves, kidnapped, twisted by Morgoth into orcs. He had even lost friends that way himself. He well knew the wondering if, ever, at one time, the orc you killed had been someone else, one you loved. But those days were gone, the days of disappearing elves. Orcs bred themselves now. 

He was frozen in horror. Did the darkness still steal elves and twist them into monstrosities in Mirkwood? 

For he knew it was orcs who had injured him, poisoned him, he could remember it clearly and anyway Legolas had told him that himself. But now he was insisting it had been his own son? There was only one explanation. The orc that did this to him was once the son of this glorious golden creature . . . His heart wept. 

"You do not need to apologise for that!" He was horrified, that Legolas believed he was responsible while bearing this loss. 

"Oh but I do. He has always been headstrong but this just takes the cake, this behaviour—"

Headstrong? Headstrong! How on earth did you describe an orc as headstrong? Erestor was gobsmacked. 

"This behaviour is completely unacceptable. He will be disciplined I promise you."

"Disciplined?" Erestor gasped, "How?" For how did you discipline an orc he wondered? Especially a headstrong one. 

"He will apologise to you for starters."

That was the moment Erestor realised his lovely Legolas was mad with grief. 

He was obviously in complete denial.

"That is not necessary!" He cried, for the last thing on earth he wanted was to come face to face with that orc again—and it would never apologise anyway. 

"Oh it most certainly is necessary!  I go to speak to him now and when I have finished he will wish he had never seen me." 

"No!" Erestor was filled with alarm, "You cannot go and see him. It is not safe!" 

"It is perfectly safe. He is little more than a child. I may not be able to control him but I am not afraid of him." 

But you should be, Erestor thought. You should be afraid, for he is your child no longer.

It was all so very, very, sad. 

He could only watch as Legolas rose to his feet. 

"I shall be back," he murmured as he moved towards the curtain that hung between Erestor and the outside world. "You will be safe here." 

"No! Don't go!" Erestor swung his legs over the side of the bed but he was too slow, his muscles too sluggish. He could not move fast enough and Legolas was gone . . . Out into the dark to search for his long lost son. Erestor could not bear to think on it. 

What could he do? Should he take his Legolas to Elrond? As annoying as Elrond was he may be able to fix this madness, this belief he could still communicate with his son? 

But then Elrond had failed miserably with Celebrian. 

He pulled himself to his feet but that only caused a disconcerting amount of stars to burst in front of his eyes. Damn this poison.

"Erestor!" The hissed whisper surprised him. It was an hallucination of course, probably from the poison, because he had been thinking of him earlier. "Erestor, are you there?" He was shocked when he turned himself around, unsteady on his feet, to see a genuine real looking illusion. He was certain if he reached out and touched him he would feel real. He had dropped out of the sky like magic. 

"I have been hiding behind these cushions for an age waiting for you to wake up! Who is that Sindar with a son who poisons you? Is it some retaliation for Doriath? Have they still not let that go?" 

"No, they haven't," Erestor said numbly wondering why he was bothering to talk to an illusion. 

"You were not even there!" 

"Why are you here? Why am I talking to you?" He wondered out loud and he reached out to touch. It was when his fingers felt solid skin, bone, warmth, that the room truly began to spin and he could not breathe. 

One random thought floated through his mind. 

At least Maglor will know what to do about the Orc Son." 

And then the floor rose up to meet him. The last thing he heard was pure Feanorian frustration. 

"Really, Erestor? This penchant of yours for fainting is still seriously annoying!" 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"Arwen!" Glorfindel was sick of this. Would Arwen never stop? Could Elrond not have tried just a little bit harder to install some discipline in her?

Now she had led him right to the edge of Mirkwood. Mirkwood, where he had sworn he would never go. Mirkwood where Thranduil dwelt. 

Thranduil . . . The sound of the name reverberated through his mind. 

If he set foot in this forest there was no way he could avoid meeting him again . . . After all these years. 

"Arwen! Enough is enough. We go no further!" 

But she did not listen —damn the girl. She kept on riding.

And so Glorfindel had no choice. He did what he swore he would never do. 

He rode on in to Mirkwood. 


 


Chapter 10 by Gabriel
Author's Notes:
This is un-beta-d in fact un-everything.

I have agonized over this chapter for hours and am still not happy with it.

I just hope there is some semblance of a story.
Erestor’s eyes fluttered open to the face he had loved once…still loved, eyes that looked upon him like he was the only one worthy of this man’s attention. He wasn’t so sure he deserved it anymore. Turmoil bubbled up from deep within at the thought.

He was lying in Maglor’s lap, Maglor’s arms around him rocking him back and forth while quietly singing. “It is really you?” Erestor asked in a hoarse whisper as he reached up a hand to cup the Fëanorion’s face.

Maglor smiled back and slipped his own hand over Erestor’s leaning into it. He could feel a warmth enveloping his mind and body and he shivered unintentionally as memories came flooding back to him, threatening to drown him in a wave of joy, love and ecstasy.

An ecstasy that took you to the stars and back and had you begging for more. He gasped, suddenly unable to draw a breath. Maglor! It was any wonder the great Makalaurë was not worshipped as a god. For in Erestor’s eyes he was.

Maglor smiled, “Golovir!” the endearment falling from his lips in a voice rich deep in its timbre that embraced Erestor like the arms of a beloved and that conjured images from the past, of unbridled passion. That bespoke of promises, to his body, his very being, like no other.

Long fingers trailed a path slow and deliberate across his cheek, eyes silver blue blazed with passion and a sinful mouth promised to delight and devour both.


He had missed that voice, a sound that resonated with your very Fëa. Its ability to make one do things they otherwise would not. To weave images out of thin air that left you breathless with wonder, your face streaked with spent tears your heart your mind not your own.

It was this very thought that had caused Erestor to pause. But it was on one such occasion amidst the throes of passion where Maglor had forgotten himself, had not kept that power in check causing objects to move of their own volition and had without realising pinned Erestor to the bed without touching him, that really shook Erestor to the core. He had come away from the whole ordeal visibly shaken.


He had already seen the effects Maglor’s anger had had on surrounding terrain and on buildings, it was only a matter of time before someone was hurt.


If Maglor could influence the very fabric of this world and everyone in it, then how could Erestor be sure his thoughts and feelings were his own? How could he tell Maglor that the very power of this gift frightened his lover.

He could not and so he had fled fearing that if he stayed, he would not have been around now to impart his wisdom to the beautiful and impossible twins or to walk with Arwen through the glades of Imladris; he nodding totally bored while she pointed out and named the fauna and flora. A lovely girl he considered a daughter.


Or sitting with Elrond sipping wine and listening to him endlessly drone on about Gil galad and the Last Alliance, as if Erestor himself had not been there. If Erestor was deemed a coward then so be it.


He fled from his feelings, from his life and from Maglor himself. Fled to the Havens and the Isle of Balar and from there to Lindon after the War of the Wrath and into the waiting arms of Celebrimbor.


Celebrimbor. Ah! Yes! What was that cliché he had heard from the Clans of Men. To jump from the frying pan into the fire! Well, he had certainly done that. But it had not been love, just a companionship of sorts. A companionship born of loneliness accompanied by wild sex. Celebrimbor was aggressive if not demanding to say the least.

He felt a sudden withdrawal, an emptiness upon his mind soft and subtle as if a presence that had been there one moment had been extinguished.

Maglor was staring at him, a tumult of emotion, “Why did you not tell me of this?” Erestor proffered him a half-hearted smile, “Celebrimbor was a safe option.”

“Not that!” Maglor looked a little frustrated, “I do not know,” Erestor said sighing and looking down at his abdomen where the gash from an Orc cleaver had once been and now only a silvery scar remained.

“I feared you’re anger, I feared your silence on the matter, I feared so much that I just left,” he was looking at his hands. Maglor took one of those hands in his, bringing it to his lips and pressing a soft lingering kiss to his knuckles drawing the Councillor’s amber eyes to his silver, “I am so sorry,” his gaze darting between Erestor’s.


“It is I who should apologise,” the Councillor said Maglor cocked his head to one side regarding him with an expression the Councillor had not seen in ages. “Nonsense, we are both at fault here.”

“But, maybe we can come to some arrangement,” Erestor narrowed his gaze, “What did you have in mind?” a slow devious smile tugged at the corners of Maglor’s delectable mouth, cocking a black brow suggestively, Erestor laughed and Maglor shot forward lightning fast to claim his mouth muffling the sudden outburst, Erestor eliciting a strangled sound of surprise as he was lowered to the awaiting furs.
End Notes:
'Golovir' {Noldo Jewel}
Chapter 11 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Author's Notes:
this was a rush job and I wish it could have been better--I am not quite content with it but I hope you enjoy it anyway--my day was crazy busy yesterday so this is the result of very late night writing and early morning rushed editing! Thanks to cheekybeak for an inspiration she will recognize when she reads it!--Nelyafinwefeanorion
Maglor pulled back from the kiss, the taste of spider poison lingering on his tongue. His grey eyes met Erestor's, the other's puzzled expression not masking his exhaustion. Maglor shook his head gently as he pressed a kiss to Erestor's forehead. "You must rest. I have healed your wound and taken as much of the poison from you as I can but what you need most now is rest, my Erestor." He pressed his lips to Erestor's brow once again. "I have found you again. I will not leave you."

Erestor blinked up, the press of Maglor's lips still haunting him. "You will not leave? And if Legolas returns? You are not a welcome presence among the Sindar, Maglor."

"That is no worry to me. I will hear if any approaches and make myself scarce, but I will not leave you." He stroked the silky black hair back. "Rest."

Erestor reached up to run a finger along Maglor's jawline, making the Feanorion close his eyes and breathe out a sigh at the touch. "Do not let them find you. I know your power, if you are caught, but it is not worth alienating the Sindar any further. It would do more harm to Elrond than you know."

"I know more than you think. It will not come to that, I promise you. I will watch for your Sindar's return. Now settle yourself, Erestor. The wound is healed and the poison gone but it has left weakness in its wake." Maglor moved to allow Erestor to lean back against the cushions, slotting himself next to the other Noldor. "Hush. Close your eyes and rest."

Erestor heard a soft murmur and then that beloved voice, singing a melody he remembered from days spent among trees of a different kind--trees that had given light to a land he had long ago abandoned. He sighed and closed his eyes, feeling Maglor's familiar warmth next to him, the song lulling him into much needed sleep.

__________________________________________________

"Run!" Legolas shouted at Anglach again. The horns of the Wild Hunt reverberated around them. Legolas could hear their voices in the air behind them now. Too close. He grabbed the sleeve of Anglach's festive tunic--stained with Orc blood and mud now--and pulled.

They sprinted through the forest, skirting around trees and leaping over fallen branches. They were not all that far from the fortress or the flet Thranduil kept for himself outside the gates but Anglach wasn't sure they would get that far. The sounds of the Wild Hunt grew even closer.

There was an old tree, ancient as the forest, not far from where they were, Anglach remembered. It's trunk had split long ago and there was a hollowed out space inside--a space where he and Legolas would often hide as youths, trying to evade Galion's chores and Thranduil's reprimands. It should be just ahead.

He had just spotted it when the trees around them swirled and tilted yet again. "Come on!" he called out to Legolas. "This way!"

They stumbled their way to the old tree, the forest swaying and spinning around them. Anglach darted in first, followed by Legolas. It was a far snugger fit than Anglach recalled.

"This won't do for long," Legolas said, leaning back against the inside of the tree trunk and closing his eyes, his hands splayed out on the living tree behind him. "We can't let them surround us here. We've got to make for the Halls."

"They might veer off, if we've disappeared," Anglach suggested but Legolas shook his head.

"Not if they've got our scent, they won't. They'll have us right where they want us." He opened his eyes to stare at Anglach. "We've got to get to the Halls. They can't get us underground."

"I don't hear the horns now," Anglach pointed out. "Maybe they've moved on? Found others to harass?"

"Doubt it," Legolas said. "You know the stories just as well as I do." He ran a hand through his hair, causing Anglach to stare at him in consternation.

"Your circlet!" Anglach exclaimed. "You dropped it. We must get it back. The King will be surely be furious if you've lost it."

Legolas groaned. "Blast the bloody circlet, Anglach. The Orcs can have it, for all I care. I hope one of them wears it to their cursed Yule celebration. I'm well rid of it."

Anglach shook his head mournfully. "Your father won't be happy. You might find yourself at the Orc's celebration once he hears about this." He narrowed his eyes at Legolas. "You'd fit in better there anyway, with your looks." Anglach's face brightened as he grinned. "You should try one of Elladan's phrases. Your swearing is pathetic. Something like 'By Aule's flaming dick, I'm glad to be rid of that circlet.' That sounds much more manly, especially if you are wearing the bluebell tunic."

"Shut up!" Legolas hissed, as a horn call sounded out.

They listened in silence for a moment and then Legolas whispered, his mouth close to Anglach's ear now. "It sounds like it's moving east of us."

"Between us and the Halls then," Anglach said. He blinked and then whispered back to Legolas. "We are near your father's flet here, aren't we? We should make for it, get off the ground, at least until they move off. The trees will protect us. We can't stay in this one long--it's too noticeable."

Legolas calculated distances in his head. Anglach was right; the flet was closer than the Halls. The trees would do their best to shield them and once he was up in the branches he could send a bird to Thalos. It wasn't a bad idea, even if it was Anglach's. He pressed his hand into the living tree and silently thanked it for their temporary shelter before peering out from their hideaway.

The forest was still. The Hunt must have veered east towards the Halls, as Anglach said, their horns still audible but more distant now. They should be able to make a run for it.

But what if his father was at the flet? His stomach clenched at the thought. But no, Thranduil couldn't be there. What had Thalos said? Legolas closed his eyes as he thought back. He had been too overwhelmed at the sight of the hated bluebell tunic to concentrate but now he played the scene over in his head. He had run into Galadhon first; Galadhon, who had given him the cursed tunic and circlet in the first place. He wracked his brain to remember his exact words.

Yes! He had it! Galadhon, and Thalos moments later, had ordered Legolas to change and then bring their Noldor guests with him to the King's throne room, in the Halls. That meant the flet was likely abandoned at this time. Thranduil was probably seething and pacing in the throne room at this very moment. Legolas shuddered. There was not going to be any escape from the latrine duty, he was sure of that.

"I can't believe I'm agreeing with any idea of yours," Legolas muttered to Anglach. "But I think it's best we make for the flet. I can send word to Thalos from there. Even if Father is furious, he's still sure to keep the Hunt from getting us." He paused and said in a lower voice "I hope."

"The King would never let the Hunt get us, no matter what stupidity you've indulged in this time," Anglach said, his face taken over by the fond expression he always wore when talking about their Good and Wise King.

"Then we are agreed," Legolas said. "As soon as the horns drift further away, if they do, we make a run for the flet."

"Last one there is a dirty, rotten Orc. Oh wait. One of us already is, never mind." Anglach winked at Legolas and then winced as his friend elbowed him in the ribs. They grew silent again, listening intently for the sounds of the Wild Hunt.

______________________________________________________________

Aegnir kept watch on the King's flet. Thranduil had stormed off to the Halls, in search of his wayward third son. The King had initially thought to bring the wounded Noldor with him but had instead left Aegnir on watch, a few of the King's other guards positioned in nearby trees. Thranduil had not wanted to disturb the Noldor's rest. He would send healers soon, he told Aegnir, to bring the Noldor to him in the Halls.

Aegnir had made his way to the forest floor, blending into the greenery at the foot of the tree, his eyes scanning the perimeter. He was in trouble, he knew that, even if the King had left him to guard this mysterious Noldor.

What had possessed him, to join in that ridiculous exercise with Legolas and his friends, Aegnir asked himself.

He shook his head. He knew what had possessed him. The allure of the King's son had swept all his self control away. He couldn't find it in himself to say no to Legolas.

It did not bode well for his role as a Captain, he knew that. He should not be swayed by a pair of startling green eyes or a well-rounded ass, no matter who the owner of said ass was. Aegnir sighed. It was not as if he had envisioned himself ever being a Captain anyway. His father had pushed him into it, berating him for wasting his natural size and skill with weapons on a career in carpentry.

But Aegnir liked working with wood. He could hear the Song of the trees, could find the right wood for his purposes, the trees showing him what he needed. His hands, despite their size, were deft with a knife and lathe. Intricate scrollwork, complicated joists and beams, hidden compartments and seamless surfaces--he could lose himself in the complexities of it all.

But that was not to be, not if his father had a say in the matter. Aegnir sighed again.

A sudden movement to his left brought him instantly to attention, his hands pulling his knives out in one swift motion. He dropped them at the sight of Legolas and Anglach, filthy and disheveled as they approached the King's flet.

"What happened to you?" Aegnir asked. "Didn't I leave you with your brother not long ago?" he asked Legolas.

"It's a long story," Legolas said hurriedly, his eyes widening. "Is my father up there, Aegnir?"

"No, the King has gone to the Halls. To meet you, I thought." He frowned at Legolas and Anglach. "I thought you were there already."

"Long story," Legolas repeated, trying to move past Aegnir to make his way up to the flet. "I haven't the time to go into it right now."

Aegnir blocked his way. "Where are you going?" he asked.

"To the flet," Legolas answered shortly. "Let me by, Aegnir."

"The King left me on guard here, Legolas. You are supposed to be going to the Halls, are you not?"

"Guarding what? You just told me my father is in the Halls, did you not?" Legolas said, trying to get past the burly Captain again. "Last time I checked the trees didn't need protection from the elements."

"He has a third Noldo up there," Aegnir said. "The missing one. That's who I'm guarding, until the healers get here. Seems he's been poisoned." He made an ineffectual grab for Legolas, who made a third try at getting past him.

Anglach had remained silent during their exchange but he plucked at Legolas' sleeve now. "I hear the horns again," he hissed.

Aegnir frowned. Horns? What horns? But then he too heard a faint sound, far wilder and unrestrained than the horns of the Greenwood. His wide eyes darted to Legolas. "The Hunt?" he questioned.

Legolas nodded. "It seems . . . um. . . I may have gotten them on our trail with our activities the last day or two."

Aegnir cursed. That's all the mess of his life needed--the Wild Hunt. Although it would probably be less painful if he just got caught up with the Hunt after all--he'd never need to face his father or the King again. But no time to think about that now, not if they were on Legolas' trail. "You must get to the fortress," he said.

"That's what I said!" Anglach pointed out, glaring at Legolas.

"You did not," Legolas snapped at him, before turning the full force of his green eyes on Aegnir. "I thought if we were up in the flet I could speak to the trees and they would shield us, at least until the Hunt moved on, found easier quarry? They are between us and the Halls. They would surely catch us if we headed that way." He softened his gaze and lowered his voice. "I'm not prepared to spend my days with them. I've so much yet to do here, don't I?" He looked up at the Captain from under his long lashes.

Aegnir swallowed. He was doomed. There was no way he could say no to those eyes. He nodded mutely at Legolas then rasped out a warning to him not to disturb Thranduil's injured Noldo.

He watched Legolas and Anglach scurry up the trunk. He closed his eyes briefly and shook his head. It was far too shapely an ass, he thought to himself.

________________________________________________________

Legolas made it up first, moving swiftly to the center of the flet to place his hands on the tree trunk there. He closed his eyes and opened himself up to the Song. He could feel the warmth of the trunk, the living thrum of life in the tree, the whispering of the leaves above his head. He opened his mind to the tree's life force, pressing his forehead against the trunk as well. The tree shivered, despite there being no wind.

Anglach watched as the branches swayed and twisted, cocooning them in a nest of green, knitting together a shield to protect them both. It was a skill not even Thalos, the most intuitive of Legolas' brothers had, this ability to communicate with the trees. It was a gift that Legolas had inherited from his mother, although they did not speak of her, not anymore.

Legolas leaned back, taking a deep breath as he did so, needing a moment to refocus, so deep had he gone into the tree's consciousness. "She will hold them off, Anglach, for as long and as best as she can." He looked around and then his eyes landed on the screen at the far end of the flet. He locked eyes with Anglach. "Father's Noldo," he mouthed, the words barely out of his mouth before the screen was knocked aside and Erestor, eyes blazing, appeared before them.

"Who are you?" Erestor growled.

"Aule's flaming dick!" Anglach exclaimed, one of Elladan's curses escaping him as he stepped back from Erestor.

Erestor swayed on his feet but his look of aggression did not fade as he glared at the two Wood-Elves.

"You must be the other Noldo," Legolas said tentatively.

"He's one of them," a second voice said. A second taller Noldo stepped from behind the first one, sliding an arm around to steady him as he spoke. His grey eyes glowed with a light Legolas had only seen once before, when the Lady of the Wood had visited his father, when Legolas was just an Elfling.

"The Feanorion," Legolas whispered faintly.

"Maglor Feanorion, to be exact," the tall Noldo explained, shifting his grip to let Erestor lean into him. "And I've always preferred saying 'Mahal's balls' myself. Maedhros picked that up from Azaghal ages ago. It just sounds better, don't you think?"

The two Wood Elves just blinked at him. Maglor tilted his head, listening intently. Legolas could hear the distant music of the Wild Hunt, muted by the tree, but still there, somewhere around them.

Maglor narrowed his eyes at him. "Trying to outrun the Hunt, are you?" He lifted his head, listening again. "Your work with the tree is quite impressive but it won't hold them off for long. Let me give you a bit of assistance."

Legolas watched as the Feanorion started to chant in a language he did not recognize. The words grew louder and the song grew wilder, the melody making Legolas' heart race. The branches around them writhed and swayed as the song continued, the rhythm soon matching the beat of his own heart. There was power in this song, Legolas thought. A power far older than any he had encountered before. An answering music drifted in amongst the leaves but the Feanorion's song countered it, overpowered it and the horns of the Hunt faded as he continued to sing. It was almost too much for Legolas to bear; he could see Anglach had his hands over his ears.

And then, as suddenly as it had begun, the song faded. The last notes echoed around them and then Maglor turned his gaze back to Legolas. "I think you'll find they've moved on."

"Thank you," Legolas said, his voice wavering more than he liked. He heard an echo of his words from Anglach.

"My pleasure. I wouldn't wish the Hunt on anyone," Maglor replied. He shifted his grip on Erestor and looked down at his companion. "Are you well, my Erestor?"

"As well as I can be," Erestor growled. "You still haven't answered my question. Who are you two?"

Maglor answered for them. "They are Wood-Elves, Erestor, like your host. They will do you no harm. You are their guest, after all." He gave Legolas and Anglach an appraising look. "You do know the Hunt does not discriminate--they would have taken you, male or female. It's no use wearing women's clothing to hide. They aren't that particular about it."

Anglach's sudden smirk at his words caught Maglor by surprise. "It makes Legolas look less like an Orc when he wears this particular tunic," he explained.

Erestor snapped his eyes at Anglach at those words. "How dare you? How dare you mock his tragedy with such callous words?" Erestor paused, eyebrows drawing together in a fierce frown. "Who are you to dare to speak so poorly of Legolas?"

"I'm his best friend Anglach," Anglach explained.

"Some best friend," Erestor spat, standing up taller to loom over Anglach. "How dare you joke that way, as if his Orc son is some laughing matter?"

Anglach's jaw dropped. "Orc son?" he repeated. He turned a hurt and puzzled look at Legolas. "What is he talking about, Legolas? What are you keeping secret from me?" He clutched at the sleeve of the tattered bluebell tunic as he spoke.

Legolas shrugged him off, turning to glare at Erestor. "What are you implying, Noldor?"

"I am implying nothing. Legolas obviously struggles greatly with the burden of his son having been turned into an Orc. He is near despair due to it." Erestor's stare was fixed on Legolas. "His son is the one who poisoned me."

Anglach's eyes went wide as he turned to his friend. "Legolas?"

"Anglach. I have no son. I've never seen this Noldor before in my life. I don't know what this he is babbling on about." He crossed his arms and glared back at Erestor. "One would think he'd had the scaane, not Elrohir," he muttered.

Erestor threw off Maglor's restraining arm and charged at Legolas. "Elrohir!" He grabbed Legolas by the front of his tunic, ripping the fabric with the force of his grip. "What do you know of Elrohir? Where is he? Where is Elladan? By Morgoth's shriveled balls, I will have Legolas flay you if you have injured either of them!"

It was apparent now to Anglach where Elladan had learned those colorful expressions of his.

______________________________________

Glorfindel's head snapped up at the sound. He could hear the horns in the distance.

________________________________________
Chapter 12 by Narya
Author's Notes:
Sorry this took so long; today did not go to plan. And sorry for the slightly disjointed nature of it, but I thought I'd do my bit to start bringing them all together, since I was the one who chucked extra characters into the mix in the first place.
Arwen tilted her head back, catching the dark and savage notes swirling in the Song around her. Her horse pawed the ground and snorted.

“This is what I felt,” she murmured. “When I listened for my brothers, I felt this...and when I sought them with blood, I saw their faces, silver and dead...”

“Arwen, we need to move.” Glorfindel's voice was sharp.

She shook her head. From long years of experience she had learned to trust the gift of foresight that ran in their family. She had to reach her brothers, to warn them. She slipped into the familiar trance and felt along the curling melodies around her, seeking the two minds that were so like one another – and like and yet unlike her.

“Arwen!”

The horns blew again, and now she could hear the pounding of hooves and the baying of hounds. She knew what they sought; they called out through the frozen forest, whispering to the fëa, beckoning it to run to them and ride with them. She'd heard the old tales but dismissed them as ghost stories, until she felt these ancient things stirring – and so near her brothers and Erestor.

Arwen!”

It was no use. The Hunt's presence masked the other threads of the Song, sending her seeking mind into dead ends. She kicked Feannim in the flanks and galloped.

***

Elrohir hiccuped and then giggled, swinging his legs to and fro underneath the stone bench they sat on. Elladan sighed. Whatever that blasted Legolas had given his brother, it didn't look like wearing off any time soon.

“Can you please try to control yourself, at least a little bit?” he hissed. “We're supposed to meet the King any minute, and you're behaving like Arwen used to when she was seven and had a crush on Glorfindel!”

Elrohir giggled again. “The King is Legolas's father.”

“Yes, I know that.”

“He's a prince, Elladan...a real prince!” Another hiccup. “A handsome prince with lovely leggings and a beautiful-”

“Manicure,” Elladan inserted over the top of whatever his brother had been about to say. Who knew where their hosts might be lurking, and what might give them offence? The last thing his father needed was a diplomatic incident between Imladris and Mirkwood.

“Ooh, yes.” Elrohir's dilated eyes sparkled afresh. “Aren't his hands just divine? Imagine what-”

“Hush!” Elladan frowned, something catching at the edge of his consciousness.

“What's got into you? Wouldn't you like to imagine what he can do with those hands?”

“Yes. I mean – no. Oh, Elrohir, shut up!” He rolled his eyes as his brother collapsed into peals of laughter. He tried to reach back with his mind, towards whatever had tugged at the borders of his awareness – but whatever it was, it was gone.

***

They were trapped.

Arwen had never seen Glorfindel afraid before. They had ridden fiercely, Feannim and Asfaloth giving all they had, but the Hunt had tricked them somehow. They'd tipped and twisted the fabric of the woods so that their quarry went in circles even when they rode straight, and they'd sent the sounds of their pursuit echoing through the forest so that it was impossible to tell which direction they were coming from. Now, Arwen and Glorfindel were surrounded.

She reached out and laid a gentle hand on Glorfindel's sleeve. “I am sorry.”

“For what?”

“For this.”

She dropped from Feannim's back and paused in a crouch, sinking into the intoxicating whirl of the Hunt's presence, seeking the source of it, the centre. There. Ahead.

Dimly she heard Glorfindel call her name, as though from a great distance. She straightened and walked into the trees, towards the towering shadow mounted on his great horse. She stopped in front of him and let all cloaking fall from her mind, allowing him to see her for what she was, child of an ancient power.

I do not fear you.

Around her echoed a low dark chuckle, as though her boldness amused the Hunt. Well, let them laugh. Let them have her – or try to. The blood of Melian and Luthien the Fair would not be easily corrupted.

The Hunt's leader dismounted. She stared into his dead face, scraps of silvery flesh clinging to the ghostly bones, and did not flinch.

Come. Take me.

He was reaching for her, his hand inches from her own, when the golden figure slammed into her side and knocked her to the ground. She had time to look up, to scream, to see the huntsman fasten his gaunt fingers around Glorfindel's wrist – and then in a spinning blur of grey the world righted itself. The spectral hunters were gone, and their mad wild strains receded from the Song.

She caught Glorfindel's body as it crumpled to the ground.

“No,” she whispered, tracing her fingers over his closed eyes and slack jaw. He was still breathing. That was something. He was not dead. She held him close and reached into the Song for him – but ice shot through her veins. There was nothing there.

The Hunt had taken his fëa.

***

There was no mistaking it this time – even Elrohir, drugged as he was, felt the keening wail of despair deep in his soul. As one, the twins leapt to their feet.

“Arwen!”

***

Erestor threw off Maglor's restraining arm and charged at Legolas. "Elrohir!" He grabbed Legolas by the front of his tunic, ripping the fabric with the force of his grip. "What do you know of Elrohir? Where is he? Where is Elladan? By Morgoth's shriveled balls, I will have Legolas flay you if you have injured either of them!"

“Erestor!” Maglor tried not to laugh at the expressions of bafflement on the faces of the two Wood-Elves – and failed miserably. It felt good, he realised, somewhat startled. He wondered when he had last truly laughed. “Come, this will not help.” He pulled his lover away from the pretty one in the bluebell tunic.

“Why would I injure them?” The pretty one scowled. “They're perfectly safe, they're with my father. And what do you mean, you'll have Legolas flay me? I am Legolas!”

“You lie!” snarled Erestor.

“No, no, he's telling the truth,” Anglach put in.

“You both lie! You lie about this, and you lie about the twins!”

“How dare you!”

Legolas started to spring forwards, but Anglach held him back. “Calm down. You know he's been injured; perhaps he's delirious?”

“I am not delirious!”

“No, but you are behaving like a fool.” Maglor tightened his grip. “For the love of Eru, be still. I've done what I can with your wounds, but if you start leaping around like a crazed frog then you'll soon rip them open again.” He waited until Erestor's breath had slowed, rising and falling in time with his own. “Good. Now. Whom do you seek?”

“Elladan and Elrohir. Elrond's sons.” Maglor's heart leapt. “They were with me when the Orcs attacked; Elladan was hurt in a rock fall, then Elrohir took it into his head to draw off the Orcs, and so we ended up here.”

“Very well.” It should be easy enough to locate them, he thought. He had never met Elrond's boys, but they could not be so very unlike their father. He should recognise the sound of them in the Song easily enough. He closed his eyes, letting himself drift along the harmonies and currents, until he found what he was looking for – and frowned. “I have them,” he said, “but they are afraid – not for themselves, they are not in danger,” he added at Erestor's gasp. “For one they love. Someone nearby...” His frown deepened as he picked up a new strain in the Song, new and familiar at the same time, beautiful and untamed and sad and shocked. “You say there are only two of Elrond's children in the forest?”

“Yes, of course,” Erestor snapped. “Arwen is in Imladris, with her father and Glorfindel.”

Maglor listened. “No,” he said softly. “No, she is not. You – Bluebell.”

Bluebell!?

“Listen. Do you still hear the Hunt?”

“No.” The admission was reluctant, but certain. “The forest is quiet.”

“They have what they came for,” sighed Maglor.

“No!” Erestor pulled free of his grip and swayed a little. “No – you cannot be saying – they did not take Arwen?”

“No, no. Not her.”

“Then who -” Maglor watched sadly as his lover realised who must have accompanied Elrond's daughter into the forest, and fallen victim to the Wild Hunt. “No. Oh, Glorfindel...”

***

Thranduil sighed at the tentative knock on the door. He did not want to reprimand Legolas – but really, poisoning an injured warrior with Galion's scones! It was too much. And when it was over with, he must go and greet the other two Noldor – and then finally he'd be able to sneak away to the infirmary, to spend time with his Elrohir. The thought made him smile. “Come in.”

To his surprise, it was Thalos – and looking more sheepish than he had ever seen him.

“Yes, my son, what is it?”

“Father.” Thalos bowed briefly. “I...I am sorry.”

“Whatever for?” He did not think he could cope with any more misdemeanours from his sons.

“The Noldor...they have run off.”

“WHAT?” Thranduil spun to face him. “Not Elrohir, surely?”

“Yes, him too,” said Thalos miserably. “Apparently they jumped up, yelled “Arwen!” and shot back into the forest.”

This could not be. Elrohir was far too weak to be running around in the woods, especially with the Hunt on the loose – although, Thranduil realised, he could no longer feel the Hunt's heady vortex of terror and temptation in the Song. A heavy weight settled in his chest. They must have claimed a victim.

“Bring my bow, Thalos,” he instructed. “Let us go out and retrieve these errant Noldor, and put an end to this sorry series of events.”
End Notes:
Over to you, ziggy...sorry if I nuked your plans again!
Chapter 13 by ziggy


 

 

Chapter 13:

 

Thals went gloomily  into the armoury and reached for the great bow of Thranduil. The armourer glanced up at him with a wry smile. ‘Not hunting then?’

 

‘Not exactly,’ said Thalos grimly. ‘This is for Noldor.’

 

The armourer almost dropped his polish in shock for even Thranduil’s loathing for the Noldor had never come to this. Quickly he stuffed his gear into a box and headed off for the kitchen where Galion was sitting slumped in a large chair with an uncorked bottle and half empty glass beside him. He stared into the fire with a dreamy, contented expression.

 

‘Galion! Come quick! The King has gone mad and goes to hunt Noldor in the forest!’

 

‘Elbereth’s tits!’ Galion leapt up, spilling the wine down his tunic in his haste and brushing it quickly away. ‘He’s never actually done that before, though he has said it often enough in his cups!’ He skidded to an abrupt halt suddenly. ‘There are actually Noldor in the Woods?’ he asked.

 

At that moment, Galadhon pushed the door open, unstrung bow in his hand and hunting horn. ‘Yes there are indeed,’ he answered having heard Galion’s question. ‘The sons of Elrond no less. They have escaped and the King goes to hunt them.’

 

‘Fucking Namo’s stinky bollocks!’ was Galion’s response.

 

Which is how Galion came to be in the King’s retinue and how he met the other Great Swearer in the world and the greatest flyghting* in Elvish History happened.

 

0o0o

 

Thranduil strode toward the Doors of his stronghold, a mere thought sending Power outwards so the Gates swung silently open.

 

Outside the starlight reflected on deep midwinter snow. Icicles hung from the shaggy trees like white fur on some great sleeping winter beast and the stars were hard and bright in the clear night sky. Thranduil paused at the Gates and listened to the star-song chiming metallic and sweet in the silent forest. He heard the distant baying of his own hounds, his hunters’ excited voices, the clatter of hooves as the horses were readied…and he stretched out a hand toward the forest, listening for others; there was Legolas, a light green-gold winding about the wood and Anglach, like an overexcited robin, his Song chirped and sang and danced merrily. And then Thranduil stopped; someone else was in the forest. A deeper, older Power. He had not heard the like for Ages past…not since Doriath when the Feanorians had pounded through Menegroth, killing, slaughtering, screaming at them for the Jewels that had fled with the children of the King.

 

Thranduil’s fists clenched tightly over the hilt of his sword. There was only one of them left and he was lost, Maglor Feanorion. It could not be that the Singer was here in the Wood? 

 

He bowed his head and frowned. Maglor was an outlaw. If he was found here in the Wood, he would be subject to the Law of the Woodelves, laid down of old by Thingol. 

 

But Thranduil could not delay; these Noldor, Elrohir and his brother, were lost in the Wood somewhere. More importantly, he glanced behind him to where Thalos was running up behind him, not only had his youngest son made a right mess of this by feeding the wounded and rather beautiful Elrohir scaäne, but now Thalos, who was usually such a reliable and noble son, had managed to lose not only Legolas and Anglach (never a good thing) but lost Elrohir and his sweary brother as well.

 

Thranduil sighed and shook his head slightly, wondering if there was  madness upon them and the next he would hear would be that Laersul had been sighted stark naked and swinging through the pine trees warbling a love song. No. That would never happen.

 

‘Thranduil! Stop! Yavanna’s Bounteous Breasts, Thranduil, you can’t just hunt the sons of Elrond. What in all of Arda would the Sit-On-Your-Arse Council do? They wouldn’t just be sitting on their arses, Thran. They’ll be sitting on YOUR arse and shafting it like Namo. That’s what.’

 

Thranduil turned irritated towards Galion. ‘Really Galion. They will do nothing of the sort. They will be glad I have recovered them.’ He strode out into the cold night, pulling his white fur cloak about him as he did. Galion fell into step beside him, complaining about the cold and about Thranduil’s madness and so on. Thranduil ignored him.

 

For the snow, the elves abandoned horses and took to the great reindeer of the North and Thranduil’s great sleigh slid to a halt before him, six great reindeer shook their antlers and their breath steamed in the cold air. Thalos was astride a young buck and Galion was struggling up onto a lovely placid old doe that Legolas used to ride, Gwilileth until she was no longer fast enough. And with him was Galadhon, and Ceredir, Lossar and others. 

 

Hunters followed after, running lightly and quickly around him, their great hunting hounds excited and leaping up at their masters. They yipped and barked in excitement and their handlers grinned and laughed and ruffled the dogs silky ears.

 

‘We are hunting not stag this night, my friends,’ Thranduil cried and his horse snorted and circled tightly, excitement making him paw the snow-covered ground anxious to be off. ‘You have heard there are Noldor Elves in the forest. We go to find them and bring them back here!’ he said and the hunters, who had already heard what had happened and were eager for the glory of recovering the Sons of Elrond, great warriors whose renown went before them, murmured to each other in excitement.

 

Galion made a little whimpering sound that if you were listening closely might have been, ‘Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. We are in the shit.’ But as Thranduil ignored him, so did everyone else.

 

And then they were off. Thranduil’s sleigh shot through the snow and the reindeer leapt after him, leaping over fallen logs. The sleigh was lined with white fur and he stood up in the bed with the reins in his hands and his long hair streamed out behind him, the starlight catching on his winter crown of holly. Behind him was Thalos and then the other warriors and hunters on their white deer. The hounds swarmed ahead of them, suddenly catching the scent, one lifted its head and bayed and the others, catching it too, joined the music of the hounds so it resounded through the wood.

 

Suddenly Thranduil pulled the sleigh to a halt for two horses burst from the trees and came cantering towards him, one had bells in its mane.

 

Thranduil stared. There was only one person who was silly enough, bold enough to weave bells into a horse’s mane; Glorfindel. But there were no riders to be seen.

 

‘Spread out,’ cried Thranduil. ‘These horses are elven.’ He held out a hand and the horses stepped towards him trustingly. He handed them to Ceredir and then looked about.

 

‘Go, search that way,’ he instructed Thalos. ‘I will take the West route.’

 

He waved the hunt onwards and the hounds leapt ahead, baying suddenly. He heard Thalos sound his horn and knew that Thalos had found something but before he could signal a return, his own hounds started to circle and cry.

 

They paused a moment while the hounds snuffled around and pawed excitedly at the snow, yelping and digging. One of the huntsmen dismounted and pulled the dog off, reaching into the snow. His fingers closed around something cold and metallic and he pulled it from the snow.

 

There was a horrified gasp as the onlookers saw what it was and understood what it might mean.

 

Thalos leapt from his horse and strode towards the huntsman, reaching and an snatching it form him. He held the mithril circlet tenderly in his hands and then looked up at the King, his eyes full of fear. ‘It is Legolas’.’ He held up his fingers. There was blood upon them.

 

‘Orcs? Or the Rhaw-Braig’

 

0o0o

 

Arwen heard the horns and sleigh but knew it was not the terrible shadow that had taken Glorfindel and so she stood forwards, letting her self be seen. She knew she was a sight, with her long black hair and beautiful eyes, the red velvet cloak against the snow, the empy body of Glorfindel as if swooning in her arms. But what she didn’t anticipate was how captivating was the elf who rode upon a reindeer into the clearing and stared at her in astonishment. 

 

‘Lady! Who are you and what are you doing out here alone and unprotected in the Wood at Yule?’ he said, sliding down from his reindeer and approaching her through the snow. His eyes flashed green, like chips of emerald, she thought weakly. Or like the spring leaves. His long black hair was caught in braids that were not overly elaborate but practical; a warrior, she thought noting the bow, sword, knives, hard and lean. His mouth was generous and wide, his handsome face concerned. 

 

‘Oh, thank goodness!’ she sighed and fluttered her eyelashes. ‘My escort has been taken by the Wild Hunt.’

 

‘My name is Thalos, ‘said the handsome Elf and suddenly there were others behind him. Not quite as handsome, she thought, but not bad looking at all. She would be quite happy to dance with any of them. Thalos flashed her a dazzling smile that made her knees weak and she forgot all about Glorfindel for a moment and dropped him. Thalos was instantly beside him though and looked carefully at Glorfindel’s lifeless body.

 

‘They have taken his feä,’ he said unnecessarily. But she nodded wide-eyed and apparently helpless even so.

 

‘We are looking for the rest of your escort,’ he said and held out his hand to her. ‘And we have found your horses.’ He lifted her onto his reindeer and handed Glorfindel’s body to another Elf hearby. She was surprised at how steady and wide the reindeer felt. Thalos swung up behind her so she could feel his warm, lithe body and she leaned back a little against him. He did not move away but draped his own cloak around them both so it was really very cosy. She lifted her face up to his and looked up at him. He really was very handsome she thought again.

 

The reindeer suddenly leapt away and flew over the snow as if it were a smooth lawn. She was held against Thalos and felt his heartbeat against her back, reassuring, steady. ‘Where are we going?’ she asked.

 

‘To the King,’ he replied. ‘We search for the rest of your company. We did not know there was a lady in their midst. If we had known, I would have come sooner. It is not honourable that they did not speak of you before.’

 

‘They?’ she asked a flutter of hope in her breast.

 

‘Your escort surely? They are called Elrohir and Elladan. One swears a lot and the other…well the other is not.’

 

Arwen put her hand over her mouth in relief. ‘My brothers,’ she said softly. ‘They are my dear brothers. They are safe?’

 

Thalos looked embarrassed. ‘Well they were until they ran off. We search for them now but they will not have gone far.’

 

His reindeer slowed down and suddenly they were surrounded by hunting hounds, looking up at her and the deer with curiosity and excitement, wagging their tails enthusiastically. Ahead of her a troop of elves were standing around looking serious and anxious. In the centre was a magnificent sleigh, its trim was silver chased with gold and set with white and green gems, upon its bed were thrown deep luxurious fur cloak. Six white deer stood with their heads low and their breath curled from their nostrils in the cold air. To the side stood an elf who could only be the King. he was taller than the others, his hair was the colour of gold coins and as they approached, he turned his head and his slate-green eyes came to rest upon her. There was no question that he was Thalos’ father, she thought, the same straight nose, high cheekbones and handsome face. He held a mithril circlet in his hand as if it had bitten him.

 

Arwen sighed. I am in  love with a King’s son, she thought happily. Now I just need to find Glorfindel and Elrohir and Elladan and Erestor, she thought determinedly. That should not be too hard now I have some manpower to help me.

 

0o0o

 

‘Bluebell,’ muttered Legolas in outrage, trudging along behind Maglor and erestor. ‘Bluebell!’

 

‘Well he calls me Snowdrop,’ said Anglach unhappliy for his own tunic had the small white flower embroidered upon the sleeves. ‘At least we know the Rhaw-Braig hasn’t got Elrohir though.’ He glanced at Legolas with a soppy grin. ‘So you can still snog him when we find him.’

 

‘Yes well that’s true,’ sad Legolas more cheerfully. ‘And you heard him say that Glorfindel is here. Glorfindel! He that slew the Balrog!’

 

‘Yes but it killed him too,’ snapped Erestor. He was walking ahead of them and seemed quite grumpy.

 

‘He is even swearier than Elladan,’ whispered Angalch. ‘It’s a pity the Rhaw Braig took Glorfindel and not those two.’

 

Suddenly Maglor stopped and crouched down, his hands digging into the snow. ‘Here,’ he said softly, turning back to Erestor. ‘They have taken him this way. Snowdrop, Bluebell- where does that go?’

 

Legolas and Anglach turned to each other in bewilderment. ‘That way goes straight back to the stronghold.’

 

 

 

0o0o

Chapter 14 by Naledi
Author's Notes:

Sorry this is such a short offering. I had this plan to bring all the disparate groups together, but I'm out of time, so could only write one scene instead of the three I'd intended.



Arwen’s heart leapt when Thalos turned and beckoned her forward. She dipped a curtsy to the magnificent Elvenking, angling her body to give Thalos an uninterrupted view down the front of her gown. ‘My lord, it is an honour to meet you.’

The King barely glanced at her. He seemed unable to tear his gaze from the mithril circlet he held. It was a beautiful piece of work, woven with fragile flowers and leaves. Surely it had been wrought to grace the head of a queen or princess. Her heart sped up.Was it intended for her? For a brief moment she revelled in the thought of sitting by Thalos’s side in the sleigh, being hailed as his princess, the gorgeous circlet upon her brow. But then she recalled Thalos saying they hadn’t known there was a lady in the party. Not for her then.

Finally the King raised his eyes. The anguish in his gaze drove all thoughts of woodland weddings to the back of her mind. ‘I bid you welcome to the Greenwood, my lady.’ His voice was deep, almost as musical as Thalos’s; the entire forest seemed to hush at its commanding tones. ‘I only wish you could behold my realm at a happier time, but…’ His gaze returned to the circlet. ‘My child has been taken from us. Orcs, or the Rhaw Braig.’

She gasped, shooting a glance back to the reindeer bearing Glorfindel.  ‘My lord, the Rhaw Braig is indeed riding your woods. They have taken the fea of one of my party. Glorfindel.’

All colour drained from the King’s face. The circled dropped to the ground. ‘Glorfindel?’ He sprang from the sleigh and glared at Thalos. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’

‘I…’ But the King gave Thalos no chance to reply. He strode to Glorfindel’s inert form and cradled him in his arms. He rested a hand upon Glorfindel’s brow and muttered in a language that sounded vaguely like the language spoken by the Silvans of Lothlorien. Again came the mysterious hush over the forest; the birds ceased their calls and even the trees seemed to still their movements. Every word the king spoke fell into the silent air. Glorfindel face lost its deathly pallor, but he didn’t stir.

The king pressed his brow to Glorfindel’s, as though willing life back into the still form. He stood like that for countless heartbeats, until the men glanced at each other, eyes wide, the anxiety for their King plain in every gesture.

Finally, one of the King’s men approached. He wasn’t armed like the others, and his chestnut hair bore only simple braids, not the complex knots of the warriors. But although he didn’t have the build or bearing of a warrior, he grasped the King’s arm with no sign of fear. ‘Enough, Thranduil. What in the name of Araw’s almighty arse do you think you’re doing?’

Thranduil staggered, his trance broken. ‘I have to bring him back, Galion. I can’t—’

‘If you think you can do this alone, you’re a greater fool than I took you for. Elbereth’s tits, you of all people know once the Rhaw Braith’s sunk their fetid claws into a fea, no one can reclaim it.’

‘I have to try.’ Thranduil shoved Galion aside and turned to Thalos. ‘Escort the lady to the Halls at once. Keep an eye out for the other Noldor, and take them with you if you find them. I’m going after the Rhaw Braith.’

‘But father—’

‘Do it!’

The King snapped another command and the reindeer sprang ahead. Thranduil pulled Glorfindel into his arms and jumped aboard the sleigh as it glided past. The last thing Arwen heard as it disappeared deeper into the forest was a string of expletives from Galion’s foul mouth. He and Erestor should get together some time.

‘Come, my lady, we must leave now.’

She smiled at Thalos, glancing at him through her lashes. ‘Must we shut ourselves away? Glorfindel is my responsibility. I should—’

Thalos took her arm, sending delightful shivers through her flesh, driving out all thought of Glorfindel. ‘It’s too dangerous, my lady. I would see you safe in our Halls.’

Arwen relented. After all, the King had seemed to know what he was doing, and the thought of being closeted with Thalos was a temptation no sane woman could resist.

She walked back to Thalos’s steed, glancing over her shoulder just in time to see Thalos stoop and pluck something from the snow. The circlet belonging to Thranduil’s child—it must be a daughter; no self-respecting son would wear something so feminine. Thalos’s sister.

Once they were back astride Thalos’s mount, Thalos settled snugly between her thighs, Arwen touched his shoulder. ‘Don’t give up hope. Your sister could still be safe.’

He glanced back at her, frowning. ‘My—?’ Then he glanced at the circlet and his brow cleared. ‘Oh, I have no doubt. This one has the ability to wriggle out of situations that would have slain any other many times over. Doesn’t stop my father losing sleep on a regular basis, though. But it’s not—’

Before he could finish his sentence, a rustle in the undergrowth had him drawing his sword, and flinging himself from the saddle to place himself between her and danger in a way that set Arwen’s heart aflutter. Not just breathtakingly handsome, but brave and strong as well. ‘Show yourselves!’ His voice rang out, firm and commanding, sending delicious coils of heat deep into her core. Not that she needed protecting, but she had no intention of letting Thalos know. The sight of her wielding a sword, bathed in the blood of slain orcs had a distressing tendency to send suitors scurrying for the Havens. Ever since her last lover had fled, she’d vowed to wait until their thousandth anniversary before revealing her mastery of blade and bow to the next.

Four figures emerged, and Thalos’s shoulders relaxed. One of them was Erestor, and a wave of relief hit her. Before she could hail him, Thalos sheathed his sword and grasped the shoulders of a golden-haired maiden, dressed in an exquisite robe, albeit blood-splattered, embroidered with bluebells. From the similarity of their features, Arwen knew this must be Thalos’s sister.

‘What in the name of buggery are you playing at?’ Thalos gave the maiden a half-hearted shake, then pulled her into a hug. ‘Thank Eru you’re safe. Father went out of his head with worry when we found this.’ Thalos pulled the circlet from his tunic and placed it on the maid’s head. She really was beautiful. It was a good thing she was Thalos’s sister, or Arwen would have feared she had a rival.

Thalos pulled out some of the clasps holding back his black braids and secured the circlet to his sister’s head. ‘There. That will keep it in place. We wouldn’t want you to lose it again. You know how father loves to see you wearing it.’ Arwen gave a little sigh. He truly was so kind and thoughtful.

A young man—Thalos’s sister’s lover?—clasped his hands and gave an enraptured sigh. ‘You look exquisite, Bluebell.A true princess.’

Thalos grinned and ruffled the man’s hair; however, the poor maiden gave a distressed whimper. Arwen’s heart went out to her. Who knew what horrors she had endured? She slipped off the reindeer and took the maiden’s arm. ‘Allow me to take care of you, Princess Bluebell. Ride with me. We’ll soon have you safely home.’

Bluebell gave another whimper.

Chapter 15 by cheekybeak
Thranduil did not know what he should be worrying about most. Glorfindel whose lifeless body lay beside him in his sleigh, or Legolas who was out in the forest doing god knows what, minus his circlet?

Then there were these missing Noldor. Elrond’s sons of all people Thalos said—although that confused him for his secret Elrohir looked nothing like Elrond, and he would have thought him far too old . . .

There was a niggle at the back of his mind as he rode, for Aegnir had said “they” were washing at  the river when he told him of the Noldor, a foul mouthed one and one who sounded ever so slightly dim. Yet his secret Elrohir had been tucked up in bed then so that must mean there were three Noldor. But now they were hunting only two. Who was the third one? 

Was it the girl? Surely she would not have bathed in the river in full view of Aegnir’s Silvan company? Did that mean there were really four Noldor? Or five if you included the Feanorion. 

Could he have been washing in the river?

No. Thranduil shook his head determinedly. He had to stop this, the Noldor were getting to him. Thalos would have known the Feanorion if he had seen him. He would have said—

He was cut off mid thought—which was really quite annoying—when a herd of Mumakil burst through the under growth before him . . . At least it sounded like a herd of Mumakil—or worse, but in fact it was two bedraggled Noldor who stood in front of him. Two exactly identical Noldor, two Noldor who made his head hurt when he looked at them, they were so similar. 

Ah, this is why Thalos said they looked alike. The river bathing Noldor—it must be them! 

They gaped: he glared. 

And as he swept his eyes over them he realised with a creeping horror . . . His secret Elrohir was not there. 

“Where is Elrohir?” There was no time for small talk, instead he used his most imperious voice to force the truth from them. The one that always worked on Legolas. 

One of the Noldor stepped forward. He looked bemused, rather baffled, the one who Aegnir deemed was not capable of thinking anything, Thranduil presumed. 

“I am Elrohir,” he said. 

It really was the bitter end. First they came into his forest and stirred up the hornets nest of the Rhaw Braig, damaged Glorfindel,  lost him his beautiful secret Elrohir and now they played games with him? Were they mad? 

He knew the Noldor were not worth bothering with! This was the last time he would let any of them into his woods. 

“Enough!” He cried. “I will not play your silly games. Tell me what you have done with Elrohir or I will call on the spirits of the trees and they will flay you alive!” 

The incapable Noldor gave an strangulated gulp and turned to stare anxiously at the other. 

"I am Elrohir . . . Right?" 

"Yes, you are Elrohir." The other Noldor rolled his eyes in exasperation. He seemed altogether disagreeable, Thranduil thought. Such attitude. Did Elrond not teach his boys discipline? "My Lord—" he continued, seemingly unaffected by Thranduil's most penetrating stare, "This is my brother Elrohir. I can vouch for him, he has been Elrohir all his life. Though why you would look for him I do not know. I wouldn't advise his company myself." 

Perhaps there were two Elrohir's? Thranduil thought. Everyone knew the Noldor were lacking in imagination as far as naming went. 

"It is not this Elrohir I want," he said patiently. "The other one; slimmer, older, Elrohir Elladanion.

The disagreeable Noldor made a spluttering sound . . . Was he laughing at him? Thranduil did not like being laughed at. 

"There is no such person!" Disagreeable cried when he had collected himself. "I am Elladan and I have no sons!" 

Now that Thranduil took the time to think on it he wondered, had his secret Elrohir actually said that was his name? Thinking about it he couldn't quite remember. And if Elrohir was not his name what was? 

Then he remembered Glorfindel. 

He couldn't stand here all day discussing the boring intricacies of Noldor naming traditions. Time was of the essence. But neither could he let these Noldor stay here unaccompanied in the forest. They were positively dangerous left alone and obviously did not know how to care for themselves. Galion was right. The Sit-on-Your-Arse council would never let him hear the end of it if something happened to these two. 

"Get up on the sleigh." He snapped to Disagreeable. "I have work to do and you will just have to come along." Who cared about their ridiculous names. Think they could laugh at him did they? 

Well Disagreeable and Incapable would be what they would remain. 

"Glorfindel!" Incapable was distraught when he saw the limp body lying in the back of the sleigh. "What have you done to him? Why is he even here?" 

"Why are any of you here is what I would like to know." Thranduil snapped back. "However this one arrived with a girl, but the Rhaw Braig have stolen his fea. That's what happens when Noldor venture in to the woods. Did Elrond send you specifically to make trouble or is that a special talent you have all on your own?" 

He was grumpy. He was exceptionally grumpy. Glorfindel was as good as dead, Legolas at best had lost his circlet—at worst had got himself captured by orcs and the Disagreeable Noldor was laughing at him. 

As far as Thranduil was concerned this was a very bad day. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 "Allow me to take care of you, Princess Bluebell," the strange girl said as she gripped on to Legolas' arm. "We will soon have you safely home." 

Who was she? He wondered. She did look vaguely familiar, as if he had seen her somewhere before, or someone like her . . . But Princess Bluebell

"I am not a princess." He snatched his arm away when he heard his brother's sniggers behind him, or was that Anglach? 

"Do not be modest," the girl smiled. "You are most beautiful, and if your brother is a prince you must be a princess." 

"Hear that? You are most beautiful, Legolas!" Anglach's giggles were infuriating. This was all his father's fault because of the damn bluebell tunic—then he remembered he still had to face his father's wrath about the scaäne. It didn't make hm feel good. 

"Snowdrop, Bluebell! Enough of this!"  The Feanorion's voice was both compelling and dangerous and Legolas wondered just why he had surfaced in Father's wood? Still there was no disobeying him. He would probably cut them all into little pieces if they did, as he most probably did in Doriath. Perhaps he had come to finish the job?

"We move on to track the Rhaw Braig. There is no time to chat with maidens. Come with me!"

There was no way Legolas was disobeying that command. 

"You will stay here, Erestor." The Feanorion continued, "with this one." He nodded towards Thalos, "who at least seems sensible." 

So unfair, Legolas thought to himself. Thalos is sensible but he got called Bluebell. 

The Noldor called Erestor began to protest but Legolas could see it was in vain. The Feanorion was having none of it. 

"He is injured," he told Thalos, "and precious to me. I'd advise you to keep him safe." 

"You do not have to advise me. I would keep him safe regardless. Add him to the entourage." Thalos nodded towards the strange girl. "I seem fated to collect stray Noldor today. I wonder how many more I will find before sunset." He dropped his voice low to whisper in the Feanorion's ear. "Now I would advise you my brother is precious to me, no matter how ridiculous he might look. Feanorion you might be but if you hurt him, I will find you." 

As if he could not protect himself, Legolas frowned. Still, it felt good to know Thalos had his back. Now if only he could find Elrohir. 

On second thoughts . . . Maybe he didn't want to find Elrohir while wearing the Bluebell tunic? 

It wasn't exactly manly. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Elrohir's head hurt. It hurt badly and he was very confused. He was riding in a sleigh, with a rather ornately dressed strange Sindar, Glorfindel who he was pretty sure was dead, (although he tried not to think about that because it upset him), and Elladan, who was most very definitely in a terrible, horrible, mood. 

How had he even got here? He had no idea. And where had that delectable woodelf gone? 

"Where are we going?" He whispered to Elladan. "Why is Glorfindel here?"

But Elladan only sighed and rolled his eyes. 

"This is all your fault." He hissed at Elrohir. "If you had not been such a fool and run off with those orcs, then accepted food from strangers, all would be well."   

"They were cheese scones!" Elrohir protested. He could remember that bit. "What's wrong with eating some cheese scones?"

"They were drugged cheese scones. And I have spent the last several hours dealing with the fallout!"  

Elladan's voice rose with indignation causing the ornate Sindar to turn in his seat and frown at them. 

"Quiet!" He snapped. "I cannot feel the Rhaw Braig through all your Noldor chatter!" 

"What is the Rhaw Braig?" Elrohir asked for he had no idea, "Glorfindel doesn't look very well. I think perhaps we should go to the healers instead." 

But the ornate Sindar ignored him. 

"Is he always this clueless, Disagreeable?" He asked Elladan instead. "Keep him quiet or I will toss both of you into the snow and to hell with the Sit-On-Your-Arse Council!" 

What Council was that? Elrohir wondered, and anyway this stranger was quite disagreeable himself. He tried again.

"I don't suppose you've seen a wild wood-elf have you?" He asked. "Pale blond hair, wonderful tattoos, very nice leggings...." 

The look he received from the ornate Sindar could have turned him to stone where he sat. 

"I guess that's a no then." He muttered to himself. It was then he heard the music. 

It was a song, and came towards them from the forest off to one side. Faint at first it gradually got louder and louder until he could even hear the words.

Shit, shit, shit, we are in the shit, it went, quite a cheery tune, but it was so bizarre he stole a look at Elladan to see if he heard it too. There it was again.... Shit, shit, shit, we are in the shit. 

Then an angry voice shouted. 

"Will you shut up, Galion! As if babysitting these Noldor is not bad enough. I know we are in the shit!"

And as their sleigh turned a corner there they were. A company of woodelves coming down the adjourning path. And Erestor!! And wonder of wonders, Arwen!! What was she doing here? 

"Father!" The elf at their head shouted. "Why are you here? I thought you were following the Rhaw Braig?" 

"I am following the Rhaw Braig." The ornate Sindar replied. "I thought I told you to return to the Halls, Thalos!" 

"I am returning to the Halls!" 

They stared at each other. The Golden Sindar and the woodelf who surprisingly looked very like him. 

Then they spoke together in horror.

"The Rhaw Braig go to the stronghold!" 

And from the midst of the woodelves came that song. 

"Shit, shit, shit, we are in the shit."

 

And Elrohir thought the singer was probably right. 
Chapter 16 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Author's Notes:
Rushed through this--realized today that I am in a time zone behind all of you so thought I would publish this tonight my time, which is already Tuesday in Europe and NZ. So here is Tuesday's chapter, a bit early. I was about as confused as poor Elrohir (the slightly dim one) about all the story lines when I started this!
Legolas trudged moodily behind the Feanorion, the hated circlet firmly in place thanks to Thalos and his blasted clasps. He didn't even have to look--he could feel Anglach grinning next to him. He shot a glare in his direction. He had been right. Anglach was grinning alright but it had a dreamy, soft quality to it, not the usual laughter held in check appearance.

"What is with you?" Legolas whispered, his eyes on the straight back of the Feanorion in front of him. He had no interest in arousing the anger of this particular Noldor.

"You are just so lucky, Princess Bluebell," Anglach whispered back. "The Noldor lady was so willing to look after you. What I wouldn't give for her to look at me with that tenderness."

"You aren't serious?" Legolas hissed. "She's insulting me, you idiot. She thinks I'm a girl." He glared at Anglach and then muttered "I will see to Thalos when this is all over, don't you think I won't. He didn't even bother correcting her!"

Anglach squinted at him. "You know what you look like in that outfit though. You can't exactly blame her."

"Bluebell. Snowdrop. Shut the fuck up NOW," the Feanorion growled, turning his piercing silver-grey eyes on them furiously. "We are drawing closer to the Rhaw Braig. If you weren't jabbering on like half-witted goblins you would have heard the horns."

Legolas and Anglach fell silent at his words. There. Legolas hear the faint sound of horns now, coming from the direction of stronghold. He doubted the Feanorion knew the Halls were that way. He hesitated before speaking again but the urgency of the situation loosened his tongue. "My father's Halls are in that direction. Our people, our warriors and all the others--they will be right in their path."

"Then we must not let that happen, Bluebell. Can you two move any faster?" Maglor asked them.

"Up in the trees we can make better time, but you . . . Noldor do not typically travel in the trees," Legolas ventured to say.

"We would not want to hinder you," Anglach added unnecessarily.

Maglor gave him a withering look. "Do you think I have survived the Ages without learning how to speak to the trees and travel among their branches, boy? What do you take me for?" He looked around the glade. "Show me the way."

In moments all three of them were among the branches, moving swiftly from tree to tree, the horns growing louder as they neared the stronghold. Legolas, who was leading, stopped at one of the sentinel trees, within sight of the gates. He closed his eyes and laid his palm on the trunk of the tree.

"They circle but they have not breached the gates," Legolas informed Maglor. "Word will reach the Halls in time. I have sent a bird ahead. My father's seneschal will do what needs to be done to secure the stronghold."

Anglach snorted at his words but Maglor ignored him. Erestor had managed to extract the tale of Glorfindel's predicament from Arwen before they had left him with the party of Wood-Elves. Why would the Rhaw Braith be heading to such a densely populated area? They had already claimed their prize for this Hunt. Why weren't they moving on?

"What were you doing in the forest before my arrival?" Maglor asked. "Answer me truthfully, Bluebell."

Legolas had the decency to look abashed. "We were fooling around--playing at being wild Wood Elves. We found a stray Noldor and enticed him to join us in the Wood." He swallowed as Maglor's steely gaze bored into him. May as well tell the whole story. "Once he was with us we gave Elrohir some of Galion's scones." Maglor's eyes narrowed. "I gave him some of Galion's scones, I should say."

"Doctored scaanes," Anglach added helpfully, as he peered through the leaves at Legolas and Maglor.

"Doctored how?" Maglor asked.

"Berries and toadstool oil," Legolas said mournfully, closing his eyes at the expected rage from the Feanorion.

Instead he heard unexpected laughter. "You young fool," Maglor said. "You two remind me of my two youngest brothers. They were always trying out the foulest concoctions on us. Berries and toadstool oil. Why didn't you add woodrose while you were at it?"

Legolas looked uncomfortable at his words. "You mean there is woodrose in your scones?" Maglor asked. The Wood Elf nodded.

Maglor sighed. " No wonder you are all confused tonight. It's not only hallucinogenic but an aphrodisiac as well." He shook his head at Legolas' stunned look. "You did not know that lesser known property then? No wonder the Rhaw Braig is raging through your forest. They feed on emotions. Usually fear but throw lust in the mix and it could escalate into utter chaos." He paused and gave Anglach and Legolas a sharp look. "It is dangerous to tempt fate like that." He looked up, the horns growing closer and wilder now. "Do you have a way in, a way that does not involve the gates?"

Anglach and Legolas exchanged uncomfortable glances. Maglor closed his eyes and counted to ten before speaking again. "I am not interested in stealing your treasures or spying on your people," he said. "I know that might sound unbelievable coming from me, but trust me--there is no jewel or treasure in your father's hoard that could tempt me. And I have had more than my fill of kinstrife. I will not endanger your people. I want nothing more than to drive the Hunt away, retrieve my kinsman's fea and return to my Erestor. I cannot offer you my oath but I speak the truth. Am I understood?"

Legolas nodded. "There is a river, that runs underneath the cellars. We drop the empty barrels there, so they can make their way down to the lake. If you don't mind getting wet, we can sneak into the Halls that way." He frowned at Maglor. "But I do not understand. How will we deal with the Rhaw Braith from inside--the stone will protect us but still not drive them away. Any of our people abroad in the forest on this night will be vulnerable. Including your Erestor."

"We must get all inside the walls. I will face the Rhaw Braig alone, once that is accomplished. There is power yet in me and I will do what I must to regain Glorfindel's fea." Maglor's eyes took on a distant look. "He has died for our family once. He should not have to do so again." His expression hardened. "Now take me to this river of yours!"

______________________________________________________________

Thranduil's blood ran cold as he realized where the Rhaw Braig was heading. He did not have time to fuss with Disagreeable--who he really should rename Disrespectful, he thought--and Incapable. These two should be with Thalos and not weighing down his sleigh and distracting him from his purpose. Glorfindel's life was in the balance and his youngest son was lost to him. That was what he needed to focus on.

To the stronghold then. Damn it. Galion was wandering in the woods with Thalos. Laersul was on long patrol. Who was actually in charge at the Halls? Blast it, it was probably that incredibly dim Captain he had set to keep watch on his Elrohir. And a right balls-up he'd probably made of that, he was sure. The healers should have been dispatched to get Elrohir hours ago so the Captain should be back in the Halls as well, but with the way things were in the forest tonight he doubted anything had gone according to plan.

He struggled to keep up the pace of his sleigh, racing back to his stronghold as fast as he could, the weight of four bodies inevitably slowing down a sleigh made for two. He whistled out a bird call and was gratified to see that at least the birds had not lost their blasted minds, like these bloody Noldor had. He growled out an order to the bird, who winged away rapidly, glad to be away from the wrathful king.

There. That should at least warn them to man the gates and let none in. He hoped Thalos was making good speed. His son would know what to do--shepherd the Noldor into the Halls, man the fortifications and wait for word from him. Thalos was as skilled at opening the gates with thought alone as Thranduil was. He would make it inside in time, he hoped.

The problem at hand was what to do with these two supremely useless Noldor. Thranduil would have to call the ancient power of the forest to him, using it to stand against the Rhaw Braig and to demand the return of Glorfindel's fea. There was enough forged metal in his armories to trade for the soul of one who was dear to him. More than enough if Legolas had been taken too.

Thranduil's heart thudded as he suddenly realized Anglach was likely with his son. He blinked at the realization, his stomach clenching at the thought of that bright soul being dragged into the oblivion of the Hunt.

They would not rob him of his beloved son. They would not get his Glorfindel. They would not take Anglach. He would empty the armory, the treasury, whatever he had to do to get them back. It would take the old magic, to bend them to his will.

His thoughts traveled to the Feanorion loose in his woods. It made the bile rise in him to think on Maglor Feanorion, last surviving son of the cursed House of Feanor. But perhaps it was fortuitous that this particular Noldo was in his woods tonight. The legends spoke of the power of his voice. It might be hasty to kill him on sight, even if that was the law of his realm. Thranduil was the law of the realm, after all, and he could overrule the decree, if only for this night. It was something to think on.

He gave a derisive look at the two Noldor huddled in his sleigh. He would have to divest himself of them somehow, before facing down the Rhaw Braig. He cursed. They belonged with Thalos and the rest.

___________________________________________________________________

Legolas heaved himself up through the barrel drop, motioning to a bedraggled Anglach and a somehow still imposing albeit soaking Maglor to follow him. He shook his dripping hair and surveyed the room. None of the kitchen staff lingered--the coast was clear. "Where do you want to go?" Legolas asked Maglor, as the Feanorian wrung out his cloak.

"I will make for the main gate. That is where the Hunt will gather to await any stragglers coming from the wood. That is also exactly where your brother will likely be leading the others. I will do what I can to grant them safe passage." Maglor stood to his full height, towering over Legolas and Anglach. "Can you bring me metal of some kind--forged steel or even iron? Something to draw their focus to me?"

"A spear? A sword?" Legolas asked.

"Anything will do--just hurry. I will make my way to the gate."

"You can't go alone," Legolas said. "Your bloodline is not welcome here. There is a decree . . . "

"Yes, yes," Maglor waved his hand. "No crossing the borders on pain of death, yes, I'm sure that's the standard protocol since Doriath. What is your point?"

"Meaning you can't hold the Rhaw Braig off at the gates if one of our Captains is hauling you into the dungeons to await my father," Legolas explained. "I'll go to the armory. Anglach will escort you to the front gate." He motioned at Maglor's head. "Do you have some sort of hood or something?"

"I do not."

"Fine, fine. Anglach, grab a cloak or something from your chambers before you go parading him around. Otherwise you'll both be in the dungeons by the time I finish in the armory," Legolas said.

"No need to go to my chambers. We're near the kitchens. I'll get one of their hats and aprons. No one will look at him twice in that get up," Anglach said, a seemingly innocent look on his face. Legolas knew that look. Time for a little payback for the Bluebell and Snowdrop nicknames it seemed. He heartily approved of that idea.

"Perfect! I'll meet you at the gates." Legolas nodded at them and dashed off up the stairs.

He ran past the grand hall, the throne room and down the passageway that led to the armory. He almost ran into Aegnir as he rounded a corner, the burly Captain steadying him as he nearly collided with him.

"Legolas! Where did you disappear to? Last I saw you went up to the flet with the wounded Noldor and then I knew nothing until the healers picked me up off the forest floor hours later." Aegnir's face conveyed his hurt. "I thought I could trust you. I never expected you to knock me unconscious and make off with your father's prisoner." His eyes showed how deeply this perceived betrayal had wounded him.

"What?" Legolas exclaimed. "I never did that to you."

"Then explain to me how I ended up unconscious on the ground and you and Anglach spirited away your father's Noldor prisoner? The healers found no one in the flet and I never saw you leave it!" Aegnir's voice had an edge to it now. "Your father will flay me alive when he hears of this. I didn't think you would do such a thing, just because you've decided you prefer the stupid younger Noldo. You could have just told me things were over, not played me like this."

Legolas' head was spinning and the minutes were ticking by. "There is no time to explain, Aegnir. I didn't try to trick you and I certainly didn't knock you on the head." He ran a hand through his hair, his fingers bumping into the hated circlet as he did. "Listen, I'll try to help with my father, I promise you I will, but you must let me get to the armory. The Rhaw Braig rides to the Halls and we are all in danger. I must get to the armory. Make for the front gate and spread the word to hold fast. Anglach knows what to do--do not doubt him. He heads to the gates as we speak. Thalos is making his way here with Father's missing Noldo, so that's all right in the end." He patted the Captain's shoulder and sped away in the direction of the armory, leaving Aegnir gaping at his swiftly retreating form.

Legolas slid to a stop in front of the doors, exchanging hurried words with the guard on duty there. He saw Hadon avert his eyes from the tunic as Legolas went by; blast it, the Valar cursed tunic would be the death of him.

He ran to the spears and hefted one. Should be enough. Legolas' eyes darted around, looking for anything else he could take to Maglor. He turned to look to his left and inadvertently caught his sleeve on a hook by the spears. The bluebell tunic ripped from his shoulder. That was enough for Legolas. He pulled the tattered remnants of it over his head, cursing as they caught on the circlet. He finally freed himself and tossed the tunic to the floor, kicking it for good measure. His leggings and boots had been enough in the forest--they would be more than enough now.

And if it just happened that he ran into Elrohir somehow, so much the better.

In his haste he had forgotten the circlet, now crookedly bouncing on his head as he ran.
Chapter 17 by Gabriel
Author's Notes:
I hope you enjoy! Took a leaf out of ziggy's book and tried to come up with possible scenarios.
So here it is.
Aegnir watched Legolas as he disappeared round a bend in the passageway smiling appreciatively at their candid conversation that had taken place moments before.


At least they were talking. That was always a good thing. His smile dropped; Legolas was prone to black moods which always left Aegnir wondering what he had done wrong, or that he wasn’t enough for the Prince, especially since he had witnessed on more than one occasion, Legolas kissing someone else. ‘Was that just standard with Legolas?’ He thought.


That had left him feeling as though his heart had been ripped from his chest, and had him seeking the solitude of the trees to drown his sorrows, a bottle of Fellfire, his companion- the most potent mulled wine known to Elvendom.


The big warrior sighed, ‘what was he thinking, getting involved with the Thranduil’s youngest son, Legolas had pursued him, how could he have said no, when the King’s son the most beautiful elf in all of Mirkwood begins making advances toward you.’


Aegnir shook his head berating himself for foolish behaviour, if Legolas wished to pursue this Noldor Elrohir, then he would graciously step aside, if only to see his love happy. Who was he to stand in his way; Legolas always got what he wanted.


His thoughts turned back to Thranduil. He needed to set things right, There was already two strikes against him. The King would not allow a third, he would not let his King down.


A determined look crossed his face; he would see this right even if it killed him and he would make his King proud, his father proud. He tried to image his father bursting with pride for his son’s efforts but always his father’s face bore distaste with disparaging words that would drip from his mouth


With renewed purpose the Captain pressed forward, bow in hand, heading toward the ‘Great gates’ to their stronghold.


*******************************



“Keep up Galion, or I swear I will throw you over my shoulder!” Thalos insisted. Galion made a face at Thalos’ back.



“Tell me to hurry up, you little upstart!” Galion grumbled under his breath, as he half tripped over a tree root, “I was changing your little loin cloths when you were a mere sapling, show some respect!”



A slow smile spread across Thalos’ handsome face, he loved to rib Galion any chance he got. He glanced at Arwen striding beside him and found her watching him. She smiled suddenly and he returned it, “So tell me about yourself, Prince Thalos?” she took his arm leaning into him.


“There’s not much to tell, really,” Thalos offered, “Ha! Galion barked a laugh from somewhere behind them. “You are being modest, my Lord!” Arwen said her tone smooth and seductive.


She tilted her chin up to look at him giving him another uninterrupted view of her breasts. He tendered her a smile, ‘was he looking,’ she thought, ‘look at my breasts, you gorgeous creature, that’s it, yes!’ she whooped silently in triumph, a soft smug smile upon her lips. “So tell me,” she said squeezing his arm, “Is your wood as big as they say?”


“Oromë’s nine inch dick!” Erestor suddenly cursed trying to disentangle himself from a vine. Galion’s head came up, pupil’s dilating with desire, “Ohhh!” Galion let the one word linger, “A man after my own heart.”



Erestor tugged at the vine firmly wrapped around his boot, “Mahal’s..flaming…balls…,” Erestor enunciated with each jerk of the cursed plant.


A pair of brown boots stepped into view. Erestor followed them up to Galion’s smiling face, “Need some help?” Erestor glared at him, “I am quite capable of taking care of things myself, thank you!” he snapped, “Fine!” Galion jerked his head in mock imitation of Erestor.


Finally Erestor dragged the last tendril of vine from his boot and threw it away in disgust, “Fuck me!” he said with exasperation, he turned and found Galion smiling admiringly at him, but ignored him.


“So!” Galion began, joining Erestor as they continued to follow Thalos and Arwen back to the stronghold, matching him stride for stride, “You’re Elrond’s Councillor!” Erestor kept his gaze on the trail ahead, “And you’re Thranduil’s Butler!” derision evident in his voice. Galion winced, he hated that word, “Assistant!” he corrected, “Right!” Erestor drew out the word. He was watching Arwen and Thalos with a narrowed gaze, they were looking a little too cosy for his liking.



“Assistant and friend,” Galion amended, “Oh don’t give me that, everyone knows you’re his bed warmer,” the Councillor raised a black brow suggestively, Galion’s head whipped round, “How dare you even suggest that I…that he…oh Elbereth’s arse, like you’ve never done it!” Erestor turned a delicious look of smug surprise on the butler, a slight smile teasing at the corners of his mouth, “Have never, would never!”


“Well that’s just typical of the Noldor all self-possessed hubris they wouldn’t know what to do with the freedoms we enjoy if it hit them in the face!” Galion shoved his face within inches of Erestor’s.
Erestor narrowed his gaze his lips a mulish bud, “Yeah! Well at least we’re not sleeping with every Tond, Dîr and Hargam out there!” Erestor fired back.


They eye balled each other for a good few minutes until Galion’s face softened, and his lips split into a mischievious smile, “Oh! You are absolutely gorgeous when you’re angry,” Erestor growled a protest rolling his eyes, “I am spoken for,” he stated, “Yes, yes, the Fëanorion,” Galion said in a dry tone, “Like I’m truly afraid of a son of Fëanor!” He feigned a shiver.


“Oh! What is that God awful smell!” Galion suddenly pinched his nose, “Eonwë’s nipples, Orcs! Erestor’s voice fell to a whisper, he drew his sword, “Get down!”


*****************************************


Legolas strode out of the Armoury pale gold hair sliding over lean muscle, silver circlet sitting askew on his head, spear in hand. He reached the end of the passageway and almost collided with Anglach, “Where have you been?” his friend pinned him with a pointed look, “In the Armoury, remember,” Legolas said sarcastically, “And where is your tunic?” Anglach accused him standing with hands on hips. “I caught it on something and it tore clean off!” the Prince explained, “A likely story,” Anglach eyed him suspiciously. Legolas glanced about, “Where’s Maglor?” Anglach grinned with glee, “He’s waiting for us. Come.”


Anglach led the way along several walkways where pristine waterfalls cascaded on either side of the immense cavern into an underground river far below.


There was someone standing in the distance as they drew closer Legolas slowed his steps until he jerked to an abrupt stop and stared agape at the person before him.


“Maglor?” He threw a sidelong glance at Anglach who was affecting innocence, then back at the Fëanorion, then back to Anglach, ‘what have you done?’ he mouthed. His long-time friend ignored him, “Is he not delicious?” Anglach turned an expression all wide-eyed with wonder on Legolas, “That is one word to describe it,” the Prince replied.


Maglor caressed the white horsehair wig that flowed generously over his shoulders, “Is it to your satisfaction?” Legolas eyebrows shot up as his eyes ran over a red and white velvet hat with Mithril bells and the matching apron/tunic with ‘Kiss the Cook’ embroidered on the front. “It will have to do!” Legolas said straight faced fighting against the urge to laugh.
Chapter 18 by ziggy


 

Think we should rescue Glorfindel now and then we only have four days to get them all sorted out and in bed with each other:)

 

 

Chapter 18 or: Arwen and the Seven Elves; Grumpy (Thranduil/Maglor), Sweary (Erestor), Disagreeable/Surly (Elladan). Stupid,(Elrohir) Bluebell, Snowdrop, Shithead (Galion). And the Handsome Prince. (Thalos)

 

 

 

Thranduil stood upright in his sledge and urged his white deer onwards. They soared over the snow as if on wings. He could hear the whimpering of the two Noldor behind him but ignored them for he felt the cold stream in the wind around him, the ice in the air that was the Rhaw Braig. They were ahead of him, heading for his own stronghold and his own folk in their little cottages that clustered about the stronghold. And then suddenly the sledge was amongst the Rhaw-Braig. It seemed like cinders filled the air and there was a chittering and gibbering as the sledge was suddenly in the midst of the Wild Hunt itself. Darkness clouded out the sky and there were no stars.

 

He could hear the sounds of retching as Surly and Stupid were sicking up on his white fur cloak like two cats with furballs but he did not stop. Ignoring their ridiculous moans, he cried aloud the words of Power, summoned the magic of the Wood to bring the spirits of the Wood to his side, and the snow began to whirl and rise up in clouds, coalescing into the shapes of white deer leaping alongside him, flying through the Wood, driving a path through the swirling clouds of black cinders that were the ugly sprites of the Rhaw-Braig. The darkness parted before the Elf-King’s hurtling sledge, snow flying from its runners, white deer running, and there ahead of them was the hill beneath which was the Woodelves’ stronghold. Thranduil cried louder and the words seemed to take flight themselves and blew the snow into more and more shapes, so there were fleet herds of deer flying through the air alongside the sleigh.

 

Around them, the dark cloud of cinders and black scraps like bats and crows suddenly turned and like one  flock, came spinning back and around the sleigh. The snow-deer summoned by Thranduil leapt up on the wind and swirled and with a roar of the wind, whooshed up around the cinders, enveloping them in the snow storm while the sleigh raced over the snow towards the bridge that led to the stronghold.

 

The darkness concentrated around them, drew down over them like it would suffocate them and Thranduil shouted into the storm. The wind roared about him, lifting his hair, his cloak, hurling the snow and darkness around him. And then the hillside itself seemed to open and there was a burst of light so fierce that it pierced the darkness and seemed like a sword wielded by a warrior of light.

 

The sleigh was on the bridge now and Thranduil hauled his deer about so the sleigh slewed sideways over the snowy bridge and  came to a sudden halt facing the Rhaw-Braig and the darkness that crowded close now. The storm ceased abruptly and sudden silence fell.

 

Thranduil stood in the sleigh. The berries on his holly crown were vivid and bright and the swirling embroidery on his robes seemed almost incandescent, sentient. His slate-green eyes deepened in their intensity.

 

Now that the King stood before his own Gates, the storm ceased and the snow deer fell back into snow. But on the other side of the bridge, where the forest crowded close, a great black horse emerged and stood pawing at the snow. Its rider slowly dismounted, the black gauntlets sheathed its terrible hands and its face was hidden by a dark helm. With each ponderous footstep, the earth seemed to tremble and shake.

 

‘You are in my lands, Rhaw-Braig,’ Thranduil cried imperiously. ‘And I command you to leave.’

 

The dark rider paused and then slowly inclined his head as if acknowledging Thranduil.

 

‘But first, you have something of mine,’ Thranduil continued. ‘And I will have him back!’

 

The dark rider paused as if considering. He turned slightly and there, beyond his dreadful mount, amongst the chittering scraps of darkness and shadow, was a brightness that glimmered in spite of the suffocating dark.

 

‘If you do not return him to me, Rhaw Braig, I will name you.’ Thranduil raised his right hand and pointed towards the dark rider. ‘I will fight you.’

 

Suddenly someone came alongside the sleigh, striding through the snow. A shring of steel as a sword was drawn and Thranduil turned his head to see which of his captains accompanied him.

Thranduil did not recognise him but the great sword unsheathed glowed with the strangest light; a blue fire seemed to flicker and dance along its edge like the fire from march gas that burns a blue flame.

 

‘Do as you are commanded by the King of these lands, for I do name you. Tarucca-Rauta. Demon of the ancient world, horned one, banished and reviled!’

 

Thranduil  knew then it was indeed Maglor Feanorion who stood alongside him, but his hair was white, with horror perhaps at his terrible crimes, thought Thranduil- although it looked a little coarser than he expected.

 

 

‘Exile!’ hissed the Rider. ‘Murderer. Does the King not know who stands with him?’ Teeth bared in a skeletal grin, the Hunter turned his head towards Thranduil. ‘Do you stand with this Kin-Slayer, oh child of Doriath? Do you forgive him his transgressions? Or do you offer him in exchange for the Golden One?’

 

 

‘No!’

 

This time the voice came from behind them both and from the stronghold.

 

‘Anglach! Go back,’ commanded the King.

 

‘I will not,’ Anglach protested. He hung onto the side of the sleigh and looked up at Thranduil appealingly. ‘My lord King, please do not turn him over to the Rhaw Braig. He saved Legolas and me.’

 

Thranduil looked down at the puppy-dog eyes of Anglach and sighed; he could never resist Anglach. Anglach was the only one who thought everything Thranduil did was Good and True. ‘Very well, Anglach. I will not turn him over.’

 

‘And do you forgive him his …what the Hunter said, transgressions, whatever those are? If I ask you as a special Yule gift?’

 

Thranduil bowed his head.

 

The whole forest fell utterly silent.

 

The Rhaw Braig seemed to turn and pause to listen, Maglor kept his face averted but suddenly there was a clamour in the back of the sleigh. Thranduil tutted irritably; he had forgotten Surly (who had been Disrespectful and he now thought of as simply bad-tempered) and Stupid (who had been Incapable but he had now decided was really unutterably slow-witted).

 

‘No! Give him up,’ muttered Surly and Stupid added, ‘You have to get back Glorfindel!’

 

‘Will you two idiots shut up. I’m not going to give him up and I am going to get back Glorfindel.’ Thranduil drew his white leather gloves from his elegant hands and slapped them against his palm. He threw one long lean leg over the side of the sleigh and jumped  down into the snow. He turned and gave Maglor a strange look and then began to walk towards the Dark Hunter.

 

‘No!’ shouted Anglach but Maglor firmly put a hand on his chest.

 

‘No, Snowdrop. You have done enough. Stay and look after Bluebell. I will go with the King.’

 

So saying he strode after Thranduil.

 

Suddenly there was an almighty crash and a large bough of a tree crashed down amongst the Hunt, sending the splinters of darkness chittering and scrambling away. The great black horse reared up in terror and its hoofs came crashing down upon the Hunter’s foot. He leapt up in pain and shouted aloud. The horse bolted, plunging through the ghostly hounds and servants of the Dark Hunter, scattering the darkness and with a cry of fury and frustration, the Dark Hunter whirled his cloak of shadow about himself and with a loud bang and puff of green smoke for effect, he was gone. A glimmer of golden light lingered in the air for a moment as if confused, and then suddenly shot towards the sleigh and Glorfindel’s body.

 

In the tree from which the branch had crashed down, was Aegnir, and in his hand was a small saw which he always carried for emergency carpentry.

 

0o0o

 

About five minutes earlier…

 

Arwen watched Thalos, or rather she watched the tight breeches over his lovely rear and the way the fabric clung to his shapely thighs and lean hips and long legs and …blushed as she realised that Erestor was watching her with cynical interest.

 

The Woodelf she had dubbed Shithead was still singing his Shit Shit, We are in the Shit Song but he seemed to have perked up as the trees were less dense and ahead of them rose a hill. There seemed to be a lot of people hanging about on the bridge that led into the hill and suddenly Thalos cried out and began running towards them.  Everyone else ran after him until they were all running pellmell towards the group when suddenly Arwen stopped; she could see exactly what was ahead of them.

 

The Wild Hunt was clustered about the bridge and Thranduil’s sleigh had been parked on the bridge before the gates as if to stop the Hunt from going any further. With relief she saw that her two stupid and grumpy brothers were hanging out of the sleigh although they were looking green and sick. But even in that state, Elrohir was gawping rather lecherously at Princess Bluebell who had her back to Arwen at first but when she moved, Arwen could see more clearly that poor Bluebell had no top on at all! Arwen’s hand flew to her mouth in horror and sent out a brisk reprimand to her wayward brother to NOT LOOK!

 

Elrohir turned in astonishment towards Arwen, mouth open when several things all happened at once.

 

Grumpy, as she called the King Woodelf, had leapt from his sleigh and was walking purposefully towards the Wild Hunt. Another strange Elf with long white hair…although Arwen thought it was a wig, was walking after him.  Shithead was shouting at the King and running towards him, Princess Bluebell was leaning flirtatiously against the sleigh and flaunting herself at Elrohir, Elladan was scowling at Bluebell and the Dark Hunter had not even acknowledged Arwen’s presence.

 

She was irritated by everyone’s lack of interest but more importantly than any of this, her beautiful Thalos was ignoring her and having leapt from his reindeer, was running faster and faster towards the Hunt as if he had no sense of self-preservation whatsoever. She certainly was not going to let any silly woodland spirit take her Handsome Prince away from her that easily, so she wriggled her nose and sent a powerful spell into the knot of elves and hunters below.

 

Everything slowed to a complete standstill and then froze, like a painting so she had time to walk down to the bridge and have a good look around, starting with throwing her outer gown over Princess Bluebell so she was at least covered up and respectable. After all, the gold shift she wore beneath the gown was rather sexy and clung to her in all the right ways. Thalos should not be able to take his eyes off her, she thought smugly. Next Arwen picked out the big Elf called Aegnir, for she had heard his sad thoughts and knew his heart’s desire was not the love of some not some silly boy called Legolas, but in all truth it was to be heroic, worthy and then having been seen as a warrior, he could retire with dignity to being the carpenter he longed to be. She wriggled her nose again and within a glittery second, Aegnir was in the tree above the Dark Hunter and had a small saw in his hand. She opened up a little bubble of time for Aegnir so he could achieve her purpose. Looking around, she saw that it everything was in place and she had only one thing left to do.

 

She placed herself carefully in Thalos’ path and pulled his arms up, ready for her to swoon into them the moment she opened Time up once more. She pulled her breasts up a bit first and wriggled so there was the merest suggestion of a nipple and then waved her hands about and said the words of Power. ‘Tra-lal-lal-lally, here in the Valley!’

 

Suddenly there was a loud crash. A horse shrieked in fear. A ghoul shouted in anger. Glorfindel rushed into his own body and sucked breath into his lungs. Thranduil shouted begone! Maglor sang loudly and powerfully. Princess Bluebell fluttered her eyelashes. Elrohir goggled and sighed. Elladan was sick. Erestor swore loudly and impressively. Shithead sang shit shit shit we are in the shit. And Arwen swooned, breasts first, into Thalos’ waiting arms.

 

 

0o0o

 

At last everyone had been taken or staggered in on their own two feet into the stronghold and everyone was reunited with everyone else. Elrohir and Elladan hugged their little sister and told her off for following them when she was quite unable to look after herself. Erestor took Glorfindel off to the Healing Rooms to be checked over for any signs of permanent damage. Anglach completely broke down in hysterics at the sight of Legolas in a real dress, although no one knew how he had got like that. Galion took Aegnir off to the kitchens to celebrate his heroism and to tell all the maidens how brave he was and that he had saved them all.

 

And Maglor stood outside the Gates and watched them disappear inside. The snow fell onto the bridge and into the dark water of the Forest River.

 

Thranduil watched him warily for a moment. This kinslayer had been ready to stand with Thranduil against the Dark Hunter, ready to pit his own strength alongside Thranduil’s in order to wrest Glorfindel’s soul back from the shadowy Hunt.

 

‘It is a long time since you laid your head down and rested,’ he said quietly, approaching the First Age warrior from behind. ‘Long since you were under a roof with other Elves. Long since you sat in a Hall of Fire to listen to tales or to tell them.’

 

Maglor said nothing at first. Then at last he spoke. ‘It is long since I had rest, for my enemies hunt me all day, all night. Yet sometimes I find shelter amongst Men and Dwarves at times, in exchange for a song, or my sword…But I long for the company of my own. It is true. And it is more years than I can recall since I lay amongst my own kind.’

 

‘With your own kind,’ Thranduil hazarded a guess.

 

Maglor nodded slightly.

 

‘Will you not enter my halls then, Maglor Feanorian. For I told the Dark Hunter I would accept you but more, I promised my foster son that I would forgive your transgressions against my people.’

 

Maglor glanced at him in surprise.

 

‘Oh, do not mistake me. I cannot forget the sounds of the murder in Doriath. Nor the sight of your people slaughtering us. But I blame Dior for his obstinate refusal to return those cursed jewels to you. I cannot blame you and your brothers for seeking them. And you tried enough to obtain it peacefully.’ He raised his slate-green eyes to the Exile. ‘Here you may rest if you will. For the sake of my foster child whom I love and can refuse nothing.’

 

And so at last, Maglor Feanorian came to rest his head that Yule in the Halls of the Woodland Realm as guest of Thranduil, the last an greatest Elven King.

 

And that night, there was to be feast to celebrate Aegnir’s great courage and foresight in having a saw with him. And Legolas was determined to apologise to Aegnir for his unkind and thoughtless actions. But he did not know how he was going to achieve that AND seduce the handsome Elrohir. And he didn’t look like he was going to get much help from Anglach.

 

0o0o

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope that leaves the way clear now for our lovers find each other in time for Narya to write the last day on Monday- so we’ve got Friday -Narya, Saturday - Nelya, Sunday- me/ziggy and  Narya- Monday.

Chapter 19 by Narya
Author's Notes:
In which old friends reunite, misunderstandings are cleared up, and someone comes home for Christmas.
Candlelight filtered through Glorfindel's lashes. The air around him smelled clean and sweet. Above him, a voice sang gentle songs of a world lit by the moon and untouched by darkness. He knew the voice, and realised he must still be dreaming. Maglor was dead, or lost, at any rate. He wondered what had brought the singer to his mind – but then, it was no stranger than the rest of his dream-visions. He frowned, remembering a gallop through Mirkwood with Arwen, pursued by ghosts. The ghosts had taken him for a time, pulling him along with them in dark chaos, chittering and jeering and cackling and tugging his hair. And their leader had been some terrible thing from the time when the world was young, and how he had gloated, to have caught the great Glorfindel. He shivered at the memory, even knowing it was not real.

“He wakes.”

Erestor? He had been in the dream too, Glorfindel realised. Yes, that was it, right at the end. Suddenly he, Glorfindel, had been lying in a sleigh, and towering above him had been Thranduil - ai, Thranduil, you cruel beauty. The twins had been there too, looking seasick, but before he had been able to speak Erestor had seized him under the armpits and half-dragged, half-carried him into a stone stronghold while babbling on about rockfalls, poison and an Orcish son. The last thing he remembered was a rather lovely Silvan healer dosing him with something that tasted of berries and ordering him to sleep. Had that part even been a dream? It seemed real enough in his mind – as did the bed under him, he realised, stretching out. Perhaps the berries in the potion had given him his strange visions. Or perhaps he had hit his head on his gallop through the woods with Arwen – yes, that must be it...

A strong hand cupped his cheek. “Laurëfindë.”

I know that hand. I know that voice. He opened his eyes. And I do not dream.

Blazing grey eyes smiled down into his own. “Welcome back.”

“ Makalaurë...” He could not believe it, not yet. Instead his eyes travelled around the room, taking in the row of beds, the shelves of herbs and tinctures and dressings – yes, definitely an infirmary. That part hadn't been a dream. And there was Erestor, sitting on the bed next to his. Finally he looked back at Maglor, and felt his brows crease in bewilderment. “What are you wearing?”

“What? Oh.” A delicate shade of pink crept through Maglor's cheeks and up to his temples. “It's a long story – Erestor, stop laughing!”

Glorfindel couldn't help it; he laughed too. It wasn't every day one got to see a Fëanorion in a white horse hair wig and a red apron bearing the message "Kiss the Cook" - and blushing, to boot!

“Not you as well!” Maglor threw Glorfindel a glare as Erestor, still chuckling, slid off the bed and went to help him out of the ridiculous garb. “Thousands of years, and that's all you can think to say?”

“Forgive me.” Glorfindel sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Fortunately, whatever had happened, he didn't feel too much the worse for wear. A little tired, but that was to be expected with a head injury. Maglor reached out a hand to help him up, which Glorfindel accepted, then rested his forehead against his kinsman's. Maglor's skin was cool and soft, and Glorfindel sighed as strands of black silky hair tickled against his cheek. He inhaled the scent of leather and thyme and petrichor, and suddenly his throat closed and his lungs seemed to shrink. Maglor pulled him into his arms – just as well, as he could no longer feel his legs. “Tell me this is real,” he murmured, gripping Maglor tightly.

“As real as you are, cousin.”

“Although that was almost not very real at all,” Erestor put in. “What in the name of Aulë's unlubricated arsehole were you thinking?”

Glorfindel blinked, puzzled, and released his kinsman. “What was I thinking?” he repeated, aware that he sounded stupid. “It was Arwen, she insisted something had happened to you and the twins, or was going to happen, and that we needed to come chasing over here to stop it from happening...she'd have gone on her own if I hadn't gone with her, what else could I have done?”

“I don't mean that.” Erestor rolled his eyes. “I mean the part where you stood in front of the Dark Hunter and let him take your oh-so-glorious golden fëa from your irritatingly perfect body!”

Glorfindel's stomach sank. Erestor only let loose with the insults like that when he was really angry – but that couldn't mean...surely not? “Eru,” he whispered, and sank back onto the bed. “That wasn't a dream?”

“No, you troll-brained twit, it was not!”

“But...but then...Arwen was going to...”

“Yes, yes, yes, I know, I've heard what she's got to say about all of this.” Erestor sniffed and folded his arms. Glorfindel felt as if he'd somehow swapped places with one of the twins after some prank gone badly wrong. “Allow me to give you a brief lesson in the genealogy of the House of Elrond. Arwen's grandmother is Elwing, whose grandmother was Lúthien, whose mother was...”

“Melian, yes, I know all of this!”

“Be quiet. Now, think hard – the member of Elrond's family who has always displayed the most affinity with her Maian heritage is...?”

“Arwen.” Glorfindel put his head into his hands, suddenly feeling stupid. Maglor gave a soft “ah!” as though he had just worked out something that had been troubling him. “You think she could have seen them off?”

“She is linked to the lifeblood of this world in ways that we cannot imagine. I certainly don't think they'd have had any luck ripping out her fëa, as they did with you.” Erestor sat down next to him and pulled him close. “You great golden fool, I thought I'd lost you. I could not have borne that, not again,” he added softly.

Glorfindel leant into the embrace, feeling Erestor's chest rise and fall in time with his own. “Then if all of that was real,” he said, “the rest of it must be. Thranduil, and -”

“Thranduil?” Erestor sat back. “The woodland King? When did you see him?”

“In the sleigh, at the end. You were there too, were you not?”

“Oh.” Erestor's face relaxed. “That was Legolas. In fact...”

“Wait a moment, Erestor.” Maglor joined them on the bed, and with practised fingers began to knead the muscles in his kinsman's back. Glorfindel gave a soft moan of pleasure. “Legolas was the boy in the bluebell tunic – the King's son. Thranduil was the one in the sleigh.” His voice took on a sad, far-away quality. “I did not recognise him at first, up in the flet – but when I felt his power at work within the trees, I knew.”

Erestor's face bore an expression that hovered somewhere between shock and pride. Glorfindel raised an eyebrow, guessing at some of his friend's thoughts, but did not press the matter. It may not be wise in front of Maglor – and, he realised with a shock, the idea of Erestor with the King caused him a sharp pang of jealousy. Carefully he shielded his and Erestor's minds from any stray tendrils of Fëanorion power.

“We spoke, after,” continued Maglor. “When you were bringing Glorfindel here. He forgave me.” He sounded doubtful and wondering. Glorfindel leaned back against him, offering what comfort he could. “Should any man do that?”

“If anyone has the right, it is he.” Tenderly, Erestor tucked back a lock of Maglor's hair – then froze as though in sudden horror. “Oh, Elbereth's tits, it's worse than I thought!”

“What is?”

“The Orc – the one that injured me – he is the King's son!”

“What?” Glorfindel looked from Maglor to Erestor and back again. Erestor looked terrified and Maglor seemed to be trying not to laugh. Come to think of it, Erestor had mentioned something about an Orcish son on the way here, but he'd assumed he'd hallucinated that part. It seemed too far-fetched to be true, and if it were then surely Maglor would not be laughing. “There must be some mistake.”

“There is indeed,” chuckled Maglor. “There is no Orcish son, Erestor. Such things have not happened in two Ages, at least.”

“But Legolas – I mean the King – he told me himself that his son poisoned me, and it was definitely an Orc that attacked me.”

“He wasn't talking about Orcs, Erestor, he was talking about scones.”

Erestor looked baffled. Glorfindel wondered whether he hadn't hit his head after all.

“I had the whole story out of Snowdrop and Bluebell. The butler, Galion, apparently makes hallucinatory scones. The young Elves eat the scones and then go capering through the trees. All well and good, until it brings the Rhaw Braig down on the forest.”

“I didn't eat any scones,” Erestor protested.

“No, but Elrohir did. I must have words with that boy,” he added to himself thoughtfully. “I think he and his brother were trying to turn me over to the Hunt.”

Erestor spluttered at that.

“Calm yourself, all is well now. Anyway, for reasons I haven't fathomed yet, Thranduil thought your name was Elrohir, so when he found out Elrohir had eaten the scones...”

Glorfindel groaned and rubbed his temples. “I'm going to need someone to go through all of this again with me – very, very slowly.”

“I'll leave you and Erestor to unpick it – I think you know most of it now, anyway. Then you must get ready for the feast.” He wound his fingers into Glorfindel's hair and placed a lingering kiss on his forehead. Warmth blossomed from the place his lips had touched, and all of Glorfindel's weariness melted away.

“Where are you going?” Erestor asked with a catch of fear in his voice as Maglor got to his feet.

“Do not be afraid, Golovir.” Maglor trailed his long, elegant fingers down Erestor's chiselled face, and his fierce grey eyes softened. “As I said before – I have found you again. I will not leave you.” He pressed his lips gently to Erestor's, and for a moment they both lingered in the kiss, eyes closed, lost in each other. Eventually, Maglor pulled away and stroked his thumb along Erestor's cheekbone. “There is something I need to do, but I promise I'll be back before long.”

Glorfindel watched Erestor as Maglor left the infirmary. He had not seen such joy and longing on his friend's features since the First Age. Oh, what he'd give to have someone look at him that way! He reached for his precious memories of Idril, and then for a moment Thranduil's face burned in his mind – Thranduil, red eyed and vulnerable in the camp on the Dagorlad, golden lamplight in his hair – but he shook himself. That was nothing; a long ago mistake, no more.

“Are you cold?” asked Erestor, reaching for a blanket.

“No, no. Just some strange thoughts, that's all.” He mustered a smile. “So tell me again from the beginning – what, exactly, are you all doing in Mirkwood?”

“Well, it began with a rockfall in the pass through the hills...”

***

“Legolas!”

At the sound of the high-pitched, excited voice, Legolas spun on his heel in time to catch an armful of wriggling Elf-child. “Hello, Aerlinn. Are you ready for the party?”

She nodded, giggling. “Iymris says there were ghosts all around the stronghold and the King did some magic and a giant Elf-eating monster sang a song, and then Aegnir fell out of a tree and squashed all the ghosts. Oh, and there was a pretty girl running around without any clothes on.”

“That's not exactly what happened, but it's near enough.” He brushed back her flaming red curls, marvelling at the merry sparkle of her features, despite the grief she had endured. Poor thing, to lose her mother at such a young age. Legolas felt hot tears rise in his own throat for a moment, and cradled the child close. She wound her arms around his neck and rested her head on his shoulder.

“Did you get me a Yule gift, Legolas?”

Shit. He felt in his pockets, but he knew he had left his carved niphredil flower somewhere in the forest. Guilt twisted around his guts like a coil of rope. “Aerlinn, I'm sorry. I -”

“What Prince Legolas would like to say, Aerlinn, is that he gave it to me for safekeeping.” Aegnir rounded the corner, and in the palm of his hand he held a wooden niphredil flower – far more intricate and beautifully crafted than the one Legolas himself had been hewing. “Here. A very merry Yuletide to you.”

Aerlinn shrieked with delight and squirmed in Legolas's arms. Laughing, he released her so that she could throw herself at Aegnir – who caught her and swung her onto his shoulders. She held her flower up to one of the lamps flickering nearby. “Oh, it's beautiful!” She gave Legolas a radiant smile, and he smiled back. He thought about telling her who had really made the flower, but Aegnir must have guessed his intentions, for he gave a brief shake of the head. “Thank you, Legolas! I'll keep it in my pocket and it will be my lucky charm forever and ever!”

“The Prince will count that as a high honour, I'm sure, little one.”

“Aegnir,” said Aerlinn, resting her chin on top of the burly captain's head, “did you really fall out of a tree and squash lots of ghosts?”

“Sort of.”

“Everyone says you're a hero now.”

Aegnir blinked, seemingly unable to form a response.

“Come, Aerlinn.” Legolas lifted her down from Aegnir's shoulders. “Get to the Hall. There'll be music and dancing before the feast, and perhaps the King's players will have something prepared.”

“Ooh!” She sped off down the corridor, then turned back, looking puzzled. “Aren't you coming?”

“Aegnir and I have things to talk about. We'll be along presently.” He blew her a kiss. “Go on, little one – and don't forget to save me a dance.”

She pretended to catch the kiss and blew one back, then disappeared around a corner.

“She adores you.”

“And I her.” Legolas stared after her sadly. “Poor thing.” He turned back to Aegnir, ignoring the feeling that his insides were being stirred up with a ferryman's pole. “You were very kind to give her that flower. It was beautiful work.”

“I can make more. I enjoy it, so it's no hardship.”

“No, I suppose not.” He attempted a smile. “You do know that after your heroics today, you'll be able to choose from any position in the King's guard or household that you wish?”

“There is only one thing in the King's household that I want, my Prince, and I suspect I am about to lose it.”

“Oh, Aegnir.” Legolas gave up the pretence. “I am very sorry. I have led you on, teased you, and used you shamefully – and at the end of it all, I can't even give you what you desire.”

Aegnir shrugged. “It's alright. It isn't the first time this has happened to me.” He looked at the Prince sadly. “I had hoped...but it doesn't matter now. You have eyes only for that Noldo who ate Galion's scones, am I right? I don't blame you,” he added. “He is very lovely – and very clever, probably, once the scones have worn off. Noldor always are.”

“Aegnir...”

“It is for the best.” Aegnir smiled sheepishly. “Your father doesn't like me anyway. He'd never have approved.”

I don't know what he'll make of Elrohir, then, thought Legolas, but he kept it to himself. “Father does like you. In fact,” he added in a rush of inspiration, “he has created a new position just for you – Appointed Carpenter of the Royal Household.” He wasn't too sure about the official terms, but it sounded good. He just hoped he had the chance to speak to his father about it before Aegnir went and thanked him. Winningly, he smiled at Aegnir – it was a cheap shot, he knew the Captain couldn't resist that look. “Are you sure there's only one thing in the King's household you want?”

Aegnir's face lit up. “Is it true?”

“Of course!” Well, it will be in a few minutes.

“Then, my Prince, it would be an honour to accept.”

***

Arwen surveyed the scene in the Feast Hall with satisfaction. Everything had turned out exactly as it should. Flaming lamps bracketed to the walls cast a merry light across the gathered Wood-Elves, their shadows leaping into corners and beckoning the revellers into mischief in their friendly embrace. Small cakes and savouries were laid out on tables around the room, in case anyone wished to whet their appetite before the feast. A flautist and fiddler played a pretty jig that she fully intended to dance to later; the air smelled of smoke and spices; the Elf she had called Shithead (although she reminded herself firmly that his name was Galion) was handing out goblets of red wine to anyone who stood still long enough to have one pressed on them. Even her brothers had cheered up, she smiled, now that those silly scones had run their course on Elrohir – he was back to his normal exuberant self, and Elladan had mellowed considerably since his brother stopped hiccupping and spouting nonsense about leggings.

Best of all, though, she had been escorted to the feast by Thalos. Smugly, she tightened her grip on his arm, and ignored the jealous glares of the Wood-Elves around her.

On a dais at the back of the room, a group of players seemed to be preparing a performance, or perhaps a dance of some kind. They were handing out masks to the watchers around them. Small children shrieked excitedly and pushed their way towards them. And – what was this? – Elrohir scampered onto the dais and claimed masks for himself and Elladan. Arwen rolled her eyes at her brothers' lack of manners. Couldn't they at least wait to be asked?

The pretty jig drifted into a tense, minor-key melody, underpinned by an uneven drumbeat. The players on the stage donned their masks, and the crowd followed suit. The masks were rather unattractive, she thought, all greys and silver and black, and so ugly – and then the lead player leapt to the front in a dark cloak and with a terrible skull-like rictus painted onto his face, and suddenly she understood. They were re-enacting the Wild Hunt! And there were Elladan and Elrohir, swaying in time to the music, both of them wearing the horrible silver masks...

She gasped and dropped her goblet. Her vision! So this was what she had seen – not her brothers being abducted by the Hunt at all.

“Lady Arwen, are you well?”

Warmth curled deep in her belly at Thalos's concerned touch. “Yes, thank you. It's only seeing my brothers in those masks. It unnerved me somewhat.” Near enough the truth, and it saved her from having to explain the strange gifts that ran in her family.

Thalos, however, was considering her with a knowing smile. “I suspect, my lady, that there is more to you than meets the eye.”

She blinked at him, all innocence. It had always worked on her Ada. “Why do you say that?”

“Oh, one reason and another.” The smile softened. “You should know that in the Greenwood, we value our women who are fierce and capable warriors – and those who have other gifts. We must all work together here, for our own survival. We cannot afford to put half our population on a pedestal and insist they do nothing more demanding than sew all day.”

Arwen smiled back, for the first time allowing a hint of something wilder to show in the curve of her lips. “Your Highness...”

To her annoyance, however, they were interrupted by a great cheer from the other end of the Hall. The carpenter-captain, Aegnir, had entered, along with Princess Bluebell. Arwen gasped again as she realised that Bluebell was dressed as a man! How daring, she thought, intrigued.

“I can't help but admire your sister's boldness,” she said to Thalos. Perhaps this is what he'd meant about capable women. Her grandmother had always insisted that trousers were more practical than the floaty dresses her father insisted she must wear.

“My sister?” Thalos looked puzzled for a moment, then burst out laughing. “Oh – my apologies, Lady Arwen. I should have explained earlier. My sister is in fact my younger brother, Prince Legolas.”

Legolas? Arwen glanced between the two of them, reassessing her situation. Legolas was very lovely, with such a sweet mouth – but no, she told herself. Elrohir was clearly besotted with the younger Prince. It would not be fair.

“Come.” Thalos tugged gently on her arm. “Allow me to introduce you properly – and then would you honour me with a dance?”

Arwen smiled and dropped into a deep curtsey. This evening really couldn't get any better.

***

Thranduil stood by the open doors of the stronghold, sending his magic curling into the depths of the wood and letting the snowflakes melt on his face, listening to the whispers they brought him. It was quiet for now, but the Rhaw Braig had left dark scars through his realm. Pockets of shadow and silence clung to places that had once been bright. Mocking whispers drifted on the evening breeze and stirred his holly crown.

“They have not truly gone,” he said to the one that he knew was watching him.

Maglor Fëanorion stepped out of the darkness cloaking him and came to stand at his side, as he had on the bridge. “They were denied their victim.” He cast Thranduil a curious glance.

“Do not try to hide from a King in his own halls,” said Thranduil in response to the unspoken question. “Even your power is not strong enough for that.” He smiled and turned to face this ancient warrior-poet, the exile he had forgiven for the love of Anglach and his son. It was easy to see why he inspired such loyalty. He towered above most Elves, even other Noldor, and his face was at once stern and gentle. His eyes told the story of his tragedy, for those who cared to look; they blazed silver-grey, but behind the fierce starlight lay deep pools of grief and the flames of anger and betrayal. “Did you plan to give yourself up, so that they would move on?”

“No. Perhaps I might have, once, but not now.”

Thranduil nodded, strangely glad to hear it. He had spoken truly – he could not forget Doriath – but the Firstborn had endured too much darkness to deserve losing this last great light of their songs and legends. “Aegnir's actions were very brave, but there was something else at work in the forest, was there not?” He had felt it from the moment the branch fell, a strange magic older even than the forest itself, settling like silver dust before hiding itself away in the chaos that had followed.

“I must speak more with Erestor and Glorfindel, but I believe the lady Arwen has powers that are not widely known – gifts of that bloodline, that manifest strongly in her. Even a whisper of them would have startled Tarucca-Rauta and his fetid horde into running. That and the naming, I suspect, were enough to make them give up Glorfindel – but they will return.”

“Unless the forest is purged.” Thranduil considered the Fëanorion. “That is why you came here, is it not? To offer me your help again?”

Maglor's eyes locked onto his own, and the Song became yearning, lyrical, threaded with white heat and ancient sadness. King Thranduil, I am yours to command as you will.

The force of the mind-speech shocked through Thranduil like a cresting wave. The old tales were true, then. Maglor's eyes flashed with amusement for a moment, but Thranduil could read him well enough. The intent was sincere.

“Very well, Maglor Fëanorion.” He called the sound of his own power to the surface of the Song, golden and wild, tempered with the wisdom of the forest. Maglor rose to meet it, the two strains twining together in harmonies not heard since the Second Age. Outside, the trees swayed and moaned and wove their own voices into the crescendo. “Let the Hunt become the hunted. Lend me your voice and the power in your blood, and I will hold all debts repaid.”

Thranduil drew his hunting knife and slashed his palm, then offered the blade to Maglor. The Noldo's silver eyes seemed to gleam red as he gripped the hilt, and for one moment Thranduil feared. He knew that look. A monster wearing that face had hunted his people through the halls of Doriath – but Maglor sliced into his own scarred palm, dropped the knife and reached back to Thranduil. As their blood mingled their Music flowed together, gold and silver, forest and fire, and Maglor began to sing. Thranduil only had time to think that the old tales did not come near to conveying the purity and passion of that voice, before he lost sight of the halls around them and their minds were flying through the wood, Maglor's song defiant and furious, his own cool and fierce against the shadows of the Hunt, but sweet and healing to his beloved, damaged trees. He sang warm golden light into the darkened places; Maglor sought the spirits of the darkness; together they both fought them, wresting their claws from the Greenwood. Always ahead he felt the old demon, Tarucca-Rauta, throwing his foul creatures out behind him like a chittering flock of bats, until they had him on the edge of the forest and he had nowhere left to run.

“Be gone.” The voice was beside him and around him and within him, younger than Tarucca but stronger, bright as Fëanor's fabled jewels and unmovable as adamant. “There is nothing left for you here.”

The demon chuckled deep in his throat. The sound was like the grinding of bone and flesh together. “You cannot win, Kinslayer. Yes, murderer, I feel you, though you hide in your stone halls like a frightened child. I tell you again, you cannot win.”

“We have won already. You are beyond the boundaries of the forest and cannot come back unasked. This is the will of the King.”

“Foolish creature!” The demon's voice dropped to a seductive purr. “You know what dwells in this forest, son of Fëanor. Will you not join it, instead of fighting it? Must I say it again? You cannot win! The Necromancer will rise, darkness will take the world, and the Elves will perish.” At this the demon reached out to both of them, caressing their minds. “And you, son of Oropher? Would you choose this fate for your own beloved sons? Your brave Laersul, and bold Thalos, and naïve, beautiful Legolas?”

“ENOUGH!” Maglor roared, and to Thranduil it seemed the sky thundered and the forest shook. The air concussed, and Tarucca's presence spun in the Song for a moment like a crazed black firework – and then there was silence, and Thranduil found himself kneeling on the ground inside his own stronghold, the doors still open onto the bridge.

Maglor too dropped to his knees. Gently Thranduil unwound their threads in the music and pressed the Noldo's scarred hand to his lips. “I thank you.” He traced the facets of the jewel burned into the skin. “Can nothing be done for it?” he asked softly.

“If it could, I would not have it so.” Maglor looked up at him, grief in his grey eyes. “You of all people must understand why.”

In response Thranduil pulled the beautiful dark head towards him and kissed him fiercely, leaning into the rush of silvery fire that surrounded him at the contact. Again he let his power mesh with Maglor's, this time soothing the other, caressing, forgiving in soul as well as words. Maglor moaned softly, then pulled away, his breath ragged. Thranduil stroked the long black hair, recalling what he'd guessed on the bridge earlier that day. It had been a long time, and this was not the place, even if everyone was at the feast and it was empty. Besides, he thought he'd seen the Fëanorion exchanging looks with his secret Elrohir – Erestor, he reminded himself. Legolas had said his name was Erestor.

He got to his feet, pulling Maglor with him. “Come. We'll be missed.”

They had turned to follow the sound of flutes and drums, when Thranduil felt a familiar, beloved touch on his mind, strong as a fir tree and pure as white blossom in spring. He let out a cry of joy and reached back to the presence. Laersul!

His eldest son was coming home for Yule.
End Notes:
I'm sorry this took absolutely flipping forever, Nelya. I hope you have enough time. *Sends cookies and Elf-hugs*
Chapter 20 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Author's Notes:
In which the spirit of yuletide surfaces, the Noldor are not the only ones clothing obsessed and there is nothing a little bit of fine Dorwinion can't improve--Nelyafinwefeanorion
Thranduil kept his fingers looped protectively around Maglor's wrist as they walked back into his stronghold. It took no more than a flash from his eyes to have the guards shrink back from their King and his unexpected guest.

"Come," Thranduil said to Maglor. "I am sure you want to get rid of that ludicrous outfit my silly Anglach put you in. You must find time to tell me just how you managed to join forces with those two miscreants."

Maglor gave a low, melodious laugh. "I'll tell you, if you in turn share with me how you ended up with my two ridiculous foster grandsons." His eyes softened as he met Thranduil's own. "And I must again thank you for your care of Erestor."

Thranduil inclined his head gracefully. "It was my pleasure rescuing Erestor. I will have to figure out how I convinced myself he was named Elrohir." He shook his golden head, the torchlight glittering on his crown and highlighting his shining hair. "There is much confusion in my wood tonight, no doubt starting and ending with Anglach and Legolas."

"I am sure the Rhaw Braig played a role in the chaos," Maglor said mildly.

Thranduil raised an elegant eyebrow at the towering Feanorion, who looked far less impressive in his white horse hair wig and bright red apron. Despite the eccentric outfit he was still catching the incredulous looks of passing Wood Elves, Thranduil noted. "If I didn't know better I would say you had developed a soft spot for those two goblins of mine."

Maglor laughed outright at his words. "Don't say that around Erestor!" he said. "He was convinced you had an Orc for a son and it has taken me considerable effort to dissuade him of that belief."

Thranduil laughed in return. "Then do not let Erestor near Anglach. He calls Legolas every name possible but his favorite endearment is to call my son an Orc! It will no doubt confuse him even further," Thranduil admonished. They were making their way towards his chambers. He really needed to get the Feanorion--no, Maglor, he corrected himself--some more appropriate clothing. His fingers still held the other's bony wrist. "Now let's get you out of Anglach's costume and into something more appropriate for a feast." He went to tug Maglor towards his chambers but at that moment an elfling came flying around the corner and nearly collided with the son of Feanor.

"It's true!" the youngster squealed, staring up at Maglor with shining eyes. "I told Dineth you were real but she said I was wrong. She'll have to believe me now!" The young Elf grinned up at him.

"Now Calardan," Thranduil said, letting go of Maglor's wrist and squatting so he was eye level with the youngling. "What did you tell Dineth?"

The boy turned to look solemnly at his King. "I saw you as you came in the front gate with him. I told her he was the spirit of Yule, come to walk our halls on this night." He leaned closer to Thranduil and continued, in a failed attempt at whispering. "He's going to put the gifts in our shoes tonight!"

Thranduil closed his eyes. His father had come upon the Silvan's legend of the Holly King and the Oak King when he had settled these lands; Oropher had managed to put that particular bloody legend to rest early in the Second Age. The vestiges that remained of that story were now simply Thranduil's winter Holly crown and his summer one of Oak leaves. But once that legend had been conveniently side-stepped the Yule Spirit one had cropped up instead. Oropher, and Thranduil after him, had let it live on, being less dark and far less bloody.

According to the Silvan legend, the Spirit of Yule would leave trinkets for the Elf children of the wood on the night of the Winter Solstice, the darkest and longest night of the year. Thranduil's most skilled artisan woodworkers were actually the ones who created the trinkets and delivered them to the elfling's homes on this night each year. But the story claimed the Yule Spirit brought them with him from his home in the far North and that he would sneak into the stronghold by climbing down the great fireplace in the kitchens, late in the night.

No doubt Anglach's dubious choice of attire for Maglor had given rise to Calardan's wild idea. Thranduil sighed. He should set the record straight, even though he was sure it would dim the excited light in the boy's eyes.

"Calardan," he began softly. "The Yule Spirit. . ." He stopped at Maglor's touch on his shoulder and then felt the feather-light pressure of the other's spirit push against his mind. He opened himself to the communication, glancing up at the taller Elf as he did.

"Let me do this for him, if you would," Maglor's words drifted into Thranduil's consciousness. "It is good when little ones have something to believe in and it has been long since a child has looked at me with anything other than fear and hatred."

Thranduil nodded, a lump inexplicably forming in his throat. He nodded again and blinked a few times before turning back to the now slightly worried looking Calardan. He leaned towards the boy and conspiratorially whispered in his ear. "You are right, Calardan. But keep this to yourself for now. We are lucky the Yule Spirit chose to show himself this year." Thranduil sent a brief question to Maglor and was gratified to see the other grin and nod slightly. He continued speaking to the boy. "In fact, he not only chose to appear but he himself will personally hand out the Yule gifts this year." He almost laughed at the boy's indrawn breath and sparkling eyes.

"He will?" Calardan whispered, staring up in awe at Maglor.

"I will," Maglor confirmed, a fond smile on his face as his eyes, gentle now, met the boys wide ones.

"But Calardan," Thranduil added, drawing the boy's attention back to himself. "Not a word, now. We must keep this as a surprise. I think you'd like to see what Dineth says when she sees him, right?"

The boy nodded silently.

"Good," Thranduil said as he stood, gently putting a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Now, run on back to the main hall and send Galion . . ." he paused and put a finger to his lip thoughtfully. "No, on second thought, don't send Galion. Find Anglach and send him to my chambers. Can you do that for me?" The boy nodded again, his eyes even wider as he squared his shoulders at his king's command. "Now run get him and remember--shh. Not a word to anyone, not even Anglach. This is our surprise."

"Yes, my King," Calardan said reverently and took off running towards the Great Hall.

Thranduil looked at Maglor. "You are sure you want to do this?"

A huge grin came over Maglor's face. "I can't think of anything I'd rather do," he said. "I had five younger brothers, countless young pages through the centuries and two small half-Elven foster sons. If there is anything I've missed, it's being around children. Now come on, let's do this."

Thranduil gave him a critical look, eyebrows furrowed. "The wig will do but the apron just doesn't work. Come--I was going to lend you a clean tunic and some leggings but I've got a better idea. I've got a robe that might just do the trick. Follow me." He grabbed hold of Maglor's wrist again and dragged him into his chambers.

He'd have to send word to the chief woodcarver that the animal themed trinkets for this year should be taken to the Great Hall rather than waiting to distribute them after the little ones were in bed.

__________________________________________________________

"Calardan, leave me be," Anglach exclaimed as the young elfling tugged on his sleeve again. He leaned down to speak to the little one. "I promise I'll play with you tomorrow, my friend, but tonight I have dancing to do."

He could hear Legolas snort at his words. "I think you will be hard pressed to find a partner," Legolas said. "Maybe I"ll ask Aerlinn to spare you a dance, so you don't look too pathetic holding up the wall here."

"Legolas!" Calardan exclaimed. "Make him listen to me. The King asks for him!"

"The King!" Legolas and Anglach said in unison, both of them paling at Calardan's words.

"Yes, the King! He told me to send you to his chambers. He wants to speak to you in private," Calardan explained, tugging on Anglach's sleeve once again.

Legolas and Anglach stared at one another. So here it was, the audience with Thranduil they had both been dreading and assiduously avoiding all night. It had been made somewhat easy for them, as the King had not joined the revels so far; Legolas in particular had been secretly hoping Glorfindel's miraculous return had been keeping his father occupied.

Anglach swallowed. "I'll go then," he said, his voice hollow. He swallowed again. "I deserve to face his wrath. I have failed my good and glorious King this night. I must make my amends." He frowned at Legolas. "But you are the main problem, as usual. Why has he not sent for you too? He usually scolds us together."

Legolas groaned. "You know why! Because he always sends for you first, when it's really bad. You tell him everything and get off with almost no punishment and then I have to go listen to him rant about how I am such a bad influence on you. Then I get sent to sweep out the latrines while you get to help Galion in the kitchen and snitch treats!"

Anglach visibly brightened. "Oh good. I was worried for a minute. You're right. I'll tell him how it was all your fault and I valiantly fought with you to not give the Noldor any scaanes. He'll know the leggings were your idea--he knows I'd never come up with anything like that."

"Come on!" Calardan said again.

"I'm coming," Anglach said, detaching his sleeve from the grip of the elfling. He peered down at it. "Calardan what were you eating before you came to get me? You've smudged my sleeve."

"Never mind that, Anglach," Calardan implored. "No one cares about your stupid tunic. The King is waiting." He got himself behind Anglach and shoved.

"You know, I'm going to come with you," Legolas said, taking a deep breath and nodding his head bravely. "I need to make sure you keep the story accurate and share in the punishment he chooses for you to bear."

"You little cheating goblin!" Anglach exclaimed at Legolas, as they made their way towards Thranduil's chambers, Calardan now grabbing both their hands and yanking on them to make them hurry. "You can't horn in on my punishment like that. It's not fair. With you there I'll end up cleaning the latrines with you."

__________________________________________________________

Thranduil adjusted the luxurious red velvet winter robe and stepped back. It was meant to sweep behind him when he wore it but it would suit Maglor's height better than almost anything else in Thranduil's capacious closet. With the white horsehair wig and Maglor's own black boots, it made quite a striking outfit. "That'll do I think. You make a convincing Yule Spirit dressed like that. And we can avoid questions from the masses as to who you actually are for a few more hours this way."

"I'll just sneak back to the infirmary to say goodnight to Glorfindel when we finish with the children," Maglor said.

Thranduil flushed at his words. He had plans to say his own goodnight to Glorfindel, if he could manage it. He cleared his throat. "I've got you rooms just down this hallway. Erestor can take you there once you finish at the infirmary. I'm sure you'll have much to say to each other, after so long apart."

Maglor's expression grew fond. "I thought I had lost him forever. It is a gift to have him near me again."

"You are a fortunate one," Thranduil said, tucking a strand of horsehair back away from Maglor's face.

"I sense there is a bit more interest than just polite concern, as far as Glorfindel goes. Am I correct?" Maglor asked gently.

Thranduil inwardly cursed as his face grew hot. "All know the Balrog slayer. He is renowned for his valor. I feel responsible that he came so close to a second death due to my son's misguided antics. I simply wish to check on his recovery and give him my sincerest apologies."

"Thranduil," Maglor said, tilting his head at the woodland King. "I treasure my reunion with my cousin no less than my reunion with Erestor. I know his worth and it is far greater than simply being a Balrog slayer. I sense you know this too." He paused to study Thranduil. "Am I right that you know each other in a different sense?"

Thranduil's proud shoulders slumped momentarily before he threw them back into their usual upright posture . "It was a moment of weakness on his part, I am sure. The residual heat of battle, the need to find distraction from our losses, the proximity of a willing body. No more than that, I am sure." He tossed his head haughtily. "It was much the same for me."

Maglor leveled a questioning look at him, one eyebrow quirked. It was impossible to look away from those searching grey eyes.

"I have known my kinsman longer than you have, since the days of his birth ages ago, in a land long since barred to me. He is not one for a dalliance, no matter if his words may say otherwise. His heart is genuine and warm, welcoming all, but there are few he lets that close.Trust me on this." Maglor kept his gaze fixed steadily on Thranduil. "I think you misjudge him. But do not let my words alone convince you. Seek him out and speak to him. I think you will be surprised."

A timid knock on the door to Thranduil's chambers made them break eye contact. "Come in!" Thranduil called out.

Legolas and Anglach reluctantly inched their way into the King's chambers, their eyes downcast and their feet shifting nervously as they faced Thranduil. Of Calardan there was no sign, Legolas having chased him off in the hallway.

Thranduil fought to keep the smile off his face as he caught sight of the visibly penitent instigators of the chaos that had decimated his wood this day and night. He had called for Anglach alone but he was secretly proud that Legolas had not let his dearest friend face his expected judgement alone. Not too proud however, as Thanduil knew Legolas only too well; his son had likely tagged along to prevent Anglach from spilling out the full extent of their nefarious actions.

No matter. They would both be surprised to find out that their judgment would come later. Thranduil had no time for their antics tonight. He had a Yule feast to attend, a Yule Spirit to introduce and a golden warrior to reconnect with in his infirmary. Legolas and Anglach's explanations and punishment could wait. Let them squirm a bit. It would do them a world of good. The latrines would be in atrocious condition after the feast. Tomorrow would be soon enough to mete out punishment. It made a smile come to his face and he was gratified to see it made them both freeze in apprehension. Thranduil's smile grew even wider--they had not even noticed Maglor yet!

__________________________________________________________

All in all it had gone far better than Legolas and Anglach had expected and that gave them both a great deal of unease. There were no recriminations, no questions even. Thranduil had swept by them, explaining the role Maglor would play that night as if nothing untoward had happened. As if they had not insulted the sons of the most revered Elf in the land. As if they had not indulged in their antics with the tainted scaanes. As if they had not drawn the Rhaw Braig to the very center of their realm and endangered the life of the great Balrog slayer himself, not to mention their people and their King.

As if. . . . no. Legolas needed to stop this line of thought. He would be in no condition to enjoy the feast and finesse his way back into the good graces of Elrohir if he fixated on his father like this. He and Anglach had been granted a temporary reprieve and they should make the most of it.

They stood in Thranduil's chambers still, regarding Maglor in his resplendent Yule Spirit regalia and darting surreptitious glances at each other. The elflings were going to go mad for this! They would have gone mad for something like this when they were young.

Thranduil was still explaining his plan for the night to them, Legolas realised, having let his mind drift as his father spoke, so thankful that Thranduil was not sending him to the latrines straight away tonight and actually permitting him to attend the feast.

"I think it best if you take him to the Great Hall by the secret entrance, Anglach. Legolas can help Camaenor bring the trinkets for the children," Thranduil said.

Camaenor, Legolas thought. The chief artisan of the King's wood workers. This would be his best chance to make what he had said to Aegnir actually come true. He felt his father's sharp eyes land on him and he stood straighter, meeting Thranduil's gaze and nodding his head. "I will gladly help Camaenor, Father. I was going to ask your leave to speak with him tonight, before even hearing of your excellent plan."

Thranduil tilted his head and narrowed his eyes at his youngest son. What was Legolas up to? True, his son enjoyed wood carving as a hobby and Camaenor was the Greenwood's most skilled carver but still. There was something suspect about his praise of Thranduil and Maglor's idea.

Legolas swallowed at his father's calculating look but kept on going. He owed this to Aegnir, after dallying with his affections as he had. Legolas had truly been aghast when he realized how the Captain felt about him; he had assumed Aegnir's interest was all based on Legolas' rank and family connections; on how he could help advance Aegnir's career. Nothing could have been further from the truth and the guilt weighed heavily on him. He would put it to right if he could.

"Father. I wanted to speak to you about Aegnir," Legolas said, as Anglach moved away from his side to adjust Maglor's tilting wig. "He has done us a great service this night."

"He has," Thranduil agreed. "I had not been impressed with his reliability and conduct as a Captain, in no small part due to his behaviour with you, mind you." Thranduil's gaze had turned steely. "His father is far too ambitious, in my opinion. It seems the son is no different, although he has shown poor judgement in how he attempts to attain those ambitions."

"I fear we have both been mistaken about him, Father," Legolas said earnestly. "I had dallied with him for just that reason--to expose him for the social climbing fraud he is but I calculated wrong." He felt himself flush with shame. "I led him on, not realizing he had true feelings for me. I have crushed him with my indifference. He is not as we thought. His father has pushed him to the life of a warrior--he would rather choose a different path for himself, if he were free to do so."

"A different path?" Thranduil was puzzled at his son's words. "He is a born warrior, both in body and in skill."

"But that is not the skill he is interested in pursuing, Father," Legolas persisted. "He is doing as his father bids him."

"Then I see I was mistaken in my assessment of him. He is to be lauded as a far more obedient son than some I know," Thranduil said acidly.

Legolas had the decency to avoid meeting Thranduil's eyes at those words. But it did not keep him from pleading Aegnir's case. "He longs to be a carpenter, Father. It is what he loves most. But he is far from an ordinary woodworker. He is skilled--near as skilled as Camaenor himself!"

"And how do you know this?"

"He is always working with his hands when we make camp or when we sit around the fire at night. If he is not on duty or training he spends his time among the trees--he can speak to them, in his own way, not like you or I do. But he has the skill of finding just the right piece of wood--as if the trees show it to him or bring him to them to find it himself. I had seen some of his carvings before but tonight he gave Aerlinn a niphredil he had carved for her that looked so real--all it lacked was the color on the petals."

"What are you saying, Legolas?" Thranduil asked. He was feeling quite benevolent toward his son, he found. It was rare that Legolas showed such self-awareness when it came to his dalliances. It was perhaps a sign that he was finally growing up.

"That he doesn't want to be a warrior. His father is making him do that. He did so much for us tonight and has been so kind, even with the way I treated him, that I'd like to do something for him. I was thinking . . . maybe you could reward him by making him your Royal woodworker or something like that?" Legolas' voice had taken on a pleading tone.

"Is he usually this eloquent?" Maglor whispered his question to Anglach. "He could barely string two sentences together earlier today."

"No, he usually just grunts and makes Orc sounds," Anglach confided gleefully. "I've no idea what's gotten into him tonight." He looked thoughtful for a moment, then grinned. "He's likely on his best behaviour because he wants to get back to the feast and get in Elrohir's pants. Or have Elrohir get in his. I'm not sure which he's in the mood for tonight."

Thranduil sent a glare Anglach's way and the wood elf subsided into silence, much to Maglor's amusement.

"Royal woodcarver? That is Camaenor's title. I cannot make Aegnir that," Thranduil said.

Legolas deflated, his shoulders slumping at his father's words. "No, I suppose that's true." He lifted his head hopefully and fixed his green eyes pleadingly on Thranduil, ignoring Anglach's quiet snort of derision. "But couldn't Camaenor take on an apprentice? One to help him with his tasks and perhaps . . . perhaps take on the Yule gifts for the children? Aegnir would be perfect for that and it would let Camaenor focus on other projects." He waited for Thranduil's answer.

Thranduil pretended to ponder his son's suggestion but in reality he was pleased at his son's ingenuity and investment in making things right with Aegnir. He tapped his lip with his finger thoughtfully before he replied. "And this is what you wished to discuss with Camaenor?"

Legolas nodded, not daring to hope.

"I think your idea has merit. You can speak to him about it when you assist him with the Yule gifts tonight. I will tell him I give my consent," Thranduil said, nodding approvingly at his son.

"Thank you, Father!"

__________________________________________________________

Aegnir wandered around the Great Hall aimlessly, accepting the repeated congratulations on his bravery with a smile and then lapsing into his dejected thoughts as he walked alone again. He was aware that his efforts tonight had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Aegnir had been prepared to lay down his life for his King and his homeland but was relieved it had not come to that.

But it seemed his dream of escaping the warrior life had officially ended tonight. The other Captains were singing his praises and one or two of the veteran Commanders had gone out of their way to find him tonight to offer their own words of congratulations. If anything, he had cemented his rank as Captain with his actions.

He drifted to the wine barrels at the back of the hall and refilled his glass with a sigh. He heard an echo of his own dismay from the barrel next to him. It was the Noldor. Not the one that had followed Legolas with his eyes all night but the other one--the exceedingly grumpy, sweary one. Their eyes met and Aegnir raised his glass to the Noldor in a silent toast to their decided lack of Yuletide spirit.

"A joyous Yule to you," Aegnir said politely.

The Noldor snorted. "This has been, without question, the most Valar forsaken, shitshow of a Yule I have ever experienced."

Aegnir raised an eyebrow. "Oh come on," he said. "It's like you're not even trying. I know you can do better than that. How bad was it really?"

Elladan found himself involuntarily smiling at the other's words. He was on his fourth glass of wine and the King's fine Dorwinion vintage had mellowed him quite a bit tonight. He remembered this Wood Elf--he had been the one who had carried him over his shoulder from the site of the rock fall. It had rankled with Elladan at the time but he had to admit the view could not have been better--the Captain had an amazing ass.

"Why don't you join me and I'll see if I can do a better job of it for you?" Elladan suggested.

Aegnir smiled as he followed Elladan into the shadowy alcove by the barrels. Perhaps Legolas had a point. There was something quite enticing about these Noldor.
Chapter 21 by ziggy


 

I’m making sure I join up the last few dots for Narya to have the final lovely slashfest for Christmas.

 

Chapter: Yuletide Eve.

 

There was a wild burst of song from within the great hall and Maglor stood outside the great doors, admitting to his own nervousness.

 

When was the last time he felt like this, he wondered. And knew.

 

Tirion.

 

Finwë’s great hall. Sparkling with diamonds on the chandeliers, huge mirrors reflecting the light, dancing, the lovely women in the arms of handsome men, laughing, chatting. And he waited for his turn to perform. His father…oh, his father…waited with a proud smile, opening the doors to welcome him in. The butterfly nerves fluttering in his stomach wanting to please, wanting to do well…His brothers, Nelyo smiling conspiratorially for he knew how Macalaurë felt….

 

 

‘Are you well, my lord?’ a voice at his elbow and he turned his head, torn from the memory.

 

It was the silly boy, Anglach. In his sparkly snowdrop tunic and his friend, Legolas, no longer in the bluebell tunic but one equally sparkly and flowery. And he was here, in Mirkwood. With the Elvenking, Thranduil who had forgiven him.

 

It was all a bit overwhelming.

 

‘I am. I just need a moment,’ he heard himself say. Breathe, he told himself as Nelyo had told him so many, many times when he was too young to think it for himself. Just breathe.

 

He glanced down at the rich crimson robe edged with ermine that flowed around him, like blood.

 

No. Not blood. He would not think on that.

 

‘Here.’ Something was pushed into his hand. A sack. Heavy and filled with..with what?

 

‘These are the toys for the children. You are the Spirit of Yule my lord. Go to the end of the Hall where my father’s throne is and sit there. He has made way for you.’ Legolas’ voice was breathy and anxious and Maglor knew that he and Anglach were looking at each other, hoping he would not let them down. Come back to yourself, he told himself sternly. You have been forgiven by Thranduil himself and owe his this little.

 

So he steeled himself.

 

‘Come Snowdrop! Come Bluebell!’ he said commandingly. ‘We will bring in the Spirit of Yule!’

 

 

They threw open the doors and Maglor strode in.

 

Instantly the music stopped as if the musicians had dropped their bows and harps and flutes. There was a collective whoosh of air as every Elf in the great Hall turned and gasped and Maglor hesitated. Perhaps he had not been forgiven by the folk of the Wood, but only by their King.

 

But his trusty Elven companions shoved him gently from behind. ‘Go on! It’s fine,’ hissed Legolas. ‘`There at the end. See? My father has given you his throne.’

 

At the end of the hall, that was filled with amazed Elves, and delighted children, was a carved chair on a slightly raised dias. It was wreathed about with ivy and above it great boughs of holly gleamed in the soft light of a thousand candles. There was a great harp nearby that Maglor’s fingers itched to stroke into life and it was this that saved him for he moved then, strode down the hallway and suddenly everything came alive. Children squealed with excitement and clapped their hands and broke from the drawn up ranks of astonished and delighted elves, dancing in front of Maglor, leaping up and shouting, laughing. One little girl just put her hands out and spun around and around beside him as he walked between the crowds. Ahead of him stood Thranduil, his beautiful face lit with a smile of welcome. He wore a crown of holly leaves that gleamed in the candlelight and matched his knee-length robe of deep green velvet.

 

Maglor realised the Woodelves were cheering and smiling. They were not pulling back from him in fear and outraged horror.

 

‘They love you!’ Anglach cried happily and he took the little girl’s hand and lifted her up onto his shoulders just as she was wobbling and about to fall over. ‘Come Aerlinn, you can be first!’

 

‘I told you! I told you!’ A small boy was jumping around at Maglor’s feet. It was Calardan. The little boy who had seen him first and promised not to tell!

 

Laughing, Maglor swooped him up and lifted him onto his shoulders. It was a mistake.

 

Carladan, whooping with delight, grasped at his red velvet cap to steady himself but inadvertently pulled it off and the white wig began to slip.

 

There was a horrified gasp from his left and Legolas leapt to his side and jammed the cap back on his head in a most undignified way.

 

Maglor froze. He looked down at the silly Woodelf in his blue sparkly tunic who grinned nervously up at Maglor. I am here, in Thranduil’s halls, he reminded himself. This is the boy who danced about bringing down the Rhaw Braig. He is the silliest child I have ever met.

 

So he smiled the smile that had Tirion bowing, that had brought an answering smile to the returned Nelyo’s cracked lips that had not smiled for all the years of his torment, that had wrung a last smile from Caranthir as he lay dying, that had stopped the tears of two small boys wrested from their burning home. And Legolas Thranduillion forgot Elrohir for a moment and gazed up at the strong and beautiful noble face and smiled back.

 

‘Your wig slipped,’ he whispered, straightening it. ‘Carladan, don’t pull the Spirit’s hat off. It means he loses all his magic and the presents disappear.’

 

Instantly Carladan clamped his hands firmly down onto Maglor’s strong shoulders, digging his little fingers in tightly. Maglor strode on, but filled with confidence now so he looked to his left and then his right, bowing at the smiling, clapping and cheering Elves as he passed.

 

He spotted Erestor in the crowd, standing near the great hearth and smiling. Their eyes met for a moment.

 

 

 

Golovir.

 

A smile brushed Erestor’s lips. Tirion?

 

No, Barad Eithel.

 

Ah.

 

A moment of shared understanding, shared loss.

 

But I will always treasure this moment.

 

And Maglor was suddenly surrounded by a sea of elflings clamouring for gifts.

 

He sat in the King’s chair, feeling humbled, overwhelmed as Legolas and Anglach rushed about like sparkly sheepdogs lining the children up. Anglach held the little chubby hands as the children approached Maglor. Behind him, Legolas positioned himself ready with a toy as each child scrambled up onto his knees and he asked what they wanted. Carladan gallantly stood aside to let a little girl go first and she whispered in his ear that she really really wanted a pony.

 

Maglor panicked. This was not what was supposed to happen surely for there could not be a pony in that sack! But he found something shoved into his hand from behind; a little wooden horse, so beautifully carved that it could be real, its nostrils slightly flared and its eyes watching him intelligently as if it knew his thoughts.

 

‘Treasure this and prove that you can look after it and one day, you will find your dream come true,’ he murmured, ad-libbing. Aerlinn took the little horse reverently and held it up to her face.

 

‘I will call you Swift-Foot,’ she said. ‘And I will love you forever.’ She hugged it to her chest and gave Maglor a little wet kiss on the end of his nose. As she scrambled down, she got Swift-foot tangled a bit in his wig and it began to slide again but Anglach leapt forwards and straightened it. Then spun back to bring Carladan to Maglor, who wanted a big sword, no an axe, no a sword, no a shield…He was given a carved wooden toy that he could pull along behind and made little chuffing noises and whooshed smoke from a little chimney. Carladan was ecstatic.

 

One child after another came up, bursting with excitement and whispered in his ear and he repeated it just loudly enough for Legolas to ignore and rummage through the rapidly emptying sack. Maglor could hear him muttering under his breath when he couldn’t find the right toy for the right child; this boy’s language is dreadful, he thought, listening to Bluebell, cursing and abusing every Valar in the pantheon. He smiled inwardly, approving; Feanáro would have loved him!

 

Anglach seemed agitated and overexcited at something but Maglor was too busy listening to the very very long list of the child standing on his knees at the moment and staring at him with big eyes as she told him all the things she ever wanted, including a baby sister because she had three brothers and they were all very loud and smelly.

 

‘I had six brothers’ he said determined not to let sadness cloud the moment, ‘and yes, they are indeed loud and smelly,’ he agreed.

 

Legolas had almost disappeared into the sack and was cursing and swearing under his breath until at last he emerged triumphantly and thrust a little toy dog in his hand. ‘Here, this will keep the loud and smelly boys away from your door and look after you at night,’ he said softly.

 

‘Will it keep the orcs out too?’ she asked in a wondering voice and Maglor winced. He felt rather than saw Legolas freeze.

 

‘No.’ It was Legolas. He had come up and stood close to Maglor. ‘This little dog is to keep out your brothers. It is our warriors who keep the orcs out.’ He reached out and patted her head kindly. ‘And there are very many of them.’

 

‘Like you, Legolas?’

 

‘Yes.’ Legolas sounded different, firmer. More like a commander. ‘And Anglach too.’

 

Maglor stilled; he had been thinking of these silly children as no more than that. But of course, they were warriors too. He moved his head slightly, tilted his head in respect.

 

‘You are very lucky, Maichen,’ he said seriously. ‘To be surrounded by so many brave and skilful warriors.’ He glanced over his shoulder at Legolas but Legolas had his head down and was peering again into the almost empty sack and all illusion of Legolas as a dangerous warrior fled. His mithril circlet had slipped a bit and the blue embroidered tunic was covered in little flowers. Edelweiss.

 

‘Are there any gifts left?’ Anglach asked a little bit anxiously. Maglor looked up. There were no children left in the queue. Just Anglach’s hopeful face. And then he understood.

 

‘Here!’ Legolas said and thrust something into Maglor’s outstretched hand. He was grinning inanely.

 

‘Don’t think you’re being funny, Legolas,’ Anlgach was protesting but he came forwards nevertheless and hopped up onto the dias and although he did not actually sit on Maglor’s knee, he still looked childishly hopeful. He turned it around in his hand; it was a small and rather cleverly carved goblin. It had none of the skill and fluidity of other gifts and Maglor realised, from Legolas’ silly grin, that he had probably made it himself.

 

‘I knew you would want a gift yourself,’ Legolas said with a grin. ‘And this is what you’ve always wanted; a little goblin Princess of your own.’

 

‘Just what I always wanted; a goblin Princess to go with my little Goblin Prince Legolas,’ Anglach countered but he was grinning nonetheless.

 

Maglor raised an eyebrow at the silly pair but before he could speak Thranduil stepped forward and the crowd hushed.

 

‘We thank the Lord of Yule, spirit of the season for his kindness and generous gifts,’ the King said and his voice reached into the far ends of the hall though eh did not raise his voice. ‘And we thank too the carpenters of the Wood who have helped him!’

 

There was a loud cheer from the adults and the children danced and clapped in glee.

 

‘It maybe that the Sprit of Yule will join our carols?’ Thranduil invited. He gestured to  the beautiful harp and Maglor’s hear thumped at the prospect of playing.

 

He inclined his head courteously. ‘If the King of the Wood asks, then surely I cannot decline.’ But he did not go to the harp; it was too tempting to sing the sad songs of his heart. Instead he took a fiddle from one of the musicians and se the bow to the strings.

 

0o0o

 

Arwen watched approvingly as Maglor struck up a jaunty riff that had everyone pouring onto the dance floor. This was going even better than she could possibly have imagined…except the dashing and handsome Thalos was not exactly paying her as much attention as she thought she deserved for she was by far the prettiest maid in the room. She had dressed with special care, selecting a very well fitted gown from the ones offered her, one that pushed her ample breasts up very nicely. In fact the dressmaker had even suggested it might be a little on the tight side, much to Arwen’s disgust.

 

‘This is a good little dancing tune,’ Thalos leaned towards her but he wasn’t looking down at her breasts. Arwen pouted. This was proving much harder than she had expected. She pressed herself against him as if by accident.

 

‘Well at least it isn’t the Noldolantë,’ she murmured seductively. ‘Or the Lay of Luthien.’

 

Thalos gave her a quick, dazzling smile and she let her lips part in a little seductive gasp. Oh, he did have a wonderful smile. He had the high cheekbones and full lips of his handsome father but his long hair was black as a raven’s wing and the silvery-green silk tunic set off his flashing green eyes beautifully, she thought, and his breeches were skin-tight and he had black suede boots that came up to his thigh.

 

But he seemed oblivious to her charms and she pouted. How could she get his attention?

 

Then she caught the younger brother’s eye; the pretty one she thought was a princess. He was straining at her breasts in a very appreciative way. Hm. Well.

 

She let go of Thalos’ arm abruptly and sashayed over towards what’shisname…Bluebell? She’d forgotten. With a quick brush of her mind over his, she read his thoughts without his even being aware: his name was Legolas and he was …Well! She blushed at the lustful images that were flashing through his lecherous little mind…of Elrohir, then her, then Elrohir, then Glorfindel, then Maglor, then Elrohir, then her AND Glorfindel, then Elrohir and Glorfindel….oh my!

 

She blinked. He was certainly one of the most lustful Elves she had ever met but not terribly inventive, in fact, really in a way quite innocent; she could teach him a thing or two, she thought…and then wondered if Thalos were also as innocent and licked her lips.

 

‘I must apologise again for my mistake earlier,’ she murmured leaning forwards and letting Bluebell get an eyeful. He gave her a smile that was dazzling but his eyes immediately dropped to her neckline in an appreciative and lecherous way. She smirked and took his arm, leaning on him in a conspiratorial way. ‘You must tell me about all your brave exploits,’ she said, with a quick glance towards Thalos. Legolas was tall and she quickly felt his muscles under the rather elaborate tunic. Hm. Yes. He was certainly no princess! She thought it would just be enough to get Thalos’ attention.

 

Legolas was just leaning in, his eyes warm and completely understanding her purpose when he quite suddenly dropped her, almost leapt back as if he had been smacked. His eyes flashed up to his brother warily.

 

Interesting after all, thought Arwen hopefully and gave Legolas the benefit of her most alluring smile, her second best special ‘Arwen Evenstar of her People’ look. Legolas’ mouth hung open a bit and she smirked.

 

‘I must insist that you dance with me,’ she said, pressing forward and knowing full well now that she had Thalos’ attention after all.

 

‘Only after you have danced with me.’

 

She turned and looking up at the tall, handsome Prince Thalos, and gave him her most alluring smile yet, the one that made everyone say she looked like Luthien. Thalos just grinned back, a little wolfishly she thought with a frisson of excitement. He caught her round the waist and with a grin, whirled her off onto the dance floor. ‘No more messing about then,’ she thought and this time, when she pressed against him, she felt something pressing back in a quite satisfying way, and determined that before the end, she would have him in her bed before the night was done.

 

0o0o

 

Elrohir had noted with annoyance the way his sister had been flirting with Legolas, his Legolas, he thought with a start. He saw too how Legolas had suddenly backed off watching his big brother in alarm. Elrohir’s wits were much clearer now than they had been ever since they first stumbled into these bewitched Woods, and he realised that Thalos had probably communicated a quick mental slap to his little brother and had now whirled off with Arwen in his arms, sweeping her round the dance floor in a wild dance not at all like the restrained and courteous dances of Rivendell with their bows and curtsies and changing partners and all.

 

Elrohir took a swig of the rather strong wine he had filched from the King’s table when no one was looking. It was nice. Dark red. Smelled of blackberries and raspberries. Hint of vanilla, he thought.

 

Behind the casks of wine, he saw Elladan leaning against the wall, his eyes fixed upon the big Elf who had saved everyone when he chopped a branch off a tree and it fell amongst the Wild Hunt, sending everything off screaming and shrieking. Although Elrohir was very suspicious abut how that had happened, he had decided not to pursue it. Elladan had slung his arm about the big Elf’s shoulder now, although he had to stand on tiptoe to do so, and he had one eye closed as if he could not quite focus on the other’s face. In his other hand, Elladan held a very large goblet and slopped a little wine on the floor as he waved his hand around carelessly. He was drunk, though Elrohir. Very drunk.

 

Good. That would keep him out of Elrohir’s way while he pursued something more interesting.

 

He took a nice big gulp of the red wine and felt it warm him all the way down to his belly where is curled like a cuddly cat. He smiled to himself and sighed as Legolas wheeled past with a little girl, Aerlinn, standing on his toes and laughing hysterically as he whizzed her round the room. Elrohir moved to try and attract Legolas’ attention but the youngest son of the King seemed to be almost deliberately avoiding him. His gaze, when it brushed over Elrohir, widened but looked away quickly as if wanting to avoid him.

 

He noticed plenty of interested eyes upon the youngest son of Thranduil and narrowed his eyes. How could he get Legolas’ attention? As Legolas whirled past a third time, Elrohir leapt forwards and quickly swept the little girl from Legolas’ arms and with his best smile, whisked her off around the floor leaving Legolas watching in astonishment.

 

As he passed Legolas again, he flipped Aerlinn back into Legolas’ arms but this time, Legolas only had eyes for him and though he caught the child and whirled off again, he turned his head to look at Elrohir. And then he thrust Aerlinn at Anglach.

 

And stepped out of the dance towards Elrohir.

 

‘I don’t really think we have been properly introduced,’ he said. ‘Or at least, I have not properly introduced myself and  I have behaved like a dreadful host.’ He looked anxiously at Elrohir, a little frown between his eyes and a worried look. ‘I must apologise. I really did take advantage of you when we first met.’ He shook his head in disbelief at himself. ‘Firstly giving you Galion’s scaanës, and then letting you and Aegnir think it was him I was interested in.’ He sighed heavily. ‘My father is still furious with me but no more than I am with myself.’ He turned to face Elrohir. He was about the same height at Elrohir but slimmer, leaner perhaps and more lithe, not a swordsman. But his shoulders were wide and powerful and his hips lean. An Archer then, thought Elrohir with a smile.

 

‘Will you forgive me, Elrohir Elrondion, and let me start again?’

 

‘Oh no,’ said Elrohir. ‘Not at all. I neither forgive you, nor will we start again.’ He stepped closer to Legolas but to his credit, the Woodelf did not step back though his head came up and his widened as f he expected a blow. Of course, that did not come. ‘I demand a forfeit.’

 

Legolas breathed out and his head dropped. ‘Of course,’ he said penitently. ‘That is your right for my transgression of the Guest Rights. What do you want of me?’

 

‘I expect you to serve me,’ said Elrohir, feeling himself stiffen at the thought. Good thing I have longer robes on, he thought enjoyably admiring. ‘You will start by visiting my chambers at midnight.’

 

 

0o0o

 

Thranduil watched his silly youngest bow an apology to Elrohir, the real Elrohir and nodded to himself approvingly. Good. That was done. And Thalos was dancing with Arwen.

 

He was not sure about that. He didn’t want any complicated romances between Imladris and the Wood. Bad enough that they had anything to do with each other at all…except it would give him reason to visit Imladris…and Arwen might have to visit here. And that meant she would need to be accompanied…

 

Which took his attention to Glorfindel.

 

As if he could ever tear his attention away.

 

But Glorfindel had gone.

 

Thranduil almost gasped with the loss he felt at the other’s absence; the great hero of Gondolin had been sitting on a padded bench before the fire, surrounded by admiring youngsters, hanging on his every word and with every Elf in the room ready to fall at his feet with a mere glance. Glorfindel had been talking with Erestor when Maglor had begun playing, not the great harp as Thranduil knew he wanted, but the fiddle. A cheerful tune that had everyone dancing in gleeful delight and not a foot was left untapping, not a heart left sad or lonely. It had filled the Great Hall with joy.

 

 

But Thranduil did not listen; he remembered instead, the last time he had seen Glorfindel.

 

On the field of Dagorlad after his beloved father had been slain. Glorfindel had been sent with a message of condolence from Gil-Galad and seeing the young King’s grief, allowed Thranduil to slake his anger and despair, and lust, yes, lust, upon his body as if he were no more than a paid whore.

 

It was Thranduil’s great shame.

 

In disgust at himself and grief for the loss of what might have been, he drank the last of the Dorwinion in his goblet and placed it on the table.

 

Galion was singing loudly, drunkenly, and very very offensively. It seemed that Erestor had joined him and the two were competing to see who could sing the most vulgar, most blasphemous verse. Galion had just sang about Elbereth’s sweet and milky tits, and Erestor had countered with something disgusting about Manwë being sweeter and milkier even than her but Thranduil did not want to know what.

 

He slid quietly out of the side door just behind his carved wooden chair that he used to escape extra boring council members or petitioners he wanted to avoid. It was little known except by Galion and perhaps Laersul.

 

Laersul was on his way home, Thranduil reminded himself and a little surge of joy filled him. He hoped it was not because of bad news but he felt there was no injury or harm to his oldest and he would join them for Yule Day.

 

In the meantime, he did not feel like dancing or merrymaking. The oak door of his study was slightly ajar but silent within. He must have left it open, he thought. The fire still burned merrily in the hearth as if someone had tended it recently and a log shifted so sparks flew up in the darkness, lit upon the still face of someone sitting in one of the deep armchairs he had in his study, pulled up near the fire.

 

Thranduil stopped in astonishment.

 

‘Glorfindel!’

 

The firelight glowed on that lovely, noble face turned towards him. ‘My lord Thranduil.’ The hero of Gondolin stood and bowed to the King of the Wood. ‘Forgive me this intrusion.’

 

‘No, I wanted…I wanted to find you.’ Thranduil licked his lips finding himself nervous. ‘It is I who should beg forgiveness…’ He went over to his study desk and almost automatically, shifted a map spread out and weighted down with a small bowl from Dale and an empty pewter goblet. He had his back to Glorfindel and still felt his face heat. ‘The last time we met….I was not myself.’ He closed his eyes. Unforgivable. How he had railed and cried fury at the messenger from the Northern kingdoms. How he had burned with the need for vengeance that he could not wreak for his forces were so depleted he could barely get home afterwards. Even now, the loss was too great and his hand lingered on the empty goblet. ‘I confess I have found myself regretting my actions too many times over the years and yet…’ He steeled himself, forced down his pride. ‘And yet I did nothing to seek you out. I did nothing to show my regret.’ He turned in a flurry of deep green velvet and gold and sank to one knee, bowed his golden head so the firelight gleamed on it, stroking it to gold silk.

 

For an endless moment it seemed, Glorfindel did nothing and Thranduil thought he deserved nothing so he remained, head bowed and heart clenched in the hope of forgiveness…and if he were honest, more. Because he had not forgotten.

 

That time in the wretched tent in which the new King grieved desolately for his lost father, with mud everywhere for they could not escape it, and nothing but a small field desk and pallet bed to distinguish himself from the thousands of elves crowded int that land of misery and desolation, that time had been lit up by one moment. The moment Glorfindel of Gondolin had walked in to pay his respects and give condolences from the King of the North.

 

Thranduil remembered every moment from Glorfindel’s hand on the tent flap and opening it to let in the unwelcome daylight, he raising his tear-stained face to see who had dared interrupt his grief to see the most glorious warrior he had ever seen in his life; even in the miserable weak winter daylight he had glowed with the light of the Two Trees. Even in the mud, it seemed he was like a rich jewel. Thranduil had risen to his feet almost believing the Valar had come to restore his beloved father to life.

 

And he had treated him with furious contempt, reviling himself that he could feel such desire in the midst of his all encompassing grief. Hating himself for the betrayal as he thought, of his father.

 

And all the long years after, hating himself for his cruelty when all Glorfindel had done was offer complete compassion, and who had allowed Thranduil to punish him for his despair.

 

It was right that he humble himself before this paragon of kindness and compassion. It was right.

 

He felt a gentle hand lift his chin and raise his face so that he could look up at Glorfindel the Golden, beloved of the Gods.

 

‘You were so deep in grief, Thranduil. How could I hold anything against you when I have not stopped thinking of you since?’

 

Warm lips pressed against his and he was lost in sensation, in confusion, in ecstasy.

 

 

 

0o0o

 

 

Narya- over to you. Hope I have left you with plenty of opportunities for lovey hot elf sex!!

 

 

 

 

Chapter 22 by Narya
Author's Notes:
In which our story is wrapped up (pun fully intended).

Thank you to my wonderful co-authors for making this such a fun and exciting experience. Same time next year!?
It was late in the evening when Maglor put down the fiddle. The Hall was still filled with Elves chattering and drinking and dancing. He saw Arwen in the arms of the sensible prince – Thalos – and gave an approving nod; Elrohir was shooting sly glances at Bluebell, who looked both nervous and excited; Elladan had disappeared with Aegnir; Snowdrop had joined Erestor and Galion, and all three seemed to have had more Dorwinion than was good for them. He sent an affectionate caress towards Erestor's mind, and was surprised to find it clear and sober. Erestor's head shot up at the touch.

Makalaurë?

Golovir.

What is it?
Erestor frowned a little.

Nothing, dear one. Although now he had stopped playing and the children were in bed, he couldn't help the aching swell of memories from happier times – long nights by the fire with Nelyo, telling each other stories; Celegorm learning to ride; the wild games he used to play with the twins...no. He must not dwell on this – not this night, not when he had found his Erestor again, and Glorfindel too.

Glorfindel...where was he? He couldn't see him anywhere in the crowds – nor, he realised, was Thranduil still here. He remembered his words to Thranduil in the King's bedroom, and satisfaction curled through him. He hoped his cousin could enjoy a memorable Yule after his ordeal in the forest earlier, and that the King would find some peace.

A hand on his arm, a cooling, familiar, beloved presence at his side. “Come. Enough for tonight.” Erestor's smile was gentle, inviting. “There are rooms prepared for us. Let us leave the youngsters to their revels.”

Maglor raised an eyebrow and sent a quizzical look towards Galion, who was teaching Anglach the words to an outrageous song about Yavanna and Aulë's preferred bedroom activities.

Erestor shrugged elegantly. “The young and young at heart, then.” He tilted his head. “Shall we?”

***

Legolas padded down the corridor to Elrohir's room, his stomach hopping like a pond full of frogs. He had an idea – or he hoped he did – what the Noldo meant by asking him to his chambers, and the looks that Elrohir had been sending him across the Feast Hall had certainly seemed flirtations. He was fairly sure Elrohir found him attractive; he had nearly said as much, under the influence of the scones, and he had stuck up for him when his sweary brother had been so rude. But then again he, Legolas, had behaved appallingly. Perhaps this was an elaborate practical joke, designed for revenge.

Stop this, he told himself firmly. You never look your best when you're worrying.

He took a deep breath and knocked.

“Enter.”

Candlelight filled the room. The bedposts and mantle piece were festooned with holly, blood red berries shining against glossy green leaves. A jug of steaming spiced wine and two goblets sat on a table in the corner. Leaning against the far wall, arms folded and naked to the waist, was Elrohir.

Legolas swallowed. The Noldo was really magnificent. Hard muscle stood out along his arms, his chest, his torso. He was broader than Legolas – a swordsman's frame. No wonder he had been out of his depth in the Wood, but oh, Legolas would have liked to see him fight with his blade in an arena. He imagined those muscles rippling as the elegant body arced and twisted in combat, and felt himself swell.

Elrohir was watching him, an amused smile playing about that mischievous mouth. “You didn't wear the leggings.”

“No. My father doesn't approve of them for ceremonial occasions. Or any time, really. He prefers me to wear tunics.” Idiot, he berated himself. Why was he coming out with such nonsense? As if Elrohir was the slightest bit interested – as if any of this would help him seduce the beautiful warrior! He cringed inwardly to think what Anglach would say if he could hear him.

Elrohir, however, chuckled and moved to the table. “My father would not approve either. He makes poor Arwen wear the most ridiculous dresses.” He poured two glasses of the wine and offered one to Legolas.

“Thank you.”

“I think you know why I asked you here tonight.” Elrohir sipped his wine, grey eyes smiling at him over the rim of the glass. “My brother tells me I was rather forthcoming under the influence of those scones.”

Legolas's cheeks burned. “I am sorry. It was not honourable for me to behave so.”

“Perhaps not.” Elrohir drained his cup and tilted his head. His pupils dilated in the soft light. “But I can think of ways for you to make amends.”

Legolas moaned as Elrohir traced kisses along his neck and jaw. Heat bloomed in his belly and his blood pooled in his groin, and he leaned forwards and pressed their lips together. The Noldo's mouth tasted of the sweet wine and orange peel and cloves. His hair smelled like forest rain. Legolas tipped his head back and pushed himself against Elrohir, feeling the other Elf's hardness and relishing the warm ache building within him. He ran his hands over the cream-smooth skin, the curves of muscle, then fumbled with his shirt and breeches.

“No.”

Strong hands took his head and guided it down. Elrohir unbuckled his trousers and his cock sprang free. Legolas took him in his mouth, tasting salt and musk, teasing and working him with practised strokes. Above him Elrohir cried out, and Legolas circled his length once more with his tongue, and then there was a pulse and Elrohir's hips jerked. His release filled Legolas's mouth, and around them the Song rang with thunder and fire.

***

Strange, Erestor thought, watching Maglor unpin his wig. Thousands of years apart, and yet how easy this felt. Joy sang through him as the familiar mane of black hair tumbled free. A log shifted in the grate, and sparks flew upwards with a hiss and a pop. Orange light flared and softened the sharp lines of Maglor's face, and for a moment Erestor could imagine himself back in Beleriand, relaxing in his lover's chambers after some great feast, perhaps to celebrate a victory – then the flames died down and the shadows settled again in the hollows of Maglor's cheeks.

As though guessing some of his thoughts – which, Erestor admitted, was highly likely – Maglor looked up and smiled. “How do you feel, Erestor?”

“Well enough.” He crossed the room and took the beloved face between his hands. “Do not worry about me.”

Silver-grey eyes met his. Maglor traced the lines of Erestor's face with long, gentle fingers. “You're certain? So much has happened this day that I fear your injuries have been forgotten.” Erestor felt the familiar pressure on his mind, and opened himself up to the contact. You were wounded and poisoned – Thranduil took good care of you, and I did what I could, but you should have rested instead of tearing around the forest with miscreant Wood-Elves.

Erestor laughed and placed a light kiss on Maglor's mouth. “We didn't have much choice in the matter. Really, I feel fine.” In truth he was a little tired, but perhaps that was the Dorwinion – although he hadn't drunk half as much as Anglach, and Eru only knew how much Galion had put away. “There's no need to fuss.” He trailed his fingers down to the fastenings on the borrowed red robe, and gently began to undo them. His thoughts raced ahead, suddenly giddy again to be with him.

“Erestor...” Maglor gripped his wrist, eyes uncertain.

“It's alright.”

“I'm not what I was.” The musical voice shook.

“You are, in every way that matters to me.” Erestor closed his eyes kissed him again, this time more insistent, reassuring him and inviting him to go further. He felt Maglor moan against his lips, and slid the robe off his shoulders. He traced the lines of bone and muscle as he did so, and every curve called out to his heart like a familiar song. Maglor was much thinner than he remembered, which caused him a pang of grief, but he could guess easily enough at the kind of life he had led since they last met. It was no surprise.

Eyes still closed, he stroked along Maglor's collarbone and then downwards, circling a nipple, making Maglor gasp. He breathed in the smell of him – woody herbs, leather, earth after rain, and under that a metallic burning like lightning through the sky. A gentle kiss on the neck and his lover pressed into him, moaning, demanding.

“How long has it been?” Erestor murmured.

Maglor laughed. “There have been Men, here and there – but Elves? None since you.”

Erestor felt himself stir – then his fingers met an unfamiliar bump in the skin of Maglor's torso, and he opened his eyes. Across Maglor's thin stomach was a criss-cross pattern of white scar tissue. “Ai, Makalaurë...what happened here?”

Maglor took Erestor's hand in his. You can guess what my life has been, I think – selling my sword for a coin or a meal. That scar will disappear, in time. Do not think of it; it gives me no pain.

In response Erestor slid out of his own shirt and breeches, and guided his lover's hand downwards, asking, inviting. Aching need rose in him at the touch of the familiar hand, and now Maglor's mouth was on his, and all of this was wonderfully right – and yet so hard to believe, as though somewhere in the woods he had tripped into the trap of some mischievous sprite and it had taken him by the hand back to the days before the darkness, offering a chance to start again. But Maglor's scars and his own told a different story; they were old now, although they would not look old to any mortal that saw them, and neither of them were quite as they once were. Tonight, though, they were enough for each other. Tonight they burned together, and together, spent, arms curled around one another, they dreamed.

***

Thranduil awoke to the stale smell of ashes in the grate. Beside him, half covered in the fur rugs scattered across the floor of his study, lay Glorfindel. Thranduil smiled, enjoying the glow of the previous night, and gently stroked a lock of golden hair away from Glorfindel's face. The Noldo stirred but did not wake. Thranduil longed to trace his fingers over the noble features, but he did not dare, not quite yet. It seemed too presumptuous, too intimate, to do such a thing while the golden warrior lay there sleeping. He could scarcely believe yet that he had been forgiven for his long ago use of Glorfindel in the camp at the Dagorlad, or that his longing had been met with such passion and joy.

Around him in the stronghold he could hear movements – the junior household staff about their morning tasks, no doubt. Reluctantly, he shook Glorfindel's shoulder.

Blue eyes blinked open. A smile spread across the beautiful face. Thranduil felt that desperate longing rise inside him again, but he quashed it firmly. “The household is stirring.”

“What a pity.” Glorfindel sat up and began to search around for his clothes. “But I suppose the King can't be caught naked in his study with a guest from Imladris.” He grinned, and Thranduil felt as though his insides had been replaced with air. How did these Noldor do it? Was there some course in Tirion that they had all attended to learn how to smile in that dazzling, disarming manner?

A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. Lucky he'd awoken when he did, he thought, pulling on his robe from last night and checking that Glorfindel was decent again before he opened the door.

Luckily, it was Erestor and Maglor, the latter wearing a hood that covered most of his face – but there was no mistaking that imposing silhouette.

“Forgive the intrusion, King Thranduil.” Maglor bowed respectfully. “Your page told Erestor that you did not return to your rooms last night, but that you sometimes spend the night in here when you are particularly busy. I hope we did not wake you?”

“No, no.” He stood aside to let them in. Erestor, too, bowed and smiled, and Thranduil was gratified to see how well he looked.

“Good morning, cousin.” Maglor greeted Glorfindel with no evident surprise.

“The same to you,” Glorfindel returned, smiling blandly as though daring his kinsman to say anything. “And a very merry Yule Day.”

Yule – Laersul! Thranduil reached out into the Song and was delighted to feel his son much closer now. They must have travelled through the night. He turned back to his guests. “I hope you'll stay for our festivities today? Although some may be feeling a little the worse for wear,” he added, thinking of Galion and his ridiculous songs the previous evening.

The three Noldor exchanged looks, Glorfindel glancing from Maglor to Erestor and back again, then nodding as though in agreement with something they had said. Evidently Maglor and Erestor had reached a decision on this already.

“We would be honoured to stay, my King,” said Maglor gently, “but Imladris will already be half out of its wits with worry that Glorfindel, Erestor and all three of Elrond's children have apparently disappeared. The sooner we can return them there, the better.”

“Of course.” Thranduil knew he had failed to keep the disappointment out of his voice. His eyes met Glorfindel's for a brief moment, then he returned his gaze to Maglor. “And you will go with them?”

Maglor hesitated. “Yes – although not openly. Not yet. Imladris, too, has its share of those who fled from the Kinslayers,” he added softly.

Erestor and Glorfindel both went to him then. Erestor slid his arms around his waist, and Glorfindel rested his head on his shoulder. Thranduil regarded them all, feeling a strange pang of envy.

“Very well,” he said at last. “I will have horses made ready for you – and I'll have those two goblins of mine pulled from their beds. They won't thank me for it at first, but they'll want to say their goodbyes.”

In the end they were seen off by Thranduil, Legolas, Anglach, Thalos, and (to Thranduil's great surprise) Aegnir. He watched his youngest son's farewell to Elrohir through narrowed eyes; the wicked smiles passing between them told them everything he needed to know. Thalos and Arwen, too, were sharing some secretive looks, and Arwen seemed far too demure compared to her brazen behaviour yesterday. He wondered what had happened after he left the feast, and thought again that there'd likely be more contact between the Wood and Imladris in future. It could be worse, he sighed to himself. The politics he could do without, but there may be other compensations.

Glorfindel flashed him another dazzling smile before leaping onto the back of his dappled horse. Thranduil's heart bounded.

“Until next time, my lord King,” the golden warrior said, and inclined his head.

“May the grace of the Valar go with you, Lord Glorfindel,” he returned. For a few moments he let his heart show in his eyes – the longing, the guilt that hadn't quite ebbed away, the surprise and joy at last night's meeting, and the passion that had followed – and then he buried it deep, becoming the distant King of the Forest again.

Glorfindel nodded once, slowly. He had understood.

Maglor had taken the twins on one side for a private conversation, and was now leading them back to the waiting horses. Thranduil was gratified to see that both sons of Elrond looked distinctly ashamed of themselves. Those two had caused nothing but trouble since they entered his wood. Perhaps their foster grandfather would be able to instil some discipline into them.

As Elladan and Elrohir mounted their horses, Legolas and Anglach approached Maglor – and to Thranduil's surprise and delight, the Noldo warrior took them both into his arms.

“He is not what I expected, this Fëanorion,” murmured Thalos.

“No.” Thranduil smiled. “No, he is not.”

***

For the rest of the morning they were occupied in rearranging the Feast Hall to be ready for the Yule Day celebration. This was made slightly more difficult than it would have been by the fact that Galion was still asleep at one of the tables from the night before. He could not be stirred and he was a leaden weight to lift. In the end, a despairing Thranduil ordered his household to work around the sleeping butler.

“So unfair,” grumbled Anglach to Legolas, laying out cutlery while Thranduil gave orders about decorations for the dais. “If we'd done that we'd have been tipped through the barrel door and into the river to wake us up.”

“I can't understand how he gets himself into such a state,” said Thalos, rolling his eyes.

“Well – he never could take the good stuff.”

Legolas spun around, his eyes shining with joy. “Laersul!”

There were a few moments of confusion as the brothers cried out in joy and hugged one another, and Anglach leaped around like an excited robin, and then Thranduil was there and had gathered his eldest son into his arms and pressed a kiss onto his brow, then shepherded them all over to the table where Galion was sleeping and ordered for wine to be brought from the cellars. As they settled themselves on the benches around Galion, the butler gave a loud snort and murmured “shit, shit, shit, we are in the shit...” before falling silent again.

“What news, my son?” asked Thranduil, pouring Laersul a large goblet of wine.

“Some good, some bad – but nothing that cannot wait until after Yule.” Laersul accepted the goblet and drank deeply. “I do not wish to darken today's festivities with talk of Amon Lanc.”

So that was where Laersul had been, thought Legolas. He had thought as much. His stomach twisted.

As though seeing his thoughts, his older brother smiled and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “I'd much sooner hear your news. The halls are awash with mad rumours – Father, they say you lost your mind and went hunting Noldor in the forest! And the children are convinced that the Spirit of Yule has been walking among them, and I've heard more than one person say that Legolas has adopted an Orc.”

At this Legolas scowled, and Anglach burst out laughing.

Thranduil chuckled too, and poured more wine. “It didn't happen quite like that, but there's more truth in those rumours than you might imagine.”

Laersul leaned back, a broad grin on his face. “This sounds like a Yule story worth hearing. Please – tell me all.”

“Very well.” Thranduil took a sip of his own wine. “The night before last, it seems Galion baked a particularly large batch of his special scones...”

***

On the edge of the forest, Maglor stopped.

“What is it?” Glorfindel trotted back to him, a frown of concern on his lovely face. “Cousin?”

“Perhaps nothing of import.” In truth he had meant to speak to Thranduil about how he had got into the stronghold with Legolas and Anglach last night. The barrel drop wasn't guarded at all, which seemed an oversight when the rest of the fortress was so well defended – but in the midst of the goodbyes it had somehow slipped his mind.

“Well, if it is nothing of import, can we please keep riding?” Erestor looked irate. “I want to have as much distance as possible between us and this forest by sundown. King Thranduil was an excellent host and has been very kind to all of us, but I can't say I'm in a hurry to spend any more time in the wood itself.”

“Yes, dear,” drawled Maglor, which earned him a scowl from Erestor, an appreciative snort from Glorfindel and looks of horror from Elrond's children. He gave his horse a gentle kick, and at the same time reached out to Thranduil with his mind – but though he felt the King's power wound through the Song of the forest, the distance was already too great for mind-speech.

It would wait. What harm, after all, could come from an unguarded barrel door? Orcs were too stupid to find it, and the spiders wouldn't go into the river to get near it. It couldn't be important.

Maglor put it from his mind and rode to the west.
End Notes:
Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.
This story archived at http://www.faerie-archive.com/viewstory.php?sid=2001