As soon as Elrohir was quite sure that Legolas was fast asleep, he slipped out of bed and tiptoed to the wooden chest in the far corner of the room. Both lock and hinges turned silently, thanks to the regular treatments of oil from Elrohir in anticipation of this moment. His groping fingers found the bundle that he had brought all the way to Ithilien from East Lórien. He pulled it out and headed for the door, snatching up his clothes as he went. He had a long night’s work ahead of him.
Several crisp, golden leaves were swept in upon the breeze, as Elrohir flung open the shutters. He caught one and tickled Legolas’ bare shoulder with it.
“Wake up, my love! Happy begetting day!”
Legolas rolled over and frowned up at Elrohir, swatting away the leaf. “Where were you last night? I woke up and you were gone.”
“I was preparing your begetting day present.”
Legolas’ eyes brightened, and he sat up. “What is it? Can I have it now?”
With a chuckle, Elrohir sat on the bed. “Patience!” He kicked off his boots. “It isn’t quite ready yet.” He pulled off his tunic, being sure to give Legolas a lingering view of the play of his torso’s sleek muscles. He dropped the tunic and began to unlace his breeches with slow, deliberate movements. With a smile he noted how Legolas’ eyes followed his hands’ downward motion, darkening as they did so.
Lowering his voice to a husky murmur, Elrohir said, “In the meantime, I’ve got another present for you, which should keep you occupied for a while. Do you want it now?”
Legolas licked his lips as he watched Elrohir ease down his breeches. “Oh yes,” he replied. “That’s my favourite kind of present.”
He pulled Elrohir down on top of him, and all talk of gifts was forgotten.
Legolas slammed the door behind him and shivered as he brushed snow off his clothes. All the while he hummed a mournful air. It was one that had been on his heart for as long as Elrohir had been absent.
The song died on his lips when he opened the door to his bedchamber and laid eyes on the roaring fire, the bathtub filled with steaming water, and the table set for two.
Warm arms wrapped around him from behind and Legolas sighed with pleasure as a pair of lips pressed heated kisses down the side of his neck. He leaned back into the welcoming arms with a smile, breathing in the scent of his mate.
“Elrohir, you’re back! I thought you weren’t leaving Minas Tirith until tomorrow, otherwise I’d have made sure to be here to welcome you.”
“I decided I couldn’t endure another lonely night in a cold bed, simply to listen to greybeards repeating the same things they’ve been saying for the past five days.” Elrohir removed Legolas’ cloak and moved on to unbuttoning his tunic. “I’d said all I had to say on the first day, so I told Aragorn I had more important things to attend to at home.” Elrohir’s roving hands made it perfectly clear just what ‘things’ he planned to attend to. He steered Legolas towards the tub, loosening his mate’s breeches as he did so.
Legolas shrugged off his tunic, stepped out of his breeches, then turned in Elrohir’s embrace and wound his arms around his mate’s neck. “And just what did Aragorn have to say about that?”
Elrohir grinned. “He said he and Arwen had been laying bets on how long it would take me to lose patience. He promised he wouldn’t recall me until the spring, unless there was a dire emergency.”
“I’m glad. I miss you terribly when you’re gone. I wish you didn’t have to go at all.”
“I brought you back a present. If I hadn’t gone, I couldn’t have got you one.”
Legolas snorted. “Pardon me if I don’t jump for joy until I see it. I’m still waiting for my begetting day present, or have you forgotten?”
“I haven’t forgotten; it’s just not ready yet.”
“How long will it take? Why didn’t you start preparing it earlier, so it would be ready in time for my begetting day?”
Elrohir gave a mysterious smile. “As I say every time you ask me: it doesn’t work like that. You’ll understand when you see it. Now, do you want to see what I got you, or not?”
At Legolas’ nod, he produced a slender flask, containing a greenish oil.
Legolas raised his eyebrows. “Oil?” He gestured towards the chest of drawers. “Haven’t we already got enough?”
“Ah, but you don’t know what this does yet.” He uncorked the flask and poured a tiny amount onto his hand.
“Does? What’s any oil supposed to do, apart from lub- Ai!”
Legolas’ eyes opened wide and then rolled back into his head as Elrohir applied the oil to his shaft, working it in with firm strokes. Legolas moaned; the oil magnified the pleasurable sensations to an almost unbearable degree.
Elrohir chuckled. “I thought you would enjoy it.”
Legolas, rendered almost incoherent by his mate’s attentions, conveniently forgot about everything else, including his begetting day gift, for the rest of the night.
“How much further?”
Legolas tugged at his blindfold, only for Elrohir to pull his hand away.
“Not far now.”
“But why have I got to wear this thing?” Legolas pointed not to his blindfold, but to the peppermint oil infused scarf that Elrohir had insisted on winding around his mouth and nose.
“Because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”
Legolas shook his head, wondering if his mate hadn’t lost his mind. Still, he was prepared to trust Elrohir and remain patient for a while longer.
They walked on for perhaps another mile when Legolas felt the ground fall away steeply below his feet. With Elrohir’s arm firmly around his waist, they scrambled down a rocky path until the sound of rushing water told Legolas that they had reached the bottom of a combe. The tree song surrounding them was particularly joyous; Legolas recognised the voices of birch, oak, sycamore, and especially beech. He reached out to see if they could tell him what Elrohir’s secret was, but they admonished him to be patient. He frowned. Clearly he had taught Elrohir too well.
As soon as the ground levelled out, he felt Elrohir untie the knot on the peppermint scarf.
“Here we are,” he said, freeing Legolas from the strongly scented folds.
It took several heartbeats for the lingering scent of peppermint to disperse, but when it did, Legolas sniffed the air and frowned. “Are you wearing bluebell oil?” After Elrohir’s recent odd behaviour, he would believe anything.
Elrohir laughed and pulled off the blindfold. “See for yourself.”
The sight that met his eyes made Legolas gasp. As he had already worked out, they were standing in the bottom of a steep, wooded valley, cut through the surrounding chalk by a fast-flowing brook. He recognised the combe now as one he had visited in his early explorations of the area surrounding his colony. But what took his breath away was the sea of bluebells that engulfed the forest floor and washed up each side of the combe. There had certainly been no bluebells here, nor anywhere else in Ithilien, before now. He turned to Elrohir, speechless in wonder.
“Happy begetting day, beloved. I hope you think it was worth waiting for.”
“You planted all these?”
Elrohir nodded. “With the help of some of your foresters. The bulbs were a gift from Celeborn. Some of them are from your favourite glade.”
Legolas flung his arms around Elrohir and kissed him soundly. “I can’t believe you went to all this trouble just for me.”
Elrohir kissed him back. “I’d do anything for you, you know that. I know how much that glade means to you; I wanted you to have something to remember it by, here in our new home.”
It was some time before they unwound from the embrace that followed. When they did, Legolas stepped back, his eyes sparkling as his fingers worked to unbutton his tunic. “And have you remembered what effect the scent of bluebells has on me?”
The corner of Elrohir’s mouth tilted upwards in a crooked grin. “I was counting on it.” He gestured towards a large blanket that Legolas had missed until then. “Why else do you think I gave orders we were not to be disturbed on any account?”
Legolas, having stripped off his own clothes, now set to work on Elrohir’s. “Good. Because it’s going to take me at least until tomorrow morning to thank you properly for the best begetting day gift I’ve ever had. Even if it was half a year late.”
And leading Elrohir to the blanket, bathed in the scent of the nodding bluebells, he began a fervent thank-you that would be repeated every year until they finally sailed.