The Difference a Day Makes
A dazzling shaft of sunlight shining in his eyes woke Elrohir from his deep slumber. He groaned and rubbed his eyes, grimacing. What in Arda had possessed him, to try matching the Wood-elves cup-for-cup with their powerful Dorwinion wine? He chuckled wryly; King Thranduil’s first visit to Imladris since the Second Age was certainly proving entertaining. Not even Gildor’s wandering band was as wild a bunch as Thranduil’s Wood-elves. He stretched and rolled over, only to find himself pressed against warm, naked flesh and with a facefull of golden hair. His memory awoke.
Scenes of the previous night’s activities flitted through his consciousness. Once again he saw the enigmatic golden Elf who had so fascinated him these past days, sitting amidst his fellows, laughing merrily. He always seemed to be surrounded by Thranduil’s warriors who, while not exactly denying him speech with the golden Elf, certainly foiled any attempt at greater intimacy. Nonetheless, Elrohir had felt strangely drawn to the hauntingly beautiful Elf with the blue-green eyes and hair the colour of winter sunshine and had made several attempts to talk to him alone. He had sensed the other’s interest in him too, and had frequently found himself the object of the Elf’s intent gaze. In casual conversation with the Elf, he had discovered that his name was Legolas, but had learned little else about him, save that he was a warrior.
Last night, as Elrohir had walked past the group, Legolas had invited him to join them. For a while, the warriors had shared tales and songs, but presently Legolas had seemed to tire of this activity and had suggested a game. This had quickly turned out to be a raucous affair whose rules Elrohir had never quite grasped, save that it required downing cup after cup of potent Dorwinion wine, accompanied by the cheers of the warriors. Elrohir had rapidly found himself feeling rather light-headed. Just as he had been thinking of making his excuses, however, a slender hand slipped into his own and squeezed. Looking up, he found himself gazing into those compelling blue-green eyes. Without saying a word, Legolas had tugged him away from the group. While the other warriors were distracted by watching one of their number down a huge goblet of wine without drawing breath, Elrohir was running through the corridors of Imladris, hand in hand with the golden Elf.
Before he had known it, he was standing in a bedchamber, watching transfixed as Legolas slowly stripped off his clothes, then walked over to the bed and sprawled naked atop the covers, the moonlight caressing his flawless skin. For several heartbeats, Elrohir had stood motionless, not even able to tear his eyes away from that alluring image for long enough to shed his own, suddenly very restrictive, clothing.
On the bed, Legolas had chuckled throatily and began to run his long fingers across his chest, teasing at his nipples, and then down over the flat of his belly. “What are you waiting for?” he had murmured. “I can do this myself, but I would far rather feel your hands upon my flesh.”
Elrohir was certain that what transpired would remain engraved upon his memory forever. He had never before known such a wanton bed-partner, or reached such peaks of pleasure. They had coupled rabidly through the night, only finally surrendering to sleep when the stars began to dim in the sky. Now, looking down upon the serenely innocent face that lay in the centre of a tangled halo of golden hair, he could not believe that this was the same Elf who had received him so eagerly, nor that the hands that lay relaxed upon the coverlet were the same hands that had teased him to almost unbearable heights of ecstasy.
Just the memory of what they had done was enough to bring him to full arousal, his hardness pressing against Legolas’ delectable rear.
Legolas stirred slightly and chuckled. Bleary blue-green eyes peered at Elrohir. “So eager already? I have never known one as voracious as you!” As he spoke, the Wood-elf shifted his hips to rub his backside more firmly against Elrohir’s erection, causing him to groan. Then with a deft twist of his supple body, Legolas flipped Elrohir onto his back, straddled his hips and kissed him until they were both breathless. “Not that I am complaining, mind!” he said, with a wicked grin. Without further ado, he shifted his position and lowered himself to sheath Elrohir’s aching shaft. Elrohir could do nothing but give himself up to the intense pleasure that drove all coherent thought from his mind.
Some time later, they lay collapsed in one another’s arms, their heartbeats slowly returning to normal.
“How is it that although I hardly know you, I felt a connection with you from the first moment I laid eyes upon you?” wondered Elrohir, running his fingers through silken gold tresses.
Legolas shifted in his embrace so that they were face to face. “I know not,” he replied, his eyes suddenly grave. “All I know is that I feel the same way. I cannot bear the thought of leaving so soon, but my father will want me to return to Eryn Galen with him.”
It was on the tip of Elrohir’s tongue to ask Legolas who his father was, when Legolas yawned suddenly. “Ai, you have quite worn me out!” he murmured drowsily. He curled up with his head on Elrohir’s chest and quickly slipped into a light doze.
Elrohir was too keyed up to sleep. Instead, he watched his lover sleep, all the while running his hand lightly over Legolas’ side and flank. His heart swelled with gratitude at the thought that Legolas was lying in his arms and had confessed a like regard for him. Could the Wood-elf be the one destined to be his for eternity? Elrohir sighed glumly. He was unlikely to find out, as the Wood-elves were due to leave in another week. Time enough for a few more rabid tumbles, aye, but hardly enough time for them to truly understand each other’s hearts.
A soft knock at the door brought him back from his musings. Gently extricating himself from Legolas’ loose embrace, he slid out of bed and slipped on a light robe. It was only as he was opening the door that he remembered that he was not in his own chambers, but in Legolas’. By that time it was far too late.
“Legolas, I was just coming to see why you weren’t at breakfast,” began an all too familiar voice as the door swung open. A tall, imposing Elf strode through the door and Elrohir found himself face to face with the Elvenking himself.
“I beg your pardon, Elladan. Or is it Elrohir? I was under the impression that this was my son’s chamber.” Then Thranduil’s face froze as his eyes fell on Elrohir’s robe. It was exquisitely worked with an intricate embroidery of leaves and acorns; certainly not a design that an Imladrin Elf would ever wear. Thranduil’s gaze travelled down inexorably from the collar of the loosely belted robe to the plentiful vivid bite marks that decorated his chest, his gaze darkening by the second.
It dawned on Elrohir with awful clarity just who Legolas’ father was.
“King Thranduil, I -,” stammered Elrohir.
But Thranduil was already striding past him towards the bed, where Legolas lay amid the tellingly rumpled bedclothes.
Legolas raised his head, a sleepy smile on his face, only to open his eyes wide when he saw who had arrived. “Father! W-what are you doing here?” gasped Legolas, all drowsiness suddenly swept away.
“What I am doing here is of no concern,” snarled Thranduil, grabbing Legolas by the arm and dragging him from the bed. “It is more what you have been doing here that bothers me.”
Legolas just managed to snatch up a sheet and one-handedly wrap it about himself before he was dragged to the open doorway. Just as the pair gained the corridor, Thranduil turned to glower at Elrohir.
“And you, Elladan,” he began, in menacing tones.
“Elrohir,” corrected Elrohir automatically.
“I care not!” Thranduil turned upon the younger twin with a glare that would freeze a Balrog in its tracks. “As soon as you are more decently attired, I expect to see you in my chambers to explain yourself.”
By this time, the commotion had attracted the attention of others and Elrohir groaned as his father, Glorfindel and Elladan arrived. Elrond took in the scene with typical aplomb, barely raising an eyebrow at the dishevelled appearance of his younger son or the sight of Legolas frantically trying to keep the sheet from revealing any more of his nakedness than it already was. Glorfindel shook his head and darted Elrohir a sympathetic smile.
Elladan, however, was more expressive and Elrohir felt a stab of jealousy at the appraising stare he turned upon Legolas.
‘Nice work, brother! That one is a real beauty. Trust you to tumble the king’s son, though.’ Elladan’s mocking tones came through their bond as clearly as if he had spoken out loud.
Elrohir responded with a surge of anger. ‘Take your filthy leers elsewhere, Elladan! Treat him with some respect!’
Elladan switched his gaze to his brother’s face, a look of startled concern replacing the smirk.
“What seems to be the problem, Thranduil?” Elrond enquired, blissfully unaware of the brotherly exchange behind him.
“There is no seems about it, Elrond,” roared Thranduil. “Your son here,” the king indicated Elrohir with his free hand, “has debauched my son and I demand an accounting!”
“Father!” protested Legolas, his face afire. “It wasn’t like that.”
Thranduil opened his mouth, clearly intending to berate his son. Elrond smoothly interjected before more curious onlookers arrived at the scene. “Perhaps we should discuss this in my chambers,” he suggested, indicating a nearby door. “There is no need to make any more of a spectacle.”
“Agreed,” rumbled Thranduil and propelled his son to the door, Legolas protesting about his lack of clothes.
“Nay, Legolas!” The king cut off Legolas’ protests with a stern glare. “You have brought shame upon my House by your actions. It is only right that you should feel a share of that shame.”
“Put some clothes on, Elrohir, then come and join us,” instructed Elrond. “Glorfindel, perhaps you would be good enough to attend as well? We may have need of an arbitrator.” With that he swept away to his chambers, Glorfindel following.
Elrohir turned to go to his own chambers, but he was halted by Elladan’s hand on his shoulder. “Forgive me, brother. I had thought this was just a casual tumble for you, but I see now that it is more than that.”
“Aye,” replied Elrohir forlornly, “I have never felt the like before, and now it looks as though any chance of exploring what might be between us will be denied. What am I to do, Elladan?”
Giving his twin a quick hug, Elladan replied, “Have faith! Father and Glorfindel will do what they can and even Thranduil is a kindly enough soul usually, and by all accounts a loving father. I dare say he will want to do right by his son as soon as he has calmed down. It may take a century or so, but I am sure he will come round eventually.”
Elrohir chuckled reluctantly and went off to get dressed. When he finally arrived in his father’s sitting room, Thranduil was in full rant and judging by Glorfindel’s rather glazed expression he had been so for quite some time.
“Ai, it is clear I should never have brought my son to this Noldor rookery!” the king was fuming as Elrohir made his entrance. “He has been brought up to respect the Sindar traditions and would never have dreamed of bedding an Elf who was not at least his betrothed, before he was corrupted by your son.”
It was all Elrohir could do to hold himself back from blurting out that the Elf he had bedded last night had been far from innocent. He could see Legolas, now swathed in one of Elrond’s robes, also open his mouth to protest. However, Elrond mercifully intervened.
“And just what traditions are these?” he asked, clearly irritated by the accusations Thranduil was throwing at his son. “Why, I remember a time when I was a youngster in Lindon, I got to know several of the Sindar refugees from Doriath. There was one in particular…” Elrond gave a reminiscent chuckle. “He used to frequent a tavern in one of the Men’s ports just across our borders. Now what was it called?” He made an exaggerated show of searching his memory. “Ah, yes! That was it: the Cock Inn.”
Elrohir quivered with barely suppressed laughter at the sight of Thranduil slowly turning an interesting shade of puce.
“Elrond…” muttered the king warningly.
Elrond completely ignored him and pressed on. “Yes, he spent an inordinate amount of time at the Cock Inn. Well, there and the Jolly Roger. The ladies of the establishment had a special name for him. They used to call him the Golden St-,”
“Elrond!” yelped Thranduil.
Elrond turned to him with an inquiring glance, as though he had only just heard him. “Yes, Thranduil?”
“What is it you want?” Thranduil asked resignedly.
“Maybe you should ask our sons that,” suggested Elrond mildly, “and actually listen to their answer.”
Thranduil sighed heavily and turned to Legolas, glancing over at Elrohir also. “Well?”
Legolas reached out and touched his father’s arm hesitantly. “I am sorry if I disappointed you, father,” he started. “And I know you will think me foolish, considering the short time I have known him, but I felt drawn to Elrohir from the very first moment I saw him. I – I think I love him. All I ask, if Elrohir feels the same, is that we be given the chance to find out if that is the case.”
Elrohir felt a surge of elation and was about to declare his own feelings for Legolas, but he faltered when he saw how stern Thranduil’s expression had become.
Elrohir was stunned when Thranduil seemed unable to say any more. The king turned away abruptly, but not before Elrohir caught the glint of tears in his eyes. There was an embarrassed silence in the room while Thranduil obviously struggled to retain his composure.
When the king turned back to his son, there was a sad smile on his face. “I don’t think you foolish at all,” he said, “unless you think I was foolish when I met your mother, for I knew straight away that she was the one I wanted to spend eternity with.”
Seeing Legolas also blinking back the tears reminded Elrohir that Thranduil’s wife had been slain by Orcs only five years ago. He wondered if he should say something, but just then Thranduil held out his arms to his son.
“I’m sorry I overreacted, Legolas. Can you forgive your foolish father?”
Legolas flung himself into his father’s arms. Father and son held one another for several heartbeats, then Thranduil hugged his son and kissed him on the brow, before turning to Elrohir.
“I should apologise to you, Elrohir, but first I would like to know if you feel the same way as Legolas.”
“Aye, I do,” said Elrohir. He smiled joyfully at Legolas, but then the smile faded when he remembered Legolas would be leaving soon. “Ai, but still, it makes no difference,” he sighed. “You will soon be gone and who knows when either of us will be free to make the journey again?”
Here Glorfindel, who had hitherto been quietly sitting in a corner, decided to comment. “If I may say something at this point?” When he was certain all eyes were upon him, he continued. “I have noticed that Legolas is a highly talented archer. He far outstrips even Imladris’ best archers.”
“Aye, he is accounted the most skilled archer in the Woodland Realm,” commented Thranduil, glowing with fatherly pride.
“I was hoping he would consent to remain behind for a year or so, to train our archers,” went on Glorfindel. “We would consider it a great honour to have such a fine archer to teach us and it would go a long way towards strengthening the bonds between Imladris and Eryn Galen.”
Legolas turned to his father, his eyes ablaze with elation. Only the most hard-hearted of fathers could have resisted such a look, and fortunately for Legolas his father had a soft heart when it came to his son.
“If my son can be of service to you, I will endeavour to manage without him,” Thranduil began. “However, -,”
But Thranduil got no further, for Legolas had launched himself into his arms with an excited whoop, thus muffling any other words the king had uttered. Only after he had enthusiastically thanked his father did Legolas turn to Elrohir and draw him into a spectacularly unchaste kiss. Elrohir responded ardently, all too aware of Legolas’ nakedness beneath the borrowed robe. Soon he had reason to be grateful for his own voluminous robe that he had flung on. If Legolas was to be in Imladris for another year, he would probably find himself needing to wear robes more and more often.
“However!” Thranduil barked, causing the lovers to spring apart. “There is one condition I demand in order for my son to remain here.”
Elrohir squeezed Legolas’ hand tightly. A lot could depend on what the king stipulated.
“The youthful foibles of certain nameless Sindar nobles notwithstanding,” continued Thranduil with a glance at Elrond, “what I said before holds true. Among the nobles of my realm, only betrothed or bound Elves may couple.”
“Father!” protested Legolas desperately. “You know none of the younger Elves hold to that any more.”
“And as son of the king,” ploughed on Thranduil, completely ignoring his son’s protests, “Legolas is of course expected to uphold this tradition. I therefore insist that if Legolas remains here, he and Elrohir are to be betrothed before the week is out.”
Elrond smilingly turned to Elrohir and Legolas. “Are you both agreeable to this condition?”
“Aye, with all my heart,” replied Elrohir fervently. “And you, Legolas, would you do me the honour of pledging yourself to me?”
“Aye!” Legolas cried and drew Elrohir into another embrace.
“Then I had best find Celebrian and Arwen and tell them the joyful news,” said Elrond. Turning to Thranduil he smiled wryly. “I suggest we arrange the betrothal ceremony for this evening, if we want to avoid any more flouting of tradition.”
And so it was that standing in a secluded beech grove, as the stars appeared one by one in the heavens, Elrohir and Legolas exchanged mithril rings and pledged their troth. If their betrothal held true, then at the end of a year, they would travel to Eryn Galen to be bound.
The celebrations went on well into the night, but the betrothed couple did not stay to the end. Hand in hand, just as they had slipped away from the drinking game the night before, they crept away from a boisterous Silvan dance to continue their celebrations in private. And as Elrohir slowly stripped under the appreciative gaze of his betrothed, he spared a moment to wonder at the difference a day could make.