“Is my son well?”
“Are the palace walls sound?”
Galion nodded again.
“Then save your news,” the king ordered curtly.
Thranduil turned and began to climb the stairs, ignoring his seneschal’s entreaty.
“Sire! Please, you should know…”
The king huffed and shot over his shoulder, “I am going to the baths. I believe I have mud in places that I didn’t even know I had. Tell Erebeth to be waiting, then send food and drink to my chamber. I trust you and Legolas to handle this place for one more evening.”
Galion knew better than to argue further. From the looks of the mud caked elves of the king’s party, the two day delay had not been because they had lingered at the dwarven realm.
Thranduil trod slowly down the corridors of his home, his wet skin chilling in the faint waft of air through the halls. He was bedraggled and exhausted from riding in the constant light rain for hours, and that was after getting caught in that accursed mudslide. Though he was sorely glad to be home, he was in a foul mood and fervently looked forward to nothing more than a hot bath and his soft bed. All else could wait.
His enervated body could not move with haste and his mind wandered back to the arduous negotiations as he walked. They had been stalled for too long and the king himself had felt compelled to attend them. His rapidly growing realm filled the halls near to bursting. They needed more room and that meant he needed the dwarves’ aid. They had been surly and most stubborn initially, completely unwilling to compromise on anything. The final agreement was all the king had wanted and he suspected that the dwarven leader, Gróin, felt the same. Shaking his head, he wondered why then it had taken them a fortnight to come to that conclusion?
Growling under his breath, he pushed the ornately carved doors to the royal baths open and trudged in. Once he entered the warm, humid room, he closed his eyes, breathing in deeply of the fragrant air, which was redolent with exotic scents all overlaying the slightly sulfurous odor from the hot springs. He felt his cloak lifted from his shoulders as he was urged to a nearby bench. A soft disapproving hiss had him smiling. “Erebeth.” He sat and rested his head against the wall, allowing himself to be cared for.
“Sire, you look a sight.” Erebeth clucked around him, helping him undress and step into the bath. As she gathered up his soiled clothing, she called back over her shoulder, “Do not fall asleep in there. The prince would never forgive me if I let you drown,” she chuckled. “I will return to wash your hair.”
Thranduil stepped down into the large, deep pool and groaned with pleasure as the heat seeped into his cold, stiff muscles. He dunked himself and reached for the soaps and a sponge, hastily scrubbing himself free of the caked on mud and grime. Finally, he was clean and already half asleep as he slid into one of the smoothed indentations on the side of the pool. He rested his head against the side and relaxed in the chin deep water.
Erebeth returned to the baths and tsk’d at the king as she knelt behind him. “Your Highness, you really should be more careful.” She scooped water and ran it through the long blond locks, loosening the braids once the caked on mud was gone. She carefully tended the king’s hair, washing it three times until it once again shone like spun gold. “Up with you. At this rate you will be asleep before you make it to the massage table.”
Erebeth held out a large cotton towel and helped Thranduil to wrap it around himself. She led the king to the most secluded massage room. Candles were lit and the calming scent of lavender and vanilla permeated the air. She pulled two heated towels from a side bin, and placed them on the table. “Hop up and I will return shortly.”
Thranduil dropped the wet towel and climbed onto the table, settling on his stomach after draping the heated towels over himself. He sighed and allowed himself to drift off. Erebeth would take care of him, just as she always did.
Thranduil awoke the next morning and groaned as stiff and sore muscles protested loudly. The light filtering through the curtains did not seem quite right and he wondered how late he had slept. Tossing on a nearby robe, the king threw the French doors open and stood there agape. The sky was filled with large fluffy white flakes. It was snowing, a veritable blizzard falling from the sky. Uncaring of his bare feet, he strode to the railing and looked out over his sequestered realm. The gardens below his balcony were already obscured by white mounds and the normally boisterous marketplace was shuttered and silent. The whole realm was eerily quiet as the crystalline blanket muffled all sound.
Cursing softly, Thranduil leaned against the railing, his eyes fixed on the swirling whiteness, his heart heavy. He slumped and stood there, lost in thought, slowly being clothed in white flakes until he felt a fur lined cloak thrown over his shoulders. He lifted the hood and wrapped the warmth tightly about himself before turning. “Legolas. Thank you.”
Smiling, the prince urged his father toward the door, “You should go in. Standing here will not make the snow stop any sooner.”
Sighing, Thranduil nodded, and trudged back into his room. The warmth enveloped him and caused a shiver to run down the king’s spine.
Legolas scolded, “Stand over by the fire, Adar. And you call me the rash one.”
“The pass will be closed. You know that will make it likely that he cannot come at all.” Thranduil stared into the fire, cursing the encroaching darkness that seemed to turn even the weather against them. First, with an early thaw in the east which caused the mud slide that had trapped his party, followed by this, a spring blizzard which was clogging the High Pass with snow. Elladan was due in less than a fortnight, but he could not cross the Misty Mountains in this storm. It would be many weeks before the pass was open again. He sighed, defeated. ‘As if Elrond needed an excuse to keep Elladan from coming.’
“Adar, please, I think you underestimate Elladan.”
Thranduil turned and glared at his son, his eyes flashing at the light-hearted tone and the wide smile that graced his face. “I do no such thing! And why are you standing there looking like the cat that ate the canary?”
“Because, love, I arrived yesterday,” a deep voice purred in the king’s ear.
Thranduil whirled around and met sparkling mithril grey eyes before launching himself at Elladan. He took his lover’s face in his hands and seized his lips, plundering the warm cavern, as the rest of the world ceased to exist.
Legolas smirked and quietly left the room, closing and locking the door behind him. Galion was standing outside the door and wore a matching grin. “Do you think he will listen to me next time?” he asked as they walked down the corridor.
The prince grinned mischievously before answering, “Somehow I doubt it. I do think he will be wondering who kept Elladan away from him for an entire night, though.”
Galion shuddered, “Good thing I can blame you for that one!”
Legolas chuckled, “Oh, no! I am not taking the fault alone! We are in this together!”
“Aye, ernilen. Let us hope that Elladan keeps him occupied for long enough that he forgets to be angry with us.” Galion clapped the prince on the back conspiratorially as they walked away.
When Thranduil finally forced himself to pull away, he growled. “Yesterday! You arrived before I did and yet I was kept in the dark?”
Elladan tugged the cloak from the king’s shoulders and sighed appreciatively. He smirked and then reached for the tie to the robe, before pausing, “Apparently you should listen when your seneschal has urgent news, aranen. I could have done this sooner.” He tugged at the tie, releasing it. The silk robe fluttered open, revealing the king’s strong chest and the extent of his need. “I missed you,” Elladan said, his voice husky with desire as he slid gracefully to his knees and pressed soft kisses to the king’s stomach and thighs, purposefully avoiding his groin.
The king reached out, one hand gripping the mantel to steady himself, the other tangled in Elladan’s dark locks. His heart thundered in his chest as he watched his lover move to his knees. He wanted this, needed this, so very much, but he wanted more than mere release for their first time together in long years. “Nay,” he gasped out. “Please? I missed you too much… thought another year would go by…”
He reached down and tugged gently, pulling Elladan up before wrapping his arms around his lover’s strong form and burying his face in his lover’s neck. He could never get enough of the feeling of Elladan’s muscles moving beneath his hands. The Peredhel was so much more than an elf, he was the best of both elf and man; steely sinew swathed in silken, lightly tanned skin; a strong jawline and proud nose, matched with full, pouty lips; steely grey eyes; raven hair; and barely pointed ears. In short, Elladan was the most beautiful creature Thranduil had ever laid eyes on and he still marveled that the Peredhel was his.
Elladan met the king’s blue eyes, now darkened to indigo, and he said in a throaty whisper, “Then take me to bed. Show me, lover.”
Thranduil awoke slowly, his body sated and his heart content. Night had not yet loosed its grip on the realm and he opened his eyes to survey the vision in his bed. Reaching over, he turned up the lantern, bringing soft light into the room. The king lifted up on one elbow, resting his head on his hand as he gazed at Elladan, his eyes lingering on the raven hair splayed across his pillow. Reaching out, he slid his fingers through the heavy silk, sighing softly as he curled a lock around his finger.
Thranduil let his eyes roam freely, taking in each soft curve and hard line of his lover’s body. He noticed a small silver line over a rib and traced it gently with his thumb. He would need to know how Elladan got this latest scar, which dared to mar the otherwise flawless skin. His hands slid slowly over the smooth flesh, fingers caressing each purple mark he had placed there. His fingers pressed into the matching bruises on his lover’s hips and he smiled, thinking of how they had gotten there: their passion had been too much to deny.
The slow rise and fall of Elladan’s chest mesmerized the king and he flattened his hand against the soft skin, stretching his fingers widely as his thumb idly played with the golden ring piercing his lover’s nipple, a gift he had given Elladan, marking his lover as he was marked.
Elladan stirred, his eyes falling closed before opening as a soft moan broke from his lips, “’s late. Worn out,” his sleep warmed voice murmured.
Thranduil smiled tenderly, his eyes shining with warmth and affection. He leaned down and lightly kissed his favorite spots, from the corner of Elladan’s mouth to the faint line at the edge of his eye, continuing up until he barely brushed his lips over the graceful arching ear tip.
Groaning, Elladan turned his head, offering easy access before opening his eyes, as he mock-glared up at his lover, his lips twitching to keep from smiling. “Were you watching me sleep?”
Leaning down the king nibbled Elladan’s offered neck, hitting the one place that made his lover moan before he finally pulled away, his lips ghosting over the fair skin, but not touching, as he answered, “Our time together is too short, love. I cannot waste a moment of it by sleeping.”
Elladan’s eyes softened, and he wrapped one arm around the king’s neck, pulling him closer as the other caressed his cheek. He smiled against Thranduil’s lips and teased, “I had no idea you were such a hopeless romantic.”
Laughing, Thranduil rolled on top of Elladan, pinning him down. “Would you rather I was an arrogant bastard who took his pleasure and cared not for you?”
“I love you, whether you are a romantic sap or arrogant bastard or bit of both...”
They kissed for long moments, tongues tangling as they vied for dominance, neither conceding until they both pulled away, panting for air. Thranduil looked deep into Elladan’s eyes as he avowed, “I love you. You belong here, ” he paused, “but I will not ask you to choose between us…”
Elladan lifted a hand and pressed a finger to the king’s lips, silencing him. “The question is, what will you do if his resolve has finally crumbled?”
Thranduil’s eyes widened, but Elladan had not removed his finger, so he said nothing.
“Adar gave his consent. We can finally be bound, beloved, if you still desire it?”
The king hastily sat up, his voice almost squeaking as he asked, “What? He did?”
Chuckling, Elladan nodded. “He only had two requirements… that you ask him in person and that the ceremony be held in Imladris.” He slid his finger against the king’s lips and smirked, “Now, it is nowhere near dawn, and you have worn me out. Can we sleep? Just sleep?”
Thranduil was momentarily stunned and then he hastily untangled himself from the blankets and his lover before standing. “Nay! Wait… just wait there… a moment…” The king was busy rummaging through an ornate box in a drawer of his armoire. “Got it!” He turned to see that Elladan had lifted up and was watching him with a bemused expression on his face, his tousled hair framing heavy-lidded eyes over a soft smile. Thranduil’s heart stuttered and he took a deep breath before dropping to one knee by the bed. “You own my heart, beloved. You have had it from the first moment I laid eyes upon you. Please? Will you do me the honor of marrying me, Elladan Elrondion?”
Elladan was stunned into silence. He tentatively held out his hand and nodded, “Aye,” as Thranduil slid the mithril ring on to his finger. Then he shouted, “Aye!” and leaned over and threw his arms around the king’s neck, pulling him in for a searing kiss.
Adar – father
aranen – my king
ernilen – my prince