Elladan fought back tears of frustration as his sword was knocked from his hand yet again. He heard the wondering murmurs of the gathered warriors, felt the puzzled stares that followed him as he stooped to retrieve his practice blade.
Such clumsiness was unlike the eldest son of Elrond. Though he was still half a century from majority, Elladan had trained for decades with Glorfindel and the guard, and was fast becoming a formidable opponent, as was his twin. Yet today he had thrice been bested by Gildor Inglorion, though the gypsy-elf was known more for his prowess with the bow than the blade.
“Keep your shoulder up, ‘Adan!” Glorfindel called, exasperation creeping into his tone. “What in Elbereth’s name is wrong with you, young one?”
Elladan flushed deeper still, his ears burning. He knew all too well what vexed him. How was he to focus on his form, on the bout, when Gildor’s very presence in Imladris tied his tongue and wetted his palms? To stand so close to the ancient elf’s lithe form, watch his muscles flex with each swing of the sword, smell the exotic scent that clung to skin and hair...
The sharp clang of steel on steel brought him back to the present, though not in time to thwart Gildor’s attack. Elladan managed to hang onto his sword, but the force of the repeated blows left him off balance, an easy target for Gildor’s shifting weight. He found himself on the ground, his opponent’s blade at his throat.
“I believe I have you,” Gildor said with a smile, his deep blue eyes kind as he rose gracefully and extended a hand to his vanquished opponent. “You show great promise, 'Adan,” he added, brushing a strand of ebony hair back before pressing an affectionate kiss to Elladan's flushed brow.
Elladan’s eyes widened, a tremor rippling over his body as he struggled not to whimper. Without a word he pulled away, thrusting his sword hilt at Elrohir, then all but ran toward the falls.
The younger twin took the weapon, casting a pleading look at Glorfindel, who stood staring disbelievingly at Elladan’s retreating back. “Let him go, please,” Elrohir implored quietly.
“Aye, let him go, cousin,” Gildor agreed, moving to stand beside the captain as the gathered warriors began to disperse. “I was too hard on the youngling.”
Glorfindel shook his head with a sigh, motioning for Elrohir to gather up the practice blades, before turning to Gildor. “I will see you in the baths?”
“Perhaps,” the gypsy-elf replied, his eyes straying to the path that lead to the falls.
“I believe I know what ails Elladan,” Tarlangien said, as Elrohir and Glorfindel made their way toward the bathing pools.
“And what would that be?” Gildor asked, meeting his second’s gaze squarely. “Other than inexperience?”
“’Tis inexperience, indeed,” Tarlangien chuckled, “though not of the combat kind. The princeling fancies you, I wager.”
Gildor made a dismissive gesture, but Tarlangien would not be silenced. “He fancies you, my lord. It would be a shame to leave him wanting.”
Gildor’s eyes flashed warningly, though his voice was soft. “Mind your tongue, soldier. It is no scullery-maid’s get you speak of, but Elrond’s eldest. He is not of age.”
“But he is quite fair, should your taste run to darklings,” the warrior continued, heedless of his Lord’s growing ire, “and he is less than a century away from majority. Surely old enough to use his tongue...”
“Enough!” Gildor hissed, his hand clamping down on Tarlangien’s shoulder. “Take yourself to the baths, before I lose my patience. I will hear no more of it.” Watching his companion’s hasty retreat, Gildor heaved a huge sigh and turned toward the falls.
Elladan sat at the edge of a pool, disconsolately picking at the soft grass. His ears filled by the roar of the waterfall, he was unaware of any approach until Gildor dropped fluidly to the ground beside him.
“This is a tranquil spot,” the gypsy-elf offered, his eyes fixed on the foaming water. “I have pondered many a painful moment here myself, over the years.” Turning to face his companion, he took in the bowed head and slumped shoulders sympathetically. “There is no shame in losing to a worthy opponent, Elladan.”
“Am I not a worthy opponent?”
“Aye,” the elder twin whispered, his head still down.
“Look at me, young one,” Gildor insisted gently, catching Elladan’s chin, forcing the clouded grey eyes to meet his own. “It is difficult to be almost grown, hmm?”
Color flared again in Elladan’s cheeks at the implication. “I...I...do not...” he began, his pitiful protest ending in a surprised gasp as his companion pulled him into a loose embrace, pillowing his head on one hard shoulder.
“When you were but a wee thing, you would sit with me for hours and listen to my tales,” Gildor said, one hand worrying a beaded braid. “Do you remember?”
Elladan nodded wordlessly, his senses reeling at Gildor’s nearness. Horrified, he felt his traitorous body begin to react and tensed, struggling against the encircling arms.
“It is all right,” Gildor murmured soothingly, tightening his hold on the trembling body. “There is no shame in desire, either.”
Tears of embarrassment welled in Elladan’s eyes, and he turned his flushed face into Gildor’s neck. The wanderer’s next words left him gaping.
“Have you shared a lover’s kiss, my prince?”
Humiliated beyond bearing, Elladan croaked, "Nay," a single tear finally escaping as a gentle hand forced his head up to meet his companion’s understanding gaze.
“Then I would be honored to be the first.”
Elladan’s eyes widened in amazement, then closed in ecstasy as Gildor’s mouth covered his own. His lips were suckled tenderly for a long moment before the gypsy-elf’s practiced tongue parted them to explore with firmly restrained ardor.
Elladan gasped, shivering and moaning under the waves of unfamiliar sensation. A bow-callused thumb swept his ear, once, twice...and his world exploded in a rush of liquid heat and brilliant color.
His next conscious moment found Elladan cradled against Gildor’s chest, a strong hand drawing soothing circles on his back. His ears burning, Elladan pulled away to meet the wanderer’s warm gaze. “I...am sorry...” he began, but his stuttering was halted firmly.
“You have nothing to apologize for, young one,” Gildor said with a slight smile, “though it might be best if this remained our secret.”
Pressing a chaste kiss to Elladan’s forehead, he met the darkened grey gaze seriously. “I am flattered by your interest, 'Adan. And if it lingers-” Gildor paused, a rakish grin lighting his face, "I shall no doubt be in Imladris from time to time after you reach majority.”
Elladan smiled tentatively. “Do you promise?”
“I swear it.”