This fic was written as a present for esteliel, and is based on her "Anestel/Cuil Eden" universe. Last year she wrote a series of drabbles, and she was kind enough to allow me to explore one of them. This fic is the result, and she has allowed me to repost it here.
It is also extremely dark and angsty, so you might want to have a fresh box of tissues handy. Please heed the warnings.
Legolas shivers and wraps his blanket more tightly around himself as he watches his child play outside with his nurse. He has not held Gîlríon for months now, not since Glorfindel grew bored of him and sent him away from his rooms. The Lord seems to have all but forgotten about him -- and certainly, so will Gîl, who probably does not even know his name. It is a good thing, Legolas tries to tell himself, for Glorfindel loves the child, and what could he ever have given him? Still, it is cold in the small room he has been assigned, and Legolas wishes he could have seen the majestic trees of his father's forest one last time.
Judging from the angle of the sun, it must be nearly lunchtime and Legolas watches sadly as the nurse leads Gîl inside, so that the elfling will be clean and neat when he dines with his sire. Legolas remains standing in the sunshine, though. His lunch is a cold one of meat and cheese, so it makes no difference when he eats. But he will eat, for the twins will come this night, demanding that he serve them and Legolas knows that he will need every last bit of strength he can find to endure their visit.
Legolas cowered against the bed, unable to stop shaking. He was so tired! It seemed as if he never had any rest between the demands of his infant son and his new master. Although he had agreed to serve Lord Glorfindel in any way the lord desired of him, it seemed since Gîlríon's birth that the Elda had become more and more demanding. Legolas had been foolish to think he might be allowed to recover normally from the labor -- instead of the weeks granted to ellith, he was given only a few days. Lord Elrond had made it clear that the three days he had spent in the healing rooms were most generous and since he was no longer in any danger, he was to return to the main section of the House with Glorfindel.
“I hope you are ready for me, roch neth,” Glorfindel purred as he settled next to the youth. “Ah, even now you tremble for my touch. Do not worry, I am sure you will please me well.”
“Don't... please... don't.” Legolas pushed vainly at the larger elf. Instead, his weak protest was met by laughter.
“So, you wish to play do you? No matter, I am happy to accommodate you.” Glorfindel grinned down at the pale, tired face beneath him. Someday Legolas might realize how erotic his struggles were, and that they only served to arouse him even more.
“Please, I am so tired,” Legolas whimpered but Glorfindel was turning him easily onto his stomach.
“I hope you are ready for me,” he said as he quickly sheathed himself in the trembling youth's body. Finding that Legolas was not oiled or otherwise prepared only indicated to Glorfindel how eager he was for his master's touch. “You were so eager you did not even trouble to prepare yourself before coming to bed, did you? No matter, it pleases me to take you thus.”
Legolas tried to remain quiet as Glorfindel pounded into him. He had been so tired, he had forgotten to ready himself. He didn't know why he had even tried to protest in the first place; Glorfindel was much stronger and older -- he would always win. A few tears slid from his eyes and he hoped that the ordeal would soon be over. His breasts were beginning to fill with milk and in a few more minutes the nipples would be painful -- and Gîlríon would start to cry to be fed. Legolas prayed that the infant would remain asleep just awhile longer, until he had satisfied his duty to his lord. One last hard thrust and Legolas could feel Glorfindel resting heavily on his back, filling him with seed once more.
“Yes, you please me well.” The bed shifted as his lord got up and stretched. Legolas remained still on the mattress only to jump as Glorfindel swatted him, hard. This was something else that was new; the light, not-quite-hard slaps and blows that now were part of his daily routine. “Come, get out of there so that the maids can come in with fresh bedding.”
“Yes, my lord.” Legolas slid out of the bed, swaying as he did so. But Glorfindel had his back turned and didn't notice. Hearing Gîlríon beginning to whimper, Legolas pulled on a light robe and went to the alcove where his son's cradle was kept, leaning down to pick the tiny child up. //At least he does not need changing yet// Legolas thought with a sigh as Gîlríon quickly began to nurse. Legolas tightened his grip and walked back into the other room, sitting down heavily on the nearest padded chair. It was so good to sit down and rest. The young Sindar's eyes were sleepy and he leaned back, putting his feet up. Vaguely, he wondered what the future would hold for him and his son. Glorfindel adored Gîl, so there was no real worry there and he had made several hints about a large family to Legolas. Legolas fought back a tired sigh. If only he could feel rested and well... he was beginning to think he would never feel that way again.
“I will be back shortly, roch neth.” Glorfindel leaned down to whisper in Legolas' ear, smiling when the youth startled slightly. “My, we are jumpy, aren't we? Perhaps I can find a way to settle you down later?”
“Yes, my lord.” Legolas' response was automatic and Gîlríon wriggled a bit as his sire ruffled his soft curls, though he continued to feed. Legolas was thankful when the elf lord left, for it meant he could finally relax a little.
When Glorfindel returned to his rooms, Legolas could see he was in a dark mood. This was never a good sign and he wondered what he had done wrong now. He'd been sequestered in these rooms since Gîlríon's birth and he couldn't think of anything... but that didn't mean his lord wouldn't find *something Legolas had done to displease him. When Glorfindel spoke to him, Legolas flinched.
“I am leaving for a while. It seems there is an increase in orc activity along the northern borders, and I am to lead a squad to investigate and destroy them.”
“How long will you be gone, my lord?” Legolas stammered nervously. He discovered there was yet a new source of worry -- that something might happen to his lord. If something happened to Glorfindel, what would happen to Gîl? And to himself?
“Why? Are you so eager to be rid of me?” Glorfindel growled at the youth. By the Valar, he hoped that Gîlríon had not inherited this same timidity. He would have to make certain to guard against the child developing the Sindar taint of weakness that seemed to define Legolas' character. //It was very strange,// Glorfindel mused, //for both Oropher and Thranduil were noted, skilled warriors even if they were enemies.// *His son would *not become a nervous, shy creature more like a rabbit than an elf -- not if *he had any say in the matter. “Well?”
“No, my lord. I would never wish that,” Legolas replied, hanging his head. “It is just that Gîlríon will miss you.”
“And you? Will you miss me as well?” Glorfindel pulled Legolas into a tight embrace, hurriedly ripping the youth's tunic even as he began walking him backward toward the bed.
“Yes, my lord,” Legolas moaned at the elf lord's rough touch. There would be bruises on his fair skin the next day but no one would see them, and in any case it didn't matter. “I will miss you so much.”
“Then show me,” Glorfindel replied as Legolas fell backward on the bed. The younger ellon quickly arranged his limbs in a manner his lord would find most pleasing: lounging on his side while looking coquettishly through his lashes at the Elda, although he was trembling with fatigue.
“Does this please you, my lord?” Legolas' voice shook only a little as he managed a smile.
Glorfindel's only answer was a rough growl as he pressed the youth to the bed. Legolas gasped at the heavy pressure on his reed-thin frame, and Glorfindel's mouth covered his easily. His moan of pain went unheard as he felt as if that two of his ribs were cracking.
When Glorfindel finally rose the next morning, he noticed that Legolas' eyes were closed once more. Really, this closed-eye sleep was becoming a bit much. The little Sinda had been given plenty of time to recover from Gîlríon's birth, so he must be pretending in order to try and tease his lord into granting him some sort of favor.
“Wake up, Legolas.” Glorfindel shook him awake. “You are going to become fat and lazy if this keeps up. Maybe I will start calling you 'Laiska' -- would you like that?”
“I am sorry, my lord.” Legolas sat, trying to orient himself. He noticed that Glorfindel was staring at his chest, fascinated by the tight nipples that were nearly ready to leak with milk. “I am sorry; I did not hear Gîlríon.”
“Our little star will be fine for a few moments more,” Glorfindel said as he reached forward to flick his fingernail against the tight nipples. “I think I will steal a quick taste myself before I leave.”
“But Gîlríon.” Legolas gasped as Glorfindel lowered his head and began to suckle. It felt so different from Gîlríon, so much more... erotic. “No, please. Stop this.”
“As always, your mouth says one thing while your body tells me something else. Be still, roch neth.”
So Legolas obeyed his lord once more.
Three months later, Glorfindel returned from his patrol. Legolas had not dared to step outside their room, though he had taken great care that Gîl's cot was placed on the balcony when the days were particularly fine and warm. Gîlríon had thrived and Legolas felt badly that the golden Elda had missed so many little things during his absence. Their meals had continued to arrive on a regular basis, along with the house maids. Legolas still was forcing himself to eat; even with Lord Elrond's tea to help him, it remained hard for him to keep food down and his appetite never seemed to increase.
At the same time, Legolas had even less chance to rest, for the nurse left the day after his lord's departure. Since Glorfindel's orders were always rather vague, Legolas assumed that she was no longer ordered to attend them. Gîlríon was sweet-natured, and Legolas enjoyed every moment spent with his baby son. But Gîlríon was also a very *active child and Legolas' greatest fear was that something would happen to him.
That day had been longer than usual for Legolas, for Gîlríon had started teething the week before and it seemed that the lone tooth would soon have a neighbor. Legolas finally managed to get Gîlríon to lie down for a nap, and promptly headed for the bath, determined to clean up before the child woke again. The water was cool and Legolas luxuriated in the rare quiet. He knew it couldn't last long though, so he reluctantly climbed out of the bath, letting the water slowly drip onto the soft rug that covered the floor. He studied his reflection briefly in the mirror, sighing as he began to plait his hair back in an effort to discourage Gîlríon from chewing the ends.
This same day Glorfindel returned from his patrol. After a cursory report to Elrond, he left immediately for his rooms. He looked over at the small alcove and noticed Gîl sleeping in his cot. Smiling down at the child, he thought how much Gîlríon had grown, and so quickly! It was most unfair of Elrond to have kept him away for so long. After all, Elrond had hardly left the nursery when the twins were the same age. In fact, it wasn't until they had been old enough to start lessons that the Peredhel had returned to a formal schedule.
Glorfindel decided not to disturb his son, and headed for the bath, eager for a chance to wash the grime away. He was pleased to notice that Legolas was there ahead of him. The Sindar youth had clearly kept himself in readiness for his lord's return, which suited Glorfindel just fine.
“Are you eager for my touch, roch neth?” Glorfindel growled as he entered the bath. “You must be, for I see that you have followed my instructions well.”
“My lord!” Legolas turned quickly, feeling his old nervousness once more. “I did not know you would be back today.”
“Neither did I, pen neth.” Glorfindel had caught the youth's wrists in his large hands, and gently nipped at the soft skin. Legolas yelped briefly in pain, only to find himself being pushed up against the cool marble wall. “I hope that you are ready for me now. After all, *I am ready, and that is all that matters.”
“No, stop.” Legolas struggled in his grasp. “Please, my lord -- just let me rest.”
“That is no problem. I know you are more than happy to accommodate me in bed.” Glorfindel picked the youth up easily, tossing him over his shoulder and carrying him back into his bedroom. “Now then, strip me, pen neth. It is time you learned how to bathe me without water.”
“No,” Legolas moaned as he tried to push away from his lord. “Please, Gîl is asleep and might waken -- do not shame me so in front of my son.”
“*Your son? *Your son?” Glorfindel's expression darkened instantly. “How dare you?! He is *my son too, you little whore, and you would do well to remember it.”
“I did not mean... I am sorry, my lord.” Legolas' face showed his distress clearly.
“Not as sorry as you're going to be.” Glorfindel threw Legolas on the bed, watching dispassionately as the youth cringed away from him. He hurriedly threw his clothing in a heap on the floor, sat down on the edge and roughly pulled Legolas over to him, ignoring the soft cry of pain as his grip tightened around the slender ankle.
“No! I do not want this! Let go!” Legolas could only think of Gîlríon's nearby presence: how the noise of their arguing, and the sight of his ada being punished by his atto for disobedience, then being forced to submit to an even harsher demand might badly affect the elfling's fëa. Legolas was convinced that Gîlríon understood far more than the others thought possible for an infant and it was this thought that drove him to rebel. Legolas broke away from his lord's grip for a brief moment and stood as if to leave.
“You dare to deny me? After what you promised?” Glorfindel was on his feet in an instant, stalking toward the trembling youth. “I should have known better! I see now what your word is worth -- the word of a Sinda!”
“I did not mean...” Legolas' plea was cut short by a heavy blow from Glorfindel. Legolas' head snapped back and he raised his hand to his cheek, wondering if the elf lord had managed to crack the bone as he felt the swelling begin. “I am sorry, my lord. I beg you...”
Glorfindel was in a towering rage, however, and so ignored Legolas' soft plea. He quickly rummaged in the wardrobe and pulled out an old tunic and leggings, tossing them at the young prince.
“Put these on now,” he said coldly. Legolas hurried, struggling to pull the cloth over his damp skin. “Hurry up, Sinda. I have better things to do than waste my time with the likes of you.”
“My lord, Gîlríon will wake soon and he will be hungry.”
“You need not worry about Gîlríon, ernil. It is past time he was weaned, for he will only be corrupted by your Sindar weakness. You already prove yourself false and break your word to me. You cannot be trusted. Come!” Glorfindel seized Legolas' wrist and began to pull the slender youth out of the door and down the hall.
“But my lord, please!” Legolas stumbled behind his lord, even as he tried to straighten his tunic and fasten the leggings. Despite everything that had happened, he tried to retain a semblance of modesty even though he knew the realm of Imladris thought of him as mere chattel, scarcely better than an animal. He was beginning to panic now, for he had never seen Glorfindel quite this angry before.
In the distance, Gîlríon stirred and whimpered for his ada to pick him up and feed him. Gîlríon was wet and hungry; it was time for his ada to care for him and sing to him while he nursed. But his ada was not there and would not be returning, so the elfling's wails went unheard for a long time.
"Here Elladan, enjoy him." Glorfindel laughed as he pushed Legolas into the Peredhel's grasp, ignoring the sharp gasp of pain the young prince had been unable to suppress. "My son has no further need of a milk nurse; he must learn to grow up to be a strong Noldor warrior."
Legolas made no sound at the rough treatment; there was only a flash of pain in his eyes. He turned as if to plead with his lord but Glorfindel was not looking at him. His lord had trained him so that Legolas was barely able to remember his own mind -- only for his son’s sake had he instinctively struggled -- constantly fearing to do something that would displease the golden Elda. But all that concerned Glorfindel was his displeasure and that Gîlríon should no longer nurse from his ada.
"I wondered if you would tire of your little Sindar pet, Glorfindel." Elladan wasted no time pulling Legolas to his feet, smiling as his hard grip circled Legolas' thin wrist in a way guaranteed to leave bruises. "I am much in your debt, my lord."
"Just see that you do not break him," Glorfindel replied. "He is rather valuable for a Sinda and your father does not wish to antagonize Thranduil unnecessarily. And do not share him with anyone besides Elrohir unless you ask me first."
"It shall be as you say, my lord." Elladan bowed briefly to the golden Elda. "Come along, little Sindar ernil."
Legolas stumbled tiredly behind Elladan as the twin dragged him through several long halls before stopping in front of a heavy oak door that was braced with iron. The air was oddly still and it seemed to be a lesser-used section of the hall. Elladan pushed the door open and Legolas sneezed unexpectedly.
"Here you go, cunneth. I think these rooms suit your station quite well. Do you approve?"
"Yes, my lord." Legolas knew better than to argue and though the room was bare and cold, he could see no damp spots that indicated the weather found its way inside. There was a small water closet in one corner that was shielded by a dusty curtain and Legolas was pathetically glad of the convenience.
"At least you have some manners," Elladan muttered. He sounded disappointed, as if he had expected Legolas to disagree. But Legolas already knew that he would displease the older elf. It was merely a question of when and what sort of excuse Elladan was looking for; if he couldn't find anything specific, he would invent one. Legolas had learned *that lesson well.
"This once I will allow you to speak freely to me." Elladan studied the thin blond elf who stood with head bowed in front of him. He had a lot of plans for the creature and he could hardly wait to begin. Elladan had never dared to expect Glorfindel would share his little pet at all, and now the Sinda was to be his indefinitely. "Well? Have you nothing you wish to say?"
"I need my medicine, my lord. Your father was most insistent that I take it daily, for he designed it specifically for my condition." Legolas spoke quietly, keeping his head down and his eyes trained on the floor.
"Very well." Elladan nodded quickly. "Anything else?"
//My son,// Legolas thought. //I need my son.// But these thoughts remained unspoken, for he knew that part of his life was over -- or at least until such time as Elladan should tire of him or Glorfindel might decide to take him back.
"No, my lord. I only await your pleasure."
"Oh I will take my pleasure soon enough, Sinda. But I want you to understand my rules. First, you will keep yourself ready for me at all times. Second, you will not speak unless absolutely necessary. Third, you are not to leave these rooms. *Ever*. You may step on the balcony as long as you do not call any attention to yourself. The only exception will be if either my father, myself, my brother or Glorfindel comes for you in person. Do you understand these rules?"
"Yes, my lord." Legolas kept his head bowed. "I hear and obey."
"Then down on your knees and serve me."
Legolas knelt and quickly unfastened the dark elf's leggings with his teeth and carefully drew the aroused cock into his mouth. Within moments, Elladan spilled his seed down Legolas' willing throat and was not entirely surprised when he felt the younger elf cleaning him with his tongue. Smiling, he petted the golden haired elf and briefly wondered just what Glorfindel's other duties might have been in Ecthelion's court, for he had seldom known such a well-trained thrall. Then he shrugged, knowing that the Elda would never speak of his past in Gondolin.
"You have done well. Now I want you to rest because I will be back in a few hours."
Legolas nodded silently and promptly curled up in a small patch of sunlight.
A few hours later, Elladan returned with Elrohir and several servants bringing needed furnishings. A bed and bedding, a table and chair, a few changes of clothes and other necessities. Most important of all, there was the medicine that Lord Elrond believed would keep Legolas from conceiving another child. Legolas was surprised at how good the furnishings were; while the items were not of the quality he had grown used to with Glorfindel, they were better than he had expected from Elladan and he was privately convinced that Elrohir had been involved in choosing them.
"You don't need many clothes since you won't be going anywhere or seeing anyone. But just in case your presence should be needed at court, I want you to be prepared."
"Yes, my lord."
"You see, Ro? He is already *very* well-trained. It's rather a pity because I was looking forward to breaking him a little more. Now, where should we start?"
“I think I would like to feel that soft mouth.” Elrohir began to loosen his leggings and noticed how the Sinda was already kneeling in front of him. He smiled, lacing his fingers in the long blond hair in order to control the youngster more easily. “Since you have already had some pleasure, I suggest you bring our toy chest here while I have my turn. After all, we do not wish to interrupt things later on, do we?”
“Well spoken, toren. I will return shortly, and then we can begin.”
“He can make a start right now,” and Elrohir pulled Legolas' head toward his groin, his gaze never leaving his brother as he left the room.
Legolas knew what was expected of him and he had schooled his expression to be pleasant, no matter what he might feel personally. As he leaned forward to open the peredhel's leggings, a sudden tug on his hair made him pause and he raised his eyes, puzzled.
“Now that my brother is gone, I want you to listen to what I have to say and keep quiet. Understand?” Legolas managed a brief nod before freezing into place, afraid he had angered the dark elf. “I would prefer to have nothing to do with this, but I have little choice. I will protect you as best I can, but do not expect too much.”
The slender youngster knelt before him and Elrohir, looking at him sadly, felt suddenly sick. This was wrong, yet neither of them had any choice. He idly stroked the silky blonde hair for several minutes while the youth rested against Elrohir's muscled thigh. He raised his head when he sensed his twin's approach and Legolas hesitated. “Go ahead and continue, princeling. There is no other way now.”
“Ro!” The door crashed open as Elladan entered with a large, oddly plain box. “I brought everything we have acquired; all of our specialties. What would you like to start with, Ro?” Elladan's smile bore an uncanny resemblance to a snake and he laughed when Legolas shivered.
The next morning, Legolas could barely move and his entire body felt bruised, but he knew that his masters were pleased with him for even though they were gone, he was allowed to remain asleep in the bed. It was a kindness he had not expected but he also knew better than to presume on such a privilege. Wincing, he limped over to the washstand in order to clean himself before he laid down on a thick rug in order to wait for their return.
It was nearly midday when Legolas was woken by the sound of familiar, childish laughter. Moving quietly, he eased himself onto the balcony and peered down into a small, enclosed garden, where Gîlríon was playing happily with a few outdoor toys. A female nurse was watching him and for a moment Legolas wondered if this was some trick designed to torment him. But then he realized that Elladan did not possess that kind of foresight, and the fact that his new room overlooked Gîlríon's playground was a mixed blessing. To be so near and yet so far, to see but not be able to speak to his son was a new torment. But it was one he could live with quite easily, and it served to strengthen Legolas' resolve to obey his new masters' lightest whims, so that he would not lose his vantage point.
Elladan never suspected anything different in his manner that evening but Elrohir looked thoughtfully at the Sindar thrall-prince for a long time before shrugging his shoulders and subtly making sure that his twin did not go too far with his games.
Legolas sighs and turns from the window. He had better eat now while things are quiet, for his new masters will be displeased if they do not think he has eaten enough. But the old trouble of keeping food down has returned to plague him once more and Legolas hopes that it is only nervousness. He takes his special medicine regularly, and there is still some left so Legolas forces himself to relax, thankful that Lord Elrond has provided with the means to avoid a further pregnancy.
"Hello, little Sinda."
Automatically, Legolas kneels in front of his masters, waiting for their next command.
"Look at me, Legolas." Legolas raises his head, slightly puzzled at Elrohir's voice. Usually it is Elladan who speaks to him, who takes the greatest pleasure in putting him through his paces. "We are going to be leaving on an extended patrol. Is there anything that you need?"
Legolas pauses, thinking carefully. There is food and water, a warm place to sleep and on every nice day (of which there are many in Imladris), he is able to watch Gîl to his heart's content -- even if it is from a distance and even though Gîl is unaware of him.
"I can think of nothing, my lord. How long will you be gone?" Legolas flinches immediately at the question, for he was not given permission to ask questions. But Elrohir is not his twin and ignores the oversight, forestalling his twin's reaction.
"It is acceptable, Dan. After all, we are to care for him as he still technically belongs to Glorfindel. In answer to your question, Legolas, we will be gone for several months but less than a year. Your meal allotment will be brought twice a week, and laundry will be collected and returned at the same time. You are to sleep in the bed and not on the floor, by the way. Make sure you use proper blankets, and a pillow. We do not want you to become ill." Elrohir paused for a moment. "What say you that we take him to the baths, toren? He will not have such a chance to bathe properly again till we return. There is little that is more enjoyable than a good bath."
"Very well, Ro. Come, Sinda. Gather your robe and slippers, the baths should be quiet now." Elladan allowed himself a lascivious snicker, "Though not for much longer."
Legolas follows his masters along the winding halls. It feels like a long way to the baths. Although Legolas enjoys being really clean once again, he is so exhausted from 'bathing' with the Peredhil that Elrohir carries him back to his rooms in his arms, as if he were a tiny elfling and rouses him only once they are all ensconced in the large soft bed. The twins seem to enjoy his extreme pliancy and by the time they are finished once more, Legolas' eyes close tightly in sleep. This amuses them, and he falls asleep with their bright laughter echoing in his ears. Legolas is still unaware when they finally rise and leave early the next morning.
Legolas stands beside the window, shivering even as he clutches the blanket around his shoulders, for his room is cold even on the warmest days. Wood elves do not do well if they are kept away from the forest and Legolas misses the majestic trees of his father's realm keenly, but the trees are forbidden to him in his confinement and Legolas knows that part of his fëa is damaged as a result. Further, it only serves to remind him that Gîlríon is probably totally unaware of his Sindar heritage. Gîlríon has grown tall in these past months and it hurts Legolas to think how much of his son's life he has missed. Sadly, he wonders if Gîl even remembers him at all. Did he ever cry for his missing ada? What did Glorfindel tell him -- rather, what has he told him? Perhaps Gîl thinks that his ada already went to the Halls of Mandos, for Legolas knows now that Glorfindel and the Peredhil are capable of any deception that suits them.
Perhaps though, it is not so far from the truth. Legolas bites back a moan as a sharp pain slices through his lower back. He remains beside the window until Gîl disappears from view, followed by a young guard as well as a nurse. Legolas moves heavily to the chair and sits down, his thin arms cradling his swollen belly. Despite the medicine, he is again with child. This time he knows what to expect, how he should feel and this time, it feels all wrong. He knows he has lost weight again -- too much, he fears -- despite his best efforts to eat, and this cannot be good. There is a quiet heaviness that was not present before and Legolas wishes that the twins had not both gone on such a long patrol. But worst of all is the knowledge that Glorfindel will see this pregnancy as the ultimate betrayal and that he, Legolas, will never again be accepted by the golden Elda.
Another sharp, white hot pain slices through him and this time he cannot stifle a cry as he slides to the stone floor, unconscious. But there is no-one to hear his cry and it will be another two days before the next meal tray is due.
Erestor stalks angrily through the halls in search of Legolas' new quarters. Only Elrond's direct request could send him on such an errand, for there are many others who are just as capable of this simple, mundane task. But when Elrond says to him, "Erestor, bring Legolas to me at once," there is no way of refusing.
Erestor has no idea of where to look until one of the elf-maids points timidly toward one of the older sections of the Hall. It is a section that has fallen into disuse and though plans were made for remodeling, they were never carried out. Erestor is not sure why the plans were never finalized, other than it had never been a high priority project in the first place and there were many other matters that were more urgent.
Finally though, Erestor arrives in front of the iron-bound door and knocks. The others might laugh at the idea of such courtesy to the Sindar thrall-prince and mock him for such foolishness but Erestor does not care. There are many ways to get even that do not require physical force and Erestor is a master of all of them.
A few moments pass with no answer and Erestor frowns, knocking slightly louder this time. When there is still no answer, Erestor hesitantly pushes the door open. His eyes are instantly drawn to the still form on the floor and he curses bitterly.
"Damn them." Erestor kneels beside the fallen elf, grimacing at the sight of the grossly swollen abdomen, so at odds with the nearly skeletal form. To his eyes, it looks as if the Peredhel seed has decided to cannibalize its host and is very close to succeeding. Erestor can see the contractions that shake the unconscious frame and he kneels down, gently wrapping the Sinda in a blanket. He rises slowly, taking great care not to jostle the elf in his arms.
Elrond waits impatiently for Erestor to return with Legolas. He has felt uneasy from time to time about the Sindar prince but Imladris is a large realm that takes vast amounts of time and energy to govern. It is only upon hearing Glorfindel's plans for Gîlríon's third begetting day that he realizes just how long it has been since Legolas has been seen by anyone besides the twins and the occasional servant.
Elrond's office door swings open, but he continues to look out the window rather than turning around immediately.
"It's about time you came back, Erestor." Elrond's tone is sharp and annoyed. "Has he given you any trouble?"
"Trouble seems to be this one's kilmessë, Elrond." Erestor's voice is unexpectedly harsh and bitter. "Why don't you see for yourself?"
Elrond turns, only to be faced with the wrapped bundle in Erestor's arms. "Oh Valar, no." Elrond pulls the edge of the blanket from Legolas' white face, noticing the tightly closed eyes and the harsh, labored breathing.
"Give him to me." Elrond takes Legolas from Erestor's arms and cradles him gently, walking quickly to the healing rooms. Erestor follows, knowing that whatever happens, this will be a long anxious night.
Once in the healing rooms, Elrond places Legolas gently on the nearest bed, gasping in shock as he removes the blanket and sees the contractions ripple across the swollen abdomen. He works quickly, feeling despair at how much weaker and frailer the youth appears than he did during his first pregnancy. Fortunately Legolas is only wearing a robe, which makes the examination much easier.
"How long has he been like this?"
"I found him this way in his rooms. He had fallen and I did not try to rouse him."
"I see." Elrond straightens up, sighing. "I can barely sense him, Erestor. Do you know when the twins are expected back?"
"I have no idea, Elrond. They are late but then we already knew that they would be when we received the message from 'Lórien."
"Do you know where Glorfindel is?"
"He is on patrol as well, though it is a local one and he should be back within the hour. As you know, he doesn't like to be away from his son for very long."
"Very well. Leave word that Glorfindel is to come here at once when he returns, no delay. Send a rider to 'Lórien -- the twins must return at once." Elrond sighs again. "I fear it will do little good but we must try to reach them anyway."
"Is there anything else?"
"No." Elrond looks steadily at his chief counselor, a deep sadness in his eyes. "You might as well know the truth now. He is starting to fade. The child is in the breech position and the passage has not opened as it should. I must intervene surgically, although I believe it is too late to be of any real use to either of them."
"This is hard news indeed." Erestor bows his head in genuine sorrow. He has no liking for the Sinda and the very idea of another Sindar/Noldor child is repulsive to him, but his mourning will be no less genuine. Rising quietly, Erestor leaves the room in order to see that the messages are dispatched.
Elrond fills the time waiting for his assistants by retrieving an old mithril case that holds rare surgical instruments crafted by Fëanor. Maglor gifted them to him when he reached his majority, saying that they would be of great use in the future. The instruments are rumored to have an enchantment on them, so that no matter how deep they cut, the patient will feel no pain and the wound will not bleed and will heal nearly instantaneously. Elrond had dismissed the idea of enchanted instruments but as he looks at Legolas lying pale and still, he prays to the Valar that it is fact.
"Legolas? Can you hear me?" There is no response and Elrond opens the case to study the rainbow-colored obsidian knives. He picks one up, marveling anew at the exquisite craftsmanship and the sharpness of the blade's edge. He wonders how much longer he dares wait for his assistants; fortunately they arrive, rushing in. Elrond glares at them but says nothing -- there is no time. Recriminations can come later. Taking a deep breath, Elrond turns to the unconscious form on the bed and watches as the knife slices easily through the layers of muscle, leaving very little blood in its path. Elrond pushes at the open wound in order to discover the source of the problem and peers into the womb.
As expected, there is an elfling inside, turned in an unnatural position. It is obvious to Elrond that it could never have been born in the usual manner. He gently reaches in and removes it, handing it to an assistant and feeling a deep sorrow at the tiny perfect form that lacks only the spark of life. Elrond turns his attention back to Legolas, making certain that a second elfling is not somehow hidden from his view. But there is no other and Elrond slowly removes his hands, noticing how the incision seems to be closing by itself until only a faint reddish mark remains on the deflated abdomen.
Glorfindel hurries to the healing rooms, wondering why Elrond demands his presence. He pauses briefly before the doorway and enters as he catches sight of the Imladris lord.
"What is wrong, Elrond? It is not Gîlríon, is it?" The Elda's voice is thick with worry.
"Legolas." Elrond motions toward a curtained area. "He is in a bad way, mellon. It would be a good idea to bring your son to see him one last time."
"Surely he cannot be that bad. He has always been very resilient." Glorfindel's tone is skeptical, though he does not doubt Elrond.
"I sent Erestor to bring him for an interview since I hadn't seen him for quite some time. Erestor found him unconscious in his rooms and brought him to me. He has just been delivered of a stillborn child -- a boy. I had to cut it out of him."
Elrond pushes the curtain aside and watches as Glorfindel flinches at the sight of Legolas laying pale and still; the light blanket covering him is barely moving with each slow breath. Elrond does not know why Glorfindel put the Sindar youth aside but it does not matter now. Nothing more can be done but Elrond hopes to make Legolas' remaining time as comfortable as possible.
I will bring Gîl at once." Glorfindel turns to leave, then hesitates. "Will he know -- will he even be aware of our son?"
"Yes, I believe he will know. Even if he does not regain consciousness, he will still know."
Glorfindel nods and leaves. Elrond watches him go and turns to place warmed stones against Legolas' thin frame. It can do no harm and he hopes it will bring some comfort. Then Elrond takes a flask of miruvor and lets it trickle into the youth's mouth, rubbing his throat to make sure he swallows and doesn't choke. It is risky but Elrond hopes that he will be able to rouse enough to see Gîl when he arrives. Several minutes later, Elrond sees Legolas open his eyes slightly, the thin hand moving to touch his stomach. His blue eyes widen briefly in panic as Elrond takes his hand, patting it gently.
"Rest, Legolas. The child was stillborn, a son. I am so very sorry, ernil."
Legolas' blue eyes fill with tears and he makes a small, distressed sound in his throat.
"Here, drink this." Elrond presses the flask of miruvor to the blond elf's lips once more and Legolas manages to swallow a small amount before closing his eyes again. "You are not at fault, Legolas. You did nothing wrong."
But even as Elrond speaks the words, he sees that Legolas does not believe him and for some reason, this knowledge hurts Elrond more than he expects. He can see that even this slight effort has tired Legolas greatly and he hopes that Glorfindel will hurry back with Gîl.
"Ada! Ada!" There is the busy sound of running feet and Gîlríon runs past Elrond to climb onto the bed, hugging Legolas' neck until the Sindar prince gasps slightly and opens his eyes in shock.
"Ion nin." Legolas' voice is barely a whisper and he stares at his son in disbelief. Surely this must be his imagination at work but the solid warmth and soft breath against his neck is very persuasive. Legolas works his hand free to touch the shining yellow curls. "Gîlríon."
"Ada, I have missed you so terribly much. Where have you been, ada? It must have been a long, long, long way away! Were you at the Grey Havens? Ada, are you well? You look tired. Did you know that it will be my third begetting day soon? Will you be here? Atto says I may have anything I wish for my begetting day, anything at all but I don't need *anything now that you are here! I love you, ada."
Gîlríon snuggles even more tightly against Legolas' neck and thus misses the look of consternation that crosses the faces of the Imladris elves. Legolas, however, does not miss the worried glances shared by Elrond and Glorfindel.
"I love you too, my star." Legolas manages to whisper in his son's ear. "I will be glad to share your begetting day with you."
Legolas understands what their expressions imply, for even now he can feel himself following his stillborn son but Gîlríon's begetting day is less than a fortnight away and Legolas knows he will last long enough for that.
"Come, Gîl." Glorfindel steps forward to take the elfling from the bed. "Your ada needs his rest."
"You won't leave again will you, ada?"
"I will see you soon, ion nin." Legolas kisses Gîl's forehead, effectively avoiding a direct answer. "Go with your atto now."
Legolas watches as the golden haired elfling leaves the room in his sire's arms, smiling and waving. He promptly closes his eyes again once he can no longer hear their footsteps, his breath sounding harsh and labored in the sudden quiet.
"I will see that you have new rooms, Legolas," Elrond begins, only to have the young Sindar prince open his blue eyes in an angry glare.
"No." Legolas manages to gasp out. "Enough... cruelty."
Elrond watches in dismay as Legolas fights for enough breath to continue.
"I will stay here so my son does not have false hope. Now leave."
"Very well, ernil. As you wish." Elrond walks over to pick up the small, still bundle and turns to leave.
"Wait." Legolas' face burns with the same fierce determination. "Give him to me."
"I do not think it wise..."
"I wish to say goodbye to him." There is a slight pause before Legolas continues, "Or is it *her*?"
"Your son, ernil." Elrond carefully places Legolas' second-born child in his arms and quietly leaves Legolas to his grief.
Legolas' eyes fill with tears, which drip slowly onto the soft blanket as he examines the delicate form. All is in its proper place and in perfect miniature, the silky hair is the deep grey of mithril and for a brief moment he wonders if the closed eyes would have been silver-grey or blue. Legolas remembers that his grandsire Oropher and Celeborn were kinsmen, and he wonders briefly if the cause of death is due to a degree of consanguinity. Regardless, the blood should not have been dangerously close. Legolas hums quietly, an old Silvan lullaby remembered from his own long-ago days as an elfling. In a few hours he will have to give the little body up even though he knows this son is already playing in Mandos' great hall or perhaps Estë’s garden.
Hours later, the sound of hoof beats echo in the courtyard, announcing the twins' arrival and within moments, they race into the hall. Elrond is at the entrance to greet them, embracing them gently as he does so.
“Ada, Nana Gala said we must hurry home...” “...or we would be too late.”
“What has happened, ada?” they chorus, their silver-grey eyes pale with worry.
“Legolas has been delivered of a son, stillborn.”
The twins protested, “No, no.” “It cannot be true.”
“I am so sorry, my sons.”
“And Legolas?” “Is he...?”
“The Sindar prince lives yet, but he is seriously ill. I have little hope for him.”
“May we see him, ada?” Again the question is spoken as one. “Please?”
“Yes, but do not stay long. He is quite weak.”
The twins hurry off to the healing wing. Elrond quietly follows, knowing his presence will be needed soon enough.
“Legolas? Are you awake?”
Legolas ignores the voice of one of his masters. He is too tired to try and guess which twin it might be and in any case, the other one is here as well. He continues to croon to the still form.
“Legolas? May we see him? May we see our son?”
“Very well.” Legolas kisses the still form one last time as the twin gently takes it from his arms. He can smell the faint tinge of horse sweat that rises from their clothes; it reminds him of days long past, when he was still accepted by his own ada, even though he was mostly ignored by the royal court. The days when he guarded the horses of Mirkwood were the best days he had ever known in his short life.
“Ai, he is beautiful, Legolas. So perfect...” The twin's voice fades to a sob, only to be taken up by his brother. “Yes, Legolas. We are so sorry we did not know... why did you not tell us?”
“I did not know myself before you left. Had I known, I would certainly have told you.” Legolas knows there is a bitter tone in his voice but he no longer cares. He cannot be hurt anymore, not by anyone. “It does not matter now.”
“We are sorry, Legolas.” Soft hands brush at his face and hair but Legolas has perfected his mask over the last few months and does not flinch at their touch. “So very sorry, ernil.”
The twins begin keening an ancient lament and Legolas joins in. Their beautiful voices are terrible as their grief rises to be heard by all in Imladris, who quietly mourn with them. Later, the guards will say that Elbereth veiled her eyes in sympathy and their grandsire, Eärendil, dimmed the light of Vingilot as they sang.
Hours later, the twins leave the healing room with their only child. As before, they turn to each other in their grief, forgetting all others while Legolas remains alone, with empty arms and an emptier heart.
While Elrond takes great care to see that he rests after his ordeal, Legolas sees that he is no longer of any value to Imladris, for neither Elladan nor Elrohir return to visit him. Elrond checks on him twice daily but speaks very little to the Sinda. In truth, Elrond's vast diplomatic skills fail him now. Legolas has no way of knowing how valuable he has become to the hidden realm.
He is so frail that Elrond makes sure not tell him about the message sent to Thranduil of Legolas' illness, and that the Woodland king received the messenger with the barest possible courtesy, sending the unlucky ellon back almost immediately with a message of his own -- that Mirkwood is not to be troubled by gossip of Imladris' royal concubines and their bastards.
“When will ada come to live with us again, atto? I have missed ada so much, and he is home again. I want to paint him a special picture, atto. Will you help me find my paints, atto?”
In Glorfindel's rooms, Gîl was asking his sire the same questions he had been asking for the last week, ever since he had learned of Legolas' presence in the healing rooms, and for once Glorfindel found himself very nearly angry with his son. //The child has no way of knowing,// Glorfindel thought. //He is much too young to remember. Isn't he?//
“I will be glad to have ada home, atto. Are we going to have more rooms? I am big, you know. I do not need to be in the nursery any longer. Nurse says that a nursery should never be empty for very long; does that mean I will have a baby brother soon? Do you think I could have twin brothers, atto? I would like to have twin brothers. I get lonesome all by myself. I think twins are fun; I love Uncle Elladan and Uncle Elrohir, they always have time to play with me.”
At this Glorfindel looked distinctly uneasy. //He cannot know, he cannot. No one would dare think of saying anything to him...// Gîlríon misread his sire's strange expression, for he continued. “Of course, I would like a baby sister as well. Girls are fun too. I would watch out for her and protect her when she grew up.”
“Let's find your paints, ion nin. I am sure that ada would love to have a picture from you.” Glorfindel was eager to distract Gîlríon from this particular line of questioning. With any luck, Gîl would soon forget. But for once, Glorfindel had underestimated his own son: he failed to realize the deep bond between Gîlríon and Legolas -- Gîlríon might have been too young to do little more than cry on the day Legolas left, but he had never, ever forgotten.
Glorfindel rises from the table to look for the paints and Gîlríon follows his atto happily, certain as only a young child can be, that everything will work out just the way he wants it.
That night, while Gîlríon sleeps in the other room, his atto sits beside the fire and thinks of the past. He remembers the first night they spent without Legolas. Glorfindel had returned to his rooms, only to discover that Gîlríon was wet, hungry and terrified at being abandoned. Just why Gîlríon's screams of “Ada! Ada!” were ignored was never quite resolved but Glorfindel's angry bellows soon roused the entire house. One of the younger maids was quickly pressed into changing and bathing the hysterical elfling, but it made no difference. Gîlríon cried all night and for days afterwards had been inconsolable, despite the return of the nurse to care for him. Glorfindel had never realized just how much Legolas actually *did until he was no longer there. But he was not about to admit he had made a mistake, and he would never forgive Legolas' brief show of defiance -- though he did wonder if a whipping might not have been a better punishment. But Glorfindel seldom went back on a decision, for it showed weakness, not strength, and only served to undermine his authority.
Sighing, Glorfindel quietly sips his wine. Gîlríon is a sweet child who is remarkably unspoiled, considering that he is an unofficial prince of Imladris. Gîlríon has only to look woebegone, with a hint of tears in the bright blue eyes and everyone rushes to make him smile once more. Elrond dotes on him as if Gîl were his own grandchild, and the twins have named themselves as honorary uncles. No, Gîlríon has never lacked for attention or companionship, for even the redoubtable Galadhrim of Lórien have fallen to his charm. Haldir, Orophin and Rúmil – all find a reason to stop and speak with the child, often slipping him a sweet or two.
For the next week, Legolas is visited daily by Gîlríon, who takes up residence on Legolas' bed and is clearly intent on filling his ada in on every single detail of his life that Legolas missed while he was "the ambassador to Far Harad." Legolas smiles, hearing every word and more than content to watch his growing son.
"That was how I learned Lord Elrond is allergic to cats," Gîlríon concluded. "Ada? Are you hungry? Would you like me to ask Cook for something else?"
"I am fine, ion. I am still tired and I am never very hungry."
"Are you sure, ada?" Gîlríon looks worriedly at him, his forehead wrinkled in unmistakable mimicry of his sire.
"I am certain of it." Legolas deigns to sip at the glass of miruvor, which serves to reassure the elfling slightly.
"Okay..." Gîlríon looks a bit dubious but he is soon busily relating yet another story. "… and that was when I learned that Lindir and Gildor don't wear clothing at night when they wrestle. It doesn't seem to bother them though, and they seem really happy and they sleep really sound afterwards, sometimes they even sleep with their eyes closed. I don't know why they want sleep though. When I wrestle, *I* don't feel like sleeping -- I want to play some more. Ada? Why are you laughing? Ada?"
"No matter, ion nin. When you are older, you will understand these matters."
"That's what everyone always tells me." Gîlríon pouts for a moment and then smiles as his ada kisses his forehead. “I must go and eat now, ada. Do you wish me to bring you anything?”
“No, thank you Gîl.” Legolas tries to smooth the tousled curls into a semblance of order but his ion is already sliding off the bed and hurrying out the door. Legolas smiles tiredly as he watches Gîlríon and settles back on the pillows, feeling completely exhausted.
Erestor sits near Legolas, keeping a careful eye on the young Sinda as he reviews the paperwork that seems to follow him through the Last Homely House.
“I am surprised you requested my attendance, ernil. I thought you would prefer someone friendlier to stay with you.”
“You are very restful, my lord.”
Erestor's eyebrows rise, unconsciously mimicking Elrond's at that moment because Erestor does not believe that anyone has ever called him 'restful' before. Legolas seems to sense that, for he continues.
“The others exhaust me. The grief, the guilt... it is too much -- it washes off them and makes me feel that I am about to drown. You make no such demands on me. It is a great kindness.”
Erestor says nothing, for his heart is filled with shame at his callous attitude toward the Sindar youth as Legolas closes his eyes once more, feigning sleep.
It is a few days later when Erestor notices that Legolas looks at him with an appraising gaze. It is most unusual for the youth to do such a thing and it piques the dark elf's curiosity.
“Do you have a question, pen neth?” He asks, setting down his quill.
“I was wondering...” Legolas drops his gaze and begins to smooth the heavy quilt. “May I ask you a question, my lord?”
“Of course you may. What do you wish to know?”
“I was wondering if you knew how much a bag of sweets might cost. You see, I have no present for Gîl's begetting day.”
“A bag of sweets would cost five coppers, I believe. Would you like me to purchase one for you?”
“Five coppers -- as much as that.” Legolas murmurs in dismay. “I am sorry, my lord but I do not have that much.”
“I am certain that there are some nice ones to be had for less than five, ernil. Whatever you do have will be sufficient.”
“I do not even have one copper.” Legolas replies, hanging his head in shame.
Erestor's mouth opens in shock. For any Imladrian elf to have no coinage at all is unheard of -- and then he remembers Legolas' circumstances. But before he can speak, Legolas continues.
“I brought nothing with me when I came, only Lainiell and I am sure that she became Lord Glorfindel's property when he deigned to take me in. I was so ill with Gîlríon, though -- I am sure I cost him much more than she is worth. And my new masters -- I must have cost them even more than I did with Lord Glorfindel. So you see, I really have nothing for I *am nothing. Unless...” Legolas pauses and eyes the dark elf speculatively.
“Unless what?” Erestor manages to croak out.
“You may use me in anyway you wish, for three coppers. I am told by many that I am very pleasing, even though I am not looking my best right now. But I am sure I can bring you pleasure; I am quite skilled.” Legolas misreads Erestor's stunned expression, for he hastily amends his sales pitch. “Or, you can beat me for the same amount for as long as you like and using whatever you wish. You may even draw blood if it pleases you. I can take it; I can endure much and I will heal. I will not scream and I will tell no-one. Lord Elrond no longer comes every day, so I am sure that any bruises will fade before he notices.”
When this fails to bring a response, Legolas decides to amend his offer yet again. “If you do not want me, I am sure the guards would enjoy a chance to use me in the same manner the Mirkwood king has used their friends. If you will take me to them, they can use me in anyway they desire for one night. As many of them as they wish, to do as they please -- just as long as I am able to attend Gîl's party. I will even return so they may finish what they start. I will only charge them six coppers, and you may have three for your trouble.”
Erestor stares openly at Legolas, completely aghast at the propositions and feels a belated sense of outrage begin to rise within him. Mistaking the dark elf's expression, Legolas drops his head in dismay at the perceived refusal.
“I beg your forgiveness, my lord. I am sorry for speaking so boldly to you. I beg that you punish me in anyway you see fit for such disrespect.”
“I... I will think on what you have said, ernil. I must go now, I am late for a meeting.” Erestor quickly grabs a variety of papers at random and hurries out the door, making sure to close it tightly behind him. Erestor walks down the hallway toward a secluded nook, where he buries his head in his hands and weeps.
Elrond and Glorfindel were idly chatting in Elrond's conference room, waiting for Erestor's arrival, so they could go over the recent patrol reports.
“The weather promises to be fine for Gîlríon's party,” Elrond had just finished saying. “I suppose you have a special surprise planned, do you not? What is it to be this year? An oliphaunt?”
“Not yet, Elrond.” Glorfindel laughed as he sipped at his coffee. “I was thinking of a sword.”
Just then Erestor stalked in, his dark eyes icy with barely controlled rage.
“My lords.” Erestor spoke curtly to them as he placed a parchment on the desk. “Lord Elrond, I wish to begin training my replacement at once.”
“Your replacement? But why?” Elrond had not expected anything to happen outside of the normal, everyday routine. “What is this? Erestor, tell me what has happened.”
“I intend to sail within the year. I will no longer be able to fulfill my duties as your advisor.”
“I think you owe Lord Elrond more of an explanation,” snapped Glorfindel as he studied the dark-haired ellon.
“I owe you nothing and I am giving Lord Elrond ample notice.” Erestor snapped back at the golden elf. “Now, if we may get down to business, there is much to be done.”
After an unusually tense meeting that was much shorter than expected, Glorfindel left to supervise a new group of young recruits. Erestor rose to leave as well, but Elrond grasped him by the arm.
“I would have you stay.” Elrond spoke quietly, even as Erestor pulled his arm free from the stifling grasp. “That was not a request, Erestor.”
“Very well.” Erestor seated himself, crossing his arms. “What do you want?”
“I want to know what is wrong.” Elrond studied his chief advisor closely. “I assume it has something to do with the Sindar prince?”
“Yes.” Erestor replied grudgingly.
“Continue.” Elrond looked at him in exasperation. “I do not intend to drag it out of you word by word. Speak plainly, Erestor.”
“The prince is very distraught since he has nothing to give his son for a begetting day gift.”
“Is that all? You make a fuss out of nothing, cousin.”
“Would you like to know how he intends to buy something, Lord Elrond?”
“Indeed, I would be most interested in learning this.”
“He offered to let me use him in any way I might wish, so he could earn three coppers to buy a bag of sweets for his son.” Erestor's voice was soft and laced with pain. “When I did not respond right away, he said he would make the same offer to the guards for six coppers, and I could have three if I would deliver him there and back. He only asked that he be left able to attend his son's party, then he swore to return so they would get their full value.”
“Sweet Valar.” Elrond dropped his head to his hands.
“I have never before been ashamed to be an elf, Elrond. Yet now I wish that I were a Man, or a Dwarf, for I would feel less shame.”
Erestor walks slowly back to the healing wing, dreading his next meeting with the young Sinda. The youth will be waiting for an answer and for once, he has no idea what to say. He knows he will not accept either of the offers, nor will he convey the third offer to the guards.
As he enters the room, he notices that Gîlríon is there already and that both are quietly napping in the sunlight. //They make a pretty picture//, he thinks. //So much alike, yet so very different.// Erestor backs out of the doorway and retreats down the hallway to the small nook once more. A few minutes later, he watches as Gîlríon hurries away from the room toward the main kitchen.
“Good afternoon, pen neth. I see you have had a visitor.”
“Yes, I did. He is such a good boy.” Legolas' thin face is flushed with pleasure. “Did you want something, my lord?”
“Well, yes.” Erestor clears his throat nervously. “I wish to speak to you about your offer.”
“Oh, I see.” Legolas' face changes at once, the calm cool mask firmly in place. “How may I serve you, my lord?”
“You misunderstand me, ernil. I have no use for your body. I have no such appetites.”
“I see. You wish to watch while another takes your place. That is acceptable as well.”
“No!” At his sharp tone, Legolas cringes back against the bed. “I apologize, ernil. I have given you the wrong impression and I apologize.” Erestor motioned to a nearby chair. “May I be seated?”
“Of course.” Legolas belatedly realizes his poor manners as Erestor seats himself. “I apologize for keeping you standing, my lord.”
“As you know, ernil, I am a scholar, first and foremost. Yet I find that the library of Imladris is lacking in many things regarding your people. So I will make you a counter-offer. I will give you a copper for each story or song you tell me. Is that acceptable?”
“But I know very little, my lord. I have sung our children's songs and told a few stories to Gil, but that cannot possibly be of any value to you.”
“It is exactly what I wish to know, pen neth, for how better to understand others than to know what and how they are taught from their childhood?”
“Really?” Legolas looks at him in bewilderment. “I never thought it was of any value to anyone.”
“Will you accept my offer then?”
“I would be pleased to help you in anyway, but...”
“Then it is settled. A copper for each song or story you tell.” Erestor extends his hand to Legolas, intending to shake hands with the Sindar prince. But Legolas merely stares blankly at the hand before leaning forward to kiss the small signet ring Erestor has worn since his own long-ago majority.
“Very well, my lord. It shall be as you wish.”
Once again, Erestor feels a deep pain in his chest and struggles to compose himself. He hears soft footsteps and turns to see Melpomaen in the doorway. The young scribe is his top assistant and well-qualified to take over more of his duties. He is also one of the few elves in Imladris who seems to hold no ill-will toward Legolas. The elf looks steadily at him and holds out a large folder.
“You have another meeting, advisor. I believe you will need this.”
“Thank you, Melpomaen.” Erestor has seldom been so relieved to have an interruption. “Please excuse me, ernil. I will be back later on.”
“Of course, my lord.” Legolas inclines his head as he waits for them to leave. When he is alone once more, he turns to look out the window. He smiles to himself as he catches sight of Gîl playing with a ball, then thinks over his conversation with Erestor. The chief advisor is not one to play tricks; indeed, from what Legolas had heard, he has no sense of humor. His offer was sincere, even if it does seem absurd to Legolas. Imagine, thinking that children's stories and songs are valuable! Why, his ada and brothers would laugh themselves silly at the very idea. But the offer was made and Legolas will honor it.
The day of Gîlríon's third begetting is bright and sunny. Legolas is in attendance as well, although he is confined to a couch, supported by pillows and covered with a thin blanket. The party is small, with few elflings since Imladris does not appear to lend itself to encouraging a high birth rate and Legolas hopes that when he comes of age, Gîlríon will find a loving bond-mate.
Though Gîlríon is clearly enjoying himself with all of the guests, food, games and presents, he is keeping a close eye on his ada. He shows each present to his ada, and all are duly admired and exclaimed over. Gîlríon personally brings a large chunk of cake to him as well, showing remarkable skill in balancing the delicate china while avoiding the gathered assortment of housecats and hounds that lurk nearby, ever hopeful of a dropped plate.
“This has been the best begetting day ever, ada. I am so glad you are here.”
“I am glad too, ion nin.”
Gîlríon yawns suddenly and curls up at his ada's side, idly fingering the carved horse that is Legolas' gift to him.
“Are you tired, my Gîl?”
“No, ada. I am just very full now.”
Legolas smiles and smooths the tangled curls, unsurprised when his son tosses his head impatiently. His íon is so like his sire that Legolas can see little sign of himself in the elfling. Perhaps that is a good thing, that it is better that his ion does not know his Sindar heritage. It has brought Legolas nothing but pain and grief, and he would spare Gîlríon that.
“Will you be here tomorrow, ada?”
“Yes, ion nin. I will.”
“And the day after that?”
“We shall see, ion nin.”
A shadow falls over them and as Gîlríon squeals “Atto!”, Legolas looks down. He has no wish to be subjected to Glorfindel's cool, appraising gaze.
“Come, Gîlríon. It is time for your supper.”
“But I am not hungry, atto.”
“Very well. You may take your gifts to your room, and then we will have a light supper.”
“Yes, atto.” Gîlríon places a soft kiss on his ada's forehead. “I will you see you later, ada.”
“Yes, my Gîl. Run along now.”
Glorfindel and Legolas watch their ion run toward the house, still tightly clutching the carved horse.
“How are you, Legolas? Tell me the truth now.”
“I am well enough, my lord. You need not worry yourself.”
“You are Gîlríon's ada, so I will always be concerned about you.”
“As I said, there is no need, my lord.”
“Legolas...” Glorfindel hesitates, feeling oddly uncertain as he looks down at the thin, frail elf and thinks perhaps he is seeing the real Legolas for the first time. Despite everything, the elf lord has a deep affection for the young Sindar prince but he no longer feels he has any rights to him. He should have married the youth upon his arrival in Imladris with the news he carried Glorfindel's heir, begging for sanctuary from his father's wrath and stripping himself of all dignity in order to assure the survival of their child. Legolas asked for so little and he has been given even less. “I will speak to you later, ernil, when you are more rested.”
“As you wish, my lord. I await your earliest convenience.” Legolas closes his eyes so that he will not see Glorfindel leave, but he still hears the footsteps fading into the distance. Nothing ever changes, he thinks wearily.
Glorfindel enters Elrond's office, knowing that he is expected. Elrond looks up and puts several papers to one side.
“I know why you are here, mellon.”
“Then you know that I intend to marry Legolas, and make him my husband according to our law.”
“You have waited this long and yet done nothing, Glorfindel. Why this sudden concern now?”
Glorfindel looks uneasy at Elrond's criticism.
“I have been a fool, Elrond. I should have married him at once, instead of waiting so long.” The blond Elda sighs unhappily. “I should never have put him aside.”
“No, you should not have done that. You should have done better – much better – by him.”
“I can make it up to him though. I will marry him, and we will have the life that should have been ours from the beginning. Gîlríon will be happy, too.”
“But will Legolas be happy?” Elrond's sharp, sad gaze makes Glorfindel feel nervous and uncertain. “He would do anything if he thought it would please Gîlríon – and perhaps you. But happiness? No, I do not think that Legolas can ever be happy.”
“No. I refuse to believe that.” Glorfindel shakes his head in dismay. “We will be a real family, and we will be happy. All of us.”
“Think for a moment. His father rejected him and treated him as if he were less than a Man. Then you came along and raped him, leaving him alone and terrified. When he was forced to acknowledge what had happened, his father threatened him with death if he stayed, so he ran away to the only place he could think of that might show him mercy, even if he were an enemy. He came here and nearly died in the attempt. And what happens on his arrival? He is taken prisoner and treated as if he were little better than a spy. When he was brought before us, we laughed at him and called him liar, deceiver -- and made him realize that only the babe he carried was of any value and that if anything should happen to it before birth, he would be given to the soldiers for their private whore.”
Elrond pauses while Glorfindel hangs his head in shame, for Elrond speaks the truth and he knows it. “Then, after Gîlríon was born -- you do remember how things went during his birthing, do you not -- Legolas was near exhaustion, too tired and scared to refuse anything you might ask, yet you continued to use him though he had scarcely healed.”
“You did not say anything of this to me before.” Glorfindel is hurt that Elrond seems to blame him for everything and feels a sudden anger toward his longtime friend. “Why speak of it now, and not then?”
“I hold more than my share of responsibility, believe me.” Elrond looks out the window, refusing to meet his seneschal's gaze. “I should have told you to leave him alone, even before he gave birth. He was in no shape for your games and I knew it. But I said nothing, because he was only a Sinda and it pleased me to know that one of Thranduil's people suffered as our people have suffered at his hands. It is one of the worst mistakes I have ever made, for it was deliberately made -- and I will regret it all my days.”
The next day, Gîlríon is up bright and early to visit his ada once more. His quiet entrance is unnoticed by an aide, who leaves a breakfast tray beside his ada's bed. For the first time, he sees how pale and weak his ada is. There is nothing wrong with Legolas' hearing though and he turns to smile at his son.
“Good morning ada.” Gîlríon climbs up on the bed and settles easily beside his ada, taking extra care not to be too rough in his movements and gently kisses his ada's cheek.
“Good morning, Gîl.” Legolas returns Gîlríon's kiss and manages a smile. “Did you enjoy your party and all of your presents?”
“Yes I did, ada. But you are still the best present of all.”
“Thank you, ion nin.”
Gîlríon chatters a few moments more about his plans for the day and then hurries off, promising to be back after breakfast. Glorfindel waits until Gîlríon leaves and then enters the room.
“Legolas. How are you today?” Glorfindel mentally berates himself for such inanities. “Are you well?”
“I am fine, my lord.” Legolas peers up cautiously at the Gondolin lord, wondering why he is being questioned. Surely Elrond has told him that he is not up to any sort of strenuous activity and then he realizes that the older elf must be here to tell him about his new master. “I am sorry I am too weak to greet you properly. I beg your forgiveness, my lord.”
“You need not apologize. Look at me, ernil.” Glorfindel speaks more sharply than he intends, for he still feels tremendous guilt over his treatment of the Sindar youth. It was a mistake to send him away, to turn him over to Elladan and Elrohir. He remembers his discussion with Elrond about marrying Legolas. While Elrond did not disapprove of the nuptials, nor had he seemed happy about Glorfindel's plan either. “As soon as you are fully recovered, I will come for you.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Legolas knows that this can only mean that Glorfindel will be giving him to someone else. He knows that in his master's eyes, he is forever tainted. Once, Legolas' only fear was of being sent away; then he smiles in his bitterness. He knows that he will never leave Imladris again.
Glorfindel mistakes Legolas' expression for pleased surprise at their coming reunion and he is confident that their lives will soon be restored to the family they had before, but this time it will be better.
That evening, Erestor takes up his vigil inside the healing room assigned to Legolas. Sitting at the small table, he has nearly finished transcribing the Sindarin stories and songs when he hears the youth awakening from an uneasy sleep.
The Imladris advisor crosses the room and is standing beside him. He notices that the Sindar prince is sitting up now and clearly restless.
“I was wondering if you could find the book from Doriath you mentioned once. I would like to read it.”
“I do not think I can find it, ernil.” Erestor sighs, for he knows the request to be erroneous and that there is no such book in Elrond's vast library. He does not refuse outright because he knows that Legolas' time is very short now and this is the Sinda's way of requesting privacy. Yet he feels he would be remiss if he did not make a token protest. “Perhaps in the morning, Melpomaen can search for it.”
“I would like to read it now, please.” Legolas stares tiredly at the dark-haired advisor. “I can wait no longer.”
“Very well, ernil. As you wish.” Erestor stands and pauses for a moment before opening the large glass doors. “The night is particularly warm and fine, and the stars are very bright. Perhaps a little fresh air would help you to rest. ”
“Perhaps.” Legolas' quiet voice is calm and oddly commanding.
Erestor leaves and does not look back.
Legolas waits for Erestor to leave the room and then slowly slides out of bed, breathing hard as he catches his balance. He is much weaker this time, but he has saved enough strength to make his way to the terrace and down the steps to the small garden area. Legolas pauses for a moment to catch his breath and makes his way to the great mallorn that dominates the gardens.
As he slowly lowers himself to the ground, bracing himself against the trunk, the golden leaves rustle softly in greeting, though there is no breeze. The other trees join in and soon all of the trees in Imladris are at last able to greet their kinsman. Legolas smiles and sings softly to them as they slowly part their branches so he can enjoy the starlight on his face.
I ngîl cennin erthiel
Ne menel aduial,
Ha glingant be vîr
I ngîl cennin firiel
Ne menel aduial,
And-dûr naun i fuin a galad firn
An i natha
An i naun ului
A chuil, ann-cuiannen
Am meleth, perónen.
Gîlríon wakes suddenly and sits up, rubbing his eyes. He misses Ada Legolas and doesn't understand why he does not come to live with him and atto in their large suite. There is plenty of room, he thinks, and decides to go to his ada. It will be daybreak soon. Quickly he pulls on a robe and slippers, hurrying to the healing wing. But as he enters the room and peers around the curtain, he sees that his ada is not there.
Noticing the open door, Gîlríon slips quietly outside to look for his ada in the garden. Within moments, the elfling has tracked his ada to the great mallorn and sees that he is taking a nap.
“Ada? Wake up, ada.” Gîlríon leans down to shake his ada's shoulder when he notices how still and quiet his ada is. Sadly, Gîlríon sits on the ground beside his ada, resting his small head on the thin shoulder, tears slipping down his face.
Glorfindel wakes and instantly notices that Gîlríon is no longer in his cot. He hurriedly throws on a robe to go in search of him but he already knows where the elfling will be found.
“Ada is gone, atto.” Gîlríon looks up sadly.
“No, he is only asleep, Gîlríon.” Glorfindel kneels beside his son, stroking his tousled curls. “He only sleeps, ion nin.”
“No, atto. You know better.” The distressed look that Gîlríon gives his sire is curiously adult. “We both know that he is with Lord Mandos now.”
“Come away, my Gîl. We will tell Lord Elrond of this.”
“No, atto.” Gîlríon shakes his head decisively. “I will stay here. It is not right for ada to be alone now.”
Glorfindel stands quietly as his son's voice rises in song:
A Bereth thar Ennui Aeair!
Calad ammen i reniar
Mi 'aladhremmin ennorath.
A Elbereth Gilthoniel
I chin a thûl lín míriel...
Legolas raised his head. He was so tired... but Gîlríon must need him.
“Hannon le, ada.”
Legolas looked up at the strange, tall elf with mithril-colored hair standing in front of him.
“I am sorry. I thought that I heard my ion calling for me.”
“You heard correctly, ada for I too, am your ion. I am Luinilassë, ada.”
“Luinilassë?” Legolas looked at him in bewilderment.
“Yes, ada.” He reached and pulled Legolas to his feet. Legolas was surprised that he stood so easily, without any pain or unsteadiness. As he looked deeply into the elf's violet-blue eyes, he slowly began to understand.
“Come with me, ada. We will rest in Estë's garden for a time.”
Legolas turned slightly, but the strong arm around his shoulder prevented him.
“No, ada. 'Tis better this way.”
“But Gîlríon ... he needs me.”
“He has your love, ada. It is more than enough for him.”
“But he is just a baby.” Legolas' eyes filled with tears and he began to shake with the effort to stop from crying. “He is too young – he will not remember.”
“My big brother will always remember you, ada. He will never forget you.”
“How can you be so certain of this?” Legolas slowly looked up, only to see that they were entering a quiet, beautiful garden and he marveled that they had been able to come so far so quickly. It was as if they had merely stepped through a gate...
“You live in his heart, ada.” Luinilassë smiled as he guided his adar to a nearby bench. “Here, sit down and rest. I know how tired you are.”
“It is very restful here, Luinilassë.” Legolas looked around curiously. It was so beautiful and quiet that Legolas knew he should be wholly at ease, yet he found that he could not seem to relax.
“But you miss Gîlríon,” his other son replied. “Why do you fight this, ada? Is it so unpleasant? In time, you will be able to see your naneth, and your brother and your grandsire as well. Don't you want to see them at last?”
“Well, yes.” Legolas frowned slightly, knowing how ungrateful he sounded and feeling ashamed of himself. “I am sorry, ion nin.”
“But you want to go back, don't you ada?” Luinilassë asked kindly.
“Yes,” Legolas replied, hanging his head low. “I know it is wrong of me, but it is so hard to let go.”
“Ada.” A strong hand gripped his shoulder, squeezing lightly. “I cannot say that I understand, for I do not. But your unhappiness is distressing to me.”
“I am sorry,” Legolas replied. “I will try to do better from now on.”
“Look at me, ada.”
Legolas looked up at his tall son, wondering what would happen now.
“You do not need to apologize, ada. You have done nothing wrong.” Luinilassë smiled gently and embraced him. “You cannot help how you feel.”
Legolas felt as if he were the child in the presence of his son. Luinilassë seemed to embody the best of all Eldar, and Legolas wondered how this could be, when he himself was so flawed.
“You are too hard in judging yourself, ada.”
“He misses me though; I can hear him crying.” Legolas' own eyes are filling with tears as he senses the pain of his little son.
“I know, ada. I know.” Luinilassë holds his ada tightly in an attempt to comfort him, but it seems that there is no comfort to be found for the Sindar prince. Sighing, Luinilassë strokes the soft blonde hair and reluctantly makes a decision. “Ada, is it truly so hard for you to accept? Do you wish to go back?”
“But I can't go back. It's not permitted.”
“You have not fully entered this realm, ada. You are still partly in Arda.”
“I am?” For the first time, Legolas looks at his second son with something akin to hope in his eyes. “Is this true?”
“Yes, ada.” Luinilassë studies his ada's hopeful expression. “There is still some very little time for you to return but things will not be the same.”
“Such as?” Despite his efforts to be calm, Legolas is curious now. “What will be different?”
“You will never be truly well again, ada. Your body is far too damaged for complete recovery to be possible. Your life must be a very quiet one of celibacy and contemplation.”
“Do you mean I will be crippled then?” The blue eyes darken with worry. “I would be nothing but a burden to the others if that is true.”
“No, ada. You will be able to move normally, within certain limits. But it will always be with great effort and much pain.” Luinilassë studied his ada's face carefully. “The idea of enforced celibacy does not bother you then?”
“Why should it?” Legolas pauses and considers this, then shrugs. He has never made any decisions regarding his sexuality; it is always been decided for him by the others and their whims. Although he has learned how to find pleasure from their touch, he can never been sure if he truly enjoyed it.
“What use will I be to anyone then?” For the first time Legolas looks concerned. “I have very little education and even if I did, Imladris has no need of a second Erestor.”
“Ada, you have always underestimated your true worth; believe me, you are well-loved by many.”
“Loved? Yes, by Gîlríon perhaps.” Legolas slumps down on the bench. “But I know what my place is and what my worth is -- I know it well -- and love has nothing to do with it.”
“Ada.” Legolas feels his son's strong arms embracing him and he turns to breathe in the clean scent of his hair. “Stay here, ada. Please. Stay with me. I need you too, ada.”
“Perhaps.” Legolas sighs, hoping he will make the right decision this time. “Perhaps.”
laiska (Finnish): lazy
kilmessë (Quenya): self-name (or “nickname”)
roch neth : colt
pen neth : young one
ernil : prince
“Meleth Naegra” (literally: Love causes pain) : “Love Hurts”
Luinil: name of a star (one shining with a blue light) placed in the sky by Varda. [[Luinilassë]]
1) This 'rainbow' obsidian does occur. Although obsidian is more commonly used in Mesoamerican cultures, there are obsidian deposits in Europe, including Scotland. Thus, I have chosen to use it in this fic; the cutting edge of such a scalpel is many times sharper than high-quality surgical steel. Even when examined under an electron microscope an obsidian blade is still smooth and even. One study found that obsidian produced narrower scars, fewer inflammatory cells, and less granulation tissue.
2) The songs “Twilight and Shadow” and “O Queen Beyond The Western Seas” are from: http://arwen-undomiel.com/elvish/lyrics.html Elvish :: Song Lyrics ::
Song: “Twilight and Shadow”
I ngîl cennen erthiel
Ne menel aduial,
Ha glingant be vîr
I ngîl cennen firiel
Ne menel aduial,
And-dûr naun I fuin a galad firn
An i natha
An I naun ului
A chuil, ann-cuiannen
Am meleth, perónen.
I saw a star rise high in the
It hung like a jewel,
I saw a star fade in the
The dark was too deep and so light died,
For what might have been,
For what never was.
For a life, long lived
For a love, half given.
Song: O Queen Beyond The Western Seas (Song of the Wood Elves)
A Bereth thar Ennui Aeair!
Calad ammen i reniar
Mi 'aladhremmin ennorath.
A Elbereth Gilthoniel
I chin a thûl lín míriel...
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O light to us that wander
Amid the tree-woven lands of Middle-earth.
O Elbereth Star-kindler
Your eyes and breath [are] like shining jewels...