Dinîf en Qualen
Elrond actually felt nervous, standing in front of the door to Thranduil’s guest quarters. In his hand he still carried the blond’s sword, and he couldn’t help but wonder if coming here was the wrong thing to do. Maybe Elladan was wrong and he should be cutting all ties, instead of talking things through with Thranduil. In the end, he set aside his doubts and knocked.
Thranduil sounded annoyed and Elrond pushed down the door handle, wondering just how cross the blond was with him. Maybe Thranduil would be more forgiving after he had apologized for attacking him earlier. After opening the door, he remained frozen in the doorway. Thranduil was in the process of removing his uniform, and was only wearing his leather breeches. The thing that instantly attracted his attention was the medallion around Thranduil’s neck, which looked awfully familiar.
Thranduil’s head snapped up, seeing Elrond enter, and he quickly slipped into a green shirt. Still frustrated from their earlier meeting, he sneered, “What do you want?” His eyes drifted lower and settled on his sword. He had planned to retrieve it after changing into a shirt and leggings. He icily stared at Elrond and barely refrained from snatching his sword from the half-Elf’s hands.
Elrond forced himself to remain calm, reminding himself that Thranduil had every right to be cross with him after the way he had acted earlier. Calmly, he said, “Elladan wanted me to return this to you - and he also told me to apologize.”
Thranduil raised an eyebrow. “Apologize?” He couldn’t recall Elrond ever apologizing to him before.
Elrond raised his hands and presented the sword to his former friend and lover. “You used this sword at the Battle of the Last Alliance. You even named it after me.” Meeting Thranduil’s eyes, he easily read the pain in them.
“Another mistake I made,” said Thranduil, embittered, taking hold of his sword. After sheathing it in his scabbard he placed it on the table.
“Mistake?” Elrond sighed, dejectedly. “I regret that you think about our time together in that way.”
“I regret losing my heart to you,” replied Thranduil softly. Pushing back a stray lock that had found a way into his face, he shrugged uncomfortably. “We were young and naïve. I should have listened to my father.”
Elrond swallowed hard, raised his eyes and met the blond’s stubborn gaze. “That locket… Is it the one I gave you after…?” His voice deserted him, recalling the first time they had made love.
“I assume you want it back?” Thranduil unclasped the necklace and offered it to Elrond with an unreadable expression in his eyes. “I was a fool to carry it with me all this time.”
Elrond finally realized just how hurt Thranduil really felt and raised a hand, stopping the blond from continuing. “Can we talk without having a fight?”
Thranduil placed the locket onto the table, next to the sword, and waited for Elrond to continue. He wasn’t taking the initiative, uncertain where the half-Elf wanted to take this. “I did not start it.”
Elrond held Thranduil’s gaze prisoner, seeing lost hope and hurt in the sea green eyes. “Can we sit down?” Their tempers had always been evenly matched and none of them wanted to admit they could have been wrong in the past.
Thranduil nodded and pointed at the chairs near the fireplace. After seating himself, he watched Elrond sit down as well, eyes still locked with his. “What do you want to discuss? The joined border patrols? Eridhren? Erestor?” He tried hard to maintain a dignified air, but inwardly he was still hurting.
“I want to talk about -us-,” said Elrond, taking the plunge into the deep. He had no idea how Thranduil was going to react, but felt he had to address this for both their sakes. Slowly, he rose to his feet and walked over to the table to retrieve the locket, which Thranduil had left there. After returning to his chair, he stared at the golden medallion.
Thranduil involuntarily held his breath. He had thought Elrond wouldn’t want to discuss this. He briefly considered snatching the locket from the half-Elf’s hand, but instead he felt paralyzed as his former lover opened it.
Elrond took out the lock of hair and studied it. “You kept it with you for all these millennia? What does that mean?”
/It means I loved you; I still do./ But Thranduil couldn’t say the words, couldn’t make himself that vulnerable again.
Now that Thranduil remained quiet, Elrond searched the blond’s eyes. During the brief time in which they had been lovers, those emerald eyes had never hidden things from him, but now their expression was guarded. He had to go first, or Thranduil would never meet him halfway. “I am sorry I turned my back on you when I became Gil-galad’s lover.” Looking into Thranduil’s eyes, he searched for emotions in vain. Sighing, he added. “Let me explain.”
Thranduil just inclined his head, not staying a single word yet. He was curious to learn what Elrond wanted to say.
“I really loved you.”
Thranduil snorted. “Cut the lies, Elrond.”
“It is not a lie!” Elrond rose to his feet and began to pace the room, unable to stay seated any longer. “I -did- love you, but Gil-galad—“
“Accursed be his name,” spat Thranduil venomously whilst his nails clawed the wooden armrest.
Elrond flinched, hearing the venom in Thranduil’s voice, but in his heart he knew he deserved it. “Gil-galad was my hero, you know that, and when the High-King himself expressed an interest in me I was flattered.”
“You had caught his eye and he wanted you in his bed,” said Thranduil slowly, “He knew we were together, but that did not matter to him. He was used to getting what he wanted, and he wanted you. You went to him willingly, deserting me.”
“I was young,” said Elrond in a pleading tone. “I was flattered that he would want me! I worshipped him!”
“And so you went to him when he ordered you into his bed.” Thranduil’s tone softened. “I am not really cross with you, I assume. It is Gil-galad whom I blame for our… separation.”
Realizing that Thranduil was finally opening up to him, Elrond continued. “During many nights I asked myself if I really loved him. Being honest, I have to admit I was in love with the power he presented, his strength, maybe even his arrogance.” Looking at Thranduil, his gaze softened. “He was the complete opposite of you. He took what he wanted. That raw power attracted me.”
“Ah, so I made the mistake of being an attentive lover then? Would you have stayed true to me if I had treated you more harshly? Taken what –I- wanted? Is that it?” His anger, which had been subdued momentarily, rose again. “Maybe if I had told you to bend over and had taken my pleasure you would have stayed? Is that what you are telling me?”
Elrond cringed. “I am not proud of the way I acted when I was with Gil-galad. I gave in too easily, and allowed him to have his way with me because—“ Realizing he didn’t know the reason why he had let Gil-galad treat him like that, he sighed deeply. “Everything you said is true. He took his pleasure and never returned it.”
“Then why did you stay with him to the end?” Thranduil’s eyes flashed afire.
“I could no longer live without him. I needed him like I needed air to breathe.” Gil-galad had been an addiction, a dangerous addiction, and he had been drunk on power. He stopped his pacing and searched Thranduil’s eyes. “The sex was different, felt much more potent, and I craved it.”
Thranduil’s eyes narrowed. “You made your choice millennia ago. Why bring it up now?”
Elrond suddenly realized that he was here to admit the truth to Thranduil; a truth which had been hidden from him until a moment ago. “I was wrong. I made a terrible mistake by giving in to him.”
Thranduil suddenly rose from his chair. “Elrond, maybe it is time you left.” He didn’t know what games Elrond was playing, but he wasn’t going to play along.
“I mean it!” Elrond curled his fingers around the medallion. Walking up to Thranduil, he came to a halt in front of the blond. “I mistook lust for love. I threw it all away.” Acting instinctively, trying to truly get through to Thranduil, he grabbed the blond’s hand. “I did not see the love in your soul back then. I was blinded by Gil-galad’s splendor and power.”
Thranduil startled at the hold which Elrond now had on his wrist and tried to pull away, barely keeping himself from flinching. “Do not touch me, Elrond.”
But Elrond shook his head. “I realized just how much I longed to touch you.” His feelings were quickly drowning him. “Thranduil, I do believe I still have feelings for you.”
Thranduil laughed bitterly. “You have feelings for me? Elrond, do you really think I would open my heart again to have it crushed a second time? I know better now. After you left my heart locked itself away! Not even my wife could unlock it!” He had been holding on to his anger for years, and was afraid to let go now.
Elrond bowed his head, still clutching the locket. “Can you forgive me?”
Thranduil’s eyes widened. “Forgive you?”
“For being naïve and blinded by power. For throwing your love away for Gil-galad’s lust?” Elrond shyly lifted his gaze and met Thranduil’s. “I do not want us to continue like this, with this anger between us.”
Thranduil shook his head. “I am not sure I can forgive you.”
Elrond, wondering how to soften Thranduil’s heart, looked down, realizing he still had a firm hold on the blond’s wrist, actually holding him in place. With his fingers curled tightly around Thranduil’s, he raised the blond’s hand and rested it against his own chest, near to his heart and slipped the medallion into the hand of its rightful owner. “I can never undo the hurt I caused, but I can try to heal it. Will you let me try, or has your heart hardened so much that you will continue to lock me out? I am trying to make amends, nîn malthen glaur.”
Thranduil hated being this emotional and his eyes filled with tears. ‘My golden light.’ Elrond had called him that when they had been lovers. Just hearing it worsened his emotional pain. “Please, do not call me that.”
Elrond could tell Thranduil’s resolve was faltering. He recognized the soft expression in the blond’s eyes and raised his hand, placing its palm against Thranduil’s cheek, tenderly stroking the silken skin. “There was a time when you smiled, hearing me call you that. When your eyes filled with a radiance that warmed my heart. Did I really smother that fire and take away the glow from your eyes?”
Thranduil could no longer maintain eye contact and averted his eyes. “Stop this, Elrond.”
“No,” said the half-Elf firmly, realizing he might still have a chance at befriending Thranduil again, and maybe, just maybe, there was still a spark of love left in their hearts. Could it be rekindled after all these millennia? Did he have the courage to try? “You kept that medallion with you because you still care. Tell me, nîn malthen glaur, do you still love me? Does your heart still beat for me, even whilst it remains locked away in darkness?”
Thranduil turned away from Elrond, but found that the half-Elf was still holding onto his arm. “Let go of me. I won’t be part of this charade any longer.”
Elrond’s heart contracted painfully, fully realizing for the very first time how much he had hurt Thranduil by being with Gil-galad. “You truly loved me.”
Thranduil sighed, resigned, and nodded once. “I want you to leave now.”
But Elrond shook his head. “I was stupid enough to let you go once before and I refuse to make the same mistake twice.” Using his hold on Thranduil, he forced the blond to face him again. He let go of Thranduil’s wrist, and placed his hands on either side of his former lover’s head, staring deeply into his sea green eyes. “I have to take this chance. I might never be in this position again.” Leaning in, his lips claimed Thranduil’s, engaging them in a slow and lazy kiss.
Staring at Elrond in disbelief, Thranduil's eyes widened, feeling the half-Elf’s lips against his. His first instinct was to pull away from the kiss, but then Elrond’s hands slipped lower, wrapping themselves around his waist and pulling him closer in an unexpected burst of passion. Paralyzed, he let Elrond deepen the kiss and he sighed contently when the half-Elf’s tongue slid into his mouth. By Elbereth, what was Elrond doing to him? He was quickly losing himself in the kiss, the embrace, and surrendered to the warm lips pressed against his.
Elrond released the blond’s lips, and whilst staring into Thranduil’s eyes, he saw their former love being reborn in them. The love and the passion had always been there, and now emerged again victoriously. “Will you give us a second chance at love?”
Rendered speechless, Thranduil simply stared Elrond, who did seem sincere. That kiss had taken him aback and was bringing back memories which had been buried for millennia. He couldn’t deny the truth to himself; he still loved Elrond. He had never stopped loving him, but did he want to risk another heartbreak?
“Do not answer at once,” said Elrond, realizing Thranduil needed to carefully consider his proposal. He didn’t blame the blond for being cautious; he was probably afraid of being rejected again. “Take your time to reach a decision. I won’t pressure you.” He regretted letting go of the blond, but stepped away from him, giving him some personal space. “Would you reconsider leaving tomorrow? I would like you to stay longer. Even Elladan wants to spend some time with you. You greatly impressed him with your sword fighting skills.”
Thranduil was at a loss. Elrond had totally confused him and he wasn’t sure how to react. He could still feel Elrond’s lips against his, burning them. His heart urged him to stay, but his head advised him differently, warning him that he would be hurt again.
“Nîn malthen glaur, do not take away your light from my life. Until now I did not know just how much I missed you.” Nervously, Elrond searched the green eyes. “Please stay.”
“I cannot decide now. I need time to—“ Thranduil was interrupted when the door to his rooms was flung open by one of his guards.
“My lord, Eridhren has escaped! He is no longer in his room!” The guard guiltily lowered his gaze. “I do not know how he escaped.”
“Erestor!” Thranduil exchanged a look with Elrond, seeing his concern reflected in those blue eyes. “We must check on him!” Thranduil marched out of the room, quickly followed by Elrond. They headed for Erestor’s rooms, hoping they were still in time.
Suddenly Elrohir appeared from around the corner, and Elrond gasped, seeing droplets of blood clinging to his son’s throat. “Elrohir, what happened? Where is Erestor?”
Elrohir sighed heavily. “Erestor is safe. Eridhren tried to get to him, but Glorfindel stopped him.”
“Where is Eridhren?” Thranduil didn’t know how to deal with Eridhren, but he was determined to make sure the disturbed Elf wouldn’t trouble anyone ever again.
“Dead,” said Elrohir in a neutral tone, trying to stay in control of his feelings. This was not the time or place to show his emotions. “He tried to attack me and Glorfindel stopped him.”
Thranduil failed to stop the relieved sigh that now left his lips. “Maybe his troubled soul will find peace in Mandos.” Shaking himself from his musings, he addressed Elrohir. “And Erestor? Where is he?”
“In Glorfindel’s rooms.” Elrohir’s gaze shifted from Thranduil to his father. “He is fairly shaken. He saw his father die. Maybe you should look in on him.”
“We will,” said Elrond, signaling for Thranduil to follow him. “Elrohir, go find Elladan and stay with him.” He wished he could stay with his youngest son, but he had to check on Erestor first. “I will join the two of you later!”
Elrohir nodded listlessly and headed for his rooms, hoping to find Elladan there.
Thranduil followed Elrond, hoping Erestor hadn’t been injured. He would always feel guilty for not having helped Erestor escape earlier.
Elrond came to a stop in front of Glorfindel’s door and knocked. “Erestor? Glorfindel?”
Inside the room, two pairs of eyes now stared at the door. Erestor, still shaken after hearing the Elda’s confession, didn’t feel like answering Elrond’s questions, but he also knew he couldn’t turn him away. Glorfindel’s questioning look made him sigh and nod his head. “Tell him to enter.”
Glorfindel softly called out, telling Elrond to enter the room. Only a few days ago he would have been surprised to see Thranduil step inside as well, but not any longer. He now knew what the Lord of Mirkwood had done for Erestor in the past.
Thranduil suddenly passed Elrond by, and sat on his heels next to the bed, quickly claiming one of Erestor’s hands. “Did he manage to hurt you?”
Erestor’s soft gaze settled on Thranduil, smiling reassuringly. “He did not get the chance to hurt me. Elrohir and Glorfindel protected me.”
Glorfindel shook his head. “Erestor forgets to mention that he defended Elrohir when Eridhren went after him.” Glorfindel smiled proudly. “He stood up against his father. In the end he overcame his fears.”
Thranduil felt proud as well, hearing Glorfindel’s praise. “I cannot help remembering a scared Elfling, running away from his father and hiding behind my throne. I should have found a way to intervene before things got out of hand.”
“You did your best.” Erestor freed his hand from Glorfindel’s hold and slowly leaned in closer, tentatively folding his arms around Thranduil’s shoulders.
Thranduil was pleasantly surprised when Erestor reached out to him for the first time in his life. When Erestor had still been an Elfling, he had only allowed Aewithôn to touch him. He gently returned the embrace and smiled warmly when Erestor’s gaze met his. “I was worried he had inflicted more pain on you, but you seem to have come out of this stronger.”
“I feel stronger,” admitted Erestor, still looking into Thranduil’s eyes. He prided himself on not flinching when he felt Glorfindel rub his back. “I finally made some friends here.” He smiled shyly when Thranduil’s eyes sparkled with happiness. Something had changed inside him when he had stood up against his father. “Thank you for looking out for me in the past. You helped me escape from his reign of terror. Without you, I might be dead now. I do not think I would have survived much longer.”
“I wish I could have done more for you,” admitted Thranduil. Erestor finally let go of him and he slowly rose to his feet. Seeing the way Erestor leaned into Glorfindel, he realized the Elda had gained his trust. “Do you want me to stay or…?” Was he reading Glorfindel’s body language correctly? The Elda did seem very protective of Erestor and there was a warm expression in the blond’s eyes. Thranduil cocked his head; could it be love? He certainly hoped so. Erestor deserved to be loved.
“I will stay with him.” Glorfindel met Thranduil’s eyes and the two Elves reached a silent understanding.
“Take good care of him,” said Thranduil, addressing the Elda.
“I will.” Glorfindel realized Thranduil had just given him his approval - his blessing, even - to court Erestor, which felt strange, as Erestor wasn’t Thranduil’s son. But he did understand Thranduil; Erestor was special to the King of Mirkwood.
Elrond, who had been quiet during the entire exchange, now walked toward Thranduil and came to a halt next to him. “I am sure that Glorfindel will manage, and I want to look in on Elrohir. He seemed rather shaken.”
“He is unhurt,” said Erestor, thoughtfully. “I stopped my father from getting to him.”
Elrond’s eyes widened, realizing what Erestor’s words truly meant. “He tried to assault my son?” He almost regretted Eridhren was dead, for he felt the overwhelming urge to avenge his son.
Erestor shivered. Elrond’s questions were making him feel uneasy.
And Glorfindel noticed that. “Elrond, I suggest you check on Elrohir.”
“Where is Eridhren’s corpse?” asked Thranduil unexpectedly.
“In the healing house. The healers there will prepare his body for his last journey into the flames.” Eridhren’s body would be burned when the moon rose next.
Thranduil nodded; he would make all necessary preparations for that last ceremony, not wanting to bother Erestor with them. “You should rest,” said he, addressing Erestor. “You have been through a lot this last hour.”
“Thank you for your concern,” replied Erestor, still very much aware of the soothing circles which Glorfindel was rubbing on his back.
“Thranduil, I need to look in on Elrohir, now.” Elrond left the room and stepped into the corridor, counting on him to follow.
Glorfindel cast a curious look at Thranduil, wondering if his suspicions had been right from the start. Had it been a lover’s quarrel which had now been resolved?
Thranduil inclined his head in goodbye and quickly caught up with Elrond, falling into step beside the half-Elf. “Would you prefer me to leave you alone?”
“No, whilst I talk to Elrohir I want you to make sure Elladan does not get upset when he learns his brother was assaulted.”
Thranduil’s eyes grew big in surprise. Elrond really wanted him present? Why?
Elrond noticed the confusion in Thranduil’s eyes, and wished he could explain his need to know him close, but they had reached the twins’ rooms and he entered without knocking. “Elrohir? Elladan?”
The twins were surprised to their father, but they were absolutely stunned to see Thranduil as well. “Ada?” said Elrohir, questioningly. What were Elrond and Thranduil doing here?
Elrond immediately headed for Elrohir, who was sitting on the bed, with Elladan behind him, combing and braiding his hair. “Erestor told me what happened.” Recalling that he had seen droplets of blood earlier, his fingertips probed his son’s throat, making sure the wound wasn’t serious.
Elrohir now understood what this was about and smiled reassuringly at his father. “I am well, Ada. Nothing bad happened to me. He just drew some blood.”
Elrond looked from Elrohir to Elladan. “He told you?”
“He was in the process of telling me when you entered.” Elladan cast a sly look at his father and then at Thranduil. Most of the tension which he had sensed earlier seemed gone now. “We will be fine, Ada.”
To his surprise Elrond realized he was being dismissed. His sons had just told him they didn’t need him to comfort them, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about that.
Elladan caught his father’s confusion and momentarily placed in his hand on Elrond’s. ”Ada, you are the host. Should you not be taking care of your guest? Thranduil looks quite lost.” His instincts told him there was still some unfinished business between the two elder Elves.
Thranduil felt confused as well, wondering why Elrond wanted him here in the first place. This was obviously a private, family moment.
“Are you sure?” asked Elrond, searching Elrohir’s eyes. Finding no trace of fear or panic in them, he sighed, relieved. “You can always talk to me.”
“We know that, Ada.” Elladan squeezed his shoulder lightly and Elrohir followed his twin’s gaze, realizing he was staring at Thranduil. Why had their father brought him along?
Elrond rose from the bed, still searching Elrohir’s eyes. He would never forgive himself if he left whilst his youngest son needed him. But Elladan’s presence seemed to soothe Elrohir sufficiently. “I will check on you later,” announced Elrond.
Elrohir nodded his head once, knowing that his father couldn’t help being concerned.
Thranduil stepped into the corridor and Elrond joined him after closing the door. Facing the half-Elf, he wondered what to do.
Elrond, feeling tired, rested his hand on the blond’s shoulder. “Would you stay with me a little longer? I really want to talk to you some more.”
Thranduil couldn’t deny the half-Elf, realizing Elrond really wanted his company. “I will sit with you, and maybe we will talk.”
Taking heart, Elrond smiled. He even indulged himself and caressed a strand of blond hair, instantly catching the confusion and unease in the blond’s eyes. Regretfully he let go of the golden lock and started down the corridor, guiding Thranduil to his quarters. After everything that had happened tonight, he hoped that talking to his old friend might help him calm down.
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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